08.20.15

Links 20/8/2015: Fedora 24 Plans, Ubuntu Phones in India

Posted in News Roundup at 5:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Dear Amazon: Your work culture really is terrible

    In response to the New York Times much-read takedown of Amazon’s harsh workplace culture, CEO Jeff Bezos asked employees for stories that might reflect the alleged abusive practices — and one person has taken up his offer.

    Beth Anderson, a spouse of a former Amazon AMZN staff member who worked at the company from 2007 to 2013, wrote a public letter on Quartz, and unfortunately for Bezos, Anderson agrees with much of the details in the NYT story: “Many scenarios and anecdotes detailed in the article hit very close to home,” she wrote.

    Specifically, Anderson takes issue with the constant need for her husband to be at the beck and call of the company. Working in a team that manages shipping warehouse software, Anderson’s husband was expected to respond to his pager within 15 minutes, or face repercussions from his manager: “If something came directly from you, Jeff, it was all hands on deck until that problem got figured out. No matter the emotional or physical toll,” Anderson wrote.

  • Science

    • The Town That Decided to Send All Its Kids to College

      College was never much of an option for most students in this tiny town of 1,200 located in the woods of the Manistee National Forest. Only 12 of the 32 kids who graduated high school in 2005 enrolled in college. Only two of those have gotten their bachelor’s degree.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Cleveland Clinic boots McDonald’s from US hospital

      The Cleveland Clinic health center will be getting rid of a McDonald’s franchise after nearly a decade of trying to push the fast-food giant out of its hospital, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

      The renowned US hospital said the move is part of a series of reforms aimed at helping its 44,000 workers and millions of patients make healthier choices.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Who Killed the Venus Flytrap?

      At the height of summer, in this part of North Carolina, the heat can be suffocating. It swells with the humidity, sticks your shirt to your back in seconds. When you lie belly-down on the dry land, every scratch and flicker of grass is a reminder of the life crawling beneath your body: the grasshoppers and mayflies, the ticks and bark lice. She can’t move.

      [...]

      The flytrap only grows wild in one location: a 100-mile range surrounding Wilmington, a city of about 111,000 people, 10 miles from the North Carolina coast.

  • Finance

    • Is Bitcoin facing an existential split?
    • Bitcoin Is Having an Identity Crisis
    • Fork Release Intensifies Bitcoin Community Bitterness
    • Google Went Public 11 Years Ago Today

      historically, one of the best performers in the stock market over the last decade. But 11 years ago to this day, Google’s IPO was considered a disappointment.

      On August 19, 2004, Google went public with a price of $85 for its roughly 19.6 million shares, which as CNBC’s Bob Pisani noted, was at the low end of expectations. The reason was manifold, starting with Google’s choice to sell their shares through a Dutch auction, where buyers went online to indicate the price and amount of shares they wanted until Google determined a fair price for their shares. As USA Today recounts, this didn’t please those who wanted the option of offering first dips at these shares to their interested clients.

    • Loss of Manufacturing Jobs Isn’t ‘Tectonic’–It’s a Policy Choice

      Wall Street executive Steve Rattner had a column (8/14/15) in the New York Times in which he derided Donald Trump’s economics by minimizing the impact of trade on the labor market. While much of Trump’s economics undoubtedly deserve derision, Rattner is wrong in minimizing the impact that trade has had on the plight of workers.

    • Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigns, calls for snap elections

      GREEK Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has announced his resignation and called for snap elections, as he went on the offensive to defend the country’s massive bailout after it triggered a rebellion within his own party.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Iowa Radio Host Stands By Plan To Enslave Undocumented Immigrants If They Don’t Leave

      Influential Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson — whose show is a frequent destination for Republican presidential candidates — is standing by his plan to make undocumented immigrants “property of the state” if they refuse to leave the country after an allotted period of time. In comments to Media Matters, Mickelson described his plan as “constitutionally defensible, legally defensible, morally defensible, biblically defensible and historically defensible.”

    • Standards of Political Civility and Darwin’s Finches

      One hallmark of this year’s political “discourse” (to abuse a term) has been the number of astonishingly angry and ill-informed accusations made by some candidates against their opponents (and others). Nothing unusual about that, sad to say. But what is different is the degree of acceptance, and even approval, exhibited by many voters that in earlier years might have rejected these candidates as well as their statements.

    • Critical blogger banned from voting in Labour leadership election

      Labour have been accused of ‘purging’ critical voices from the party after a Labour-supporting blogger was banned from voting in the leadership race, after criticising his local council.

      Lambeth Councillor Alex Bigham sent a dossier to his party recommending that website editor Jason Cobb, be excluded from voting, due to “possible entryism”

      The document, seen by Politics.co.uk, included a series of screen-grabbed tweets in which Cobb accused some Labour councils of “social cleansing” in London as well as a link to a 2010 article he wrote for the Guardian in which he criticised Lambeth council.

  • Censorship

    • Facebook has taken over from Google as a traffic source for news

      Anyone who works for a major news website or publisher knows that social referrals—that is, links that are shared on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter—have become a crucial source of incoming traffic, and have been vying with search as a source of new readers for some time. Now, according to new numbers from the traffic-analytics service Parse.ly, Facebook is no longer just vying with Google but has overtaken it by a significant amount.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • The End of the Internet Dream

      It doesn’t have to be this way. But to change course, we need to ask some hard questions and make some difficult decisions.

    • Sprint getting rid of phone contracts, calls them a “thing of the past”

      Sprint is getting rid of two-year smartphone contracts, following a move made previously by T-Mobile US and Verizon Wireless.

      “By the end of the year, customers of the No. 4 wireless company will have to pay the full price for their phones or spread the payments out by leasing the device, an option that started last year,” CNBC reported.

      Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure explained the move in an interview with CNBC. Buying a new phone at the subsidized rate of $199 is “a thing of the past, the industry has changed,” he said.

    • BREAKING: Netneutrality more complex than you thought!

      Interestingly, when zero-rating is squashed, the opposite happens. When the government forbade zero rating in the Netherlands, its largest provider KPN responded by doubling their users’ data caps without a price hike.

      Thus, my suggestion to the Brazil government would be: work with providers to get indiscriminate data bundles to more users, rather than empowering providers to control their users’ Internet usage.

  • DRM

    • Apple Music boasted of 11 million users – but half have already tuned out

      Just over half the people who sampled Apple Music have stuck around to use the service regularly, a study by music industry analytics firm MusicWatch has found. Apple recently took a victory lap for hitting the 11 million user mark among people who had sampled its new service, which is meant to compete with similar offerings from Spotify and Pandora. But 48% of those users aren’t there any more.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Rightscorp’s DMCA Subpoena Effort Crashes and Burns

        Rightscorp’s efforts to unmask file-sharers using the DMCA has crashed and burned. After a federal judge ruled in favor of ISP Birch Communications and quashed the anti-piracy firm’s subpoena, Rightscorp appealed the decision. Now the company has backed down, handing the ISP and privacy a big win.

Blackmail and Lies From the Press and the Government of New Zealand Attempt to Sell to the Public a Deal That Broadens Patent Scope

Posted in Australia, Deception, Law, Patents at 8:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

More protectionism for more large companies, even those coming from outside of New Zealand

John Key

Summary: Corporate conquest or takeover of New Zealand culminates in empty promises from government officials and blackmail against citizens of New Zealand, especially the country’s dairy industry

THE DEBATE about software patents in New Zealand is very important because it set the tone for similar debates in Europe and Anglo-Saxon-dominated countries such as Australia and Canada. It usually revolves around lobbying from US giants against local companies in New Zealand. The lobbying is done through law firms and front groups, but sometimes it’s done more directly (risking backlash and brand erosion for the likes of Microsoft and IBM).

The fight is back in a big way and there are many articles in the local media, as well as the international media. The Institute of IT Professionals has just had the corporate media in New Zealand lobbying for TPP, as expected, despite it being an evil secretive deal, enabling more systemic looting by the world’s super-rich. Some myths and classic nonsense get propagated, but there is also criticism of the secrecy, for instance: “Despite some of the potentially positive matters outlined below, we still hold concerns about the detail – or rather, lack of it. As the negotiations are being held in private, the actual wording being negotiated is restricted to negotiators and other government officials only. This means we and others can’t undertake independent analysis of the impact of what is being agreed until negotiations are complete.”

Rob O’Neill, who has used his role at the CBS-owned ZDNet to fight back against software patents in his country, now explains “​How New Zealand’s software patent ban can survive the TPP”.

“Officials give assurances there will be no changes to software patents, ISP liability and parallel importation,” he wrote the other day. Does he really trust these officials given their terrible track record on other secrets? Remember how John Key repeatedly lied about surveillance. It was only when leaks came out (undoing the secrecy) that he had to respond like an angry brat, shooting the messengers rather than admit that he had lied.

It may sometimes seem like the corporate press helps raise scrutiny rather than help the corporations that own the media. Despite that, on the very same day IDG hosted (at ComputerWorld) a notable lobbyist these days for software patents (Martin Goetz). He is now treated as a guest author in this nonsensical piece denying the existence of patents on software, even if he’s just reposting there (plus some “NZ” added) what he very recently wrote for lobbyists of software patents in IP Watchdog (patent lawyers with an exceptionally big mouth). How dumb does he think the readers are?

The people who want software patents in New Zealand are basically blackmailing for changed laws, using sanctions in reverse. As Clare Curran (MP) put it the other day, “Will Groser trade NZ innovation 4 dairy? Software sector raises concern over patents 2 secure access 4 dairy products”

See this Australian article which supports what she wrote and take note of this article from New Zealand:

While not unanimous, there is strong consensus from the industry against software patents. “In a 2013 poll of over 1,000 New Zealand IT Professionals across the sector, around 94% of those with a view wanted to see software patents gone,” Taylor says.

“Following significant work by IITP and others, the Government agreed and modified the Patents Act to protect New Zealand technology firms from software patents in their home market.”

“The patent system doesn’t work for software. Research shows it’s near impossible for software to be developed without breaching some of the hundreds of thousands of software patents awarded around the world, often for ‘obvious’ work.

The government is of course lying and misrepresenting the opposition. It just wants this deal sealed and done for the plutocrats, some of whom are not even based in New Zealand at all. As one author put it the other day, alluding to Groser: “The government is also running the line that those same hard core anti-TPP protesters have opposed every single trade deal that New Zealand has entered. This is willfully deceptive in that it assumes the TPP is a free trade deal – when in reality, several of its most noxious provisions are anti-trade in that they entrench existing corporate advantage.

“Also, regular protest is necessary because successive “trade” pacts have included the same objectionable elements for well over 20 years. Almost identical investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms (which enable corporations to sue sovereign governments when they pass laws that infringe on profit expectations) have cropped up in mooted trade deals ever since the MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Trade) proposals in the 1990s. Eventually, the MAI was defeated by a mass mobilization around the world very similar to the anti-TPP protests today. It can be done.”

New Zealand is under attack. It’s not just affecting software professionals but also countries outside of New Zealand, which is why we hope that citizens of New Zealand will get involved and help crush TPP. The assurances given by government officials are just lies and a shallow form of deception whose purpose it to sell the deal. Once it’s signed there’s no going back.

Vista 10 Turns PCs Into Zombies: Microsoft to Remotely Delete Software From Windows, Like Amazon Deleted Books From Kindle

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 10, Windows at 7:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Without consent, with no warnings whatsoever, without any exceptions

Alleyway in Manchester

Summary: Microsoft allows itself to remotely delete software from Vista 10 (not just Microsoft’s software), as revealed by the mainstream media not too long after the failed launch (poor adoption so far)

TECHRIGHTS is a lot more worried about the precedences set by Vista 10 than about Vista 10 itself, in part because it has been an epic failure so far, despite it being a supposedly ‘free’ upgrade (converting one’s PC into Microsoft’s property). Vista 10 proves people like Richard Stallman correct. It combines everything that can possibly go wrong with proprietary software, intentionally, to serve the proprietor’s sick agenda. Complicity with the state makes it far worse, especially given rogue elements such as espionage (political, not just industrial/competitive).

Based on this article, Microsoft is not even hiding universal back doors in Windows and it reminds users that they just rent their PC if they install Vista 10. To quote the Indian Express, “Microsoft can disable any counterfeit software or hardware running Windows 10, at least this is what is being interpreted based on the updated End User License Agreement (EULA). The new terms and conditions allow Microsoft to change or update software on your computer and changes to the EULA were first spotted by PC Authority.”

That’s rather unprecedented, unless one considers how Amazon deals with Kindle. Ryan, a former Microsoft MVP, told us that “Microsoft can apparently reach in and disable software that they think is pirated. Not just theirs.” Remember that Microsoft also denies the option not to have Windows ‘updated’, i.e. modified remotely. Microsoft is now neglecting to even say what it is changing and why. To quote this new report from the British media:

Windows 10 is keeping its new owners busy, as Microsoft has released the second “cumulative update” for the operating system in three days.

The update dated August 11th was billed as a “security update for Windows 10” and promised “improvements to improve the functionality of Windows 10” plus resolution for half a dozen bugs.

The August 14th update is described as replacing the August 11th update, but with what or why isn’t explained. All that Microsoft will say is that the new download “includes improvements to enhance the functionality of Windows 10.”

Why might a three-day old update need a replacement? Microsoft’s patching process hasn’t gone well, of late, with multiple patches causing unintended consequences necessitating further patches.

But wait, it’s much worse and it’s going to get even worse next year.

“Vista 10 proves people like Richard Stallman correct.”Under the pretext of “emergency”, forced updates now become more than a weekly thing. “There’s mega patch #4,” wrote Ryan. “My system says Cumulative Update for Windows 10 for x64-based Systems. (KB3081444)

“It looks like they copied Compressed RAM from Linux.” Ryan quotes this article which says: “In Windows 10, we have added a new concept in the Memory Manager called a compression store, which is an in-memory collection of compressed pages. This means that when Memory Manager feels memory pressure, it will compress unused pages instead of writing them to disk. This reduces the amount of memory used per process, allowing Windows 10 to maintain more applications in physical memory at a time. This also helps provide better responsiveness across Windows 10.”

So it’s not even a security update, it’s just a ripoff of Linux, and Microsoft forces people to accept it. “That’s in build 10525,” Ryan wrote. “Not much news about this latest mega patch though. They don’t list what’s in them anymore, so why bother covering them?”

For all one knows, there can be ,pre back doors in there.

“The only thing Microsoft will tell you is that it patches a Critical security hole in IE 11,” Ryan added, “but it goes much further. It’s on Reddit.”

So basically, once again we are reminded that installing Vista 10 is becoming part of a Microsoft botnet (the network too, by extension), commandeered by people who modify and delete binaries without the option to opt out and without even explaining what is done (toggling off surveillance antifeatures has no effect, either). What kind of person would install such a thing? It’s a surveillance monster, remotely controlled by Microsoft and its spy buddies. There is already a free (and freedom-respecting) upgrade and it’s called GNU/Linux.

Black Duck Still Destroying, Lying, Rewriting History

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, FUD, Microsoft at 7:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Manchester crane

Summary: Black Duck is still carrying water for Microsoft and pretends to be working for ‘Open Source’, despite doing it much harm and doing nothing that is actually Open Source

AN ARTICLE titled “The channel’s role in improving open source security” cites a FUD ‘study’ from Black Duck, the firm which, by its very own admission (high level), was created to spread FUD against GPL and discourage its use/adoption.

“Don’t forget that Ohloh, just like Black Duck, was created by people from Microsoft. “The day beforehand we saw gross revisionism that said the firm “set up in 2002 not as an anti-malware tool or a security outfit, but as a ‘curator’” (that’s a lie). All that Black Duck has become is a parasite and a back stabber, wielding software patents and proprietary software.

Another thing that Black Duck turns out to have killed, based on this new post, is Open HUB. It’s said to be “dead” now, maybe because it doesn’t serve the agenda of Black Duck anymore. To quote:

Some may recall it as Ohloh, then it was taken over by Black Duck Software and now runs under the name of Open HUB, the open source network to “Discover, Track and Compare Open Source”. What a laugh. Since Black Duck took over things continuously have gotten worse, spinning repository updates became infrequent, and now OpenHUB simply can’t catch up with all projects, their engine for months was months behind with updating source code, and now completely fails on big repositories.

Don’t forget that Ohloh, just like Black Duck, was created by people from Microsoft. They both should be treated as such.

Ashley Madison Disaster Apparently the Fault of Microsoft Windows

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 6:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What kind of company uses Windows for security?!

Hilton Manchester

Summary: New reports serve to show that Ashley Madison’s data which got leaked includes complete dump of corporate Windows passwords

TWO months ago we wrote about the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach and Microsoft Windows. It’s quite unusual for large, high-profile breaches to involve anything but Microsoft, but the media rarely call out Windows, not even when Stuxnet is clearly all about Windows (not surprisingly because Microsoft aids the NSA and the NSA developed Stuxnet) and the Sony were reportedly the fault of a leaky Window server, irrespective of who infiltrated it (an entirely separate question).

Another day, another crack. Because OPM contains the personal details of many rich and powerful people. OPM still dominates the news to some degree (although Windows is rarely mentioned) and now it’s Ashley Madison [1,2]. A lot of people, including very high-profile people, can now be publicly shamed and/or blackmailed.

“Well done, Microsoft. Instead of helping just the NSA (and by extension Five Eyes) hoard weapons of blackmail against billions of people the company has now got weapons of blackmail scattered all around the Web, targeting many millions of people.”According to this report, the leak “included a full domain dump of corporate passwords (NTLM hashes) of the Windows domain of the company” (hello Microsoft!).

“According to security experts, including Krebs,” wrote Gordon in IRC, “it’s definitely a legit dump” and there are articles that explain why. “The database dump,” to quote this one report, “appears to be legitimate and contains usernames, passwords, credit card data (last four), street addresses, full names, and much much more. It also contains an extensive amount of internal data which looks like the hackers had maintained access to their environment for a long period of time.”

Ashley Madison’s owners are in panic because a lot of lawsuits may be imminent. They are trying to DMCA sites that share the data, but history teaches that this is a futile effort. They now pay the price of using Windows and many people (perhaps dozens of millions) pay the price of relying on a company that uses Windows.

Well done, Microsoft. Instead of helping just the NSA (and by extension Five Eyes) hoard weapons of blackmail against billions of people the company has now got weapons of blackmail scattered all around the Web, targeting many millions of people. Microsoft leads to a form of global anarchy by making its software flawed by design and leaky by intention. It’s that same dumb mentality that leads some politicians to demands of back doors only for the “Good Guys” (them).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Remember How The DMCA ‘Stopped’ The Release Of Ashley Madison Cheaters Data? About That…

    And… it took longer than expected, but less than a month later, the data file has leaked online, and you can bet that lots of people — journalists, security researchers, blackmailers and just generally curious folks — have been downloading it and checking it out.

    Maybe, next time, rather than claiming copyright, the company will do a better job of protecting its systems.

  2. Data from hack of Ashley Madison cheater site dumped online [Updated]

    Gigabytes worth of data taken during last month’s hack of the Ashley Madison dating website for cheaters has been published online—an act that could be highly embarrassing for the men and women who have used the service over the years.

    A 10-gigabyte file containing e-mails, member profiles, credit-card transactions and other sensitive Ashley Madison information became available as a BitTorrent download in the past few hours. Ars downloaded the massive file and it appeared to contain a trove of details taken from a clandestine dating site, but so far there is nothing definitively linking it to Ashley Madison. User data included e-mail addresses, profile descriptions, addresses provided by users, weight, and height. A separate file containing credit card transaction data didn’t include full payment card numbers or billing addresses.

    [...]

    “We have now learned that the individual or individuals responsible for this attack claim to have released more of the stolen data,” they wrote in an e-mail to Ars. “We are actively monitoring and investigating this situation to determine the validity of any information posted online and will continue to devote significant resources to this effort. Furthermore, we will continue to put forth substantial efforts into removing any information unlawfully released to the public, as well as continuing to operate our business.”

“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”

Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive

After OOXML Propaganda, New Assocham Propaganda Calls for Back Doors, Spyware and Other Malicious, Self-defeating Traps Inside Government of India

Posted in Asia, Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 6:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Assocham (or ASSOCHAM) has been fronting for Microsoft’s interests for nearly a decade (if not much longer)

Assocham logo

Summary: Assocham is showing its true colours yet again, lobbying for the interests of foreign companies and endorsing serious abuse or compromise of India’s national sovereignty

MICROSOFT, which suffers big financial losses, layoffs, and cancelled products, must be rather nervous right now. It even appointed a new CEO with Indian roots, as part of its desperate, shallow effort to change the company’s image. More than seven years ago we showed how Assocham had become somewhat of a lobbyist for Microsoft's interests in India (effectively aiding Microsoft corruption of international scale). Now that India is moving towards Free software we see a lot of lobbying from Microsoft again. Microsoft still exercises far too much influence against the interests on India, often relying on proxies and front groups that it is closely connected to. We covered it earlier this year in articles such as:

In lobbying for Microsoft et al. Assocham now uses the same propaganda as for software patents, using almost exactly the same words, mainly “fair” and “non-discriminatory” (remember what FRAND and RAND stand for, uttering in quite an Orwellian fashion the very opposite of what they are). Microsoft’s India lobby wants back doors, spying, and strong foreign lock-in in India. Anything else would be “unfair” and “discriminatory”, or so Microsoft would have us believe.

“Given Assocham’s past actions it would be hard for it to deny rogue play.”India’s corporate media and paid-for press wires are now clogged up by at least a dozen English language bits of propaganda from Assocham, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It’s pure nonsense and it is consistent with what Microsoft has been doing in recent months, both directly and indirectly, e.g. through NASSCOM, which is connected not only to Microsoft but also the Gates Foundation.

Given Assocham’s past actions it would be hard for it to deny rogue play. It’s easy to see why propaganda is needed here. Assocham should be asked by our Indian readers, “are you that corrupt?” We urge for action, perhaps some petition, questioning the integrity of this 95-year-old body, which was either corrupted or was always inherently corrupt.

Vista 10 is totally unacceptable for use by any government. It is definitely unacceptable for use in Munich, which is now under attack by Microsoft boosters yet again (report from CBS), amid many reports about NSA espionage inside Germany (vindicating Munich). Microsoft is a spyware company and no nation in Europe, especially a nation’s government, should let Microsoft possess any data, yet in Italy, based to Microsoft boosting sites [1, 2], there is a retreat to the huge costs of lock-in and OOXML. They say it’s done “to Save Money” as if selling citizens’ data without their consent to some foreign company that cooperates with the NSA more than any other software company is some kind of achievement.

India ought to fight for its digital sovereignty. It has many talented software engineers who can build and maintain the country’s infrastructure using Free software. Assocham may continue to prove itself to be a parasite, a mole, and a sellout. It’s time to shut it up.

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