Links 24/12/2015: Manjaro Linux 15.12, Black Lab 7.0.2

Posted in News Roundup at 6:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Why All The ‘Open Source’ Innovation?

    Open source software is nothing new. The roots go back to the 1980s from a global community of programmers who created free software. But the movement got a huge boost in the 1990s because of the Internet. If anything, this rapidly growing open-source community essentially became one of the first social networks.

    But there was always skepticism. After all, how can you really trust open source software? Was it really good for enterprise-level applications?

    Well, it seems that such arguments are quickly fading away, especially as seen with the success of standout companies like RedHat. But even the mega Internet operators like Facebook and Google have been major players.

  • OpenALPR, find car license plates in video streams – nice free software

    A few days I came across the OpenALPR project, a free software project to automatically discover and report license plates in images and video streams, and provide the “car numbers” in a machine readable format. I’ve been looking for such system for a while now, because I believe it is a bad idea that the automatic number plate recognition tool only is available in the hands of the powerful, and want it to be available also for the powerless to even the score when it comes to surveillance and sousveillance. I discovered the developer wanted to get the tool into Debian, and as I too wanted it to be in Debian, I volunteered to help him get it into shape to get the package uploaded into the Debian archive.

  • Why the open source debate around MBaaS is missing the point

    There has been lots of discussion around mobile backend as a service (MBaaS) and the merits of open source vs. proprietary options in this space. Arguments on either side of the fence are largely unchanged from when the same debate raged over a decade ago, across anything from operating systems – Linux vs. Windows vs. (Open) Solaris – to productivity software – Microsoft Office vs. OpenOffice. Take the debate to the cloud, give it a mobile spin, update your FUD and you’re all caught up to what’s happening in the world of MBaaS.

  • What’s New in 3D Printing, Part I: Introduction

    One of the things that has interested me most as I’ve followed the 3D printing industry is just how similar it is to the story of Linux distributions. In my articles from three years ago, I discussed all of the open-source underpinnings that have built the hobbyist 3D printing movement, starting with the RepRap 3D printer—an open-source 3D printer designed to be able to build as many of its parts as possible. Basically every other 3D printer you see today can trace its roots back to the RepRap line. Now that commercial interests have taken the lead in the hobby though, it is no longer a given that you will be able to download the hardware plans for your 3D printer to make improvements, even though most of those printers got their initial designs from RepRaps. That said, you still can find popular 3D printers that value their open-source roots, and in my follow-up article on hardware, I will highlight popular 3D printers and point out which ones still rely on open hardware and open-source software.

  • Events

    • Going to FOSDEM

      It has become almost tradition for me, so yes, I’m attending FOSDEM 2016. It’s probably the best conference in Europe to meet other free software guys and that was always motivation for me to come – to see people I meet on mailing lists for rest of the year.

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • GNU MDK 1.2.9 release

      This release fixes documentation bugs (thanks to Joshua Davies) and adds support for the MIX instructions SLB,SRB,JAE,JAO,JXE,JXO (implemented by Sergey Litvin).

    • GNUnet e.V. Assembly 2015

      The p≡p foundation would like us to enter into an agreement. Their initial draft proposal (nothing final) is below (in DE and EN). Matthias and Christian can give some background on their motivations at the meeting. The goal of the discussion will be to get some feedback from the members and a mandate for the Vorstand in terms of the direction for how to proceed.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Programming

    • 5 favorite open source Django packages

      Django is built around the concept of reusable apps: self-contained packages that provide re-usable features. You can build your site by composing these reusable apps, together with your own site-specific code. There’s a rich and varied ecosystem of reusable apps available for your use—PyPI lists more than 8,000 Django apps—but how do you know which ones are best?


  • Science

    • EU referendum: Leading UK scientists warn against consequences of Brexit

      Britain would face an exodus of the best international scientific talent and lose millions of pounds in research funding if voters decided to pull out of the European Union, some of the country’s most eminent scientists have warned. Leaders from across scientific disciplines have told MPs that leaving the EU would relegate the UK to a bit player in worldwide research.

    • Scientists find 1500-year-old Viking settlement beneath new airport site

      When Norway announced plans to expand its Ørland Airport this year, archaeologists got excited. They knew that pre-construction excavation was likely to reveal ancient Viking artifacts. But they got far more than they had hoped.

      Ørland Airport is located in a region of Norway that changed dramatically after the last ice age ended. The area was once completely covered by a thick, heavy layer of ice whose weight caused the Earth’s crust to sink below sea level. When the glaciers melted, much of this region remained underwater, creating a secluded bay where today there is nothing but dry land. At the fringes of this vanished bay, archaeologists with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology Museum found the remains of what appears to have been a large, wealthy farming community.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Weirdly, Trump Is as Blased About Russia Killing Journalists as He Is About US Killing Journalists

      But there are killings of journalists by the US that aren’t counted in these tallies. In 2006, CPJ put out a list of 15 media workers killed by US forces in Iraq. The Pentagon dismissed these deaths as regrettable accidents, but there’s suspicion in at least some of these cases that reporters were targeted by the US military for doing their jobs. Regarding lethal airstrikes against Al Jazeera‘s Baghdad offices and a deadly military assault on journalists in the city’s Palestine Hotel, for example, Reporters Without Borders declared (4/8/03), “We can only conclude that the US Army deliberately and without warning targeted journalists.” (See “Is Killing Part of Pentagon Press Policy?” FAIR Press Release, 4/10/03.)

      Sometimes attacks on journalists by US forces are openly acknowledged. During the Kosovo War, the US military targeted and destroyed the offices of Radio/Television Serbia, killing 16 media workers. CPJ refused to include these casualties in its annual list of attacks on the press, saying that RTS fell “outside our extremely broad definition of journalism.”


      Page rightly scorns “Putin’s casually dismissive attitude toward murdered journalists.” But how much has Page–as he discloses, a board member of CPJ–spoken out about CPJ’s dismissal of media workers deliberately killed by his own government? It’s easy to get outraged by the crimes of official enemies, and to forget or to justify the crimes of the state you identify with. What really sets Trump apart is that he seems lackadaisical about both types of crimes.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • What you need to know about Indonesian fires that are affecting global climate change

      Raging fires in Indonesia’s forests and peat lands since July this year are precipitating a climate and public-health catastrophe with repercussions across local, regional and global levels, said experts.

      Acrid smoke and haze have enveloped Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, and have reached Thailand, choking people, reducing visibility and spiking respiratory illnesses, according to Susan Minnemeyer, Mapping and Data Manager for Washington-based World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Global Forest Watch Fires initiative.

    • RSPO to publish members’ plantation maps in wake of Indonesia’s forest fires

      The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) will publish maps of all its members’ palm oil plantations – with the exception of Malaysia – in the hope closer monitoring will prevent forest fires and peat land destruction. But is this enough?

      The announcement comes as forest fires continue to burn across large swathes of Indonesia’s forests and peat lands, although the arrival of monsoon rains which have dampened fires in some hot spots.

      Except under exceptional circumstances, the RSPO operates a no-fire policy on its members’ plantations, and monitors compliance with this policy by studying data provided by the Global Forest Watch (GFW). But because there is no single up-to-date database of palm oil plantations, the data is not 100% accurate.

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • The Donald and the Decider

      Almost six months have passed since Donald Trump overtook Jeb Bush in polls of Republican voters. At the time, most pundits dismissed the Trump phenomenon as a blip, predicting that voters would soon return to more conventional candidates. Instead, however, his lead just kept widening. Even more striking, the triumvirate of trash-talk — Mr. Trump, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz — now commands the support of roughly 60 percent of the primary electorate.

  • Censorship

    • New HTTP error code 451 to signal censorship

      After a three-year campaign, the IETF has cleared the way for a new HTTP status code to reflect online censorship.

      The new code – 451 – is in honor of Ray Bradbury’s classic novel Fahrenheit 451 in which books are banned and any found are burned.

    • Should ISPs filter the Internet for their customers?

      The topic of Internet censoring … excuse me … filtering is certainly a controversial one. Some countries are taking a very active role in forcing ISPs to filter the Internet. But does this help or hurt their customers? A writer at Ghacks recently took a look at this divisive and very important issue.

    • Internet Service Providers should not filter the Internet

      I’m following the UK’s fight against porn on the Internet with fascination as it highlights how ideologists use something that everyone can agree on (protect children) to censor the Internet.

  • Privacy

    • 7 Insane Problems We’ll Have To Deal With In The Future

      As we remind you all the time, the future ain’t what it used to be. We have no jetpacks or robot butlers, and we’ve still not upgraded from Land Wars to Star Wars. The dreamers fell short … but it turns out that some of the pessimists came pretty close to the mark. In the same way that no one in the ’50s thought “millions of strangers across the world accidentally saw your dick” could ever become a realistic problem, our near-future will be filled with annoyances that sound completely ridiculous to us now.


      Any denizen of the digital generation knows that anything you say on the Internet can and will be used against you, especially if it’s embarrassing fan fiction. However, that’s a logical extension of using written material as evidence, as we’ve done for centuries. The newest way to incriminate yourself online has far less precedent: the data collected from wearable technology, such as the Fitbit.

    • Young Danes ‘ditching Facebook for real world’

      The survey commissioned by state broadcaster DR found that 20 percent of respondents said that they use social media once or less per month.

      Of these, 70 per cent said that they had made a conscious choice to avoid logging on to Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and other such sites and apps.

      People polled said a major reason for staying away from social media was a belief that spending too much time online led to missing out on ‘real life’.

    • Drop Facebook and be happy: Danish study

      The Copenhagen-based Happiness Research Institute has a simple formula for increasing your happiness, social activity and concentration, but it might not be something you’re willing to do.

    • We Talked About Refrigerators with Vint Cerf, Father of the Internet

      The internet was once described by International Telecommunications Union secretary general Dr. Pekka Tarjanne as “a haven for pornographers, terrorists and hackers.”

      That was in 1995. Some things, it seems, never change.

      In fact, a scan of tech headlines today is like a time-warp into yesteryear. Encryption? Debates on limiting such protections were rife in the 1990s, and we’re still fighting about it today. Censorship? Foreign governments were trying to stifle the internet’s rising tide, even in its earliest days, and such attempts haven’t gone away. AOL may not be much of an ISP these days, but we’re still trying to get America online.

  • Civil Rights

    • Internet Freedom Is Actively Dissolving in America

      It’s the end of 2015, and one fact about the internet is quickly becoming clear this year: Americans’ freedom to access the open internet is rapidly dissolving.

      Broadband access is declining, data caps are becoming commonplace, surveillance is increasing, and encryption is under attack.

      This is not merely my opinion. The evidence is everywhere; the walls are closing in from all sides. The net neutrality victory of early this year has rapidly been tempered by the fact that net neutrality doesn’t matter if you don’t have solid access to said ‘net.

      A Pew Research Center survey released earlier this week showed that at-home broadband adoption has actually decreased over the last two years, from 70 percent of people to 67 percent of people. Among black Americans, that number has dropped from 62 percent to 54 percent; among rural residents, the number has dropped from 60 percent to 55 percent.

    • DoJ forced Google to turn over Jacob Appelbaum’s email, then gagged Google

      Google’s lawyers fought strenuously against the DoJ’s demands for access to the Gmail account of Jacob Appelbaum, a journalist, activist and volunteer with the Wikileaks project; they fought even harder against the accompanying gag order, arguing that Appelbaum had the right to know what was going on and have a lawyer argue his case.

      In both cases, a Federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia ruled against the company, allowing the government to read Appelbaum’s email in secret.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Facebook “Free Basics” Curtailed in India Over Net Neutrality Dispute

      The controversial program allows mobile customers free access to a limited set of Internet services, including certain online shopping, employment and health sites, Wikipedia and, naturally, Facebook itself. While Facebook has said the program offers limited Internet access to more than 1 billion people, those who might otherwise have none, it’s come under fire from net neutrality activists and others in the industry who say it limits users to a walled garden populated solely by Facebook’s partners.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Judge’s Opinion On Kim Dotcom Shows An Unfortunate Willingness To Ignore Context

        Last night, we posted the news that a judge in New Zealand had ruled that Kim Dotcom and his colleagues were extraditable. Dotcom is appealing the decision, so it’s not over yet. Soon after the decision was announced, the full ruling by Judge Nevin Dawson was released. It’s a staggering 271 pages, and I’ve spent a good chunk of today reading it over. Some parts of it are more compelling than others, and there may even be enough to support the ruling. However, what troubles me is how frequently Judge Dawson appears to totally, without question, accept the US government’s arguments (as relayed by New Zealand prosecutors), despite the fact that many of them are clearly misleading at best, or downright incorrect.

      • Kim Dotcom’s Megaupload heyday is ancient history for the music industry

        You might expect champagne corks to be popping within major music labels at the news that a New Zealand court has ruled Kim Dotcom can be extradited to the US to face charges of copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering.

        In his heyday at cloud storage service Megaupload, Dotcom became a cartoon villain for music rightsholders – and their compatriots in the film, games and software industries – as they saw the company as a haven for illegal filesharing. Yet that heyday is ancient history for a music industry that has been going through an intense period of digital disruption in recent years. Dotcom was arrested and his site shut down nearly four years ago, in January 2012.

      • The Big Read: What next for Kim Dotcom?

        Finally, a decision, but don’t expect Kim Dotcom to be going anywhere fast.

        In an interview just before the extradition decision, Dotcom says no matter the outcome he is determined to live in New Zealand.

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