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02.02.16

Links 2/2/2016: Chimpbox Quad Core, UNICEF Supports FOSS

Posted in News Roundup at 7:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Flip Your Desktop Over to Boot Linux

    The Linux sleeve could only slide on if the computer was flipped upside down. So he needed to detect when it was in this state. To do this he wired a switch into one of the com ports of his computer, and attached it to the top of the case mod. He modified the assembly code in the MBR to read the state of the switch. When the Linux sleeve is on (and therefore the computer is flipped over) it boots Linux. When the sleeve is off, Windows. Neat. It would be cool to put a small computer in a cube and have it boot different operating systems with this trick. Or maybe a computer that boots into guest mode in one orientation, and the full system in another.

  • February 2016 Issue of Linux Journal

    I love my job. I teach Linux by day and write about Linux at night. It’s easy to fall in love with your work when the things you do align with your passions.

  • Desktop

    • In A UEFI World, “rm -rf /” Can Brick Your System

      Running rm -rf / on any UEFI Linux distribution can potentially perma-brick your system.

      As a public service announcement, recursively removing all of your files from / is no longer recommended. On UEFI distributions by default where EFI variables are accessible via /sys, this can now mean trashing your UEFI implementation.

    • Running a single delete command in Linux can permanently brick some laptops [Ed: this is systemd and UEFI]

      It’s fairly stupid to run such a command, but usually not destructive to anything but the Linux installation. However, as it turns out, on MSI laptops it’s possible to completely wipe the EFI boot partition from inside Linux.

    • Running “rm -rf /” Is Now Bricking UEFI Based Linux Systems

      Running rm -rf / on any UEFI Linux distro can potentially perma-brick your system, Windows PCs also vulnerable

    • I bought my mom a Chromebook Pixel and everything is so much better now

      The problem: most of the Chromebooks on the market feel cheap. They’re generally marketed as secondary computers, so they’re made to be inexpensive, and that means almost all of them are made of cheap-feeling plastic. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I needed to pass the sleek test. The only viable option was Google’s own Chromebook Pixel, which is an amazingly beautiful machine that’s ridiculously expensive by most normal standards, because it’s a thousand-dollar computer that just runs Chrome. It sounds insane: most tech products that cost a thousand dollars do many, many more things than simply running a web browser. I spent weeks tossing the idea around every chance I got, just to see if it would ever sound less like I was slowly going crazy.

    • Neon Introduced, PCLOS ChimpBox, rm -rf /

      The top story today in Linux news was the warning not to use rm -rf / anymore. Anymore? In a bit of competition for the MintBox, the PCLinuxOS project announced a new mini computer with their OS factory installed starting at around $300. Jonathan Riddell revealed more about the new Neon project and the GNOME Foundation stated today that Karen Sandler did not bankrupt them.

    • Running ‘rm -rf –no-preserve-root /’ Command In Linux Can Kill Some Laptops Permanently

      The mere thought of permanently damaging your laptop is daunting. But, what if you are trying to erase your current Linux installation and you end up hard bricking your device? One such incident happened with a user who ran the ‘rm -rf –no-preserve-root /’ command and ended up breaking his laptop.

  • Server

    • Compatibility and a Linux Community Server

      I recently added support for IPv6 to the Linux Users of Victoria server. I think that adding IPv6 support is a good thing due to the lack of IPv4 addresses even though there are hardly any systems that are unable to access IPv4. One of the benefits of this for club members is that it’s a platform they can use for testing IPv6 connectivity with a friendly sysadmin to help them diagnose problems. I recently notified a member by email that the callback that their mail server used as an anti-spam measure didn’t work with IPv6 and was causing mail to be incorrectly rejected. It’s obviously a benefit for that user to have the problem with a small local server than with something like Gmail.

  • Kernel Space

    • Here Is A Linux 4.5-rc2 Kernel To Play With The New AMDGPU Functionality

      With a report that Linux 4.5-rc2 manages to improve the AMD R9 Fury (Fiji) performance, I spun up a Linux 4.5-rc2 kernel this morning for easing those wanting to test the AMDGPU driver atop Ubuntu.

      While the Ubuntu Mainline Kernel PPA ships with the AMDGPU DRM driver enabled, it doesn’t yet enable the new PowerPlay Kconfig option for getting faster performance on hardware like Fiji, Tonga, etc. Their kernel also doesn’t ship with the experimental CIK GPU support enabled. Thus I spun a 4.5-rc2 kernel this morning that enables these extra AMDGPU tunables.

    • AMDGPU Driver Said To Be Much Faster With Linux 4.5-rc2 Kernel

      With Linux 4.5-rc2 that was released last night, the new AMDGPU DRM driver is supposedly much faster compared to last week’s 4.5-rc1 kernel.

      A Phoronix reader commented, “I read through the changelog and saw that there were several amdgpu patches. I just built this RC, rebooted, and ran some 3d benchmarks an the result is: a) double or quadruple the framerates that I got with RC1, and b) no more overheating. I have the same model R9 Fury that Michael excluded from the last round of benchmarks due to performance/stability problems.”

    • Kernel prepatch 4.5-rc2
    • Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) Now Officially Powered by Linux Kernel 4.4 LTS

      It’s finally here! We know that we’ve told you so many times about the fact that the upcoming Ubuntu 16.04 LTS operating system will get the long-term supported Linux 4.4 kernel someday, but that day is today, February 1, 2016.

      Just a few minutes ago, Canonical pushed the final Linux kernel 4.4 LTS packages into the stable repositories of the upcoming distribution for early adopters like us to upgrade and replace the old Linux 4.3 kernel from the Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf) released.

    • Linux Kernel 3.14.60 LTS Released with PowerPC and AArch64 Improvements

      After announcing the release of Linux kernel 4.4.1 LTS and Linux kernel 3.10.96 LTS, kernel maintainer and developer Greg Kroah-Hartman published details about the availability of the sixtieth maintenance build of the Linux 3.14 LTS kernel series.

      Changing 65 files, with 375 insertions and 154 deletions, Linux kernel 3.14.60 LTS is here to add various improvements to the PowerPC (PPC), AArch64 (ARM64), x86, OpenRISC, and MN10300 hardware architectures, as well as to update several drivers, especially for things like PA-RISC, USB, Xen, ISDN, HID, connector, and networking (PPP, bonding, and Serial Line Internet Protocol (SLIP)).

    • Internet of Things in 2016 – It’s All About People

      The second was the continued momentum of the AllSeen Alliance, a Collaborative Project managed by the Linux Foundation, collaborating on a common technology framework and shared standards to deliver the common language needed for an open IoT.

      [...]

      The second was the continued momentum of the AllSeen Alliance, a Collaborative Project managed by the Linux Foundation, on behalf of the Alliance’s 200-plus member companies. This open community is collaborating on a common technology framework and shared standards to deliver the common language needed for an open IoT. Members of the Alliance pool their knowledge and technical resources to advance the open source AllJoyn® framework and deliver interoperable IoT products to market. At CES 2016, the AllSeen booth was filled with tons of real products that consumers can buy today, garnering heavy traffic, happy members and engaging conversations. Nearly two dozen products are now AllJoyn Certified, ensuring consumers that AllJoyn products will work seamlessly together to enable more than just a remote control.

    • Linux Kernel 4.1.17 LTS Is a Major Update, Brings Many x86, ARM64 and PPC Fixes

      After announcing the release of Linux kernel 4.4.1 LTS, Linux kernel 3.10.96 LTS and Linux kernel 3.14.60 LTS, renowned kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman informed users about the release of the seventeenth maintenance build of Linux kernel 4.1 LTS.

    • Graphics Stack

      • R9 Fury Performance Gains With Linux 4.5-rc2? I’m Not So Lucky

        When reading this morning of “double or quadruple the framerates that I got with RC1″ for an R9 Fury owned by a Phoronix reader, I immediately set out to run some R9 Fury benchmarks on Linux 4.5-rc2 compared to my 4.5-rc1 results last week and compared to Catalyst. I also did the same for an R9 285 Tonga on AMDGPU as well for reference purposes.

      • AMDGPU ACP Support Called For Merging Still Into Linux 4.5

        While the Linux 4.5 kernel’s merge window ended more than one week ago, it looks like the AMDGPU driver may get a late feature arrival: ACP support.

        ACP is the Audo Co-Processor support found in new AMD APUs/SoCs. AMD developers had been working on the support for several months while the audio and power management related ACP code landed during the Linux 4.5 merge window. With that code now mainlined, AMD’s Alex Deucher is looking to land the ACP driver support into the AMDGPU DRM driver.

      • The Intel Mesa Driver Has Gotten Faster Since Switching To NIR

        Eduardo Lima of Igalia spoke this weekend at FOSDEM about the work done over the past year on switching the Mesa Intel i965 back-end to using the NIR intermediate representation.

        The presentation by this developer covered GLSL IR vs. NIR, the Intel shader pipeline, what NIR is all about, and more. NIR is the new Mesa intermediate representation that was initially designed by a high school student. Besides Intel’s interest in NIR, Freedreno and VC4 Gallium3D drivers have also been actively interested in this IR.

      • The Open-Source Vivante DRM Driver Has A Promising Future

        With the upcoming Linux 4.5 kernel, one of the new hardware drivers is the long-in-development Etnaviv DRM driver for providing reverse-engineered, open-source support to Vivante GPUs found in use by multiple SoC vendors.

      • leaking buffers in wayland

        So in my last blog post I mentioned Matthias was getting SIGBUS when using wayland for a while. You may remember that I guessed the problem was that his /tmp was filling up, and so I produced a patch to stop using /tmp and use memfd_create instead. This resolved the SIGBUS problem for him, but there was something gnawing at me: why was his /tmp filling up? I know gnome-terminal stores its unlimited scrollback buffer in an unlinked file in /tmp so that was one theory. I also have seen, in some cases firefox downloading files to /tmp. Neither explanation sat well with me. scrollback buffers don’t get that large very quickly and Matthias was seeing the problem several times a day. I also doubted he was downloading large files in firefox several times a day. Nonetheless, I shrugged, and moved on to other things…

      • AMD’s Guide To Using Boltzmann ROCK/ROCR & HCC On Linux

        Last week AMD launched GPUOpen and began shipping their new and open code. Today the company has published a guide for taking advantage of the Boltzmann stack with their Radeon Open Compute Kernel and Runtime.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Jono Bacon Thinks About A Hybrid Desktop With GNOME Shell Atop Mac OS X

        Jono Bacon, the former Ubuntu Community Manager who is currently employed by GitHub, has proposed a hypothetical new open-source project that effectively comes down to bringing the Linux user-space — complete with the GNOME Shell — over to Mac OS X.

        Jono explained his new idea in a blog post, “You want the very best computing experience, so you first go out and buy a Mac. They have arguably the nicest overall hardware combo (looks, usability, battery etc) out there. You then download a distribution from the Internet. This is shipped as a .dmg and you install it. It then proceeds to install a bunch of software on your computer. This includes things such as: GNOME Shell, All the GNOME 3 apps, Various command line tools commonly used on Linux, An ability to install Linux packages (e.g. Debian packages, RPMs, snaps) natively.” Basically, GNU/OSX.

      • GTK+ 3.19.8 Out Now with New Radio and Check Implementation, Bugfixes

        Just a few days ago we announced the release of the seventh maintenance build for the stable GTK+ 3.18 series of the GNOME 3.18 desktop environment, but now the hard working devs behind the project released a brand-new development version.

      • GNOME Foundation was never bankrupt

        To clarify the matter, the Foundation was never bankrupt. Quite a while ago, there was a temporary cash flow issue which is now completely resolved. Funds that were committed by sponsors and earmarked for the Outreach Program for Women (OPW) were delayed in payment. GNOME Foundation’s board temporarily froze expenditures while it collected the funds and revamped its financial procedures to adjust for the additional cash flow going forward. Every cent of the funds was ultimately received. Additionally, GNOME collected administrative fees which covered the program’s expenses.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Lexumo Lands $4.89 Million Seed Round To Help Ensure Open Source Code Security

    What has Lexumo created to warrant that kind of financial attention? It indexed all of the open source code in the world and created a cloud security service aimed at helping companies using open source code inside embedded systems or enterprise software. These groups can submit their code to the Lexumo service and it checks for any known security vulnerabilities. What’s more, it will then continuously monitor the code for updates and inform developers when one is available.

  • Draper Spinout Lexumo Looks to Secure IoT With $4.9M From Boston VCs

    On the Internet of Things side, you can name a security startup for almost every letter of the alphabet: Attify, Bastille, CyberCanary, and so on. But most of these companies have very different approaches as compared with Lexumo. (As for Lexumo’s name: Gaynor says it is loosely connected to the Latin roots for “code” and “fix.” Fair enough.)

  • Measure magnetic field with open source teslameter

    A Slovenia-based start-up called Red Pitaya has created a programmable test and measurement instrument which runs open source software and it has posted its first test applications on the internet.

    The board can be configured as an oscilloscope, an arbitrary waveform generator or spectrum analyser by downloading software applications from the company’s online marketplace.

    One design project describes an open source app which can be used to identify unwanted electromagnetic emissions by performing magnetic field measurements.

  • UNICEF Innovation Fund to invest in open source technology start-ups

    To qualify for funding, projects must be open source and have a working prototype. They can involve developing a new technology, or expanding or improving an already existing one.

  • UNICEF launches Innovation Fund for open-source investment

    The United Nations has announced that it will provide some 60 start-ups with more than $9 million in funding to develop open-source technologies to improve the lives of children in developing countries.

  • UNICEF Aims to Drive Open Source Innovation that Helps Children

    The One Laptop per Child project — which aims to empower children worldwide through technology — didn’t end up being fully open source. But starting this week, UNICEF hopes to leverage open source code for the benefit of children once again by funding select open source projects.

    On Monday, UNICEF announced that it would award funding from the UNICEF Innovation Fund to support software projects that are creating or improving technologies designed to help children (or any “youth under 25″). To qualify, the projects must be open source.

  • UN invests $9m in ‘open source’ tech to save children’s lives

    The United Nations will fund 60 startups to create open source technologies to improve the lives of children in developing countries.

    Unicef, the children’s charity run by the UN, will channel more than $9 million into startups baed on venture capital style investing. But it isn’t concerned if the companies fail.

  • 6 Benefits of Using Open Source Software in Government (Industry Perspective)

    Open source software thrives in government and is in some ways a technical expression of democracy: engineers building common ground and forging a more open and free future for all.

    But it’s also often misunderstood in parts of the public sector, seen as a time-consuming and unsupported solution. So if you’re on the fence about open source, keep reading to learn about benefits, evaluation methods, support tools and a few packages to consider right away.

  • Google peddles Linux based load balancer to open sourcers

    Google has developed an open source infrastructure software build using its Go language.

    The ad-flinger has released the Seesaw load balancer for Linux, built to replace two existing systems.

    Code has been released to GitHub here.

    Google’s site reliability engineer, Joel Sing, blogged that Seesaw would increase the availability of service and reduce the management overhead.

    “We are pleased to be able to make this platform available to the rest of the world and hope that other enterprises will be able to benefit,” Sing wrote.

  • Google spotlights Go language with new open source load balancer

    Most of Google’s open source releases have centered on infrastructure-building projects, like Kubernetes, that stem from the company’s work with its public cloud infrastructure. But Google’s latest open source project — a load-balancing technology called Seesaw — instead comes from work done for the company’s corporate, in-house infrastructure.

  • We’re in a brave, new post open source world

    Two startups, in particular: GitHub and Stack Overflow. Together, they launched a new chapter for software technology. And the decisions we make from here will determine how the next 5–10 years of software unfold.

  • Kolab and Collabora team up to take on Google Apps and Office 365

    Collabora Productivity, a UK-based consulting firm that offers LibreOffice for enterprises, and Kolab Systems, a Switzerland-based provider of open source groupware solutions, have partnered to offer Collabora’s CloudSuite as an integrated component of Kolab.

  • Events

    • Spring 2016 ‘Big Tent’ Linux and FOSS Conferences

      Today linux.conf.au 2016 gets cranked up for a five day run in the land down under for a big tent show where registration is sold out. This comes on the heels of another big show which folded its tent last night, FOSDEM 2016, the two day event that ran this weekend in Brussels. Both of these came after the most hyped SCALE ever — and evidently rightfully so. The first-of-the-year Linux and FOSS lovefest vacated the Pasadena Convention center a little over a week ago, not to return until March 2-5, 2017, a very late date for that event.

    • OpenStack Summit Austin: CFS period extended

      Just a small update on the Call for Speakers for the OpenStack Austin summit.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • ownCloud Hits New Milestones: How You Can Get Going With It

      The ever popular ownCloud open source file-sharing and storage platform for building private clouds has reached some remarkable new milestones. You can move beyond what services such as Dropbox and Box offer by leveraging ownCloud, and you don’t have to have your files sitting on servers that you don’t choose, governed by people you don’t know.

      Now, ownCloud Inc. has announced that is has achieved 100% year-over-year growth in 2015 with its open source platform, and is on track to double that growth again in 2016. “For 2016, ownCloud is already on track to double bookings to more than $16 million,” the company reports. “Today, it has more than 300 customers across 47 countries, with downloads of the community and enterprise edition in 193 countries supporting more than 8 million users.” Here are more details, and info on how you can leverage ownCloud.

    • Free Hadoop and Spark Training Offerings Arrive

      These training programs promise to make a difference. According to Nick Heudecker and Lisa Kart, research directors, Gartner Inc., “As more organizations invest in big data, the shortage of available skills and capabilities will become more acute. Instead of facing a difficult recruiting market, organizations should focus on adapting available skills and engaging with established service providers to fill the skills gap.”

  • CMS

    • Sustainable Drupal: 10 ways to save energy by speeding up your CMS

      Web performance is important for sustainability. The less we have to transfer, the better. We can also do a lot to optimize how the content works with the browser so that the end user gets information as quickly as possible.

      As discussed in earlier articles, Green LAMP and Lean WordPress, there is a lot that can be done on the server level to speed up your site. However, the content management system (CMS) has a great deal of control over what and when code is presented to the screen. Ultimately, you want to present your main content as quickly as possible so that the browser can present it as quickly as possible.

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • IBM Aims to Expand Open Source Community Surrounding Mainframes [Ed: openwashing campaign to make its proprietary overpriced mainframes seem more ethical]

      In addition to updating the systems that make up the IBM LinuxONE portfolio, IBM has announced that it is optimizing both its StrongLoop framework for creating application programming interfaces and the Cloudant NoSQL database that it provides as a managed service to run on IBM Linux. They also announced that they are collaborating with SUSE to leverage OpenStack to manage instances of the Linux on a mainframe and that the Go programming language developed by Google is now available on IBM Linux mainframes.

  • BSD

    • LLVM Continues To Dominate Across Many Operating Systems, Software Projects

      LLVM gets GPU exposure via NVIDIA’s CUDA, Mesa LLVMpipe, LunarGLASS, the AMDGPU open-source driver stack, SPIR / SPIR-V, and a majority of the OpenCL implementations in the world. Web projects around LLVM include Google’s Portable Native Client (PNaCl), WebKit FTL JIT, EmScripten, and WebAssembly, among others.

    • Haiku OS Powered By BSD? It’s A Possibility

      François Revol presented at FOSDEM this weekend about the prospects of Haiku OS ever becoming a BSD distribution. Haiku OS, the well known BeOS re-implementation, does currently rely upon some BSD components but more integration is possible.

      Haiku OS is the project that continues to be developed for more than the past decade as a open-source operating system compatible with BeOS.

    • ElectroBSD – Free as in free (electro) beer and freedom

      The Electro Beer Software Distribution (ElectroBSD) is an experimental operating system designed to be used in hostile environments like Germany.

      ElectroBSD is (supposed to be) free software but hasn’t been released yet.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Overthrowing the Tyranny of Software by John Sullivan

      As part of my master class on Free and Open Source (FOSS) Software at University Paris Diderot, I invite guest lecturers to present to my students the point of views of various actors of the FOSS ecosystem — companies, non-profits, activists, lawyers, etc.s

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Beyond Open Access And Open Data: Open Science — And No Patents

      This obsession with patenting that bedevils research at many academic institutions, and the poor returns it produces, is something that Techdirt has written about before. Eschewing patents, and sharing results, data, software and algorithms is bold enough, but arguably even bolder is the requirement that collaborators from other institutions must do the same…

    • Open Data

      • Stand with Diego. Support Open Access.

        There’s a battle taking place over the future of academic publishing, but the impact that battle will have on the world is anything but academic. The stakes are high, and there are real casualties.

        Today and tomorrow, there’s an oral hearing taking place for Diego Gomez, a Colombian student being prosecuted for sharing another student’s Master’s thesis with colleagues over the Internet—something that thousands of researchers do every day. Diego faces the possibility of years in prison, thanks to the steep penalties for copyright infringement that Colombia implemented as part of a 2012 trade agreement with the United States.

        EFF has long held that extreme criminal copyright rules chill people’s rights, especially in countries where copyright law doesn’t protect users’ freedom of speech through robust fair use exceptions.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • WHO Board Debate: High Prices Sow Seeds Of Fake Medicines In Developing Countries

      Fake and poor quality medicines are still a growing public health concern particularly in developing countries, according to some World Health Organization members, who said at last week’s WHO Board meeting that the problem comes from the unaffordability of medicines and the lack of a strong surveillance system.

    • Special Feature: UN High Level Panel On Access To Medicines – First Reactions, Process Explained

      A high level panel of experts charged by United Nations secretary general to explore solutions to increase innovation and access to medicines in developing countries gave a briefing today to explain the process of the initiative. Intellectual property is often seen as both a barrier to the diffusion of health technologies and an innovation enabler.

      The UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines, spearheaded by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UNAIDS, held a briefing at the World Health Organization to present its work to countries and various stakeholders.

    • Peter Byrne and the workings of the health-care system

      Despite its clean environment and health-concious residents, California’s Marin County has been called the breast-cancer capital of the world. But is the seemingly high incidence of the disease actually the result of high rates of screening, and tests that often yield false positives? And did some health officials allow the dubious reputation to continue, to keep research dollars flowing?

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Your Smartphone Can Be Hacked Due To A Backdoor In Your Processor

      A new security vulnerability has been reported in the smartphones which use MediaTek Processors. MediaTek company is a Taiwan-based company which manufacturers processors for the budget range smartphones. The security bug was found because a debug feature was not closed on the smartphone after testing.

      A new bug has surfaced lately on the Android smartphones or tablets which use a MediaTek processor. These devices are vulnerable to remote hacking via a backdoor. This security vulnerability was discovered by a security researcher, Justin Case. The MediaTek company has been informed about the flaw. This security vulnerability is apparently due to a debug tool which was left open by MediaTek in the shipped devices.

    • Using IPv6 with Linux? You’ve likely been visited by Shodan and other scanners
    • Trojanized Android games hide malicious code inside images

      Over 60 Android games hosted on Google Play had Trojan-like functionality that allowed them to download and execute malicious code hidden inside images.

      The rogue apps were discovered by researchers from Russian antivirus vendor Doctor Web and were reported to Google last week. The researchers dubbed the new threat Android.Xiny.19.origin.

    • Google fixes multiple Wi-Fi flaws, mediaserver bugs in Android
    • On WebKit Security Updates

      Major desktop browsers push automatic security updates directly to users on a regular basis, so most users don’t have to worry about security updates. But Linux users are dependent on their distributions to release updates. Apple fixed over 100 vulnerabilities in WebKit last year, so getting updates out to users is critical.

    • Redmond Admits Using Microsoft Supported Windows Is ‘Risky’ [Ed: back doors as standard]

      In previous visits to Claude and Jane’s house I had cautioned both of them that if the messages they got for any reason seemed to be pushy or if those messages are telling you that you are in danger of infection, that is more than likely malware designed to get you to click a link. Evidently, Jane had listened. Since the “Upgrade to Windows 10” was a clickable link, she stopped what she was doing and signed out of Windows and booted back into Linux. From those friendly confines she began to do a bit of research as to what malware might be threatening her.

      Turns out, she discovered that malware was Windows 10.

      She called me to see if I was busy and would I come over and take a look at this for her. She wanted to make sure she was going to be safe in Windows — or as safe as anyone can be in Windows anyway.

      Jane had taken it on herself to see what this was all about and in that look around the internet she found what she suspected to be true. Microsoft Windows it seems, is in the business of trying to scare old ladies or anyone else who doesn’t really feel comfortable in a technology environment. When I was able to get over there, she showed me what she had found.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Afghan Economy in Fragile Condition, Worsening

      Hey, did you wake up today wondering what was going on in Afghanistan, America’s 51st state, you know, the one we’ve been occupying for over 14 years, that one where thousands of Americans have died and where thousands still serve? Yeah, that Afghanistan.

    • Washington Is The Greatest Threat To World Order

      Naryshkin has a good point. Until the advent of the “war on terror,” torture was a rarely used tool of post-WW II governments in Europe and the US. But in the 21st century illegal torture became so commonplace that a magazine, Torture, was created to expose and combat torture. The magazine’s editorial board consists of Nilantha Ilangamuwa, Lauren Glenmere, and Eric Bailey.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • DOJ Lies To ‘FOIA Terrorist’ Jason Leopold; Claim They Have No Documents On Aaron Swartz

      Meanwhile, Jason Leopold, who uses FOIA requests so frequently and so effectively that the DOJ once labeled him a “FOIA Terrorist,” submitted a similar request with the Justice Department — specifically targeting the US Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts — which is the office out of which Swartz’s case was prosecuted. Obviously, they have plenty of such documents. In fact, in Poulsen’s DHS Swartz files there are emails between DHS and DOJ folks. But, an astounding three years and 11 days after Leopold submitted his FOIA request, the DOJ has told him it has no responsive documents.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Saudi Arabia struggles to cope with cheap oil

      Saudi Arabia has managed to buy itself a couple of months.

      The global rout of oil prices is taking its toll on the kingdom’s bottom line. The country has been forced to cut government spending in its upcoming budget and increase production of crude oil—even though its hardly worth pulling it out of the ground.

      Still, the world’s largest producer of oil appears on a crash-course for bankruptcy as early as of 2018, according to a new Big Crunch analysis.

    • Green tech ready to step in when oil prices rise: Don Pittis

      As hard-hit investors in the energy sector hang on the latest price for crude and await news of this week’s oil company results, they aren’t the only ones. People in the green energy business also want to see an oil and gas price recovery.

      “Obviously, higher cost of fossil energy is beneficial to renewable energy because we typically replace fossil energy,” says Klaus Dohring, president of Green Sun Rising, based in Windsor, Ont.

      Dohring’s solar energy company has not only survived but prospered despite the plunge in the price of fossil fuels.

      According to a U.S. report out later this week, Green Sun is an example of a trend. And green advocates expect business will only improve as prices rise and governments get more serious about their their climate change commitments.

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Eight Years Ago, The Iowa Caucus Convinced Me Of The Power Of Twitter… Today? Not So Much

      Of course, in the eight years since, Twitter has grown and changed and struggled. And I doubt I’ll have the same experience tonight. Already (unlike eight years ago), the press is pushing out lists of people to follow on Twitter to “get the full story” on the Iowa caucuses, and the list is mainly made up of professional journalists. And, at the same time, the company continues to try to reinvent itself to make itself more acceptable to Wall Street investors. The company stupidly shunned the developers and contributors who made the service so powerful in the early years, meaning that it’s getting increasingly frustrating to actually use Twitter. It’s been adding in “features” that the company thinks will benefit advertisers, but seem to negatively impact its best users. And there are all sorts of questions about how Twitter will survive (though it has a ton of cash on hand).

      For a long time I’ve argued that Twitter made a big mistake in focusing on being a platform instead of a protocol, and the struggles it’s facing today are just some evidence supporting that concern. As a “platform” they’re so focused on building the business, rather than being useful. And in scaring off or simply blocking or killing their developer community, the fact that the service has gotten more annoying than useful lately, is a real loss. If there were a thriving developer community there would be ample opportunities for those innovations to make the service better. But instead, it’s been left to Twitter alone, and the company is failing (badly) in that role.

    • VIDEO: Bernie Sanders Gives His Most Passionate Speech Yet After a ‘Historically Close’ Iowa Caucus

      As the final results for the Iowa caucus were coming in and it looked like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were in what he called a “virtual tie,” Sanders addressed Iowa and the nation.

      “I think the people of Iowa have sent a very profound message to the political establishment, to the economic establishment, and by the way, to the media establishment,” said the Vermont Senator in a rousing speech Monday night. “It is just too late for establishment politics and establishment economics … What Iowa has begun tonight is a political revolution.”

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • New Report Debunks FBI’s ‘Going Dark’ FUD

      The way things are going, pretty soon FBI Director James Comey is going to be out there alone, flipping off light switches and blowing out candles, all the while cursing the going darkness.

      A new report by Harvard’s Berkman Society for Internet and Society debunks law enforcement’s fearful statements about encroaching darkness. (h/t New York Times) As the report points out, there may be some pockets that are darker than others, but the forward march of technology means other areas are brighter than they’ve ever been. In particular, the growing Internet of Things is pretty much just the Internet of Confidential Informants.

    • Falconer refers the MoJ’s criminal legal aid fiasco to the National Audit Office

      Below is a copy of the letter which was sent today.

    • Justice Department launches investigation into San Francisco police force

      The Justice Department said Monday it would investigate the San Francisco Police Department, an announcement that comes two months after officers fatally shot a man in an incident that provoked outrage and protests after video footage emerged.

      This review is meant to be a comprehensive examination of the police department’s policies and practices as well as how officers are kept accountable.

      It was announced as protests continue over the death of Mario Woods, a 26-year-old shot and killed by officers on Dec. 2.

      An account released by the police department said that Woods matched the description of a suspect wanted for an earlier stabbing that day and refused orders to drop his knife.

    • Anti-swatting US Congresswoman targeted in swatting attack

      This type of police report—using a disguised voice to allege false threats at a residence—is known as “swatting,” due to the likelihood that police departments will react by sending SWAT teams to respond to serious-sounding threats. In the case of the Sunday night call, however, Guilfoil confirmed that Melrose police followed “established protocols” to choose a de-escalated response of normal police officers, though the officers in question blocked traffic on both ends of Clark’s street with patrol cars. Guilfoil was unable to clarify whether weapons were drawn at the scene, and he did not answer our other questions about the incident, particularly those about the nature of the phone call received, “due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.”

    • A Yahoo Employee-Ranking System Is Challenged in Court

      One of Marissa Mayer’s signature policies as chief executive of Yahoo has been the quarterly performance review, in which every employee at the company is ranked on a scale of 1 to 5. The ratings have been used to fire hundreds of employees since Ms. Mayer joined the company in mid-2012.

    • Championing human rights for the internet – why bother? Part three; Some progress is better than nothing?

      There has also been a move towards at least a nominal recognition that human rights and the internet do and, indeed, should mix within powerful agencies opposed to direct forms of government control as a point of principle; e.g. the US-incorporated Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) as it undergoes its own version of globalization. The ante has been upped thereby for governments, post-Snowden, claiming the higher moral ground by virtue of their legal responsibilities under international human rights law in the face of state-sponsored abuses of fundamental rights and freedoms.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • The Ultimate VPN Comparison Chart Featuring More Than 100 VPN Services

      Selecting the right VPN service to fulfill your needs is a monumental task. Keeping in mind the same, a Reddit user has made a massive VPN comparison chart that features 111 services at the moment. The chart compares these services on various parameters like privacy, data logging, pricing etc.

    • India Set To Ban Zero Rating As Facebook’s Misleading Lobbying Falls Flat

      That’s something the FCC refused to do here in the States, and as a result we’re witnessing telecom carriers rushing toward who can be the most “innovative” in the zero rating space. AT&T and Verizon are now formally charging companies for premium, cap-exempt status, T-Mobile is throttling every shred of video that touches its network to 1.5 Mbps (and lying about it), and Comcast is now exempting its own streaming video service from usage caps, much to the chagrin of smaller streaming competitors. So far, the FCC’s response has been to nod dumbly.

      In India, Facebook (lead by former FCC boss and neutrality waffler Kevin Martin), has been engaged in a blistering media and lobbying campaign to convince India that a curated walled garden run by Facebook was a great way to help the nation’s poor farmers. Indian activists and critics like Mozilla disagreed, arguing that the company was simply hiding its lust to control emerging ad markets under the banner of altruism, and if Facebook really wanted to help India’s poor, it should focus on improving the country’s actual Internet infrastructure.

    • Trai set to reject differential pricing; Free Basics to be hit

      Telecom regulator Trai is set to reject differential pricing for data services, a move that would mean the end of controversial services like Facebook’s Free Basics and Airtel Zero.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Homeless People Lose Internet Access Over Illegal Downloads

        People living in an encampment for the homeless in Florida have found themselves without Internet access following claims of illegal downloading. The operators of Dignity Village say that after several complaints from their ISP about piracy they had no choice but to stop providing free WiFi to all.

        In addition to providing shelter and sanitation facilities for homeless people, Dignity Village in Florida also provided its residents with free WiFi. This resource was invaluable for staying in touch with the outside world, attempting to find work and participate in training.

      • The Fine Bros Plan Is Actually Pretty Cool If You Get Past How They Announced It

        There are lots of details here, but it starts with the Fine Brothers, Benny and Rafi, who have built up a rather impressive empire in creating amusing internet videos. They have a bunch of shows, many of which are crazy popular. Among the most well-known is probably the “Kids React” series, in which they film kids reacting to things (often “old” things that the kids may not be familiar with, frequently pop culture related). Personally, I like the one where kids react to seeing the very first iPod. Warning, if you’re older than, like, 10, this video may make you feel really old.

      • PhD Student Seminar at CIPA

        Over the last twenty years, the dramatic popularity of the internet has transformed it into an interactive space filled with vast amounts of digital content, capable of being shared among its users. The carriers of this content on the Web are websites. Significant and functional components of websites are hyperlinks which have the ability to connect webpages together or direct users to downloadable digital files. In this respect, hyperlinks may be considered to have by nature an inherent capability of infringing copyright of protected digital content. For example, issues for copyright infringement may arise where a link directs to a work which is released online without the author’s consent. The presentation focused on the potential of hyperlinks to infringe the author’s exclusive right of communication expressed in Article 3 of the Information Society Directive, examining whether hyperlinking can be an act of communication. In addition to this, a comparative study of European cases, which were adjudicated before the landmark Svensson case, was presented. This indicated that most European national courts concluded that hyperlinking is not an act of communication to the public. However, acts of infringement by means of hyperlinking had generally been captured under provisions and doctrines on indirect liability, such as contributory infringement or authorisation. Discussing principles expressed in Svensson itself and drawing conclusions from national case law, the speaker argued that national laws on indirect liability, combined with the provision against the circumvention of technological measures of the Information Society Directive, are sufficient to determine liability in cases where copyright infringement takes place via hyperlinking.

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