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07.02.16

Links 2/7/2016: Kodi 17 Alpha 2, Slackware 14.2

Posted in News Roundup at 6:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Oracle Loses Again, Red Hat Competes With FOSS & More…

    Also included: LinuxQuestions.org has a birthday, six new distro releases, Ubuntu considering dropping 32-bit support and the feds were after Snowden.

  • Desktop

    • Is Your OS Working For You Or Enslaving You?

      Essentially, folks bought a PC to use, run their applications and browse their networks and MS has installed malware on them to advertise “10”. Malware. That’s what this is. If the guy who made your OS deliberately installs malware on your PC, what are you going to do?

    • Microsoft’s Windows 10 nagware goes FULL SCREEN in final push

      As the Windows 10 free upgrade period draws to a close, Microsoft is stepping up its operating system’s nagware to full-screen takeovers.

      The Redmond software giant confirmed today it will start showing dark blue screens urging people to install the latest version of Windows. The full-screen ads will pop up on Windows 7 and 8.1 desktops from now until July 30, when the free upgrade period ends.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Check out ‘Why, Phil?’, new Linux audio webshow series

      Philip Yassin has recently started an upbeat Linux audio webshow series called ‘Ask Phil?’. Only recently started, the series has already notched up an impressive 7 episodes, most of which revolve around Phil’s favourite DAW, Qtractor.

  • Applications

    • Grammar and style-checking tools for Emacs

      Grammar be hard. Both for human beings and for software programs. These days, writers who use free software generally have their choice of reliable utilities for catching spelling mistakes, regardless of what editors or word processors they use. The outlook for grammar-and-style checking is not nearly as rosy. I recently explored the options available for Emacs, and was underwhelmed with the status quo.

    • Unblock Censored Websites Using Lantern Browser in Debian/Ubuntu/Linux Mint

      Lantern is an open source, free software that allows reliable and secure access to open Internet. It is Internet proxy tool developed to access blocked websites anywhere in the world and it is cross-platform available for desktop OS (Linux, Mac and Windows), as well as for Android. Lantern is built by the Brave New Software Project and lead by Adam Fisk as developer, a non-profit dedicated to creating software that tackles tough global challenges, the basic idea behind this project was to allow user an unfiltered Internet access.

    • VLC media player with skins for Ubuntu/Linux Mint/other Ubuntu derivatives

      VideoLAN and the VLC development team released the new major version of VLC, 2.2.2. With a new audio core, hardware decoding and encoding, port to mobile platforms, preparation for Ultra-HD video and a special care to support more formats, 2.2.2 is a major upgrade for VLC. Rincewind has a new rendering pipeline for audio, with better effiency, volume and device management, to improve VLC audio support. It supports many new devices inputs, formats, metadata and improves most of the current ones, preparing for the next-gen codecs.

    • Kodi v17 “Krypton” Alpha 2

      Since the dawn of time, or at least since 2008 each released version has received a code name next to the version number. Giving each development iteration a code name in a certain category is kind of a tradition that is not only applicable for software but also for hardware. Google does so for Android, Intel and NVIDIA also names their chips. Who are we to break this tradition and as such we follow in their steps with a theme that started out with mythical places or names. For our v17 release we actually let the public chose the name and with an overwhelming majority they chose the name “Krypton”.

    • Kodi 17 Alpha 2 Released
    • Kodi 17 “Krypton” Media Center Gets Ready for Android 6.0, Alpha 2 Out Now

      Today, July 2, 2016, the development team behind the popular Kodi open-source and cross-platform media center software has announced the release of the second Alpha build for the upcoming Kodi 17 “Krypton” series.

      Work on Kodi 17 started in early December 2015, but it took the developers about six months to push an Alpha build to public testers, which should have arrived in May 2016. Two weeks ago, on June 21, they announced that there are only ten days left until the first Alpha hits the streets.

      Well, today is the tenth day, but we didn’t get the first Alpha. Instead, we can download the second Alpha milestone, which should be more stable and offer us an early taste of what’s coming later this year in Kodi 17. This happened because of some code issues that needed to be fixed first.

    • The Numerous Features Coming To Ardour 5.0

      If you use Ardour as your digital audio workstation software, you’ll want to read this article about the features coming to Ardour 5.0.

      Last month we talked about Ardour 5.0-pre0 and since then Ardour 5.0 has continued moving along for release later this year. The developers behind Ardour for Linux and OS X have published a feature guide for this next release.

    • 5+ Linux Video Editing Tool Tips

      Finding a video editor in Linux that isn’t severely handicapped or come with an extreme learning curve is difficult. But this article isn’t about fancy video editors. As it turns out many of the things you need to get done are easiest with a few command-line tools. The packages you’ll want to install are mpv, ffmpeg, mencoder, normalize, and sox.

    • Pitivi 0.96 Video Editor Promises Fast and Accurate Editing for Any Video Format

      The road to Pitivi 1.0 continues, and the development team was proud to announce the release of the 0.96 milestone, which is yet another step in the development cycle of the powerful, open-source video editor.

      Therefore, Pitivi 0.96 arrives with the usual bug fixes and code cleanup maintenance stuff, but it also introduces a new feature, something that the Pitivi developers like to call “Proxy editing,” and that it promises fast and accurate editing with any video file format.

      “To provide the best experience, we decided to give you the ability to seamlessly work with media formats suitable for video editing,” explained the devs. “Now you can edit and render a video project with any video files with great accuracy, thanks to proxy files.”

    • Pitivi: An Open Source and Powerful Video Editor for Linux

      Pitivi is a well known video editor, the initial release was back in May, 2004 and still in active development. It is an open source, non-linear video editor for Linux developed by various contributors from all over the world, licensed under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). It aims to be a powerful and flexible video editor that can attract to prosumers and professionals.
      In February, 2014 the project held a fundraising campaign through Gnome foundation, the goal was to raise €100,000 for further development. The fundraiser did not reach the goal but raised above €23,000 as of 2015, which allowed partially funded development.

    • Proprietary

      • Veeam Agent for Linux, the Beta is now available!

        At Veeam, we all love virtualization and truly believe that modern data centers should be virtualized to guarantee the highest degree of Availability. However, the reality is that not every workload is virtualized. Some workloads cannot be reached through the hypervisors they run on even when they are virtualized, like in public cloud environments.

        This is one of the reasons Veeam Endpoint Backup FREE has seen such tremendous success since its initial launch in 2015. Now, that’s just one side of the story –– especially when you consider that in public cloud the vast majority of deployed virtual machines (VMs) are running one of the many flavors of Linux.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Locally-made Linux distro gets an upgrade

        You may not know it, but South Africa actually produces two maker-oriented boards offering an alternative to popular names like Arduino. One of those boards, the Blue Penguin, runs its own distro of Linux called “Guinnux”, and it just got an upgrade.

        The Blue Penguin and Guinnux is created by local company Keystone Electronic Solutions. Director and co-founder John Eigelaar runs us through the changes between the previous version, Guinnux 4, and Guinnux 5.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

    • Arch Family

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • GeckoLinux 421.160527.0

        GeckoLinux is one of the more recent distributions to land in the DistroWatch database. GeckoLinux (or Gecko, as I will refer to the distribution) is based on openSUSE. Gecko offers two key features above and beyond what its parent provides: patent encumbered software installed by default and live desktop editions. The openSUSE project avoids shipping software with licensing or patent restrictions and offers just two editions of Leap (a full DVD and a net-install disc). The Gecko distribution provides some extra packages, including multimedia support, and provides live discs for seven different desktop environments: Budgie, Cinnamon, GNOME, KDE Plasma, LXQt, MATE and Xfce. For people who want something lighter, Gecko offers an eighth “Barebones” edition.

        I decided to try Gecko’s MATE edition which is available as a 966MB download. While I was downloading the ISO file, I looked into why Gecko uses such long version numbers, such as 421.160527.0. I learned the first part indicates which version of openSUSE Gecko uses as a base, in this case openSUSE 42.1. The second number is the date the ISO was created, 27th of May, 2016. The final number is reserved for revisions or re-builds. In this case the trailing zero indicates no rebuilds were necessary.

    • Slackware Family

      • Zenwalk 8.0 Is Based on Slackware 14.2, Gets New Desktop Layout for Xfce 4.12.1

        Jean-Philippe Guillemin, the developer of Zenwalk, proudly announced today, July 2, 2016, the final release of the Slackware-based Zenwalk 8.0 GNU/Linux operating system.

        Based on the just released Slackware 14.2 operating system, Zenwalk 8.0 is finally here, powered by Linux kernel 4.4.14 LTS, the same one that powers the monumental Slackware Linux, thus offering users support for the latest hardware devices. Zenwalk’s default desktop environment is Xfce 4.12.1, and it now ships with a new layout that’s more user-friendly than ever.

      • Slackware Release Announcement

        Slackware 14.2 brings many updates and enhancements, among which
        you’ll find two of the most advanced desktop environments available
        today: Xfce 4.12.1, a fast and lightweight but visually appealing and
        easy to use desktop environment, and KDE 4.14.21 (KDE 4.14.3 with
        kdelibs-4.14.21) a stable release of the 4.14.x series of the award-
        winning KDE desktop environment. These desktops utilize eudev, udisks,
        and udisks2, and many of the specifications from freedesktop.org which
        allow the system administrator to grant use of various hardware devices
        according to users’ group membership so that they will be able to use
        items such as USB flash sticks, USB cameras that appear like USB storage,
        portable hard drives, CD and DVD media, MP3 players, and more, all
        without requiring sudo, the mount or umount command. Just plug and play.
        Slackware’s desktop should be suitable for any level of Linux experience.

      • Slackware 14.2 is Here, Mageia 6 STA1 is too

        Woohoo! Slackware 14.2 is here! Patrick Volkerding announced the release early July 1 saying it brings “many updates and enhancements.” Elsewhere, the Mageia project announced the first stabilization snapshot for upcoming version 6 and Dominique Leuenberger posted this week’s Tumbleweed review. The end of life for Fedora 22 is fast approaching and the end of an era is upon us as distributions drop 32-bit support.

      • Slackware 14.2 Officially Released

        Slackware 14.2 was released today to kick off July. Slackware 14.2 has been long in development while today it was christened.

        Slackware 14.2 features Xfce 4.12.1 and KDE 4.14.21 desktops, is powered by the Linux 4.4.14 kernel, glibc 2.23, BlueZ 5 for Bluetooth, GCC 5.3 is the default compiler, and various other updated packages. Slackware 14.2 is also notable for finally making use of PulseAudio.

      • Slackware 14.2 Released
      • Slackware Linux 14.2 Officially Released with Linux Kernel 4.4, without systemd

        After many months of hard work, two Betas and two RCs, Patrick J. Volkerding was extremely proud to announce today, July 2, 2016, the release and immediate availability for download of the final Slackware 14.2 Linux operating system.

        Slackware Linux 14.2 arrives two and a half months after the mid-April release of the second and last Release Candidate (RC) build, and it has now been declared stable and ready for deployment as your daily driver. Powered by the latest (at the moment of writing this article) long-term supported Linux 4.4.14 kernel, Slackware 14.2 ships with many up-to-date components and GNU/Linux technologies.

      • Slackware 14.2 released
      • sbopkg 0.38.0 is out for Slackware 14.2

        What a busy day today with all the releases for Slackware 14.2, MATE 1.14, Cinnamon 3.0 and now sbopkg 0.38.0.

        [...]

        We are finalizing SBo repository for Slackware 14.2, but at least you don’t have to wait 3 months just like previous cycle as we have prepared it since last January. Stay tune for SBo announcement on slackbuilds-user mailing list.

      • MATE 1.14 and Cinnamon 3.0 for Slackware 14.2

        Just hours since Slackware 14.2 is released, we proudly present to you MATE 1.14 and Cinnamon 3.0 for Slackware 14.2 users!!! We have been working under the hood of testing these two projects since they were released last April.

        The binary packages are compiled against Slackware 14.2 official ISO and it’s now uploaded to the usual repository in http://slackware.org.uk/msb and http://slackware.org.uk/csb. Thanks to Darren Austin for providing a place to host these two projects.

      • Bear is working for its money

        Since I made the new Slackware 14.2 data available 24 hours ago, the server has been pushing out 1.67 Terabytes of data, at an average of 155 MBytes/sec. Needless to say that this server was a good investment, I could never have managed this on my old platform.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Realtek spins wireless oriented Arduino compatible SBC

      Realtek has launched a $25, Arduino compatible “Ameba” SBC, built around a 166MHz Cortex-M3 RTL8195AM chipset, and offering WiFi and NFC.

      When you think of Realtek Semiconductor, you probably think about audio codecs, but the company makes a wide variety of other ICs and MCUs that end up on hacker boards. Realtek is now trying its hand at its own Arduino compatible SBC: the Realtek IoT Ameba Platform. The board is backed by a community site with plenty of examples of robots, drones, home automation gizmos, and more that run on the Ameba.

    • That Open, Upgradeable ARM Dev Board Is Trying To Make A Comeback

      Remember that Improve Dev Board using an open-source, upgradeable design and running Mer from 2013~2014 before the project collapsed? It’s back now in the form of a new crowdfunding campaign with some changes to the hardware and the option of a build-your-own laptop.

    • Phones

      • Tizen

        • Tizen OS gets ported to Russia’s Elvees microprocessor

          During the Skolkovo Startup Village – Russia’s largest conference which took place last month, we had reported of a customized corporate version of Tizen OS being showcased on the Samsung Z3. Now, we have come across the news that the event also saw Tizen OS being implemented on the multi-core processor 1892ВМ14Я belonging to Russian manufacturer Elvees Multicore. The Tizen OS was ported to this ARM based processor thanks to a joint effort from the Russian consortium experts and engineers from Tizen.RU. The project proves to showcase the flexibility and open source nature of Tizen and according to the officials at the event, this implementation of Tizen OS in a Russian made hardware helps in leveraging security to higher levels, while we believe the intention is also to reduce the use of processors from foreign brands like mediatek, qualcomm, rockchip, etc.

      • Android

Free Software/Open Source

  • SourceForge eyes a comeback

    Years ago, SourceForge.net was the premiere hosting service for open-source and free-software projects. But, after changing hands several times, the site ran seriously afoul of the development community in 2015; its staff was accused of secretly commandeering inactive project accounts and of replacing project downloads with installers side-loaded with adware or even malware. In early 2016, however, the site changed hands yet again, and its new owners have set out to regain the community’s trust.

    To recap, SourceForge was launched in 1999 by VA Linux Systems, which was initially a hardware vendor. Over the next few years, the company acquired several other free-software related sites, including Freshmeat, Slashdot, and NewsForge (where I worked for several years). For a while, VA operated SourceForge.net for “community” open-source projects and offered a separate “enterprise” edition to corporate clients.

  • NEC establishes Open Source Software Technology Centre in India

    NEC Corporation and NEC Technologies India Private Limited (NTI) announced the establishment of the “OSS Technology Centre,” an organization specializing in technical support related to the use of open source software (OSS).

  • Why an international sports betting and gaming operator uses open source

    Enterprise business is one thing, but most people live down in the trenches. The common business doesn’t have a budget or staff to match the big dogs, but they do have the same needs. One of these needs is for solid, reliable server and data operations. The open-source movement has become a refuge for smaller companies, offering software and services that, in many cases, match what enterprise uses.

  • The WRT54GL: A 54Mbps router from 2005 still makes millions for Linksys

    In a time when consumers routinely replace gadgets with new models after just two or three years, some products stand out for being built to last.

    Witness the Linksys WRT54GL, the famous wireless router that came out in 2005 and is still for sale. At first glance, there seems to be little reason to buy the WRT54GL in the year 2016. It uses the 802.11g Wi-Fi standard, which has been surpassed by 802.11n and 802.11ac. It delivers data over the crowded 2.4GHz frequency band and is limited to speeds of 54Mbps. You can buy a new router—for less money—and get the benefit of modern standards, expansion into the 5GHz band, and data rates more than 20 times higher.

    [...]

    Linksys doesn’t bother promoting the WRT54GL much. But La Duca mentioned the continued production of the WRT54GL recently when I interviewed him for a story on Linksys’ project to let users install open source firmware on new routers without breaking the latest FCC anti-interference rules. The WRT54GL was the first wireless router I ever purchased about a decade ago; I was surprised that Linksys still produces them, so I asked the company for more details.

  • Events

    • Hadoop Summit Brings Big Data News

      Multiple Big Data vendors and efforts debut new Hadoop technologies at this week’s summit in California.

      It was a big week for Big Data, with multiple vendors making announcements at this week’s Hadoop Summit in San Jose.

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Improving LibreOffice User Experience (UX)

      Effective from May 2016, Heiko Tietze has started working as a consultant to drive LibreOffice UX one step further.

      Heiko has been one of the most active UX volunteers during the last few years, and has been instrumental in a rather large number of the user interface improvements since LibreOffice 4.4.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Twisted in an asyncio world
    • Pyjion
    • Automated testing of CPython patches
    • Why is Python slow?

      Python users often complain that the language is slow. Kevin Modzelewski presented some of his findings on Python’s slowness at the 2016 Python Language Summit. He works at Dropbox on the Pyston just-in-time (JIT) compiled version of Python; that project has learned some interesting things along the way about what causes Python to be slow.

    • The Python JITs are coming

      Nathaniel Smith envisions a future where just-in-time (JIT) compiler techniques will be commonly used in Python, especially for scientific computing. He presented his ideas on where things are headed at the 2016 Python Language Summit. He currently works at the University of California, Berkeley on NumPy and other scientific Python projects. Part of what he has been doing is “working on the big picture of what JITs will mean for scientific computing”.

Leftovers

  • Security

    • 11 essential data security tips for travelers [iophk: "unfortunately VPNs have dated crypto"]

      I travel all over the world for my job, and for my hobbies. Although there are still plenty of places I haven’t been, I’ve visited enough foreign countries that I don’t deny it when someone calls me a world traveler. Over the years, I’ve experienced my fair share of foreign spying. I know what it’s like to be snooped on.

      I’m no longer surprised when I suddenly get gobs of spam from a country I’ve visited. My best guess is that someone in the country intercepted my email and recorded my email address. I still get porn spam in Arabic and ads for weight loss products in Mandarin. I’ve had my laptop and USB keys searched at countless borders.

    • Yet another letsencrypt (ACME) client

      Well, I apparently joined the hordes of people writing ACME (the Protocol behind Let’s Encrypt) clients.

      Like the fairy tale Goldilocks, I couldn’t find a client in the right spot between minimalistic and full-featured for my needs: acme-tiny was too bare-bones; the official letsencrypt client (now called certbot) too huge; and simp_le came very close, but it’s support for pluggable certificate formats made it just a bit too big for me.

    • Keynote – Complexity: The Enemy of Security
    • Security Holes Found in Widely-Used File Compression Library, Leaving Other Products Dangerously Exposed
    • StartEncrypt considered harmful today

      Recently, one of our hackers (Thijs Alkemade) found a critical vulnerability in StartCom’s new StartEncrypt tool, that allows an attacker to gain valid SSL certificates for domains he does not control. While there are some restrictions on what domains the attack can be applied to, domains where the attack will work include google.com, facebook.com, live.com, dropbox.com and others.

    • Unikernels Will Create More Security Problems Than They Solve

      Unikernels, the most recent overhyped technology in search of a problem to solve, have a number of claimed attributes that make them a “better choice.” One most often claimed is that they are “more secure.” This is the first in a series of articles bringing some light to the reality of unikernels so that you can think about them properly, employ them for what they are good for, and avoid the hype.

    • The Python security response team

      As the final presentation of the 2016 Python Language Summit—though it was followed by a few lightning talks that we are not covering—Christian Heimes led a discussion on the Python security response team. There have been some problems along the way that generally boil down to a need for more people working on the team.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Bangladesh siege: Twenty killed at Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka

      Twenty people, most said to be foreigners, have been killed in an attack on a cafe in Bangladesh claimed by so-called Islamic State.

      Gunmen stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery cafe in Dhaka late on Friday before troops entered almost 12 hours later.

      Six attackers were also killed and one was arrested, officials said. Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina has declared two days of national mourning.

      At least nine Italians and seven Japanese were among those killed.

      Italy’s Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said one other Italian was still unaccounted for. Many of the Italians reportedly worked in the garment industry.

    • Where To Invade Next by Michael Moore

      Europeans regard America as “exceptional” only in its social backwardness and lack of social compassion.

  • Finance

    • Joe Macare on Brexit, Rory O’Connor on the Danny Award

      UK politics are up in the air in the wake of a referendum calling for Britain to leave the European Union. The so-called Brexit campaign is drawing comparisons to that of Donald Trump, due to the nativism and racism that marked it, but what else is at work here? Joe Macare is publisher of Truthout, the news organization.

    • To Lump Him With Trump, Zakaria Lies About Sanders on Brexit

      It’s a subtle but potent lie. Sanders, unlike Trump, has long been opposed to Britain leaving the European Union. How can Zakaria casually claim two opposing positions are “largely indistinguishable”? How could the editors at Washington Post allow such a blatant falsehood to reach print?

      And it’s not an inconsequential one, either. If Brexit wreaks the havoc on the UK economy many are predicting, Washington Post’s millions of readers thinking Sanders supported such a measure would go a long way toward damaging both his credibility and that of the broader progressive movement.

      The piece, of course, is not really about Sanders or Trump. It’s clear the framing is a gimmick to hook the reader into hearing Zakaria’s boilerplate cheerleading for “free trade” while continuing the long tradition of lazy pundits lumping Sanders and Trump into the same ideological space.

    • Brexit supporters one week on: ‘It is ridiculous there was no plan’

      Under the headline “Take a bow Britain”, the paper’s edition last Saturday celebrated “the day the quiet people of Britain rose up against an arrogant, out of touch elite”.

    • In Brexit Britain the elites will run amok

      A week on from the referendum that was going to take back democracy from the elites, and we still don’t know exactly who will be taking back democracy for us. But it will be one representative of the elites or another. At the moment, it looks like Michael Gove or Theresa May will be their political face. Unless someone else in the Tory party offers them a better deal between now and September.

    • ‘We are the 48%’: tens of thousands march in London for Europe

      The hollow, bitter wit of the banners and placards was a fair indication of who took to the streets of London, in their tens of thousands, on the March for Europe on Saturday, hastily scrambled on Facebook. “And if this isn’t big enough,” said Jonathan Shakhovskoy, who is with a marketing firm in the music industry, “we’ll do it again next week, and the week after. Normalise the mood, make it less ugly.”

      “Un-Fuck My Future”, “No Brex Please, We’re British”, they read. Pictures of Whitney Houston with “I Will Always Love EU”, “Europe Innit” and “I wanna be deep inside EU”. “All EU Need is Love”, “Fromage not Farage”, “Eton Mess” and, more seriously, “Science Needs EU”. “Hell no, we won’t go!” they shouted, rounding Piccadilly Circus.

      No one was fooling themselves that these were the penitent huddled masses from Ebbw Vale or Sunderland come to beg after all for EU funding; this was a vocal segment of the 48% for whom departure from the EU is a disgrace, a catastrophe or both.

    • Post EU Referendum Racism Documented Online And It’s Really Scary
    • Brexit research suggests 1.2 million Leave voters regret their choice in reversal that could change result

      Up to 7 per cent of the people who voted for a Brexit in the EU referendum now regret their choice, new research has found.

      When the survey’s findings are projected on to last week’s vote, they would cut the Leave share by 1.2 million, almost wiping out the majority that gave Friday’s shock result.

      Research by Opinium found that 3 per cent of those who voted Remain also regretted their choice and that British people are now divided on the priorities in the negotiations ahead.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • SABC censorship allegations serious – ANC

      The allegations of censorship at the SABC are very serious and should be investigated, the ANC said on Friday.

      There was no place in a constitutional democracy for censorship and the ANC expected the SABC to deal with the allegations in a way that upheld freedom of the press, spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.

      He said an entire institution should not be made into a problem because of one individual – SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

    • Security researcher gets threats over Amazon review

      For the average Amazon shopper, reviews are just a casual part of the experience. You might pay attention to a pun-filled review by George Takei or spend half an hour laughing at the parody reviews for “Fresh Whole Rabbit,” but you probably don’t thoroughly examine every review before buying a product.

      But for sellers, reviews are no laughing matter. Amazon retailers sometimes go to extreme lengths to guarantee good reviews, as security developer Matthew Garrett recently discovered when he wrote a one-star review of an internet-connected electric socket. When Garrett politely pointed out that the socket in question was woefully insecure, he received emails from the manufacturer claiming that the review would get employees fired and that other reviewers were campaigning to get Garrett’s review taken down.

      The socket in question is the AuYou Wi-Fi Switch, a $30 device that lets you turn the power from a wall outlet on and off using your phone. It’s a nice way to turn your lights on and off if you don’t want to invest in smart bulbs, or to turn other plugged-in devices on and off. The AuYou Switch works whether or not you’re home — so you can switch your lights on in your apartment while you’re still in your office.

    • Thin-Skinned Chinese Govt. Declares Media War On Lady Gaga For Meeting With The Dalai Lama

      It’s pretty common knowledge at this point that the Chinese government spends a great deal of time and effort attempting to censor the internet at its own whim. And, while the walls of censorship erected are penetrable with enough effort, it still results in much of the population being unable to search out information that might be embarrassing to the Chinese government, such as references to the Tiananmen Square incident, for instance. But while examples like that can make some measure of sense to outside observers, even as they still decry the censorship, the fact is that the Chinese government’s application of this censorship has been managed so erratically and unpredictably that the result is everyone watches where they step for fear of a takedown.

      Which naturally brings us to Lady Gaga, whose meeting with the Dalai Lama recently resulted in the Chinese government attempting to wipe her off of the China-facing interwebz.

    • Lawmakers Question Colorado University President Over Censorship of Students and Professors

      At least two Colorado state lawmakers have contacted the University of Northern Colorado’s president, expressing concerns after reporting by Heat Street revealed that the Bias Response Team’s behavior had restricted free speech on campus over the past two semesters.

    • ‘It is freedom of expression that gave us this vocation’ – Thandeka Gqubule

      The SABC’s economics editor, Thandeka Gqubule, who was suspended last week for challenging a decision in an editorial meeting not to show footage of violence at protests, was among journalists who picketed outside the public broadcaster’s offices in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, this morning.

      She addressed the crowd in a touching speech, which was met with resounding nods of agreement and ululation.

      In her speech, she called on the “ancestors” of journalism such as Ruth First, Peter Magubane and Can Themba to be with them in spirit as they marched to the Constitutional Court to defend freedom of expression.

    • Scores join censorship protest at the SABC
    • Crimes against journalism stop today – suspended SABC journalists
    • ANC leaders break ranks on SABC censorship
    • Zizi Kodwa slams media, starts #SaveOurSABC
    • Sanef plans to meet with MPs to discuss concerns over SABC censorship
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Run, don’t walk, from China’s Big Brother law

      China’s National People’s Congress has drafted a second version of a controversial cybersecurity law. It would bring a great deal of censorship for both foreign and domestic citizens and businesses, whether they use the cloud or not.

      China is a wasteland for the modern internet. Websites like Facebook and Google are blocked. Moreover, web traffic is monitored and censored by the government. It’s Big Brother for real.

    • People Support Ethical Automated Cars That Prioritize The Lives Of Others — Unless They’re Riding In One

      This social dilemma sits at the root of designing and programming ethical autonomous machines. And while companies like Google are also weighing these considerations, if utilitarian regulations mean less profits and flat sales, it seems obvious which path the AV industry will prefer. That said, once you begin building smart cities where automation is embedded in every process from parking to routine delivery, would maximizing the safety of the greatest number of human lives take regulatory priority anyway? What would be the human cost in prioritizing one model over the other?

      Granted this is getting well ahead of ourselves. We’ll also have to figure out how to change traffic law enforcement for the automated age, have broader conversations about whether or not consumers have the right to tinker with the cars they own, and resolve our apparent inability to adhere to even basic security standards when designing such “smart” vehicles. These are all questions we have significantly less time to answer than most people think.

    • In Bill Ford’s Future, the Cars Talk to Each Other

      Bill Ford’s seen the future, and it’s crowded.

      The great-grandson of both Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, now executive chairman of Ford Motor Co., certainly knows his way around cars. What he doesn’t know is how they’re going to get around in an increasingly congested world.

      “Some of it’s just mathematics,” Ford says. “We’re going from 7 billion people on the planet today to 9 billion by mid-century. At the same time, people are increasingly moving into cities. We’re going to see many megacities with populations of 10 million or more, and gridlock will accompany that growth.”

    • Facebook-Dependent Content Farms Will Finally Die

      Facebook has made the drastic and controversial announcement that it will value content from friends over content generated by pages of media outlets and brands. Truthfully, it’s only controversial if you are a publisher of content meant to invade the feeds of regular people.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Here’s how police arrested Lauri Love – and what happened next

      Lauri Love was arrested on suspicion of offences under the Computer Misuse Act 1990 early in the evening of 25 October 2013, when a National Crime Agency officer wearing dungarees and posing as a UPS courier told Love’s mother that Lauri himself had to come to the porch to collect his delivery.

      In his dressing gown and pyjamas, Love confirmed his identity and was then informed of the ruse and handcuffed. Over the next five hours a total of 14 NCA officers attended the property wearing agency-branded windbreakers, which were easy visible to the neighbours.

      Six of these officers had been tasked with searching for digital media which are alleged to contain evidence that the 28-year-old had criminally accessed private sector, military and government computer systems in the United States.

    • North Georgia newspaper publisher jailed over open records request

      A North Georgia newspaper publisher was indicted on a felony charge and jailed overnight last week – for filing an open-records request.

      Fannin Focus publisher Mark Thomason, along with his attorney Russell Stookey, were arrested on Friday and charged with attempted identity fraud and identity fraud. Thomason was also accused of making a false statement in his records request.

    • Cop who drew gun on man filming him says man deserved it

      In May, we told you of a lawsuit involving a Rohnert Park, California, cop who looked ready to fire his handgun at a man who was filming him. Last year’s standoff happened right outside the resident’s house. Claiming civil rights violations, the alleged victim sued (PDF) the officer and police department that is located about an hour north of San Francisco.

      The police department and officer, David Rodriguez, have now responded to the lawsuit. They essentially say it was resident Don McComas’ fault from the get go and that McComas’ own actions outside his house prompted the officer to draw his weapon on the Rohnert Park man.

      “And for a third, separate and affirmative defense, these answering defendants allege that the sole proximate cause of the injuries and damages, if any, claimed by plaintiff was the negligence and fault of the plaintiff…,” they responded in court documents. (PDF)

      Besides that, police claimed the suit should be tossed because the officer held an “objectively reasonable belief that the safety of the life of the defendants and others were imminently threatened… ” The authorities said McComas wasn’t complying with repeated orders to take his hands “out of his pocket.” McComas eventually complied, and the situation escalated. The officer continued wielding his weapon, according to the video.

    • ‘We the Prisoners’: The Demise of the Fourth Amendment

      In a carceral state—a.k.a. a prison state or a police state—there is no Fourth Amendment to protect you from the overreaches, abuses, searches and probing eyes of government overlords.

      In a carceral state, there is no difference between the treatment meted out to a law-abiding citizen and a convicted felon: both are equally suspect and treated as criminals, without any of the special rights and privileges reserved for the governing elite.

  • DRM

    • Encrypted Media Extensions and exit conditions

      In March, we reported on the contentious argument surrounding the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) framework developed by a working group at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). At the time, there were several active protest efforts underway to dissuade the W3C from renewing the charter for the working group in question, since that renewal was slated to come up for a vote soon. Since then, although public activism has quieted down significantly, there have been several important developments.

      To recap, the EME framework defines a set of APIs for Content Decryption Modules (CDMs) that implement some form of authentication scheme used to enable or disable playback of audio or video elements. While there is a simple, plain-text CDM defined in the specification (and even though open-source CDMs have been developed), the ultimate goal of EME is to allow media-delivery companies like Netflix or Hulu to deploy proprietary, binary-only CDMs that implement a DRM scheme.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Ford Dealership Swipes Game Image For Ad, Thinks It’s Kosher Because It Came From A DMCA Compliant Site

        A brief review of the many, many posts we’ve done here about the DMCA and its notice and takedown platform will reveal to even the casual reader that the whole thing is rife with complications, abuse, and inconsistencies. It can be a difficult realm to navigate, but there are times when an entity’s claims of ignorance just don’t ring true.

        Which brings us to one independent Ford dealership that decided to simply yoink an image from a relatively new video game and use it to advertise automobiles.

      • Video game art swiped this week by Beijing hockey team, Ford dealership

        On Wednesday, news hit the wire that a video game’s indistinguishable logo and art style had been lifted without permission, all done to advertise a wholly unrelated product. Sadly, the news brought on a real case of deja vu. As in: wait, didn’t this just happen?

        As it turns out, it had. Two very similar stories unfolded within 48 hours of each other, and they each speak to a pair of modern copyright issues: the ease with which images can be lifted and reappropriated by a lazy design firm, and how easy it is for such copycats to be busted by the court of public opinion.

      • EU to tax links to news

        Germany and Spain introduced in their legislation what some people call a “Google tax”. The idea came from the publishers. They claimed the right to get an additional copyright, “ancillary copyright”, on any news that are published online. The idea of this “tax” (that is actually not a tax) was to charge the online news sites who publish news snippets, short extracts of news, such as Google News. Even if the main target of publishers was Google News, the laws affect other similar services, for example meneame in Spain. Ultimately it could even undermine the whole concept of links to information.

        The result of this “Google tax” was a complete failure: Google decided to close Google News in Spain, while in Germany everyone except Google ended up paying the “tax”. Now, even after these clear failures, the European Commission (EC) is determined to make this error a European one; it’s considering implementing the ancillary copyright everywhere in the European Union (EU) – and on an even bigger scale than in Spain and Germany.

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