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04.04.17

Patent Trolls in the Headlines: TC Heartland, University of Florida, Hilco, and Uniloc

Posted in America, Patents at 8:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Taking out software patents and EDTX would take out many trolls, which would then inhibit large patent aggressors

BlackBerry may have a brighter future monetizing patents than as a software developer
Reference: BlackBerry may have a brighter future monetizing patents than as a software developer

Summary: The latest news about patent trolls in the United States and the ongoing challenges against them, courtesy of the Supreme Court (SCOTUS), the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), USPTO transparency (records of reassignment), and Apple’s deep pockets

THE SCOTUS will soon determine whether patent trolls can drag their victims to Texas (or elsewhere, typically where judges are trolls-friendly), adding to Alice that has already contributed to patent improvements at the USPTO (software is more difficult to patent, albeit not impossible). These developments are truly encouraging, as they lend to the perception that the American economy will be friendlier towards producing firms, not parasites.

“These developments are truly encouraging, as they lend to the perception that the American economy will be friendlier towards producing firms, not parasites.”Professor Dennis Crouch, a patents-centric academic, looks deeper into the oral arguments in TC Heartland LLC v Kraft Foods (the above-mentioned SCOTUS case that may soon weed out patent trolls). Here are some of his observations:

Chief Justice Roberts, who tends to focus on precedent, seems to also agree that congressional action since then had no intent to overrule the patent venue cases…

[...]

Only a small portion of the discussion involved policy questions of the focus of patent cases in E.D. of Texas and the pending congressional legislation.

[...]

Big picture here – the statutory interpretation is messy enough that there is not a clean pathway to an answer for the Supreme Court. If we have a reversal – we’ll see more big changes to patent litigation.

Several days ago we wrote about another analysis — that one behind a paywall — which concluded from the questions asked that SCOTUS would likely overturn the case, i.e. deal a lethal blow to patent trolls. We are still not sure when a written determination will be delivered, but it’s probably some time soon. The name TC Heartland might thereafter reverberate across the legal sphere for years if not decades (just like Alice). We certainly look forward to that.

“The name TC Heartland might thereafter reverberate across the legal sphere for years if not decades (just like Alice).”The patent trolls’ voice, IAM, obviously worries about the above case. IAM must be worried that its Sugar Daddies, patent trolls, may be out of business (some already are). Based on what IAM wrote yesterday, it now expects more taxpayers-funded patents to attack the taxpayers. Does IAM explain it like that? Of course not, it’s not part of the agenda. IAM wrote: “With the threat [sic] of inter partes reviews (IPR) hanging over any patent owner looking to assert its rights in the US, there’s bound to be interest in rulings that could help to give potential defendants a shield from prospective challenges. Thus, a PTAB decision in January in the case Covidien LP v University of Florida Research Foundation Inc has not surprisingly attracted a lot of attention for possibly giving state universities sovereign immunity from IPR petitions.”

“IPRs are scary to sites like IAM (which routinely attacks PTAB over it) because they are scary to trolls, to whom IAM is like a front group.”IPRs are not a “threat” but a quality control mechanism that serves to protect the system from abuse/misuse. The reason one cannot sue without a patent is in itself a protection against baseless assertions, inside or outside the court (examiners must first approve merit of claims). IPRs are scary to sites like IAM (which routinely attacks PTAB over it) because they are scary to trolls, to whom IAM is like a front group.

Speaking of IAM and trolls, Blackberry the patent troll (it sues companies through the rocket docket in Texas) passes patents to another patent troll and here is how IAM covered that yesterday:

Blackberry appears to have made a second significant patent disposal in the course of its turnaround strategy, in a deal facilitated by the relatively new IP transactions team at Hilco Global. The transaction history of the shell company that acquired the portfolio points toward a Chinese smartphone company as the possible buyer.

USPTO records show 24 separate assignments of a single patent right between an entity called “Hilco Patent Acquisition 55, LLC” and Golden Valley Holdings Limited. The assignments were all executed on 25th January, and were recorded between 23rd February and 8th March. A document attached to the latest assignment appears to lay out the full schedule of US and foreign rights being transacted – 177 assets in all, among them 31 US patent grants and applications.

A sign of things to come? Certainly. Expect Hilco to go after phone manufacturers (probably Android), either publicly or behind closed doors, as the screenshot above suggests. That’s just pure patent trolling.

“Expect Hilco to go after phone manufacturers (probably Android), either publicly or behind closed doors, as the screenshot above suggests.”In other news about trolls, Uniloc is back and it is using Apple again. Apple-centric sites say “the ’852 patent for “Remote update of computers based on physical device recognition” covers a method of securely updating a user device with a software payload authenticated and received over the internet.”

That’s just a notorious software patent, which should be invalidated under Alice. Apple will hopefully challenge and bury this patent once and for all. Apple certainly has the financial means to not only cripple this troll but also large aggressors like Qualcomm.

Microsoft’s Patent Extortion Against Linux Now Targets Watches With Linux on Them

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 7:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A slap on the wrist from Microsoft

Wrist watch

Summary: Only a week or two after going for Toyota’s bank account (over operating systems and file system patents, i.e. Linux) Microsoft goes after another Japanese giant, Casio, which uses Android

TODAY and yesterday there have been many reports about Windows’ market share dropping below that of Android, which is powered by Linux.

Microsoft can coexist with Linux only as long as Microsoft is controlling and taxing Linux. Microsoft recently did that in cars (the latest victim is Toyota of Japan, in spite of OIN membership and its long tradition with Microsoft) and now it is Casio of Japan. Casio, which uses Linux, was already targeted by Microsoft 6 years ago [1, 2], but this time it’s about Android. This disturbing new development got covered by pro-Microsoft sites, general news sites, and sites about wearable technology, notably watches. Quoting the latter category: “What we do know is that Casio has thus far embraced Android Wear, and that the Casio WSD-F20 will be sporting Wear 2.0 when it hits stores this month. We also know that Casio has spent quite a bit of time customizing the Android Wear Casio experience to make it a little more unique, unlike many other smartwatch makers embracing Google’s smartwatch OS.”

“Microsoft can coexist with Linux only as long as Microsoft is controlling and taxing Linux.”Here is the part about software patents: “And, of course, Microsoft also has plenty of software patents that Casio could use if it wanted to continue to customize Android Wear for its needs – or even if it decided to one day run with its own OS.”

This isn’t about hardware but about software features, which wouldn’t even qualify for patents in the vast majority of the world.

“This isn’t about hardware but about software features, which wouldn’t even qualify for patents in the vast majority of the world.”Recently, as we noted in a series of posts, Microsoft took up a notch its patent war on Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12], culminating in last week’s news about Samsung.

Yesterday, incidentally, the following articles were published:

IAM (last of the above) mentioned Microsoft: “As for HMD, the patent licences it presumably has to Nokia’s and Microsoft’s portfolios as a result of its formation last year are arguably going to offer it a lot more in terms of risk mitigation than the PAX licence. It is hard to see how those who choose to directly monetise their patents (Microsoft, of course, has an extensive Android-relevant portfolio that has helped it to generate significant revenue) will join a community that would substantially restrict their licensing opportunities.”

“The last thing Microsoft wants is an informed public which is able to see that Microsoft eats Linux, it doesn’t love Linux.”IAM, being a Microsoft and trolls proponent (years of tradition to that effect), also said it “would put PAX in a similar bracket to Microsoft’s recently announced Azure IP Advantage programme,” but these are very different things, for a lot of reasons. “Azure IP Advantage” is basically the latest Microsoft trick for gathering patent “royalties” (tax, ‘protection’ money) from GNU/Linux users. PAX is nothing like that at all. PAX is defensive.

It’s not hard to see why large Android OEMs are pooling their patents together. Their common enemy here is notably Apple and/or Microsoft (and the trolls Microsoft is arming to attack Android). Based on the latest news about Casio, Microsoft has truly accelerated its patent assault on Linux and those refusing to see it just need to research the subject further. I have spent over a decade writing about this almost every day, amassing over 22,000 blog posts. The last thing Microsoft wants is an informed public which is able to see that Microsoft eats Linux, it doesn’t love Linux.

Latest EPO Crisis: Junk Patents Granted in Preparation for Vision of Europe as Litigation Central (UPC)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Board too recognised that there is a "crisis" (in its own words, shown below)

EPO crisis

Summary: Europe is rapidly turning into one of the world’s worst places to have a practicing business as it’s now a fertile trolling territory

THE EPO, as we noted here quite recently (in several articles), started granting terrible patents (EPs) on life — patents that even the USPTO is denying for obvious reasons.

“The EPO want time for discussion and consideration of the effect of this divergence.”
      –Isobel Finnie, Haseltine Lake LLP
Not too long ago even the EPO’s management begrudgingly admitted that monopolies on life had to be stopped and this new legal analysis looks back at it, noting the role played by the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA):

The European Patent Office (EPO) has issued a Notice advising that proceedings before its examining and opposition divisions will be stayed if they depend entirely on the patentability of plants/animals, or plant/animal parts (eg seeds, fruit) obtained by “essentially biological processes”. This is because directly opposing views have been reached by the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA), (its highest level of review) in a 2015 decision, versus the view set out by the European Commission in a Notice issued on 3 November 2016 on whether this type of product should be patentable in Europe. The EPO want time for discussion and consideration of the effect of this divergence.

We expect that the Boards of Appeal will also stop the EPO from granting any further patents on CRISPR (possibly invaliding those already granted in the process), but this can take years and the Boards of Appeal are under a massive attack from Battistelli, who isn’t even supposed to have any authority over them (violation of the EPC).

“We expect that the Boards of Appeal will also stop the EPO from granting any further patents on CRISPR (possibly invaliding those already granted in the process), but this can take years and the Boards of Appeal are under a massive attack from Battistelli, who isn’t even supposed to have any authority over them (violation of the EPC).”As of yesterday, even the British establishment could see that the EPO had gone off the rails. To quote a org.uk Web site: “The European Patent Office (EPO) has declared that it intends to grant a broad patent for the use of CRISPR technologies to the University of California, the University of Vienna and Dr Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Max-Planck Institute in Berlin.”

This should never have been granted. Another .org Web site seems to have just realised that EPO is now one of the world’s worst for patent quality; this is doing enormous damage to all existing EPs! The article said: “The European Patent Office, or EPO, announced its intentions to grant the University of California a broad patent for CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology in late March.”

“It would be completely unimaginable some years back, but look what patent examination has been reduced to under Battistelli.”We have already explained what CRISPR is about, especially to the uninitiated. There are ethical, contractual, and common sense issues, putting aside the importance of patent scope. It would be completely unimaginable some years back, but look what patent examination has been reduced to under Battistelli. How long before examination becomes altogether negligible or redundant like in France?

Anyone who has spent some time working with or reading about patents would know that lousy patents with broad range/scope are profoundly detrimental to science — a toxic mix or a dangerous cocktail, as a certain lunatic might dub it.

“Of course,” one comment said yesterday, “another way to pump up business for the UPC is to push for more patent applications at the EPO to go through to issue without carefully policing prosecution amendments under Art 123(2) EPC. That would serve very nicely, wouldn’t it? I recall that grants at the EPO have recently risen by 40%.”

“How long before examination becomes altogether negligible or redundant like in France?”Yes, exactly! People are finally getting it.

Earlier this morning the EPO wrote: “Take a look at patent litigation, from A to Z!”

So that’s all they care about now? Litigation? The EPO needs to focus on examination, not litigation.

“For all we know, Britain cannot join the UPC and thus, the UPC might never get off the ground at all (it strictly depends on Britain’s participation in its current form).”Where is IP Kat when one needs it to cover these alarming developments? IP Kat is taking a bow to the EPO today with this promotional puff piece, but nothing is said about the EPO crisis, except in very old comment threads. It ought to be obvious by now that the EPO under Battistelli doesn’t give a damn about the EPC (see the latest example) and unless something is done to stop this abuse, damage will spread to the whole of Europe, inflicting all sorts of companies with troll lawsuits (potentially from China and the US).

There is a portion in new comments which spreks of UPC and Britain. One person said “this raises an interesting question: will unitary patents, at least for the short while from the start of the UPC to Brexit, automatically cover Gibraltar? We know that they will cover the Isle of Man, but only because a specific Order was passed in order to reconcile the fact that UK patents are protected under Manx law with the Isle of Man’s non-EU status. Gibraltar’s situation, on the other hand, is the opposite: uniquely among British Overseas Territories, it’s (for the time being) in the EU, but UK patents aren’t protected under Gibraltar law.”

“As we noted here earlier this week, there is a growing belief that Battistelli wants to completely demolish the EPO as a ‘necessary’ sacrifice for the UPC regime.”For all we know, Britain cannot join the UPC and thus, the UPC might never get off the ground at all (it strictly depends on Britain’s participation in its current form).

“Regarding the UPC comment,” one person responded, “it is incorrect to state that Gibraltar is in the EU, because clearly it is not, but I am not one to split hairs, so I am prepared to accept that it is.”

This then disrupted the whole thread, making it about the EU and Gibraltar rather than the UPC.

As we noted here earlier this week, there is a growing belief that Battistelli wants to completely demolish the EPO as a 'necessary' sacrifice for the UPC regime.

Reign of Fear (Even Terror) at EPO Prevents People From Speaking About Injustices

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bavaria takes terrorism very seriously, but only Islamic terrorism

Concerns over 'terror' Patent Office
Translation here

Summary: The untenable situation at the EPO is explained in a new, anonymous comment, which serves to stress the urgency of outside intervention at the EPO

IN LESS THAN A COUPLE of days the EPO situation will be discussed in Bavarian Parliament (see “Tagesordnung für die 101. Plenarsitzung des Bayerischen Landtags” at SUEPO’s Web site). We happen to have a lot of information about particular EPO cases, which demonstrate truly gross injustice. The tyranny of the EPO, however, made it almost impossible to speak about these injustices. That’s the kind of thing to be expected from a “third world” country, not Bavaria. Do Bavarian politicians grasp just to what degree this has damaged the reputation of Munich and Bavaria as a whole? They must act.

This morning, “SUEPO member” said in IP Kat the following:

Maybe it is “curtains” for Suepo as well… As a member, I received an invitation to a general meeting for tomorrow. Here is the text (emphasis added):

This meeting is important for SUEPO Munich in general and for the members dismissed or downgraded in particular.

We have struggled with the question for support for those dismissed and downgraded committee members for more then one year. As you can imagine there is by now a mountain of information. A good part of the documents entails confidential information and another part is private information. Because we fear that this information may end up in the wrong hands and may be used against past, present and future committee members we have asked our attorney on how best to proceed. The following is our decision to ensure that the documents are available to all staff for information but can not be copied.

Since the EPO does not allow for any kind of union work on its premisses you can read the redacted documents (three legal opinions and an opinion of a tax advisor) in the office of the attorney Mr. Alexander Holtz*.

On Wednesday the 5th April these documents will also be available to any SUEPO member in the Eine-Welt-Haus from 14:00.

During the EGM two of the three legal opinions will be presented by their authors.

The third legal opinion is from a former Judge at the ‘Bundesgerichthof’ in Karlsruhe and former Justice Minister in Thüringen. This opinion concentrates on the parts which the first two opinions diverge from each other.

The Opinion of the tax advisor concentrates on the possibility of a more transparent and regulated support by SUEPO for those dismissed or downgraded.

Quite simply: Battistelli has immunity, suepo does not. If there is any information which “can be used against members”, it will be used against members. Making it available to the assembly of members and hoping it will “not be copied” is absurd: once it is given to read to the members, it is public and can be requested by any court.

Maybe one day a lot of this ‘dirty laundry’ — so to speak — will finally come out. Maybe one day Team Battistelli will have actually retired and then lose immunity from prosecution, whereupon lawsuits may become possible against them as individuals, e.g. for defamation. How many people have been killed as a result of Battistelli’s reign of terror? How many more need to die before politicians take action?

Links 4/4/2017: New Linux Foundation Members, Simon 0.4.80 Alpha

Posted in News Roundup at 6:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • How to have a Linux home server on the cheap

      Ask any Linux enthusiast, and they’ll tell you how awesome an operating system Linux can be. (Well, except Bryan Lunduke, who will say it sucks before he says it’s awesome.) For the desktop user, the freedom from worry about most viruses is a big plus, and not spending $100 upgrading Windows is a big plus too.

      As awesome as Linux is for desktop use, Linux (and BSD for that matter) truly shines as a server. While providing web-based services is one of those server-y things Linux does really well, Linux can do a lot more than host a blog about family outings.

      If you’re looking to host your own services instead of paying for or relying on those in the cloud, running your own home server is one of the best ways to keep your files private.

    • Linux kernel holds key for advanced container networking

      Networking has always been one of the most persistent headaches when working with containers. Even Kubernetes—fast becoming the technology of choice for container orchestration—has limitations in how it implements networking. Tricky stuff like network security is, well, even trickier.

      Now an open source project named Cilium, which is partly sponsored by Google, is attempting to provide a new networking methodology for containers based on technology used in the Linux kernel. Its goal is to give containers better network security and a simpler model for networking.

    • The major changes that make Docker container services enterprise-ready

      Docker isn’t what it used to be. New security tools, orchestration changes, native Docker support for Windows and the release of LXD are some modifications that are worth knowing about.

    • Why Choose Kubernetes to Manage Containerized Applications?

      We’re learning about Kubernetes in this series, and why it is a good choice for managing your containerized applications. In part 1, we talked about what Kubernetes does, and its architecture. Now we’ll compare Kubernetes to competing container managers.

    • Distelli aims to improve multi-cloud software development with new open-source container registry [Ed: Not much to do with "open source" but a fine example of openwashing]

      The popular Docker container technology is now vital in developing software optimized for the cloud. Docker allows developers to bundle together pieces of an application to run smoothly across different platforms and devices. Singh, who worked at Amazon for nine years and was one of the earliest to join the AWS team before founding Distelli, says he understands the customer need for running in multiple clouds. With Europa, Distelli wants to provide the tools and technology to make that easier.

    • How Docker Containers Help Save Money

      By now, you probably know how popular Docker containers are with technical folks. But do you understand the business case for Docker? Do you know how containers help save companies money? If not, read on.

      Docker became popular in its early days because it simplifies the work of developers and admins in important ways. Containers provide environment parity, which makes it easier to find bugs before they reach end-users. Containers also help developers to deploy software more quickly.

    • Microservices With Continuous Delivery Using Docker and Jenkins

      Docker, microservices, Continuous Delivery are currently some of the most popular topics in the world of programming. In an environment consisting of dozens of microservices communicating with each other, it seems to be particularly important the automation of the testing, building, and deployment process. Docker is an excellent solution for microservices because it can create and run isolated containers with service.

    • CNCF Accepts Both Docker’s containerd and CoreOS’ rkt as Incubation Projects

      In a unanimous voting process that concluded Wednesday during KubeCon in Berlin, The Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s Technical Oversight Committee approved Docker Inc.’s motion to donate containerd — the current incarnation of its core container runtime — as an official CNCF incubation project. In the same meeting, the TOC also voted unanimously to adopt CoreOS’ rkt container runtime, as well.

      “Container orchestrators need community-driven container runtimes,” reads a formal statement from CNCF Executive Director Dan Kohn Wednesday, “and we are excited to have containerd which is used today by everyone running Docker. Becoming a part of CNCF unlocks new opportunities for broader collaboration within the ecosystem.”

    • Deploying Microservices to a Cluster with gRPC and Kubernetes

      Although it is true that microservices follow the UNIX philosophy of writing short compact programs that do one thing and do it well, and that they bring a lot of advantages to a framework (e.g., continuous deployment, decentralization, scalability, polyglot development, maintainability, robustness, security, etc.), getting thousands of microservices up and running on a cluster and correctly communicating with each other and the outside world is challenging. In this talk from Node.js Interactive, Sandeep Dinesh — a Developer Advocate at Google Cloud — describes how you can successfully deploy microservices to a cluster using technologies that Google developed: Kubernetes and gRPC.

    • Scalable Microservices with gRPC, Kubernetes, and Docker by Sandeep Dinesh, Google
  • Kernel Space

    • DPDK Project Moves to Linux Foundation

      The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit advancing professional open source management for mass collaboration, today announced that the DPDK Project (Data Plane Development Kit) community has moved to The Linux Foundation. The Linux Foundation provides a neutral home that promotes collaboration around open source technologies, such as a technical governance model that enables the growth of developer communities.

    • Networking Industry Leaders Join Forces to Expand New Open Source Community to Drive Development of the DPDK Project
    • Welcoming FRRouting to The Linux Foundation

      One of the most exciting parts of being in this industry over the past couple of decades has been witnessing the transformative impact that open source software has had on IT in general and specifically on networking. Contributions to various open source projects have fundamentally helped bring the reliability and economics of web-scale IT to organizations of all sizes. I am happy to report the community has taken yet another step forward with FRRouting.

      FRRouting (FRR) is an IP routing protocol suite for Unix and Linux platforms which includes protocol daemons for BGP, IS-IS, LDP, OSPF, PIM, and RIP, and the community is working to make this the best routing protocol stack available.

    • Analyzing Linux Performance Issues With Perf
    • The Linux Foundation: Not a Friend of Desktop Linux, the GPL, or Openness

      After stirring up a ruckus by using words like “restrictive” and “virus” to describe the GPL in a Linux.com article, the Linux Foundation responds by quietly removing the post from the website.

    • DRM Maintainers Are Running Out Of Time To Ship New Features For Linux 4.12

      After Linus Torvalds was upset about the DRM pull request for Linux 4.11, the deadlines of new feature changes for the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) code targeting Linux 4.12 is being strictly enforced.

      Red Hat’s David Airlie has announced that 4.12 Git pulls will have a deadline by Linux 4.11-rc6 or else risk being postponed until Linux 4.13. New features will be postponed to the Linux 4.13 cycle for pull requests after this week, in ensuring time for testing of new feature code prior to the opening of the Linux 4.12 merge window around month’s end. This should keep Linus Torvalds happier and ensuring no rushed code is quickly promoted to mainline.

    • Reliance Jio to work with AT&T, Linux Foundation to drive SDN, NFV innovation
    • Reliance Jio Joins ONAP

      ONAP is a collaborative open source project hosted by The Linux Foundation and formed in February through the combination of AT&T’s ECOMP and The Linux Foundation’s Open Orchestrator Project (OPEN-O). The two projects joined under ONAP to develop an open software platform for real-time, policy-driven software automation of virtual network functions. ONAP enables software, network and cloud provider companies as well as open source community developers to collaborate in an open ecosystem, encouraging rapid creation of new services and innovation.

    • Linux 4.10.8, 4.9.20 LTS and 4.4.59 LTS Kernels Are Out to Address Various Bugs

      At the end of March, Greg Kroah-Hartman released three new maintenance updates for the long-term supported Linux 4.9 and 4.4 kernel series, as well as the latest stable Linux 4.10 kernel branch.

      Linux 4.10.8, 4.9.20 LTS and 4.4.59 LTS kernels are out, and they come only one day after their previous maintenance updates, which means that all of them are small patches addressing a few bugs that needed to be fixed urgently. Of course, users are urged to update their systems to these new versions as soon as possible.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE’s Simon Speech Recognition Gets Updated

        As reported last month, KDE’s speech recognition software is being revived and released today is a new development release.

      • Simon 0.4.80 alpha released

        The first version (0.4.80) towards Simon 0.5.0 is out in the wilds. Please download the source code, test it and send us feedback.

      • So, Aparently, I moved.

        I’v been living here for the past six months, and I wanted to write earlier, but you guys know how things are, things like that can simply be in your head for quite a while before you actually do something. So, if anyone from the KDE community would like to get together for something in Munchen, please get in touch. I live near the Worthsee area, quite far from munchen ~40 minutes via SBahn, but I work in the heart of the city.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • On Compatibility By Design

        The shift from GTK-2 to GTK-3 has caused frustration that I think I’ve talked about here before. Much as Americans have historically hyperbolicly hinted at moving to Canada (especially now), I have on occasion talked about migrating preferred toolkits to QT. But… maybe this is actually gonna happen?

        Back in the times of QT 4, I noticed that the (then GUI) QT settings configuration tool had an option to just use my GTK (then 2) theme. Set and forget, and my desktop looks all smooth and integrated. I was reading about something mostly unrelated when I learned that QT5 still has this feature. There’s an environment variable – QT_STYLE_OVERRIDE – that I can set to “gtk3″, and then I’m back to not worrying about QT theming.

      • A Look At Some Of The Feature Plans For GNOME 3.26

        Last week when writing about the release schedule for GNOME 3.26, one of the first questions was about what features are coming to this next installment of the GNOME desktop.

        While the GNOME 3.26 development cycle is still very young, below is a look at some of the features being talked about for GNOME 3.26. The list was made by looking at various individual program roadmaps, developer blogs, and more. The list is far from extensive and some of these items may not end up getting completed in time for the September debut of GNOME 3.26, but as of now this is a look at what’s planned. As the GNOME 3.26 development cycle progresses, we should get a better understanding of what will make the cut for GNOME 3.26.0.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • The April 2017 Issue of the PCLinuxOS Magazine

        The PCLinuxOS Magazine staff is pleased to announce the release of the April 2017 issue. With the exception of a brief period in 2009, The PCLinuxOS Magazine has been published on a monthly basis since September, 2006. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is a product of the PCLinuxOS community, published by volunteers from the community.

    • Arch Family

      • Arch Linux 2017.04.01 Now Available for Download, Powered by Linux Kernel 4.10.6

        The month of April kicks off with the release of a new ISO snapshot of the widely-used Arch Linux operating system, Arch Linux 2017.04.01, which brings the latest GNU/Linux technologies and Open Source applications.

        Last month, when we reported on the release of the Arch Linux 2017.03.01 ISO snapshot, we told you that support for 32-bit installations was dropped from the official images of the independently developed GNU/Linux operating system, which slimmed down the images in size with a couple hundred MB.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat moves closer to Linux/other balance

        At last year’s Red Hat North American Partner Conference, company sales chief Arun Oberoi set a goal of the company reaching a 50/50 balance between its Linux and non-Linux businesses. A year into the effort, the open-source pioneer says it’s making strong progress.

        Mark Enzweiler, senior vice president of global channels and alliances at Red Hat called Oberoi’s declaration “a stake in the ground” and “an aspirational goal,” and one that the company and its partners are moving on.

      • Red Hat takes messaging to new levels

        Red Hat’s upcoming messaging product release, Red Hat JBoss A-MQ 7, redefines what enterprise developers should look for in a high-performance messaging platform. It has an updated broker that’s built on a modern, asynchronous architecture for improved performance and scalability, and a new router component that can be networked to create a messaging backbone spanning datacenters, cloud and on-premises deployments.

      • Red Hat Gluster Storage 3.2 boosts performance, containers

        Red Hat’s latest Gluster storage update improves performance, deepens container support and introduces space-saving alternative to three-way replication to ensure data integrity.

      • [RHSA-2017:0862-01] Low: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Retirement Notice

        This is the final notification for the retirement of Red Hat Enterprise
        Linux 5. This notification applies only to those customers subscribed to
        the channel for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.

      • CentOS-announce] CentOS Linux 5 EOL
      • Scientific Linux 5 End of Life
      • CentOS Linux 5, Scientific Linux 5, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Reach End of Life

        The end of March 2017 concluded with the end of life for various GNU/Linux distributions based on the Red Hat’s RHEL5 (Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5) series.

        Red Hat published today, April 3, 2017, the final notification for the retirement of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 operating system, targeted at customers subscribed to the company’s Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 channel. Users are being notified that Red Hat won’t provide active support for RHEL5 starting March 31, 2017. However, Red Hat offers a special add-on for those who don’t want to upgrade.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • DNF 2.2.0, and LIBDNF 0.8.0 were released

          DNF 2.2.0, and LIBDNF 0.8.0 were released. The release adds new API for adding and initialization of new REPO object into REPODICT class. Also interesting could be a new API callback that allows to inform users about running scriplets during RPM transaction. Additionally it also fixes over 13 bugs. For complete list of changes see DNF release notes.

        • Updated Fedora 25 20170331 Lives released

          We the Fedora Respins-SIG are happy to announce new F25-20170331 Updated Lives.

        • Hacker News feedback on what they want from their Desktop – We got it

          So there is a thread on Hacker News based on a question from a Canonical employee asking for feedback on what people want from the next version of Ubuntu. I always try to read such threads even when they are not about Fedora or Red Hat. I fact I often read such articles and threads about non-Linux systems too to help understand what people are looking for and thus enable us to prioritize what we do with Fedora Workstation even better.

        • Students meet Fedora at Linux Weekend 2017

          Open source projects are built online and a lot of their community members are placed all over the world. Even though projects have people from around the world, this doesn’t stop ambitious community members to organize open source conferences or events in their own cities. Whether they’re focused generally to open source or for a specific project, you can find a variety of conferences, hackathons, workshops, or meet-ups all over the world. Fedora benefits from having Ambassadors to attend these events to introduce Fedora and spread the word about the community. It’s not uncommon to see Fedora participating in these events, and Linux Weekend 2017 in Tirana, Albania was not an exception.

        • Flatpak 0.8.5 Improves Detection of Flatpakref Extensions, Needs Automake 1.13.4

          Alex Larsson from the Flatpak (formerly XDG-App) project, an open source initiative to develop a distro-agnostic Linux application sandboxing and distribution framework, announced today the release of Flatpak 0.8.5.

          Some of you out there reading our regular Flatpak reports may wonder what’s Flatpak 0.8.5 doing here when we already got Flatpak 0.9.1. Well, it looks like the Flatpak devs are still maintaining the stable 0.8 series of the project for various GNU/Linux distributions that did not yet moved to the 0.9 branch.

        • (Spring-)Cleaning the Fedora Package Collection

          Spring arrived and doing spring-cleaning I thought about all the cleanup tasks in Fedora. If you are interested in doing some Fedora spring-cleaning, I will show you some opportunities to get your hand’s dirty and Fedora cleaner.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian LTS report for March 2017

        March 2017 was my seventh month as a Debian LTS team member.

      • My Free Software Activities in March 2017

        Welcome to gambaru.de. Here is my monthly report that covers what I have been doing for Debian. If you’re interested in Android, Java, Games and LTS topics, this might be interesting for you.

      • Derivatives

        • Parsix GNU/Linux 8.15 Gets Linux Kernel 4.4.59, Latest Debian Security Updates

          The development team behind the Debian-based Parsix GNU/Linux operating system series announced recently the availability of a new kernel and latest security updates in the official repositories of the Nev (8.15) release.

        • bugs.devuan.org online

          just to let you know that the Devuan’s bug tracking system is finally
          available online at:

          https://bugs.devuan.org

          The system is compatible with the BTS used by Debian (we are actually
          using the same code base), and shares the same workflow.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 17.04 beta FACT: It’s what’s on the inside that matters, not looks

            Download Ubuntu 17.04 beta preview, recently released, and visually speaking you might be a little disappointed.

            Unity is almost entirely the same with some minor updates for a few core apps. Most of what’s new comes from the move to GNOME 3.24 for a few apps and core components.

            Looks it’s said are not as important as what’s inside that counts, and with the 17.04 beta it couldn’t be more true. Under the hood of his software update there’s enough new stuff that to make the final version well worth the update.

            With 17.04 Ubuntu’s Software Center gains some new powers, thanks to the underlying GNOME Software apps’ new support for Snap URLs. The URL support means that if you’d like to tell someone to install a Snap application you can simply give them a URL. That makes sharing Snap applications considerably easier.

          • Nutty – A Network Diagnostic Tool for Ubuntu

            Nutty is a simple third party app that provides essential information on your system’s network-related aspects by displaying them in tabs.

            Being an app that was developed for elementary OS, Nutty network diagnostics features a clean Graphical User Interface and appropriately-titled tabs that aid its intuitive workflow.

          • The MirAL Story

            I’m Alan Griffiths and I’m a software developer. Being a software developer means I deal with a lot of problems that are rarely appreciated by non-developers. This is a story about dealing successfully with one of these problems.

            Software developers often talk about “technical debt”. This phrase comes from a metaphor that tries to explain the issue without being “too technical”. I think the term was first used by Ward Cunningham, but I could be wrong.

            The metaphor describes the effect of doing things in a way that meets the immediate goals but introduces future costs. For example, using fixed English text in an application can get it working for a demo or even an initial release, but if it needs to work in other languages there will be a lot of changes needed. Not just to text, but to assumptions about layout.

          • The Story of Ubuntu’s Mir Abstraction Layer (MirAL)

            More and more recently we have found ourselves talking about Mir’s abstraction layer, MirAL. It turns out that this set of interfaces to Mir has advanced from being a hobby project by a Canonical developer to now being a formal project within the organization and more of Unity 8 is making use of MirAL’s API/ABI.

          • The Papirus Icon Theme Needs YOUR Help

            It’s the icon theme we use on our own desktops, and the icon theme that we often recommend to new users looking to give their Ubuntu desktop a “fresher” look than stock (sorry Ubuntu Mono Dark, but you’re so 2010).

            But it seems that this set, arguable one of the most popular Linux icon sets currently available, is in trouble — and it needs your help.

          • Cloud Computing Leader OVH Joins the Ubuntu Certified Public Cloud Programme

            Today, April 3, 2017, Canonical announced that OVH, the leading and fastest-growing cloud computing company offering VPS and dedicated servers, as well as other web services, joined the company’s Ubuntu Certified Public Cloud program.

            The new Canonical and OVH partnership will benefit OVH customers running public or private clouds, VPS, and bare metal servers on their infrastructures, minimizing the downtime and bandwidth costs. Being an Ubuntu Certified Public Cloud partner, OVH will now be able to distribute Ubuntu guest images to all of their users.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Haiku OS Picks Up AMD Ryzen Support, More Driver Improvements

    The monthly status report on the BeOS-inspired Haiku operating system reveals their latest efforts.

  • Adobe partners with Google to launch new open-source pan-CJK font

    A few years back, Adobe and Google teamed up to launch a new open-source font for Chinese, Japanese and Korean (CJK) languages. Today, the two companies are expanding on this project with the launch of a serif CJK font. Adobe calls this new font Source Han Serif, while Google calls it Noto Serif CJK.

    Just like with the first project, Adobe font designer Ryoko Nishizuka worked on the overall design of the font and the company then worked with a number of local foundries in China, Japan and Korea to finish all of the 65,535 glyphs that make up the full font (which also includes Latin, Cyrillic and Greek glyphs based on Source Serif). All of those glyphs are available in seven weights, so we’re talking about more than 450,000 glyphs here — a huge number compared to your average Latin font.

  • Open-source software unlocks 3-D view of nanomaterials

    Now it’s possible for anyone to see and share 3-D nanoscale imagery with a new open-source software platform developed by researchers at the University of Michigan, Cornell University and open-source software company Kitware Inc.

    Tomviz 1.0 is the first open-source tool that enables researchers to easily create 3-D images from electron tomography data, then share and manipulate those images in a single platform.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • RApiDatetime 0.0.3

      RApiDatetime provides six entry points for C-level functions of the R API for Date and Datetime calculations. The functions asPOSIXlt and asPOSIXct convert between long and compact datetime representation, formatPOSIXlt and Rstrptime convert to and from character strings, and POSIXlt2D and D2POSIXlt convert between Date and POSIXlt datetime. These six functions are all fairly essential and useful, but not one of them was previously exported by R.

    • Attack of the Killer Microseconds

      The computer systems we use today make it easy for programmers to mitigate event latencies in the nanosecond and millisecond time scales (such as DRAM accesses at tens or hundreds of nanoseconds and disk I/Os at a few milliseconds) but significantly lack support for microsecond (μs)-scale events. This oversight is quickly becoming a serious problem for programming warehouse-scale computers, where efficient handling of microsecond-scale events is becoming paramount for a new breed of low-latency I/O devices ranging from datacenter networking to emerging memories (see the first sidebar “Is the Microsecond Getting Enough Respect?”).

    • Microsoft takes CodePlex to death row on back of GitHub monoculture

      The dominance of GitHub in the project hosting and code sharing space has claimed another victim, with Microsoft announcing plans to shut down its CodePlex site following a period of decreasing use.

    • Microsoft to shut CodePlex open source project site
    • Microsoft taking CodePlex behind the shed and shooting it by Christmas

      The writing has been on the wall for CodePlex since early 2015, when Microsoft started its own projects on rival GitHub’s servers. Since then, Redmond reports that interest in its site has dwindled and it’s had fewer than 350 projects get a source code commit in the last month, while Redmond contributors on GitHub outnumber any other company’s – just.

    • Microsoft Shutters CodePlex, Will Migrate Projects to GitHub
    • Qt versus Wx: How do two of the most popular Python frameworks compare?

      Python is a popular language capable of scripting as well as object-oriented programming. Several frameworks provide a GUI (graphical user interface) for Python, and most of them are good at something, whether it’s simplicity, efficiency, or flexibility. Two of the most popular are wxPython and PyQt, but how do they compare? More importantly, which should you choose for your project?

    • How many testers do you need?

      When you start a usability test, the first question you may ask is “how many testers do I need?” The standard go-to article on this is Nielsen’s “Why You Only Need to Test with 5 Users” which gives the answer right there in the title: you need five testers.

      But it’s important to understand why Nielsen picks five as the magic number. MeasuringU has a good explanation, but I think I can provide my own.

Leftovers

  • How the Roland TR-808 revolutionized music [iophk: “drum machine + autotune = music?”

    Eventually it was used on more hit records than any other drum machine

  • Science

    • A Retiree Discovers an Elusive Math Proof—And Nobody Notices

      Known as the Gaussian correlation inequality (GCI), the conjecture originated in the 1950s, was posed in its most elegant form in 1972 and has held mathematicians in its thrall ever since.

      [...]

      Not knowing LaTeX, the word processor of choice in mathematics, [...]

    • Brain size in birds is related to traffic accidents

      These findings suggest that birds learn the behaviour of car drivers, and that they use their brains to adjust behaviour in an attempt to avoid mortality caused by rapidly and predictably moving objects.

    • UK splurging £20m on six regional HPC centres

      A UK government research council is spending £20m to build six regional high-performance computing (HPC) centres.

      The Engineering and Physics Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) oversees a three-tier HPC structure and is building out the second tier.

      The top and most powerful tier is the ARCHER supercomputer, a Cray XC30 accessed via the UK’s National Supercomputing Service. Tier 2 consists of regional centres, all interconnected through the JANET network, with the base tier 3 being individual institutions’ own HPC systems.

    • Graphene-based sieve turns seawater into drinking water

      A UK-based team of researchers has created a graphene-based sieve capable of removing salt from seawater.

      The sought-after development could aid the millions of people without ready access to clean drinking water.

      The promising graphene oxide sieve could be highly efficient at filtering salts, and will now be tested against existing desalination membranes.

      It has previously been difficult to manufacture graphene-based barriers on an industrial scale.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Report: Market Share Of Orphan Drugs Could Top 20 Percent Of Global Market By 2022

      Orphan drugs are those which treat rare diseases. The determination of which diseases are “rare” is made based upon disease prevalence in the population. In the United States, a disease is considered rare if it affects fewer than 200,000 people in the country, while Japan uses a less than 50,000 patient limit, and the European Union refers to a disease affecting less than 5 per 10,000 people.

    • Report Finds Wide Gap In Pharma Companies’ Profits And Spending On R&D

      A new report from Public Citizen, the US-based consumer rights advocacy group, shows that the 20 largest pharmaceutical corporations are spending significantly less on research and development of new medicines than they are making in profits.

      The report shows that, on average for these top companies, profits rose nearly 24 percent between 2014 and 2015, and that the group as a whole profited over US$100 billion each year from 2014 – 2015. Pharmaceutical companies argue that the large sums invested in research and development are what drive increases in the prices of medicine, according to the report. Public Citizen included examples of statements from industry leaders and the industry’s lobbying group, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA),

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Met police look at allegations of Saudi war crimes in Yemen

      Scotland Yard is examining allegations of war crimes by Saudi Arabia in Yemen, the Guardian can reveal, triggering a possible diplomatic row with Britain on the eve of Theresa May’s visit to the Arab state.

    • Stone pelters on hire in Kashmir: India Today nails Valley’s insidious villains

      Masterminds use internet to organise stone pelting across Jammu and Kashmir.

    • Terrorism or tourism: It’s your choice, PM Modi tells Kashmir youth

      According to military intelligence, the Pakistan establishment and anti-India forces across the border have been goading Kashmiris to disrupt counter-insurgency operations.

    • Spain tells UK not to lose its cool over Gibraltar in Brexit talks

      Spain has urged the British government to keep a cool head in the negotiations over the future of Gibraltar after the former Conservative leader Michael Howard suggested Theresa May would be prepared to go to war to protect the territory as Margaret Thatcher once did over the Falklands.

      “Someone in the UK is losing their cool and there’s no need for it,” said Spain’s foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis.

      While he noted that Howard “hadn’t exactly said” that the UK would go to war over the issue, Dastis added: “Making comparisons with past situations like the Falklands is a little out of context. The Spanish government is a little surprised by the tone of comments coming out of Britain, a country known for its composure.”

    • UK accused of ‘losing cool’ on Gibraltar by Spanish minister

      Spanish foreign minister Alfonso Dastis has said his government had been “surprised by the tone of comments coming out of Britain” about Gibraltar.

      He told a Madrid conference: “It seems someone is losing their cool.”

      On Sunday ex-Conservative leader Lord Howard said the UK would be willing to defend Gibraltar in the same way it defended the Falklands 35 years ago.

      And Gibraltar’s chief minister Fabian Picardo said: “Gibraltar is not a bargaining chip in these negotiations.”

    • Meet Xetron, a Little-Known But Enormous CIA Contract Shop
    • First British female fighter to battle Isil accuses MI5 of targeting her family by taking away their laptops and phones

      The first British female fighter to battle Isil has accused MI5 of targeting her family by taking away their laptops and phones.

      Kimberley Taylor travelled to Syria to join Kurdish forces in the battle to reclaim Raqqa in March last year from Islamic State (Isil) fighters.

      Ms Taylor, from Blackburn, is the first known British woman and has claimed her family is being threatened with prosecution.

      She told the BBC that her parents’ laptops and phones were taken away and have still not been returned – a month after they were seized.

    • War threats over Gibraltar are rightwing imperial fantasies

      Anton Chekhov’s rule was that if a gun appears in act one, by act three it must go off. This basic principle of drama holds true in diplomacy as well: don’t make promises you can’t keep, or threats you can’t deliver on. It’s a principle that Conservative politicians blathering about conflict with Spain over Gibraltar would do well to study.

      On Sunday, the former Tory leader Michael Howard, citing Margaret Thatcher’s war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, said he was “absolutely certain that our current prime minister will show the same resolve in standing by the people of Gibraltar”. It was no slip. This war meme over Gibraltar is not new in Tory thinking. Luke Coffey of the Heritage Foundation – a US conservative thinktank – has, since the Brexit vote, been calling for warships to be deployed around Gibraltar. Yesterday, in response to the row over Howard’s comments, Coffey retweeted a picture of the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano sinking.

    • Feminists In Sweden Flee ‘No Go’ Zones Overrun With Islamic Refugees

      As refugees from Islamic countries pour into Sweden, feminists there have had enough and are fleeing suburbs after a slew of rapes and sexual assaults.

      Famed feminist Nalin Pekgul, who called attention to the rising insecurity of women in the suburbs, says she now avoids the center of town in Tensta, where she lived for 30 years. And the former Left Party official Zeliha Dagli moved from Husby to the inner city.

    • ‘Truly Shocking’: US,UK Cosy Up to Saudi Arabia Despite War Crimes Allegations

      The US and UK enjoy a “cosy relationship” with Saudi Arabia that is incompatible with the human rights values they claim to espouse, human rights activist Peter Tatchell told Radio Sputnik.

      Last week, British police began examining allegations of war crimes committed by Saudi Arabia in Yemen in order to assess whether criminal charges could be brought over Riyadh’s devastating bombing campaign.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Assange appears safe from eviction, taunts Ecuador poll loser

      WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has thrown barbs at Guillermo Lasso, the losing candidate in Ecuador’s runoff elections, who had vowed that he would ask the Australian to leave the country’s embassy in London if he were elected.

    • NASA Tells MuckRock FOIA Requesters They’ll Have To Start Providing Their Home Addresses

      FOIA clearinghouse MuckRock has been on the receiving end of government antipathy before. Local government agencies aren’t happy the service is able to work around location restrictions by offering proxies for out-of-state requesters. So far, this hasn’t done much to slow the flow of public records to MuckRock.

      MuckRock users have been thwarted individually, mainly with FOIA fee requests ranging from $270,000 to $660 million. Various agencies have also cut MuckRock out of fee exemptions, claiming the service just isn’t journalistic enough to avail itself of fee waivers.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Map-based campaign promotes solar panels in Flanders

      The government of the Belgian region of Flanders has renewed its efforts to promote the use of solar energy. An online geographic map calculates the suitability and profitability of placing solar panels on the roofs of buildings.

  • Finance

    • USA TODAY’s guide to cruise ship gratuity charges

      Some see the charges as a thinly disguised method for cruise lines to push the responsibility for paying crew members to their customers. To that point, cruise industry watcher CruiseCritic has reported that some lines now pay housekeeping and dining department workers on ships as little as $2 per day in base wages, relying on the automatic gratuity to provide the great bulk of their compensation. As much as 95% of pay for some cruise ship workers now comes from automatic gratuities, according to CruiseCritic.

    • How Uber Uses Psychological Tricks to Push Its Drivers’ Buttons

      To keep drivers on the road, the company has exploited some people’s tendency to set earnings goals — alerting them that they are ever so close to hitting a precious target when they try to log off. It has even concocted an algorithm similar to a Netflix feature that automatically loads the next program, which many experts believe encourages binge-watching. In Uber’s case, this means sending drivers their next fare opportunity before their current ride is even over.

    • Brexit committee warns of impact of no deal being reached

      MPs have warned about the risks of the UK and EU failing to reach a Brexit trading agreement, urging ministers to work out how much “no deal” would cost.

      The Brexit committee said Theresa May’s claim that “no deal is better than a bad deal” was “unsubstantiated” until an economic assessment was published.

      But the report divided the cross-party committee, with some members saying it was too pessimistic about Brexit.

      Theresa May told the BBC the government was preparing for “all scenarios”.

    • Major job losses at Welsh university as it faces drop in student applications

      More than 100 jobs are at risk at a Welsh university as it faces a drop in student applications.

      The University of South Wales blamed Brexit and student grant cuts as being among the reasons for the fall in applications.

      It is consulting with staff on making 139 redundancies across all four of its faculties and support departments in Cardiff, Treforest and Newport campuses.

      The losses represent 4.6% of the university’s workforce. It is understood that management jobs are most at risk.

    • Lawyer Seeks to Create Brexit Escape Clause in Irish Court

      A lawyer and a trio of Green party politicians filed an Irish lawsuit seeking to give the U.K. a last-minute Brexit escape clause if public sympathy turns against leaving the European Union during two years of negotiations triggered last week.

      Lawyer Jolyon Maugham, who has been a vocal Brexit opponent, filed the suit in Dublin Friday, according to an April 1 statement on Maugham’s website. He is seeking a declaration that Article 50 “is revocable at the discretion” of any EU member state, Maugham says in the case filings.

      Theresa May’s March 29 notification of Article 50 initiated a two-year period permitting Britain to negotiate with the remaining member states on their future relationship. In a six-page letter submitted to EU President Donald Tusk, May formally began talks that will end with Britain breaking ties with its largest trading partner after more than four decades.

    • Let’s do a Brexit deal with the Parthenon marbles

      Not yet a week since the triggering of article 50, and already hope of cordial negotiations seems optimistic. At the weekend, amid early jostling over the post-Brexit fate of Gibraltar, former Tory leader Michael Howard implied that one way to resolve that situation could be a war with Spain.

    • Treating overseas students as migrants is not just wrong, it defies common sense

      I have always preferred policy to be based on facts rather than prejudice. A good example of the latter is the way the immigration figures are presented. At the moment our policy is not, alas, founded on evidence. It hurts our higher education institutions, which are already faced with the challenges of our forthcoming divorce from the European mainstream.

      The renown of our universities has ensured that they have been magnets for some of the best and brightest students and researchers from around the world. This has made them even stronger academically and more competitive internationally. Foreign students help maintain academic quality and assist in sustaining specialised courses, not least in the sciences. They are at the heart of research collaboration. In the long term, they create links of friendship and shared interest with other countries. International students, educated in Britain, are an important part of what is often called soft power.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Noam Chomsky: Why Donald Trump is pushing the doomsday clock to the brink of midnight

      One of the dangers is unquestionable. Of the two existential threats — the threats to the termination of the species basically and most other species – one of them, climate change, on that I think there’s no basis for discussion.

    • Russians, Russians….Everywhere: What Really Happened To The 2016 US Election, Who Did It, & Why

      Before we dive into a little reality check for America, I would like to lay out what this article is, and is not – and what you the reader can expect to take away from it. This way you can save time, and simply decide not to read further.

      What I am willing to offer you is the Truth as I have discovered it. My quest for this particular Truth began quite some time prior to even the concept of election hacking, with an investigation into the Guccifer phenomenon. I did not search out these Truths so that I could enlighten the world, I am not a journalist. This is part of my job as an Information Activist to be aware of the playing field and actors operating in Cyber Space. As such, I neither have, nor would I provide if I did – any sort of hard ‘forensic’ evidence of what I am about to tell you. For the average reader, the veracity of my conclusions must rest solely upon my own reputation in both knowledge and honesty. I am simply not in the business of providing evidence to the world and potentially law enforcement that could be used against my fellow hackers in the Underground. If it’s proof you demand, your journalists and law enforcement will need to seek that out themselves based on what I will present here – as I’ll not help them. That is their job, not mine.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Would U.S. Congress find it acceptable that their phonecalls were recorded, sold, and published?

      Congress has decided that Internet Service Providers shall be Common Carriers but without the obligations of a Common Carrier. Specifically, which was the shocker last week – telephone secrets don’t apply as they do with other telecommunications providers, and ISPs are also free to modify anything they like without liability for it.

    • Canadian Appeals Court Says Vice Media Must Turn Over Communications With Source To Law Enforcement

      Roughly a year ago, a Canadian court ruled that Vice Media must turn over conversations one of its journalists had with an alleged terrorist to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The ruling created a chilling effect, carving a hole in journalistic protections in favor of national security concerns. Not only would it deter journalists from speaking to sources who might, at some point in the future, face criminal charges, but it also would deter sources from speaking to journalists for fear their cover might be blown by law enforcement court orders.

      Vice appealed the decision. Unfortunately, there’s no better news awaiting them at the Ontario Court of Appeals. Elizabeth Raymer of Legal Feeds reports the higher court has upheld the previous ruling.

    • Congress to US citizens: Want online privacy? Pay up!

      Tuesday’s congressional vote to repeal U.S. restrictions on broadband providers doesn’t mean that online privacy is dead. Consumers will just have to pay for it.

      The coming repeal, which President Trump is expected to sign into law, paves a clearer path for broadband providers to sell customers’ internet browsing history and other online data, without their consent.

      Privacy advocates are worried. Imagine corporate giants snooping on your internet activities, and then bombarding your PC, phone and TV with targeted ads.

    • Privacy And National Security Concerns Play Second Fiddle To Administration’s Attempts To Control The Narrative

      Rep. Devin Nunes, who heads the House Intelligence Committee, has been all over the privacy/security map in recent weeks. He’s publicly decried the supposed “illegal surveillance” of former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn while trying to avoid undercutting the NSA programs and presidential authority that make it all this spying possible.

      His hypocrisy knows no bounds. Nunes has repeatedly suggested NSA spying activities (under Executive Order 12333) should receive even less oversight. Now he’s complaining the spy infrastructure he wholeheartedly supports is too big and dangerous, now that it’s resulted in Mike Flynn’s departure.

    • FBI Arrests Creator Of Remote Access Tool, Rather Than Those Abusing It To Commit Crime

      The DOJ is attempting to prosecute the creator of a remote access software — not because he used it for nefarious purposes — but because it can (and has been) used by criminals. Kevin Poulsen has the whole bizarre story at The Daily Beast — one that involves a 26-year-old programmer and the remote administration tool (RAT) he created and sold.

      Taylor Huddleston, creator of NanoCore, a RAT that has been linked to intrusions in ten countries, had his home raided by FBI agents on December 6th. The 14-page indictment paints Huddleston as a willing accomplice — someone who sold his product to bad people to do bad things.

    • CIA operations may be disrupted by new Wikileaks’ data release

      Current spying campaigns run by the CIA could be disrupted, say experts, after more data on the agency’s hacking techniques was released by Wikileaks.

      CIA code that obscures malware’s origins was detailed in the latest release by the whisteblowing site.

      The code could be used to create a “signature” for CIA malware, said one virus hunter.

      The information is part of a larger cache about CIA hacking tools that started to be released last month.

    • Australian anti-war activist ‘among victims of alleged UK police hacking’

      An Australian anti-war activist was among the victims of alleged illegal email hacking by UK police, according to whistleblower claims being investigated by the British police watchdog.

      Ciaron O’Reilly, a Ploughshares and Catholic Worker organiser, is one of 10 people named in a letter to the Green party peer Jenny Jones by an anonymous whistleblower who alleged the emails of those individuals were among those illegally monitored by a secretive Scotland Yard unit working with Indian police and hackers.

    • Use Of VPNs Banned Completely For Millions Of People By Chinese Authorities

      Following the Congress vote to dismantle privacy protections for broadband subscribers, VPNs have suddenly become a very hot area, despite the complex issues surrounding them. We’ve reported on various instances of authorities around the world either banning VPNs, or flirting with idea of doing so. But there’s no doubt that the main battleground over VPNs is in China, where the government has been clamping down on their use with ever-greater rigor.

    • Is this a solution to Trump signing away your digital privacy? We give Invizbox Go a go

      But following a Congressional vote this week to effectively scrap digital privacy rights and give US ISPs the right to sell pretty much any data they can gather on you without needing to seek permission (or even inform you)… suddenly it doesn’t seem so crazy.

    • Montana set to require authorities to obtain a search warrant before reading your emails, texts, and other electronic communications

      Montana will soon require law enforcement to obtain a search warrant before looking through your electronic communications such as emails, text messages, and chats. Montana Governor Steve Bullock is holding off on signing the bill, HB 148, which would increase electronic privacy protections in the state, but only because he seeks to amend the upcoming electronic privacy protections to be even stronger.

    • President Trump delivers final blow to Web browsing privacy rules

      On Monday, President Donald Trump signed a repeal of online privacy rules that would have limited the ability of ISPs to share or sell customers’ browsing history for advertising purposes. Trump’s action follows the Senate and House voting to eliminate the rules issued by the Federal Communications Commission during Barack Obama’s presidency.

    • FBI paid Geek Squad ‘informants’ to search computers for child porn, says court filing

      Multiple technicians with Best Buy’s Geek Squad repair service received hundreds of dollars from the FBI in exchange for seeking child pornography on customers’ computers…

    • Records show deep ties between FBI and Best Buy computer technicians looking for child porn

      Defense lawyers for the doctor argue that Geek Squad City’s technicians acted as government agents by receiving payments from the FBI, regularly speaking with and referring cases to the FBI, and creating a program to search for child porn. If a government agent wants to search a computer, they need a warrant, and the case has raised issues of privacy invasion and violation of constitutional search and seizure rights.

    • A Swedish start-up has started implanting microchips into its employees

      And as with most new technologies, it raises security and privacy issues.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Chechen Authorities Arresting and Killing Gay Men, Russian Paper Says
    • The New Sickness On Campuses: Students Being Punished For Thought Crimes
    • Londonistan: 423 New Mosques; 500 Closed Churches

      The Wahhabis control six percent of mosques in the UK, while the fundamentalist Deobandi control up to 45%.

    • Monday’s papers: Grand mosque scrutiny, Finnish family’s sailing drama, and grocery comparison

      Financing is one of the lines opponents have taken, with Bahrain offering to facilitate the planning and help arrange money to fund the building itself.

      That’s the same Bahrain that’s been slammed by human rights organisations, and that is close to the wahhabist monarchy of Saudi Arabia.

    • How UK police helped unmask one of their own undercover spies

      The police have gone to great lengths to argue that the identities of their undercover officers must be concealed forever.

      However it was the police themselves who are responsible for helping to unmask the latest undercover officer whose identity has been confirmed.

      The public inquiry into undercover policing confirmed last Wednesday that Roger Pearce had been an undercover officer for the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS). He had used the fake identity of “Roger Thorley” during his deployment.

    • West Papuan people in Timika rally to support global petition and Swim for West Papua

      Today in Timika, West Papua, over a thousand people gathered in a rally to show their support for the Global Petition for West Papua and the Swim for West Papua team that will carry it to the United Nations in August 2017.

    • Studies: New Source For Therapy For PTSD And Addiction Is Mind-Rotting Video Games

      If you’re of a certain age, you will remember the derision with which video games as an entertainment industry were met some time ago. While many of the claims about gaming encountered during that time, such as the impact of violent games on young minds or the assured claims that playing games would rot the brains of young people who played them, please understand how much louder that silliness was shouted years back. I can personally recall my own father insisting that if I played video games, I would end up having oatmeal for brains. Good one, Dad, except I played them anyway and now I’m a real-life grown-up with a family and two jobs and a house and all that jazz. Jazz, of course, being a previous receptacle for many of these same claims, but I digress.

    • Video games may protect mental health and avert trauma, addiction

      Video games often blamed for rotting minds may actually protect them, according to a series of studies.

      Researchers report that Tetris—a classic game that takes hold of spatial and visual systems in the brain as players align irregular polygons—seems to jumble the mind’s ability to process and store fresh traumatic memories. Those improperly preserved memories are subsequently less likely to resurface as intrusive, distressing flashbacks, which can contribute to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, complicated grief, and other mental health issues.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • DRM

    • Debate rages over controversial copyright standard for the web

      W3C members, which include the industry’s major players as well as smaller charities and activist groups, have until 13 April to share their thoughts about the proposed standard. W3C director and World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee will respond to objections and make a final decision about whether to approve EME as a web standard.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Oldie but goldie – when is old prior art a suitable starting point for inventive step analysis?

      One key issue was whether DE 1 084 173, published almost 50 years before the priority date of Nike’s patent, was a suitable starting point for inventive step analysis. Would the person skilled in the art, when seeking to increase wear resistance and stiffness of shoes with textile uppers while maintaining their comfort (as the court defined the problem, at para. 10), in 2002 consider prior art from the early 1950s as a suitable starting point?

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • FBI Cannot Examine Megaupload Servers, Canada Appeal Court Rules

        When Megaupload was raided in 2012, more than 1,100 servers were seized in the United States. In addition, 32 were targeted in Canada, and the battle to determine who can access them has continued ever since. The Ontario Court of Appeal has now decided that won’t be the FBI.

      • Blocking Pirate Sites Without a Trial is Allowed, Italian Court Rules

        It is not just the numbers that set Italy apart, the blocking mechanism itself is unique as well. To have a website blocked, rightsholders can ask the local telecoms watchdog AGCOM to issue an order, without need for a trial.

      • Newly Leaked Documents Expose Stunning Waste And Incompetence At The Copyright Office

        Previously unreleased documents acquired by Techdirt show, fairly conclusively, that Congress will be making a huge and dangerous mistake if it moves forward with changing how the head of the Copyright Office is appointed. And despite the fact that the RIAA & MPAA are eagerly supporting this change, the people it will hurt the most are content creators. Because the Copyright Office is basically incompetent when it comes to modernizing its technology. That’s what was found by a thorough (but not publicly released) Inspector General’s report, detailing how the Copyright Office not only threw away $11.6 million on a new computer system that it said would cost $1.1 million, but also lied to both Congress and the Library of Congress about it, pretending everything was going great.

        In reality the project was a complete and utter disaster. It was put together by people who seemed to have no clue how to manage a large IT project, and there was basically zero effort to fix that along the way. After literally wasting $11.6 million on nothing, the entire project was scrapped in October of last year.

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