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10.21.17

Links 21/10/2017: Purism Against ME, Pop!_OS Ready

Posted in News Roundup at 4:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • How Purism avoids Intel’s Active Management Technology
    • Purism disables Intel’s flawed Management Engine on Linux-powered laptops

      LINUX PC MAKER Purism has devised a process to disable the flawed Intel Management Engine.

      The company’s line of Librem laptops, which run flexible open-source firmware Coreboot, are now running with Intel’s management service completely disabled.

      As a core part of Intel Active Management Technology (AMT), the management engine is present in all the company’s CPUs and is capable of powering a computer, even when it is powered off.

    • Purism’s Linux laptops now ship with Intel Management Engine disabled

      Most computers that ship with recent Intel processors include something called Intel Management Engine, which enables hardware-based security, power management, and remote configuration features that are not tied to the operating system running on your PC.

      For free software proponents, this has been a pain in the behind, because it’s a closed-source, proprietary feature designed to provide remote access to a computer even when it’s turned off. While it’s designed to provide security, it also poses a potential security and privacy threat, since it’s a proprietary system that can only be patched by Intel

    • Purism Now Shipping Their Laptops With Intel ME Disabled

      Purism has announced today all laptops to be shipping from their company will now have the Intel Management Engine (ME) disabled.

      Thanks to work done by security researches in recent years for finding ways to disable ME, especially in light of recent security vulnerabilities, Purism’s Coreboot-equipped laptops are now shipping with ME disabled out-of-the-box. Those already with a Librem laptop are able to apply a firmware update to also disable it.

    • POP!_OS is a developer-focused minimalist Linux distro from System 76

      There aren’t that many Linux hardware manufacturers around. Of the few that exist, System 76 is amongst the most well-known. It offers a slew of laptops and desktops, all shipping with the popular Ubuntu distro pre-installed, saving customers hours of wasted time dealing with driver hell.

      But it recently announced it’s changing gears and creating its own Linux distro, which will replace Ubuntu on its systems, called POP!_OS.

    • Pop!_OS Is Finally Here — System76’s Ubuntu-based Operating System For Developers

      The first ever stable release of Pop!_OS is finally here. You can go ahead and download it from this link. Don’t forget to share your feedback. Earlier this year in June, we reported that System76 is creating its own Linux distro called Pop!_OS.

    • Why and how you should switch to Linux

      When you start comparing computers, you probably pit Windows against macOS—but Linux rarely gets a mention. Still, this lesser-known operating system has a strong and loyal following. That’s because it offers a number of advantages over its competitors.

      Whether you’re completely new to Linux or have dabbled with it once or twice already, we want you to consider running it on your next laptop or desktop—or alongside your existing operating system. Read on to decide if it’s time to make the switch.

    • Another Million Learn About GNU/Linux

      Ordinarily, I would not notice or even recommend a brief article in a magazine but this is Popular Science, the Bible of DIY types especially the young and restless who might actually take the plunge into FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software). It’s a general magazine with a million subscribers.

  • Server

    • How to Choose a Linux Container Image

      A comparison of Linux container images talks about the best-practices in choosing an image. Architecture, security and performance are among the factors, while commercial users would also look for support options.

      A Linux container allows separate management of kernel space and user space components by utilizing cgroups and namespaces, which are resource and process isolation mechanisms. Solaris and BSD also have abstractions similar to Linux containers but the article’s focus is on the latter only. The host running the container has the operating system kernel and a set of libraries and tools required to run containers. The container image, on the other hand, has the libraries, interpreters and application code required to run the application that is being distributed in the container. These depend on underlying system libraries. This is true for interpreted languages too as the interpreters themselves are written in low level languages.

    • The Four Pillars of Cloud-Native Operations

      As organizations shift their application strategies to embrace the cloud-native world, the purpose of the cloud transitions from saving money to delivering and managing applications. Platforms such as Cloud Foundry, Kubernetes, and Docker redefine the possibilities for application environments that utilize the cloud. It’s time for us as operations professionals to rethink how we approach our jobs in this new world. We should be asking, how do our organizations take advantage of cloud-native as a new mode of application delivery?

    • How to align your team around microservices

      Microservices have been a focus across the open source world for several years now. Although open source technologies such as Docker, Kubernetes, Prometheus, and Swarm make it easier than ever for organizations to adopt microservice architectures, getting your team on the same page about microservices remains a difficult challenge.

      For a profession that stresses the importance of naming things well, we’ve done ourselves a disservice with microservices. The problem is that that there is nothing inherently “micro” about microservices. Some can be small, but size is relative and there’s no standard measurement unit across organizations. A “small” service at one company might be 1 million lines of code, but far fewer at another organization.

    • DockerCon EU 17 Panel Debates Docker Container Security

      There are many different security capabilities that are part of the Docker container platform, and there are a number of vendors providing container security offerings. At the DockerCon EU 17 conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, eWEEK moderated a panel of leading vendors—Docker, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Aqua Security, Twistlock and StackRox—to discuss the state of the market.

      To date, there have been no publicly disclosed data breaches attributed to container usage or flaws. However, that doesn’t mean that organizations using containers have not been attacked. In fact, Wei Lien Dang, product manager at StackRox, said one of his firm’s financial services customers did have a container-related security incident.

    • DockerCon EU: Tips and Tools for Running Container Workloads on AWS

      Amazon Web Services wants to be a welcome home for developers and organizations looking to deploy containers. At the DockerCon EU conference here, a pair of AWS technical evangelists shared their wisdom on the best ways to benefit from container deployments.

      The terms microservices and containers are often used interchangeably by people. Abby Fuller, technical evangelist at AWS, provided the definition of microservices coined by Adrian Crockford, VP of Cloud Architecture at AWS and formerly the cloud architect at Netflix.

    • Docker CEO: Embracing Kubernetes Removes Conflict

      Steve Singh has ambitious plans for Docker Inc. that are nothing less than transforming the world of legacy applications into a modern cloud-native approach.

      Singh was named CEO of Docker on May 2 and hosted his first DockerCon event here Oct. 16-19. The highlight of DockerCon EU was the surprise announcement that Docker is going to support the rival open-source Kubernetes container orchestration system.

      In a video interview with eWEEK, Singh explained the rationale behind the Kubernetes support and provided insight into his vision for the company he now leads.

  • Kernel Space

    • Hyperledger Stitches in Another Blockchain Project

      The Linux Foundation’s open source Hyperledger Project, which works on blockchain technologies, added a sixth sub project — this one dubbed Quilt.

      Hyperledger Quilt started around 18 months ago and is an implementation of the Interledger Protocol (ILP), which helps facilitate transactions across ledgers.

    • Chinese Search Giant Baidu Joins Hyperledger Blockchain Consortium

      Chinese search engine giant Baidu has become the latest member of the Linux Foundation-led Hyperledger blockchain consortium.

      In joining the group – which focuses on developing blockchain technologies for enterprises – Baidu will assist the project’s efforts alongside other member companies including Accenture, IBM, JP Morgan, R3, Cisco and SAP, among others.

    • Cramming features into LTS kernel releases

      While the 4.14 development cycle has not been the busiest ever (12,500 changesets merged as of this writing, slightly more than 4.13 at this stage of the cycle), it has been seen as a rougher experience than its predecessors. There are all kinds of reasons why one cycle might be smoother than another, but it is not unreasonable to wonder whether the fact that 4.14 is a long-term support (LTS) release has affected how this cycle has gone. Indeed, when he released 4.14-rc3, Linus Torvalds complained that this cycle was more painful than most, and suggested that the long-term support status may be a part of the problem. A couple of recent pulls into the mainline highlight the pressures that, increasingly, apply to LTS releases.

      As was discussed in this article, the 4.14 kernel will include some changes to the kernel timer API aimed at making it more efficient, more like contemporary in-kernel APIs, and easier to harden. While API changes are normally confined to the merge window, this change was pulled into the mainline for the 4.14-rc3 release. The late merge has led to a small amount of grumbling in the community.

    • Improving the kernel timers API

      The kernel’s timer interface has been around for a long time, and its API shows it. Beyond a lack of conformance with current in-kernel interface patterns, the timer API is not as efficient as it could be and stands in the way of ongoing kernel-hardening efforts. A late addition to the 4.14 kernel paves the way toward a wholesale change of this API to address these problems.

    • What’s the best way to prevent kernel pointer leaks?

      An attacker who seeks to compromise a running kernel by overwriting kernel data structures or forcing a jump to specific kernel code must, in either case, have some idea of where the target objects are in memory. Techniques like kernel address-space layout randomization have been created in the hope of denying that knowledge, but that effort is wasted if the kernel leaks information about where it has been placed in memory. Developers have been plugging pointer leaks for years but, as a recent discussion shows, there is still some disagreement over the best way to prevent attackers from learning about the kernel’s address-space layout.

      There are a number of ways for a kernel pointer value to find its way out to user space, but the most common path by far is the printk() function. There are on the order of 50,000 printk() calls in the kernel, any of which might include the value of a kernel pointer. Other places in the kernel use the underlying vsprintf() mechanism to format data for virtual files; they, too, often leak pointer values. A blanket ban on printing pointer values could solve this problem — if it could be properly enforced — but it would also prevent printing such values when they are really needed. Debugging kernel problems is one obvious use case for printing pointers, but there are others.

    • Continuous-integration testing for Intel graphics

      Two separate talks, at two different venues, give us a look into the kinds of testing that the Intel graphics team is doing. Daniel Vetter had a short presentation as part of the Testing and Fuzzing microconference at the Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC). His colleague, Martin Peres, gave a somewhat longer talk, complete with demos, at the X.Org Developers Conference (XDC). The picture they paint is a pleasing one: there is lots of testing going on there. But there are problems as well; that amount of testing runs afoul of bugs elsewhere in the kernel, which makes the job harder.

      Developing for upstream requires good testing, Peres said. If the development team is not doing that, features that land in the upstream kernel will be broken, which is not desirable. Using continuous-integration (CI) along with pre-merge testing allows the person making a change to make sure they did not break anything else in the process of landing their feature. That scales better as the number of developers grows and it allows developers to concentrate on feature development, rather than bug fixing when someone else finds the problem. It also promotes a better understanding of the code base; developers learn more “by breaking stuff”, which lets them see the connections and dependencies between different parts of the code.

    • Graphics Stack

      • “NonDesktop” Proposed For RandR: Useful For VR & Apple Touch Bar Like Devices

        Besides Keith Packard working on the concept of resource leasing for the X.Org Server and resource leasing support for RandR, he’s also now proposing a “NonDesktop” property for the Resize and Rotate protocol.

        The resource leasing has already been worked out as a candidate for the next update, RandR 1.6, while now this veteran X11 developer is proposing a new “NonDesktop” property for identifying outputs that are not conventional displays.

      • More AMDGPU Changes Queue For Linux 4.15

        Adding to the excitement of Linux 4.15, AMD has queued some more changes that were sent in today for DRM-Next.

        Already for Linux 4.15, the AMDGPU Direct Rendering Manager driver should have the long-awaited “DC” display stack that brings Vega/Raven display support, HDMI/DP audio, atomic mode-setting and more. Other pull requests have also brought in a new ioctl, UVD video encode ring support on Polaris, transparent huge-pages DMA support, PowerPlay clean-ups, and many fixes, among other low-level improvements.

      • Running Android on Top of a Linux Graphics Stack

        Traditional Linux graphics systems (like X11) mostly did not use planes. But modern graphics systems like Android and Wayland can take full advantage of it.

        Android has the most mature implementation of plane support in HWComposer, and its graphics stack is a bit different from the usual Linux desktop graphics stack. On desktops, the typical compositor just uses the GPU for all composition, because this is the only thing that exists on the desktop.

        Most embedded and mobile chips have specialized 2D composition hardware that Android is designed around. The way this is done is by dividing the things that are displayed into layers, and then intelligently feeding the layers to hardware that is optimized to handle layers. This frees up the GPU to work on the things you actually care about, while at the same time, it lets hardware that is more efficient do what it does best.

      • Many Vega Improvements & Other Fixes Land In Mesa For RADV Vulkan Driver

        With Mesa 17.3 expected to be branched this weekend and this marking the end of feature development for this last stable Mesa series of 2017, the RADV Radeon Vulkan drivers in particular have been busy landing a lot of last minute code.

      • Occlusion Queries Land In Etnaviv For Mesa 17.3

        Landing in Mesa Git this morning ahead of the imminent 17.3 branching is support for OpenGL occlusion queries.

      • Intel Wires In EGL Context Priority Support For Their Mesa Driver
      • Intel Continues Landing New i915 DRM Features For Linux 4.15

        Jani Nikula has sent in another drm-intel-next update for David Airlie’s DRM-Next tree. They continue prepping more updates to their Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) for targeting the upcoming Linux 4.15 cycle.

        There have already been several Intel “i915″ DRM driver updates queued in DRM-Next for this new kernel version. Past pulls have included marking Coffeelake graphics as stable, continued Cannonlake “Gen 10″ graphics enablement, various display improvements, and quite a lot of other low-level code improvements.

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel Graphics Performance: Ubuntu 17.04 vs. 17.10

        Given the Ubuntu 17.10 release this week and its massive desktop changes from GNOME Wayland to Mesa/kernel upgrades, we’ve been busy benchmarking this new Ubuntu OS release. Complementing the Radeon Ubuntu 17.04 vs. 17.10 gaming comparison are now some OpenGL/Vulkan benchmarks when using Intel Kabylake graphics hardware on Ubuntu 17.04, 17.10 with X.Org and Wayland, and the performance if upgrading against Linux/Mesa Git.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Hey Mycroft, Drive Me to our Goals!

        Almost three months after Akademy 2017, I finally found the time to write a blog post about how I experienced it.

        Akademy is where I learn again about all the amazing things happening in our community, where I connect the dots and see the big picture of where all the effort in the various projects together can lead. And of course, I meet all the wonderful people, all the individual reasons why being in KDE is so amazing. This year was no different.

        Some people voiced their concern during the event that those who are not at Akademy and see only pictures of it on social media might get the feeling that it is mostly about hanging out on the beach and drinking beer, instead of actually being productive. Everyone who was ever at Akademy of course knows this impression couldn’t be further from the truth, but I’ll still take it as a reason to not talk about any of the things that were “just” fun, and focus instead on those that were both fun and productive.

      • KDE Edu sprint 2017 in Berlin

        I had the privilege to attend the KDE Edu sprint in Berlin that happened from the 6th to the 9th of October.

  • Distributions

    • Arch Family

      • Anarchy Linux Dispels Fear of Arch

        Arch-Anywhere/Anarchy Linux is one of the nicest Arch-based distributions I have encountered. However, Anarchy Linux still requires familiarity with terminology and processes that usually are not needed to install Linux distros from a fully-functioning live session installation disk. Not having a demo mode to preview how the OS runs on your particular hardware can be a time-consuming setback.

        However, once you have Anarchy Linux up and running, it will give you a very pleasing computing experience. Much of what happens after installation depends on the desktop environment you selected.

        If you have a desktop preference or prefer one of the included window manager environments instead, you can forget about the sullied reputation that comes with Arch Linux distros. For many reasons, Anarchy Linux is a winning choice.

    • Slackware Family

      • Chromium 62 ready for download

        chromium_iconEarlier this week, Google released a security update for its chrome/chromium browser. The new version 62.0.3202.62 plugs the holes of 35 more or less serious issues, several of them have a CVE rating.

        When the topic of Chromium 62 came up in the comments section of a previous post, I mentioned that I was unable to compile it on Slackware 14.2. Errors like “error: static assertion failed: Bound argument |i| of type |Arg| cannot be converted and bound as |Storage|” yield some results when looked up on the Internet, and they indicate that Slackware’s own gcc-5.3.0 package is too old to compile chromium 62.

    • Red Hat Family

      • A Red Hat Satellite tutorial to install an update server

        Is server patch management the best part of your job? Stop reading here. Many IT organizations struggle with OS patching processes. For Red Hat administrators who are willing to invest some initial energy to simplify later tasks, Satellite provides infrastructure lifecycle management, including capabilities for provisioning, reporting and configuration management. To this end, follow this Red Hat Satellite tutorial to set up a simple server for updates. Once we review how to install the basic update server, we’ll create one example client.

      • Red Hat updates Gluster storage for OpenShift container apps

        Red Hat bolstered Gluster storage for its OpenShift Container Platform, adding iSCSI block and S3 object interfaces, as well as greater persistent volume density.

      • Red Hat to Cover Open Source Collaboration at Gov’t Symposium; Paul Smith Comments

        Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) is set to hold its annual symposium on federal information technology on Nov. 9 where the company will host discussions on open source collaboration and its potential benefits for government, GovCon Executive reported Oct. 11.

      • Red Hat’s Container Technologies and Knowledge Were Chosen by SoftBank to Embrace DevOps

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that several of Red Hat’s open source technologies, including Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, as well as the knowledge of Red Hat Consulting, were chosen by SoftBank Corp (“SoftBank”), a subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp., to implement DevOps methodology for its Service Platform Division, IT Service Development Division, Information Technology Unit, and Technology Unit, the company’s in-house IT organization. This large, varied organization develops, maintains and operates SoftBank’s IT systems for internal work and operations, supporting 600 diverse systems.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Looking back at Fedora Workstation so far

          So I have over the last few years blogged regularly about upcoming features in Fedora Workstation. Well I thought as we putting the finishing touches on Fedora Workstation 27 I should try to look back at everything we have achieved since Fedora Workstation was launched with Fedora 21. The efforts I highlight here are efforts where we have done significant or most development. There are of course a lot of other big changes that has happened over the last few years by the wider community that we leveraged and offer in Fedora Workstation, examples here include things like Meson and Rust. This post is not about those, but that said I do want to write a post just talking about the achievements of the wider community at some point, because they are very important and crucial too. And along the same line this post will not be speaking about the large number of improvements and bugfixes that we contributed to a long list of projects, like to GNOME itself. This blog is about taking stock and taking some pride in what we achieved so far and major hurdles we past on our way to improving the Linux desktop experience.

        • Resigning from Fedora Council for Fedora 27

          Since I became a Fedora contributor in August 2015, I’ve spent a lot of time in the community. One of the great things about a big community like Fedora is that there are several different things to try out. I’ve always tried to do the most help in Fedora with my contributions. I prefer to make long-term, in-depth contributions than short-term, “quick fix”-style work. However, like many others, Fedora is a project I contribute to in my free time. Over the last month, I’ve come to a difficult realization.

        • Fedora meets RHEL
        • Fedora 27 Making It Easy To Deploy Free RHEL7 VMs

          For those wanting to use Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 within a GNOME Boxes driven virtual machine, you can do so for free now with Fedora Workstation 27.

          Red Hat has made it possible to easily deploy RHEL7 from within the GNOME Boxes virtualization software even if you are not a paying Red Hat customer. All that’s required is a free Red Hat developer account.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • How To Install Vanilla GNOME Shell on Ubuntu 17.10

            So you’ve installed Ubuntu 17.10 but you’re not 100% sold on the direction Ubuntu has taken the GNOME desktop in — no shame in that.

            The customized version of GNOME that Ubuntu 17.10 uses is very much in the mould of the (now defunct) Unity desktop, so it won’t be to everyone’s tastes.

            If you’d like to sample GNOME Shell as GNOME developers intend it to be sampled you can do so very easily.

          • Happy 13th Birthday, Ubuntu!

            Believe it or not but today is Ubuntu’s 13th birthday!

            Thirteen terrific, and occasional tumultuous, years to the day since Mark Shuttleworth sat down to tap out the first Ubuntu release announcement.

          • Ubuntu Linux will never be the same after version 17.10

            Ready for a really new Ubuntu desktop? Then start downloading Ubuntu 17.10 today. Canonical has abandoned its Unity interface in favor of the new GNOME 3.26 desktop, and has replaced its homegrown Mir display server with Wayland.

            That may sound like a radical change, but it you look closely at the new Ubuntu 17.10, Artful Aardvark, desktop, it will look familiar. That’s because while the underlying technologies have changed, Ubuntu’s developers have customized its default GNOME desktop to look and feel like Unity.

          • Ubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark is ready for download
          • Ubuntu 17.10 releases with GNOME, Kubernetes 1.8; delivers minimal base images
          • How to install and use Uncomplicated Firewall in Ubuntu
          • 10 Major Updates In Ubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark

            So there you have it finally, Ubuntu 17.10. The release which we have been talking about because of its switch to Gnome from Unity. We’ve talked about most its features in a previous article here but let’s again look at the final version of Ubuntu 17.10. At the end of this article, do take a poll and tell us if you’re going to upgrade to Ubuntu 17.10 or not.

          • Ubuntu 17.10: Hands-on with Artful Aardvark

            Ubuntu 17.10, Artful Aardvark, has now been officially released. I have not been much of an Ubuntu fan for a long time now, but this release includes a lot of significant changes, many of which might address some of my most serious objections about Ubuntu. So I think I should take a closer look at it than I normally do.

            The release announcement mentions the major updates and changes – including the biggest of all, the switch from Unity back to Gnome 3 / Gnome Shell for the desktop. As I have not liked Unity from the very first time I saw it (that’s a polite way to phrase it), I am very, very pleased with this change.

            The release notes (for all versions) give a more complete list of packages updated, and a list of known issues. It also includes a statement that I know some users will not be pleased with

          • 15 Things To Do After Installing Ubuntu 17.10 “Artful Aardvark”

            ​The New Ubuntu 17.10 “Artful Aardvark” launch with GNOME3 has brought a big change and got a lot of people excited to try it as soon as they can. If you don’t know yet the new stuff in Ubuntu 17.10, read the article we published today.

          • NEC Partners with Canonical and Screenly on Ubuntu Digital Signage Platform
          • How To Download Ubuntu 17.10 via Torrent
          • Ubuntu 17.10 launches welcoming back the laughing GNOME

            Ubuntu 17.10 is the first to return to the GNOME runtime following the decision to abandon Unity 8 and therefore end the company’s official involvement with mobile phone development.

          • Canonical on Path to IPO as Ubuntu Unity Linux Desktop Gets Ditched

            In October 2010, Mark Shuttleworth, founder of the Ubuntu open-source operating system and CEO of Canonical, announced his grand plan to build a converged Linux desktop that would work on mobile devices, desktops and even TVs. He called the effort “Unity” and poured significant financial resources into it.

            Seven years later, the Unity dream is dead.

            On Oct. 19, Ubuntu 17.10 was released as the first Ubuntu Linux version since 2010 that didn’t use Unity as the default Linux desktop. In a video interview with eWEEK, Shuttleworth details the rationale behind his decision to cancel Unity and why he has now put his company on the path toward an initial public offering (IPO).

            Because Ubuntu has moved into the mainstream in a bunch of areas, including the cloud, he said some of the things his company had been doing were never going to be commercially sustainable.

          • Ubuntu 17.10 delivers new desktop and cloud enhancements
          • Ubuntu 17.10: We’re coming GNOME! Plenty that’s Artful in Aardvark, with a few Wayland wails

            Ubuntu has done a good job of integrating a few plugins that improve GNOME’s user experience compared to stock GNOME – most notably a modified version of the Dash-to-Dock and the App Indicator extensions, which go a long way toward making GNOME a bit more like Unity. It’s worth noting that Ubuntu’s fork of Dash-to-Dock lacks some features of the original, but you can uninstall the Ubuntu version in favour of the original if you prefer. In fact you can really revert to a pretty stock GNOME desktop with just a few tweaks. Canonical said it wasn’t going to heavily modify GNOME and indeed it hasn’t.

          • What’s New in Ubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark
          • Ubuntu Podcast: S10E33 – Aggressive Judicious Frame

            This week we’ve been protecting our privacy with LineageOS and playing Rust. Telegram get fined, your cloud is being used to mine BitCoin, Google announces a new privacy focused product tier, North Korea hacks a UK TV studio, a new fully branded attack vector is unveiled and Purism reach their funding goal for the Librem 5.

          • Newbie’s Guide to Ubuntu 17.10 Part 3

            This is Part 3 of the newbie’s guide to operate Ubuntu 17.10. Here you’ll learn most basic settings in Ubuntu divided in 2 parts (basics & installing applications) plus special part (GNOME Tweaks and Shell Extensions) at end. Basic needs such as changing wallpaper and enabling touchpad are explained with pictures, including repositioning the dock to bottom (many users will like it) and choosing repository mirror source too. I wish this simple tutorial helps you to operate Ubuntu fluently. This is the last part and I will republish them soon as an ebook. Enjoy!

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Tried Elementary OS 0.4.1 Loki again – Negatory

              The Linux desktop needs a reset. We’re now in a post-Ubuntu world, with Unity gone, and we’re back in sad and forlorn 2005. There isn’t a single major project out there where you can look and say, wow, there’s gonna be a fun and exciting year ahead of us. Well, maybe one or two. The rest? Just run-of-the-mill stuff. The forums are quiet, because there isn’t anything to report, and rehashing kernel versions and desktop versions isn’t really worth anyone’s time.

              I think elementary OS represents this crisis quite well. On its own, it’s a badly cobbled release, with too many issues and inconsistencies and a dreadful approach to ergonomics, making it useless to most people, all other things notwithstanding. But it was too buggy for me to even attempt to install it. Not going well. Alas, unless something cardinal changes, I cannot recommend this one at all. The combo of visual glitches, mediocre performance and middling hardware support does not warrant a longer adventure. Perhaps one day this will change, but for now, you’re better off with stock Ubuntu. And by that I mean up to Zesty, ad I haven’t tried Aardvark yet. Take care, and stay golden.

            • Ubuntu MATE 17.10 Welcomes Unity Fans with New Mutiny Layout, Ships with Snaps

              Ubuntu MATE 17.10 was released today as part of today’s Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating system, bringing six month’s worth of improvements and new features for fans of the MATE desktop environment.

            • Lubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) released!
            • Xubuntu 17.10 “Artful Aardvark” Released
            • Refreshing the Xubuntu logo

              Earlier this year I worked a bit with our logo to propose a small change to it – first change to the logo in 5 years. The team approved, but for various reasons the new logo did not make it to 17.10. Now we’re ready to push it out to the world.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Flint OS, an operating system for a cloud-first world

    Given the power of today’s browser platform technology and web frontend performance, it’s not surprising that most things we want to do with the internet can be accomplished through a single browser window. We are stepping into an era where installable apps will become history, where all our applications and services will live in the cloud.

    The problem is that most operating systems weren’t designed for an internet-first world. Flint OS (soon to be renamed FydeOS) is a secure, fast, and productive operating system that was built to fill that gap. It’s based on the open source Chromium OS project that also powers Google Chromebooks. Chromium OS is based on the Linux kernel and uses Google’s Chromium browser as its principal user interface, therefore it primarily supports web applications.

  • Room for Improvement: Areas Where Open Source Can Get Even Better

    Open source software delivers a huge amount of value. But it stands to offer even more. Here’s a list of the ways open source can evolve to meet the needs of developers and organizations even better than it does today.

    Opportunities for continued evolution and improvement in open source include

  • 7 years of open source: Twilio, Synopsys & Veracode

    “What was once considered fringe and anti-establishment has now become the norm powering some of the largest technological innovations of our times. In the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomous driving and block chain, OSS leads the way,” said Mel Llaguno , open source solution manager at Synopsys Software Integrity Group.

  • F-Droid, the open-source app repository, has been updated to v1.0

    If you are a big Android enthusiast, then you’re probably familiar with the name F-Droid. If not, it’s an extensive repository of open source apps, as well as the name of its accompanying client. Today that client has been updated to v1.0.

    If you remember our coverage of v0.103, v1.0 should look pretty familiar. While there have been some significant changes behind the scenes, apart from a general improvement in performance and ease of use, you’re not likely to notice much.

  • Rackspace ends discount hosting for open source projects

    Rackspace has ended a program under which it offered “generous discounts on hosting for more than 150 OSS projects and communities”, but flubbed the announcement.

    The closure of the program came to our attention after Reg operatives noticed the Tweet below from Eric Holscher, who posted an image in which it appears the fanatical services company planned to withdraw the discount entirely.

  • Oracle Joins Serverless Race with Open Source Fn Project

    Oracle has released Fn, a new open-source, cloud-agnostic, serverless platform. While supporting ‘any programming language’, it initially launched with extensive Java capabilities and a JUnit test framework.

    Fn comprises four of main components: Fn Server, Fn FDKs, Fn Flow and Fn Load Balancer. Written in Go, Fn Server is the platform that runs the code.

  • CableLabs Hints That It’s Planning an Open Source Group

    In a meeting at the SCTE-ISBE Cable Tec Expo show yesterday, Randy Levensalor, lead architect at CableLabs involved with the group’s software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) work, mentioned that CableLabs is planning to announce an open source group soon. He didn’t provide any further detail other than to say CableLabs will be making an announcement in about a month.

    We can speculate that it relates to CableLabs’ SNAPS initiative. SNAPS stands for “SDN/NFV Application development Platform and Stack.” The key objectives for SNAPS are to make it easier for NFV vendors to onboard their applications and to reduce the complexity of integration testing. The initiative attempts to accelerate the adoption of network virtualization, wrote Levensalor in a recent blog posting.

  • Effective Strategies for Recruiting Open Source Developers

    Experienced open source developers are in short supply. To attract top talent, companies often have to do more than hire a recruiter or place an ad on a popular job site. However, if you are running an open source program at your organization, the program itself can be leveraged as a very effective recruiting tool. That is precisely where the new, free online guide Recruiting Open Source Developers comes in. It can help any organization in recruiting developers, or building internal talent, through nurturing an open source culture, contributing to open source communities, and showcasing the utility of new open source projects.

    Why does your organization need a recruiting strategy? One reason is that the growing shortage of skilled developers is well documented. According to a recent Cloud Foundry report, there are a quarter-million job openings for software developers in the U.S. alone and half a million unfilled jobs that require tech skills. They’re also forecasting the number of unfillable developer jobs to reach one million within the next decade.

  • Open source software group for modernizing factory robots seeks SA industry partners
  • Room for Improvement: Areas Where Open Source Can Get Even Better

    Open source software delivers a huge amount of value. But it stands to offer even more. Here’s a list of the ways open source can evolve to meet the needs of developers and organizations even better than it does today.

  • What Lightning Will Look Like: Lightning Labs Has Announced Its User Interface Wallet

    As part of the announcement, Lightning Labs also introduced Neutrino, the new open-source Bitcoin light client that powers the Lightning Desktop App. As a main benefit, Neutrino users don’t need to download the entire Bitcoin blockchain, which is currently over 140 gigabytes in size. This makes the desktop app much more accessible to regular users who transact small amounts, for which the lightning network is particularly suited. And because Neutrino uses a new method of transaction filtering (client side instead of bloom filters), it offers more privacy than most light clients, too.

  • Suite of free, open-source tools to help even non-experts monitor large-scale land use change

    Collect Earth is part of Open Foris, a set of free and open-source software tools developed by FAO with Google Earth, Bing Maps and GEE to facilitate flexible and efficient data collection, analysis and reporting. It is hosted on GitHub, a platform for collaborative software development.

  • AdaptiveScale Releases LXDUI as an Open Source Project.

    As part of AdaptiveScale’s newly released Custer Manager 1.3 software, we are proud to announce that we have released LXDUI as an open source project under the Apache 2.0 license.

  • Lamden Announces Open Source Blockchain Development Suite and Token Sale

    Lamden, the Switzerland-based technology company behind a new innovative blockchain development suite for enterprise applications, has just announced the token sale of their Lamden Tau Token.

  • Events

    • Hacktoberfest 2017 @ Tel Aviv

      I gave my “Midburn – creating an open source community” talk in Hacktoberfest 2017 @ Tel Aviv. This is the local version of an initiative by DigitalOcean and GitHub.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Bringing Mixed Reality to the Web

        Today, Mozilla is announcing a new development program for Mixed Reality that will significantly expand its work in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) for the web. Our initial focus will be on how to get devices, headsets, frameworks and toolsets to work together, so web developers can choose from a variety of tools and publishing methods to bring new immersive experiences online – and have them work together in a fully functional way.

      • Firefox 57 coming soon: a Quantum leap

        Over the past year, Mozilla has been working on a series of major changes to the Firefox browser, mainly for performance and security. These changes are referred to as Project Quantum. Some improvements arrived already with no major differences for its users.

        Last month the major changes landed in the developer channel. These changes mark a major deadline for how extensions work. This deadline gave third party developers a chance to look at their extensions and make changes to remain compatible. It was an important milestone date for the various Firefox add-ons. Firefox 57 marks an end to the legacy XUL based extensions. Starting with version 57, Firefox supports only a new type of extension, named WebExtension.

  • Databases

    • MongoDB’s successful IPO reflects its differences with traditional open source

      MongoDB had a good first day of trading with share prices popping roughly 25% over their opening. As the latest big data platform company to IPO, Mongo’s fortunes are being compared and equated to Cloudera and Hortonworks.

      As upstarts, each is in a race to grow business while whittling down the red ink. Cloudera and Hortonworks are a bit further along this path as their operating losses have begun trending downward – but that happened only after those companies went public.

    • MongoDB’s IPO Beats the Market Out of the Gate

      The folks at MongoDB raised a whole lot of money today in their debut on NASDAQ.

      Yesterday the open source company announced it was going to be asking $24 a share for the 8 million Class A shares it was letting loose in its IPO, which had some Wall Street investors scratching their heads and wondering if the brains at Mongo were suffering from some kind of undiagnosed damage. Analysts had been estimating an opening price of between $20-22 per share, and on October 6 the company had estimated an opening price in the range of $18-20.

    • Wall Street likes databases, as MongoDB soars over 30 percent in its IPO

      Shares of fast-growing cloud database provider MongoDB closed well above the initial asking price of $24, finishing the day at $32.07 after the company successfully raised $192 million in an initial public offering Thursday.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Why it’s pointless to criticize Amazon for being ‘bad’ at open source

      Apparently AWS is B-A-D because it’s a net consumer of open source software. You know, like every single company on earth, inside or outside of tech, probably even including Red Hat. The simple truth is that everyone consumes far more open source software than they contribute. It’s just how the world works.

      For those trying to keep score, however, and paint Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a bad open source citizen, the question is “Why?” Accusations of open source parsimony don’t seem to have damaged developers’ love for AWS as a platform, so exactly what are critics hoping to accomplish? Is it simply a matter of “paying a tax,” as some suggest? If we’ve been reduced to inventing taxes to be paid, with no apparent reason for imposing them, we’re doing open source wrong.

    • PrismTech Moves Market-Leading Proven DDS Solution to Open Source as Eclipse Cyclone
  • BSD

    • DragonFly 5.0 released!

      The normal ISO and IMG files are available for download and install, plus an uncompressed ISO image for those installing remotely.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • An update on GnuPG

      The GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG) is one of the fundamental tools that allows a distributed group to have trust in its communications. Werner Koch, lead developer of GnuPG, spoke about it at Kernel Recipes: what’s in the new 2.2 version, when older versions will reach their end of life, and how development will proceed going forward. He also spoke at some length on the issue of best-practice key management and how GnuPG is evolving to assist.

      It is less than three years since attention was focused on the perilous position of GnuPG; because of systematic failure of the community to fund its development, Koch was considering packing it all in. The Snowden revelations persuaded him to keep going a little longer, then in the wake of Heartbleed there was a resurgent interest in funding the things we all rely on. Heartbleed led to the founding of the Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII). A grant from CII joined commitments from several companies and other organizations and an upsurge in community funding has put GnuPG on a more secure footing going forward.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Digital Impact Alliance Announces Formation of New Open Source Center and First Round of Catalytic Funding for ICT4D Projects

      Today, the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) announced the formation of its new Open Source Center (OSC), and two partners – Digital Square and Software Freedom Conservancy – who will support the Center’s work. The Center will act as a resource to open source software projects serving international development and humanitarian response, providing a variety of shared services, insights and mentorship from partners, as well as funding opportunities. The Center is currently offering its first round of catalytic grants to address a range of challenges including effectiveness and momentum. In this first round, four grants will be made, up to $25,000 each, to projects that foster a healthy, sustainable open source community and products. Applications for funding of new participating members is now available, with a November 8 deadline for initial letters of interest.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Nana Oforiatta Ayim’s Open-Source Encyclopedia of African History Starts With Ghana

        It is a rare kind of woman who enjoys a project so vast that it’s practically unfinishable, but Nana Oforiatta Ayim, a Ghanaian gallerist, writer, and historian, never quits what she has started. She’s discussing her work on the “Cultural Encyclopaedia”, an attempt to “facilitate the re/ordering of knowledge, narratives, and representations from and about the African continent” through an online resource that includes an A-to-Z index and vertices of clickable images for entries. Eventually, a 54-volume book series—one for each country on the continent—will be published with selections from the encyclopedia’s long, long list. Oforiatta Ayim is working with a small team of editors, and, starting with her native country, she has taken on the task of documenting all significant cultural touchstones in the thousands of years of African history. Plus, it will be open source to prevent it from having a top-down logic. “I’m a little bit crazy to take it on,” she says. “But if I’m not going to do it, who is going to be as crazy as me?”

  • Programming/Development

    • How Eclipse is advancing IoT development

      Eclipse may not be the first open source organization that pops to mind when thinking about Internet of Things (IoT) projects. After all, the foundation has been around since 2001, long before IoT was a household word, supporting a community for commercially viable open source software development.

      September’s Eclipse IoT Day, held in conjunction with RedMonk’s ThingMonk 2017 event, emphasized the big role Eclipse is taking in IoT development. It currently hosts 28 projects that touch a wide range of IoT needs and projects. While at the conference, I talked with Ian Skerritt, who heads marketing for Eclipse, about Eclipse’s IoT projects and how Eclipse thinks about IoT more broadly.

    • Intel Begins Landing GFNI Support In GCC 8

      Intel compiler engineers have begun landing “GFNI” support within the GNU Compiler Collection as one of the new ISA extensions not expected until the Icelake processor debut.

    • Control-Flow Enforcement Technology Begins To Land In GCC 8

      Intel Control-flow Enforcement Technology (CET) support has begun landing within the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) for this code safety feature.

      Patches have been in the works for several months while now the start of the patches are being merged to mainline. Coincidentally, at the same time Intel is also landing their GFNI instruction patches in GCC as well.

    • Facebook open sources concurrent programming debugger

      Learning how to do sequential computing, where one calculation is made after the other, is easy. Anyone who learns programmings gets that. Parallel programming, which empowers super-computing calculations to be made simultaneously, is much harder, but doable. Concurrent computing, where multiple calculations are made within overlapping time frames, now that’s hard. It’s also extremely useful whether it’s tracking multiple trains on a single train-line or multiple comments on a single Facebook page. That’s why Facebook has worked hard on concurrent programming. Now, Facebook is sharing its newest debugger tool: RacerD, its new open source race detector.

    • Facebook open-sources RacerD tool to prevent pesky programming problems
    • RacerD detects hard-to-find race conditions in Java code
    • Facebook tackles race hate problem head on with programming tool
    • Facebook open sources RacerD: A tool that’s already squashed 1,000 bugs in concurrent code
    • The Only Person I’ll Pair Program with is my Cat

      I could argue (to varying degrees of success) that pair programming isn’t productive. Productivity of a practice is an easy thing to attack because, in our capitalist dystopia, it’s the end-all-be-all metric. But I hate pair programming, and it’s not just because I don’t feel productive. It’s a lot more than that.

Leftovers

  • The Risks of Unsolicited and Automated Engagement

    I believe sunlight is the best disinfectant and I always admire companies who are open about both their successes and failures. It reminds me when GitLab had their downtime incident: instead of battening down the hatches, they spun up a Google Doc, a live YouTube stream and brought their customers in to help rectify the issue. They got a lot of goodwill from their community.

    If you work for an organization where this article smacks a little close to home, I would be open about it, identify where there are failings, and bring your customers in where they can help you to understand the primary value they are seeking and how you can craft that. People respect humility in cases of failure.

    The reason I am writing this is because I suspect the folks at Bark are good people making some mistakes, and I suspect other companies are making similar mistakes, so I figured this might be a useful article to mull on.

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Jane Doe Wants an Abortion but the Government Is Hell Bent on Stopping Her

      The federal government is holding a young woman hostage to force her to carry her pregnancy to term against her will.

      After Jane Doe, a 17-year-old immigrant from Central America, found out she was pregnant last month, she decided to have an abortion. But the Office of Refugee Resettlement — the federal government agency charged with caring for unaccompanied immigrant minors once they enter the country — is prohibiting her from getting one.

      The federal government has a new policy that allows it to veto an unaccompanied minors’ abortion decision, and government officials are doing everything imaginable to prevent Ms. Doe from accessing abortion. They have instructed the shelter where Jane Doe is staying not to transport Ms. Doe or allow Ms. Doe’s court-appointed guardian to transport her to the health care center to have an abortion — essentially holding her hostage.

    • New Study Shows Glyphosate Contaminated Soils Put Half of Europe at Risk

      Pesticides, once used, do not dissolve into thin air, but persist in the environment, contaminating soil, air and water. This is the most recent red flag to emerge as a result of a new joint study by the University of Wageningen, the Joint Research Center of the European Commission and RIKILT laboratories – recently published in the scientific journal “Science of the Total Environment” – which shows that almost half of European soils are contaminated. Results of the analysis of 300 soil samples in 10 different European countries reveal that 45% of agricultural land in Europe contains glyphosate and its metabolite AMPA. This is just the latest, and certainly not the last blow to the theories on the presumed, and never proven safety of agrochemicals in agriculture.

  • Security

    • 8 ‘Minecraft’ apps infected with Sockbot malware on Google Play found adding devices to botnet

      Security researchers have discovered that at least eight malware-laced apps on Google Play Store are ensnaring devices to a botnet to potentially carry out distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) and other malicious attacks. These apps claimed to provide skins to tweak the look of characters in the popular Minecraft: Pocket Edition game and have been downloaded as many as 2.6 million times.

    • KRACK Vulnerability: What You Need To Know

      This week security researchers announced a newly discovered vulnerability dubbed KRACK, which affects several common security protocols for Wi-Fi, including WPA (Wireless Protected Access) and WPA2. This is a bad vulnerability in that it likely affects billions of devices, many of which are hard to patch and will remain vulnerable for a long time. Yet in light of the sometimes overblown media coverage, it’s important to keep the impact of KRACK in perspective: KRACK does not affect HTTPS traffic, and KRACK’s discovery does not mean all Wi-Fi networks are under attack. For most people, the sanest thing to do is simply continue using wireless Internet access.

    • FERC sets rules to protect grid from malware spread through laptops

      The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday proposed new mandatory cybersecurity controls to protect the utility system from the threat posed by laptops and other mobile devices that could spread malicious software.

      The standards are meant to “further enhance the reliability and resilience of the nation’s bulk electric system” by preventing malware from infecting utility networks and bringing down the power grid, according to the nation’s grid regulator.

    • Hack These Apps And Earn $1,000 — Bug Bounty Program Launched By Google And HackerOne
    • Security Vulnerability Puts Linux Kernel at Risk
    • Security updates for Friday
    • Security Central: Open Source Risks Examined [Ed: Is Flexera pulling a Black Duck now? Badmouthing FOSS while ignoring worse issues with proprietary software?]
    • Reaper: IoT botnet ‘worse than Mirai’ infects one million organisations worldwide

      Check Point first unearthed the botnet, codenamed ‘IoT_reaper’, at the beginning of September and claims that, since, it’s already enslaved millions of IoT devices including routers and IP cameras from firms including GoAhead, D-Link, TP-Link, Avtech, Netgear, MikroTik, Linksys and Synology.

    • Google will pay out bounties for bad Android app flaws

      “Google Play is working with the independent bug bounty platform, HackerOne, and the developers of popular Android apps to implement the Google Play Security Reward Program. Developers of popular Android apps are invited to opt-in to the program, which will incentivize security research in a bug bounty model,” says HackerOne.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • No, US Didn’t ‘Stand By’ Indonesian Genocide—It Actively Participated

      “Standing by,” however, is not what the United States did during the Indonesian genocide of 1965–66; rather, it actively supported the massacres, which were applauded at the time by the New York Times.

      Indonesia in 1965 was run by President Sukarno, an anti-colonial nationalist who had irritated Washington with friendly ties to the Indonesian Communist Party, known as the PKI. When an abortive coup attempt was dubiously blamed on the PKI, this was seen by both the Indonesian military and the US as an opportunity.

    • Uncle Sam: The Ultimate Gun Nut

      It’s beginning to look like we may never fully understand Stephen Paddock’s “military-grade” assault on the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. Law enforcement keeps looking in vain for some sort of motive in the dark abyss of Paddock’s odd life. Alt-Right conspiracists are churning out click-baited concoctions that often border on the comical. And the rest of us are left to ponder how and why a wealthy cipher amassed a huge arsenal of weapons that allowed him to become a one-man army.

    • Aides ‘hustled’ after Trump interview to secure list of fallen soldiers: report

      White House aides were “hustling” to secure an up-to-date list of soldiers who died this year after President Trump claimed in an interview earlier this week that he had contacted the families of “virtually everybody” in the military who was killed since he took office, Roll Call reported Friday.

      An email exchange between the White House and Defense Secretary James Mattis’ office reportedly shows the White House asking the department for information regarding the families of service members killed after the president’s inauguration in January.

      The White House asked for the information on surviving family members so Trump could make sure to contact all of them, according to Roll Call.

      The report said that the email exchange came hours after the president said in a Fox News Radio interview Tuesday that he had called nearly all of the families of those killed since he took office.

    • Please Stop Using ‘Woman in Chador Walks by Anti-US Mural’ Stock Photo for Every Article About Iran

      The general mindlessness in choosing a stock photo is what makes them so pernicious. Editors reach for an image that captures the overall theme of the article while drawing the eye of distracted media consumers—typically as an afterthought, something that accents a piece rather than defines it. It’s not an easy task, but it’s one that, left unexamined, can become a form of propaganda independent of any written text.

      One of the most overused and toxic stock photos–and one that highlights perfectly this genre of image making—is the “Woman in Chador Walks by Anti-US Mural” image accompanying countless stories about US/Iran relations. In several variants, the photo shows one or two Iranian women clad in black chadors, faces usually barely visible, walking past a mural of the Statute of Liberty with a skull face.

    • Trump and His ‘Beautiful’ Weapons

      Capturing the wisdom and the beauty of Donald J. Trump in just one statement escaping from his charming mouth: “Our military has never been stronger. Each day, new equipment is delivered; new and beautiful equipment, the best in the world – the best anywhere in the world, by far.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Clinton, Assange and the War on Truth

      On 16 October, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired an interview with Hillary Clinton: one of many to promote her score-settling book about why she was not elected President of the United States.

      Wading through the Clinton book, What Happened, is an unpleasant experience, like a stomach upset. Smears and tears. Threats and enemies. “They” (voters) were brainwashed and herded against her by the odious Donald Trump in cahoots with sinister Slavs sent from the great darkness known as Russia, assisted by an Australian “nihilist”, Julian Assange.

    • Julian Assange hits back after CIA director likens WikiLeaks to Isis and Hezbollah
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • On NAFTA, America, Canada and Mexico are miles apart

      On October 17th trade representatives of the three countries gathered to mark the end of the fourth round of talks. A collapse does not seem imminent. Robert Lighthizer, the United States Trade Representative (pictured, centre), denied that abandoning the deal was even being discussed, and announced an extension of negotiations into the first quarter of 2018. But he also played down the damage that would be done if no agreement is reached. And Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian foreign-affairs minister, said that in a “no-fuss Canadian way” she was preparing for “the worst possible outcome”.

    • Three-quarters of the UK public say Brexit is going badly, new poll reveals

      The British public have delivered a damning verdict on the Government’s Brexit strategy after a new poll revealed a huge majority think negotiations with Brussels are going badly.

      The exclusive BMG Research survey carried out before and during the European Council summit at which the Prime Minister won a small concession from EU leaders, shows more than three-quarters of people still think her strategy is failing.

      Almost half also think that the no-deal scenario threatened by ministers would be “bad” for Britain, and reject outright the hard Brexit plan to abandon talks at Christmas if the EU does not allow progress, according to the poll.

    • A Suspected Network Of 13,000 Twitter Bots Pumped Out Pro-Brexit Messages In The Run-Up To The EU Vote

      Researchers have uncovered new evidence of networks of thousands of suspect Twitter bots working to influence the Brexit debate in the run-up to the EU referendum.

      The findings, from researchers at City, University of London, include a network of more than 13,000 suspected bots that tweeted predominantly pro-Brexit messages before being deleted or removed from Twitter in the weeks following the vote.

      The research – which is published in the peer-reviewed Social Science Computer Review journal and was shared exclusively with BuzzFeed News – suggests the suspected bot accounts were eight times more likely to tweet pro-leave than pro-remain content.

      “This is research that corroborates what Facebook and others say: that there are bots that serve to falsely amplify certain messages,” co-author Dan Mercea told BuzzFeed News.

      “There is a potential distortion of public communications and we want to get to the bottom of that. This amplification is of concern as it gives us a false sense of momentum behind certain ideas… If there is false amplification, how do we know if someone is genuine?”

    • How every investor lost money on Trump Tower Toronto (but Donald Trump made millions anyway)

      It’s 2002 and you’ve agreed to have your name emblazoned across the top of the tallest residential tower in Canada, a $500-million, five-star condo-hotel in downtown Toronto.

      Here’s the thing: Only months into the project, your lead developer is publicly exposed in the pages of the Toronto Star as a fugitive fraudster on the run from U.S. justice. Your major institutional partner — the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company — bails shortly after.

    • (Why) The English-Speaking World is the New Soviet Union

      The English-speaking world is in an ideological bubble. The fall of the Soviet Union was the failure of pure socialism. Now, ironically, the fall of the Anglo world is it’s perfect, almost precise, mirror image: the failure of pure capitalism. The simple lesson of the last century is this: either system alone cannot last, endure, or work. Now, the rest of the world knows this. Even Rwanda is building public healthcare — Rwanda, which just three decades ago, was the byword for genocide. Even Pakistan is building public transport and hospitals and schools. The entire rest of the world knows that capitalism is just one tool in the box of building genuinely prosperous societies — and quite often it is precisely the wrong tool. Yet on the Anglo world goes, impotent but still monogamously wedded to capitalism, so now you can get same-day drone delivery of anything at all from Amazon, recommended by your Fakebook friends — but you can die for lack of basic medicine, you don’t have savings, and you’ll never retire, while everyone else knows that trying to use capitalism alone to build, say, working healthcare or educational or financial systems is like trying to water a garden with napalm.

      Limited by that childish belief, in America, for example, public investment has become completely verboten, sacrosanct, beyond imagining, to the point that hospitals are closing down. Have you ever heard of a society closing hospitals? Why would a sane society ever do that, if its population is growing (or even if it isn’t, because healthcare is always advancing)? Such insensible, unreasonable, thoughtless, inhumane, grotesquely foolish extremism is the precise mirror image of a few decades ago, when, it was forbidden in the Soviet Union to, say, even set up a little dry cleaning shop. In just this way, the ideological bubble that the Anglo world is in trapped in, like a web holding a fly, condemns it to fall behind the world, and it’s future resembles that of Russia’s. We’ll discuss that more in a moment.

    • EU summit: UK must adjust to a new reality

      ‘The fundamental difference between the UK vision of what this is about and the Franco-German view is that the British still think this is a negotiation,” Pascal Lamy, the former director general of the World Trade Organisation, told the Financial Times this week. Certainly, six months into the Brexit talks, London appears not to have adjusted its expectations to reflect the cold reality it faces. In advance of the European Council summit in Brussels this week, the chief UK negotiator, David Davis, complained, as if some conspiracy were afoot, that the EU was “using time pressure to see if they can get more money out of us” – a reference to the EU’s refusal to move the talks to the next phase before agreement on the UK’s financial liabilities. Of course that’s what the EU is doing – using its vastly stronger negotiating position to make London pay its outstanding bills.

      The EU has no interest in seeing the talks fail, but London’s claim that each side has as much to lose as the other is fantasy. For the EU, the worst case scenario is bad. For the UK, it’s catastrophic. While European leaders could do more to recognise the limited room for manoeuvre that prime minister Theresa May enjoys at home, the truth is that the British Conservative Party created its own problem by failing to level with its own public about the costs and the pain Brexit would entail.

    • Malcolm Tucker: ‘Brexit is like committing suicide by walking into a door over and over again’

      The new edition of The Big Issue is out, which means Malcolm Tucker’s thoughts on Brexit are in.

      Armando Iannucci has guest-edited this week’s magazine, the centrepiece of which is a conversation between his beloved characters Malcolm Tucker and Alan Partridge.

      We still hear from Alan a fair amount through his various TV shows, so it is The Thick of It’s PR man who is the main draw here, and unsurprisingly he has some pretty caustic thoughts on Brexit (via iNews) and the ensuing omnishambles (to use a Thick of It term):

      Tucker: “Brexit’s idiotic. It’ll be like committing suicide by walking into a door over and over again for years, leavers are imbeciles.”

      “[Brexit is] a f****** death cult.”

    • Cocoa Thoughts

      Cocoa has been one of the most successful areas of endeavour for the Fairtrade movement, but all of that has only resulted in that 5.5% figure, which without Fairtrade would be still lower. It is possible to buy Ghanaian made finished chocolate product in British supermarkets now, and excellent it is too, but it has a very small market share. Producing finished chocolate in Africa has its problems; chocolate is a much more delicate cargo than cocoa beans and reacts badly to either heat or refrigeration. Recipes which overcome this problem result in a certain harshness.

    • Egypt’s Rainbow Raids

      Sisi is whipping up homophobia and targeting gay people to distract his base from rising unemployment and inflation.

    • GE’s nightmare just got worse
    • In blow to Britain, Goldman CEO says to spend more time in Frankfurt

      Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein is planning to spend a lot more time in Frankfurt, he said on Thursday, as the Wall Street bank pushes ahead with plans to make the German city a major base after Britain leaves the European Union.

    • A Tale of Two Transparencies: Why The EU And Activists Will Always Disagree Over Trade Deal Negotiations

      Although the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has dropped off the radar completely since Donald Trump’s election, for some years it was a key concern of both the US and European governments, and a major theme of Techdirt’s posts. One of the key issues was transparency — or the lack of it. Eventually, the European Commission realized that its refusal to release information about the negotiations was seriously undermining its ability to sell the deal to the EU public, and it began making some changes on this front, as we discussed back in 2015. Since then, transparency has remained a theme of the European Commission’s initiatives. Last month, in his annual State of the Union address, President Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled his proposals for trade policy. One of them was all about transparency:

    • Blockchains: How They Work and Why They’ll Change the World

      Bitcoin was hatched as an act of defiance. Unleashed in the wake of the Great Recession, the cryptocurrency was touted by its early champions as an antidote to the inequities and corruption of the traditional financial system. They cherished the belief that as this parallel currency took off, it would compete with and ultimately dismantle the institutions that had brought about the crisis. Bitcoin’s unofficial catchphrase, “In cryptography we trust,” left no doubt about who was to blame: It was the middlemen, the bankers, the “trusted” third parties who actually couldn’t be trusted. These humans simply got in the way of other humans, skimming profits and complicating transactions.

    • The Power of Stories: Why We Need More Than Facts to Win

      You cannot take away someone’s story without giving them a new one. It is not enough to challenge an old narrative, however outdated and discredited it may be. Change happens only when you replace it with another. When we develop the right story, and learn how to tell it, it will infect the minds of people across the political spectrum. Those who tell the stories run the world.

      The old world, which once looked stable, even immutable, is collapsing. A new era has begun, loaded with hazard if we fail to respond, charged with promise if we seize the moment. Whether the systems that emerge from this rupture are better or worse than the current dispensation depends on our ability to tell a new story, a story that learns from the past, places us in the present and guides the future.

    • Cities around US offer billions in tax breaks to be Amazon’s HQ2

      Cities around the country are pulling out all the stops to entice Amazon to set up its second headquarters in their area.

      The online retail giant is taking proposals from around North America, and today’s the deadline. Some of the proposals include massive tax breaks, while other cities are trying out humorous gimmicks to get the company’s attention.

      New Jersey has offered the biggest tax incentives, consisting of up to $7 billion in state and local tax rebates if Amazon locates in Newark and hires the 50,000 workers it has said it would. The company has also promised $5 billion in spending on construction of the headquarters. The New Jersey offer, announced Monday, is $2 billion more than what Republican Governor Chris Christie and the Democratic-led New Jersey legislature agreed to last month.

    • Freed Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera on U.S. Colonialism After Hurricane Maria

      One month after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, we hear from longtime Puerto Rican independence activist Oscar López Rivera, who was released in May and is now in San Juan to visit with community members affected by Hurricane Maria. Until earlier this year, Rivera had been in federal prison for 35 years—much of the time in solitary confinement—after he was convicted on federal charges of opposing U.S. authority over the island by force. President Obama commuted his sentence in January.

    • I’ve annotated the government’s response to the petition calling for another Brexit referendum

      It’s funny how some numbers that sound big are actually small, isn’t it? If 111,507 people turned up at your door demanding you do something, you’d probably feel under quite some pressure to do it.

      But there are more than 65 million people in the UK: those 111,507 people are less than 0.2 per cent of the population. So it is that Theresa May’s government feels quite happy to ignore them and get on with doing exactly what it wanted to do anyway.

      That, at least, is the subtext of its response to a petition on the official parliamentary website demanding that it “hold a referendum on the final Brexit deal”. At time of writing, it’s been signed by 111,512 people (ooh, that’s five more since I started writing) – and the rules state that any petition which tops 100,000 signatures “will be considered for debate in parliament”.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Spain Moves To Strip Catalonia’s Autonomy After Secession Showdown

      At the Cabinet meeting, the government would invoke Article 155 of Spain’s constitution allowing it to strip Catalonia of its self-governance. That would take effect on Saturday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s office said in a statement.

      Madrid had given Puigdemont a 10 a.m. (4 a.m. ET) deadline to clarify his government’s stance on a non-binding declaration of independence passed by the regional legislature following a successful referendum on secession.

    • Banning Democracy in Catalonia

      There is a fundamental disconnect between the real Catalonia and the Catalonia the political Establishment and its lackey media want us to believe exists.

      All of the major Western broadcasters, plus newspapers like The Guardian, Washington Post and New York Times, have repeatedly pumped out the mantra that it is only a minority in Catalonia that support Independence. They have never attempted to explain why therefore Carles Puigdemont is President, and why the pro-Independence parties got 48% at the last Catalan elections while the Spanish Nationalist parties got 39%.

    • Republican official ‘would have shot’ Guardian reporter attacked by Gianforte

      A Montana Republican party official “would have shot” Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs if he had approached her as he did Greg Gianforte, who assaulted Jacobs one day before he was elected to Congress.

      Jacobs approached Gianforte in May, in a room where he was about to give a television interview. The Republican slammed Jacobs to the floor, breaking his glasses, and then punched him several times.

    • Lawyers: Trump’s Twitter Account Not Presidential; Also: Trump Is President, Can’t Be Sued

      A lawsuit filed against President Trump alleges a host of First Amendment violations stemming from Trump’s Twitter blocklist. According to the suit filed by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, an official government account shouldn’t be allowed to block users from reading tweets. Sure, there’s an actual official presidential Twitter account, but nothing of interest happens there. Everything from retweets of questionable GIFs to arguable threats of nuclear war happen at Donald Trump’s personal account. But everything’s all mixed together because the president insists on using his personal account (and its blocklist) to communicate a majority of his thoughts and opinions.

    • Bill to halt election meddling on social media introduced

      Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), along with Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), are supporting the bill, which aims to put social media companies on par with radio and TV in their disclosure requirements.

    • What’s Even Scarier Than Donald Trump?

      Donald Trump’s flailings are ever more terrifying. In the course of a few days, he tossed a grenade into the health-care markets that millions rely on, traduced the Iranian nuclear deal, threatened to abandon US citizens ravaged by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, continued to sabotage action on climate change, tweeted about censoring the media, and so undermined his own secretary of state that Republican Senator Bob Corker accused him of castration. For all of that, Trump’s grotesqueries are exceeded by a Republican Congress intent on a course so ruinous as to be, one hopes, impossible to sustain.

      This week, Senate Republicans will seek to push through a budget resolution for the current fiscal year. The resolution provides guidelines for spending and tax cuts, with projections for the next decade. Although its provisions are destructive and absurd, it has the support of virtually all of the Republican caucus.

    • New Whistleblowers Highlight How Russia’s Information War On U.S. Was Larger Than Initially Reported

      A few years ago, Russian whistleblowers like Lyudmila Savchuk began to reveal that Vladimir Putin had built a massive new internet propaganda machine. At the heart of this machine sat the “Internet Research Agency,” a Russian government front company tasked with operating warehouses filled with employees paid 40,000 to 50,000 rubles ($800 to $1,000) a month to create proxied, viable fake personas — specifically tasked with pumping the internet full of toxic disinformation 24 hours a day. Initial reports on these efforts were often playful, suggesting little more than shitposting and memes.

    • Retired ‘Navy SEAL’ praising Trump on Fox News was a fake
    • ‘Worst people in the world’ becoming face of GOP: Conservative commentator

      Author Charlie Sykes was best known as a top Wisconsin conservative talk show host who frequently interviewed fellow cheeseheads and GOP favorites Paul Ryan and Reince Preibus. But when candidate Donald Trump appeared on the political scene, Sykes became a vocal member of #NeverTrump, warning his listeners about this “dangerous” candidate.

    • CIA corrects director’s Russian election meddling claim

      CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Thursday that the US intelligence community determined that Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election did not affect its outcome — a statement that was quickly clarified by his own agency.

      The “intelligence community’s assessment is that the Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election,” Pompeo said, speaking at an event hosted by Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

      The CIA issued a clarifying statement after Pompeo’s remarks.

    • Detailed anatomy of Wisconsin’s election-rigging, racist voter suppression

      In 2008 and 2012, Wisconsin ranked second in the USA for voter turnout; in 2016, following the enactment of a series of racist voter-suppression tactics, the voter turnout was the worst it had been since 2000.

      The voter suppression tactics in Wisconsin are a combination of poll-tax; fraudulent promises of easy access to voter ID (whose hollow nature was repeatedly verified by undercover voting rights activists, who recorded officials directly contradicting the policies that supposedly ensured access to voting ID); special measures aimed at reducing student participation in elections; and out-and-out sleaze.

      The Democratic loss in Wisconsin is unquestionably due to voter suppression, and Trump’s fake voting fraud panic is aimed at repeating the feat in other states.

    • Rigged: How Voter Suppression Threw Wisconsin to Trump

      She’d lost her driver’s license a few days earlier, but she came prepared with an expired Wisconsin state ID and proof of residency. A poll worker confirmed she was registered to vote at her current address. But this was Wisconsin’s first major election that required voters—even those who were already registered—to present a current driver’s license, passport, or state or military ID to cast a ballot. Anthony couldn’t, and so she wasn’t able to vote.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Libraries are losing their literary value

      They risk becoming hangouts rather than places of discovery.

    • A Joke Tweet Leads To ‘Child Trafficking’ Investigation, Providing More Evidence Of Why SESTA Would Be Abused

      Think we’re unduly worried about how “trafficking” charges will get used to punish legitimate online speech? We’re not.

      A few weeks ago a Mississippi mom posted an obviously joking tweet offering to sell her three-year old for $12.

      [...]

      This story is bad enough on its own. As it stands now, actions by the Mississippi authorities will chill other Mississippi parents from blowing off steam with facetious remarks on social media. But at least the chilling harm is contained within Mississippi’s borders. If SESTA passes, that chill will spread throughout the country.

      If SESTA were on the books, the Mississippi authorities would not have had to stop with the mom. Its next stop could be Twitter itself. No matter how unreasonable its suspicions, it could threaten criminal investigation on Twitter for having facilitated this allegedly trafficking-related speech.

    • Don’t Mourn the Loss of Free Media Till You Pay for Your News

      Over the last few days, I have seen with a sense of dismay a ‘tu-tu main-main’ over NDTV censoring its journalists. One of NDTV’s senior-most journalist and well-known face, Sreenivasan Jain, on Tuesday, alleged that a report by him on loans given to companies owned by BJP chief Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah was taken down from NDTV’s website. This was done in the name of ‘legal vetting’ he said in a detailed Facebook post.

    • If You’re Boycotting Israel in This Texas Town, Then No Hurricane Relief for You

      If you’re a resident of a small Texas city and in need of hurricane recovery funds, you’ll have to certify that you’re not boycotting Israel.

      Dickinson, Texas, announced earlier this week that it was accepting applications for grants to help residents rebuild homes and businesses damaged by Hurricane Harvey, which took a particularly devastating toll on this Houston-area town of some 20,000 people. The application is mainly comprised of unremarkable legalities, with one notable exception: a clause stating that the applicant will not take part in a boycott of Israel for the duration of the grant.

    • ACLU Slams Houston Suburb for Withholding Hurricane Relief to Anyone Boycotting Israel

      “The First Amendment protects Americans’ right to boycott, and the government cannot condition hurricane relief or any other public benefit on a commitment to refrain from protected political expression,” said ACLU of Texas Legal Director Andre Segura.
      “Dickinson’s requirement is an egregious violation of the First Amendment, reminiscent of McCarthy-era loyalty oaths requiring Americans to disavow membership in the Communist party and other forms of ‘subversive’ activity,” Segura added.

    • Beyond ICE In Oakland: How SESTA Threatens To Chill Any Online Discussion About Immigration

      First, if you are someone who likes stepped-up ICE immigration enforcement and does not like “sanctuary cities,” you might cheer the implications of this post, but it isn’t otherwise directed at you. It is directed at the center of the political ven diagram of people who both feel the opposite about these immigration policies, and yet who are also championing SESTA. Because this news from Oakland raises the specter of a horrific implication for online speech championing immigrant rights if SESTA passes: the criminal prosecution of the platforms which host that discussion.

      Much of the discussion surrounding SESTA is based on some truly horrific tales of sex abuse, crimes that more obviously fall under what the human trafficking statutes are clearly intended to address. But with news that ICE is engaging in a very broad reading of the type of behavior the human trafficking laws might cover and prosecuting anyone that happens to help an immigrant, it’s clear that the type of speech that SESTA will carve out from Section 230′s protection will go far beyond the situations the bill originally contemplated.

    • US Senators Ask Apple Why VPN Apps Were Removed in China

      Two US senators have written to Apple CEO Tim Cook asking why the company reportedly removed VPN apps from the company’s store in China. “If these reports are true,” the senators wrote, “we are concerned that Apple may be enabling the Chinese government’s censorship and surveillance of the Internet.”

    • Senators press Apple to explain removal of apps in China

      In a letter that was released by the senators on Thursday, Cruz and Leahy criticized Apple for going along with China’s internet regulations.

    • Apple Cook roasted for Chinese app takeaway

      A pair of senior US Senators are calling out Apple CEO Tim Cook for what they call “enabling the Chinese government’s censorship and surveillance of the internet.”

      Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ted Cruz (R-Zodiac) said this week they are concerned with how quickly Apple caved to demands from the Chinese government to remove VPN apps from its China App Store.

    • Australian Government Wants to Give Satire The Boot

      The National Symbols Officer of Australia recently wrote to Juice Media, producers of Rap News and Honest Government Adverts, suggesting that its “use” of Australia’s coat of arms violated various Australian laws. This threat came despite the fact that Juice Media’s videos are clearly satire and no reasonable viewer could mistake them for official publications. Indeed, the coat of arms that appeared in the Honest Government Adverts series does not even spell “Australian” correctly.

      It is unfortunate that the Australian government cannot distinguish between impersonation and satire. But it is especially worrying because the government has proposed legislation that would impose jail terms for impersonation of a government agency. Some laws against impersonating government officials can be appropriate (Australia, like the U.S., is seeing telephone scams from fraudsters claiming to be tax officials). But the proposed legislation in Australia lacks sufficient safeguards. Moreover, the recent letter to Juice Media shows that the government may lack the judgment needed to apply the law fairly.

    • The spector of censorship

      I’ve audited a few courses in nearby colleges and was deeply disappointed to discover that a large number of students are not familiar with Jack London’s books and short stories. I was told that London’s writings have “racists language”-translation-not politically correct. I also discovered that our children do not know how to write or read cursive penmanship. These are just two examples, but what else is being abolished by education administrators to keep our children from achieving their full decision-making potential.

    • 8 Strangest Examples Of Censorship In Video Games
    • ‘Don’t demonetise Tamil pride’: Rahul Gandhi tells Modi on ‘Mersal’ censorship
    • Germany: Full Censorship Now Official
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • [Old] Uber Tracks Devices Even After Owners Uninstall App, Report Claims
    • How Russian Firm Might Have Siphoned Tools From the NSA

      Kaspersky Lab has come under intense scrutiny after its antivirus software was linked to the breach of an NSA employee’s home computer in 2015 by Russian government hackers; U.S. government sources, quoted in news reports, suggested the Moscow-based company colluded with the hackers to steal classified documents or tools from the worker’s machine, or at least turned a blind eye to this activity. The Department of Homeland Security banned Kaspersky products from civilian government systems, and Best Buy has removed the software from computers it sells based on concerns that the software can be used to spy on customers.

      But a closer look at the allegations and technical details of how Kaspersky’s products operate raises questions about the accuracy of the narrative being woven in news reports and suggests that U.S. officials could be technically correct in their statements about what occurred, while also being incorrect about collusion on the part of Kaspersky.

    • Is the FBI Setting the Stage for Increased Surveillance of Black Activists?

      The ACLU and CMJ are demanding more information on why the FBI recently named “Black Identity Extremists” a threat.

      A recently leaked FBI “Intelligence Assessment” contains troubling signs that the FBI is scrutinizing and possibly surveilling Black activists in its search for potential “extremists.”

      The report, which the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division prepared, identifies what it calls “Black Identity Extremists” as security threats. Their “perceptions of police brutality against African Americans … will very likely serve as justification” for violence against law enforcement officers, the report claims. Today, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Center for Media Justice seeking other records regarding the FBI’s surveillance of Black people on the basis of a supposed shared ideology, including records using the term “Black Identity Extremists.”

    • Expanding E-Verify is a Privacy Disaster in the Making

      E-Verify is a massive federal data system used to verify the eligibility of job applicants to work in the United States. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) administer E-Verify. Until now, the federal government has not required private employers to use E-Verify, and only a few states have required it. However, a proposed bill in Congress, the Legal Workforce Act (HR 3711), aims to make E-Verify use mandatory nationwide despite all the very real privacy and accuracy issues associated with the data system.

      EFF recently joined human rights and workers rights organizations from across the United States and sent a letter to Congress pointing out the flaws of E-Verify.

    • Government Drops Its Demand For Data On 6,000 Facebook Users

      It’s amazing what effect a little public scrutiny has on government overreach. In the wake of inauguration day protests, the DOJ started fishing for information from internet service providers. First, it wanted info on all 1.2 million visitors of a protest website hosted by DreamHost. After a few months of bad publicity and legal wrangling, the DOJ was finally forced to severely restrict its demands for site visitor data.

      Things went no better with the warrants served to Facebook. These demanded a long list of personal information and communications from three targeted accounts, along with the names of 6,000 Facebook users who had interacted with the protest site’s Facebook page. Shortly before oral arguments were to be heard in the Washington DC court, the DOJ dropped its gag order.

    • Facebook is struggling to meet the burden of securing itself, security chief says

      Facebook is Struggling to live up to the responsibility it faces for adequately securing the vast amount of personal information it amasses, the social network’s top security executive said in a leaked phone call with company employees.

      “The threats that we are facing have increased significantly and the quality of the adversaries that we are facing,” Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said during a taped call, which was reported Thursday by ZDNet. “Both technically and from a cultural perspective, I don’t feel like we have caught up with our responsibility.”

    • European Parliament failed to protect our Privacy

      The European Parliament has just adopted its position on ePrivacy. It is bad. Major threats pushed by Internet giants were rejected, but the so-called “pro-privacy” groups failed to reject them all. Liberals, left-wing and ecologist groups lost sight of our fundamental rights in an absurd attempt to reach compromises at any cost.

      The so-called “pro-privacy” groups (the liberals of ALDE, left-wing S&D and Greens) have lost months in negotiating with regressive right-wing groups (EPP and ECR), pursuing unreachable compromises. At the last minute, right-wing groups left the negotiation table, creating an opportunity for a reasonable text to be adopted. But this opportunity was not seized at all: the groups pretending to defend our privacy did not even try to improve the draft ePrivacy Regulation but only focused on winning today’s vote. Shame on them.

    • Good news on the privacy front: no more EU demands for crypto backdoors

      Governments all around the world hate encryption. Unless they are being incredibly cunning by pretending they can’t break strong encryption when they can, this seems to be because crypto really does keep messages and data safe from prying governmental eyes. Banning strong encryption is clearly a non-starter – even the most clueless politician knows by now that e-commerce would collapse without it. As a result, the favorite approach has been the backdoor – that magical weakness that somehow is only available to those operating lawfully, and not criminals or hostile governments. That’s despite the fact that every top security expert has explained that it is simply not possible to add backdoors to encryption while retaining the protection it is meant to offer.

    • Thrive: the new showing off online is showing off that you’re not online
    • Lyft taxi app boosted by $1bn investment from Google-led consortium

      The funding round was led by CapitalG (formerly known as Google Capital), the strategic investment arm of Google’s corporate parent Alphabet, and takes the valuation of Lyft up to $11bn.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Questions and Answers on Proposed US Ban on Laptops in Luggage

      The Federal Aviation Administration recently recommended that the U.N. agency that sets global aviation standards prohibit passengers from putting laptops and other large personal electronic devices in their checked bags.

    • Police body cams were meant to keep us safer. Are they working?
    • Axon wants you (yes, you!) to submit photos, videos to police
    • Women’s eNews Founder Rita Henley Jensen Dies

      And award-winning journalist Rita Henley Jensen has died at the age of 70. Jensen was a domestic violence survivor who in 2000 founded Women’s eNews, then the only independent daily news service focusing on women. She also founded the Jane Crow Project, an investigative news outlet focused on how racial and gender bias affects women’s health and reproductive rights. She died Wednesday morning after a long battle with cancer.

    • John Thompson Received 18 Wrongful Years On Death Row, Yet Never Received Justice

      John Thompson was many things: death row exoneree, abolitionist, advocate for prosecutorial accountability, spokesperson, founder of an exoneree-run re-entry program, and mentor. Before the news cycle moves on from John, we are compelled to acknowledge the way he most profoundly affected the world.

      After his untimely death on October 3rd, the media described him as a man who saw the world as it should be, as angry, and as a warrior. To those of us who enjoyed the enormous privilege of knowing and loving John, he was so much more.

      John survives as a symbol of the impunity with which prosecutors may disregard the life and rights of a young black man. Yet he was a wonderfully regular man with a sharp wit and irreverent humor. He loved his wife, family—especially his grandchildren—and friends. He liked a strong coffee in the morning and a beer in the evening. He went to church, and then cursed at the football game. John didn’t sugarcoat anything. He had 100 big ideas a week. He issued straight line challenges—to his colleagues and to the world. Consequently, those who truly knew and loved him maintained a more real, raw and rewarding relationship with John Thompson, compared to others in their lives. He was our friend, and a brilliant, honest, funny, smart, present, and—at times—difficult colleague.

    • Spain is Operating Way Beyond Democratic Legitimacy

      In imprisoning Catalan leaders for peaceful campaigning for Independence, and in choosing both in rhetoric and in court to treat support for Independence as “sedition”, the Spanish government is acting way beyond the limits of a democratic society. It is ignoring the basic human rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. It is also undertaking massive blocking of communication and censorship of the internet in a manner never seen before in a “Western” state.

      To move now to suspend the democratically elected Catalan administration, which is explicitly offering dialogue as an alternative to UDI, is to escalate the crisis in an unreasonable fashion, in the true meaning of the word unreasonable. All of this is truly dreadful, without even mentioning the violence inflicted on voters taking part in the peaceful Independence referendum.

      As regular readers know, the EU reaction to the peaceful movement for Catalan independence has caused me to rethink my entire position on that institution. The failure to condemn the violence and human rights abuse has been bad enough, but the EU has gone still further and offered unqualified support to Spain, with the Commission specifically declaring Spain has a right to use violence, and Juncker saying straight out that the EU opposes Catalan Independence.

    • White Nationalist Richard Spencer’s Supporters Charged in Post-Speech Shooting

      Three men who traveled from Texas for white nationalist Richard Spencer’s Thursday speech at the University of Florida were charged with attempted homicide for allegedly opening fire on protesters, authorities said.

      No one was injured in the shooting after the Gainesville speech, which drew hundreds of protesters and a smaller group of Spencer fans, along with a massive deployment of police trying to prevent a repeat of the street violence that marked a Spencer-related rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, police said.

    • Federal Judge Unseals New York Crime Lab’s Software for Analyzing DNA Evidence

      A federal judge this week unsealed the source code for a software program developed by New York City’s crime lab, exposing to public scrutiny a disputed technique for analyzing complex DNA evidence.

      Judge Valerie Caproni of the Southern District of New York lifted a protective order in response to a motion by ProPublica, which argued that there was a public interest in disclosing the code. ProPublica has obtained the source code, known as the Forensic Statistical Tool, or FST, and published it on GitHub; two newly unredacted defense expert affidavits are also available.

      “Everybody who has been the subject of an FST report now gets to find out to what extent that was inaccurate,” said Christopher Flood, a defense lawyer who has sought access to the code for several years. “And I mean everybody — whether they pleaded guilty before trial, or whether it was presented to a jury, or whether their case was dismissed. Everybody has a right to know, and the public has a right to know.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • $100 Internet bill became $340 for no reason, Frontier customer says

      Frontier Communications’ purchase of FiOS and DSL networks from Verizon last year led to immediate problems for customers that took weeks to resolve.

      More than a year later, some ex-Verizon customers in Florida say they are still having major problems with their new provider.

    • Trump’s “free market” FCC loves monopolies, especially when they rip off prisoners’ families

      The American prison system is home to one of the greatest market-failures in the history of telephony (which is saying something): a monopolistic system in which sole-supplier, hedge-fund owned telcoms operators charge as much as $14/minute for prisoners to talk with their lawyers, families and loved ones.

    • FCC Shouldn’t Give Up on Reforming Inmate Phone Services

      These services are provided by companies—the two largest are owned by private equity firms—that are willing to skirt rules to turn a profit. For instance, when the FCC banned the practice of charging exorbitant fees to connect calls, the companies simply renamed the fees, calling them “first minute” charges. On top of that, these companies charge to put money into inmates’ accounts. They charge to take money out of their accounts. They even limit the amount inmates and their families can put into that account at one time, thereby enabling them to charge the same fees over and over again. They also charge to refund any money left over in the accounts once prisoners are released.

    • Michigan Lawmaker Doesn’t Understand Her Own Bill Hamstringing Broadband Competition

      For the better part of a decade we’ve noted how if America really wanted to improve its horrible broadband problem it would stop letting industry giants like Comcast write shitty protectionist state telecom law. Over the last fifteen years, more than twenty states have passed laws preventing towns and cities from building their own broadband networks even when no incumbent broadband provider will. In many instances these bills also hamstring public/private partnerships, which are often the only way to creatively bring better broadband to under-served or unserved areas of the country.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Author Who Lost Copyright Case Over The Da Vinci Code In The US In 2007 Looks To Revive It In The UK In 2017

        Author Dan Brown is certainly not a stranger to copyright claims and lawsuits over his bestseller The Da Vinci Code. Not long after publishing the book in 2003 to wide acclaim, several legal actions took place against Brown and his publisher, as well as some action initiated by the publisher to stave off claims of copyright infringement and plagiarism. One such case that we did not cover here was brought by Jack Dunn of Massachusetts, who authored a book called The Vatican Boys, and sued Brown in Massachusetts for copyright infringement over the usual claims: there were claimed similarities in characters, plots, and factual assertions (including some that are erroneous in both). In 2007, Judge Michael Ponsor threw out the case, claiming that all the evidence Dunn’s legal team provided amounted to thematic and structural similarities, which are not copyrightable.

      • What “Future Made in the EU” After the © Reform?

        Science fiction usually mirrors contemporary challenges and anxieties better than the future it tries to predict. Nevertheless, that does not stop creators from imagining that future. Rightfully so, even if as nowadays the technology advances so fast that some concepts age before they have a chance to be applied.

        Centrum Cyfrowe, a Polish COMMUNIA member, does not usually deal with science fiction, but the ongoing yearlong debate on the copyright reform has unexpectedly directed them towards speculative design in modeling the future. A Future not Made in the EU campaign presents future objects and services that may enhance cultural and educational experience, but their future is uncertain – their utility does depend on whether the copyright reform addresses future challenges properly.

      • The Recommendation on Measures to Safeguard Fundamental Rights and the Open Internet in the Framework of the EU Copyright Reform

        Article 13 of the Proposed EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market and the accompanying Recital 38 are amongst the most controversial parts of the European Commission’s copyright reform package. Several Members States (Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany) have submitted questions seeking clarification on aspects that are essential to the guarantee of fundamental rights in the EU and to the future of the Internet as an open communication medium. The following analysis discusses these questions in the light of the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union. It offers guidelines and background information for the improvement of the proposed new legislation.

      • UK ‘Pirate’ Kodi Box Seller Handed a Suspended Prison Sentence

        A man who sold devices loaded with Kodi and ‘pirate’ third-party addons has been handed a suspended sentence. After protesting his innocence and insisting he wanted to test the limits of the law, last month Brian Thompson pleaded guilty, ending the possibility of a landmark case testing unchartered areas of copyright law.

      • Cloudflare Counters MPAA and RIAA’s ‘Rehashed’ Piracy Complaints

        Cloudflare has responded to the repeated criticism of entertainment industry groups, which accuse the company of helping pirate sites. The CDN provider informs the U.S. Government that it operates in accordance with the law and that the complaints bring nothing new to the table.

US Patents Appeal Board Attacked by the Patent ‘Industry’, Defended by Federal Courts, and Dodged by Patent Trolls

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 2:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bryson on IPRs
Judge Bryson on IPRs

Summary: PTAB, the branch or the ‘court’ responsible for eliminating bad patents, is coming under attacks from those who rely on poor patent quality and receives praises from everyone else, as usual

WHILE the EPO marginalises its very own appeal boards (BoA), the US is augmenting the role (and workload) of its appeal board, called PTAB (shorthand). We assume that readers of ours already know (more or less) what PTAB is and what it does because we wrote over 100 articles about it.

“In spite of all the anti-PTAB rhetoric, the courts certainly support its decisions.”The patent microcosm is not happy about PTAB. The patent microcosm wants to actively destroy PTAB while refraining from giving the impression that it’s really that crude and self-serving. They like to speak ‘on behalf’ of companies and so-called ‘inventors’ even though companies that actually make stuff strongly support PTAB. This cannot be stressed strongly enough. As we shall show in a moment, there’s an intentionally-misleading lobby which attempts to frame this as a power struggle between one industry and another (e.g. pharmaceutical versus technology), but it’s based on a fictional storyline. It’s clever, shrewd spin, but anyone who has followed these things for a number of years understands that it’s pure mythology.

Jason Rantanen, a patents booster, recently put some numbers together. Yesterday or the day before that he presented some figures, based on numbers that he had studied. These figures, by our interpretation, show very high affirmation rates from a Federal court. PTAB is widely supported by the highest court below the Supreme Court — a court which has confirmed low patent quality in US, essentially siding with PTAB about 80% of the time.

As if turns out, the forum for this presentation was “The Power of the PTAB” — an event we mentioned the other day. It was almost like an echo chamber and it’s not hard to guess who was absent from this event. To quote Rantanen:

I’m presenting some data from the Compendium of Federal Circuit Decisions later today at Chicago-Kent’s terrific conference on The Power of the PTAB. Below are a few of the graphs I’ll be showing, along with a bonus graph involving Federal Circuit review of inter partes review proceedings. All data is through October 17, 2017.

This first graph shows the distribution of dispute types in opinions and Rule 36 summary affirmances that arise from the USPTO. Unsurprisingly, most of the growth in these decisions comes from appeals in IPRs. More surprising to me was that a substantial chunk of the growth from 2014-16 came from appeals from inter partes reexamaminations. Those will drop off as the last reexaminations work through the system.

In spite of all the anti-PTAB rhetoric, the courts certainly support its decisions. It is, objectively speaking, doing an essential service. It also keeps the USPTO in check. Dennis Crouch, being the PTAB foe that he is (he makes no secret about it anymore), keeps looking for CAFC cases which can help embarrass PTAB. A few days ago he found a case where amendments were oddly enough permitted. If patent decisions or grants are “remanded to allow claim amendments,” then it sort of makes a mockery of the very concept of them. It’s like a moving target. To quote:

Since this case raised the same issues as Aqua, the Federal Circuit had been sitting on the en banc petition for the past year awaiting outcome of that case.

I’ll note here that the decision by the Federal Circuit was unanimous. Although many of the judges disagreed with the Aqua decision, they all now regard it as the law and binding precedent of the court.

The Aqua decision was covered here before. In simple terms, it does not mean anything too profound, but when one seeks to discredit PTAB it can become pretty handy.

“The patent ‘industry’ pretends that without lots of patents innovation would suddenly stop. It’s a lie.”A lot of support for PTAB is nowadays being expressed by Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which represents many technology firms. A couple of days ago CCIA helped show that the copyright monopoly (oligarchs who don’t make music but exploit musicians) had been lying. The monopoly often pressures technology companies (e.g. for censorship), claiming that their business will die otherwise and musicians will starve. In reality, however, there’s this:

A technology association-backed report released this week shows strong growth in revenues for the music industry over the past 5 to 10 years, driven by digital music. The data counters the current European copyright reform concern over a “value gap” for the music industry, the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) said.

This is about copyright, but we’re seeing a similar scenario in the patents domain. The patent ‘industry’ pretends that without lots of patents innovation would suddenly stop. It’s a lie.

“They are trying to claim that PTAB will obstruct access to medicine or something along those lines (we have seen similar propaganda — along those same lines — in relation to Lexmark).”As it turns out, even Josh Landau from the CCIA slams Rana Foroohar for her disgusting propaganda in the FT, which has received money from Battistelli. Such propaganda later on propagates and gets cited by patent fanatics like IAM as 'proof' of things that aren't true. They are trying to claim that PTAB will obstruct access to medicine or something along those lines (we have seen similar propaganda — along those same lines — in relation to Lexmark).

Here are some passages from Landau’s very detailed response (he is a good writer on these issues):

On Monday, the Financial Times published an article by Rana Foroohar. While there are a lot of flaws in the article, one particularly pernicious myth shows up—the myth that patent trolls aren’t really a problem. Purporting to look at patent reform as a battle between the tech industry and pharmaceutical manufacturers, the FT article gives the impression that patent trolls aren’t an issue.

Unfortunately, Ms. Foroohar relied on bad data in order to come to that conclusion.

The Trolls Under The Bridge Aren’t A Myth

In particular, Ms. Foroohar’s article focuses on three numbers. First, she states that the total number of defendants is largely unchanged before and after the America Invents Act (AIA). This is accurate. Second, she notes that a 2013 GAO report stated that patent trolls only filed 20% of lawsuits. This is also accurate.

She also quotes a 2013 report from the White House that states that patent trolls brought 66% of all patent lawsuits. She claims that this statistic is wrong and implies that it shows the tech industry had influenced the Obama Administration with fake statistics.

There’s only one problem. That 66% statistic? It’s also completely accurate.

I can hear you already—how could trolls only file 20% of lawsuits, and also file 66% of lawsuits? Those can’t both be right, can they?

[...]

The AIA Has Helped

While the number of patent defendants was approximately steady immediately before and after the AIA, and has remained roughly flat since then, this doesn’t mean the AIA didn’t have an impact. The fact that the number of patent defendants has remained roughly static or slightly declined since the AIA’s passage, despite the long-term trend of several decades of increase identified by Prof. Sag, shows that the AIA has helped reduce patent litigation. And the cost-effectiveness of the AIA’s IPR procedure has helped reduce the costs related to the litigation that does occur.

But Ms. Foroohar claims that the AIA wasn’t necessary in the first place. Based on her flawed analysis of statistics you can’t compare directly, Ms. Foroohar concludes that “patent trolls are an overblown issue.” She implies that the entire problem is a mythical narrative that tech companies have simply made up.

Hundreds of millions of dollars spent defending against baseless NPE lawsuits doesn’t seem mythical. And 66% of all patent litigation coming from companies that make nothing and do nothing but file lawsuits doesn’t seem like an overblown problem at all.

Josh Landau later wrote this article for Law 360 and reposted it (without the paywall) in Patent Progress. CCIA has specifically tackled the absurdity which is Native Americans being used as a shield from PTAB, in order to clearly hurt poor people (limit access to medicine). To quote a portion:

While the tribe may succeed in their motion at the PTAB, Congress itself could weigh in and render this whole debate moot. Tribal sovereign immunity can be limited by congressional action. And Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has introduced a bill (S. 1948) that would eliminate tribal sovereign immunity to inter partes review. As a result of her bill, the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe has accused Sen. McCaskill of a double standard. Specifically, the tribe accuses her of targeting Native Americans and ignoring the universities that have claimed state sovereign immunity in order to obtain dismissal of IPRs.

The tribe’s criticism is either disingenuous or simply ill-informed. It’s well-understood that Congress can abrogate tribal sovereign immunity if it wishes to. But Congress can’t abrogate state sovereign immunity with respect to patents as a whole. They already tried. Congress’ attempt even remains in the statutes, codified at 35 U.S.C. § 271(h). But in a case called Florida Pre-Paid, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity, as possessed by the states, generally cannot be abrogated by Congress, and specifically not with respect to patent law. At most, they might be able to do something like conditioning future federal research funding on waiving sovereign immunity with respect to patent challenges.

But tribal immunity, the kind asserted by the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe in the Allergan IPR, doesn’t stem from the Eleventh Amendment. Congress can (and should) act here, in order to avoid a world in which tribes sell their sovereignty to the highest bidder. And drug manufacturers should be seriously considering whether they want to adopt this kind of legal maneuver.

After all, it’s hard to hold yourself out as a respectable pharmaceutical manufacturer when you’re imitating the legal tactics of payday lenders.

Tribal sovereign immunity has actually received a lot more attention than we ever anticipated. We thought it would go under the radar. All this attention is obviously detrimental to Allergan, which preferred to keep it a secret. At the moment it only contributes to a great deal of negative publicity surrounding both Allergan and these tribes. A CAFC judge recently called it a "sham", many people call it a “scam”, and US Congress has stepped in to defend PTAB from this horrible loophole.

“Tribal sovereign immunity has actually received a lot more attention than we ever anticipated.”Even patent maximalists such as Managing IP have belatedly written about the judge’s decision, which was very long (almost 200 pages long). To quote the summary:

Judge Bryson in the Eastern District of Texas has noted “serious concerns” about Allergan transferring patents to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe to benefit from sovereign immunity but joined the tribe to litigation against Mylan and Teva – “Allergan’s tactic, if successful, could spell the end of the PTO’s IPR program”

Now that a Federal judge, Judge William Bryson, called it almost a “sham” (yes he actually said the word "sham") we need to consider whether this whole loophole is dead, at least as far as courtrooms are concerned. As Steven Seidenberg put it three days ago, “In US, New Legal Ploy May Protect Bad Patents” and this “new strategy will increase the power of patent owners, help patent trolls, and dramatically alter the US patent system.” Here is the opening paragraph:

It had been a bad three months for Allergan, Inc. The drug maker’s stock price had fallen over 20 percent, as the company faced two legal challenges to the patents on its blockbuster drug, Restasis. Then, on 16 October, Allergan lost one of those challenges. A US court found the patents invalid. Allergan vowed to appeal, thus maintaining its monopoly on the drug until a final court determination, which could be over a year away. But Allergan’s monopoly could collapse far sooner, if the company were to lose the second challenge to the patents, before the USPTO. Such a loss was probable, as the agency had already found a “reasonable likelihood” that prior art invalidated the patents on Restasis. So back in September, Allergan employed an innovative legal strategy: The company gave its patents to a Native American tribe, and the tribe claimed its sovereign immunity prevented the USPTO from reviewing the patents’ validity. If this strategy were to succeed, it will do far more than just boost Allergan’s bottom line. The new strategy will increase the power of patent owners, help patent trolls, and dramatically alter the US patent system.

It’s worth reminding ourselves that this strategy is already being used by actual trolls, not just Allergan. The US patent system risks losing its perceived legitimacy unless Congress can fix this quickly. As Ars Technica explained a few days ago:

The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe has filed patent lawsuits against Amazon (PDF) and Microsoft, using patents it acquired from a company called SRC Labs, according to reports in Reuters and CNBC.

SRC Labs, a holding company, is a co-plaintiff in today’s lawsuit. The lawsuits against Amazon and Microsoft are the second and third lawsuits filed by patent-holding companies working together with Native American tribes. Patent-holding companies, sometimes derided in the tech industry as “patent trolls,” produce no goods or services and make their revenue from filing lawsuits.

It didn’t take long for Mike Masnick to cover this as well. To quote:

In the meantime, though, some lawyers have come up with a truly sneaky, and truly awful “work around” that they’ve basically now productized. After a decision by the PTAB earlier this year to refuse to even hear an IPR request involving a patent held by the University of Florida after the University (a part of the state of Florida) argued “sovereign immunity”, lawyers realized that anyone could get out of the IPR process if they just “sold” their patent to a government entity who could claim sovereign immunity. From there is was only a few logical leaps to realize that Native American nations could claim such sovereign immunity. Hence, the deal to “sell” Allergan’s patents to the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe.

Basically everyone recognizes this is a sham sale. The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe has no interest in this patent. Or the other patents its now “buying.” It just gets some cash, which the original patent holder finds worth paying because it helps them avoid the IPR process. Everything gets “licensed” back to the original patent holder anyway, so the actual transaction is quite clear: patent holders paying Native American tribes solely to avoid a review by the patent office of their sketchy patents.

When the Allergan deal became public, lots of people grew concerned. It seemed like such a naked attempt to game the system. The House Oversight Committee began investigating the issue, noting its serious concerns with what was happening.

[...]

Of course, this is not stopping others from following in Allergan’s footsteps. Just days after that court ruling, the very same “Mohawk Tribe” had magically teamed up with a company called SRC Labs, and filed a patent infringement case against Amazon and Microsoft. SRC Labs, if you’re wondering, appears to be the estate of Seymour Cray, the founder of Cray Inc. (who was just involved in another important case unrelated to all of this). And, this is not the only such case.

It’s hard to see this loophole lasting very long. Hopefully the IPR process survives the various challenges its facing, but on top of that, hopefully the PTAB and/or the courts, shut down this obvious gamesmanship for patent holders to avoid accountability.

We certainly hope that the likes of Bryson will squash these cases too. Such cases not only damage the reputation of Native Americans but also that of the patent system.

In the United States, the Patent ‘Industry’ is a Dying Breed and China Adopts This Destructive Force

Posted in America, Asia, Patents at 12:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This IMF chart shows that the US is still doing fine compared to China

IMF chart

Summary: The decaying patent microcosm, or the pipeline of low-quality patents and frivolous lawsuits these entail, loses its grip on the US; China, much to the astonishment of people who actually create things, is attempting to attract that ruinous microcosm (which preys on real, producing companies)

THE world changed a lot in recent years. Probably for the worse.

On the patent front, however, the world is improving, especially in the US. The only exception to this seems to be the emergence of ‘zombie’ patent portfolios, offloaded by the truckloads onto trolls. The concern about the fate of software patents in the US is very real. The patent microcosm is furious and there are staff cuts, too. They’re becoming increasingly redundant.

The EPO and the USPTO may still be granting software patents, but fewer of these will be deemed eligible in the courtroom; fewer people will even bother filing. The numbers already speak for themselves. Litigation is down sharply.

“We are growingly worried about and frequently confronted with buzzwords as means of patenting software, in essence misleading patent examiners into granting software patents (in defiance of Section 101).”From the patent maximalists who try to convince us that more patents mean more innovation (even computer-generated patents and other awful ideas) comes this latest suggestion of “Automated Analysis of 101 Eligibility” (Alice et cetera). This is pseudoscience and a waste of time, but for lawyers with no background in the sciences this may still seem worthwhile. We previously remarked on all sorts of proprietary software packages whose marketers vainly claim to be able to asses the value/worth of patent portfolios based on text alone. Facts don’t seem to matter to these people. They even compare patents to “assets”. That’s beyond laughable and it totally misinterprets the very essence of patents.

We are growingly worried about and frequently confronted with buzzwords as means of patenting software, in essence misleading patent examiners into granting software patents (in defiance of Section 101). These patents are disguised as “cloud”, “AI”, “IoT” and all sorts of other gobbledygook. Apparently, based on this new article from Nick Beckett and Matt Pollins in CMS (China), “cloud” gets used as a loophole even in China. “New patent examination guidelines are friendlier to software patent owners,” they explain and then there’s this (the opening paragraph alone uses the word “cloud” five times):

China is in the middle of a rapid shift towards cloud technologies. Execution of the 13th Five Year Plan will deliver substantial investment into cloud computing and the sector is undergoing unprecedented growth. Meanwhile, organisations operating in this digital economy face an increasingly complex intellectual property (IP) environment, as China becomes a global IP centre and scales up IP protection, enforcement and penalties for infringement. Indeed, the number of cloud-related IP lawsuits in China grew 158% between 2011 and 2016. Against this backdrop, organisations face an important question: how can they take advantage of the enormous opportunities presented by the cloud in a way that manages this complex IP landscape? In this post, Matt Pollins and Nick Beckett from CMS look at the practical steps organisations can take to protect themselves and succeed in the cloud.

It’s no secret that China is now very much open to software patents. It’s also open to patent trolls (which typically rely on software patents). It’s a terrible strategy and a doomsday scenario, yet one that SIPO gleefully sleepwalks into. Yesterday, for example, IAM said that the person in the business of patent Armageddon (SIPO official) urges universities give patents to patent trolls in order to ‘assert’ (i.e. sue). It’s unreal, but here it goes:

This week the Intellectual Property Department here in Hong Kong played host to the annual meeting focused on IP developments on the mainland and its two Special Administrative regions (Macao being the other). One of the main topics was university tech transfer issues, and it was in this area that SIPO officials most frankly acknowledged the need for significant reform. Based on their comments, there could be big changes ahead in the field.

Patent filings by Chinese universities took a major leap in 2016, reaching over 300,000 in total. Applications for invention patents, which are typically the highest quality and most valuable rights, grew by about 28% year-on-year. These impressive numbers reflect huge investment in research on a national scale, as well as recent reforms that give universities more autonomy to set their own patent strategies.

But Deng Yiyou, a deputy division director in SIPO’s Intellectual Property Development & Research Centre, says that the vast majority of these rights are not being utilised. As many as 96% of them are never commercialised, he said, meaning no product has been produced encompassing the protected technology.

[...]

Even as patent litigation has skyrocketed in China, we have not seen university assertions on a scale that has registered among industry players. The same is largely true for government-run research labs. A case filed earlier this year by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the biggest such entity, against US LED maker Cree could prompt more IP managers in government and academia to consider a more aggressive approach. If that happens, the risk environment for all tech companies in China will shift significantly.

So basically, China seems eager to replicate the very horrible system which the US tries hard to get away from (with growing levels of success).

Watchtroll, which watches out for the trolls’ interests and promotes these interests, is obviously unhappy about where the US is going. It is still attacking TC Heartland (Supreme Court decision which hampers patent trolls) and it latched onto "China!" for the delusion of lost leadership (in trolling). Fake panic and fear-mongering again. The site is full of such garbage and almost every day one can find these rants.

“Watchtroll, which watches out for the trolls’ interests and promotes these interests, is obviously unhappy about where the US is going.”Watchtroll must be supremely envious, seeing how patent trolls are migrating to China and doing all their blackmail/mess over there. Good for litigation ‘industry’? Sure. But at whose expense? Watchtroll is basically celebrating rubbish patents where these directly harm the respective disciplines, e.g. programming/development of software.

“In direct contrast to the United States,” says Watchtroll, “innovators [sic] are finding that China is increasingly welcoming to business method and software innovations after it relaxed patent examination guidelines in those sectors earlier this year.”

They mean programmers, not innovators. They tend to frame programs as “inventions” in order to warp this debate. And yet, in spite of China’s lenient policy on software patents, there still aren’t many internationally-recognised software companies in China, are there? They’re mostly based in the US, in spite of (or because of) Section 101.

What’s probably even worse to come out of Watchtroll in recent days is this attack on the Supreme Court. So having already attacked judges and insulted PTAB staff, Watchtroll is now attacking the US Supreme Court, calling it “activist court when reviewing patent law…”

“Watchtroll must be supremely envious, seeing how patent trolls are migrating to China and doing all their blackmail/mess over there.”Disgusting!

This was published by Robert Stoll two days ago. Like David Kappos, he’s an official-turned-lobbyist and he is still lobbying for software patents, just like the former employer of Kappos (IBM). Watch what IBM’s patent chief is pushing at the moment. These are attacks on Section 101. Remember that IBM is close to Watchtroll and IBM also uses the IPO to water down Section 101 (they call it a “taskforce”).

Quite frankly, all we have here is a bunch of panicking patent bullies and their lobbyists. They make a living out of telling people that they need more and more patents while suing these people over patents.

“As one can easily see, this underestimates the importance of patent quality and focuses instead on quantity (the mistake increasingly made by the EPO under Battistelli).”What worries us a great deal is that former USPTO officials such as Stoll and Kappos resort to this kind of cronyism. It’s like there’s no separation between industry and government; policies are just being ‘tailored’ for very rich people — a direct departure from proper functioning and decency.

“Putting Yourself in the Shoes of a Patent Examiner” is a new paper recommended by the patent microcosm yesterday. The abstract (with our emphasis) says: “The mission of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is to ensure that the Intellectual Property system contributes to a strong global economy, encourages investment in innovation, and fosters entrepreneurial spirit. In order to ensure that the large volume of newly filed patent applications are examined in a reasonable timeframe, the USPTO has a system for determining the average amount of time an examiner should spend examining a patent application. Under the current production system, productivity is assessed based on Production Units (“PUs”) achieved relative to the Examiner’s production goal. The production goal is calculated for each examiner based on the number of “Examining Hours” worked in the evaluation period and quantitative values assigned to examiner seniority and complexity of the technology examined. To quantify “Production Units”, a Patent Examiner receives different “counts” for different tasks performed at different stages in prosecution. Understanding this examiner production system – also known as “count” system – is important at least because it educates a patent applicant on the system in which Patent Examiners operate. For instance, the Examiner production system underscores the importance of the events conducted in the early stages of patent prosecution. The goal of this note is to provide an overview of the system in which Patent Examiners operate by summarizing important aspects of the system currently used to evaluate the performance of a Patent Examiner.”

“Wait and watch how China collapses under its own weight of patents.”As one can easily see, this underestimates the importance of patent quality and focuses instead on quantity (the mistake increasingly made by the EPO under Battistelli). Moreover, it fails to take into account the likely virtue of a patent or its expected effect on economics. If a patent is granted to just give some company a multi-billion dollar monopoly on a life-saving drug, then maybe it’s better off not granted at all.

Debates about patent scope will likely carry on like this. Sites like Watchtroll will approach anyone willing enough to bash the US patent system and insist that it needs to grant an infinite number of patents. If left unchallenged, these ludicrous theories of theirs might even be regarded as truthful.

Wait and watch how China collapses under its own weight of patents.

Microsoft and Nokia’s Patent Trolls by Proxy: First Conversant, Now Provenance Asset Group Holdings LLC

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 6:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Provenance Asset Group Holdings has no presence on the Web; it’s only mentioned by IAM and this shady page

Rhode Island courtSummary: Microsoft’s shell game with patents (passing Android-hostile patents to trolls) carries on and publishers funded by these trolls offer the details, albeit vaguely and with obvious spin

FIVE years ago, after this long case which we had been covering for a long time, Uniloc was probably paid hundreds of millions of dollars by Microsoft (they never revealed the exact amount of money).

“Microsoft also fed Nokia’s patents to MOSAID (now known as Conversant, one of the funding sources of IAM) and Google complained that Microsoft was feeding this patent troll in order to extort Android OEMs.”This patent troll, Uniloc, does not make anything. It’s just suing a lot of companies and it is still going after Apple. This post from last night said:

After a brief hiatus, patent troll Uniloc is back and looking to milk Apple for claimed damages and fees related to allegedly infringed patents, this time involving Apple Watch GPS functionality.

At the same time we also see Nokia, not too long after it was hijacked by Microsoft (the Elop routine), shaking down Apple for a lot of money (possibly several billions of dollars) and BlackBerry is going down a similar route.

“Basically, Microsoft not only killed Nokia’s business but it is also making it a patent troll, sometimes by proxy (by passing Nokia’s patents to classic trolls).”As a reminder, Microsoft also fed Nokia’s patents to MOSAID (now known as Conversant, one of the funding sources of IAM) and Google complained that Microsoft was feeding this patent troll in order to extort Android OEMs. Basically, Microsoft not only killed Nokia’s business but it is also making it a patent troll, sometimes by proxy (by passing Nokia’s patents to classic trolls).

Yesterday this blog post from IAM revealed that yet more of Nokia’s patents are being scattered to trolls. Acacia, which is connected to Microsoft, got mentioned and also Conversant, which pays IAM for such bias. Here we go again:

In what looks like one of the biggest patent deals of the year so far, Nokia has transferred a portfolio of almost 4,000 US grants to an entity called Provenance Asset Group Holdings LLC. The deal was recorded on the USPTO assignment database in mid-September. Although full details of the deal and the team behind Provenance are not yet clear, former AST head and RPX executive Dan McCurdy lists on his LinkedIn page that he became CEO of Provenance in September 2017. Late last year McCurdy left RPX to team up with Tim Lynch and Laura Quatela’s IP advisory business which is now known as Quatela Lynch McCurdy. Quatela is currently the chief legal officer at Lenovo but previously served as vice president of IP at Alcatel Lucent where she was based at the time of Nokia’s initial bid for the company.

[...]

Ever since it started to re-order its operations including the sale of its devices business to Microsoft, the Finnish company has been a relatively active seller of patents including to the likes of Acacia and Conversant. In a tough assertion market those assets have been monetised with varying degrees of success, but it’s interesting that with this latest transfer the giant telco has opted to work with one entity rather than do a series of smaller deals. The portfolio currently being sold by AQUA has been made available to buy in whole or in part.

It will be interesting to see what happens with these patents next (if not behind closed doors then out in public). Never underestimate Microsoft’s hatred of Linux, Google, and Android (unless Microsoft can blackmail the OEMs into pre-loading Android with Microsoft software).

Anonymous Professionals Speak of Benoît Battistelli’s Destruction of the EPO, But Why Does the Media Turn a Blind Eye?

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s almost as though media owners have an agenda or get paid not to care

UIMP event and FTI Consulting

Summary: Everyone in the circles of EPO staff and EPO stakeholders knows that dysfunction has become the norm; European media, however, remains suspiciously silent about what otherwise would be a major European scandal (bigger than FIFA or Dieselgate)

THERE seems to be some happiness among EPO staff knowing that the UPC is going nowhere. Nobody really wants the UPC except the people who plotted the UPC (we refer to them collectively as “Team UPC”).

Last night we wrote about an additional 2 months delay and IAM, which is close to the EPO’s management and was paid to promote the UPC, said that the “German constitutional court delays the UPC until the second half of 2018 at the earliest, but quite possibly much later.”

“Put another way,” I told them, “one must not assume that UPC is an inevitability and maintain this dangerous illusion…”

The situation at the EPO is pretty bad. We often refer back to this article from Dr. Glyn Moody, who wrote: “When asked by Ars, the EPO’s spokesperson mentioned the imminent arrival of the unitary patent system as an important reason for revising the EPO’s internal rules…”

“No appeals, no thorough examination, just lots and lots of lawsuits. This should be mortifying to anyone who understands the original (and true) purpose of patents.”Yes, a lot of what Benoît Battistelli has been doing is geared toward a litigation scenario; it’s not about patent quality anymore. No appeals, no thorough examination, just lots and lots of lawsuits. This should be mortifying to anyone who understands the original (and true) purpose of patents.

Earlier today we saw a couple of copies of a new press release [1, 2] regarding Professor Daryl Lim, who is described as an “IP Center Director”. Certainly he should know that Battistelli is a crook and the EPO is a rogue organisation, yet that doesn’t stop him from going to Munich. It says “EPO representatives will include President Benoît Battistelli and senior members of the EPO staff. Lim will also meet with members of the EPO Board of Appeals, and attend a dinner hosted by President Battistelli along with the U.S. delegation. As in past years, the agenda is expected to cover EPO initiatives and other issues of contemporary relevance to U.S. businesses and patent practice and end with a presentation of U.S. developments by the visiting delegates.”

Will these “members of the EPO Board of Appeals” have the courage to tell him what’s going on? Also, why does the US tell the EPO what to do? Who does the EPO work for or is attempting to serve?

“…why does the US tell the EPO what to do? Who does the EPO work for or is attempting to serve?”Sadly, as many people have already come to realise, Battistelli’s French successor is unlikely to turn things around. Sure, some people keep their hopes up (too optimistic in our view) and choose to believe that because the job description spoke of diplomacy António Campinos will somehow be very different and even friendly towards SUEPO. Never mind if management around Campinos will still be Team Battistelli (and historically close to Campinos), including people with criminal charges against them…

Yesterday, WIPR published this article titled “SUEPO offers olive branch to EPO management” (not that Campinos has extended anything in return; he’s totally silent on the matter and the same goes for his upcoming ‘boss’, Dr. Ernst). To quote WIPR:

A staff union at the European Patent Office (EPO) has written to António Campinos, the next president of the organisation, saying his appointment shows a desire to re-establish harmonious conditions with management.

The letter, from the Staff Union of the European Patent Office’s (SUEPO) Hague branch, was sent to all members of what is SUEPO’s second biggest unit. The Hague committee said it is “ready to embark on a road to fruitful cooperation”.

Such a cooperation is unlikely to bring back staff which was illegally dismissed or bring back to life people who were driven to suicide. Justice cannot be restored, there are no reparations anywhere over the horizon, and a lot of European media is still indebted to the EPO (which threw money its way), so it may never cover these issues properly.

“This should have been a massive scandal, but Dutch media is not covering it. The EPO dedicated a lot of money to influencing/controlling the Dutch media.”The “first steps undertaken by the current President was to remove any kind of independent oversight of the EPO’s financial dealings,” said the following comment from yesterday. We remind readers that Battistelli essentially (mis)used EPO budget to ‘bribe’ the media; some allege that he also used that money to ‘buy’ votes for himself. We may never know the true/full scale of it because there’s no financial transparency. It was also alleged that he used money destined for EPO contractors in the Netherlands in order to build himself a ‘penthouse’ in Munich [1, 2]. This should have been a massive scandal, but Dutch media is not covering it. The EPO dedicated a lot of money to influencing/controlling the Dutch media.

“Of course,” the following comment notes, “the disinterest of the media is not only unhelpful but also (especially in Germany) slightly suspicious.”

That’s an important point which is made once again later on in this thread. IP Kat is part of this problem now. Just look at the post this entire thread is attached to. It’s a puff piece for António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli. For all we know, the pseudonym “Merpel” might just be Stephen from CIPA right now. The old “Merpel” is a dead cat.

Anyway, here is the full comment:

Whilst things may look very dark indeed, I am of the opinion that perseverance will see us through. This is not based upon blind optimism but rather a recognition that, in the end, we are dealing with politicians. This means that generation and application of appropriate “political” pressure ought to be more than capable of leading to a satisfactory outcome.

The complete silence and disengagement of the UK and German delegations to the AC are obviously a barrier to generating the necessary political pressure. However, the UK and German associations of professional representatives ought to be able to do something about that. CIPA, PAK, epi: this means you! Where is your voice? Are you not obliged to defend the interests of your members here (in view of the threat to the integrity and reputation of the patent system, as well as to the business that your members do with SMEs)?

Of course, the disinterest of the media is not only unhelpful but also (especially in Germany) slightly suspicious. What is needed here is a “hook” for a story that the media can run. This is where it may help to recall that one of the first steps undertaken by the current President was to remove any kind of independent oversight of the EPO’s financial dealings. It therefore stands to reason that, if there is any “dirt” to be found, it will be uncovered by looking into in those dealings. We all know how certain sections of the media love stories about financial wrongdoing, especially within the privileged and elite world of Eurocrats.

None of this will be easy, especially for those inside of the EPO who are suffering right now (and who can be forgiven for giving up hope in the face of seemingly relentless and overwhelming force). But what we do at this critical time will determine the kind of European patent ecosphere that we will get for many decades. Do we want Europe-wide patent monopolies being handed out by an office whose governance has been completely corrupted, and where the concept of meaningful quality has been abandoned? What will happen to the economies of Europe if this continues? The stakes are simply too high to give up now.

The next comment says that the “EPO can be technically described as matching the description of a true authoritarian regime” and here’s the explanation of why (naming “Battistelli, VP4, VP5, Bergot and her management”):

your diagnostic is correct, factually what you present is right. All that happens at EPO can be technically described as matching the description of a true authoritarian regime under which violating the rights of individuals and acting rogue has become the norm. If this would happen in western EU countries the decision takers (Battistelli, VP4, VP5, Bergot and her management) would have been brought to courts and sentenced, no doubts.

This being said what will happen in the future at EPO is unknown. Nothing is carved in stone one way or another. It can be the same, better even worse.

Currently it seems that the public (IP media at least) seems to start realising that Germany (via the excellent Dr Ernst) is selling the EPO in exchange for a soon-to-become-available-VP5-position-at-epo (in which he will probably double his income).

Public interests some said in the room ? very drole.

What will Campinos do? perhaps follow the path of Battistelli perhaps also not. We should not charge him as guilty before he has even arrived at EPO. We know who he is and what he did but not what he will do.

Future will tell, soon. Do not forget that Campinos will also have to live with Battistelli’s toxic legacy and it is likely that more social casualties happen when he arrives since the camel’s back is close to broken and the number of strained staff far too high for too long (do not forget that suicide nr 7th was avoided 3 weeks ago in The Hague).

At some point (suicide nr 8, 9, 15 perhaps) they will have to do something. The terrible thing is both the apathy of EPO staff most of whom live in denial (maybe as a form of protection but still) and that of middle management (always prone to follow orders no matter how noxious HR policies may be).

As as to the quality of patent: well no one cares so why should you !

“Also,” says the next comment, “the disappearing presumption of validity of EPO grants is something that suits Big Corp.”

This is about patent quality (or lack thereof) and what it means for SMEs:

The itinerant (citizen of nowhere) and sociopathic volume users of the EPO, the multi-national corporations, the Global Titans, they pay virtually no taxes anywhere. So, of course, the EPC Member States tax them through EPO fees.

Big Corp is happy to pay. Those outrageous EPO fees deter the pesky SME’s from filing.

Also the disappearing presumption of validity of EPO grants is something that suits Big Corp. It renders it all but impossible for an SME to use a patent against a volume user.

Also labour rights at the EPO. Sociopaths don’t give a fig about any abuses.

So what to expect from the AC, the new Chair and the new EPO President? More of the same, as you surmise. Proud to be European? Not so much, these days. Will nobody in a position of responsibility defend any longer human rights and the Rule of Law? Or do we have to lose these precious things before we realise what we have squandered?

“I am proud to be member of SUEPO,” the next comment says in relation to SUEPO’s approach to Campinos:

Article about the official position of SUEPO on the election of Mr Campinos

http://patentblog.kluweriplaw.com/2017/10/19/heavy-task-lies-ahead-of-antonio-campinos-as-future-epo-president/

As one will see the Battistelli’s legacy Mr Campinos will have to deal with is heavy and toxic. This being as a professional social partner SUEPO shows here what can be qualified as a pragmatic and reasonable approach: first pose a diagnosis, then indicate possible ways to mitigate and most of all give Campinos the benefit of the doubt as to his intentions and future actions.

Thanks for having had the guts to take such position under the current circumstances. I am proud to be member of SUEPO.

Again the media gets brought up: “disinterest of the media is more than slightly suspicious. Journalists who wrote about the EPO were changed posts.”

This is partly true and we know of examples. We know of people who used to cover EPO scandals and got in trouble with the publisher/editor (they told us about it).

Here is the full comment:

The disinterest of the media is more than slightly suspicious. Journalists who wrote about the EPO were changed posts.

As to what will happen to the economies of Europe, we know from what happened to the economy of the USA 10-15 years ago. Small and medium enterprises disappeared, the economy concentrated into an ever dwindling number of hands and production of goods moved to China. Then they elected Trump. Patents are only a little part of that story of course and yes, it is worth fighting for, but how? And what are we exactly fighting against?

Battistelli is a freemason, just look at the ring he wears. Did you know that Campinos is a freemason as well?

We don’t want to entertain that sort of aspect. Some anonymous commenters say that the next President of the EPO is “a freemason as well” as Battistelli, but all we know about Battistelli is that he’s ENA — by insiders’ estimation a vastly more powerful network than “freemasonry” or whatever (the French President, for example, is also from ENA). We were told about this several years ago. This sort of angle was further entertained in the next comment:

It is perhaps possible that the involvement of freemasonry can provide an explanation for some of the curious things that have happened in (or in connection with) the EPO. However, that is no reason to get disheartened. There is a difficulty faced by any organisation that tries (covertly) to manipulate events against the public interest. That is, there are more of “us” than there are of “them”… meaning that, ultimately, “they” cannot keep a determined “us” down.

Then came a sobering pinch of salt:

I realise, Pink, one must be cautious about “conspiracy theories” but on the subject of the USA you have to wonder about some of the provisions implemented in the AIA, and whether they benefit Big Corp or the SME’s.

Consider for example what constitutes the prior art.

Everything unpublished at the date of the claim, but filed earlier, anywhere in the world, in whatever language, is available for both novelty and obviousness attacks on that claim. Everything, that is, except your own earlier filings. They are exempt.

Thus, bulk filers, the Goliaths of the patent world, can build up impenetrable thickets of overlapping patent rights.

And Little David? Everything he files gets whacked as obvious by all the stuff the volume filers filed already, right up to one day before.

How long before the EPC Member States change the EPC in the same way, at the behest of the lobbyists?

Has it not started already. Consider: Prof Dr Willem Hoyng, that very prominent patent litigator, is saying that Art 54(3) has to be strengthened, its scope widened, to embrace more than strict novelty.

The above speaks of AIA — a subject we intend to cover later this weekend.

All in all, we urge readers to spot the sharp difference/contrast between this IP Kat post and the comments. It’s like the media simply does not care about what’s true anymore; it was almost always the case as far as UPC goes. Now it’s the same when it comes to the EPO.

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