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12.11.17

Links 11/12/2017: Linux 4.15 RC3, Debian 8.10 and Debian 9.3

Posted in News Roundup at 7:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • The Best Linux Laptop: A Buyer’s Guide with Picks from an RHCE

      If you don’t posses the right knowledge & the experience, then finding the best Linux laptop can be a daunting task. And thus you can easily end-up with something that looks great, features great performance, but struggles to cope with ‘Linux’, shame! So, as a RedHat Certified Engineer, the author & the webmaster of this blog, and as a ‘Linux’ user with 14+ years of experience, I used all my knowledge to recommend to you a couple of laptops that I personally guarantee will let you run ‘Linux’ with ease. After 20+ hours of research (carefully looking through the hardware details & reading user feedback) I chose Dell XP S9360-3591-SLV, at the top of the line. If you want a laptop that’s equipped with modern features & excellent performance that ‘just works’ with Linux, then this is your best pick.

      It’s well built (aluminium chassis), lightweight (2.7 lb), features powerful hardware, long battery life, includes an excellent 13.3 inch Gorilla Glass touchscreen with 3200×1800 QHD resolution which should give you excellently sharp images without making anything too small & difficult to read, a good & roomy track-pad (earlier versions had a few issues with it, but now they seem to be gone) with rubber-like palm rest area and a good keyboard (the key travel is not deep, but it’s a very think laptop so…) with Backlit, two USB 3.0 ports. Most importantly, two of the most common elements of a laptop that can give ‘Linux’ user a headache, the wireless adapter & the GPU (yes the Intel HD Graphics 620 can play 4K videos at 60fps), they are both super compatible with ‘Linux’ on this Dell.

    • HiDPI is Released! Work on Initial Setup continues and the TryPopOS contest

      You can now plug in a LoDPI external display to your Galago Pro or you HiDPI Oryx, Serval, or Bonobo and expect it to just work. The same is true when plugging a HiDPI display into any other System76 laptop. No more complicated tricks every time you plug a second monitor in.

    • System76 Rolls Out Its New HiDPI Daemon

      Linux system vendor System76 has released their new HiDPI daemon for their laptops and desktops to improving the display experience on multi-monitor configurations.

      This HiDPI daemon is geared for offering a better display experience when using both HiDPI and lower DPI displays, e.g. a HiDPI laptop display paired with a lower resolution external monitor, a desktop with multiple monitors of varying resolutions, etc.

      Their HiDPI experience is built around X.Org for now until Wayland is mature and is tested for Intel/NVIDIA graphics given those are the GPUs they are mostly shipping at this point. This daemon will listen for monitor plug/unplug events and then configure the HiDPI/LoDPI experience accordingly, allow you to switch displays between different modes if the application in use doesn’t support HiDPI properly, etc.

  • Server

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.15-rc3

      Another week, another rc.

      I’m not thrilled about how big the early 4.15 rc’s are, but rc3 is
      often the biggest rc because it’s still fairly early in the
      calming-down period, and yet people have had some time to start
      finding problems. That said, this rc3 is big even by rc3 standards.
      Not good.

      Most of the changes by far are drivers (with a big chunk of it being
      just syntactic changes for some doc warnings) with some perf tooling
      updates also being noticeable. But there are changes all over: core
      kernel and networking, kvm, arch updates and Documentation.

      Anyway, I sincerely hope that things are really starting to calm down now.

      Also, there’s a known issue with x86 32-bit suspend/resume that I just
      didn’t get a good patch for in time for this rc. Soon.

      Shortlog appended.

      Linus

    • Linux Kernel 4.15 Gets Another Big RC, Linus Torvalds Says It’s Not Good at All

      Linux Torvalds announced a few moments ago the release and immediate availability for download of the third Release Candidate (RC) milestone of the upcoming Linux 4.15 kernel series for Linux-based operating systems.

      If last week’s RC2 was a “bigger than expected” one, than this week the Linux 4.15 kernel saw even more patches and it just got a quite bit RC3 milestone, which Linus Torvalds says it’s big even by RC3 standards and it isn’t a good sign for the development cycle, which could be pushed to the end of January 2018.

      “I’m not thrilled about how big the early 4.15 RCs are, but RC3 is often the biggest RC because it’s still fairly early in the calming-down period, and yet people have had some time to start finding problems. That said, this RC3 is big even by RC3 standards. Not good,” said Linus Torvalds in the mailing list announcement.

    • Linux 4.15-rc3 Kernel Released

      Linus Torvalds has announced the third weekly test release of the upcoming Linux 4.15 kernel.

      It’s been a rather busy week in the Linux kernel space considering the RC3 space. The level of activity has frighten Linus, but there are still 5~6 weeks left before declaring the Linux 4.15.0 kernel as stable.

    • Linux Kernel 5.0 Will be Coming in the Summer of 2018

      In the recently concluded Open Source Summit in Prague, Linux creator Linus Torvalds discusses sits down with VP of VMware and discussed the issues surrounding the Linux Kernel. I attended the event in person and even covered it in a live video on It’s FOSS Facebook page but since not everyone is going to watch the video for over 30 minutes, I am going to list some of the key takeaways from his talk.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • NVIDIA 387.34 vs. Linux 4.15 + Mesa 17.4-dev Radeon OpenGL/Vulkan Performance

        Tested on the Radeon side was the very latest Linux 4.15 Git code as of 6 December, including recent AMDGPU fixes that landed mainline after the 4.15 merge window. The user-space graphics stack was Mesa 17.4-dev built against LLVM 6.0 SVN provided by the Padoka PPA. Fresh AMDGPU-PRO benchmarks will be coming upon the next driver update. The AMD graphics cards tested were the Radeon RX 580, R9 Fury, RX Vega 56, and RX Vega 64.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Elisa 0.0.80 Released

        Elisa is a music player designed to be simple and nice to use.

        Elisa allows to browse music by album, artist or all tracks. The music is indexed using either a private indexer or an indexer using Baloo. The private one can be configured to scan music on chosen paths. The Baloo one is much faster because Baloo is providing all needed data from its own database. You can build and play your own playlist.

      • You Can Now Easily Send/Receive SMS Messages From The KDE Desktop

        A long-standing KDE initiative that hasn’t received as much attention as it deserves is KDE Connect for allowing KDE to interface with other devices — namely smartphones — for being able to display phone notifications on your desktop and more. A new KDE Plasmoid makes it easy now to send/receive SMS text messages.

      • Send SMS messages from your Plasma Desktop

        Once you have it configured to use the correct device, you type in the phone number of the person you wish to send the message to in the first box (as below). Please note this needs to be the international dialling code (ie +44 for the UK, +353 for Ireland). Then type your message and click the Send button, it’s that simple!

      • KDE’s Elisa Music Player Prepares Its First Alpha Release

        The developers working on the KDE Elisa music player, which was announced earlier this year among several ongoing KDE multimedia player projects is out with its first alpha release ahead of Elisa v0.1.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.41.0 Released with More Than 120 Improvements and Bugfixes

        The KDE Project released today a new version of its open-source KDE Frameworks software stack, a collection of over 70 add-on libraries to the Qt application framework, for GNU/Linux distributions.

        Each month, KDE releases a new KDE Frameworks build, and version 5.41.0 is now available for December 2017, bringing a month’s worth of improvements, bug and security fixes, as well as updated translations.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.41 Released Ahead Of KDE Applications 17.12

        KDE Frameworks 5.41 is now available as the latest monthly update to this collection of add-on libraries complementing Qt5.

        KDE Frameworks 5.41 has a number of fixes including some crash fixes, updated translations, improvements to Kirigami, support for the idle inhibit manager protocol in KWayland, many Plasma Framework changes, and other updates.

      • Release of KDE Frameworks 5.41.0

        December 10, 2017. KDE today announces the release of KDE Frameworks 5.41.0.

        KDE Frameworks are 70 addon libraries to Qt which provide a wide variety of commonly needed functionality in mature, peer reviewed and well tested libraries with friendly licensing terms. For an introduction see the Frameworks 5.0 release announcement.

      • [Kubuntu] Testing a switch to default Breeze-Dark Plasma theme in Bionic daily isos and default settings

        Today’s daily ISO for Bionic Beaver 18.04 sees an experimental switch to the Breeze-Dark Plasma theme by default.

        Users running 18.04 development version who have not deliberately opted to use Breeze/Breeze-Light in their systemsettings will also see the change after upgrading packages.

        Users can easily revert back to the Breeze/Breeze-Light Plasma themes by changing this in systemsettings.

      • Kubuntu 18.04 LTS Could Switch to Breeze-Dark Plasma Theme by Default, Test Now

        The latest daily build live ISO images that landed earlier today for Kubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) apparently uses the Breeze-Dark Plasma theme for the KDE Plasma 5.11 desktop environment by default. However, we’ve been told that it’s currently an experiment to get the pulse of the community.

        “Users running [Kubuntu] 18.04 development version who have not deliberately opted to use Breeze/Breeze-Light in their System Settings will also see the change after upgrading packages,” said the devs. “Users can easily revert back to the Breeze/Breeze-Light Plasma themes by changing this in System Settings.”

      • Interview with Rytelier

        The amount of convenience is very high compared to other programs. The amount of “this one should be designed in a better way, it annoys me” things is the smallest of all the programs I use, and if something is broken, then most of these functions are announced to improve in 4.0.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Grow your skills with GNOME

        For the past 3 years I’ve been working very hard because I fulfill a number of these roles for Builder. It’s exhausting and unsustainable. It contributes to burnout and hostile communication by putting too much responsibility on too few people’s shoulders.

      • GTK4, GNOME’s Wayland Support & Vulkan Renderer Topped GNOME In 2017
      • A Lot Of Improvements Are Building Up For GIMP 2.9.8, Including Better Wayland Support

        It’s been four months since the release of GIMP 2.9.6 and while GIMP 2.9 developments are sadly not too frequent, the next GIMP 2.9.8 release is preparing a host of changes.

        Of excitement to those trying to use GIMP in a Wayland-based Linux desktop environment, GIMP’s color picker has just picked up support for working on KDE/Wayland as well as some other Color Picker improvements to help GNOME/Wayland too. GIMP’s Screenshot plugin also now has support for taking screenshots on KDE/Wayland either as a full-screen or individual windows. Granted, GIMP won’t be all nice and dandy on Wayland itself until seeing the long-awaited GTK3 (or straight to GTK4) port.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Manjaro Linux – One Of The Finest Linux Distros

        I must say I am quite impressed with the latest iteration of Manjaro. The experience is fluid and smooth, fast and clean and it is very organized. I even found the experience on the Deepin edition better than on the Deepin distro. Manjaro clearly signifies why Arch-based distros that take them away out of the installation are becoming so popular.

        A simple installation process, access to Arch based features such as AUR and added to the fact that it is a rolling-based distro makes it a winner for me. I also love that all the major desktop environments are available on Manjaro allowing users to choose what they want. If you were on the fence about Manjaro, I believe it’s viable as your working desktop and it is definitely worth checking out. Thanks for reading and share your thoughts and comments with us.

      • Review: heads 0.3.1

        heads is a live Linux distribution which can be run from a DVD or USB thumb drive. The distribution connects to the Internet through the Tor network. This helps protect the identity and location of the person using heads. The heads distribution is very similar to its popular sibling, Tails, in its mission, but heads has some special characteristics which set it apart. The heads distribution is based on Devuan while Tails is based on Debian, which means heads uses the SysV init software rather than systemd. The heads project is also dedicated to shipping a distribution which features free software only, as the heads website explains:

        Non-free software can not be audited and as such cannot guarantee you security or anonymity. On the other hand, with heads you only use free software, meaning you can gain access to any source code that is included in heads, at any time. Using free software it is far easier to avoid hidden backdoors and malware that might be in non-free software.

        heads is available in a single edition which is 831MB in size. When booting from the project’s ISO, we are given the option of booting heads normally from the disc or loading the distribution into RAM. The latter option frees up our removable drive and can make applications load faster after the initial boot process has completed.

        The distribution boots to a command line interface and automatically logs us in as a user called luther. On the screen we are shown the root account’s password along with commands we can run to launch a graphical interface. The default shell for the luther account is zsh, a less common shell than bash, but often loved for its additional features. heads ships with the Awesome and Openbox window managers and we can choose which one we wish to launch from the command line. I focused on using Openbox during my trial.

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • ROSA Desktop Fresh R10 Still Lets You Pick Between KDE 4 & Plasma 5

        For our Russian readers who are fans of the KDE desktop, ROSA Desktop Fresh R10 was released this week as one of the notable Russian Linux distributions that is aligned with a KDE desktop. ROSA Desktop Fresh continues offering both KDE 4 and KDE Plasma 5 desktop options.

        While the distribution is called ROSA Desktop Fresh, not everything is fresh about its packages besides still having around KDE4. ROSA Desktop Fresh R10 is still sadly using the Mesa 17.1 release series. On the kernel front they are shipping Linux 4.9.60 which is an LTS release albeit still rather dated for desktop hardware support.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian 9.3 Released With Bug Fixes, Security Updates

        Debian 9.3 is the latest update to “Stretch” to provide various bug fixes and security updates while Debian 8.10 was also released today as the newest version of their older “Jessie” release.

      • Updated version of Debian Linux 8/9 has been released
      • Debian GNU/Linux 9.3 “Stretch” Live, Installable ISOs Now Available to Download

        The Debian CD team was pretty quick to bake all those ISO images in less than 24 hours, and users can now download Debian GNU/Linux 9.3 “Stretch” as live and installable ISOs for a wide range of architectures if they were planning on reinstalling their Debian PCs or deploy the OS on new computers.

        Debian GNU/Linux 9.3 “Stretch” is currently supported on no less than 10 hardware architectures, including 32-bit (i386), 64-bit (amd64), ARM64 (AArch64), Armel, ARMhf, MIPS, Mipsel, MIPS64el (MIPS 64-bit Little Endian), PPC64el (PowerPC 64-bit Little Endian), and s390x (IBM System z).

      • Debian 8.10 and Debian 9.3 released – CDs and DVDs published
      • “Rock Solid” Debian 9.3 And “Lightweight” Bodhi Linux 4.4.0 Available — Download Here

        In early 2017, the Debian Release team pushed Debian 9.0 “stretch” release, which would remain supported for the next 5 years. Named after Toy Story’s rubber toy octopus, this release has just witnessed its third update in the form of Debian 9.3 (release notes).

        As expected, Debian “stretch” 9.3 ships with tons of security patches and fixes for some serious issues. Prior to this release, on various instances, security advisories for different issues have already been released.

      • Derivatives

        • The importance of Devuan

          Yes, you read right: too expensive. While I am writing here in flowery words, the reason to use Devuan is hard calculated costs. We are a small team at ungleich and we simply don’t have the time to fix problems caused by systemd on a daily basis. This is even without calculating the security risks that come with systemd. Our objective is to create a great, easy-to-use platform for VM hosting, not to walk a tightrope.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • 3rd Ubucon Europe 2018

            Yes! A new edition for ubunteros around the world!

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ubuntu-Based ExTiX “The Ultimate Linux System” Now Includes Calamares Installer

              ExTiX 18.0 Deepin 171208 is the latest build of the distro, and it includes the recently released Deepin 15.5 Desktop, the Calamares 3.1.9 universal installer framework, which replaces the old Refracta Installer, as well as Refracta Tools, which lets users create their own live ISO images based on ExTiX or Ubuntu.

              “I’ve released a new version of ExTIX 18.0 Deepin today with Calamares 3.1.9 installed from source,” said Arne Exton in the release announcement. “While running ExTiX Deepin 18.0 live or from hard drive you can use Refracta Tools (pre-installed) to create your own live installable Ubuntu system. A ten-year child can do it!”

            • New Linux Mint installation guide makes switching from Windows 10 even easier

              There is a notion that installing a Linux-based operating system can be hard. In 2017, this is absolutely false (with the exception of Arch, that is). Many years ago, installing a distribution could be difficult, but nowadays, it can be downright easy. Quite frankly, installing Linux can sometimes be easier than Windows these days, since you don’t have to go hunting for drivers and software all over the web. If you have been fearful of replacing Windows 10 with an operating system like Linux Mint — don’t be.

              But OK, understandably, some people have anxiety about changing their computer’s operating system. If that is you, I am happy to say Linux Mint has a brand new installation guide that should quell any fears. Not only does it help with technical aspects, but it can guide you to the best edition for your needs. Mint in particular is a great alternative to Windows 10.

            • What’s New in Linux Mint 18.3 Cinnamon Edition

              Linux Mint 18.3 Cinnamon edition is the latest release of Linux Mint 18 series features Cinnamon Desktop 3.6 as default desktop environment. Cinnamon 3.6 is the largest and most important part of the Linux Mint 18.3 release. It includes loads of improvements, new features and bug fixes.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Databases

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • OpenBSD Now Officially Supports 64-bit ARM

      OpenBSD has graduated its 64-bit ARM (ARM64) architecture to being officially supported.

      As outlined in the OpenBSD Journal with a change made this week by lead OpenBSD developer Theo de Raadt, OpenBSD’s ARM64 support is now considered officially supported.

  • Programming/Development

    • LLVM Clang 6.0 Now Defaults To C++14

      Up to now LLVM’s Clang C/C++ compiler has defaulted to using C++98/GNU++98 as its default C++ standard, but fortunately that’s no more.

      Clang’s default C++ dialect is now GNU++14 version of C++14 rather than GNU++98 (C++98).

      The older versions of the C++ standard remain available and can be set via the -std= argument, just as those previously could have specified C++11 / C++14 / C++17, but now in cases where not specified, GNU++14/C++14 is the default.

Leftovers

  • The art of the usability interview

    During a usability test, it’s important to understand what the tester is thinking. What were they looking for when they couldn’t find a button or menu item? During the usability test, I recommend that you try to observe, take notes, capture as much data as you can about what the tester is doing. Only after the tester is finished with a scenario or set of scenarios should you ask questions.

  • The Corruption of College Athletics

    Freshman athletes need 90 percent to be eligible to play their sport, sophomores need 95 percent, and then it is 100 percent for juniors and seniors. OK, that is a bit of a break already, at least for the freshmen and sophomores. And maintaining a minimum GPA should not be that hard. However, with all the money at stake for the institution, most of these schools do not want to take any chances about high-performing athletes staying eligible.

    The result of this pressure was laid bare by a New York Times article of Oct. 14. It appeared in the Sports Saturday section and was entitled “N.C.A.A. Declines to Punish North Carolina for Academic Fraud.” It seems that for nearly the last 20 years the administrators of the highly regarded University of North Carolina were “running one of the worst academic fraud schemes in college sports history, involving [200] fake classes that enabled dozens of athletes to gain and maintain their eligibility.”

    However, the university was not penalized by the N.C.A.A. because the organization has no rules against fraudulent classes as long as they are not open only to athletes. In this case, although really designed with student athletes in mind, the “paper” classes were technically open to everyone. “Similar misconduct has been alleged at Auburn [in Georgia] and Michigan.”

  • Science

    • Voucher Schools Championed By Betsy DeVos Can Teach Whatever They Want. Turns Out They Teach Lies.

      It was late morning in an artsy cafe, the smell of coffee and baked goods sweetening the air, and Ashley Bishop sat at a table, recalling a time when she was taught that most of secular American society was worthy of contempt.

      Growing up in private evangelical Christian schools, Bishop saw the world in extremes, good and evil, heaven and hell. She was taught that to dance was to sin, that gay people were child molesters and that mental illness was a function of satanic influence. Teachers at her schools talked about slavery as black immigration, and instructors called environmentalists “hippie witches.”

      Bishop’s family moved around a lot when she was a child, but her family always enrolled her in evangelical schools.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • NHS trust boss resigns in protest over underfunding of health services

      Bob Kerslake, who was the head of the civil service until 2015, is quitting as the chairman of the board at King’s College hospital in London, after a long-running dispute with the NHS watchdog over its finances. Ministers are in denial about the reality of how much extra money the NHS requires, he says.

      In an article for the Guardian, Lord Kerslake, a highly respected crossbench peer and former permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government, explains that he is stepping down because hospitals are being asked to agree to meet unrealistically demanding savings targets.

    • How to Save Money on Your Prescription Drugs

      If you’re willing to do a little extra work, it is possible to lower your prescription bills.

      A reporter for The New York Times and a reporter for ProPublica both found instances this year in which drugs prescribed for family members could be purchased for less money without using their insurance coverage.

    • When Buying Prescription Drugs, Some Pay More With Insurance Than Without It

      Having health insurance is supposed to save you money on your prescriptions. But increasingly, consumers are finding that isn’t the case.

      Patrik Swanljung found this out when he went to fill a prescription for a generic cholesterol drug. In May, Swanljung handed his Medicare prescription card to the pharmacist at his local Walgreens and was told that he owed $83.94 for a three-month supply.

      Alarmed at that price, Swanljung went online and found Blink Health, a start-up, offering the same drug — generic Crestor — for $45.89.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • 44,000 US Troops on ‘Unknown’ Deployments Worldwide

      When the Pentagon wants to mislead the public about where US troops are, generally speaking, they just lie. Yet sometimes the number of troops is just too big to claim as a rounding error, and questions start happening.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Australia Seeks New Gag Laws That Could See Journalists And Whistleblowers Jailed for 20 Years

      Australian government and intelligence whistleblowers — and potentially even journalists — may face up to 20 years in jail for disclosing classified information under the most sweeping changes to the country’s secrecy laws since they were introduced.

      The Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced a broad package of reforms aimed at curbing foreign interference from countries including China and Russia.

      The legislation was introduced by Turnbull in the House of Representatives immediately after marriage equality passed on Thursday evening, and the otherwise full House of Representatives was emptied as celebrations were underway.

      While the reforms have been flagged for many months, they were only introduced on the last sitting day of parliament this year, and go much further than previously believed.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • New Conservative Argument: Climate Change Is So Awesome, You Guys

      In my worst post-apocalyptic imaginings, there is a place in my mind where a ravenous sea has encroached over every surface, ankle to knee to thigh to belly to throat. On a lone and desolate promontory clings one last living human who shrieks into the maelstrom a final defiance even as the pitiless rain clogs his throat: “In the church of climate alarmism, there may be no heresy more dangerous than the idea that the world will benefit from warming.”

      His name is Jeff.

      Not “may benefit,” mind you. “Will benefit.” The power of positive thinking meets the end of everything. And in conservative circles, many of the denials that climate disruption is really happening are now being seamlessly replaced with guarantees of coming greatness.

    • Energy Secretary Perry agrees to extension on pro-coal, nuclear rulemaking

      Perry proposed a rule in late September that would require grid operators to change how they value “reliability and resilience attributes” in energy generation. Specifically, generation plants with such attributes were defined by the Energy Secretary as plants that could keep a 90-day supply of fuel onsite. Although the proposed rule was written to appear energy-agnostic, it clearly favors coal and nuclear plants. Natural gas tends to be delivered by pipeline and is rarely stored onsite in large quantities, and wind and solar energy have free but variable fuel sources, though pioneers in the field are trying to mitigate this with the help of stationary storage.

      Without government intervention, coal has become more expensive to burn compared to natural gas in many areas. It’s also a major contributor to climate change, something the president has falsely called a hoax.

    • Scientists use artificial intelligence to eavesdrop on dolphins

      Scientists have developed an algorithm to monitor the underwater chatter of dolphins with the help of machine learning.

      Using autonomous underwater sensors, researchers working in the Gulf of Mexico spent two years making recordings of dolphin echolocation clicks.

      The result was a data set of 52 million click noises.

      To sort through this vast amount of information, the scientists employed an “unsupervised” algorithm that automatically classified the noises into categories.

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Facebook allowed political ads that were scams and malware
    • With 2020 Census Looming, Worries About Fairness and Accuracy

      Neither Mr. Brunell nor the Trump administration has addressed that interest, first reported in Politico. Former officials of the bureau said in interviews that Mr. Brunell lacked managerial experience for a position long held by experienced executives. Civil rights advocates said they worried that his appointment would signal partisan meddling in a census whose usefulness in drawing legislative districts depends entirely on its credibility.

    • Alibaba’s Ma Says China Benefits From Stability of One Party

      It is Ma’s second explicitly political declaration this week. At China’s World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Alibaba’s chairman spoke out in support of the government’s tight control online and lectured foreign competitors on their strategies in the country. He said companies like Facebook Inc. and Google that want to operate in China need to “follow the rules,” implying they need to adhere to censorship controls to gain access to its citizens.

    • A Bit about Dossiers: You’ve Been Eating this FUD for Years

      Is there media complicity here? Sure, to some degree; the point of origin may be lost and the first news outlets may not perceive the importance of information’s provenance because to them the origin is still visible; witness this week’s reporting by U.S. news outlets all ultimately relying on a single German business paper’s report. But the news media doesn’t bear all the culpability here. News consumers in the U.S. have been notoriously lax in validating content for decades.

      It’s unsurprising given the antiquity of the admonishment, Caveat emptor. It has long been a problem that consumers of goods whether information or products and services must be more skeptical before committing their wallets and health, let alone their votes.

      Social media has only made the job of laundering information even easier, between the number of washings platforms can offer and the automation of repetition, scale, and dispersion, all for a pittance. Over the last ten years the work I did as a researcher has become incredibly difficult; tracing the origin of a single piece of highly controversial or relatively arcane news originating overseas is like swimming against a mighty current.

    • The Year of the Headless Liberal Chicken

      First came the overwhelming shock of Hillary Clinton’s loss to Trump, a repulsive, word salad-babbling buffoon with absolutely no political experience who the media had been portraying to liberals as the Second Coming of Adolf Hitler. This was a candidate, let’s recall, who jabbered about building a “beautiful wall” to protect us from the hordes of “Mexican rapists” and other “bad hombres” who were invading America, and who had boasted about grabbing women “by the pussy” like a prepubescent 6th grade boy. While he had served as a perfect foil for Clinton, and had provided hours of entertainment in a comic book villain kind of way, the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency was inconceivable in the minds of liberals. So, when it happened, it was like the Martians had invaded.

      Mass hysteria gripped the nation. There was beaucoup wailing and gnashing of teeth. Liberals began exhibiting irrational and, in some cases, rather disturbing behaviors. Many degenerated into dissociative states and just sat there with their phones for hours obsessively reloading the popular vote count, which Clinton had won, on FiveThirtyEight. Others festooned themselves with safety pins and went out looking for defenseless minorities who they could “demonstrate solidarity” with. Owen Jones flew in from London to join his colleague Steven Thrasher, who was organizing a guerilla force to resist “the normalization of Trump” and the global race war he was about to launch, which “not all of us were going to get out of alive.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Lawmaker Wants Porn Blockers On All Computers Sold In Kentucky
    • Saif Ali Khan is not a victim of censorship

      Saif Ali Khan’s black comedy Kaalakandi was in the news for getting close to 70 cuts by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). Eventually, the makers had to take their movie to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) for a rewatch. However, Saif is unperturbed about it. “As far as Kaalakandi goes, I think the FCAT was great. They passed he movie with one cut, which was good,” he says.

    • Google hiring 10,000 reviewers to censor YouTube content

      The requirements to file an appeal against demonetization are extremely demanding, leaving most small producers with zero recourse. To file an appeal, the channel must either have more than 10,000 subscribers, or the video in question must have at least 1,000 views within the past seven days. Producers are also not informed of when or what in their video the system finds inappropriate. Both small and large producers have complained on Twitter of double-digit percentage drops in new views after their videos have been demonetized, making it even more difficult to meet appeal requirements.
      Google is not alone in its expansion of automated censorship. Last week, Facebook announced its newly implemented system to scan users’ posts and contact police and other first-responders, ostensibly to prevent suicide.
      Last month, Google admitted to “demoting” content from RT and Sputnik news in its search engine and news service, confirming allegations by the World Socialist Web Site that the company engages in mass political censorship in the name of fighting “fake news.”

    • Government attempts at censorship futile, says Indonesian poet

      ATTEMPTS by the government to censor the media will end in failure, says Indonesian poet Goenawan Mohamad.

      The veteran author of Tempo Tempo magazine said based on his experience, such attempts often fail.

      “From my past experience with censorship, I find that it never lasts and always ends in failure.

    • Attempts to censor the media will fail, veteran editor tells Umno

      Any attempts by Umno or the government to crack down on the media would eventually fail, an Indonesian veteran editor cautioned today.

      Goenawan Mohamad, one of the founding editor of Indonesia’s Tempo magazine, noted that it would be impossible to sustain such attempts and as such, it would be a waste of time to even try to do so.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights: Our children should have the same rights as our parents

      In a series of 21 posts on this blog, we’ll examine how privacy rights — essential civil liberties — have been completely lost in the transition to digital. The erosion is nothing short of catastrophic.

    • Uber has settled with a woman whose medical files an executive accessed after she was raped

      The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

    • Uber settles second US lawsuit filed by India rape victim

      According to Friday court filings, Uber has settled a lawsuit filed by an unnamed woman who said her medical records were improperly accessed by an Uber executive after she was raped by her driver in India in 2014.

      That driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav, was sentenced to life in prison in 2015. That same year, the victim sued Uber in federal court in San Francisco and reached a confidential settlement with the company.

    • Champing at the Cyberbit

      This report describes a campaign of targeted malware attacks apparently carried out by Ethiopia from 2016 until the present. I

    • What Happens When the Government Uses Facebook as a Weapon?

      Until it became crushing. Since being elected in May 2016, Duterte has turned Facebook into a weapon. The same Facebook personalities who fought dirty to see Duterte win were brought inside the Malacañang Palace. From there they are methodically taking down opponents, including a prominent senator and human-rights activist who became the target of vicious online attacks and was ultimately jailed on a drug charge.
      And then, as Ressa began probing the government’s use of social media and writing stories critical of the new president, the force of Facebook was turned against her.

      [...]

      Rappler demonstrated its seriousness, however, by dominating the 2012 coverage of the impeachment trial of the chief justice of the supreme court. The next year the company put together a public debate forum for Senate candidates that was livestreamed on Facebook. As each candidate answered questions, audience members clicked on what Rappler called a mood meter, and a line gauging their reactions popped up on a screen next to the candidate. It was a breakout moment for Rappler, even if the candidates vowed never to participate in that setting again—they described the experience as nerve-wracking. (Ressa says that reaction partly explains why Duterte was the only candidate to accept her invitation for her presidential forum.)
      Rappler was given another boost in March 2015 when it entered into a partnership with Internet.org, a free service established by Facebook Inc. aimed at giving the world’s then nearly 5 billion unconnected people access to the internet—and, of course, to Facebook. The program was meant to highlight the company’s expansive vision of itself. Facebook wasn’t just about connecting friends anymore. It was becoming a basic necessity, a powerful tool for poor and sometimes isolated people in Colombia, India, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia—and now the Philippines.

    • German intelligence warns of increased Chinese cyberspying

      Maassen warned that Chinese cybergroups are also using so-called “supply-chain attacks” to get around companies’ online defenses. Such attacks target IT workers and others who work for a trusted service providers in order to send malicious software into the networks of organizations the attackers are interested in.

    • Think twice before buying a connected toy

      Beyond security vulnerabilities, the way these companies treat data is worth considering.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Police Murder of Daniel Shaver

      The background is simple. Shaver was a traveling pest control worker. He was in his hotel room (a La Quinta Inn) showing off to guests a pellet gun he used for work. Police responded to a 911 call claiming that a man was pointing a rifle out a window. When police arrived, Shaver was alone with a woman. They had been drinking. The police ordered them out of the room, and they came out, raised their hands, and got on their knees. So far, thing seem routine. Police responded to a call from a concerned bystander, they were concerned that the suspect may have a gun, so they demanded to clearly see Shaver’s hands. That’s entirely fair and appropriate. Then, however, things got strange — very strange — rather than asking Shaver and his friend to keep their hands visible while police (who, at this point, had guns pointing straight at both of them) approached and applied handcuffs, they ask them to crawl towards police in a highly-specific way.

      [...]

      Essentially, what the police told an innocent, law-abiding, intoxicated American was this: Follow my highly-specific, very strange instructions or die. There was no need to make him crawl. The police were in command of the situation. At no point is there a visible weapon. I have seen soldiers deal with al Qaeda terrorists with more professionalism and poise. When a man is prone, his hands are visible, and your gun is trained upon him, he is in your power.

      [...]

      Arizona law defines second-degree murder as killing a person without premeditation “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life, the person recklessly engages in conduct that creates a grave risk of death and thereby causes the death of another person.” In this instance, the charge fit the crime. The jury’s verdict was a gross miscarriage of justice. My heart breaks for Daniel Shaver’s family.

    • After Deadly Vice Sting, Advocates Say End to Prostitution Arrests Is Long Overdue

      Song’s death comes seven months after the NYPD pledged to arrest fewer people on prostitution charges — part of a larger initiative to build trust, particularly in immigrant communities, even as President Trump’s immigration policy stokes fear of deportation. Song had been previously arrested in Queens on September 27, 2017. Her case was referred to the Queens human trafficking court, which handles prostitution-related cases. Her next court date was scheduled for December 1.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Ajit Pai jokes with Verizon exec about him being a “puppet” FCC chair

      On Thursday night in Washington, DC, net neutrality advocates gathered outside the annual Federal Communications Commission Chairman’s Dinner to protest Chairman Ajit Pai’s impending rollback of net neutrality rules.

      Inside the dinner (also known as the “telecom prom”) at the Washington Hilton, Pai entertained the audience with jokes about him being a puppet installed by Verizon to lead the FCC.

    • Net Neutrality isn’t the only thing the current FCC is screwing up

      Lost amid the furor over the Federal Communications Commission’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad decision to reverse net neutrality requirements is another, equally awful decision that has slipped through the cracks.

      In mid-November, the Commission decided to “re-think” it’s Lifeline program, which provides subsidies for broadband internet subscriptions to low-income Americans in cities and tribal regions around the country.

    • This is the future if net neutrality is repealed; the creeping, costly death of media freedom

      There will be a legal argument back and forth, there will be petitions, but if this is how the FCC wishes for things to be, it will stay. So I want to walk you through what potentially could happen to America.

    • FCC Chairman Ajit Pai ‘jokes’ about being a Verizon shill

      Aside from the jokes falling flat, there are all kinds of problems with the routine. To start, FCC officials shouldn’t be joking about being shills. Whether or not they have industry backgrounds (like former Chairman Tom Wheeler), they’re supposed to take corruption allegations seriously instead of turning them into comedy sketches. The humor fails in part because there’s a painful degree of truth to it — it wouldn’t have come up if Pai weren’t pursuing the exact deregulation policies that major telecoms want. And crucially, telecom executives shouldn’t ever be involved. If anything, Grillo’s inclusion in the skit supports accusations that Pai is on the take, since he’s clearly cozy enough with Verizon to recruit one of its VPs for a gag.

    • The Neutrality Network
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Hitchcock cameo steals opening of Oracle v Google Java spat

        Oracle’s long-running legal battle to get what it believes is it’s fair share from Google’s Android reopened this week – the second time an Appeals Court on Federal Circuit has examined the issue. The first hour overran with a bumpy ride for Google.

        In under an hour we got an idea of the battle lines, and the judge’s scepticism about both sides.

        While Google quietly writes Android’s replacement in full public view – yes, you can examine progress every night – this case hinges around whether Google should be permitted to copy Java without a licence. The copying is not in question: some 11,000 lines of Sun’s Java code ended up in Android. The absence of a licence is not in question either. And emails show Android developers admitting that it’s so close to Java they needed a licence.

      • Hollywood and Netflix Ask Court to Seize Tickbox Streaming Devices

        A group of major Hollywood studios plus Amazon and Netflix have asked a California court to halt the infringing activities of TickBox TV, a Kodi-powered streaming device. As part of their ongoing lawsuit, the companies request an injunction requiring Tickbox to remove infringing add-ons and for existing devices to be seized.

      • Dutch Film Distributor Wins Right To Chase Pirates, Store Data For 5 Years

        Film distribution Dutch FilmWorks has been successful following its application earlier this year to track BitTorrent pirates and store their data. In a decision handed down Wednesday, the Dutch Data Protection Authority said that permission had been granted for IP address and other information to be stored for up to five years.

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