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12.30.17

Raw: Željko Topić’s “Poorly Veiled Attempt to Intimidate Staff” of the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Original/full: Strike registration and the dreaded strike registration tool! [PDF]

EPO intimidation

Summary: A look back at the strategy used to threaten, spy on, punish, penalise and intimidate people who wish to exercise their right to strike

Raw: International Labour Organisation on Incredible (and Unsuitable/Inadequate) Promotions at the European Patent Office

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Applicable also to the controversial promotion of Élodie Bergot, spouse of Battistelli’s longtime confidant (Gilles Requena), from A2 to a A5 post. Her husband, Requena, leaped from A3 to A5.

Original/full: 114th Session of the ILOAT [PDF]

SUEPO on promotions

Summary: Comments on Judgment No. 3191 (via), which deals with promotions at the European Patent Office (EPO) based on the whims of the EPO’s President rather than a suitable vetting process

Raw: How and Why the EPO Code of Conduct (CoC) Came About

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The EPO's CoC, which Battistelli himself keeps violating

Original/full: English [PDF] | French [PDF]

EPO Code of Conduct

Summary: Staff representatives explain that “what we see now is a President who insists of imposing his ideas from above” and “members nominated by the President” were neither equipped to provide informed insight nor do they ever deviate from the President’s proposals

Raw: Battistelli Uses External Lawyers to Bully Staff That Complains (Like He Repeatedly Did Against Techrights)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Original/full: Fear, Isolation and Punishment: the saga continues [PDF] (alluding to this older presentation [PDF] which got ‘leaked’)

ILO fear
Editor’s note: The EPO hired not one but two legal firms which sent threatening legal letters to Techrights in an effort to gag/censor the site

Summary: Staff which exercises the right to appeal to ILO is being taunted and pushed around by lawyers hired by Team Battistelli (at tremendous cost to EPO stakeholders, no doubt)

Judge Pauline Newman Sides With Microsoft in PTAB Petition (Case Appeal) Against Patents of a Company It’s Alleged to Have Copied

Posted in Courtroom, Microsoft, Patents at 10:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nevertheless, Microsoft has lost the case, yet again (IPR2014-01457, IPR2014-01458, and IPR2014-01459). It is costing Biscotti Inc. a lot of money in legal fees.

Judge Pauline Newman

Summary: Microsoft fails to stop Biscotti (not a troll), whose patents are being leveraged in the Eastern District of Texas

THERE is truth and then there’s myth. Sometimes the myth, if pushed stubbornly enough into the public consciousness, becomes more popular than the truth. Case of point: Microsoft.

Don’t ever buy Microsoft’s propaganda about “respecting patents” (they say “intellectual property” [sic] to further obfuscate/mislead). The company’s long history on this, as sometimes demonstrated in the courts, suggests that the company takes other people’s (or companies’) patented ideas and flagrantly copies everything. The latest case of point? HoloTouch.

“Don’t ever buy Microsoft’s propaganda about “respecting patents” (they say “intellectual property” [sic] to further obfuscate/mislead).”HoloTouch got mentioned by Watchtroll the other day. Microsoft is alleged to have bought a company that was a ripoff artist (Microsoft sacked the HoloLens staff after taking over the company). Watchtroll wrote: “HoloTouch’s allegations of patent infringement center around Microsoft’s HoloLens HMI which incorporates a holographic computer into a wearable headset. The holographic experience in a HoloLens is implemented both through high-definition semitransparent holographic lenses as well as spatial sound technology including an inertial measurement unit, an ambient light sensor, one camera for measuring depth and four “environment understanding cameras;” the spatial sound technology works in concert to process information about a user’s environment and how the user interacts with that environment. As HoloTouch notes, a user may interact with the HoloLens unit in multiple ways by providing gaze or gesture inputs, one form of gesture input being known as an “air-tap.” Such air-tap gestures allow users to interact with a holographic keyboard application displayed in the user’s viewing environment. Microsoft provides source code for incorporating the holographic keyboard into apps which are being developed for the HoloLens platform.”

“Microsoft’s patent policy is not consistent; the only consistent thing about it is that patents asserted against Microsoft are “wrong” and patents that are used to blackmail Linux devices are “just”.”This isn’t about software patents, but it’s noteworthy in light of Microsoft’s pattern of ripping everyone off and then painting oneself as a victim of “pirates” or “patent thieves”.

A few days ago Microsoft advocacy sites and a few other sites [1, 2, 3] attempted to portray Microsoft as some sort of a phones champion. “Microsoft explains why a foldable phone makes sense,” said the headline from one Microsoft site, alluding to a new patent. But Microsoft does not even have a phones business anymore. It’s dead. Trolling Android OEMs is the ‘best’ Microsoft can do with such a patent.

Microsoft’s patent policy is not consistent; the only consistent thing about it is that patents asserted against Microsoft are “wrong” and patents that are used to blackmail Linux devices are “just”.

“Biscotti is less than a decade old and it is not a troll.”Judge Pauline Newman was mentioned the other day in relation to a Microsoft case. It was about patents that Microsoft alleged should not have been granted; Newman’s court once again supports PTAB’s decision (as it does about 80% of the time) and this was noted by various people, one of whom said: “Microsoft 12/28/2017 IPR Fed. Cir. panel (per O’Malley) affirms PTAB finding that claims not anticipated by prior art. Interesting dissent by Judge Newman, arguing that claims were unpatentable “under the most rigorous application of the law of anticipation.””

“Dissent by Judge Newman,” wrote another person as “”The claims at issue are “anticipated,” under the most rigorous application of the law of anticipation.”

“Never fall for the illusion of a kinder, gentler, ‘new’ Microsoft. The company is already debunking its very own myths; it’s always eager to use patents to crush its competitors and when patents are used against Microsoft the company will use its deep pockets to drive the plaintiff out of money (or out of patents, using IPRs).”Here’s more from the same person: “Microsoft v Biscotti FedCir 12/28 affirms PTAB, which upheld patentability of B’s videoconferencing system patent in 3 separate IPRs. 41 pages on anticipation (“close case”; no “immediately envisage”; disparate disclosures in ref). Reaffirms anticipation is fact q; SOR=subst evid

This decision is, according to another person, “PRECEDENTIAL” and it can be found here. The date on it is Thursday, i.e. two days ago. Alice is not mentioned at all (nowhere in this decision, not even Section 101). Here is the part about the dissent:

NEWMAN , Circuit Judge, dissenting.

I respectfully dissent. The Kenoyer reference describes the same invention that is claimed in claims 6 and 69, the only claims of Biscotti’s ’182 patent that are reviewed by the court. These claims recite no new components or functions or technology; they directly read on, and are anticipated by, the prior art system described in the Kenoyer reference.

As I shall illustrate, every claim clause is shown in Kenoyer. Every claim component was previously known, and performs the same function in the same way in the same combination. The claims at issue are “anticipated,” under the most rigorous application of the law of anticipation.

Biscotti is less than a decade old and it is not a troll*. But Microsoft will certainly do anything it can to demonise Biscotti and evade justice, just like it did against i4i about a decade ago.

Never fall for the illusion of a kinder, gentler, ‘new’ Microsoft. The company is already debunking its very own myths; it’s always eager to use patents to crush its competitors and when patents are used against Microsoft the company will use its deep pockets to drive the plaintiff out of money (or out of patents, using IPRs).
_____
* It is a young company, based on Texas, formed and run by technical people.

Instead of Worrying About Alice, the Patent Microcosm Ought to Accept That Software Patents Have Been Rendered Obsolete by Software Copyrights

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 9:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They are still trying to come up with loopholes around Alice

An Ontological Model for Determining Section 101 Patent Eligibility under Alice
An Ontological Model for Determining Section 101 Patent Eligibility under Alice [PDF]

Summary: While it is widely recognised — at least among technical people — that it is not worth pursuing patents on software (courts if not examiners would crush hopes of assertion/enforcement), the patent microcosm continues to sing a different tune in order to sell services

TECHRIGHTS soon enters its twelfth year. It’s a milestone because the site has run nonstop throughout these years. Software patents were always the primary issue. Here we are at the end of 2017 and as we noted some days ago, the higher courts in the US (including the Federal Circuit) have effectively ended software patents. Those which were granted by the USPTO don’t make it far; upon challenge, sometimes citing Alice, these patents get discarded. Throughout 2017 the high courts were very consistent on this.

“Here we are at the end of 2017 and as we noted some days ago, the higher courts in the US (including the Federal Circuit) have effectively ended software patents.”The patent microcosm, which got accustomed to making money from software patents, keeps moaning that abstract patents are rejected outright. Get used to it.

Rather than accept defeat and pursue something else, these stubborn people try to utilise and master new ‘tricks’; they want to pursue software patents in spite of Alice, irrespective of what courts (with expert testimonies and other scrutinisers) may inevitably say.

DLA Piper LLP’s Larissa Park has just published this article in which she insinuates that software can be patented. Not so constructive an advice…

“The patent microcosm, which got accustomed to making money from software patents, keeps moaning that abstract patents are rejected outright.”Software is not patentable. It’s no longer worth pursuing in the US. Want some software patents in spite of it? Then go to China…

Want to protect software developers from plagiarism? Then rely on copyright instead. It already does the job pretty well, for both proprietary and Free/libre software developers. Enforcement or compliance is accomplished differently, but it works. To quote Park:

If your product or service involves software, you should explore the possibility of filing for and obtaining a software patent. While copyright can protect your actual code from being copied; copyrights cannot prevent others from independently (i.e., without copying) developing the same software. On the other hand, a patent can permit you to exclude others from practicing the functional aspects of the software claimed in your patent, even if the other party independently developed the software. See our corresponding article on patents.

The federal government grants patents on new, useful and non-obvious inventions. While features and functions of your software may be new and non-obvious, the biggest hurdle to obtaining patent protection can be overcoming the useful requirement, that is, whether your new and nonobvious software is even eligible for a patent.

[...]

Software can be protected with copyright and trade secret. As noted above, copyright will protect you from someone copying your actual code. However, you will not be protected if that person independently develops his or her own code that performs similar functions. More details on copyright protection can be found in our corresponding blog post on copyrights. Trade secrets can protect the structure and methodology of your software, but will require you to implement confidentially procedures to keep the material secret. Once the information you are attempting to protect with a trade secret becomes public, it will no longer be protected by trade secret law. More details on trade secret protection can be found in our corresponding article on trade secrets.

Park is correct only in the sense that software can be reimplemented to work around copyright issues, e.g. in a different programming language. The issue she fails to address, however, is that in a world with hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of software patents developers won’t be able to safely write any code at all. Since she and her colleagues rarely (if ever) claim to have developed software, perhaps the reality of it conveniently evades them*. Moreover, they may simply not care about software development at all; for them, the important thing is maintaining litigation and an atmosphere of hostility. They profit from it.

“Since she and her colleagues rarely (if ever) claim to have developed software, perhaps the reality of it conveniently evades them.”What’s also absent (or lacking emphasis) in the article from Park is Alice. In the dawn of 2018 it makes absolutely no economic sense to invest in software patents; companies should, instead, form a strategy around copyrights (or copyleft). The world is changing and one must move on with the times…

The new journal article at the top is Alan Gocha’s paper on “Section 101 patent eligibility under Alice.” Patently-O mentioned it a few days ago and so did a few other people. To quote Patently-O:

Alan Gocha’s new article focuses on patent eligibility and provides “an ontological model for determining section 101 patent eligibility under Alice.” I think the most important contribution that Gocha makes is to categorize abstract ideas into those that are “inherently abstract” (preexisting fundamental truths) from those that are only “temporally abstract” (longstanding practices).

Alan Gocha is not a software developer but an attorney or law professional. So these people tend to speak of software from a more philosophical or theoretical perspective, not practical or professional. Gocha, in this paper of his, repeats the patent microcosm’s talking points, e.g. that there’s lack of “clarity” or “clarification”. Gocha says that the “Supreme Court and Federal Circuit [two of the most software patents-hostile courts nowadays] case law can be synthesized to provide a comprehensive set of rules to help guide the Alice analysis.” It’s an effort to find new loopholes, that’s all it is.

“The patent microcosm likes to demonise technology companies as if law which leans towards technology companies is an abomination — almost as though the law is intended to protect the lawyers rather than developers.”“Test Wording” is the title of one section, which says that “[a] claim is directed at an abstract idea if a theoretical being that has errorless and unlimited computative capacity could essentially duplicate the claimed invention in its mind.”

That can be done with any algorithm; the author then alludes to “non-tangible ideas for which can be entirely performed in the mind—i.e. purely cognitive processes” and again — this applies to virtually any algorithm, which can be tackled/solved using pen and paper.

We recognise that it’s hard for the patent microcosm to let go; it probably made billions of dollars (altogether) from the terrible decision to permit software patents since decades ago; but things have changed and the way software gets developed and distributed changes very rapidly owing to the Internet. These people ought to focus on copyright/copyleft if they want to remain relevant. The paradigm is inherently different (even if they still refer to it by the misleading term “IP”), but this is what software developers actually want. The patent microcosm likes to demonise technology companies as if law which leans towards technology companies is an abomination — almost as though the law is intended to protect the lawyers rather than developers. That’s just sheer Hubris.
_____
* Gene Quinn (Watchtroll) got very irritated after he had claimed that he writes code and once asked for proof of it he was unable to produce or even name any. Instead, he blocked me to avoid further interaction. In other words, it’s unlikely that he ever wrote any computer program and he continually demonstrated that he does not understand how computers even work. Actual software developers started mocking him for it and he could not deal with it. If these are the sorts of people who lobby the hardest for software patents, we are in serious trouble. They lack the most basic understanding of digital operations and tools, such as compilers, assemblers, interpreters, and processors.

“Low-Quality Patents Fall Into the Hands of Patent Trolls”

Posted in America, Patents at 8:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Declining patent quality means more patents, i.e. more income for the patent microcosm

USPTO patent bubble
Credit: Dennis Crouch

Summary: Noting the correlation between quality of patents and patent trolls, which typically rely on software patents and attempt to drag every legal dispute to the Eastern District of Texas

Timothy B. Lee, who had spent several years writing about the harms of software patents and other aspects of the USPTO, published an article stating that “experts figured out why so many bogus patents get approved”. “If you’ve read our coverage of the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s “Stupid Patent of the Month” series,” he said, “you know America has a patent quality problem. People apply for patents on ideas that are obvious, vague, or were invented years earlier. Too often, applications get approved and low-quality patents fall into the hands of patent trolls, creating headaches for real innovators.”

We are going to write about “Stupid Patent of the Month” later this weekend; the EFF sure attracted a lot of media attention, raised the issue of patent quality, and angered many patent trolls. There has certainly been a patent bubble in the USPTO; innovation is not soaring, it’s just ‘patentism’. More and more domains are becoming plagued or infested with patents. The same is true at the EPO, which now grants patents on life. To demonstrate this patent bubble — willingly or unwillingly — Crouch has produced this graph/chart which he explains as follows:

After a couple of years of stagnant growth, the USPTO has issued record numbers of both utility and design patents in 2017. (Charts below). The number of new utility applications is down over the past couple of years (excluding continuations and CIPs). Rather than being due to more inflow, the rise in issuance can be explained primarily by an increased issuance rate as well as efforts to reduce “rework.”

What the chart basically shows is constant growth in the number of patents. Is this really desirable? Well, when one is in the business of patents (lawsuits etc.), then yes… it’s desirable. But at whose expense? Many companies and even trolls now sue with bogus patents, at times driving legitimate businesses into bankruptcy.

Thankfully, in several areas and notably in the software domain, the USPTO is making improvements. Not only patent quality is sometimes being improved; forum shopping, burden of legal fees etc. get challenged, owing primarily to the Supreme Court. Here’s a new example of attorney fee award. What we have here is assertion of bogus patents causing or costing a great deal to the plaintiff:

Following dismissal for lack of patentable subject matter, the court granted defendants’ motions for attorney fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285 because plaintiff’s litigation positions were unreasonable. “Patient treatment and monitoring methods such as those claimed by the [patent-in-suit] had been declared ineligible long before [plaintiff] filed its 2016 lawsuits. . . . The numerous cases invalidating claims directed to information collection and analysis, such as the [patent-in-suit's] claims, stood in stark contrast to the handful of cases reaching the contrary conclusion. . . . There were of course gray areas, but by the time [plaintiff's] lawsuits were filed, it should have been clear that the [patent's] claims were ‘manifestly directed to an abstract idea.’. . . The weakness in [plaintiff's] § 101 position is by itself a sufficient basis for finding the cases exceptional.”

Well, § 101 is about abstractness. And what we have here is an Eastern District of Texas case initiated by a troll called My Health. As another site put it, the “magistrate judge’s Memorandum and Order sets forth a history of My Heath’s [sic] patent assertion history…”

Trolling history.

Here’s another similar new case, albeit with an opposite outcome: (almost identical text; it’s the patent troll Uniloc trolling Amazon in the Eastern District of Texas):

Following dismissal for lack of patentable subject matter, the court denied defendants’ motions for attorney fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285 because plaintiff’s litigation positions were not baseless.

When trolls like Uniloc are finally (belatedly) compelled to compensate for their innocent victims’ damages the trolls will be dismantled. But until then (if that ever happens) we need to work to ensure that such trolls haven’t such patents in the first place; as long as they do, they can either pick on small companies for ‘protection’ money or initiative frivolous litigation at any time.

Links 30/12/2017: Wine 3.0 and Git 2.16 Have New RCs

Posted in News Roundup at 7:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • So long, Linux Journal

    If you don’t know, Linux Journal has ceased publication. Unless an investor drops in at the last minute, the LJ website will soon shut down. Thus ends over twenty-three years in Linux and open source publication. That’s quite a legacy!

    Linux Journal first hit shelves in April 1994. To remind you about those times: that’s when Linux reached the 1.0 version milestone. That’s also the same year that I started the FreeDOS Project. Elsewhere in technology, Yahoo!, Amazon, and Netscape got their start in 1994. That’s also the same year the shows E.R. and Friends first hit TV. Also that year, the movies Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump, Speed, and Stargate.

  • Server

    • 2017 Year in Review: Kubernetes Enables a Multi-Cloud World

      In 2017, there was one area of the cloud landscape that received more attention than nearly all others—Kubernetes.

      Kubernetes’ roots go back to 2014, when Google publicly released the open source code for the project. But it was 2017 when Kubernetes’ popularity took off, with nearly every major IT vendor now backing the platform, even onetime rivals like Docker Inc.

      Kubernetes is an open-source project that provides container orchestration, deployment and management capabilities. While Kubernetes started off as a Google project and Google still contributes more code than anyone, it has been a multi-stakeholder effort run by the Linux Foundation’s Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) since July 2015.

    • OpenStack Foundation Embraces Containers With “Kata Containers”

      On Dec. 5, when the enthusiastic container community was getting ready for KubeCon, the OpenStack Foundation renewed its long-standing friendship with the announcement of a new effort called Kata Containers with the goal of unifying the speed and manageability of containers with the security advantages of virtual machines (VMs).

    • Linux resolutions for 2018

      It’s always a good idea to start a new year with renewed intentions to be even better users and administrators of our Linux systems. For auld lang syne (for the sake of old times), let’s touch on some of the ways we might improve our system practices in 2018.

  • Kernel Space

    • Happy 48th Birthday Linus Torvalds! Here are 20 Facts About Him

      Some known, some lesser known. Here are 20 facts about the Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux kernel.

    • Linux 4.14.10
    • Linux 4.9.73
    • Graphics Stack

      • RADV Vulkan Driver Ends The Year On A High Note With A Performance Boost

        Just hours ago was a new patch series being merged to Mesa Git by RADV co-founder Bas Nieuwenhuizen to allow for correct DCC usage. I have just finished up my initial benchmarks of those RADV changes and they indeed help the few Radeon GPUs tested.

      • RADV Is Now Effectively Conformant For Vega GPUs With Vulkan 1.0

        Since October RADV has officially become a Vulkan 1.0 conformant driver for Volcanic Islands GPUs while Sea Islands and Polaris hardware has also been on this same support level. RADV support for the newer Vega GPUs had been lagging behind, but these latest-generation AMD GPUs are now also effectively conformant.

      • RADV Gets A Big Performance Boost Thanks To DCC

        Not only is Vega now Vulkan 1.0 conformant with RADV, but it’s also much faster if pulling down the very latest Mesa bits.

        While David Airlie was tackling Vega conformance fixes, Bas Nieuwenhuizen was working on DCC transfer support. DCC in this context is Delta Color Compression DCC offers lossless color compression on GCN 1.2+ GPUs and allows for significant bandwidth savings that in turn can mean measurable performance improvements. The RADV DCC support wasn’t efficiently used up to this point.

      • radv and vega conformance test status
      • There’s One Big Feature Left For The Radeon Linux Driver Left To Tackle In 2018

        AMD/Radeon had a stellar 2017 for Linux most notably with delivering working Radeon RX Vega open-source driver support at launch, AMDGPU DC finally being merged to the mainline Linux kernel, and the official “AMDVLK” Vulkan driver now being open-source. Besides never-ending performance tuning, there’s really just one major feature/area where the Radeon Linux graphics driver support is missing.

        AMD managed to deliver two of My Three Hopes For AMD’s Open-Source Stack The Rest Of 2017… They got DC merged and their Vulkan driver is now open. With features like FreeSync getting squared away and other minor work items, one of the last remaining big ticket items is getting Radeon Software Settings to Linux, basically their driver settings GUI.

      • NVIDIA’s New Allocator Library Will Need A Lot Of Work In 2018

        Last week NVIDIA sent out an experimental allocator driver for the Nouveau code-base as well as EXT_external_objects support for Nouveau NVC0 in Mesa. So far though many upstream open-source driv

      • Wlroots Is A New, Modular Wayland Compositor Library

        Drew DeVault who is the lead developer of the i3-compatible Sway Wayland compositor has introduced wlroots as a new modular Wayland compositor library.

        The Sway compositor is currently built on its own “wlc” library that is an abstraction layer over DRM/libinput/GLESv2 and friends, but the new wlroots library is their planned replacement to offer a lower-level entry point.

    • Benchmarks

      • How Linux Performance Changed In 2017 With Clear Linux & Ubuntu

        The latest in our streak of year-end benchmarking is seeing how Linux performance has evolved over the course of 2017. For that we tested Intel’s performance-optimized Clear Linux distribution as well as Ubuntu using releases from the start of the year to their current state for seeing how the performance compares using the same system.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • What’s happening at Thunar?

      In the last few weeks there have been a number of updates and releases of development versions at Xfce. Some of them are core components, others are programmes from the immediate vicinity. Below is a small overview with the highlights around the file manager Thunar:
      Thunar

      The default file manager Thunar got two updates from developer Andre Miranda. Once for the current stable branch version 1.6.3 was released, mainly bugfixes and updates of the translations. Much more interesting is the simultaneously released version 1.7.0, because this is the first one with a view towards Xfce 4.14.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • CMake 3.10 on FreeBSD

        The CMake port on FreeBSD is in the hands of the KDE-FreeBSD folks (since KDE was an early adopter), and generally it falls to me to do the CMake update while Tobias is still wrestling with Plasma and Raphael massages Qt 5.9 into our way of building. 3.10 was released five weeks ago, and it took a while to update the port.

        It doesn’t take long because of CMake — they’re great, the code builds flawlessly, and there has been a real effort on the part of the KitWare folks recently to absorb our downstream patches so that we have less work in future (During the delay packaging CMake 3.10.0 Kitware even put out 3.10.1, which re-started some processes). It doesn’t take long because of new FreeBSD-specific features in CMake — you can now use CPack to create native FreeBSD packages, just in case you don’t want to go through the ports system or poudriere.

      • KMarkdownWebView 0.4.0

        The KMarkdownWebView KParts plugin is also prepared for improved experience with the KTextEditor Document Preview plugin for KTextEditor-based applications like the editor Kate and IDE KDevelop.

      • KDE in 2017

        It’s time for the end of 2017 KDE fundraiser, and so this is good a time as any during the year to take a step back and publish a retrospective on the work we’ve individually done in 2017.

      • Looking back, looking forward

        First and foremost, 2017 ends well. We will end this year putting Krita 4.0 in string freeze, which means a release early next year! In 2017, we’ve released several versions of Krita 3.x. We’ve gained a lot of new contributors with great contributions to Krita. We’ve got money in the bank, too. Less than last year, but sales on the Windows Store help quite a bit! And development fund subscriptions have been steadily climbing, and we’re at 70 subscribers now! We’ve also done a great project with Intel, which not only brought some more money in, but also great performance improvements for painting and rendering animations.

        It’s been a tough year, though! Our maintainer had only just recovered from being burned out from working full-time on Krita and on a day job when the tax office called… The result was half a year of stress and negotiations, ending in a huge tax bill and a huge accountant’s bill. And enough uncertainty that we couldn’t have our yearly fund raiser, and enough extra non-coding work that the work on the features funded in 2016 took much, much more time than planned. In the period when we were talking to the tax office, until we could go public, Boudewijn and Dmitry were supported by members from the community; without that support the project might not have survived.

      • Krita 4.0 Is Aiming For Release In March

        The KDE-aligned Krita digital painting software has published a retrospective of 2017 and a look ahead to 2018.

        The Krita project is planning to put their 4.0 string freeze into effect at end of day on New Year’s Eve. If all goes as planned, the Krita 4.0 release will then happen in March.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Sam Thursfield: 2017 in review

        The single biggest event was certainly bringing GUADEC 2017 to Manchester. I had various goals for this such as ensuring we got a GUADEC 2017, showing my colleages at Codethink that GNOME is a great community, and being in the top 10 page authors on wiki.gnome.org for the year. The run up to the event from about January to July took up many evenings and it was sometimes hard to trade it off with my work at Codethink; it was great working with Allan, Alberto, Lene and Javier though and once the conference actually arrived there was a mass positive force from all involved that made sure it went well. The strangest moment was definitely walking into Kro Bar slightly before the preregistration event was due to start to find half the GNOME community already crammed into the tiny bar area waiting for something to happen. Obviously my experience of organizing music events (where you can expect people to arrive about 2 hours after you want them somewhere) didn’t help here.

  • Distributions

    • And the best distro of 2017 is …

      This probably does not come to you as any surprise. But Zesty Plasma is akin to Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr when it comes to reliability, flexibility and fun. Not only have I done my usual share of testing, I had it committed on multiple machines, I use it regularly as a near-production system – ‘twould be a production one if it were fully supported for five years, alas – and even after long, continuous use, it maintains its elegance and charm.

      Kubuntu 17.04 really revived the Plasma world. A stunning, high-quality release with many advanced, smart and semi-pro to pro features. Great stability, good fonts, seamless networking, improved smartphone support, excellent performance. I can keep on using the superlatives, but that’s too fanboyish. At the end of the day, no matter what I threw at it, Zesty persevered. And the biggest testament to its success is the fact that I am using it daily and that I have seriously contemplated (still do) having my next prod machine running Kubuntu, a conviction that got a little disturbed by the rather lackluster Aardvark release. But all that said, nothing can spoil Kubuntu Zoomy Zoltan’s glory. It really and truly is the perfect little desktop system.

    • New Releases

      • Puppy Linux Derivative Fatdog64 Gets New Release with Linux 4.14, UEFI Installer

        Prominent new features of the Fatdog64 720 release include a UEFI Installer that lets users install the GNU/Linux distribution on modern UEFI machines using USB flash drives, the implementation of LICK Installer 1.2 by default in the ISO image, and libinput support for X.Org Server by default, replacing Synaptics and evdev.

        Fatdog64 720 also ships with a home-made touchpad configuration client designed as a drop-in replacement for flSynclient, a new keyboard layout that supports multiple layouts, support for dual-nano initrd in the ISO image, as well as new and updated parameters including waitdev and mergeinitrd{n}.

      • Linux Lite 3.8 Is the Last One to Be Released for Series 3, Coming February 1

        Linux Lite creator Jerry Bezencon announced today the availability of the first Beta release of the upcoming Linux Lite 3.8 GNU/Linux distribution.

        Scheduled for launch on February 1, 2018, as the last release in the Linux Lite 3 series, Linux Lite 3.8 promises to introduce various improvements and tweaks, along with updated components and some new features. The most important of them all being the implementation of the TLP power management tool for laptops in Lite Tweaks.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Policy call for participation — December 2017

        Yesterday we released Debian Policy 4.1.3.0, containing patches from numerous different contributors, some of them first-time contributors. Thank you to everyone who was involved!

        Please consider getting involved in preparing the next release of Debian Policy, which is likely to be uploaded sometime around the end of January.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • AWS, Canonical help power self-driving cars, retailers and more

            Digital transformation is sweeping every industry, and the broad accessibility enabled by the cloud allows products and businesses — ranging from self-driving vehicles to nationwide retail — to innovate at light speed. To help these companies thrive in the cloud, Amazon Web Services Inc. offers enterprises a range of supportive virtualization tools and the opportunity to utilize the AWS operating system, which promotes broad flexibility and a high level of security.

            One of Amazon’s key partners, Canonical Ltd, is responsible for providing the foundation that many enterprises build their software as a service offerings on with its operating service Ubuntu.

          • People Searched for Ubuntu more than Amazon Echo this year

            Ubuntu was more popular than Britney Spears, Linux Mint, and the increasingly creepy Amazon Echo this year.

            This fact — fans of frivolous trivia — comes courtesy of the Google Trends website, which lets you compare the volume of searches made for pretty much every topic imaginable.

            Now, you might be wondering why was I trying to discern Ubuntu’s relative popularity against a celebrity and a smart speaker.

          • Spotify is now available as a Snap app on Ubuntu

            The package means it’s now more convenient for fans of Spotify to install the official client on Ubuntu desktops as no external downloads or repo commands are required.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Top open source solutions for designers and artists from 2017

    Sometimes it seems no one will take you seriously in the art world should you dare deviate from the prescribed toolset of a “real artist,” but they used to say the same thing about Linux in the server room, on phones, and on laptops, and here we are today running the internet, Android, and Chromebooks on Linux.

    More and more, Linux and open source are popping up as legitimate options in art and design. That said, the art world, ironically seen as a disruptively progressive community, still has a long way to go before open source is its default, but headway is being made. Opensource.com published a variety of articles in 2017 that highlight how truly capable, flexible, and exciting the open source software user’s design toolset really is.

  • Computer History Museum makes original MacPaint source code available to public
  • Apple’s Lisa Operating System Gets A 2018 Rerelease Date, And You Won’t Need $10,000 To Buy It
  • Apple’s Legendary Lisa Operating System Is Coming to Your Desktop for Free
  • The Computer History Museum will open source Apple’s Lisa OS in 2018
  • Apple’s Lisa Operating System Going Open Source
  • Apple to open source its first graphical OS from the Lisa
  • Apple Lisa source code to be released in 2018

    The Apple Lisa computer first hit the streets in 1983 with a list price just shy of $10,000. It had a 5 MHz processor, 1MB of RAM, and a 5MB hard drive. It was also one of the first desktop computers to feature a graphical user interface and it pave the way for the much more popular (and affordable) Macintosh line of computers that launched the following year.

  • Bitfinex open source IOTA wallet now supports multiple target addresses
  • Will tomorrow’s core banking systems run on open-source software?
  • The Essential Open Source Reading List: 21 Must-Read Books

    Is your organization looking to build out an open source program or are you already managing one? If so, you’re probably already considering the kinds of tools and guidance that can make your program a holistic success. That is why, in this article series, we have been covering tools for managing open source programs and providing advice from leading experts.

    Now, to take your program to the next level, we offer a free guide containing an essential open source reading list. This list can help any organization launch and maintain a thriving open source program.

    Specifically, the guide provides 21 must-read books for open source program managers, recommended by members of the TODO Group. These books can help your organization build a strong foundation and avoid missteps in developing your open source program.

  • Events

    • 14 Linux and open source conferences worth attending in 2018

      Whether your budget permits you to attend large, global events or just small local shows, there’s a Linux and open source conference to suit everyone.

      As I write this at the end of 2017, my thoughts turn to holiday celebrations, friends and family, and setting up my 2018 Linux and open source trade show calendar. OK, so maybe everyone doesn’t put that last item on their project planning list, but when you cover Linux and open source as deeply as I do, detailed scheduling is necessary.

      Even if you don’t live and breathe open source, I highly recommend you attend at least one conference that fits your schedule and travel budget. The technical know-how you gain can make your life easier, and it’s helpful to know what’s on the horizon. Sometimes, a single how-to presentation can save you a week of work or a panel discussion can help you formulate your company’s IT strategy—and that justifies the cost.

    • An overview of KubeCon + CloudNativeCon

      The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) held its conference, KubeCon + CloudNativeCon, in December 2017. There were 4000 attendees at this gathering in Austin, Texas, more than all the previous KubeCons before, which shows the rapid growth of the community building around the tool that was announced by Google in 2014. Large corporations are also taking a larger part in the community, with major players in the industry joining the CNCF, which is a project of the Linux Foundation. The CNCF now features three of the largest cloud hosting businesses (Amazon, Google, and Microsoft), but also emerging companies from Asia like Baidu and Alibaba.

      In addition, KubeCon saw an impressive number of diversity scholarships, which “include free admission to KubeCon and a travel stipend of up to \$1,500, aimed at supporting those from traditionally underrepresented and/or marginalized groups in the technology and/or open source communities”, according to Neil McAllister of CoreOS. The diversity team raised an impressive \$250,000 to bring 103 attendees to Austin from all over the world.

      We have looked into Kubernetes in the past but, considering the speed at which things are moving, it seems time to make an update on the projects surrounding this newly formed ecosystem.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox DevEdition 58 Beta 12 Testday Results
      • TenFourFox FPR5b1 available

        This version is timed to come out with Firefox ESR 52.6.0, which is not scheduled for release until January 23, so don’t panic if you don’t see much commit activity in Github for awhile. 52.8.0, scheduled for May 7, will be the transition point to 60ESR. More on that when we get there.

        For FPR6, I’m looking at a couple features to get us more HTML5 support points, and possibly something like date-time input controls or <details> and <summary> support. This may also be the first release with built-in adblock, though the adblock support will only be basic, will not be comprehensive, and may include blocking certain tracking scripts as well as image ads. It won’t be enabled by default.

      • Mixed Blessings Of Greenfield Software Development

        The biggest software project I have ever worked on, and hopefully ever will work on, was Gecko. I was not one of its original architects, so my work on Gecko was initially very tightly constrained by design decisions made by others. Over the years some of those decisions were rescinded, and some of the new decisions were mine, but I always felt frustrated at being locked into designs that I didn’t choose and (with the benefit of hindsight, at least) would not have chosen. “Wouldn’t it be great”, I often thought, “to build something entirely new from scratch, hopefully getting things right, or at least having no-one other than myself to blame for my mistakes!” I guess a lot of programmers feel this, and that’s why we see more project duplication than the world really needs.

        I was lucky enough at Mozilla to work on a project that gave me a bit of an outlet for this — rr. I didn’t actually do much coding in rr at the beginning — Albert Noll, Nimrod Partush and Chris Jones got it underway — but I did participate in the design decisions.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • NodeSource Raises $17.5M to Advance Node.js Applications

      When looking to build and deploy enterprise applications in 2018, NodeSource and its’ investors are betting that many will choose to use node.js

      Node.js is a widely deployed open-source JavaScript framework that NodeSource supports with its commercial N|Solid platform. On Dec. 25, NodeSource announced that it raised $17.5 million in a Series B round fo funding led by Silicon Valley Bank and Industry Ventures. Total funding to date for NodeSource now stands at $33.4 million, since the company was founded in 2014.

  • BSD

    • NetBSD 7.1.1 released

      The NetBSD Project is pleased to announce NetBSD 7.1.1, the first security/bugfix update of the NetBSD 7.1 release branch. It represents a selected subset of fixes deemed important for security or stability reasons. If you are running an earlier release of NetBSD, we strongly suggest updating to 7.1.1.

    • NetBSD 7.1 Operating System Receives First Security Update, Here’s What’s New

      NetBSD Project’s Soren Jacobsen announced today the general availability of the first point release of the NetBSD 7.1 operating system series.

      Coming nine and a half months after the launch of the NetBSD 7.1 series, NetBSD 7.1.1 is mainly a security and bugfix release that addresses important issues like a buffer overflow via cmap for four graphics drivers, x86 vulnerabilities, and a Vnode reference leak in the openat system call.

      “The NetBSD Project is pleased to announce NetBSD 7.1.1, the first security/bugfix update of the NetBSD 7.1 release branch. It represents a selected subset of fixes deemed important for security or stability reasons. If you are running an earlier release of NetBSD, we strongly suggest updating to 7.1.1,” reads today’s announcement.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • The source code is the license

      You can find the license information for open source software by looking at the source code. Different views, or reports, of that license information can be generated to address differing needs.

      While providing license information directly in the source code is not a requirement for open source software, the practical benefits of doing so became apparent early. As open source licenses facilitate movement of software, license information that travels with the code simplifies administration by making the statements of the permissions readily available to those who have the code, even if they receive the code indirectly.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • LulzBot Helps OtterBox Expand Its uniVERSE with Open Source, 3D Printed Accessory Mounts

        Founded in Colorado nearly 20 years ago, OtterBox is the number one supplier of smartphone cases in the US. The company makes frequent use of 3D printing technology for its cases, and its uniVERSE Case System, which has a slim but durable OtterBox protective case for an iPhone and and iPad, with a modular rail mount on the back for accessories, such as Bluetooth speakers, battery packs, and credit card readers. Late this summer, the company decided to release the CAD for this case accessory mount under a Creative Commons license, so makers in the open source community could design and 3D print their own smartphone accessory attachments.

  • Programming/Development

    • The Sweetness of JAMstack: JavaScript, APIs and Markup

      The JAMstack approach to web development has been emerging for several years, but really took off in 2017. More a design philosophy than an explicit framework, JAMstack takes the concept of static, database-free websites to the next level via an architecture advocates are calling “the future of the internet.”

      Which only makes sense. Browsers themselves have essentially become mini operating systems capable of running complex client-side applications while interacting with myriad APIs. Meanwhile, with the help of with Node.js and npm, JavaScript has leaped the divide between front and back end for real-time, two-way communication between client and server. JAMstack is simply harnessing these factors in a logical and effective way.

      (A word on static vs. dynamic site architecture: static in this context refers to how websites are built, powered and served, which in no way means that a static site lacks interactivity.)

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Unraveling the MEC Standards Puzzle

      Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) is quickly gaining traction as a disruptive technology that promises to bring applications and content closer to the network edge. It is also expected to reduce latency in networks and make new services possible.

      Analyst Iain Gillott of iGR Research says that he expects MEC to be as disruptive to the market as 5G and software-defined networking (SDN). And several companies, including Huawei, have said that they are currently testing MEC.

Leftovers

  • Apple’s flagship Chicago retail store wasn’t designed to handle snow [iophk: "typical for architecture everywhere: designed by non-locals"]

    Apple’s new flagship retail store in Chicago, the one with a MacBook-shaped rooftop, is nothing short of an architectural marvel. At least, that’s how some news reports put it when the store opened back in October. Beyond standing out among the less inspired buildings of the downtown Chicago area, the new Apple Store also happens to be very poorly thought through considering its thin roof now has dangerous icicles hanging perilously over public walkways.

  • ‘Steve Jobs’ is an Italian company — and Apple can’t do anything about it

    After years of legal battles, a pair of brothers — Vincenzo and Giacomo Barbato — have successfully managed to win a legal battle against Apple, earning the right to call their company “Steve Jobs,” after Apple’s iconic founder, according to la Repubblica Napoli.

    The fight began back in in 2012, when the two brothers noticed that Apple had never trademarked Jobs’ name. The pair were already in the process of starting their own clothing and accessory company, after spending years creating products for other brands, and decided that “Steve Jobs” would be the perfect name for their new brand.

  • Science

    • Video games are unlocking child gambling. This has to be reined in

      The system of ‘loot box’ gaming is perfectly pitched to profit from players and drive addiction, with all its associated costs

    • Coaxing Light From Graphene

      One day this past September, I found myself on a shuttle bus heading 20 minutes outside the center of Barcelona to the Institut de Ciencies Fotoniques, or ICFO (Institute of Photonic Sciences).

      After five years of covering the groundbreaking photonics research coming out of this relatively small research institute nestled in the northeast corner of Spain, I figured it was time to visit the people and the facility that has had everyone buzzing since its participation at the 2016 GSMA Mobile World Congress. At this event, held in Barcelona that year, the world’s mobile network and device companies recognized that ICFO was offering a potential solution to a technological showstopper to the rollout of 5G networks: data centers that consume too much energy and don’t offer enough bandwidth.

    • Quantum mysteries dissolve if possibilities are realities

      When you think about it, it shouldn’t be surprising that there’s more than one way to explain quantum mechanics. Quantum math is notorious for incorporating multiple possibilities for the outcomes of measurements. So you shouldn’t expect physicists to stick to only one explanation for what that math means. And in fact, sometimes it seems like researchers have proposed more “interpretations” of this math than Katy Perry has followers on Twitter.

      [...]

      Considering potential things to be real is not exactly a new idea, as it was a central aspect of the philosophy of Aristotle, 24 centuries ago. An acorn has the potential to become a tree; a tree has the potential to become a wooden table. Even applying this idea to quantum physics isn’t new. Werner Heisenberg, the quantum pioneer famous for his uncertainty principle, considered his quantum math to describe potential outcomes of measurements of which one would become the actual result. The quantum concept of a “probability wave,” describing the likelihood of different possible outcomes of a measurement, was a quantitative version of Aristotle’s potential, Heisenberg wrote in his well-known 1958 book Physics and Philosophy. “It introduced something standing in the middle between the idea of an event and the actual event, a strange kind of physical reality just in the middle between possibility and reality.”

  • Hardware

    • California company gets FCC approval for at-a-distance device charging

      Energous, a San Jose, Calif., company, is the first firm to receive federal approval for a wireless charging system purported to power devices from up to 3 feet away, the company said.

      The Federal Communications Commission certified the company’s “WattUp Mid Field transmitter,” which uses radio frequency energy to deliver power from the transmitter to a multitude of device types, Energous said.

    • Apple, Epson face French legal pressure over planned obsolescence

      US tech giant Apple and Japanese printer maker Epson face growing legal pressure in France over alleged planned obsolescence in their products as consumer groups make use of the country’s law against the practice.

      The association Stop Planned Obsolescence (HOP or Halte a l’Obsolescence Programmee) said it had filed a complaint against Apple after the company admitted to intentionally slowing down its iPhones as they age.

    • Microsoft, Apple Products Top iFixit’s “Worst Devices of 2017” List

      iFixit rolled out a 2017 review to look back at the devices that were torn down this year and proved the hardest to repair, with Microsoft and Apple products topping the list with the worst scores.

      The number one place goes to Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop, with a score of 0 points out of a maximum 10, which means it’s impossible to repair if it breaks down.

      iFixit said in June that “this laptop is not meant to be opened or repaired; you can’t get inside without inflicting a lot of damage,” adding that replacing certain parts is either impossible because they’re soldered to the motherboard (like the CPU, RAM, and storage) or can only be reached by removing other components.

      The new Surface Pro and the Surface Book 2 are next with just 1 points, once again nearly impossible to repair, followed by two Apple devices, namely the 2017 MacBook and the new iPad with 1 point and 2 points, respectively.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • California Marijuana Start-Ups, Shut Out From Banks, Turn to Private Backing

      Marijuana is becoming legal in California, and entrepreneurs are rushing in with infused artisanal chocolates, specialized farming equipment and security teams to guard large hauls. On Jan. 1, companies will be able to produce and sell marijuana in the state, making it one of eight in the United States where the recreational use of cannabis has been legalized. But finding expertise and financing won’t be easy.

    • Why American doctors keep doing expensive procedures that don’t work

      The recent news that stents inserted in patients with heart disease to keep arteries open work no better than a placebo ought to be shocking. Each year, hundreds of thousands of American patients receive stents for the relief of chest pain, and the cost of the procedure ranges from $11,000 to $41,000 in US hospitals.

      But in fact, American doctors routinely prescribe medical treatments that are not based on sound science.

      The stent controversy serves as a reminder that the United States struggles when it comes to winnowing evidence-based treatments from the ineffective chaff. As surgeon and health care researcher Atul Gawande observes, “Millions of people are receiving drugs that aren’t helping them, operations that aren’t going to make them better, and scans and tests that do nothing beneficial for them, and often cause harm.”

  • Security

    • Security updates for Friday
    • How Classical Cryptography Will Survive Quantum Computers

      Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, certainly raised the profile of quantum computing a few notches last year, when he gamely—if vaguely1—described it for a press conference. But we’ve heard a lot about quantum computers in the past few years, as Google, I.B.M., and N.A.S.A., as well as many, many universities, have all been working on, or putting money into, quantum computers for various ends. The N.S.A., for instance, as the Snowden documents revealed, wants to build one for codebreaking, and it seems to be a common belief that if a full-scale, practical quantum computer is built, it could be really useful in that regard. A New Yorker article early this year, for example, stated that a quantum computer “would, on its first day of operation, be capable of cracking the Internet’s most widely used codes.” But maybe they won’t be as useful as we have been led to believe.

    • Can a decentralized open source community properly address security?

      SearchSecurity talks with UC Berkeley Professor Steven Weber about the open source community, the security challenges facing it and the prospect of software liability.

    • Chrome Extension With 100,000 Users Caught Cryptojacking Using Your CPU Power

      The trend of mining cryptocurrency hasn’t gone unnoticed by the notorious minds. This technique to use CPU power to earn digital coins has been repeatedly used by malware creators as well as the website owners who chose to keep their users in the dark. In the latest development, a popular Chrome extension has been spotted as a new player in this game.

      Named Archive Poster, this extension has more than 100,000 users. For the past few weeks, the extension has been deploying an in-browser cryptocurrency miner without showing the users any form of notification or asking for their permission.

    • Happy 8th Birthday, KrebsOnSecurity!
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Russia Accuses U.S. of Breaking Arms Control Treaty & Interfering in Russian Election

      Russia has accused the United States of breaking an arms control treaty by selling two missile defense systems to Japan. Russia’s accusation comes after Japan said it would buy two of the U.S. missile defense systems, amid rising tensions in the region over North Korea’s nuclear program. This comes as Russia has also accused the United States of interfering in Russia’s upcoming presidential election, after the U.S. condemned Russia’s decision to ban opposition candidate Alexei Navalny from running.

    • U.N.: 68 Civilians Killed in Saudi-Led Bombing in Yemen on Tuesday

      In Yemen, the United Nations says two U.S.-backed, Saudi-led airstrikes on Tuesday killed at least 68 civilians, including eight children. One of the airstrikes hit a crowded market in the southwestern province of Taiz. The second strike hit a farm in western Yemen, killing 14 members of the same family.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Deportation Now on Hold for Mexican Journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, But He Remains in Detention

      After a visit from Texas Democratic Congressmember Beto O’Rourke and a flurry of news reports, including on Democracy Now!, the Board of Immigration Appeals has reopened the asylum case of award-winning journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, vacating his deportation order and granting him a full stay of his removal order. This means Gutiérrez cannot be deported, at the moment, and that the BIA will now issue a new ruling. But Gutiérrez has still not been released. We play an excerpt from our exclusive jailhouse interview with Gutiérrez and speak with William McCarren, the executive director of the National Press Club, who visited Gutiérrez in detention and said Gutiérrez broke down crying several times, and Gutiérrez’s lawyer, Eduardo Beckett.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Trump gets permission to build seawall at Irish golf course

      Authorities in Ireland have given President Donald Trump permission to build a seawall at his golf course on the west coast of the country.

    • The Water Will Come: A Must-Read Book on Sea Level Rise
    • Trump Admin Slated to Roll Back Offshore Oil Drilling Safety Regulations

      The Trump administration is slated to roll back safety regulations for offshore drilling that were implemented after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 people and caused the most devastating oil spill in U.S. history. The Interior Department, led by Secretary Ryan Zinke, is considering a proposal that would scrap the Obama-era regulations for “blowout preventers,” which are intended to prevent explosions in undersea oil and gas wells. The Department claims the deregulation would save the oil industry more than $200 million over a decade. Environmental groups widely oppose the rollback of the rules. The Center for Biological Diversity said, “Reversing offshore safety rules isn’t just deregulation, it’s willful ignorance.”

  • Finance

    • Uber closes multi-billion dollar deal with SoftBank [iophk: "more venture capital to work at destroying the labor market"]

      SoftBank will purchase the shares for $33 each, putting Uber’s value at $48 billion, a significant discount from its previous valuation of $70 billion.

    • Jeff Sessions Takes a Stand for Debtors’ Prisons

      Jailing poor people simply for being poor was, is, and always will be unconstitutional.

      During the holiday season, many of us think about what we can do to help people struggling with poverty. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on the other hand, decided just before Christmas to rescind a guidance meant to protect low-income Americans.

      The 2016 guidance, issued by former President Obama’s Justice Department, urged state and local courts nationwide to abide by constitutional principles prohibiting the jailing of poor people who cannot afford to pay court fines and fees. Jeff Sessions’ action makes clear that he and his Justice Department are unconcerned by courts trampling on the rights of poor people.

      The Obama Justice Department issued the 2016 letter after reports and lawsuits by the ACLU and other groups revealed how modern-day debtors’ prisons function in more than a dozen states, despite the fact that the U.S. two centuries ago formally outlawed jailing people simply because they have unpaid debts.

      These efforts revealed that poor people were being locked up in Georgia, Washington, Mississippi, and elsewhere without court hearings or legal representation when they could not pay fines and fees for traffic tickets or other civil infractions or criminal offenses. These efforts also show that modern-day debtors’ prisons result from state laws allowing or requiring the suspension of driver’s licenses for unpaid court fines or fees without first requiring confirmation that the person could actually pay.

    • WikiLeaks Founder Urges Cryptocurrency Donations After US Financial Blockade

      In a series of tweets on December 17, 2017, the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, alleged the United States government of breaching citizens’ First Amendment rights. He also accused the government of politically-induced financial censorship after it began obstructing US-based individuals from donating to the organization. Thus, in light of these events, he urged WikiLeaks donors to facilitate payments through cryptocurrencies instead, something that the government has no power over.

    • Chinese Consumers Now Rule the World. Get Used to It

      The country is increasingly the world’s consumer. Forget the old investment and export-focused growth model. Even more important is the changing nature of consumption, which no longer revolve around staples: Increasing sums are being plowed into movies, tourism and health care. Investors ignore this seismic shift at their peril.

    • The Digital Poorhouse

      Forty years ago, nearly all the major decisions that shape our lives—whether or not we are offered employment, a mortgage, insurance, credit, or a government service—were made by human beings. They often used actuarial processes that functioned more like computers than people, but human discretion still prevailed.

      Today, we have ceded much of that decision-making power to machines. Automated eligibility systems, ranking algorithms, and predictive risk models control which neighborhoods get policed, which families attain needed resources, who is short-listed for employment, and who is investigated for fraud. Our world is crisscrossed by information sentinels, some obvious and visible: closed-circuit cameras, GPS on our cell phones, police drones. But much of our information is collected by inscrutable, invisible pieces of code embedded in social media interactions, applications for government services, and every product we buy. They are so deeply woven into the fabric of social life that, most of the time, we don’t even notice that we are being watched and analyzed.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Can Facebook win its battle against election interference in 2018?
    • Trump attacks Anna Wintour, possibly confusing Vanity Fair with Vogue
    • If This Is America
    • Allan Nairn: United States Tries—But Fails—to Stop to Stop Hondurans from Protesting Election Fraud

      On Friday, the United States congratulated incumbent Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández on what it said was his re-election. This came one month into a standoff between the Honduras government and the opposition over the disputed vote tally, and days after the government-controlled election commission declared Hernández the winner. Previously, the opposition front, the Alliance Against the Dictatorship, as well as the Organization of American States have called for new elections amid reports of widespread fraud, saying the victory was “impossible” to verify. Last week, opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet officials at the OAS and State Department, but U.S. officials claimed he did not present evidence to back up his allegations of fraud. We speak with Allan Nairn, award-winning investigative journalist who has just returned Saturday from Honduras. His latest story for The Intercept is headlined “U.S. Spent Weeks Pressuring Honduras Opposition to End Protests Against Election Fraud.”

    • Alabama Officially Declares Doug Jones Winner of U.S. Senate Race

      The state of Alabama has officially declared Democrat Doug Jones the winner of the highly controversial U.S. Senate race two weeks ago. On Thursday morning, a judge blocked the lawsuit of Jones’s rival, Republican Roy Moore, who was claiming voter fraud and demanding a new election. This is Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill.

    • Russiagate Is Devolving Into an Effort to Stigmatize Dissent

      Of all the various twists and turns of the year-and-a-half-long national drama known as #Russiagate, the effort to marginalize and stigmatize dissent from the consensus Russia-Trump narrative, particularly by former intelligence and national-security officials and operatives, is among the more alarming.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • What does Facebook consider hate speech?

      Our analysis of how Facebook implements its hate-speech rules shows that its content reviewers often make different calls on whether to allow or delete items with similar content. To highlight this inconsistency, 3 pairs of posts on the same themes are shown below, along with Facebook’s decisions in each case. They are followed by 43 other posts that we brought to Facebook’s attention, and the actions that the company took. Facebook acknowledged it made a mistake in 22 instances and defended 19 of its rulings. Related Story.

    • Facebook’s Uneven Enforcement of Hate Speech Rules Allows Vile Posts to Stay Up

      Facebook declared the photo to be acceptable. The company sent West an automated message stating: “We looked over the photo, and though it doesn’t go against one of our specific Community Standards, we understand that it may still be offensive to you and others.”

      But Facebook took down a terser anti-Muslim comment — a single line declaring “Death to the Muslims,” without an accompanying image — after users repeatedly reported it.

      Both posts were violations of Facebook’s policies against hate speech. But only one of them was caught by Facebook’s army of 7,500 censors — known as content reviewers — who decide whether to allow or remove posts flagged by its 2 billion users. After being contacted by ProPublica, Facebook also took down the one West complained about.

    • Anime Censorship Can Be Really Weird Sometimes

      Oh, anime. The medium has been around for a century now, but it still manages to take fans by surprise. Over the years, the anime fandom has documented just some of the ways their favorite shows have been censored, and weird doesn’t even begin to cover it all.

    • ‘Boruto’ Fans Aren’t Happy With The Show’s Latest Censorship

      As the episode later revealed, Log turned out to be an older clone of Mitsuki who Orochimaru made. The revelation helped the young boy realize his own path, and Mitsuki turned away from the elder ninjas to forge his own destiny. Orochimaru and Log were left to talk cordially once Mitsuki bolted, and it was then TV Tokyo went into its odd censorship mode.

      In the aired episode, Log is shown holding up a lighter to his mouth, but there is nothing in-between the ninja’s parted lips. A raw image from the anime’s creators confirmed Log was supposed to be smoking a cigarette, but TV Tokyo simply erased it from most of its broadcasts.

    • Pro-Palestinian Groups Are The Real Victims Of Campus Censorship

      This past year, we witnessed weeks of hand-wringing over student concerns with the actions of University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson, followed by an outcry over the Lindsay Shepherd incident at Wilfrid Laurier University. Yet amidst this widespread conversation about free speech and academic freedom, there has been a glaring blind spot: the repression of pro-Palestinian activism.

      I was finishing up my undergraduate degree in 2015 when I became involved with pro-Palestine organizing at the University of Toronto (UofT.) Activists at UofT have been fighting to raise the issue of Palestine on campus for years, with some success among students, by encouraging targeted divestment at the institutional level.

    • ACLU report finds over-censorship

      Despite state law, excessive internet filtering in dozens of school districts statewide continues to hinder the First Amendment rights of thousands of Rhode Island students and teachers, claims a report released last week by the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island (ACLU of RI) .

      The report is a follow-up to a 2013 report published by the ACLU of RI that found that filtering systems used in public schools across the state tend to restrict access to far more information than required by federal law. The study prompted the passage in 2016 of a state law requiring that all school districts have formal policies to govern the use of internet filtering systems.

    • Facebook makes wrong censorship call almost 1/2 the time

      For example, it declined to take down a post with an image reflecting graphic violence – the body of a man on top of ground that was soaked in blood, with a message stating, “the only good Muslim is a ——- dead one.”

      But taken down was the single line “Death to the Muslims” which did not have an image at all.

    • How To Access Blocked Websites? 12 Easy Ways To Bypass Them
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Meet the CIA’s Insectothopter

      It was the 1970s, the Cold War was in full swing, and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of Research and Development had developed a miniaturized listening device. But they didn’t have a good way to maneuver the device into place without raising suspicions.

      After scrapping the idea of a mechanical bumblebee, CIA engineers prototyped a dragonfly to carry the bug. Dubbed the Insectothopter, the bug-carrying bug was the agency’s first insect-size unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and it seemed to show potential. Under ideal conditions, it had a range of 200 meters and a flight time of 60 seconds.

    • Court Challenges to NSA Surveillance: 2017 in Review

      One of the government’s most powerful surveillance tools is scheduled to sunset in less than three weeks, and, for months, EFF has fought multiple legislative attempts to either extend or expand the NSA’s spying powers—warning the public, Representatives, and Senators about circling bills that threaten Americans’ privacy. But the frenetic, deadline-pressure environment on Capitol Hill betrays the slow, years-long progress that EFF has made elsewhere: the courts.

      2017 was a year for slow, procedural breakthroughs.

      Here is an update on the lawsuits that EFF and other organizations have against broad NSA surveillance powers.

    • NSA Finally Gets an Independent Inspector General

      After a turbulent year that saw the former National Security Agency Inspector General ousted for allegedly retaliating against whistleblowers, the Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the oversight agency: Robert Storch.

      Storch joins the NSA OIG as the first presidentially-appointed watchdog in the agency’s history. Prior inspectors general have been appointed by the director of the NSA, producing a potential conflict of interest for what is intended to be an independent office.

      Storch was originally nominated to the post by then-President Barack Obama in November 2016, however, the Senate failed to vote before he left office. Trump re-upped his nomination in June, with the final confirmation and presidential signature coming on Dec. 22.

    • Concerns Raised About $1 Billion Facial Scan Program with High Error Rate at Nine U.S. Airports

      This month, Senators Mike Lee, a Republican, and Edward Markey, a Democrat, called for a halt to the expansion of a $1 billion airport facial scanning program that the Department of Homeland Security uses to identify travelers on some flights that depart from nine U.S. airports: Boston, Las Vegas, Miami, New York’s John F. Kennedy, Washington Dulles, both Houston airports, Chicago O‘Hare and Atlanta. Congress has approved the program for use on non-U.S. citizens but never expressly authorized its use on Americans. The senators also asked DHS to provide data about the accuracy of the scans and cited a study by the Center on Privacy and Technology that said the technology had high error rates and was subject to bias, because the scans often fail to properly identify women and African Americans. We speak with Ron Nixon, homeland security correspondent for The New York Times.

    • Mark Zuckerberg’s real campaign: Save Facebook

      Facebook, Google and Twitter are no longer seen as harmless toys and tools. In fact, the political and public swing against these darlings of Silicon Valley is one of the most important non-Trump trends of the year — and one likely to echo for many years to come:

    • We are not collecting Indian users’ Aadhaar data: Facebook

      It was reported that a small of people who are signing up for Facebook from their mobile are seeing a prompt asking them to enter names as per their Aadhaar details.

      Facebook had said earlier that it was testing a new feature and the idea was to encourage users to put their real names as they enter the social network for the first time.

    • Instagram is now adding recommended [sic] posts into your feed
    • Congressional Discussion On Section 702 Renewal Postponed Until 2018

      This is probably the best solution for now. While there have been some serious efforts made to reform Section 702, none of those efforts have been allowed to reach the floor for a vote. Instead, both the House and Senate Oversight Committees have offered up horrible zero-reform bills as “official” 702 remixes — both of which expand government agency access to NSA data stores and push the next sunset as far away as 2025.

      Going into the final days of the year with no reform package, the suspicion was legislators would append one of the two terrible bills as a rider to the annual must-pass budget bill, thus circumventing any real debate about the NSA’s controversial collections.

    • The Supreme Court Finally Takes on Law Enforcement Access to Cell Phone Location Data: 2017 in Review

      Protecting the highly personal location data stored on or generated by digital devices is one of the 21st century’s most important privacy issues. In 2017, the Supreme Court finally took on the question of how law enforcement can get ahold of this sensitive information.

      Whenever you use a cell phone, whether to make calls, send or receive texts, or browse the Internet, your phone automatically generates “cell site location information” (CSLI) through its interactions with cell towers. This means that cell providers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile have records of everywhere your phone has been, going back months and even years. And since almost everyone has a cell phone, cell providers have these records for nearly everyone.

      The government has long argued that it doesn’t need a warrant to obtain CSLI from cell providers because of two 1970’s Supreme Court cases, Smith v. Maryland and United States v. Miller. Smith and Miller are the basis for the Third Party Doctrine, which holds that information you voluntarily share with a “third party”—such as deposit and withdrawal information shared with banks (Miller) or numbers dialed on a phone shared with the phone company (Smith)—isn’t protected by the Fourth Amendment because you can’t expect that third party to keep the information secret.

      For years, courts around the country have been deeply divided on whether the Third Party Doctrine should apply to CSLI or whether the invasiveness of long term monitoring it enables should require a more privacy-protective rule. EFF has been involved in almost all of the significant past cases on this issue.

      In June, the Supreme Court agreed to consider that question in Carpenter v. United States. In Carpenter, the government obtained 127 days of the defendant’s cell phone records from MetroPCS—without a warrant—to try to place him at the locations of several armed robberies around Detroit. As in other cases, the government argues that Mr. Carpenter had no reasonable expectation of privacy in these records, which it claimed were simultaneously incriminating but not precise enough to reveal his exact location and movements over those 127 days.

      EFF filed briefs both encouraging the court to take the case and urging it to reject the Third Party Doctrine. We noted that cell phone usage has exploded in the last 30 years, and with it, the technologies to locate users have gotten ever more precise.

    • Predictions for 2018

      Wannabe fascists keep control of the US Congress, because your Marketing budget: “Dark” social campaigns (both ads and fake “organic” activity) are still a thing. In the USA, voter suppression and gerrymandering have been cleverly enough done that social manipulation can still make a difference, and it will.

      In the long run, dark social will get filtered out by habits, technology, norms, and regulation—like junk fax and email spam before them—but we don’t have a “long run” between now and November 2018. The only people who could make an impact on dark social now are the legit advertisers who don’t want their brands associated with this stuff. And right now the expectations to advertise on the major social sites are stronger than anybody’s ability to get an edgy, controversial “let’s not SPONSOR ACTUAL F—–G NAZIS” plan through the 2018 marketing budget process.

      Yes, the idea of not spending marketing money on supporting nationalist extremist forums is new and different now. What a year.

    • Why Decentralize?
    • Time to fix an [I]nternet bust by surveillance capitalism’s demand for data
    • China begins regulating QR code payments

      In an attempt to cut down on fraud, China’s central bank has announced plans to begin regulating payments by QR codes, barcodes, and other scannable codes. The regulations will initially cap payments by traditional QR codes to 500 yuan, or about $76 USD. When additional security measures are applied, the cap can raise to 5,000 yuan, or around $765 USD. At an even higher security level, banks and payment processors are given discretion over the cap.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Returning Home to Memphis, Where Two Confederate Statues Are No More

      Slavery was the main cause of the Civil War. Secession statements from Confederate states make that clear. Alexander Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy said, “Our new government is founded upon … the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” Forrest is quoted in a foreword to his own biography as saying, “If we ain’t fightin’ to keep slavery, then what the hell are we fightin’ for?”

      Some say Forrest changed his views at the end of his life, but it really doesn’t matter. There was no engraving on the foundation of his monument saying “he was a white supremacist who changed his views and tried to do penance for his sins against humanity.” The monuments to Forrest and Davis honored them simply as warriors for the Confederacy.

      The truth is that removal of these monuments will not educate, feed, or free from prison even one person of color. But the admission of the true nature of our racialized past is a necessary part of real structural change leading to racial justice.

    • Prosecutors Benefiting Most From Police Body Cameras

      Touted as police accountability tools, body cameras haven’t lived up to that reputation. Camera roll outs have had mixed results. In some places, departments have experienced declines in complaints. In others, the data shows nothing conclusive — except, perhaps, that the cameras can be manipulated as easily as dashcams and audio recorders.

      The one place cameras are definitely paying off, it seems, is in courtrooms. And it has nothing to do with civil lawsuits and everything to do with locking people up. If there’s an entity benefiting directly from the explosion in body camera use, it’s the nation’s prosecutors. The stated fears about body-worn cameras being used by department brass to play “gotcha” with the rank-and-file haven’t materialized. More often than not, footage is being used to put people behind bars.

    • Knicks Center Enes Kantor To Be Tried In Absentia For Upsetting Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s Fickle Ego

      In all of our coverage of the actions of the Turkish government under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, quite a picture of the man, who now has a stranglehold on his country, has emerged. We can be sure of many things with all of this coverage. For instance, Erdogan has an ego the size of an oil rig, yet the intellectual armor of a flea. We also know that His Honor is perfectly happy to brutally wield the power of a sovereign nation for the petty benefit of his reputation. And, when all else fails, detractors and the journalists that cover him can be simply labled “terrorists” before being jailed, tortured, or otherwise harmed.

      Still, for those of us in America, the dealings of a dictator can be beyond the horizon, both literally and figuratively. There are many places in the world ruled by goons, after all, and we have a proud tradition in America of simply not giving a shit if it doesn’t effect the homeland in some conceivable way. Well, in the case of Erdogan, there is at least a touch-point for his brutality in New York Knicks big-man Enes Kantor who, after having members of his family arrested for the crime of being related to him, is now facing a trial in his absence on charges of insulting Erdogan and, you guessed it, being a terrorist.

    • How a Supreme Court Ruling Could Embolden Police Retaliation Against Political Speech

      The “no probably cause” rule makes it hard to sue police for retaliatory arrests. It could become law nationwide.

      Earlier this year, a photojournalist headed to a Black Lives Matter protest in Times Square against the New York Police Department, and took out his camera to film it. As he approached a crowd of protesters, he heard a police supervisor instruct his officers to “just take somebody and put them in handcuffs.”

      An officer stopped the journalist and placed him under arrest for failure to comply with an order to disperse. He was soon released, and sued the NYPD for arresting him in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights. He pointed out the NYPD supervisor’s explicit order to make an arbitrary arrest, and proved that police barricades were positioned to block people from dispersing, making compliance with the dispersal order physically impossible. In all, the evidence of retaliation was strong.

      Yet the court not only ruled against the journalist, but told him he was barred from bringing the lawsuit in the first place. Even though the dispersal order may have been faulty, the officer could have had probable cause to arrest him for a separate pedestrian traffic violation, which automatically rendered irrelevant any evidence of retaliation.

      The court was relying on what’s called the “no probable cause” rule, which has the force of law in New York. The rule states that in order for an individual to sue for retaliatory arrest, she must prove at the outset that the officer had no probable cause to arrest her for any crime — even one the officer hadn’t thought of at the time of the arrest. The Supreme Court will soon decide whether to make that rule the law nationwide.

    • Hawaiian Supreme Court Says The First Amendment Protects Filming Law Enforcement

      There’s no unified national view on First Amendment protections for filming police, but a few recent cases have established this right in some judicial circuits. Until a case makes its way to the US Supreme Court, cops who don’t like being recorded in public can still roll the dice on immunity when arresting people for operating cameras.

      Via the Volokh Conspiracy (at its new, paywall-free home at Reason) comes another decision in favor of a First Amendment right to record. This one was delivered by the Hawaiian state supreme court, which at least ensures residents can’t be hassled for recording officers… or at least ensures success in the pursuant lawsuit.

      In this case, journalist Thomas Russo happened upon a police checkpoint and decided to film it. During his filming of a traffic stop, he was instructed to do several things — like back up and turn his vehicle’s hazard lights on. Every instruction given by officers appeared to be followed in Russo’s recording but officers still arrested him and took his phone. The charges — failing to comply with a lawful order and disorderly conduct — were ultimately dismissed. The court examined the footage of the stop and found it did not show Russo disobeying orders. Anything that appeared as noncompliance on Russo’s part was due to the vagueness of the officer’s orders, rather than direct disobedience.

    • The Worst Law in Technology Strikes Again: 2017 in Review

      The latest on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act? It’s still terrible. And this year, the detrimental impacts of the notoriously vague and outdated criminal computer crime statute showed themselves loud and clear. The statute lies at the heart of the Equifax breach, which might have been averted if our laws didn’t criminalize security research. And it’s at the center of a court case pending in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, hiQ v. LinkedIn, which threatens a hallmark of today’s Internet: free and open access to publicly available information.

      At EFF, we’ve spent 2017 working to make sure that courts and policy makers understand the role the CFAA has played in undermining security research, and that the Ninth Circuit rejects LinkedIn’s attempt to transform a criminal law meant to target serious computer break-ins into a tool for enforcing corporate computer use policies. We’ve also continued our work to protect programmers and developers engaged in cutting-edge exploration of technology via our Coders’ Rights Project—coders who often find themselves grappling with the messiness that is the CFAA. As this fight carries us into 2018, we stand ready to do all we can to rein in the worst law in technology.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Now That The FCC Is Doing Away With Title II For Broadband, Will Verizon Give Back The Taxpayer Subsidies It Got Under Title II?

      Now that the FCC has done as it said it was going to do and declared that broadband internet is properly classified under Title I of the Communications Act, rather than Title II, I’m left wondering if taxpayers will be getting back all the subsidies that we provided Verizon, AT&T and others when they claimed that their broadband networks should be classified under Title II in order to qualify for those subsidies. You may recall that we wrote about this three years ago, highlighting multiple examples where Verizon specifically begged for Title II classification of its fiber-to-the-premise networks in multiple cities to guarantee that it would get these subsidies.

    • ‘Keep the Internet open,’ EU representatives urge

      “Net neutrality is a code value for the European Union, and one that we will continue to implement for the good of all Internet users,” the politicians said. “The Internet is a common good for humanity that can drive improvements in society and the economy. Building and maintaining an open, transparent and inclusive system of Internet governance will help to ensure these benefits for all.”

  • DRM

    • Filmmakers Want The Right to Break DRM and Rip Blu-Rays

      Breaking DRM or ripping Blu-Rays discs is a crime In the United States. While there are fair use exemptions, these don’t apply to the public at large. Interestingly, filmmakers themselves are now urging the Copyright Office to lift some of the current restrictions, so that they can make the films they want.

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