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01.03.18

Links 3/1/2018: BuildStream 1.0.0, Fuchsia OS Surfacing

Posted in News Roundup at 5:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • 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.

  • Now What?

    Linux Journal was a print magazine for 17+ years, then a digital one for the next 7+. What shall we be now? That’s the Big Question, and there are many answers, some of which are already settled.

  • Steve Jobs’s worst decision was promoting Tim Cook

    Fifteen years later, 2 billion smartphones have shipped worldwide, and Microsoft’s mobile OS share is just 1%.

  • Server

    • Amazon has quietly released a game changer for its cloud: Linux software that runs on corporate servers

      Amazon’s cloud business quietly just took a big step outside the cloud.

      Last month, soon after Amazon Web Service’s giant tech conference, the company started offering its enterprise customers a new version of the Linux operating system it calls Linux 2. The new product marks a departure for the cloud-computing juggernaut, as the software can be installed on customers’ servers rather than run from Amazon’s data centers.

      Amazon will rent access to Linux 2 to its cloud customers. But it’s also making the software available for companies to install on their servers. There they can use it to run many of the most popular server software programs and technologies, including Microsoft’s Hyper-V, VMware, Oracle’s VM VirtualBox, Docker, and Amazon’s Docker alternative, Amazon Machine Image.

    • December 2017 Web Server Survey

      The noticeable spike in Apache-powered domains in May 2013 was caused by the largest hosting company of the time, GoDaddy, switching a large number of its domains from Microsoft IIS to Apache Traffic Server (ATS) . GoDaddy switched back to using IIS 7.5 a few months later.

      Today, Apache still has the largest market share by number of domains, with 81.4 million giving it a market share of 38.2%. It also saw the largest gain this month, increasing its total by 1.53 million. This growth was closely followed by nginx, with a gain of 1.09 million domains increasing its total to 47.5 million. While Microsoft leads by overall number of hostnames, it lags in 3rd position when considering the number of unique domains those sites run on, with a total of 22.8 million.

    • Amazon Linux Moves Beyond the Cloud to On-Premises Deployments

      For nearly as long as Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been in operation there has been a Amazon Linux operating system that runs on it. Initially Amazon Linux was just an optimized version of Red Hat’s community Fedora Linux, adjusted to work on AWS, but it has evolved over the years.

    • The future of DevOps is mastery of multi-cloud environments

      DevOps is a set of practices that automates the processes between software development and IT teams so they can build, test, and release software more quickly and reliably. The concept of DevOps is founded on building a culture of collaboration between IT and business teams, which have historically functioned in relative siloes. The promised benefits include increased trust, faster software releases, and the ability to solve critical issues quickly.

      That said, implementing a successful DevOps organization requires IT leaders to think more broadly about how to spur a cultural and organizational shift within both their team and the broader organization, as opposed to simply deploying new technologies. A successful DevOps strategy requires a merged focus from both development teams and operational teams on what the company needs to meet its digital transformation objectives. Thus, it is about breaking down siloed groups of people and responsibilities, and—in their place—building teams that can multitask on technical issues and goals.

  • Kernel Space

    • Another set of stable kernel updates

      The 4.14.11, 4.9.74, 4.4.109, and 3.18.91 stable kernel updates have been released with another set of significant fixes and updates. Note that 4.14.11 also includes the remainder of the kernel page-table isolation patches.

    • Further Analyzing The Intel CPU “x86 PTI Issue” On More Systems

      Yesterday I posted the first benchmarks of the performance impact of these x86 PTI security changes that landed in the Linux 4.15 kernel just days ago. As outlined in that article, most of the slowdowns attributed to the page table isolation come down to slower I/O but not universally as it largely depends upon the I/O workload as well as the speed of the actual storage device. In most desktop-ish workloads, the impact of enabling x86 PTI is much less like with not seeing much of a change for gaming.

    • Linux Will End Up Disabling x86 PTI For AMD Processors

      While at the moment with the mainline Linux kernel Git tree AMD CPUs enable x86 PTI and are treated as “insecure” CPUs, the AMD patch for not setting X86_BUG_CPU_INSECURE will end up being honored.

      The patch covered in the aforelinked article has not been merged through to Linus Torvalds’ Git tree. Instead, as of a short time ago, is now living within the tip/tip.git tree. In there is also defaulting PAGE_TABLE_ISOLATION to on and other recent fixes around x86 Page Table Isolation (PTI) support.

    • Linux 4.14.11
    • Linux 4.9.74
    • Linux 4.4.109
    • Linux 3.18.91
    • Benchmarks

      • Initial Benchmarks Of The Performance Impact Resulting From Linux’s x86 Security Changes

        Over the past day you’ve likely heard lots of hysteria about a yet-to-be-fully-disclosed vulnerability that appears to affect at least several generations of Intel CPUs and affects not only Linux but also Windows and macOS. The Intel CPU issue comes down to leaking information about the kernel memory to user-space, but the full scope isn’t public yet until the bug’s embargo, but it’s expected to be a doozy in the data center / cloud deployments. Due to the amount of interest in this issue, here are benchmarks of a patched kernel showing the performance impact of the page table isolation patches.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Viper Window Manager 3.0.2 Released!

      After languishing for nearly half a decade, I recently dusted off the code for VWM. Although the original release worked well, it never quite satisfied my technical idealism. There were lots of things I wanted to implement, fix, or clean-up, but none of them were trivial. But let me digress for a bit…

      What is VWM? Viper Window Manger (VWM) is a lightweight window manager for the console. You heard right! VWM is a window manager for the console. It’s built on top of libviper which is a convenience layer on top of ncurses and a GTK-like framework for rapidly creating console programs.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma 5.11.5 Linux Desktop Environment Released as the Last in the Series

        Coming one and a half months after the KDE Plasma 5.11.4 release, KDE Plasma 5.11.5 is here with more than 30 bug fixes and improvements across various of its components, such as the KWin window and composite manager, KScreenlocker screen locker, Oxygen and Breeze themes, Plasma Discover package manager, as well as Plasma Desktop, Plasma Workspace, and Plasma Addons.

        “Today KDE releases a bugfix update to KDE Plasma 5, versioned 5.11.5. Plasma 5.11 was released in January with many feature refinements and new modules to complete the desktop experience,” reads today’s announcement. “This release adds a three week’s worth of new translations and fixes from KDE’s contributors. The bugfixes are typically small but important.”

      • KDE Community Goal: Streamlined onboarding of new contributors

        Over the second half of 2017, KDE has been going through the ambitious effort of having its community propose and choose goals for the next 3-4 years.

        These goals have been set now, and I was thrilled to learn that my proposal on Streamlined onboarding of new contributors was chosen and many other KDE contributors believed this was a goal worth pursuing in the near future and voted for it.

        The other two proposals that were selected are Top-notch Usability and Productivity for Basic Software and Privacy.

      • KDE Plasma 5.13 Desktop Environment to Feature Better Web Browser Integration

        While many are waiting impatiently for the release of the KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS desktop environment, the KDE community announced today on Twitter a new feature of KDE Plasma 5.13.

        Yes, you’re reading it right, we’re talking about KDE Plasma 5.13, the version of the Linux desktop environment that will be coming after KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS, which is hitting the streets at the end of the month, on January 30, 2018.

        A short-lived branch, KDE Plasma 5.13 will be released on June 12, 2018, and it appears that it brings better web browser integration by allowing users to control and monitor various aspects of their web browser like playback, downloads, and tabs.

      • Better Browser-Desktop Integration Coming For KDE Plasma 5.13

        One of the new features being worked on by KDE developers in the new year is better desktop integration with web browsers.

        Expected to arrive with Plasma 5.13 is better desktop integration with Chrome/Chromium browsers and potentially Firefox too (there is an experimental Firefox add-on here). From the Plasma shell even with a minimized browser window you can now start/pause/mute any playing content, monitor browser downloads from the notification panel, and also find open browser tabs via Plasma’s “Run Command” utility.

      • #KDE #KDENEON Plasma 5.11.5 Bugfix release ready in User edition
      • Rome wasn’t built in a day

        After a very long time, the KMyMoney development team is about to start the release cycle for the first release of its personal finance manager application based on KF5/Qt5. Various reports show us that people are already using the master branch in their production environment, as several team members have also done for at least a few months.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • BuildStream 1.0.0 released

        It’s my pleasure to announce the first stable release of BuildStream.

      • GNOME’s BuildStream Reaches v1.0

        BuildStream is the developer-focused project for creating a flexible and extensible framework for modelling of build and continuous integration pipelines in YAML format. BuildStream itself is written in Python.

  • Distributions

    • The Top 10 Linux Desktop Distros of 2017

      It has been an engaging year for the Linux and open-source community. For example, Ubuntu ended Unity 8 development as well as their plans towards convergence and switched to using GNOME. Slack OS virtually rewrote its binaries to be Debian-based; Kali Linux became more popular, and Skype finally released a Linux version worth writing home about.

      With such an eventful 2017 for most Linux distributions, I imagine many of our (potential) readers are wondering which Linux distributions have been the hottest this year, and probably why.

    • 10 Best Lightweight Linux Distros For Old Computers | 2018 Edition

      Linux is known to serve the needs of everyone. If you’re having some old desktop or laptop, there are many lightweight Linux distros that you can install and enjoy a lag-free computing experience. From a variety of options, you can choose Puppy Linux, Lubuntu, or Linux Lite. You can also install Arch Linux or Debian and use a lightweight desktop environment.

      Some of you might be running insecure Windows XP on your old computers due to machine’s outdated hardware configuration. But, you don’t need to do that anymore. There are tons of Linux distributions that are specifically built to cater the needs of such laptops and desktops. Apart from being lightweight, these operating systems are fast and secure.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Worries as Amazon Targets Enterprise with New Linux Distro

        The launch of Amazon Linux 2 marks Amazon’s most concerted foray in to the enterprise yet, a move that is some suggest fear will see it compete against Red Hat.

      • Managing your hybrid cloud

        In their current form, these technologies are relatively new. They bring a lot of useful capabilities to IT operations. They also require management capabilities to evolve alongside. Hybrid cloud management needs functions like self-service access under policy-based control, metering and billing, intelligent workload placement, system image provisioning, capacity planning, governance, and lifecycle management—features that often go above and beyond what’s baked into the cloud infrastructure. At the same time, hybrid cloud management needs to fulfill its overarching goal of providing consistency across hybrid infrastructures.

      • Journey to OpenShift in a Multi-Cloud Environment, Part 3

        Our journey to OpenShift across multiple clouds has taken three parallel paths: Changing our culture, rethinking the application lifecycle, and evolving our infrastructure. This post, the last one in our 3-part series, describes how we’re working around the infrastructure differences of our various clouds.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Linode and Vultr no longer disables SELinux by default in Fedora Server 27

          The two virtual private server (VPS) hosting providers Linode and Vultr have been offering server instances of Fedora Server with Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) enforcement disabled by default. New instances deployed with Fedora Server 27 now enable SELinux in enforcing mode by default; aligning them to the upstream Fedora defaults.

          SELinux is a mandatory access control system managed by a set of security policies that the Kernel use to limit what processes and users can do on the system. One of Fedora’s differentiating features compared to other Linux distributions is its well-maintained and low-friction default SELinux policy set.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Accessing the Juju CLI from within the GUI

            In the Juju GUI 2.11.1 release, we are excited to bring a new feature we’ve been working on for a while now: the shell in the GUI.

            The GUI is a powerful tool, but at times the command-line is necessary. For instance, the ability to SSH into a unit helps for debugging processes or accessing data directly. Running debug-hooks is another: if a unit is stopped during one of its hooks and you need to see if you can get it up and running, sometimes debug-hooks is your best bet.

            However, not all developer situations have the CLI available. If you’re accessing your environment from Windows, getting to the tools you need from the CLI isn’t trivial.

            To address these cases, we’ve developed the jujushell functionality.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linspire rises from the dead (in name only)

              Linspire is a Linux distribution that’s designed to be easy for Windows users to learn. In fact, the original developers used to call the operating system Lindows, before changing the name.

            • Lindows rises from the grave! Freespire 3.0 and Linspire 7.0 Linux distros now available

              About 16 years ago, a for-pay Linux distribution caused quite a stir all because of its name — Lindows. Yes, someone actually thought kicking the billion dollar hornets nest that is Microsoft by playing off of the “Windows” name was a good idea. To be honest, from a marketing perspective, it was brilliant — it got tons of free press. Microsoft eventually killed the Lindows name by use of money and the legal system, however. Ultimately, the Linux distro was renamed “Linspire.” Comically, there was a Lindows Insiders program way before Windows Insiders!

              After losing the Lindows name, the operating system largely fell out of the spotlight, and its 15 minutes of fame ended. After all, without the gimmicky name, it was hard to compete with free Linux distros. Not to mention, Richard Stallman famously denounced the OS for its non-free ways. The company eventually created a free version of its OS called Freespire, but by 2008, both projects were shut down by its then-owner, Xandros. Today, however, a new Linspire owner emerges — PC/OpenSystems LLC. And yes, Lindows is rising from the grave — as Freespire 3.0 and Linspire 7.0!

            • Lindows Linux Distro Is Back From The Dead: Linspire 7.0 And Freespire 3.0 Released

              Do you remember the Lindows Linux distro, which aimed to make the process of using Linux and running Windows applications on Linux much easier? For those who need a refresher, Lindows based its Windows compatibility on Wine API. Then, it developed program named CNR to serve as a GUI-based means to download/install applications. Later, Microsoft sued Lindows, Inc. and the case was settled after the Lindows trademark was transferred to Microsoft, changing the name to Linspire.

            • Linux Mint 19 codenamed “Tara”

              GTK 3.22 is a major stable release for GTK3. From there on, the theming engine and the APIs are stable. This is a great milestone for GTK3. It also means Linux Mint 19.x (which will become our main development platform) will use the same version of GTK as LMDE 3, and distributions which use components we develop, such as Fedora, Arch..etc. This should ease development and increase the quality of these components outside of Linux Mint.

            • Linux Mint 19 “Tara” Slated for Release in May/June 2018, Based on Ubuntu 18.04
            • Linux Mint project sheds light on next big update

              With the recent release of Linux Mint 18.3, attention has now shifted to the Linux Mint 19.x series which will represent the biggest update the Linux distribution will have seen since 2016. The first of the four releases of the new series, simply known as Linux Mint 19, will be dubbed Tara and all subsequent releases of the series should also begin with the letter T with the second letter going further through the alphabet for each release, for example, the Linux Mint 18 releases were called Sarah, Serena, Sonya, and Sylvia.

            • Linux Mint 19 named ‘Tara’

              Unfortunately, 2017 was not the much-fabled year of the Linux desktop. Hell, that might not ever happen. With Windows 10 being such a disappointment for many, however, it is definitely a possibility. Maybe 2018 will be the year…

              One such desktop operating system that consistently delights users is Linux Mint. Today, we get some information about the upcoming version 19. The biggest news is that it will be called “Tara.” If you aren’t aware, the operating system is always named after a woman.

            • Linux Mint 19 Release Date & Features
            • Linux Mint Translation Guide

              The Linux Mint Translation Guide is ready.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 10 Open Source Technologies You’ll Need to Know in 2018

    All those contributions are leading to growth in open source in general. In its 2017 Octoverse report, GitHub, the largest online repository for open source projects, reported that it now has more than 24 million users and more than 25 million public repositories.

    Of course, some among those 25 million public repositories are more important than others. In several areas, open source projects have become the dominant technology, and IT professionals who want to keep their skills relevant need to at least be familiar with these projects.

    Here are ten open source projects that, in light of current trends, will likely be particularly important for IT pros to know in 2018.

  • How governments and citizens used open source to solve human problems in 2017

    Each year, when we look back at the top government articles on Opensource.com, we see interesting case studies of government technology policies or implementations. Our most popular stories from 2017 aren’t about adopting open source to solve technology problems. Instead, they demonstrate how governments and citizens are coming together through open source to solve human problems.

  • Flashrom 1.0 Officially Released For Programming BIOS/EFI/ROM Flash Chips

    The Flashrom utility that’s associated with the Coreboot project for reading/writing/erasing/verifying flash chips commonly for motherboard BIOS/UEFI/firmware chips has reached its long-awaited v1.0 milestone.

  • Want to understand DevOps? Look to open source’s history

    Shortly after Richard Stallman launched the GNU project in 1984, which marked the start of the free software movement, he wrote a manifesto explaining the project’s goals.

    Stallman stated repeatedly that he intended to create “free” software, but did not define what “free” meant. It was easy for readers to assume Stallman was referring simply to price, rather than control over source code, but that is what actually mattered to him. This uncertainty engendered a lasting ambiguity that endures to the present, when some uninformed computer users continue to assume that “open source” simply refers to software that costs no money.

  • Open-source software improves snow research

    All over the world, snow researchers and snow scientists dig holes in the snow. They look at the snow crystals, feel for strong and weak layers, and take measurements in order to predict and better understand avalanches. But snow science recently took an about-face, thanks to the open-source software known as SnowPilot.

    Doug Chabot of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center launched the SnowPilot Project during the winter of 2003-2004 after software developer Mark Kahrl wrote the program, hoping to find a way for researchers to collaborate and share their data on snow.

    “Avalanche forecasters and snow researchers all over the world, they record snow pit data,” Chabot said. “We all dig holes in the snow and say what we see using a common language.”

    But what Chabot realized in the early 2000s was that a large portion of snow data was being put away in desk drawers, never to be used. So he asked the question, what if we create a platform where researchers can enter their data into a worldwide database? And what if that database is accessible to everyone?

  • 5 ways open source can strengthen your job search

    Perhaps the clearest way working on open source projects can assist in your job search is by giving you project experience. If you are a student, you may not have many concrete projects to showcase on your resume. If you are working, perhaps you can’t discuss your current projects due to privacy limitations, or maybe you’re not working on tasks that interest you. Either way, scouting out appealing open source projects that allow you to showcase your skills may help in your job search. These projects are great eye-catchers on resumes and can be perfect discussion topics in interviews.

    In addition, many open source projects are kept in public repositories, such as GitHub, so accessing the source code is easy for anyone who wants to become involved. Also, it makes your publicly accessible code contributions easy for recruiters and other individuals at potential employers to find. The fact that these projects are open allows you to demonstrate your skills in a more concrete manner than simply discussing them in an interview.

  • GIS Company Mapzen to Shut Down, but Users Can Still Grab the Open-Source Code and Data

    Mapzen, a mapping platform company lauded among developers and civic hackers for its open-source approach, is shutting down.

    For fans of the company, there’s a bright spot: because its data and code is open and users will still be able to run the projects they built using Mapzen tools, as well as some of the company’s tools, on their own. They have until Feb. 1 — the day the company will shut down its APIs, services and support — to grab what they need.

  • GIS company Mapzen to shut down but users can still avail open-source data

    But for the admirers of the company, there is still a silver lining: as the data and code is available in open source and users will still be able to run the projects they built using Mapzen tools, as well as some of the company’s tools. Until February 1, when the company will shut down its APIs and support, users are free to grab all that they require.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Will Delete Firefox Crash Reports Collected by Accident

        Mozilla said last week it would delete all telemetry data collected because of a bug in the Firefox crash reporter.

        According to Mozilla engineers, Firefox has been collecting information on crashed background tabs from users’ browsers since Firefox 52, released in March 2017.

        Firefox versions released in that time span did not respect user-set privacy settings and automatically auto-submitted crash reports to Mozilla servers. The browser maker fixed the issue with the release of Firefox 57.0.3.

      • Mozilla GFX: WebRender newsletter #11

        Newsletter #11 is finally here, even later than usual due to an intense week in Austin where all of Mozilla’s staff and a few independent contributors gathered, followed by yours truly taking two weeks off.

  • BSD

    • Intel Coffee Lake Graphics Support Added To DragonFlyBSD

      DragonFlyBSD should now have initial support for Intel’s latest-generation “Coffee Lake” graphics.

      With these recent Intel CPUs having effectively the same graphics hardware as Kabylake but just renaming the “HD Graphics” to “UHD Graphics”, the DragonFlyBSD support addition mainly comes down to adding in the new PCI IDs, similar to some of the other open-source Intel graphics driver patches elsewhere.

    • LLVM 7.0 / Clang 7.0 Is Now Under Development

      LLVM/Clang 6.0 has been branched, thus making LLVM/Clang 7.0 open for development on master.

      The LLVM 6.0 branching has taken place a few weeks earlier than is traditionally done to satisfy an unnamed, large user of LLVM to jive with that company’s internal testing processes. The branching / feature development is now over but the release candidates will not begin until mid-January.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Open-source civil war: Olive branch offered in trademark spat… with live grenade attached

      A few days before the Christmas holiday, the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) made a peace offering of sorts in an ostensible effort to resolve its trademark dispute with the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC).

      In September last year, SFLC sued the SFC claiming that the SFC trademark “Software Freedom Conservancy” is confusingly similar to the SFLC’s “Software Freedom Law Center” trademark.

      The SFLC was formed in 2005 to provide legal services for open-source projects. And in 2006, it helped set up the SFC, so it could provide infrastructure support – including legal services – for open-source developers.

      That shared history and similarity of purpose has made the intellectual property dispute between two organizations rather confusing to folks in the open source community.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Jimmy Song Uses Andreas Antonopoulos Model, Open Sources Forthcoming Book

      Bitcoin core developer Jimmy Song will open source write his book, Programming Bitcoin, to be published by O’Reilly in the Fall of 2018. Mr. Song acknowledges and tells of his discussion with noted bitcoin evangelist Andreas Antonopoulos about the best way to put together a book of this kind. Mr. Antonopoulos’ Mastering Bitcoin was also put out in open source as it was being written, allowing for comments, corrections, additions by the ecosystem. It too was eventually published by O’Reilly. In fact, Mr. Antonopoulos wrote the publisher, explaining why Mr. Song was the appropriate choice for the project.

    • FarmBot Wants to Cultivate an Open-Source Future for Remote Farming

      “Farm from anywhere” is a phrase we’re likely to hear more and more of as technology enables easier access to fresh, locally grown food. We just wrote about Babylon Micro-Farms, a remote, hydroponic farm you can keep inside your living room. There’s also a healthy urban farming market: thanks to companies like Farmshelf and Smallhold, restaurants, schools, and the average consumer get better access to fresh food and more involved in the food production itself.

    • Open Access/Content

      • To combat soaring textbook costs, look to an open-source approach

        For university and college faculty, the start of a new year means it is once again time for our inboxes to be flooded with e-mails from students asking “Do I really need the textbook?” or “May I use an older edition?” And for good reason. The cost of textbooks has risen by 1,041 per cent since 1977, more than triple the rate of inflation. Textbooks can cost anywhere between $50 and $450 for a single course, accounting for up to 40 per cent of a postsecondary student’s educational costs.

        As a faculty member, I have witnessed firsthand the impact of exorbitant textbook costs on my students’ educational outcomes (for a glimpse, follow the hashtag #textbookbrokeBC). According to my latest research, published in the International Review of Research on Open and Distributed Learning, 54 per cent of B.C. students do without at least one of their required textbooks, while 27 per cent take fewer courses and 17 per cent drop courses, all because of high textbook costs. What is more, these students are more likely to hold a student loan, be working more hours a week and self-identify as a visible minority.

      • Pre-print Open Access Site arXiv Surpasses Billion Download Mark

        The pre-print database for scientists to test the peer review waters was set up in 1991 as a relatively simple electronic bulletin board on a single computer.

        Twenty-six years later, the site arXiv.org has surpassed a full billion downloads of papers – and receives more than 10 million submissions each month, they said. Scientific giants like Stephen Hawking and the physicists of the LIGO facility at Caltech have even debuted some of their latest publications on the site.

        The organizers of the database, which is housed at the Cornell University Library, said that the pre-print method is helping to push discovery and intellectual cooperation.

  • Programming/Development

    • The Rust Programming Language Blog: New Year’s Rust: A Call for Community Blogposts

      ‘Tis the season for people and communities to reflect and set goals- and the Rust team is no different. Last month, we published a blogpost about our accomplishments in 2017, and the teams have already begun brainstorming goals for next year.

      Last year, the Rust team started a new tradition: defining a roadmap of goals for the upcoming year. We leveraged our RFC process to solicit community feedback. While we got a lot of awesome feedback on that RFC, we’d like to try something new in addition to the RFC process: a call for community blog posts for ideas of what the goals should be.

      As open source software becomes more and more ubiquitous and popular, the Rust team is interested in exploring new and innovative ways to solicit community feedback and participation. We’re commited to extending and improving our community organization and outreach- and this effort is just the first of what we hope to be many iterations of new kinds of community feedback mechanisms.

    • This Week in Rust 215

      Hello and welcome to another issue of This Week in Rust! Rust is a systems language pursuing the trifecta: safety, concurrency, and speed. This is a weekly summary of its progress and community. Want something mentioned? Tweet us at @ThisWeekInRust or send us a pull request. Want to get involved? We love contributions.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Driving Open Standards in a Fragmented Networking Landscape

      Once upon a time, standards were our friends. They provided industry-accepted blueprints for building homogeneous infrastructures that were reliably interoperable. Company A could confidently build an application and — because of standards — know that it would perform as expected on infrastructure run by Company B.

      Standards have somewhat fallen out of favor as the speed of digital innovation has increased. Today innumerable software applications are created by innumerable developers at an accelerating pace. Standards — once critical for achieving interoperability — have failed to adapt in this brave new world.

      [...]

      The bottom line is that we need to accept that “the only constant is change.” Innovation in software can bring many good things, but we need to learn how we can eliminate the silos, guard against new ones forming, create better interoperability, and simplify operational complexity. The examples above show that by taking a programmatic approach to standards, this degree of interoperability can be achieved even today.

Leftovers

  • Removing Disqus

    Disqus started showing a red notification symbol at the bottom of every post. The notification is just a distraction aimed at increasing engagement with the comments. It’s ugly and I don’t like the distraction is introduces to my posts. This is my primary complaint.

    Beyond that, there are just small annoyances. E.g. I don’t need another inbox to maintain and I think the UI is a little ugly.

  • Science

    • Physicists take first step toward cell-sized robots

      An electricity-conducting, environment-sensing, shape-changing machine the size of a human cell? Is that even possible?

      Cornell physicists Paul McEuen and Itai Cohen not only say yes, but they’ve actually built the “muscle” for one.

      With postdoctoral researcher Marc Miskin at the helm, the team has made a robot exoskeleton that can rapidly change its shape upon sensing chemical or thermal changes in its environment. And, they claim, these microscale machines – equipped with electronic, photonic and chemical payloads – could become a powerful platform for robotics at the size scale of biological microorganisms.

    • The End of Night: Global Illumination Has Increased Worldwide

      Artificial light is often seen as a sign of progress: the march of civilization shines a light in the dark; it takes back the night; it illuminates. But a chorus of scientists and advocates argues that unnaturally bright nights are bad not just for astronomers but also for nocturnal animals and even for human health.

    • Tweaking quantum dots powers-up double-pane solar windows

      Using two types of “designer” quantum dots, researchers are creating double-pane solar windows that generate electricity with greater efficiency and create shading and insulation for good measure. It’s all made possible by a new window architecture which utilizes two different layers of low-cost quantum dots tuned to absorb different parts of the solar spectrum.

      “Because of the the strong performance we can achieve with low-cost, solution-processable materials, these quantum-dot-based double-pane windows and even more complex luminescent solar concentrators offer a new way to bring down the cost of solar electricity,” said lead researcher Victor Klimov. “The approach complements existing photovoltaic technology by adding high-efficiency sunlight collectors to existing solar panels or integrating them as semitransparent windows into a building’s architecture.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Taking Care to Get a Mississippi Scandal Right

      I was a visitor to his rural Mississippi county; worse, I was a reporter from New York City.

      He summed up his skepticism this way: Every time Mississippi made national news, it seemed like the reporters managed to find the one toothless person in the vicinity and shove him or her in front of the camera.

      The sheriff had a point. And I had a challenge to conquer. The story I was onto was not going to flatter Mississippi. But I did promise him I would not go searching for the toothless.

    • Want to Lower Health Care Costs? Stop Wasting Our Money.

      In Maine, there’s a warehouse the size of a middle school gymnasium, stuffed with brand-new medical supplies and gently used medical equipment. Several pallets are piled with boxes of surgical sutures, still in their shrink wrap, each box worth hundreds of dollars. Tubs overflow with diabetes supplies and surgical instruments that may run hundreds of dollars apiece. There are bins of bandages and gauze and saline and ostomy bags and every other medical supply you can imagine. These materials, unexpired, could easily stock any hospital or clinic. But each item has actually been thrown away by a local medical facility.

      The cost of health care has been rising for decades, and Americans are paying the price. In a recent Gallup poll, people cited the high cost of care as their No. 1 financial concern. It’s an enormous problem, and trying to solve it all at once brings on panic and paralysis. But after reporting for a year on the ways the medical industry blows through our money, I have one idea: Let’s end the egregious waste that’s draining our health care system.

      The National Academy of Medicine has estimated the health care system wastes around $765 billion a year — about a quarter of what we spend. Eliminating all the waste could allow us to insure 150 million Americans, the Academy of Medicine said, and saving half of it could provide groceries for every household in the country for a year. Eliminating the waste would also stop our rising health care costs from eating up our wage increases. My premiums go up 9 percent next year. Same thing happened last year. Odds are your costs are rising, too.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Are the Wars in Syria and Iraq Finally Coming to an End?

      I spent most of the last year reporting two sieges, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, which finally ended with the decisive defeat of Isis. This was the most important event in the Middle East in 2017, though people are already beginning to forget how dangerous the Isis caliphate was at the height of its power and even in its decline. Not so long ago, its “emirs” ruled an area in western Iraq and eastern Syria which was the size of Great Britain and Isis-inspired or organised terrorists dominated the news every few months by carrying out atrocities from Manchester to Kabul and Berlin to the Sahara. Isis retains the capacity to slaughter civilians – witness events in Sinai and Afghanistan in the last few weeks – but no longer has its own powerful centrally organised state which was what made it such a threat.

    • Trump Tweets His ‘Nuclear Button’ Is ‘Much Bigger’ Than Kim Jong-un’s
    • Trump’s Vow to Support Iran Opposition Carries “No Credibility” as Demonstrations Enter Sixth Day

      As anti-government demonstrations enter their second week in Iran and spread to several key cities, President Donald Trump tweeted it’s ”TIME FOR CHANGE!” and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley called for an emergency meeting to discuss the developments. “Despite the attention that these anti-government protesters have gotten over the past week, there was no indication … that this was a repeat of 2009. … This was not a mass uprising,” says Tehran-based reporter Reza Sayah. We also speak with Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council, who notes a new budget deal in Iran’s parliament that would cut government payments to the poor and raise fuel prices 50 percent was “the straw that broke the camel’s back” prior to the protests.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • U.S. court ruling complicates Trump’s elephant and lion policy

      On December 22, a federal appeals court ruled that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) did not properly follow procedures when it banned importing elephant “trophies” – including heads, tusks, or other parts – from Zimbabwe in 2014. While the ruling was aimed at an Obama Administration policy, its impact will likely influence how the Trump administration treats trophy hunting across Africa.

      Trump’s USFWS made waves in November when it announced that it was overturning the Obama-era ban, and would allow imports of elephant trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe, the latter which was undergoing a coup at the time.

  • Finance

    • Donald Trump’s new tax cut may ‘help’ Apple buy Netflix: Analysts
    • Was Your Smartphone Built in a Sweatshop?

      An in-depth investigation of Vietnamese Samsung production facilities peels back the shrink-wrap of Big Tech to reveal an extremely vulnerable, mostly female workforce that may be sacrificing its neurologic and reproductive health in digitized Dickensian workshops to make cutting-edge smartphones.

    • Is the U.S. at peak of industrial production?

      Back in 2012, I read an article in the New York Times that stopped me in my tracks. We were still in the midst of the jobless recovery, yet, the Times noted that “…the economy now produces as many goods and services – more, in fact – than it did before the downturn officially began in December 2007. But it does so with almost five million fewer jobs.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Voter purges: U.S. Supreme Court to decide if Ohio illegally purged voters
    • NYT’s ‘Trump Effect’ Mainly the Effect of Higher Oil Prices

      The New York Times (“The Trump Effect: Business, Anticipating Less Regulation, Loosens Purse Strings,” 1/1/18) had an article touting the fact that businesses are investing more under Donald Trump than before he was elected. It notes that non-residential investment has risen at an annual rate of 6.2 percent in the first three quarters of 2017. Reporters Binyamin Appelbaum and Jim Tankersley attribute this increase to a removal of regulations, leading to a newfound sense of confidence among investors.

      There are two important points worth noting about this increase in investment. First, it is not an especially rapid rate of growth. There have been many periods in both the recent and more distant past when it grew at a more rapid pace.

    • Trump’s Seven Forbidden Words

      There is a scene in George Orwell’s famous dystopian novel 1984, where the protagonist, Winston Smith, is having a conversation with a philologist by the name of Syme. Syme is involved in a government effort to restructure the language spoken by the novel’s upper classes, those who have power or work for the ruling party. The language is called “Newspeak.” Syme’s job is to get rid of dangerous words. Here is how he describes his task: “We’re destroying words – scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. … The whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought. In the end we shall make thoughtcrime [having unorthodox thoughts] literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”

    • Could GCHQ influence Iran protests? They’ve done it before, claims researcher

      The UK government uses fake content & sockpuppet accounts on social media to infiltrate activist groups & “destroy” enemies, former hacktivist Mustafa Al-Bassam claims. A shadowy unit is known to target the Middle East, he says.

      Al-Bassam, who uses the alias TFlow, was a black hat hacker and one of the six core members of hacktivist group LulzSec. He is now a researcher and Computer Science PhD student at University College London, and says social media sites such as Twitter, BlogSpot and YouTube are being used by British intelligence agencies to pursue geopolitical goals.

    • Labour demands Theresa May reverse Toby Young appointment due to his ‘misogyny and homophobia’

      Labour has demanded Theresa May reverse the appointment of Toby Young to the board of the new universities regulator because of what it said was a history of “homophobia and misogyny”.

      It was announced last weekend that Mr Young, a right-wing journalist who has helped establish a number of free schools, is to join the board of the newly-created Office for Students.

      The move sparked an angry backlash after it emerged Mr Young had previously criticised wheelchair ramps in schools as a sign of “ghastly inclusivity” and claimed working-class students at Oxford University were “universally unattractive” and “small, vaguely deformed undergraduates”.

    • Toby Young – Unfit For Public Office

      The resistance among many – and not just those on the left – to the idea of gifting the loathsome Toby Young the taxpayer-funded sinecure of a seat on the board of the new Office for Students has now reached critical mass, so much so that the Guardian has picked up on some of the deficiencies in his candidature highlighted here on Zelo Street. Tobes has sounded appropriately regretful. But he’s not out of the woods yet.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Gawker superfans elevating cash to purchase web site out of chapter

      [They] have started a crowdsourcing campaign to raise $500,000 to try to buy Gawker out of bankruptcy.

    • Ousted Educator Tries To Talk Appeals Court Into Letting Him Sue Someone For Things Someone Else Said

      Because prudence is always in short supply but stupid is the world’s foremost renewable resource, an ousted director of a Tennessee culinary school is appealing the dismissal of a defamation suit he brought against his replacement for things a journalist said.

      The original lawsuit didn’t live long, fortunately. Heavily quoting a Tennessean article by journalist Jim Myers, Tom Loftis — the former head of the culinary school at the Nashville university — sued Randy Rayburn (Loftis’ replacement) over things Myers said.

      Loftis apparently expected his status as a private person (given more reputational protection by courts than public figures) to overcome the deficiencies of his lawsuit. But the deficiencies won and Loftis lost, having failed to show how words written by Jim Myers were somehow libelous statements issued directly by Randy Rayburn.

    • Chinese Billionaire Got A US Court To Issue An Unconstitutional Gag Order On A Critic

      Eugene Volokh has an incredible — and incredibly disturbing — story about how Jia Yueting, a Chinese billionaire, appears to have convinced a Washington state court to issue an unconstitutional gag order against a critic who lives in Washington state. Jia is famous for his company LeEco in China, as well as his attempt to create an electric car giant competitor to Tesla in the US called Faraday Future. Almost exactly a year ago, we wrote about how Faraday Future was flailing with a series of incredible stories leaking out of the company. A large number of top execs were fleeing the company and there were reports of questionable activities, including Jia demanding that Faraday Future employees design a car for LeEco, without payment or credit. In the past year, it does not appear that things have gotten much better for Jia, and he was just ordered to return to China to deal with debts that appear to be piling up.

    • Indonesia introduces new Internet censorship system

      Indonesia’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Ministry is set to implement a new $14 million Internet censorship system from Wednesday. The new system will automatically block pornography and other content deemed to be unsuitable by the government, following years of manual monitoring which has failed to adequately police the abundance of illicit online content.

      The ministry’s Information Applications Director General Semuel Pangerapan said the machine is equipped with artificial intelligence that will crawl websites and use keywords to detect inappropriate content.

    • A Saucy App Knows China’s Taste in News. The Censors Are Worried.

      One of the world’s most valuable start-ups got that way by using artificial intelligence to satisfy Chinese internet users’ voracious appetite for news and entertainment. Every day, its smartphone app feeds 120 million people personalized streams of buzzy news stories, videos of dogs frolicking in snow, GIFs of traffic mishaps and listicles such as “The World’s Ugliest Celebrities.”

      Now the company is discovering the risks involved, under China’s censorship regime, in giving the people exactly what they want.

      The makers of the popular news app Jinri Toutiao unveiled moves this week to allay rising concerns from the authorities. Last week, the Beijing bureau of China’s top internet regulator accused Toutiao of “spreading pornographic and vulgar information” and “causing a negative impact on public opinion online,” and it ordered that updates to several popular sections of the app be halted for 24 hours.

      In response, the app’s parent company, Beijing Bytedance Technology, took down or temporarily suspended the accounts of more than 1,100 bloggers that it said had been publishing “low-quality content” on the app. It also replaced Toutiao’s “Society” section with a new section called “New Era,” which is heavy on state media coverage of government decisions.

    • A campus radio station sweats under the shadow of political censorship

      The College Fix continues to report on the frustrating case of “Deplorable Radio,” a radio program broadcast until recently from Swarthmore College’s KUMM station. The conservative radio show was yanked from the airwaves almost immediately after one of the hosts used the word “tranny” live on-air. The station manager initially claimed that the usage of that word, which is a reputedly offensive term for transgender individuals, violated federal law; station officials later walked back this claim yet listed several other administrative reasons that the show was pulled from the airwaves, such as having an unapproved guest on the show and failing to log telemetry data per the station’s guidelines.

    • Newsweek Compares Trump Blocking People on Twitter to Iran’s Internet Censorship

      Newsweek ran a story Tuesday suggesting that President Donald Trump’s habit of blocking people on Twitter was comparable to the blackout of entire sites instituted by Iran earlier this week.

      The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the Trump administration has upped diplomatic pressure on Iran, demanding the regime stop blocking access to social media sites like Twitter and Instagram that were being used by protesters to organize demonstrations.

    • Iranians resist internet censorship amid deadly street protests

      Iranian authorities have blocked Instagram and other social media platforms in response to a wave of street protests across the country this week.

      The clampdown has resulted in Tor users climbing from around 6k at the beginning of December to over 10,000 at the last count as citizens seek to circumvent the controls, according to official stats.

      The Islamic Republic’s government has blocked Telegram and Instagram amid demonstrations, initially about economic conditions, in which at least 22 people have lost their lives.

    • Iran Is Blocking the Internet to Shut Down Protests

      As protests over economic instability and government censorship persist in Iran, the Hassan Rouhani government has reportedly wielded its favorite suppression tactic: blocking the internet.

      Multiple reports say the government was blocking internet on mobile networks starting on Dec. 30, including social media services like Instagram and messaging services like Telegram, to try and stop the protesters from organizing and amplifying their message. This is the biggest anti-government public demonstration since 2009.

    • US demands Iran end social media blocks

      The United States on Tuesday urged Iran to stop blocking online social media and advised its citizens to set up virtual private networks, or VPNs, to circumvent censorship.

      Steve Goldstein, the State Department’s under-secretary for public diplomacy, denounced Iran’s attempts to restrict net access and urged Iranians to find a way to log in.

      “People in Iran should be able to access these sites through VPN,” he said, adding that the State Department’s own Farsi language Facebook page has around 700,000 subscribers.

    • Iran Moves To Block Social Media Apps, Mobile Networks As Protests Spread

      The government of Iran has shut down mobile internet access and blocked apps including Telegram and Instagram after days of protests that exploded into widespread civil unrest. According to the Washington Post, at least two people are reported dead during the demonstrations, “the largest in Iran since an uprising over disputed election results shook the country eight years ago.”

      The protests began as demonstrations against Iran’s precarious economic situation – a weak oil market has undermined growth and promises of reform by President Hassan Rouhani – but quickly became focused on the theocratic government. Activists in the streets demanded Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei step down, while some even demanded the return of Iran’s pre-1979 monarchy.

    • NSA leaker Edward Snowden speaks out as Iran silences dissent on the internet

      Snowden said that state surveillance is “never about privacy. It’s about power.”

    • Moralist Upsurge in Brazil Revives Censorship of the Arts

      It is not yet an official policy because censorship is not openly accepted by the current authorities, but de facto vetoes on artistic expressions are increasing due to moralistic pressures in Brazil.

      The offensive affects the artistic world in general, not just the shows or exhibitions that have been directly canceled in recent months.

      “This affects all our work, because it dissuades us from fear of reactions and the sponsors will now think ten thousand times before supporting a work of art,” said Nadia Bambirra, an actress, theater director and acting coach.

    • Facebook facing criticism from fans of photographer Monet Nicole Moutrie’s for removing her ‘Birth Becomes Her’ video
    • Facebook slammed for censoring viral ‘Birth Becomes Her’ video designed to inspire expectant mums
    • Woman Complains Facebook Banned Her Viral Video Of Mothers Giving Birth
    • Birth photographer banned by Facebook: “Life is not against community standards”
    • Facebook Removes Viral ‘Birth Becomes Her’ Video for Some Pretty Ridiculous Reasons
    • German police accuse AfD lawmaker of incitement over anti-Muslim tweet
    • German MP’s anti-Muslim tweets spark account suspension, outcry
    • Germany’s populist AfD seeks to turn online ‘censorship’ to its advantage

      With the New Year came a new law on online hate speech in Germany, forcing Twitter and Facebook to remove content more quickly in some cases. The AfD party, no stranger to stirring the online pot, is crying “censorship.”

    • Conservative Video Producer Suing Google Over “Censorship” Pushes for Injunction

      These are just some of videos put on restricted status by YouTube. All come from Prager University, run by radio-talk-show host Dennis Prager, who in October filed a lawsuit against Google alleging censorship of conservatives. Now upping the ante, Prager demands a preliminary injunction that would prohibit YouTube from restricting viewer access to its videos absent evidence of graphic nudity, violence, profanity, obscene material, hate speech, or anything that would be considered “objectively” offensive.

      Presenting U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh with a free speech issue of “profound importance,” Prager on Friday even nodded in court to the thoughts of net neutrality supporters.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Using Haven app to secure your belongings

      No, but it will record whatever it sees or hears. There are ways to block radio signals (to make sure that Haven can not send out any notification), but that is an expensive step for an attacker to make. You can keep the phone inside of your hotel locker to record if anyone opens up the locker or make it watch your hallway at the house. Government agencies love to see what is inside of our computers/house(s), but they don’t like get recorded while doing so.

    • NSA losing top talent: report

      The NSA said its attrition rate among those specializing in science, technology and math is 5.6 percent, but, according to the newspaper, the agency’s attrition rate for hackers and those working in the watch center is about 8 or 9 percent.

    • NSA’s top talent is leaving because of low pay, slumping morale and unpopular reorganization

      The National Security Agency is losing its top talent at a worrisome rate as highly skilled personnel, some disillusioned with the spy service’s leadership and an unpopular reorganization, take higher-paying, more flexible jobs in the private sector.

    • NSA FACES BRAIN DRAIN AMID PLUNGING MORALE, PLACING NATIONAL SECURITY AT RISK: REPORT

      The National Security Agency is facing an exodus of talent to more lucrative and flexible jobs in the private sector, The Washington Post reports.

      Current and former U.S. officials cited in the report said that hundreds of hackers, engineers and data scientists have left the spy agency since 2015, with low morale among the factors blamed for the loss of expertise.

    • Report: NSA Facing Exodus of Top Talent Amid Low Morale
    • The NSA is losing some of its best people to the private sector
    • NSA is losing talent over low pay, flagging morale and reorganization
    • DHS Documents Show Harassment And Intrusive Device Searches Are A Common Occurrence At US Borders

      There are nearly 100 pages of long, detailed complaints in the document [PDF] turned over by the DHS in response to the Knight Institute’s’ FOIA request. The incidents detailed are troubling, seemingly going beyond what’s needed to actually secure the nation’s borders. Multiple complaints show intrusive searches and questioning are routine, even if the destinations traveled to are equally routine.

    • Google eclipses Fb as the highest supply of site visitors for on-line publishers

      It‘s basically a flip from the beginning of the year: In January, Facebook provided nearly 40 percent of publishers‘ external traffic; now that‘s down to 26 percent. And Google, which started the year at 34 percent, now generates 44 percent of traffic. Parse.ly‘s data comes from some 2,500 publishers that use its analytics service, including the Wall Street Journal, Time Inc., Mashable and Huffington Post.

    • Wiretap Orders That Defy Geographical Limitations Mandated by Congress Must Not Be Tolerated

      The Supreme Court should recognize and give teeth to the critical, privacy-protecting limitations Congress placed on wiretaps, EFF told the court in an amicus brief we filed with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

      When law enforcement officials wiretap someone’s cell phone, the law doesn’t allow them to tap any phone they want anywhere in the country. The Wiretap Act (also known as “Title III” because it comes from Title III of the 1968 Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Street Act) permits wiretapping, but only under the narrowest of circumstances and subject to restrictive requirements carefully drawn to protect extremely sensitive privacy interests.

    • No, Microsoft isn’t demanding your phone number to run Windows

      The latest build numbered 17063 appears to omit the “skip” button on the screen where you are asked to enter a phone number to link your account. It’s a feature that is handy for some of Windows’ cross-device services such as Cortana, but should, theoretically be optional.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Hollywood Women Declare “Time’s Up” for Sexual Abusers

      In Hollywood, more than 1,000 prominent actresses, writers and directors have launched a project aimed at combating sexual abuse and harassment in the film industry. The “Time’s Up” campaign follows on the heels of a torrent of allegations of rape, sexual assault and harassment against powerful men that began with reports into sexual abuse by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. The initiative seeks to raise $13 million for a legal defense fund to help working-class women bring sexual abuse charges. It also seeks to bring gender parity to Hollywood studios and talent agencies, while penalizing companies that tolerate persistent harassment. The campaign also seeks to end the use of nondisclosure agreements that silence victims. Among those participating are director Ava DuVernay, producer Kathleen Kennedy, and actors Natalie Portman, Reese Witherspoon, Cate Blanchett, Eva Longoria and America Ferrera.

    • Appeals Court Dismisses Gang Designation Lawsuit Against The FBI Brought By Insane Clown Posse Fans

      The Sixth Circuit Appeals Court has now had the dubious privilege of hosting a legal challenge by Juggalos (as fans of the Insane Clown Posse are known). The case traces back to 2014, following the FBI’s 2011 designation of Juggalos as a gang in its National Gang Threat Assessment report.

    • Legal Footnote: You Have to Look Hard to See the Supreme Court Correct Its Mistakes

      Rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court often come with great anticipation and attention, even true drama. Anxious crowds gather outside the court at dawn. Opinions first go out on paper to the waiting hands of television news interns, who sprint the documents to correspondents to be immediately deciphered on the air. Justices later announce their decisions in open court, and occasionally read aloud the opinions.

      But when the court fixes mistakes in its opinions, it does so very quietly. No press releases. No public reading of corrections. For most of the court’s history, the justices have only signaled their fixes and edits by adding the word “modified” in small type to newly issued print and digital versions of the opinions.

      The changes thus have proved hard to find — not just for the general public, but for lawyers and judges and scholars of the law.

      Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix the Court, an advocacy group pushing for judicial transparency, thinks that’s a problem.

    • Texas Cops Arrest Journalist For Publishing Confidential Info Given To Her By A Police Officer

      Something with a hint of retaliatory ugliness has reared its head in Laredo, Texas. Citizen journalist Priscilla Villarreal has been arrested for releasing information Texas law enforcement meant to keep secret. Villarreal — a.k.a. Lagordiloca — has been an unofficial fixture of Laredo nightlife for a few years now, cruising the town after dark to livestream footage of newsworthy events. She’s well-known to local law enforcement, though not exactly well-liked, which may have something to do with her recent legal troubles.

    • Police Training Firm Dumps Interrogation Technique Linked To Multiple False Confessions

      There may be a significant shift in police interrogation methods over the next several years. The Marshall Project reports one of the nation’s largest police consulting firms is abandoning a technique that has been used by a majority of law enforcement agencies over the last six decades. It’s called the Reid Technique, and it’s been linked to a large number of false confessions. But after fifty-plus years of religious reliance on the technique, the consulting firm says it’s no longer going to be training officers to deploy it.

    • Reporting Recipe: Investigating Your Police Department’s Handling of Hate Crime Reports

      As part of our Documenting Hate project, we posted a story detailing how and why law enforcement agencies mishandle hate crime data, which they’re asked to report annually to the Federal Bureau of Investigations. We’re opening up the records we collected for that story so journalists can assess how their local law enforcement agencies they cover measure up.

      In the course of our reporting, several large police departments told us that their lack of records on hate crimes reflected the fact that their citizens weren’t often the victims of such crimes. But our reporting found evidence of spotty record keeping across the country, in departments large and small. Some agencies, like Miami-Dade’s county police, told ProPublica that they had failed to fill out forms that would identify crimes as having a bias motivation, even when the evidence supported such a classification. Other agencies sent us records of crimes they marked as bias-motivated but were omitted from their reports to the FBI.

    • How a Local Bureaucrat Made Millions Amid the Rush to Build a Border Fence

      A decade ago, Congress gave officials at the Department of Homeland Security a year to build 60 miles of fence in the Rio Grande Valley to protect the Texas-Mexico border.

      They faced determined resistance. Political leaders denounced the border fence as wasteful and ineffective. Landowners refused to sell their property for its construction. Environmentalists argued it would slice up habitat for endangered species in one of the most biodiverse regions in the country.

      The officials found a savior in a politically savvy bureaucrat named Godfrey Garza Jr.

      A shrewd county insider, Garza ran an obscure agency that had plans to repair 22 miles of crumbling dirt levees running along the Rio Grande, the riverine border between Texas and Mexico. Garza helped negotiate a deal: If Homeland Security would pay to fix the levees, the feds could build their fence on top of them.

    • Neo-Nazi Who Calls for ‘Slaughter’ of Jewish Children Is of Jewish Descent, His Mom Says

      A reclusive neo-Nazi who co-runs the white supremacist Daily Stormer website, and recently said Jewish children “deserve to die,” has Jewish relatives on “both sides of his family,” his mother told Newsweek.

      Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer, who handles the technical side of Stormer alongside editor Andrew Anglin, said on a podcast last month that Jews were to blame for the website’s loss of its dot com address after a white man allegedly killed peaceful protester Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August. Subsequently, the site has been forced to jump around the internet.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Comcast & The Cable Industry Greets The New Year With A Flurry Of Price Increases

      What do you do when you’re faced by an existential, evolutionary shift that threatens your entire, overly-comfortable industry? Why you raise rates, of course! Comcast is one of six cable providers who have informed customers that they’ve raised the rates for the new year, despite the record-setting shift toward cord cutting during 2017. Everything Comcast offers is seeing price hikes of some kind, ranging from increases in the company’s traditional channel bundles, a price increase for Comcast’s standalone streaming platform, and even the fee charged for renting a modem (which is now $11 per month).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Regeneron v. Merus: Sui Generis or a Regener-ating Fact Pattern?

      Although the District Court and Federal Circuit decisions reasonably cause concern among many patent prosecutors that the actions of a later attorney enforcing a patent during litigation could be used to establish an inequitable conduct ruling impugning the prosecuting attorney, we respectfully argue that Regeneron presents a rather nuanced fact pattern that should not be broadly applied—especially when the prosecuting counsel does not direct litigation strategy and tactics.

    • AgJunction Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Raven Industries

      AgJunction Inc. (TSX: AJX) (“AgJunction” or the “Company”), through its wholly-owned subsidiary Novariant, Inc., a leader in automated steering and machine control technology for precision agriculture, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit in the Western District of Texas against Raven Industries, Inc. (“Raven”). The lawsuit alleges that Raven products violate three AgJunction patents related to automated mechanical steering, implement steering and system calibration technologies.

      “AgJunction has one of the most comprehensive steering and machine control IP portfolios in the industry,” said Bob Barjesteh, vice president of intellectual property and general counsel for AgJunction. “These assets are critical components of our corporate strategy and integral to the success of our business and that of our partners. After several attempts to negotiate with Raven, we are left with no choice but to assert three of our patents, which are vital to hands-free steering and machine control functions.”

    • Using Patent Data For Drug Development [Ed: As if the only source of information out there is patents...]

      It is a well-known fact that developing new drugs is a financially risky endeavor. The average cost of a new drug is $2.6 billion, including drug failures and time spent, according to the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. To compound this daunting math, only 12% of drugs entering clinical trials result in an approved medicine.

    • Copyrights

      • What Could Have Entered The Public Domain On January 1, 2018?

        Current US law extends copyright for 70 years after the date of the author’s death, and corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years after publication. But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years—an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years. Under those laws, works published in 1961 would enter the public domain on January 1, 2018, where they would be “free as the air to common use.” Under current copyright law, we’ll have to wait until 2057.1 And no published works will enter our public domain until 2019. The laws in other countries are different—thousands of works are entering the public domain in Canada and the EU on January 1.

      • Hopefully For The Last Time: The US Has Zero New Works Enter The Public Domain On January 1st

        For many years now, during the first week of January, we write a post about Public Domain Day. That’s the day — January 1st — where works that have reached the statutory limit reach the public domain. The Public Domain Review has an excellent collection of the Class of 2018 — showing what works entered the public domain this week in the “life plus 50″ copyright countries (Canada, New Zealand, and many countries in Asia and Africa) and the “life plus 70″ copyright countries (most of the EU, Brazil, Israel, Russia, Turkey, Nigeria). For life plus 70 countries, the works of Aleister Crowley and Winston Churchill are now in the public domain. For the life plus 50 countries, Rene Magritte’s paintings, the song compositions of Woody Guthrie and Otis Redding, and the writings of Jean Toomer are now in the public domain — among many others.

        Except, as we note each and every year, there is no such “graduating class” in the US. Because, thanks to Disney’s heavy lobbying, copyright keeps getting extended and extended and extended. If you’re interested, the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke University has also put together its depressing annual “What Could Have Entered the Public Domain…” list for the US, if the law had remained as it was prior to 1978, when the maximum length of copyright was 56 years. Under that setup, Josepher Heller’s Catch-22, Salinger’s Franny & Zooey and Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land all would have entered the public domain. Grok that. Movies including Breakfast at Tiffany’s, West Side Story, and The Guns of Navarone all would have entered the public domain as well.

IBM Has Become Almost Indistinguishable From the Patent Trolls It Passes Patents to (Finjan for Example)

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 3:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IBM has become another Microsoft

Ginni Rometty

Summary: IBM and Microsoft have adopted a similar patent strategy which involves threatening a lot of companies for ‘protection’ money and passing patents to patent trolls that threaten these same companies some more

THE life cycle or the lifespan of patents at the USPTO is typically 20 years. This means that many patents preceding the dot com bust are about to expire.

IBM is a dying company. It’s just trying to make money from a dying empire of mainframes which, in the age of hosting VMs/VPSs (so-called ‘cloud’), is worth zilch. IBM has already fired many of its ‘expensive’ employees and it now operates like a classic patent troll. As WIPR has just put it (in the headline), “IBM settles patent suit, sues Expedia over same patents” (like every patent troll).

Technology multinational IBM settled a patent dispute with a company that manages travel websites, one day before suing US travel company Expedia over the same four patents.

In 2015, WIPR reported that IBM had taken action against The Priceline Group, which manages travel websites such as priceline.com, and had alleged infringement of four patents.

The patents asserted include two that were issued in the late 1990s: US numbers 5,796,967 and 5,961,601. The ‘967 patent tracks previous conversations online between a web user and a merchant, and the ‘601 patent covers technology related to web performance.

Both sound like software patents which are about to expire. Trolling much, IBM? This desperate?

Let’s not forget that IBM also sold patents to this troll called Finjan last year. We wrote about its latest attack in the morning and it turns out that we were right. The press release (still being circulated) was hogwash as earlier this evening financial media made it clearer that was not licensing but blackmail. “Finjan (FNJN) Settles With FireEye for a Net $12.5 Million,” it says, so that’s nothing like “cross licensing” (as the press release suggested). To quote:

Finjan (NASDAQ:FNJN) announced today that it settled with FireEye for a net $12.5 in cash that was paid in Q4 2017. With this payment, Finjan will redeem about 31% of the Series A-1 preferred shares or $4.7 million of the $15.3 million Series A-1 Preferred Stock financing. From December 16, 2017 to March 16, 2018 Finjan is able to redeem this stock at 1.3 times the original purchase price. FireEye agreed to pay Finjan $17.5 million in license fees comprised of $12.5 million in cash which was paid on December 29, 2017, and $5.0 million which will be offset by $5 million in license fees from Finjan to FireEye under the FireEye cross license agreement.

What we have here is a publicly-traded troll. We named another one this morning. This troll is connected to both Microsoft and IBM, both of which have a track record of passing patents to aggressive trolls. What does that make Microsoft and IBM?

Translation Shows That Carl Josefsson and Christoph Ernst Refuse to Comment on EPO Injustice as It Might Embarrass Battistelli

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As if they too are subservient to Battistelli, who is supposed to have no authority over them…

Original/translation: SUEPO’s translation [PDF] | Original in German

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail

Summary: An investigative article/journalism from Mathieu Klos and Christina Schulze, which contains few unknown details, did attempt to get a comment from heads of the Administrative Council and the Boards of Appeal, but both acted as though they are afraid of Benoît Battistelli and Željko Topić (Battistelli did play a role in appointment of a President at the Boards of Appeal, as well as his own successor’s, Campinos)

Disciplinary incident at the European Patent Office: Pyrrhic victory for suspended judge

For years an Irish judge has not been allowed to get to his former place of work at the European Patent Office, because Office boss Benoît Battistelli had banned him from entering the building, but as of last week the man is once again back as a member of the Boards of Appeal at the European Patent Office (EPO). President of the Boards of Appeal, Carl Josefsson, has implemented two judgments by the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization (ILOAT). The Tribunal had ordered that the judge be reinstated. But he will only be able to exercise his duties as a judge for a few days, until the end of the year; the Administrative Council will not be extending his term of office.

So far the situation has not been confirmed by any official source. When asked, the President of the Administrative Council, Dr. Christoph Ernst, told JUVE that the gathering of the 38 EPO Member States would not voice an opinion in this confidential staff matter. The Administrative Council is the disciplinary supervisory body for members of the Boards of Appeal. Josefsson, too, who as President of the Boards of Appeal, is the hierarchy superior of the judge concerned, declined to make any comment.

According to an internal memo, however, which is in JUVE’s possession, on 11 December Josefsson did allow the judge the right to enter the building, and he thereupon resumed his work. The case of the judge had been a feature of the heated debate about the independence of the Boards of Appeal since December 2014. It was only in September that the Boards of Appeal moved out of the main building in Munich city centre to Haar on the outskirts, a consequence of the reform of the EPO court, which is intended to make it more independent of the Office and its President. The day after the decision in the case of the Irish judge the celebrations were held marking the move into the new service building.

The judge’s term of service concludes at the end of the year as part of a cycle of five years. The Administrative Council clearly could not agree to an extension. The Irishman’s name does not appear on the list of reappointed judges who are still in office. In the past, the reappointment of EPO judges has always been a formality, but because his term of office is not being extended the judge will revert to his former activity as a patent examiner. This will mean that for disciplinary matters he will no longer be subject to the Administrative Council but directly to the EPO President.

Accusations against the judge not clarified

The matter all started exactly three years ago. In December 2014, Office President Battistelli imposed a ban on the Irishman entering the building, and pushed through his suspension by way of the Administrative Council. The reason was the accusation that the man had passed on information which was not approved for the public domain, and had made critical comments about the Boards of Appeal and the controversial Director of the EPO, Željko Topić. The judge has always protested his innocence, and any infringement of EPO regulations has to the last always been denied.

It has already been six months since a decision by the Enlarged Board of Appeal with regard to bias on the part of its own chief executive due to his tasks in the management of the EPO triggered the discussion about the independence of the EPO Court. The ban on the Irish judge entering the building had been seized on by many critics as proof that Office President Battistelli was getting too involved with the dealings of the Court. The supervisory and disciplinary body responsible for the members of the Boards of Appeal is actually the Administrative Council of the EPO.

The case also heated up the discussion about how to deal with disciplinary proceedings. In formal terms, an EPO judge can only be suspended by the Administrative Council if the Enlarged Board of Appeal recommends this. But last year the court refused to do so, after Battistelli intervened in writing in the proceedings which were in hand. The Enlarged Board of Appeal regarded this as another massive exertion of influence, and ended to proceedings without a recommendation.

International Labour Tribunal awards suspended judge compensatory damages

The case reached its most recent climax at the beginning of December, when the ILOAT in Geneva decided, in two of four appeals by the judge, that he must be reinstated (File Refs. 3958 and 3960). The highest labour court for staff members of international organizations also awarded the EPO judge a total of 35,000 Euro as compensation for moral damages and for loss of service income, plus 5 percent interest on the missed remuneration.

Many observers then demanded his permanent reinstatement. “In view of the massive procedural errors, confirmed by the Enlarged Boards of Appeal and now also by the ILOAT, failure to reappoint him represents a further violation by the EPC”, the judge’s attorney, Senay Okyay, told JUVE: “We shall of course be pursuing to the full all legal recourses which are available to my client”.

Unlike the situation before the decision by the Administrative Council, in the first instance the judge no longer has the option of another approach to the ILOAT open to him. He must now first go through the wearisome internal appeal procedure. (Mathieu Klos, Christina Schulze)

Battistelli’s Attacks on Judge Corcoran Threaten Not Only the EPC But Also UPC

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Michelangelo's slave sculpture
Michelangelo’s slave sculpture

Summary: Lack of independence, or judges’ ‘bondage’ to Battistelli, isn’t just a violation of the most fundamental rules (and spirit) of the institution but also a clear barrier to a system which extends breadth of impact to enforcement/litigation

THE situation at the EPO sort of resumes where it stopped before Christmas, with Judge Corcoran ending up on the other side of the fence (Battistelli’s). DG1 is under the direct control of Team Battistelli.

“I think you work with an out of date Codex (the employee contract),” one person wrote today in response to claims that DG3 is unable to complain about Battistelli, e.g. in a German court. The comment emphasises that “the relevant article is now Art. 19? And it has very limited exceptions in sub-clauses.”

This person wasn’t alone. Another one said:

Please refer to Article 41 of the EPO Service Regulations.

Many BoA members were “permanent employees” prior to appointment and remain so afterwards.
There is room for argument about those who worked elsewhere prior to appointment.
But if they are not recognised as “permanent employees” then their employment situation is even more precarious as they would not enjoy the protection of Article 41 (3) of the Service Regulations.

… would it not rather prove the point that the Boards of Appeal are not truly independent if the President could forbid them from providing evidence on this subject in a court of law.

It is rumoured that some members of the Boards wanted to participate in an interview about the current situation with an IP magazine.
According to Article 20 of the Service Regulations the President should have to give his permission but “Permission for publication of
a work by a member of a Board may only be refused with the agreement
of the authority referred to in Rule 12(1) of the Implementing Regulations
to the EPC 2000.”

It is said that when a signal of disapproval came from the 10th floor those involved ran for cover and did not risk a confrontation by referring the matter to the “the authority referred to in Rule 12(1) of the Implementing Regulations”.

All rumours and hearsay and no documentation I know.
But such is the state of affairs at the EPO these days.

“Apart from the absurdity of requiring Board members to seek permission from the President to comment on the issue of their independence, there is something else that I find strange about the application of the Service Regulations to the Boards,” said the next comment, which is pretty informative:

If there is anything to the hearsay, then I can only comment that this is a very sad state of affairs indeed.

Apart from the absurdity of requiring Board members to seek permission from the President to comment on the issue of their independence, there is something else that I find strange about the application of the Service Regulations to the Boards. That is, is it not strange that the Boards of Appeal should be bound by Regulations, the drafting of which is de facto controlled by the President – especially if those Regulations could be shown to compromise the independence of the Boards of Appeal?

However, there may be a way out. This is because it seems to me that one could argue that, where Article 20(1) conflicts with Article 15(2) (“Members of the Boards shall, both in the performance of their duties and otherwise, conduct themselves in such a manner as not to detract from confidence in their independence”), it is the provisions of the latter that should prevail. This is because it is surely more important to maintain confidence in the independence of the Boards than it is for the President to have control over “non-public” information regarding the practicalities of how the Office is managed.

Whichever way the cookie crumbles, it would certainly make for an interesting situation if a court (such as the BVerfG), or a party to court proceedings, were to make a formal request for a member of the Boards of Appeal to provide expert evidence on the extent to which independence of the Boards is guaranteed (both in theory and in practice) under the EPC and associated rules and regulations. No doubt the President would object but this would at least bring the issue to a head (and, hopefully, to a resolution).

Workers of the Office, which now includes Corcoran, cannot speak out against Battistelli (except anonymously). Not even staff representatives are courageous enough to speak out as often as they used to (SUEPO’s site has not been updated for weeks; it was finally updated with a couple of links earlier today).

“What’s worth noting is that even UPC boosters (who actively lobby for it) aren’t happy with Battistelli’s ‘reforms’, which some believe are intended to usher in the UPC.”Today, linking to its ‘magazine’ (quarterly publication), the EPO said: “A team of eight at the EPO in Vienna ensure that customers have access to the patent information they need, in the format they require.”

They actually use the word “customers” and they make it sound as though these “customers” are very happy. But they’re not. See this long new thread from a UPC proponent, who is also a “customer” of the EPO. “Hi #EPO watchers,” he wrote. “Just heard of new internal instructions for Examiners to issue Summons if there are *any* outstanding objections after 1st A94(3) comm. Can anyone confirm? [] my colleague tells me this is from an “EPO-wide memo” (so not confined to a particular division) but it is for “internal distribution only” and so the Examiner couldn’t give exact wording (?!). Agree, this is all rather concerning. [] I think one of (many) troubling things about this, and other recent “reforms”, is that it takes as its base assumption the idea that the Examiner is correct – while simultaneously depriving the Examiner of the time and opportunity to consider their position in detail.”

What’s worth noting is that even UPC boosters (who actively lobby for it) aren’t happy with Battistelli’s ‘reforms’, which some believe are intended to usher in the UPC.

“When asked by Ars, the EPO’s spokesperson mentioned the imminent arrival of the unitary patent system as an important reason for revising the EPO’s internal rules…”

Dr. Glyn Moody

Job Applicants at the EPO Disappointed, Reference Made in Interview to Slavery

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Glassdoor

Summary: Working conditions at the EPO, as well as recruitment standards, have taken a plunge under Battistelli and Bergot as head of Human Resources (HR)

LIFE at the EPO is hard; salary may be better framed as “compensation” because for many workers there’s neither pride nor thrill in the job. It isn’t scholarly but more like a production line and stress levels are very high. Notoriously so; and it gets worse over time with growing ‘production’ pressure.

Someone has just left the following comment in Kluwer Patent Blog:

Please accept as new year gift one more Russian word for your list:

gulag.

This is how we feel. Emprisoned and powerless in our (golden?) cages. Blindly undergoing useless restructuring (for example, in the next 3 months everyone will be moving office room at the EPO), scared to speak out for fear of retaliation (every month a list of colleagues who “end service” for no reason is published on our intranet ). Everyone wanting to listen and possibly publish our incredible stories having been silenced anyway.

Counting the days left (180) until “le roi” is gone. Hoping that we don’t end up with an “o rei” at his place.

Like we said before, it’s hard to believe in “instant impact” when Campinos comes; much of the same management and policies shall remain in place. Undoing these policies probably won’t even be on the agenda.

We have meanwhile heard from a reader about declining recruitment standards at the EPO; the HR department, led by Bergot, is struggling. Standards deteriorate as people lose interest in joining the EPO and many talented workers are leaving. This isn’t a theory/hypothesis but something that many insiders privately and publicly (albeit anonymously) talk about.

One such person told us: “Here are some of the last reviews that some applicants gave on the site Glassdoor.de (a job hunting site) about EPO after they had their experience. This is at present all the information I’ve got: they try to recruit and to keep an attractive profile as an employer, but their culture is too crooked to not show for what it is at some point.”

The reviews are largely negative. Most of the relevant answers are in English.

“In the links to further answers you can find also people showing surprise for the negative descriptions,” the person added, “but some other (more) actually confirming they have no surprise about that type of behaviour from EPO. Most answers and reviews are in English; only the site (in my case at least) has most descriptions of paragraphs and entries in German. You can set the language…”

Here are three in English, starting with the old one:

Application

“The procedure took more than 2 months. It took plance in January 2008 at EPO Munich

Interview talk

Intial interview was asking how I would interpret a chemical structure, is it new or not. If a knew a few pharmaceutical ingredients. Read a text in French/German and understand it. My french was a bit weak, but got a second HR interview. This was also ok, usual questions. Then had to wait 1.5 months, until I phoned them, then they said on the phone no…..strange!

Maybe at the time they could afford to turn people down. But now, in late 2017, here are the two reviews that are listed:

Application

Procedure took 6 weeks, talk held in EPO Munich.

Interview talk

The EPO selection process has 3 stages. Online test for personality and logic. Apparently personality does not really matter at this stage. Then skype meeting to discuss patent with your future coworker. Then you skype with an external worker which test your personality. Beware if you are a little bit creative of have a little bit too much of personality. They are looking for malleable people to follow their direction.Finally you get to meet the people in persons. This is when they almost harassed me and I was saved by another person who was in charge to check the interview process was fair. This job has nothing to do with innovation, you will get to scroll down and read a certain number of patents per day. They also are looking for very diligent people who will stay forever with them and follow whatever direction they are told. In my case I was applying for a certain technical field for which I got accepted and got the technical interview in another technical field. I had prepared the technical interview for weeks by learning the relevant vocabulary in the 3 languages and had a technical interview which had nothing to do with that. They suddenly to change the field without letting me know in advance. To me this was truly unprofessional. I had the same feeling of lack of professionalism when they invite me to come to the interview a week in advance but gave me half of the money to pay a plane ticket. I had to request more money and it worked and I can imagine some shy individual would not do so. Please ask for them to reimburse the full cost of the interview. In my case I would have paid about 1000euros out of pocket to come.

Finally the real live interview was shocking with references to slavery as a joke about the job and pushy personal comments.

Read that last sentence again.

Also this:

Application

I applied personally. The procedure took more than 3 months. Talk held in March 2017 at EPO The Hague (The Netherlands).

Interview talk

Quite long, although admin at the interview stage was adequate. Well…maybe if they didn’t come and pick me up from the gate as security didn’t inform them of my arrival. Interview panel of three people of which one was staff association. Chairman at the end started eating (this is how much respect a candidate gets). Questions unrelated to the job, at least for an HR post would expect most competency…

Competency in HR? Led by a person who leaped many pay grades presumably owing to family connections?

The EPO has a pattern of threatening people to remove texts the managers don’t like, so we’ve preserved the above (excluding what’s in German as this isn’t a German-speaking site, unlike the original). The responses to these seem to include actual EPO staff, maybe even the HR department (for example here). Words like “fake testimony” are being brought up; welcome to Trumpist ‘logic’…

Microsoft-Connected Trolls Like Finjan Are Still Blackmailing Companies That Compete With Microsoft

Posted in America, Microsoft, Patents at 5:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Phil Hartstein
Phil Hartstein, CEO of Finjan (Photo credit: Courtesy), via Times of Israel

Summary: Finjan, a patent troll which pretends to be a legitimate company, continues to shake down legitimate companies for their cash and TC Heartland is currently the best available legal instrument for curtailing patent trolls (litigious tourism)

THERE IS a profound issue when the USPTO grants software patents (it doesn’t happen so much anymore) or allows mass reassignment of patents. One particular patent troll, Finjan which is Microsoft-connected and buys patents of other companies in order to bolster the trolling (Microsoft does plenty of that these days), successfully blackmails a real company right after Christmas and then it falsely frames it as “cross-licensing” (whilst hiding the sum paid as ‘protection’ money by the company, FireEye). It’s partly a publicity stunt we suppose; there are many ongoing cases which this troll initiated against similar companies and it wants those companies too to ‘settle’ (pay ‘protection’ money). From its press release:

Finjan Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq:FNJN) and FireEye, Inc. (NASDAQ:FEYE) today announced they entered into Confidential Patent License Agreements on December 29, 2017, whereby the companies resolved all pending litigation matters and granted each other cross-licenses going forward.

Finjan is such a disgusting troll that even former staff/advisers link to Techrights and publicly berate Finjan (which previously paid them a salary). The press (as in mainstream media) barely covers this and the press release is so misleading that we suppose FireEye was forced to go along with it…

Microsoft does the same thing; it blackmails companies and then, as part of the settlement, it’s agreed that they will paint the whole thing as amicable. What a load of nonsense. Classic trolling!

What can be done to stop trolling? Well, it may be some time before they’re altogether eliminated. Some trolls are so large that they are publicly-traded. One such troll is InterDigital, which was mentioned here last year and most past years, e.g. [1, 2]. Andy Nguyen wrote a fiscal analysis of it, soon to be cited by another troll (Dominion Harbor). It happened just the other day (one troll bragging about another patent troll, InterDigital). Nguyen said:

I’ve put together a small checklist, which I believe provides a ballpark estimate of their financial health status.

Not a single word is said about what InterDigital actually does. It doesn’t really do anything. It’s a troll. It’s a litigation and patent aggression entity.

Anyway, help may be on the way. TC Heartland already limits the operating space of trolls. It restricts their movement. The Federal Circuit Bar Association (FCBA), according to this, already spins this trolls ‘killer’. As we noted on the last day of last year, the case 'kills' many trolls and they expect to discuss that a week from now:

The Federal Circuit Bar Association (FCBA) will be offering a program on “The Ramifications of TC Heartland and Recent Decisions About Venue in Patent Cases” on January 10, 2018 from 1:00 pm to 2:15 pm (EST) at the FCBA office in Washington, DC. Andew R. Sommer of Winston & Strawn LLP will moderate a panel consisting of Gregory A. Castanias of Jones Day, Douglas A. Cawley of McKool Smith, Tara D. Elliot of WilmerHale, Richard Rainey of Covington, and Jen Yokoyama, Senior Counsel, Apple Inc. The panel will explore the Supreme Court’s decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands and the Federal Circuit’s decisions in In re Cray and In re Micron and how these decisions are shifting the patent litigation landscape. The panel will also discuss the shift of cases out of Texas and the increase in filings in Delaware, and explore how practice before the district courts has changed in light of TC Heartland.

Notice how many of these represent trolls (e.g. McKool Smith). Expect this to be an echo chamber of trolls/troll apologists and foes of TC Heartland. Quite frankly as usual…

Then there are judges like Gilstrap, which is an utter disgrace to his occupation, not just because he’s pro-patent trolls and a patents maximalist but because he’s against justice itself (he famously disregards the law and even rulings from the Supreme Court because, according to him, what matters is that he just brings money for his district, which currently depends on attracting trolls). Suffice to say, Gilstrap ignores TC Heartland too and it got pretty serious last year. Politicians are berating Gilstrap and even scolding (calling him “reprehensible”).

According to this first post of the year from Patently-O, there are still attempts to identify and exploit ambiguity in TC Heartland:

I previously wrote about Judge Gilstrap’s decision in BigCommerce and the somewhat complex issue of venue in multi-district states. Even though BigCommerce is a Texas corporation, it argues that venue is improper in E.D.Tex. because the company HQ is in Austin (S.D.Tex.). Judge Gilstrap disagreed and now Mark Lemley and his team have filed a petition for writ of mandamus to the Federal Circuit.

[...]

The law of Stonite: In Stonite the Supreme Court was interpreting a prior version of 1400(b), but confirmed that “an inhabitant of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania” could not be sued for patent infringement in the “in the Western District of that State” without a “regular and established place of business” in that Western District. As I previously wrote, a major “problem with Stonite is its cryptic language and that the prior statute used the word ‘inhabitant’ instead of ‘resident.’”

We are still wishing and hoping that the patent system will have patents enforced only in districts that are relevant and only by entities which actually make something (other than litigation). Patents, after all, were justified as facilitators of innovation by information sharing, not as a tool of extortion used by opportunists who never invented anything (other than methods for squeezing patents for money, usually by threatening the most vulnerable).

2017 a Good Year for the US Appeal Board Dealing With Patents (PTAB): Another All-Time Record, Invalidating Low-Quality US Patents

Posted in America, Patents at 4:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Defended by Technology Giants, by Small Companies, by US Congress and by Judges, So Why Does USPTO Make It Less Accessible?

Cork

Summary: Some good news for the start of the year as the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) receives a record number of petitions in spite of the fees going up

THE USPTO‘s Director recently had PTAB fees raised considerably (price hikes), but that wasn’t enough to stop PTAB.

According to a longtime PTAB tracker, in spite of all the FUD and the immature smears from the patent microcosm, PTAB still breaks new records and last year was another record year. Here are the numbers:

A record number of PTAB petitions were filed last year, edging out 2015’s figure by one, according to data pulled from the Docket Navigator database. PGRs were more popular than CBMs for the first time last year

The number of petitions filed at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in 2017 was one higher than the previous record, according to figures pulled by Managing IP from the Docket Navigator database.

“We expect that later this year the Supreme Court will legitimise PTAB even further.”Don’t assume that PTAB bashers will let it be; they will continue to do anything within their capacity to eliminate or at least slow down PTAB. We shall be watching them. Now that PTAB IPRs are more expensive, and a potentially new Director will be appointed soon, there may be more attacks on PTAB on their way and a possible slowdown too (fee increases lead to that). “Foley & Lardner will be offering a webinar entitled “PTAB — A Year in Review” on January 18, 2018 from 1:00 to 2:00 pm (CST),” says this page, but remember that Foley & Lardner is part of the patent microcosm, so this “webinar” (fancy word for marketing) will do much of the expected things, just like other “webcasts” advertised a few days ago in this blog, e.g. [1, 2].

We expect that later this year the Supreme Court will legitimise PTAB even further. The Oil States case certainly seems to be heading in that direction, judging by early hearings (transcripts thereof).

EPO Management Claims “Higher Quality Patents” and Everyone at the EPO Knows That It’s a Face-Saving Lie

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 2:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Starting the new year with old lies

Battistelli liar
Source (original): Rospatent

Summary: Structures and procedures that helped ensure high patent quality (e.g. the Boards of Appeal) are under unprecedented attacks and a new statement — with Benoît Battistelli’s fingerprints all over it — is this year’s first example of lies as the norm at the European Patent Organisation

THE EPO scandals and EPO lies are nothing new. They’re routine now; it’s almost mundane.

Check out the latest “news” item from the EPO’s site (warning: epo.org link). It was published yesterday, claiming “higher quality patents,” as usual. This is a lie. Every paragraph contains lies. Basically, the EPO continues to disregards the law, the truth, and human lives. It just cannot be trusted. To quote: “The European Patent Office has completed an internal re-organisation which will enhance the efficiency of its patenting process. The move is also expected to foster the timeliness of the patent granting procedure for users and contribute to higher quality patents and services.”

People are also complaining about the quality of services, but the EPO will never publicly acknowledge that. As usual, they’re interjecting Benoît Battistelli into everything in this “news” item. It’s him who has been responsible for many of the scandals.

“This is the best opportunity to get a closer look a the activity of the Boards of Appeal,” the EPO wrote yesterday, advertising internships again.

The Boards of Appeal urgently require actual full-time staff, not interns. Battistelli wants to destroy them through (DG3 as a whole). It’s a violation of the EPC. Nobody new was hired and they’ve just lost Patrick Corcogan, a valuable technical judge.

In light of suggestions that DG3 members ought to give testimonies in German courts (e.g. Patrick Corcogan, now in DG1, after his mistreatment), a new comment was posted to say that it’s rather unlikely to happen due to fear of retribution and “would it not rather prove the point that the Boards of Appeal are not truly independent if the President could forbid them from providing evidence on this subject in a court of law?”

Obviously.

If they cannot speak to the constitutional court about what Battistelli is doing, it will make opposition to the UPC harder.

Speaking of the UPC, IAM used to spread fake news about UPC in Spain [1, 2]; that culminated last year. This week it gives this “[r]ough translation – “From 1st January, Spanish SMEs and entrepreneurs which wish to do so can submit their PCT applications in English as well as Spanish, and conduct all proceedings before the Spanish Patent Office in English”” (Spanish here).

So forget about the UPC; they too know it’s not happening. They already come up with language bridges that aren’t UPC.

Donald Zuhn has just noted that UPC’s forever promises go quite a while back. “After making it onto our 2012 and 2013 lists,” he said, “the unitary patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC) initiatives took a three-year sabbatical from our top stories list.” It will probably disappear again this year because the UPC is stuck. It cannot move on.

“Alfalahi, Birss, Campinos, Cao and Nokia,” according to IAM, are the “IP [sic] personalities of 2017,” but when patent trolls like Kasim Alfalahi, judges like Colin Birss (rules for trolls' interests) and António Campinos (amid EPO scandals) are top picks, what does that say about IAM? Here’s what IAM’s editor said about Campinos:

Antonio CAMPINOS – In July, the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation did something that it had never done before and invited applications to be the next president of the European Patent Office (EPO). Previously, the appointment has been made behind closed doors following a secretive election process with no criteria given as to why the successful candidate got the job. But this time we know exactly what it is that the Council requires of António Campinos, who will succeed current incumbent Benoît Batistelli on 1st July 2018. The job spec provides a benchmark against which to judge Campinos’s success – and such a level of transparency has previously been unknown at the EPO and it would be nice to think it will be followed by a lot more in the future (though don’t hold your breath on that one!). It always looked like the job as described in the July announcement was a perfect fit for Campinos, who as executive director of the EU IP Office has established a strong reputation as a political operator while keeping sometimes fractious national agencies onside, ensuring a top class service for users and maintaining an amicable relationship with staff members. They are skills he is going to need in spades in his new job.

How gently worded; and the list goes on in part 2 (probably to be published later today)…

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