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01.15.18

Links 15/1/2018: Linux 4.15 RC8, Wine 3.0 RC6

Posted in News Roundup at 1:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Hands on With System76’s Beautiful Linux Distro Pop!_OS

      When I saw that System 76 launched their #TryPopOS campaign last month I knew this was the perfect opportunity to really put Pop!_OS through its paces. I am a proud owner of the Galago Pro, which I purchased the day they launched pre-orders this Spring and it has been my primary computer since then. I use it for everything from writing articles, to browsing the internet, to light gaming, and though the machine as its quirks I am beyond happy with it.

      Back when I ordered the laptop Pop!_OS wasn’t announced yet so my laptop came with stock Ubuntu, which I promptly replaced with Ubuntu GNOME. Since then I have tried a couple different options including Elementary OS, Manjaro GNOME Edition, and most recently I have settled on KDE Neon.

      Everything I have thrown at it has worked great on it so far, but now it is time to try something different. Here is my experience with System 76’s Pop!_OS.

  • Kernel Space

    • LittleFS: A New File-System For ARM Embedded Devices

      LittleFS is a lightweight file-system that’s being developed for embedded systems.

      LittleFS as implied by the name is intended to be a “little” file-system for embedded devices, in particular “Internet of Things” style platforms. LittleFS strives to be a fail-safe file-system that can work with minimal amounts of RAM/ROM, power-loss resilient, and supports wear-leveling for flash memory.

    • Linux 4.15-rc8 Bringing BPF Security Improvements For Fending Speculative Attacks

      With the Linux 4.15-rc8 kernel that is expected for release today as the final step before Linux 4.15, it’s still seeing continued security improvements in the wake of the Spectre CPU vulnerabilities.

      Landing in the mainline Git tree at this stage of the Linux 4.15 kernel cycle were some security features around BPF, the Berkeley Packet Filter and the related and popular Extended BPF (eBPF) virtual machine for the Linux kernel.

    • Linux 4.15-rc8

      Ok, another week has gone by, and here’s the promised rc8.

      I’m still hoping that this will be the last rc, despite all the
      Meltdown and Spectre hoopla. But we will just have to see, it
      obviously requires this upcoming week to not come with any huge
      surprises.

      The patches aren’t huge, but architecture updates do end up being a
      largish part. That’s partly due to the x86 “retpoline” support (well,
      the basic stuff that is uncontested), but also because the powerpc
      people decided they wanted to play too, so there’s some low-level
      kernel entry changes there too. Aren’t we lucky?

      Oh, and there’s a small RISC-V update too.

      But outside of that, we’ve got driver updates (gpu, networking, usb,
      sound, NVMe), some core networking, and some tooling updates (mostly a
      few new x86 selftests). And some random misc fixlets (documentation,
      apparmor, crypto).

      Go forth and test. It all looks pretty solid to me,

      Linus

    • Kernel prepatch 4.15-rc8

      The 4.15-rc8 kernel prepatch is out for testing. Among other things, it includes the “retpoline” mechanism intended to mitigate variant 2 of the Spectre vulnerability. Testing of this change will be hard, though, since it requires a version of GCC that almost nobody has — watch LWN for a full article in the near future.

    • Linux 4.15-rc8 Released As The Last Before Final

      LINUX KERNEL –
      Linus Torvalds has released Linux 4.15-rc8 as the last planned release candidate prior to officially debuting Linux 4.15 next weekend.

      Linux 4.15-rc8 brings some BPF security improvements in the wake of the Spectre CPU vulnerabilities and there is the other smothering of bug/regression fixes too with this weekly Linux 4.15 release candidate.

    • An Incident Worth Noticing: Linux Kernel Mailing List Website Goes Down for Days

      Reality: the website goes down because it is hosted on a home server that suffered a power outage and needed the password to boot. Problem was that owner Jasper was on vacation when this incident happened.

    • Wait, what? The Linux Kernel Mailing List archives lived on ONE PC? One BROKEN PC?

      Spare a thought for Jasper Spaans, who hosts the Linux Kernel Mailing List archive from a single PC that lives in his home. And since things always happen this way the home machine died while he was on holiday.

      The archive was therefore unavailable for much of the weekend, although Linux developers could still use mirrors like Indiana University’s effort.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Some Of What’s Coming For Wayland’s Weston 4.0 Compositor

        Earlier this week ongoing Wayland/Weston release manager Bryce Harrington at Samsung laid out plans for Wayland 1.15 and Weston 4.0. There’s been some push-back on the proposed dates to try to allow some more work to land in these upcoming six month releases to Wayland/Weston, but long story short, these next releases will be here in the near future.

        With Wayland itself quite mature, there isn’t much that’s exciting for end-users about Wayland 1.15. In fact, not many changes at all unless there’s a last-minute rush of new work to land. As is the case these days, most of the interesting work is happening within the Weston compositor space as developers flesh out new functionality and prototype features that will hopefully be picked up by the other Wayland compositors that are becoming widely used on the Linux desktop.

      • Linux Graphics Trends Over The Past Five Years

        Yesterday I posted some Linux hardware statistics going back to 2011 using data collected by the Phoronix Test Suite and OpenBenchmarking.org. Those yearly metrics hadn’t contained any GPU/driver data, but here are those numbers.

        The graphics numbers were omitted from yesterday’s article as I had to make some tweaks to its parser and post-processor due to the wide assortment of graphics driver/hardware combinations, joining the ATI and AMD data, etc compared to the statistics collection on more basic/uniform hardware components. The sample set used was a maximum of 100,000 systems per year with the data being collected through the Phoronix Test Suite and OpenBenchmarking.org.

      • Freedreno Gallium3D Lands A5xx Texture Tiling For Better Performance

        Freedreno lead developer Rob Clark has landed initial support for texture tiling with Qualcomm Adreno A5xx graphics hardware.

    • Benchmarks

      • Debian vs. Ubuntu vs. CentOS vs. openSUSE vs. Clear Linux Post-Meltdown Performance

        With Linux distributions being patched since last week’s Meltdown and Spectre disclosure, here are benchmarks on some of the prominent distributions looking at their performance impact since being patched. Tested from an Intel Core i7 8700K system was CentOS, Clear Linux, Debian, openSUSE, and Ubuntu.

      • GCC 8.0 vs. LLVM Clang 6.0 On AMD EPYC

        At the beginning of January I posted some early LLVM Clang 6.0 benchmarks on AMD EPYC while in this article is comparing the tentative Clang 6.0 performance to that of the in-development GCC 8.0. Both compilers are now into their feature freeze and this testing looked at the performance of generated binaries both for generic x86_64 as well as being tuned for AMD’s Zen “znver1″ microarchitecture.

      • Phoronix Test Suite 7.8 M2 Released As “Folldal” Development Heats Up

        Just one week after Phoronix Test Suite 7.8 Milestone 1, the second development release of 7.8-Folldal is now available for testing.

        Phoronix Test Suite 7.8 M2 is heavier on the end-user facing changes as this quarterly development cycle heats up and also initial planning underway for Phoronix Test Suite 8.0 that in turn will ship this summer.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • 8 KDE Plasma Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Productivity

        KDE’s Plasma is easily one of the most powerful desktop environments available for Linux. It’s highly configurable, and it looks pretty good, too. That doesn’t amount to a whole lot unless you can actually get things done.

        You can easily configure Plasma and make use of a lot of its convenient and time-saving features to boost your productivity and have a desktop that empowers you, rather than getting in your way.

      • Flatpak support in Discover

        People often ask about the state of Flatpak in Discover, so today I’m going to write about that. Thew good news is that Discover’s Flatpak support is very good and getting better all the time. It’s fully production ready and we encourage you to use it!

      • Flatpak Support Is Now “Production Ready” In KDE Discover

        It seems to be a busy weekend for KDE news… The latest is that the Flatpak app sandboxing support formerly known as XDG-App is considered production ready within KDE Discover.

        KDE Discover, the closest thing currently to an “app store” on the KDE desktop and for managing add-ons and installing other packages, now has vetted Flatpak support. Going back a year KDE Discover has been working on Flatpak support as well as Ubuntu Snap/Snappy support but now the Flatpak support is in good standing.

      • Release of KDE Frameworks 5.42.0

        KDE today announces the release of KDE Frameworks 5.42.0.

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

        This release is part of a series of planned monthly releases making improvements available to developers in a quick and predictable manner.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.42 Brings Wayland Improvements, Plasma & KIO Activity

        KDE Frameworks 5.42.0 was released today as the latest monthly feature update to this collection of add-on KDE libraries complementing Qt5.

        With KDE Frameworks 5.42.0 there is some new icons/support to the Breeze icon set, a number of KIO changes, continued work on Kirigami, experimental RCC file support in KPackage, various KWayland improvements, and more refining to the Plasma Framework.

      • digiKam 5.8.0 is released

        Following the release of 5.7.0 published in September 2017, the digiKam team is proud to announce the new release 5.8.0 of the digiKam Software Collection. In this version a lot of work has happened behind the scenes and in fixing bugs as usual, which does not mean there are no enhancements: a new tool to export collections to UPNP/DLNA compatible devices has been introduced.

      • DigiKam 5.8 Released With Export Support To UPnP/DLNA Devices

        The KDE-developed, Qt-powered digiKam photo management software is out with its first feature update of 2018.

        DigiKam 5.8.0 is the new release out this weekend. Most of the digiKam 5.8 development work the past quarter was focused on under-the-hood type improvements, but there is also many bug fixes, improved AppImage support with now handling Firejail sandboxing, MySQL support improvements, the ability to export to UPnP/DLNA compatible devices, DropBox exporting now supports OAuth2, and various other enhancements.

      • KSuperkey, Plasma, and Trisquel 8

        This short tutorial explains how to enable pressing Win key to open menu at Plasma 5.5 on Trisquel 8. For that purpose, you need KSuperkey program, which needs git and make programs to obtain the source code and install it onto your Trisquel system. Fortunately, the KSuperkey program is small, the process is very easy and quick, and it needs only less than 3 minutes. Follow instructions below.

      • Last Weeks Activity in Elisa

        Elisa is a music player designed to be simple and nice to use. It allows to browse music by album, artist or all tracks. You can build and play your own playlist. We aim to build a fluid interface that is easy to use.

        We are preparing for the next alpha release when the following features will be done. Alexander is working on a metadata view for tracks. I am working on cleaning the different grid views into a generic one.

        Diego Gangl did several modifications of the interface as part of the interactions with KDE VDG.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Librsvg gets Continuous Integration

        One nice thing about gitlab.gnome.org is that we can now have Continuous Integration (CI) enabled for projects there. After every commit, the CI machinery can build the project, run the tests, and tell you if something goes wrong.

        Carlos Soriano posted a “tips of the week” mail to desktop-devel-list, and a link to how Nautilus implements CI in Gitlab. It turns out that it’s reasonably easy to set up: you just create a .gitlab-ci.yml file in the toplevel of your project, and that has the configuration for what to run on every commit.

  • Distributions

    • The Top 10 Linux Distros You Never Heard About

      As I have mentioned in previous articles, the open-source community is littered with many distributions – some of which you might never get to hear about if you’re not connected to an affiliated party or happen to come across a reference ad.

      Plus, it’s a new year and we have been dropping Top 10 (and sometimes higher) titles since it began so you shouldn’t be surprised that we are here with another one.

      In case you missed it, we recently published an article on The Top 10 Linux Desktop Distros of 2017, and I thought it will be nice if we checked out a couple of distros that might not have made it to the limelight in 2017 but are still significant and will probably be of great use to our readers.

    • Reviews

      • MX Linux MX-17 Horizon – Shaping up beautifully

        From an underdog to a kennel master. That’s probably the best, most succinct way to describe MX Linux. While you still may be confused about its heritage, with words like Mepis and AntiX slipping in, it’s one of the more refined Xfce distros around, and I have been thoroughly impressed by the last version, MX-16. As it turns out, I proudly crowned it the Best of Xfce 2017 distro. It also notched very high on the overall annual best-of competition.

        Now, there’s a new version out. I will first conduct the test on the old LG laptop, but now that I’ve managed to fix the read-only UEFI on my Lenovo G50 machine, I will conduct a second test on that laptop – provided everything works fine in this first review. So we have ancient hardware, Nvidia graphics, dual boot. Commence.

      • What’s New in MX Linux 17

        MX Linux 17 is the latest release of MX Linux. This release powered by Linux kernel 4.13, based on Debian GNU/Linux 9.3 “Stretch” and using Xfce 4.12.3 as default desktop environment.

        Various improvements have been implemented to several of the in-house built tools, such as a larger interface for mx-tools’ dashboard, simpler editing of conky files in mx-conky, and new themes in mx-updater. The mx package installer tool, mx-snapshot, mx-tweak, mx-network-assistant, and mx-iDevice-mounter utilities have also been updated.

      • deepin 15.5 – A different desktop

        deepin is a Debian-based Linux distribution which features the custom Deepin Desktop Environment along with several in-house desktop applications. The deepin project develops its own file manager, media players, software centre and settings panel, along with other desktop applications. Clearly, the deepin team is very busy working on a desktop solution, one which is easy to navigate.

        deepin is available as a 3.2GB download for 64-bit x86 computers. Booting from the project’s media gives us the option of starting the installation process, booting the operating system in failsafe mode or checking the media’s integrity. In both of my test environments, deepin would boot and launch the installer (the first option), but was unable to boot in failsafe mode, whether run in UEFI or Legacy BIOS mode.

        Taking the install option brings up a graphical environment where we are asked to select our preferred language from a list. In the upper-right corner of the screen there is an “X” which, when clicked, lets us abort the installation. Quitting the installer immediately powers off the computer. Once we have selected our language we are asked to create a username and password for ourselves. We can then select our time zone from a map of the world.

        Partitioning comes next and here I encountered several options. We are asked whether we want Simple or Advanced partitioning. The Simple option takes over the entire hard drive, creating an ext4 file system. A 4GB swap file is set up on the root partition for us. This is the easy way forward, but it wipes out any other installed systems or partitions.

        The Advanced option lets us select where to install the system’s boot loader and presents us with a list of available partitions and free space. At first I wasn’t able to find any way to add new partitions, but eventually found the button for adding and editing partitions is a grey icon on a grey background, making it difficult to spot. Once the button was found, setting up new partitions was fairly straight forward. The deepin installer will not proceed if the root partition is 16GB or smaller in size when we take the Advanced partitioning option. However, I found I could create a root partition smaller than 16GB if I used the Simple partitioning option. Once our partitions are assigned mount points, the installer copies its files to the computer and reboots the system.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • I pushed an implementation of myself to GitHub

        Roughly 4 years ago, I mentioned that there appears to be an esotieric programming language which shares my full name.

        I know, it is really late, but two days ago, I discovered Racket. As a Lisp person, I immediately felt at home. And realizing how the language dispatch mechanism works, I couldn’t resist and write a Racket implementation of MarioLANG. A nice play on words and a good toy project to get my feet wet.

      • digest 0.6.14

        Another small maintenance release, version 0.6.14, of the digest package arrived on CRAN and in Debian today.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) Has Reached End of Life, Upgrade to Ubuntu 17.10 Now

            As of today, January 13, 2018, the Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) operating system has reached end of life and it’s no longer supported by Canonical with security and software updates.

            Released last year on April 13, Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) was the last version of the popular operating system to ship with the Unity 7 desktop environment by default. It was powered by the Linux 4.10 kernel series, Mesa 17.0 graphics stack, and X.Org Server 1.19 display server.

          • Ubuntu 17.10.1 ISOs Now Available To Avoid Thrashing Some UEFI Systems

            Ubuntu 17.10.1 ISOs are now available as well as for most of the *buntu derivatives. The Ubuntu 17.10.1 ISO re-spin is for disabling the SPI kernel driver to avoid messing up select laptops.

          • Ubuntu 17.10.1 Linux Distro Now Available — Download ISO Files And Torrents For All Official Flavors

            In late December, Canonical decided to pull the download links of Ubuntu 17.10 Linux distro. This step was taken following the reports that a bug in UEFI firmware of some laptops from OEMs like Lenovo, Acer, and Toshiba are corrupting the BIOS and making the machine unbootable.

          • Tweaking Ubuntu 17.10 To Try To Run Like Clear Linux

            Even with the overhead of having both KPTI and Retpoline kernel support in place, our recent Linux distribution benchmarks have shown Intel’s Clear Linux generally outperforming the more popular distributions. But if applying some basic performance tweaks, can Ubuntu 17.10 perform like Clear Linux? Here are some benchmarks looking at a few factors.

            In our forums there were recently some users attributing the Clear performance benefit to their CFLAGS and the distribution defaulting to the P-State “performance” governor rather than the “powersave” governor. It’s true those are two of the ways this Intel open-source platform tries to deliver better out-of-the-box performance, but that is not all. Explained at ClearLinux.org, they also apply automatic feedback-driven optimizations (GCC FDO), function multi-versioning (FMV) to deliver optimized functions selected at run-time based upon the CPU micro-architecture being used, and various other approaches for trying to deliver the best out-of-the-box Linux performance that does include backporting various patches, etc. And, yes, hopefully this article can provide some motivation for Ubuntu and other distributions to become a bit more aggressive with their defaults to deliver a more optimized experience on installation.

          • Benchmarking Ubuntu’s Low-Latency Kernel & Liquorix Post-Meltdown

            The Ubuntu low-latency kernel is designed for, well, low-latency workloads like audio processing/recording. The lowlatency kernel compared to the generic Linux x86_64 kernel enables IRQ_FORCED_THREADING_DEFAULT, disables TREE_RCU in favor of PREEMPT_RCU, disables OPTPROBES, enables UNINLINE_SPIN_UNLOCK while disables the INLINE_*_UNLOCK tunables, enables PREEMPT support, changes to 1000Hz tick from 250Hz, and enables LATENCYTOP support.

            The Liquorix kernel continues to be a bit more unique and among its alterations compared to a generic kernel is Zen interactive tuning, making use of the MuQSS process scheduler, hard kernel preemption, BFQ I/O scheduler by default, network optimizations, and more as outlined at Liquorix.net. Liquorix also defaults to CPUFreq on Intel CPUs and uses the ondemand governor rather than the other tested kernels defaulting to P_State powersave.

            For these tests were benchmarks of 4.13.0-25-generic (the current default Ubuntu 17.10 kernel with KPTI patched), 4.14.13-041413-generic as the latest upstream stable kernel from the Ubuntu Mainline Kernel PPA, 4.14.13-041413-lowlatency as the equivalent low-latency Ubuntu kernel, and then 4.14.0-13.1-liquorix as the latest Liquorix kernel via its Launchpad PPA. All of these kernels had KPTI protection present and enabled, none of them currently have the (currently out-of-tree) Retpoline support.

          • Ubuntu 17.10.1 ISOs available with corrupting BIOS fix

            Canonical has a now made Ubuntu 17.10.1 available on its servers but is yet to list it on its main download page as of Saturday evening (GMT). The new ISO comes with the SPI kernel driver disabled in order to avoid damaging the BIOS on some computers. People have been unable to download the latest iteration of Ubuntu for the past three weeks while Canonical fixed the issue.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Xubuntu 17.10.1 Release

              Following the recent testing of a respin to deal with the BIOS bug on some Lenovo machines, Xubuntu 17.10.1 has been released. Official download sources have been updated to point to this point release, but if you’re using a mirror, be sure you are downloading the 17.10.1 version.

              No changes to applications are included, however, this release does include any updates made between the original release date and now.

            • Xubuntu 17.04 End Of Life

              On Saturday 13th January 2018, Xubuntu 17.04 goes End of Life (EOL). For more information please see the Ubuntu 17.04 EOL Notice.

              We strongly recommend upgrading to the current regular release, Xubuntu 17.10.1, as soon as practical. Alternatively you can download the current Xubuntu release and install fresh.

            • Ubuntu Unity Remix Day 3: Unity Tweak Tool

              Do you like customizing Unity desktop using Tweak Tool? Do you like bottom panel (since 16.04 LTS) and custom themes? Good news for you, now we can continue it at Ubuntu Unity Remix 18.04! For you don’t know, Unity Tweak Tool is a program to make it easy for you to custom your Unity desktop. This includes changing theme & icon, changing Launcher transparency & position, customizing the menu/search, desktop animations, and many more. This ‘Day 3′ covers shortly about this Tweak Tool on Unity Remix. Enjoy!

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • A “Newer” ASUS Mini-ITX AMD Motherboard Now Supported By Coreboot

    The ASUS AM1I-A as implied by the name is an AM1 socket motherboard for those Athlon/Sempron processors… Not nearly as exciting as if a Ryzen motherboard would be supported by Coreboot, but this motherboard isn’t too old compared to some other Coreboot ports and can still be found from a few online shops albeit refurbished. The ASUS AM1I-A is a mini-ITX board with USB 3.0, DVI/HDMI/VGA outputs, and all the other usual candidates for an AM1 class motherboard.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • News flash: encrypted.google.com is not special in any way

        Once upon a time, Google dared to experiment with HTTPS encryption for their search instead of allowing all search data to go unencrypted through the wire. For this experiment, they created a new subdomain: encrypted.google.com was the address where your could get some extra privacy. What some people apparently didn’t notice: the experiment was successful, and Google rolled out HTTPS encryption to all of their domains. I don’t know why encrypted.google.com is still around, but there doesn’t seem to be anything special about it any more. Which doesn’t stop some people from imagining that there is.

      • Firefox 59 Is Dropping GTK2 Support

        Now that Firefox’s GTK3 support is finally into shape, Firefox 59 will be doing away with GTK2 tool-kit support.

      • Review of Igalia’s Web Platform activities (H2 2017)

        Last september, I published a first blog post to let people know a bit more about Igalia’s activities around the Web platform, with a plan to repeat such a review each semester. The present blog post focuses on the activity of the second semester of 2017.

      • Mozilla.Org: The Big SUMO Report: 2017

        Just like the year before, our activity and its results could be analysed from many perspectives, with dozens of data sources. Putting everything together, especially given our platform changes in 2018, is quite impossible – and the numbers have been affected by interruptions in tracking, as expected.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Spectre Mitigation Added To GCC 8, Seeking Backport To GCC 7

      Hitting the GCC 8 compiler Git/SVN code this Sunday morning are the changes needed compiler-side for CVE-2017-5715 / Spectre mitigation.

      Veteran GNU toolchain developer H.J. Lu of Intel has committed the set of patches for introducing -mindirect-branch=, -mfunction-return= and -mindirect-branch-register for dealing with indirect branches from the compiler side and is also compiler features already used by the Linux kernel Retpoline patches when built with a supported compiler for full enforcement against Spectre vulnerabilities.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Tony Sebro to Join Conservancy Board of Directors & Outreachy Leadership

      Tony Sebro, who was Conservancy’s second full-time employee, is moving on to become Deputy General Counsel at the Wikimedia Foundation, the home of Wikipedia. We say goodbye to Tony as a Conservancy employee today, but more importantly we welcome him to a number of new volunteer roles at our organization.

      Specifically, Conservancy’s Board of Directors has invited Tony to serve as an at-large Director. Tony has also joined the Project Leadership committee of Conservancy’s Outreachy project (our internship program for free and open source software contribution for underrepresented groups). We are thrilled that Tony will continue to contribute his expertise to our organization, and to formalize his participation with our key internship program.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open source model, drugs for the masses

      Nearly one person dies of tubercolosis every two minutes in India, said Professor Jaykumar Menon, the award-winning international human rights lawyer and social entrepreneur. Professor Jaykumar began the Open Source Pharma Foundation, which looks at generating breakthroughs in affordable public healthcare; the initiative has drawn over $110 million in funding the likes of Tata Trusts, Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and the Soros Foundations. Speaking at the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bengaluru, Menon said, “We are working on complex issues that affect Indian and global society. Our first target, therefore, is Mycobacterium tubercolosis, which inhabits approximately a quarter of the human population in India.”

    • Open Access/Content

      • #DLNchat: Open Educational Resources (OER) in Higher Ed

        Can open educational resources, or OER, truly create more equity and access? That was the question at the heart of our #DLNchat on January 9, which centered around OER in Higher Education. Our special guest, Lisa Petrides, creator of OER Commons, kicked things off by defining the topic at hand: “OER are teaching & learning materials freely available for anyone to use. These materials typically reside in the public domain, or have an alternative copyright license, i.e. Creative Commons or GNU, that specify how the resource may be reused, adapted, and shared. To me OER is also about the democratization of access to education, and the pursuit and sharing of knowledge. And the ecosystem of open knowledge sharing is fundamental to teaching, to learning, and to equity.”

  • Programming/Development

    • The Brutal Lifecycle of JavaScript Frameworks

      Using the Stack Overflow Trends tool and some of our internal traffic data, we decided to take a look at some of the more prominent UI frameworks: Angular, React, Vue.js, Backbone, Knockout, and Ember.

    • Visualizing Molecules with Python

      The PyMOL Wiki also hosts a script library, and it’s a good place to look before you start down the road of creating your own script, as someone else may have run into the same issue and may have found a solution you can use. If nothing else, you may be able to find a script that could serve as a starting point for your own particular problem.

      When you’re are done working with PyMOL, there are many different ways to end the session. If there is work you are likely to pick up again and continue with, click File→Save Session to save all of the work you just did, including all of the transitions applied to the view. If the changes you made were actually structural, rather than just superficial changes to the way the molecule looked, you can save those structural changes by selecting File→Save Molecule. This allows you to write out the new molecule to a chemical file format, such as a PDB file.

      If you need output for publications or presentations, a few different options are available. Clicking File→Save Image As allows you to select from saving a regular image file in PNG format or writing out data in a POVRay or VRML 3D file format. If you are doing a fancier presentation, you even can export a movie of your molecule by clicking File→Save Movie As. This lets you generate an MPEG movie file that can be used either on a web-based journal or within a slide deck for a presentation.

Leftovers

  • Ford-backed self-driving car involved in an accident that sent two people to the hospital

    A self-driving car operated by Argo AI, a startup backed by Ford, was involved in an accident in Pittsburgh on Wednesday that sent two people to the hospital, according to The Incline. Early reports suggest the accident was the result of human error.

  • Haste, Waste and Choice

    And there is the crux of the matter, both for technologists and for policy makers: What do we prioritize? We know, and have long known, that optimality and efficiency are the enemies of robustness and resilience. The payback on optimality and efficiency is quantitative, calculable, and central to short-term survivability. The payback on robustness and resilience is qualitative, inestimable, and central to long-term survivability. The field of battle is this: All politics is local; all technology is global.

  • The Strange History of One of the Internet’s First Viral Videos
  • Science

    • Your Position, Triangulated

      The U.S. military needed a way to track the location of submarines, which, by their very nature, are submerged, sometimes for months on end. Being deep in the ocean, of course, has its limits based on what kinds of equipment you can use.

    • Secret Eugenics Conference Uncovered at University College London

      A secret conference on eugenics held by a senior lecturer at the University College London (UCL) is under investigation by the university. The meeting, dubbed the London Conference on Intelligence, has taken place annually since 2014 and is attended by white supremacists with ties to neo-Nazi organizations, London Student revealed on Wednesday (January 10).

    • All Your Memories Are Stored by One Weird, Ancient Molecule

      How does memory work? The further we seem to dive in, the more questions we stumble upon about how the function of memory first evolved. Scientists made a key breakthrough with the identification of the Arc protein in 1995, observing how its role in the plastic changes in neurons was critical to memory consolidation.

      This protein is already a big deal, but the Arc picture just got a lot more interesting. In a study published Thursday in the journal Cell, a team of researchers at the University of Utah, the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, argue that Arc took its place in the brain as a result of a random chance encounter millions of years ago. Similar to how scientists say the mitochondria in our cells originated as bacteria that our ancient ancestors’ cells absorbed, the Arc protein seems to have started as a virus.

    • Surprise: A virus-like protein is important for cognition and memory

      A protein involved in cognition and storing long-term memories looks and acts like a protein from viruses. The protein, called Arc, has properties similar to those that viruses use for infecting host cells, and originated from a chance evolutionary event that occurred hundreds of millions of years ago.

      The prospect that virus-like proteins could be the basis for a novel form of cell-to-cell communication in the brain could change our understanding of how memories are made, according to Jason Shepherd, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at University of Utah Health and senior author of the study publishing in Cell on Jan. 11.

    • How to see a memory

      For someone who’s not a Sherlock superfan, cognitive neuroscientist Janice Chen knows the BBC’s hit detective drama better than most. With the help of a brain scanner, she spies on what happens inside viewers’ heads when they watch the first episode of the series and then describe the plot.

      Chen, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, has heard all sorts of variations on an early scene, when a woman flirts with the famously aloof detective in a morgue. Some people find Sherlock Holmes rude while others think he is oblivious to the woman’s nervous advances. But Chen and her colleagues found something odd when they scanned viewers’ brains: as different people retold their own versions of the same scene, their brains produced remarkably similar patterns of activity1.

    • The Physicist Building the World’s Most Precise Clock

      We take clocks for granted. In the modern world, time is calculated everywhere we look. If there’s not a watch on your wrist, there’s one on your phone. Most modern computers keep track of the time in the corner of the screen. Appliances from coffee makers to microwaves have a digital readout of the time.

      The measurement of time is ubiquitous, inescapable, and incredibly important. “[The clock] has played an important role in human history,” Jun Ye—who is Adjoint Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado, and a researcher into precision measurement—told me over the phone. “It helped build a more technically advanced society.”

    • How good bacteria control your genes

      Scientists from the Babraham Institute near Cambridge in collaboration with colleagues from Brazil and Italy have discovered a way that good bacteria in the gut can control genes in our cells. The work, published today (9th January) in Nature Communications, shows that chemical messages from bacteria can change the location of key chemical markers throughout the human genome. By communicating in this way, the bacteria may help to fight infections and to prevent cancer.

    • You’re Descended from Royalty and So Is Everybody Else

      Charlemagne, Carolingian King of the Franks, Holy Roman Emperor, the great European conciliator; your ancestor. I am making an assumption that you are broadly of European descent, which is not statistically unreasonable but certainly not definitive. If you’re not, be patient, and we’ll come to your own very regal ancestry soon enough.

    • ‘Gyroscope’ molecules form crystal that’s both solid and full of motion

      Molecular machines, much smaller than single cells, may one day be able to deliver drugs to kill cancer cells or patrol your body for signs of disease. But many applications of these machines require large arrays of rock-hard moving parts, which would be difficult to build with typical biological structures.

      Molecules that makes up the solid crystals found in nature are generally so tightly packed together that there’s no room for any of them to move. So despite their strength and durability, solid crystals have generally not been considered for applications in molecular machines, which must have moving parts that can respond to stimuli.

    • Higher Education Is Drowning in BS

      I have had nearly enough bullshit. The manure has piled up so deep in the hallways, classrooms, and administration buildings of American higher education that I am not sure how much longer I can wade through it and retain my sanity and integrity.

      Even worse, the accumulated effects of all the academic BS are contributing to this country’s disastrous political condition and, ultimately, putting at risk the very viability and character of decent civilization. What do I mean by BS?

      BS is the university’s loss of capacity to grapple with life’s Big Questions, because of our crisis of faith in truth, reality, reason, evidence, argument, civility, and our common humanity.

      BS is the farce of what are actually “fragmentversities” claiming to be universities, of hyperspecialization and academic disciplines unable to talk with each other about obvious shared concerns.

  • Hardware

    • Apple’s Indirect Presence Fades from CES

      Gone are the days of Apple’s presence, or observably “winning” of CES, even though they are not present. It was impossible to walk the show floor and not see a vast array of interesting innovations which touched the Apple ecosystem in some way. Now it is almost impossible to walk the floor and see any products that touch the Apple ecosystem in any way except for an app on the iOS App Store. The Apple ecosystem is no longer the star of CES but instead things like Amazon’s Alexa voice platform, and now Google’s assistant voice platform is the clear ecosystem winners of CES.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • First Nations entrepreneurs are asserting sovereignty and seizing the new cannabis economy

      Jeff Hawk said he was sitting in the lounge area of his dispensary chatting with friends early on Tuesday evening when several assault-rifle wielding Six Nations police officers burst in, ordering everyone to get on the ground.

      Hawk’s dispensary, called Green Health for 6, was the second to be hit by a raid in Six Nations, an Iroquois community near Hamilton, in the space of three months.

    • Supreme Court to Consider Civil Price-Fixing Case Against Chinese Vitamin C Makers

      WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court on Friday said it would hear an antitrust case involving price fixing by Chinese vitamin C makers, agreeing to decide whether U.S. judges must defer to legal submissions made by the Chinese government.

    • State emergency issued as result of flu outbreak in Alabama

      “We have a crisis situation going on” regarding the flu outbreak, said Scott Harris, acting state health officer with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

      “This is the normal season of the flu,” he said during a Friday afternoon press conference. It is “nothing out of ordinary in the type … but we are seeing large numbers.”

  • Security

    • Meltdown and Spectre FAQ: Crapification at Scale

      Yesterday, Yves posted a “primers on Meltdown and Spectre”, which included several explanations of the two bugs from different viewpoints; if you feel you don’t have a handle on them, please review it. Today, I want to give an overview of the two bugs. I will dig into the details of these two bugs in the form of a FAQ, and then I’ll open a discussion of the larger business and political economy issues raised in the form of a MetaFAQ. First, I should make one point: Meltdown is a bug; Specture is a class of bugs (or, if you prefer, a strategy).

      [...]

      What Are The Costs of the Meltdown and Spectre Bugs?

      A few billions.

    • Fixing Chipmageddon Will Slow Down Older Computers

      Microsoft has come out and said it: cures for the pervasive chip flaws Meltdown and Spectre are likely to dent the performance of your PC if it’s a few years old.

    • Intel needs to come clean about Meltdown and Spectre

      Intel hasn’t had the best of times recently. Meltdown and Spectre security flaws have helped reveal fundamental issues with processor designs over the past 20 years, and the software updates to protect PCs will have performance impacts. Even as I write this, it’s still not clear to anyone exactly how bad these performance impacts will be for older desktop systems, or how significant they’ll be to server-based cloud platforms. It’s all a bit of a mess, and Intel hasn’t helped with its lack of transparency. It’s time for Intel to stop hiding behind cleverly worded statements.

    • Everything running smoothly at the plant? *Whips out mobile phone* Wait. Nooo…

      The security of mobile apps that tie in with Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems has deteriorated over the last two-and-a-half years, according to new research.

      A team of boffins from IOActive and IoT security startup Embedi said they had discovered 147 vulnerabilities in 34 of the most popular Android mobile apps for SCADA systems.

      Mobile applications are increasingly being used in conjunction with SCADA systems. The researchers warned these apps are “riddled with vulnerabilities that could have dire consequences on SCADA systems that operate industrial control systems”.

    • Intel details performance hit for Meltdown fix on affected processors
    • Keeping Spectre secret

      When Graz University of Technology researcher Michael Schwarz first reached out to Intel, he thought he was about to ruin the company’s day. He had found a problem with their chips, together with his colleagues Daniel Gruss, Moritz Lipp, and Stefan Mangard. The vulnerability was both profound and immediately exploitable. His team finished the exploit on December 3rd, a Sunday afternoon. Realizing the gravity of what they’d found, they emailed Intel immediately.

    • Intel’s telling some customers to avoid its fix for the Spectre and Meltdown attacks — because of a big bug
    • A Security Issue in Intel’s Active Management Technology (AMT)
    • Backdoor In 30 Seconds: New Major AMT Security Flaw Is Here To Haunt Intel Laptops
    • Researcher finds another security flaw in Intel management firmware [Updated]

      If MEBx hasn’t been configured by the user or by their organization’s IT department, the attacker can log into the configuration settings using Intel’s default password of “admin.” The attacker can then change the password, enable remote access, and set the firmware to not give the computer’s user an “opt-in” message at boot time. “Now the attacker can gain access to the system remotely,” F-Secure’s release noted, “as long as they’re able to insert themselves onto the same network segment with the victim (enabling wireless access requires a few extra steps).”

    • Shocking new Intel flaw gives hackers full control of laptops in less than 30 seconds

      Physical access is needed, but to exploit the Intel AMT vulnerability all an attacker needs to do is power up the target machine and press CTRL-P during boot-up, experts said.

    • Why we should all do the boring work of patching our computers

      Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks with independent security reporter Brian Krebs, who says that on the scale of one to 10 in terms of how worried he is, this is about an eight.

    • KPTI Support For 64-bit ARM Getting Buttoned Up Ahead Of Linux 4.16

      Kernel Page Table Isolation (KPTI) landed at the start of the year for x86/x86_64 systems for fending off the much talked about CPU attacks while the AMD64 / 64-bit ARM code is still a work-in-progress but looks like it will be squared away for the upcoming Linux 4.16 kernel cycle.

      There is this Git branch and the base work for those wishing to track the last minute alterations. There is currently the latest KPTI page table isolation patches for ARM64 and does include a return trampoline, a new HARDEN_BRANCH_PREDICTOR Kconfig switch, branch predictor hardening for Falkor and Cortex-A CPUs, and other security hardening improvements.

    • ‘Very high level of confidence’ Russia used Kaspersky software for devastating NSA leaks

      Three months after U.S. officials asserted that Russian intelligence used popular antivirus company Kaspersky to steal U.S. classified information, there are indications that the alleged espionage is related to a public campaign of highly damaging NSA leaks by a mysterious group called the Shadow Brokers.

      “That’s a Russian intelligence operation,” a former senior intelligence official, who requested anonymity to speak bluntly, told Yahoo Finance. “They’ve gotten a lot noisier than they used to be.”

    • FOSS Community Struggles to Patch Against Spectre, Meltdown Flaws [Ed: Unlike what? The proprietary software 'community'? Microsoft is bricking Windows-running PCs.]

      Many in the open source community worked feverishly this week to respond to heightened fears that software updates to fix the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities would put millions of computers at risk of slowdowns or even total disability.

    • WPA3 – The Promise of Security
    • Linspire 7.0.1 and Freespire 3.0.1 Released – Meltdown and Spectre fix

      This morning we have released Linspire 7.0.1 and Freespire 3.0.1 . With this release we have addressed the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities in Intel Processors. We have included no new features.

    • Black Lab Enterprise Linux 11.51 Released – Meltdown and Spectre Fix

      Today we have released Black Lab Enterprise Linux 11.51. This release addresses the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities in Intel Processors. We have included no new features. To apply the fix simply run your system updater and the fix will be applied.

      This update has been thoroughly tested and does not cause any issues or malfunctions

    • At CES, Spectre haunted tech executives in public and private meetings

      Despite being drenched and briefly thrust in to darkness, the largest annoyance for many top tech executives at CES was the shadow of Spectre.

      The world’s largest electronics show immediately careened toward the twin maladies dubbed Spectre and Meltdown, potentially exploitable weaknesses in the brains of PCs and servers world-wide.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Arms sales: Britain increases exports to world’s most repressive regimes by nearly a third since Brexit vote

      Britain has dramatically increased the value of weaponry and defence equipment it sells to the world’s most repressive regimes since vows by senior ministers to expand arms exports after the Brexit vote.

      Figures seen by i show that the Government cleared export licences worth £2.9bn in the 12 months after June 2016 to 35 countries considered “not free” by Freedom House, a respected international think-tank. The figure represents a 28 per cent increase on the 12 months before the Brexit vote.

    • Hawaii ‘ballistic missile threat’ alert to phones was false alarm, officials say

      Residents of Hawaii were thrown into a panic Saturday morning after an emergency alert was sent warning of a ballistic missile threat. But officials minutes later said it was a false alarm.

      “NO missile threat to Hawaii,” the state’s Emergency Management Agency tweeted at 8:20 local time (1:20 ET).

      Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, tweeted: “This is a false alarm. There is no incoming missile to Hawaii.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Burning Iranian tanker explodes and sinks, ‘no hope of finding crew alive’

      An Iranian oil tanker burning for more than a week in the East China Sea exploded and sank on Sunday, Chinese state television reported.
      The Sanchi erupted into flames after colliding with a Hong Kong-registered freighter on January 6, CCTV reported.
      China’s transport ministry said the tanker “suddenly exploded” around noon on Sunday and was quickly engulfed in fire, with the smoke and flames rising as high 1km (3,300 feet).
      An Iranian official also said on Sunday there was no chance of finding alive any of the tanker’s 32 crew members.

    • Fossil fuels blown away by wind in cost terms: study

      According to a new cost analysis from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), within two years “all the renewable power generation technologies that are now in commercial use are expected to fall within the fossil fuel-fired cost range, with most at the lower end or undercutting fossil fuels”.

      It expects renewables will cost between three and 10 US cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) by 2020, while the current cost spectrum for fossil fuel power generation ranges from five to 17 US cents per kWh.

    • 99% of These Sea Turtles Are Turning Female—Here’s Why

      The turtle wranglers landed on Ingram Island thinking about sex and heat.

      Pacific green sea turtles spend years cruising this northern Australia feeding ground, fattening up on sea grasses before heading to nesting areas to mate and lay eggs. The scientists simply wanted to know: which of these reptiles were male and which were female?

      You can’t always tell a sea turtle’s sex by looking, so researchers kicked off a “turtle rodeo.” They stood atop skiffs and raced toward swimming turtles and launched themselves like bull wrestlers onto the animals’ carapaces. After gently steering each turtle to shore, they took DNA and blood samples, and made tiny incisions to inspect turtle gonads.

  • Finance

    • NYC Sues, Divests From Oil Firms Over Climate Change

      New York City is taking on the oil industry on two fronts, announcing a lawsuit Wednesday that blames the top five oil companies for contributing to global warming and saying the city will sell off billions in fossil fuel investments from the city’s pension funds.

      Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio received immediate blowback from some of the companies, while winning praise from environmentalists and others.

      “We’re bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits,” the mayor said. “As climate change continues to worsen, it’s up to the fossil fuel companies whose greed put us in this position to shoulder the cost of making New York safer and more resilient.”

    • Germany has regained its crown as the world’s most powerful passport

      The world’s governments have spoken. Germany’s citizens are the travelers most welcome to cross their borders.

      The Henley Passport Index, an annual ranking of passport power by the citizenship planning firm, came out today for 2018. Germany is at the top for the fifth year in a row, with visa-free or visa-upon-arrival access to 177 countries, up from 176 last year. (In February 2017, Belarus introduced a five-day visa-free visit available to citizens of 80 countries, including Germany.)

    • The British Once Built a 1,100-Mile Hedge Through the Middle of India

      In 1878, W.S. Halsey, Commissioner of Inland Customs, reported on the state of British India’s giant hedge. The hedge had grown to more than 1,100 miles long, he wrote, long enough to stretch from Berlin to Moscow. More than half of the barrier, Halsey reported, was made up of “perfect and good green hedge” or “combined green and dry hedge.” In parts, it was 12 feet tall and 14 feet across.

      The British Empire had been working on this giant hedge for at least 30 years. It had, at long last, reached “its greatest extent and perfection,” wrote Roy Moxham in The Great Hedge of India. It was an impressive monument to British power and doggedness. One British official wrote that it “could be compared to nothing else in the world except the Great Wall of China.”

    • China Sets New Records for Gobbling Up the World’s Commodities

      China continues to gobble up the world’s commodities, setting new records for consumption of everything from crude oil to soybeans.

      In a year of flux marked by industrial capacity cuts, environmental curbs and financial deleveraging, demand for raw materials has continued to grow in the world’s biggest consumer, helping drive a second annual gain in global commodity returns.

    • Blockchain or Blockheads? Bitcoin Mania Mints Believers and Skeptics

      Sometimes life shows you what absurd really is. This is one of those times. I’m talking about the phenomenon known as Bitcoin, a monetary system based on computation, complex algorithms and — let’s face it — communal delusion.

      You’ve probably heard about this funny money, digital tokens that can be sent securely from computer to computer, with records kept through an online accounting system known as blockchain. (My colleague Nathaniel Popper has been writing great stuff about it.)

      Millions of people now have accounts with Coinbase, the leading marketplace for digital currencies. And the rush into the market has helped push prices up. At the beginning of last year, you could pick up a Bitcoin (not literally, because they’re virtual, DUH) for about a thousand bucks. Its gyrations briefly brought its price near $20,000, according to Blockchain.info, which tracks such things.

    • Theresa May mocked for suggesting Tories to thank for credit card charge ban imposed by EU

      Theresa May has been mocked for claiming credit for an EU policy to protect consumers from rip-off payment card charges.

      Retailers, airlines and other businesses have been banned from hitting shoppers with hidden surcharges when they use credit or debit cards – sometimes as high as 20 per cent – which costs consumers around £166m each year.

      MEPs criticised the Government for claiming responsibility for the move, which comes as part of a broad range of new payment regulations based on an EU–wide directive that was spearheaded by left-wing politicians in the European Parliament.

      The Government must comply with EU directives until Britain leaves the bloc, although these changes will become part of UK law so will remain after Brexit.

    • Our historic Brexit vote could now be reversed, admits Nigel Farage

      Nigel Farage today makes a dramatic admission that the vote for Brexit could be overturned because Remainers have seized control of the argument over Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

      The former Ukip leader told the Observer that he was becoming increasingly worried that the Leave camp had stopped fighting their corner, leaving a well-funded and organised Remain operation free to influence the political and public debate without challenge.

      “The Remain side are making all the running,” said Farage. “They have a majority in parliament, and unless we get ourselves organised we could lose the historic victory that was Brexit.”

      On Thursday Farage angered many Brexiters, and many in Ukip, when he said he was coming round to the view that the country might need to hold a second referendum in order to close down the EU argument for good.

    • Watch This Mesmerizing Video of One Year’s Development in Bitcoin Core

      1 activated soft fork (SegWit) 1,843 pull requests (a formal request to add a contribution) 1,195 pull requests merged (when a contribution is accepted) 21,153 GitHub comments 3,277 commits 161 Git contributors 713 GitHub contributors Bitcoin Development: Decentralized and Open? Or Exclusive?

    • More Americans migrated to Norway than the other way around in 2016

      Norwegians generally live longer than Americans. There’s a generous safety net of health care and pensions. And although it’s pricey, the country last year was named the happiest on Earth.

      President Donald Trump says the United States should take in more Norwegians, but is it any wonder that more Americans are going the other way?

      The country of 5.2 million people that seldom makes global headlines awoke Friday to the news that Trump wanted to have more immigrants from Norway, rather than Haiti and countries in Africa that he disparaged with a vulgar term.

    • Bitcoin Mania

      The first time I bought virtual money, in October 2017, bitcoins, the cryptocurrency everyone by now has heard of, were trading at $5,919.20. A month later, as I started writing this, a single coin sold for $2,000 more. “Coin” is a metaphor. A cryptocurrency such as bitcoin is purely digital: it is a piece of code—a string of numbers and letters—that uses encryption techniques and a decentralized computer network to process transactions and generate new units. Its value derives entirely from people’s perception of what it is worth. The same might be said of paper money, now divorced from gold and silver, or of gold and silver for that matter. Money is a human invention. It has value because we say it does.

      In 2008, when a person or persons going by the name Satoshi Nakamoto published the whitepaper “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” bitcoins were worth nothing because they didn’t exist. Three months later, when the first version of bitcoin software was released by Nakamoto and the inaugural bitcoins were traded, they were essentially free. By September 2010, a single bitcoin cost about six cents. By June 2011, it was $22.59. And while the price had its ups and downs, the overall trend was up, up, up. By the end of 2013, as the idea of a currency controlled exclusively by computers running cryptographic algorithms created and traded without the intercession of a central bank, a nation-state, a taxation authority, or any kind of regulation began to take hold, especially among libertarians and those unsettled by the financial crisis, as well as among black-market criminals and terrorists, it was nearly $1,000.* The higher the price, the greater the interest of investors and speculators, which propelled the price even higher.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Scammy Lawyer Award Company Sends C&D To Website For Pointing Out Its Scammy Behavior

      Appealing to someone’s ego is profitable. Lawyers of Distinction names many, many lawyers to its “distinction” list every year. Some people believe this actually means something. But it doesn’t, as Kelsey Butchcoe explained late last year in a post for marketing blog Mockingbird. A lawyer getting a letter from Lawyers of Distinction announcing their selection to the vaunted “top 10%” is, in reality, getting nothing more than unsolicited marketing materials.

      Following up with Lawyers of Distinction provides curious attorneys the opportunity to spend $425-775 annually to obtain plaques, “crystals,” and backlinks to their law firm websites from LoD. Following up further, as Butchcoe did, also uncovers the fact Lawyers of Distinction’s prestigious awards emanate from a UPS Store in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    • Censor Board wasn’t happy with ending of Sholay, had to change it: Ramesh Sippy

      Recalling his own brush with censorship, Sholay director Ramesh Sippy told the audience at the Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) how he had to change the ending of the iconic film because the Censor Board did not quite take to the end envisaged by him. Sippy (70), who was awarded the ‘PIFF Distinguished Personality Award’ at the festival, made the revelation while being interviewed by Dr Jabbar Patel, during a PIFF Forum at the Raj Kapoor Pavilion.

    • Ahead of March elections, Egypt extends state of emergency and tightens censorship

      The New York Times reported this week that Egypt ordered a criminal investigation into the paper over its report alleging that an intelligence officer told several TV hosts they should persuade viewers to accept President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The investigation comes in the same week that Egypt’s parliament voted for a third time to extend a state of emergency.

    • Facebook Takes Another Stab at Soft Censorship Through Modified “Trustworthy” Newsfeed

      In a move that is set to infuriate news organizations that are not deemed “trustworthy”, Facebook is set to introduce “sweeping changes” to its newsfeed as early as next week, prioritizing trustworthy sites and removing “clickbait” and low quality news publishers, while promoting posts from friends and family, the WSJ reports.

      Under its new approach, Facebook would evaluate parameters such as public polling about news outlets, and whether readers are willing to pay for news from particular publishers. Such variables would inform its algorithm that determines which publishers’ posts are pushed higher in the feed, one of the people said.

      It is not known how Facebook will decide which publications are deemed trustworthy.

    • Universities have become islands of censorship and propaganda

      The core components of what university is supposed to be about – learning, debating, challenging our own viewpoints – have come under assault from professors, students, and those who do not believe in the exchange of ideas.

      We have come to a time where the university environment doesn’t promote the right to free speech and open debate. This trend has been present across the UK, but notably at some universities in London such as UCL, where an upcoming talk by Israeli speaker Hen Mazzig has come under attack by the UCL Friends of Palestine Society.

    • Book Review: Cultural Stagnation bred by Vietnamese censorship

      Can a nation develop commerce but not its culture? Thomas Bass’ new book Censorship in Vietnam: Brave New World takes a deep dive into the perilous world of Vietnamese expression. It is a country with some of the world’s least penetrable politics.

      A culture of silence dominates the ruling Communist Party, with vital policy discussions among politicians shrouded in secrecy. The few foreign correspondents in the country are mostly kept out of the political loop, left largely with unverifiable rumors as to where power lies in the country.

      Vietnamese citizens have even less information. The details of the party’s business generally are is presumed to be the party’s business alone, with information kept under state control. Save for dissident bloggers on social media, the state effectively silences independent voices through its grip on media.

    • Keeping an ‘i’ out for censorship, no matter vat

      Bollywood has an extra ‘i’ floating around. It came from the movie Padmavati which changed its name by deed poll to Padmavat, and will probably remain that way till someone discovers that ‘vat’ means ‘a large vessel especially for holding liquors in an immature state’.

      And then the manure will hit the fan again. Our queen Padma in a large vessel especially for holding liquors? They will ask before rushing off to burn a bus or two. And which is the immature state? Rajasthan? Bollywood? Is Bollywood a State? While that is being sorted out, they will shut down theatres, talk threateningly of our glorious past, and demand that beef eaters drop all consonants from their names.

    • Censorship wins no arguments and just helps the right

      How you think is as important as what you think. If you believe you can ban your way to victory by mounting heresy hunts against all who veer from the true faith, you will not only deserve to lose by some airy moral reckoning. You will lose whether you deserve to or not. As losing is no longer a trivial event in the age of Brexit and Trump, it is worth understanding the consequences of going beyond the old liberal principle that only demagogues who incite violence should be banned.

      The moral arguments against censorship are so old I can recite them in my sleep. The practical case against a “liberal” movement that reaches for the censor’s red pen like a drunk reaching for a bottle deserves more attention.

    • ‘Shadow banning’: How Twitter secretly censors conservatives without them even knowing it
    • HIDDEN CAMERA: Twitter Engineers To “Ban a Way of Talking” Through “Shadow Banning”
    • Is Twitter Really Censoring Free Speech?
    • Amid Protests, Iran’s Government Censors Its Critics With Chinese-Style Internet Control

      Late last month, as nationwide street protests entered their fourth day, Iran’s interior minister, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, issued a statement darkly warning that online social networks in the country were being used to create “violence and fear.” A day earlier, the internet as a whole had briefly flickered offline throughout Iran in what was widely interpreted as a government-engineered throttling. Following Fazli’s statement, the government blocked access to the photo-sharing site Instagram, as well as Telegram, a secure messaging app used by 40 million Iranians per month that had begun to emerge as a key organizing tool for protesters.

      The shutdown of Telegram and the brief closure of the internet as a whole are signs of the Islamic Republic’s increasing technical capacity to manage its citizens’ access to the global web. A new report by the Center for Human Rights in Iran, “Guards at the Gate: The Expanding State Control Over the Internet in Iran,” paints a grim picture of the Islamic Republic’s growing ability to control and stymie the flow of information online.

    • Deadline looms for abortionists to justify video censorship [Ed: The 'pro-lifers' engaging in all sorts of harassment, then claiming to be victims of censorship.]
    • Welcome to new era of global digital censorship

      Score one for the censors.

      In the battle over what limits should be imposed on online free speech, regulators worldwide are on the offensive.

      France has proposed banning so-called fake news during the country’s future elections, while in Germany, new hate speech rules impose fines of up to €50 million on social media companies that don’t delete harmful content within 24 hours of being notified.

      The growing push to control what can be published online will again take center stage this week when the European Commission publishes its biannual report Thursday on how Facebook, Google and Twitter are handling the hate speech lurking in social media’s darker nooks and crannies. (The likely outcome: EU policymakers will complain that companies aren’t doing enough, and threaten them with more regulation.)

    • Musicians need an association: Chief censor

      There should be an association for musicians, says Chief Censor Steven Mala.

      This is also a dream for many musicians, who have been looking to the PNG Censorship Board and the government to assist them with.

      But Mala says the formation of an association has to be an independent one, free from government interference.

    • “Ndizakupanga rape” wakes up sleeping Malawi Censorship Board

      Established under the Censorship and Control of Entertainment Act, the Malawi Censorship Board was given mandate to censor published and other entertainment materials but the board has not always been active.

      The public in Malawi has been fed with materials through publication of books and entertainment materials that raise eyebrows as to whether the censorship board is still operational in the country.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Senate To Vote Tuesday On Surveillance Bill; Four Senators Try To Rally Others To Oppose

      Following yesterday’s bizarre vote in the House, in which many members who opposed President Donald Trump and warn about his abuses of office voted to give him much greater surveillance capabilities, the issue quickly moved to the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a procedural move to ensure no amendments are added, and the bill the Senate will vote on will be basically the awful bill in the House.

    • Rights in the age of big data

      “What do judges know that we cannot teach a computer?” There is a substantial public sentiment that distrusts legal rules and state structures and looks to technology for solutions. After all, many trust their smartphones more than they trust their government. But what may seem as a fairly modern libertarian opinion, voiced in pitch decks and technology conferences, and buoyed by the success of the information economy, has much deeper roots. Such ambitions of a technology centric society were voiced more than forty years ago by John McCarthy, an influential computer scientist and professor at Stanford who coined the term, “artificial intelligence”, and nurtured it into a formal field of research. It was not that such assertions were without prominent challengers, noticeably Joseph Weizenbaum whose 1976 book titled Computer Power and Human Reason put people at the centre of technological progress, rather than being its subjects.

    • Apple: Chinese firm to operate China iCloud accounts

      Apple’s iCloud services in mainland China will be operated by a Chinese company from next month, the tech giant has confirmed.

      It has contacted customers based in China, advising them to examine new terms and conditions.

      They include a clause that both Apple and the Chinese firm will have access to all data stored on iCloud.

    • Facebook warned it faces legal action from ‘revenge porn’ victims
    • Aadhaar: Doubts linger

      The planned introduction of a 16-digit “Virtual ID” for Aadhaar may be a good security measure, but it may have been thought of a little too late. The Virtual ID is a clear response to the credibility hit the Aadhaar system and its database faced following the newspaper expose of how it could be breached with an electronic payment to agents selling a gateway for illegal access.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Uber’s Secret Tool for Keeping the Cops in the Dark

      At least two dozen times, the San Francisco headquarters locked down equipment in foreign offices to shield files from police raids.

    • Uber developed secret system to lock down staff computers in a police raid

      Uber developed a secret system called Ripley that would lock down staff computers in the event of a police raid, preventing officials from accessing company data.

      The ride-sharing company used Ripley at least two dozen times in 2015 and 2016 in countries including Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Hong Kong, according to Bloomberg.

    • A woman’s choice – sexual favours or lose her home

      Across the US, sexual harassment at the hands of landlords, property managers and others in the housing industry can drive poor women and their children into homelessness. It is a problem badly understood and virtually unstudied.
      Khristen Sellers needed a home.
      The previous few years had been a struggle. She’d left an abusive relationship, been arrested, wandered out and then back into her children’s lives. Just as she seemed to be getting back on track, a probation violation sent Sellers to prison for the first time.
      After five months, she returned to her hometown of Laurinburg, North Carolina. She was broke and homeless, starting over at the age of 29. She slept on couches. She got a job at a supermarket, then another at a fast-food restaurant.

    • British worker thrown in Dubai prison for asking crooked car dealer “How do you sleep at night?” message on Whatsapp

      Here’s another reason never to set foot in Dubai: You can be imprisoned for complaining about being ripped off.

    • James Damore’s lawsuit partner says Google is dominated by a racist, man-hating ‘hate group’

      “I don’t hate Google, and I certainly don’t hate the people who work there,” writes Gudeman. “I wouldn’t want this suit to give people a bad opinion of Googlers, but, honestly, they brought this on themselves for tolerating the hatred, racism, and misandry of a small but vocal and organized subgroup who want to use Google as a vehicle of social change rather than as a vehicle of delivering excellent service and products to their customers.”

    • Time’s Up Activists Warn Trump’s “Shithole Countries” Remark Will Embolden White Supremacists

      As outrage grows over President Trump’s “shithole countries” remark, we speak to five women who took part in Sunday’s Time’s Up protest at the Golden Globes: Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement; actress Shailene Woodley; Mónica Ramírez of the National Farmworker Women’s Alliance; Calina Lawrence of the Suquamish Tribe; and Ai-jen Poo of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Susan Collins, Angus King back bill to reverse FCC vote against net neutrality

      “The FCC’s recent action to repeal net neutrality threatens to undermine its positive impact by stifling innovation and putting access and connection speeds for sale to the highest bidder,” said King in a prepared statement. “It is crucial we defend net neutrality and I will work to ensure that this misguided repeal is never implemented.”

      Collins said through a spokeswoman, Annie Clark, that she also would support Markey’s legislation.

    • Comcast’s Sneaky Cable Fees Have Jumped 241% in the Last Three Years

      Thanks to limited competition, Comcast has also slowly but surely imposed arbitrary and unnecessary usage caps and overage fees on its broadband subscribers as well. Such restrictions not only make broadband more expensive overall, but Comcast tends to exempt its own streaming services from the limits, making it a wonderful way to hamstring competing services that still count against the cap (aka zero rating).

    • Colorado Cities Keep Voting To Build Their Own Broadband Networks

      So we’ve long mentioned how incumbent ISPs like Comcast have spent millions of dollars quite literally buying shitty, protectionist laws in more than twenty states. These laws either ban or heavily hamstring towns and cities from building their own broadband networks, or in some cases from even engaging in public/private partnerships. It’s a scenario where ISPs get to have their cake and eat it too; they often refuse to upgrade their networks in under-served areas (particularly true among telcos offering DSL), but also get to write shitty laws preventing these under-served towns from doing anything about it.

      This dance of dysfunction has been particularly interesting in Colorado, however. While lobbyists for Comcast and CenturyLink managed to convince state leaders to pass such a law (SB 152) in 2005, the legislation contains a provision that lets individual Colorado towns and cities ignore the measure with a simple referendum. With frustration mounting over sub-standard broadband and awful customer service, more than 100 towns and cities have done so thus far.

    • Harvard Study Shows Why Big Telecom Is Terrified of Community-Run Broadband

      According to the new study by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, community-owned broadband networks provide consumers with significantly lower rates than their private-sector counterparts.

    • With new Chinese link, Nepal ends India’s Internet monopoly

      More than 60 per cent of Nepal’s 28 million people had access to the Internet last year, up from just 19 per cent in 2012.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Protection for GUIs restricted to specific hardware carriers in China

      A recent court case in China has clarified the scope of protection afforded by registered designs for graphical user interfaces (GUIs).

      In recent years, intellectual property laws in various countries have been changed to extend the protection afforded by registered designs (which protect the appearance of products) to GUIs. This enables protection to be sought for the appearance of software on a display screen (e.g. in the form of icons, etc.), which is of increasing importance in the world of smartphones and tablets.

      [...]

      Thus, it seems unlikely that it will be possible to obtain a valid right for a registered design directed solely to a GUI in China, without its accompanying hardware carrier being shown. However, partial design protection in available in other countries, e.g. in the EU. This means that registered design protection for GUIs on their own (without their carrier) may be validly obtained outside of China.

    • Copyrights

      • Swedish Supreme Court confirms that domain names constitute property that can be seized by the state

        The saga behind the decision I am going to report on first started in April 2015, when prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad directed claims against Fredrik Neij (one of the creators of The Pirate Bay) in an effort to disrupt the operation of The Pirate Bay website in Sweden.

        Ingblad also filed a complaint against Punkt SE (IIS), the organisation responsible for Sweden’s .se top-level domain. Mr Ingblad argued that the domains ‘ThePirateBay.se’ and ‘PirateBay.se’ were used as “tools” to aid and abet copyright infringement and should therefore be seized by the Swedish state.

      • Ed Sheeran-Penned Song for Tim McGraw Is Target of Copyright Lawsuit

        Richard Busch, who successfully won a trial for the family of Marvin Gaye in the “Blurred Lines” lawsuit, is representing the plaintiff. The Nashville-based attorney previously took on Sheeran in a $20 million copyright lawsuit over another hit, “Photograph.” That case ended in a settlement that resulted in two suing songwriters being added to credits and gaining a significant share of royalties.

        Now, with song theft allegations continuing to draw great attention (see the fuss this week over how the publisher of Radiohead’s “Creep” is making legal demands over Lana Del Rey’s “Get Free”), three music superstars along with co-writers Johnny McDaid and Amy Wadge as well as music industry giants Sony/ATV, Universal Polygram, WB Music plus others must respond to new charges of ripping off material. In this case, it’s alleged that the copying was fully known by employees of Sony Music.

      • Commission claims that general monitoring is not general monitoring

        Will everything we do on the internet be monitored and checked against by a non-transparent mechanism that decides what can be published? It is a real threat, and currently it is coming from an area that patently does not require such draconian measures: EU copyright law. This threat is a peculiar one, because there are actually explicit safeguards in existing EU law designed to prevent general monitoring of users’ communications.

      • Coalition Against Piracy Launches Landmark Case Against ‘Pirate’ Android Box Sellers

        The recently-formed Coalition Against Piracy, which counts Disney, Fox, Sony, HBO, NBCUniversal, BBC Worldwide and StarHub among its members, will tread new ground today when it attempts a private prosecution of ‘pirate’ Android box sellers in Singapore. In what many believe is a legal gray area, the anti-piracy outfit will seek a win in order to suppress further sales in the region.

      • Netflix, Amazon, and major studios sue maker of “free TV” box

        The Dragon Box uses Kodi and Android software to help users access video, and the Dragon Box website says the device “acts merely as an index (or directory) of media posted by other enthusiasts on the Internet, which is completely outside of our control.”

      • Are Torrent Sites Using DMCA Notices to Quash Their Competition?

        It’s well known that copyright holders can use DMCA notices to remove infringing content from search engines such as Google. However, it appears that torrent sites are also being targeted by fraudulent requests, possibly submitted their own competitors.

      • ISP: We’re Cooperating With Police Following Pirate IPTV Raid

        This week police across Europe coordinated to shut down what is claimed to be one of the world’s largest pirate IPTV networks. Following raids in Cyprus, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, and Greece, TorrentFreak identified the ISP from where the illicit operation allegedly broadcast to the world. Located in a small Bulgarian town, the ISP says it is cooperating with the police to identify the suspects.

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