Links 6/2/2018: MenuLibre 2.1.5, ZFS On Linux 0.7.6

Posted in News Roundup at 7:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • How to start an open source program in your company

    Many internet-scale companies, including Google, Facebook, and Twitter, have established formal open source programs (sometimes referred to as open source program offices, or OSPOs for short), a designated place where open source consumption and production is supported inside a company. With such an office in place, any business can execute its open source strategies in clear terms, giving the company tools needed to make open source a success. An open source program office’s responsibilities may include establishing policies for code use, distribution, selection, and auditing; engaging with open source communities; training developers; and ensuring legal compliance.

  • New open source platform offers secure, self-hosted collaboration

    As businesses are keen to embrace flexible working and digital transformation, there’s increased focus on collaboration and sharing of information.

    But with existing regulations like HIPAA and upcoming ones like GDPR it’s important to keep collaboration secure. German company Nextcloud is launching a solution in the form of a self-hosted, open source platform offering end-to-end encryption, video and text chat, and enhanced collaboration.

  • Nextcloud 13 Brings Improved UI, Video and Text Chat, End-to-end Encryption, Improved performance and more

    Nextcloud 13 is out after 9 months of development and testing. This release brings improvements to the core File Sync and Share like easier moving of files and a tech preview of our end-to-end encryption for the ultimate protection of your data. It also introduces collaboration and communication capabilities, like auto-complete of comments and integrated real-time chat and video communication. Last but not least, Nextcloud was optimized and tuned to deliver up to 80% faster LDAP, much faster object storage and Windows Network Drive performance and a smoother user interface. Read on to find out what else is new and don’t miss our thanks and invitation on the bottom!

  • Open Source as a driver of VoIP communications innovation

    Today, we’re seeing the same software giants ride the wave of popularity surrounding open source solutions, releasing portions of their code to users at no cost. Is this a generous gesture to help the cause or a more calculated attempt to get the developer community to offer up advice on how to improve their products? You can be the judge.

  • Nordic Free Software Award reborn

    Remember the glorious year 2009 when I won the Nordic Free Software Award?

    This award tradition that was started in 2007 was put on a hiatus after 2010 (I believe) and there has not been any awards handed out since, and we have not properly shown our appreciation for the free software heroes of the Nordic region ever since.

  • What lies ahead for open source?

    Simon Phipps, past president of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and founder of UK-based open source management consulting company, Meshed Insights, points out that without open source, we might not have the Internet or the worldwide web; our computers and mobile devices might be very different; cloud computing and the Internet of Things would probably be impossible to scale, and Google and Facebook might not exist.

  • Open Source Turns 20, Powers Computing as We Know It Today
  • Open source software turns 20

    First let me say in full disclaimer that I love open source software and initiatives, and I come from the enterprise world as it where in 1998. The days where IT budgets were as fat as overfed guppy goldfish, and open source tech was barely used in production environments.

  • 5 best software for writing guitar tablature and never miss a note

    LilyPond is another useful software that provides music notation for everyone. This music engraving tool is devoted to creating the highest-quality sheet music.


    This is a free software that is a part of the GNU Project.

  • Events

    • Libre Graphics World: 2018 in perspective

      It’s arguable, but by now, it’s pretty safe to say that the proverbial year of Linux on the desktop is never happening. But… do we really need it so much? Especially if there an impressive lineup of upcoming libre software releases set for 2018? Let’s see what this year is bringing us.

    • DevConf 2018

      Robbie Harwood gave an overview of Kerberos for Developers. Kerberos has a reputation for being difficult to use and manage. As far as I can tell, maintaining a server can still be tricky but using it as a developer has improved significantly. There are several libraries available, including bindings in python which were demoed. Although I don’t do much with Kerberos applications usually, it’s good to know there are easy to use APIs available.

      There was a joint presentation on Hardware Root of Trust. This was an overview of current TPM support. TPMs have historically been somewhat controversial as they have been associated with reducing user freedom. TPMs are also very good at providing a secure way to store keys for protecting data, which was much of the focus of the talk. There’s been ongoing work to make TPMs do useful things such as disk encryption. The TPM software support has come a long way and I look forward to seeing new uses.

      Ulrich Drepper gave a talk on processor architectures. This seemed very timely given the recent speculative execution shenanigans. There was a lot of focus on the existing Intel architecture and its limitations. We’re beginning to hit physical limits to increase speed (see the slides about memory power use). As processor architectures get more complex, compilers and programmers have to improve as well. Sometimes I do miss working with hardware (until it breaks of course).

    • SnowCamp 2018 Trip Report

      Last week, Red Hat was present at the SnowCamp conference in Grenoble, France. The SnowCamp is a technical conference that includes a unique combination of deep dive sessions (universities), technical talks, and a final day on the ski slopes. With around 400 attendees and 70 sessions, this third edition of the SnowCamp was a great opportunity to meet the developers from the Grenoble area, in the most innovative city in the world (Source: Forbes and Mashable). Red Hatters presented 2 universities and 7 talks covering many projects and products, such as OpenShift, Infinispan, Monitoring, and Containers.

  • Web Browsers

    • Fun with numbers

      And now Google is doing their own thing. Some positive parts about it, but by focusing on filtering annoying types of ad units they’re closer to the Adblock Plus “Acceptable Ads” racket than to a real solution. So it’s better to let Ben Williams at Adblock Plus explain that one. I still don’t get how it is that so many otherwise capable people come up with “let’s filter superficial annoyances and not fundamental issues” and “let’s shake down legit publishers for cash” as solutions to the web advertising problem, though. Especially when $16 billion in adfraud is just sitting there. It’s almost as if the Lumascape doesn’t care about fraud because it’s priced in so it comes out of the publisher’s share anyway.

    • Mozilla

      • How to build your own private smart home with a Raspberry Pi and Mozilla’s Things Gateway

        Last year we announced Project Things by Mozilla. Project Things is a framework of software and services that can bridge the communication gap between connected devices by giving “things” URLs on the web.

        Today I’m excited to tell you about the latest version of the Things Gateway and how you can use it to directly monitor and control your home over the web, without a middleman. Instead of installing a different mobile app for every smart home device you buy, you can manage all your devices through a single secure web interface. This blog post will explain how to build your own Web of Things gateway with a Raspberry Pi and use it to connect existing off-the-shelf smart home products from various different brands using the power of the open web.

      • Announcing “Project Things” – An open framework for connecting your devices to the web.

        Last year, we said that Mozilla is working to create a framework of software and services that can bridge the communication gap between connected devices. Today, we are pleased to announce that anyone can now build their own Things Gateway to control their connected device directly from the web.

        We kicked off “Project Things”, with the goal of building a decentralized ‘Internet of Things’ that is focused on security, privacy, and interoperability. Since our announcement last year, we have continued to engage in open and collaborative development with a community of makers, testers, contributors, and end-users, to build the foundation for this future.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Licensing/Legal

    • How to Leverage Vendors’ Forms to Address the Customers’ Needs

      Open Source. Ideally, any open source or similar publicly available software incorporated into the software would be specifically identified in the documentation and reviewed by the customer as part of its vendor due diligence. Customers should consider including representations by the vendor that the software will be free from any “viral” open source software (e.g., a GNU general public license) that could result in obligations for disclosure of the source code or free licensing of the software or any software used in connection with the software.

    • Why GPL violations are bad – Gary explains

      Open-source software has revolutionized the computing in the past few decades. Have an Android smartphone? That uses open-source software. The server hosting this website is running open-source software. Parts of macOS use open-source software. Same with the iPhone. I could go on, the point is that open source software is everywhere.

      Open-source software is as much a social contract as it is a legal agreement. That is why companies that break the open-source “contract” are immoral and unjust. Over the years there have been quite a few companies and individuals that have violated the open-source ethos and often it is consumer pressure, and the occasional court case, that brings the offenders to repentance. So, what is open source? What are the licenses governing it? How do companies violate it? Let me explain.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • New open source drug discovery project aims to develop mycetoma treatment

      The MycetOS (Mycetoma Open Source) project was launched today by the University of Sydney, Erasmus MC, and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) to use an Open Pharma approach to discover compounds that could lead to new treatments for patients suffering from fungal mycetoma (eumycetoma), a devastating disease for which current treatments are ineffective, expensive, and toxic.

    • Open Data

      • Open source software bill advances in House, but doesn’t ditch the DUNS

        The ongoing debate on how the federal government processes its spending data continued Tuesday, as the House Oversight Committee approved a bill that would allow agencies to use open source elements for the electronic tracking of grant information. The markup also included a tit-for-tat about the bill’s potential long-term impact.

        The committee advanced the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency (GREAT) Act by voice vote after tacking on an amendment by Gerry Connolly, D-Va., to give the executive branch more latitude in implementing the legislation. The bill would overhaul the government’s reporting structure for grant and cooperative agreements by requiring that agencies use nonproprietary, or open source, data taxonomies and identifiers for grantees.

        The current identifiers, maintained by contractor Dun & Bradstreet, are known as the data universal numbering system, or DUNS. It requires grantees and contractors to purchase a software license to access the government’s data system to receive funds.

  • Programming/Development

    • UQDS: A software-development process that puts quality first

      The Ultimate Quality Development System (UQDS) is a software development process that provides clear guidelines for how to use branches, tickets, and code reviews. It was invented more than a decade ago by Divmod and adopted by Twisted, an event-driven framework for Python that underlies popular commercial platforms like HipChat as well as open source projects like Scrapy (a web scraper).

      Divmod, sadly, is no longer around—it has gone the way of many startups. Luckily, since many of its products were open source, its legacy lives on.

      When Twisted was a young project, there was no clear process for when code was “good enough” to go in. As a result, while some parts were highly polished and reliable, others were alpha quality software—with no way to tell which was which. UQDS was designed as a process to help an existing project with definite quality challenges ramp up its quality while continuing to add features and become more useful.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • A 2018 Status Update On The Royalty-Free AV1 Video Codec

      Among the many interesting presentations at this year’s FOSDEM event included an update on the AV1 royalty-free, open-source video codec by Mozilla/Xiph.Org’s Tim Terriberry.

      The AV1 codec continues gaining steam with even last month Apple joining the ranks of the organizations forming the Alliance for Open Media. But even with the backing of most major tech companies, AV1 still isn’t done quite yet.


  • [Old] How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds — from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist

    I learned to think this way when I was a magician. Magicians start by looking for blind spots, edges, vulnerabilities and limits of people’s perception, so they can influence what people do without them even realizing it. Once you know how to push people’s buttons, you can play them like a piano.


    We need our smartphones, notifications screens and web browsers to be exoskeletons for our minds and interpersonal relationships that put our values, not our impulses, first. People’s time is valuable. And we should protect it with the same rigor as privacy and other digital rights.

  • Hardware

    • Former Intel President Launches ARM Company Ampere

      Intel’s x86 silicon architecture has been a dominating force in data center and enterprise servers for a long time, but now a former Intel president wants that to change.

      On Feb. 5, former Intel president Renee James officially launched her new venture called Ampere. The new company uses ARM server processor to enable a new generation of server architectures fro hyperscale cloud computing. James worked ad intel from 1998 until February 2016.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • [Old] Prison’s deadliest inmate, hepatitis C, escaping

      Prisons in at least a dozen states — Alabama, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma and Virginia — are being sued over failure to treat hepatitis C.

    • Donald Trump Just Got Everything Wrong About the UK’s Health Care System

      Donald Trump is an international ignoramus. He knows so little about what is happening in so many places that when he pulls out his cellphone to tweet an observation about developments beyond the borders of the United States, the expectation is that he will get something wrong.

      But there are some issues on which he is so scorchingly ignorant that his outbursts invite a shaming rebuke from a more informed global leader.

      That happened Monday morning, when Trump decided to offer a crash course in comparative health-care systems.

    • Medicines Innovation And Access: Swiss Stimulate New Thinking

      What if reaching the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on access to health for all depended on the willingness of all actors to see beyond outdated dichotomies? The concept may seem obvious, but is easier described than done. In an effort to break silos, the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) brought together stakeholders of all sides last week to discuss how to harness political and economic will to achieve innovation leading to new medicines that are available and affordable for all in need.


      The increasing threat of antimicrobial resistance where the current innovation model is hardly applicable since the new antibiotics will have to be sparingly used, and the escalating prices of new cancer drugs give an opportunity to address the issue in-depth.

  • Security

    • Why Linux is better than Windows or macOS for security

      Enterprises invest a lot of time, effort and money in keeping their systems secure. The most security-conscious might have a security operations center. They of course use firewalls and antivirus tools. They probably spend a lot of time monitoring their networks, looking for telltale anomalies that could indicate a breach. What with IDS, SIEM and NGFWs, they deploy a veritable alphabet of defenses.

      But how many have given much thought to one of the cornerstones of their digital operations: the operating systems deployed on the workforce’s PCs? Was security even a factor when the desktop OS was selected?

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Attackers Exploiting Unpatched Flaw in Flash

      Adobe warned on Thursday that attackers are exploiting a previously unknown security hole in its Flash Player software to break into Microsoft Windows computers. Adobe said it plans to issue a fix for the flaw in the next few days, but now might be a good time to check your exposure to this still-ubiquitous program and harden your defenses.

      Adobe said a critical vulnerability (CVE-2018-4878) exists in Adobe Flash Player and earlier versions. Successful exploitation could allow an attacker to take control of the affected system.

    • Scarabey: This ransomware threatens to slowly delete your files every 24 hours until you pay up [iophk: "Microsoft Windows TCO"]

      A new variant of the malicious Scarab ransomware has been uncovered in the wild that uses a different distribution method and threat to scare victims into paying up. While the original Scarab ransomware was distributed by a massive spam campaign hosted by the Necurs botnet, the new variant dubbed “Scarabey” targets Remote Desktop Protocol connections and is manually dropped on servers and systems.

    • [Old] Forgotten Conficker worm resurfaces to infect systems with WannaCry

      Simon Edwards, European cyber security architect at Trend Micro, told SC that one of the Shadow Broker releases included a ‘new’ version of Conficker (Eclipsed Wing) which would connect it to the exploit used for WannaCry.


      “However, Trend has seen samples of this onsite in the NHS; the samples use Domain Generation Algorithms to communicate to C&C servers so generate quite a lot of network traffic. Once again patching is critical, but once again (in the case of the NHS specifically) this might not be possible for systems running critical medical equipment.”

    • Security Is Not an Absolute

      If there’s one thing I wish people from outside the security industry knew when dealing with information security, it’s that Security is not an absolute. Most of the time, it’s not even quantifiable. Even in the case of particular threat models, it’s often impossible to make statements about the security of a system with certainty.

    • Layered Insight Takes Aim at Container Security

      The market and competition for container security technology is continuing to grow. Among the newest entrants in the space is Layered Insight which announced its new CEO Sachin Aggarwal on Feb. 5.

      Layered Insight got started in January 2015 and has been quietly building its technology and a business ever since. The company has not announced any funding yet, though Layered Insight does already have product in-market as it aims to help organizations gain better visibility and control of container environments.

    • Leaked NSA hacking tools can target all Windows versions from the past two decades

      REMEMBER THOSE LEAKED NSA TOOLS? Well, they can now hack any version of Windows, not just the old version of Microsoft’s operating system.

      Researcher Sean Dillon from cybersecurity firm RiskSense tweaked the source code of three nicked NSA exploits – EternalSynergy, EternalChampion and EternalRomance – to work against Windows versions dating back as far as Windows 2000.

      Going by the name of ‘zerosum0x0′ on GitHub and Twitter (hat tip to Betanews for that), Dillon noted his modifications to the code exploits the CVE-2017-0143 and CVE-2017-0146 vulnerabilities in numerous versions of unpatched Windows OS.

    • AutoSploit: Mass Exploitation Just Got a Lot Easier

      In the meantime, others in the open source community have stepped up to prevent some of the worst potential damage from AutoSploit. Security expert Jerry Gamblin posted to GitHub his own bit of code that he says will block Shodan from being able to scan your systems. However, it is questionable as to whether this response will be widely used, considering the generally poor performance of the software industry for implementing critical patches when they are announced from the project managers themselves.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Understanding Russia, Un-Demonizing Putin

      Russian President Vladimir Putin obviously has his faults and has made his share of mistakes. Yet, my experiences with him, as well as what I have heard over the years from people I trust –– including U.S. officials who have with him worked closely –– indicate that Putin is essentially a straightforward, reliable and exceptionally inventive man.

      The Russian president is clearly a long-term thinker and planner and has proven to be an excellent analyst and strategist. He is a leader who can quietly work toward his goals under mounds of accusations and myths that have been steadily leveled at him since he became the Russian Federation’s second president.


      I’ve been in country long enough to reflect deeply on Russian history and culture, to study their psychology and conditioning, and to understand the marked differences between American and Russian mentalities which so complicate our political relations with their leaders.

      As with personalities in a family or a civic club or in a city hall, it takes understanding and compromise to be able to create workable relationships when basic conditionings are different. Washington has been notoriously disinterested in understanding these differences and attempting to meet Russia halfway.

    • Lithuania: Russia Deploying More Missiles into Kaliningrad

      Lithuania’s president said Monday Russia has deployed additional nuclear-capable missiles in its Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad on a permanent basis, calling it a threat to Europe.

      President Dalia Grybauskaite told reporters after visiting NATO troops in the central Lithuanian town of Rukla that “Iskander missiles are being stationed in Kaliningrad for permanent presence as we speak.” She called it a threat not only to Lithuania but to “half of all European countries.”

      NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller, who also visited the Rukla base where the military alliance’s multinational battalion is stationed, said Grybauskaite’s assertion, if true, was “a very serious matter,” according to the Baltic news agency BNS.

    • FUTY shut down as Christian, Muslim students clash

      According to the students who are currently on the run following the unrest at the campus, few weeks to the Student Union Government, SUG election, there was a threat by a student on a Facebook page warning the school authority should take action against the alleged claim of blasphemy or the Muslim students would take all necessary action to stop academic activities in the institution.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • How VW Paid $25 Billion for Dieselgate — And Got Off Easy

      On Dec. 6, former Volkswagen engineer Oliver Schmidt was led into a federal courtroom in Detroit in handcuffs and leg irons. He was wearing a blood-red jumpsuit, his head shaved, as it always is, and his deep-set eyes seemed to ask, “how did I get here?” As Schmidt’s wife tried to suppress tears in a second-row pew, U.S. District Judge Sean Cox sentenced him to what, had it been imposed in Schmidt’s native Germany, would rank among the harshest white collar sentences ever meted out: seven years in prison.

      Schmidt was being punished for his role in VW’s “Dieselgate” scandal, one of the most audacious corporate frauds in history. Yet his sentence brought no catharsis, least of all to Cox, who at times seemed pained while imposing it. Sometimes, he told Schmidt apologetically, his job requires him to imprison “good people just making very, very bad decisions.”

  • Finance

    • China plans total ban on cryptocurrency trade, ICOs: report

      China is set to block all websites, local and foreign, connected with trading in cryptocurrencies or initial coin offerings, a newspaper affiliated to the People’s Bank of China says.

    • Stripe will establish an engineering hub in Dublin

      Stripe will open its first engineering center outside the United States in Dublin, the company told Reuters today. Dublin isn’t a surprising choice. Though the online payment processing provider is based in San Francisco, its founders are Irish and Stripe’s European headquarters are already in the Irish capital, where it has about 100 employees.

    • U.S. fintech Stripe picks Dublin for new engineering hub

      CEO Patrick Collison and head of engineering David Singleton told Reuters the firm considered placing its first few dozen engineering jobs outside of the US in countries across Europe, but settled on Ireland because of its international approach and widening talent pool.

    • 180,000 public sector employees to turn down overtime

      The overtime and shift-trading ban implemented today by municipal employees will have a negative impact on a wide variety of public services, says Henrika Nybondas-Kangas, the chief negotiator for Local Government Employers (KT).

      The Finnish Union of Practical Nurses (Super), Union of Health and Social Care Professionals (Tehy), Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors (JHL) and Public Sector Professionals (JUKO) have instructed their members to turn down all requests to work overtime and trade shifts as of Tuesday.

    • Dow Plunges 1,175, The Biggest Point Drop In History

      The stock market went on a wild ride again on Monday, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing down 1,175 points, its worst point drop in history. The Dow closed down 4.6 percent and turned negative for the year.

      At one point Monday afternoon, the Dow was down 1,579 points — the largest intraday point drop in the history of the index.

    • ‘He’s Not Streamlining the Process, He’s Just Steamrolling It’

      RG: It really looks like a fraud under the guise of an infrastructure plan, more so than an infrastructure plan itself. Typical of this White House, we’ve seen very little detail about what the plan actually calls for, except for the things that you mentioned. Just last night, we heard of the idea of $1.5 trillion in investment. But I want to dissect that a little bit, because although it sounds very good, sort of a hefty sum at $1.5 trillion, we know, through leaks and other sources, that he’s actually only trying to put down about $200 billion in terms of infrastructure.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Internal chaos after Newsweek fires staffers who reported on ownership’s financial dealings

      Moreover, those sources confirmed the dismissals of staff writers Celeste Katz and Josh Saul, reporters who had written several articles on the magazine’s financial dealings and the ongoing investigation into the publication’s parent company, Newsweek Media Group, by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Josh Keefe — an editor for International Business Times, another Newsweek Media Group property — was also fired.

    • Seattle says Facebook broke one of its campaign advertising laws

      Seattle’s election commission says Facebook broke a city law that requires it to disclose who paid for campaign ads. Reuters reports that the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission’s executive director, Wayne Barnett, said Facebook must reveal advertising spending information for last year’s city elections or potentially face fines of up to $5,000 per ad purchase.

    • Seattle says Facebook is violating city campaign finance law

      Facebook must disclose details about spending in last year’s Seattle city elections or face penalties, Wayne Barnett, executive director of the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, said in a statement.

    • Seattle: Facebook is violating city campaign finance law

      “We gave Facebook ample time to comply with the law,” Barnett said.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Reporter says he was threatened with ban from press calls after declining to alter story: report

      The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has been accused of threatening to bar a reporter from Modern Healthcare from its press calls.

      The threat came after the reporter, Virgil Dickson, claimed he did not agree to alter a story he wrote to take out a part regarding CMS administrator Seema Verma, according to the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ).

    • For an international coalition to fight Internet censorship

      The United States government, in the closest collaboration with Google, Facebook, Twitter and other powerful information technology corporations, is implementing massive restrictions on Internet access to socialist, antiwar and progressive websites. Similar repressive policies are being enacted by capitalist governments in Europe and throughout the world.

    • Two TV Stations Shut by Kenya Government Resume Broadcasting

      wo Kenyan television channels shut down by the government over their coverage of the political opposition resumed partial broadcasting on Monday although a third channel remained off the air.

      NTV resumed broadcasting on pay-to-view channels, it announced on its Twitter feed, although its free-to-air channel was still off. KTN News resumed on its free-to-air channel.

    • Two Kenya TV stations resume broadcasting after days shut by govt

      Two Kenyan television channels shut down by the government over their coverage of the political opposition resumed partial broadcasting on Monday, although a third channel remained off the air.

      The unprecedented act of censorship sparked a local and international backlash against the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who won an election in October.

    • From #MeToo to #RiceBunny: How social media users are campaigning in China

      So reads the opening line of a discussion page for the #MeToo campaign in China, posted on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.

      “Rice bunny” (米兔), pronounced as “mi tu”, is a nickname given to the #MeToo campaign by Chinese social media users.

      The #RiceBunny hashtag, accompanied by emojis of rice bowls and bunny heads, is used by Chinese women to expose sexual harassment — often in conjunction with other Chinese hashtags, such as #IAmAlso (#我也是)and #MeTooInChina (#MeToo在中国).

    • Disagreement cannot extend to censorship

      While it is alarming, it is not entirely unexpected that debate around the film Inxeba has descended into threats of violence and the cancellation of screenings mere days after its general release in South African cinemas. For it was less than six months ago that Nakhane, the film’s lead actor, first received death threats, and the AmaXhosa King, Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu, expressed his intention to halt distribution of the film.

    • Objection to ‘Inxeba’ is censorship

      The release of local movie, Inxeba, in SA at the weekend was met with derision from certain quarters.

      But those opposed to the now controversial movie have not done their cause any good in the way they have gone about it.

      Inxeba, The Wound, is based on the Xhosa rite of passage but with a homosexual twist to the tale. Critics, many without as much as seeing the film, have declared that it ridicules and disrespects the Xhosa culture and the initiation tradition.

    • facebook on trial after censoring courbet’s ‘origin of the world’ painting

      in 1866 gustave courbet—a french painter who led the realism movement in the 19th-century—realized ‘l’origine du monde’, a famous painting also known as ‘the origin of the world.’ quite controversial for its time, the picture depicts a naked woman lying on the bed with her legs spread.

    • Judge Dismisses Libel Suit Involving ProPublica Article

      A judge in Brooklyn has thrown out a libel lawsuit against two reporters brought by the subjects of a 2015 ProPublica investigation that raised serious concerns about lax state oversight of nursing home ownership in New York.

      Kings County Supreme Court Justice Paul Wooten held that the article was not libelous because it was a “fair and true report” of actions taken by state and federal agencies. New York law generally shields accurate accounts of official government actions from claims of libel (which refers to false statements that harm a person’s reputation). That’s to insulate government watchdog reporting from the chilling effect of litigation.

      Wooten decided the case last month, but the opinion was published electronically on Monday.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • UK hacker [sic] Love wins appeal against extradition to US

      British security researcher Lauri Love has won an appeal against extradition to the US to face charges of allegedly breaching the computer networks of a number of federal government agencies.

    • Courage statement on Lauri Love’s extradition ruling

      I am absolutely thrilled for Lauri, his family, friends, his legal team and all the supporters who have worked so hard to bring us to this point. As we demonstrated at appeal, Lauri was only ever in this position because he had been marked out for unfair, discriminatory and vindictive treatment. With any luck, today’s ruling will mean that prosecuting authorities finally start respecting the clear will of the British public: we do not extradite our geeks to face medieval punishment in the United States.

    • Hacker [sic] suspect Lauri Love avoids extradition to the US

      In 2013 Love was accused of hacking [sic] into several high-level targets in the United States, among them the FBI, NASA, and the Federal Reserve. If found guilty in a US court, he could have faced a sentence of up to 99 years in prison.

      Following the verdict on Monday, 32- year old Love thanked everybody for their support, however he is not yet in the clear as he could still be charged an tried for his offences in Britain

    • Protesters block light rail, rally outside U.S. Bank Stadium

      At three sites near and around downtown Minneapolis, activists tried to disrupt Super Bowl festivities on Sunday afternoon by blocking streets, light-rail trains and, briefly, a stadium entrance.

    • Ex Google and Facebook Employees Are Banding Together to Protect Kids From Social Media Addiction

      The Silicon Valley insiders are now acting as outsiders in launching their new organization, The Center for Humane Technology. They are starting a campaign called The Truth About Tech, funded in part by $7 million from the non-profit media watchdog group Common Sense Media, which will help drive the movement forward across the country.

    • Early Facebook and Google employees are planning to lobby against tech addiction

      His new organization moves away from helping people take control of their time, and focuses instead on raising awareness of what he believes are the manipulative design techniques of, as he put it in a recent Bloomberg interview, a “civilization-scale mind-control machine.”

    • Stockholm academic’s death sentence in Iran ‘definitive’: lawyer

      The sentence was met with protests by Amnesty International, the UN and Sweden’s Foreign Ministry. An initial appeal was rejected in December, and his lawyer now says a further request to have the sentence overturned has been denied.

    • Iran Regime’s Senior Mullah Says, Protesters Are Rebels and Must Be Executed

      Following the ongoing protests by the public and the youth on February 1 on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the rule of religious fascism in Iran, Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the regime, dispatched Mullah Ahmad Khatami, member of the board of the regime’s Assembly of Experts to Tehran Friday prayer to intimidate the rising people and protesters.

    • A Longer Than Life Sentence

      At sentencing, they kind of saved me for last. I had just turned 21. It was 1998. I remember the judge saying, “Jason, I’ve thought about this all week. … I’ve written Congress about these sentencing guidelines for crack-cocaine but my hands are tied.” After, he starts reading my sentence off to me: “life without parole …” After life without parole, I didn’t hear the other part.

      I don’t even know how I got back to the prison cell. When it was all added up, I got life without parole plus 320 years, 8 years of probation, and a $6,000 fine. Your mind can’t take in that reality — that you’re going to die in prison.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • ISPs must follow net neutrality in New Jersey, governor declares

      The executive order says that New Jersey state agencies may only buy Internet service from ISPs that adhere to net neutrality principles. But the net neutrality protections will cover ordinary residents as well as government officials. That’s because the order says that “adherence to ‘net neutrality’ principles means that an ISP shall not [violate the rules] with respect to any consumers in New Jersey (including but not limited to State entities).”

    • Trump’s FCC Pats Itself On The Back For A Historically Stupid Year

      If you’ve been playing along at home, Trump’s FCC hasn’t been particularly kind to consumers, competition, or the health of the internet. It has, however, been a massive boon to major ISPs terrified of disruption and competition, especially those looking to forge new media monopolies where they dominate both the conduit — and the content — coming to the home.

      Under Pai, the FCC has gutted broadband programs for the poor, protected the cable industry’s monopoly over the cable box from competition, made it easier for prison phone monopolies to rip off inmate families, dismantled generations old media consolidation rules simply to aid Sinclair Broadcasting’s merger ambitions, killed meaningful broadband privacy protections, tried to weaken the standard definition of broadband (to help hide competition gaps) and weakened rules preventing business broadband and backhaul monopolies from abusing smaller competitors, hospitals, or schools.

    • Here’s Ajit Pai’s “proof” that killing net neutrality created more broadband

      But the FCC’s actual data—based on the extensive Form 477 data submissions Internet service providers must make on a regular basis—only covers broadband deployments through December 2016. Pai wasn’t elevated from commissioner to chairman until January 2017, and he didn’t lead the vote to repeal the net neutrality rules until December 2017. And, technically, those rules are still on the books because the repeal won’t take effect for at least another two months.
      Further Reading
      FCC admits mobile can’t replace home Internet, won’t lower speed standard
      Further Reading
      Goodbye, net neutrality—Ajit Pai’s FCC votes to allow blocking and throttling

      The timing means that it would be impossible for Pai to present evidence today that broadband deployment is increasing as a result of the net neutrality repeal.

  • DRM

    • Where Does Blockchain Fit in Digital Rights Management?

      TickBox makes a computer hardware device that allows users to search for unauthorized streams of copyrighted content through the combination of open source media player software, Kodi, and “add on” software programs. The company boasts that users can quit paying high monthly fees and access the hottest TV shows, blockbusters, premium content, and live sporting events – all through the TickBox.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Waymo presents damning internal messages from Uber, which responds in kind

      Ars has published both slide decks from Waymo and Uber in full, but below are some selected highlights.

    • BREAKING: in his new Opinion in Louboutin AG Szpunar (confirms and) advises CJEU to rule that a trade mark combining colour and shape may be refused or declared invalid

      This is a reference for a preliminary ruling from The Netherlands (District Court of The Hague) concerning the absolute grounds for refusal of registration of sign that consist exclusively of “the shape which gives substantial value to the goods”.

    • Trademarks

      • Two Years Later, Bell’s Brewery Finally Fails To Bully A Tiny Brewery Out Of Its Legitimate Trademark

        Nearly three years ago, Bell’s Brewery, whose products I used to buy greedily, decided to oppose a trademark for Innovation Brewing, a tiny operation out of North Carolina. The reasons for the opposition are truly difficult to comprehend. First, Bell’s stated that it uses the slogan “Bottling innovation since 1985″ on some merchandise. This was only barely true. The slogan does appear on some bumper stickers that Bell sells and that’s pretty much it. It appears nowhere in any of the brewery’s beer labels or packaging. Also, Bell’s never registered the slogan as a trademark. Bell’s also says it uses the slogan “Inspired brewing” and argues that Innovation’s name could create confusion in the marketplace because it’s somehow similar to that slogan.

        This is a good lesson in why trademark bullying of this nature is a pox on any industry derived largely of small players, because it’s only in the past weeks that the Trademark Trials and Appeals Board in Virginia has ruled essentially that Bell’s is full of crap.

      • Trade mark territoriality in India after the Supreme Court’s Prius ruling

        Toyota recently lost a trade mark case at India’s Supreme Court, in a surprising decision that has shaken up the principle of territoriality in trans-border reputation

      • When passing off is enough to successfully oppose a trade mark

        The case also reinforces the applicable threshold for marks to be regarded as “well-known”. Singapore law recognizes that marks can be well-known in Singapore so long as it is well-known to any relevant sector of public in Singapore.

    • Copyrights

      • Google Won’t Take Down ‘Pirate’ VLC With Five Million Downloads

        VideoLAN, the team behind the VLC media player, recently revealed that they turned down several tens of millions of euros to bundle their software with advertising. The same cannot be said of third-party developers cloning VLC for profit, however. An ad-supported clone discovered on Google Play has a staggering five to ten million downloads and breaches VLC’s GPL license, yet Google refuses to take it down.

      • Can You Copyright a Pose?

        An interesting case caught my eye this week, and piqued my interest enough to explore further. In Folkens v. Wyland Worldwide the Ninth Circuit considered whether Wyland’s depiction of crossing dolphins copied from Folkens’s original. Below is a reproduction from the complaint, but it doesn’t really do them justice. Better versions of Folkens (pen and ink) and Wyland (color) highlight the similarities and differences.

      • Ram uses Martin Luther King’s anticapitalist sermon to sell pickup trucks

        This sermon literally also discourages people from spending too much money on their cars. Yes, it really does.

        King’s sermons, which are not in the public domain, are notoriously difficult to republish or reuse. [...]

      • Someone edited Ram’s Martin Luther King commercial with what King actually said about car ads

        Using a civil rights hero to sell cars in a Super Bowl commercial may seem absurd on its face, but it’s particularly ridiculous when said civil rights icon actually spoke out against car commercials.

      • Virgin Media caught running ‘piracy’ software in bricks-and-mortar store

        Piracy challenger Virgin Media has been caught running, er, piracy-enabling software in one of its physical stores.

        Virgin Media has long taken a hard-line on piracy, and last year started sending out letters warning customers suspected of piracy to cease their wicked ways and adopt acceptable services like Netflix and Spotify instead.

      • Virgin Media Store Caught Running Movie & TV Show Piracy Software (Updated)

        Virgin Media is one of the largest premium telecoms suppliers in the UK and Ireland but the way one of its stores has advertised its “Full House” package leaves a bit to be desired. While asking for 99 euros to supply a top-rated packaged, an advertising display simultaneously showed notifications from one of the most popular movie and TV show piracy applications.

      • Cloudflare Terminates Service to Sci-Hub Domain Names

        Cloudflare has terminated service to several domain names of Sci-Hub, which is often referred to as “The Pirate Bay of Science.” The CDN provider was compelled to take this action in response to a permanent injunction the American Chemical Society obtained late last year. While Cloudflare previously objected to a similar request, there is no sign of protest this time around.

Battistelli Works With IAM and Pays European Media to Promote Software Patents in Europe

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fourth Estate bribed by Battistelli (at the EPO’s expense) for “fourth industrial revolution” nonsense

Perskaart Wim Simons

Summary: The EPO continues to corrupt the media and in the process it overrides the law, perpetuating a trend we have become all too familiar with under Battistelli

THE EPO‘s budget isn’t being watched by any governments and shareholders. It’s therefore unsurprising that Battistelli can secretly build himself a pub and get away with it. Who’s going to stop him? The former financial auditor is now Battistelli’s new ‘chinchilla’ (Herrnst) and nothing about Battistelli troubles him. Battistelli can do anything he pleases, even send heaps of EPO budget to the town where he's a politician (Saint-Germain-en-Laye).

“Battistelli can do anything he pleases, even send heaps of EPO budget to the town where he’s a politician (Saint-Germain-en-Laye).”Software patents used to be the only thing that troubled us, but seeing what Battistelli has been up to, we never cease to be amazed. It’s a textbook example for all sorts of things one might expect to hear about small African dictatorships. Battistelli, the crooked thug who is hated by almost all the staff (and still miraculously manages to keep his job), now openly admits that “4IR” (“fourth industrial revolution”) is just a new buzzword (also “ICT” and “Industry 4.0″) that they use for software patents. IAM says it out loud and even attempts to tease me. “We are ready for a Manchester meltdown,” they wrote after they had tweeted that Battistelli “explains how the agency is evolving with the 4th industrial revolution” (Battistelli paid the German media to create and spread this hype about software patents).

“It’s a textbook example for all sorts of things one might expect to hear about small African dictatorships.”Richard Lloyd spent the past decade or so lobbying for software patents everywhere in the world, so what better writer to “engage” Battistelli? He has just found a clueless person, Battistelli, to join him in advocating something he does not understand. The original was behind a paywall, so we could only guess what Battistelli had written in the magazine (yes, he writes for IAM now) and his PR agency pays IAM, so there’s a convenient circulation of funds there too.

From the puff piece:

To understand how related inventions are evolving, the EPO has developed a 4IR cartography and has undertaken a survey to understand how ICT is growing.


By their nature, 4IR technologies are computer implemented inventions (CII), an area where some have struggled in recent years to determine just what should be patent eligible – the US springs to mind, for example.


“Like information and communications technology, these other two sectors will also comprise examiners experienced in CII working in technical areas to ensure a harmonised practice across all sectors in CII-related technology,” Battistelli explains.

They are using words like “industry” (implies physical) and “revolution” (stronger than “innovation”) to promote so-called ‘CII’ (what EPO used to call software patents for over a decade). The FFII’s President said: “EPO still granting software patents, painting them as 4th Industrial Revolution: “4IR technologies are computer implemented inventions (CII)” #epomustgo #swpat”

IAM facilitates this nonsense, as well as/along with paid-for (by EPO budget) German media.

“IAM and EPO should be considered to be anagrams (even if they aren’t).”IAM seems to have quit caring about its reputation, judging by the above snide remark (directed at me). They’re unable to defend their relationship with Battistelli. They now proudly associate with thug who abuses the rules, breaks the law, and then gets away with it — a subject of some of the very latest comments here (most are worth reading as they are informative and they shed light on how bad things became under his supposed ‘leadership’, which is more like a brutal tyranny culminating in suicides).

IAM and EPO should be considered to be anagrams (even if they aren’t).

Andrei Iancu’s Firm Has a History Working With Trump, But Senate Says OK to Him Becoming USPTO Director

Posted in America, Patents at 4:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

US Senate is still in rubber-stamping mode (even Sen. Claire McCaskill, who should certainly know better)

18 Senate Dems Who Should Turn in Their '#Resistance' Membership Cards
Reference: 18 Senate Dems Who Should Turn in Their ‘#Resistance’ Membership Cards

Summary: Having lost its ability to actually assess and scrutinise Trump’s picks (Neil Gorsuch for instance), US Senate just lets Iancu become the Director of the USPTO, without any scrutiny whatsoever

THE risk of conflicts and nepotism are high when working for a large firm/employer. Yesterday, for example, when Saurabh Vishnubhakat wrote this article about § 143 at the USPTO he was careful to disclose that he had been “advisor at the USPTO until June, 2015″ (he emphasised upfront that his words should not be mistaken for the Office’s).

The upcoming Director of the USPTO also has some questions regarding his appointment. As The Hill put it late last night:

Iancu is an intellectual property lawyer at the firm Irell & Manella, which once defended Trump, Mark Burnett Productions and NBC Universal in a case involving copyright claims over the reality TV show “The Apprentice.”

We watched the process closely, only to realise that Iancu's potential issues weren’t even raised in the meeting. What is even the point of an appointment process if nothing whatsoever is being scrutinised? It’s like watching Senate reauthorising (and even broadening) mass surveillance for another 6 years. As one watcher put it: “49, 50, 51! Andrei Iancu just got Senate majority vote to become next @USPTO director. Zero no votes so far.”

Trump nominated a person, then Senate voted 94-0. So much for “The Resistance”. There’s no opposition at all. Nothing substantial was even being asked. The first article about it seems to have come from Jan Wolfe, who recently gave a platform to patent extremists. The original and licensed copies thereof said absolutely nothing about the issues. To quote:

The U.S. Senate on Monday confirmed lawyer Andrei Iancu as the next head of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, clearing the way for him to lead an agency tasked with deciding who owns the rights to inventions in areas like software, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices.

The Senate voted 94-0 to confirm Iancu, 49, who was nominated by President Donald Trump in August.


Iancu is regarded as a “consensus pick” who will balance the rights of patent owners with the concerns of large technology companies often accused of infringement, said Robert Stoll, a lawyer at Drinker Biddle & Reath and former patent office official.


Iancu will succeed interim director Joseph Matal, who took over from Michelle Lee, a former patent lawyer at Google nominated by President Barack Obama to the position in 2014. Lee resigned in June 2017 following months of uncertainty about whether Trump would keep her in the position.

Did they even check and scrutinise the choice, or did they just take the word of Watchtroll-connected loudmouths like Robert Stoll? They’re all patent maximalists. That’s like asking oil companies for their opinion while passing a bill to un-tighten drilling regulations.

This patent microcosm ‘mole’ “has been welcomed by associations” of the patent microcosm, wrote Managing IP, quoting a bunch of them. Patent maximalist Dennis Crouch posted a fairly neutral comment, noting that “Iancu takes over from Joseph Matal who was instrumental in development and passage of the America Invents Act in his role as General Counsel of the Judiciary Committee under Republican Jeff Sessions.”

Watchtroll said that “Joe Matal, who has been in charge at the USPTO in a quasi-Acting capacity is expected to ultimately become the next Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.”

Matal only became the leader after Watchtroll et al had bullied Michelle Lee (a scientist) out of her job.

So where are the actual voices of opposition? Any balancing act?

The CCIA wrote about Iancu early yesterday, in a post titled “Dear Director Iancu” before he was even confirmed! The CCIA is trying to pressure him on PTAB instead of attempting to antagonise the appointment (while still possible). To quote:

So, you’re Andrei Iancu, about to be the newly confirmed Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. What are the first things you put on your agenda?

I have some suggestions.

Eliminate Contingent Amendments

As an initial matter, the PTAB’s practice of allowing contingent amendments needs to end. Essentially, this allows patent owners multiple bites at the apple; if their first version of a claim isn’t patentable, well, they can try again with their contingent amendment.

It’s also contrary to the statutory language. The statute says that a patent owner can propose a “reasonable number of substitute claims.” Let’s engage in a little bit of statutory construction here. Substitute means, per Merriam-Webster, a “thing that takes the place or function of another.” What it doesn’t mean is an alternative possibility, or a backup that takes the place only when the first one fails. The statute says a claim that takes the place of another claim, and that’s exactly what should be allowed.

If a patentee would prefer an amended claim, let them make their substitution and show why that substituted claim is patentable. But they need to decide whether they want to stand on their claims or ask for different ones—allowing them to do both is contrary to the statute’s expressed intent and imposes unnecessary additional burdens on parties and the Board.

We certainly hope that things won’t turn out as badly as we expect, but Iancu — being loyal to the patent microcosm he came from — is not likely to change things for the better. Already, under Matal, the costs of PTAB were raised (that was effective less than a month ago), thereby reducing access to a pretty essential procedure (IPR) that startups threatened by patent trolls must rely on.

Links 6/2/2018: Stable Kernels, RISC-V SBC Running Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 12:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Kernel Space

    • Open Source VPU Driver Supporting Official Linux Kernel Hits Kickstarter

      Bootlin has this week taken to the Kickstarter crowdfunding website to raise £15,000 to take their new open source VPU driver into production. Designed to provide support for hardware-accelerated video playback on devices with Allwinner processors. Watch the demonstration video below to learn more about the Allwinner VPU that will offer support in the official Linux kernel.

      Even though Allwinner ARM processors are very popular in a large number of hobbyists development boards, one key feature that is missing from the support in the official Linux kernel is support for the VPU (Video Processing Unit). Bootlin is now looking to rectify this issue. The development team at Bootlin are currently finalising the solution to provide complete Linux support for the Allwinner VPU for hardware accelerated video decoding and encoding.

    • The flood of updates has slowed a little this week: sox (Mga 5, 6); java-1.8.0-openjdk (Mga 5,6); rsyncMga 5,6; gdk-pixbuf2.0 (Mga5) – as always

      Interim info on Meltdown/Spectra mitigation

    • Jon Masters On Understanding Spectre & Meltdown CPU Vulnerabilities

      Arguably the most interesting keynote at this year’s FOSDEM event was Red Hat’s Jon Masters talking about the Spectre and Meltdown CPU vulnerabilities on an interesting technical level.

      While Jon Masters is mostly known for his involvement with Fedora/RedHat on ARM hardware, he was the lead for Red Hat’s mitigation efforts around the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities that rocked the world last month.

    • Linux 4.15.1
    • Linux 4.14.17
    • Linux 4.9.80
    • Linux 4.4.115
    • Linux Kernel Release Model

      This post is based on a whitepaper I wrote at the beginning of 2016 to be used to help many different companies understand the Linux kernel release model and encourage them to start taking the LTS stable updates more often. I then used it as a basis of a presentation I gave at the Linux Recipes conference in September 2017 which can be seen here.

      With the recent craziness of Meltdown and Spectre , I’ve seen lots of things written about how Linux is released and how we handle handles security patches that are totally incorrect, so I figured it is time to dust off the text, update it in a few places, and publish this here for everyone to benefit from.

    • OverlayFS Adds NFS Export Support In Linux 4.16

      The OverlayFS union mount file-system of the Linux kernel gains a big new feature in Linux 4.16.

    • Linux Foundation

      • CNCF to Host Vitess

        Today, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) voted to accept Vitess as the 16th hosted project, alongside Kubernetes, Prometheus, OpenTracing, Fluentd, Linkerd, gRPC, CoreDNS, containerd, rkt, CNI, Envoy, Jaeger, Notary, TUF and Rook. Vitess has been accepted as an incubation-level project, under the CNCF Graduation Criteria v1.0.

        The TOC’s Graduation Criteria provides every CNCF project an associated maturity level of either inception, incubating or graduated. As an incubating project, Vitess must document it is being used successfully in production by at least three independent end users, have a healthy number of committers and demonstrate a substantial ongoing flow of contributions.

      • Open Source Storage System Vitess Joins CNCF

        The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) accepted its second cloud-based storage project, Vitess, just a week after voting in its first storage project Rook.

        The second storage project — and CNCF’s 16th hosted project — is a database orchestration system for horizontal scaling of MySQL. YouTube originally developed Vitess in 2010 as a better way to scale massive amounts of traffic.

      • CoreOS, Red Hat and Kubernetes Competition

        announced intention to buy CoreOS might affect the rest of the container ecosystem. Container runtime development will go forward, with perhaps more emphasis on the Kubernetes container runtime interface (CRI-O) project. However, the engineers at Docker, CoreOS and Red Hat continue to make contributions to other container runtime projects, such as containerd, rkt and Atomic. CoreOS’ Container Linux appears to be end-of-life in favor of Red Hat’s offering. CoreOS-led etcd and Flannel are already core components of many Kubernetes stacks and that will likely continue. Red Hat may also take the container registry Quay and bundle it into their larger container offering.


        Our analysis of a Cloud Native Computing Foundation survey provides some answers. Out of the 34 CoreOS Tectonic users identified, five also use Red Hat’s OpenShift. Thus, the combined entity would still have just 14 percent of respondents using it to manage containers. Only 4 percent of Docker Swarm users said they also used Tectonic.

      • New AT&T Open Source Project Supports ‘White-Box’ Networking Hardware

        As an alternative to traditional integrated networking equipment, AT&T last week said it will donate the Disaggregated Network Operating System (dNOS) project, putting the OS purposely built for white-box hardware under the direction of The Linux Foundation. “We think white box will play a big part in the future of our industry,” AT&T said when touting the white-box approach last summer. “Our goal is to help this ecosystem grow in a way that benefits everyone.”

    • Graphics Stack

      • Coffee Lake Support Finally Lands In Beignet OpenCL

        Intel Coffee Lake CPUs began shipping in October and while their UHD Graphics are effectively re-branded Kabylake graphics, it’s taken until today to get mainline support for Coffee Lake OpenCL support on Linux with Beignet.

      • AMD_gpu_shader_half_float_fetch Added To The OpenGL Registry

        For years AMD has had the AMD_gpu_shader_half_float extension for supporting half floats in shaders and based on the NV_gpu_shader5. The AMD_gpu_shader_half_float_fetch extension is extending that AMD_gpu_shader_half_float functionality to allow drivers to support half-precision floating-points in both shader texture functions and shader image memory functions.

      • Mesa 12.0 To Mesa 18.0 Benchmarks Show The OpenGL/Vulkan Radeon Evolution

        Last week I provided some benchmarks showing how the RADV and RadeonSI performance changed with Mesa 18.0 while in this comparison is a look at how the Mesa 18.0 performance has evolved since Mesa 12.0 for Radeon open-source Linux graphics driver performance.

      • ~80 Patches Are Left For Having Intel i965 SPIR-V Support

        In addition to Igalia developers being at FOSDEM 2018 to talk about their work on Chromium porting for Wayland, Alejandro Piñeiro of this Spain consulting firm talked about their contributions towards SPIR-V support within Mesa and particularly for the Intel i965 OpenGL driver.

      • Kepler Clock Gating Queued In Nouveau DRM, Lowering Power Use

        Red Hat’s Lyude Paul has been spending the past number of weeks working out clock-gating support for NVIDIA Kepler GPUs with the open-source Nouveau DRM kernel driver.

        Clock-gating can drop the GPU power consumption by several Watts but isn’t being enabled by default until more testing has been done. The support can be enabled via the nouveau.config=NvPmEnableGating= kernel module parameter. There’s also Fermi support in progress but Kepler1/Kepler2 (GTX 600/700 series) is where the support is currently best positioned.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • 10 Best Linux Desktop Environments And Their Comparison

      Linux is all about what you want and having it from the ocean of free and open source software. The same applies while performing a comparison of desktop environments as they comprise of different applications and a GUI via which the user interacts with the operating system. Just like a plethora of Linux-based free operating systems, are many options available and our list of best Linux desktop environment and their comparison includes the likes of KDE, Cinnamon, Xfce, GNOME, etc.

      The Linux world is full of open source software. You have the option of choosing from hundreds of distributions and customize them as per your will. No one slaps you with a copyright even if you change the source code of a distro to fork your Linux distro and release it with a new name. That’s the beauty of free software and open source. Only one thing the creators may ask you is to give them proper credits because they have also invested their efforts and time. Well, that’s a different story.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Why KDE’s Plasma Mobile is the ideal platform for Linux fans and developers

        For the last decade, the mobile market has been under complete lockdown. Unless you were Android or iOS, you didn’t stand a chance at making much of a run at success. Canonical failed miserably with the Ubuntu Phone. Blackberry had to resort to their own take on Android. Firefox OS couldn’t even get off the ground.

        And yet, thanks to the Purism Librem 5, there’s another attempt at creating an open source mobile platform on the horizon. Many of us prognosticators and pundits have been ansty to see what’s to come for this platform, and finally someone has made some headway, and that’s KDE. The platform is Plasma Mobile. From the looks of it, KDE is on to something.

      • MongoDB for WikiToLearn migration

        Today i want to talk about my experience with the WikiToLearn migration.

        The problem of every migration is getting your hands on the data in a way such that you can work on it.

        Starting from the mysql backend and trying to have everything into a versioned object storage (python eve is the one we are tring now) is not an option.

        The solution is to use a temporary database to keep the data, process the data in this temporary storage and afterwards uploading everything in the destination.

        After some tries we managed to have the pipeline that reads all the MediaWiki pages, parses the structure and uploads everything in eve, using mongodb as a temporary storage.

      • [Krita] Interview with Owly Owlet

        Hello. I’m Maria, more often I use my nickname: Owly Owlet. I have a youtube channel, where I make video tutorials (in Russian) about how to use art software, mostly Krita.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GTK+ Hackfest 2018

        As some of you may know, we had a GTK+ Hackfest on February 1st and 2nd in Brussels, Belgium. Matthias has already blogged and blogged again about the two days and detailed notes about all the things we discussed can be found here and here. He also has some nice pictures.

        From everything we discussed I’m mostly looking forward to migrating to GitLab so I can file a few GTK+4 bugs and mark quite a few of them as blockers for a 4.0 release. I hope this will happen as soon as possible since there are quite a few usability regressions in current gtk+ master compared to gtk3 and those need time to get ironed out.

      • WebKitGTK+ 2.19.90 released!
      • WebKitGTK+ 2.19.90 Adds Graphics ARIA Rolls, Horizontal Scroll Shortcut

        Released in time for this week’s GNOME 3.28 beta milestone is the WebKitGTK+ 2.19.90 release as the GNOME platform port of the WebKit layout engine.

        WebKitGTK+ 2.19.90 has several notable changes ahead of its upcoming WebKitGTK+ 2.20 stable release. WebKitGTK+ 2.19.90 now has WebSockets communication respecting system proxy settings, the context menu is now shown via a long-press gesture, and there is support for Shift + mouse scroll for scrolling horizontally. There is also a zoom gesture fix.

      • GTK4 Ejects The Mir Backend & Drops The Big GDK Lock

        After adding the Mir back-end for the GTK+ 3.16 cycle, GTK+ 4.0 is dropping this back-end for the Canonical-developed display server.

        The Mir back-end has been removed from the latest GTK+ code. This clears out about 6,500 lines of code from the tool-kit’s codebase. The removal of the Mir back-end is coming since Mir has been focusing on Wayland protocol support to which GTK+ has more mature Wayland support than Mir. Since Mir’s change of focus last year and the work the past number of months, the Wayland support on Mir has become more viable.

      • Ibus-Hangul and Compose key: the incredible journey of a simple patch

        Today I decided to tell how I reported a bug (then ended up fixing it) on a non-GIMP related project. Well I do regularly this kind of stuff, and this could have just been one more of these silent commits to a random project as I did many times in my life. But since I decided recently to post more articles, well… I may as well tell a story as one-time contributor (as opposed to “regular contributor”) for once!

        Also I think the whole process of reporting a bug on projects you don’t know at all — worse! A whole stack of software you don’t know much! — is quite interesting for people wondering how they should report bugs happening to them.

      • On GNOME 3.27.90, time management, and a goodbye

        It’s been a long time I don’t write here. These past months were excruciatingly busy and intense, and lots of things happened but I didn’t manage to keep up with the blog posts. I’ll try to condense everything that happened and is still happening and will happen here.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Review: Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0

        Before I started my trial I was under the impression that Freespire and Linspire were quite different from stock Xubuntu. The Linspire blog, for instance, talks about binary blobs in “our” kernel and proprietary packages provided by vendors to Linspire. As I quickly learned, Linspire doesn’t have its own repositories (let alone a custom kernel) and the proprietary packages are provided via the ubuntu-restricted-extras package. Similarly, the lead developer recently wrote on his blog that people who claim that Linspire is just a Xubuntu respin should “mind their own business” because they have no idea how much work has gone into customising Linspire over the last 18 months. When I asked the company if they could give some examples of how Linspire is different from Xubuntu I was told that, actually, their aim is to stay as close to Xubuntu as possible.

        It would be unfair, however, to dismiss Freespire and Linspire as Xubuntu clones. The distros have two interesting selling points. Firstly, PC/OpenSystems can legally ship certain patent-encumbered codecs. Of course, anyone can install the ubuntu-restricted-extras package but in some jurisdictions doing so may be illegal. It is probably fair to say that few people care about such legalities but if you prefer to play by the rules then Linspire is worth a look.

        Secondly, Linspire’s main feature is the support license. You don’t pay $79.99 for Xubuntu with a Linspire sticker – you buy a year’s worth of support. Linspire might be an attractive option for small businesses and organisations that want to run Linux with a support contract. Similarly, I reckon many home users will like the idea of being able to get professional support for their Linspire box(es). That said, it is disappointing that the only real customisations (as in code changes) are regressions: the installer is far from a finished product. It is also unfortunate that Freespire lacks direction. The new Freespire was presented as an almost fully libre distro, yet the initial release clearly was the exact opposite. Only after pointing this out did PC/OpenSystems quietly release a new ISO.

        The main issue I had with the distros was something else though: the marketing/PR/spin. I have already mentioned various examples of dubious claims. I would like to add one more example, just because it nicely illustrates my gripe: the Freespire page claims that, unlike Freespire, Linux Mint is difficult to install. PC/OpenSystems arrived at that conclusion based on its own research: a whopping three people were asked to install Freespire, Ubuntu and Linux Mint and the “sample group” apparently struggled to install Mint.

        This type of marketing is needlessly negative. I would rather see the company work with, say, the Trisquel developers, who have already solved the issue with the checkbox in the Ubiquity installer and who may also be able to help Freespire become an FSF-approved distro. I would love to see a proper bug tracking tool so that I would have an easy way to report issues. And I think it would also be nice if PC/OpenSystems would start sharing the code it claims to produce.

        In short, I think both Freespire and Linspire are on to something. I like the idea of a fully libre Xubuntu spin and I am sure there is demand for Linspire. I just hope history won’t repeat itself.

    • New Releases

      • Elementary OS Juno will be version 5.0, not 0.5

        A new version of elementary OS arrives in the spring, and when it does it’ll have a number of significant new features and changes on offer.

        Among them a small yet appreciable bump to the version number. Yes elementary OS 0.5 Juno will actually be elementary OS 5.0.

        Previous releases of elementary OS are numbered 0.1, 0.2 and so on, with 0.4 being the most recent release. That trend won’t continue hereon-in; the next elementary OS release will in fact be version 5.0, and not 0.5 as many had expected.

        Why the switch?

      • Peppermint 8 Respin-2 Released

        Team Peppermint are pleased to announce the latest iteration of our operating system ISO images Peppermint 8 Respin-2. This is a security refresh of the Peppermint 8 ISO images to include all updates to date (as of 3rd Feb 2018), including the Meltdown and Spectre mitigations such as the new HWE kernel 4.13.0-32 and the latest Chromium web browser version 64. The new ISO also contains bug fixes for flash content in ICE SSB’s, and Chromium not remembering user selected xdg-open preferences for magnet and mailto links..
        There is no need for Peppermint 8 or Peppermint 8 (first) Respin users to reinstall this version, the mitigations and bug fixes have already been pushed as automatic updates to the earlier Peppermint 8 versions.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSE releases live patching for big iron, real-time OS update

        Germany-based Linux vendor SUSE Linux has launched live patching for its enterprise Linux distribution that runs on IBM Power Systems and also a service pack for its real-tine enterprise distribution that will enable systems running it to handle both real-time and non-real-time workloads on a single virtual machine.

      • SUSE polishes openSUSE Leap 15

        The development version of openSUSE Leap 15 has reached its beta phase builds and snapshots are available for testers.

        As a free and open source (FOSS) operating system, Leap is derived from the source code of SUSE Enterprise Linux (known not as SEL, but SLE) and so is positioned in much the same space as CentOS (from Red Hat) and Ubuntu (from Canonical).

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • easy-peasy-devicetree-squeezy

        I’ve created a new program, with a silly name, that solves a silly problem with devicetree overlays. Seem that, alhough there’s patches to fully support overlays, including loading them on the fly into a running system, it’s not in the mainline kernel, and nobody seems to know if/when it will get mainlined.

        So easy-peasy-devicetree-squeezy is a hack to make it easy to do device tree overlay type things already. This program makes it easy peasy to squeeze together the devicetree for your board with whatever additions you need. It’s pre-deprecated on release; as soon as device tree overlay support lands, there will be no further need for it, probably.


        It supports integrating into a Debian system so that the devicetree will be updated, with your additions, whenever the kernel is upgraded.

      • My Debian Activities in January 2018

        This was my forty third month that I did some work for the Debian LTS initiative, started by Raphael Hertzog at Freexian.

      • Debian packaging with Git notes

        I finally found the time today to update my notes on how I package for Debian using Git. They’re rather long (even after dropping my beginner Git tutorial, which seemed pointless given how many good ones there are now), so I’m not including the full text here. Take a look if you’re curious.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Flavours and Variants

            • DistInst Updates, Boot Sequence Optimization (installer work), Misc. Upstream News

              Another interesting development that’s been coming along over the past two weeks is a conversation centered around an overhaul of the entire boot process. The goal is to reduce the amount of time we get to the desktop by optimizing the boot sequence from the moment you turn on your computer. Instead of using grub to load the kernel and the initramfs on UEFI systems, we’re going to be using systemd-boot, the modern incarnation of gummiboot. But to make this work, we need a mechanism to copy the kernel and initramfs images to the EFI System Partition(ESP) where systemd-boot expects them to be in order for the boot to initiate. Since the Ubuntu kernels do not have an existing mechanism to these operations, we use kernelstub. Kernelstub, when it runs, copies the kernel image and initramfs image onto the ESP and configures systemd-boot with the entries for the copied files. If you need to change kernel parameters, kernelstub has a manual mode that will allow you to do so in case your machine needs additional parameters. The general use is that kernelstub can copy the kernel and the generated initramfs when a new kernel becomes available. This current work is still in the experimental phase and part of the new installer and initial login work that is ongoing.

            • System76′s Pop!_OS Switching From GRUB To Systemd-Boot

              System76′s Pop!_OS started off mostly as a re-branded spin of Ubuntu for the company’s pre-loaded Linux laptops/desktops, but lately they have been venturing to more interesting changes at varying levels of the stack.

              Aside from various desktop and theming changes, they have been working on reworking the installation process, possible disk encryption by default, and better HiDPI support. The latest is they are planning to use systemd-boot as their bootloader.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Meet India’s women Open Source warriors

    As Vaishali Thakker, a 23-year old open source programmer looked over the hall filled with around 200 people, she didn’t know how to react to what she had just heard. Thakker was one of the five women on the stage at PyCon India 2017, a conference on the use of the Python programming language, in New Delhi. The topic of the discussion was “Women in open source.”

  • Open-source turns 20: here’s how the movement influenced PCs

    Over the past 20 years, the people who make open source software have helped to create a bold new world and enabled some of our most important online infrastructure. Here’s to the next twenty!

  • Celebrating the 20th anniversary of open source

    Twenty years ago, on Feb. 3, 1998, in a conference room in Palo Alto, Calif., the term “open source” was coined. Michael Tiemann (now vice president of open source affairs here at Red Hat), Todd Anderson, Chris Peterson of Foresight Institute, John “Maddog” Hall and Larry Augustin, both with Linux International, Sam Ockman with Silicon Valley Linux User’s Group and Eric Raymond were reacting to the announcement by Netscape that it planned to “give away” the Netscape source code by releasing it to the public. From there, adoption of both the term and concept moved quickly and today, the open source community has tens of millions of members and contributors.

  • Open Source Turns 20 Years Old: How This Term Came Into Existence?

    The Open Source Initiative was formed in following days. People like Tim O’Reilly, Bruce Perens, and others played a pivotal role in popularising the term. Perens also adapted his Free Software Guidelines for Debian GNU/Linux to serve as Open Source Definition (OSD).

  • Open source in the realm of social justice

    Over the next 20 years, the open source movement must move beyond software into the realm of social justice, poverty alleviation and sustainable human development that leaves no one behind.

    That’s the view of Nnenna Nwakanma, an open data, open government and the open Web across Africa advocate and co-founder of The Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa, and an Open Source Initiative (OSI) board member.

    Commenting on the 20th anniversary of the official recognition of open source software – as opposed to free software – Nwakanma said that “open” notion, practice and vision of open source had not only become mainstream, but had been a game changer.

    “Beyond software, hardware or processes, the fundamental ideology of openness is the most valuable for me, in vision, in meaning and in impact. The hundreds of tech hubs across the world and thousands of tech communities cannot be overlooked. We owe those to open source.

  • Genode Is Developing A GPU Multiplexer For Intel Graphics Hardware

    Besides talking about GNU Hurd in 2018 one of the other interesting talks in FOSDEM’s micro-kernel track this year was on an Intel GPU resource multiplexer being developed by the Genode project.

    Thanks to hardware-based features for isolation on Intel Broadwell “Gen 8″ graphics and newer, Genode OS has been working on GPU resource multiplexing for their operating system framework.

  • Why enterprises are flocking to open source

    As the leader of an open source foundation, I have a unique perspective on the way open source technologies are catalyzing the digital transformation of enterprises around the world. More than half of the Fortune 100 is using Cloud Foundry. If you’re wondering why, there are two main reasons: one is the allure of open source, and the other is the strength of the platform itself.

  • Review: 6 slick open source routers

    Hackers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but the lousy stock firmware your routers shipped with.

    Apart from smartphones, routers and wireless base stations are undoubtedly the most widely hacked and user-modded consumer devices. In many cases the benefits are major and concrete: a broader palette of features, better routing functions, tighter security, and the ability to configure details not normally allowed by the stock firmware (such as antenna output power).

  • Kodi 18 Is Coming But They Are Already Thinking About Kodi 19

    At this weekend’s FOSDEM event in Brussels, Martijn Kaijser of the Kodi project provided an update on their current activities for 2018.

    After going over their successful Kodi 17 release, the focus turned to talking about Kodi 18 “Leia” that they have been working on since the end of 2016. Their design goals with Kodi 18 are to improve the architecture and implementation of this open-source, cross-platform media player. As part of improving the code-base they are focusing on C++11 support, improving the code quality, dropping unmaintained features/code, and other cleanups. They are also working on moving non-core features out to add-ons.

  • Events

    • notes from the fosdem 2018 networking devroom

      I am on my way back from FOSDEM and thought I would share with yall some impressions from talks in the Networking devroom. I didn’t get to go to all that many talks — FOSDEM’s hallway track is the hottest of them all — but I did hit a select few. Thanks to Dave Neary at Red Hat for organizing the room.

    • Heptio Kubernetes Subscription, FOSDEM, Upcoming Events and Replika (the Emotional Chatbot)

      The Free Open Source Developers European Meeting (FOSDEM) 2018 just happened over the weekend. You can watch the recently uploaded videos on the official YouTube channel.

    • Video: ITProTV Interview with Jason Callaway of Redhat at BSides Delaware
    • Open Collaboration Conference CFP Now Open

      Earlier last year I announced last year that I was partnering up with the Linux Foundation to create the Open Community Conference as part of their Open Source Summit events in North America and Europe.

      Well, the events happened, and it was (in my humble opinion) an enormous success. We had 120+ papers submitted to the North American event and 85+ papers submitted to the European event. From there I whittled it down to around 40 sessions for each event which resulted in some fantastic content and incredible discussions/networking.

    • Linux and Open Source: A Recipe for Innovation

      That’s the idea behind the first-ever INDEX community event coming up February 20-22 in San Francisco, which will feature a keynote presentation from The Linux Foundation’s executive director, Jim Zemlin. Harnessing the power of shared innovation is crucial to remaining competitive in today’s markets, and Jim will discuss building sustainable open source projects to advance the next generation of modern computing.

    • Submit a Proposal to Speak at LinuxCon + ContainerCon + CloudOpen China

      We have opened the LinuxCon + ContainerCon + CloudOpen China (LC3) 2018 call for proposals, and we invite you to share your expertise in this exploding open source market. Proposals are due March 4, 2018.

    • Vint Cerf, Andre Fuetsch, Nick McKeown to Keynote at Open Networking Summit North America 2018

      Open Networking Summit (ONS) is the industry’s premier open networking event gathering enterprises, cloud and service providers, from across the ecosystem to share learnings, highlight innovation and discuss the future of Open Source Networking.

      Hear from industry visionaries and leaders on the latest updates and the future of Networking beyond SDN/NFV including 5G and IoT; cloud networking (Kubernetes & Cloud Foundry); AI and ML applied to networks; and the use of networking in industry verticals like FinTech and Automotive.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla VR Blog: A-Painter performance optimizations
      • GFX-RS Continues Advancing For High-Performance, Portable Graphics In Rust

        GFX-RS has been the Rust programming language project for a high-performance, portable graphics API that can map to Vulkan, Apple’s Metal, Direct3D, etc from a single Rust API.

        Dzmitry Malyshau of Mozilla and Markus Siglreithmaier talked about this portable graphics abstraction project at the Free Open-Source Developers’ European Meeting in Belgium. GFX-RS has been in development since 2013~2014 but is currently undergoing a “total rewrite” in trying to better this single Rust API that supports backends for all major graphics APIs.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CMS

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • FreeIPMI 1.6.1 Released With Performance Improvements, Better IPv6 Support

      Albert Chu of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced the release this weekend of FreeIPMI, the GNU project implementing Intelligent Platform Management Interface v1.5/2.0 support.

      This in-band/out-of-band IPMI software features many improvements with its v1.6.1 milestone.

    • GNU Hurd Hardware Support Remains In Very Rough Shape For 2018

      Yesterday at FOSDEM 2018 Hurd developer Samuel Thibault talked about the work done on this GNU kernel for a PCI arbiter to allow different user-land drivers to access PCI devices concurrently. During this PCI arbiter talk he also went over the current state of the hardware support and recent achievements for GNU Hurd.

      Sadly, the hardware state is pretty much the same as what he summarized two years ago at FOSDEM. GNU Hurd remains mainly focused on i686 kernel support, their 64-bit kernel can now boot but overall is in rough shape, their layer for getting network cards working remains based off the Linux 2.6.32 drivers, there is IDE and AHCI driver support for SATA, preliminary sound support through the userland Rump, etc.

    • GNU’s Ring Continues Trying To Be Like Skype/WhatsApp For FLOSS/Privacy-Minded Fans

      Ring that joined the GNU project in late 2016 to focus on decentralized, multi-device communication has high hopes for 2018.

      GNU Ring is still striving as a “free universal distributed communication platform” and to offer similar functionality to say Skype or WhatsApp but while being open-source and respecting the privacy of its users in part by being decentralized.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • SiFive launches first RISC-V SBC that runs Linux

        SiFive has opened pre-sales on a “HiFive Unleashed” SBC that runs Linux on its new RISC-V-based, quad-core, 1.5GHz U540 SoC, with 8GB DDR4, a GbE port, and an FMC connector.

        SiFive followed up on its October announcement of the SiFive Freedom U540 — the world’s first Linux-driven RISC-V processor SoC — with a Crowd Supply campaign to launch a HiFive Unleashed SBC that showcases the U450. The board is available for a steep $999 for a June 30 shipment, or $1,250 if you want the few remaining first-run boards that ship by Mar. 31.

      • Hi-Five Unleashed: The first Linux-capable RISC-V single board computer is here

        For roughly a decade, x86-64 has held hegemony over the desktop and server market. In the mobile space, ARM is the popular platform—for which a glut of cheap ARM processors have led to the rise of mass-produced single-board computers (SBCs) like the Raspberry Pi and competitors. However, proprietary “binary blob” drivers make using these devices somewhat more cumbersome, particularly for developers attempting to learn how devices work or ensuring complete device control.

      • The State of RISC-V Hardware & Software In Early 2018

        Palmer Dabbelt who maintains the RISC-V ports of GCC, Binutils, Linux, and glibc while working at RISC-V company SiFive spoke at FOSDEM 2018 this weekend about the software/hardware state of this royalty-free open-source CPU ISA.

        Palmer’s presentation covers the RISC-V instruction set, the origins of it, a brief comparison to other CPU architectures, and the Linux state.


  • Science

    • Kid co-authors in South Korea spur government probe

      The South Korean government is expanding an investigation into researchers who named their children as co-authors on papers. The extended probe, announced on 1 February, comes after a government report last week identified 82 academic papers on which authors had named their children or relatives — many of them in middle or high school — as co-authors on the publications.

    • Novel Lithography Technique Combines Speed With Accuracy

      What happens when you combine DNA origami techniques with conventional lithography? You get a novel lithography technique dubbed DNA-assisted lithography (DALI) that has the resolution of electron beam lithography with the speed of conventional lithography.

      In research described in the journal Science Advances, an international team of scientists from Finland, Denmark, and the United States have combined the programmable and accurate shapes made possible with DNA origami with conventional lithography to fabricate structures that are accurate below 10 nanometer resolution and are tens of nanometers in size.

  • Hardware

    • New controls scale quantum chips

      A fundamental barrier to scaling quantum computing machines is “qubit interference.” In new research published in Science Advances, engineers and physicists from Rigetti Computing describe a breakthrough that can expand the size of practical quantum processors by reducing interference.

      Matt Reagor, lead author of the paper, says, “We’ve developed a technique that enables us to reduce interference between qubits as we add more and more qubits to a chip, thus retaining the ability to perform logical operations that are independent of the state of a (large) quantum register.”

    • Controlling quantum interactions in a single material

      The search and manipulation of novel properties emerging from the quantum nature of matter could lead to next-generation electronics and quantum computers. But finding or designing materials that can host such quantum interactions is a difficult task.

      “Harmonizing multiple quantum mechanical properties, which often do not coexist together, and trying to do it by design is a highly complex challenge,” said Northwestern University’s James Rondinelli.

      But Rondinelli and an international team of theoretical and computational researchers have done just that. Not only have they demonstrated that multiple quantum interactions can coexist in a single material, the team also discovered how an electric field can be used to control these interactions to tune the material’s properties.

    • Is Apple Getting Ready to Migrate Mac to ARM? — It’s Starting to Look Like it

      Apple shocked the world when the iPhone 8 was benchmarked and it was found to be faster than a Core-i5. Well, Apple has long been reducing their reliance on other manufacturers for things like modems, graphics processors, RAM, and NAND flash storage. Apple’s dependency on third-party products results in more expensive manufacturing costs and less control over components. But the CPU is hailed as one of the most difficult components to produce, at least, when you have to compete with the performance of Intel and AMD. Does Apple have what it takes to take on x86? All signs seem to indicate that, at least they think, they do. Let’s dive deeper into this discussion.

    • Broadcom Raises Offer for Qualcomm to Over $121 Billion

      Broadcom Ltd. sweetened its takeover offer for Qualcomm Inc. in a deal that would be worth more than $121 billion, turning up the pressure on the target in what would be the largest-ever technology deal.

    • Too big to fail: worries surround South Korea’s chip industry

      The craze for smartphones, social media, and universal connectivity is generating immense wealth but also deep unease in South Korea, source of a large share of the computer chips that make them work.

      Soaring demand for microchips used in smartphones, computer servers, and data centers is driving profits for chip and smartphone maker Samsung Electronics and its smaller rival SK Hynix sky high, helping sustain growth in Asia’s fourth largest economy.

      Samsung reported Wednesday that its annual net profit rose 84 percent to a record 41.3 trillion won ($38.6 billion) in 2017 on annual sales of 239.6 trillion won ($223.7 billion), up 19 percent from the previous year.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • How Math (and Vaccines) Keep You Safe From the Flu

      Let’s say you hear a juicy rumor that you just can’t keep to yourself. You hate rumormongers, so you compromise by telling only one person and then keeping your mouth shut. No big deal, right? After all, if the person you tell adopts the same policy and only tells one other person, the gossip won’t spread very far. If one new person hears the rumor each day, after 30 days it will have spread to only 31 people, including you.

    • Biosimilar Industry Launches Information Campaign For Better Acceptance

      The International Generic and Biosimilar medicines Association has launched an information campaign on biosimilar medicines in order to raise worldwide understanding and acceptance of biosimilar medicines.

      Biosimilar medicines are similar to already authorised reference biotherapeutics, with the same indications and effects. In a press release [pdf], the International Generic and Biosimilar medicines Association (IGBA) announced its information campaign, based on the IGBA biosimilar medicines public slide deck.

    • WHO Executive Board adopts draft resolution on TB, stresses importance of resistant TB in overall fight against AMR

      The World Health Organization (WHO) held its 142nd session of the Executive Board (EB) meeting on 22-27 January 2018 in Geneva. During the week, country delegates discussed a draft resolution text on the preparation for a High-level Meeting at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on ending tuberculosis (TB).

    • Germs in airplane cabins are bad, but it’s even worse at the airport terminal

      You don’t have to be a germophobe to want to slip on rubber gloves when you enter an airplane cabin.

      A new study confirms once again that various surfaces in the cabin of a commercial plane have many times the amount of bacteria than an average kitchen counter. But the latest study found that surfaces in airport terminals can have even higher germ counts than those in the planes.

      The highest number of colony-forming units of bacteria per square inch were found on those increasingly popular self-serve ticketing kiosks that are popping up in terminals around the country, including Los Angeles International Airport.

  • Security

    • OpenWall unveils kernel protection project

      The folk at OpenWall have called for assistance to create a security module to watch Linux kernels for suspicious activity.

      In the company’s explanation, the Linux Kernel Runtime Guard (LKRG) is described as a module that “attempts to post-detect and hopefully promptly respond to unauthorised modifications to the running Linux kernel (integrity checking) or to credentials (such as user IDs) of the running processes (exploit detection).”

      Developed by Adam Zabrocki (@adam_pi3) and now championed by OpenWall, the first cut of the code landed last week.

    • Complex PZChao Windows malware has more than one string to its bow

      Security firm Bitdefender says it has been monitoring a complex custom-built piece of Windows malware, that it has named PZChao because of the name of the domain at which its command and control server resides.

    • Monero Cryptocurrency Miner Leverages NSA Exploit

      In a growing development, attackers have leveraged an exploit found in almost all generations of Microsoft Windows. EternalBlue is a security vulnerability that allowed WannaCry to run rampant in over 150 different countries and took down parts of the National Health Service (NHS), as well as Petya/NonPetya (a strain of ransomware that inspired NATO to assemble an entire cyber operation to combat it).

    • Monero mining botnet uses NSA exploit to infect Windows servers

      Microsoft Windows servers around the globe are playing host to a mining botnet known as Smominru Monero, which may have made as much as US$3.6 million for its operators based on the current value of the Monero cryptocurrency.

    • 17-Year-Old Boy Arrested For Coding Malware To Steal Cryptocurrency Wallet Passwords

      Different kinds of malware are targetting cryptocurrency owners and trying to steal their valuable digital coins by employing different techniques. This new and lucrative affair is attracting experienced and novice malware creators alike. Just recently, Japanese police arrested a 17-year-old teenager boy for creating malware that targetted cryptocurrency wallets.

    • Teen Arrested for Creating Malware That Steals Cryptocurrency Wallet Passwords

      Japanese authorities say that at least one man —a 31-year-old from Tokyo— downloaded and installed the teen’s app. This man later discovered that 170 Monacoins (around $500) went missing from his wallet. He said he saw other users’ warnings on the forum regarding the suspicious software, but it was too late at that point.

    • NSA Exploits Ported to Work on All Windows Versions Released Since Windows 2000
    • Three Leaked NSA Exploits Rewritten to Affect All Windows OSes Since Windows 2000
    • South Korea says North stole cryptocurrency worth billions of won last year

      South Korea said on Monday that North Korea last year stole cryptocurrency from the South worth billions of won and that it was still trying to hack into its exchanges.

      “North Korea sent emails that could hack into cryptocurrency exchanges and their customers’ private information and stole (cryptocurrency) worth billions of won,” said Kim Byung-kee, a member of South Korea’s parliamentary intelligence committee.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Meltdown/Spectre Status for Red Hat and Oracle
    • NetBSD Has SVS To Mitigate Meltdown, Still Working On Spectre

      The NetBSD project has issued an update concerning recent security efforts for this popular BSD operating system.

      NetBSD has landed “Separate Virtual Space” (SVS) within their development repository as their mitigation effort for the Meltdown CPU vulnerability. SVS unmaps kernel pages when running in user-space. Initially only the PTE area is being unmapped. After tuning the past month, NetBSD developers now consider SVS to be stable but at the moment has not yet been back-ported to their stable branches. SVS for now is only supported on x86 64-bit.

    • Talking to normal people about security
    • 3 leaked NSA exploits work on all Windows versions since Windows 2000

      Oh, good, three NSA exploits previously leaked by The Shadow Brokers have been tweaked so they now work on all vulnerable Windows 2000 through Server 2016 targets, as well as standard and workstation counterparts.

      Before this, EternalSynergy, EternalRomance, and EternalChampion had partially been used in the NotPetya cyber attack. However, they had not been used by malicious actors nearly as much as EternalBlue because they didn’t work on recent Windows versions. That has now changed thanks to RiskSense security researcher Sean Dillon, aka @zerosum0x0, who ported the Microsoft Server Message Block (SMB) exploits to work on Windows versions released over the past 18 years.

    • NSA exploits leaked by hackers tweaked to work on all versions of Windows since 2000

      A trio of NSA exploits leaked by hacking group TheShadowBrokers has been ported to work on all versions of Windows since Windows 2000.

      The EternalChampion, EternalRomance and EternalSynergy exploits were made public by the group last year, and now a security researcher has tweaked the source code so they will run on nearly two decades’ worth of Microsoft operating systems — both 32- and 64-bit variants.

    • Every NHS trust tested for cybersecurity has failed, officials admit
  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Nuclear Posture Review

      The government of the United States is clearly in demonic hands. We are overflowing with proof. Take today (2-2-18) for example. A report from the House Intelligence Committee was released that is proof that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice (sic), and the Democratic National Committee are engaged in a conspiracy against American democracy and the President of the United States with the full support of the presstitute media.

      As if that is not enough, also released today is the Pentagon’s new Nuclear Posture Review. A nuclear posture review specifies a country’s attitude toward nuclear weapons and their use. In past posture reviews, nuclear weapons were regarded as unusable except in retaliation for a nuclear attack. The assumption was that no one would use them. There was always the possibility that false warnings of incoming ICBMs would result in the nuclear button being pushed, thus setting off Armageddon. There were many false warnings during the Cold War. President Ronald Reagan was very concerned about a false warning resulting in mass death and destruction. This is why his principal goal was to end the Cold War, which he succeeded in doing. It did not take successor governments long to resurrect the Cold War.

    • Pawns in the Game: A Brief History of America and the Kurds

      The only thing that has ever been faithful to the Kurds is history: it has faithfully, without fail, betrayed them. The Kurds have been cast in the role of the pawn in powerful countries’ games of chess. They do much of the hard work only to be sacrificed when checkmate is in sight.

    • Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency loses track of $800m

      The US Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is missing documentation for how it spent hundreds of millions of US dollars, a new audit finds.
      The firm Ernst and Young found the agency could not account for $800m (£572m), according to Politico.
      The money was reportedly used for military construction projects and computer systems.
      DLA confirmed failure to properly track its spending, but said there was no “loss of accountability”.
      “DLA concurs with Ernst and Young’s assessment of our failure to properly account for and track funding to specific construction projects,” a DLA spokeswoman told the BBC.

    • New U.S. Focus on Great Power Conflict and Nuclear Supremacy

      Recent policy directives raise concerns over new U.S. postures towards great power conflicts and developing “tactical” nuclear weapons, underlining the need for a revival of the U.S. antiwar movement, write Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers.

    • Ten Commonsense Suggestions for Making Peace, Not War

      Whether the rationale is the need to wage a war on terror involving 76 countries or renewed preparations for a struggle against peer competitors Russia and China (as Defense Secretary James Mattis suggested recently while introducing America’s new National Defense Strategy), the U.S. military is engaged globally. A network of 800 military bases spread across 172 countries helps enable its wars and interventions. By the count of the Pentagon, at the end of the last fiscal year about 291,000 personnel (including reserves and Department of Defense civilians) were deployed in 183 countries worldwide, which is the functional definition of a military uncontained. Lady Liberty may temporarily close when the U.S. government grinds to a halt, but the country’s foreign military commitments, especially its wars, just keep humming along.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Angela Merkel is not the climate angel the world thinks she is

      German chancellor Angela Merkel has an eco-friendly reputation. She’s been hailed for supporting international climate agreements and backing renewable energy technologies. On closer inspection, however, the chancellor’s renown has always been based more on fairytale than fact.

      A popular myth, for instance, is that Merkel is the mother of Germany’s Energiewende—that is, its transition to renewable energy. This couldn’t be further from the truth. To the contrary, Germany’s signature energy policy was invented by her political opponents.

  • Finance

    • Jeremy Corbyn urged to work with opposition parties to stop hard Brexit

      The leaders of four opposition parties have written to Jeremy Corbyn urging him to “rethink” his stance on Brexit and work with them to keep the UK in the EU single market and customs union.

      In a joint letter, the SNP, Liberal Democrat, Green Party and Plaid Cymru leaders called on Mr Corbyn to join forces with them “in opposing the Tories’ damaging plans”.

      The Labour leader has previously refused to engage with other parties that are campaigning against the Government’s plans for a hard Brexit.

    • As Paul Ryan Touts a Secretary’s $1.50 Weekly Pay Hike, Koch Bros. Reap $1.4B from GOP Tax Plan

      This weekend, House Speaker Paul Ryan touted a story of a woman whose paycheck increased by $1.50 cents a week as a major benefit to middle-class workers. On Saturday, Ryan tweeted a link to an Associated Press report, writing, “A secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week … she said [that] will more than cover her Costco membership for the year.” After a deluge of ridicule and outrage, Ryan deleted the tweet hours later. For more, we speak with Richard Wolff, emeritus professor of economics at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and visiting professor at The New School. He’s the author of several books, including, most recently, “Capitalism’s Crisis Deepens: Essays on the Global Economic Meltdown.”

    • Dow futures point to a more than 1,200-point fall at the open

      The S&P 500 was down 113 points, or 4.1 percent Monday in its worst day since August, 2011. The futures, which typically match the spot market’s decline, fell even more in the earlier session, off by 5.3 percent.

    • Green Brexit?

      Recent months have seen the colour green added enthusiastically to the red, white and blue Brexit once boasted by Theresa May. An interview with Green Party peer and Leave voter, Jenny Jones, explores the thinking.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • America’s election process is broken

      Stein supporters unexpectedly had donated millions over the Thanksgiving holiday, after her legal team could not convince Hillary Clinton’s campaign to enlist some of their donors. That grassroots response was completely unexpected. Like much of America, Stein’s donors questioned 2016’s official results. They were part of 2016’s grassroots surge seeking real change, especially millennial youths. They wanted to know what happened. I’d seen the Greens file for a recount in 2004 in Ohio. That effort did not change its outcome. But it did help expose a spectrum of tactics in the fine print of voting that confirmed the GOP was committed to strategically targeting and sup­ pressing known Democratic Party blocs. I other words, the voting process had been turned against its rightful participants.


      [...]The answer to Michigan’s seventy-five thousand under-votes was not computer science. It was examining the vote: looking at individual ballots to see if a vote was there or not. That is straightforward. That was not the same as bringing in cyber detectives to hunt for code-altering fingerprints in voting software to see if the count is being tweaked to one side’s benefit. That’s what the Greens wanted to do in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. But that wasn’t to be, either.

    • Press Prostitutes Lie Through Their Teeth About House Intelligence Committee Report

      All of this is known. Yet the House Intelligence Committee and the White House released the “Nunes Memo” without pointing out that it was already confirmed by the FISA court itself and by NSA Director Adm. Rogers. Why?

      One consequence of this continuing Republican incompetence is that it allows the presstitutes, who also know about the FISA court memorandum, to ignore that confessions validating the “Nunes Memo” are in the hands of the FISA court. Consequently, the presstitutes, such as the CNN whores, are at their dirty dishonest work of misrepresenting the documented facts in the House Intelligence Committee report as “Nunes’ allegations,” “Nunes’ assertions,” “a disputed GOP intelligence memo that alleges FBI abuses,” and so forth. See, for example, https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/02/politics/republican-intelligence-memo/index.html

    • What’s happening in Illinois

      I am a supporter of Biss because he is one of the rare Democratic candidates — Beto O’Rourke is another—who puts reform at the front. He’s a strong and clear progressive, and makes no apologies for those views, but he makes it completely clear that we won’t fix anything until we fix this democracy first.
      Biss is running against a bunch of rich and famous people.
      The current governor of Illinois is a state-level version of Donald Trump: A billionaire who knows nothing about government — and who has proven that in his inept and failed administration.
      Yet the other leading Democrats are not much better. The shoo-in party favorite (and don’t think about Hillary Clinton here) is a Chicago billionaire, JB Pritzker. And challenging him is another rich and famous Democrat, Chris Kennedy. “Everyone knows” against this money and fame, no one else could ever have a chance.

    • ‘Dovlatov’ Takes on Censorship and Fake News in 1970s USSR (Exclusive Berlin Trailer)

      Aleksey German Jr.’s biopic on Russian journalist and writer Sergey Donatovich Dovlatov has its world premiere in competition in Berlin.

      Forget the Mueller investigation. If you want a real look at Russian fake news and Moscow’s political meddling, check out the trailer for Dovlatov, the new drama from Russian auteur Aleksey German Jr.

      Posited as six days in the life of writer and reluctant journalist Sergey Donatovich Dovlatov, it traces his struggles to write, and publish, under the censorious strictures of the Soviet Union in the 1970s.

    • ‘Deep State’ Veterans find New Homes in Mainstream Media

      “Former CIA director John Brennan has become the latest member of the NBC News and MSNBC family, officially signing with the network as a contributor,” chirps a recent article by The Wrap, as though that’s a perfectly normal thing to have to write and not a ghastly symptom of an Orwellian dystopia. NBC reports that the former head of the depraved, lying, torturing, propagandizing, drug trafficking, coup-staging, warmongering Central Intelligence Agency “is now a senior national security and intelligence analyst.”

    • Trump, Year One

      The world has survived the first year of United States President Donald Trump’s reign. He has not yet destroyed the world with a major war, whether against Iran or North Korea. He has not wrecked the foundations of the world trade and financial systems. These he has not done.

      But, in this brief year, he has certainly emboldened elements of the hard Right, which had previously existed at the edge of the political sewer. He has pushed to the forefront socially toxic attitudes that had previously been hidden from public sight by a veneer of politeness. It is not clear whether Trump is the author of these maladies or if, as is more likely, he is merely one more illustration of them. Hatred has made its appearance as an acceptable political force. Trump is merely one more manifestation of this toxicity.

      But during his first year, Trump pushed through a tax reform package that will make the rich richer and the poor more vulnerable. That was perhaps his most important achievement. Others have been blocked one way or the other. He could not start his war against Iran, nor could he move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He was not able to dismantle the U.S. health care system, nor was he able to fully end the mild U.S. commitment to refugees. Much that Trump has done will be unpleasant for the country, but little of it is dramatically different from what has come before.

    • Democrats Could Lose Again This Fall

      You’re reading this, so you probably follow political punditry. And if you follow political punditry, you’ve been hearing the usual corporate suspects predict that one of two things will happen in this fall’s midterm elections: either the Democrats will win big (win back the Senate), or they’ll win really big (the House too). Outta the way, Congressional Republicans: here comes the Big Blue Wave!

      Of course, these are the same clowns who called it big for President Hillary. Yet on and on they yammer, and we have to listen to them since big-money political media won’t hire anyone who has a clue.

      Interestingly, there are early warning signs — just as there were throughout the 2016 presidential race — that Democrats may be counting their electoral chickens before they’re aborted.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • How No Platform conquered the academy
    • The new blasphemies on campus

      This is remarkable stuff. In some of our most esteemed universities, supposed citadels of free thinking and scientific endeavour, administrations are demanding that debate about transgenderism be shut down and courses be cleansed of un-PC material. How any course about, say, biology, can coexist with this is unfathomable.

      And it’s not just in relation to trans issues, that most testy and inflamed subject in politics today. We also found that 48 per cent of institutions have policies which warn against insulting faith groups or offending religious sensibilities. One students’ union insists that ‘the religious sensibilities of the union’s members must be respected’. Shelley must be turning in his grave.

    • MultiChoice’s ANN7 decision a political act of censorship – MKMVA

      The Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association is dismayed and angered by the decision of MultiChoice not to renew the contract of ANN7. This decision by MultiChoice – a white monopoly capital owned media company – firmly rooted in our unsavoury apartheid history through their owner Nasionale Pers, is not contractual it is political.

      It is a political act of censorship to silence, and in fact totally remove, a television news channel whose reporting about the continuing control of White Monopoly Capital, and their ruthless exploitation of the black (especially African) majority, does not suit the plans of White Monopoly Capital and their black sell-out surrogates who want to continue strengthening their grip on our economy.

    • Knox County Public Library hosts expert panel on censorship

      The Knox County Public Library hosted a panel discussion on the history and implications of censorship at Lawson McGhee Library on Sunday.

      The discussion featured speakers from the Knox County School system and the University of Tennessee, as well as playwright Kenneth Jones, whose “Alabama Story” began its run at UT’s Clarence Brown Theatre on Wednesday.

      Jones was joined by Cindy Welch, a professor at UT’s School of Information Science, and Sarah Searles, the library and media services specialist for Knox County Schools.

    • Chinese anti-censorship activist Zhen Jianghua denied access to lawyer

      Zhen is the executive director for Human Rights Campaign in China, a non-profit organisation which spreads information about – and advocates for – human rights activists. He is also the executive editor and founder of ATGFW.org, a website which works against internet censorship and provides technical advice to help people circumvent internet restrictions.

      He was taken from his home in the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai on September 1 last year on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power,” according to US-backed Radio Free Asia.

    • Internet Censorship Skyrockets in Russia in 2017, Study Says

      Internet freedom in Russia has continued its downward spiral over the past year with over 115,000 recorded cases of censorship, according to an internet and media freedom report published Monday.

      The report by the Agora international human rights group was published half a year before new anti-terror legislation comes into force, which will greatly expand state powers of surveillance over internet correspondence. Under the “Yarovaya Law,” Russian telecom and internet providers will be forced to store all user communication data for 3 years.

    • China to stamp out cryptocurrency trading completely with ban on foreign platforms

      China is to block all websites related to cryptocurrency trading and initial coin offerings (ICOs) – including foreign platforms – in a bid to finally quash the market completely.

      “To prevent financial risks, China will step up measures to remove any onshore or offshore platforms related to virtual currency trading or ICOs,” said an article published on Sunday night by Financial News, a publication affiliated to the People’s Bank of China (PBOC).

      Bitcoin latest: prices, policies and politics

      The article acknowledged that recent attempts to stamp out digital currencies by shutting down domestic exchanges had failed to completely eradicate trading.

    • Media censorship casts worrying shadow over Kenya’s democracy

      In September, Kenya was praised by many after its Supreme Court — citing irregularities — nullified the election of the country’s sitting president. But nearly six months on it appears this applause from observers was premature.
      As the Court ordered a fresh election for October, President Uhuru Kenyatta, bitterly disappointed by the judges’ decision, declared with grace, “I don’t agree with the decision, but I respect it.” It was seen as an example of how Kenya’s rule of law actually held sway.

    • Two Kenya TV stations resume broadcasting after days shut by government

      Two Kenyan television channels shut down by the government over their coverage of the political opposition resumed partial broadcasting on Monday, although a third channel remained off the air.

      The unprecedented act of censorship sparked a local and international backlash against the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who won an election in October.

      It also reinvigorated an opposition that had appeared unsure of its next step after a highly publicised rally last week at which leader Raila Odinga symbolically inaugurated himself as president.

    • Different Strokes! confronts censorship through tale of ‘bunny book crusade”’

      Steph Hickling Beckman, managing artistic director for Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective, doesn’t hold back when describing the relevance of Alabama Story, her company’s first production for the current season. “It’s a play about books and censorship, right when Trump tries to ban seven words from the CDC,” she says, referring to reports that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff members were recently discouraged from using language such as “transgender,” “diversity” and “evidence-based” in budget documents.

    • Public School Board Member Threatens Boss Of Woman Who Spoke Out Against School Book Banning
    • Hong Kong’s Top Cop Wants To Make It Illegal To Insult Police Officers

      The Blue Lives Matter movement has traveled overseas. Here in the US, we’ve seen various attempts to criminalize sassing cops, although none of those appear to be working quite as well as those already protected by a raft of extra rights would like. Meanwhile, we had Spain lining itself up for police statesmanship by making it a criminal offense to disrespect police officers.

      Over in Hong Kong, the police chief — while still debating whether or not he should offer an apology for his officers’ beating of bystanders during a 2014 pro-democracy protest — has thrown his weight behind criminalization of insults directed at officers.

    • Censorship or debate starter? Why removing Waterhouse’s Nymphs from a UK gallery was a bad idea

      Manchester Art Gallery’s decision to temporarily remove John William Waterhouse’s 1896 work, Hylas and the Nymphs, has undeniably succeeded in its stated aim to “prompt conversation about how we display and interpret artwork”.

      The painting, which usually hangs in a gallery full of 19th-century works entitled In Pursuit of Beauty, has been temporarily removed, according to the gallery’s curator of contemporary art, Clare Gannaway. The painting was replaced by a notice telling visitors that the decision to take down the painting is itself an artistic act which will feature in a solo show by the artist Sonia Boyce which opens in March. Post-it notes were provided for people to leave their reactions.

    • Gallery Wanted to Provoke Debate by Removing Naked Nymphs Painting. It Succeeded.

      An art gallery in England turned a 19th-century painting into a commentary on contemporary culture last month by removing it altogether.

      The Pre-Raphaelite painting, “Hylas and the Nymphs,” by the Victorian artist John William Waterhouse, is now back on display at the Manchester Art Gallery. It shows Hylas, a companion of the mythological hero Heracles, being lured into a lily pond by seven naked young women.

    • Putting Pinners First: How Pinterest Is Building Partnerships For Compassionate Content Moderation

      The way platforms develop content moderation rules can seem mysterious or arbitrary. At first glance, the result of this seemingly inscrutable process is varying guidelines across different platforms, with only a vague hint of an industry standard — what might be banned on one platform seems to be allowed on another. While each platform may have nuances in the way they create meaningful content moderation rules, these teams generally seek to align with the platform’s/company’s purpose, and use policies and guidelines to support an overarching mission. Different platforms delivering unique value propositions to users’ accounts for variations in content moderation approaches.

    • Israeli Music Fans Sue Two New Zealanders For Convincing Lorde To Cancel Her Israeli Concert

      This is, apparently, the first use of that law — which has remained controversial in Israel for a damn good reason. Even if you are against the BDS movement, basic civil liberties concepts around free expression should find this whole thing dangerous and ridiculous. The idea that Lorde choosing not to perform in Israel would constitute “damage” on Israel seems ridiculous on its face. The fact that these ticket buyers think that the proper response to someone saying something they don’t like and persuading a famous person to do something they don’t like is to sue rather than to try to persuade people in the other direction seems like an indictment of their own ability to make their case.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Devin Nunes Releases Memo That Doesn’t Show The Surveillance Abuses He Hypocritically ‘Cares’ About

      House intelligence oversight leader Devin Nunes released his supposed bombshell Friday. The Nunes memo was supposed to contain info showing the FBI had engaged in a questionable, politically-motivated investigation of Trump staff. How this news was supposed to be shocking was anyone’s guess. Anyone who has followed the FBI’s activities since the days of J. Edgar Hoover already knows the FBI engages in questionable, politically-motivated investigations. The only new twist is the FISA court’s involvement and the use of secretive surveillance powers to collect domestic communications.

      The FBI responded by noting the memo [PDF] contained “material omissions of fact.” What’s contained in the memo likely provides rhetorical ammo to those who believe Trump and his advisors did nothing wrong during the run-up to the election. But it will only provide limited support. What’s contained in the memo are accusations the FBI sought (and obtained) FISA warrants to surveill one-time Trump advisor Carter Page. The FBI — according to the memo — used the dubious Christopher Steele dossier to buttress its allegations. It apparently continued to do so even after it knew the Steele dossier had been paid for by the Democratic National Committee.

      The memo notes this interception was not performed under Title VII, which covers the recently-renewed Section 702 collection powers. This surveillance was performed under Title I — a more “traditional” FISA process in which the government seeks probable cause-based warrants from the FISA court, much like law enforcement officers seek warrants from magistrate judges.

    • Early Facebook and Google Employees Form Coalition to Fight What They Built

      A group of Silicon Valley technologists who were early employees at Facebook and Google, alarmed over the ill effects of social networks and smartphones, are banding together to challenge the companies they helped build.

      The cohort is creating a union of concerned experts called the Center for Humane Technology. Along with the nonprofit media watchdog group Common Sense Media, it also plans an anti-tech addiction lobbying effort and an ad campaign at 55,000 public schools in the United States.

      The campaign, titled The Truth About Tech, will be funded with $7 million from Common Sense and capital raised by the Center for Humane Technology. Common Sense also has $50 million in donated media and airtime from partners including Comcast and DirecTV. It will be aimed at educating students, parents and teachers about the dangers of technology, including the depression that can come from heavy use of social media.

    • Facebook patents solution to predict how rich or poor you are

      Facebook appears to be developing an “online system” that can algorithmically predict its users’ socio-economic status without knowing their incomes.

      Such a system would allow Facebook to more accurately target users with content and advertising tailored to their social class, the company said.

      According to a patent application filed in the US last July, the system will use classifiers to predict which socio-economic group users belong to.

    • The coming EU privacy regulation will end up remaking the world’s web

      Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation kicks in this May, and it enforces a user-first, privacy-centric set of rules for the internet that is totally incompatible with the adtech industry and the ad-supported web in general (though much rides on a potentially humungous loophole).

      But these rules won’t just affect Europe, but all the companies that want to trade with the world’s largest, richest trading block: to sell products and services in Europe, these businesses will have to adhere to European rules. [...]

    • Europe’s new data protection rules export privacy standards worldwide

      The new regulations offer EU citizens sweeping new powers over how their data can be collected, used and stored, presenting global leaders outside the 28-country block with a stark choice: bring their domestic laws in line with the EU’s new rules, or risk being shut out of a market of 500 million well-heeled consumers.

    • Why cops won’t need a warrant to pull the data off your autonomous car

      In order for AVs to work, they have to snag all kinds of data about the world around them: where precisely other objects are at any given moment and how fast they are moving. That data can seemingly be kept forever.

      Under current law, all of that data can be obtained relatively easily by federal law enforcement. In other words, if you’re a privacy-minded citizen, your threat model just changed.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Lauri Love extradition ruling: Monday, 5 Feb

      The ruling on Lauri Love’s extradition appeal will be handed down at 11am on Monday, 5 February 2018, at Court 4, Royal Courts of Justice in London. The High Court’s decision could determine the future of the forum bar, in addition to Lauri Love’s personal fate.

    • Victory: High Court rejects Lauri Love extradition

      In a major victory for Lauri Love, the High Court has approved his appeal and quashed his extradition. As Courage Case Director Naomi Colvin said, “This ruling is a massive victory for free expression online, for the fair treatment of neurodiverse people and for those of us who have drawn attention to the dire treatment of hackers and information activists in the United States.”

      The High Court judges disagreed with the District Court on whether the forum bar should apply in Lauri’s case and on the prospect of proper medical care to treat the likely risk of suicide should Lauri have been sent to a US prison.

      Regarding the forum bar, the judges found compelling the argument that if extradited, Lauri’s mental and physical health would deteriorate such that he could become unfit to plead. The judges also emphasized the absence of an argument from the UK prosecutor as to whether Lauri could be tried in the UK. Where the District Judge found this lack of argument to be neutral, the High Court saw it in Lauri’s favor: “In view of the fact that the CPS did not express any view adverse to the prosecution of Mr Love in the United Kingdom on any of the grounds potentially available to it, this silence is a factor which tells in favour of the forum bar, though it may readily be outweighed by other factors.”

    • Lauri Love ruling ‘sets precedent’ for trying hacking suspects in UK

      The decision delivered by the lord chief justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, is highly critical of the conditions Love would have endured in US jails, warning of the risk of suicide.

      Lawyers for the 33-year-old, who lives in Suffolk, had argued that Love should be tried in Britain for allegedly hacking into US government websites and that he would be at risk of killing himself if sent to the US.

    • Amazon Wristband Patent is the Creepiest Idea It Has Come Up With Yet

      Last week, the tech giant’s new patents were published, as Geekwire first reported, covering wristbands that can track the location of hands and movement relative to inventory bins via radio transmissions and ultrasonic sound pulses.

    • San Francisco’s D.A. Is Clearing Thousands of Marijuana Convictions. Others Around the Country Should Do the Same

      A smarter justice system isn’t just good policy. It’s good politics, too.

      It has taken decades, billions of dollars, and thousands of laws to turn the United States into the largest incarcerator in the world. This system also imposes on millions of people harsh, unfair, and long-lasting consequences for having a criminal record. But it’s within the power of local prosecutors to start dismantling this machine – even without changing a single law.

      San Francisco’s District Attorney, George Gascón, is showing the way. Last week, he announced that his office would erase thousands of marijuana convictions from people’s criminal records and automatically review thousands more dating back to 1975 to see if those convictions should be downgraded.

      Explaining the decision, Gascón said, “We want to address the wrongs that were caused by the failures of the war on drugs for many years in this country and begin to fix some of the harm that was done not only to the entire nation but specifically to communities of color.

      “Black people are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana use as compared with whites, despite similar rates of usage. Steps like this one are essential as we work to combat the perverse racial disparities in our criminal justice system.

    • Connecticut Court Decision Highlights U.S. Educational Failures

      In 1973, I was a struggling young teacher working in inner city Brooklyn when I discovered Jonathan Kozol’s National Book Award-winning Death at an Early Age. It became my young teacher’s bible on understanding the nature of the school system and the pervasive racism at its core. It’s subtitle, “The Destruction of the Hearts and Minds of Negro Children in the Boston Public Schools” is as relevant now as it was when it was published some 53 years ago.

    • Father of Molested Girls Attempted to Attack Larry Nassar in Court

      Meanwhile, on Friday, chaos broke out inside the courtroom during a sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar. Randall Margraves, a father of three daughters who were molested by Nassar, attempted to lunge at the doctor in the courtroom.

    • Bar Complaint Filed Against Lawyers Who Participated In Bogus Lawsuits Targeting Fake Defendants

      The reputation management tactic of filing bogus defamation lawsuits may be slowly coming to an end, but there will be a whole lot of reputational damage to be spread among those involved by the time all is said and done.

      Richart Ruddie, proprietor of Profile Defenders, filed several lawsuits in multiple states fraudulently seeking court orders for URL delistings. The lawsuits featured fake plaintiffs, fake defendants, and fake admissions of guilt from the fake defendants. Some judges issued judgments without a second thought. Others had second thoughts but they were identical to their first one. And some found enough evidence of fraud to pass everything on to the US Attorney’s office.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Sea cables in a thawing Arctic

      China has made a significant foray into the Arctic with the creation of a data “silk road”. Strongly supported by a newfound closeness with Russia, preliminary planning of a Chinese and Finnish–led trans-Arctic cable along the Arctic’s Northeast Passage in partnership with Japan and Norway is underway. But the project, essentially a relaunch of a stagnated Russian initiative, presents stark risks in affording Moscow and Beijing potential influence over global telecommunications.

    • Analysis Of The Working Group On Enhanced Cooperation On Public Policy Issues Pertaining To The Internet

      The Tunis Agenda calls for enhanced cooperation to address issues related to the Internet and its governance. However, there was no clear agreement on how to implement enhanced cooperation, so a Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation (WGEC) was convened to discuss that matter and to prepare recommendations. A first WGEC group failed to find agreement, so a second group was formed.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Come Witness The Commentators That Help The NFL Fool The Public About Its ‘Super Bowl’ Trademark Rights

        The Super Bowl is here and this Sunday many of us will bear witness to the spectacle that is million dollar advertising spots mashed together over four hours with a little bit of football thrown in for intermissions. As we’ve discussed before, this orgy of revenue for the NFL is, in some part, propagated by the NFL’s never ending lies about just how much protection the trademark it holds on the term “Super Bowl” provides. While the league obviously does have some rights due to the trademark, it often enjoys playing make believe that its rights extend to essential control over the phrase on all mediums and by all persons for all commercial or private interests. This, of course, is not true, and yet a good percentage of the public believes these lies.

        Why? The NFL, pantheon of sports power though it may be, is not so strong as to be able to single handedly confuse millions of people into thinking they can’t talk about a real life event whenever they want. No, the NFL has been helped along in this by members of the media who repeat these lies, often in very subtle ways. Ron Coleman of the Likelihood Of Confusion site has a nice write up publicly shaming a number of these media members, including Lexology’s Mitchell Stabbe.

    • Copyrights

      • International Inconsistencies In Copyright: Why It’s Hard To Know What’s Really Available To The Public

        Have you ever wondered why it can be hard to find out what some old paintings look like? Why there seem to be so few pictures of artistic works available from many countries even though they’re filled with public sculptures and murals? Or why prices for books and movies can be so wildly different in different countries? The answer is that copyright law is different all over the world, and these differences can make figuring out what to do with these works so difficult or risky that most websites are not willing to have them around at all. This essay talks about a few of these works and why they add a major challenge to content moderation online.

      • Push Resumes For An EU Google Tax, With The Bulgarian Government Leading The Way

        The failure of snippet taxes/Google taxes is well documented, but never seems to deter further legislative efforts in the same direction. Google reacted to the initiative by dropping snippets from German news agencies, a move that produced a noticeable drop in traffic. German publishers called it “blackmail,” but the simplest way to comply with bad laws is to opt out. Similar things happened in Spain with its snippet tax. Google nuked its local Google News service, resulting in affected publishers demanding the government force Google to re-open the service and start sending them traffic/money.

      • Study Suggests Shutting Down Filesharing Sites Would Hurt Music Industry, New Artists

        The evolution of the music industry’s response to the fact that copyright infringement exists on the internet has been both plodding and frustrating. The industry, which has gone through stages including a focus on high-profile and punitive lawsuits against individual “pirates”, its own flavors of copyright trolling, and misguided attempts to “educate” the masses as to why their natural inclinations are the worst behavior ever, have since settled into a mantra that site-blocking censorship of the internet is the only real way to keep the music industry profitable. All of this stems from a myopic view on piracy held by the industry that it is always bad for every artist any time a music file is downloaded for free as opposed to purchased off of iTunes or wherever. We have argued for years that this view is plainly wrong and far too simplistic, and that there is actually plenty of evidence that, for a large portion of the music industry, piracy may actually be a good thing.

        Well, there has been an update to a study first publicized as a work in progress several years ago run by the Information Economics and Policy Journal out of Queen’s University. Based on that study, it looks like attempts to shut down filesharing sites would not just be ineffectual, but disastrous for both the music industry as a whole and especially new and smaller-ticket artists. The most popular artists, on the other hand, tend to be more hurt by piracy than helped. That isn’t to be ignored, but we must keep in mind that the purpose of copyright law is to get more art created for the benefit of the public and it seems obvious that the public most benefits from a larger successful music ecosystem as opposed to simply getting more albums from the largest audiences.

      • Tarnishing The History Of Martin Luther King Jr.: Copyright Enforcement Edition

        It is no secret that the estate of Martin Luther King Jr. have a long and unfortuate history of trying to lock up or profit from the use of his stirring words and speeches. We’ve talked about this issue going back nearly a decade and it pops up over and over again. By now you’ve probably heard that the car brand Dodge (owned by Chrysler) used a recording of a Martin Luther King Jr. speech in a controversial Super Bowl ad on Sunday. It kicked up quite a lot of controversy — even though his speeches have been used to sell other things in the past, including both cars and mobile phones.

      • Fair Use Overcomes Chrysler’s Bogus Copyright Notice
      • BMG v. Cox: ISPs Can Make Their Own Repeat-Infringer Policies, But the Fourth Circuit Wants A Higher “Body Count”

        Last week’s BMG v. Cox decision has gotten a lot of attention for its confusing take on secondary infringement liability, but commentators have been too quick to dismiss the implications for the DMCA safe harbor. Internet service providers are still not copyright police, but the decision will inevitably encourage ISPs to act on dubious infringement complaints, and even to kick more people off of the Internet based on unverified accusations.

        This long-running case involves a scheme by copyright troll Rightscorp to turn a profit for shareholders by demanding money from users whose computer IP addresses were associated with copyright infringement. Turning away from the tactic of filing lawsuits against individual ISP subscribers, Rightscorp began sending infringement notices to ISPs, coupled with demands for payment, and insisting that ISPs forward those notices to their customers. In other words, Rightscorp and its clients, including BMG, sought to enlist ISPs to help coerce payments from Internet users, threatening the ISPs themselves with an infringement suit if they don’t join in. Cox, a midsize cable operator and ISP, pushed back and was punished for it.

      • Appeals Court Makes A Mess Of Copyright Law Concerning ISPs And Safe Harbors

        We’ve been following the BMG v. Cox lawsuit from the very beginning, through all its very odd twists and turns, including having a judge in the district court, Liam O’Grady, who made it quite clear that he didn’t much care about the internet, and didn’t see why it was a problem if people lost their internet access completely based on merely a few allegations of copyright infringement. The 4th Circuit appeals court has now overturned the lower court ruling and sent the case back to the district court for a do-over. While the initial decision was awful (as we discuss below), this new ruling makes a huge mess out of copyright law and will have serious, dangerous, and long-lasting consequences for the internet as a whole.

        If you don’t recall, the case involved BMG suing Cox Communications, though much of the case really hinged on the actions of another company, Rightscorp, who has been trying (and mostly failing) to build a business model around a form of mild copyright trolling. Rather than the aggressive “sue ‘em and settle,” strategy employed by others, Rightscorp would send DMCA takedowns to ISPs, with a settlement offer, and hope that the ISPs would pass those notices on to subscribers accused of infringing.

      • Russia Blocks 500 ‘Pirate’ Sites in Four Months, Without a Single Court Order

        Last October, Russia passed legislation which allowed rightsholders to have ‘pirate’ clone and mirror sites blocked by ISPs without the need for court intervention. According to Russia’s Deputy Minister of Communications the months since have been extremely busy. A total of 500 sites have been blocked, which is more than the last two years of court-ordered blockades combined.

      • EU Anti-Piracy Agreement Has Little Effect on Advertising, Research Finds

        One of the best ways to beat piracy, according to many copyright industry groups, is to “follow the money.” This is the reason why advertising agencies are encouraged to cut their deals with pirate sites. One such agreement was facilitated by the European Commission, but according to new research, its effects are minimal.

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