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02.09.18

Links 9/2/2018: Cockpit 161, Freespire 3.0.6.5, PostgreSQL 10.2

Posted in News Roundup at 6:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • It’s launch day for Sylabs: Promoting portable high-performance containers for Linux

    Today is launch day for Sylabs — a new company focused on promoting Singularity within the enterprise and high-performance computing (HPC) environments and on advancing the fields of artificial intelligence (AI), machine/deep learning, and advanced analytics.

    And while it’s launch day for Sylabs, it’s not launch day for the technology it will be promoting. Singularity has already made great strides for HPC and has given Linux itself more prominence in HPC as it has moved more deeply into the areas of scientific and enterprise computing. With its roots at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), Singularity is already providing a platform for a lot of heavy-duty scientific research and is expected to move into many other areas, such as machine learning, and may even change the way some difficult analytical problems are approached.

  • Sylabs launches Singularity Pro, a container platform for high performance computing
  • Sylabs Emerges from Stealth to Bring Singularity Container Technology to Enterprise Performance Computing
  • Singularity HPC Container Start-Up – Sylabs – Emerges from Stealth
  • Sylabs Brings Singularity Container Platform to Enterprises
  • Sylabs Startup forms Commercial Entity behind Singularity for HPC
  • 2017 LinuxQuestions.org Members Choice Award Winners

    The polls are closed and the results are in. We once again had some extremely close races and the large number of new categories this year certainly kept things interesting. Congratulations to each and every nominee.

  • Server

    • Why Mainframes Aren’t Going Away Any Time Soon

      IBM’s former systems and technology CTO explains when it makes sense to buy a mainframe and what the advantages are.

    • Starling Bank cashes in on open source Kubernetes for flexibility and agility

      UK fintech Starling Bank is building on the evolution of its architecture with plans to move to a cross-cloud approach supported by open source container orchestration platform Kubernetes.

    • Kubernetes for dev infrastructure

      I was initially assigned to solve an easy-sounding problem: make integration tests faster. There were a few hundreds of Selenium-based workflows, which were running sequentially and taking up to 10 hours to complete. The obvious solution was to parallelize them. The problem was that they were not designed to run concurrently and hence we had to either refactor all tests or provide an isolated copy of the ThoughtSpot system (a test backend) for every thread to run on. Redesigning tests might look like a cleaner solution, but it would require a tremendous effort from the whole engineering team and a lot of test-related changes in the product, so it was not feasible. We’ve decided to take the second approach, and that left me with the task, I’ve ended up solving with the help of Docker and Kubernetes: make it possible to quickly (in 2–3 minutes) spin up dozens of test backends with pre-loaded test data, run tests, tear them down, repeat.

    • Kubernetes vs Docker Swarm: A comparison of cloud container tools

      Containers are rising like a hot air balloon in the cloud market. These days, the CIO can hardly move for suggestions of one-shot-wonder tools to lighten the burden of IT infrastructure management. But when it comes to the battle of Kubernetes vs Docker, which programme comes out on top?

      Touted as silver bullet simplifiers of software update administration, both tools are great for transporting applications from one system to another without risking compatibility problems, missing files or unexpected errors. In the first instance, using a container to transport applications is much faster and better value than using a virtual machine, so either product is a good place to start for boosting cloud architecture efficiency.

  • Kernel Space

    • diff -u: Detainting the Kernel

      Sometimes someone submits a patch without offering a clear explanation of why the patch would be useful, and when questioned by the developers, the person offers vague or hypothetical explanations. Something like that happened recently when Matthew Garrett submitted a patch to disable a running kernel’s ability to detect whether it was running entirely open-source code.

      Specifically, he wanted to be able to load unsigned modules at runtime, without the kernel detecting the situation and “tainting” itself. Tainting the kernel doesn’t affect its behavior in any significant way, but it is extremely useful to the kernel developers, who typically will refuse to chase bug reports on any kernel that uses closed-source software. Without a fully open-source kernel, there’s no way to know that a given bug is inside the open or closed portion of the kernel. For this reason, anyone submitting bug reports to the kernel developers always should make sure to reproduce the bug on an untainted kernel.

    • Intel & AMD IOMMU Improvements Slated For Linux 4.16

      With the in-development Linux 4.16 kernel there are improvements to note for both AMD and Intel users.

    • Linux Foundation

    • Graphics Stack

      • AMDKFD GPUVM Support Updated For Radeon Discrete GPUs

        Many of you have been anxious to get ROCm/OpenCL compute working with the open-source Radeon Linux driver on modern GPUs while using a mainline kernel and that day continues inching closer.

        That long sought after goal should be achieved for Linux 4.17 and there are updated AMDKFD patches now available that work in that direction. But as noted previously, the Linux 4.17 mainline paired with working ROCm/OpenCL will initially be just for select GPUs while hardware like Vega will likely end up needing more time before it’s running off a mainline kernel for GPGPU compute.

      • XWayland Gets Initial Support For EGLStreams To Support NVIDIA’s Driver

        With the NVIDIA proprietary driver continuing to only support EGLStreams for their Wayland support until the new “Unix device memory allocator” project pans out, one of the big limitations has been no XWayland support for running X11 applications. Fortunately, that’s now changing.

        Besides needing a Wayland compositor patched with EGLStreams support in order to work with the NVIDIA proprietary Linux driver, there hasn’t been XWayland support with this approach. But Red Hat’s Lyude Paul today published initial support for using XWayland with EGLStreams.

      • RADV Vulkan Driver Now Exposes VK_EXT_external_memory_host

        RADV, the Mesa Radeon Vulkan driver, now has external memory host support via the VK_EXT_external_memory_host extension that was recently introduced in the Vulkan 1.0.66 update.

      • WattMan Support Coming For Radeon Polaris GPUs On Linux
  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • MATE 1.20 Released
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • The New KDE Slimbook II: A sleek and powerful Plasma-based Ultrabook

        To start with, it comes with a choice between an Intel i5: 2.5 GHz Turbo Boost 3.1 GHz – 3M Cache CPU, or an Intel i7: 2.7 GHz Turbo Boost 3.5 GHz with a 4M Cache. This makes the KDE Slimbook II 15% faster on average than its predecessor. The RAM has also been upgraded, and the KDE Slimbook now sports 4, 8, or 16 GBs of DDR4 RAM which is 33% faster than the DDR3 RAM installed on last year’s model.

      • New Slimbook KDE Plasma Ultrabook Rolled Out

        The KDE community and the Odin Group have announced a new version of the Slimbook, the KDE-branded laptop running Neon. While it’s an improvement over last year’s model, it’s still a tough sell against other laptops/ultrabooks.

      • KDE Slimbook II is a thinner, lighter, faster Linux laptop

        A year after partnering with Spanish PC maker Slimbook to release a Linux-powered laptop that would ship with the KDE desktop environment out of the box, the KDE team and Slimbook are back with a new model.

      • KDE Slimbook II Plasma-Based Linux Ultrabook Laptop Is Cheaper, More Powerful

        As of today, there’s a new KDE Slimbook Linux-powered, Plasma-based Ultrabook laptop available for sale and it comes with some impressive hardware specifications and a smaller price tag.

        Meet KDE Slimbook II, the second-generation of the KDE Slimbook laptop that emphasizes the widely-used KDE Plasma open-source desktop environment for GNU/Linux distributions. Build for running the KDE Neon Linux distro, the 1st-generation KDE Slimbook laptop was announced a year ago and offered some attractive features, including a 13.3-inch screen, faster SSDs, and latest Plasma desktop.

      • Who, wha, FOSDEM?

        Underneath the Konqui Pinebook is my KDE Slimbook. Someone was handing out Nopetopus stickers; I wish I had gotten more. My Slimbook is starting to look a little beat-up — which is good, from a Hitch-Hikers-Guide-to-the-Galaxy point of view, since it’s been baked under the suns of Kakrafoon^WAlmeria, shivered in the snows of Allosymanius Syneca^W^WBrussels. At the KDE booth we were also could show a second-generation machine: the KDE Slimbook II (in Spanish, their English site doesn’t mention it yet). A faster, brighter version of the Free-Software friendly laptop with Linux and KDE Plasma pre-installed. This generation is a little more angled / chunky than the previous generation. It might get fewer “why do you guys have Macbooks .. oh, hey” comments. So an aluminum but not-quite-clamshell look might be more distinctive.

      • A Decade of Plasma

        I realised that it’s now a decade of KDE releasing its Plasma desktop. The KDE 4 release event was in January 2008. Google were kind enough to give us their office space and smoothies and hot tubs to give some talks and plan a way forward.

        The KDE 4 release has gained something of a poor reputation, at the time we still shipped Kubuntu with KDE 3 and made a separate unsupported release for Plasma, but I remember it being perfectly useable and notable for being the foundation that would keep KDE software alive. It had been clear for sometime that Kicker and the other elements of the KDE 3 desktop were functional but unlikely to gain much going forward. When Qt 4 was announced back in (I’m pretty sure) 2004 Akademy in Ludwigsberg it was seen as a chance to bring KDE’s desktop back up to date and leap forward. It took 4 long years and to keep community momentum going we had to release even if we did say it would eat your babies.

      • Heading out of winter and into Spring

        In KDE, Plasma 5.12 has been released, and it is great! It has been released in time to make it into Kubuntu Bionic, our next big release which will become an LTS. Plasma 5.12 is a great fit there, since it is also an LTS. After living through the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerability early-exposure, it feels great to finally be back on track. We have it available right now in Artful (17.10) as well: https://kubuntu.org/news/plasma-5-12-arrives-in-backport-ppa-for-kubuntu-17-10-artful-aardvark/. I’m using it now.

      • KDE Applications 18.04 Schedule finalized
      • print-manager 0.4.0

        This last month I decided to do some work on print-manager, it’s code dates back to 2010, so it’s 8 years old now, my last commits where on 2014, after that Jan Grulich did the KF5/Qt5 port and last year I tried to do some improvements but only managed to do a single commit.

      • App popularity in Discover

        Currently, Discover sorts apps by popularity. In this case, popularity means “number of ratings”, and ratings come from user reviews. This is why GNOME Tweak Tool shows up first in Discover’s browse list: apparently it’s very popular among GNOME users, and they’ve written lots of reviews about it. We should all follow their lead and write some quality reviews about our favorite software; this helps the best apps bubble up to the top, and users love reading reviews from other users when determining whether or not to install an app.

      • SoK 2018 wrap-up report
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Entering the “home stretch” for GNOME 3.28

        Earlier this week I´ve released GNOME Maps 3.27.90 (even though I just read an e-mail about the deadline for the release tarballs had been postponed for one week just after uploading the tarball).

        This weekend I (like some 8000 others) participated in an exciting FOSDEM with lots of interesting talks and the week before that I gave presentation of GNOME Maps, and in particular the public transit functionality for TrafikLab (the sort of “developer community” driven by the Swedish organization Samtrafiken AB, who coordinates and aggregates data from all public transit operators, both commercial/private and regional/public ones.

      • Bastian Ilsø Hougaard: Behind the GNOME Booth, FOSDEM 2018

        Saturday was spent selling lots and lots of socks. I choose this year not to go to any talks and instead hangout with fellow GNOMEies in the booth and have a chat with bypassing users. I’m accumulating many advertising arguments for buying socks including that it allows you to have feet on your feet and that you have an excuse to say “GNOME Socks!” as much as you want, once you own a pair. ;-) Kat brought the awesome hoodies and then we had a big load of leftover t-shirts from GUADEC 2017 which we more or less sold (I think there’s still some 20 left in small). In the end we sold a 160 pairs of socks which is almost half the enormous stock of socks I purchased. When the evening came by and the booth had to close, we went to the GNOME Beer Event in La Bécasse, where I had my annual taste of Lambic Blanc, which is one of the few beers I really enjoy drinking.

      • Speaking at FOSDEM 2018 in Brussels, Belgium

        I think that we in the GNOME community can use data to make more informed decisions. For example, right now we’re fading out our Bugzilla instance and we don’t really have any way to measure how successful we are. In fact, we don’t even know what it would mean to be successful. But by looking at data we might get a better feeling of what we are interested in and what metric we need to refine to express better what we want to know. Then we can evaluate measures by looking at the development of the metrics over time. Spontaneously, I can think of these relatively simple questions: How much review do our patches get? How many stale wiki links do we have? How soon are security issues being dealt with? Do people contribute to the wiki, documentation, or translations before creating code? Where do people contribute when coding stalls?

      • Gnome without chrome-gnome-shell

        New laptop, has a touchscreen, can be folded into a tablet, I heard gnome-shell would be a good choice of desktop environment, and I managed to tweak it enough that I can reuse existing habits.

        I have a big problem, however, with how it encourages one to download random extensions off the internet and run them as part of the whole desktop environment. I have an even bigger problem with gnome-core having a hard dependency on chrome-gnome-shell, a plugin which cannot be disabled without root editing files in /etc, which exposes parts of my destktop environment to websites.

  • Distributions

    • Best lightweight Linux distro of 2018

      Modern Linux distros are designed to appeal to a large number of users who run modern hardware.

      As a result, they have become too bloated for older machines, even if you manually delete files. Without a healthy dollop of system memory and an extra core or two, these distros may not deliver the best performance.

      Thankfully, there are many lightweight distros, trimmed and tweaked by expert hands, which can be used to breathe new life into older hardware.

      But there’s one caveat to bear in mind when working with lightweight distros – they usually manage to support ancient kit by cutting away just about everything you take for granted, such as wizards and scripts which make everyday tasks easier.

    • Reviews

      • What Is Kali Linux, and Do You Need It?

        If you’ve heard a 13-year-old would-be hacker talking about how 1337 they are, chances are, Kali Linux came up. Despite it’s script kiddie reputation, Kali is actually a real tool (or set of tools) for security professionals.

        Kali is a Linux distribution based on Debian. Its goal is simple; include as many penetration and security audit tools as possible in one convenient package. Kali delivers, too. Many of the best open-source tools for conducting security tests are collected and ready to use.

    • New Releases

      • Freespire 3.0.6.5 released

        Today we are releasing Freespire 3.0.6.5 which is a bug fix and incremental release of the Freespire 3.0 series. We also added some features and applications that users wanted us to include in the distribution. With this release we fixed several issues.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Official KDE Plasma 5.12 Release Now in Tumbleweed

        KDE Plasma 5.12 transitioned from it beta version of 5.11.95 to the official release in an openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshot earlier this week.

        On the same day of the upstream release, Tumbleweed snapshot 20180206 brought the new desktop software to its thousands of rolling release users. Improved performance and several new features are available in Plasma 5.12 like Wayland-only Night Color feature that allows adjustments to the screen color temperature to reduce eye strain and the System Activity and System Monitor display per-process graphs for the CPU usage. The new KDE Store offers a wide selection of addons that are ready to be installed. Plasma 5.12 is the second long-term support (LTS) release from the Plasma 5 team and will be the version used in openSUSE’s traditional distribution openSUSE Leap 15, which is expected to be released this spring.

      • OpenSUSE Tumbleweed Already Shipping KDE Plasma 5.12, Mesa 18.0
      • OpenSUSE Leap 15 Will Ship With Plasma Wayland Option
      • Plasma 5.12 Brings Wayland to Leap

        This Tuesday KDE released the latest Long Term Support (LTS) version of the Plasma desktop 5.12.

        A key point in this new release is that Wayland support was extensively worked on and is now suitable as part of the Long Term Support guarantees. In particular, the Plasma session in Wayland now plays nicer with multiple screens, and has added support for screen rotation and touchscreen calibration. It also gained a new exclusive feature, Night Color, which removes blue light from the screen at night time in a similar fashion to Redshift, which only works in X11.

        This means that the upcoming openSUSE Leap 15 will offer a far more complete Wayland experience installed by default. It will just be a matter of selecting “Plasma (Wayland)” in the session list of the display manager before logging in. Nothing will change for Tumbleweed users, which had already a Wayland session available since Plasma 5.4.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • DebConf18: Call for Proposals

        The DebConf Content team would like to call for proposals in the DebConf18 conference, which will take place in Hsinchu, Taiwan, from 29 July to 5 August 2018.

      • Debian LTS work, January 2018
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Policy Forming For Allowing Snaps By Default

            Steve Langasek of Canonical has laid out a draft proposal about allowing Snaps to be shipping by default with the upcoming Ubuntu 18.04 LTS release.

            In Ubuntu MATE 17.10 there were the first Snaps by default but for Ubuntu 18.04 proper is when there should be Snaps installed by default.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Up the Source Code to Lock Down Your Data

    Regular readers probably already know this, but the main consideration that persuaded me to try Linux was security. With the many devastating breaches and unsettling privacy encroachments revealed in the past few years, I wanted to take control my digital life.

    My journey enriched my digital life in many other ways, some of which I’ve related in previous columns. In this installment, I want to pay special attention to that first pivotal step I took by discussing the distinct advantages Linux provides to the security-minded. Digital security may be a lifelong pursuit, but I hope that by sharing my experience, I can encourage others to appreciate the basics.

  • Why I want you to run for the OSI Board

    In the world of tech, we fit across three generations of contributors to free and open source software–those who were involved in the early days of free software; those who found places in the community after open source had been established; and the group paultag humorously dubbed the GNU generation–none of us have lived in a world without the explicit concept of user freedom.

    Within my cadre of FOSS-loving millennials, several of us have fairly similar stories, both inside of our FOSS lives and out: we all had formative life experiences of financial hardship, and tech helped us emerge into comfortable, middle-class lifestyles. We’re all community-focused and have worked as community managers. We’ve been finalists for the same jobs.

    That is to say, while we have different opinions and different outlooks, we all come from fairly similar places.

  • FOSDEM: The Third Decade of Open Source

    This weekend I spoke at FOSDEM in Brussels to deliver the opening conference keynote. My subject was “The Third Decade of Open Source” and as OSI President I summed up the main events of the last 20 years, some of the key facts behind them and then offered five trends that will shape the next decade.

  • Open Source Software: 20 Years and Counting

    When the decision was made to follow the label open source, a rift opened up within the free software movement. Classical adherents of the traditional values – Stallman in particular – viewed the Open Source Initiative as pandering to corporate interests, concerned purely with the marketability of the idea, and less with the social and ethical values.

    The debate still rages on, in 2016 Richard Stallman posted on the GNU website that “open source misses the point of free software” and that “supporters of open source considered the term a marketing campaign for free software…while not raising issues of right and wrong that they might not like to hear.”

    Disagreements aside, the value of open source to the tech industry in the past twenty years is incredible. Fuelling a generation of thinkers and tinkerers and a whirlwind of technological advances, it will continue to grow and shape our digital future.

    In an increasingly digitized world, the core values of the movement are ones that we should consider as we move forward.

  • The cpu_features library

    “Write Once, Run Anywhere.” That was the promise of Java back in the 1990s. You could write your Java code on one platform, and it would run on any CPU implementing a Java Virtual Machine.

    But for developers who need to squeeze every bit of performance out of their applications, that’s not enough. Since the dawn of computing, performance-minded programmers have used insights about hardware to fine tune their code.

  • Google Rolls Out cpu_features Library

    Google’s cpu_features library makes it easier for detecting modern CPU capabilities like FMA, SSE, and AVX extensions when writing hand-tuned code.

  • 3 steps to reduce a project’s failure rate [Ed: "Open Decision Framework" the latest Red Hat openwashing sound bite]

    It’s no secret that clear, concise, and measurable requirements lead to more successful projects. A study about large scale projects by McKinsey & Company in conjunction with the University of Oxford revealed that “on average, large IT projects run 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time, while delivering 56 percent less value than predicted.” The research also showed that some of the causes for this failure were “fuzzy business objectives, out-of-sync stakeholders, and excessive rework.”

  • Symphony Now Available on OpenFin Through Open Source Contribution to Symphony Software Foundation

    OpenFin, the desktop operating system built specifically for the needs of capital markets, announced today that it has publicly contributed code to the Symphony Software Foundation that allows, for the first time, any OpenFin customer to deploy Symphony Chat on the OpenFin operating system. The integration, currently in beta testing, enables seamless deployment and interoperability of Symphony alongside the expanding ecosystem of applications already running on OpenFin.

  • 2 startups are joining forces — and together they could pose a threat to Bloomberg

    Symphony, a messaging service that has gained some traction among Wall Street firms, has been integrated into OpenFin, an operating system built for financial-services, the two companies announced Thursday.

    OpenFin hosts more than a hundred applications on its platform, and the integration means Symphony will be “interoperable” with those apps, the same way social media apps on your phone are able to talk with one another.

    “By enabling Symphony to run on the OpenFin operating system, we are making it easy for our mutual customers to unify the Symphony desktop experience with their other OpenFin-based apps,” Mazy Dar, chief executive of OpenFin, said of the news.

  • Gleif and Swift debut open source BIC-to-LEI mapping

    The Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF) has published the first monthly relationship file that matches a Business Identifier Code (BIC) assigned to an organization against its Legal Entity Identifier (LEI).
    With the launch of this open source file, GLEIF and SWIFT have pioneered a cooperation model that, for the first time, enables market participants to link and cross-reference these key entity identifiers free of charge. This will significantly streamline entity verification processes and reduce data management costs.

  • Events

    • Percona Announces Tutorial Schedule for Seventh Annual Percona Live Open Source Database Conference
    • FSFE Assembly at 34C3: Wir taten was

      In December 2017, the Chaos Communication Congress moved for the first time onto the Messegelände Leipzig. The FSFE came along and as in recent years, our assembly attracted a lot of visitors. Together with EDRi, for the first time we have been setting up a cluster called “Rights & Freedoms” with our own stage for multiple sessions. Although there have been some organisational issues, this Cluster was a big success and during three days, it has been visited by thousands of people.

      I am happy to see the FSFE assembly again growing every year and having the possibility to bring our message of Software Freedom to the people at the Chaos Communication Congress. The CCC is Germany’s biggest annual meetup of hackers and political activists and is “considered one of the largest events of this kind, alongside the DEF CON in Las Vegas” (wikipedia).

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chrome 65 Beta: CSS Paint API and the ServerTiming API

        Unless otherwise noted, changes described below apply to the newest Chrome Beta channel release for Android, Chrome OS, Linux, Mac, and Windows.

      • Chrome 65 Now In Beta With The CSS Paint API

        Google released the latest beta of the Chrome/Chromium web-browser today. Chrome 65 Beta isn’t as exciting as some past browser updates, but there are still some new additions to note.

      • Chrome Adding Shorter Shortcut For Bookmarks: Windows and Linux Only.

        Improvements to accessibility are always welcome additions to any software and web browsers are no exception. Clearly, we are fans of Chrome and that includes Google’s browser in all its forms across every available platform. So, we celebrate with all the non-Chrome OS users when developers bring refinements to the world’s most popular window to the web.

  • Databases

    • Release 10.2

      Release date: 2018-02-08

    • PostgreSQL 10.2 Released With A Ton Of Security & Bug Fixes

      PostgreSQL 10.2 is now available as the latest point release to PostgreSQL 10.

      While PostgreSQL 10.0 brought a ton of new features and improvements when released last October, these point releases are focused on just improving the stability and fixes for this popular database system.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • a2k18 Hackathon preview: Syncookies coming to PF

      One eagerly anticipated item is the arrival of TCP syncookies (read: another important tool in your anti-DDoS toolset) in PF. Henning Brauer (henning@) added the code in a series of commits on February 6th, 2018, with this one containing the explanation

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • design notes on inline caches in guile

      Next, there are the arithmetic operators: addition, multiplication, and so on. Scheme’s arithmetic is indeed polymorphic; the addition operator + can add any number of complex numbers, with a distinction between exact and inexact values. On a representation level, Guile has fixnums (small exact integers, no heap allocation), bignums (arbitrary-precision heap-allocated exact integers), fractions (exact ratios between integers), flonums (heap-allocated double-precision floating point numbers), and compnums (inexact complex numbers, internally a pair of doubles). Also in Guile, arithmetic operators are a “primitive generics”, meaning that they can be extended to operate on new types at runtime via GOOPS.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • RISC-V gains momentum as it moves from MCUs to Linux-friendly SoCs

        The open source RISC-V ISA has evolved quickly into silicon, thanks to help from companies like SiFive and Microsemi. SiFive’s HiFive Unleashed board should arrive less than two years after SiFive announced its first Linux-driven Freedom SoCs.

        It’s been two years since the open source RISC-V architecture emerged from computer labs at UC Berkeley and elsewhere and began appearing in soft-core implementations designed for FPGAs, and over a year since the first commercial silicon arrived. So far, the focus has primarily been on MCU-like processors, but last October, SiFive announced the first Linux-driven RISC-V SoC with its quad-core, 64-bit bit Freedom U540 (AKA U54-MC Coreplex). A few days ago at FOSDEM, SiFive opened pre-sales for an open source HiFive Unleashed SBC that showcases the U540.

      • SiFive releases Linux SoC processor and board

        SiFive Inc. (San Mateo, Calif.), a startup that is offering processor cores that comply with the RISC-V open source architecture, has launched a Linux-capable RISC-V based processor chip, the Freedom U540 SoC.

      • Chip Embarks As First Linux-Capable RISC-V Based SoC

        SiFive launches what it calls the industry’s first Linux-capable RISC-V based processor SoC. The company recently demonstrated the first real-world use of the HiFive Unleashed board featuring the Freedom U540 SoC, based on its U54-MC Core IP. During the demo, SiFive provided updates on the RISC-V Linux effort, surprising attendees with an announcement that the presentation had been run on the HiFive Unleashed development board. With the availability of the HiFive Unleashed board and Freedom U540 SoC, SiFive has brought to market the first multicore RISC-V chip designed for commercialization, and now offers the industry’s widest array of RISC-V based Core IP.

      • PIXO Pixel – Open Source LED Display for Makers

        Sean Hodgins is an inventor and maker interested in purposing current technologies in new and different ways. He’s currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for the PIXO Pixel, an open source RGB display that controls 256 LEDs.

      • AFRL, NextFlex leverage open-source community to create flexible circuit system

        Lightweight, low-cost and flexible electronic systems are the key to next-generation smart technologies for military as well as consumer and commercial applications.

        An Air Force Research Laboratory-led project in conjunction with NextFlex, America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics Institute, has resulted in the first ever, functional samples of flexible Arduino circuit board systems made by using a flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing process, setting the stage for smart technologies for the internet of things and sensor applications like wearable devices.

  • Programming/Development

    • The State of OpenJDK In Early 2018

      Oracle’s Mark Reinhold spoke at last weekend’s FOSDEM conference about the state of OpenJDK for open-source Java.

      Reinhold’s presentation covered the bumpy OpenJDK 9 release and then a look ahead to their next six-month release cadence for future OpenJDK releases. He sought to relieve some who feared more frequent breakage and about the handling of new features/functionality in Java and more. Long story short, Oracle hopes for a smooth transition.

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Alarm grows as norovirus outbreak explodes at Olympics; cases quadruple in days

      With the opening ceremony set for Friday, an outbreak of the highly infectious gastrointestinal bug norovirus already has a solid lead at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea.

      In just a few days, official case counts have nearly quadrupled, according to multiple reports from The New York Times. The tally was 32 just two days ago but quickly climbed to 86. Then another 42 cases were confirmed by Thursday night, bringing the total to 128 around the Olympic sites.

      Officials at the games first announced the outbreak of the virus—also called the “winter vomiting bug”—on Tuesday. Security personnel were the first to test positive, and about 1,200 of the security staff were sequestered in their rooms at the time. About 1,100 people, some non-security personnel, were still in quarantine on Thursday. South Korea deployed 900 military personnel to make up for the quarantined security workers.

      But the infection has now spread beyond the security staff to Olympics Organizing Committee staff, venue personnel, and even cafeteria workers. Hong Jeong-ik from South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control told the Times that officials were testing food and water to try to identify the source of the infection. “We still haven’t figured out the source yet. It’s going to take some time,” he said.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • [Joke] Military Refuses to Participate in Trump’s Parade, Citing Bone Spurs

      The Pentagon has turned down Donald J. Trump’s request for a grand military parade in Washington, D.C., citing a sudden outbreak of bone spurs that would prevent men and women in uniform from participating.

      Harland Dorrinson, a Pentagon spokesman, said that, within an hour of Trump’s request, more than a hundred thousand military personnel complained that they were suffering from acute cases of bone spurs that would make marching in such a parade a painful ordeal.

      “In the history of the U.S. military, we have never experienced a bone-spur epidemic of this magnitude,” the spokesman said. “Regrettably, however, we have no choice but to issue thousands of deferments.”

    • Vets and military families don’t want to be props in Trump’s fantasy

      Donald Trump, whose tastes always lean towards the more garish end of the authoritarian leader scale, has longed for a Soviet-style military parade to bolster his ego since before he even took office. He reportedly tried to get a military march, with tanks included, for his inauguration, and bragged in January 2017 that he wanted the military “marching down Pennsylvania Avenue” and “flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades.” The Pentagon put him off this desire for a year, but The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that military brass may now cave into the boy-chief’s demands for a propaganda parade.

      Administration officials seem to be trying to spin this terrible idea by invoking France’s Bastille Day parade as a comparison, instead of the parades of military dictatorships that captured Trump’s imagination long before he went to Paris last summer. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, always ready to be shamelessly dishonest, claimed the parade was “a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation” for the military.

      Many active duty and former military personnel, however, do not agree with Sanders that this is about appreciating the military. Legal and social pressures tend to keep most active duty service members silent on political matters, but there’s good reason to believe that many people who have actually served — which the president famously used his “bone spurs” to avoid doing — don’t appreciate being used as props in Trump’s narcissistic pageantry.

    • Maldives sends out envoys to ‘friendly nations’ of China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia; India not on list

      Amid intensifying political turmoil in Maldives, the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago nation has decided to send out envoys to “friendly nations”, including China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. India, geographically the nearest country from the islands, however, is not a part of this list.

      A press release from the office of the President of the Maldives said three envoys have departed for “friendly nations of the Maldives”, and that they will “provide updates on the current situation”.

      The choice of the three countries isn’t surprising, especially given the close ties Maldives has enjoyed with China, and the growing Islamic influence on the country under Abdulla Yameen has meant it has grown closer to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as well.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Julian Assange loses initial bid to overturn British arrest warrant

      A judge in London yesterday rejected an application by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to withdraw a British arrest warrant issued against him in 2012. In a judgment full of obvious contradictions, she ruled that way even though a Swedish-initiated European arrest warrant—the trigger for the British warrant—was cancelled in May 2017.

      Despite the trumped-up Swedish government “sexual assault” allegations against Assange being dropped long ago, he still faces immediate arrest if he steps outside the Ecuadorian embassy, where he has been confined for five and a half years in a tiny, windowless room, 15 feet by 13, without access to sunlight, fresh air or exercise.

    • Julian Assange: What is his current legal predicament? How could the Wikileaks Founder leave Ecuador’s embassy?

      Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for almost six years, and there is no clear end to the saga after a court said a warrant for his arrest still stands.

      Westminster Magistrates’ court upheld the UK arrest warrant, saying despite the fact that rape and sexual assault charges Mr Assange was originally wanted for in Sweden had now been dropped, he was still wanted for refusing to surrender to bail “without reasonable cause”, which is a criminal offence.

    • Did WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange reach out to Sean Hannity to dish ‘leaked’ info on Senate intel Dem’s texts?

      Fox News on Thursday published a “breaking” news story about Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, having contact with a lobbyist supposedly linked to Russian oligarch.

    • Fox News Hypes ‘Questionable’ Texts From Mark Warner That Republicans Read Months Ago

      Text messages from the top Democrat in the Senate investigating Trump and Russia were not scandalous to Republicans who read them months before Fox News tried to turn them into a scandal.

      The network broke into its regular programming Thursday evening as anchor Martha MacCallum hyped “brand new text messages revealed exclusively by Fox News that reveal a questionable relationship between the top Democrat in the Senate’s Russia investigation and a lobbyist representing a Russian oligarch,” in a report from chief national correspondent Ed Henry.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Thawing Arctic Permafrost Hides a Toxic Risk: Mercury, in Massive Amounts

      Rising temperatures are waking a sleeping giant in the North—the permafrost—and scientists have identified a new danger that comes with that: massive stores of mercury, a powerful neurotoxin, that have been locked in the frozen ground for tens of thousands of years.

      The Arctic’s frozen permafrost holds some 15 million gallons of mercury. The region has nearly twice as much mercury as all other soils, the ocean and the atmosphere combined, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

    • EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Suggests Global Warming is Not a “Bad Thing”

      Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt admitted this week that global warming is occurring, but questioned whether climate change might not be good for humans. Pruitt was speaking on Las Vegas channel KSNV, which is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

    • What the hell is a climate model—and why does it matter?

      Just a few years ago, the conventional wisdom held that you couldn’t attribute any single extreme weather event to climate change. But now scientists increasingly can and do state the odds that human actions caused or exacerbated specific droughts and hurricanes.

      One big reason for the change is that the science of climate modeling is becoming increasingly powerful as improvements in technology, techniques, and data sharing allow researchers to set up novel experiments or simply run many more of them.

  • Finance

    • Before He Died, a New York Taxi Driver Wrote About How the Gig Economy Ruined His Life

      Schifter’s note (which Facebook has since taken down), posted hours before he died, chronicles the economic struggles of a livery driver in New York. He says he worked at least 100 hours every week, and still ended his career in financial ruin.

    • Finnish state to sell off 525 million euro stake in Telia

      The Finnish state’s investment firm Solidium has announced that it plans to offer all of its shares in the Nordic and Baltic telecoms firm Telia in an off-market sale.

      Solidium owns just over 137 million Telia shares, or some 3.2 percent of the corporation.

    • Grubhub drivers are contractors—not employees—judge rules

      In a court opinion released Thursday by US Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, “the Court finds that Grubhub has satisfied its burden of showing that Mr. Lawson was properly classified as an independent contractor.”

    • Big Tech deserves no gratitude for dodging its US taxes

      Apple apparently expects an outpouring of national gratitude for avoiding $40 billion in U.S. taxes. President Trump and his fellow Republicans are happy to oblige, since handing huge tax cuts to wealthy corporations is one of the principal purposes of their new tax law. But the rest of us can be excused for withholding our applause.

    • Oklahoma schools go on four-day weeks so teachers can make rent by working at Walmart on Mondays

      As a result, the state is going broke. Teachers haven’t gotten a raise in 10 years and the only way they can afford to accept the pay — third-worst in the nation — is by negotiating a four-day school week in 90 districts, freeing teachers up to take jobs at Walmart on Mondays to make ends meet.

      [...]

      Teachers are especially hard hit: their health plan was replaced with a private system that eats up more than $1000/month for a family of three — one teaching aide was actually paying to work her job, spending $200/month more on health insurance than she was paid in salary. Teachers make ends meet with public housing vouchers and food stamps, and school food-bank drives sometimes give their leftovers to hungry teachers and their families.

    • Twitter turns first profit ever, but problems remain

      Twitter beat Wall Street’s cautious expectations with its first quarterly profit in history, but that isn’t going to solve the company’s broader problems any time soon.

      The company isn’t alone in dealing with abuse, fake accounts and attempts by Russian agents to spread misinformation. But with its troubles compounded by a revolving door of executives and stagnant user growth, Twitter has been facing questions about just who’s minding the store. Every time Twitter tries to respond to a problem, it’s either not good enough, or some other problem emerges.

    • Like it or not, the future of cryptocurrency will be determined by bureaucrats

      Denizens of the cryptocurrency world ought to get used to rubbing shoulders with regulators. The dark underbelly of the bonanza in initial coin offerings, rising concerns about the security of cryptocurrency exchanges, and a rush of “Main Street” investors to the scene have helped convince bureaucrats across the globe that cryptocurrency markets deserve a lot more attention. As a US Senate hearing illustrated this week, however, the question of how best to apply that attention is head-achingly complicated.

    • As Conservative Group Grows In Influence, Financial Dealings Enrich Its Leaders

      Well before John Tillman began running the Illinois Policy Institute a decade ago, the nonprofit think tank was calling for major reforms to state government, especially its finances.

      But few in Springfield — or elsewhere in Illinois — paid attention.

      That changed when Tillman relaunched the institute in 2007.

      The organization steadily expanded its work and influence after the conservative activist took over, while contributions shot up from about $341,000 in 2007 to $6.4 million in 2016 — a nearly 19-fold increase in a decade.

    • Markets Right Now: Dow plunges 1,000 as market swoons again

      The Dow Jones industrial average plunged more than 1,000 points as a weeklong market swoon continued.

      The Dow is 10 percent below the record high it set just two weeks ago, putting it in what is known on Wall Street as a “correction.”

      The Standard & Poor’s 500, the benchmark for many index funds, is also 10 percent below the record high it set two weeks ago.

      Worries about inflation set the market rout in motion last Friday, and many market watchers have been predicting a pullback after the market’s relentless march higher over the past year.

      The Dow dropped 1,032 points, or 4.1 percent, to 23,860.

    • Tesla burns through $2 billion in 2017

      Tesla reported record revenue for 2017, floated by customer deposits of the recently announced Semi truck and Roadster sports car. Despite its optimistic sales numbers, Model 3 production issues and cash flow problems haunt the company, but Tesla insists its on track to meet its production goals of 5,000 cars a week by mid-2018.

      Tesla reported $3.3 billion in revenue, which was expected, but also posted a $771 million quarterly loss — its largest quarterly loss ever. The company reported a negative free cash flow of $276.7 million. And it reported a net loss of $2.24 billion in 2017, a significant increase over the $773 million net loss it reported in 2016.

    • What Are Altcoins, and Why Do They Exist?

      Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, but, technically, it’s a few other things. It’s software that people run (Bitcoin Core), and an underlying blockchain that keeps track of who has which Bitcoins.

      While the concept of a blockchain was invented by the creator of Bitcoin, Bitcoin has no monopoly on blockchain technology. Other people can create their own cryptocurrencies and their own blockchains, and that’s generally what cryptocurrencies are.

    • CEOs Get Paid a Lot? NYT Says ‘Well, Actually…’ to This ‘True but Misleading’ Fact

      Since the rise of the “fake news” panic in late 2016, corporate media’s focus on factchecking has rapidly increased in scope and urgency. Positioning themselves as a bulwark against lies and disinformation, major media outlets play up their role of truth sheriff, out to expose liars and manipulators. This mission, combined with a desire for “both sides” balance (FAIR.org, 5/3/17), often leads to rather goofy pedantry—and outright errors.

      Take, for example, the New York Times’ recent factcheck (2/1/18) of Rep. Joseph Kennedy III’s claim, made after Trump’s State of the Union, that “top CEOs making 300 times the average worker is not right.” The Times‘ Linda Qiu deemed this statement “true, but misleading.” How can something be true but also mislead?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Los Angeles Times sold to local billionaire for $500 million

      The agreement between Los Angeles-based medical entrepreneur Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong and Tronc Inc. marks the latest instance of a rich, civic-minded individual buying a newspaper from a big corporation.

      iSoon-Shiong is a major shareholder of Chicago’s Tronc Inc, one of the richest men in Los Angeles and, according to Forbes, the nation’s wealthiest doctor, with a net worth of $7.8 billion.

    • Seattle says Facebook has violated its political ad transparency law

      Under state law — specifically a municipal code called “commercial advertisers’ duty to report” — advertisers who provide political advertising during a campaign must have the following available: the names and addresses of the people it accepted the ads from, the exact nature and extent of the advertising, and the “consideration and the manner of paying.” Though the law was initially enacted in 1977, it is interpreted to apply to all forms of advertisements, including print, television, radio, and yes, internet.

    • Russian accounts used Tumblr in election influence campaign

      Kremlin-linked accounts used the blogging platform to pose as black activists to promote their messages, according to researcher Jonathan Albright and BuzzFeed News.

    • Russiagate or Intelgate?

      Referring to the memo whose preparation was overseen by Republican Congressman Devin Nunes and whose release was authorized by President Trump, and to similar reports likely to come, Cohen, having for years researched Soviet-era archive materials (once highly classified), understands the difficulties involved in summarizing such secret documents, especially when they have been generated by intelligence agencies. They must be put in the larger political context of the time, which can be fully understood only by using other sources as well, including open ones; and they may be contradicted by other classified materials not yet available.

    • A pair of leaked powerpoints reveal the earliest-known evidence of the Republican gerrymandering plan that gave us Trump

      [...] but a pair of leaked Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) powerpoints show that GOP strategists were scheming and fundraising to ensure that their candidates would wield power regardless of popular support at least a year and a half earlier.

    • White House Aide Rob Porter Resigns Amid Domestic Violence Allegations

      White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned Wednesday, one day after both of his ex-wives publicly accused him of domestic violence. Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, said she was kicked by Porter during the couple’s honeymoon in 2003 and that verbal and physical abuse continued for years. A pair of photos Holderness provided to The Intercept shows her with a black eye; she says they were taken after Porter threw her onto a bed and punched her in the face during a trip to Florence, Italy, in 2005. Holderness also provided the photos to FBI agents as they conducted background interviews for Porter’s White House security clearance. Porter’s second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, also alleged an abusive relationship in FBI interviews. Even as he tendered his resignation Wednesday, Rob Porter denied the charges—in a statement read by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Facebook is testing a downvote button, but only for comment moderation

      Tapping the downvote button hides the comment for the user who taps it, then asks them to say whether the comment was “offensive,” “misleading,” or “off topic.” Downvote view counts not being visible to users. “We are not testing a dislike button,” a Facebook spokesperson writes. “We are exploring a feature for people to give us feedback about comments on public page posts. This is running for a small set of people in the US only.”

    • India fines Google for abuse of Web search dominance

      The Competition Commission of India, the country’s anti-trust watchdog, has fined Google 135.86 crore rupees (about US$21.1 million) for “abusing its dominant position in online general Web search and Web search advertising services in India”.

    • CCI imposes Rs 135.86 crore penalty on Google for search bias

      The CCI also noted in the order that ranking of Universal Results prior to 2010 were pre-determined to trigger at the 1st, 4th or 10th position on the SERP instead of by their relevance. Such practice of Google was unfair to the users and was found to be in contravention of the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(i) of the Act.

    • No, the EU did not abolish geoblocking today

      Tragically, error messages like This content is not available in your country will continue to haunt us after the law the European Parliament confirmed today comes into effect. They will continue to deny European works access to a pan-European audience, and cost our economy millions in lost sales.

    • China’s #MeToo movement changes its slogan to ‘Rice Bunny’ to avoid strict censorship

      China’s #MeToo movement recently changed its name to evade internet censorship.

      A Weibo discussion page for the movement — which has received over 2.2 million views — features the hashtag #ricebunny and icons of a rabbit and bowl of rice, which represent women’s fight against sexual misconduct in China.

      The new name is derived from the Chinese words for rice and rabbit, 米兔, which is pronounced “mi tu.”

      According to The Conversation, the name change came around January 19 when hundreds of social media posts using #MeTooInChina (#MeToo在中国) were reportedly deleted by internet censors. Forums addressing the topic were reportedly removed as well.

    • Art is all about nuance. Let’s not lose it in the alarmist censorship debate

      In the last few years censorship, or indeed the cry thereof, has become something of a meme. Some well-meaning group of people, usually from a demographic that is still struggling to achieve full equality, will raise objections to the meaning of a piece of art or literature, sometimes – but notably not always – requesting its removal. And then the rightwing press will go ballistic. Crotchety letters will be written to newspapers, rent-a-gobs will start sharpening their poison pens, those who raised objections will be abused and ridiculed – and then, after many column inches, everyone will forget about it until the next censorship row comes along.

    • Why (Allegedly) Defamatory Content On WordPress.com Doesn’t Come Down Without A Court Order

      WordPress.com is one of the most popular publishing platforms online. We host sites for bloggers, photographers, small businesses, political dissidents, and large companies. With more than 70 million websites hosted on our service, we unsurprisingly receive complaints about all types of content. Our terms of service define the categories of content that we don’t allow on wordpress.com.

      We try to be as objective as possible in defining the categories of content that we do not allow, as well as in our determinations about what types of content fall into, or do not fall into, each category. For most types of disputed content, we have the competency to make a judgment call about whether it violates our terms of service.

    • Sina Weibo denounced for manipulation of trending topics and inadequate censorship

      It’s been a shaky few months for Sina Weibo, China’s largest microblogging service. Last month, after receiving tips from Weibo users, the platform shut down 246 accounts for posting pornographic content involving children. A mere few days later, Weibo also deleted more than 3,000 posts of children’s cartoons that were deemed “disturbing and violent” to concerned parents.

    • Censorship and the Boi Mela

      “From a love for our language, for the Liberation War, and for the nation has arisen a shared sense of democracy and freedom of speech,” writes Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury Tutul about the impact of the Boi Mela via email. But, he writes on, increased censorship and violence towards writers and publishers have jeopardised free thinking in the country.

      Before, and during, this year’s Amar Ekushey Boi Mela have come repeated warnings from the police that action would be taken against writers and publishers with books that could hurt religious sentiments. Whilst no incidents have happened so far this year, the much-awaited fair—a mainstay of the publishing industry—has a blood-spattered history for writers, bloggers and publishers.

    • We talked to Lebanese about their thoughts on film censorship

      When it comes to freedom of expression, Lebanon has always been regarded as one of the most advanced countries in the Arab world.

      However, with recent bans on films, plays, and television programs, in addition to crackdowns on journalists and activists, this well-known and easily accepted image is now being questioned by many.

      In recent months, the country censored several local independent film productions and banned Hollywood blockbusters including Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman.

    • Beirut’s movie boycott hurts Lebanon more than Israel

      The Lebanese General Security Directorate recently reviewed director Steven Spielberg’s film “The Post” because of his ties with Israel, and its censorship committee decided to ban the movie because Spielberg is on a blacklist for “Schindler’s List.” A few days later, the decision was reversed and the movie was allowed in cinemas.

      Movie censorship in Lebanon is haphazard, with decisions based loosely on a 1947 law and often made under pressure from religious and political groups. Censorship is based on four subjective considerations, which include respect for public morals, state authorities’ reputations, sectarian and religious sensitivities and Lebanon’s interests.

      [...]

      A long list of movies have been banned or censored in Lebanon during the past two years. “Spotlight,” an Oscar-winning film about pedophilia in the Catholic church, was not shown because distributors were afraid of religion-related repercussions. “I Say Dust,” a film from Lebanese-American Darine Hotait, was banned for a same-sex kissing scene, horror movie “Annabelle 2″ for religious reasons and “Wonder Woman” and “Justice League” because actress Gal Gadot, a former Israeli soldier, starred in both.

      March Lebanon, a nongovernmental organization concerned with freedom of expression and culture, has created a Virtual Museum of Censorship, an online database tracking banned and censored material since Lebanon declared independence from France in 1943. March Vice President Gino Raidy told Al-Monitor he was “very excited about the ban lift on ‘The Post.’”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Google’s hardware team absorbs Nest in order to compete with Amazon

      Nest Labs, best known for selling high-end thermostats and smoke detectors, is joining Google’s hardware division. After the merger, Nest is no longer a standalone entity and instead will be part of Google. Marwan Fawaz, the current CEO of Nest, will report to Google hardware SVP Rick Osterloh. Back in 2014, Google bought Nest for $3.2 billion. At that time, it was decided that Nest would be a separate company.

    • Driving Licences Will Soon Be Linked With Aadhaar, Supreme Court Told

      After linking welfare programmes and financial services to Aadhaar, the Centre is in the process of adding driving licences to the mix, the Supreme Court was told today. The aim, a court-appointed committee said, was to weed out fake licenses and a software is being prepared that will connect licenses issued in all states on real-time.

    • Govt linking driving licences with Aadhaar, Centre tells Supreme Court
    • Boston Police Used Social Media Surveillance for Years Without Informing City Council

      In December 2016, the Boston City Council held a hearing to discuss the Boston Police Department’s plan to spend $1.4 million on a social media surveillance system. Police Superintendent Paul Fitzgerald and Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) director David Carabin spoke of their commitment to transparency but did not provide any specific details about the software. After news of the plans became public, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans explained, “We’re not going after ordinary people. It’s a necessary tool of law enforcement and helps in keeping our neighborhoods safe from violence, as well as terrorism, human trafficking, and young kids who might be the victim of a pedophile.”

    • The CLOUD Act: A Dangerous Expansion of Police Snooping on Cross-Border Data

      This week, Senators Hatch, Graham, Coons, and Whitehouse introduced a bill that diminishes the data privacy of people around the world.

      The Clarifying Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act expands American and foreign law enforcement’s ability to target and access people’s data across international borders in two ways. First, the bill creates an explicit provision for U.S. law enforcement (from a local police department to federal agents in Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to access “the contents of a wire or electronic communication and any record or other information” about a person regardless of where they live or where that information is located on the globe. In other words, U.S. police could compel a service provider—like Google, Facebook, or Snapchat—to hand over a user’s content and metadata, even if it is stored in a foreign country, without following that foreign country’s privacy laws.

    • HP’s new EliteBooks have a built-in webcam cover for privacy

      HP is announcing a bunch of new laptops and monitors today, but the single most interesting thing about them may be a small piece of metal: a webcam cover, so you can ensure you aren’t being watched while the camera’s not in use.

    • The Nunes Memo Has Effectively Destroyed Intelligence Oversight

      The Nunes Memo, capitalized to give it far more gravitas that it actually possesses, was released late last week to mixed reviews. Nunes had built it up to be a mind-blowing damnation of a politically corrupt Federal Bureau of Investigation, more interested in destroying Trump than performing its appointed duties. The memo showed the FBI had relied on questionable evidence from the Steele dossier while securing FISA warrants to surveill former Trump adviser Carter Page. This memo was composed by the House intelligence oversight head — one who had rarely expressed concern about domestic surveillance prior to investigations of Trump officials.

    • Big data needs a hardware revolution

      Advances in computing tend to focus on software: the flashy apps and programs that can track the health of people and ecosystems, analyse big data and beat human champions at Go. Meanwhile, efforts to introduce sweeping changes to the hardware that underlies all that innovation have gone relatively unnoticed.

    • The House That Spied on Me

      In December, I converted my one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco into a “smart home.” I connected as many of my appliances and belongings as I could to the internet: an Amazon Echo, my lights, my coffee maker, my baby monitor, my kid’s toys, my vacuum, my TV, my toothbrush, a photo frame, a sex toy, and even my bed.

      “Our bed?” asked my husband, aghast. “What can it tell us?”

      “Our breathing rate, heart rate, how often we toss and turn, and then it will give us a sleep report each morning,” I explained.

    • Review Exonerates Former NSA Inspector General George Ellard of Charge He Retaliated Against Whistleblower

      Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Stephanie Barna has determined that former National Security Agency Inspector General George Ellard did not retaliate against an agency whistleblower.

      Citing Ellard’s “distinguished career in public service”, the decision, made in April, 2017, recently was made available after restrictions on its use were removed. Among other things, Barna noted Ellard’s past work as counsel to the congressional inquiry into the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and as chief of staff to the presidential commission that examined counterintelligence programs in light of the espionage conducted by former FBI agent Robert Hanssen.

    • Jim Carrey urges people to delete their Facebook accounts

      Delete your account.

      That’s what Jim Carrey says Facebook users should do, as the actor looks to pull the mask off fake news.

      The star of “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” and “The Mask” said on Twitter on Tuesday that he’s dumping his Facebook stock and deleting his page because the social media giant profited from Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election via spreading false news with Russian origins, and says the company is still not doing enough to stop it.

      The 56-year-old Carrey encouraged other investors and users to do the same. He ended his tweet with the hashtag “unfriendfacebook.”

    • Chinese police use face recognition glasses to catch criminals
    • Small Sydney firm Azimuth a big player in govt spying: claim

      A small Australian company based in Sydney is playing a crucial role in helping spies and law enforcement to break into smartphones and also supplying them zero-day exploits, a report claims.

    • CLOUD Act Would Erode Trust in Privacy of Cloud Storage

      Unlike previous iterations of related legislation, the CLOUD Act omits the requirement of a warrant, issued on the basis of a finding of probable cause, for the disclosure of communications content to governmental entities in the U.S. CDT believes any reform to ECPA should include a warrant for content requirement, such as the one included in the the Email Privacy Act, which unanimously passed the House twice.

    • Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights (16/21): Our children’s privacy and Data Retention

      In the analog world of our parents, it was absolutely unthinkable that the government would demand to know every footstep you took, every phonecall you made, and every message you wrote, just as a routine matter. For our digital children, government officials keep insisting on this as though it were perfectly reasonable, because terrorism, and also, our digital children may be listening to music together or watching TV together, which is illegal in the way they like to do it, because of mail-order legislation from Hollywood. To make things even worse, the surveillance is retroactive — it is logged, recorded, and kept until somebody wants all of it.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • End Of An Era: Saying Goodbye To John Perry Barlow

      Either way, this is an end of an era. We’re in an age now where the general narrative making the rounds is, once again, touching on the moral panic of how terrible everything in technology is. Barlow spent decades teaching us about the possibilities of a better world on the internet, and nudging us, sometimes gently, sometimes forcefully, in that direction. And, now, just at a point where that vision is most at risk, he’s left us to continue that fight on our own. The internet world has many challenges ahead of it — and we should all strive to be guided both by Barlow’s principles and his vision of constantly pushing to mold the technology world into that world we want it to be — not ignoring the negatives, but looking for ways to get beyond them and expand the opportunities for the good to come out. It will be harder without him being there to help guide us.

    • Electronic Frontier Foundation Founder John Perry Barlow Dead at 70

      Internet pioneer John Perry Barlow has died at the age of 70. Barlow was co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates for internet users’ privacy and which has battled the Trump administration’s efforts to end landmark “net neutrality” rules designed to keep the internet free and open. Barlow also wrote lyrics for many songs by the legendary rock group The Grateful Dead.

    • John Perry Barlow: will dream of open internet die with its founding father?

      The declaration laid out an optimistic vision for an egalitarian internet that would allow anyone to express their beliefs “without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity” and without government regulation.

      “His optimism was infectious and he played such an important role in allowing people to be bold about what they might build,” said Siva Vaidhyanathan, professor of media studies at the University of Virginia.

    • John Perry Barlow, ‘visionary’ internet pioneer, dies aged 70

      In addition to his work with the EFF, Barlow co-founded the Freedom of the Press Foundation in 2012, which works to support public interest journalism. He sat on the board of directors, along with whistleblower Edward Snowden and investigative reporter Glenn Greenwald.

    • Mike Godwin Remembers John Perry Barlow

      I can and will testify that I had a life before I met John Perry Barlow. At the beginning of 1990 I was finishing up law school in Texas (only one more semester and then the bar exam!) and was beginning to think about my professional future (how about being a prosecutor in Houston?) and my personal future (should my long-term girlfriend and I get married?).

      That was the glide path I was on before Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow, together with software entrepreneur Mitch Kapor and Sun Microsystems pioneering programmer John Gilmore, decided to start what would shortly be known as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). EFF disrupted all my inertial, half-formed plans and changed my life forever. (I didn’t, for example, become a prosecutor.) And John Perry Barlow was the red-hot beating heart of EFF.

      [...]

      Barlow frequently yielded to the temptation to utter oracular pronouncements, to jump to conclusions before he’d done the reading. In what started out as a minor contretemps with “Acid Phreak” and “Phiber Optik,” participants who championed the exploratory hacking of computer systems…

    • Co-founder of EFF, John Perry Barlow, dead at 70

      In the late 1980s, Barlow joined an early online community called The WELL. There, his rural libertarian and psychedelic roots began to gel with a nascent, technology-fueled reality. That’s where he met Mitch Kapor, who was fresh off his success of creating Lotus 1-2-3, an influential early spreadsheet application.

    • Mourning John Perry Barlow, the Bard of the Internet

      When I first met John Perry Barlow, we became instant soulmates. While that sentence is true for me, it also applies to probably 10,000 other people. That was Barlow—whether you were a world-famous avatar of LSD, a stuffy CEO, or the Vice President of the United States, he would win you over with his affable demeanor, arresting observations, and a mordant take on the human condition.

      He had a unique and compelling credential—“junior lyricist of the Grateful Dead” was the way he put it—and he wielded it like an all-access laminate to the concert hall of life. His rock and roll bona fides was only one strand of a web of myths he pulled out of his suede jacket like a well-rolled joint: cowboy, poet, romantic, family man, philosopher, and ultimately, the bard of the digital revolution. He was an influential voice and an intimate participant in the early days of Wired, a co-founder and spiritual inspiration for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and the guy who promoted cyberspace as deftly as Steve Jobs hyped Apple. By the time he was done, he was more famous for proselytizing the internet than he was for co-writing “Cassidy” and other Dead classics.

      Done he is—Barlow died in his sleep last night in San Francisco. He was 70 years old.

    • THE FORGOTTEN VICTORY: VOTES FOR WORKING-CLASS MEN

      There has been much justified celebration this week of that historic enfranchisement of around 8.4million mainly middle-class women. Far less attention has been paid to the other victory for democracy in the 1918 Act – the granting of the vote to virtually all males aged over 21, which enfranchised some 5.6million working-class men for the first time.

      That side of the Act does not fit the fashionable script, which depicts the democratic victory of February 1918 as a triumph for modern feminism. To listen to much of the media discussion this week you might imagine the struggle over the franchise was simply part of an ongoing gender war between men and women. The Suffragette movement led by Emmeline Pankhurst has been talked about as if it were a prototype of the #MeToo campaign, with long skirts and hats rather than hashtags, which somehow won the vote for middle-class women by staging publicity stunts.

    • John Perry Barlow, Memorial Fund Grants and Fellowship in Memory of Bassel Khartabil, cpu_features and More

      Creative Commons announced “two new opportunities to continue the legacy and impact of Syrian Palestinian Open internet activist Bassel Khartabil”. The Bassel Khartabil Memorial Fund grants, “will be awarded to individuals or groups whose work embodies the legacy and impact of Bassel Khartabil, and whose projects are deeply intertwined with Creative Commons’ core mission and values.” Applications are being accepted until March 24th. The Bassel Khartabil Free Culture Fellowship “supports outstanding individuals developing open culture in their communities under adverse circumstances.”

    • Creative Commons launches Memorial Fund Grants and Fellowship in Memory of Bassel Khartabil

      The Bassel Khartabil Memorial Fund, launched in August 2017 at the behest of his family, will provide grants between $1,000 and $10,000 to organizations, groups, and individual grantees working to advance collaboration, community building, and leadership development in the open communities of the Arab world. The Memorial Fund is accepting grant applications until March 24th. These grants will be awarded to individuals or groups whose work embodies the legacy and impact of Bassel Khartabil, and whose projects are deeply intertwined with Creative Commons’ core mission and values. Applicants from the Creative Commons Global Network and broader Open movement are strongly encouraged. Creative Commons gratefully acknowledges generous support for the Bassel Khartabil Memorial Fund from Private Internet Access, the family of Bassel Khartabil, and individual donors. Learn more at the following link.

    • Lavette’s Choice

      Thirty seconds. That’s how long it took for a Cook County judge to eyeball the silenced woman standing before him and set the price of her freedom. Thirty seconds.

      It was early March and 45-year-old Lavette Mayes had just spent three days in a Chicago lock-up. She was ill-prepared for cell block weather, and she froze those first couple of days in a loose hospital gown pulled tight over her own thin nightgown, a pair of pants, and old house shoes. After begging the guards, they allowed her sister to bring a coat, buttons cut-off, and white K-Swiss gym shoes. Even so, Mayes, who grew up on the South Side, says, “I was in no kind of condition to stand in front of a judge, not even with my face washed.”

      The biggest life change that Mayes anticipated in 2015 was an end to her 23-year-marriage. She was going through a bitter divorce. But nothing could have prepared the mother of two to spend the next 14 months without seeing or touching her 5-year-old son, and 14-year-old daughter again — all because she could not afford pretrial bond. All of them bore the heavy weight of a judge’s decision to set bail at $250,000, which meant pay 10 percent down to go home with electronic monitoring.

      “My children were just as incarcerated as I was with me being gone,” she says.

    • Mother of Two Goes to Immigration Interview and Ends Up in ICE Detention

      A federal judge in Boston has stayed the deportation of a Rhode Island woman pending his review of a petition challenging her detention and the government’s efforts to remove her. The judge, Mark L. Wolf, is one of a growing number of judges across the country who are looking closely at the government’s increasingly aggressive detention and deportation practices.

    • Single-Pixel Tracker Leads Paranoid Turkish Authorities To Wrongly Accuse Over 10,000 People Of Treason

      We’ve written many articles about the thin-skinned Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and his massive crackdown on opponents, real or imagined, following the failed coup attempt in 2016.

    • White Nationalist Movement: Myth Vs. Fact

      MYTH: The alt-right movement is secretly a neo-Nazi movement.

      FACT: The alt-right movement is openly a neo-Nazi movement.

      MYTH: White nationalist beliefs are mainstream now.

      FACT: Noticing white nationalist beliefs is mainstream now.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Sorry, FCC: Charter will lower investment after net neutrality repeal

      But as we noted earlier this week, Charter raised its capital investment in 2017 while the net neutrality rules were in place. And with the repeal soon to take effect, Charter says it is preparing for a “meaningful decline” in spending on building and upgrading broadband networks.

    • There are Ajit Pai “Verizon puppet” jokes that the FCC doesn’t want you to read

      The FCC letter to Gizmodo says that records can be kept secret if they were “prepared in order to assist an agency decision maker in arriving at his decision” and “would expose an agency’s decision-making process in such a way as to discourage candid discussion within the agency and thereby undermine the agency’s ability to perform its functions.”

    • On The Internet, Everyone Is A Creator

      One theme that we’ve covered on Techdirt since its earliest days is the power of the internet as an open platform for just about anyone to create and communicate. Simultaneously, one of our greatest fears has been how certain forces — often those disrupted by the internet — have pushed over and over again to restrict and contain the internet, and turn it into something more like a broadcast platform controlled by gatekeepers, where only the chosen few can use it to create and share. This is one of the reasons we’ve been so adamant over the years that in so many policy fights, “Silicon Valley v. Content” is a false narrative. It’s almost never true — because the two go hand in hand. The internet has made it so that everyone can be a creator. Internet platforms have made it so that anyone can create almost any kind of content they want, they can promote that content, they can distribute it, they can build a fan base, and they can even make money. That’s in huge contrast to the old legacy way of needing a giant gatekeeper — a record label, a movie studio, or a book publisher — to let you into the exclusive club.

      [...]

      The internet has enabled so many more creators and artists than it has hurt. And to help make that point, today we’re launching a new site, EveryoneCreates.org which features stories and quotes from a variety of different creators — including bestselling authors, famous musicians, filmmakers, photographers and poets — all discussing how important an open internet has been to building their careers and creating their art.

    • FCC Report Falsely Claims Killing Net Neutrality Already Helping Broadband Competition

      For years the FCC has been caught in a vicious cycle. Under the Communications Act, the FCC is required to issue annual reports on the state of U.S. broadband and competition, taking action if services aren’t being deployed in a “reasonable and timely” basis. When under the grip of regulatory capture and revolving door regulators, these reports tends to be artificially rosy, downplaying or ignoring the lack of competition that should be obvious to anybody familiar with Comcast. These folks’ denial of the sector’s competition shortcomings often teeters toward the comical and is usually hard to miss.

    • New Jersey The Latest State To Protect Net Neutrality By Executive Order

      The Trump FCC is currently in the process of trying to eliminate all meaningful oversight of some of the least competitive companies in America. Not only are broadband providers and the Trump administration trying to gut FTC and FCC oversight of companies like Comcast, they’re also trying to ban states from protecting net neutrality or broadband consumer privacy at ISP lobbyist behest. This is all based on the belief that letting Comcast run amok somehow magically forges telecom Utopia. It’s the kind of thinking that created Comcast and the market’s problems in the first place.

      And while the Trump FCC is trying to ban states from protecting consumers in the wake of federal apathy (you know, states rights and all that), the individual states don’t appear to be listening. Numerous states are pushing new legislation that effectively codifies the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules on the state level, efforts that will be contested in the courts over the next few years. ISPs have been quick to complain about the threat of multiple, discordant and shitty state laws, ignoring the fact that they created this problem by lobbying to kill reasonable (and popular) federal protections.

    • FCC Refuses To Release FOIA Documents Pertaining To Its Stupid Verizon ‘Collusion’ Joke

      You might recall that right before the FCC voted to kill net neutrality at Verizon’s behest, the agency thought it would be a hoot to joke about the agency’s “collusion” with Verizon at a telecom industry gala. The lame joke was a tone-deaf attempt to mock very legitimate concerns that Pai, a former Verizon regulatory lawyer, is far too close to the industry he’s supposed to be regulating. The FCC even went so far as to include a little video featuring Verizon executives, who chortled about their plans to install Pai as a “puppet” leader at the agency. Hilarious.

  • DRM

    • EFF vs IoT DRM, OMG!

      What with the $400 juicers and the NSFW smart fridges, the Internet of Things has arrived at that point in the hype cycle midway between “bottom line” and “punchline.” Hype and jokes aside, the reality is that fully featured computers capable of running any program are getting cheaper and more powerful and smaller with no end in sight, and the gadgets in our lives are transforming from dumb hunks of electronics to computers in fancy cases that are variously labeled “car” or “pacemaker” or “Alexa.”

      We don’t know which designs and products will be successful in the market, but we’re dead certain that banning people from talking about flaws in existing designs and trying to fix those flaws will make all the Internet of Things’ problems worse.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Kevin Soter on Causation in Reverse Payment Antitrust Claims

      Soter sides with the latter approach, arguing that the causation inquiry for private plaintiffs is no different from the inquiry over anticompetitive effects at issue in Actavis, for which litigation of patent validity is unnecessary. And he notes that a burden-shifting approach could address lingering concerns by allowing defendants to rebut the inference of causation.

    • Qualcomm seeking leverage over Apple, hoping to win German patent injunction by August or September

      At the end of the previous post (relating to the vacatur of a discovery sanctions order agaqinst Apple) I mentioned today’s Qualcomm v. Apple patent infringement hearing by the Munich I Regional Court, relating to European Patent EP2724461 on a low-voltage power-efficient envelope tracker. I attended the hearing (the last one–or one of the last few–prior to leaving Germany).

      A procedural takeaway is that Qualcomm is now presumably going to file a discovery request in a United States District Court against Qorvo, a chipset maker under 28 U.S.C. § 1782, hoping to obtain information that will help substantiate its infringement allegations in the case heard today.

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • Man Handed Conditional Prison Sentence for Spreading Popcorn Time Information

        A man from Denmark has been handed a six-month conditional prison sentence for spreading information about Popcorn Time. In what is being described as a first for Europe, the man was convicted after telling people how to download, install and use the movie streaming service. He was also ordered to forfeit $83,300 in ad revenue and complete 120 hours community service.

      • How a kid cartoonist avoided Scholastic’s digital sharecropping trap

        However, during the application process, I learned something disturbing about the Scholastic Awards. In their “Terms & Conditions,” (the pages of legal language that nobody reads), they state that “The student irrevocably grants an assignment transferring to the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, Inc.(“Alliance”) all right, title, and interest (including all copyrights) in and to the submitted work (“Work”).”

        That means that the copyright for whatever the applicant submitted is fully transferred to Scholastic. In other words, if a student who applied for an award tries to print or publish their own work without saying “Property of Scholastic Inc.,” Scholastic can sue. In addition, Scholastic can publish the applicant’s work and sell it without giving the applicant, the original creator, any of the profits.

      • Rightscorp Has a Massive Database of ‘Repeat Infringers’ to Pursue

        Anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp has a database of nearly a billion copyright infringements, ready to use, including many repeat infringers. Responding to a crucial court decision last week, the company says that it is ready to help copyright holders identify persistent pirates and hold Internet providers accountable if needed.

      • Blizzard Still Trying To Take Down WoW Vanilla Fan Servers While Refusing To Offer A Competing Product

        You will hopefully recall a post we did several years ago dealing with Blizzard’s decision to shut down a fan-run “vanilla” World of Warcraft server that stripped the game’s expansions out and let players play the game as it was originally released in 2004. As is so often the case in these kinds of disputes, we can at once stipulate that Blizzard was within its right to do this while still calling out whether it was the best decision it could make on the matter. The simple fact is that there were other avenues down which the company could travel other than threatening the fan-server into oblivion, such as working out a cheap licensing arrangement to make it official. The whole situation became all the more odd when you consider that Blizzard itself does not offer a competing experience with the fan-server, essentially ignoring what is clearly a desire within the fanbase for that kind of experience that Blizzard could monetize if it wanted. Instead, the fan-server shut itself down under the threat of a trademark lawsuit and Blizzard went on its merry way ignoring these customer desires.

      • Thor:Ragnarok Director Says He “Illegally Torrented” Clips for the Showreel

        Last weekend, after what appeared to be a pre-order blunder, Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok was leaked online in advance of its official release date. Interestingly, it now transpires that director Taiki Waititi is no stranger to piracy himself, after admitting that his showreel for the movie contained source material he’d “illegally torrented” on the Internet.

      • Director Of Thor: Ragnarok Pirated Clips For His Sizzle Reel

        With the constant drumbeat of the evils of copyright infringement and internet piracy being issued from those leading the movie industry, you might have been under the impression everyone within the industry held the same beliefs. Between the cries of lost profits, the constant calls for the censorship of websites, and even the requests to roll back safe harbor protections that have helped foster what must be considered a far larger audience for the industry, perhaps you pictured the rank and file of the movie business as white-clad monk-like figures that served as paragons of copyright virtue.

        Yet that’s often not the case. While many artists, actors, and directors do indeed toe the industry line on matters of piracy, you will occasionally get glimpses of what has to be considered normalcy in how people engage with copyright issues among members of the industry. We should keep in mind our argument that essentially everyone will infringe on intellectual property at some point, often times without knowing or intending it, because engaging in said behavior just seems to make sense. During a radio interview Taiki Waititi did to promote Thor: Ragnarok, which he directed, he admitted to doing it himself.

      • Jailed Streaming Site Operator Hit With Fresh $3m Damages Lawsuit

        Following a landmark trial last May, a founder of streaming site Swefilmer was jailed for an unprecedented three years, longer than any defendant even in the Pirate Bay case. With an appeal hearing just weeks away, he’s just been hit with a fresh $3m damages claim. “This is about organized crime and grossly criminal individuals who earned huge sums on our and others’ content,” the plaintiffs explain.

      • RIAA: Cox Ruling Shows that Grande Can Be Liable for Piracy Too

        Internet Provider Grande Communications can be held liable for contributing copyright infringement, the RIAA argued at a Texas federal court this week. Responding to the ISP’s motion to dismiss, the music industry group submits last week’s Fourth Circuit ruling in the Cox case as additional evidence that the ISP failed to meet its obligations.

      • Science’s pirate [sic] queen [iophk: "uses bullshit phrases like "intellectual property" and fails to note that Elsevier profits off of work full paid for by others"]
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