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03.29.18

Senator Jean-Yves Leconte Accuses EPO and/or ILO of Injustice, But Don’t Expect Media to Notice or Cover It

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jean-Yves Leconte

Summary: The Frenchman Jean-Yves Leconte, who represents French workers at the EPO in his capacity as a French politician, publicly tells other French politicians what is going on at the European Patent Office (EPO); blogs about patents remain uninterested and often apathetic

THE EPO is deteriorating not because Europe is deteriorating (it’s not) but due to mismanagement.

A few days ago SUEPO took note of a couple of pages in French [1, 2] (“Respect des principes de la charte sociale européenne“). We waited as we assumed that further commentary and maybe translations would soon turn up. That finally happened some hours ago. Jean-Yves Leconte is quoted in English and in German now. From the English translation produced by SUEPO:

Respecting the principles of the European social charter

Written question No. 03835 by Mr. Jean-Yves Leconte (French citizens outside France – SOCR)

Published in the Senate Journal of 15/03/2018 – page 1136

Mr. Jean-Yves Leconte draws the attention of the Prime Minister to the manner in which the representatives of France engaged in major European or international organizations understand the concept of respecting the principles of the European social charter, in its status as a universal source of social rights, and in such a way that the associations which represent staff members may be able to assert the rights of these staff members should they feel that they are being slighted within the institutions which employ them.

However, certain matters which have recently been judged by the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization, as the authority of last instance, have called to order the governing bodies of certain institutions which have divorced themselves from these universal principles, to such a point that the bodies of the Council of Europe have become concerned with the matter, and have recently issued a report, the recommendations of which cannot do other than implicate certain of our representatives within the institutions in question.

It is therefore a matter of urgency to determine how to motivate our representatives such that they will rapidly draw the lessons provided by these recommendations and from these issues of jurisprudence, with the representatives of other participant States, in ensuring the good governance of these institutions.

In anticipation of the response from the Prime Minister

It’s worth noting that earlier this week a comment took note of the same thing:

French Senator Leconte asks a question to FR Prime Minister with the EPO in mind

https://jeanyvesleconte.wordpress.com/2018/03/19/ma-question-sur-le-respect-des-principes-de-la-charte-sociale-europeenne/

Question on the website of FR Senate : http://www.senat.fr/basile/visio.do?id=qSEQ180303835&idtable=q338211|q331776|q330301|q330515|q330412|q340802|q340797|q340801|q340358|q340360&_s=11026G&rch=qa&de=19780101&au=20180327&dp=1+an&radio=deau&appr=text&aff=sep&tri=dd&off=0&afd=ppr&afd=ppl&afd=pjl&afd=cvn

There appears to be no press coverage about this. In fact, over the past few weeks there has been almost no press coverage about the EPO (except PR, repeating the claims made by the EPO after it had hired yet more PR agencies).

Last night we saw this disappointing article from IP Watch. It called the “Alliance for Intellectual Property” a “UK Industry Group,” pretty much like Team UPC habitually does. It’s not a UK industry group but a lobbying group of patent extremists like lawyers (who have no industry except the lawsuits ‘industry’).

The same kind of thing was soon/also repeated by IP Kat, which wrote a couple of things about Brexit yesterday [1, 2]. Our readers can guess whose side IP Kat is taking.

Bristows staff that writes at IP Kat mentioned the EPO BoA and also relayed this other trash which mentioned the EPO. Why do we call it trash? Just look at it. IP Kat has been reduced to self-promotional spam. Annsley Merelle Ward (Bristows) pins her puff piece for Rachel Mumby (Bristows), Dominic Adair (Bristows) and Alan Johnson (Bristows). It’s all Bristows, Bristows, Bristows, i.e. the usual:

The evening concluded with an acknowledgement of the fact that at least hindsight is not as inherent in the English system as it is at the EPO where hindsight is an inevitable part of identifying the closest prior art, and where the problem to be solved is formulated from that closest prior art.

Where has Merpel gone? Perhaps not compatible with Bristows agenda? Here’s a comment on that first ‘article’ from Bristows:

So that means in some circumstances it is OK to cover embodiments which could not have been made at the filing date, which is not too shocking. However I wonder whether this is the start of the end for use of ‘squeeze’ arguments in the UK, which the EPO seldom uses. Perhaps it is time now for us to align with the EPO in treating each test for validity and infringement independently and not worrying too much about the minor contradictions that emerge.

It’s not much better at IAM, where the European Union’s patent microcosm, NLO in this case, couldn’t care less about death/demise of the EPO as long as it profits in the process. Maybe they just hope that the EPO collapses to be replaced with UPC.

Patent Quality, Not Quantity, is What Really Matters

Posted in Asia, Europe, Patents at 10:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO adopts the Chinese model (patent trolls magnet), unlike somewhere like India

EPO patents criticised

Summary: The EPO’s policy of “grant fast/first, ask questions later” is a recipe for disaster not just for the EPO but for Europe in general

THE EPO crisis (this particular term, “crisis”, seems suitable) is a ticking time-bomb. Applications are running out and UPC is as dead as can be (it has barely even been mentioned this past month). Florian Müller is right when he says, as IP2Innovate quoted the other day: “Whenever the Unitary Patent Court (UPC) will be ready, Europe will become a paradise for patent trolls and the likes of Nokia and Ericsson…”

IP2Innovate has repeatedly warned about it and lobbyists of patent trolls attacked IP2Innovate over it. They also attacked people who 'dared' cite IP2Innovate. Such is the behaviour of aggressive trolls…

“Applications are running out and UPC is as dead as can be (it has barely even been mentioned this past month).”The problem we’re seeing is that the EPO basically ‘offloads’ examinations onto courts; it issues patents recklessly and in a rush, only for courts and lawyers to clean up the mess that lawyers themselves all along made. They want lots of litigation. That’s their bread and butter.

Found earlier this week via this tweet was a new article titled Liberaler Mittelstand fürchtet Patentflut & Qualitätsmangel. It was then mentioned also in a comment that said:

On patent quality at EPO

WIPR

https://www.worldipreview.com/news/wipr-survey-epo-patent-quality-is-endangered-claim-readers-15689

Landshuter Rundschau

http://la-rundschau.de/landshut/politik/33298-liberaler-mittelstand-fuerchtet-patentflut-qualitaetsmangel.html

EPO examiners generally know that they issue low-quality patents. They admit it, but they stress very strongly that this is the fault of the management. The examiners don’t want to do it, but they feel as though they must in order to keep their job.

The EPO is meanwhile bragging, yet again, about growth in the number of patents. Yesterday it wrote that “Italy filed over 4% more applications at the EPO in 2017 compared with the previous year.”

“It doesn’t look like these discounts had any fundamental effect in Europe, perhaps except income going down.”“But in order to get this message right (across to the readers),” I’ve told them that the discounts should be taken into account. You “gave a DISCOUNT on applications and ‘demand’ went DOWN,” I told them in response to this other tweet in which EPO said: “Belgium posted fewer patent applications in 2017 (-1.9%) after its strong increase in 2016 (+7%)…”

It doesn’t look like these discounts had any fundamental effect in Europe, perhaps except income going down. And that’s before work even runs out! It’s going to get a lot worse when staff is made redundant.

What does the EPO even strive for? Issuing as many patents as possible, e.g. by consciously lowering the quality of examination? Yesterday there was this press release which said:

Constant Pharmaceuticals, LLC, a privately held biopharmaceutical company focused on the treatment of stroke recovery, today announced that the European Patent Office (EPO) has notified the company that it will grant a patent covering the use of TXA127 in the treatment of stroke. TXA127 is a pharmaceutical grade formulation of the naturally occurring peptide Angiotensin (1-7), which Constant is developing for the treatment of stroke recovery.

A few days ago someone showed us that the EPO had just granted a patent on chewing gum. The above is naturally-occurring — something which typically disqualifies patents.

“A few days ago someone showed us that the EPO had just granted a patent on chewing gum.”But hey, who cares about patent quality anyway? Certainly not patent lawyers, who are typically patent maximalists as that equals/implies more income for lawyers.

Earlier today the Sottish Legal was posting this Marks & Clerk puff piece/ad in the form of an ‘article’. Marks & Clerk sucks up to EPO management by promoting patent maximalism. To quote:

The UK has enjoyed a consistent rise in energy-related European patents with the number of patents granted by the EPO in the energy sector having nearly doubled since 2008. The volume of patents applied for has also increased by nearly 40 per cent since 2008.

Newly released data from the European Patent Office (EPO) found that ‘electrical machinery, apparatus, and energy’ was the fourth most patented technical field in 2017, behind only medical technology, digital communication, and computer technology.

Is this like a competition? Which field gets the most monopolies?

Compare that to India, where software patents are not allowed and pharmaceutical giants don’t get their way, either. It’s actually a pretty good system which improves access to medicine and makes India a very powerful software-developing country.

“Is this like a competition? Which field gets the most monopolies?”Ananya Bhattacharya, writing this piece earlier this week, has called such a sound policy “least friendly”; it is a gross distortion of the reality because it might as well be called “most friendly” (towards the population, not a bunch of foreign multinational giants). To quote: “India is no country for filing patents. Riddled with problems, from lack of awareness to systemic flaws, the country is one of the least friendly when it comes to intellectual property (IP) rights. In 2016, just 45,000 patents (pdf) were filed in India—China registered over 1.1 million in the same year.”

So what? China is insanely irrational when it comes to patent grants, we suppose in anticipation of sanctions/trade war. They just want to have a wall of worthless patents.

China is actually proof that overgranting leads to trolling (there’s a massive increase there in terms of patent trolls) and only a tiny fraction of these patents ever makes it into patent offices outside China (only those of decent quality would get granted).

“The EPO has become a farce under Battistelli. He is leaving in almost exactly 3 months, but he will leave in charge an old friend, who is also French and also lacks background in science.”The EPO needs to take India, not China, as an example. But Battistelli never even bothers visiting India. Instead he keeps visiting former French colonies (maybe his friend Sarko got some funds from there too?), having just named Morocco and Tunisia alongside Cambodia in this new ‘blog’ post of his. (warning: epo.org link, already promoted by the EPO’s Twitter account).

Watch Benoît Battistelli as he brags about Cambodia with zero European Patents and French colonisation roots:

When Cambodia became a validation state at the beginning of this month, it was somewhat of a watershed moment in the EPO’s history. While we have already seen the European patent become valid in North Africa, through agreements with Morocco and Tunisia, Cambodia is the very first country in Asia to become a validation country. With four validations in the last few years (Morocco, Moldova, Tunisia and Cambodia), the advantages of the EPO’s validation system are becoming more and more known. European inventors can now easily and efficiently file a European patent application that will be recognised in Cambodia. That means it will have the same legal effect as a corresponding Cambodian patent and will be subject to Cambodian patent law.

The EPO has become a farce under Battistelli. He is leaving in almost exactly 3 months, but he will leave in charge an old friend, who is also French and also lacks background in science.

Links 29/3/2018: DomTerm 1.0, Qbs 1.11, Qt Creator 4.6, Qubes OS 4.0

Posted in News Roundup at 8:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Linux Gets An Open-Source VR Desktop, Built Off OpenHMD

      Remember Arcan, the open-source game engine powered display server? This project that has been going strong for several years now and began venturing into VR has now announced what we believe to be the first open-source VR Linux desktop environment.

    • Test Driving A 64-Thread POWER9 Workstation, Initial Performance Against A 96-Core ARM

      As of yesterday, Raptor Computing Systems has begun shipping the Talos II Workstation in volume. This POWER9 system is open down to the firmware and schematics while delivering quite a practical performance punch compared to today’s proprietary x86/ARM servers.

      The Talos II is the new POWER9 system that we’ve been looking forward to for months. and includes a motherboard with PCI Express 4.0 and single/dual POWER9 CPU configurations.

    • Going Dark(er) For A Little While

      My job keeps me pretty much tied up. I know I probably surprised some people with bugs showing up on Launchpad. I’m testing Bionic Beaver at home the hard way by using it day by day and watching things break as I try to use them. Sadly we are still using Windows For Warships at work since we are still not cleared to attempt to upgrade to Windows 10 safely. Our current enterprise network isn’t handling its current load safely as it is now.

  • Server

    • Honor Courage Commitment, Linux Academy Partner for Veteran IT Training

      Sosamon worked seven jobs in the eight years following his departure from the military. Every time he embarked on a new career path, he couldn’t help feeling like something was missing.

      Now, as executive director of Honor Courage Commitment, he’s helping discharged veterans adapt to life as a civilian and find jobs in the area.

    • A wee server for the home

      On the surface, this presentation is about setting up a small, inexpensive, low-power server for the home. However, it uses that objective as an excuse to delve deeper into some technical issues, as well as to reflect upon the effect of free software on the relationship between computers and humans. It will answer the obvious questions about such a server: the whats, whys, hows, etc. It will share experiences with hardware and software for services such as shared file systems, backups, printing, Jabber/XMPP, music, and more. But it will also sneak in some deeper technical excursions enabled by free software, such as the preferred way, and reasons, to write random data prior to setting up encrypted storage. It will also include some personal observations on the experiential differences between using free and non-free software, especially those relating to enjoyment and to learning and teaching, formal and informal.

    • Solomon Hykes, Docker’s founder, leaves day-to-day running of container company

      He wrote, “I’m announcing my departure from Docker, the company I helped create ten years ago and have been building ever since. A founder’s departure is usually seen as a dramatic event. Sadly, I must report that reality is far less exciting in this case. I’ve had many roles at Docker over the years, and today I have a new, final one – as an active board member, a major shareholder and, I expect, a high maintenance Docker user. But I will no longer be part of day-to-day operations.”

      This move comes almost a year after his co-founder, Ben Golub, stepped down as CEO. As for Hykes, he started moving away from Docker’s executive team in November 2017. He went from being CTO to vice chairman of the board of directors and chief architect.

      Besides being a leader, Hykes has been the controversial face of Docker. In 2016, for example, he started a tempest in the container world by tweeting: “OCI (Open Container Initiative) image format is a fake standard.” This open-source standard for container specification was supported by other container companies, such as CoreOS, and his own company.

    • Docker Founder Solomon Hykes Announces Exit from Docker Inc.

      In surprise move, Docker Inc. founder Solomon Hykes announced on March 28 that he is leaving the company he created.

      “After 10 years building Docker, now feels like the natural moment to move on,” Hykes wrote in an email to eWEEK. “That’s obviously not an easy decision, but I’m certain that it is the right one for everyone.”

      The company that Hykes is now leaving is a very different one than the one he created back in November 2007, which was originally known as dotCloud. In March 2013, Hykes introduced the world to the open-source Docker project, re-inventing containers and ushering in a new age of cloud native applications.

    • Public cloud security: Follow the Goldilocks principle

      Security pervades just about every aspect of IT these days: data breaches, IoT devices, AI, containers, development pipelines and more. Ask me what’s at the top of the list of just about any IT leader’s challenges, and I’ll do my best Amazing Kreskin impression: “Security!” – and I’ll almost certainly be right.

    • Just say no to root (in containers)

      OpenShift is Red Hat’s container platform, built on Kubernetes, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and OCI containers, and it has a great security feature: By default, no containers are allowed to run as root. An admin can override this, otherwise all user containers run without ever being root. This is particularly important in multi-tenant OpenShift Kubernetes clusters, where a single cluster may be serving multiple applications and multiple development teams. It is not always practical or even advisable for administrators to run separate clusters for each. Sadly one of the biggest complaints about OpenShift is that users can not easily run all of the community container images available at docker.io. This is because the vast majority of container images in the world today require root.

    • 12 Kubernetes distributions leading the container revolution

      Kubernetes has become the project to turn to if you need container orchestration at scale. The open source container orchestration system out of Google is well-regarded, well-supported, and evolving fast.

      Kubernetes is also sprawling, complex, and difficult to set up and configure. Not only that, but much of the heavy lifting is left to the end user. The best approach, therefore, isn’t to grab the bits and try to go it alone, but to seek out a complete container solution that includes Kubernetes as a supported, maintained component.

    • Kubernetes 1.10 Release Advances Storage and Improves Security

      The first major release of 2018 for the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration platform is now available, including a patch for a critical vulnerability that could have enabled an attacker to access the host filesystem.

    • Nexenta Achieves Certification for Red Hat OpenStack Platform Certification

      Nexenta Certification with Red Hat OpenStack Platform Helps to Enable Telcos and Enterprises to Fuel Expansion of Software Defined Hybrid and Multi Clouds

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Foundation

      • OpenContrail is Now ‘Tungsten Fabric,’ Completes Move to The Linux Foundation
      • The Linux Foundation Hosts ‘DANOS’ Project, a Unified Network Operating System
      • Linux Foundation lays out welcome mat for AT&T network OS

        AT&T has let its in-house-developed network operating system escape into the open source world via the Linux Foundation, with a code release due in the second half of this year.

        The existence of what was internally called dNOS emerged last year as part of the company’s plan to replace 100,000 routers with white boxes.

      • Wind River joins open-source initiative to accelerate Telecom Edge Cloud deployments

        The Linux Foundation has announced an expansion to the Akraino Edge Stack open-source project, which hopes to further the journey towards the adoption of virtualised applications and services throughout telecom networks.

        According to the foundation, service providers consistently report that they view edge-focused use cases as opportunities to attract new types of customers, deploy innovative new services and achieve new sources of revenue. The idea is that this community will accelerate that vision.

      • AT&T Plans 60,000 dNOS-Powered White Boxes to Support 5G

        AT&T plans to install more than 60,000 open source, software-powered white boxes across its network over the next several years in support of its aggressive 5G plans. The carrier today stated those white box routers are part of a “radical realignment” of its network architecture and key to supporting 5G services.

        “White box represents a radical realignment of the traditional service provider model,” said Andre Fuetsch, CTO and president of AT&T Labs, in a statement. “We’re no longer constrained by the capabilities of proprietary silicon and feature roadmaps of traditional vendors. We’re writing open hardware specifications for these machines, and developing the open source software that powers these boxes.”

      • AT&T claims industry’s first open source AI marketplace

        Artificial intelligence is already part of our daily lives. Our navigation apps use it to find the fastest routes, our inboxes use it to filter spam and smartphones use it to respond to voice commands. But most AI applications don’t talk to one another yet, and AT&T sees that as an obstacle that could hold the technology back. In response, AT&T has created an open source AI marketplace called Acumos.

      • Linux Foundation Spawns Child Foundation for AI
      • The Sound Open Firmware project launches

        It is an increasingly poorly kept secret that, underneath the hood of the components that most of us view as “hardware”, there is a great deal of proprietary software. This code, written by anonymous developers, rarely sees the light of day; as a result, it tends to have all of the pathologies associated with software that nobody can either review or fix. The 2018 Embedded Linux Conference saw an announcement for a new project that, with luck, will change that situation, at least for one variety of hardware: audio devices.

      • ​Juniper’s OpenContrail SDN rebranded as Tungsten Fabric

        Sometimes, rebranding is a good thing. Juniper Networks’ OpenContrail was an excellent open-source software-defined network (SDN) program. But, it was perceived as being too much under Juniper’s thumb to draw many outside developers. Realizing this, Juniper spun OpenContrail out into a community-controlled project under the The Linux Foundation. That left the name, so Juniper and the community decided to rebrand it: Tungsten Fabric.

      • Greenstream Technology Accepted as Silver Member of The Linux Foundation and Hyperledger
      • Hyperledger Sawtooth: A Milestone for Blockchain Technology

        Blockchain technology — which encompasses smart contracts and distributed ledgers — can be used to record promises, trades, and transactions of many types. Countless organizations, ranging from IBM to Wells Fargo and the London Stock Exchange Group are partnering to drive the technology forward, and The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project is an open source collaborative effort aimed at advancing cross-industry blockchain technologies. Recently, the project announced the arrival of Hyperledger Sawtooth 1.0, a major milestone for the Hyperledger community, which represents the second blockchain framework that has reached production-ready status.

        In conjunction with the release, Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director, Hyperledger, and Dan Middleton, Intel’s Head of Technology, Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Program, hosted a webinar, titled “Hyperledger Sawtooth v1.0: Market Significance & Technical Overview.” The webinar is now available as a video replay (registration required).

      • Civil Infrastructure Platform Sets Out to Save Civilization

        “The Civil Infrastructure Platform is the most conservative of The Linux Foundation projects,” began Yoshitake Kobayashi at the recent Embedded Linux Conference in Portland. Yet, if any eyelids started fluttering shut in anticipation of an afternoon nap, they quickly opened when he added: “It may also be the most important to the future of civilization.”

        The Linux Foundation launched the Civil Infrastructure Platform (CIP) project in April 2016 to develop base layer, open source industrial-grade software for civil infrastructure projects, starting with a 10-year Super Long-Term Support (SLTS) Linux kernel built around the LTS kernel. CIP expects to add other similarly reusable software building blocks that meet the safety and reliability requirements of industrial and civil infrastructure. CIP supports electrical and power grids, water and sewage facilities, oil and gas plants, and rail, shipping and transportation systems, among other applications.

        “Our civilization’s infrastructure already runs on Linux,” said Kobayashi, a CIP contributor and Senior Manager of Open Source Technology at Toshiba’s Software Development and Engineering Center. “Our power plants run on Linux. If they stop working, it’s serious.”

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA 390.48 Linux Driver Released With GV100 & Tesla V100 Support

        NVIDIA today released the 390.48 graphics driver for Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris systems.

        Most notable to the NVIDIA 390.48 driver is supporting the latest Volta-based workstation graphics cards of the new Quadro GV100 as well as the Tesla V100-SXM2-32GB / V100-PCIE-32GB / V100-DGXS-32GB.

      • AMD Vega 12 GPU Support Lands In Mesa 18.1-devel

        With support for the unreleased “Vega 12″ AMD GPU seeing its kernel-side support coming with Linux 4.17, AMD’s Marek Olšák has landed support for this scarcely detailed GPU now in their user-space OpenGL driver.

        The patch is quite small for adding the Vega 12 support to RadeonSI Gallium3D with the bulk of the enablement needed in the AMDGPU kernel driver. As tiny as the patch is, it’s currently not marked for back-porting into Mesa 18.0 stable series.

      • Talvos: A SPIR-V Interpreter & Vulkan Device Emulator For Debugging

        Another interesting Vulkan open-source project worthy of a shout-out is Talvos, a dynamic analysis framework and debugger for Vulkan and SPIR-V programs.

        Talvos consists of a SPIR-V interpreter and Vulkan device emulator in an effort to assist in debugging Vulkan programs without needing source-level modifications as well as in debugging the SPIR-V intermediate representation.

      • New P-State Patches Could Boost Intel Graphics Performance Under Some Conditions

        Francisco Jerez of Intel’s open-source Linux graphics driver team has posted not some new DRM driver patches today but rather CPUFreq/P-State driver patches that could really help Intel integrated graphics performance under some conditions and especially on the lower-power Intel platforms.

      • While Still Waiting For Broadcom VideoCore 5 To Surface, There Appears To Be VC6

        The VC5 open-source Linux graphics driver stack has been under heavy development now the past nearly year while not yet seeing any major ARM SBCs or other products making use of this Broadcom VideoCore V (VC5) 3D hardware, which now supports OpenCL and Vulkan. While many are holding out hopes for eventually seeing a next-gen Raspberry Pi with this beefed up VideoCore, it appears there is already a VC6 in the works too.

        We haven’t heard anything officially yet on VideoCore VI (VC6) but it does appear to be in the works and is along far enough where there is some driver activity happening.

      • The Big DRM Pull Request For Linux 4.17: 144,461 Insertions, 38,059 Deletions

        While the Linux 4.16.0 kernel hasn’t even been released yet, Direct Rendering Manager subsystem maintainer David Airlie has already sent in his big feature pull request for Linux 4.17 since he will be going on holidays the next few weeks.

        As we’ve been covering the past few weeks, there are many changes that accumulated in the DRM-Next tree for Linux 4.17 that makes it quite big with 144k lines of new code while seeing just 38k lines of code removed, or a net addition to the kernel of more than one hundred thousand lines of code this time around… But fortunately a good chunk of that is the auto-generated header files for AMD Vega 12 GPU support.

      • AMDVLK Updated With Wayland Support, Many Other Fixes & Improvements

        With it having been two weeks since AMD last updated their PAL/AMDVLK source tree, today’s update contains a fair amount of changes to this official open-source AMD Radeon Vulkan Linux driver.

        Most notable from this latest whopping of +10,184 lines of new code (and 8,990 deletions) is Wayland support! AMDVLK should now be able to work with Vulkan on native Wayland environments. AMDVLK needed a fair amount of additions for supporting surfaces on Wayland and its window management/integration differences.

      • RADV In Mesa 18.1 Git Receiving New Vulkan Extension Work

        In addition to receiving Vega 12 support in the past few hours, the RADV Vulkan driver living within Mesa has landed the latest extension work.

        Valve open-source Linux driver developer Samuel Pitoiset has merged VK_EXT_sampler_filter_minmax support. That extension was added back during Vulkan 1.0.53. I’m not aware of any Vulkan game/program currently requiring VK_EXT_sampler_filter_minmax so it will be interesting to see if it wiring it up was done simply for scratching another item off the list or will be a requirement for any forthcoming Linux games. This extension is just enabled for GCN 1.1 Sea Islands and newer with GCN 1.0 behavior said to be buggy.

      • X.Org Server 1.20 RC2 Released With DRI3 v1.2, Per-Window Flipping For XWayland

        Adam Jackson at Red Hat has announced the second release candidate to the long-in-development X.Org Server 1.20.

        Since the RC1 release at the end of February, X.Org Server 1.20 has continued to receive new feature work including DRI3 v1.2 support and hitting the code-base today was the per-window flipping in the Present extension with XWayland.

        Both are exciting features, particularly the latter. The DRI3 1.2 support is wired through but currently requires a debug option be set in the xorg.conf for activating the support with the xf86-video-modesetting DDX driver.

    • Benchmarks

      • Windows 10 vs. Windows WSL vs. Linux – Ubuntu / openSUSE / Debian / Clear Linux

        With Debian having been added to the Microsoft Store earlier this month for running Debian 9 on Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) plus in wanting to do some fresh updates prior to Microsoft shipping their Spring Creators Update, here are some fresh benchmarks of various Linux distributions and their raw performance, the current major Linux distributions available on WSL, and then also the native Windows 10 performance in the various supported tests.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Krita – Ars longa, vita brevis?

        My first encounter with Krita has been interesting so far. On one hand, without any tutorial and only my prior knowledge of GIMP, I was able to do about 80% of the stuff that I wanted, and that’s pretty good. Add to that some extra features that GIMP does not have, and you have yourself a reasonable IMP.

        But then, on the other hand, there were a lot of frustrations – and that’s even before I got a chance to sit down for a few hours and paint. Macros didn’t work as well as they should, GIMC is missing, and some of the effects and options are clunky. Maybe all of it comes down to habit, but I doubt it. I have a fairly good natural affinity toward software, and if it’s not intuitive, it means it’s not designed right. Krita has some decent features, but then it also has some (let’s call them GIMP-like) quirks that simply make no sense from the workflow perspective. The UI show work with you, not against you.

        All in all, Krita is better than what I’d expected. Things also become slightly more complicated when you take into account Karbon, which is another KDE application and part of the Calligra suite, but it also does vector graphics, and perhaps competes or complements Krita. The duality between GIMP and Krita is also intriguing, but also an indication of forking and wasted energy, because there’s 70% common base in both programs that could have been invested making dope effects, like, I don’t know, a comic strip speech bubble, rather than replicating what’s already there. In a way.

        Bottom line, I like Krita, and I will explore it some more, trying to master its interface and options, and perhaps even render some original art without shouting at the computer. For me, GIMP is a no-go in this regard, so this will be an interesting comparison experiment. Lastly, I’d like to see more effects, GIMC seamlessly integrated, and the macros must work. Well, there you go.

      • KDAB at Embedded World 2018

        Embedded World, the leading exhibition for the international embedded community, just had its 16th edition and is still growing, with more than 1000 exhibitors and over 32,000 visitors from 78 countries in 2018.

        Software was more central to the exhibition than ever before, so it’s no wonder this is KDAB’s 8th year in a row exhibiting.

      • Qbs 1.11 Released As The Qt Build Tool Successor To QMake

        In addition to the Qt Creator 4.6 IDE being released today, The Qt Company also released the Qbs 1.11 build system.

      • Qbs 1.11 released

        We are happy to announce version 1.11.0 of the Qbs build tool.

      • Qt Creator 4.6.0 released

        We are happy to announce the release of Qt Creator 4.6.0!

      • Qt Creator 4.6 Released With Upgraded C++ Support, Navigation Improvements

        The Qt Company has released Qt Creator 4.6, the latest version of their Qt/C++ focused integrated development environment.

        Qt Creator 4.6 upgrades the C++ support thanks to moving its Clang-based code model from Clang 3.9 to the newer Clang 5.0, which in turn provides more C++17 features and other enhancements. Qt Creator 4.6 also has integration of Clang-Tidy and Clazy warnings into the editor’s diagnostics messages, highlighting improvements, and other enhancements.

      • C++ Modernization Brochure

        New releases of the C++ language maintain incredibly strong backwards compatibility, making it easy to keep older C++ code working properly as standards march forward. C++11, C++14, and C++17 have transformed the C++ language in ways that make it as programmer-friendly as more recent languages but with many essential benefits that continue to make it the best choice for the most demanding software-engineering projects.

        Modernizing your C++ may be the best way to both improve your team’s efficiency as well as future-proof your software investment. KDAB has broad, deep experience delivering cost-effective, long-term, pragmatic solutions that modernize existing C++ codebases without losing functionality during the process.

      • Intro to Qt

        This paper outlines everything you need to take into account when considering Qt as a new framework, so you can decide for yourself if this cross-platform tool is the right choice.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • College student reflects on getting started in open source

    I just completed the first semester of my second year in college, and I’m reflecting on what I learned in my classes. One class, in particular, stood out to me: “Foundations of an Open Source World,” taught by Dr. Bryan Behrenshausen at Duke University. I enrolled in the class at the last minute because it seemed interesting and, if I’m being honest because it fit my schedule.

    On the first day, Dr. Behrenshausen asked if we students knew or had used any open source programs. Until that day I had hardly heard the term “open source” and certainly wasn’t cognizant of any products that fell into that category. As the semester went on, however, it dawned on me that the passion I have towards my career aspirations would not exist without open source.

  • Why this innovator thinks the car of the future rides on open source

    There are many open source companies that are profitable. We believe that open source is a fundamental approach to speed up everything. Linux Foundation changed the server industry, and they boosted infrastructure and services around the world like banking and financial systems. So based on this, the business model is pretty simple: We encourage companies to use our technology, but in the end, even if we provide all the documentation and sources, when you go to the market you need to have the hardware, not only the software, so the keyword for us is “aggregate.” In the automotive industry especially, quantities are something that you have to consider.

    We are the missing link between tier one suppliers and a very long tail of new players that are trying to combine more projects based on the same core technology, so everybody can have better pricing and easier sourcing of the parts.

  • Open source AV1 video codec released, coming soon to streaming video

    One of the things that makes it possible to stream 4K Ultra HD video over the internet is video compression: it takes a lot of bandwidth to stream a 4K video, but it takes a lot less to stream a H.265/HEVC file than it does to stream one encoded using MPEG-2.

    But now there’s a new codec in town that’s likely to replace HEVC.

    It’s called AV1, and it has a few things going for it. The new codec is open source, royalty-free, and it offers roughly 30 percent better compression than HEVC or VP9.

  • Open Source Codec AV1 Specification Available Now, Delivering Far More Efficient Compression Than HEVC & VP9

    Today, AOMedia announced the public release of the AV1 codec’s specification, the first step to introducing AV1 into commercial products.

  • AOMedia Announces Public Release Of AV1 Video Format

    Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix, NVIDIA, and others making up the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia) have today announced the public release of the AV1 royalty-free video format!

  • Netflix and YouTube streaming video is about to get a lot faster

    Tech’s biggest companies — including Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Cisco and Netflix — have finished the first version of video compression technology called AV1, and now they’re ready to use it to speed up your streaming video.

  • The Alliance for Open Media Kickstarts Video Innovation Era with “AV1″ Release

    Consumers’ video expectations are being shaped by the brilliant images promised by 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) video and beyond. However, the technical-based hurdles and data demands of higher quality video mean that the majority of users only have access to full HD or lower video technology. For nearly three years, the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia) has been working in lock-step with its members, the world’s best-known leaders in video, to develop a better quality internet video technology that benefits all consumers. Today, the Alliance is proud to announce the public release of the AOMedia Video Codec 1.0 (AV1) specification, which delivers cross-platform, 4K UHD or higher online video, royalty-free – all while lowering data usage.

  • Open Source Community Widely Adopts SRT Video Streaming Protocol with VLC, GStreamer and Wireshark Support

    The SRT Open Source Project, the fastest growing open source video streaming movement, announced wide adoption of the SRT open source video transport protocol and technology stack with VLC, GStreamer and Wireshark support, as well as a new Mozilla Public License.

  • Engineering Group and Open Source Initiative Partner for Enhanced Leadership in Open Source: Engineering Group continues its support of global open source software communities.

    Engineering Group, the global IT player and Italian leader in digital transformation, announced their continued sponsorship of the Open Source Initiative (OSI). The OSI is internationally recognized as the stewards of open source software, working to promote and protect open source projects, development and communities. For 20 years the organization has served as the reference point for individuals, non-profit organizations, international enterprises, and governments that recognize the critical role of open source in enabling flexibility, transparency, innovation, and added-value in technology-based products and services.

  • Open Source Alternative to Okta®

    Okta® is one of the top providers in the web application SSO (single sign-on) space. It’s a space that has been incredibly important over the last decade, and perhaps, one of the hottest categories in the IT management world. With this much activity, admins often want to know what all of their options with SSO providers are. The challenge for some organizations, though, is finding an open source alternative to Okta.

    Why would an IT organization be interested in an open source web-app SSO solution? Well, to answer that question, we need to take a step back and look at the identity and access management (IAM) space as a whole.

  • Red Hat Earnings Foretell Good Times for Open Source Businesses
  • Events

    • Two perspectives on the maintainer relationship

      Developers and maintainers of free-software projects are drawn from the same pool of people, and maintainers in one project are often developers in another, but there is still a certain amount of friction between the two groups. Maintainers depend on developers to contribute changes, but the two groups have a different set of incentives when it comes to reviewing and accepting those changes. Two talks at the 2018 Embedded Linux Conference shed some light on this relationship and how it can be made to work more smoothly.

    • What can you do with Kubernetes?

      Need to get up to speed with Kubernetes? This webinar will give you the primer to the Kubernetes platform that you need. You’ve probably heard that Kubernetes is great technology, but have you considered how you can use it in the enterprise? We’ll give a comprehensive overview, demos, and even ideas into how it can be used in your business!

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Google Makes It Easier for Chrome Users to Stream Local Video and Audio Files

        Chrome users who usually cast audio and video files to Chromecast or similar Cast devices will soon experience a much more straightforward and accessible streaming method.

        Chromium evangelist at Google François Beaufort has shared today details about the Chrome team working on an easier method for streaming local audio and video files to Cast devices, such as Chromecast, which is currently available for public testing in the Chrome OS Beta channel.

      • What Is The Difference Between Google Chrome And Chromium Browser?

        What is Chromium browser? It is an open-source web browser developed and maintained by The Chromium Project. The git rolling release web browser was first introduced in 2008, and its different parts are released under different free software licenses which include BSD License (for the portion written by Google) and MIT License, LGPL, etc. for other portions.

    • Mozilla

      • Survey Says, Firefox Loves Oddballs

        For the second year in a row, we did a bit of informal censusing last month to get to know our users in the best way possible: anonymously and collectively. Maybe you saw and took the survey, which we shared through email, our about:home page, and social media. There were some important questions and some not quite as important questions on it, but what was important was that it was totally voluntary and—like everything we do—about openness and transparency. Well, and having at least some fun on the internet.

      • ES modules: A cartoon deep-dive

        ES modules bring an official, standardized module system to JavaScript. It took a while to get here, though — nearly 10 years of standardization work.

      • Briefly Noted: An overview of the past, present and future of Firefox Notes

        Hi, I’m Ryan Feeley, Staff Designer for Firefox Accounts, Sync and Privacy. Last year we launched the Notes experiment to see if a basic notepad in our newly extensible sidebar could, with regular user feedback and iterative development, grow to become an indispensable Firefox feature. It’s exciting that months later I’m writing my draft of this blog post in Notes, while I copy/paste source material from various tabs to my right.

      • Andy McKay: Leaving Mozilla

        Today is my last day at Mozilla as a paid employee. Seven and a half years at Mozilla has been a heck of ride. I feel lucky and honoured to have had such an awesome opportunity.

        In terms projects I’ve gone from AMO, through the Firefox OS Marketplace, through Marketplace Payments, then back to AMO and WebExtensions. Those last couple of years, as we rebooted the add-ons ecosystem, was probably my proudest moment professionally.

      • We’re Hiring a Build Engineer

        We at the Thunderbird project are hiring a Build and Release Engineer. Interested in getting paid to work on Thunderbird? You’ll find information about the role ,as well as how to apply, below!

      • New Firefox Extension Builds a Wall Around Facebook

        Mozilla on Tuesday announced Facebook Container, a Firefox browser extension that is designed to segregate users’ activity on Facebook from their other Web activity, limiting Facebook’s ability to track them and gather personal data.

        Mozilla recently has engaged in an aggressive strategy to counter Facebook data management policies that many see as intrusive.

        The extension is the culmination of more than two years of research into developing a more private browsing experience, Mozilla said. However, the organization accelerated its development after the Cambridge Analytica data scandal came to light.

      • Limit personal data exposure with Firefox containers

        There was some noise recently about the massive amount of data gathered by Cambridge Analytica from Facebook users. While I don’t use Facebook myself, I do use Google and other services which are known to gather a massive amount of data, and I obviously know a lot of people using those services. I also saw some posts or tweet threads about the data collection those services do.

        Mozilla recently released a Firefox extension to help users confine Facebook data collection. This addon is actually based on the containers technology Mozilla develops since few years. It started as an experimental feature in Nightly, then as a test pilot experiment, and finally evolved into a fully featured extension called Multi-Account containers. A somehow restricted version of this is even included directly in Firefox but you don’t have the configuration window without the extension and you need to configure it manually with about:config.

      • Annoying Graphs: Did the Facebook Container Add-on Result in More New Firefox Profiles?

        Yesterday, Mozilla was in the news again for releasing a Firefox add-on called Facebook Container. The work of (amongst others) :groovecoder, :pdol, :pdehaan, :rfeeley, :tanvi, and :jkt, Facebook Container puts Facebook in a little box and doesn’t let it see what else you do on the web.

      • Firefox Launches Facebook Container Add-On that Makes Facebook Tracking Harder

        Mozilla launched a new Firefox add-on Facebook container that makes tracking harder by isolating your Facebook identity from the rest of web activities.

        Facebook network trackers embedded in various websites identify your hobbies, location and political persuasion based on the pages you visit.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice monthly recap: March 2018

      There’s so much going on in the LibreOffice project – in development, documentation, design, QA, translations and much more. So at the end of each month we’ll be posting summaries of recent activities and updates, to help you get an overview of what’s going on.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • LibrePlanet 2018 a smashing success — thanks to you!

      It’s always hard to know how to sum up LibrePlanet — the Free Software Foundation’s (FSF) annual conference is an inspiring, information-filled, and seemingly non-stop weekend celebrating everything about free software.

      Friday marked Day Zero of the conference — before the regular program started, the FSF was overrun with volunteers helping to pull together last-minute details for the conference. At 5pm, general conference attendees began showing up to pick up badges, socialize, meet each other, and generally have fun at the office. This was followed by a Welcome Dinner, kindly sponsored by IBM. The Welcome Dinner was for all women, genderqueer, and nonbinary people who were interested in meeting each other before the event, and to better encourage building diversity and inclusiveness in free software and the greater tech community. (Thanks, IBM!)

      Saturday and Sunday brought Day One and Day Two of the conference. With 24 sessions on Saturday and 30 on Sunday (including lightning talks), it was hard for many people to decide what to do. The long list of topics included automated cars, copyleft, education and academia, health and medicine, project updates, and various technical topics. There were workshops for children and adults, working sessions, and hours of conversations in the conference venue. The lively Exhibit Hall brought thirteen exhibitors, including communities, companies, non-profits, and even a library. At the end of each day was a raffle, with prizes donated by Aleph Objects, No Starch Press, Technoethical, JMP, and Aeronaut Brewing.

    • In business: Keeping free software sustainable
    • ibreCMC: The libre embedded GNU/Linux distro

      Embedded devices are all around us, and have become deeply “embedded” into our daily lives: from microcontrollers to “smart”-watches, routers, and televisions, they are all around us. Many of us don’t think twice about the root of control in these devices, or even the software that runs on them. In some cases, manufacturers lock users out from controlling these devices, and cause a security nightmare when they stop supporting them. This session will cover a wide range of topics including: what libreCMC is, the project’s goals / developments, and why free software is crucial in securing control and freedom in embedded devices.

    • Free Software as a catalyst for liberation, social justice, and social medicine

      In this non-technical session, I will talk about the philosophical aspects of GNU Health as a social project. I will discuss implementations in places around the world, including Argentina, Cameroon, and Laos, and the different actors involved, including governments, academia, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

      Finally, we will talk about the community, ethics, risks, challenges, and ways to keep these projects healthy and sustainable in the long term.

    • Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup time: March 30th starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC
  • Public Services/Government

    • EU Project Delivers Open-Source Simulator for Cyber-Physical Systems

      A European funded project has released an open-source framework which seamlessly simulates, in an integrated way, both the networking and the processing parts of cyber-physical systems (CPS), as well as cloud and high-performance computing systems.

      Cyber-physical systems are supersets of embedded systems, integrating sensing, computation, control, and networking into physical objects and infrastructure. While IoT refers mainly to uniquely identifiable internet-connected devices and embedded systems, CPS refers to the combination of the multiple hardware devices and software (including computational) aspects of a system, together with its relationship with the physical world.

      The European project, a three-year program which began in February 2015 and received 2.88 million euros (about $3.5 million) in funding from the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 program, addresses the lack of simulation tools and models for full system design and analysis. This is mainly because most existing simulation tools for complex CPS only efficiently handle parts of a system while mainly focusing on performance.

    • The battle to free the code at the Department of Defense

      A battle is underway at the US Department of Defense (DoD) to improve the way DoD develops, secures, and deploys software. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is not common reading for most people, but buried within the DoD’s 2,000-page budget authorization is a provision to free source code. The lively history behind this provision is simultaneously frustrating and encouraging, with private industry giants, Congress, and other federal agencies jockeying around the effort to free the code at DoD. Come listen to this important, but perhaps lesser known, chapter of the free software narrative, and learn how a small group of impassioned digital service experts are defying all odds to continue the fight for free software adoption.

    • Free software in academia

      This panel will offer a well-rounded discussion on various ways to incorporate free software into university curricula and scholarly projects, as well as ways to promote further engagement between scholars and the free software community. The panel will explore how free software fits into both computer science programs, such as the Free and Open Source Software and Free Culture Minors at RIT, and into digital humanities projects. What are the barriers to free software in academia? How does terminology cloud the issue? How do we promote the ethics of “free as in freedom” when the draw to many academics is “free as in beer”? How do free software and free culture interact in digital humanities and humanitarian projects?

    • San Francisco’s free software voting system

      Elections in the US rely heavily on software. Whether we cast our votes using a computer, or on paper ballots that are then scanned, software interprets our votes, counts them, tabulates the results, and calls the winner. Almost all of this software is proprietary, and owned by a handful of large companies.

      A few jurisdictions have plans to move to free software, are funding its development, or are already using it. I’ll give an overview of free software projects for election-related software around the US, with a focus on San Francisco’s project, where I’m on the Technical Advisory Committee.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Getting started with Jupyter Notebooks

      Since the days of papyrus, publishers have struggled with formatting data in ways that engage readers. This is a particular issue in the areas of mathematics, science, and programming, where well-designed charts, illustrations, and equations can be key to helping people understand technical information.

      The Jupyter Notebook is addressing this problem by reimagining how we produce instructional texts. Jupyter (which I first learned about at All Things Open in October 2017) is an open source application that enables users to create interactive, shareable notebooks that contain live code, equations, visualizations, and text.

      Jupyter evolved from the IPython Project, which features an interactive shell and a browser-based notebook with support for code, text, and mathematical expressions. Jupyter offers support for over 40 programming languages, including Python, R, and Julia, and its code can be exported to HTML, LaTeX, PDF, images, and videos or as IPython notebooks to be shared with other users.

    • Trip Report: C++ Standards Meeting in Jacksonville, March 2018
    • Don’t make me code in your text box!

      Whenever I start a new data project, my first step is rooting out any false assumptions I have about the data.

      The key here is iterating quickly. My workflow looks like this: Code a little, plot the data, what do you see? Ah, outliers. Code a little, plot the data, what do you see? Shoot, why are there so many NULL’s in the dataset?

      This is a critical part of working with data so we have a ton of tools tuned for fast iteration loops. These are the tools in the “Building Intuition” stage of experimental analysis. Jupyter notebooks are a perfect example. Great way to explore a dataset quickly.

      Once I’m done exploring, I need to distill what I’ve learned so I can share it and reference it later. This is where I run into problems. Often, these fast-iteration tools are really hard to escape, and are a horrible way to store code. As a result, these tools end up getting used for things they’re not built to do. It’s hard to spot if you’re not looking out for it.

    • This Week In Rust: This Week in Rust 227

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

    • Announcing Rust 1.25

      The Rust team is happy to announce a new version of Rust, 1.25.0. Rust is a systems programming language focused on safety, speed, and concurrency.

    • Rust 1.25 Released, Upgrades To LLVM 6.0

      Version 1.25.0 of the Rust programming language implementation is now available. Rust 1.25 comes in as being a bit more significant than some of the recent updates.

    • Python ChatOps libraries: Opsdroid and Errbot

      ChatOps is conversation-driven development. The idea is you can write code that is executed in response to something typed in a chat window. As a developer, you could use ChatOps to merge pull requests from Slack, automatically assign a support ticket to someone from a received Facebook message, or check the status of a deployment through IRC.

      In the Python world, the most widely used ChatOps libraries are Opsdroid and Errbot. In this month’s Python column, let’s chat about what it’s like to use them, what each does well, and how to get started with them.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Open Source Zeroes In on the Edge

      Open Networking Summit — The important role that open source will play in distributing compute power to the edge is coming into clearer focus here this week, with multiple initiatives and some significant contributions from major industry players.

      The Open Networking Foundation kicked things off with its announcement of a strategic shift that will put major operators in charge of developing reference designs for edge SDN platforms for network operators, with the intent of moving open source technologies forward faster on that front. The Linux Foundation Tuesday announced broader support for its Akraino Edge Stack open source community, including 13 new members and a major open source contribution from one of those Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC). (See ONF Operators Take Charge of Edge SDN and ONF Operators Take Charge of Edge SDN.)

Leftovers

  • Italian Court Rules The Wikimedia Foundation Is Just A Hosting Provider For Wikipedia’s Volunteer-Written Articles

    Many of us tend to take the amazing resource of Wikipedia for granted: it’s hard to imagine online life without it. But that doesn’t mean its position is assured. As well as continuing funding uncertainty, it is also subject to legal attacks that call into question its innovative way of letting anyone create and edit articles. For example, in 2012 a former Italian Minister of Defense sued the Wikimedia Foundation in Italy for hosting a Wikipedia article he alleged contained defamatory information. He had sent a letter demanding that the article in question should be removed, without even specifying the exact page or where the problem lay, and filed the suit when the page was not taken down.

  • Time to rethink your team’s approach to meetings

    In 2016, I wrote an article on running the perfect 30-minute meeting. And since then, I’ve continued to spread the word about the benefits of shorter meetings—and continued to run (most of) my meetings in 30 minutes or less.

  • Science

    • Media impartiality is a problem when ignorance is given the same weight as expertis

      “I’m joined now by Galileo Galilei, a follower of Copernicus who has used modern telescope technology to make astronomical observations that he believes prove heliocentrism beyond any reasonable doubt.

      “Also joining us is Nigello Lawsini, who has no scientific training whatsoever but has written a short book insisting furiously that the sun does in fact revolve around the Earth. Because he says so.

  • Hardware

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Total Meltdown?

      Did you think Meltdown was bad? Unprivileged applications being able to read kernel memory at speeds possibly as high as megabytes per second was not a good thing.

      Meet the Windows 7 Meltdown patch from January. It stopped Meltdown but opened up a vulnerability way worse … It allowed any process to read the complete memory contents at gigabytes per second, oh – it was possible to write to arbitrary memory as well.

      No fancy exploits were needed. Windows 7 already did the hard work of mapping in the required memory into every running process. Exploitation was just a matter of read and write to already mapped in-process virtual memory. No fancy APIs or syscalls required – just standard read and write!

    • Epic Fail: Microsoft’s Windows 7 Meltdown Fix Made Your PC More Insecure

      The only thing that’s worse than not installing the latest security patch for your insecure computer is installing a fix that ends up opening new loopholes. This might sound like fiction, but it’s reality in case of Meltdown patches released for Windows 7.

    • Kaspersky Lab deserves better — even from the West

      Western governments see Kaspersky Lab as an extension of the Russian government but the company has a strong record of discovering attacks others can’t.

      Kaspersky is an award-winning cyber security company that works with businesses and people in dozens of countries. Yet the company’s reputation isn’t what it once was.

    • Through the looking glass: Security and the SRE

      Over the last few years, DevOps, chaos engineering, and site reliability engineering (SRE) have made foundational shifts in the engineering community worldwide. The discipline of security engineering has gradually made its way into DevOps with DevSecOps, rugged DevOps, and other name variants. Our purpose in this article, which focuses on applying chaos engineering and SRE to the field of cybersecurity, is to share the insights we’ve gathered in our journey and to challenge the community to think differently about how security systems are designed.

    • Your Internet Is Now Extra Secure With The Latest TLS 1.3 Encryption Protocol
    • Drupal core – Highly critical – Remote Code Execution – SA-CORE-2018-002
    • A serious Drupal security issue
    • Apple macOS Bug Reveals Passwords for APFS Encrypted Volumes in Plaintext

      A severe programming bug has been found in APFS file system for macOS High Sierra operating system that exposes passwords of encrypted external drives in plain text.

      Introduced two years ago, APFS (Apple File System) is an optimized file system for flash and SSD-based storage solutions running MacOS, iOS, tvOS or WatchOS, and promises strong encryption and better performance.

    • A “runtime guard” for the kernel

      While updating kernels frequently is generally considered a security best practice, there are many installations that are unable to do so for a variety of reasons. That means running with some number of known vulnerabilities (along with an unknown number of unknown vulnerabilities, of course), so some way to detect and stop exploits for those flaws may be desired. That is exactly what the Linux Kernel Runtime Guard (LKRG) is meant to do.

      LKRG comes out of the Openwall project that is perhaps best known for its security-enhanced Linux distribution. Alexander Peslyak, or “Solar Designer”, who is Openwall’s founder and leader is prominent in security circles as well. He announced LKRG at the end of January as “our most controversial project ever”. The 0.0 release that was announced was “quite sloppy”, Peslyak said in a LKRG 0.1 release announcement on February 9; principal developer Adam “pi3″ Zabrocki cleaned things up and added some new features based on ten days of feedback.

    • The strange story of the ARM Meltdown-fix backport

      Alex Shi’s posting of a patch series backporting a set of Meltdown fixes for the arm64 architecture to the 4.9 kernel might seem like a normal exercise in making important security fixes available on older kernels. But this case raised a couple of interesting questions about why this backport should be accepted into the long-term-support kernels — and a couple of equally interesting answers, one of which was rather better received than the other.

      The Meltdown vulnerability is most prominent in the x86 world, but it is not an Intel-only problem; some (but not all) 64-bit ARM processors suffer from it as well. The answer to Meltdown is the same in the ARM world as it is for x86 processors: kernel page-table isolation (KPTI), though the details of its implementation necessarily differ. The arm64 KPTI patches entered the mainline during the 4.16 merge window. ARM-based systems notoriously run older kernels, though, so it is natural to want to protect those kernels from these vulnerabilities as well.

      When Shi posted the 4.9 backport, stable-kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman responded with a pair of questions: why has a separate backport been done when the Android Common kernel tree already contains the Meltdown work, and what sort of testing has been done on this backport? In both cases, the answer illustrated some interesting aspects of how the ARM vendor ecosystem works.

    • After Meltdown and Spectre, Intel CPUs Are Now Vulnerable to BranchScope Attacks

      According to their paper, even if they are a bit more sophisticated, the BranchScope attacks can do the same damage as the Spectre and Meltdown flaws, in the way that an attacker can exploit the security vulnerability to retrieve sensitive data from the unpatched system, including passwords and encryption keys, by manipulating the shared directional branch predictor.

    • Cleaning up after Spectre and Meltdown: figuring out how badly they slowed down your servers

      That’s the easy part. The real problem is that the patch might slow your system down — particularly if you’re running applications that interact often with the kernel. So you’ll want to know just how much of a hit you’ve taken, and what upgrades you’ll need to get you back to where you should be.

    • GoScanSSH Malware Targets Linux Servers [Ed: No, it does not target Linux. It targets system administrators who use default or very weak passwords.]

      A recently discovered malware family written using the Golang (Go) programming language is targeting Linux servers and using a different binary for each attack, Talos warns.

      Dubbed GoScanSSH because it compromises SSH servers exposed to the Internet, the malware’s command and control (C&C) infrastructure leverages the Tor2Web proxy service to prevent tracking and takedowns.

      The malware operators, Talos believes, had a list of more than 7,000 username/password combinations they would use to authenticate to the servers, after which they would create a unique GoScanSSH binary to upload and execute on the server.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Decline and fall

      Fifteen years ago, Bush reduced Iraq to a pile of ash.

    • Trump’s cabinet of chaos

      Everything about the Trump presidency is systematically inconsistent. Its essence is impulsive, not planned. To see Machiavellian machinations in all this is to treat Trump as something he is not: malicious, rather than capricious, scheming, rather than whimsical.

    • US Army veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan has been deported to Mexico

      A US Army veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan has been deported to Mexico, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.
      The deportation follows an earlier decision by US authorities to deny Miguel Perez’s citizenship application because of a felony drug conviction, despite his service and the PTSD he says it caused.

    • Sergei Skripal — some of my interviews

      Ever since the story broke on 5th March about the strange case of the pois­on­ing the former MI6 agent and Rus­si­an mil­it­ary intel­li­gence officer, Sergei Skri­p­al, I have been asked to do inter­view after inter­view, com­ment­ing on this hideous case.

      Of course, as the case developed the points I made also evolved, but my gen­er­al theme has remained con­sist­ent: that, des­pite the imme­di­ate UK media hys­teria that “it must be the Rus­si­ans”, we needed to let the police and intel­li­gence agen­cies the space and time to get on and build up an evid­en­tial chain before the UK gov­ern­ment took action.

    • None of This Month’s Craziest Nuclear Stories Involved North Korea

      With the North Korea nuclear standoff still making headlines, other nuclear-related stories – including those involving Saudi Arabia, Israel and Syria – have largely gone unnoticed, Ted Snider explains.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Report: Investments in Extreme Fossil Fuels Skyrocketed in Trump’s 1st Year in Office

      A new report by the Rainforest Action Network has revealed that investments in “extreme” fossil fuels have skyrocketed to $115 billion globally amid President Trump’s first year in office. Investments in tar sands—one of the dirtiest fossil fuels—have more than doubled. The report details how many investors and banks began increasing their fossil fuel investments after President Trump promised to pull the United States out of the landmark Paris climate accord.

    • Trump administration prepares to roll back vehicle emissions and efficiency standards

      This week, the Trump administration is expected to officially announce that it will re-examine the vehicle emissions and efficiency goals that automakers agreed to in 2010, with an eye to weakening the standards.

      In public statements and advertising, automakers tout their commitments to expanding electrification, improving fuel efficiency and fighting climate change but, as previously reported in Charged and elsewhere, their actions behind the scenes have been radically different. Through their trade groups, automakers have been steadily lobbying the US government (as well as Chinese authorities) to water down emissions and fuel efficiency standards and other measures that have saved consumers millions in fuel costs, and driven the growth of the EV industry.

  • Finance

    • Britain leaves the EU in one year, and still faces a no-deal “hard Brexit”

      Britain’s prime minister Theresa May put the UK on a course to the point of no return a year ago, when she triggered Article 50 on March 29, formally notifying the European Union it was leaving. From that date, the UK had two years to sort out a divorce deal from the remaining 27 European members.

      However, with just one year to go until Britain goes it alone, nothing has been set in stone—other than the government turning the nation’s passports blue. In fact, a no-deal Brexit, also known as a “hard Brexit,” could be a distinct possibility.

    • Softbank to Build World’s Biggest Solar Park in Saudi Arabia

      Saudi Arabia and SoftBank Group Corp. signed a memorandum of understanding to build a $200 billion solar power development that’s exponentially larger than any other project.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • We need to destroy the election-rigging industry before it destroys us

      Disturbingly, both CA and SCL have high-level contracts with governments, giving them access to secret intelligence both in the US and the UK. SCL is on List X, which allows it to hold British secret intelligence at its facilities.

      It now appears that techniques they used in Ukraine and Eastern Europe to counteract Russian influence, and against Islamist terrorism in the Middle East, were then used to influence elections in the heart of Western democracy itself.

      Let’s be clear about what we’re facing. A mixture of free market dogmatism plus constraints imposed by the rule of law has led, over the past decades, to the creation of an alternative, private, secret state.

      When it was only focused on the enemies and rivals of the West, or hapless politicians in the global south, nobody minded. Now it is being used as a weapon to tear apart democracy in Britain and the US we care – and rightly so.

    • EC to probe allegations of political party apps harnessing user data

      The Election Commission of India will consider any allegations of harnessing user data through mobile apps of political parties and personalities, said the Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat on Tuesday.

    • Obama official: We could have stopped Russian [astroturfrs]

      On the heels of that achievement, in late 2014, Bruen pitched an idea to set up a command center at the US State Department that would similarly track and counter any Russian propaganda targeted at US allies, but officials at State, he said, failed to recognize the threat.

      Bruen said State Department officials, and in particular, Victoria Nuland, then the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, did not recognize the danger and dismissed his ideas.

    • The Many Red Flags of Trump’s Partners in India — ‘Trump, Inc.’ Podcast

      President Donald Trump does not like the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. “It’s a horrible law,” Trump has said. The FCPA makes it a crime for U.S. companies to bribe foreign officials, or to partner with others who are clearly doing so.

      Trump has argued that the law puts U.S. firms at a disadvantage. “It’s things like this that cause us to not be able to lead the world,” Trump said on CNBC in 2012. “For this country to prosecute because something took place in India is outrageous.”

    • Nicolas Sarkozy: Crime and Punishment?

      Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is under investigation for allegedly receiving millions of euros in illegal election campaign funding from Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. This must be placed in the broader context of war crimes by Western heads of state, Gilbert Doctorow explains.

    • Trump’s Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin Is Out

      President Donald Trump’s Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin will be stepping down from his position, as the president looks to further reorganize his cabinet.

      Trump plans to nominate White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson to replace Shulkin, a holdover from the Obama administration. The post needs Senate confirmation, however, and will be temporarily held by Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Robert Wilkie.

    • Journalist Ari Berman: If Trump Is Allowed to Rig the Census, Then All of U.S. Democracy Is Rigged

      A new battle is brewing over the 2020 U.S. census. At least 12 states are moving to sue the Trump administration over plans to add a question about citizenship to the upcoming census. Voting rights activists fear the question will deter immigrants from participating in the census, leading to a vast undercount in states with large immigrant communities. This could impact everything from the redrawing of congressional maps to the allocation of federal funding. On Tuesday, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the decision to add a citizenship question was “necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters.” At least five former directors of the Census Bureau, who served under Republican and Democratic presidents, have written a letter opposing the citizenship question.

    • Media Boosts Obvious Saudi Front Group as Neutral ‘Think Tank’

      The Arabia Foundation appeared in spring 2016, seemingly out of nowhere, as a Saudi-focused think tank with “ties to Riyadh,” but vaguely independent of the regime. Or at least independent enough so that media wouldn’t represent it as an extension of the kingdom. But the past few weeks have clearly shown it to be little more than a PR outlet for de facto Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman and his sprawling, opaque business interests.

      After multiple requests by FAIR for its donors, the Arabia Foundation refused to give any, other than its founder, Saudi investment banker Ali Shihabi. It insists it doesn’t take money from “the Saudi government,” but instead is backed by unnamed private Saudi citizens.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • GoDaddy Ordered to Suspend Four Music Piracy Domains

      GoDaddy, the world’s largest domain name registrar, has been ordered to disable four domains that facilitate access to four ‘pirate’ music sites. The order was handed down via the Peruvian Copyright Commission following a complaint from a member organization of IFPI.

    • Cloudflare Doesn’t Want Daily Stormer Evidence at Piracy Trial

      Cloudflare doesn’t want its termination of neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer to be used as evidence at the upcoming piracy liability trial against ALS Scan. The copyright holder used the issue to argue that Cloudflare can remove content from the internet, but the CDN provider fears that mentioning the site at trial may lead to “guilt by association.”

    • UK website age checks could create Facebook of porn, critics warn

      Draft rules for age verification on pornographic websites could put users’ privacy at risk and give the world’s biggest porn publisher a power similar to that of Facebook and Twitter, critics have said.

    • Microsoft to Ban ‘offensive language’ from Skype, Xbox, Office and Other Services

      Microsoft will ban ‘offensive language’ and ‘inappropriate content’ from Skype, Xbox, Office and other services on May 1, claiming it has the right to go through your private data to ‘investigate.’

    • Microsoft Bans “Offensive Language” from Skype

      This morning, I got the kind of e-mail that most of us ignore: “Update to our terms of service” from Microsoft. But I love waking up to read a good contract in the morning, so I had a look at the summary of changes to the “Microsoft Services Agreement,” which applies to things like Skype, Office 365, OneDrive, and a whole list of other services. The summary turned out to be a 27 bullet point document of mostly bland changes — except for point 5: [...]

    • No faking it: As poll nears, Malaysia proposes 10 yrs in jail, fine for fake news

      The Malaysian government on Monday proposed a law to combat “fake news” which could see offenders jailed for 10 years, sparking fears authorities aim to stifle criticism as elections loom.

    • A WWI early warning system and art censorship fed into the latest exhibitions at BALTIC

      You don’t find too many artists combining sound and ceramics, but Serena Korda is one of them, as you’ll find in her installation at the Baltic.

      It is called Missing Time and it marks the climax of the London-based artist’s two years in the North East on a Norma Lipman and Baltic fellowship at Newcastle University.

      Serena said the fellowship had been “an amazing luxury to have”. For one thing, it had enabled her to explore the region’s dark sky areas – another evident thrill.

      “This is work I’ve been developing since coming here and being inspired by the landscape and the people I’ve met,” she said as the installation opened.

    • Uzbek Journalists, Critics Still Face Censorship, ‘Selective Prosecution’

      Journalists and other critics of the government in Uzbekistan remain under pressure from legal restrictions, politically motivated prosecutions, and fear-induced self-censorship, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says in a new report.

      “Despite an improved landscape for open debate and critical reporting…these actions undermine President Shavkat Mirziyoev’s stated reform goals,” the New York-based rights group said in its report released on March 28.

      HRW said its 37-page report — titled You Can’t See Them, But They’re Always There: Censorship And Freedom Of The Media In Uzbekistan — examined the environment for journalists, media outlets, and the exercise of free speech since Mirziyoev became president in September 2016.

    • A Growing and ‘Pervasive’ Problem: Faith Leaders Fight Back Against Online Censorship

      Hers is just one example of a conservative voice silenced by Silicon Valley.

    • Amid censorship drive, Facebook CEO to testify before Congress

      Amid a relentless drive to censor the Internet, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly agreed to demands by leading Democrats to testify before Congress.

      Zuckerberg’s upcoming testimony is the result of an ongoing campaign, led by the New York Times and the Guardian, together with leading Congressional Democrats, to bring the company closer into alignment with the demands of the US intelligence agencies to carry out sweeping Internet censorship measures.

    • Campus censorship is real, and worrying

      The committee, made up of MPs and Lords, and chaired by Labour MP Harriet Harman, has just concluded its inquiry into free speech on university campuses. spiked was among the organisations called to give evidence before it, given our years of campaigning on this issue and our groundbreaking Free Speech University Rankings (FSUR), which published its fourth annual survey in February. (You can watch my remarks to the committee here.) The resulting report makes some keen insights about the threats to free speech today, which we welcome and are worth underlining.

    • How the free speech debate is affecting international students

      Should minorities be protected on university campuses, or should everyone have the right to say whatever their hearts desire? This is the ongoing debate taking place in US colleges as the First Amendment clashes with student consensus.

      It is an important topic for all students: whether universities should be places of safety and inclusiveness or places of open debate and uncensored discussion.

      But how international students are likely to be impacted by any decisions made on free speech is often left out of the discussion.

      The most obvious consideration is that international students will almost undoubtedly be a minority during their degree.

    • Judge Throws Out Lawsuit Against Google, Lets YouTube Censor Pro-Life Videos
    • NRA Statement on YouTube Censorship Announcement
    • YouTube wins key court victory in conservative censorship lawsuit

      YouTube this week won a lawsuit filed by a conservative talk show host who claimed his First Amendment rights were violated after the video sharing site put age restrictions on some of his videos.

    • Google Defeats PragerU’s Lawsuit Over ‘Censorship’
    • Judge Tosses PragerU Lawsuit Alleging Google And YouTube Are Conducting Conservative Censorship
    • We asked for Gitmo prison’s book policy in 2013. It arrived this week, censored

      The U.S. military took nearly five years to process a Freedom of Information Act request for a copy of the Guantánamo guidelines for censoring prison library material — and censored the guidelines when it processed the request.

      The paperwork the military released appeared to leave out three pages of the prison’s procedure for handling the Quran.

      The Miami Herald sought the Nov. 27, 2013 document in a Dec. 10, 2013 FOIA request. The U.S. Southern Command apparently released the document, with redactions, on March 21 but didn’t put it in the mail for five more days. It arrived at the Herald newsroom, which is next door to Southcom, on Tuesday.

    • UN Advisor Tells Italy To Drop Its Terrible ‘Fake News’ Law Before It Does Any Real Damage

      Italy is rolling out new laws to deal with “fake news.” The Italian government can’t define this term precisely, but apparently assumes it will know it when it sees it. And the rest of the country is encouraged to “see something, say something,” thanks to the government’s online portal which will allow brigaders and hecklers to cleanse the web of things they don’t like. Even if some of it stays up, those reported will possibly still have to spend some time interacting with government employees, which will mostly be a waste of everyone’s time.

      And that’s just the bureaucratic side of it. This portal will link to law enforcement so Italy’s uniformed cyberwarriors can go harass citizens over alleged fakery the government can’t even clearly define. There’s nothing like settling discussions about factual misconceptions with shows of force from government reps.

      Seeing as the problem will get a whole lot worse before it devolves into just another tool of government oppression, UN Special Rapporteur David Kaye has fired off a formal letter to the Italian government, asking it to nuke its plan to tackle fake news with armed officers and government mandates.

    • Once Again, Algorithms Can’t Tell The Difference Between ‘Bad Stuff’ And ‘Reporting About Bad Stuff’

      We’ve discussed many times just how silly it is to expect internet platforms to actually do a good job of moderating their own platforms. Can they do better? Yes, absolutely. Should they put more resources towards it? For the most part, yes. But there seems to be this weird belief among many — often people who don’t like or trust the platforms — that if only they “nerded harder” they could magically smarts their way to better content moderation algorithms. And, in many cases, they’re demanding such filters be put in place and threatening criminal liability for failing to magically block the “right” content.

      This is all silly, because so much of this stuff involves understanding nuance and context. And algorithms still suck at context. For many years, we’ve pointed to the example of YouTube shutting down an account of a human rights group documenting war crimes in Syria, as part of demands to pulldown “terrorist propaganda.” You see, “terrorist propaganda” and “documenting war crimes” can look awfully similar. Indeed, it may be exactly the same. So how can you teach a computer to recognize which one is which?

      There have been many similar examples over the years, and here’s another good one. The Atlantic is reporting that, for a period of time, YouTube removed a video that The Atlantic had posted of white nationalist Richard Spencer addressing a crowd with “Hail, Trump.” You remember the video. It made all the rounds. It doesn’t need to be seen again. But… it’s still troubling that YouTube removed it. YouTube removed it claiming that it was “borderline” hate speech.

    • Rhode Island Backs Away From Incomprehensibly Stupid Porn Filter Law

      For years now, a guy by the name of Chris Sevier has been waging a fairly facts-optional war on porn. Sevier first came to fame for trying to marry his computer to protest same sex marriage back in 2016. He also tried to sue Apple after blaming the Cuppertino giant for his own past porn addiction, and has gotten into trouble for allegedly stalking country star John Rich and a 17-year-old girl. Sevier has since been a cornerstone of an effort to pass truly awful porn filter legislation in more than 15 states under the disengenuous guise of combatting human trafficking.

      Dubbed the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act,” all of the incarnations of the law would force ISPs to filter pornography and other “patently offensive material.” The legislation would then force state residents interested in viewing porn to pony up a one-time $20 “digital access fee” to whitelist the internet’s naughty bits for each internet-connected device in the home. The proposal is patently absurd, technically impossible to implement, and yet somehow these bills continue to get further than they ever should across a huge swath of the boob-phobic country.

    • “Fake News” Offers Latin American Consolidated Powers An Opportunity to Censor Opponents

      Today’s headlines are dominated by the role of misinformation campaigns or “fake news” in undermining democracy in the West. From ongoing accusations of Russian meddling in Trump’s election to Russian efforts to sway the Brexit and French Presidential election votes, these countries are confronting “fake news” as an ongoing and urgent threat to democracy. Yet in Latin America, where misinformation campaigns have prevailed throughout the twentieth century, concerns over “fake news” are hardly new. Latin American media concentration, disinformation campaigns, and biased coverage have long undermined informed civic discourse.

    • The latest in Big Tech: Censorship

      When I worked at Google, I was proud to promote one of the company’s innovative products. It wasn’t the tech giant’s magical search engine. Nor was it its efficient Android mobile phone operating system or its crystal clear Hangout video calls. It was the Google Transparency Report.

      The report, the first of its kind, shone a sharp spotlight on government censorship. It recorded the number of demands for information about users or takedowns of content that Google received from governments around globe. The goal was to make authorities think twice before making such requests and to show how Google defends free speech.

      The more requests Google turned down, the more delighted I was. Given the report’s powerful message, many other internet and telephone companies soon began publishing their own transparency reports.

    • Turkey’s internet censorship is something more than censorship

      We in Turkey can no more think of the internet as a tool for free and unlimited access to information without thinking of censorship.

      We have reached a point where no one finds the blocking of new websites strange, in fact they are surprised when some have not yet been blocked.

      Censoring the internet is a game of cat-and-mouse, and the ease with which blocks can be circumvented makes many people happier to find ways to get around the problem than discuss it.

      However, censoring the internet does not work like censoring a book or news. The technical consequences create risks and dangers that go beyond accessing information. Since those risks are widely unknown and the problem is not sufficiently discussed, many debates on internet censorship end when people say “no problem, I’ll use a VPN and bypass the block”.

      One of the issues that are largely unknown are the changes in blocking technology. While websites were blocked by simple methods in the past, more advanced and multi-purpose technologies have been used since 2014 in order to make blocking more effective.

    • ‘We Cannot Get a Call from Amit Shah’: Media Group Caught in Self-Censorship Vice

      Has Vice global taken a conscious decision to pursue only politically ‘safe’ stories given that its plan for launching a TV channel in India has to pass the gauntlet of official licensing?

    • Self censorship is much bigger than VICE India

      Yesterday’s article in The Wire makes clear what many of us already know: “freedom of the press” has to be put in quotes in India. As a foreign media brand operating in India, this is something Business Insider India has to contend with daily. In other words, self censorship is not VICE’s problem; as Indians, it is our problem.

    • Kim Jong-Un speculation triggers action by China censors
    • China’s Social Media Users Call Kim Jong Un ‘Fatty on the Train’ and ‘Obese Patient’ to Bypass Censors
    • China banned all mention of Kim Jong Un while he was in Beijing — so people called him ‘fatty on the train’ instead
    • China censors ‘Fatty the Third’ Internet search as North Koreans visit
    • ‘Fatty on a train’: China’s internet users try to skirt North Korea censorship on Kim Jong Un visit
    • ‘The fatty on the train’: Kim Jong Un nicknames proliferate in China despite censors
    • Turkey’s internet censorship is not only censorship

      We in Turkey can no more think of the internet as a tool for free and unlimited access to information without thinking of censorship.

      We have reached a point where no one finds the blocking of new websites strange, in fact they are surprised when some have not yet been blocked.

      Censoring the internet is a game of cat-and-mouse, and the ease with which blocks can be circumvented makes many people happier to find ways to get around the problem than discuss it.

      However, censoring the internet does not work like censoring a book or news. The technical consequences create risks and dangers that go beyond accessing information. Since those risks are widely unknown and the problem is not sufficiently discussed, many debates on internet censorship end when people say “no problem, I’ll use a VPN and bypass the block”.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Alphabet’s Jigsaw Launches Outline: An Open Source and Simple To Use Proxy

      Alphabet Inc (parent company of Google) through its Jigsaw subsidiary recently took the wraps off of Outline which is a simple to setup proxy based on the popular Shadowsocks project. Aimed at journalists, small companies, and individuals, Outline is an open source project that comes in two parts: a proxy server and client applications that help configure the connection.

    • How Facebook Helps Shady Advertisers Pollute the Internet

      Granted anonymity, affiliates were happy to detail their tricks. They told me that Facebook had revolutionized scamming. The company built tools with its trove of user data that made it the go-to platform for big brands. Affiliates hijacked them. Facebook’s targeting algorithm is so powerful, they said, they don’t need to identify suckers themselves—Facebook does it automatically. And they boasted that Russia’s dezinformatsiya agents were using tactics their community had pioneered.

    • Delete your account – a guide to life after Facebook

      For many people, deleting their Facebook accounts sounds a lot like living a carbon-neutral life, recycling all your waste or going hardcore vegan: a nice idea, and probably the morally right thing to do, but way too much of a hassle to actually go through with.

      Facebook, after all, is how millions of people keep in touch with loved ones, plan weekends and evenings, and engage with like-minded communities. And that’s without touching on the company’s other services, Instagram and WhatsApp, which between them form a trifecta of seeming indispensability.

      But I’m here to tell you it can be done – I deleted my Facebook account in 2015, and haven’t looked back.

    • Cambridge Analytica Data From Facebook Still Not Deleted

      In spite of the claims made by Cambridge Analytica, the data harvested from Facebook users has not been deleted yet. In fact, a substantial portion of the stolen personal information is still being circulated within unknown sources.

      This startling revelation surfaced in a recent investigation conducted by London’s Channel 4, where they were able to see the dataset containing psychological profiles of about 136,000 Colorado residents.

    • Thinking About What You Need In A Secure Messenger

      All the features that determine the security of a messaging app can be confusing and hard to keep track of. Beyond the technical jargon, the most important question is: What do you need out of a messenger? Why are you looking for more security in your communications in the first place?

      The goal of this post is not to assess which messenger provides the best “security” features by certain technical standards, but to help you think about precisely the kind of security you need.

    • Facebook scraped call, text message data for years from Android phones

      This past week, a New Zealand man was looking through the data Facebook had collected from him in an archive he had pulled down from the social networking site. While scanning the information Facebook had stored about his contacts, Dylan McKay discovered something distressing: Facebook also had about two years’ worth of phone call metadata from his Android phone, including names, phone numbers, and the length of each call made or received.

    • FBI Officials Were Angry That An iPhone Hack Blocked Them From Getting Court To Force Apple To Break Encryption

      As you probably recall, last year the FBI tried to force a court to effectively create a backdoor for encrypted iPhones, using the high profile San Bernardino shootings as the wedge. It seemed quite obvious with how the whole thing played out that the FBI didn’t really need to get into Syed Farook’s work iPhone, but that it hoped leverage the high profile nature of the case and the “fear, uncertainty and doubt” around a “terrorist” attack to finally get a court to force Apple to do this. A new report reveals that the FBI was very much focused on using this case to force the issue to the point that top officials were angry that a vendor figured out another way into the iPhone, and stopped the court proceedings.

      Again: if the real goal (as stated publicly by the FBI at the time) was to find a way into this phone for important reasons, then you’d think the FBI would be excited when they found a way in, rather than pissed that a court wasn’t needed to force a backdoor. But that’s not what happened.

    • Zuck to Parliament: Drop dead
    • Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg’s snub labelled ‘absolutely astonishing’ by MPs
    • Zuckerberg’s refusal to testify before UK MPs ‘absolutely astonishing’

      Zuckerberg has been invited three times to speak to the committee, which is investigating the effects of fake news on UK democracy, but has always sent deputies to testify in his stead.

      MPs are likely to take a still dimmer view of his decision after he ultimately agreed to testify before Congress in the US. It was reported on Tuesday that the company is now considering strategy for his testimony.

    • Zuckerberg Expected to Appear Before House Committee

      Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Inc.’s chief executive officer, is expected to testify before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, according to a congressional official familiar with the plans.

    • African Users Opine to Facebook’s Data Scandal

      Many DW followers in Africa strongly disagree with the handling of private data by companies such as Cambridge Analytica. “Facebook must not sell our personal data without our permission. By doing that, the company violates its own privacy policies. It is not acceptable”, Congolese user Bienvenu Kalemie told DW’s French Service via WhatsApp.

    • What Are ‘Data Brokers,’ and Why Are They Scooping Up Information About You?

      Even when consumers are aware of both the existence of data brokers and the extent of data collected, it’s difficult to determine which data they can control. For example, some data brokers might allow users to remove raw data, but not the inferences derived from it, making it difficult for consumers to know how they have been categorized. Some data brokers store all data indefinitely, even if it is later amended. The industry is incredibly opaque, and data brokers have no real incentive to interact with the people whose data they are collecting, analyzing, and sharing.

    • AggregateIQ Created Cambridge Analytica’s Election Software, and Here’s the Proof

      Discovered by a security researcher last week, the files confirm that AggregateIQ, a British Columbia-based data firm, developed the technology Cambridge Analytica sold to clients for millions of dollars during the 2016 US presidential election. Hundreds if not thousands of pages of code, as well as detailed notes signed by AggregateIQ staff, wholly substantiate recent reports that Cambridge Analytica’s software platform was not its own creation.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Apple doesn’t give a shit about your kids

      By the time this post goes live, Apple’s education event will have been over for some time. The Internet will likely be full of lauding stories from tech outlets about how much Apple is re-investing in education. But I don’t feel it’s the case. I’ve been using Apple computers for close to 20 years and I’ve reported on the company’s products for a number of major outlets for close to a decade: Apple doesn’t care about educating kids. They care about maintaining Scrooge McDuck-levels of cash in their coffers – just like any other business. Don’t buy into the hype.

    • Journalist, who exposed police-mining mafia nexus, run over by dumper in MP

      A journalist working with a news channel, who reportedly exposed the nexus between police and the sand mining mafia in Chambal region, was run over by a dumper at Bhind in Madhya Pradesh on Monday morning.

      [...]

      Local journalists alleged it was a case of murder as Sharma had exposed the nexus between police and the mafia. They said he had been facing threat to his life for quite sometime now due to the exposes.

    • Model arrested for doing a nude photoshoot
    • Minneapolis FBI agent charged with leaking classified information to reporter
  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The Internet Archive is hosting a symposium on John Perry Barlow on April 7
    • Cable Companies Warn In Court That AT&T Time Warner Merger Will Be Absolutely Terrible For Competition And Consumers

      AT&T and the Department of Justice are ramping up their legal arguments in court as the DOJ tries to block the company’s $86 billion acquisition of Time Warner. While some question the DOJ’s real motives in the case (Trump ally Rupert Murdoch has been lobbying against the deal for competitive reasons for a year), consumer advocates agree that the deal will be horrible for consumers and competitors alike. AT&T already has a long, epic history of anti-consumer behavior, and critics charge the greater leverage will only let AT&T jack up licensing costs for competitors trying to compete with AT&T’s own streaming services.

      To glean support for its unpopular merger, AT&T offered a special deal to 1,000 of its competitors.

    • The FCC’s Evidence-Optional Blacklist Of Huawei Is About Protectionism, Not National Security

      Last week we noted that Best Buy was the latest to join a growing, evidence-optional blacklisting of Huawei based on ambiguous “national security” concerns. We also noted how despite a lot of hand-wringing on certain fronts for most of this decade, nobody has been able to provide evidence that Huawei actively spies on American consumers, the justification for similar blacklisting by AT&T and Verizon earlier this year (both bosom bodies with the NSA, it probably goes without saying). Few news outlets bother to mention an 18-month investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing by Huawei.

    • Two ships deployed as Australia-Singapore cable laying gets underway

      Laying of the Australia-Singapore subsea cable has commenced, with two ships laying two distinct sections from near Christmas Island to Fremantle, and the other in shallow water between Singapore and Christmas Island.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • How Nokia’s spate of sales and licensing deals have affected its patent position: exclusive data analysis

      Although Nokia has “one of the two most valuable portfolios relevant to wireless connectivity”, according to Microsoft, the Finnish communications company was still struggling with its mobile handsets business as recently as 2013. Today, it is one of the leading players in the patent monetisation space and has secured a string of big ticket licensing deals with all the world’s major handset manufacturers.

    • WIPO Director Briefs Ambassadors On Results, Outlook

      The director general of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization recently briefed ambassadors in Geneva on 2017 results and the outlook for the organisation and the IP field. Here’s a preliminary look at what they were told.

    • Australia’s second-tier innovation patent earns reprieve, but patent reform debate is just getting started

      It looks like the Australian Government has set aside plans to abolish the country’s second-tier patent right – at least for now. The proposal to ditch so-called innovation patents had generated significant pushback from IP practitioners. IP Australia’s apparent second thoughts appear to have created an opening for those who are opposed to this change to continue to make their case. This first piece of legislation in Australia’s current patent reform drive, the IP Laws Amendment Part 1 Bill, was tabled in Parliament yesterday.

    • Copyrights

      • Aussie Rightsholders Look To Feature Creep Site-Blocking To Search-Blocking, Because Of Course They Are

        When it comes to censorship in the name of copyright, we’ve made the point time and again that opening this door an inch will cause supporters of censorship to try to barge through and open it all the way. Inevitably, when a population tries to satiate the entertainment industry by giving them just a little censorship, that industry will ask for more and more and more.

        A good example of this can be seen right now in Australia. Like far too many countries, Australia began a site-blocking practice three or so years ago. Currently, the Department of Commnications is asking for feedback on the effectiveness of this practice as well as feedback on each step in the process itself. The way it works in Australia is that rightsholders have to get an initial injunction which then winds its way to a site being blocked as a “pirate site.” Well, for the largest entertainment industry groups in Australia, the feedback is essentially, “This is great, let’s censor even more!”

      • The Music Modernization Act is a Good Solution For Songwriters. Don’t Combine It With Bad Copyright Bills.

        For the first time in six years, Congress is considering serious changes to copyright law. As you might imagine, those changes are a mixed bag for the public. One bill, the Music Modernization Act, would create a new system for compensating songwriters and music publishers when their songs are played on digital services. It solves a problem recognized by nearly everyone in the music space. And while the bill has some problematic text that needs fixing, it’s a good effort.

        Unfortunately, the MMA has now been combined with a harmful bill, the “CLASSICS Act,” which would create a new form of pseudo-copyright for recordings from before 1972, adding on new royalties and penalties without giving anything back to the public. And other dangerous bills could get added as amendments: the “CASE Act” and the “Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act.”

      • International report – Copyright protection for graffiti and street artists

        Fashion retailer H&M recently ran a marketing campaign for its New Routine sportswear line using a video of a model doing a backflip off a handball court wall in Brooklyn, New York. The wall had a graffiti mural painted on it by graffiti artist Jason ‘Revok’ Williams.

      • Oracle’s win over Google in Android copyright case can see sea change in global software industry

        Google could owe Oracle billions of dollars for using the latter’s open-source Java programming code while developing its Android mobile platform, a U.S. appeals court said Tuesday, in a ruling that can significantly impact the software industry worldwide.

        The ruling is the latest development in an eight-year copyright feud between the two software giants.

      • Google faces $9 billion in damages after ripping off Java in Android

        A lawsuit seeking damages from Google over its willful appropriation of Java as the basis of its Android operating system has been slowly grinding through the courts for most of the last decade. It has finally concluded that Google’s taking of Java “was not fair” use, opening up Google to billions in damages.

      • A Google vs Oracle copyright ruling could well kill small scale open source projects

        A US JUDGE who clearly didn’t understand the full repercussions of what they were doing, has ruled that Google’s use of Java APIs in the original Android code did not constitute fair use, and that reparations are due.

        Some analysts believe that Google could be $8bn to $9bn poorer as a result of the ruling, the latest chapter in a long-running dispute.

        The story runs thus: Google used the Java code, formally owned by Sun Microsystems to create large swaths of the Android code.

        That’s fine because the code is open-source. However, the Java APIs, now owned by Oracle, are not, and Oracle has long since argued that it deserves a piece of the billions made by Google through the Android platform.

      • Oracle’s victory over Google in Java copyright case may rewrite the rules of software

        Oracle Corp.’s latest victory in its eight-year-old copyright infringement lawsuit against Google Inc. could fundamentally rewrite the rules of software development if today’s ruling withstands a possible appeal by the search giant.

        The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit earlier today said Google’s use of portions of Oracle’s Java development platform to create the Android operating system isn’t protected by the fair-use provision of copyright law. The ruling reverses a 2016 jury verdict that had found that Google’s actions were covered under the fair use provisions of the copyright code, which permit unlicensed use of copyrighted material in certain situations.

      • Oracle Wins Court Ruling Against Google in Multibillion-Dollar Copyright Case
      • The Federal Circuit’s Judicial Hypocrisy In Overturning Jury Concerning Java API Fair Use Question

        Yesterday we went through the details of the truly awful appeals court decision by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) concerning whether or not Google copying a few pieces of the Java API for Android was fair use. As we mentioned, there were a whole bunch of oddities both in the procedural history of the case, but especially in the CAFC’s decision here that has left a ton of legal experts scratching their heads. What becomes quite clear is that the CAFC panel decided long ago that Google infringed, and it’s not going to let the law or even consistency get in its way. As you’ll recall, the same three panel set of judges (Judges Kathleen O’Malley, Jay Plager, and Richard Taranto) made a terrible, nonsensical, technically ignorant ruling four years ago, saying that APIs are covered by copyright and then sent the case back to the lower court to hold a new trial on fair use.

        As we noted in yesterday’s post, what’s really incredible is that part of the reasoning in the CAFC opinion from four years ago is “this is an issue that a jury should hear to determine if it’s fair use.” And the ruling yesterday said “no reasonable jury could possibly find fair use” (after the jury here did find fair use). Which raises the question of why the fuck did the CAFC send the case back in the first place? To waste everyone’s time? To pad the wages of the very very expensive lawyers employed by Oracle and Google? To waste Judge Alsup’s time?

      • Oracle v. Google Again: The Unicorn of a Fair Use Jury Reversal

        It’s been about two years, so I guess it was about time to write about Oracle v. Google. The trigger this time: in a blockbuster opinion (and I never use that term), the Federal Circuit has overturned a jury verdict finding that Google’s use of 37 API headers was fair use and instead said that said reuse could not be fair use as a matter of law. I won’t describe the ruling in full detail – Jason Rantanen does a good job of it at Patently-O.

        Instead, I’ll discuss my thoughts on the opinion and some ramifications. Let’s start with this one: people who know me (and who read this blog) know that my knee jerk reaction is usually that the opinion is not nearly as far-reaching and worrisome as they think. So, it may surprise a few people when I say that this opinion may well be as worrisome and far-reaching as they think.

        And I say that without commenting on the merits; right or wrong, this opinion will have real repercussions. The upshot is: no more compatible compiler/interpreters/APIs. If you create an API language, then nobody else can make a competing one, because to do so would necessarily entail copying the same structure of the input commands and parameters in your specification. If you make a language, you own the language. That’s what Oracle argued for, and it won. No Quattro Pro interpreting old Lotus 1-2-3 macros, no competitive C compilers, no debugger emulators for operating systems, and potentially no competitive audio/visual playback software. This is, in short, a big deal.

      • Federal Circuit sends Oracle v. Google back for third trial

        The Federal Circuit has ruled for a second time in Oracle v. Google, the software copyright lawsuit over Google’s Android platform. The new decision reverses the district court yet again and sends the case back for a third trial to determine damages for Oracle. In the last trial, Oracle sought almost $9 billion in damages.

        The litigation has been dragging on for about eight years now, bouncing up and down through appeals and two whole jury trials. [...]

      • “Google’s use of the Java API packages was not fair,” appeals court rules

        On Tuesday, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in favor of Oracle, finding that Google may owe billions in damages. Nearly 7.5 years after the original lawsuit was filed, the case will now be sent back down to federal court in San Francisco to figure out how much Google should pay.

        “Google’s use of the Java API packages was not fair,” the court ruled Tuesday.

      • Federal Circuit revives Oracle v Google

        The Federal Circuit has overturned the jury verdict of fair use in Oracle v Google and remanded the case to a federal judge in the Ninth Circuit for a third trial to determine damages

      • Java-aaaargh! Google faces $9bn copyright bill after Oracle scores ‘fair use’ court appeal win

        The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington DC has revived Oracle’s bid to bill Google for billions over its use of copyrighted Java APIs in its Android mobile operating system.

        On Tuesday, the appeals court reversed a 2016 jury finding of fair use that deemed Google’s actions acceptable, and sent the case back to federal court in California to determine damages, which Oracle in 2016 said should amount to about $8.8bn.

        Figures cited in the court ruling suggest Google has generated $42bn in advertising from Android, which is made available to consumers for free, with contractual requirements for handset makers.

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