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04.10.18

Links 10/4/2018: Slackware 13.x EOL, DragonFly BSD 5.2, Qt 5.11 Beta 3

Posted in News Roundup at 10:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Linux computer maker to move manufacturing to the U.S.

      Linux computer manufacturer System76 made its mark in part because of its commitment to open source principles and doing what it believes is right. Last year it released its homegrown Linux, Pop!_OS. In early March, System76 founder Carl Richell tweeted about the company’s plans to locate its computer manufacturing factory in Denver, Colorado. By moving its manufacturing from China to the United States, System76 is offering more proof that it’s not afraid to buck prevailing tech norms to do things “the System76 way.”

    • Death of a Thinkpad x120e laptop

      My laptop named “angela” is (was?) a Thinkpad x120e (ThinkWiki). It’s a netbook model (although they branded it a Ultraportable), which meant back then that it was a small, wide, slim laptop with less power, but cheaper. It did its job: I carried it through meetings and conferences all over the world for 7 years now. I also used it as a workstation for a short time in 2016-2017 when marcos stopped being a workstation and turned solely into a home cinema.

    • HP Unveils the Chromebook x2 as World’s First Detachable Chromebook

      HP unveiled on Monday the HP Chromebook x2 as world’s first detachable Chromebook device, a 2-in-1 computer powered by Google’s Linux-based Chrome OS operating system.

      With the HP Chromebook x2, the company known for manufacturing business laptops and other computer-related devices attempts to expand its Chromebook portfolio to meet the growing demand for these versatile, powerful, and secure computers driven by Google’s Chrome OS and supporting Android apps.

      “The HP Chromebook x2 hits a trifecta for customers, combining the productivity of the Chrome OS and power of the world’s most-used app platform into a versatile form factor ideal for experiencing all the Google ecosystem has to offer,” said Kevin Frost, Vice President and General Manager, Consumer Personal Systems at HP.

  • Server

    • Microservices Explained

      Microservices is not a new term. Like containers, the concept been around for a while, but it’s become a buzzword recently as many companies embark on their cloud native journey. But, what exactly does the term microservices mean? Who should care about it? In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the microservices architecture.

    • DevOps success: Why continuous is a key word

      Today’s consumers want bigger and better technologies, tools and features, and they want them now. For most dev teams, long gone are the days of having weeks – or even months – to develop, test and update their software and applications. Today, in the age of DevOps and faster release cycles, processes throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC) must occur in tandem, with features continuously being revised and optimized –without compromising on quality or user experience.

  • Kernel Space

    • KVM Updates For Linux 4.17 Bring VirtIO GPU Prep For S390, AMD Improvements

      The latest feature pull request for the Linux 4.17 kernel are the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) virtualization updates.

      On the KVM x86 front for Linux 4.17 are some AMD improvements including pause loop exiting and AMD Core Perf Extensions support. Also in the x86 space is support for VMware magic I/O port and pseudo PMCs, synchronous register access, exposing nVMX capabilities to user-space, support for Hyper-V signaling via EventFD, and other optimizations and nested virtualization improvements.

    • x86 Chinese CPU Manufacturer Zhaoxin Has Been Working On Linux Support

      Today’s hardware monitoring subsystem updates sent into the Linux 4.17 kernel merge window were a bit peculiar with “new Centaur CPUs” now being supported for reading the CPU core temperatures.

      Centaur Technology is the company VIA acquired back in 1999 to get into the x86 CPU game and the subsequent Nano, C3, and C7 CPUs that followed. But we haven’t heard much of new VIA/Centaur x86 CPUs in years unless talking about the Zhaoxin company that was formed a few years ago between VIA and the Shanghai government for creating x86 CPUs for the Chinese market and as outlined in that article have been trying to become more competitive with their CPUs.

    • Linux 4.17 Change To Allow RTCs To Live Beyond Their Intended Life

      The “real-time clock” (RTC) changes usually aren’t too notable to the Linux kernel merge windows, but for the in-development Linux 4.17 kernel to prolong their life for decades to come, at least as far as the clock is concerned.

      There still is the Year 2038 problem being dealt with across different parts of the Linux kernel as the most pressing and time sensitive Linux “Y2K”-like problem currently being tackled, but real-time clocks are also going to rollover at some point, assuming the hardware lasts that long. Kernel developers auditing the RTC drivers discovered that one RTC expired already in 2017, seven more drivers will expire before Year 2038, another 23 drivers will expire before Year 2069, 72 RTC drivers will expire by Year 2100, and 104 drivers will expire by Year 2106.

    • ZFS on Linux data loss sparks small, swift upgrade

      Maintainers of ZFS on Linux have hustled out a new version after the previous release caused data loss.

      ZFS on Linux 0.7.7 only landed on March 21st, but as this GitHub thread titled “Unlistable and disappearing files”, users experienced “Data loss when copying a directory with large-ish number of files.”

      The bug meant that attempts copies produced errors that claimed the filesystem was full and resulted in files just not arriving at their intended destinations.

      Users verified the problem under a few Linuxes and quickly debated whether to roll back or wait for relief.

    • ZFS On Linux 0.7.8 Released To Deal With Possible Data Loss

      If you have been using ZOL 0.7.7 that was released last month, you will want to upgrade right away to ZFS On Linux 0.7.8.

      ZFS On Linux 0.7.8 is now available as an emergency release to deal with a possible data loss issue. The past few days there has been a busy bug report about unlistable and disappearing files.

    • Unlistable and disappearing files
    • Linux Foundation

      • This Week in Numbers: Chinese Adoption of Kubernetes

        Chinese developers are, in general, less far along in their production deployment of containers and Kubernetes, according to our reading of data from a Mandarin-translated version of a Cloud Native Computing Foundation survey.

        For example, 44 percent of the Mandarin respondents were using Kubernetes to manage containers while the figure jumped to 77 percent amongst the English sample. They are also much more likely to deploy containers to Alibaba Cloud and OpenStack cloud providers, compared to the English survey respondents. The Mandarin respondents were also twice as likely to cite reliability as a challenge. A full write-up of these findings can be found in the post “China vs. the World: A Kubernetes and Container Perspective.”

      • OpenContrail SDN Moves to Linux Foundation as Tungsten Fabric
    • Graphics Stack

      • Vulkan CTS 1.1.1 Adds 26,272 New Test Cases

        The Vulkan CTS as the conformance test suite for ensuring drivers are properly and fully implementing the Vulkan graphics and compute API continues getting even more in-depth and attempts to cover as many corner-cases as possible.

      • AMD Posts VP9 VA-API Video Acceleration For Gallium3D

        Hitting the Mesa mailing list today from AMD developers are a set of twenty-two patches providing VP9 video acceleration support via the Gallium3D VA-API state tracker.

        Before getting too excited though, this VP9 GPU-based video acceleration is just for “VCN” hardware. The only “Video Core Next” hardware out at the moment are the Raven Ridge APUs. With the next big Radeon discrete GPU launch though it should be safe to assume it will be VCN-based and thus with VP9 video support.

      • Wayland 1.15 & Weston 4.0 Officially Released

        Today marks the long-awaited debut of Wayland 1.15 and the Weston 4.0 reference compositor.

      • Mir Wayland Cut/Copy/Paste Support Being Worked On

        When it comes to Mir acting as a Wayland compositor, feature support continues to be extended for making this a more viable offering for those looking to have full Wayland support.

      • NVIDIA dropping support for 32bit Linux this month, also dropping Fermi series support

        If you’re an NVIDIA user still on 32bit, you might want to think about finally updating as this month NVIDIA will be moving to only providing critical security updates for 32bit systems.

      • NIR Compile Times Are Being Lowered Thanks To Latest Mesa Patches

        The latest driver optimization work by Timothy Arceri on Valve’s Linux GPU driver team has been working on function inlining within NIR rather than within the GLSL IR optimizations. The net result is faster NIR compile times that benefit the Intel OpenGL driver and also help with RadeonSI Gallium3D.

        Arceri has been working to improve the compile times for NIR since right now with RadeonSI the compile times are slower than using the TGSI code-path. This latest patch series is a step in the right direction and it also happens to help the i965 NIR performance too.

      • Broadcom VC5 Driver Making Good Progress With Using AMDGPU’s DRM Scheduler

        Last month I wrote about Broadcom’s Eric Anholt exploring the use of AMDGPU’s DRM scheduler within the in-development Video Core V (VC5) DRM driver. That work has panned out and looks like it will eventually work out for this open-source Broadcom graphics driver.

        Eric Anholt has spent the past two weeks wiring up the AMDGPU DRM scheduler now known as DRM_SCHED to the driver, similar to Etnaviv also now using this scheduler code that provides a serial run queue to each client and also easier support for some new features.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Offline Vaults for an extra layer of protection

        I’m slowly returning to KDE development after a few months of being mostly in bugfix mode due to my other-life obligations (more on that later), so I decided to implement a new feature for my youngest project – the Plasma Vault.

        One of the possible attack vectors to your Plasma Vaults is that people could potentially have access to your computer while the vault is open.

        This is not a problem if we consider direct access because it is something that is easily controlled – you see everyone who approaches your computer, but the problem can be remote access.

      • [AtCore] April progress update

        It has been over a month since my last progress update. Here is what I’ve done.

      • KDE Connect desktop 1.3 released
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • KDE Connect 1.3 Gets An Extension For GNOME’s Nautilus

        KDE Connect is the nifty KDE project providing allowing communication between your Linux desktop computer and your Android smartphone/tablet via a secure communication protocol. KDE Connect 1.3 is now the latest feature release.

        KDE Connect already allows functionality like viewing/replying to messages from your desktop, sending browser links to your phone, and other data synchronization abilities. With GNOME not having any compelling alternative to KDE Connect, today’s v1.3 release adds in a Nautilus extension that allows users to send files to their phone from the GNOME file manager’s context menu.

      • Proposal to add an Action-Info Bar to Nautilus

        We are looking into adding an action & info bar to Nautilus. The background about this proposal can be read on the task where we put the main goals, prior art, different proposals and mockups, etc.

        We are not sure whether this is the appropriate solution and whether the implementation we propose is ideal. In order to be more confident, we would like to gather early feedback on the current proposal. Also, we are looking for ideas on how to improve the overall approach.

        The current proposal is being worked in a branch and can be installed via Flatpak clicking here (Note: You might need to install it the the CLI by executing `flatpak install nautilus-dev.flatpak` due to a bug in Software).

  • Distributions

    • Best Linux Distributions: Find One That’s Right for You

      The landscape of Linux is vast and varied. And, if you’re considering migrating to the open source platform or just thinking about trying a new distribution, you’ll find a world of possibilities.

      Luckily, Jack Wallen has reviewed many different Linux distributions over the years in order to make your life easier. Recently, he has compiled several lists of distributions to consider based on your starting point. If you’re brand-new to Linux, for example, check out his list of distributions that work right out of the box — no muss, no fuss.

      Jack also has lists of the best distros for developers, distros that won’t break the back of your old hardware, specialized distros for scientific and medical fields, and more. Check out Jack’s picks and see if one of these distributions is right for you.

    • Reviews

      • Antergos 18.3 Gnome – Regression celebration

        Antergos 18.3 is everything that 17.9 is not – in a bad way. My previous encounter with this distro was fairly good. There were issues, but they were not cardinal. This time around, we do gain some on the touchpad front, but everything else is a loss. Network support is bad, Nvidia didn’t install outright, we have a font discrepancy between the live session and the installed system, no iPhone support, Steam crashes, and the list goes on. Virtually, everything is worse than it was.

        Another thing that pops to mind – Manjaro seems to be holding well. Antergos 18.3 feels like it’s been cobbled hastily, with no QA, and the end result is jarring, frustrating and saddening. I mean why? Just a few months ago, I selected this distro as the winner of my best-of-2017 Gnome list, and it really was unique, fun and colorful. The new edition retains the aesthetic spin, but it’s more than negatively offset by hardware and software bugs and regressions. Unfortunately this time, I cannot recommend Antergos. 2/10. Hopefully, this is a one-time fluke, and it will go back to being a solid, refreshing alternative in the world painted Ubuntu. To be continued.

    • New Releases

      • Linspire 7.0 Service Pack 1 released

        Today we are delivering Linspire 7 SP1 for general release. With this release we have several fixes and changes that we have made to Linspire. With this release we have resolved many of the issues that users had with our first release. Linspire 7 is the only desktop distribution that is supported for 10 years on the desktop. Linspire is deployed by many companies, government agencies and education facilities for their productivity, design and development workstations.

    • Slackware Family

      • Slackware 13.x EOL in July

        Patrick has been supporting older Slackware releases for more than 7 years and it’s getting harder to push updates for those releases as their base libraries are too ancient. It will also keep his load high as it might take more time to inspect whether an update affected older releases and trying to build or patch packages to fix those issues.

        Well, in the next few months (exactly one day after USA independency day), the support for all Slackware 13.x (13.0, 13.1, and 13.37) will expires and support will only be given to Slackware 14.x and future releases.

    • Red Hat Family

      • 5 steps to building a cloud that meets your users’ needs [Ed: The obligatory cloudwashing by Red Hat staff]

        Before you can start asking users questions, you first must identify who the users of your new cloud will be. They will likely include developers who build applications on the cloud; the operations team who will operate, maintain, and likely build the cloud; and the security team who protects your organization. For the first iteration, scope down your users to a smaller group so you’re less overwhelmed by feedback. Ask each of your identified user groups to appoint two liaisons (a primary and a secondary) who will represent their team on this journey. This will also keep your first delivery small in both size and time.

      • Red Hat Shares ― Special Red Hat and open source anniversary edition
      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 Officially Launches

        After its public beta rounds the past few months, Red Hat today has announced Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 has reached general availability status.

        Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 integrates OpenSCAP with Red Hat Ansible Automation, ships with the Virtual Data Optimizer based upon their acquired Permabit technology, improves integration with Microsoft Windows based infrastructure, and also ships with full support for Buildah. Buildah is a way to build and deploy container images without having a full container run-time stack or daemon.

      • Red Hat Strengthens Hybrid Cloud’s Backbone with Latest Version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux
      • Indore: SVVV signs MoU with Red Hat Academy

        Red Hat is an open source, web deployed and managed education program that is designed to provide turnkey curriculum materials to academic institutions to start and sustain an open source and Linux curriculum program. SVVV is a state private university established with a vision to be a leader in shaping better future for mankind through quality education, training and research. Red Hat Academy turns academic institutions into centers for enterprise-ready talent by outfitting them with Red Hat training.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Interviews on the Fedora Infrastructure Hackathon 2018

          This week, the Fedora Infrastructure team is convening for a Hackathon from April 9-13 at Fredericksburg, VA. You can also attend/partake remotely in #fedora-admin from 09:30 UTC-5 daily. The hackathon is intended to help the team leap ahead for several critical Fedora and CentOS initiatives. We interviewed members of the Fedora Infrastructure team to ask what the goals for the hackathon are and why it is needed.

        • Fedora Scientific 28 Beta

          Fedora 28 beta was announced recently and I am happy to say Fedora Scientific is back.

        • phpMyAdmin version 4.8
        • Contribute at the Add-On Modularity and Kernel Test Days
        • PHPUnit 7.1
        • Top Badgers of 2017: Alberto Rodriguez Sanchez

          “Top Badgers” is a special series on the Community Blog. In this series, Luis Roca interviewed the top badge earners of 2017 in the Fedora Project. Not familiar with Fedora Badges? No worries, you can read more about them on the Badges website.

          This article features Alberto Rodriguez Sanchez (bt0dotninja), who clocked in at the #4 spot of badges earned in 2017, with 33 badges! As of the writing of this article, Alberto is the #117 all-time badge earner in Fedora.

    • Debian Family

      • A tale of three Debian build tools

        Many people have asked me about my Debian workflow. Which is funny, because it’s hard to believe that when you use three different build tools that you’re doing it right, but I have figured out a process that works for me. I use git-buildpackage (gbp), sbuild, and pbuilder, each for different purposes. Let me describe why and how I use each, and the possible downsides of each tool.

        Note: This blog post is aimed at people already familiar with Debian packaging, particularly using Vcs-Git. If you’d like to learn more about the basics of Debian packaging, I recommend you check out my Clojure Packaging Tutorial and my talk about packaging Leiningen.

      • My Free Software Activities in March 2018

        Welcome to gambaru.de. Here is my monthly report that covers what I have been doing for Debian. If you’re interested in Java, Games and LTS topics, this might be interesting for you.

      • Migrating PET features to distro-tracker

        After joining the Debian Perl Team some time ago, PET has helped me a lot to find work to do in the team context, and also helped the whole team in our workflow. For those who do not know what PET is: “a collection of scripts that gather information about your (or your group’s) packages. It allows you to see in a bird’s eye view the health of hundreds of packages, instantly realizing where work is needed.”. PET became an important project since about 20 Debian teams were using it, including Perl and Ruby teams in which I am more active.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • A Short Review to Ubuntu 18.04 Beta 2

            Ubuntu 18.04 LTS “Bionic Beaver” is planned to be released on this April 26, 2018. Here’s a short review to the beta 2 version (aka al beta): it has a new user interface compared to the previous 16.04 LTS, it needs ~1.2GiB of RAM at idle time, it brings latest LibreOffice and Firefox, and it still uses Ubiquity graphical installer. This review brings you the screenshots and information after I installed the daily ISO image on my Acer Aspire One laptop. It feels very smooth on 4GB of RAM and it’s very exciting for us to wait the final stable release!

          • Welcome To The (Ubuntu) Bionic Age: New WIP ubuntu theme as a snap

            Before the release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, I wanted to write a few words to update you since our first call for a theme crafted by the community.

          • Should Ubuntu Linux Replace Alpha/Beta Release Model With “Testing Weeks”?

            One of the biggest advantages of open source technology projects is that everybody from the community is free to float an idea and if it gains community support, it could be turned into reality. Along the similar lines, well-known Ubuntu developer Simon Quigley has suggested an idea that might change the Ubuntu Linux development process.

          • Canonical and CPLANE partner to simplify cloud management

            Recently announced, Canonical and CPLANE will now offer a distributed cloud orchestration and software-defined networking solution to simplify the complexity of managing distributed clouds.

            Canonical will deliver high-performance distributed cloud orchestration to its customers with CPLANE’s Multi-Site Manager (MSM). MSM delivers clouds that scale from a single server for highly-distributed edge clouds to support IoT and edge computing applications, to large data centers with thousands of servers for shared cloud services. Canonical will also provide fully-integrated cloud networking with CPLANE’s Dynamic Virtual Networks – Data Center (DVNd) product. DVNd quickly connects virtual resources within and across multiple clouds to provide secure, end-to-end network connectivity with quality of service.

          • You Can Now Install Ubuntu’s New Community Theme on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS as a Snap

            Ubuntu contributor Didier Roche announced today that Ubuntu 18.04 LTS early adopters can now install the Communitheme Ubuntu theme as a Snap package on their computers. You can install it right now by executing the “snap install communitheme” command in the Terminal app.

            The theme is available in multiple variants, for the GTK+ 2, GTK+ 3, and Qt frameworks, as well as for the GNOME Shell user interface in both the STABLE and EDGE Snap channels. While most users should install the Communitheme from the stable channel, bleeding-edgers can install it using the “snap install communitheme –edge” command.

          • LXD weekly status #42

            As this was the week following our major 3.0 release, we’ve been very actively working on early bug reports and sorting out packaging for this in the distros.

            This led to quite a number of bugfixes being done, issues investigated and a large number of updates to our snap and Debian packages for the various components.

            We expect to keep this focus on bugfixing for the next 2-3 weeks so that we can ensure we meet our usual quality expectations after a major release and offer a smooth upgrade to our users. We’re also doing some work refreshing our 2.0 stable branches in preparation for the last major bugfix release of the projects before they enter the much slower security-only phase of their support.

          • Design and Web team summary – 10 April 2018

            The MAAS squad have been hard at work fixing any teething problems, since the release of the latest Vanilla on MAAS. The main focus has been on the spacing and padding in tables, to stop columns from wrapping.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Are You Ready for Lubuntu Next 18.04?

              It’s still under development but it’s lightweight and looks promising. It has some problems but for those love testing, it’s very interesting new distro, a new Lubuntu derivative with new user interface and a unique set of applications. And finally, its memory usage is so low, almost similar to Lubuntu 18.04 beta 2 itself (which is only ~230MiB), so Lubuntu Next could be considered as a full-featured Lubuntu alternative within its lightweight league.

            • This Week in Lubuntu Development #2

              Here is the second issue of This Week in Lubuntu Development. You can read last week’s issue here.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Top 9 open source ERP systems to consider

    Businesses with more than a handful of employees have a lot to balance including pricing, product planning, accounting and finance, managing payroll, dealing with inventory, and more. Stitching together a set of disparate tools to handle those jobs is a quick, cheap, and dirty way to get things done.

    That approach isn’t scalable. It’s difficult to efficiently move data between the various pieces of such an ad-hoc system. As well, it can be difficult to maintain.

    Instead, most growing businesses turn to an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

  • The growing appeal towards open source

    Whilst full automation is on the horizon, tools available in the open source world have the potential to provide real benefit to both the DBA on the ground and the business as a whole. With an increasing number of projects set to contain huge amounts of open source, the remaining C-Suite stuck in proprietary software should waste no time in making the transition to the open source world to realize true business benefits.

  • Events

    • CHAOSSCon + GrimoireCon Europe 2018

      This year together with other Fedora folks we attended CHAOSSCon and GrimoireCon to meet the CHAOSS and GrimoireLab community and the tools used by several open source projects, communities, engineering teams to track and analyze their development activities, communities health, diversity, etc – same thing we want to do in Fedora.

    • John Perry Barlow RIP

      Back in 1994, before the Web as we know it took off, he understood the fundamental conflict we face between intellectual property [sic] and free speech…

    • Remembering John Perry Barlow

      I met John Perry Barlow only once in my life, during his PyCon US 2014 keynote. I remember trying my best to stay calm as I walked towards him to start a conversation. After some time, he went up on the stage and started speaking. Even though I spoke with him very briefly, I still felt like I knew him for a long time.

      This Saturday, April 7th, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Freedom of the Press Foundation organized the John Perry Barlow Symposium at the Internet Archive to celebrate the life and leadership of John Perry Barlow, or JPB as he was known to many of his friends and followers.

    • Software Security Is a Shared Responsibility

      Achieving effective security takes constant discipline and effort on everyone’s part – not just one team or group within a company. That was Mårten Mickos’s message in his keynote speech appropriately titled, “Security is Everyone’s Responsibility,” at The Linux Foundation’s recent Open Source Leadership Summit (OSLS).

      Mickos, CEO of HackerOne, which he described as a “hacker-powered security company,” told the audience that $100 billion has been spent on cybersecurity, yet, “Half of the money is wasted. We’ve been buying hardware and software and machines and walls and all kinds of stuff thinking that that technology and [those] products will make us secure. But that’s not true.”

      Even if you ply your network with hardware to create a perimeter around it, it won’t make your organization any more secure, Mickos said. The answer is much simpler, he maintained, and the magic bullet is sharing.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Improving DevTools’ performance, one iteration at a time

        Firefox Quantum, released last November, was a very important milestone for Firefox. Huge performance gains were achieved by replacing parts of the engine with bits of Servo, written in Rust. But the technology shift did not stop at that: the developer tools –the inspector, the console, etc.– are being re-programmed using modern web technologies: JavaScript and React.

        However, when the new developers tools were released with Firefox Quantum, some of you noticed that they were being slower and not as good as the old ones performance-wise. This was somewhat expected, as they were initial versions – and they have been getting better in the months following Quantum’s release.

        The DevTools team has made performance a priority, they are working on it, and we –the web developers– can now start to reap some results.

      • The Design of Firefox Reality

        For web designers and developers, the arrival of a new platform and a new web browser can be fraught with excitement but also with anxiety. There are new technical constraints, new interaction techniques, and the visual patterns worn smooth by decades of print and web design must be revisited with new eyes. This post summarizes the excitement and anxiety that we face while bringing Firefox Reality to stand-alone augmented and virtual reality headsets.

      • Rep of the Month – March 2018

        Please join us in congratulating Md Shahbaz Alam, our Rep of the Month for March 2018!

      • A Scandal, a Napkin and the Health of the Internet

        Today marks the launch of Mozilla’s first full edition of the Internet Health Report, an open source effort to explore the state of human life on the internet.

        As we put our final touches on the report, the United States scrambled to prepare for testimony by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, following revelations about user data obtained by Cambridge Analytica. The conversation: what should the Senate and Congress ask him?

        The list of questions is long. What do we do about the data of up to 87 million people floating around, unrecoverable? Can artificial intelligence help address suspicious behaviour around elections? What are Facebook’s responsibilities to users and the public? Unsurprisingly, it was also quite scattered. We do not yet have a collective mental map of how issues like these connect.

      • CLDR as source of key internationalization data in Firefox: milestones achieved and next steps
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • DragonFly BSD 5.2

      DragonFly version 5.2 brings Meltdown/Spectre mitigation, significant improvements to HAMMER2, ipfw, and graphics acceleration.

      The details of all commits between the 5.0 and 5.2 branches are available in the associated commit messages for 5.2.0rc and 5.2.0.

    • DragonFlyBSD 5.2 Now Available With HAMMER2 Improvements & Spectre Mitigation

      DragonFlyBSD 5.2 is now available as the latest installment of this popular BSD operating system.

    • Transparent network audio with mpd & sndiod
    • Some FreeBSD 11.1, 12.0-CURRENT & TrueOS 18.03 Benchmarks

      In addition to the overhauled/rewritten Windows support, the upcoming Phoronix Test Suite 8.0-Aremark is also featuring much better support for the BSDs. As part of that testing, here are some fresh benchmarks of FreeBSD and TrueOS.

      While running some fresh benchmarks this week, here are some test results using FreeBSD 11.1-RELEASE as it debuted last year, FreeBSD 11.1-STABLE with all current updates including for Spectre/Meltdown mitigation, FreeBSD 12.0-CURRENT as its current form of development and with Spectre/Meltdown mitigation and note that FreeBSD CURRENT ships with some debug bits enabled, and then the recently released TrueOS 18.03 that is derived from FreeBSD 12.0-CURRENT and also mitigated against Spectre/Meltdown.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Qt 5.11 Beta3 released

      Qt 5.11 beta3 is released today. As usual you can get it via online installer. Delta to beta2 as an attachment.

    • Qt 5.11 Beta 3 Released, RC1 Due Out Soon

      The third beta of the upcoming Qt 5.11 tool-kit release is now available and it shouldn’t be much longer before the release candidate is christened.

      There may be a furth and final beta release next week, but they hope to be able to still issue a release candidate in May followed by the official Qt 5.11.0 release at the end of May. Today’s third beta release clears out many bugs while still there are about one dozen bugs preventing the RC1 release. Those remaining bugs range from a QML byte code interpreter crash to the mouse area getting stuck in a pressed state on iOS.

    • Release of python-zstandard 0.9
    • Programming as natural ability, and the bandaid of long work hours

      It’s the other way around: your manager has failed you, and is compounding the failure by conveying a destructive mindset, what’s known as a fixed mindset. To understand what I’m talking about, let’s take a quick detour into the psychology of education, and then return to those long hours you’ve been working.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • With ‘Merger From Hell’ Reportedly Approved by DOJ, Warnings of Agrichemical Chokehold on Food System

      Watchdog groups sounded alarms on Monday after the Wall Street Journal reported that the proposed mega-merger of Bayer and Monsanto has cleared its final regulatory hurdle in the United States.

      The reported approval from the Justice Department came “after the companies pledged to sell off additional assets,” the Journal reported, and despite concerns raised by hundreds of food and farm groups. It also comes weeks after the European Commission gave its thumbs up.

      “The approval of the third supersized seed merger, after ChemChina-Syngenta and Dow-DuPont,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, “leaves farmers vulnerable to price gouging for seeds and other supplies and strengthens the hold a few dominant corporations have over the entire food system.”

    • Hospitals Are Leaving Rural America. Rural Americans Are Staying Put.

      Kendra Colburn spent a decade uninsured. During those years, she worked as a carpenter near her hometown in rural Vermont, earning just enough that she didn’t qualify for low-income health care, but not enough to afford health insurance on her own. While uninsured, she suffered two major work injuries that landed her in the emergency room—once, a nail shot through three of her fingers, and another time, a piece of wood kicked back on the table saw and sliced her arm. When she was unable to pay the emergency room costs, her credit took a hit for years.

      [...]

      This reality is echoed by rural journalist Sarah Smarsh. “In the past year, the Affordable Care Act, or ‘ObamaCare’, has changed many lives for the better—mine included,” she wrote in an essay for Aeon. “But its omission of dental coverage, a result of political compromise, is a dangerous, absurd compartmentalization of health care, as though teeth are apart from and less important than the rest of the body.”

    • Sacklers Who Disavow OxyContin May Have Benefited From It

      Much as the role of the addictive multibillion-dollar painkiller OxyContin in the opioid crisis has stirred controversy and rancor nationwide, so it has divided members of the wealthy and philanthropic Sackler family, some of whom own the company that makes the drug.

      In recent months, as protesters have begun pressuring the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and other cultural institutions to spurn donations from the Sacklers, one branch of the family has moved aggressively to distance itself from OxyContin and its manufacturer, Purdue Pharma. The widow and one daughter of Arthur Sackler, who owned a related Purdue company with his two brothers, maintain that none of his heirs have profited from sales of the drug. The daughter, Elizabeth Sackler, told The New York Times in January that Purdue Pharma’s involvement in the opioid epidemic was “morally abhorrent to me.”

  • Security

    • Top 5 Most Useful Kali Linux Tools for Ethical Hackers

      Kali Linux is one of the most loved distros by the ethical hacking and security community because of its pen-testing and exploit tools. It is a free, and open-source Linux-based operating system designed for digital forensics, penetration testing, reversing, and security auditing. Kali allows you to download a range of security-related programs such as Metasploit, Nmap, Armitage, Burp, and much more that can be used to test your network for security loops. It can run natively when installing on a computer’s hard disk, can be booted from a live CD or live USB, or it can run on a virtual machine. Kali Linux has a lot of tools available to learn and practice.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Important critical Etherpad release – 1.6.4

      Today we released Etherpad 1.6.4.

    • Important Etherpad release

      Several security vulnerabilities were found in Etherpad and version 1.6.4 has been released with fixes.

    • Linux: Beep Command Can Be Used to Probe for the Presence of Sensitive Files

      A vulnerability in the “beep” package that comes pre-installed with Debian and Ubuntu distros allows an attacker to probe for the presence of files on a computer, even those owned by root users, which are supposed to be secret and inaccesible.

      The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2018-0492, has been fixed in recent versions of Debian and Ubuntu (Debian-based OS).

    • Rise of the Tomb Raider Coming to Linux This Month, phpMyAdmin New Release, Canonical’s Kernel Update for RPi 2 and More

      Canonical released a “major Linux kernel update for Raspberry Pi 2″ that addresses various security vulnerabilities. Among other things, 21 security vulnerabilities were fixed for linux-raspi2, “including a race condition that could lead to a use-after-free vulnerability in Linux kernel’s ALSA PCM subsystem, and a use-after-free vulnerability in the network namespaces implementation.” Update now if you haven’t already. (Source: Softpedia News.)

    • Exclusive: CA Technologies Is Buying a Startup to Bolster App Security [Ed: SourceClear is an anti-FOSS FUD front. Now CA owns it.
    • CA Technologies Acquires SourceClear, Advancing SCA Capabilities for a DevSecOps World
    • Obscure E-Mail Vulnerability

      I think the problem is more subtle. It’s an example of two systems without a security vulnerability coming together to create a security vulnerability. As we connect more systems directly to each other, we’re going to see a lot more of these. And like this Google/Netflix interaction, it’s going to be hard to figure out who to blame and who — if anyone — has the responsibility of fixing it.

    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #154
    • A Long-Awaited IoT Crisis Is Here, and Many Devices Aren’t Ready

      ou know by now that Internet of Things devices like your router are often vulnerable to attack, the industry-wide lack of investment in security leaving the door open to a host of abuses. Worse still, known weaknesses and flaws can hang around for years after their initial discovery. Even decades. And Monday, the content and web services firm Akamai published new findings that it has observed attackers actively exploiting a flaw in devices like routers and video game consoles that was originally exposed in 2006.

    • Feral Interactive Releases GameMode, YouTube Music Videos Hacked, Oregon Passes Net Neutrality Law and More

      YouTube was hacked this morning, and many popular music videos were defaced, including the video for the hit song Despacito, as well as videos by Shakira, Selena Gomez, Drake and Taylor Swift. According to the BBC story, “A Twitter account that apparently belongs to one of the hackers posted: ‘It’s just for fun, I just use [the] script ‘youtube-change-title-video’ and I write ‘hacked’.”

    • Despacito YouTube music video hacked plus other Vevo clips

      YouTube’s music video for the hit song Despacito, which has had over five billion views, has been hacked.

      More than a dozen other artists, including Shakira, Selena Gomez, Drake and Taylor Swift are also affected. The original clips had been posted by Vevo.

      [...]

      Cyber-security expert Prof Alan Woodward, from Surrey University, said it was unlikely that the hacker was able to gain access so easily.

    • YouTube Hacked? Most Watched Video “Despacito” And Other Clips Deleted (And Restored)

      Just five days ago, Luis Fonsi’s viral Despacito music video earned the title of world’s most watched video on YouTube with more than 5 billion views. Apparently, YouTube hackers managed to delete the video, along with other Vevo clips.

      However, as per the latest development, the deleted videos have been restored on the website. Earlier, after the hack, Despacito video showed a thumbnail with masked people holding guns. After clicking the video, it said: “This video is unavailable.”

    • Mythology about security…

      Government export controls crippled Internet security and the design of Internet protocols from the very beginning: we continue to pay the price to this day. Getting security right is really, really hard, and current efforts towards “back doors”, or other access is misguided. We haven’t even recovered from the previous rounds of government regulations, which has caused excessive complexity in an already difficult problem and many serious security problems. Let us not repeat this mistake…

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Snipers Shooting Unarmed People at 100 Meters Isn’t a ‘Clash’

      It’s predictable, then, that in coverage of Israel’s recent mass shootings in Gaza—which have killed over 30 Palestinians and injured more than 1,100—the word “clashes” is used to euphemize snipers in fortified positions firing on unarmed protesters 100 meters away…

    • The Rush to War

      I have never ruled out the possibility that Russia is responsible for the attack in Salisbury, amongst other possibilities. But I do rule out the possibility that Assad is dropping chemical weapons in Ghouta. In this extraordinary war, where Saudi-funded jihadist head choppers have Israeli air support and US and UK military “advisers”, every time the Syrian army is about to take complete control of a major jihadist enclave, at the last moment when victory is in their grasp, the Syrian Army allegedly attacks children with chemical weapons, for no military reason at all. We have been fed this narrative again and again and again.

      [...]

      I fear that the massive orchestration of Russophobia over the last two years is intended to prepare public opinion for a wider military conflict centred on the Middle East, but likely to spread, and that we are approaching that endgame. The dislocation of the political and media class from the general population is such, that the levers for people of goodwill to prevent this are, as with Iraq, extremely few as politicians quake in the face of media jingoism. These feel like extremely dangerous times.

    • On Bolton’s First Day on the Job, a Look Back at Some of His Angry Outbursts

      John Bolton has a glaring record of extreme and bombastic views and behavior. First-hand recollections of that record include, for example, former State Department officer Greg Thielmann’s description of Bolton’s performance as one of the most enthusiastic promoters of the Iraq War.

      The following passage from my 2011 book Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy describes how, even compared to other proponents of that disastrous expedition, Bolton was exceptionally heavy-handed in trying to crush opposing viewpoints and distort intelligence. While reading it, think about how one of the most important functions of the job of national security adviser, to which Bolton has been appointed, is to ensure that the president receives all relevant options and insights and the best possible information before making policy decisions.

      The most egregious recent instances of arm twisting arose in George W. Bush’s administration but did not involve Iraq. The twister was Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, who pressured intelligence officers to endorse his views of other rogue states, especially Syria and Cuba.

    • Why Vietnam Still Matters: Saigon’s and Frank Snepp’s “Decent Interval”

      The night before leaving Saigon, I went out on the town. Well, not so much bar-hopping but on a night bicycle ride through the wild city streets, which even after midnight are a pulsing scrum of taxis, motorbikes, cars, and trucks

      Rather than ride on my own, however, I went with my bicycle-riding friend Mark Gibson. Together we hired a guide, who arrived from a local shop with the mandate to navigate us around the city. He gave his name only as the letter V and said that during the day he either worked in a bicycle shop or lead tourists on tours outside the city, often to the Cat Tien National Park, northeast of Saigon. He rode a mountain bike that was easy to track through the downtown, including some of the roundabouts that mix eight lanes of crazy traffic.

      By day, Saigon has the sooty feel of a new Asian city prone to gridlock; the weather is hot and humid, and the cars, not to mention the motorbikes on the sidewalks, make it hard to go anywhere, except maybe in a taxi. But at night Saigon turns on its neon lights, which converts the nervous energy of the streets into something more elegant. We cruised past some of the glittering five-star hotels and many cafés and restaurants, although always with both eyes fixed sharply on the traffic spinning through the next intersection.

      [...]

      That night back in my hotel room, having survived the Saigon traffic, I watched on YouTube a rebroadcast of William Buckley’s Firing Line(from 1981), in which his guests were the former CIA top official Cord Meyer Jr. and Snepp. Lurking in the wings of the program, as an “interrogator,” was the McCarthyite lawyer, Roy Cohn, who has since been remembered as a mentor and lawyer to the aspiring and on-the-make hotelier Donald Trump.

      Buckley, Meyer, and Cohn were on air as if CIA Vestal Virgins, there to remind viewers that Snepp had shamed himself and the agency, for failing to have his book vetted. (Snepp reminded ex-CIA man Buckley (aka Blackford Oakes) that he also should have had his books and articles vetted. Buckley’s response was a dismissive Latin citation, “de minimus.”I was a little surprised that he did not break into a Gregorian Chant.)

      By the 1980s, however, Cohn was spending less time chasing subversives out from under Washington beds and more billable hours for Donald Trump, drafting up things such a prenuptial agreements, which might have amounted to full-time work.

      On the TV program, Cohn went after the Senate investigations of the Church Committee, as if it had attacked all that was sacred about the CIA and the American way of life. In his raspy Bronx accent, one can hear the antecedents of Trump’s paranoid style of American politics.

      All three members of the panel seemed to take pleasure in what Buckley called Snepp’s “impoverishment” at the hands of the courts and the CIA. None was remotely interested in discussing the terms on which the U.S. departed from the rooftops of Saigon. At least for this episode of Firing Line, the American imperium had held off a challenger. Too bad it was not as lucky in Vietnam.

    • Tomgram: Alfred McCoy, A New Age of Sea Power?

      The rise and fall of empires has long been a story at the heart of history. Since the Europeans first burst out of their then-marginal region on wooden sailing ships mounted with cannons in the fifteenth century, the planet seldom has had a moment in which several imperial powers weren’t competing for supremacy. In 1945, that number was reduced to two and then, for what the Washington elite briefly imagined would be forever, to one. Now, as historian Alfred McCoy, author of In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, describes in his vivid way today, we seem to be returning to an updated imperial version of the naval contests that began modern history so many centuries ago. The Americans, the Chinese, and in a more modest way the Russians are all bolstering their forces on the high seas in increasingly challenging ways.

    • Chaos reigns: John Bolton is now at Trump’s right hand. What fresh hell awaits us?

      For those of us who have been closely following politics for the past couple of decades, the following words are undoubtedly ones we never expected to read: Today is John Bolton’s first day as national security adviser to the president of the United States. After observing his years of extremist rhetoric and his checkered career in government, it seemed unimaginable that Bolton would ever attain such an important job. But then, it was once unimaginable that a reality TV host and shill for cheap consumer goods could become president either. Perhaps it’s time to recognize that we are so far down the rabbit hole that comparing this administration to what we previously called reality isn’t particularly relevant.

    • Letter: War hawk took over NSA

      John Bolton will become the new head of the National Security Agency in April. He is a war hawk. I returned today from an “Everything You Treasure” exhibit at the Schaumburg Public Library and this is what I learned:

      The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs has a budget of $10 million. The nuclear weapons program budgets, core and total, for the following countries are: USA – $35 billion (core) and $70 billion (total), Russia – $8 billion (core) and $16 billion (total), and adding the rest of the countries’ budgets brings the totals to $68 billion (core) and $112 billion (total).

      The USA has 8,000 nuclear warheads, Russia has 10,000, China has 340, France has 300, the U.K. has 225, Israel has 80; India has between 80 and 100, Pakistan has between 90 and 110 and it is unknown how many nuclear warheads North Korea has.

    • Yulia Skripal to seek political asylum: RIA citing cousin

      Yulia Skripal, who was poisoned along with her father, ex-spy Sergei Skripal, in Britain, is to seek political asylum, Russia’s RIA news agency reported on Monday, citing a relative.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • On the Silencing of Julian Assange

      This latest attack on Assange, this shut down of crucial communication devices, obviously challenges Wikileaks publishing activities and undermines the crucial work of this incredibly important global news and publishing service.

      Meanwhile, the US and UK governments continue their drumbeat demonization of Assange, who has become part of their Russiagate frenzy towards a new Cold War and maybe World War III. Indeed, the US and UK continue to threaten him. In the US, some senators and the current CIA director [Mike Pompeo], about to become Secretary of State, want to see Assange tried for treason and put to a public death. They threaten to arrest Assange in violation of two UN rulings and their own laws, as soon as he walks out of the embassy.

      Change.org said in a statement they released, as a part of a petition in support of Assange, “It is with great concern that we learned that Julian Assange has lost access to the internet and the right to receive visitors at the Ecuadorian London Embassy. Only extraordinary pressure from the US and the Spanish governments can explain why Ecuador’s authorities should have taken such appalling steps in isolating Julian. We demand that Julian Assange’s isolation ends NOW!”

    • Julian Assange and injustice

      In my estimation, this is an accurate, albeit succinct, statement of the differences between these two individuals. Assange, you may recall, provoked the ire of the governments of the most powerful countries in the world by revealing their behind-the-scenes shenanigans, which contradicted the information routinely made available to the public. And he did NOT SELL the information; he released it freely, as part of the ‘commons’ that we are entitled to when our governments take us for fools. And Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook and one of the richest individuals in the world, SELLS Facebook users’ information (like product preferences) to corporations, and was recently unmasked as having been in cahoots with the firm, Cambridge Analytica, supplying approximately 87 million users’ data to the latter Trump-affiliated company, possibly with a view to influencing the American presidential election.

      [...]

      Such tactics are well-known, of course; together with a strategically orchestrated character assassination it is aimed at subverting Assange’s credibility to the point where, even if he should be apprehended by one of the governments that wants his blood, it would not even matter any longer because no one would believe him anyway. One can only hope that Ecuador – a small country which deserves credit for having offered him diplomatic protection in the first place six years ago – will find renewed resolve to protect Assange against the powers that want him annihilated. These same countries have the nerve to claim that Assange is a fugitive from justice, when in fact he has exposed their flagrant flouting of justice, with which they get away only because of the power they wield internationally.

      The worrying thing seems to be that most people fall for this classic shifting of blame by the true perpetrators of injustice to those who have the guts to expose their double-dealing, instead of giving him all the support he can get, as fashion designer Vivienne Westwood has done (see https://www.rt.com/uk/422682-westwood-assange-hero-brilliant/ ). The main philosophical point I want to make here, however, concerns something raised by Žižek in the article referenced above.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Indonesia: 5 Dead After Massive Oil Spill Off Island of Borneo

      In Indonesia, the port city of Balikpapan has declared a state of emergency, after a massive oil spill spread along the coast of the island of Borneo, killing five people and contaminating an area larger than the city of Paris. The Indonesian oil and gas company Pertamina has admitted the oil spill began after one of its underseas pipes burst.

    • Plastic Waste Kills Six-Ton Whale

      In the annals of human history, modern day society is already setting records never before dreamed possible, as human-trashed plastic officially kills a six-ton six-year-old sperm whale. Yes, and it only took a total of 64 pounds of plastic to do the nasty deed.

      An autopsy of the dead whale found on a beach in southern Spain brought to light the cause of death, which according to experts at El Valle Wildlife Rescue Centre concluded the whale was unable to digest or excrete plastic it ingested. The official cause of death is termed peritonitis, which is an infection of the inner lining of the stomach.

      Additionally, according to Consuelo Rosauro, director-general for natural environment of the region, this is not a “one-off” situation. He informed The Telegraph (April 6, 2018) that many animals die from the horrid “Plastic Sudden-Death Epidemic.”

    • Auto Alliance Pushed Climate Denial to Get Trump Admin to Abandon Obama Fuel Efficiency Standards

      The Trump administration officially announced Monday that it will scrap fuel economy and emissions targets for cars and light-duty trucks sold in the United States and set new weaker standards, effectively undermining one of the federal government’s most effective policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

      As the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times anticipated late last week, the two agencies responsible for auto standards — the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — both claimed that their internal reviews have found the Obama-era standards to be too strict, and that the agencies would go back to the drawing board to revise standards for model years 2022-2025.

      The weaker standards, expected to be revealed in coming months and reported to be well below the current targets of 54.5 miles per gallon (or roughly 35 miles per gallon in real-world driving conditions), will be celebrated as a victory for the automakers, which have been lobbying the Trump administration since the day after the presidential election and which used a major trade group to peddle climate science denial in support of the rollback.

  • Finance

    • New York State’s Big Middle Finger to the Republican Tax Plan

      Last month New York State gave a big middle finger to Donald Trump and the Republican Congress. It included measures in its budget bill that will allow people in the state to get around the new tax law’s limit on the deductibility of state and local taxes. This could save the state’s ability to maintain and extend its level of public services.

      A provision in the Republican tax overhaul bill limits the amount of state and local taxes (SALT) that could be deducted from federal income tax to $10,000. In a relatively high-tax state like New York, many families have state and local taxes that far exceed this amount. The capping of the SALT deduction is a Republican effort at the federal level to deny states the revenue they would need to maintain and extend current levels of public services. This is why the workarounds designed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration are a big deal.

      While the people who will be affected by this cap are mostly higher-income families, its impact would be felt statewide. New York has a relatively progressive income tax, with the highest income families facing an 8.2 percent income tax rate.

    • What is the scope of the Brexit mandate? And when will it be discharged?

      There are many Remainers who dispute that there is any “mandate” for Brexit.

      The referendum was advisory, they contend, and in any case there was only a small majority. They will also point to (denied) allegations of serious irregularities about the Leave campaign. And, including the non-voters, the majority of the population did not vote for Brexit.

      They perhaps do have a point, but that is not the point of this post.

      This post accepts there was indeed a mandate.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Bots May Be Behind Two-Thirds of Links Shared on Twitter, a New Study Finds

      As many as two-thirds of the tweeted links to the Internet’s most popular websites were shared by bots, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center. The study was limited to 1.2 million tweets from English language users sharing links to 2,315 websites.

    • Largest Black Lives Matter page on Facebook was a scam: report

      The largest pro-Black Lives Matter page on Facebook was actually a scam tied to a white man in Australia, CNN reported on Monday.

      The page had accrued 700,000 Facebook followers — almost double the amount of the official Black Lives Matter Facebook page — and is linked to several online fundraisers which garnered $100,000 in donations, according to CNN. At least some of the money was reportedly transferred to Australian bank accounts.

    • The biggest Black Lives Matter page on Facebook is fake

      The discovery raises new questions about the integrity of Facebook’s platform and the content hosted there. In the run-up to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress this week, Facebook has announced plans to make the people running large pages verify their identity and location. But it’s not clear that the change would affect this page: Facebook has not said what information about page owners it will disclose to the public — and, presented with CNN’s findings, Facebook initially said the page didn’t violate its “Community Standards.”

    • Sessions Turned to Convicted Fundraiser for Advice on U.S. Attorneys

      In November 2016, just after the election, President-elect Donald Trump announced Jeff Sessions as his pick for attorney general. His confirmation was still a couple of months away, but the Republican senator from Alabama went quickly to work helping to shape the Justice Department he would soon inherit.

      One task was to line up U.S. attorney nominees to potentially replace Obama administration holdovers leading offices across the country. It is a common bit of work for a new administration, and recommendations for posts as federal prosecutors typically come from senators of every state, as well as former Department of Justice officials.

      In at least one instance, however, Sessions wound up turning to a more unorthodox source for recommendations — Elliott Broidy. Broidy, a longtime Republican donor, was not a lawyer, and thus had no experience as a prosecutor. Moreover, Broidy had been convicted in 2009 for his role in a major New York state public corruption and bribery case.

    • Acting on Referral from Mueller, FBI Raids Office and Home of Trump’s Personal Lawyer Michael Cohen

      Federal agents on Monday afternoon raided the offices of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen—raising suspicions that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has uncovered information about Cohen’s legal dealings on behalf of the president, including a payment to an adult film actress.

      Cohen said in February that he personally paid Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, $130,000—just days before the election—in order to keep her silent about a sexual relationship she says she had with the president in 2006.

      Acting on a referral from Mueller, who has been investigating the Trump campaign with a focus on Russia’s meddling in the election, federal prosecutors obtained a search warrant for Cohen’s office. The U.S. Attorney’s office then ordered the FBI to seize emails between Trump and Cohen, tax records, and other business documents, according to the New York Times.

      In addition to Cohen’s law offices, the agents also raided his residence at the Loews Regency hotel in New York, apparently spending several hours on the premises, according to Vanity Fair.

    • Betsy DeVos Wants to Roll Back Critical Guidance on School Discipline

      Once again, Betsy DeVos is attempting to rescind Obama-era guidance on education issues. This time, she’s proposing a rollback of guidelines developed to reduce racialized discipline disparities in schools.

      Black and brown children — especially if they are disabled — are disproportionately subjected to discipline in schools.

      And critics argue that this reality feeds the school-to-prison pipeline – sometimes very directly. Schools may refer students to law enforcement for discipline, and some may keep armed officers on campus as “security.” When kids are targeted for suspension and expulsion at higher rates, the disadvantage often spills over into adulthood.

    • Sinclair Broadcasting Airs Allied Progress Ad – Between Attacks on the Group

      Sinclair Broadcast Group has agreed to air a commercial from a progressive watchdog that’s critical of the broadcaster’s actions.

      But Allied Progress called foul Sunday.

      Sinclair began running the 30-second spot with a 15-second defense of Sinclair, followed by the Allied Progress 30-second ad, and then another 15-second of Sinclair’s voiceover: “The misleading ad you just saw focused on a brief promotional message that simply said we’re a source for truthful news. It ignored thousands of hours of local news we produce each year to keep you informed. The ad was purchased by a group known for its liberal bias, and we hope you won’t buy into the hysteria and hype.”

      The unusual move comes one week after Sinclair Broadcast Group, the nation’s largest television owner, faced mounting scrutiny for its mandatory scripted segments echoing President Trump’s talking point sand pending mega-merger with Tribune Media.

    • The EU is tolerating—and enabling—authoritarian kleptocracy in Hungary

      How Viktor Orban campaigns against the EU from Monday to Friday, and collects its subsidies at weekends

    • Scandal clouds darken for Japan’s Abe ahead of Trump summit

      A cronyism scandal embroiling the Japanese prime minister deepened on Tuesday ahead of a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump with a memo media said suggested an ex-aide had helped win approval for a friend of the premier to set up a veterinary school.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Popular Torrent Site Loses Domain After Copyright Complaint

      The domain name of Yggtorrent, one of the largest French torrent communities, has been put on hold after a complaint sent on behalf of anti-piracy outfit SACEM. While this effectively took out the site and its tracker, Yggtorrent made a swift comeback on a new domain, which they registered with Peter Sunde’s Njalla.

    • Backpage founders charged with money laundering and aiding prostitution

      Law enforcement agencies seized Backpage’s servers last week, and co-founder Michael Lacey was charged in a sealed 93-count indictment, which has now been revealed. Lacey, as well as his co-founder James Larkin, were already charged with violating California money laundering laws, although a judge threw out state-level pimping charges.

    • Top officials at Backpage.com indicted after classifieds site taken offline

      Seven top officials of the website Backpage.com, long accused of facilitating child sex trafficking, have been arrested after a grand jury in Phoenix issued a 93-count indictment alleging conspiracy, facilitating prostitution and money laundering.

    • Backpage execs indicted on federal prostitution, money laundering charges
    • “Erotic Review” blocks US Internet users to prepare for government crackdown

      The Erotic Review explained in an FAQ why it blocked US-based users even before SESTA takes effect. (The bill is also known as the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, or FOSTA.)

    • Amazon customers take to social media after mysterious account closures [Updated]

      Upon contacting Amazon, customers have been given different explanations as to why their accounts have been deactivated. Some claim customer service representatives couldn’t give them a clear answer, while others were told they had violated Amazon’s terms of service without being told exactly how they had done so.

    • China urged to free anti-censorship activist Zhen Jianghua

      The Chinese government should immediately and unconditionally release human rights activist Zhen Jianghua, who has been held incommunicado since September 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. On March 30, 2018, Chinese police formally arrested Zhen on charges of inciting subversion, but continue to deny Zhen access to legal counsel and family members, citing “national security” concerns.

      Zhen, 32, is the executive director of the Human Rights Campaign in China, or Quanli Yundong (权利运动), an online platform that publishes information related to detentions of activists, police abuses, and other human rights violations. Zhen is also the founder of ATGFW.org, a website that provides information and services to help people scale China’s Great Firewall to access the uncensored global internet.

    • Ingraham returns to work, complains about censorship

      Fox News Channel’s Laura Ingraham returned to work with defiance Monday, denouncing a “Stalinist” effort by liberals to stifle the free speech of conservatives and promising to make fighting it her new cause.

    • Court Says Kentucky Governor Free To Block Critics Using Official Social Media Accounts

      A federal judge in Kentucky has just handed down a disappointing decision granting the state’s governor the right to continue blocking as many constituents as he wants on Twitter and Facebook. The suit was brought by two blocked constituents who argued the governor’s blocking of their accounts amounted to a violation of their First Amendment rights. It goes without saying the blocked accounts were critical of Governor Matt Bevin. Rather than recognize the harm done by an official government account that only removes criticism, the court likens the blocks to throwing away hate mail or hanging up on aggrieved constituents.

    • The New York Times Tries Something Novel: Listening To And Interacting With Readers

      For years the whine-du-jour in online media circles has been about the poor old news comment section. Time and time again we’ve been told that in the modern era, the news comment section is an untamable and unredeemable beast: a troll-factory hellscape that is simply too hostile and dangerous to be manageable. So instead of trying to fix the problem, outlets have prevented users from commenting at all. Usually these announcements arrive with some disingenuous prattle about how the outlet in question really “values conversation” and was just trying to “build a stronger community” by muzzling on-site discourse.

      The real reason killing the news comment section is so popular is less glamorous. Most websites simply are too lazy or cheap to try and explore solutions, since “quality discourse” isn’t something site bean counters can clearly monetize. Many other editors simply don’t like having an area where plebeians can so clearly and obviously outline errors made during reporting. Many of these editors believe we can and should return the bi-directional internet back to the “letter to the editor era,” when publishers got to choose which member of the public was heard.

      So while “who cares about on site community” becomes the trend, the New York Times is trying something particularly blasphemous in 2018: actually interacting with their readership. Several columnists have taken to the website’s still-operating comment section as part of what columnist Frank Bruni says is part of a newfound effort at the paper to actually talk with readers from “time to time”:

    • Toutiao Removed From Chinese Smartphone App Stores Amid Tighter Media Censorship

      Four Chinese news apps, including personalized news recommendation app Toutiao and its rival Tiantian Kuaibao, owned by Tencent, have been removed from Chinese smartphone app stores, as China’s government strengthens online censorship.

      Regulator ordered the apps to be removed by 3p.m. Monday, and suspended Toutiao for three weeks, Phoenix News for two weeks, NetEase for one week, and Tiantian Kuaibao for three days, according to local media.

      The four apps cannot be found on app stores currently.

    • Why Is YouTube Censoring Content Critical of Israel?

      In 2017, the ADL announced that it had become a “Trusted Flagger” of “online hate” by YouTube. The same year, the group declared that same year that it had established “a state-of-the-art command center in Silicon Valley to combat the growing threat posed by hate online.” According to the ADL’s press release, the seed funding for its war room was provided by Pierre Omidyar, the tech billionaire whose fortune also funds The Intercept and a variety of US soft power initiatives.

      The ADL has defined Palestine solidarity activism as a form of bigotry, or what it has branded, the “new anti-Semitism.” So it is fair to assume this organization is exploiting its unprecedented latitude to suppress social media content that challenges pro-Israel imperatives under cover of battling the threat of “hate online.”

    • Five Questions Congress Should Ask Mark Zuckerberg About Online Censorship

      With Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg set to appear before House and Senate committees this week in the wake of intense congressional concerns over data privacy, Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, president & CEO of National Religious Broadcasters, is urging committee members to press Zuckerberg also on the growing problem of online censorship at Facebook and other Big Tech platforms.

      “I welcome these hearings and congratulate Mr. Zuckerberg for being willing to speak to representatives of the American people,” Johnson said. “I would respectfully suggest that, in the interest of protecting our republic’s foundational freedoms, Members of Congress should discuss with Mr. Zuckerberg instances of apparent targeted censorship of Christian and conservative viewpoints on his ubiquitous platform and those of other tech giants.”

    • NRB Seeks Censorship Answers from Zuckerberg

      As the Hill prepares to grill Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at a pair of hearings this week, the National Religious Broadcasters want them to press him on what NRB says is a growing problem on censorship of Christian and conservative viewpoints by Big Tech, including Facebook.

    • Facebook reconsiders ‘unsafe for community’ tag on pro-Trump Diamond and Silk videos after Fox & Friends appearance
    • Diamond & Silk Face ‘Censorship & Discrimination’ by Facebook: Their Reply to Zuckerberg Is Perfect
    • Facebook Deplatforms Diamond and Silk Because They’re ‘Unsafe to the Community’
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Survey: 89% of Android users didn’t give Facebook consent

      In a survey of 1,300 Android users, 89% percent said that they did not give Facebook consent to scrape their call and text history. Facebook has been allegedly scraping phone records since 2015.

    • Did you give Facebook consent to collect your call and text history? 89% of Android users say ‘No.’

      We surveyed over 1,300 Android users, asking if they granted Facebook permission to collect their call and text history. Overall, 89% answered ‘NO’ and 11% answered ‘YES.’

    • How To Check If Your Facebook Data Was Leaked To Cambridge Analytica?

      Facebook has taken upon itself to notify all the 87 million victims of Cambridge Analytica Scandal, whose data may have been leaked by creating a link at the top of their News Feed.

    • Mark Zuckerberg’s Wednesday congressional hearing testimony is now online
    • What We Want To Learn From Zuckerberg’s Congressional Testimonies This Week

      It’s past time for Facebook to come clean about how it is handling user data. After the latest Cambridge Analytica news broke the dam on over a decade of Facebook privacy concerns, Mark Zuckerberg is heading to to Washington, D.C. this week for two days of Congressional testimony. On Tuesday, he’ll appear before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees, and on Wednesday the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

      The last thing we need from Zuckerberg at these hearings is more apologies. What we want is information and accountability, and not just in connection with discrete scandals like Cambridge Analytica. Congress should be asking Facebook for a detailed account of what data Facebook has shared with third parties, what it has done to prevent misuse of that data, what it told users about how it would handle their information, and what steps it will take in the future to respect users’ privacy rights.

      And because this is about more than just Facebook, Congress should also be asking whether Facebook will serve as an industry leader by publicly embracing key privacy-protective principles.

      A company ethos of connection and growth at all costs cannot co-exist with users’ privacy rights.

      Beyond nailing down down the details of specific cases like the Cambridge Analytica mess and the revelation of paid Russian propaganda on the social media giant’s platform, we hope lawmakers will also keep in mind the larger tension at the core of each one of Facebook’s privacy missteps and scandals: A company ethos of connection and growth at all costs cannot co-exist with users’ privacy rights. Facebook operates by collecting, storing, and making it easy for third parties to use unprecedented amounts of user data. Until that changes, the privacy and integrity concerns that spurred these hearings are here to stay.

    • Facebook Derangement Syndrome: The Company Has Problems, But Must We Read The Worst Into Absolutely Everything?

      Since the whole Facebook/Cambridge Analytica thing broke, we’ve been pointing out that there are many, many valid concerns about things Facebook has done, but people seem to be freaking out about things it didn’t actually do and that’s bad, because freaking out about the wrong things will make things worse, not better. Indeed, that seems to be the direction things are heading in.

      One thing I’ve noticed in having this discussion a few times now both online and off is that there’s appears to be a bit of Facebook derangement syndrome going on. It seems to go something like this: Facebook did some bad things concerning our privacy, and therefore every single possible thing that Facebook does or Mark Zuckerberg says must have some evil intent. This is silly. Not only is it obviously wrong, but (more importantly) it makes it that much more difficult to have a serious discussion on the actual mistakes of Facebook and Zuckerberg, and to find ways to move forward productively.

      I’ll give one example of this in practice, because it’s been bugging me. Back in January, in the podcast we had with Nabiha Syed about free speech and the internet, where the question of platform moderation came up, I brought up an idea I’ve discussed a few times before. Noting that one of the real problems with platform moderation is the complete lack of transparency and/or due process, I wondered whether or not there could be an independent judicial-type system that could be set up to determine whether or not an account truly violated a site’s policies. As I noted in the podcast, there could clearly be some problems with this (our own judicial system is costly and inefficient), but I still think there may be something worth exploring there. After all, one reason why so many people get upset about internet companies making these kinds of decisions is that they don’t know why they’re being made, and there’s no real way to appeal. An open judicial system of sorts could solve at least some of those problems, bringing both transparency and due process to the issue.

    • Sandberg: Facebook ‘Proactively’ Censoring ‘Fake News’ – ‘We Should Have Done This Earlier’
    • Congress Should Grill Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s Monopoly, Not Privacy

      But the real problem (well, another major problem) is that so much of what we do on the [I]nternet today revolves around Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, and the services that rely on Facebook as a login mechanism. Simply put: Zuckerberg shouldn’t be put in the position of “taking responsibility” for widespread interference in America’s elections, because one single company shouldn’t be so damn powerful.

    • The Congressjerks who will grill Zuckerberg this week are a rogue’s gallery of Facebook donation recipients

      But who are these brave warriors for the truth? They are the massive beneficiaries of Facebook’s lobbying largesse, who owe their campaign funding to Mark Zuckerberg and his army of influence peddlers. As a body, nine members of the House Commerce committee have received more Facebook money than any other committee in Congress.

    • Congress finally gets Mark Zuckerberg at the witness table. Don’t spare him or Facebook.

      Congress does little enough legislatively that it should not be deficient in investigative vigor. The power to probe lies at the very heart of Congress’ responsibilities. The leaders of the committees have waited long enough for Mark Zuckerberg to consent to testify, and it would be a squandered opportunity if they did not pursue their inquest aggressively.

    • ‘Social media has poisoned us’: young Britons on why they are unhappy
    • Facebook Admits To Scanning & Censoring Contents Sent Through Messenger, Photos And Links

      At this point, it seems clear that Facebook has a pathological habit of violating its users’ privacy rights even in contexts when it clearly shouldn’t and has not been given permission to do so. In the latest addition to Facebook’s rising pile of fiascos, the social network recently admitted that it scans photos and links that are sent through its Messenger service. What’s more, it seems censorship is also involved.

    • Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Announces He’s Over Facebook
    • Tech giants Facebook and YouTube thwarted in bid to secure slice of TV ad market
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Losing humanities in education is propelling a deficit of empathy

      This move away from the humanities could not come at a worse time. In an America where understanding the point of view of others and learning from our historical successes — and failures — is at a low point, the world is desperately in need of need a more humane perspective.

    • The Supreme Court Gives Police a Green Light to ‘Shoot First and Think Later’

      The Supreme Court has turned qualified immunity for police into an absolute shield against accountability.

      The Supreme Court just ruled that a police officer could not be sued for gunning down Amy Hughes. This has vast implications for law enforcement accountability. The details of the case are as damning as the decision. Hughes was not suspected of a crime. She was simply standing still, holding a kitchen knife at her side. The officer gave no warning that he was going to shoot her if she did not comply with his commands. Moments later, the officer shot her four times.

      “Shoot first and think later,” according to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, is what the officer did.

      As Sotomayor argued in dissent, the court’s decision means that such “palpably unreason­able conduct will go unpunished.” According to seven of the nine Justices, Hughes’ Fourth Amendment right to not be shot four times in this situation is less protected than the officer’s interest in escaping accountability for his brazen abuse of authority. According to Justice Sotomayor, “If this account of [the officer’s] conduct sounds unreasonable, that is because it was. And yet, the Court [] insulates that conduct from liability under the doctrine of qualified immunity.”

      Worse yet, this decision wasn’t a surprise. And it certainly isn’t an aberration.

    • FBI Is Using Classified Tools For Regular Investigations And That’s Going To End Up Hurting Everyone

      A recent Inspector General’s report laid bare the FBI’s real motivations in the San Bernardino shooting case. It didn’t want a technical solution. It wanted judicial precedent. While the DOJ presented its claims that no tech breakthrough was forthcoming, the FBI’s left and right hands were operating independently. Technically, this means Comey and the DOJ did not lie when they told a federal judge and Congress (respectively) that an All Writs Act order was the only solution.

      But dig deeper into the report, and you’ll find information much more damning than some truth-fudging. One division of the FBI, which had been explicitly asked to search for a way to hack into the locked iPhone, only made a half-assed effort to do so, in hopes of slow-walking the FBI into favorable precedent. The FBI’s cryptographic unit (CEAU) was supposed to keep looking for a solution, but it didn’t. It asked some cursory questions and then sat back to watch the courtroom drama.

      Another area of the agency — one supposedly limited to national security investigations — did manage to find a solution via a third party. The Remote Operations Unit had this vendor drop everything else and work on an iPhone crack to help the CEAU out. Unfortunately for the helpful ROU official, the CEAU head didn’t really want a solution and was irritated when one was found.

      The reason the CEAU and ROU weren’t speaking to each other directly was related to the ROU chief’s belief its tools were not meant to be used in standard criminal investigations. The CEAU, however, felt it could use national security tools possessed by the ROU whenever necessary, even when the investigations had nothing to do with the agency’s national security work.

    • TigerSwan Employee Applied for Security License in Louisiana Without Disclosing Ties — After Firm’s Attempt Was Denied

      The private security firm TigerSwan, known for its controversial military-style tactics against Dakota Access pipeline protesters, is appealing the decision to deny its application for a license to operate in the state of Louisiana, where Energy Transfer Partners is building the Bayou Bridge pipeline. In November, several environmental groups opposed to the Bayou Bridge pipeline attempted to intervene in this case, saying their members were particularly vulnerable to TigerSwan’s security and surveillance practices should it be allowed to operate in support of that oil pipeline, but today the Louisiana State Board of Private Security Examiners denied this request.

      However, during this process, it came to light that the state board denied another security license application from a TigerSwan employee who failed to disclose her employment with the firm after TigerSwan’s application was rejected.

      The board’s deposition of this employee, obtained via a public records request, was included in the request to intervene in TigerSwan’s case by 350 New Orleans, Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Gulf Restoration Network, L’eau Est la Vie (“Water Is Life”) Camp, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association-West.

    • From Stephon Clark to Voter Suppression, the Attack on Black America Intensifies

      President Trump has stripped Obama’s mild federal oversight of police and left Black people even more exposed to severe state violence. At the same time, Republicans have enacted voter ID laws, purged rolls and shut polling places. Renewed governmental enthusiasm for mass incarceration and voter suppression has created a vortex in which Black citizenship, already second tier, is further ground down.

    • The Washington Post’s ‘Breakthrough’ on the MLK Murder

      For the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder, The Washington Post last week overcame its tainted history of softball coverage and published a hard-hitting account quoting the King family’s disbelief in the guilt of convicted killer James Earl Ray.

      The bold, top-of-the-front-page treatment on April 2 of reporter Tom Jackman’s in-depth piece —“The Past Rediscovered: Who killed Martin Luther King Jr.?” — represents a major turning point in the treatment of the case for the past five decades by mainstream media. Print, broadcast and all too many film makers and academics have consistently soft-pedaled ballistic, eye-witness and other evidence that undermines the official story of King’s death.

      This time, the Post and Jackman, an experienced reporter, undertook bold but long overdue initiative. One can only hope that it leads to similar coverage — rigorous and fair — for other history-changing events, including current ones that are inherently secret.

    • Azerbaijan’s digital crackdown requires a political solution

      Framing Azerbaijan’s online campaign to harass journalists and activists as a “technical” problem only distracts from the politics behind it.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • CenturyLink Tries To Dodge Broadband Billing Lawsuit By Claiming It Technically Has No Subscribers

      Broadband ISP CenturyLink has been on the receiving end of an ocean of lawsuits accusing the company of billing fraud after a whistleblower (who says they were fire for bringing it up to management) revealed systemic efforts to routinely overbill users and sign them up for services they never asked for. And while CenturyLink tried to claim an investigation of itself found no wrongdoing (shocking!), State AGs like Minnesota’s Lori Swanson say in their complaints (pdf) that they’ve found plenty of evidence proving that billing fraud was a routine occurance at the broadband provider.

      Most of these lawsuits have since been combined into one class action suit. And CenturyLink has since developed a fairly creative attempt to dodge legal liability for its misdeeds: by claiming it doesn’t technically have any customers. Technically CenturyLink has 5.66 million broadband subscribers as of last year, but a new brief filed by the company tries to argue it’s not culpable because “CenturyLink” is technically just a holding company that manages 10 subsidiaries around the country…

    • Broadband Industry Aims To Use Facebook Fracas To Saddle Silicon Valley With Crappy New Laws

      For years now, the nation’s broadband industry has clung to one, consistent message: anti-competitive giants like Comcast are innocent, ultra-innovative daisies, and Silicon Valley companies are a terrible, terrible menace. From Ajit Pai’s bizarre attacks on Netflix to an endless wave of ISP-payrolled consultants falsely accusing Google of stealing bandwidth, major ISPs have long made it clear they see Silicon Valley not as a collaborator, but as a mortal enemy. Given ISPs routinely try to use their last-mile monopolies to harm disruptive new services with arbitrary barriers and higher, extortion-esque costs, the feeling is generally mutual.

      As companies like Comcast NBC Universal and AT&T (and soon Time Warner) grow and push into the internet ad industry, the ISP lobbying message has been consistent: more regulation for Silicon Valley, and virtually no regulation for the broadband industry. Given many of these ISPs are growing natural monopolies, the rules governing them have been (and should be) notably different, and sometimes stronger. After all, however bad Facebook is, you can choose not to use them, whereas if you’re like more than half of America, Comcast is your only option if you’re looking for real broadband.

      Needless to say, the entire (justified) Facebook and Cambridge Analytica fracas has give ISP lobbyists a wonderful new opportunity to push for bad legislation they’ll likely be writing. Former FCC boss turned top cable lobbyist Mike Powell has been beating the “regulate Silicon Valley” drumbeat for several weeks now, blaming rising social media “mindshare” for all manner of evils. And I’ve noticed the arrival of several new astroturf groups calling for regulation of Facebook and Google that are tied to co-opted “minority” organizations with a history of helping AT&T covertly lobby.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Beijing will scrutinise deals that transfer Chinese IP rights overseas on national security grounds

      China’s government will soon introduce a formal process for reviewing the transfer of domestically-developed IP rights overseas. Thus far, the regulations raise more questions than answers. While they may not threaten routine cross-border patent assignment deals, the trade tensions of which they are (intentionally or not) a part continue to affect tech deals in China.

    • What UK patent fee increases mean for filers

      The UKIPO made changes to its fee structure last week by increasing application, search, examination and life-end renewal fees and introducing an excess claims and page charge scheme.

    • Copyrights

      • RIAA Gets To Move Forward In Case That Tries To Force ISPs To Help Copyright Trolls

        Back in February, we wrote about the details of the appeals court ruling in BMG v. Cox, a case that looked at whether or not internet access providers are required to terminate users accused of repeat infringement. The case was really a proxy for copyright trolling operation Rightscorp, which floods ISPs with claims of infringement tied to “settlement” offers that it wants the ISPs to pass on to end users. As discovery during the Cox case revealed, Rightscorp engages in incredibly sketchy practices to pressure people into paying up (such as telling them that they need to take their computers to the local police station for a search to prove they’re not infringing).

        However, due to a bunch of weird details in that case — including a judge who made it clear he didn’t think the internet was such a big deal — Cox lost that case, and then again on appeal. The good thing in the appeal, however, was that the opinion mostly limited its decision to the specific facts in Cox’s case, which included the fact that it had a “repeat infringer policy” but it didn’t follow its own policy. That’s really what sunk Cox. The court noted that an ISP should have wide latitude in designing its own repeat infringer policy, it just had to then follow its own policy. And Cox didn’t.

        While that case was going on, a second similar case was filed, this time by Universal Music Group against Grande Communications. Back in February, the magistrate judge on that case made recommendations to allow the case to move forward, though throwing out some of the claims. As TorrentFreak recently pointed out, the Title III judge in the case has accepted the recommendations of the magistrate, which you can see here.

      • Roku Bans Popular Social IPTV Linking Service cCloud TV

        In what appears to be an ongoing purge, Roku has now banned the popular cCloud TV service from its platform. cCloud makes available many thousands of streaming IPTV links on a number of platforms, from web browsers to Kodi, from Xbox One to Apple TV. Until recently the service was also available on Roku but like USTVNow before it, cCloud TV is now unavailable on the device.

EPO in ‘Low Profile’ Mode, Only to be Mentioned in Relation to India’s Oil Drilling/Miners

Posted in Asia, Europe, Patents at 5:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Profile low

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) decides to grant a patent to Oil India Limited (OIL) and the Indian media goes insane

THE famous rejection of software patents in India is exactly the opposite of what has been happening at the EPO, more so under Battistelli. We quite like and very much appreciate India’s attitude towards patents; the country takes nothing for granted and actually assesses the impact of particular patent “families” on the general population. India is a software powerhouse and programmers reject software patents with almost no exception (none that we’re aware of).

Karry Lai, based in Hong Kong, said yesterday that “[a]fter the retirement of Hon’ble Justice K N Basha on May 13 2016, India’s Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) was almost non-functional for 19 months.”

“India is a software powerhouse and programmers reject software patents with almost no exception (none that we’re aware of).”We covered this before. IPAB is only vaguely similar to PTAB in the US and BoA in Europe. It’s a similar acronym, but they aren’t quite the same.

What was most curious, however, was yesterday’s news in India. Even the English-speaking sites alone. Millions (or about a million per year) of patents get granted. Need there be a “news” article about each of these? Why did the Millennium Post decide to write a whole article about one? “Authorities at European Patent Office (EPO) have communicated their decision to grant patent to Oil India Limited (OIL) for an invention titled “A method for preventing wax deposition in oil wells with packers”,” it says. EnergyInfraPost said the same and so did mainstream business press in India. To quote:

Oil India has been granted patent by the European Patent Office for an invention titled ‘A method for preventing wax deposition in oil wells with packers.’

Securing this first-ever patent grant signifies a major milestone for OIL and especially its Research& Development (R&D) Unit, which actively develops innovative solutions to oilfield exploration and production problems and has filed few other patent applications in recent years.

Equity Bulls wrote about this too:

Authorities at European Patent Office (EPO) have communicated their decision to grant patent to Oil India Limited (OIL) for an invention titled “A method for preventing wax deposition in oil wells with packers”. Securing this first-ever patent grant signifies a major milestone for OIL and especially its Research& Development (R&D) Unit, which actively develops innovative solutions to oilfield exploration and production problems and has filed few other patent applications in recent years.

Why are there so many articles about one single patent? Why did mainstream media find that so newsworthy? Maybe a PR campaign?

This is not a software patent, but we find all this hype curious and noteworthy. This actually dominated EPO news this week; there’s not much else except this blog post from Miquel Montañá, who spoke of the “problem and solution approach” of the EPO:

In one of the saga of cases that involved Societé des Produits Nestlé and companies that are trying to market capsules compatible with Nescafé’s Dolce Gusto system, the defendant alleged, among other arguments, that some of the patents asserted were null due to a lack of inventive step. The case was handled by Commercial Court number 5 of Barcelona which, following a long-standing Spanish tradition, decided to examine inventive activity following the “problem and solution approach” traditionally applied by the European Patent Office (“EPO”). Although Spanish Courts have highlighted in several cases that following this method is of course not compulsory, they find some comfort relying on a conceptual framework that allows them to make a more principled assessment of the technical arguments asserted by the parties.

Patent courts in Barcelona, as we noted yesterday, have already embraced patent maximalism, just like the EPO under Battistelli.

Microsoft’s Extortion Racket Against GNU/Linux Carries on, Both Directly and Indirectly (via Patent Trolls)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 4:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Trolls' harbour

Summary: An outline of Microsoft’s patent activities and the activities of its satellites, which pass around patents and sue Microsoft’s rivals through obscure trolls (set up solely for the purpose of these lawsuits)

THE world’s biggest troll feeder is Microsoft, which not only feeds (in the investment sense) Intellectual Ventures, the world’s largest patent troll that in turn feeds (with patents) Dominion Harbor. Dominion Harbor is suing a lot of companies through subsidiaries. Microsoft also fed (in the investment sense) Finjan, one of the most vocal patent trolls, which is also publicly traded (they had a meeting with shareholders a week ago, discussing their blackmail plans). This post will cover all these trolls and their feeders, assuring readers that Microsoft “loves Linux” as much as the Greek like Turks.

“When the thugs from Microsoft’s ‘IP’ subsidiary accuse an OEM of patent infringement they throw hundreds of patents at them in order to ensure they cannot challenge them all individually (or it would be vastly more expensive than just settling). This is racketeering.”Yesterday we saw this Apple patents propaganda site saying that “Microsoft Wins a Patent for a Possible Surface Branded Folding Smartphone with Sophisticated Camera System & more” (more gimmicks).

Putting aside the fact that there’s prior art all over this, what would be the purpose given that Microsoft barely sells anything in this space? When the thugs from Microsoft’s ‘IP’ subsidiary accuse an OEM of patent infringement they throw hundreds of patents at them in order to ensure they cannot challenge them all individually (or it would be vastly more expensive than just settling). This is racketeering. It’s also a deterrence against legal challenges to dubious patents.

Here’s what the latest patent is about:

Supply chain rumors had circulated back in December 2016 (one and two) that there were 3 to 5 tech companies working on smartphones that were foldable. The names of Apple, Google and Microsoft kept popping up. Samsung has the largest number of patents on foldable, bendable and scrollable smartphones on record to date with Apple having a number of foldable and bendable patents on record as well. One of Apple’s patent figures from a folding smartphone patent is presented below.

With patents like these, Microsoft can go after Apple, Google and Samsung (no cross-licensing) and demand a ‘share’ of revenue from GNU/Linux devices. Microsoft not only can do it; this is exactly what Microsoft already does. This is why Microsoft is stockpiling patents.

“Yes, Microsoft is still pursuing software patents.”“Microsoft beats [US]PTO rejections for their patent application,” one patent maximalist wrote yesterday, “but PTAB adds gratuitous invitation to Examiner to issue a NEW 101 rejection in footnote: “the Examiner may wish to review the claims for compliance under 35 U.S.C. § 101 in light of Alice”…”

Yes, Microsoft is still pursuing software patents. It also lobbies for them. Another new example says that “Thomson Reuters beats PTO on 6 different counts, but still cant get patent because of, course, bizarro application of eligibility of 101 rules…”

“Bear all this in mind whenever Microsoft claims that it has changed.”Nothing bizarre (or “bizarro”) about it. But the patent maximalist is connected to trolls and is looking for a quick buck. The main troll this “bizarro” patent maximalist is connected to is Dominion Harbor, which is connected to Microsoft through Intellectual Ventures. In fact, Intellectual Ventures recently passed yet another bundle of patents to Dominion Harbor.

Robert Jain from Unified Patents wrote just less than 24 hours ago about progress they make disarming this very malicious patent troll (hiding behind “Blue Sky Networks” as a proxy). To quote Jain:

On April 9, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) instituted trial on all challenged claims in an IPR filed by Unified against U.S. Patent 8,265,691 owned and asserted by Blue Sky Networks, LLC, a Dominion Harbor subsidiary and well-known NPE. The ’691 patent, directed to enhanced wireless handsets operating in a direct handset-to-handset communication mode, was asserted in multiple litigations against such companies as Toyota, Best Buy, MediaTek, Lenovo, BLU, Huawei, and Roche Diabetes Care.

Also about 24 hours ago we saw Carbon Black, which has been subjected to lawsuits from another Microsoft troll, choosing to give up, based on a press release issued by the troll [1, 2]. Yes, Microsoft’s patent troll Finjan has just successfully blackmailed another competitor (to Microsoft) using shoddy software patents and endless bullying.

Bear all this in mind whenever Microsoft claims that it has changed.

IAM Churning Out Support for the Software Patents and HEVC Lobby

Posted in Asia, Patents at 3:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pushing software patents even in Korea

KAISTSummary: The proponents of software patents (for personal financial reasons) carry on promoting HEVC, which is neither necessary nor beneficial; in fact, patents that it is built upon are software patents, which are almost entirely invalid (upon legal challenge)

THERE’S an abundance of free codecs these days. Multimedia can be properly encoded and compressed using Free (as in freedom as well as price) software. Ogg, VP8/9 and various other options exist with similar ones for real-time streaming. But there are those who want to pocket billions of dollars by pushing to the public — typically through the World Wide Web — patent-encumbered and nonfree formats/standards. This isn’t a new problem, but it still needs tackling.

As we noted the other day, IAM’s latest issue (magazine) contained HEVC boosting. see HEVC articles in Techrights (old and more recent) for background on this; it’s pretty nasty a substitute if not sequel for the MPEG thicket (enforced by a patent troll). Richard Lloyd, the software patents pusher, was flagrantly pushing HEVC yesterday. To quote:

As IAM has covered over the last few years, patent pools appear to be gaining in popularity, in part because the tough licensing environment has encouraged patent owners in particular to seek out ways to make the dealmaking process much more efficient. In the last couple of years we have seen the emergence of two new platforms – Avanci and Velos Media – focused on mobile technology in auto and the Internet of Things and video compression respectively, while others such as Via Licensing have overhauled their approach to emerging markets such as China.

[...]

However in contrast to MPEG-2 where the MPEG-LA administered pool was the only show in town, HEVC is the focus of three competing pools — one from MPEG-LA, HEVC Advance and Velos. Like Avanci, Velos doesn’t pitch itself as a pool but it has many of the same characteristics.

The important thing to note here is that one does not need HEVC. There are arguably better alternatives that are also free. But given the sponsors of IAM and the general tone/agenda of the site, it’s not hard to see why it did another HEVC piece on the same day (yesterday). It’s about KAIST, which has become a patent parasite that leverages software patents (that Korea’s KIPO does not permit) to tax everyone. From the blog post in question:

A recent announcement by the HEVC Advance patent pool names the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) as one of a handful of new members from that country. The news comes just a few months after the top national polytechnic launched its most ambitious assertion effort to date against Apple.

KAIST’s move to a new pool appears to be part of the latest shift in the fraught ongoing effort to create a patent pool to license patents related to the H.265 video compression standard. Other Korean entities including the Korean Aerospace University, the Korean Broadcast System…

That is a very good reason to avoid both HEVC and KAIST (divestment). Meanwhile, yesterday as well, Robert Jain from Unified Patents wrote about a patent troll called Realtime Adaptive Streaming, which uses streaming/compression patents (i.e. software patents) to sue just about everyone. As it turns out, PTAB may soon invalidate the patent in question:

On April 7, 2018, Unified filed a petition for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 8,934,535 owned and asserted by Realtime Adaptive Streaming, LLC, a Realtime Data affiliate and well-known NPE. The ’535 patent, directed to a selecting an asymmetric compressor algorithm for compressing data, storing the compressed data, and decompressing the data, has been asserted in multiple cases against such companies as Samsung, Adobe, Apple, Netflix, Sony, Polycom, Cisco, Hulu, Echostar, Amazon, Sling TV and others.

This is just one patent among many. There are many more that need to be voided to liberate multimedia. The same is true for other fields/domains. All software patents should, in general, be voided. That may take time however…

Yesterday we saw Abhishek Sharma (not a patent lawyer or anything like that, which is typically the case when someone writes about patents) writing a whole article about the “AI”-type patents, i.e. software patents that are forbidden and not patent-eligible, not even if one rides hype waves like “ML” (I did “ML” 15 years ago, it’s nothing new). From his article:

Machine Learning (ML) is one of the hot topics in the technological space and everyday there are better improvements that come up in this field. The number of algorithms and techniques in ML are progressively increasing with researchers and engineers working hard towards its implementation and benefits.

This leads to the question of patenting in ML. Be it a person, a team or an organisation who discover a process, the aspect of filing a patent is sometimes cumbersome and, on top of that encompasses legal and ethical perspectives as well. One wrong step in either of the two, and it may land up in trouble. Although, the number of patents in ML are observing a rise among technology companies, the challenges in filing patents cannot be overlooked. This calls for ML patents to be a topic of debate with critics arguing and providing varied reasons on both the good as well as bad sides of it.

[...]

Conclusion:

In light of the above instances, it can be seen that ML inventions and their patent-filing attract considerable attention from respective governments citing legal and ethical issues. Experts suggest that the inventions focus more on real value and address actual problems instead of just getting patents. Therefore, a lot of thought is to be put before anyone working on ML stumbles across a new idea or algorithm.

Well, algorithms need never be patented; it would be ridiculous to even attempt this in most places (except perhaps in China) and those who promote such patents should be questioned for their motivations; many of those are just patent lawyers or sites fronting for them, e.g. IAM.

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