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05.01.18

Links 1/5/2018: Fedora 28 Released, Kali Linux 2018.2 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Microsoft Defends Putting A Computer Recycler In Jail With Misleading Statement

      Last week, we wrote a post on the appeals court ruling upholding the 15 month prison sentence for Eric Lundgren. Lundgren gave an interesting interview with the Verge explaining his position on all of this, while Microsoft — feeling the heat from multiple stories criticizing its role in the prosecution — put out a somewhat scathing blog post from VP Frank Shaw insisting everyone has this wrong, and presenting an argument that Lundgren was a low down dirty pirate who is pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes.

      [...]

      Microsoft (and some of its… rather vocal supporters…) argue that this is all proof that Lundgren is full of shit and just a common criminal pirate. But, again, this is confusing things. In our original post, we talked about the difference between the copyright, the software, the license, and the disc. And the distinctions matter a lot. A few years ago, we noted that copyright system supporters have spent decades blurring the lines between “the copyright” and “the content.” This plays out in all sorts of funny ways, including whether or not selling a piece of content is considered a sale or a license. As we’ve pointed out in the past, copyright proponents use a sort of Schrodinger’s Download setup, whereby they call it a sale or a license (and deny it’s the other) depending on which benefits them more.

      In this case, the situation is fairly similar. The fact that Lundgren was hoping to profit from selling convenience to refurbishing/repair shops does not, automatically, mean he broke the law. But many people seem to think that the profit motive alone proves the copyright infringement. But… used book stores are for-profit entities selling copyright-protected materials all the time (without a license from copyright holder), and no one is locking them up as criminals. That’s not to say that Lundgren did the same thing as a used bookstore dealer, but merely to point out that the profit-motive alone does not prove infringement.

    • Former Judge Accuses IP Court of Using ‘Pirate’ Microsoft Software

      A law firm has filed a complaint with the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Intellectual Property Rights Court in Russia with an extraordinary claim. According to its client, who is a former assistant judge, the IP-focused court has been running Microsoft software for years without an appropriate license.

    • Linux Mistakes Newbies Make

      If you are new to the world of Linux, it is important to learn from the mistakes that others have made before you so that you can avoid making them yourself. After all, while some mistakes can simply be annoying, others can be costly. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the common Linux newbie mistakes to avoid.

    • Tagged window manager views

      I find myself talking about these pretty frequently, and it seems many people have never actually heard about them, so a blog post seems appropriate.

      Window managers traditionally present (for “advanced” users) “virtual” desktops and/or “multiple” desktops. Different window managers will have slightly different implementations and terminology, but typically I think of virtual desktops as being an MxN matrix of screen-sized desktops, and multiple desktops as being some number of disjoint MxN matrices. (In some cases there are only multiple 1×1 desktops) If you’re a MacOS user, I believe you’re limited to a linear array (say, 5 desktops), but even tvtwm back in the early 90s did matrices. In the late 90s Enlightenment offered a cool way of combining virtual and multiple desktops: As usual, you could go left/right/up/down to switch between virtual desktops, but in addition you had a bar across one edge of the screen which you could use to drag the current desktop so as to reveal the underlying desktop. Then you could do it again to see the next underlying one, etc. So you could peek and move windows between the multiple desktops.

    • Minifree’s Libreboot X200 tablet runs nothing but free software (on decade-old hardware)

      Want a new PC, but don’t want to run the latest Windows software? There are plenty of free and open source alternatives including popular GNU/Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, and Linux Mint.

      Want to run nothing but free and open source software? That’s a bit trickier, since most recent laptops, desktops, and tablets ship with chips and other hardware that rely on closed-source, proprietary bootloaders and other components.

    • CorvOS: A custom, Linux-based solution for the classroom

      While many schools invest in Chromebooks and iPads, a growing flock of Linux-forward institutions is mapping an alternate route. I recently caught up with one innovative educator and IT leader from my home state. Aaron Prisk is the network administrator at West Branch Area School District, a small rural school an hour north of State College, Pennsylvania. Aaron told me how Linux and open source software is transforming teaching and learning at West Branch and explained the role of CorvOS, his custom Linux distribution for schools.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.17 Getting A Fix That May Help AMD Systems Conserve Power When Idling

      Besides other promising Linux 4.17 power saving improvements, a separate fix was queued today for potentially helping AMD systems conserve power.

      An AMD engineer noticed that with the existing Linux kernel code, using the MWAIT instruction is supported and used but on AMD CPUs but does not allow deeper c-states than C1 with current-generation hardware. The MWAIT x86 instruction is used as a hint for letting the processor enter a CPU-specific optimized state.

    • Linux 4.17-rc3

      You all know the drill by now, and everything looks pretty normal. As
      usual, we have an rc3 that is noticeably bigger than rc2 was. Whatever the
      reason for the pattern (whether it just be “people have had time to find
      bugs” or “people took a breather after the merge window”), the pattern is
      alive and well.

      And by now, I think we’ve fixed all the nastiest fall-out from the merge
      window. In particular, the PTI large-page fallout that hit some people with
      particular configurations should all be good.

      But another marker of “things look normal” is that almost 60% of the patch
      is driver fixes all over: networking, gpu, sound, scsi, usb, you name it.

      Outside of drivers, we’ve got the usual architecture suspects: x86, arm64,
      powerpc. Some generic networking fixes, and misc tooling (perf and
      selftests). With some core kernel fixes in there too (mainly timers and
      tracing, the first mainly because we sadly had to revert the nice
      CLOCK_{MONOTONIC,BOOTTIME} unification because it turns out people really
      do care about the differences).

      Shortlog appended for the details.

      Go out and test,

      Linus

    • Linux 4.17-rc3 Released As Another “Pretty Normal” Weekly Test Release

      Linus Torvalds announced just now the latest installment of the “Fearless Coyote”… The Linux 4.17-rc3 kernel is now available.

    • Linux 4.14.38
    • Linux 4.9.97
    • Linux 4.4.130
    • Linux 3.18.107
    • Linux 4.16.6
    • Linux 4.16.6 Brings Correct AMD Ryzen 7 2700X Temperature Monitoring

      The Linux 4.16.6 kernel was released on Sunday and besides various other fixes, AMD Ryzen 7 2700X corrected temperature reporting is among the changes.

      The 4.16.6 change-log is available but what we are most interested in is that the package temperature reporting for the Ryzen 2700X should now be fixed for the new Ryzen 7 2700X processor.

    • USB 3.2 Work Is On The Way For The Linux 4.18 Kernel

      USB 3.2 was announced last summer as an incremental update to the USB standard to double the bandwidth for existing USB Type-C cables.

      We haven’t seen much in the way of USB 3.2 mentions in the Linux kernel yet but then again we haven’t really seen USB 3.2 devices yet. USB 3.2 brings a multi-lane operation mode for hosts and devices using existing Type-C cables as well as a minor update to the USB hub specification. USB 3.2 allows for new 10 Gbit/s and 20 Gbit/s rates using two lanes, USB 3.2 Gen 1×2 and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2, respectively.

      It’s looking like kernel developers are now working on getting their USB 3.2 Linux support in order. We were tipped off that as of last week there are some USB 3.2 patches queued in the usb-next tree maintained by Greg Kroah-Hartman’s.

    • Working around Intel Hardware Flaws

      Efforts to work around serious hardware flaws in Intel chips are ongoing. Nadav Amit posted a patch to improve compatibility mode with respect to Intel’s Meltdown flaw. Compatibility mode is when the system emulates an older CPU in order to provide a runtime environment that supports an older piece of software that relies on the features of that CPU. The thing to be avoided is to emulate massive security holes created by hardware flaws in that older chip as well.

      In this case, Linux is already protected from Meltdown by use of PTI (page table isolation), a patch that went into Linux 4.15 and that was subsequently backported all over the place. However, like the BKL (big kernel lock) in the old days, PTI is a heavy-weight solution, with a big impact on system speed. Any chance to disable it without reintroducing security holes is a chance worth exploring.

      Nadav’s patch was an attempt to do this. The goal was “to disable PTI selectively as long as x86-32 processes are running and to enable global pages throughout this time.”

    • ZFS vs XFS

      The battle between file systems is as old as DOS vs Unix battles. And the pragmatic solution to the problem has always been the same — Instead of falling into the trap of evangelising one system over another, use the one that fits your use case the best.

      For the sake of clarity, when we say ZFS we mean OpenZFS and not the commercial version supported by Oracle Inc.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • Comparison of Memory Consumptions of 7 Bionic Systems from Beta 2

        I have installed and reviewed seven versions of beta 2 of Ubuntu and six Flavors 18.04 LTS. In each review, I took memory consumption information at idle time at first login time. I accumulate them in a table (LibreOffice Calc) and make a chart of them. Here’s the result chart comparing all Ubuntu original, and Kubuntu up to Ubuntu Budgie, including the new generation Lubuntu Next with my data. The result could give you a rough information of which systems take more and which other systems take less memory. This comparison is not precise in benchmarking sense and you should not rely on this for scientific purpose.

      • Ubuntu 12.04 To Ubuntu 18.04 Benchmarks On An Intel Laptop

        As part of our ongoing benchmarks of the recently released Ubuntu 18.04, here is a look at the performance of Ubuntu Linux on the same laptop while testing all Long-Term Support releases from 12.04 to 18.04 for seeing how the Ubuntu performance has evolved over the past six years on this Intel laptop.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • 8 KDE Plasma Irritations

        If you think that I am ungratefully complaining, think again. So far as I am concerned, Plasma is the most advanced desktop available on any platform. I only have to compare it to Cinnamon, an admirable desktop in its own right with its own reputation for innovation, to see how far ahead Plasma is.

        In fact, that may be the problem. Over the years, Plasma has outgrown other annoyances, such as dumping new features into an Advanced tab while developers figured where the features belonged, and produced a desktop whose advantages are so obvious that the problems are emphasized, too.

        To me, it seems that the greatest challenges currently facing Plasma developers is to think through some of their innovations, and to adjust existing tools or add new ones that will allow users to take full of advantage of what the desktop has to offer. If they begin such tasks, then Plasma will start to realize its full potential.

      • Kubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver – Long-term uncertainty

        The day of reckoning is upon us. Kubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver has been released, and with five years of promised support, it’s potentially a great candidate for a production desktop setup. The emphasis is on the adverb used in the previous sentence, as we know how fickle and erratic and regressive Linux distros can be.

        But I am genuinely intrigued. I may want this in my production setup. After all, Kubuntu Zesty was the ultimate Plasma release, the best Kubuntu ever, and among the finest Linux systems released in the past decade, and it spiked my interest and desire to deploy Plasma on my serious big-boy machines. With such gentle expectations, let us commence.

        [...]

        First impressions are everything. I remember trying Trusty, and instantly I knew, this was going to be my LTS darling. I don’t feel that way about Kubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver. Let’s start with the good things: decent app set, good performance, excellent fonts, multimedia and smartphone support, solid and slick Plasma desktop. Were this the focus on my review, we’d be celebrating with champagne now.

        Alas, there were issues. Various cosmetic ones, which Plasma needs to fix, but I can sort of ignore those. The package manager is useless. Samba connectivity, a thousand unicorns died from misery over this. And worst of all, desktop crashes and freezes. That has no place in an LTS edition. That’s pure amateurism. That’s so bad there are no words to describe it. Yes, the memory-eating bug in Baloo will be fixed, blah blah, but the emotional scars cannot be healed with makeup and fake smiles.

        Bottom line, I was expecting zero issues. I got more than a fair share of crap. In two months, this will most likely be a usable distro, perhaps much more so than most other LTS-like candidates, maybe, but for now, it’s just an average offering from the forges of mediocrity and apathy. And it highlights the cardinal issue with Linux since day one. Dev-centric development, done in isolation and with no validation. Well, there you go. My first take on Beaver KDE. I will also run an in-vivo upgrade to see what gives, and follow up in a few weeks once the turds are polished. You should check it, but please rein in your colts of enthusiasm. 5/10. For now, Trusty stays.

      • The beginning of GSoC 2018 with KDE

        With interest in projects which are related to the desktop application, and to possibly work with C++, my all-time favorite programming language, my main and only choice was to apply with KDE. After days of reading and knowing about their project opportunities, I was left with Okular.

      • [Krita] Interview with JK Riki

        What sets Krita apart from the other tools that you use?

        Apart from the price tag, Krita is just more fun to work in than most other programs I use. I genuinely enjoy creating art in Krita. Sometimes with other programs it feels like half of my job is fighting the software. Rarely do I feel that way in Krita.

      • KDE Plasma 5.13 Desktop to Get Overhauled Lock & Login Screens with New Features

        KDE developer Nathaniel Graham reports on one of the biggest changes coming to the KDE Plasma 5.13 desktop environment release this summer, namely the revamp of the lock and login screens.

        By default, the upcoming KDE Plasma 5.13 desktop environment will present users with new, overhauled lock and login screens that would act quite different from what they used until now. For example, the lock screen will no function more like a screensaver, keeping the password field and controls hidden until you press a button, move the mouse, or touch the screen.

      • KDE Plasma 5.13 Bringing New Lock & Log-In Screens

        Among many other improvements, KDE’s upcoming Plasma 5.13 release is bringing new log-in and lock screens for the desktop.

        KDE contributor Nathaniel Graham has continued his excellent weekly series about ongoing improvements to the KDE stack.

      • GSoC 18 FWUPD Integration

        Hii everyone, Abhijeet here! I am very excited to work with KDE this summer. My project is mainly integrating FWUPD support into Plasma discover. I would like to thank all KDE members for selecting me for this awesome project. Looking for a splendid summer ahead

      • KaOS 2018.04

        It is five years ago this month that KaOS started, a nice way to commemorate is with releasing 2018.04. This ISO has a complete redesign of the Midna theme for 2018. Some 2500 new icons in use, rewritten sddm login theme and a KaOS community selected new wallpaper (created by Jomada).

        Also new is KaOS’ creation Croeso (Welsh for welcome) for helping with configuring a new install. It will run on the newly installed system and offers to adjust some 15 commonly used settings and replaces the formerly used, PyQt based first run wizard Kaptan. It also includes a custom Wallpaper selector, distribution info, and news. It is written in QML and fits well with the Welcome application used in the Live system. The latter now includes a fully rewritten (also in QML) Installation Guide.

      • KDE Applications 18.04.0 are now available in Chakra

        Hello everyone!

        On your next system upgrade you will receive the brand new release of KDE’s Applications 18.04.0 in addition to several other package updates.

        As KDE works towards improving usability an productivity of it’s products, you will see that several enhancements have been introduced for important applications such as Dolphin, Konsole, Gwenview, Kmail, and Spectacle. For the full details and changelogs please take a look at the official announcement.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Changes to Files in GNOME 3.28

        Here are some changes in GNOME 3.28 users will see in the Fedora 28 release.

      • Fedora Atomic Workstation: Theming Possible

        To change themes, I need gnome-tweaks. I already had it installed from the gnome-nightly-apps repository. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, complaining about a missing python package in the runtime. Such is life with nightly builds.

      • Projects & release planning for GNOME

        I have been trying to improve our development experience by putting things together and create processes for our most common tasks taking advantage of the automation and features from GitLab and other technologies.

        Today I’m going to propose the workflow for project & release planning for individual projects and for GNOME as a whole in the least time-consuming, most automatic and simple way I could come up with.

        It’s my hope that this proposal will improve our contributor experience, reduce time spend on tracking issues, improve communication between teams such as design and engagement, increases exposure for PR, and finally, shorten the feedback & review cycle.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • TurnKey v15.0 RC1 is LIVE!

        It is with great pleasure – and a huge sense of relief – that I announce the release of Core v15.0RC1 and TKLDev v15.0RC1!

        As I look back over my shoulder reflecting on the development process of v15.0, I honestly wonder where the time has gone?! With Debian Stretch out now for about 8 months, I had hoped to have this release finished long ago and perhaps even be working on v15.1. But unfortunately, wishes and hopes don’t always have much to do with reality!

      • UBOS Beta 14: support for data disks and more

        Just in time for the Let’s Self-host Installathon at Linuxfest NorthWest in Bellingham, WA, UBOS beta 14 is out!

      • IPFire 2.19 – Core Update 120 released

        This is the official release announcement for IPFire 2.19 – Core Update 120. We are excited that it is package with a large number of features that will increase security of the entire system, increase performance of some cryptographic operations as well as fixing a number of smaller bugs.

      • IPFire Open Source Firewall Linux Distribution Gets Cryptography Improvements

        IPFire, the open-source and free firewall distribution based on the Linux kernel, has been updated today to version 2.19 Core Update 120, a release that adds new features, improvements, and updated components.

        IPFire 2.19 Core Update 120 is packed with quite a lot of new features that promise to improve the overall security of the operating system, as well as to increase the performance of various cryptographic operations. For the latter, the new release ships with the OpenSSL 1.1.0 cryptography library, which adds support for new ciphers.

      • Kali Linux 2018.2 Release

        This Kali release is the first to include the Linux 4.15 kernel, which includes the x86 and x64 fixes for the much-hyped Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. It also includes much better support for AMD GPUs and support for AMD Secure Encrypted Virtualization, which allows for encrypting virtual machine memory such that even the hypervisor can’t access it.

      • Kali Linux 2018.2 Ethical Hacking Distro Is Here: Download ISO And Torrent Files
    • Arch Family

      • How to Update the Pacman Databases on Arch Linux

        Every Linux distribution has a package repository where precompiled packages are kept. Of course you can download and install these packages manually, but that is sometimes time consuming or nearly impossible. Because each Linux packages has some dependencies, that is they depend on some other packages, which in order depends on some other ones and so on. So a tool called package manager was created to automatically download and install packages along with their dependencies.

      • Reinstall All Packages with Pacman on Arch Linux

        Let’s say you have Arch Linux installed on your machine and it is fully functional. No problem here. Now imagine, you are playing with your Arch Linux system and accidentally deleted some of the system files and folders. You’re freaked out saying, ‘Oh no! I shouldn’t have played God with sudo’. Don’t freak out just yet. There may still be a chance you can fix that using Pacman. You can use Pacman package manager to reinstall all the system packages on your Arch Linux machine.

      • Setup Pacman Mirrors on Arch Linux
      • Customize Arch Linux with Gnome Tweak Tool

        GNOME Tweak Tool is used to customize or personalize the look and feel of GNOME 3 desktop Environment on Arch Linux. It is a must have tool for GNOME 3 users of Arch Linux.

      • [Older] Arch Linux Package System

        Arch Linux is a lean and highly customizable distribution of the Linux operating system, and one of its biggest strengths is its package system. Although package management in Arch Linux may seem complicated, especially to those who’ve never used Linux before, it’s actually just as simple and efficient as the rest of the operating system.

      • Arch Linux SSH Server Setup, Customization and Optimization

        In this article, I will show you how to install, customize and optimize SSH server on Arch Linux. Let’s get started.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

    • Slackware Family

      • Slackware-Based Porteus Linux 4.0 Officially Released with Seven Desktop Flavors

        Porteus Linux developer Jay Flood announced over the weekend the release and general availability of the final Porteus 4.0 operating system series, based on the Slackware Current software repositories.

        Coming four years after the Porteus 3.0 series, the Porteus 4.0 release ships with the latest Slackware Linux packages, it’s powered by the latest Linux 4.16 kernel branch (Linux 4.16.3 is included in the install images), and comes with no less than seven desktop flavors, including KDE, Xfce, LXDE, LXQt, Cinnamon, MATE, and Openbox.

        Porteus 4.0 features support for UEFI/EFI installations using the syslinux bootloader for both BIOS and UEFI/EFI machines with a single, universal configuration file that you can find in /mnt/sdXY/boot/syslinux/porteus.cfg. Also, a new porteus/porteus-v4.0-x86_64.cfg configuration file replaces the old .sgn file and adds support for cheatcodes.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Meeting Red Hat authors at Red Hat Summit 2018

        Early this year, the book Effective Business Process Management with JBoss BPM launched a free ebook on Red Hat Developers that you can download. Next week I’ll be at the Red Hat Summit 2018 conference in San Francisco, CA, at the Moscone Center speaking and presenting a hands-on lab.

      • Red Hat launches turnkey storage solution

        Red Hat has always been a software company. It still is, but with an OEM partner, it will now offer a plug-and-play software-defined storage (SDS) system called Red Hat Storage One.

        Red Hat Storage One is built on the company’s software-defined Gluster storage product, but it includes hardware from Supermicro, which will manufacture and sell the hardware. When you purchase a Storage One box from a Red Hat partner, support for both the hardware and software are rolled up into one package with “a single part number,” as Red Hat puts it.

        Support contracts are for one-, three-, or five-year periods, and they cover everything — hardware and software. The hardware vendor is the first line of defense, with Red Hat taking over for more serious issues.

      • Red Hat launches software-defined storage appliance family

        Open source specialist Red Hat has launched Storage One – a family of hardware solutions that ship with Gluster storage software (formerly Red Hat Storage Server) on board.

        Storage One is being jointly engineered with select partners, with the first version being built by American server vendor Supermicro.

        Besides all the benefits of software-defined storage, the product promises simplified deployment through Ansible, infrastructure automation software Red Hat acquired in 2015.

        The first appliance will be demonstrated at the upcoming Red Hat Summit in San Francisco, which begins on 8 May.

      • RedHat’s CoreOS launches a new toolkit for managing Kubernetes applications

        CoreOS, the Linux distribution and container management startup Red Hat acquired for $250 million earlier this year, today announced the Operator Framework, a new open source toolkit for managing Kubernetes clusters.

        CoreOS first talked about operators in 2016. The general idea here is to encode the best practices for deploying and managing container-based applications as code. “The way we like to think of this is that the operators are basically a picture of the best employee you have,” Red Hat OpenShift product manager Rob Szumski told me. Ideally, the Operator Framework frees up the operations team from doing all the grunt work of managing applications and allows them to focus on higher-level tasks. And at the same time, it also removes the error-prone humans from the process since the operator will always follow the company rulebook.

      • Facing disruption? Optimize for stability or speed
      • Making data-intensive processing efficient and portable with Apache Beam
      • Fedora

        • Flatpak Linux Application Sandboxing & Distribution Framework Learns New Tricks

          Flatpak, the Linux application sandboxing and distribution framework, has been updated recently to version 0.11.4, a maintenance update that introduces numerous important changes.

          With Flatpak 0.11.4, the development team updated the “flatpak build” command to allow it to always use multi-arch support, as well as to mount app extensions during the build process. In addition, the “flatpak build-init” command now supports adding of extension points earlier than build-finish by using the –extension argument, and build-finish now supports the –remove-extension argument.

          Updates were also made to the “flatpak uninstall” command, which can now pick the user or system automatically if they’re not specified, the “flatpak run” command, which received several new options like –no-a11y-bus and –no-documents-portal. Also, users can now use “flatpak remove” (without quotes) as an alias for the “flatpak uninstall” command.

        • Fedora Workstation 28 Is A Brilliant Release

          Fedora 28 debuts today and it’s a terrific update to this Linux distribution. I’ve been running Fedora Workstation 28 and Fedora Server 28 on a number of systems so far and it’s been working out quite nicely during the development phase, many visible and both underlying improvements, and also significant is they are now releasing on-time without sacrificing quality thanks to release management improvements.

          I am super happy with how Fedora 28 has shaped up, its many improvements, and I look forward to upgrading to it on my main production system in the near future.

        • Fedora Magazine: Announcing the release of Fedora 28

          Hey everyone! It’s May, right around Mother’s Day, and that means it’s time for the next Fedora operating system release: Fedora 28 is here!

          Read more below, or just go straight to download from…

        • Fedora Magazine: What’s New in Fedora 28 Workstation
        • Fedora Magazine: Upgrading Fedora 27 to Fedora 28
        • Fedora 28 Is Now Available For Download
        • Introducing zchunk

          Introducing zchunk, a new file format that’s highly delta-able (is that even a word?), while still maintaining good compression. This format has been heavily influenced by both zsync and casync, but attempts to address the weaknesses (for at least some use-case) in both formats. I’ll cover the background behind this in a later post.

          Like casync and zsync, zchunk works by dividing a file into independently compressed “chunks”. Using only standard web protocols, the zchunk utility zckdl downloads any new chunks for your file while re-using any duplicate chunks from a specified file on your filesystem.

          Zchunk is a completely new compression format, and it uses a new extension, .zck. By default, it uses zstd internally, but, because it compresses each chunk separately, a zchunk file cannot be decompressed using the zstd utilities. A zchunk file can be decompressed using the unzck utility and compressed using the zck utility.

        • Zchunk: Another Format For Delta-Friendly Files With Good Compression Promises
    • Debian Family

      • UEFI Secure Boot sprint report

        People from the FTP team, kernel team and DSA, as well as other
        interested individuals met in Fulda, Germany for a sprint with the goal
        of deciding and implementing the workflow for Secure Boot.

      • Debian Making Progress On UEFI SecureBoot Support In 2018

        UEFI SecureBoot support didn’t make it for Debian 9.0 “Stretch” but progress is now being made on this “security” feature and it’s looking like it could be squared away for the Debian 10.0 release expected next year.

        While most major Linux distributions have been supporting UEFI SecureBoot for years, Debian has been a bit behind the ball in supporting this controversial but widely used technology for effectively signing the boot process and brought on by the likes of Microsoft in the name of improving system security.

      • [Older] Debian VS Ubuntu: Is There a Clear Winner?

        Debian and Ubuntu have many things in common, and it’s only natural for Linux users to wonder whether one is better than the other. To provide an adequate answer, it’s necessary to compare several aspects of the two popular distributions.

      • FLOSS Activities April 2018
      • Chris Lamb: Free software activities in April 2018
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Review: Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

            Ubuntu 18.04 LTS is not perfect, but it is very good. Users who are super conservative about change might want to stick to 16.04 LTS with Unity for now, but 18.04 LTS is a good desktop distribution that provides an excellent selection of default software for doing general tasks like checking e-mail and writing documents, and there is plenty of other software in the repositories for users who want to do more advanced things. There are a few rough edges that may, or may not, get cleaned up by the time 18.04.1 comes out, but none of them are bad enough to make Ubuntu 18.04 LTS unusable. At worst, the issues are minor annoyances. I realize that GNOME may not be for everyone, and may in itself be a reason to look elsewhere, but I do like Ubuntu’s implementation of GNOME with the exception of the various issues with handling desktop icons. However, if GNOME is not for you, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS’s other flavors provide the same Ubuntu base with other desktop environments, so check out those if GNOME is not to your liking.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Now Available To Download With 5Yrs Of Support

            This month the development team at Canonical responsible for creating the awesome Ubuntu operating system have announced the availability of its Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Bionic Beaver release which brings with it a wide variety of new features, tweaks and enhancements. Ubuntu 18.04 is a Long Term Support release meaning that it will be supported for five years.

            Apart from Ubuntu 18.04 LTS being powered by a new Linux Kernel 4.15 amongst other new features the development team have also updatedversions of all official Ubuntu flavours, including Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie, and Ubuntu MATE.

          • MeX Linux OS Drops Linux Mint Base, It’s Now Based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

            If previous versions of the MeX Linux distribution were based on Linux Mint, starting with build 180426, the operating system is now only based on packages from the Ubuntu and Debian GNU/Linux software repositories. The latest release is derived from the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system series.

            “Mex Linux is no longer based on Linux Mint,” said Arne Exton. “MeX Build 180426 is based only on Debian and Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Long Term Support). I have replaced the original kernel with “my” special kernel 4.15.0-19-exton. All packages in MeX Linux have been upgraded to the latest version by 180426.”

          • Canonical Adds Multipass Cleanbuild Support to Its Snapcraft Snap Creator Tool

            Snapcraft 2.42 comes less than two weeks after version 2.41, which improved the mechanism for overriding lifecycle steps, passthrough property, error reporting, and updated the dotnet, nodejs, and python plugins, to add even more enhancements to the utility that helps application developers to package their apps as Snaps.

            In Snapcraft 2.42, there’s a new feature called multipass cleanbuild support, which might come in handy to users of snapcraft cleanbuild with multipass installed. To try it out, you’ll have to run the “$ SNAPCRAFT_BUILD_ENVIRONMENT=multipass snapcraft cleanbuild” command in the terminal emulator.

          • A first look at Ubuntu 18.04 LTS desktop

            Canonical made a bit of a U-turn in its interface plans while developing the last interim release of Ubuntu (17.10, codenamed “Artful Aardvark”)—dropping development of its homegrown Unity interface and application launcher (as well as development of an Ubuntu phone), saying goodbye to the Ambiance interface theme of old and embracing the GNOME 3.28 desktop instead. Also significant is the integration of Snapcraft’s “snap” format—a universal containerized installer format for packaged applications on all Linux platforms—into Ubuntu’s application store.

            Ubuntu had settled on the Wayland display server for 17.10 as a default because Canonical wanted to boost 3D graphics capabilities, but it has switched back to X.org graphics server as the default for 18.04, mostly because Wayland’s support for screen sharing in applications such as Google Hangouts and Skype isn’t quite there. There is also support for remote desktop applications based on RDP and VNC, according to Canonical’s Desktop Engineering Manager Will Cooke, and “recoverability from Shell crashes is less dramatic under Xorg.” But Wayland is still pre-installed and can be selected at login, and Cooke said that Canonical would take another look at making it default for version 18.10.

            Most of the major internal changes in 18.04 LTS are more important on the server side. But so far, as Ars’ primary day-to-day Linux desktop user, I’ve been really impressed with the snappiness and usability of this latest LTS desktop.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 525
          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) Has Been Released | Top 10 Major Changes

            The final stable release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) is now officially available to download. Let’s check what’s new in Ubuntu 18.04 (Bionic Beaver) and Download options for all desktop environments as well.

            Early this month we had posted about the final development release for Ubuntu 18.04 (Bionic Beaver) and since the last development release Ubuntu has received many bug fixes and several improvements to the user interface for Gnome Shell Desktop environment. So, let’s check the key features of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver).

          • Best 20 Fonts for Ubuntu

            In recent years, many business firms including non software development companies are leaning towards Ubuntu which is a highly customizable open-source and one of the most secure operating systems. Companies carry out many tasks in a day and for that they need the best operating system and Ubuntu has all those features. Shifting from Windows to Ubuntu is not easy hence many people find it difficult to get used to Ubuntu in early days.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • System76 Releases Pop!_OS Linux 18.04, Based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver)

              Based on Canonical’s recently released Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system series and powered by Linux kernel 4.15, Pop!_OS Linux 18.04 is the second release of System76′s Ubuntu derivative and the best so far, featuring lots of changes, including a brand new installer, new power management features, firmware notifications, and proper HiDPI support.

              “The installer is the centerpiece of the work that we’ve been busily implementing for Pop!_OS 18.04. It represents an incredible amount of effort from everyone in the country and whose final work we are intimately proud of and something we have repeatedly shown teasers on this blog on the work in progress,” said System76 on a recent blog post.

            • System76 Releases Updated Pop!_OS Based Off Ubuntu 18.04
            • Voyager Linux 18.04 Released with Long Term Support, Based on Xubuntu 18.04 LTS
            • Tired of Windows and macOS? Try out elementary OS

              It’s interesting to change your default OS to try out something new sometimes, but then if you already have Windows 10 on your machine, I don’t see a strong argument to install elementary OS. Some might prefer it, but I think I will go back to Windows for now and check back with other solutions in the future. Please consider this as my own humble opinion. I recommend you to try out new solutions and find your own favorites. So, can elementary OS replace the big players? It could, but I suppose it’s mainly depending on the tools you (want to) use in your workflows.

              If you mostly leverage software that’s exclusively available on Windows or macOS, it doesn’t really work out to swap between the systems, but if you can manage to shift it all towards Linux, you might survive the transition without too much pain points. If you’re mostly working within Google Chrome, you can also just install Chrome for Linux on elementary OS and run your work like that. In this particular case, you’ll feel almost no change, but then, you might as well opt for Remix OS or another type of Chrome OS.

            • Monthly News – April 2018

              Before anything else, let’s thank all the people who contribute to this project. Many people do, in very different ways. Special thanks to our donors to our “silent friend” from Germany for the coffee!

              Many thanks also to all the developers who interacted with us on Github lately. We’ve seen a lot of new faces and very cool contributions. A slack team was recently set up to improve communication between new developers and the development team.

            • Linux Mint Continues Work On Mint 19, LMDE 3

              The Linux Mint project has published their monthly recap of activities going on for April with this popular desktop Linux distribution.

              To little surprise, much of their time has been spent on setting up their re-base against Ubuntu Bionic (Ubuntu 18.04) for Linux Mint 19 and Debian Stretch for the upcoming LMDE3 (Linux Mint Debian Edition). As part of these upcoming OS releases, they have also been buttoning up the Cinnamon 3.8 desktop environment update.

            • Linux Mint 19 “Tara” Won’t Collect or Send Any of Your Personal or System Data

              Linux Mint founder and lead developer Clement Lefebvre published another Monthly News newsletter today, this time for the month of April 2018, to keep the community up-to-date with the development of the upcoming Linux Mint 19 “Tara” operating system.

              Now that Canonical released the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system, on which Linux Mint 19 “Tara” will be based, it’s time for the Linux Mint team to finalize their releases. There’s still no fixed release date for Linux Mint 19 “Tara,” nor LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) 3, but Clement Lefebvre said they will arrive soon.

              While the beta versions are expected to land early next month, along with the official unveiling of the Cinnamon 3.8 desktop environment, the final releases should be out 2-3 weeks after that. So we’re now looking at the end of May or early June for the final Linux Mint 19 “Tara” and LMDE 3 releases.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • WebP 1.0 Image Format Released

    Google’s WebP image format officially reached version 1.0 to seemingly no fanfare.

    WebP hit the big 1.0 milestone last week on 20 April but surprisingly only this morning was the first time I heard of the WebP 1.0 release after a Phoronix reader noticed it and tipped us off to its availability.

  • Seven of the best open source web servers for your organisation

    Web servers have come a long way since the CERN httpd was developed by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990 as part of the project that resulted in the first ever web browser.

    Some of the leading suppliers of web servers today provide closed-source options for enterprises, but many others retain the open values embodied by Tim Berners-Lee. The source code for the CERN httpd was released into the public domain in 1993.

  • How to decide whether to open source your SaaS solution

    The decision to open source code requires a fair bit of planning if you want to do it right, especially when it comes to user support and documentation. In the case of SaaS, the required planning is different, although it shares some factors with any open source effort. In my series, How to Make Money from Open Source Platforms, I focused on software that exists solely to be deployed on a computer, whether on a local machine, in a data center, or in a cloud platform (yes, I know the last two are redundant).

    There was a simple reason for this focus: It was what I knew. In my career, I have always worked with software, of commercial and community origins, to be installed somewhere. Now I work directly with engineers who take software designed to work solely on their website and with their particular infrastructure, automation, and orchestration. The fact they have been able to take this software and offer it to others in a way that is not only usable but can actually power other businesses is a testament to their commitment to an open source world.

  • Challenges to expect when open sourcing your SaaS business
  • The Open Source Roots of Machine Learnin

    The concept of machine learning, which is a subset of artificial intelligence, has been around for some time. Ali Ghodsi, an adjunct professor at UC Berkeley, describes it as “an advanced statistical technique to make predictions on a massive amount of data.” Ghodsi has been influential in areas of Big Data, distributed systems, and in machine learning projects including Apache Spark, Apache Hadoop, and Apache Mesos. Here, he shares insight on these projects, various use-cases, and the future of machine learning.

  • Review: Observium open-source network monitoring won’t run on Windows but has a great user interface, price

    Open source network-monitoring tools continue to gain in popularity, and Observium came up on our radar as an enterprise-grade offering. Deployed worldwide by large organizations like eBay, PayPal, Twitter and the US Department of Energy, Observium is capable of handling tens of thousands of devices. The client list is impressive, but our test reveals what’s really under the hood.

    Observium runs on Linux but can monitor Windows and many other device types. The vendor recommends running Observium on Ubuntu/Debian, but it will also work on distros such as Red Hat/CentOS.

  • In iMasons Talk, Scott McNealy Reflects on Sun, Open Source

    In the world of data centers, the Sun casts a long shadow. The legacy of Sun Microsystems is seen today in the data center teams of the world’s largest technology companies.

    Dozens of those alumni of Sun Microsystems took part in the Infrastructure Masons Leadership Summit, held April 19 at Microsoft’s Sunnyvale campus, which brought together more than 100 thought leaders from the data center and cloud industries. The event featured a Q-and-A with Sun co-founder and CEO Scott McNealy, plus several think tank sessions on the future direction of the Internet, which brought reminders how the echoes of Sun’s corporate mantra – “The Network is the Computer” – can be seen in the emergence of distributed computing.

    The Infrastructure Masons is a group founded by Uber executive Dean Nelson to “unite the builders of the Digital Age.” But the group also looks to the past for lessons that can inform the road ahead.

  • ETSI in midst of figuring out role with open source

    In case there was any doubt, discussion at the Layer 123 NFV & Zero Touch World Congress provided further evidence that the members of the standards world—which has driven wireless technology for decades and the open source that operators are embracing nowadays—are still trying to figure out their relationships with one another.

    Luis Jorge Romero, director general at the standards organization European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), brought it up during a keynote Thursday that sparked an interchange during Q&A. Romero said he’s heard many comments that standards are over with because, of course, everything is open source, and he hears questions like: “What are you going to do the day after tomorrow?”

  • Events

    • The First Annual International Copyleft Conference

      Software Freedom Conservancy — the home to many key copyleft projects like Inkscape, Samba and Wine, and known for its work enforcing the GPL for its own projects as well as Linux — announced today that Conservancy will coordinate the first conference focused entirely on copyleft licensing, strategy, enforcement, governance and best practices.

      In response to requests during the FOSDEM Legal and Policy DevRoom, which is coordinated by a team of four that includes Conservancy’s own Bradley M. Kuhn and Karen M. Sandler, Conservancy will organize a separate conference on the day following FOSDEM 2019, in Brussels, Belgium, called: The Annual International Copyleft Conference, or CopyleftConf for short.

    • Libre Graphics Meeting 2018

      I spent the last seven days attending Libre Graphics Meeting in sunny and beautiful Seville. This was my second LGM, the first being six years ago in Vienna, so it was refreshing to be back. I stayed in one of the GIMP apartments near the Alameda de Hércules garden square. Being right in the middle of the city meant that everything of interest was either within walking distance or a short bus ride away.

    • How Open Source Is Powering the Modern Mainframe

      You can learn more about open source and mainframe, both the history along with the current and future states of open source on mainframe, in our upcoming presentation. Join us May 15 at 1:00pm ET for a session led by Open Mainframe Project members Steven Dickens of IBM, Len Santalucia of Vicom Infinity, and Mike Riggs of The Supreme Court of Virginia.

    • Speak at Open Networking Summit Europe – Submit by June 24

      Open Networking Summit Europe (ONS EU) is the first combined Technical and Business Networking conference for Carriers, Cloud and Enterprises in Europe. The call for proposals for ONS EU 2018 is now open, and we invite you to share your expertise.

      Based on feedback we received at Open Networking Summit North America 2018, our restructured agenda will include project-based technical sessions as well.

    • First FOSS Backstage Conference Focuses on FOSS governance and Open Collaboration

      The first edition of FOSS Backstage, a conference dedicated to everything that concerns open collaboration and FOSS governance will be held in Kulturbrauerei, Berlin from June 13-14 2018. The conference is all about governance, legal issues, economics and collaboration within free and open source software projects.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chrome 67 Beta: WebXR Origin Trial, Generic Sensors

        Unless otherwise noted, changes described below apply to the newest Chrome Beta channel release for Android, Chrome OS, Linux, macOS, and Windows. View a complete list of the features in Chrome 67 on ChromeStatus.com.

      • Chrome 67 Beta Adds “Formdata” Event, Arbitrary Precision Integers

        Following the release of Chrome 66 earlier this month, Google developers working on the Chrome/Chromium web-browser have officially promoted Chrome 67 to beta.

        The Chrome 67 beta release comes with the Generic Sensor API for accessing generic sensors like accelerometer/gyroscope/motion devices, WebXR / VR improvements, web pages can now process mouse events, support for arbitrary precision integers, and other JavaScript/API enhancements.

      • Chrome Dev Tools

        Chrome DevTools are an excellent set of tools built directly into the most popular Web Browser, Google Chrome. The best thing about the Chrome DevTools is that these are really easy to use and must have for Web Developers today. From diagnosing common issues you’re facing in your project to tracking the speed and performance of each component of your application, Chrome DevTools can help you get a very deep insight about how your project is performing. Everything for free!

    • Mozilla

      • Working for Good: Metrofiets Cargo Bikes

        The web should be open to everyone, a place for unbridled innovation, education, and creative expression. That’s why Firefox fights for Net Neutrality, promotes online privacy rights, and supports open-source tech around the globe. We strive to make the online community a better place. We also know people everywhere work tirelessly to improve their own communities. In this series, we’re profiling businesses that work to make the world better—and use Firefox to support a healthy, open, and safe internet.

      • Mozilla All-Hands Tips

        Twice a year, Mozilla gathers employees, volunteers, and assorted hangers-on in a single place to have a week of planning, working, and socializing. Being as distributed an organization as we are, it’s a bit rare to get enough of us in a single place to generate the kind of cross-talk and beneficial synergistic happenstances that help us work smarter and move in more-or-less the same direction. These are our All Hands events.

      • metricsgraphics movements
      • A Privacy-Conscious Approach to Sponsored Content

        Content on the web is powerful. It enables us to learn new things, discover different perspectives, stay in touch with what’s happening in the world, or just make us laugh. Making sure that stories like these—stories that are worth your time and attention—are discoverable and supported is central to what we care about at Pocket.

        It’s important for quality content like this to thrive—and a critical way it’s funded is through advertising. But unfortunately, today, this advertising model is broken. It doesn’t respect user privacy, it’s not transparent, and it lacks control, all the while starting to move us toward low quality, clickbait content.

      • Ryan Harter: PSA: Don’t use approximate counts for trends

        Counting stuff is hard. We use probabilistic algorithms pretty frequently at Mozilla. For example, when trying to get user counts, we rely heavily on Presto’s approx_distinct aggregator. Roberto’s even written a Presto Plugin and a Spark Package to allow us to include HyperLogLog variables in datasets like client_count_daily.

      • TenFourFox FPR7b3 available

        TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 7 beta 3 is now available (downloads, hashes, release notes). This version includes some last-minute tuning to garbage and cycle collection frequency, a couple more hosts for basic adblock, and (the big change) a major fix to DOM keyboard events which caused some sites to fail to respond to keyboard input (like this Applesoft BASIC implementation in JavaScript — thanks Martin Kuka&ccaron for the more easily debugged test case). There are also some additional security fixes and there will be a few more prior to release on or about May 8.

        For FPR8 the original plan was to get a decent implementation of CSS grid support working, but same-site cookies have risen in priority as they are now being required as a security measure on many sites including one I personally use frequently. If there is time left once that particular major upgrade is functional, I will then work on CSS grid and (as it slowly progresses) native date-time pickers. The FAQ is also dreadfully out of date, so I’ll be spending some time on that too.

      • WebVR Experience Challenge, Winners Announced!

        Mozilla seeks to continually grow a robust community around A-Frame and WebVR and to support developers who build content for this ecosystem. This is why we partnered with Sketchfab to create hundreds of medieval fantasy assets for the WebVR community to use. Today we are proudly announcing the Winners of the WebVR Experience Challenge!

        Building on the rich pool of assets from our Real Time Design Challenge we received many entries that used the glTF models and A-frame and turned them into really fun games and experiences! Each of the creators really put their own personal take on these assets. The entries of this contest allow us to see what VR can do in the Web, and that it is ready for an open community to experiment and innovate with it.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GIMP 2.10.0 Has Arrived & You Can Download It For Free

      Back in March, we said that the GIMP team were ’12 blocker bugs away from making the final release’ of the latest version of their free-to-use photo editing software and it seems the bugs have been fixed as version 2.10.0 is now available for download.

      The new release comes after 6 years of work and there’s a long list of notable changes including an updated UI, new blend modes, layer groups can finally have masks on them and new tools such as the Warp transform, the Unified transform and the Handle transform tools have been introduced.

    • GIMP 2.10 open source image editor released, finally supports HiDPI displays

      GIMP is a free and open source graphics editing program for Linux, Mac, and Windows computers. Its been around for more than two decades, and it’s a powerful tool that’s often compared to Adobe Photoshop… although Photoshop users tend to complain that GIMP’s menus and tools are unintuitive. But it’s hard to complain about the price: GIMP is free for anyone to use.

    • GIMP 2.10 Image Editing Software Now Supports HiDPI Displays

      The development team behind the open source image editing software GIMP have this week released the highly anticipated GIMP 2.10.0 which brings with it a wide variety of new enhancements, tweaks and features including support for HiDPI displays.

      GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program and is a freely distributed program providing an application to retouch photographs, adjust image composition and image authoring. Features of the latest version of GIMP 2.10.0 include :

      – Image processing nearly fully ported to GEGL, allowing high bit depth processing, multi-threaded and hardware accelerated pixel

      [...]

    • Miner One Is Launching Its Bitcoin-Mining High-Altitude Ballon Today, New Stable Version of GIMP and More
    • GIMP Now Moving Full Steam Ahead With Their GTK3 Port

      ollowing last week’s huge GIMP 2.10 release, it looks like the next stable version will indeed be the long-desired GIMP 3.0.

      Prominent GIMP contributor ZeMarmot tweeted today that they are now working on getting rid of deprecated data and APIs, GTK2 idiosyncrasies, and more for GIMP 3.0.

    • The Big Features & Improvements Of The GCC 8 Compiler

      The GCC 8 compiler will likely be introduced as stable this week or next in the form of the GCC 8.1 premiere release. Here’s a look at the prominent changes for this annual update to the GNU Compiler Collection.

    • GnuCash 3.1

      GnuCash is a personal and small business finance application, freely licensed under the GNU GPL and available for GNU/Linux, BSD, Solaris, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. It’s designed to be easy to use, yet powerful and flexible. GnuCash allows you to track your income and expenses, reconcile bank accounts, monitor stock portfolios and manage your small business finances. It is based on professional accounting principles to ensure balanced books and accurate reports.

      GnuCash can keep track of your personal finances in as much detail as you prefer. If you are just starting out, use GnuCash to keep track of your checkbook. You may then decide to track cash as well as credit card purchases to better determine where your money is being spent. When you start investing, you can use GnuCash to help monitor your portfolio. Buying a vehicle or a home? GnuCash will help you plan the investment and track loan payments. If your financial records span the globe, GnuCash provides all the multiple-currency support you need.

  • Programming/Development

    • Create a Linux desktop application with Ruby

      Recently, while experimenting with GTK and its Ruby bindings, I decided to write a tutorial introducing this functionality. In this post, we will create a simple ToDo application (something like what we created with Ruby on Rails) using the gtk3 gem (a.k.a. the GTK+ Ruby bindings).

    • C# developer, Linux two of the fastest-growing search terms for Canadian tech job seekers

      A new report from Indeed Canada shows the fastest-growing search terms for tech job seekers in Canada.

    • New Report from The Linux Foundation Shows Demand High for DevOps Skills

      A growing number of companies are looking for full-time hires; 60% in 2017 versus 53% in 2016, but only 43% of hiring managers in 2017 report the economy is encouraging them to hire more, down from 57% in the previous year.

      42% of companies are keen on adding DevOps skills to their hiring portfolio, with 50% of hiring managers more likely to hire a certified professional. 47% of companies will help pay for employees’ certifications, representing an increase from from one-third a year ago. Only 21% say they definitely would not pay for certifications (down from 30% in 2016). 33% of managers report they have offered additional training and/or certification opportunities as an incentive to retain employees, up from 26% last year. 76% of open source professionals say certifications are useful to their careers.

    • By the numbers: Python community trends in 2017/2018

      Python is rapidly growing in popularity and drawing more attention in tech news, including reports about Python being used involve more high school girls in computer engineering and a recommendation that intro-level college computing classes teach the programming language. Additionally, Stack Overflow’s 2018 developer survey found Python is the programming language the most people want to learn. Python is seen and used across the web, from simple personal websites to data mining and machine learning at the world’s largest banks.

      What makes Python so special? Who are Python developers? And why is it so popular? To answer these and many other important questions, JetBrains and the Python Software Foundation (PSF) partnered on a developer survey of people who use Python as a primary or supplementary language. Until now, there hasn’t been a Python-specific study to learn how it is being used by diverse developers, what components complement its use, and what makes it one of the most loved languages.

    • syslog-ng vs. systemd’s journald

      People often ask me what to use: systemd’s journald or syslog-ng? The quick answer is that most likely both, but it depends on how you use your computer(s). If you have a single standalone machine, journald is probably enough. There is even a nice desktop application to view the logs in the journal. But once you have multiple machines to manage, using syslog-ng has many advantages.

      Even if you use syslog-ng, local system logs are collected by journald. It is an integral part of systemd and cannot be uninstalled. Luckily, syslog-ng can read log messages from the journal. If journald stores additional name-value pairs about an event, syslog-ng can read those as well.

      So, why install syslog-ng? The short answer is: central logging.

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Ukraine Eyes Patent Law Reform After Civil Society Push On Medicines Access

      The All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (Network) spearheaded the initiative, supported by other organisations, Network Head of Advocacy and Legal Support Unit Sergey Kondratyuk said. In 2015, the groups reopened technical discussions originally launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and others on access to medicines and intellectual property (IP) issues. The Network scheduled a national meeting and invited international experts to help with capacity-building and information, including on the 1994 World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the so-called “TRIPS Flex” provisions on improving access to medicines.

    • The patent implications of China’s generics push

      Innovator drug companies will face challenges but complementary guidelines benefiting innovators, including a potential five-year patent term extension, may pacify concerns

      China’s State Council has announced new guidelines aimed at encouraging more and better quality generics in the market.

    • Geneva Developed Country Attachés For IP And Health To Meet

      Developed country attachés in Geneva for intellectual property and for health are invited to meet in a closed session tomorrow to exchange information in the run-up to the annual World Health Assembly taking place in late May.

      According to a source from the so-called Group B, which lumps developed countries from various regions together at the World Intellectual Property Organization, the “low key” meeting is being organised to try to break silos in which some delegates are working, and the lack of information flowing between delegates following intellectual property issues at WIPO and those following global health issues at the World Health Organization.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Video software site slyly moves into mining cryptocurrency

      Researchers at security firm Check Point say they have found a once legitimate video download software site, OSDSoft, has now begun mining cryptocurrency through surreptitious means.

      The script used for mining was being spread through a fraudulent Adobe Flash Player update and the operation was successful to the extent that it was mining US$700 worth of the monero cryptocurrency every day.

      The researchers said that about 6000 machines had been infected in a few months.

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 94 – DNSSEC, BGP, and reality
    • This Russian Company Sells Zero-Day Exploits for Hospital Software

      Moscow-based Gleg provides zero-day exploits for medical software, and those in the medical industry are concerned about disclosure. But the exploits themselves may not be all that important in real world attacks.

    • NHS will upgrade all systems to Windows 10 following WannaCry outbreak [Ed: NHS rewards Microsoft after its back doors killed many British people. iophk: “Vista 10 was still vulnerable, just low market-share at the time; vendor lock-in through centralisation is harder to break out of”]

      “The introduction of a centralised Windows 10 agreement will ensure a consistent approach to security that also enables the NHS to rapidly modernise its IT infrastructure.”

    • This Code On USB Can Trigger BSOD Even On Locked Windows PCs

      In the past, we’ve told you about the perils of picking any random USB drive and using it. It might contain malware and dangerous scripts to target your online accounts. A Bitdefender security researcher, Marius Tivadar, has underlined the importance of this issue with his proof-of-concept code (Via: CSO Online).

    • PoC code triggers BSOD on vulnerable Windows boxes even if PC is locked

      A malware researcher published proof-of-concept code that, when put on a USB stick, can trigger the dreaded Blue Screen of Death on various versions of Windows even if the system is locked.

      Bitdefender’s Marius Tivadar discovered a vulnerability in the way that Windows handles NTFS file system images. When publishing the proof-of-concept code on GitHub, he explained, “One can generate Blue Screen of Death using a handcrafted NTFS image. This denial-of-service type of attack can be driven from user mode, limited user account or Administrator. It can even crash the system if it is in locked state.”

    • Federal ‘turf war’ complicates cybersecurity efforts

      While Homeland Security is broadly recognized as the main agency defending federal networks and critical national assets from cyberattacks, individual agencies also play a major role in guarding their own networks and personnel from malicious cyber actors.

    • SELinux and Containers
    • NSA: The Silence of the Zero Days [Ed: With Microsoft Windows and other malware they don't need to call it 0-day, they can just call it "back door" (because that's there by design)]

      Many organizations would do well to focus more on locking down their systems, and worry less about whether they might get targeted by a zero-day attack. “At the end of the day, if you’re bleeding from the eyeballs, just stop the bleeding,” BluVector’s Lovejoy told me.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Turning on Russia

      The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel last September reported that, “Stanley Fischer, the 73–year-old vice chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, is familiar with the decline of the world’s rich. He spent his childhood and youth in the British protectorate of Rhodesia… before going to London in the early 1960s for his university studies. There, he experienced first-hand the unravelling of the British Empire… Now an American citizen, Fischer is currently witnessing another major power taking its leave of the world stage… the United States is losing its status as a global hegemonic power, he said recently… The U.S. political system could take the world in a very dangerous direction…”

      With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the creation of the so called Wolfowitz Doctrine in 1992 during the administration of George Herbert Walker Bush, the United States claimed the mantle of the world’s first and only Unipower with the intention of crushing any nation or system that would oppose it in the future. The New World Order, foreseen just a few short years ago, becomes more disorderly by the day, made worse by varying degrees of incompetence and greed emanating from Berlin, London, Paris and Washington.

      As a further sign of the ongoing seismic shocks rocking America’s claim to leadership, by the time Fischer’s interview appeared in the online version of the Der Spiegel, he had already announced his resignation as vice chair of the Federal Reserve—eight months ahead of schedule. If anyone knows about the decline and fall of empires it is the “globalist” and former Bank of Israel president, Stanley Fischer. Not only did he experience the unravelling of the British Empire as a young student in London, he directly assisted in the wholesale dismantling of the Soviet Empire during the 1990s.

      [...]

      Pentagon Capitalism

      Shady finance, imperial misadventures and neoconservatism go hand in hand. The CIA’s founders saw themselves as partners in this enterprise and the defense industry welcomed them with open arms. McGill University economist R.T. Naylor, author of 1987’s Hot Money and the Politics of Debt, described how “Pentagon Capitalism” had made the Vietnam War possible by selling the Pentagon’s debt to the rest of the world.

    • Turning on Russia, Part Two

      Add the 700 million strong worldwide Evangelical movement and its 70 million Christian Zionists in the United States, and American foreign policy towards the Middle East becomes an apocalyptic confluence of covert agendas, ethnic grudges and religious feuds locked in permanent crisis.

    • The (Unrecognized) US Contribution to Bloodshed in Syria

      The dominant US. media narrative says only the Syrian government has killed anyone during the seven-year conflict while the US role in Syria’s nightmare is blacked out, says As’ad AbuKhalil in the first part of this Consortium News commentary.

    • Laughing While Pulling the Trigger

      Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author. His reporting on the brutalities of illegal Israeli occupation has set the standard for real reporting on the issue. Blumenthal has also reported on every aspect of the Israeli/US propaganda machine that works 24/7 to sustain the Israeli occupation.

    • As Israel Kills Dozens and Maims Thousands, Palestinian ‘Violence’ Under Media Microscope

      Corporate media help set the terms of debate about the issues they cover by pointing toward specific sets of questions and ignoring others. When news outlets highlight particular points of contention, they encourage audiences to see these as the central aspects of the story and discourage consideration of other facets of the topic. Recent reporting on the Palestinians’ Great Return March offers a case study in how news media establish truncated, distorted parameters of discussion.

      During the recent demonstrations in Gaza, Israel has injured nearly 3,000 Palestinians and killed 35 of them, while there have been zero Israeli casualties. Yet a Washington Post report (4/20/18) devotes portions of 10 of its 29 paragraphs to the spectre of Palestinian violence, making references to “molotov cocktails” as well as “masked youths [who] launched kites with rags and plastic bottles attached, which they set alight with lighter fluid,” and including quotes from Israeli officials describing Palestinians as participating in “violent riots.”

    • NYT Examines How History Impacts Korean Talks–but Its Own Memory Is Fuzzy

      In a New York Times news analysis (4/29/18) examining how the overthrow of Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi after he agreed to halt his nuclear program might influence North Korean thinking about disarmament, the Times’ Peter Baker writes that “President Barack Obama and European allies launched military action against Libya in 2011 to prevent a threatened massacre of civilians.” Later, Baker recounts that Gadhafi “vowed to crush his opponents, including civilians, prompting Mr. Obama and European allies to intervene to stop him.”

      But did Gadhafi actually threaten to massacre civilians? A radio broadcast by the Libyan leader in which he declared he would show “no mercy” in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi was offered as justification for the UN Security Council vote that authorized “all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians. “Gadhafi Vows ‘No Mercy’ as UN Eyes Action,” was how AP (3/17/11) reported on the Security Council deliberations.

      But when the New York Times (3/17/11) itself reported on the speech, it described it as a threat against rebel combatants, not against civilians: Gadhafi “promised amnesty for those ‘who throw their weapons away’ but ‘no mercy or compassion’ for those who fight,” the Times’ David Kirkpatrick and Kareem Fahim reported.

    • The West’s virtue-bombing of Syria is a disastrous mistake

      Our governments have made themselves the allies of ISIS.

    • DeVos pushes for school vouchers for military families despite opposition: report

      Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is pushing for military families to be offered private school vouchers, even as major groups within the military community oppose the proposal.

    • Erdogan’s Shadow Army

      Turkey is the latest country to enter this crucial, if shadowy, field. The SADAT Defense Consultancy, founded on February 28, 2012 by former Brigadier General Adnan Tanriverdi, is Ankara’s instrument in this area. Its activities are testimony both to the changing nature of the Turkish state, and to the process by which power and influence are currently built and held in the Middle East.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • How Big Dead Place, the ‘WikiLeaks of Antarctica’, shed light on life at McMurdo Station

      When Nicholas Johnson arrived at Antarctica’s McMurdo Station in the late ’90s, he expected pristine wilderness and adventure. Instead, he found bureaucracy and boredom.

      So he began anonymously documenting his experiences in a satirical newsletter, Big Dead Place, that he secretly distributed around the station.

      “Big Dead Place became the WikiLeaks of Antarctica,” said Darryn Schneider, an Australian physicist who worked at McMurdo at the time.

    • Pamela Anderson and Julian Assange: Details emerge on their unlikely relationship
    • Inside Pamela Anderson’s relationship with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange
    • Top News: Pam Anderson and Julian Assange getting unusually shut

      On March 28, it was introduced that the Ecuadorean embassy in London — the place the WikiLeaks mastermind has been holed up since 2012 — had revoked Assange’s customer privileges and Web entry. Ecuador’s authorities, which granted him citizenship in January, chalked it as much as Assange having breached “a written [agreement] to not subject messages which may intervene with different states.”

    • What’s really going on with bizarre duo Pam Anderson and Julian Assange?

      Ecuador’s government, which granted him citizenship in January, chalked it up to Assange having breached “a written [agreement] not to issue messages that might interfere with other states.”

    • Press freedom on trial: The DNC lawsuit against WikiLeaks

      The US Democratic Party has recently filed a lawsuit against the Russian government, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and WikiLeaks, charging that they carried out a wide-ranging conspiracy to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

      Suing WikiLeaks – a news organisation – for publishing leaked material, when it is hardly the only news outlet to do so, could set a troubling precedent for press freedom.

      The US media have remained strangely silent on the implications. Busily obsessing over Russian meddling in the election, the FBI’s Robert Mueller investigation and Trump’s rhetorical war with the media, reporters are taking a pass on the DNC lawsuit story and the legal assault on the fourth estate coming from the other side of the aisle.

      “The DNC’s suing WikiLeaks because they’re the central player,” says Eric Boehlert, a senior writer for
      Shareblue Media. “If it weren’t for WikiLeaks essentially conspiring with Russian operatives, this wouldn’t have been a story … they marketed these emails. They were reaching out to the reporters.”

      The core issue in this story is not what was in those hacked emails – the DNC’s sabotaging of Bernie Sanders’ campaign, its unseemly, cap-in-hand approach to financial donors – but rather how those emails found their way into the media food chain in the first place.

    • What Is WikiLeaks? Everything you need to know

      WikiLeaks is a whistleblowing platform founded by Julian Assange. It was established to obtain and disseminate classified documents and data sets from anonymous sources and leakers.

      “They started out saying they’re an open source intelligence agency, or an intelligence agency for the people,” said James Ball, an ex-WikiLeaks staffer-turned-critic who is also the author of “Post Truth.”

      He added: “Same as the CIA or [Britain's] GCHQ find secrets for their governments, the idea was WikiLeaks would get them for everyone.”

      [...]

      WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of U.S. military documents and videos from the Afghan and Iraq wars, including the so-called Collateral Murder footage and “Iraq War logs.”

      They also released a trove of more than 250,000 State Department diplomatic cables in 2010. Former U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning was convicted of leaking the documents.

    • Comedian Thrown Out of White House Press Dinner for Supporting ‘Heroic’ Assange

      Randy Credico, an activist, comedian and former director of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice, was unceremoniously thrown out of the White House Correspondents Dinner (WHCD) this weekend after voicing his call for freedom for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

      “I’ve done Yahoo News’ radio show so they just invited me to the WHCD because I’m a harmless guy and I’m a comedian, too. I had a great time the first two hours. I went from one party to the next and there was an open bar and open food,” Credico told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear about the annual WHCA dinner, a Washington, DC, tradition normally attended by both the president and vice president, along with their wives and close advisers and, of course, the Washington press.

    • Australian meetings to call for Julian Assange’s freedom

      The Australian political and media establishment bears major responsibility for the outrages perpetrated against Julian Assange.

    • Assange freedom hopes evaporate after US-Ecuador deal

      The chances of WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange gaining a reprieve from his confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy in London have taken a blow after the US signed a security deal with the South American nation.

      The deal, signed on Wednesday last week, is likely to result in an US military presence in the country, according to a report from Telesur.

      It now seems unlikely that Ecuador President Lenin Moreno will pay heed to calls to restore Assange’s Internet access.

      Last month, Assange lost his Internet access after Ecuador took what it said was a step to stop him from interfering in other countries’ affairs and pulled the plug.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Volkswagen’s Decision To Not Offer A Mass-Market e-Golf, Focus On 48V Hybrid Instead, Raises Questions

      As some of those reading this may have heard by now, Volkswagen will apparently be ceasing the sale of all-electric versions of the Golf (the e-Golf) — already a model which the company throttles the production and deliveries of in order to keep numbers low — starting with the coming model year.

      Rather than continuing to offer an all-electric version of the top-selling Golf model, Volkswagen will apparently instead be directing those wanting an “electric” car to buy a new 48V hybrid version of the Golf.

    • Iceland to be first UK supermarket to cut palm oil from own-brand products

      In Indonesia and Malaysia, where expanding palm oil and wood pulp plantations are the biggest driver of deforestation, the orangutan is among the wildlife species threatened with extinction. Recent studies show that Bornean orangutan numbers more than halved between 1999 and 2015, with only 70,000–100,000 now remaining.

    • UK supermarket chain ditches palm oil. Who’s next?

      Iceland, which owns 900 stores and specializes in frozen foods, announced Tuesday it would stop using palm oil in products that carry its brand name by the end of 2018.

      The company has already reformulated some of its products. It said that removing the ingredient from 130 remaining items would reduce demand for palm oil by more than 500 tonnes per year.

    • Northern China blanketed by a return of bad smog

      The return of haze, following a winter which saw better air due to a drive to swap from coal to gas, triggered the environmental watchdog in Beijing to issue a red alert for air pollution, a stance which was followed by officials in Tianjin and Hebei.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Bill Gates in the White House? Trump offered him a job as White House science advisor, he says [iophk: "Kakistacracy with a big K"]

      The revelation came in an interview Gates did with life science website Stat. During Gates’ 40-minute conversation with the president, the two discussed the vacant White House science advisor role, which has been empty since Trump took office.

    • Bill Gates told Trump that being his science adviser is ‘not a good use of my time’
    • Michelle Wolf has nothing to apologise for. Her critics do, though

      The media needs to make sure it is speaking truth to power, not kowtowing to the powerful. However, as Wolf mentioned in her speech, even the liberal [sic] media is under Trump’s spell. “You pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off of him.”

    • Blaming Russia is the Default Electoral Position in the West

      Here is an inter­view I did last night about the Rus­si­ans “hack­ing” the UK gen­er­al elec­tion last year, con­veni­ently appear­ing in The Sunday Times yes­ter­day ahead of the UK loc­al elec­tions.….

    • Bank of Internet, Which Had Been Under Federal Investigation, Appears In Multiple Kushner Deals

      A bank that had been under federal investigation until last year has played a role in two recent real estate transactions involving Kushner Companies, Jared Kushner’s family company.

      Earlier this month, BofI Federal took over a mortgage previously owned by the Kushner Companies for a development in Brooklyn, New York City real estate filings show. The previously unreported transaction involves a loan on a development project in the historically industrial, now gentrifying Bushwick neighborhood. Kushner Companies had made a loan of roughly $30 million to the project at 215 Moore Street in late 2016. Jared Kushner remains a senior adviser to President Donald Trump.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Amazon Web Services starts blocking domain-fronting, following Google’s lead

      A week after Google shut down a method for app developers to skirt internet censorship, Amazon is doing the same. In a post last week, Amazon Web Services announced that it would implement a new set of enhanced domain protections specifically designed to stop domain-fronting, a practice that lets developers disguise their traffic to evade network blocks.

    • China censors skewer Peppa Pig
    • Peppa Pig blocked on Chinese video app after becoming a ‘subculture icon’
    • How Peppa Pig became a gangster figure in China
    • Peppa Pig blocked from China’s Douyin video platform

      A popular British cartoon has been removed from one of China’s most popular social media platforms, with state media saying that the character is being used subversively.

    • Iranians launch banknote protest to get round censorship

      A group of Iranian Twitter users are spreading protest messages by writing slogans on banknotes.

      “Banknotes are our un-censorable messengers,” one user wrote, referring to a rumoured plan to permanently block the popular messaging app Telegram, which is by far the most popular digital communication tool in Iran.

      Slogans included “I am an overthrower”.

      Some of the sayings were originally chanted during mass anti-establishment protests at the turn of the year.

      In late December, demonstrators took to the streets then to express their dissatisfaction with the social and economic situation in the country.

    • Sci-Fi London Hosts VR Film About Censorship and Violence

      The Sci-Fi London Film Festival will be showing a virtual reality (VR) film that explores the consequences of immersive violence and censorship in a dark cyberpunk future.

      The film exists in a potential future where some violent crimes have been linked to videogamers. As a result, a new censorship bureau is created who employees are tasked with trying to take the sex and violence depicted to the utmost extreme.

    • Turkey’s Government Is Censoring the Movies, But the Istanbul Film Festival Is Soldiering On

      At a welcome dinner for the 37th Istanbul Film Festival, an actress stood up and in halting, emotional English asked everyone to listen to a story the world needs to hear. This March, a troupe of actors were an hour away from performing a tribute to the anniversary of Gallipoli at the Turkish Parliament when Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman, who has called for secular Turkey to adopt a religious constitution, forbid the women from being onstage. Males only, ordered Kahraman, who was offended that actresses playing the mothers of soldiers would be giving guys public hugs.

      That day, Turkey’s increasingly empowered conservative movement won. It started a public fight, of course. In the last several years, there’s been a lot of fighting, and thousands of journalists, academics, student activists, and artists are in jail. (And another 150,000 have lost their jobs.) In the 15 years since Recep Erdoğan became Prime Minister, then President, the prison population has quadrupled, especially after a youth rally in Taksim Square in 2013 grew into a massive protest that the narcissistic Erdoğan took as a personal insult. Erdoğan’s excuse, new at the time and now globally familiar, was that the kids were actors hired by George Soros. Things were bad, and after the failed 2016 coup they’ve gotten worse.

    • Media censorship surrounds the Pashtun rights movement in Pakistan

      In the past months, the Pashtun Tahafuz (Protection) Movement has been mobilizing in Pakistan’s major cities to demand basic rights for the Pashtun minority community, including the “right to live without fear” of extrajudicial killings.

      The Pashtuns (or Pathans) are an ethnic minority group who mostly live in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Discrimination and violence are constant threats for Pashtuns, half a million of whom have been internally displaced due to conflict between the army and the Taliban militant group. In 2016, Pashtuns were given official clearance to return to their home in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, but landmines planted there mean many can’t can’t safely return.

    • Man Sues France For Taking Away His 24-Year-Old Domain “France.com”

      Jean-Noel Frydman, a French-born American who is the founder of the company France.com, has started a legal war against the French Republic, Atout France, The Ministry For Europe And Foreign Affairs, and Versign. Inc.

      He filed a lawsuit in the US after his domain France.com was seized and its ownership was transferred to the French Ministry of Affairs on March 12, 2018, without any notification or payout to Frydman.

    • France seizes France.com from man who’s had it since ‘94, so he sues

      A French-born American has now sued his home country because, he claims, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has illegally seized a domain that he’s owned since 1994: France.com.

      In the mid-1990s, Jean-Noël Frydman bought France.com from Web.com and set up a website to serve as a “digital kiosk” for Francophiles and Francophones in the United States.

      For over 20 years, Frydman built up a business (also known as France.com), often collaborating with numerous official French agencies, including the Consulate General in Los Angeles and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

      [...]

      Finally, on March 12, 2018, Web.com abruptly transferred ownership of the domain to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The company did so without any formal notification to Frydman and no compensation.

      “I’m probably [one of Web.com's] oldest customers,” Frydman told Ars. “I’ve been with them for 24 years… There’s never been any cases against France.com, and they just did that without any notice. I’ve never been treated like that by any company anywhere in the world. If it happened to me, it can happen to anyone.”

    • France is being sued by man who had his France.com domain seized

      Usually, the practice of seizing web domains is done to prevent illegal activity such as piracy. However, in 2011, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) ruled that any .com or .net domains came under their jurisdiction regardless of whether or not the servers are based in the USA.

      A lot of water has passed under the bridge since those days, but nevertheless, the fact that the domain is not .fr but rather a .com demonstrates the potential complications for the French defence.

      Basically, it will come down to whether or not a judge rules that a country’s name is a trademark in all contexts in perpetuity and can then make it stand up in court, globally.

    • France’s battle over the domain name France.com

      In April of 2015, the State of France launched a legal battle – in France – to expropriate the domain name France.com, without any indemnification, from its rightful owner: the United States company France.com, Inc, claiming the latter had registered the domain name in bad faith and had not been authorized by the French state to use it.

      This assertion is not only groundless and absurd, it’s entirely dishonest. This website presents the 20+ years of constant partnership between France.com and various entities and branches of the French government who were not only aware of France.com’s existence, but consistently encouraged and supported its initiatives and activities.

    • Where They Tell You Not to Look

      At the very beginning of the of the Skripal incident, the security services blocked by D(SMA) notice any media mention of Pablo Miller and told the media not to look at Orbis and the Steele dossier on Trump, acting immediately to get out their message via trusties in the BBC and Guardian. Gordon Corera, “BBC Security Correspondent”, did not name the source who told him to say this, but helpfully illustrated his tweet with a nice picture of MI6 Headquarters.

      [...]

      Harding has since made his living from peddling a stream of anti-Assange, anti-Snowden and above all, anti-Russian books, with great commercial success, puffed by the entire mainstream media. But when challenged by the non-mainstream media about the numerous fact free assertions on behalf of the security services to be found in his books, Harding is not altogether convincing. You can watch this video, in which Harding outlines how emoticons convinced him someone was a Russian agent, together with this fascinating analysis which really is a must-read study of anti-Russian paranoia. There is a similar analysis here.

    • FOSTA/SESTA Was Passed Based On Made Up Stats About Sex Trafficking

      Last year we had a post detailing how the numbers that supporters of SESTA were pushing didn’t appear to have any factual basis. Some huge numbers were thrown around, claiming that trafficking was a $9.8 billion industry or that thousands of kids were lured into sex trafficking every year. But, when reporters and experts dug into those numbers, they found that they were either made up, involved egregious sampling errors or insane extrapolation. These reports all suggested that while sex trafficking is real, the problem is not nearly as big as politicians and supporters of SESTA were making it out to be.

      Now an article in Buzzfeed by two academics provides even more details in how the claims about sex trafficking used to pass FOSTA/SESTA were based on myths. The two academics, Drs. Jenny Heineman and Brooke Wagner point to a ton of empirical research they did (funded by the Justice Department) that completely debunked some of the key claims behind SESTA/FOSTA. The first myth? That no one chooses sex work, but that nearly all sex workers are victims of trafficking by pimps. That’s not what they found.

    • Don’t silence graduation speakers: Fight hate speech with more speech

      As graduation season approaches and commencement speakers are announced, universities are no doubt bracing for yet another season of controversy over the choice of speaker. And no wonder: A recurrent, troubling theme in the news media is that college students’ support for free speech is diminishing, especially when they find the speech offensive. In March, a Gallup/Knight Foundation survey found that a majority of students value diversity over free speech, and that nearly two-thirds think the First Amendment should not protect hate speech.

      There is less media coverage, however, of survey data highlighting positive aspects of students’ reported experiences concerning both diversity and free speech. For example, in a 2016 Gallup/Knight survey, nearly three-fourths of students described the racial climate on their campus as excellent or good. These positive attitudes were shared by large majorities of Hispanic (75%), Asian (70%), and black (62%) students. Moreover, in the 2018 Gallup/Knight survey, only one out of four students overall said they have felt uncomfortable because of something that was said on campus about their race, ethnicity or religion and overwhelming majorities of students in all demographic and political categories say they are able to freely express their views.

    • Censorship ‘maybe’? Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam fails to reassure on press freedom

      Professor Benny Tai’s recent musings about a possible future democratic China and an independent Hong Kong, have produced a thunderous response from on high. But oddly enough, he has published the same views here in Hong Kong to no adverse effect whatsoever. On the contrary, his musings had passed unnoticed.

      Their forerunner appeared months ago in the ever-so-moderate Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal, and online in English. The title: “Ten Possibilities About the Political Future of China.” In contrast, his platform last month was sponsored by an anti-Communist group in Taiwan and the combination sent both mainland and Hong Kong officials into overdrive.

    • Facebook’s Censorship In Germany

      As many critics pointed out, this state censorship makes freedom of speech subject to the arbitrary decisions of corporate entities that are likely to censor more than absolutely necessary, rather than risk a crushing fine of up to 50 million euros ($65 million USD). According to a newspaper report, Facebook’s censors have just ten seconds to decide whether to delete a comment or not.

    • 7 TV Anime Affected by Japanese Censorship

      What sort of pesky things get anime censored on Japanese television? There’s the standard “this is too scandalous for the airwaves” that causes an episode to be marred by steamy bathroom fog or obscuring rays of light. That’s not really what we’re talking about here, though. Those examples are more along the lines of “buy the Blu-ray!” or “watch it on AT-X for nipples!” In these specific cases listed this week, censorship was less about abject nudity except for one case. These anime are examples of what happens when creators toe the line of parody versus copyright infringement or an episode’s plot too closely mirrors a recent tragedy.

    • Kenya film board’s “censorship” of a teenage love story is the latest blackout of gay rights
    • Diamond and Silk accuse Facebook of censorship
    • Thousands rally in Moscow to send Telegram support
    • Thousands in Moscow slam Kremlin’s Telegram attack
    • Thousands of Russians protest against Kremlin’s block on Telegram messaging app
    • Here’s What Happened at the Telegram Protest in Moscow
    • Russian internet protests: Thousands take to the streets to show opposition to censorship
    • ‘They Want to Block Our Future’: Thousands Protest Russia’s Internet Censorship
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Chinese authorities claim they can read deleted WeChat messages

      We’d take the claim with a grain of salt. It’s entirely possible that the watchdog was exaggerating its abilities, or misinterpreted its evidence gathering. However, the very fact that people are entertaining the idea speaks volumes about China’s approach to surveillance. It hates the thought that any data might be outside its reach, and it’s willing to go to great lengths to ensure it can collect that data.

    • Facebook is trying to block Schrems II privacy referral to EU top court

      Facebook’s lawyers are attempting to block a High Court decision in Ireland, where its international business is headquartered, to refer a long-running legal challenge to the bloc’s top cou

    • Facebook bids to keep data privacy case from EU’s top court

      A Facebook lawyer asked for the referral to be delayed to allow Ireland’s Supreme Court to decide if it would accept an appeal. Facebook would seek an accelerated referral to the Supreme Court so that it would take days not months to decide on whether to allow an appeal, said lawyer Paul Gallagher.

    • Privacy Foundation expresses alarm over ASD report

      The Australian Privacy Foundation says it is “seriously alarmed” about the weekend’s report that the Australian Signals Directorate is trying to extend its powers to spy on Australian citizens.

    • UK has six months to rewrite snooper’s charter, high court rules

      The British government must rewrite its mass data surveillance legislation because it is incompatible with European law, the high court has ruled.

      Judges have given ministers and officials six months to redraft the 2016 Investigatory Powers Act, labelled the snooper’s charter by critics, following a crowdfunded challenge by the human rights group Liberty.

    • China’s growing surveillance apparatus drives cross-border patent deals

      China is home to an estimated 170 million closed-circuit television cameras, and the BBC reports that another 400 million are set to come online by 2020. Chinese tech firms are pushing the limits of facial recognition technology, giving these cameras powerful capabilities. This has a range of impacts on security, commerce and everyday life in China – but it also appears to be driving some small-scale patent transactions.

    • Drug Use Is Detectable on Your Fingerprints

      Fingerprints are the oldest and most widely used biometric marker. Artifacts unearthed from ancient Babylon, China, and Persia show that fingerprints were often used on clay tablets and seals for business transactions and official documents. The loops, whorls, and arches that emerge from the “friction ridges” that form on a fetus’s developing fingers become unique to each person, and it’s no surprise that fingerprint identification has also been the gold standard in law enforcement and forensics since about the early 1900s. More recently, fingerprint verification technology has become almost ubiquitous in our daily lives as an access key for everything from smartphones and computers to bank accounts, offices, and even health records.

      For all its utility, however, the image of this distinctive, swirling pattern has been the most information that you could extract from a fingerprint—though that’s starting to change. A raft of sensitive new fingerprint-analysis techniques is proving to be a potentially powerful, and in some cases worrying, new avenue for extracting intimate personal information—including what drugs a person has used.

    • Device Detects Drug Use Through Fingerprints, Raising A Host Of Constitutional Questions

      If this tech becomes a routine part of law enforcement loadouts, judicial Fourth and Fifth Amendment findings are going to be upended. Or, at least, they should be. I guess citizens will just have to see how this all shakes out.

    • How to Wrestle Your Data From Data Brokers, Silicon Valley — and Cambridge Analytica

      Cambridge Analytica thinks that I’m a “Very Unlikely Republican.” Another political data firm, ALC Digital, has concluded I’m a “Socially Conservative,” Republican, “Boomer Voter.” In fact, I’m a 27-year-old millennial with no set party allegiance.

      For all the fanfare, the burgeoning field of mining our personal data remains an inexact art.

      One thing is certain: My personal data, and likely yours, is in more hands than ever. Tech firms, data brokers and political consultants build profiles of what they know — or think they can reasonably guess — about your purchasing habits, personality, hobbies and even what political issues you care about.

      You can find out what those companies know about you but be prepared to be stubborn. Very stubborn. To demonstrate how this works, we’ve chosen a couple of representative companies from three major categories: data brokers, big tech firms and political data consultants.

    • The latest ruling against the Snooper’s Charter is welcome, but the Courts need to do more
    • Twitter admits it flogged data to Cambridge Analytica-linked academic

      The Sunday Telegraph found that Twitter provided Kogan’s own data-centric commercial enterprise Global Science Research with public Twitter data.

      Twitter later confirmed that was indeed the case in a statement but was adamant that it did not give any private user data to Kogan.

    • Twitter caught up in Cambridge Analytica data scandal

      Twitter sold data to the Cambridge University academic who harvested millions of Facebook users’ information without their knowledge, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

      Aleksandr Kogan, who created tools for Cambridge Analytica that allowed the political consultancy to psychologically profile and target voters, bought the data from the microblogging website in 2015, before the recent scandal came to light.

    • Confirmed: Twitter Also Sold Data To Cambridge Analytica Researcher

      Cambridge Analytica and Facebook have been in the headlines for past one month for all the wrong reasons. Now, as per the latest revelation, Twitter is facing flak for selling data to Cambridge Analytica-linked researcher, Aleksandr Kogan.

    • Twitter Sold Data Access to Cambridge Analytica–Linked Researcher

      Twitter Inc. sold data access to the Cambridge University academic who also obtained millions of Facebook Inc. users’ information that was later passed to a political consulting firm without the users’ consent.

    • International Standards Body Rejects Weakened IOT Encryption Methods Pushed By The NSA

      The NSA has again been outed for pushing compromised encryption standards. An early Snowden leak showed the agency paid RSA $10 million to promote a weakened encryption standard. RSA offered up a denial that didn’t exactly contradict the evidence provided by the leaked documents. A few years later, NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) removed the Dual Elliptic Curve algorithm from its recommendations, citing its distrust of the agency pushing for its adoption: the NSA. Dual EC appeared to be deliberately weakened, reducing encryption-breaking efforts to a matter of seconds, rather than hours or days.

      The NSA is once again at the center of an encryption controversy. This time the intended target of weakened encryption standards is the Internet of Things. As Kieran McCarthy of The Register reports, the NSA’s hard-sell approach backfired, leaving its preferred attack vectors encryption algorithms locked out by an international standards body.

    • Death of GCHQ spy Gareth Williams should be investigated again according to ex Scotland Yard cop
    • Calls for new probe into mysterious death of Brit spy found padlocked in holdall in light of Skripal poisoning
    • Death of spy-in-the-bag Gareth Williams should be investigated again after Salisbury poisonings, demands former Scotland Yard top cop
    • Detective calls for fresh probe into mysterious death of spy whose body was found inside padlocked holdall in light of Skripal poisoning case
    • ‘Forget the Facebook leak’: China is mining data directly from workers’ brains on an industrial scale

      On the surface, the production lines at Hangzhou Zhongheng Electric look like any other.

      Workers outfitted in uniforms staff lines producing sophisticated equipment for telecommunication and other industrial sectors.

      But there’s one big difference – the workers wear caps to monitor their brainwaves, data that management then uses to adjust the pace of production and redesign workflows, according to the company.

      The company said it could increase the overall efficiency of the workers by manipulating the frequency and length of break times to reduce mental stress.

      Hangzhou Zhongheng Electric is just one example of the large-scale application of brain surveillance devices to monitor people’s emotions and other mental activities in the workplace, according to scientists and companies involved in the government-backed projects.

    • Facebook warns investors to expect bigger and worse scandals than Cambridge Analytica

      [...] But in reality, Facebook is designed to allow its partners to violate its users’ privacy, so the fact that Cambridge Analytica got caught with its hand in 80 million of our cookie-jars is an indication of how incompetent they were (they were the easiest to detect, in part because of their public boasting about their wrongdoing), and that means there are much worse scammers who are using Facebook to steal our data in ways that makes CA look like the petty grifters they are.

    • Facebook got an earnings boost, but here’s the fine print

      “We anticipate that our ongoing investments in safety, security, and content review will identify additional instances of misuse of user data or other undesirable activity by third parties on our platform,” Facebook said in its 10-Q filing. It is a point that Zuckerberg made again and again during his Congressional testimony earlier this month.

    • WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum is leaving Facebook after clashing over data privacy

      However, Facebook pushed WhatsApp to change its terms of service last year to give the larger social network access to WhatsApp users’ phone numbers. Facebook leadership also pushed for unified profiles across its products that could be used for data mining and ad targeting, as well as a recommendation system that would suggest Facebook friends based on WhatsApp contacts.

    • WhatsApp founder plans to leave after broad clashes with parent Facebook

      But even in the early days, there were signs of a mismatch. WhatsApp had less than $20 million in revenue at the time of the acquisition. Facebook was making billions of dollars by selling advertisers access to its users, on whom it had collected large amounts of information.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Police Use Genealogy Site To Locate Murder Suspect They’d Been Hunting For More Than 30 Years

      This “search” may possibly close the books on at least ten unsolved murders featuring the same suspect DNA. The process involved, however, raises questions. But customers of companies like GEDmatch and 23andMe probably won’t like the answers. Any ethical questions they may have about companies sharing DNA info with law enforcement is likely covered by the terms of service. Customers looking to the Bill of Rights may be disappointed to discover the courts have little positive to say about Fourth Amendment protections for third party records.

      Adding your DNA to these databases makes this info publicly-available. If everyone’s DNA was siloed off from everyone else’s, genealogy services would be completely useless. It’s expected your DNA info will be shared with others. If “others” includes law enforcement, the terms of service have that eventuality covered. Even if other uses of your DNA weren’t specified, there’s nothing illegal about law enforcement agencies creating accounts to submit DNA for matches. If there’s a Constitutional challenge, the third party doctrine likely eliminates anything remaining for the court to consider once it gets past the obvious hurdle: DNA-matching services match DNA. Complete strangers are able to “access” DNA info of others without creating privacy issues.

      GEDmatch’s response to all of this? If you don’t want your DNA to end up in the hands of law enforcement, delete your account. This isn’t exactly customer-friendly, but it reflects the reality of participating in a service that offers DNA matching. Even if a company refuses to hand over info voluntarily, it probably wouldn’t take more than a subpoena to knock it loose. As long as law enforcement is using the system like a customer would — that is, simply submitting DNA for a match — the only problems it poses are at the far end of the ethical spectrum. If it’s doing anything else — like asking companies to notify them if certain DNA samples are submitted — then there are problems. But as long as it’s not inserting itself into the supply chain, there’s really no privacy invasion occurring.

    • Cops take dead man’s smartphone to his corpse in attempt to unlock it
    • It’s Sex Discrimination, Not My Chest, That’s Disrupting Class

      I should really be studying for my upcoming final exams right now. Instead, I’m a bit distracted spending the final months of my junior year fighting the School District of Manatee County’s sexist attack on my body.

      My life was completely different just a month ago. Over spring break, I was a normal teenager having a blast at the lazy river in Orlando. It was so much fun, and so hot, that I got sunburnt pretty badly, which made the car ride home uncomfortable.

      [...]

      The dean eventually asked me to wear a shirt underneath the one I was wearing to constrict the movement of my breasts and conceal my nipples. But after I doubled up on t-shirts, she still seemed dissatisfied.

      [...]

      The dean sent me to the clinic, where I was told to use band-aids to ‘X’ out my nipples in the restroom. I stared in the restroom mirror with hot tears running down my face, unable to pull myself together. I bemoaned that if I were a smaller girl, this wouldn’t have happened to me. And it definitely wouldn’t have happened if I were a boy. I typically don’t struggle with body image issues, but that day I surely did.

    • EU Government Looking To Expand, Standardize Whistleblower Protections

      Some good news is on the way for European whistleblowers, as Pirate Party member Julia Reda reports. A legal proposal to strengthen and unify whistleblower protections has been published by the European Commission. It does far more than restate existing protections. It expands them to cover the private sector and does away with some (but not all) of the barriers standing in the way of exposing fraud, abuse, and misconduct.

      The proposal covers a wide variety of industries and all government entities. It also strips away one key barrier by eliminating the need for whistleblowers to justify their complaints and disclosures. All whistleblowers need is “reasonable grounds to believe” what they’re reporting is true and falls under the coverage provided by the proposal.

      Confidentiality is required and protections — both from civil and criminal charges — are part of the proposal. The proposal also suggests whistleblowers should be given police protection if called to testify in criminal cases resulting from their whistleblowing.

      But it’s not all good news. The Greens/EFA fact sheet [PDF] on the proposal notes a few areas need improvement. To begin with, confidentiality is supposedly guaranteed but the proposal does not allow for the possibility of anonymous reporting. In addition, whistleblowers won’t be afforded protections unless they take their complaints through proper channels, no matter how badly that might turn out for the would-be whistleblower.

    • Who Owns the Vikings? Pagans, Neo-Nazis and Advertisers Tussle Over Symbols
  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Will regulators approve the massive T-Mobile-Sprint merger?

      As the two smaller players in a wireless industry dominated by four companies, T-Mobile and Sprint argue that they need to link up to effectively challenge Verizon and AT&T, and the creation of a new wireless behemoth — with nearly 100 million customers — will allow them to build out a national 5G network. T-Mobile CEO John Legere has already raised the specter of Chinese competition on the next-generation network technology. And although that argument will be thoroughly questioned by critics, it’s one that could get some play in the Trump administration.

    • The Internet Archive Can’t Preserve the Web’s History by Itself

      Social media is full of screenshots of web pages being used as evidence. Screenshots allow for annotation, highlighting, and circumventing character limits on Twitter, but the ease with which they are manipulated means they are unreliable and may fail to properly document their source. For pictures of kittens or your friends’ children, such provenance is probably not necessary, but if you seek to document a public figure’s malfeasance, the evidentiary threshold is higher.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • U.S. Trade Representative Releases 2018 Special 301 Report [Ed: USTR just bullies/blackmails countries until they obey US billionaires]

      Administration’s intentions to work with, cajole, coerce, or threaten other countries to increase protection for IP rights of U.S. IP rights holders.

    • US Calls Out Dozens of Countries on Yearly ‘Piracy Watchlist’

      The Office of the United States Trade Representative has published its yearly Special 301 Report, highlighting countries that fail to live up to US copyright protection standards. The Trump administration remains dedicated to effective enforcement of IP rights, and keeps Canada, Switzerland, Russia and more than two dozen other countries on the ‘Watch List.’

    • Software Development Agreement Not a Clear Conveyance of Patent Rights

      James v. j2 Cloud Servs., LLC, No. 2017-1506, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 10025 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 20, 2018) (Before Reyna, Taranto, and Hughes, J.) (Opinion for the court, Taranto, J.).

      Gregory James alleged that he is the sole inventor of the j2 ‘638 patent, and brought an action to correct inventorship under 35 U.S.C. §256. The district court dismissed the case for lack of standing, finding Mr. James assigned his rights to the patent and lost any concrete interest sufficient for him to sue. Construing all factual disputes in favor of Mr. James, as is proper at the pleadings stage, the Federal Circuit reversed. It rejected the district court’s conclusion that Mr. James assigned his rights under a Software Development Agreement (”SDA”) or the “hired-to-invent” doctrine.

    • Continued contraction of Chinese smartphone market could cause a royalty crunch

      According to recent research published by Canalys, smartphone shipments in China just suffered their largest quarterly setback on record. With the world’s biggest handset market shrinking at perhaps a faster pace than expected, one has got to wonder whether smartphone licensing revenues from the country have also peaked. We knew at the start of this year that China’s smartphone market had posted its first-ever annual decline for the year of 2017 – shipments were off 4% compared with 2016. The first quarter data for calendar year 2018 look more drastic.

    • Patents Without Examination: A Bad Solution For The 21st Century

      Brazil has historically been at the forefront of developing countries pushing for a more balanced intellectual property (IP) regime.

      Over the past two decades, there has been serious pushback from the developing world against the dominant IP regime. In large part, this is because wealthier countries have sought to impose a one-size-fits-all model on the world, by influencing the rule-making process at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and forcing their will via trade agreements.

      [...]

      The central problem is that knowledge is a (global) public good, both in the technical sense that the marginal cost of someone using it is zero and in the more general sense that an increase in knowledge can improve wellbeing globally. Given this, the worry has been that the market will undersupply knowledge and research will not be adequately incentivised.

      Throughout the late 20th century, the conventional wisdom was that this market failure could best be rectified by introducing another one: private monopolies, created through stringent patents, strictly enforced. But private IP protection is just one route to solving the problem of encouraging and financing research. It has been more problematic than had been anticipated, even for advanced countries.

      An increasingly dense “patent thicket” in a world of products requiring thousands of patents has sometimes stifled innovation, with more spent on lawyers than on researchers in some cases. Research is often directed not at producing new products but at extending, broadening and leveraging the monopoly power granted through the patent.

    • Nokia pushes its licensing horizons further after another strong quarter

      Nokia followed its outstanding 2017 in IP with a strong FY 2018 first quarter, underlining its status as the market’s standout performer. Revenues from Nokia Technologies, the division largely made up of patent, brand and technology licensing, reached €365 million. That is up from €247 million for the first three months of last year and represents an increase of 48%. Gross profit for the division also leapt, growing from €116 million to €274 million year-on-year. These new results come on the back of the company’s excellent licensing performance in 2017.

    • Copyrights

      • Epic Decides To Double Down On Copyright For Cheating Lawsuit Against 14 Year Old By Taking On Mom

        When Blizzard decided to pretzel copyright law such that cheating in its online games constituted copyright infringement in a novel way that makes no sense, we warned that other game studios would join this insanity party and create a true judicial problem for the courts. Unfortunately for the world, we were right about that, and several other studios began claiming that such cheats broke EULAs and that this somehow resulted in copyright infringement, despite no actual copying occurring. Among those other studios was Epic, makers of the popular Fortnite game, but unique in that it managed to sweep up a 14 year old using a cheat in its lawsuits. The prospect of suing high school freshmen was likely not what EPIC had in mind with its lawsuits and, after the teen’s mother responded to the court chastising the company for the lawsuit and also arguing that her son could not have agreed to the EULA as a minor, we noted what a massive PR nightmare this had become for Epic.

      • Congress And The CASE Of The Proposed Bill That Helps Copyright Trolls

        One of the recurrent themes on Techdirt is that law itself should not become a tool for unlawful abuse. No matter how well-intentioned, if a law provides bad actors with the ability and opportunity to easily chill others’ speech or otherwise lawful activity, then it is not a good law.

        The CASE Act is an example of a bad law. On the surface it may seem like a good one: one of the reasons people are able to abuse the legal system to shut down those they want to silence is because getting sucked into a lawsuit, even one you might win, can be so ruinously expensive. The CASE Act is intended to provide a more economical way to resolve certain types of copyright infringement disputes, particularly those involving lower monetary value.

        But one of the reasons litigation is expensive is because there are number of checks built into it to make sure that before anyone can be forced to pay damages, or be stopped from saying or doing what they were saying or doing, that the party making this demand is actually entitled to. A big problem with the CASE Act is that in exchange for the cost-savings it may offer, it gives up many of those critical checks.

      • And just like that, the copyright industry lost everything they’d fought for

        It was just an idea posted in a random financial forum, but people saw the implications immediately. The Bitcoin-BCH financial network brings with it an uncensorable Twitter-like microblogging, called Memo. Once somebody realized this can also be used for magnet links, the copyright industry’s despicable repression game was at the beginning of its inevitable end.

The Software Patenting Hopefuls Still Hope to Convince Patent Examiners (or the USPTO’s Leadership) to Keep Granting Software Patents Which US Courts Repeatedly Reject

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 8:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Any bogus (or ‘toxic’) patent which gets granted because of short-term profit motives can cause millions if not billions in damages (to potentially innocent parties), so think carefully before a grant…

Toxic

Summary: Serving patent trolls for the most part (nefarious actors that dodge the courts by going after defenseless individuals and/or companies), the US patent office still hands out software patents and law firms — in addition to their front groups like IPO, IPLAC and AIPLA — try to urge the US Patent and Trademark Office Director Andrei Iancu to water down § 101

AT risk of repeating ourselves many dozens of times, whereas the USPTO continues to grant software patents, US courts do not tolerate these. It renders many granted software patents obsolete if not worthless. Patent trolls can still utilise these, provided that the party which they extort is poor and unlikely to take matters to courts. They can do this over and over again. They typically lose their patent/s when they pick on a party a little ‘too’ large — one that disputes the legitimacy of the patent/s and gets PTAB/courts to invalidate it/these.

“Will Iancu be a ‘drone’ for these patent maximalists, being a patent maximalist himself (he came from a law firm)? It’s a real danger.”What does this tell us? The courts declining to affirm software patents isn’t enough. US patent examiners should do the same. No software patents should be granted at all in the first place.

Section 101/Alice brought us a step close to that. It’s not too surprising that patent trolls and their lawyers seem to be moaning the most. Actual technology firms seem to be happy with patent reforms and as HTIA (front group for technology firms) has just put it (quoting the EFF): “Alice has threatened the trolling business model so much that it keeps facing threats, in both courts and Congress.”

Section 101/PTAB rants come mostly from lawyers who are close to patent trolls, such as Mr. Gross, who said: “PTAB at it again, conflates roles of claims and specification in rejecting #patent claims under 101: “claims recite abstract conceptual advice as to results to be achieved devoid of TECHNOLOGICAL IMPLEMENTATION DETAILS” https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2016005871-04-23-2018-1 … details are in SPEC, not CLAIMS” (shouting is normal for him).

There are rants like these every day from him. He’s connected to the Texas-based patent troll Dominion Harbor, whose site he uses to attack the EFF.

Anyway, an EFF-connected news site (reposting articles about patents for the EFF) has just published this timely article titled “USPTO Suggests That AI Algorithms Are Patentable, Leading To A Whole Host Of IP And Ethics Questions” (we wrote about it last month).

Iancu et al are just lawyers, so they don’t quite understand that “AI” is basically just a very old (but recently-revived) buzzword that refers to mere algorithms that achieve ‘cleverness’. To quote TechDirt:

The world is slowly but surely marching towards newer and better forms of artificial intelligence, with some of the world’s most prominent technology companies and governments heavily investing in it. While limited or specialist AI is the current focus of many of these companies, building what is essentially single-trick intelligent systems to address limited problems and tasks, the real prize at the end of this rainbow is an artificial general intelligence. When an AGI could be achieved is still squarely up in the air, but many believe this to be a question of when, not if, such an intelligence is created. Surrounding that are questions of ethics that largely center on whether an AGI would be truly sentient and conscious, and what that would imply about our obligations to such a mechanical being.

[...]

Again, this seems to be a misunderstanding of what an algorithm is. The organization and ordering of a series of math equations is not human invention. It is most certainly human ingenuity, but so was the understanding of the Bernouli Principle, which didn’t likewise result in a patent on the math that makes airplanes fly. Allowing companies and researchers to lock up the mathematical concepts for artificial intelligence, whatever the expected incentivizing benefits, is pretty clearly beyond the original purpose and scope of patent law.

But let’s say the USPTO and other governments ignore that argument. Keep in mind that algorithms that govern the behavior of AI are mirrors of the intelligent processes occurring in human brains. They are that which will make up the “I” for an AI, essentially making it what it is. Once we reach the level of AGI, its reasonable to consider those algorithms to be the equivalent of the brain function and, by some arguments, consciousness of a mechanical or digital being. Were the USPTO to have its way, that consciousness would be patentable. For those that believe we might one day be the creators of some form of digital life or consciousness, that entire concept is absurd, or at least terribly unethical.

It’s nice to see these rebuttals regarding patents on algorithms even in sites like TechDirt (they rarely speak explicitly about software patents). It certainly seems like the patent microcosm still fights hard for a resurgence of such patents. Yesterday for example, Smith Amundsen LLC published something titled “Software Patent Clarity Not (Yet) Found” (the key word here is “Clarity” if not “Yet”).

This is a classic lie from the patent microcosm — a classic lie that accompanies loaded statements and questions. There’s no lack of clarity over software patents — they’re just refusing to accept the facts because that means money. They also use the word “yet” as if to suggest that it’s inevitable that Section 101 will be watered down and they’ll be back to patenting algorithms at ease. From the article:

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an oversight hearing on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Newly-appointed Director Andrei Iancu provided refreshing dialogue for inventors—especially those in the software industry—indicating that much needed support for software patents is high on his agenda. But where do we stand today?

Software can be patented and is patented fairly frequently. But, software provides a unique challenge to patent applicants in most instances; below is a quick tutorial (or refresher) on what you can expect from the software patent examination process.

[...]

Software architects and developers appreciate the complexity and novelty of their work, but the USPTO isn’t always as understanding.

Notice that last sentence. It’s another classic lie from the patent microcosm (courtesy of Smith Amundsen LLC in this case). They are trying to sell the illusion that software developers want software parents. It’s a lie. It’s a terrible lie and surely they know it.

Another example from yesterday came through Patent Docs. It’s basically patent lawyers and trolls’ front groups trying to bring back software patents under the guise of ‘fixing’ the law. Here’s what they said:

In a letter sent to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Andrei Iancu earlier this month, the Intellectual Property Law Association of Chicago (IPLAC) presented its proposal for a revised version of 35 U.S.C. § 100. IPLAC described its proposal as a harmonized version of revisions to § 101 proposed by the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) and American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), which IPLAC indicated “represent the most straightforward and comprehensive revisions to Section 101.” In crafting a harmonized version of § 101, IPLAC sought “to combine the recommendations from IPO and AIPLA into a single proposal furthers the current dialog regarding possible Section 101 revisions that can address the ambiguity and uncertainty recent Supreme Court precedent has created.”

Will Iancu be a ‘drone’ for these patent maximalists, being a patent maximalist himself (he came from a law firm)? It’s a real danger.

In the meantime, based on another article from yesterday, MasterCard continues to pursue bogus software patents that should not at all be granted because they’re nonsensical, abstract, mere ideas etc. The patent maximalists love the “blockchain” buzz and so do companies like MasterCard, which is part of a trend of patenting financial things under the guise of “blockchain” ([cref 108126 MasterCard is also on the receiving end of nuisance patent lawsuits). Here is what the article said:

MasterCard has filed a patent for a system to speed up the activation of new nodes in a blockchain, in an application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) April 26.

The application, which was first filed on October 24, 2016, outlines that the current difficulty facing new nodes – a computer connected to the blockchain network that stores a copy of the blockchain – is that they are required to individually verify a massive amount of data in order to activate. The patent states that new nodes must verify “thousands, millions, or even billions of transaction records […] in a vast number of different blocks” that may have accumulated over time in a given blockchain, generating a significant delay before each new node can begin to participate in the network.

[...]

Overall, the company appears to be vigorously pro-blockchain, yet anti-Bitcoin: in Oct. 2017, the company’s CEO scorned non-government issued cryptocurrencies as “junk.” This March, a senior MasterCard executive reiterated that the company is receptive to central bank-issued digital currencies only.

How could such patents be granted by the USPTO? How could examiners not see that these are software patents and thus ineligible under Section 101? Either way, with or without Iancu, we need to ensure that US patent examiners (aided by PTAB these days) refuse to grant such patents. Put in the wrong hands (as many “blockchain” patents already have been [1, 2]), they would cause financial devastation.

One Week Later, as Expected, the Patent Trolls’ Lobby Continues to Moan About Oil States and Tries to Bring Another Challenge to PTAB (at the Supreme Court Level)

Posted in Deception, Patents at 7:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent Lawyers’ Tears

Patent Lawyers' Tears

Summary: People who made their career out of patent maximalism aren’t entirely happy to see the media covering Oil States (like it did Alice and TC Heartland), knowing this decision contributes even further to the legitimacy of the appeal board, PTAB

THE USPTO spoke about the impact of the Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) decisions on PTAB yesterday afeternoon. We have not seen any coverage about that. At least not yet…

As a recap, here is what we have written about Oil States since this decision that was published almost exactly one week ago:

We said it would probably dominate the headlines for days if not weeks. Seeing Watchtroll’s latest attack on Oil States (as well as Section 101 and the rest) is therefore not surprising to us. Watchtroll wrote 3 articles about Oil States in just 5 hours after the decision. Court- or jurist-bashing included, as usual. Watch the comments from the likes of Paul Morinville; these aren't mere maximalists but what we often call/refer to as patent extremists. These are the sorts of people who were bullying Michelle Lee until she quit her job, leaving a vacuum for some law firm that used to work for Donald Trump to take over.

Well, anyway, Watchtroll went even further than this. Writing about John Bean Techs. Corp. v Morris & Assocs. (a CAFC case involving estoppel) they carry on pretending that almost nothing has just happened. Estoppel has also just been noted in relation to Akeso Health Sciences, LLC v Designs for Health, Inc. — a case that Docket Navigator tracks extra closely:

The court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment that plaintiff’s patent infringement claims were barred by equitable estoppel due to its ten-year delay in filing suit and found that defendant was materially prejudiced by plaintiff’s silence following its cease-and-desist letter.

We won’t let the patent microcosm leave Oil States behind and distract from (or bash); this is what they want. In fact, seeking to undo the ‘damage’, they try to get another case like Oil States going at the Supreme Court. Watchtroll writes about Droplets (already promoted by Patently-O). They try to get many firms/groups involved, in order to put pressure on SCOTUS and compel Justices to deal with the case. It is not a special case and it doesn’t merit SCOTUS time; in short, PTAB found the patent to be bogus and CAFC re/affirmed (agreed). Why appeal to SCOTUS? Here’s what Watchtroll said yesterday:

In an IPR brought by E*Trade in response to an infringement suit by Droplets, the Board found that the Droplets ‘115 patent was invalid due to obviousness. The patent properly claimed priority to the ‘838 patent but also attempted to claim priority to an earlier ‘917 provisional patent and an intervening ‘745 patent through incorporation by reference. The Board concluded that these priority claims were not proper, and the Federal Circuit agreed.

So that’s it; nothing too unique about this. It happens every week.

Patently-O, a PTAB-bashing blog favoured among the patent microcosm, still loses its mind over patent reform. SCOTUS just constantly refuses to stop PTAB (not even with a Trump-appointed Justice), which basically eliminates bogus patents that should never have been granted. Patently-O wrote this a day ago:

Until today, a host of patent cases have been pending before the Supreme Court — hanging onto the coattails of Oil States. Following full affirmance of the IPR regime, the Supreme Court has now denied certiorari in those cases. The one additional case that was ripe-for-certiorari in the most recent Conference is PNC Bank National Association v. Secure Axcess, LLC, No. 17-350. The court issued no order in that case — suggesting that it may be up for further consideration. In PNC, the substantive question is “whether . . . CBM review requires that the claims of the patent expressly include a ‘financial activity element?’”

Good. SCOTUS already made it pretty clear (7 to 2) that PTAB is OK and can carry on. The patent microcosm just carries on trying to ‘shelve’ Oil States and override this decision as soon as possible. Patently-O tried hard to solicit briefs (or certiorari) to that effect.

Battistelli’s Alleged ‘Success’ is Like That of the United States Mint

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Printing money unbacked by anything concrete

United States Mint

Summary: The EPO produces no actual assets; it grants monopolies — a concept that fools like Battistelli and his ‘tribe’ are patently incapable of grasping (Battistelli was only introduced to this domain in his mid-fifties, in a country that is doing no patent examination)

THE USPTO is a quasi-Federal or government-tied agency. This means that excess funds can be released to the government and in times of trouble the government can increase the USPTO’s budget. We wrote about this topic earlier this year.

Europe is different because a central European government is relatively new and Battistelli is so thick that he pretends EPO (which predates the EU) is some kind of profitable business. Maybe he thinks “EPO” is also a ticker symbol in some stock market. It’s just absurd. Among EPO workers who spent decades in the Office the common response is brow-raising or jaw-dropping. How could such a boorish man be put in charge of the Office? It’s suicidal. It also causes suicides. Battistelli is unwilling and unable to listen; he literally attacks messengers, quite viciously at times. He doesn’t seem to understand that having power and monopoly to grant monopolies is not a business; it's like being given a money-printing machine (an analogy that EPO insiders already use). Speaking of printing, it is well known that when it comes to 3D printing there was almost no innovation for a number of decades purely because of patents. That’s common knowledge by now. It was only after these patents had expired that there was suddenly an explosion in usage and innovation. In some areas, as is widely accepted by honest scholars, patents actively depress innovation, prevent technology from coming to fruition in the market and so on. As someone put it this week: “One thing that allowed the modern drone industry to innovate so fast is that most of the core patents were filed by aerospace companies back in the mid-twentieth century and have since expired. The quadcopter patent, for example, was filed in 1962…”

“Europe is different because a central European government is relatively new and Battistelli is so thick that he pretends EPO (which predates the EU) is some kind of profitable business.”Yesterday IP Watch published “Patents Without Examination: A Bad Solution For The 21st Century” (no examinations means virtually no expenses, i.e. just a rubberstamp and an accounting department).

Well, someone ought to show this to Team Battistelli (at the EPO it’s all about Battistelli and his INPI cronies, who barely grasp the notion of patent examination and its importance).

By passing all the work to courts, e.g. UPC (which would not happen, so other courts), Battistelli basically makes examiners redundant and passes billions in damages to the European economy. He is possibly Europe’s most destructive person. His French Chief Economist is no economist but “his master’s voice,” judging by the puff pieces by (and about) him in the latest Gazette. If the EPO does not drive itself into bankruptcy, it almost certainly will drive many European firms into bankruptcy.

People Are Belatedly Asking All Those ‘Awkward’ Questions About UPC and the Lies Told by Team UPC

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 5:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Team UPC is ‘sanitising’ (deleting) comments it does not agree with (or aren’t good for Team UPC’s financial agenda), but can it hide the truth forever?

Alex Robinson

Summary: In spite of propaganda efforts (and attempt to suppress comments from UPC critics), people do manage to speak to one another about UPC lies and false underlying assumptions (e.g. that industry — not a niche of law firms which profit from litigation — longs for the UPC)

LESS than a week ago the bizarre (but expected) thing happened when Sam Gyimah tried to score political points with patent extremists. It was expected because Lucy had made a promise two years ago, causing backlash from rationalists and bafflement even among patent extremists. How can the Unified Patent Court (UPC) ever work in the UK after Brexit? The EPO has many member states that aren’t in the EU (hence Brexit has no real impact on Britain’s EPO membership, which predates the EU), but the same cannot be said about UPC. We have since the announcement written the following 5 posts:

We have been rather amused by comments — the few of them that made the cut anyway. We’re pretty certain that many are being censored because Team UPC already admitted deleting some (and attempted to defend this censorship by insulting people with other viewpoints).

“We have been rather amused by comments — the few of them that made the cut anyway. We’re pretty certain that many are being censored because Team UPC already admitted deleting some (and attempted to defend this censorship by insulting people with other viewpoints).”UPC booster IAM is careful not to say too much about the UPC, especially after getting exposed for receiving money from the EPO’s PR firm (specifically for UPC promotion). Yesterday, IAM’s Adam Houldsworth wrote about “the UK’s ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement [saying it was] capturing the headlines in recent days…”

This ‘article’ is actually the tired old promotion of CRISPR patents — something which the EPO’s examiners (in oppositions capacity) famously rejected some months ago. From the outline:

With news of the US Supreme Court’s recent Oil States decision and the UK’s ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement capturing the headlines in recent days, patent professionals might be forgiven for allowing a crucial CRISPR-Cas9 dispute to slip under the radar. But they would be wrong to do so. Described by a former Chief Judge as a possible “case of the year” for 2018, the Federal Circuit’s is today hearing an appeal in the dispute between the University of California, Berkeley and the Broad Institute – as well as their respective partners.

We were very surprised to see that Sam Gyimah’s actions received virtually no press coverage. Almost none! Team UPC wrote about it, primarily Bristows with about 4 posts in just a couple of days. “Tweets” mentioned this, not always in a positive way. Here’s one from FFII’s Benjamin Henrion:

I wonder if the UPC UK ratification can still be challenged in front of the High Court. If it does not comply with some ECHR provisions, I wonder why not #upc #uk

Henrion was alluding/linking to this person who covers Brexit a great deal. He did not write an article about this, only a couple of tweets [1, 2] or more:

…going to have to do thread on because this is more than just amusing coincidence… ratification INCREASES jurisdiction of European judges, including some based in Luxembourg, in UK, further integrates UK into European single market, in a new Court which asserts primacy of EU law

2. So Boris Johnson’s signature has just ratified UK membership of a new European court that “shall apply [European] Union law in its entirety and shall respect its primacy”… … when Govt policy is to end the jurisdiction and primacy of EU law in the UK…

“I didn’t think it would be long for the mainstream press to pick up on this,” a law journalist noted, but by “mainstream press” he means a couple of tweets, not actual news coverage. He did not link to an actual press article. We might see some soon.

Writing behind a paywall, a niche publication of patent maximalists said: [via]

After many questions and calls for clarity, the UK has announced its ratification of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement.

Notice the sole comment there. “And the Brexit deal is negotiated behind closed doors, as most trade deals are in the “democratic” Brussels,” Henrion told them.

“But perhaps the most interesting development/analysis happens in the comments thread in IP Kat (not posts/articles, which have been mostly UPC propaganda for the past couple of years).”As for Team UPC, one member of it wrote: “UK ratification of UPC and discussion about its compatibility with „taking back our laws“ may finally make it into the UK mainstream (as contrasted with legal/IP) media.”

But perhaps the most interesting development/analysis happens in the comments thread in IP Kat (not posts/articles, which have been mostly UPC propaganda for the past couple of years).

Here’s the latest:

Edyta – I think there is no point in analysing the logic of the ratification too much. Civil servants will probably be sorting out peripheral issues like IP in ways which gives the UK maximum flexibility whilst the central issue of the CJEU is worked out. As yet the UK has not developed the ‘principles’ which will guide our future relationship with the EU and therefore we have no idea what our eventual status will be in Europe. I suspect that apart from a few very sensitive areas like the status of EU citizens in the UK it will be impossible to have anything apart from a full departure from CJEU jurisdiction. However we don’t know that at this stage, and so we need to keep plodding along with Brexit keeping all options open.

SMEs are then bought up:

I’m not saying it’s not beneficial to UK SMEs for UK to be in the UPC, but I would like to ask WHY it is beneficial to UK SMEs, if anyone can help me out please?

It’s a lie. It has always been a lie. On Monday evening the EPO wrote: “Do your work with start-ups? These case studies on the impact of #intellectualproperty rights on business success might interest you…”

“Why is Sam Gyimah trying to impress these dangerous patent zealots?”Of course that’s a big fat lie. The EPO has even just used a hashtag for that lie, yet again: #IPforSMEs

The EPO generally believe that if it repeats lies over and over again, some of these might eventually stick.

This next comment from “SMEs and UPC, please stop the nonsense!” debunks the lies from Team UPC and Team Battistelli (specifically a lie about UPC being good for SMEs):

As far as the benefit for SMEs is concerned, be it in UK or elsewhere, one has to remember that the number of EP applications coming from EU member states is 35-40% at best.

As this figure includes all applications, you can guess that the number of applications coming from SME is an order of magnitude lower.

The EPO has published a study showing the benefit for SMEs from the patent system:

http://documents.epo.org/projects/babylon/eponet.nsf/0/FF76F6F0783153B7C12581A2004DA0D2/$File/epo_sme_case_studies_2017_en.pdf

From 12 SMEs presented, there was no British SME in the panel.

It is always tooted that SME can get a greater benefit through the UPC, but beside nice words, repeated like a Tibetan prayer mill, nothing concrete has been presented.

If they want to act against a infringer, the minimum fare at the UPC is 11 000€. If attacked, a counter-claim for nullity has a minimum price tag of 20 000€. I am not convinced that a lot of SMEs are prepared for it. For a while there was even question of a litigation insurance for SMEs. This project seems to have died.

You may thus draw your own conclusions, for any European SME in general, and British ones in particular..

The more these things are debated, the clearer it becomes that UPC is neither possible nor desirable in the UK. Team UPC, a small clique of aggressive law firms (including the one which Battistelli hired to SLAPP me), are the driving motor behind of these lies. Why is Sam Gyimah trying to impress these dangerous patent zealots?

It’s clear why they delete comments. Any debate of actual facts puts UPC in danger.

A Test for European Media: Will It Cover the Battistelli-TAD Scandal Like It Covered FIFA Scandals?

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Putin and BlatterstelliSummary: The so-called ‘Inventor Award’ is overt and blatant passage of EPO budget to Battistelli’s other employer and we believe that he should come under investigation for it; some journalists are rumoured to be looking into it at the moment

Yesterday, on the very last day of April, SUEPO woke up from a relatively long silence and highlighted two papers/articles that may relate to abuses against EPO staff. One is in German (mostly about Judge Patrick Corcoron), potentially with a full English translation to come imminently, and the other is rather old but mentions the EPO a large number of times in relation to ILO. EPO management, in the meantime, advertised its “Official Journal” (warning: epo.org link) — basically the public version of puff pieces like the Gazette's. This is what they advertised less than a day ago, helping to distract from a major scandal which, according to our understanding, “German and French investigative journalists” are looking into while EPO management lies to save face. It’s about the European Inventor Award, which is being mentioned by accounts which are soon thereafter retweeted by the EPO. The “Inventor Award,” I keep telling some of them, “is actually a bogus event that’s a cover for passage of millions of euros from the EPO to its president…”

Here is a video sent to us by a reader, along with some background information and a summary, which alludes to Battistelli’s drinking problem:

Hangover

…here an excerpt of the last session (04.11.2018) of the town Council in Saint Germain with a 3 minutes speech held by the deputy mayor in charge of culture, indeed Mr Battistelli. Battistelli is to Culture the same that he is to Democracy, not even a perception. Remember his manner to have a small talk : “connard”, “j’m’en fous, “ta gueule” belong to his favourite expressions, used with EPO staff or even with a Dutch minister. Just imagine Alexandre Dumas meeting Benoit Battistelli….


You see in this short video that the speech was written by himself, nothing astounding, rather a completely dull language. But there is a plausible explanation: See how difficult it is for him to pronounce the noun “artists” or the name “Mihăileanu”. Obviously Doc. Battistelli had more than just a glass of wine during dinner. Prosit!

There is however a more serious question to be answered: the town council discusses and agrees upon (or rejects) any cultural event involving the TAD but there is ONE event that didn’t even give the perception of a discussion during the sessions of the Council : the now infamously known “inventor of the year” event. Why does the Council have to discuss and agree upon the use of the venue in all other cases but not in the case involving the EPO? AFAIK, German and French investigative journalists are trying to find an answer and will be glad to let us know.

“Blatter did not really bribe the media using FIFA’s budget and as far as we know he did not SLAPP bloggers and journalists. Unlike Battistelli… “We urge readers not only to speak to journalists about it (this really ought to be covered widely!) but also to report this to the relevant authorities. It’s not hard to see who gains from this event other than EPO partners like Microsoft, which yesterday wrote: “we told you about Microsoft’s Alex Kipman and his nomination for the annual European Inventor Award, presented by the European Patent Office (EPO).”

Well, presented by Battistelli, who must be ‘wheeling’ millions of euros in contract sign-offs over in Munich and his home town nowadays. This really needs to be front page news, but Battistelli seems to be ‘different’ from Blatter. Blatter did not really bribe the media using FIFA’s budget and as far as we know he did not SLAPP bloggers and journalists. Unlike Battistelli…

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