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05.02.18

Links 2/5/2018: Focus on New Ubuntu and Fedora, Deb Nicholson joins Conservancy

Posted in News Roundup at 11:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Upgrading the home server rack

    My original home server rack is being upgraded to use more ARM machines as the infrastructure of the lab itself. I’ve also moved house, so there is more room for stuff and kit. This has allowed space for a genuine machine room. I will be using that to host test devices which are do not need manual intervention despite repeated testing. (I’ll also have the more noisy / brightly illuminated devices in the machine room.) The more complex devices will sit on shelves in the office upstairs. (The work to put the office upstairs was a major undertaking involving my friends Steve and Andy – embedding ethernet cables into the walls of four rooms in the new house. Once that was done, the existing ethernet cable into the kitchen could be fixed (Steve) and then connected to my new Ubiquity AP, (a present from Steve and Andy)).

    Before I moved house, I found that the wall mounted 9U communications rack was too confined once there were a few devices in use. A lot of test devices now need many cables to each device. (Power, ethernet, serial, second serial and USB OTG and then add a relay board with it’s own power and cables onto the DUT….)

    Devices like beaglebone-black, cubietruck and other U-Boot devices will go downstairs, albeit in a larger Dell 24U rack purchased from Vince who has moved to a larger rack in his garage. Vince also had a gigabit 16 port switch available which will replace the Netgear GS108 8-port Gigabit Ethernet Unmanaged Switch downstairs.

  • A semi-review of the Raptor Talos II

    After several days of messing with firmware and a number of false starts, the Talos II is now a functioning member of the Floodgap internal network. It’s under my desk with my other main daily drivers (my Quad G5, MDD G4, SGI Fuel and DEC Alpha 164LX) and shares a KVM. Thanks to the diligent folks at Raptor, who incredibly responded to my late night messages at 2am Pacific, the fans are now much more manageable and I’m able to get proper video output from the Radeon WX 7100 (though more on that in a minute). As proof of its functionality, I’m typing this blogpost on the Talos instead of on the G5.

  • Server

    • ​Cisco joins the Kubernetes cloud rush

      On May 1, Cisco announced Kubernetes support for AppDynamics and Cisco CloudCenter. With this integration, Cisco promises enterprises can easily harness the value of Kubernetes to help deliver experiences that exceed their customers’ expectations for scale, sophistication, and velocity.

      How? To start with the basics, companies are rapidly adopting containers on the promise of increased application agility. It’s containers that power continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD). While Kubernetes is a big help with this, since it enables you to manage multiple containers at once, there are still challenges with unlocking the full value of containers as they move applications from development into production environments in data centers and the cloud.

    • Kubernetes press release roundup: Cisco and Weaveworks
    • Cisco Tucks Kubernetes Support Into CloudCenter, AppDynamics

      Cisco further stuffed its Kubernetes basket by adding support for the container orchestrator into its CloudCenter management tool and recently acquired AppDynamics monitoring platform.

      Fabio Gori, senior director of cloud solutions marketing at Cisco, said the moves are part of an ongoing process to ease Kubernetes deployments while not limiting the power of the platform. He noted this has become increasingly important as enterprises move toward multi-cloud environments but are running into complexity challenges.

    • Cisco Embraces Kubernetes in APM, Cloud Offerings

      Cisco today said it will add new support for the open source Kubernetes container orchestration platform in its offerings for application performance monitoring (APM) and cloud systems management.

    • Cisco Pushes Kubernetes to Brownfield

      Cisco wants to help cloud operators monitor and orchestrate Kubernetes containers, integrating the open source software AppDynamics and CloudCenter services, the company announced Tuesday.

    • Cisco Announces Support for Open Source Kubernetes Container Platform

      Cisco today said it will add new support for the open source Kubernetes container orchestration platform in two of its software offerings.

      The company unveiled support for Kubernetes in its AppDynamics application performance monitoring (APM) suite and its Cisco CloudCenter (formerly called CliQr), used to securely deploy and manage applications in multiple environments, including on-premises and private and public clouds.

    • MayaData Releases Litmus – Open Source Chaos Engineering for Kubernetes & Free Tier of MayaOnline

      This week at KubeCon, the leading conference discussing cloud native and microservice technologies, MayaData, the sponsor of the OpenEBS project and MayaOnline, released a new open source project called Litmus.

  • Kernel Space

    • linux-4.16-ck1, MuQSS version 0.171 for linux-4.16

      Announcing a new -ck release, 4.16-ck1 with the latest version of the Multiple Queue Skiplist Scheduler, version 0.171. These are patches designed to improve system responsiveness and interactivity with specific emphasis on the desktop, but configurable for any workload.

    • Linux 4.16-ck1 Kernel Released, Bundles In The MuQSS 0.171 Scheduler

      Independent Linux kernel hacker Con Kolivas today released the Linux 4.16-ck1 stable kernel as his collection of kernel patches applied atop the vanilla Linux 4.16 upstream code-base. Most notable to that patch-set is the updated MuQSS 0.171 scheduler, which is also available for download on its own for patching against your own kernel build.

    • It’s Looking Hopeful V3D DRM Driver Will Make It Into Linux 4.18

      Work continues in an expedited manner on the “V3D” DRM driver formerly known as VC5 for supporting next-generation graphics hardware found on Broadcom SoCs.

      A few weeks ago VC5/V3D began its review process for the mainline kernel while the Broadcom graphics driver developer Eric Anholt has expressed optimism in his latest status update that the new driver will be ready for merging with the next cycle, Linux 4.18.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Is vRAN a Natural Fit For a Linux Foundation Project?

        A virtualized radio access network (vRAN) is a key part of the 5G network architecture as defined by the 3GPP. And vRAN is getting a lot of attention from network operators because it promises to lower operator capex and opex costs as well as make it possible for them to add new capabilities to the network more quickly.

        The growing interest in vRAN has prompted the creation of three different groups — the xRAN Forum, the Telecom Infra Project’s OpenRAN Group, and Cisco’s Open vRAN initiative. All of these groups say they are working to make the RAN more open by using standardized interfaces and white box network elements.

      • Cloud Computing in Focus: Serverless, Microservices, KubeCon + CloudNativeCon, and More

        Cloud computing concepts can seem as nebulous as clouds themselves, but in April, we published several cloud-related articles to help clarify a few underlying ideas and look at some specific implementations.

        This month, Swapnil Bhartiya tackled the subject of serverless computing with There’s a Server in Every Serverless Platform. According to a recent whitepaper from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) Serverless Working Group, “serverless computing refers to the concept of building and running applications that do not require server management.” However, as Bhartiya explains, there are still servers involved.

      • Open Source Network Functions Virtualization Project Brings NFV Closer to Cloud Native with Sixth Platform Release, OPNFV ‘Fraser’

        The OPNFV Project, an open source project within The Linux Foundation that facilitates the development and evolution of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) components across various open source ecosystems through reference platform development, integration, deployment, and testing, today announced the availability of the sixth OPNFV platform release, OPNFV Fraser. Making the mission of OPNFV more operationally relevant, Fraser advances the state of NFV around cloud native applications and new upstream project integration while continuing end user support as they deploy and test virtualized networks.

      • OPNFV’s 6th Release Brings Testing Capabilities That Orange Is Already Using

        The Linux Foundation’s ​OPNFV Project​ today issued its sixth platform release, named Fraser,​ adding more support for cloud native applications. And the release brings new testing capabilities that are already being used by ONAP and by Orange.

        “The coolest thing is the progress we made in cloud native in this release,” said Heather Kirksey, VP of community and ecosystem development at the Linux Foundation. “We did some initial Kubernetes integration in our last release, Euphrates. This time, we’ve definitely increased that. We’ve more than doubled the number of scenarios that support Kubernetes.”

      • OPNFV’s Fraser release brings NFV closer to cloud native integration

        OPNFV is building on the foundation it has laid for integrating cloud-native into NFV with its sixth software release, which is called “Fraser.”

    • Graphics Stack

      • DXUP: Taking Direct3D 10 To 11 For Running On Vulkan

        While there is VK9 for getting Direct3D 9 implemented over Vulkan and then the very successful DXVK for running Direct3D 11 over Vulkan with a focus on Wine games and then also the less mature VKD3D for Direct3D 12 over Vulkan, there hasn’t been a solution for those wanting Direct3D 10 accelerated by Vulkan. But an indirect solution is now in the works via DXUP.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Plasma Pass

        You may have heard about pass, the standard Unix password manager. I learned about it from Milian Wolf some months ago and I really liked it for its simplicity, respect for privacy and multiplatform support. And so over the past months, I started to slowly change my passwords to randomly generated ones stored in pass.

        To get a password from pass, you simply type pass -c SomePath/SomeService into console and pass will copy the password straight to your clipboard. Super simple. Slightly less comfortable when you are dealing with websites though. Luckily there’s a wonderful browser extension called browserpass that can fill online login forms with a single click and has automatic password matching based on the current domain.

        [...]

        And so I dusted off my QML knowledge and wrote Plasma Pass: a systray Plasma applet to quickly find your password and copy it into the clipboard with a single mouse click.

      • Volume Control in KDE Connect

        Definitely one of the best use cases of KDE Connect is this: Watching a movie while laying in bed or on the couch and controlling your unreachable computer from your phone without needing to stand up. Thanks to our new media control notification you can pause and skip without even unlocking your phone. But what if the movie is too silent? If your media player is implementing the MPRIS2 specifications you are already lucky and can control your players volume from KDE Connect. Plasma Browser Integration even adds that for Browsers. But what if your player doesn’t support it (looking at you, Spotify)? Or you want to control your system volume? Then you are out of luck. Until soon. We are adding a plugin to KDE Connect that enables you to control your system volume from the phone. How cool is that? Another neat little trick is tapping on the volume icon to (un)mute the system.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Boxes happenings in the 3.28 cycle

        It is been a long time coming, but I finally decided to take a moment to summarize the Boxes happenings in the last six months. And a lot has happened!

      • (PSA) GLib can now canonicalize file paths

        Quick announcement: if you have a relative file path, and want to resolve it against another (absolute) path, GLib can do that now.

      • Congratulations Ubuntu and Fedora

        This Fedora 28 release is special because it is believed to be the first release in their long history to release exactly when it was originally scheduled.

        The Ubuntu 18.04 LTS release is the biggest release for the Ubuntu Desktop in 5 years as it returns to a lightly customized GNOME desktop. For reference, the biggest changes from vanilla GNOME are the custom Ambiance theme and the inclusion of the popular AppIndicator and Dock extensions (the Dock extension being a simplified version of the famous Dash to Dock). Maybe someday I could do a post about the smaller changes.

  • Distributions

    • Void Linux Infrastructure In Limbo With Project Leader M.I.A.

      The rolling-release Void Linux independent OS known for its XBPS package manager, use of Runit as an init system rather than systemd, LibreSSL rather than OpenSSL, and other offerings making this Linux distribution fairly different is in a bit of a trouble. The project leader of Void Linux is missing in action, making much of the project’s infrastructure inaccessible.

      There still are multiple members to the Void Core Team and others working on this independent Linux distribution, but their project leader has “disappeared”. There’s been no contact since January but no “meaningful contact” in over one year.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Launches Kubernetes Operator Framework Project

        The open-source Kubernetes project is not just a container orchestration system, it can also be a platform for deploying and managing applications. That’s the goal of the Kubernetes Operator Framework project, which Red Hat officially announced on May 1 at the Kubecon EU conference here.

        The basic idea behind the Operator Framework comes to Red Hat from CoreOS, which had been working on the preliminary concepts. Red Hat acquired CoreOS on Jan. 30 in a $250 million deal that also brought CoreOS’ staff to Red Hat, including former CTO Brandon Philips. In a video interview with eWEEK, Philips explained what the operator framework is all about and also detailed his view on where Kubernetes is headed next.

      • [Podcast] PodCTL #33 – Operators Framework
      • Introducing the Operator Framework: Building Apps on Kubernetes

        To help make it easier to build Kubernetes applications, Red Hat and the Kubernetes open source community today share the Operator Framework — an open source toolkit designed to manage Kubernetes native applications, called Operators, in a more effective, automated, and scalable way.

      • Istio Egress: Exit Through the Gift Shop

        Using Istio with Red Hat OpenShift and Kubernetes makes life with microservices easier. Tucked away inside of Kubernetes pods, using the Istio service mesh, your code can run (mostly) in isolation. Performance, ease-of-changes, tracing, and so on are made available by simply using the Istio sidecar container model. But what if you want your microservice to talk to another service that is outside of your OpenShift/Kubernetes/pods environment?

      • AWS and Red Hat Quickstart & Workshop

        In the following article, we will show how to quickly boot an OpenShift Container Platform multi-node deployment on AWS using CloudFormation and Ansible based on the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform reference architecture.

      • What Does the New JBoss EAP CD Release Stream Mean for Developers?

        A new release stream of Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform is now available: JBoss EAP continuous delivery (JBoss EAP CD).

        JBoss EAP CD provides rapid incremental releases of new JBoss EAP capabilities approximately every quarter and is delivered only in Red Hat OpenShift image format.

        What does this new JBoss EAP CD release stream mean for developers?

      • Un-Storage for the modern enterprise

        Until recently, the application development and IT infrastructure worlds were entirely different planets and never the twain were going to meet. The introduction of DevOps started to form a bridge between the two worlds, offering greater integration and automation, but there’s something bigger at work here.

        Fundamentally, developers and infrastructure operators are wired differently. While developers are willing to experiment, focused on speed, and measured on innovativeness, infrastructure folks are risk-averse, focused on stability, and measured on operational efficiency.

        We’re in an age where developer-like thinking has permeated the infrastructure turf and is causing a massive, fundamental shift – especially in the storage landscape.

      • Red Hat Frames CoreOS’ Picture of Managing Kubernetes Native Apps

        Fresh off its acquisition of CoreOS, Red Hat launched an open source platform for automating management of Kubernetes native applications that used extensive work from its new subsidiary.

        The platform is called the Operator Framework. It’s designed as a toolkit to manage those native Kubernetes applications, which are known as Operators. The platform includes a software development kit (SDK), lifecycle management, and eventually a metering option.

      • 9 ways to improve collaboration between developers and designers

        Design is a crucial element in any software project. Sooner or later, the developers’ reasons for writing all this code will be communicated to the designers, human beings who aren’t as familiar with its inner workings as the development team.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Fedora 28 Released! Here are the New Features

          Fedora 28 has been released. Im proved battery life, Thunderbolt support, GNOME 3.28 are some of the new features. Have a look at other new features of Fedora 28.

        • Fedora 28 Released
        • Fedora 28 Comes With New Software Options

          The new system provides alternative versions of the software and updates that come with the default release, according to Fedora Project Leader Matthew Miller. It enables users to update specific components at the speed that meets their needs. Modularity gives users more control over their computing environments.

          Fedora Linux is the free community version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, or RHEL. Fedora 28 continues the strategy of releasing three versions — built from a common set of base packages — that target different user bases. They are Fedora 28 Server, Fedora 26 Workstation and Fedora 28 Atomic Host.

        • Fedora 28: The new developers’ Linux arrives

          Is Fedora Linux for everyone? No. I recommend Mint or Ubuntu for most users. But, if you’re a Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) or CentOS user, or an open-source programmer, it’s another story. Then, Fedora should be your first choice.

          The Fedora Project is Red Hat’s community-driven open-source Linux. Fedora is also essentially RHEL’s test bed. As such, it uses cutting-edge software, such as the 4.16.3 Linux kernel. This latest version, Fedora 28, comes in three distinct editions: Fedora 28 Server, Fedora 26 Workstation, and Fedora 28 Atomic Host.

          All versions are built from a common set of base packages. As with all new Fedora releases, the packages come with numerous bug fixes and performance tweaks as well as new features. The Fedora 28 base package includes updated compilers and languages including the latest version of the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) 8, Golang 1.10, and Ruby 2.5.

        • Introducing Contributor Stories

          The Fedora Project community is a strong, caring community sharing the same Four Foundations: Freedom, Friends, Features, and First. Becoming friends is a natural consequence of our work as contributors, working together to advance free software. All of us have a good memory about someone or maybe a funny or inspirational moment with another contributor.

          Contributor Stories are just that: the record of our best moments with our Fedora friends. The story can be about our work in Fedora or something personal or unique which you would like to share with the community. Contributor Stories are a part of Fedora Appreciation Week, starting in November 2018.

        • Fedora 28 Now Generally Available
        • Fedora 28 “Cutting Edge” Linux Distro Released With New Features: Download It Here

          Red Hat-sponsored Fedora operating system is known for its bleeding edge features and leading the way for other Linux distros. Very often Fedora makes way for technologies that are often adopted by other distro developers. It’s also Red Hat’s testing ground as it acts as the upstream source of RHEL.

        • Fedora 28 is unleashed with boosted performance and a smart new desktop
        • Fedora 28 is here — download the overall best Linux-based operating system now!
        • SD Times news digest: Fedora 28, MIPI System Software Trace, nad Compute Optimized Gen2 tier of Azure SQL Data Warehouse
        • Máirín Duffy: Bíonn gach tosach lag*

          I have definitely fallen off the blog wagon; as you may or may not know the past year has been quite difficult for me personally, far beyond being an American living in Biff Tannen’s timeline these days. Blogging definitely was pushed to the bottom of the formidable stack I must balance but in hindsight I think the practice of writing is beneficial matter what it’s about so I will carve regular time out to do it.

        • Upgrading Fedora 27 to 28

          I upgraded my laptop from Fedora 27 to Fedora 28 last night and I’ve got to say it’s was one of the most painless upgrades I’ve ever done. Here’s how I did it.

        • Scribus 1.5.4 available in COPR repository

          For users finding Scribus 1.4.7 lacking in features notably the complex text layout for Asian languages, Scribus 1.5.4 is available via COPR repository from Fedora 26 (soon reaching end of life) to Rawhide.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian LTS work, April 2018

        I was assigned 15 hours of work by Freexian’s Debian LTS initiative and carried over 2 hours from March. I worked all 17 hours.

        In support of the “retpoline” mitigation for Spectre variant 2, I added a backport of gcc-4.9 to wheezy (as gcc-4.9-backport), based on work by Roberto Sánchez and on the existing gcc-4.8 backport (gcc-mozilla). I also updated the linux-tools package to support building external modules with retpolines enabled. Finally, I completed an update to the linux package, but delayed uploading it until 1st May due to an embargoed issue.

      • TeX Live 2018 released

        I guess everyone knows it already, Karl has released TeX Live 2018 officially just when I was off for some mountaineering, but perfectly in time for the current BachoTeX meeting.

      • Debian Policy call for participation — May 2018

        We had a release of Debian Policy near the beginning of last month but there hasn’t been much activity since then.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 18.10 Appears To Be The Cosmic Canimal

            As of writing, Mark Shuttleworth has yet to formally introduce the Ubuntu 18.10 cycle, but it’s fairly sure the “Cosmic Canimal.”

            Canimal? It is apparently from an animated TV series… “Curious, cute and playful can-shaped creatures explore our world from their unique point of view.”

            This evening I spotted via archive.ubuntu.com is now a “Cosmic” entry following last week’s release of the Ubuntu 18.10 Bionic Beaver. Cosmic is definitely it, but the second code word is less than definitive.

          • Mir Working On X11 Support Via XWayland

            UBports developer Marius Gripsgard is working on adding X11 support to Mir by means of XWayland.

            The founder of the UBports project, Marius Gripsgard, has previously expressed interest in continuing to use Mir for their Ubuntu Touch work. His latest work is on adding X11 support to the modern Wayland-focused Mir display stack via XWayland.

          • It Will Be A While Before Canonical Opens Up The Ubuntu Software/Hardware Survey Data

            Landing just prior to the official Ubuntu 18.04 “Bionic Beaver” release was the controversial Ubuntu software/hardware survey functionality. When announcing their plans to incorporate an optional survey process into the installation process, Canonical said they would be making this survey data public. They are doing so, but it will be a while before it’s accessible.

          • What’s New in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Bionic Beaver

            Ubuntu 18.04 LTS codenamed “Bionic Beaver” is the latest release of Ubuntu Linux Distribution, has been released and announced by Canonical, On April 26. As seventh long-term support, it will be supported with security and software updates for 5 years, until April 2023, during which it will receive no less than five maintenance updates, each one bringing updated kernel and graphics stacks from newer Ubuntu releases.

          • Ubuntu 18.04, Bionic Beaver, is Officially Released
          • Launchpad news, June 2017 – April 2018

            Once again it’s been a while since we posted a general update, so here’s a changelog-style summary of what we’ve been up to. As usual, this changelog preserves a reasonable amount of technical detail, but I’ve omitted changes that were purely internal refactoring with no externally-visible effects.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS: multi-cloud, and containers and AI, oh my!

            Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, recently introduced the new Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, optimized for security, multi-cloud, containers and AI. Canonical’s Distribution of Kubernetes (CDK) runs on public clouds, VMware, OpenStack, and bare metal and delivers the latest upstream version, currently Kubernetes 1.10. After the initial three-step guided deployment, the distribution supports upgrades to future versions of Kubernetes, expansion of the Kubernetes cluster on demand, and integration with optional components for storage, networking and monitoring. A range of partners deliver their solutions on CDK, such as Rancher 2.0.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Google open sources gVisor, a sandboxed container runtime

    Thanks to KubeCon in Copenhagen, this week is all about containers — and especially Kubernetes. Given that Kubernetes was born out of Google’s internal container usage, it’s no surprise that Google also has a few announcements at the show. Maybe the most interesting of these is the launch of gVisor, a sandboxed container runtime that aims to ensure a secure isolation between containers.

    As the name implies (at least if you live in this world), gVisor is a bit like a hypervisor that provides the isolation between traditional virtual machines, but for containers. That’s especially interesting to businesses that want to ensure the security of their container workloads, something that’s still a bit of an issue in the Kubernetes world.

  • Events

    • You’re a failure! Now what?

      Failure is inevitable; the important thing is to know what to do after you fail, says Michael Gat, a project manager and data science consultant, in his Lightning Talk, “You’re a Failure! Now What?” at the 16th annual Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE).

      With good humor, Michael’s presentation offers ways to tackle failure in order to succeed. One way to be successful in your failures, he says, is to know what types of failures you’re best at.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Performance Update #7

        G’day folks, just another Firefox Performance Update coming down the pike1 for you, so strap in.

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 37
      • Design of Task-Graph Generation

        Almost two years ago, Bug 1258497 introduced a new system for generating the graph of tasks required for each push to a Firefox source-code repository. Work continues to modify the expected tasks and add features, but the core design is stable. Lots of Firefox developers have encountered this system as they add or modify a job or try to debug why a particular task is failing. So this is a good time to review the system design at a high level.

        A quick note before beginning: the task-graph generation system is implemented entirely in the Firefox source tree, and is administered as a sub-module of the Build Config module. While it is designed to interface with Taskcluster, and some of the authors are members of the Taskcluster team, it is not a part of Taskcluster itself.

      • Firefox will show sponsored content that’s personalized but private

        Mozilla plans to add sponsored content to its Firefox browser in a bid to increase and diversify its revenue stream.

        Since the start of the year, the company has been showing some Firefox users links to recommended content on its New Tab page. Some proportion of the recommendations are sponsored, with content producers paying to be included in the list of recommendations. Those links are now also available in the nightly and beta releases. In Firefox 60, due to ship on May 9th, the feature will roll out to all Firefox users around the world.

      • Firefox to feature sponsored content as of next week

        The Mozilla Foundation has revealed that links to sponsored posts have started to appear in its Firefox browser and pledged to deliver them without invading users’ privacy.

        Mozilla flagged it would add sponsored links to its browser in January 2018, after the 2017 acquisition of web-clipping service Pocket brought with it the technology to do so.

        Now it turns out the organisation has already squeezed in a few sponsored links on the “Firefox New Tab” and has added the functionality to Firefox nightly builds and Beta releases.

        Pocket-powered sponsored links will now “… go fully live in May to Firefox users in the US with the Firefox 60 release.”

      • Mozilla Statement on Recent Reports of Aadhaar Data Being Breached (again)

        Mozilla is deeply alarmed by recent reports that it is possible to purchase editing rights to the Aadhaar database for a mere 2,000 rupees.

        Mozilla has long argued that the Aadhaar lacks critical safeguards. With the demographic data reportedly compromised, it is hard to see how Aadhaar can be trusted for authentication. Access to myriad vital public and private services which require Aadhaar for more than a billion Indians is now at risk.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Swift for TensorFlow Now Open Source on GitHub

      Google’s integration of its TensorFlow machine learning framework with Apple’s Swift programming language, known as Swift for TensorFlow, is now an open source project on GitHub.

      Google’s TensorFlow is a popular open source computational framework for developing machine learning (ML) models built around the concept of computational graphs that describe how data flows among mathematical operations. It provides APIs for Python, C++, Haskell, Java, Go, and Rust, and there’s a third-party package for R. Swift is Apple’s a general-purpose, compiled language for iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS and Linux.

    • AWS Open Sources and Expands Serverless Application Model (SAM) Implementation [Ed: Oopenwashing the lock-in which is "serverless" (you have no control over your services)]
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • EMMS 5.0 Released

      Emms 5.0 was released May 1 2018. The release tarballs is available here.

    • Emms 5.0 Released As A Big Update To The Emacs Multimedia System

      If you need some integrated multimedia capabilities while you are editing your text files with GNU Emacs, Emms 5.0 is available as a big update to the Emacs Multimedia System.

    • Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup time: May 4th starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC
    • GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 14 new GNU releases!
    • GIMP 2.10 Is Finally Here! Here’s How to Install it on Ubuntu

      It’s finally here: GIMP 2.10 is available to download for Windows, macOS and Linux.

      The latest stable release of this insanely popular open source image editing tool – oft touted as a Photoshop alternative – has been 6 years in development.

      Yes, six years.

      Given the long gestation period you won’t be too shocked to hear that GIMP 2.10is jam-packed with changes, improvements and new features, both big and small, visible and non-visible.

    • Guile-CV version 0.1.9
    • Deb Nicholson joins Conservancy as Director of Community Operations

      Today Software Freedom Conservancy announces its newest employee, Deb Nicholson. Nicholson is a prominent software freedom advocate and organizer. Nicholson’s professional roots are in the world of local community organizing in Massachusetts. Her first roles in the free software movement were as a staff member at the Free Software Foundation. Nicholson won the O’Reilly Open Source Award for her volunteer work with GNU MediaGoblin, a federated media-hosting service and OpenHatch, an initiative to help bring newcomers into free software. She is also a founding organizer of the Seattle GNU/Linux Conference, an annual event dedicated to surfacing new voices and welcoming new people to the free software community in the Pacific Northwest. Most recently, she served as the Community Outreach Director for the Open Invention Network, a company that builds a defensive patent pool for open source software. Nicholson has volunteered for Conservancy for many years, including on Conservancy’s Evaluations Committee since 2015.

      [...]

      “Deb has been a force for software freedom,” said Karen Sandler, Conservancy’s Executive Director. “In her jobs and as a volunteer she has had a strong impact on the communities she’s participated in. She’s a great fit for Conservancy and we’re all excited to work with her.”

    • A Wayback Machine for Source Code

      In March 2016, software developer Azer Koçulu famously broke the internet by taking 11 lines of open source computer code he had written offline. The problem: millions of software packages written in the programming language JavaScript had been built on top of Koçulu’s code, or they were built on top of other packages that, in turn, were built on top of the code Koçulu wrote. “I think I have the right of deleting all my stuff,” Koçulu wrote bluntly in an email at the time.

      [...]

      Since 2015, archivists at the Software Heritage project, which is hosted by the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation, have been collecting open source code available at various online repositories and websites. To date, the archive contains more than 4 billion source files from more than 80 million projects, says Roberto Di Cosmo, a computer scientist who is directing the project in Paris. In cases where open source code disappears, or the server it is stored on is hacked, destroyed or lost, the platform aims to become the go-to place for a backup version.

  • Public Services/Government

    • The GDPR Takes Open Source to the Next Level

      Stallman pointed out that running a free software operating system—for example Google’s ChromeOS—offered no protection against this loss of control. Nor does requiring the cloud computing service to use the GNU Affero GPL license solve the problem: just because users have access to the underlying code that is running on the servers does not mean they are in the driver’s seat. The real problem lies not with the code, but elsewhere—with the data.

      Running free software on your own computer, you obviously retain control of your own data. But that’s not the case with cloud computing services—or, indeed, most online services, such as e-commerce sites or social networks. There, highly personal data about you is routinely held by the companies in question. Whether or not they run their servers on open-source code—as most now do—is irrelevant; what matters is that they control your data—and you don’t.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • DIAL Open Source Center Announces Catalytic Grant Recipients and Categories for Second Round of Funding to Support Technology for Development Projects

      Today, the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) Open Source Center is thrilled to announce the recipients of its first round of catalytic grants to support technology for development (T4D) projects. The Open Source Center’s Catalytic Grants program is an offering of financial support for free and open source software projects working in the humanitarian response and international development sectors. These grants are intended to support vital work that has been traditionally neglected or not completed. The three grant recipients include Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, OpenDataKit, and LibreHealth.

    • Open-source biomedical devices for reinventing the medical industry

      The UBORA project brings together European and African universities and their associated technological hubs, biomedical prototyping laboratories and incubators, national and international policymakers, and committed stakeholders. Propelled by a series of summer schools and competitions, consortium partners have within the project’s first year already advanced the conception, development and validation of the UBORA e-infrastructure. In Swahili, the word ubora means excellence.

      The platform is for collaborative design of biomedical devices and for sharing developed projects, following open-source schemes. UBORA couples the open design philosophy with Europe’s leadership in quality control and safety assurance, guaranteeing better health and opportunities for sustainable growth. The work has led to creation of a sort of Wikipedia of medical devices, with device classification and identification of horizontal standards as well as blueprints, documentation and performance data. Several devices have been collaboratively developed for testing, improving and validating the e-infrastructure. This has been done on the basis of systematic identification and selection of uncovered medical needs.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • The Anxiety of Open Source: Why We Struggle With Putting It Out There

        You’ve just finished your project. Well, not finished, but it works and you’ve solved all the problems worth solving, and you have a thing that works for you. Then you think about sharing your creation with the world. “This is cool” you think. “Other people might think it’s cool, too.” So you have to take pictures and video, and you wish you had documented some more of the assembly steps, and you have to do a writeup, and comment your code, and create a repository for it, maybe think about licensing. All of a sudden, the actual project was only the beginning, and now you’re stressing out about all the other things involved in telling other people about your project, because you know from past experience that there are a lot of haters out there who are going to tear it down unless it’s perfect, or even if it is, and even if people like it they are going to ask you for help or to make one for them, and now it’s 7 years later and people are STILL asking you for the source code for some quick little thing you did and threw up on YouTube when you were just out of college, and of course it won’t work anymore because that was on Windows XP when people still used Java.

  • Programming/Development

    • Building a data pipeline with testing in mind

      If you’ve built batch data pipelines, but didn’t know the best way to check their health or test changes for potential regressions, this article is for you.

      Monitoring and testing batch data pipelines require a different approach from monitoring and testing web services. It’s one thing to build a robust data-pipeline process in Python but an entirely different challenge to find tooling and build out the framework that provides confidence that a data system is healthy. To truly iterate and develop a codebase, developers must be able to test confidently during the development process and to monitor the production system. This article offers some solutions to monitoring and configuring alerts on data pipelines.

    • What makes a great SRE?

      In January 2018, digital experience monitoring firm Catchpoint conducted a survey of 416 professionals with the title or responsibilities of a Site Reliability Engineer (SRE). The goal of the survey was to find out what it really means to be an SRE, examining the types of organizations, skills, and culture that exist where site reliability engineers work.

    • This Week in Rust 232
    • These Weeks In Servo 111

      In the last few weeks, we merged 190 PRs in the Servo organization’s repositories.

    • Typemock Launches C/C++ Mocking Framework for Linux

      Typemock, the leader in unit testing solutions, today announced the launch of Isolator++ for Linux. For over a decade, Typemock has been the smart way for developers to unit test .NET and C/C++ on Windows, and with this new release, developers will be able to easily unit test their code on Linux as well.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Genetic Analyses of Sweet Potato Genome Sheds Light on Speciation and Global Dispersion Patterns

      Hiram Bentley Glass and classical geneticists of the Twentieth Century elucidated some of the ways that genetics could inform regarding human populations and their history, using observations like genetic drift (famously, among the Amish) and the “founder effect.” The “genomics” revolution of the last thirty years has extended these observations, for human populations as well as many other animal and plant species (see, e.g., “Genetic Assessment of Squash Genomes in Related Species”; “The Domestication History of Apples Revealed by Genomic Analysis”; and “Domestic Cat Genome Sequenced”). Recently, several outstanding questions regarding the genetics of sweet potato were resolved, in a report in Current Biology, entitled “Reconciling Conflicting Phylogenies in the Origin of Sweet Potato and Dispersal to Polynesia,” resulting from genomic and chloroplast DNA analyses that establish the phylogenetic, temporal and geographical relationships between this important crop species and its wild naturally occurring relatives.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • EU States Vote to Ban Neonicotinoids

      A majority of European Union (EU) member states voted today (April 27) to ban the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides, imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam, due to their harm to bees.

    • EU member states support near-total neonicotinoids ban

      The restrictions applied to crops including maize, wheat, barley, oats and oil seed rape. The newly agreed Commission regulation goes much further, meaning that almost all outdoor uses of the chemicals would be banned.

    • First XDR typhoid is on the verge of being untreatable, spreading globally
    • California’s Water Whiplash Is Only Going to Get Worse

      Rather than fighting the coming flood waters by building bigger levees, California water managers are looking at other strategies to allow water to spread out on the land and recharge underground aquifers. Particularly porous soils can resorb up to a foot of water a day. Keeping those areas undeveloped should be a priority for communities in the future, says Hanak. “It can’t just be about concrete and rocks anymore. Keeping space in reservoirs for winter flood flows and having levees keep water out of harm’s way as it moves through river systems has worked pretty well for decades. But going forward we’re going to have to rethink all that.”

    • Increasing precipitation volatility in twenty-first-century California

      As a consequence, a 25% to 100% increase in extreme dry-to-wet precipitation events is projected, despite only modest changes in mean precipitation. Such hydrological cycle intensification would seriously challenge California’s existing water storage, conveyance and flood control infrastructure.

    • Universal health care, worldwide, is within reach

      Europeans have long wondered why the United States shuns the efficiencies and health gains from universal care, but its potential in developing countries is less understood. So long as half the world goes without essential treatment, the fruits of centuries of medical science will be wasted. Universal basic health care can help realise its promise.

    • Fukushima’s Other Big Problem: A Million Tons of Radioactive Water

      To keep that water from leaking into the ground or the Pacific, Tepco, the giant utility that owns the plant, pumps it out and runs it through a massive filtering system housed in a building the size of a small aircraft hangar. Inside are arrays of seven-foot tall stainless steel tubes, filled with sand grain-like particles that perform a process called ion exchange. The particles grab on to ions of cesium, strontium, and other dangerous isotopes in the water, making room for them by spitting out sodium. The highly toxic sludge created as a byproduct is stored elsewhere on the site in thousands of sealed canisters.

    • Flint Is Finally Moving to Help Kids Recover from Lead Poisoning’s Toxic Legacy

      Yet the screening program also highlights the enormity of the work yet to be done, even as the state is withdrawing the resources deployed in the aftermath of the disaster. Recently the state government announced it would end bottled water provision for residents, despite objections from the community amid ongoing threats from vestigial lead contamination, alongside chronic poverty and substandard social services that pervaded the post-industrial city long before the crisis.

    • Michigan is practically giving away clean water—but not to Flint

      At the same time, another water bottling issue has been brewing in the state. Just four days earlier, on April 2, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved a widely-protested plan that would allow the snack company Nestlé to pump 250 gallons of water a minute from White Pine Springs, which the company will then bottle, brand like Nestlé Pure Life Purified Water or Ice Mountain 100% Natural Spring Water, and sell (at least in New York) for about $2.50 a pop.

      The timing, though coincidental, brings to the forefront an issue of increasing international importance: the privatization of water.

    • What the CRISPR Patent Appeal Teaches Us About Legal Scholarship

      Yesterday, the Federal Circuit heard oral argument in the dispute between the University of California and the Broad Institute over a set of fundamental patents covering CRISPR-Cas9, the revolutionary gene-editing technology. Lisa has been kind enough to invite me to write a few words here about the dispute, and I thought I’d take that generous opportunity to discuss two aspects of yesterday’s argument: the basics of the appeal and, given that this blog is devoted to legal scholarship about patent law, what the argument can teach us, if anything, about IP scholarship in general. I think the short answer to the second question is, Quite a lot, although perhaps not for obvious reasons.

      CRISPR-Cas9, for you luddites out there, is a breakthrough technology in molecular biology that allows scientists to “edit” DNA, both in a test-tube and in cells, in a way that’s cheap, easy, flexible, and almost infinitely programmable. Like all breakthrough technologies, there were other substitute technologies before it, but they were, by contrast, expensive, difficult, clumsy, and ad-hoc. To give, perhaps, one good illustration about how CRISPR-Cas9 took the world by storm: since the technology was first elucidated in 2012, there have been over 2,000 papers describing experiments using the technology—an astonishing level of scientific acceptance around the world.

      The lure of the technology is its simplicity: it needs, essentially, only two ingredients—a DNA cutting enzyme, also called a nuclease (here, Cas9); and short piece of RNA, DNA’s molecular cousin, that can be programmed—crafting its As, Cs, Ts, and Gs—to bind to the gene of interest in the cell and activate the enzyme. Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier—often referred to as the UC scientists, even though Charpentier was then at University of Umeå in Sweden—were among the first to figure all this out and get it to actually work in test tubes and bacteria. Virginius Šikšnys of Vilnius University in Lithuana also had a relatively contemporaneous paper showing, for the most part, the same thing. Both groups—the UC scientists and Šikšnys—separately filed for patents in 2012.

      [...]

      But I think the dispute is important for patent scholars because it demonstrates that patents covering even revolutionary technology can be legally mundane and still have significant real-world impact. Who wins the CRISPR patent dispute is likely to decide a great many important things—the speed of technological development, its cost, and the extent of patent thickets in the real-world. If good scholarship strives, in part, to make sense of momentous legal events—say, the constitutional affirmance of same-sex marriage, the suspension of cost-sharing reduction payments, or the end of deferred immigration violation prosecutions—then the CRISPR patent dispute should be considered in that vein. I bring this up because there is a current of criticism of younger scholars who pick up bright, shiny developments elsewhere in the world and simply apply the law to them (guilty), especially where such developments have little to say about how the law will change in response. But oftentimes, the law simply does not change. Parties negotiate in the shadow of the law, not its flames. And as scholars who, I hope, are ultimately concerned with how things work in the real world, we should lace our enthusiasm of momentous events in the law with momentous events in the world.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #157
    • “FacexWorm” Fools Facebook Users And Steals Their Cryptocurrency And Login Credentials

      Earlier this month, the security researchers at the firm TrendMicro spotted a new campaign related to FacexWorm that first surfaced last year. It targets Facebook users by sending them spam links in Facebook Messenger and leads them into installing a codec Chrome extension (hiding FacexWorm) through a YouTube-themed webpage.

    • FacexWorm Targets Cryptocurrency Trading Platforms, Abuses Facebook Messenger for Propagation

      Our analysis reveals FacexWorm’s capabilities were made over. It retains the routine of listing and sending socially engineered links to the friends of an affected Facebook account, just like Digmine. But now it can also steal accounts and credentials of FacexWorm’s websites of interest. It also redirects would-be victims to cryptocurrency scams, injects malicious mining codes on the webpage, redirects to the attacker’s referral link for cryptocurrency-related referral programs, and hijacks transactions in trading platforms and web wallets by replacing the recipient address with the attacker’s.

    • (Almost) talking at the 34C3 in Leipzig, Germany

      My own CCCongress experience in the new location is limited, because I could not roam around as much as I wanted to. But I did notice that it was much easier to get lost in Hamburg than in the new venue. I liked getting lost, though.

    • Princeton Project Aims To Secure The Internet Of Broken, Shitty Things

      Year after year, we’re installing millions upon millions of “internet of things” devices on home and business networks that have only a fleeting regard for security or privacy. The width and depth of manufacturer incompetence on display can’t be understated. Thermostats that prevent you from actually heating your home. Smart door locks that make you less secure. Refrigerators that leak Gmail credentials. Children’s toys that listen to your kids’ prattle, then (poorly) secure said prattle in the cloud. Cars that could, potentially, result in your death.

      The list goes on and on, and it grows exponentially by the week, especially as such devices are quickly compromised and integrated into massive new botnets.

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Julian Assange and Pamela Anderson: What’s Really Going on There?

      Assange has been holed up in London’s Ecuadorean embassy since 2012 and it was announced in March that they had revoked his Internet access and visitor privileges. The Ecuadorean government had granted Assange citizenship in January and have explained that they have withdrawn his privileges because he breached a written agreement. This stated that he would not send messages that had the potential to interfere with other states.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • EPA proposal will hobble good science and harm American families

      This proposal would allow industry to pollute our environment without fear of accountability, because the politician leading EPA is telling scientists not to use the best science.

    • Trump officials seek to ease landmark offshore drilling safety rules

      The rule, dubbed the Well Control Rule, was put into place in 2016. Its standards focus on blowout preventer systems, the emergency systems that offshore oil and natural gas drillers have on hand for when something goes wrong with drilling and operators lose control of the well. That happened in the BP spill, causing an explosion that killed 11 workers and an 87-day uncontrolled oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

    • Destroying the world’s natural heritage: ‘Komodo is reaching a tipping point’

      The Indonesian national park boasts some of the world’s best dive sites and spectacular marine life, but illegal fishing and unsustainable tourism is threatening its Unesco status

    • Top scientist leaves Iran after crackdown on environmentalists

      When Iran carried out mass arrests of environmental activists in February, Madani was detained for 72 hours. It also emerged at the time that an Iranian-Canadian environmentalist, Kavous Seyed-Emami, died in custody in mysterious circumstances. At least 13 other activists remain behind bars.

    • Why shipping has been slow to adopt an emissions cap

      Shipping and airlines were the only greenhouse-gas-emitting industries not mentioned in the Paris agreement. This was, in part, because assigning emissions is hard. To whom should you designate emissions for shipping Chinese goods, made with South Korean components, across the Pacific to American consumers? But similar problems did not stop airlines agreeing on an industry-wide limit within a year. Diplomats argue the slow progress is because any caps would affect exporters, too. If regulators move too aggressively they may reduce the competitiveness of seaborne trade. For instance, Brazil, a big exporter of iron ore to China, fears overzealous caps will drive shipping costs higher, helping its competitor, Australia, whose ores travel a quarter as far as Brazil’s. The idea of slowing vessels down draws ire from countries that export perishable goods, like cherries and grapes, as Chile does.

    • Acceptance of climate science can reach saturation

      The issue here is typically called “consensus messaging.” The idea is that many members of the public don’t fully realize just how unified scientific opinion—the consensus—currently is. If they did, members of the public might be more likely to accept scientists’ conclusions and perhaps demand policies that address climate change. And there’s room for a lot of improvement here, as only about 10 percent of the US public correctly recognizes that the scientific consensus on climate change is over 90 percent.

    • Iceland supermarkets to ban palm oil in own-brand products

      The Deeside-based chain – the first major UK supermarket to ban palm oil – said it was used in more than half of its products, from biscuits to soap.

      Iceland said growing demand for the oil was devastating tropical rainforests across southeast Asia.

    • What is palm oil, and why did grocery chain Iceland pull it? The controversy, explained

      This increased deforestation is adding to global warming carbon emissions and shrinks natural habitats for a host of endangered wildlife species, including the orangutan.

    • S-Group retail giant eyes role as Finland’s largest solar energy producer

      The Finnish government is expected to support 20 percent of an eight million-euro project that will see the food retail duopolist install rooftop 40,000 solar units at stores and service stations.

  • Finance

    • Extremely high demand for Ethereum skills – Interview with Team Leader at Ethereum

      Christian Reitwiessner: Ethereum offers smart contracts and thus is useful far beyond simple value transfers. It can be used to add trustless incentive layers to decentralised networks. As an example, Ethereum can be used to remove the trust in the large number of certificate authorities by handling name allocation, transfer and certificate registry. Another example is adding an incentive layer to a decentralized data transfer system like bittorrent and turn it into a data storage system that enables you to pay for others to store your data in a decentralized and fault-tolerant way.

      In comparison, other smart contract blockchains are not practical yet or do not have such high network effects.

    • UNICEF’s Website Is Mining Cryptocurrency Using Your CPU Power — But It’s Not A Bad Thing

      Now, they have come up with a new site called The Hope Page which mines Monero from people’s computer using Coinhive’s tool.

    • Best Hardware Wallets for Bitcoin

      Hardware wallets are tamper-proof electronic devices whose purpose is to store your cryptographic assets securely. They are the best option for serious and long-term cryptocurrency investors who don’t want to risk losing their hard-earned money because of a malware infection, hack, hard drive failure, or theft.

      There are many hardware wallets for Bitcoin to choose from these days, and they offer the same basic functionality but differ in extra features, design, security, and the number of cryptocurrencies they support. We’ve picked three best Bitcoin hardware wallets based on user reviews and our own experience.

    • Ripple Put on Defensive at UK Parliament Blockchain Hearing

      Skepticism dominated a Tuesday hearing on cryptocurrencies and blockchain at the U.K. parliament, but it was not the members of parliament (MPs) who set the negative tone.

      Rather, it was interbank payments startup Ripple’s XRP cryptocurrency and blockchain platforms that came under fire as Martin Walker, director of the non-profit Centre for Evidence Based Management and a former product developer at blockchain consortium R3, claimed that the technologies are unlikely to solve inefficiencies in the financial sector, specifically criticizing Ripple’s current products.

      Defending Ripple’s record was director of regulatory relations Ryan Zagone. Dr. Grammateia Kotsialou, a postdoctoral researcher at King’s College London and Chris Taylor, chief operating officer at asset tracking blockchain startup Everledger, filled out the panel, which answered questions from the British Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • On Politics: Political stunt or serious lawsuit? (opinion)

      Confused about developments in the case of former FBI Director James Comey? News is breaking so rapidly that it’s tough to keep up.

      Publicly released copies of his written recollections of meetings with President Trump are so severely redacted that we will have to wait for more information in order to draw any conclusions. However, interviews he gave in connection with his book tour have clarified some bias issues.

      In October 2016, when Comey reopened his investigation into Hillary Clinton’s compromise of national security through “extreme carelessness” in handling classified matter she accused him of heading a Republican plot to derail her campaign.

      In fact, although Comey was a Republican when President George W. Bush appointed him as head of the FBI, he told ABC reporters earlier this month that he hasn’t been a Republican since 2012.

    • The DNC’s Lawsuit Against WikiLeaks Is an Attack on the Freedom of the Press

      As Greenwald points out, the Dems’ claim that “WikiLeaks is liable for damages it caused when it ‘willfully and intentionally disclosed’ the DNC’s communications … would mean that any media outlet that publishes misappropriated documents or emails (exactly what media outlets quite often do) could be sued by the entity or person about which they are reporting.”

      After the Manning releases in 2010, the Obama Justice Department wanted to sue WikiLeaks. However, they couldn’t prove that anyone from WikiLeaks had actually stolen documents. They knew that suing WikiLeaks would have infringed on press freedom. Sue WikiLeaks, and you have to sue the Washington Post as well.

      The DNC has no such qualms now.

      Do me a favor: Forget for a moment that entire Dem playbook since Trump’s election has been to cover and post-facto justify their own failure. Forget the Party’s incredible blame-shifting. Forget the corruption of the Dem leadership, forget their brazen attempt to blackmail and boot out progressive activists. Forget how the modern DNC doesn’t care about all fifty states, how they enable Trump when they’re not raising money off of him. Forget the nauseating spectacle of this once-great party peddling itself to red-baiting rubes.

    • Robert Mueller: Gone Fishing

      One would think they could come up with something less transparent. After all, Mueller was FBI Director from 2001 to 2013 and knows where the bodies are buried, so to speak. But it does not appear likely that he is going to get his man this time. So, rather than throw in the towel, he is making a college try at cajoling President Donald Trump into helping him out.

      Today’s New York Times print-edition lede by Michael S. Schmidt, “Questions for President Show Depth of Inquiry Into Russian Meddling,” bespeaks an embarrassingly desperate attempt to get President Donald Trump to incriminate himself. And, given Trump’s temperament and his dismissive attitude toward his legal advisers, the President might just rise to the bait.

      Schmidt reports that Mueller’s high-powered legal team has prepared over four dozen questions for Trump “on an exhaustive array of subjects.” Assuming the Times is correct and the questions indeed are Mueller’s, an earlier electronic Times headline would seem more to the point: “Mueller Has Dozens of Inquiries for Trump in Broad Quest on Russia Ties and Obstruction.” Not depth, as in the earlier headline, but breadth. Deep dry well already dug. A “broad quest,” yep, now that could be the ticket! The questions leaked to the the Times betoken a very wide quest, indeed,

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Another Federal Court Says Compelled Decryption Doesn’t Raise Fifth Amendment Issues

      Another federal court is wrestling with compelled decryption and it appears the Fifth Amendment will be no better off by the time it’s all over. A federal judge in North Carolina has decided compelling decryption of devices is only a small Fifth Amendment problem — one that can be overlooked if the government already possesses certain knowledge. [h/t Orin Kerr]

      The defendant facing child porn charges requested relief from a magistrate’s order to compel decryption. The government isn’t asking Ryan Spencer to turn over his passwords. But it wants exactly the same result: decrypted devices. The government’s All Writs Order demands Spencer unlock the devices so law enforcement can search their contents. As the court notes in the denial of Spencer’s request, the Fifth Amendment doesn’t come into play unless the act of production — in this case, turning over unlocked devices — is both “testimonial” and “incriminating.”

      Spencer argued both acts are the same. The government may not ask him directly for his passwords, but a demand he produce unlocked devices accomplishes the same ends. As the court notes, the argument holds “superficial appeal.” It actually holds a bit more than that. A previous dissenting opinion on the same topic said the government cannot compel safe combinations by “either word or deed.”

    • Samsung Bixby smart speaker may be able to detect humans

      Samsung working on a smart speaker of its own has been long known. We’ve been hearing about a Bixby-powered speaker from Samsung to rival the likes of Google Home and Amazon Echo since last year. Samsung obviously needs to make the speaker a bit differently to stand out from competitors, and according to one of the company’s recently approved patents regarding a smart speaker, it certainly does.

    • High Court Says UK Government Can No Longer Collect Internet Data In Bulk

      UK civil liberties group Liberty has won a significant legal battle against the Snoopers Charter. A recent ruling [PDF] by the UK High Court says the data retention provisions, which include mandated extended storage of things like web browsing history by ISPs, are incompatible with EU privacy laws.

      The court found the data retention provisions are at odds with civil liberties protections for a couple of reasons. First, the oversight is too limited to be considered protective of human rights asserted by the EU governing body. As the law stands now, demands for data don’t require independent oversight or authorization.

      Second, even though the Charter claims demands for data will be limited to “serious crimes,” the actual wording shows there are no practical limitations preventing the government from accessing this data for nearly any reason at all.

    • May 2018 Issue: Privacy

      Most people simply are unaware of how much personal data they leak on a daily basis as they use their computers. Enter our latest issue with a deep dive into privacy.

      After working on this issue, a few of us on the Linux Journal team walked away implementing some new privacy practices–we suspect you may too after you give it a read.

    • WhatsApp Co-Founder Leaving Facebook After Reported Clashes Over Security

      Jan Koum, co-founder of WhatsApp, is planning to leave Facebook saying that “it is time for me to move on.” Koum announced this news in a Facebook post after spending almost 4 years with the social media company.

      It is being speculated that the co-founder has decided to step down from his position after a strife with Facebook over user data privacy of WhatsApp and weakening of encryption in the popular messaging app.

    • #DeleteFacebook and alternative Social Networks

      Some weeks ago a more or less large scandal popped up in the media: Cambridge Analytica misused data from Facebook. Many users of Facebook were unhappy about abusing their personal data and deleted their Facebook accounts – or at least tried some alternatives like Friendica, Hubzilla, Diaspora, Mastodon and others.

      There has been a significant increase in user count since then and this gave a general boost for the networks.

      Apropos networks… basically there are two large networks: The Federation (Diaspora, Socialhome) and The Fediverse (GNU Social, Mastodon, postActiv, Pleroma). Within the two networks all solution can exchange information like posts, comments, user information and such, or in other words: they federate with each other. So, when you use Mastodon your posts won’t be available to Diaspora users and vice versa as they use different protocols for federation.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Price of Filming Police Violence

      People who filmed high-profile videos of the police killings of Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and others say they have faced retaliation and harassment.

    • Sharia Police storm beer parlors in Jigawa State, seize alcohol drinks – Lailas News
    • Calgary woman killed by ex was stabbed 40 times, shot twice, police reveal

      Her sister, Racha El-Dib, called Bettahar “a disturbed young man, who believed he had the right to murder her because she exercised her right of taking ownership of her life, body and soul, by saying no to a man who was persistent on being with her.”

    • Beautiful Lakeshore Views Abound in This Resort Town – But Only for Churchgoing Christians

      For decades, officials in a Michigan town have forbidden non-Christians from moving in. It’s time for them to face the law.

      The community of Bay View, Michigan, sits along the shores of Lake Michigan, a picturesque summer resort destination for families across the country. Full of historic buildings and Victorian cottages, Bay View boasts that it is one of the “prettiest painted places” in the United States.

      Yet behind its pristine facade, Bay View hides a shameful past of discrimination that continues today. Around 1942, Bay View started to limit renters and owners to those “of the white race” and Christian faith, later restricting Roman Catholic membership to 10 percent or less. The race restriction faded out by 1959, but the religious one persists. Today, Bay View homebuyers must not only be Christian, they must have a minister’s letter to prove it.

      In other words: Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, atheists, and many others — including Christians who don’t attend or belong to a church — need not apply.

      Fifty years after the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act, Bay View’s policies seem stuck in the past, harkening back to an era where blatant and discriminatory restrictions on homeownership were commonplace. Luckily, some in Bay View object to this practice — and sued to stop it.

    • FBI’s Violent Crime Database to Get Financial Boost From Justice Department

      The Justice Department is seeking to bolster the FBI’s efforts at apprehending violent criminals — issuing grants for local police departments to test rape kits and requiring that those agencies submit information to an underutilized FBI database designed to catch serial killers and rapists.

      The Justice Department will make $40 million in grants for rape kit testing, including $2 million to assist localities in sending case information to what is known as the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, or ViCAP. The program, which includes a national database, is designed to catch serial rapists and killers who exhibit specific, distinctive behaviors while committing their crimes. For instance, the database might link several attacks committed by a rapist who uses a certain kind of weapon.

      The bureau plans to make up to 25 awards to different agencies, ranging from $500,000 to $3 million. The new grants will pay for staff and training to enter information into the ViCAP system.

    • Two-Man Police Department Acquires $1 Million In Military Gear

      An ultra-safe Michigan town of 6,800 has claimed more than $1 million in military equipment through the Defense Department’s 1033 program. The program allows law enforcement agencies to obtain anything from file cabinets to mine-resistant assault vehicles for next to nothing provided the agencies can show a need for the equipment. Most can “show” a “need,” since it’s pretty easy to type something up about existential terrorist/drug threats. Boilerplate can be adjusted as needed, but for the most part, requests are granted and oversight — either at the federal and local level — is almost nonexistent.

    • Michigan town’s feud over military gear gets ugly

      The two-man police department in this rural community outside Flint has amassed a massive amount of surplus military equipment over the last decade.

      The free material, received through a federal program, includes mine detectors and Humvees, tractors and backhoes, hydroseeders and forklifts, motorized carts and a riding lawnmower. The landlocked township also has gotten boat motors and dive boots.

    • Teachers: ‘Racist’ parents pull children from RE classes because they don’t want them learning about Islam
    • Rapes of Young Girls Trigger Protests in India
    • May Day ‘71: When Bob Parry Went to Jail in the Biggest Mass Arrest in U.S. History

      In the spring of 1971, with war raging in Vietnam, the U.S. peace movement hoped to shut down the federal government in an audacious mass civil disobedience action. Under the slogan “If the government won’t stop the war, then the people will stop the government,” tens of thousands of protesters set out to block major intersections and bridges to bring Washington, DC, to a halt.

      A young Robert Parry, then a student at Colby College, drove down from Maine to participate in the demonstrations and ended up arrested along with thousands of other protesters who were swept up in the largest mass arrest in U.S. history. He later wrote about the protests and their significance in the Colby Echo, where he was Editor-in-Chief.

      Marking the anniversary of these events, we republish Parry’s article for the first time in 47 years, with an introduction from his classmate Stephen Orlov, who attended the demonstration with him.

    • ‘These Are Sanctions Directly Aimed at the Civilian Population’

      Perhaps believing he doesn’t have enough of a megaphone as senator, CNN gave Marco Rubio an online column this week in which to level claims that Venezuela has become “a danger to its neighbors and our own national security.” “The regime of Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro threatens US interests,” Rubio states; the country is a state sponsor of drug-trafficking, it harbors terrorists and it has “attacked the regional democratic order,” including by allying itself with “enemies” of the US, such as Cuba and Russia.

    • Illinois attorney general sues bus company, alleging discriminatory practices, customer mistreatment

      llinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a federal lawsuit Monday against a bus company that primarily serves the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and other college students, alleging discriminatory practices and mistreatment of customers.

      Suburban Express, Madigan said, refers to complaining students as “slimeball” and “scumbag,” and told one international student to “go back to your country and stay there.”

    • Suburban Express Sued By Illinois Attorney General For Behaving Like Suburban Express

      We’ve talked quite a bit about Surban Express in these pages. The bus company chiefly works the Illinois university circuit, bussing students and others between the schools and transportation hubs like O’Hare Airport. In addition, the company also regularly sues any customers critical of its services, occasionally runs away from those suits, then refiles them, all while owner Dennis Toeppen harasses and publicly calls out these customers on the company website and its social media accounts. Also, the company has a deep history of treating non-white customers differently and poorly than others, culminating in a recent advertisement it sent out promising riders that they won’t feel like they’re in China when on its buses (the University of IL has a sizable Asian student population). After that advertisement, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced an investigation into the company’s practices, prompting Suburban Express to apologize several times for the ad.

    • We need to talk about Muslim anti‑Semitism

      It is very rare for British Jewish leaders or groups to draw attention to anti-Semitism among certain Muslims. But Islamists do seem to have a special antipathy towards all things Jewish – starting with Israel. And this is increasingly becoming a problem among British Muslims more generally.

    • Germany’s Jews urged not to wear kippahs after attacks

      Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told Berlin public radio that Jews should exercise caution in big cities.

    • The Pot Calling the Kettle Black A Deliberate Attempt to Attack Jammu’s Secular Image
    • Pioneering fingerprint technique helps South Wales Police secure drugs convictions against 11 people

      Speaking about the pioneering techniques used in the case, Dave Thomas, forensic operations manager at the Scientific Support Unit, added: “Specialist staff within the JSIU fully utilised their expert image-enhancing skills which enabled them to provide something that the unit’s fingerprint identification experts could work. Despite being provided with only a very small section of the fingerprint which was visible in the photograph, the team were able to successfully identify the individual.”

    • Delhi teen raped by neighbour, family learns of assault from [I]nternet

      The accused then blackmailed her into silence, threatening they would upload the videos on the internet and circulate them on WhatsApp.

    • Finland knife attacker says he was ‘in war against women’
    • Women-Only Spaces Are Part of a Coworking Craze. Some Might Also Be Violating the Law

      But some membership restrictions are also raising legal questions, suggesting that the end result could also be making our siloed existences even worse. The New York Human Rights Commission recently launched an inquiry into a women-only club called The Wing after media reports highlighted the fact that men were excluded, a practice that could be in violation of a local sex discrimination law.

    • Algerian woman denied French citizenship over handshake

      At her 2016 citizenship ceremony in the south-eastern Isère region, around Grenoble, she refused to shake hands with the presiding senior official or a local politician.

    • Tariq Ramadan’s Rape Trial: Blame the Victim

      “The blindness of the Anglo-Saxons on political Islam is frightening”. — Pascal Bruckner, French philosopher.

    • Christian girl set alight for turning down Muslim man’s marriage proposal

      Masih said that they took Asma to the Sialkot Civil Hospital where she told them that Gujjar had been forcing her for quite some time to marry him but she had turned down his proposal because she did not want to convert to Islam.

    • Saudi women fitness centre shut over ‘indecent’ workout video

      The video, which was widely circulated on social media but could not be independently verified by AFP, showed a woman with uncovered hair in what appeared to be a gym and kicking a punching bag. The General Sports Authority said the video contained scenes that could corrupt public morals.

    • A New Study on Child Marriage Is Changing the Conversation

      Despite the cartoonish connotations of the term, the image of the shotgun wedding can become a more serious tool in the hands of some lawmakers who think child marriage is an acceptable alternative to abortion for unwed teen mothers. These lawmakers wield the “shotgun wedding” image in attempts to counter arguments against early marriage, a practice that’s been proved to lead many young people to suffering. But what exactly are the hard realities child marriage can create that these lawmakers who argue in support of it so often ignore?

    • Criminal Sanctions Agency: Radicalisation festering in Finnish prisons

      Inmates will often become radicalised following the influence of another inmate or prison gang. According to Rise, a strong factor among those radicalised in Finnish prisons is bitterness.

    • Iran police’s assault on woman over headscarf stirs debate

      Hard-liners [sic], however, have dismissed the video as a foreign plot. The hard-line Kayhan daily on Sunday described the video as “strange and suspicious,” noting foreign activists have promoted it. Previously, hard-liners pointed to a campaign challenging the hijab launched by a journalist at the Persian service of the Voice of America, which is funded by the US government.

    • University of Illinois at Chicago Officials Defend Handling of Researcher’s Misconduct

      NIMH demanded the refund in November after determining there was “serious and continuing noncompliance” by Pavuluri as well as failures by the university’s institutional review board, or IRB, a faculty panel responsible for reviewing research involving human subjects.

      Pavuluri’s research remains under investigation by federal officials, according to the university.

      [...]

      Pavuluri, a tenured psychiatry professor, violated terms of the federal grant by testing lithium on children younger than 13 although she was told not to. She also failed to properly alert parents of the study’s risks, failed to conduct required pregnancy tests on some girls, and falsified data to cover up the misconduct, records show.

      In all, 89 of the 103 subjects enrolled in the study — 86 percent — did not meet the eligibility criteria to participate, records show. They were too young, had previously used psychotropic medication, or did not meet other guidelines to participate.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Sprint, T-Mobile Try To Sell The Public On A Job-Killing, Competition Eroding Megamerger

      Sprint and T-Mobile are once again talking megamerger. The two companies tried to merge in 2014, but had their romantic entanglements blocked by regulators who (quite correctly) worried that the elimination of one of just four major players in the space would eliminate jobs, reduce competition and drive up costs for consumers. Emboldened by the Trump FCC’s rubber stamping of industry desires, the two companies again spent much of last year talking about a potential tie up, though those efforts were ultimately scuttled after the two sides couldn’t agree on who’d get to run the combined entity.

    • T-Mobile Will Buy Sprint For $26.5 Billion, If the FCC Approves

      Assuming that T-Mobile and Sprint can get this deal past regulators—and that’s a mad-sized “if”, given that AT&T and T-Mobile were barred from merging in 2011 on the ground that it would decrease competition—the new company would be called simply T-Mobile, and would have a combined total of over 126 million subscribers (according to Q4 2017 numbers). This would put it behind AT&T which has 141 million, and Verizon with 150 million.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Monsanto loses right to patent seeds

      Delhi High Court’s ruling which forbids Monsanto from stopping supplies to seed companies is a boost to domestic seed companies, and will curb the ability of multinationals to establish a seed monopoly

    • Copyrights

      • France, Spain, Italy and Portugal go beyond maximalist on ©

        The copyright dossier has hit a small respite in Council as the Bulgarians were unable to push through their so-called compromise text in the Friday COREPER meeting. But as the French say, this could be a case of ‘reculer pour mieux sauter’, as discussions continue on Friday 4 May at the Ambassador’s level, with the Bulgarians still twisting arms to get a mandate to negotiate with the European Parliament, despite the enormous wave of protest that hit them last week.

        While we thought the Bulgarian proposal was bad in terms of the legal uncertainty it created in many areas and specifically as regards Article 13 (aka the censorship machine), a Mediterranean coalition bringing together France, Spain, Italy and Portugal put an even more catastrophic proposal relating to Article 13 on the table (leaked by EDRi), making the Bulgarians look like the ‘soft’ version of #copyfails.

      • Proof of Existence Is Not Proof of Ownership [Ed: Watchtroll trying to evoke "cool" factor by using terms like "Proof of Ownership"]

        There is a dangerous movement afoot; the idea that registration of your images on the blockchain is a cheap and simple alternative to registration with the United States Copyright Office. It is not.

        Those providing copyright registration services based solely on the blockchain will argue that inscribing a hash of your image along with its accompanying metadata creates an immutable record of your copyright ownership. False.

      • The Changing Copyright Climate And WIPO: Interview With IPOS Chief Executive Daren Tang

        The copyright committee of the World Intellectual Property Organization is meeting at the end of May with some complex issues on the agenda that may see new approaches for moving them forward, including the protection of broadcasting organisations, and limitations and exceptions to copyright for certain actors such as libraries and archives. Daren Tang, the chair of the committee, and chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), recently engaged in an interview with Intellectual Property Watch’s Catherine Saez, providing his insights on the discussions, changes in the world affecting copyright, and what to expect of the next session of the committee.

      • The COPYKAT: licensing, lawsuits, and legislative updates

        Technology giant Microsoft has filed a suit against Community Health Systems for “willfully infringing Microsoft’s copyrights through unlicensed use of Microsoft’s software,” according to a lawsuit filed last month. Microsoft also alleges Community Health Systems is guilty of willful breach of its contractual obligations, and implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

        Community Health Systems is a Fortune 500 private company based in Tennessee, USA. CHS is the largest provider of general hospital services in the United States in terms of number of acute care facilities. According to its website, CHS’s affiliates own, operate or lease 126 hospitals in 20 states with approximately 21,000 beds.

      • Germany’s Supreme Court Confirms That Adblocking Is Legal, In Sixth Consecutive Defeat For Publishers

        Adblocking is something that many people feel strongly about, as the large number of comments on previous posts dealing with the topic indicates. Publishers, too, have strong feelings here, including the belief that they have a right to make people view the ads they carry on their sites. (Techdirt, of course, has a rather different position.) In Germany, publishers have sued the makers of AdBlock Plus no less than five times — and lost every case. It will not surprise Techdirt readers to learn that those persistent defeats did not stop the German media publishing giant Axel Springer from trying yet again, at Germany’s Supreme Court.

      • [Older] A Landslide of Classic Art Is About to Enter the Public Domain

        The Great American Novel enters the public domain on January 1, 2019—quite literally. Not the concept, but the book by William Carlos Williams. It will be joined by hundreds of thousands of other books, musical scores, and films first published in the United States during 1923. It’s the first time since 1998 for a mass shift to the public domain of material protected under copyright. It’s also the beginning of a new annual tradition: For several decades from 2019 onward, each New Year’s Day will unleash a full year’s worth of works published 95 years earlier.

        This coming January, Charlie Chaplin’s film The Pilgrim and Cecil B. DeMille’s The 10 Commandments will slip the shackles of ownership, allowing any individual or company to release them freely, mash them up with other work, or sell them with no restriction. This will be true also for some compositions by Bela Bartok, Aldous Huxley’s Antic Hay, Winston Churchill’s The World Crisis, Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Pigeons, e.e. cummings’s Tulips and Chimneys, Noël Coward’s London Calling! musical, Edith Wharton’s A Son at the Front, many stories by P.G. Wodehouse, and hosts upon hosts of forgotten works, according to research by the Duke University School of Law’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain.

      • The US Public Domain Hasn’t Expanded Since 1998. That Changes Next Year.

        Thousands of books, films, and music recordings from 1923 will enter the US public domain next year, meaning you’ll be able to download and share them freely.

      • U.S. IP Policy Spins Out of Control in the 2018 Special 301 Report

        Certain reports and publications from U.S. government agencies, such as those of the Congressional Research Service, have become important reference works due to their reputation for being relatively in-depth, up to date, and factual. The United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) Special 301 Report [PDF], the latest annual edition of which was released last week, is not such a report.

        The report claims to “call out foreign countries and expose the laws, policies, and practices that fail to provide adequate and effective IP protection and enforcement for U.S. inventors, creators, brands, manufacturers, and service providers.” But it has no consistent methodology for assessing what is “adequate and effective.” Instead of relying on rigorous analysis to quantify the differences in standards of protection and enforcement among U.S. trading partners, it is driven by anecdotes, with a bias towards those contributed by IP lobbyists such as the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) and ACTION for Trade. This is a document so heavy on spin that one gets dizzy from reading it.

How the Patent Microcosm and Patent Extremists Cover Oil States More Than a Week Later

Posted in America, Courtroom, Law, Patents at 3:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent extremists still attack jurists, decisions and courts; the patent microcosm pretends not to know about it or attempts to distract from Oil States (e.g. by covering only the other decision)

Trump attacking judges
Reference: Trump escalates attack on ‘Mexican’ judge (this ‘Mexican’ judge was born in Indiana actually)

Summary: With the Supreme Court approving the actions of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, i.e. lending even more legitimacy to Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs), responses are expected to be either silence, personal attacks, or distraction tactics

JUST over a week ago the Supreme Court delivered two decisions that would impact the USPTO forever (or at least the foreseeable future). Both decisions were about PTAB, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. The main decision dealt with the big question about IPRs (whether these were Constitutional).

“The main decision dealt with the big question about IPRs (whether these were Constitutional).”Not to our surprise, patent extremists still attack this decision. First they attempted to distract from it, now they’re back to judge-bashing.

Finnegan, a very large law firm (Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP is its full name), does not appear to have said much about these decisions (neither of these). Doris Johnson Hines just went along hyping up Aatrix Software v Green Shades (yet again!) and her colleagues Daniel F. Klodowski, David C. Seastrunk and Michael R Galgano have just spoken about PTAB and IPRs without even bringing up the elephant in the room. Strange. From their outline:

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board issued 67 IPR and CBM Final Written Decisions in March, including decisions following remands from the Federal Circuit, cancelling 760 (83.33%) instituted claims while declining to cancel 121 (13.27%) instituted claims. Patent owners conceded 31 claims (3.40%) through motions to amend or disclaimer in cases reaching a final decision. For comparison, the cumulative average rate of instituted claims cancelled in IPR and CBM Final Written Decisions is about 75%.

These statistics are generally valuable. We cited previous months’ statistics to show the might of PTAB.

One can criticise Finnegan for its lobbying, but at least we’ve never seen Finnegan attacking judges or court decisions. That’s just the ‘domain’ of Watchtroll, a site that attracts and radicalises patent extremists. Yesterday it wrote about a PTAB IPR with appeal to the Federal Circuit (Apator Miitors ApS v Kamstrup A/S). It was about legitimacy of evidence:

Appellee Kamstrup A/S (“Kamstrup”) filed an IPR, and the Board instituted review of the challenged patent. Apator attempted to swear behind a cited prior art reference and submitted an inventor declaration and three emails with attachments to support the earlier conception date. The Board noted that there were no indicia in the body or header of the emails indicating what files were attached or what the attachments disclosed. The Board also noted that the only evidence that a file was attached to these emails was the inventor declaration. Accordingly, the Board rejected Apator’s attempt to swear behind the reference.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit considered whether there was substantial evidence to support the Board’s finding that Apator failed to sufficiently corroborate the inventor’s testimony of conception prior to the effective filing date of the prior art reference.

[...]

Unwitnessed emails and drawings, alone, cannot corroborate an inventor’s testimony of conception.

This in its own right wasn’t entirely bad (it was an external writer), but later in the day Watchtroll was once again attacking judges and Justices because they’re not patent extremists. This time, yet again, it was over Oil States. Why does IBM even associate with these judge-bashing extremists? And just 3 hours apart, i.e. a few hours later, they once again bashed the decision using their own fictional propaganda term, “intellectual property.”

We can’t quite say we’re surprised. This is typical Watchtroll.

Compare that to what law firms are saying (those that chose to comment on Oil States). Clifton E. McCann and Kent A. Fagan (Thompson Hine LLP) are only partly wrong. Certainty wasn’t their issue with PTAB; they just wanted PTAB eliminated for a flood of lawsuits and low-quality patents (which PTAB helps thwart). To quote their article:

In light of these decisions, a PTAB challenge may now be a more useful and cost-effective option for companies that are (a) paying a royalty for use of a questionable patent or (b) being prevented from offering a new product or service by a competitor’s questionable patent.

[...]

A company can expect to receive a final PTAB decision on validity within 18 months of filing the IPR petition. However, as discussed above, patent owners often agree to forfeit or narrow their patents early on during the proceeding.

The headline and premise are both a little odd. They speak of the cases as if duration was the main issue; it wasn’t. The headline says “Supreme Court Decisions Bring Needed Certainty to PTAB Challenge Process” and it looks like the same “certainty” lie they generally use against Alice/Section 101 (alleging that they lack “clarity” or “certainty” rather than simply hate Alice).

The patent microcosm, commenting on this exactly one week after the decisions (i.e. yesterday), is still trying to control the narrative. Here is what Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP published yesterday (“Supreme Court Rulings Signal Significant Changes to Post-Issuance Patent Reviews”). Richard P. Gilly and Gregory J. Winsky (Archer & Greiner P.C.) chose not to comment at all (on Oil States) and instead deflect to the far less important decision — a pattern which we commented on last week.

Jonathan B. Tropp and Woo Sin Sean Park (Day Pitney LLP) wrote a reasonably OK article which does not distract from the main outcome and impact of Oil States. Here is what they said:

In Oil States Energy Servs., LLC v. Greene’s Energy Grp., 584 U.S. ____ (2018), the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the inter partes review (IPR) process before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). Since the enactment of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) in 2011, the PTAB and its administrative law judges have determined the validity of claims in thousands of patents in trial-like proceedings. After its patent was invalidated in an IPR proceeding, one patent owner, appellant Oil States, challenged the statute’s delegation of adjudicative authority to the PTO and argued that patents, as properties, could only be revoked by Article III courts. Writing for the 7-2 majority, Justice Thomas held that a patent is the grant of a public right, and IPR “is simply a reconsideration of that grant.” Oil States, slip op. at 7. Thus, patent validity can be determined by an agency rather than a court.

[...]

What Oil States Means to You

The Oil States decision was narrowly decided, leaving open the possibility of future challenges to the IPR process; for now, however, it preserves the status quo, in which IPR and other AIA proceedings remain popular vehicles for defendants of patent infringement suits to challenge patents expediently. Notwithstanding Justice Gorsuch’s lament in dissent, echoing the late Justice Scalia, that “no doubt, dispensing with constitutionally prescribed procedures is often expedient,” id. at 2, the PTAB is expected to remain a primary venue for challenging patent validity, with relatively quick turnaround and experienced administrative judges.

We’ll carry on tracking responses to this ruling; it’s one thing that the decision came out and another thing how it’s broadly interpreted because that shapes consensus. They’d rather talk endlessly about Aatrix and 'pull a Berkheimer'.

RPX, RIP

Posted in America, Patents at 2:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

RPXSummary: Months after RPX executives left and even Microsoft canceled its membership the company as a whole gets sold to a private equity firm

THE patents-hoarding pool known as RPX is dangerous not only because it deals with USPTO-granted patents (i.e. many software patents) but also because months ago it was rumoured it would be sold to a patent troll, Erich Spangenberg. Like Red Hat, which pursues software patents while providing nonaggression assurances, there’s no way to guarantee/enforce such pledges upon buyout/takeover.

The patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) has reported on the buyout of RPX. The article is composed by their most ferocious proponent of trolls and software patents, with help from IAM’s editor (see note at the bottom) and the buyer is called HGGC, an entity which Wikipedia describes as “a middle-market private equity firm based in Palo Alto, California, with over $4.25 billion of cumulative capital commitments”. From IAM:

RPX is set to be sold to private equity outfit HGGC in an all-cash deal that values the defensive aggregator at $555 million. The acquisition – at $10.50 a share – was announced this morning and brings to an end months of speculation about the firm’s future.

HGGC is based in Palo Alto and, according to its website, currently has $4.3 billion in cumulative capital commitments. One of its co-founders is American football Hall of Famer Steve Young. Although it has a substantial portfolio of tech businesses, RPX appears to be its first investment in a standalone patent business.

[...]

That would seem to suggest that HGGC is committed to the RPX’s core offering including Inventus, the e-discovery platform which the defensive patent player bought back in 2015 for $232 million, but had been looking to sell.

While $555 million is lower than RPX’s investors might have been hoping for, an all cash deal at a time of continued uncertainty in the patent market might well mean that they take the money and run. It will then be up to the senior managers who remain to work out with HGGC what to do with the firm. Given the current flux in the patent market, this could be easier said than done.

The CEO will be former Bain Capital executive Gregory M. Benson and this is their corresponding press release. It’s probably too early to tell what’s about to happen to RPX. The sure thing is, RPX lost much of its leadership and in case of liquidation there’s a huge threat that vultures will come preying. So watch this space.

Not Enough Opposition/s to Wrongly-Granted European Patents

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 1:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Examiners know there's a problem as justice cannot prevail

EPO quality letter

Summary: The relative lack of oppositions to patents which are being granted in a rush (and under pressure to met “targets”) may mean that any sense of justice will be overlooked, not only inside the EPO but also outside the EPO

THE EPO is creating a legal minefield. European Patents (EPs) are granted too leniently — a result of decline in patent quality — basically emulating the same mistakes the USPTO made in recent decades (until patent reform). This means that access to justice in the patent sense will become as poor as EPO staff’s access to justice. It means that mobs like patent trolls can harass European companies even if they do not infringe/touch a patent or the patent in question is just questionable (expensive to prove that in court though).

Yesterday an EPO insider wrote about the concept of “Floating in a legal vacuum,” quoting documents that SUEPO had shared: “How can it be that while states are individually obliged to respect fundamental human rights, they can jointly create international institutions that are entitled to ignore them?”

“Are appeals and oppositions even possible when people like Battistelli can harass Board judges (appeals)? Or retaliate against Office staff (oppositions)?”SUEPO published two large documents recently; these pertain to exemptions from law for EPO management, but what about patents that get issued and those impacted by such patents? Are appeals and oppositions even possible when people like Battistelli can harass Board judges (appeals)? Or retaliate against Office staff (oppositions)?

Not too long ago there was a successful opposition to a patent on life. Yes, the EPO had been granting patents on life itself, but in one case (at least one) EPO staff rejected the patent. It was about CRISPR. Professor Jake Sherkow of New York Law School has just written about a CRISPR patent appeal in the US. He said that this “demonstrates that patents covering even revolutionary technology can be legally mundane and still have significant real-world impact,” having not actually opposed this practice.

But another post on the subject of appeals came from the US yesterday. It was the CCIA writing about the EPO, which is rare. “Approximately 4% of European patents are opposed, and of those, approximately 32% of oppositions are not instituted,” Josh Landau wrote yesterday. To quote the relevant paragraphs:

EPO Oppositions and Nullity Proceedings

In Europe, rather than inter partes review and district court litigation on validity, there are opposition proceedings at the European Patent Office (EPO) and nullity proceedings in European national courts.

Oppositions

Oppositions are the most similar European procedure to U.S. post-grant proceedings like IPR. So it’s instructive to examine how many European patents are opposed and the outcomes of those oppositions.

Fortunately, the EPO makes available detailed statistics on exactly these questions. Approximately 4% of European patents are opposed, and of those, approximately 32% of oppositions are not instituted. 27% of oppositions result in a final decision invalidating all claims of the patent, while the remaining 40% of patents are modified in some form and maintained as patents. (EPO opposition statistics appear to omit patents where the parties settled mid-proceeding.) Each year, the EPO handles approximately 4,000 oppositions, meaning that approximately 1,100 European patents are invalidated in their entirety on a yearly basis.

This means that about 96% of patents face no opposition; with Battistelli almost doubling the number of granted patents, how would that even be feasible? Even for companies to keep abreast of all those granted patents while still being productive at work…

What we see here is collective erosion of the notion of law or justice in the patent system. Yesterday we called it the "banana republic model"; it’s a system gone awry. A lazy man with barely any experience in patents or sciences has been put in charge of a patent-printing machine.

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