Links 7/6/2018: ​Buildah 1.0 and Mozilla’s Voice Collection

Posted in News Roundup at 6:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • First look: Huawei MateBook X Pro with Ubuntu 18.04 Linux

      The Huawei MateBook X Pro is a pretty nice little laptop, featuring a 13.9 inch, 3000 x 2000 pixel touchscreen display with super-slim bezels, an all-metal chassis, and support for up ton an Intel Core i7-8550U processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics.

      Huawei recently announced that the MateBook X Pro is coming to America, and it’s up for pre-order from B&H.

    • Samsung Chromebook Plus Adds Linux App Support

      Sooner than I honestly expected, it seems that the Crostini Project has made its way to the Developer channel on the Samsung Chromebook Plus.

      As Robby reported in early May, the Crostini Reddit revealed a user who was already up and running with Crostini(sort of) on the ARM-powered Chromebook. Additionally, a number of commits in the Chromium repository gave us some pretty solid evidence that developers had shifted their efforts to making the container tech work outside of the Pixelbook.

      Thanks to a recent update to the Developer channel, we are now seeing reports that ‘Kevin‘ a.k.a the Samsung Chromebook Plus can now run the Linux terminal app just like the Pixelbook does.

    • Samsung Chromebook Plus Now Supports Linux apps

      The Chrome OS ecosystem is finally changing. This comes after Chromebooks, and the Chrome OS, in general, are now supporting Linux apps. This means that Chromebooks could now actually run more applications. By doing so, tech-savvy users claim that Chromebooks would become eventually a major competitor to both Mac and Windows laptops.

  • Server

    • Easier container security with entitlements

      During KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2018, Justin Cormack and Nassim Eddequiouaq presented a proposal to simplify the setting of security parameters for containerized applications. Containers depend on a large set of intricate security primitives that can have weird interactions. Because they are so hard to use, people often just turn the whole thing off. The goal of the proposal is to make those controls easier to understand and use; it is partly inspired by mobile apps on iOS and Android platforms, an idea that trickled back into Microsoft and Apple desktops. The time seems ripe to improve the field of container security, which is in desperate need of simpler controls.

    • Kubernetes, Four Years Later, and Amazon Redefining Container Orchestration

      Well, here we are. Kubernetes turns four years old this month—technically, on June 7, 2018—the very same platform that brings users and data center administrators scalable container technologies. Its popularity has skyrocketed since its initial introduction by Google. Celebrating the project’s birthday is not the only thing making the headlines today. Amazon recently announced the general availability of its Elastic Container Services for Kubernetes (EKS), accessible via Amazon Web Services (AWS).

      Once upon a time, it wasn’t a simple task to orchestrate and manage containers in the cloud. Up until this recent EKS announcement, it was up to the administrator to spin up a virtual machine through an Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) service, run Kubernetes on top of a traditional Linux server installation in EC2 and rely on other AWS moving components to host the container image registry. The entire process was very involved. Not any more!

    • Designing new cloud architectures: Exploring CI/CD – from data centre to cloud

      Nobody knows what DevOps really is, but if you are not doing, using, breathing, dreaming – being? – DevOps, you’re doing it wrong. All teasing aside, with the advent of DevOps, the gap that existed between development teams and operation teams has become closer, to the extent of some companies mixing the teams. Even so, some of those took a different approach and have multidisciplinary teams where engineers work on the product throughout the lifecycle, coding, testing and deploying – including on occasion security teams as well, now called DevOpsSec.

    • How not to kill your DevOps team
    • Kubernetes Deep Dive and Use Cases

      When containers were first introduced in 2008, Virtual Machines, or VMs, were the state-of-the-art option to optimize a data center’s physical resources. This arrangement worked well enough, but had some flaws: Virtual machines utilized too many resources because they required both a complete operating system, and emulated instructions to reach the physical CPU. Even with some technologies like Intel VT-x and AMD-V that attempted to solve the emulation problem, virtual machines were behind bare metal.

    • Mesos and Kubernetes: It’s Not a Competition

      The project was founded in 2009. In 2010 the team decided to donate the project to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF). It was incubated at Apache and in 2013, it became a Top-Level Project (TLP).

      There were many reasons why the Mesos community chose Apache Software Foundation, such as the permissiveness of Apache licensing, and the fact that they already had a vibrant community of other such projects.

      It was also about influence. A lot of people working on Mesos were also involved with Apache, and many people were working on projects like Hadoop. At the same time, many folks from the Mesos community were working on other Big Data projects like Spark. This cross-pollination led all three projects — Hadoop, Mesos, and Spark — to become ASF projects.

  • Kernel Space

    • Stratis: Easy local storage management for Linux

      Stratis is a new local storage-management solution for Linux. It can be compared to ZFS, Btrfs, or LVM. Its focus is on simplicity of concepts and ease of use, while giving users access to advanced storage features. Internally, Stratis’s implementation favors tight integration of existing components instead of the fully-integrated, in-kernel approach that ZFS and Btrfs use. This has benefits and drawbacks for Stratis, but also greatly decreases the overall time needed to develop a useful and stable initial version, which can then be a base for further improvement in later versions. As the Stratis team lead at Red Hat, I am hoping to raise the profile of the project a bit so that more in our community will have it as an option.

    • Unprivileged filesystem mounts, 2018 edition

      The advent of user namespaces and container technology has made it possible to extend more root-like powers to unprivileged users in a (we hope) safe way. One remaining sticking point is the mounting of filesystems, which has long been fraught with security problems. Work has been proceeding to allow such mounts for years, and it has gotten a little closer with the posting of a patch series intended for the 4.18 kernel. But, as an unrelated discussion has made clear, truly safe unprivileged filesystem mounting is still a rather distant prospect — at least, if one wants to do it in the kernel.

      Attempts to make the mount operation safe for ordinary users are nothing new; LWN covered one patch set back in 2008. That work was never merged, but the effort to allow unprivileged mounts picked up in 2015, when Eric Biederman (along with others, Seth Forshee in particular) got serious about allowing user namespaces to perform filesystem mounts. The initial work was merged in 2016 for the 4.8 kernel, but it was known to not be a complete solution to the problem, so most filesystems can still only be mounted by users who are privileged in the initial namespace.

    • Bpfilter (and user-mode blobs) for 4.18

      In February, the bpfilter mechanism was first posted to the mailing lists. Bpfilter is meant to be a replacement for the current in-kernel firewall/packet-filtering code. It provides little functionality itself; instead, it creates a set of hooks that can run BPF programs to make the packet-filtering decisions. A version of that patch set has been merged into the net-next tree for 4.18. It will not be replacing any existing packet filters in its current form, but it does feature a significant change to one of its more controversial features: the new user-mode helper mechanism.

      The core motivation behind bpfilter is performance. An in-kernel, general-purpose packet filter must necessarily offer a wide range of features; any given site will probably only use a small subset of those features. The result is a lot of unused code and time spent checking for whether a given feature is in use, slowing the whole thing down. A packet-filtering configuration expressed as a BPF program, instead, contains only the code needed to implement the desired policy. Once that code is translated to native code by the just-in-time compiler, it should be both compact and fast. The networking developers hope that it will be fast enough to win back some of the users who have moved to proprietary user-space filtering implementations.

      If bpfilter is to replace netfilter, though, it must provide ABI compatibility so that existing configurations continue to work. To that end, the bpfilter developers intend to implement the current netfilter configuration protocol; bpfilter will accept iptables rules and compile them to BPF transparently. That compilation is not a trivial task, though, and one that could present some security challenges, so the desire is to do it in user space, but under kernel control.

    • Observations on trackpoint input data

      This time we talk trackpoints. Or pointing sticks, or whatever else you want to call that thing between the GHB keys. If you don’t have one and you’ve never seen one, prepare to be amazed. [1]

      Trackpoints are tiny joysticks that react to pressure [2], convert that pressure into relative x/y events and pass that on to whoever is interested in it. The harder you push, the higher the deltas. This is where the simple and obvious stops and it gets difficult. But then again, if it was that easy I wouldn’t write this post, you wouldn’t have anything to read, so somehow everyone wins. Whoop-dee-doo.

    • Hutterer: Observations on trackpoint input data

      Peter Hutterer writes about the behavior of trackpoint devices in great detail.

    • FUSE Gets User Namespace Support With Linux 4.18

      The FUSE updates have been sent in for allowing file-systems in user-space, what Linus Torvalds previously referred to as being for toys and misguided people.

      With FUSE for Linux 4.18 it adds a new feature: user name-space support to allow for safe unprivileged FUSE mounts within a user name-space.

    • Linux 4.18 Continues Prepping For The Year 2038

      The Linux kernel has already been prepping for years for Year 2038 and that work is still ongoing with the in-development Linux 4.18 kernel.

      For those unfamiliar with the Year 2038 problem, that is when systems using a signed 32-bit integer for storing the time since 1 January 1970, as is standard for the Unix time-stamp, will wrap around. That obviously will cause many systems to be confused. The Linux kernel across its around 20 million lines of code has been working to address the “Y2038″ problem but it’s no easy task with the around twenty million lines of code to the Linux kernel.

    • Plenty Of Sound Changes To Be Heard With Linux 4.18

      Adding to the growing list of kernel changes for Linux 4.18 are a great deal of sound driver/subsystem updates.

    • Linux 4.9.107
    • Linux 4.4.136
    • BPFILTER, Net Failover Driver & Other Network Changes For Linux 4.18

      David Miller has submitted the big platter of networking updates for the in-development Linux 4.18 kernel.

      Arguably the most notable networking addition for Linux 4.18 is the new BPFILTER infrastructure that will eventually be used to replace existing firewall and packet filtering implementations within the kernel. The new BPFILTER-based solution should allow better security, easier maintenance, and potential performance wins via BPF JIT and hardware offloading. But for Linux 4.18 is just the initial framework and the user-mode helpers.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Get Essential Git, Linux, and Open Source Skills with New Training Course
      • Why Linux Works [Ed: it says "This article was originally published in October, 2017"]

        The Linux community works, it turns out, because the Linux community isn’t too concerned about work, per se. As much as Linux has come to dominate many areas of corporate computing – from HPC to mobile to cloud – the engineers who write the Linux kernel tend to focus on the code itself, rather than their corporate interests therein.

        Such is one prominent conclusion that emerges from Dawn Foster’s doctoral work, examining collaboration on the Linux kernel. Foster, a former community lead at Intel and Puppet Labs, notes, “Many people consider themselves a Linux kernel developer first, an employee second.”

        With all the “foundation washing” corporations have inflicted upon various open source projects, hoping to hide corporate prerogatives behind a mask of supposed community, Linux has managed to keep itself pure. The question is how.

      • The Linux Foundation Announces Keynote Speakers for Open Source Summit North America

        Keynote speakers include:

        Ajay Agrawal, Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning Expert, Author of Prediction Machines, and Founder of The Creative Destruction Lab
        Jennifer Cloer, Founder of reTHINKit and Creator and Executive Producer of The Chasing Grace Project
        Wim Coekaerts, Senior Vice President of Operating Systems and Virtualization Engineering, Oracle
        Ben Golub, Executive Chairman and Interim CEO, and Shawn Wilkinson, Co-founder, Storj Labs
        Preethi Kasireddy, Founder & CEO, TruStory
        Window Snyder, Chief Security Officer, Fastly
        Imad Sousou, Corporate Vice President and General Manager, Open Source Technology Center, Intel
        Sana Tariq, Senior Architect, E2E Service Orchestration, TELUS

    • Graphics Stack

      • There’s A Discussion Again About Flipping On Intel “Fastboot” DRM Driver Support

        For over six years now has been the Intel DRM driver’s “Fastboot” support for eliminating unnecessary mode-set operations during the boot process, with an original focus on improving the laptop/ultrabook boot experience. While there have been attempts at getting Fastboot enabled by default, it hasn’t happened to date but now a Red Hat developer is hoping to get it turned on for at least some generations of Intel hardware to benefit the work going into improving the Fedora boot experience.

      • Does Forcing “High” DPM Performance Help Out Your AMDGPU Performance?

        A premium patron recently asked about testing the open-source Radeon driver performance when testing the forced “high” dynamic power management state rather than the default “auto” mode. Here are some benchmarks.

      • Etnaviv Gallium3D Now Working On NIR Support

        The Etnaviv Gallium3D driver for providing reverse-engineered, open-source 3D graphics driver support for Vivante graphics hardware is currently pursuing NIR intermediate representation support.

        Philipp Zabel is one of multiple Pengutronix developers working on this open-source Etnaviv driver stack. He shared on Tuesday that they have been working on NIR support for a while, the new intermediate representation brought up over the past few years initially for the Intel Mesa driver and has since expanded to VC4, Freedreno, and optionally the RadeonSI driver as part of their SPIR-V support.

      • DXVK 0.54 Brings Better AMD Performance, Improved GPU Utilization

        DXVK 0.54 is available today as the latest version of this Direct3D-11-over-Vulkan translation layer to benefit Wine gamers looking to enjoy faster D3D11 gaming performance on Linux.

        With DXVK 0.54 comes support for utilizing host-visible device-local memory with AMD graphics cards. This allows putting dynamic resources there that need fast access by the graphics processor. In turn this should improve the performance; at least for The Witcher 3 it ends up being about a 5% performance improvement for this change to the memory flags.

      • DXVK 0.54 released with improved AMD GPU performance, plus DXUP for D3D10 is a thing

        The awesome DXVK project for Vulkan D3D11 in Wine has another fresh release out and it’s a pretty good one.

        Once again, I’m shocked by how quickly it has been releasing updates and solving issues. Considering it’s mostly by one person, it’s mind-boggling how far it has come in such a short amount of time. Anyway…here’s what’s new on 0.54.

      • The Big DRM Updates For Linux 4.18: Intel Icelake, Vega M, Vega 20 & V3D

        David Airlie, the subsystem maintainer for the Direct Rendering Manager, has submitted the big feature pull request today for the Linux 4.18 kernel. All of the DRM feature work yields a net gain of close to fifty-thousand lines of code for this cycle.

      • [Older] GPU virtualization update
    • Benchmarks

      • macOS 10.13 vs. Windows 10 vs. Clear/Fedora/openSUSE/Ubuntu Linux Benchmarks

        When running tests this week on a MacBook Pro for the Dota 2 Vulkan/OpenGL cross-OS performance I also took the opportunity as part of the fun benchmarking week for celebrating the Phoronix 14th birthday by running a broader set of system benchmarks across the latest macOS 10.13 High Sierra, Windows 10 Pro, and various Linux distributions. Here are those CPU/system performance benchmark results.

      • NVIDIA vs. AMD Linux GPU Performance For THRONES OF BRITANNIA

        This morning Feral Interactive released A Total War Saga: THRONES OF BRITANNIA for Linux gamers. This Linux port of A Total War Saga: THRONES OF BRITANNIA is powered by the Vulkan graphics API rather than OpenGL and makes for an interesting test subject. Here are our initial benchmarks of this game under Ubuntu Linux with a range of AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Alan Pope: KDE Slimbook 2 Review

        The kind folks at Slimbook recently sent me the latest generation of their ultrabook-style laptop line for review, the KDE Slimbook 2. You can hear my thoughts on the latest episode of the Ubuntu Podcast, released on June 7th 2018.

        Slimbook are a small laptop vendor based in Spain. All the laptops ship with KDE Neon as the default operating system. In addition to their hardware, they also contribute to and facilitate local Free Software events in their area. I was sent the laptop only for review purposes. There’s no other incentive provided, and Slimbook didn’t see this blog post before I published it.

        Being a small vendor, they don’t have the same buying power with OEM vendors as other big name laptop suppliers. This is reflected in the price you pay. You’re supporting a company who are themselves supporting Free Software developers and communities.

        If you’re after the cheapest possible laptop, and don’t care about its origin or the people behind the device, then maybe this laptop isn’t for you. However, if you like to vote with your wallet, then the KDE Slimbook should absolutely be on your list to seriously consider.

      • Cutelyst on TechEmpower benchmarks round 16

        Yesterday TechEmpower released the results for round 16 of their benchmarking tests, you can see their blog about it here. And like for round 15 I’d like add my commentary about it here.

        Before you look into the results web site it’s important to be aware of a few things, first round 16 runs on a new hardware newer and more powerful than the previous rounds, they also did a Dockerization of the tests which allowed us to pull different distro images, cache package install and isolate from other frameworks. So don’t try to compare to round 15.

      • Integrating QML and Rust: Creating a QMetaObject at Compile Time

        There were already numerous existing projects that attempt to integrate Qt and Rust. A great GUI toolkit should be working with a great language.

      • KDE Connect on Plasma Mobile

        The digital world has changed over the last 10 years. The usage of mobile devices skyrocketed whereas the desktop market is stagnating. The trend is also going towards smaller and convertible devices. The mobile market is controlled by two major corporations. One of them is religiously cutting down your personal freedom and aiming towards a walled garden proprietary ecosystem, the other one is disrespecting your privacy enormously. With Plasma Mobile the KDE community is envisioning a mobile experience that is giving you maximal freedom while ensuring your privacy. It seems like a bold venture, but we have to at least try, right?

        Plasma Mobile would not be a true KDE project without the same degree of integration with the desktop as we already have with Android devices. Therefore we aim to make Plasma Mobile a first-class citizen of KDE Connect.


        Kirigami Framework it will run on Plasma Mobile automagically. What are you waiting for?

      • LabPlot getting support for MQTT

        After successfully connecting to the broker. The MQTT client subscribes to the “#” wildcard. This means that the client gets every message published on the broker, so we can add every active topic to a combo box. The user can choose from these topics the ones the MQTT client will subscribe to. Since lots of topics are added to the combo box, by starting to type the topic’s name we can narrow down the list the user has to choose from. Subscribing and unsubscribing to a topic is also implemented.

      • GSoC 2018: Coding period (week 1-3)
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOMEs beat Microsoft: Git Virtual File System to get a new name

        Microsoft is going to rename the Git Virtual File System to eliminate its clash with GNOMErs.

        The purpose of the Git Virtual File System was laudable: Redmond’s developers were sick of taking the afternoon off after typing “git clone” (even “git checkout” could take hours), so they gave GitHub users a workaround.

        At the time, Microsoft’s Saeed Noursalehi explained that GVFS “virtualises the file system beneath your repo and makes it appear as though all the files in your repo are present, but in reality only downloads a file the first time it is opened.”

        At last, developers could handle terabyte-size repos without taking up knitting.

  • Distributions

    • Call for distros: Patch cups for better internationalization

      If you’re reading this and use cups to print (almost certainly you do if you’re on Linux), you may want to contact your distribution and ask them to add this patch.

      It adds translation support for a few keyword found in some printers PPD files. The CUPS upstream project has rejected with not much reason other than “PPD is old”, without really taking into account it’s really the only way you can get access to some advanced printer features (see comments in the same thread)

    • Reviews

      • Linux Lite 4.0 – New Features and Step by Step Installation Guide

        Linux lite is one of the top and one of the most downloaded Linux distros and recently it has released its latest version in Linux Lite 4.0. In this article, we are going to look into the new features and enhancements that is made available in Linux Lite 4.0 along with a step by step guide to install Linux Lite 4.0 in your system.

    • Red Hat Family

      • ​Buildah 1.0: Linux Container construction made easy

        The good news about containers, such as Docker’s, is they make it easy to deploy applications, and you can run far more of them on a server than you can on a virtual machine. The bad news is that putting an application into a container can be difficult. That’s where Buildah comes in.

        Buildah is a newly released shell program for efficiently and quickly building Open Container Initiative (OCI) and Docker compliant images and containers. Buildah simplifies the process of creating, building, and updating images while decreasing the learning curve of the container environment.

      • How do you explain your organization’s purpose? 3 lessons from Red Hat

        Last year, Red Hat embarked on a journey to articulate our company’s “Why”—our highest level reason for existing in the world. We followed an open and inclusive process that engaged more than 10,000 Red Hatters, which I outlined in a previous column. Today, I’ll share a few lessons we learned along the way.

      • ROCm 1.8.1 Released With Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 Support

        The AMD GPUOpen engineers maintaining the ROCm “Radeon Open Compute” driver stack with OpenCL support have today rolled out the ROCm 1.8.1 point release.

        ROCm 1.8 was released last month with various improvements to this OpenCL/compute stack designed for the “larger” AMD GPUs compared to their alternative PAL OpenCL driver stack for APUs and smaller GPUs. With ROCm 1.8.1 it’s just a minor update.

      • Red Hat bridges data centre and edge deployments

        Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, introduced Red Hat Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Cloud, an integrated solution for customers seeking to co-locate compute and storage functions in OpenStack environments.

        The new offering combines Red Hat OpenStack Platform 13 and Red Hat Ceph Storage 3 in a single user experience, supported by a common lifecycle for greater operational and organisational efficiency.

        Red Hat Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Cloud offers an open platform to improve application portability between the data centre and the edge, especially critical to enterprises that historically didn’t have any choice outside of inflexible, proprietary systems.

      • Red Hat expands cloud-native integration portfolio

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world´s provider of open source solutions, has announced the availability of Red Hat Fuse 7, the next major release of its distributed, cloud-native integration solution, and introduced a new fully hosted low-code integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) offering, Fuse Online, the company said.

        With Fuse 7, Red Hat is expanding its innovative integration capabilities natively to Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, the industry´s most comprehensive enterprise Kubernetes platform. Fuse gives customers a unified solution for creating, extending and deploying containerized integration services across hybrid cloud environments.

      • How Red Hat Morphed From Linux Pioneer Into Cloud-Computing Player

        Bearish analysts warned that companies would buy less of Red Hat’s software for their private data centers and that it could be shut out from the cloud. One worry was that Amazon Web Services offered customers its own version of open-source Linux for free.

      • Red Hat unveils new integrated cloud solution

        Red Hat, a leading provider of open source solutions, has introduced Red Hat Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Cloud, an integrated solution for customers seeking to co-locate compute and storage functions in OpenStack environments.

      • Red Hat Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Cloud Bridges Datacenters and Edge Deployments

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, introduced Red Hat Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Cloud, an integrated solution for customers seeking to co-locate compute and storage functions in OpenStack environments. The new offering combines Red Hat OpenStack Platform 13 and Red Hat Ceph Storage 3 in a single user experience, supported by a common lifecycle for greater operational and organizational efficiency.

        Red Hat Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Cloud offers an open platform to improve application portability between the datacenter and the edge, especially critical to enterprises that historically didn’t have any choice outside of inflexible, proprietary systems. In addition, nodes in an OpenStack deployment are interoperable, giving customers the choice to use non-hyperconverged nodes across their networks, with hyperconverged nodes at the edge, further improving resource utilization. By using existing skill sets in building private and hybrid cloud deployments, customers can innovate faster to address next-generation requirements for the edge.

      • Citellus: System configuration validation tool

        Working in Support is not an easy task, each customer has adapted our products to best fit their needs and while this is a great advantage of open source software, it also broadens the spectrum of different configurations.

        Over time, the typical support case has evolved. It’s not just a system with some failure or behavior that should be checked like individual system-level configuration, tuning, lifecycle management, master kits, etc. Now, it’s leaning towards the interactions between several systems like clustering, virtualization (Red Hat Virtualization) and finally cloud (OpenShift, OpenStack or combinations).

      • Finance

      • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Debian on a synthesizer

        Bela is a low latency optimized platform for audio applications built using Debian and Xenomai, running on a BeagleBoard Black. I recently stumbled upon this platform while skimming through a modular synthesizer related forum. Bela has teamed up with the guys at Rebel Technologies to build a Bela based system in eurorack module format, called Salt. Luckily enough, I managed to secure a unit for my modular synthesizer.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Announces Ubuntu for Amazon’s Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes

            Officially launched on Tuesday, Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (Amazon EKS) is engineered to deliver Kubernetes, the open-source and production-grade container orchestration tool as a managed service on the AWS (Amazon Web Services) cloud computing services. As Ubuntu is the most widely used container host operating system, especially for Kubernetes deployments, it can now be used to host containers in Amazon’s EKS.

            “The benefits of Ubuntu optimization by Amazon and Canonical now extend to Amazon’s Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS) with Ubuntu worker nodes hosting high-performance Docker containers in AWS. This creates perfect portability for enterprise container workloads developed on Ubuntu workstations and operated on private infrastructure with Canonical’s distribution of upstream Kubernetes,” said Canonical.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Intel Develops A SPIR-V Translator To Run On The CPU

    It’s not a CPU-based Vulkan implementation or along those lines, but Intel’s newest open-source project allows converting SPIR-V into optimized instructions for running on modern CPUs.

  • HarfBuzz 1.8 Released With Unicode 11 Support

    HarfBuzz 1.8 was released on Tuesday, the same day as the Unicode 11 release. HarfBuzz is the text shaping library born out of the FreeType project that is now widely used across many applications from Firefox to Inkscape and Java.

  • Capillary is an open source library to help developers implement end-to-end encryption for push notifications

    If you’re a developer that implements push notifications in your app and you or your users care about data privacy, then it’s important that you transmit these push messages securely. For those of you who are already into data security, then implementing strong encryption measures is a no-brainer. For others, it’s a difficult feature to implement. Google’s Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) pushes messages over TLS so you can send your messages securely through Google’s servers, but by doing so you aren’t meeting the gold standard which is end-to-end encryption. Without end-to-end encryption, a theoretical third party could compromise the data; with it, only the end user’s device can decrypt the data. Implementing E2E encryption can be difficult for new developers, so that’s why Google is introducing Project Capillary. It is an open-source library that facilitates implementing E2E encryption between developers’ servers and clients’ devices.

  • Steve Jobs promised to make FaceTime open source. It’s time

    I hate Skype. And though I’ve had better luck with Google Hangouts, I mostly hate it too. In 2018, it’s still a big freaking chore to meet people face-to-face over the internet, particularly for business meetings — even if your company uses something fancier like BlueJeans or WebEx or what have you.

  • Steve Jobs Promised Open Source FaceTime Back in 2010: What Happened?

    At this year’s WWDC, Apple introduced a major new feature for FaceTime: the ability to make group calls of up to 32 participants, provided that all users’ Apple devices are on iOS 12. But, eight years ago, Steve Jobs promised something different.

  • Legal battle may be to blame for Apple breaking its FaceTime promise
  • Here’s Why Apple Never Made FaceTime an Open-Standard as Promised
  • This could be why Apple has yet to make FaceTime an open-standard like it promised
  • Verizon looks to open source for Edge architectures

    To say that the network edge and edge computing is an area of much discussion is perhaps the understatement of the year, and the technology choices available to telcos can be perplexing. Verizon is one of the more progressive carriers in this area, so how did the US telco approach this new wild frontier and what were its requirements for a successful Edge deployment? There are numerous technology choices available, from VMs to containers, but just how robust and resilient are some of the new software and hardware projects – and are they what many operators like to call “telco grade”?

  • Introducing Gaum: An Open Source O/RM That isn’t an O/RM

    We decided that, until we better understood the best way to shape our data, we shouldn’t worry about optimizing the efficiency of storing it. The tricky thing with data efficiency, is that you first need to figure out the best way to extract the information your service requires, in order to determine the best architecture. A parallel could be drawn to a work table, you first need to use it, work on it, live it to analyze the mess and from it obtain a use pattern for your tools and then arrange them.

    And there, we made a compromise, an O/RM. O/RMs, like many other technologies that bridge two different paradigms, have their fair share of detractors and supporters… and we’ve certain experienced both sides. At first it was wonderful, in about a week we moved our code base to use the O/RM (I am intentionally omitting the name because I don’t believe in software shaming open source projects) and for a period it was good: We moved the structure of our data, added columns, made queries, moved info and it was all done relatively easily, almost “magically”.

  • Events

    • Notes from the 2nd Operating-System-Directed Power-Management Summit

      The second Operating-System-Directed Power-Management (OSPM18) Summit took place at the ReTiS Lab of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa between April 16 and April 18, 2018. Like last year, the summit was organized as a collection of collaborative sessions focused on trying to improve how operating-system-directed power management and the kernel’s task scheduler work together to achieve the goal of reducing energy consumption while still meeting performance and latency requirements.


      What is still missing in load tracking? Vincent Guittot presented the evolution of the load tracking mechanism in the Linux scheduler and what should be the next steps. The session was split into three parts. The first part showed the improvements made in scheduler load tracking since last OSPM summit and listed the features that have already been merged. The audience agreed that new load tracking was far more accurate, stable, and helpful in scheduler load balancing.

      Vincent then described what still remains to be fixed, like the case of realtime tasks preempting ordinary tasks. There is also a desire to remove the current rt_avg mechanism and to replace it with the new load-tracking information. Based on this use case, the discussion extended to the definition of CPU utilization and what is needed to get a complete view. We already track ordinary task utilization, and we had seen with the previous use case that tracking realtime utilization is beneficial. The audience agreed that we should extend that to account for interrupt pressure and SCHED_DEADLINE usage to get a complete view of the utilization.

  • Web Browsers

    • Firefox dropped below the 10% share value on Netmarketshare

      Google Chrome, Firefox’s biggest rival in the browser world, managed to increase its massive lead from 60.08% in June 2017 to 62.85% in May 2018.

    • Mozilla

      • More Common Voices

        Today we are excited to announce that Common Voice, Mozilla’s initiative to crowdsource a large dataset of human voices for use in speech technology, is going multilingual! Thanks to the tremendous efforts from Mozilla’s communities and our deeply engaged language partners you can now donate your voice in German, French and Welsh, and we are working to launch 40+ more as we speak. But this is just the beginning. We want Common Voice to be a tool for any community to make speech technology available in their own language.

      • Parlez-vous Deutsch? Rhagor o Leisiau i Common Voice

        We’re very proud to be announcing the next phase of the Common Voice project. It’s now available for contributors in three new languages, German, French and Welsh, with 40+ other languages on their way! But this is just the beginning. We want Common Voice to be a tool for any community to make speech technology available in their own language.

        Speech interfaces are the next frontier for the Internet. Project Common Voice is our initiative to build a global corpus of open voice data to be used to train machine-learning algorithms to power the voice interfaces of the future. We believe these interfaces shouldn’t be controlled by a few companies as gatekeepers to voice-enabled services, and we want users to be understood consistently, in their own languages and accents.

        As anyone who has studied the economics of the Internet knows, services chase money. And so it’s quite natural that developers and publishers seek to develop for the audience that will best reward their efforts. What we see as a consequence is an Internet that is heavily skewed towards English, in a world where English is only spoken by 20% of the global population, and only 5% natively. This is increasingly going to be an accessibility issue, as Wired noted last year, “Voice Is the Next Big Platform, Unless You Have an Accent”.

      • AreWeFastYet UI refresh

        For a long time Mozilla’s JS team and others have been using https://arewefastyet.com to track the JS engine performance against various benchmarks.

      • Side View is the Firefox Feature I’ve Been Waiting For

        Since its Quantum update I have to say that I’m loving Mozilla Firefox — but a promising new feature on the horizon could help me to love it even more!

        It’s called Side View and it’s an experimental feature available to try, from today, as part of the Firefox Test Pilot program.

        What’s that?

        Firefox Test Pilot is an opt-in, participatory effort that allows wily Firefox users like you and me to help test new features as web extensions before they’re ready for wider dissemination.

      • Happy BMO Push Day!
      • Happy BMO Push Day!
      • Mozilla Releases Firefox 60.0.2 for Linux, Windows, Mac, and Android

        Mozilla released on Wednesday Firefox 60.0.2, the second point release of the Firefox 60 “Quantum” web browser series with an updated NSS component and various improvements.

        Coming about three weeks after Firefox 60.0.1, this point release isn’t as imperious as it, but it updates the NSS (Network Security Services) component, a set of libraries for supporting cross-platform development of security-enabled server and client apps, to version 3.36.4 from 3.36.1 used in the previous release.

      • Pseudolocalization in Firefox

        One of the core projects we did over 2017 was a major overhaul of the Localization and Internationalization layers in Gecko, and all throughout the first half of 2018 we were introducing Fluent into Firefox.

      • Browser detection inside a WebExtension

        Just for the record, if you really need to know about the browser container of your WebExtension, do NOT rely on StackOverflow answers… Most of them are based, directly or not, on the User Agent string. So spoofable, so unreliable. Some will recommend to rely on a given API, implemented by Firefox and not Edge, or Chrome and not the others. In general valid for a limited time only… You can’t even rely on chrome, browser or msBrowser since there are polyfills for that to make WebExtensions cross-browser.

      • Mozilla’s Common Voice Project Now Multilingual, Victory at Sea Pacific Coming Soon to Linux, Thunar 1.8 Released and More

        Mozilla yesterday announced that its Common Voice project, which is crowdsourcing a large dataset of human voices for use in speech technology, will now be multilingual. You currently can donate your voice in German, French and Welsh, and Mozilla will be adding 40+ languages soon.

      • Browse Two Websites in One Tab With Firefox Side View

        Side View is a Firefox Test Pilot project, meaning it might become part of Firefox later. This simple feature lets you browse websites using the Firefox sidebar. Here’s a quick overview:

      • Mozilla goes multilingual with open source Common Voice speech recognition datasets

        Mozilla has announced that it’s expanding its crowdsourced Common Voice project — an initiative that’s setting out to create an open source voice-recognition dataset — to include more languages.

        The tech organization first announced Common Voice last June, inviting volunteers from around the world to record snippets of text with their voice through web and mobile apps.

  • Databases

    • SQLite Release 3.24.0 On 2018-06-04
    • SQLite 3.24 Released With UPSERT Support

      SQLite 3.24.0 was quietly released earlier this week as the newest version of this widely-used embedded database library.

      The most prominent addition to SQLite 3.24.0 is that it adds support for an UPSERT operation. The UPSERT syntax allows for an INSERT to happen but to act as an UPDATE if necessary or no operation in the event of a uniqueness constraint being violated. UPSERT is not part of standard SQL but SQLite is following the PostgreSQL syntax. SQLite’s UPSERT behavior is outlined via their documentation.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CMS

    • Open Source News: WordPress GDPR Compliant; Liferay, Joomla New Releases and More

      WordPress 4.9.6 is now available, bringing a whole bunch of GDPR-compliant features with it. For example, site owners can now designate a privacy policy page which will be shown on login and registration pages. Furthermore, WordPress site owners can now export a ZIP file containing a user’s personal data, using data gathered by WordPress and participating plugins. And finally, site owners can erase a user’s personal data, including data collected by participating plugins.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • RETGUARD for clang (amd64) added to -current
    • TrueOS to Focus on Core Operating System

      The TrueOS Project has some big plans in the works, and we want to take a minute and share them with you. Many have come to know TrueOS as the “graphical FreeBSD” that makes things easy for newcomers to the BSDs. Today we’re announcing that TrueOS is shifting our focus a bit to become a cutting-edge operating system that keeps all of the stability that you know and love from ZFS (OpenZFS) and FreeBSD, and adds additional features to create a fresh, innovative operating system. Our goal is to create a core-centric operating system that is modular, functional, and perfect for do-it-yourselfers and advanced users alike.

      TrueOS will become a downstream fork that will build on FreeBSD by integrating new software technologies like OpenRC and LibreSSL. Work has already begun which allows TrueOS to be used as a base platform for other projects, including JSON-based manifests, integrated Poudriere / pkg tools and much more. We’re planning on a six month release cycle to keep development moving and fresh, allowing us to bring you hot new features to ZFS, bhyve and related tools in a timely manner. This makes TrueOS the perfect fit to serve as the basis for building other distributions.

    • TrueOS To Reinvent Itself As New BSD Platform, Downstream Fork Of FreeBSD

      Going back to when TrueOS was known as PC-BSD, the operating system has generally been known as a desktop-friendly version of FreeBSD that currently ships with its own Qt5-powered Lumina Desktop Environment while also having a server installer, etc. The folks working on TrueOS at iXsystems are now planning to take TrueOS into a new direction.

      TrueOS is going to become a downstream fork of FreeBSD while continuing with innovations like the ZFS file-system by default but also making use of OpenRC as the init system, LibreSSL, and other changes compared to upstream FreeBSD.

    • Release Planning Is Underway For LLVM 7.0, Shipping In September

      Continuing LLVM release manager Hans Wennborg has begun discussing plans for the upcoming LLVM 7.0 release.

      As is usual with LLVM’s six-month release cadence, the next release should be out in September as usual. But while LLVM normally branches for its second release of the year around mid-July, LLVM 7.0 might branch around the start of August. Due to Wennborg having a later summer holiday this year, he would like to branch when he gets back to work at the start of August.


  • Licensing/Legal

    • New wave of technology industry leaders join efforts to increase predictability in open source licensing

      The GNU General Public License (GPL) and GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) are among the most widely used open source software licenses covering many important software projects, including the Linux kernel. GPL version 3 (GPLv3) introduced an approach to termination that offers distributors of the code an opportunity to correct errors and mistakes in license compliance. This approach allows for enforcement of license compliance consistent with a community in which heavy-handed approaches to enforcement, including for financial gain, are out of place, the statement added.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Leap Motion Open Sources The Project North Star AR Headset’s Schematics

        Leap Motion today released the designs for the Project North Star reference AR headset, along with instructions on how to put it together.

        Leap Motion has long been a proponent of immersive technology. The company specializes in gesture tracking technology and first introduced a peripheral that would enable you to control your PC with a wave of your hand. When VR hardware began to emerge in the consumer market, Leap Motion quickly adapted its technology for VR input. Now it has turned its sights to the budding AR market, but instead of offering to license its tracking technology to hardware makers, the company created a full reference headset to help accelerate AR HMD design.

      • Build Your Own AR Headset Using Leap Motion’s Open Source Project North Star Design

        Less than two months since unveiling Project North Star, Leap Motion has released the reference design that will allow developers, makers, and even manufacturers to build their own augmented reality headsets based on Leap Motion’s work.

        The version of the Project North Star headset built by Leap Motion features a pair of 1600 x 1400 displays capable of 120 fps and a combined field of view exceeding 100 degrees. The headset also features Leap Motion’s next generation ultra-wide tracking module, which has yet to hit the market in an AR headset. The rest of the headset is comprised of a combination of off-the-shelf and 3D printed components.

  • Programming/Development

    • How Is Android Game Development Linked With Modern Technology

      The concept of Android game development is not confined only to gaming consoles, PCs and allied programmable hardware. The present–day digital domain is highly enriched with latest gadgets and modern technology that provide flexibility, portability and engaging exposure. Android is regarded as the most popular operating system for mobiles, but it is also widely used in digital cameras, wrist watches, gaming consoles and television. The trend of Android game development became evident when it was successfully blended into different hardware platforms. Due to this reason, the gaming sector understood the preference of Android technology over Java or Symbian.

    • 8 roles on a cross-functional DevOps team

      If you’re just getting started with a squad model, you may not be sure what roles you’ll need for your team to function smoothly. Our squad model in the IBM Digital Business Group is based on the Spotify Squad framework. At a high level, a squad is a small, cross-functional team that has autonomy to deliver on their squad mission. The squad missions and cross-squad priorities are set at an organizational level. Then within each squad, they decide “what to build, how to build it, and how to work together while building it.”

      We tweaked the Spotify squad model a bit to fit our own style of working. One key difference for us is that our squads are more long-lived than those at Spotify. Some squads in our org will last for a few months, and others will last for a couple of years. The squads that build and operate new services tend to be long-lived, while the mission-oriented squads that use existing services to build something new tend to be short-lived.

    • 5 Best GitHub Alternatives For 2018 | Free Source Code Hosting Sites
    • Good News! GitLab’s Paid Plans Are Now Free For Open-Source Projects

      Now that GitLab is stepping up its game, what do you think about it?

      Do you have a project hosted on GitHub? Will you be switching over? Or, luckily, you already happen to use GitLab from the start?

    • Best GitHub Alternatives for 2018 – Compared
    • Not-So-Self-Hosting

      This post is not about Microsoft, GitHub or GitLab, and it’s neither about any other SaaS solution out there, the named companies and products are just examples. It’s more about “do you really want to self-host?”

    • the single most important criteria when replacing Github

      Consider all the data that’s used to provide the value-added features on top of git. Issue tracking, wikis, notes in commits, lists of forks, pull requests, access controls, hooks, other configuration, etc.
      Is that data stored in a git repository?

      Github avoids doing that and there’s a good reason why: By keeping this data in their own database, they lock you into the service. Consider if Github issues had been stored in a git repository next to the code. Anyone could quickly and easily clone the issue data, consume it, write alternative issue tracking interfaces, which then start accepting git pushes of issue updates and syncing all around. That would have quickly became the de-facto distributed issue tracking data format.

      Instead, Github stuck it in a database, with a rate-limited API, and while this probably had as much to do with expediency, and a certain centralized mindset, as intentional lock-in at first, it’s now become such good lock-in that Microsoft felt Github was worth $7 billion.

    • Git and Subversion collaboration

      Most of the material in this blog is already written up, and the best sources I found are here and here. There practically everything is written down, but when one goes down to business some things work out a bit differently.

    • Enter Jakarta EE: an Inoculation Against Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt in the Java Community

      Developers can be passionate about the tools and languages they use for development. This passion is a double-edged knife. It can foster growth of the technology’s adoption and inspire the direction of energy into the language that one has chosen to advocate. The passion might also scare off those who wish to use the language or are just entering the field, particularly when the opposing view is exaggerated, incorrect or out of date with the current state of the technology. This latter scenario injects (often unintentionally) into the dialogue regarding the technology in question Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD).

    • One year of C

      It’s now nearly a year that I started writing non-trivial amounts of C code again (the first sokol_gfx.h commit was on the 14-Jul-2017), so I guess it’s time for a little retrospective.

    • How Will Microsoft Handle GitHub’s Controversial Code?

      But the beloved developer platform may also introduce moderation headaches. Microsoft will soon need to formally decide what will happen to the many GitHub repositories that conflict with its own interests. The tech giant will face similar content moderations challenge that peers like Facebook and Google have, but with code instead of speech.

    • Atom Editor Development To Continue After Microsoft GitHub Acquisition

      After the recent news that Microsoft acquired GitHub, many users were concerned regarding the future of the popular free and open source code editor Atom, developed by GitHub. Lee Dom, Open Source Community Manager at GitHub, has assured users that “Atom remains key to GitHub”, but he didn’t get into any details.


  • Science

    • Guest Post — Nanomedicine: A Vast Horizon on a Molecular Landscape — Cosmeceuticals

      One of the first nanoparticle-containing cosmeceutical products was launched by the French company L’Oreal in 1995. This product was formulated to deliver prolonged cosmetic and/or pharmaceutical activity to the skin (U.S. Patent Nos. 5,556,617 and 5,993,831). Nowadays there are many cosmeceutical products using nanotechnology for many different purposes. For example, ZnO and TiO2 nanoparticles are used to provide a transparent and less greasy sunscreen product to protect the skin from ultraviolet ray damage (U.S. Patent Application Publication No. US 20120097068). Core-shell structured nanoparticles have been developed to deliver active agents to specific sites (U.S. Patent No. 6,635,720 and U.S. Patent Application Publication No. US 20170000737). Gold and/or silver nanoparticles have been combined in various ratios with pigments to provide long lasting and variable brilliant colors (U.S. Patent Application Publication No. US 20090022765). Hard nanoparticles, such as nanoclay, nanosilica, and nanoceramics, have been incorporated into nail polish to increase the strength and scratching/cracking resistance of these products (U.S. Patent Application Publication No. US 20100196294).

  • Health/Nutrition

    • PTSD in First Responders

      ProPublica and 90.7 WMFE are investigating post-traumatic stress disorder and how it affects first responders and their families. Reported by WMFE’s Abe Aboraya, the year-long project will shed light on these issues, starting with Orlando, the site of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in which 49 people were killed.

      Photography by Cassi Alexandra. Music composition by Julian Bond. Special thanks to Framed by WDET, a similar audio-visual experience produced by Detroit’s WDET 101.9 FM, for their guidance in producing this event.

  • Security

    • You Can Now Manage Nitrokey Encryption USB Keys in Ubuntu, Other Linux Distros

      Snaps are becoming more and more popular these days as Canonical pushes its universal binary format into mainstream GNU/Linux distributions outside the Ubuntu ecosystem.

      More and more independent developers are packaging their apps as Snaps, making their deployment a breeze across multiple Linux-based operating systems, for both end users and package maintainers. One of the last such apps that caught our attention is called Nitrokey-app and was created by Szczepan.

    • Severe Flaws Drive Rise in Bug Bounty Payouts, Bugcrowd Reports

      Bugcrowd released its 2018 State of the Bug Bounty report on June 6, revealing key trends in the evolving market for bug bounties.

      Among the high-level findings in the report is that organizations are now paying more for vulnerability disclosures than they have in prior years. Across Bugcrowd’s platform, the average bug bounty is now $781, which is a 73 percent increase over the company’s 2017 report.

    • 32-bit ARM Finally Gets Mitigated For Spectre V1/V2 With Linux 4.18
    • A Tentative Linux Kernel Patch For Able AMD CPUs To Address Spectre V4 / SSBD

      Linux kernel developer veteran Konrad Rzeszutek Wilk at Oracle has posted a set of experimental/debug patches for dealing with AMD “Speculative Store Bypass Disable” (SSBD) support for mitigating the Spectre Variant Four vulnerability.

    • VPNFilter Update – VPNFilter exploits endpoints, targets new devices

      Cisco Talos, while working with our various intelligence partners, has discovered additional details regarding “VPNFilter.” In the days since we first published our findings on the campaign, we have seen that VPNFilter is targeting more makes/models of devices than initially thought, and has additional capabilities, including the ability to deliver exploits to endpoints. Talos recently published a blog about a broad campaign that delivered VPNFilter to small home-office network devices, as well as network-attached storage devices. As we stated in that post, our research into this threat was, and is, ongoing. In the wake of that post, we have had a number of partners step forward with additional information that has assisted us in our work. This post is an update of our findings over the past week.

    • VPNFilter Router Malware Is Still Alive: More Devices Infected, New Capabilities Added
    • Security updates for Thursday
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Tech Workers Versus the Pentagon

      For months, Google employees have led a campaign demanding that the company terminate its contract with the Pentagon for Project Maven, a program that uses machine learning to improve targeting for drone strikes. Nearly five thousand Google workers signed an internal petition to cancel the project, and dozens resigned.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Press Wakes Up To The Fact That DNC’s Lawsuit Against Wikileaks Could Harm Press Freedoms

      Back in April, when lots of anti-Trump folks were cheering on the decision of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to sue various Russians and Wikileaks for hacking and publishing DNC emails, we pointed out that the lawsuit was full of some pretty crazy claims, especially those against Wikileaks. As we said, even if you really hate the role that Julian Assange and Wikileaks played in the 2016 election, the lawsuit itself could have serious ramifications on press freedom, at a time when you would think that those who don’t support the President would want the press to have more freedom to report on him and the various things happening in his administration.

    • What killed the computer hacker who turned in Chelsea Manning still a mystery

      Exactly what killed the computer hacker who gave up Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning to the FBI remains a mystery.

      Forensic pathologists who performed Adrian Lamo’s autopsy were unable to determine how the 37-year-old died in March in Wichita. His autopsy report, released Wednesday afternoon, lists Lamo’s cause and manner of death as “undetermined.” That means that after a thorough examination of his body, results of toxicology testing and information about Lamo’s life and last hours, there is nothing that points to a specific reason he died.

      “Despite a complete autopsy and supplemental testing, no definitive cause of death was identified,” Scott Kipper, deputy coroner and medical examiner at the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center, wrote in the report.

      The opinion section of the report notes that Lamo had a history of anxiety, depression, Asperger’s syndrome, and drug and alcohol abuse. He also suffered from a seizure disorder that could not be ruled out as a possible cause or contributing factor to his death, it says.

    • Australian officials spotted in mysterious Assange visit

      Australian government officials have paid a mysterious visit to Julian Assange in his Ecuadorian embassy refuge in London, in a sign there may be a breakthrough in the stalemate that has lasted almost six years.

      Two officials from Australia’s High Commission were spotted leaving the embassy in Knightsbridge in west London on Thursday.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The Fight to Upend Facebook’s Black Market of Animal Parts

      On Facebook, wildlife traffickers can speedily connect with buyers across the globe, fast-tracking illegal, unregulated deals from within the semiprivate world of groups. That means, in order to tackle wildlife trading, you have to first figure out Facebook. Michael’s new profile was the first step in a massive digital sting operation, aimed at exposing how Facebook facilitates the illegal wildlife trade. Eventually, the evidence he collected would help a global consortium of conservationists launch a complaint they hope will rid the site of these kinds of posts—and tamp down on trafficking writ large.

  • Finance

    • UPS Teamsters ready to stage America’s biggest strike since 1997, with solidarity as the main sticking point

      Superficially, the issue is about the company moving to seven-day delivery, but the issue that’s forcing the strike is the sizable cohort of union members who are unwilling to accept a two-tier workplace where established workers get the full protection of the union and younger hires are given a worse deal. This has been a traditional way that employers have split, weakened and ultimately killed their workers’ unions — by buying off the long-established employees with better deals that make the workers who’ll replace them feel that unions have nothing to offer them, which establishes divisions that can be exploited later to lay off those higher-paid workers, leaving only the lowest-paid employees and no union they can use to press for better pay.

    • America may soon face its biggest labor strike in decades

      “Most people understand in the world of Amazon (AMZN) and e-commerce, UPS isn’t going to be Monday to Friday or even Monday to Saturday any more, it’s going to be a seven-day operation,” said David Levin, spokesman for UPS Teamsters United. “But they made record profits. They don’t need concessions to do that.”

    • Legislators in Many States Can Push Bills They’d Profit From

      It’s a fundamental part of representative government: Politicians are elected to advocate for their constituents, and not their own interests.

      But in many states, laws and ethics rules allow representatives to advance bills that would benefit their own financial interests, as well.

      Take Louisiana, where lawmakers only have to recuse themselves if a proposed bill benefits them specifically and no one else, as The Advocate and ProPublica have detailed this week. So, for example, if the owner of a group of nursing homes votes for a bill that would increase profits for his business, but not for other nursing home owners, that would be a conflict of interest. But if the bill increases profit for the entire industry, then it’s acceptable.

      Similar language exists in the majority of states, regardless of whether they have full-time, part-time or citizen legislatures. In part-time and citizen legislatures, in which lawmakers are not paid a full salary and often rely on other employment, this means people connected to certain industries or fields are not automatically barred from voting on legislation that might affect them financially.

    • The Family Plan: In Louisiana, Lawmakers Promote Bills That Help Their Relatives and Clients

      State Sen. Norby Chabert wanted to offer a helping hand to his district’s truck stop casinos.

      The number of video poker machines allowed in the casinos is tied to how much gas the attached stations sell. Bridge construction projects in Chabert’s hometown of Houma have diverted traffic and hurt gas sales at nearby casinos, limiting the number of video poker machines they can have.

      Earlier this year, Chabert supported a bill eliminating that link for truck stops more than 10 years old.

      “Without the bridge being constructed, they would have hit every sales trigger that they needed,” he said of one such casino. “It was at one of the biggest intersections on the east side of Houma, and when you shut down a bridge in bayou country, people go to the next bridge … and it damn near shut them down,” Chabert told his colleagues in a Senate committee meeting.

      What Chabert, a Republican, left out of the story: His own brother owns a truck stop on the east side of Houma that has been affected by the bridge construction.

      Chabert acknowledged to The Advocate that his brother, Marty, matches the particulars of the story he told, but so do other truck stop casinos in his district. Marty Chabert earned $1.5 million in income from the truck stop in 2015 and 2016, according to the financial disclosure forms he filed as a member of the state Board of Regents.

    • What the #%$ is a CryptoKitty?

      CryptoKitties is a game built on top of the Ethereum blockchain and smart contracts. CryptoKitties is a decentralized application, or “DApp,” built on top of the Ethereum computing platform. This means that the application is run and the kitties are stored on a distributed network of computers running Ethereum nodes.

      Because it’s based on Ethereum, CryptoKitties uses the Ether cryptocurrency token. Ether is an “altcoin,” which just means it’s a cryptocurrency that isn’t Bitcoin. Performing tasks like breeding CryptoKitties involves paying Ether tokens to the Ethereum network, compensating the people running those Ethereum nodes for their computing power. Ether is also used when buying and selling CryptoKitties.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • With Literal Nazis Running for Office, NYT Suggests Candidate’s Israel Criticism Is Antisemitic

      Eight overt white nationalists are running for office in 2018—a new record, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Overt fascists, inspired by the rise of President Donald Trump, have found a place both within and just outside the margins of the official Republican Party. Over 20,000 people voted in a GOP primary this past March for former American Nazi Party member Art Jones, making him the Republican candidate for the US House in Illinois’ 3rd District. Patrick Little, who told NBC (5/3/18) that the “monstrous nature of the Jewish people must be known to the public,” ran as a Republican for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat in California, and got more than 50,000 votes.

      With the increase on the US right in overt Nazi activity, one might be surprised to see the paper of record (New York Times, 5/29/18) turn its sights not on this disturbing trend, but on progressive candidate Leslie Cockburn, whose criticism of Israel is being cynically exploited by her opponents in the Republican Party—the same party increasingly finding common cause with a host of white nationalists, alt-right and “alt-light” elements.

      Let’s begin with the headline, “Democratic Candidate Who Criticized Israel Faces Charges of Antisemitism.” It’s rare for political reporters to let partisan opponents wholly manufacture a controversy, much less frame it, but when it does happen—as it did in January 2016 when the Times let a number of Clinton operatives smear Sanders as a Commie infiltrator (FAIR.org, 5/25/16)—one can be certain it will be against a left-leaning candidate.

    • Still Waiting for Evidence of a Russian Hack

      If you are wondering why so little is heard these days of accusations that Russia hacked into the U.S. election in 2016, it could be because those charges could not withstand close scrutiny. It could also be because special counsel Robert Mueller appears to have never bothered to investigate what was once the central alleged crime in Russia-gate as no one associated with WikiLeaks has ever been questioned by his team.

      Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity — including two “alumni” who were former National Security Agency technical directors — have long since concluded that Julian Assange did not acquire what he called the “emails related to Hillary Clinton” via a “hack” by the Russians or anyone else. They found, rather, that he got them from someone with physical access to Democratic National Committee computers who copied the material onto an external storage device — probably a thumb drive. In December 2016 VIPS explained this in some detail in an open Memorandum to President Barack Obama.

      On January 18, 2017 President Obama admitted that the “conclusions” of U.S. intelligence regarding how the alleged Russian hacking got to WikiLeaks were “inconclusive.” Even the vapid FBI/CIA/NSA “Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections” of January 6, 2017, which tried to blame Russian President Vladimir Putin for election interference, contained no direct evidence of Russian involvement. That did not prevent the “handpicked” authors of that poor excuse for intelligence analysis from expressing “high confidence” that Russian intelligence “relayed material it acquired from the Democratic National Committee … to WikiLeaks.” Handpicked analysts, of course, say what they are handpicked to say.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Court Tosses Out Silly Trollish Publicity Stunt Defamation Lawsuit

      Almost exactly a year ago, we wrote about a ridiculous defamation lawsuit filed by a plaintiff who has a history of fairly trollish, attention seeking behavior. I chose not to name the person in the post as I argued that the lawsuit itself was something of a publicity stunt, and I’ll continue to do that here, even though it will become clear in the quoted parts of the ruling below. I have no interest in participating in the publicity stunt part of the lawsuit — but do feel compelled to write about it because of the First Amendment issues that are a key component in the case. Amusingly, the plaintiff had a history of loudly proclaiming her support for free speech and the First Amendment, even going so far as to once state: “I care more about free speech… than almost any other issue.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • HART: Homeland Security’s Massive New Database Will Include Face Recognition, DNA, and Peoples’ “Non-Obvious Relationships”

      The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is quietly building what will likely become the largest database of biometric and biographic data on citizens and foreigners in the United States. The agency’s new Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) database will include multiple forms of biometrics—from face recognition to DNA, data from questionable sources, and highly personal data on innocent people. It will be shared with federal agencies outside of DHS as well as state and local law enforcement and foreign governments. And yet, we still know very little about it.

      The records DHS plans to include in HART will chill and deter people from exercising their First Amendment protected rights to speak, assemble, and associate. Data like face recognition makes it possible to identify and track people in real time, including at lawful political protests and other gatherings. Other data DHS is planning to collect—including information about people’s “relationship patterns” and from officer “encounters” with the public—can be used to identify political affiliations, religious activities, and familial and friendly relationships. These data points are also frequently colored by conjecture and bias.

      In late May, EFF filed comments criticizing DHS’s plans to collect, store, and share biometric and biographic records it receives from external agencies and to exempt this information from the federal Privacy Act. These newly-designated “External Biometric Records” (EBRs) will be integral to DHS’s bigger plans to build out HART. As we told the agency in our comments, DHS must do more to minimize the threats to privacy and civil liberties posed by this vast new trove of highly sensitive personal data.

    • EU Commission Violates GDPR; Claims That It’s Exempt From The Law For ‘Legal Reasons’

      Last week, we noted that the EU Parliament’s website appeared not to be compliant with the GDPR. As we noted, this was pointed out in response to EU Commissioner Vera Journova claiming that complying with the GDPR was so easy, that even she could do it. Now, a valid response to all of this would be to point out that the EU Parliament is different than the EU Commission or other parts of the EU government. But, now that we know the EU Parliament is not compliant, would it surprise you at all to find out that the European Commission is also not compliant with the GDPR. Apparently, while she was so busy claiming it was easy to comply with, Journova forgot to have the Commission itself comply.

      Specifically, Jason Smith, at the website Indivigital, discovered that various places on the EU’s websites were hosting spreadsheets with personal information on many people who had attended events, and were revealing that information without permission (the report also found various GDPR violations involving 3rd party cookies).

    • Private Internet Access’ “No-Logging” Claims Proven True Again in Court

      VPN provider Private Internet Access, which has a strict no-logging policy, has proven once again that it is unable to link online activities with a user’s identity. The conclusion, which was revealed as part of a hacking trial in San Jose federal court, is the second time that the provider’s claims have been successfully tested in public.

    • Facebook shared data access with Huawei, other Chinese firms

      The social media company had data-sharing partnerships with Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo and TCL that date back to at least 2010, according to the report.

      The agreements gave the companies private access to certain user data.

    • Facebook gave user data to ‘at least 4 Chinese companies,’ including tech giant ID’d as security threat by U.S. intel

      Despite Mark Zuckerberg’s internal war on transparency, the Facebook data abuse reveals just keep on coming.

    • Latest Privacy Fracas Drops Facebook In The Middle Of Anti-Huawei Hysteria

      Facebook is under fire yet again for potentially being far too casual in its treatment of private consumer data.

      Earlier this week, the New York Times issued a report noting that Facebook had struck deals with more than 60 different hardware vendors since at least 2010, providing them with “vast amounts” of private user data. According to the report, these partnerships allowed some devices to retrieve personal information even from users’ friends who believed they had barred any sharing with third party vendors, potentially violating a 2011 FTC consent decree that banned such sharing without obtaining express customer permission.

      To be clear, the partnerships are notably different from the deals struck with companies like Cambridge Analytica, which we now know routinely let app makers hoover up private data under false pretenses, then use that data for other purposes (like oh, riling up partisans ahead of an election). And Facebook was quick to issue a blog post trying to downplay the scope of the revelations:

    • Facebook Gave Data Access to Chinese Firm Flagged by U.S. Intelligence

      Facebook has data-sharing partnerships with at least four Chinese electronics companies, including a manufacturing giant that has a close relationship with China’s government, the social media company said on Tuesday.

      The agreements, which date to at least 2010, gave private access to some user data to Huawei, a telecommunications equipment company that has been flagged by American intelligence officials as a national security threat, as well as to Lenovo, Oppo and TCL.

      The four partnerships remain in effect, but Facebook officials said in an interview that the company would wind down the Huawei deal by the end of the week.

      Facebook gave access to the Chinese device makers along with other manufacturers — including Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry and Samsung — whose agreements were disclosed by The New York Times on Sunday.

    • Facebook Agrees It Shared User Data With Chinese Tech Firms

      Earlier this week, the news of Facebook giving data access to device makers came to light. It turns out, not only Apple, Amazon, and Blackberry were okayed by the social media company to access data, but four other Chinese firms too.

      In Apple’s defense, CEO Tim Cook claimed that company has requested or received “zero” personal data that was mentioned in the NY Times report. What Apple did is it added the ability to share stuff like photos, he told NPR in an interview.

    • Facebook confirms data-sharing partnerships with Chinese firms, including US-scorned Huawei

      Following the revelation that Facebook was sharing user data with phone and hardware makers, the social network came out to say it has partnerships with at least four Chinese electronics companies.

    • French expert: Huawei unsafe because ‘China is not like us’

      A French expert on China says that while there is no public evidence that Chinese telecommunications company Huawei has conducted espionage on behalf of Beijing, countries in the West should be careful because “China is not a country like Australia or the UK or the US”.

    • Court Says German Intelligence Agency Can Continue To Deploy Its Dragnet On World’s Largest Internet Hub

      The post-Snowden effects on Germany’s surveillance architecture have been muted. Oversight in the US is a joke, but it’s marginally better than what’s being offered in other countries. You’d think a country that survived almost-consecutive crushing surveillance states would be a bit more cautious about deploying dragnets. Not so. All evidence points to German surveillance programs flourishing under the lack of effective oversight, limited only by technical prowess rather than concerns for those swept up by them.

      Internal investigations prompted by revelations seemed like a step forward, but the government gave German surveillance programs a thumbs up three years later. The information revealed by Snowden and other leakers did give residents and advocates enough ammunition for legal battles, but the German courts haven’t really given them anything in return.

      David Meyer of ZDNet reports a court has handed a win to Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) in a lawsuit filed by Frankfort’s De-Cix, the largest internet hub in the world. The BND has tapped this for years, sweeping up massive amounts of data and communications, and frequently passing this on to surveillance partners around the world. De-Cix was compliant until 2016, when it decided to sue BND for violating German law.

    • How Snowden has changed journalism and privacy, five years later

      Five years ago today, The Guardian began publishing a series of stories exposing the National Security Agency’s warrantless mass surveillance regime. Three days later, the whistleblower behind the historic disclosures unmasked himself as NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

      In the weeks and months that would follow, Snowden would transform the national and international conversation about privacy in our digital lives.

      An appeals court ruled mass surveillance unconstitutional. Tech companies were forced to both increase security for their billions of customers, and push back harder on legal demands for individuals’ information. Congress was pressured into passing historic—albeit ultimately inadequate—intelligence reform. The White House was forced to declassify thousands of additional documents on government surveillance powers.

    • Californians Cannabis Buyers Deserve Data Privacy Rights

      On January 1 of this year, it became legal under state law for California adults to purchase cannabis products for recreational use. But the more than 5,000 cannabis operators who are already licensed are amassing sensitive data about their customers. That’s why EFF supports a bill to stop vendors from sharing this data without customers’ consent.

      Without controls on how consumers’ cannabis-related data gets passed around, lawful cannabis customers could face discrimination when seeking work, housing, or government benefits. To prevent that, EFF is supporting A.B. 2402, a proposal to prevent state-licensed cannabis sellers from selling or sharing customers’ personal information without their consent. The bill also prohibits dispensaries from discriminating against a customer who chooses to withhold that consent.

      This isn’t a theoretical problem. Recent news reports have found that dispensaries are, in fact, keeping computer databases with customer profiles in them. A survey by Politifact California found that most dispensaries scan customer driver licenses, and require names and phone numbers to be filled out before purchases are made. EFF’s letter to the bill’s sponsor goes into more detail on these reports.

    • Apple could have years of your internet browsing history; won’t necessarily give it to you

      Apple has years of your internet browsing history if you selected “sync browser tabs” in Safari. This internet history does not disappear from their servers when you click “Clear internet history” on Safari – which has led to many users being surprised to receive this data from Apple. This recently was brought to the internet’s attention by Denis Bosnic, who filed a GDPR request for his data from Apple and was shocked to find detailed logs of his internet history showing URL and timestamp of visit. This apparently happens if you consent to sharing browser bookmarks and tabs between Apple devices – though Bosnic noted that there was no explicit notice of this when setting up that feature in Apple Safari.

    • Redditor claims Chinese border guards installed malware on his phone

      “I saw the installation process, an icon appear on the home screen, the police ran the application and then the icon hid itself. Not sure if it rooted my phone or what. I know something was running on my phone because they used a handheld device to confirm our phones were communicating with their system before letting us go.”

    • Edward Snowden has ‘no regrets’ five years after NSA leaks

      While many people argue that not much has changed, Snowden disagreed. “People say nothing has changed: that there is still mass surveillance. That is not how you measure change. Look back before 2013 and look at what has happened since. Everything changed.”

      “The government and corporate sector preyed on our ignorance. But now we know. People are aware now. People are still powerless to stop it but we are trying. The revelations made the fight more even.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Laramie, Wyoming Sheriffs’ department blocks public records requests for their prison phone monopoly deal

      Migrants, prisoners, old people, school kids, poor people — they’re the beta-testers for everything bad that’s headed for wide distribution, so it pays to keep close tabs on their treatment.

    • Laramie County, Wyoming withholds prison phone contract under “trade secret” clause

      As part of a nationwide MuckRock survey, the request under the Wyoming Public Records Act was looking for the contract between the Sheriff’s Office, which oversees the local jail, and the company providing telephone services to its inmates. Many local and state jails contract the provision of these services to companies like Securus, Global Tel Link, and ICSolutions; these contracts often include a commission for the Sheriff’s Department or prison, allowing the agency to receive a portion of the charges shouldered by inmates, sometimes as high as 70 to 80% of total costs.

    • Court Calls Out Cops For Altering Interrogation Transcript To Hide Suspect’s Request For A Lawyer

      Mynor Vargas-Salguero was arrested and convicted of second-degree murder, robbery, and theft. The lower court sided with the government, finding his demands for a lawyer “ambiguous.” The Appeals Court disagrees, finding it clear enough, especially when the recording of the interrogation is compared to law enforcement’s transcript of the recording’s contents.

      That’s where the real ambiguity lies. Or rather, there doesn’t seem to be much ambiguous about law enforcement’s attempt to retcon the post-arrest questioning to make Salguero’s request for a lawyer vanish into the ether.

      There was a language barrier but not an insurmountable one. Salguero’s first language is Spanish but he knows some English. Two of the detectives present spoke Spanish. One spoke only English. Occasionally, translation was needed for the single English-only speaker in the room. But, for the most part, the interrogation flowed. The detectives told Salguero he wasn’t being charged with anything, despite hauling him in with an arrest warrant. Salguero made it clear he wasn’t interested in talking if he didn’t get a lawyer.

    • Book Review: John Perry Barlow’s Mother American Night

      For many, John Perry Barlow’s name might be inseparable from the digital advocacy work he did in the early days of the Internet. But the EFF co-founder’s impact—and adventures—spanned areas as diverse as Hollywood, politics, popular music, and environmental policy. His newly-released memoir, Mother American Night: My Life in Crazy Times, follows Barlow, who passed away earlier this year, from his upbringing in Wyoming as “ranching royalty,” through to the experience of writing his first song for the Grateful Dead (“Mexicali Blues”), up to the phone calls with hackers in the Legion of Doom that led him to work with Mitch Kapor in creating the Electronic Frontier Foundation—and beyond.

      Barlow’s “crazy times” extend beyond his more well-known interactions with the Dead during the Summer of Love and his conversations on the “Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link” (AKA the WELL, an early virtual community) during the first years of the Internet. Barlow writes of the time he spent at Andy Warhol’s famous Factory; of traveling on a pilgrimage through India after selling the rights to a novel straight out of college; and of his relationships with people as diverse as Steve Jobs, Timothy Leary, and John F. Kennedy, Jr. He was, it seems, good at being in the right places at the right times with the right people, while doing what he calls, in a typical Barlow-ism, “hanging out with intent.”

      As a result, Mother American Night reads like a history of the culture clashes of the last fifty years: offline versus online, rural versus urban, government versus private life. As a rancher who ended up co-founding EFF and the Freedom of the Press Foundation as well as working as Dick Cheney’s campaign coordinator, one of Barlow’s most impressive qualities was straddling, and bringing together, these sometimes opposing cultures.

    • The Ghost of John Perry Barlow Lives in His Posthumous Memoir
    • John Perry Barlow’s memoir, finished weeks before his death, is out

      Weeks before his death he and his co-author Robert Greenfield completed Mother American Night, his long-promised memoir. I just ordered a copy; I would have done that anyway, but Jesse Jarnow’s Wired review made it clear that this is basically Barlow in paper form.

    • NY State Legislators Unanimously Pass A Cyberbullying Bill That Can’t Be Bothered To Define Cyberbullying

      New York state legislators are back at it, attempting to tackle cyberbullying with a “new” law. In reality, this would be the legislature’s fifth attempt to enact an anti-cyberbullying law. New York attorney Eric Turkewitz was the first to catch the New York’s Senate’s self-congratulatory tweet. The tweet touted the bill’s unanimous passage (a 56-0 vote). But “widespread support” isn’t synonymous with “well-crafted law.” No state senator wants to appear “soft” on bullying, so the law passes without anyone bothering to ascertain its effectiveness, much less its constitutionality.

    • First Responders Speak Out About PTSD, Two Years After Pulse Nightclub Shooting

      “To be a first responder, your DNA is built differently,” said Omar Delgado, a former Florida police officer who responded to Orlando’s Pulse nightclub shooting, in which 49 people were killed and at least 53 others wounded. “Everyone’s going to be running out of danger; you’re going to be running in.”

      Nearly two years after the tragedy, Delgado and other first responders who were on the scene at Pulse shared their consequent struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder at an event co-hosted by ProPublica, 90.7 WMFE and the Orlando Public Library on Wednesday night. Held at the Orlando Public Library’s Melrose Center for Technology, Innovation and Creativity, the event also featured family members of first responders, advocates, mental health counselors and elected officials. The conversation was moderated by WMFE reporter Abe Aboraya, who is spending the year investigating PTSD in first responders as part of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.

    • State Court Says Cop Posing As A Facebook Friend To Snag Criminal Evidence Isn’t A 4th Amendment Violation

      Everett posted pictures of cash and weapons. As a convicted felon, he certainly wasn’t supposed to be in possession of the latter. There’s a discussion of privacy settings in the court’s decision, but it only shows nothing conclusive was determined by the lower court. Apparently, Everett did set his account to “Friends-only” at some point, but that most likely did not occur until after the photos used to obtain a search warrant had already been viewed.

      Ultimately, the court decides the privacy settings don’t really matter — at least not as far as Everett extended them. It would have still allowed the detective to see the photos Everett posted, given that the law enforcement officer was already a Facebook friend.

      Attempting to claim his privacy was violated by the three-year subterfuge, Everett’s challenge partially hinged on a key omission from the detective’s warrant affidavit. The detective never informed the judge he had spent three years pretending to be Everett’s friend to gather probable cause for a search. If nothing else, this seems like a waste of law enforcement resources, given the only charge Everett was convicted for was firearms possession. Then again, surveillance through a Facebook account is a largely passive enterprise.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Helsinn: Dueling Questions

      I don’t know what the Supreme Court thinks of alternative statements of the question presented — but it has become a regular practice of parties opposing certiorari to restate the question in an attempt to shift attention of the court.

      The pending petition in Helsinn is on point.


      Opposition: Whether this Court should review the Federal Circuit’s factual conclusion that Helsinn’s sale agreement with a third party publicly disclosed its claimed invention “in detail” (Pet. 33a) more than a year before it filed its patent application, thus triggering the “on sale” bar on patentability set forth in 35 U.S.C. §102(a).

    • Reverse Engineering Skittles

      My view is that in most situations reverse engineering and other experimentation should be a permissible fair use despite the existence of patents.

    • EU Files WTO Case Against China Over IP Rights Protection

      The European Union has filed a World Trade Organization dispute settlement complaint against China for unfair treatment of foreign intellectual property rights holders. The case follows a similar filing by the United States against China.

    • Copyrights

      • PC Software Piracy Decreases Worldwide, But Remains Rampant

        A new report published by The Software Alliance shows that usage of pirated PC software is decreasing worldwide. While this is a positive trend for the industry, piracy remains rampant in many countries. This includes Libya, where a massive 90 percent of all software is used without permission.

      • The EU’s Copyright Proposal is Extremely Bad News for Everyone, Even (Especially!) Wikipedia

        The pending update to the EU Copyright Directive is coming up for a committee vote on June 20 or 21 and a parliamentary vote either in early July or late September. While the directive fixes some longstanding problems with EU rules, it creates much, much larger ones: problems so big that they threaten to wreck the Internet itself.

        Under Article 13 of the proposal, sites that allow users to post text, sounds, code, still or moving images, or other copyrighted works for public consumption will have to filter all their users’ submissions against a database of copyrighted works. Sites will have to pay to license the technology to match submissions to the database, and to identify near matches as well as exact ones. Sites will be required to have a process to allow rightsholders to update this list with more copyrighted works.

      • Respect of family life cannot be abused to trump copyright protection, says AG Szpunar

        While it is true that Member States retain significant freedom in devising relevant procedures for repressing copyright infringements and awarding damages, Article 8 of the InfoSoc Directive requires resulting sanctions and remedies be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. This provision is in line with what also Article 3 of the Enforcement Directive mandates.

        In this sense, the question that arises – and has actually arisen – is whether it is compatible with EU law to provide that the owner of an internet connection, through which copyright infringements have been committed, may escape liability thereof by indicating, without the need to provide any further details, a family member that has also had access to such connection.

      • Pirates Are Valuable Customers, Not The Enemy

        New research has revealed that 60 percent of all UK citizens have used pirate services to stream or download TV, films or music. However, the vast majority of these self-proclaimed pirates say they tend to find legal options first. These and other findings suggest that piracy remains an availability problem and that ‘pirates’ are among the most engaged consumers.

      • Spotify is trying to lure artists into licensing their music directly

        Spotify is reportedly offering advances and appealing business terms to independent artists in hopes of convincing them to license their music directly with the streaming music app instead of going through a third-party distribution service.

      • Spotify Offers Managers, Artists Advances to License Music Directly to Its Streaming Service: Exclusive

        Under the terms of some of the deals, management firms can receive several hundred thousand dollars as an advance fee for agreeing to license a certain number of tracks by their independent acts directly to Spotify. Then, in at least some cases, the managers and acts stand to earn 50 percent of the revenue per stream on those songs on Spotify. That’s slightly less than the 54 percent of revenue the major record labels in the U.S. get per stream, on average, according to Billboard’s calculations, but major-label artists and their managers typically receive only 20 percent to 50 percent of the label’s share, depending on an act’s individual royalty rates, and don’t usually get to own their master recordings.

      • How you can #SaveYourInternet from Article 13 and the “Link Tax” in the next 14 days

        It currently looks like there is a razor-thin majority in favor of Article 13. The negotiators for the EPP (conservatives), ALDE (liberals), ECR (eurosceptic conservatives) and ENF (anti-EU far right) in the Legal Affairs Committee recently expressed their support for the latest version of Article 13.


        It will come down to every single vote. Our mission until June 20: Make it clear to at least one MEP who’s currently undecided or in favour that their constituents want them to reject these plans. The NGO EDRi has made a list of key swing votes.

      • Julia Reda sounds the alarm: Two weeks until Censorship Machine vote in the European Parliament

        Julia Reda sounds the alarm that the European Parliament will vote on mandatory upload filtering in two weeks, with nowhere near enough attention to this issue from the public at large. Once this vote has taken place, it will be very hard to make additional changes to the bill as it proceeds through the lawmaking machinery.

Marks & Clerk Blames Battistelli’s Victims, the Boards of Appeal, Whose Job Guarded Patent Quality

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What else can be expected from UPC and software patents proponents such as Marks & Clerk?

A shocked Battistelli
Reference: The Boards of Appeal Openly Complain (in the EPO’s Web Site) About Battistelli, But Don’t Tell Battistelli About It…

Summary: The assault on patent quality at the EPO is partly the fault of the patenting and litigation ‘industry’, which isn’t really interested in justice as opposed to perpetuation of patent disputes (which the lawyers profit from)

AT THE USPTO the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is under a constant attack from the patent microcosm. We write about it every week, even several times per week.

“BoA (sometimes through AMBA) repeatedly complains about it, but it doesn’t seem like the patent microcosm is genuinely interested in the Boards’ side of the story.”The EPO‘s management has basically joined the patent microcosm in attacking its equivalent (sort of) of PTAB, known as BoA (including TBA and EBoA). Their objective is pretty obvious: patent maximalism. The European Patent Convention (EPC) gave BoA complete independence from the Office, but this independence has been brutally shattered by crooked Benoît Battistelli. BoA (sometimes through AMBA) repeatedly complains about it, but it doesn’t seem like the patent microcosm is genuinely interested in the Boards’ side of the story.

Kate Appleby (Marks & Clerk) has just published this self-promotional puff piece about the Technical Board of Appeal, citing the EPC which Marks & Clerk would gladly ignore/override if that means more income. To quote:

According to Article 54 of the European Patent Convention, an invention is considered to be new if it does not form part of the state of the art. The state of the art comprises everything made available to the public by means of a written or oral description, by use, or in any other way, before the date of filing of a European patent application.

But at what point does a document leave the non-public domain and enter the public domain?

In case T 1050/12, an EPO Technical Board of Appeal was asked to decide on this point in an opposition by Innovacell Biotechnologie AG (IB) to a patent owned by the University of Pittsburgh (UP). The patent concerned skeletal muscle-derived muscle cells, compatible with the tissues of different individuals for use in the repair of smooth muscle. Such cells could be used to treat urinary stress incontinence.

UP’s granted patent was opposed by IB on the ground of lack of novelty over several prior art documents. The most relevant document was an abstract of a presentation at a meeting, referred to as D3, which had two authors, both of whom were inventors named on the patent. Every feature of the claims of the patent was held by the Board to be disclosed in D3.

This wasn’t actually the worst from Marks & Clerk. On almost the same day they also published an ‘article’ by Jennifer Bailey and Stephen Blake (Marks & Clerk) in which they’re blaming the Boards themselves for the outcome of them being victimised, titling it “Backlog at the boards” (a rather shallow analysis regarding an old report). It was first published in a patent maximalists’ site behind a paywall (under the headline “Backlog at the boards” with the following summary: “The proposed changes to the procedures of the BoA at the EPO will (hopefully) improve efficiency while maintaining quality”).

Don’t they realise what’s going on? Are they lying to themselves? Lying for Battistelli? Marks & Clerk — these shameless boosters of the UPC, software patents and the brutal regime at the EPO — fail to mention illegal acts by Battistelli against the Boards of Appeal (the reason for the named issues!) and we doubt it’s a coincidence. Here are some bits from the ‘report’ they’re nowadays cross-posting in lots of lawyers’ sites, e.g. [1, 2]:

The EPO’s Boards of Appeal underwent comprehensive reform in 2017, one of the aims of which was to enshrine their independence by delegating power to the President of the Boards of Appeal. Another aim of the reform –one that will be of particular interest to patentees and opponents – was to increase the efficiency of the Boards. A five-year objective has been set to settle 90% of cases within 30 months, and reduce the number of pending cases to below 7000. However, with almost 9000 appeals pending by the end of 2017, this is no small task.

One question is whether this is realistic; another is the effect that this drive to efficiency could have on the quality of decisions.

The number of new cases filed with the Technical Boards of Appeal in 2017 was 2798, an increase of 1.8% from 2016 and 11% compared to 2013, indicating an upward trend in the number of appeals being filed. Of those filed in 2017, 39% were examination appeals and 61% were opposition appeals. Notably, opposition appeals are slightly quicker to be settled, taking on average 35 months compared to 42 months for examination appeals. While the majority of cases have only been pending for two or three years, some appeals are yet to be decided which were filed as early as 2009. Given the significant length of time of appeal proceedings, it is unsurprising that by the end of 2017 the backlog had grown to over 5200 pending opposition appeals, and over 3600 examination appeals. Furthermore, with an apparent increase in the speed of examination of patent applications by the EPO, it seems likely that the number of appeals being filed will continue to rise.

So, how do the Boards plan to reduce the backlog?

Well, they clearly said hiring would be needed. We wrote about it at the time. Whose fault is this backlog? Battistelli wants patents to be granted fast and appeals to be thrown in some endless pile. That’s getting close to INPI where there’s no examination at all!

Yesterday. coming from another European law firm (NLO) was this article from Caroline Pallard, in which she wrote:

This analysis is based on an EPO Board of Appeal decision (T108/09).

Due to acquired resistance to a particular cancer treatment, it is common for cancer patients to first be treated with a given drug (eg, tamoxifen), then with a second drug (eg, an aromatase inhibitor) as soon as resistance to the first drug occurs, and possibly with a third drug (eg, fulvestrant) as soon as resistance to the second drug occurs. Using fulvestrant as a third line of treatment was considered a novel cancer therapy, although fulvestrant was already known as a first and second-line cancer treatment. Granted Claim 1 reads: “Use of fulvestrant in the preparation of a medicament for the treatment of a patient with breast cancer who previously has been treated with an aromatase inhibitor and tamoxifen and has failed with such previous treatment.”

Need we bring up the issues associated with patents on cancer treatments? These issues were brought before the EPO several times before and were arrogantly ignored [1, 2]. Patent quality and public interest (or ethics) don’t seem to matter. It’s just a rubber-stamping machine. If the Boards cannot keep up or do their job properly, nothing can stop the Office issuing lots of dangerous patents. Such patents would not only harm European businesses but also kill poor Europeans (for the enrichment of some large companies, usually overseas).

Today, at the Expense of Millions (€) of EPO Budget, Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos Engage in Shameless Self Promotion

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The “Inventor Award” charade and EU-IPO’s latest ‘study’ are all about Battistelli® and Campinos®, respectively


Summary: Expect more of the same at the EPO when António Campinos takes over (same symptoms seen already) and also expect crooked Battistelli to never be held accountable by a Campinos-run EPO

THE management of the EPO has become monarchical unlike anything we have ever seen at the USPTO. António Campinos, for example, was basically ‘selected’ by Battistelli, a fellow Frenchman. Insiders say that he’s a good friend who intends to keep all of Battistelli’s mates at the top of the Office. Battistelli wants to have his name almost literally engraved at a pedestal. This might be expected somewhere like the Soviet Union, but no… this is today’s EPO.

“…they proudly claim to be the very opposite of what they are.”At the USPTO we saw the Trump-connected Director Iancu put in charge and some other officials being hired/promoted by nepotism (family connections) — a subject last revisited a few days ago in this tweet: “Tony Scardino continues to push for Pam Isom as the CIO according to sources. This is a grave mistake, Isom is completely clueless when it comes to IT. She spent half a billion and delivered nothing. Scardino just wants a puppet CIO. Hopefully the new Dir will hire outside.”

According to this watchdog, nepotism can you get you a top job at the USPTO, so apparently not only Battistelli does this. But watch this utterly laughable “news” (warning: epo.org link) item published yesterday about “diversity” (just shortly before the Inventor Award charade). North Korea would envy such propaganda levels: the male-dominated, French-nominated/dominated management of an under-qualified politician (Battistelli) now tries to boast about “diversity at the EPO”. To quote:

In a time of worldwide reports of gender inequality in the work environment, the EPO took this opportunity to visibly reaffirm its commitment to diversity and inclusion and highlight its stance as an equal opportunity employer.

“Together for Diversity” is a multi-phased and participative programme built on the input of EPO staff. Everyone was invited to share their views on the EPO’s gender diversity culture in an online survey ahead of the conference. In addition, the EPO facilitated group discussions with its staff to learn more about attitudes, possible unconscious bias, challenges and opportunities.

They wrote not one but two tweets about it [1, 2], the first claiming that the “EPO hosted a conference on gender diversity at its Munich premises to celebrate the Charta der Vielfalt’s 6th #DiversityDay with its staff.”

The EPO did similar stunts before (we wrote about these).

The EPO talking about gender diversity? Where? Management? Even SUEPO mocked such claims. “Reflecting on yesterday’s Diversity Conference,” they wrote later. “We count ourselves fortunate to have talented people from 34 different countries working at the EPO. Diversity is part of our DNA.”

“This is too optimistic in my personal view because nothing suggests that Campinos will be better (except the name, age and background).”What diversity? Look at the management team. French males mostly. And all just ‘happen’ to be pretty well connected to Battistelli (some are former colleagues and family).

This is very much along the same lines as the “quality” propaganda (they have a “Working Party for Quality” [1, 2]); they proudly claim to be the very opposite of what they are. Days ago they cited their mouthpieces at IAM regarding quality. Quite the timing, eh?

Well, thankfully, Battistelli leaves in a few weeks. “The last “moronade” of the Battistelli era,” told us one reader, is as follows:

The countdown is started: in less than 4 weeks the mafioso Battistelli will lose immunity. In the meantime signore Battistelli is presenting his last moronade, the infamous inventor of the year award. Is he going to promote criminals or charlatans this time? Or may be friends? With moronistelli everything is possible, yet the possibilities are now limited by the time. we all love BBQ: Benoit Battistelli Quits! 4 weeks and he’s gone, bon debaras!

In any case the media partner Les Echos is providing a a thorough brown nose service.

Here is a link.

This is too optimistic in my personal view because nothing suggests that Campinos will be better (except the name, age and background). He’s a former banker who is so loyal to Battistelli and probably “owes him one” (for the job). They even swap seats at CEIPI, so it’s like they’re connected by the hip. Remember that both are French (Campinos was born in France, his mother is French, he studied in France and so on) and can exchange ‘codified’ jokes about union-busting in their native tongue (they’re not German speakers in spite of being based in Munich). Considering Campinos’ background in a notorious (corrupt) Portuguese bank, we don’t suppose he’ll deal with accounting in a way that actually questions Battistelli’s spendings, including spendings on Campinos’ new private pub at the top floor. This former banker won’t scrutinise Battistelli’s passage of millions of euros to his other employer earlier today (about 5 million euros for one afternoon at a theatre managed by Battistelli himself). It’s like one happy family — a ‘royal’ family — at the EPO. All the money ‘invested’ in media/publishers is going to work in favour of this ‘royal’ family (the money wasted by Battistelli literally paying these European publishers won’t be returned, it will only be remembered with hopes of more from the same palm). We don’t expect corruption to attract any real journalism, definitely not from blogs like IP Kat. Where does this leave us? Is there much hope?

“We don’t expect corruption to attract any real journalism, definitely not from blogs like IP Kat.”Yesterday the EPO was retweeting this EU-IPO tweet. It’s all about the EU-IPO’s chief (quoted extensively) who will soon head the EPO. We’re familiar with this pattern. Yesterday we saw several dozens of articles quoting him e.g. [1, 2] in English and lots more in various European languages. It’s all about António Campinos. It’s personifying the EU-IPO and we expect the EPO’s site to soon become all about Battistelli’s mate, Campinos (selected by abuse, by Battistelli himself). If he’s all over the news this week, under the EU-IPO wing (so-called ‘study’), imagine what it’ll be like when he takes over the EPO. More of the same…

What Team UPC Wants: Patent Trolls, Unified Patent Court (UPC), Software Patents, and Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 12:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bristows EPO

Summary: Increasing levels of agenda-setting ‘dressed up’ as “news” or “information” give rise to new dangers in Europe, notably an agenda of few global law firms rather than that of scientific and technological advancement — the very thing the patent system always proclaimed to be in favour of

THE judgmental, fundamental errors made by the USPTO in recent decades can in fact — in our very humble assessment — be attributed to lobbying by law firms (a lot of competition-related problems there aren’t attributable to patent reform but the legal chaos that preceded reform). They — lawyers, attorneys, clerks etc. — really profited a great deal from all the trolling and in recent years that sort of stopped, giving way to more productive work rather than prohibitive litigation costs. The EPO, however, strives to move in the same direction as the US ‘dark ages’ — the ages of the Eastern District of Texas and the era of Randall Rader (as chief at the Federal Circuit). This is very troubling to us, having watched these things since before Techrights even existed (I’ve been writing about patents since I was about 20).

“They — lawyers, attorneys, clerks etc. — really profited a great deal from all the trolling and in recent years that sort of stopped, giving way to more productive work rather than prohibitive litigation costs.”World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR) has just published this report about American and Korean companies fighting over patent infringement in Germany. So guess whose lawyers are hired. This may be good for some German law firms, but celebrating this would be a mistake (along the lines of championing the Eastern District of Texas, which nowadays repels actual businesses). To quote WIPR:

Engineered materials company Rogers Corporation, based in the US, has sued Korean chemical and auto parts manufacturer KCC Corporation for patent infringement in Germany.

Rogers announced yesterday, June 5, that its German subsidiary had filed the lawsuit in Düsseldorf, citing infringement of European patent number 1 061 783. The patent is called “Ceramic-metal substrate, particularly multiple substrate”.

According to Rogers, KCC has infringed the patent by offering in Germany direct bonded copper (DBC) substrate master cards that contain patented features.

So Europe is becoming a platform for patent aggressors that aren’t even European. This is only good for lawyers and we know at whose expense, right?

IP Kat, a lawyers-run site (they used to have more academics there, but they’ve left or are on ‘Sabbatical’), carries on with its rather horrific agenda of patent maximalism, including advocacy of UPC, software patents and so on. It seems as though the site is now dominated by Team UPC, as we last noted a couple of days ago.

“The feline blog is in decline. It even embraced censorship of opposing/dissenting views because the goal is agenda-setting, not an open forum.”Eibhlin Vardy, by writing about “the EPO’s Patenting of Artificial Intelligence conference” a couple of days ago, carries on with the EPO propaganda that’s labeling software patents “AI” in order to bypass the rules and eventually grant bogus patents. Her second post is just marketing from a law firm: “Following on from this morning’s post reporting on the EPO’s Patenting of Artificial Intelligence conference, Katfriend Gwilym Roberts of Kilburn & Strode provides an insight into the ethical dilemmas that arise in this area. This one should provoke discussion and debate!”

There’s almost no debate there. It’s more like a commercial — the very type of stuff that caused staff to leave IP Kat. The feline blog is in decline. It even embraced censorship of opposing/dissenting views because the goal is agenda-setting, not an open forum. Why bother commenting?

Eibhlin Vardy preceded this ‘commercial’ with a ‘report’ which merely amplifies or helps EPO with its lobbying event (advocacy for software patent applications). Some of the ‘usual suspects’ are named again (Lievens, Ménière, Philpott). These are patent maximalists who blatantly promote software patents. To quote:

The first two keynote speakers analysed AI as a driving force of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR). Clare Dillon, a technology evangelist, gave an insightful introduction into the topic and shared her vision on the formula of success for AI, namely the combination of ‘Technical innovation + digital culture + economic viability’. Her presentation was followed by another keynote speaker, Yann Ménière (EPO Chief Economist), who highlighted the dramatic increase in patent applications related to smart objects within the last several years. A third keynote speaker Koen Lievens (EPO Director) explained how the EPO examines patent applications in the area of AI.


As Grant Philpott (EPO Chief Operating Officer ICT) noted in his concluding remarks, adapting the patent system designed for hardware innovation to the virtual world of software innovation has been a long and difficult process, but ultimately, Europe and the EPO have succeeded in developing a highly methodical approach to the patenting of CIIs, which is firmly rooted in EPC case law and EPO practice. However, as AI software becomes super-software, incredibly powerful and versatile, the challenges for our patent system are likewise significant. Events such as this help us to meet that change and ensure that AI and its impact on patents and patentability continues to be dealt with systematically and in line with the laws and needs of stakeholders. Only by doing so can our system provide the stability and predictability that the industry needs for its business models, and further support economic growth of Europe.

Notice the use of the term “CII”, which makes it very obvious that he’s just talking about software patents. They recommend new ways (or buzzwords) for hiding that. In the meantime they distribute indoctrination to examiners in the form of the Gazette, urging them to grant patents on “4IR” (and for applicants to disguise algorithms that way). It’s despicable to watch and it’s rather despicable that IP Kat — now deeply and profoundly connected to Bristows — participates in all this. Yesterday in the UPC “Pravda” blog, quite frankly as usual, Bristows’ Robert Burrows was pushing the ‘Bulgaria card’ again (for perception of UPC ‘progress’) and Managing IP, another UPC booster, wrote about Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs), which are related to UPC and are routinely advocated by Bristows over at IP Kat. Patrick Wingrove wrote :

In addition to the European Commission’s proposed Supplementary Protection Certificates waiver, we identify the biggest SPC cases and analyse Brexit’s implications

Few issues in the IP industry are as complex, debated and divisive as Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs).

“Few issues in the IP industry are as complex, debated and divisive, Wingrove added later, “as Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs).”

Well, if they’re “divisive”, then that’s because it’s obvious who’s served by them (similar or overlapping with respect to UPC) and it’s only as “complex” as they try to make it in order to confuse the opposite, thereby depressing it.

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