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08.09.18

Propaganda Sites of Patent Trolls and Litigators Have Quit Trying to Appear Impartial or Having Integrity

Posted in Africa, Deception, Marketing, Patents at 2:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The lobbying groups for patent trolls try to appear like diverse professionals, but they’re actually paid marketing/PR fronts

Mixed team

Summary: The lobbying groups of patent trolls (which receive money from such trolls) carry on meddling in policy and altering perception that drives policy; we present some new examples

THE EPO has long used IAM as a propaganda front. As for the USPTO, its connections to Watchtroll have always been worrying (e.g. former USPTO officials who now profit from lawsuits).

“They are basically a megaphone of trolls with misleading/promotional headlines (also big — if not imaginary — sums of money).”Christal Sheppard will work for the world's most awful patent troll, based on this press release that Watchtroll published the day before yesterday (we presume paid PR, based on the labeling) and Finjan, another patent troll, nowadays pays IAM. In return, IAM continues to write puff pieces for this disgusting Microsoft-connected troll; the troll even gets keynotes/speaking positions from IAM. Such is the nature of these publications/blogs. They are basically a megaphone of trolls with misleading/promotional headlines (also big — if not imaginary — sums of money). As a reminder, IAM is not a news site, but Google treats it as one nonetheless. Case of point is this week’s blog post that says:

There was little surprise in the numbers that Finjan recently announced for the second quarter. Revenue for the first half of the year soared to $82.3 million, an increase of more than 200% year-on-year. This was thanks in large part to the company’s settlement with Symantec, but also helped by additional agreements with Carbon Black and Trend Micro. Net income for the half year also saw a correspondingly large jump to $36.3 million, an increase of almost 177% as the business generated $65 million.

The whole thing reads like an ad for the troll; they’re talking about patent blackmail and they try to make a case for sponsoring this troll (as Microsoft did). Joff Wild, IAM’s chief editor, is already preparing the next lobbying event. He’s raising money from patent trolls. This lobbying group of patent trolls says that “Just a week after the US mid-term elections, the 4th Patent Law and Policy event couldn’t be more timely” (pressure group in action, timing events to impact policies). Quoting Wild:

With two of those decisions – Oil States and SAS Institute – involving the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, we will have two panels focused on post-issuance reviews – including how stakeholders should change their PTAB strategies in light of SAS.

If all of that isn’t enough we will also be asking a panel of experts to weigh in on the thorny issue of standard essential patents and what exactly constitutes FRAND. Given that the Trump administration has changed tack, markedly, on that issue there will be much to discuss.

They will try to attract to this event officials and people who might report on it, reaching the eyes and ears of politicians. Days ago we published "Agenda and Lies From Watchtroll Make It Into the Bill of Rohrabacher, the “Inventor Protection Act”"; well, guess what Watchtroll published only hours ago; it’s like they’re think tanks that help their sponsors craft bills/legislation, pushing these in their events based on lies. There needs to be a more coordinated response to these front groups, which are disguised as sources of news. Watchtroll and IAM do appear among search results and IAM seems to be paying extra money to reach more feeds. We know where that money comes from.

Months After Oil States the Patent Maximalists Still Try to Undermine Inter Partes Reviews (“IPRs”), Refusing to Accept Patent Quality

Posted in America, Courtroom, Deception, Patents at 1:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They want SCOTUS to reassess an IPRs case just months after it assessed two such cases, dealing a major blow to opponents of patent quality

A depressed man

Summary: The patent maximalists in the United States, seeing that the USPTO is moving away from patent maximalism, is desperate for a turnaround; prominent patent maximalists take it all out on PTAB

Patent maximalism is hinged on the misguided belief (or lie) that the more patents are granted and the more companies get punished for simply minding their own business, the better off supposed ‘innovation’ will be (they actually allude to lawyers’/attorneys’ fees, not innovation).

New case of point? Johnstech International Corp. v JF Technology Berhad et al. They’re now pursuing a punishment for selling products which were made before an alleged patent infringement was ‘proven’ and before appeal (this is just a district court, which is the lowest court for such disputes). As Patent Navigator put it some hours ago:

Following a jury verdict of willful infringement, the court granted in part plaintiff’s motion for enhanced damages and increased the damage award by 25% because one-quarter of defendant’s sales at issue took place after the verdict.

Does this jury understand the subject matter? Was the patent already tested ‘back’ at the USPTO? Can it?

At Kluwer Patent Blog (proponent of UPC and EPO patent maximalism) Brian Slater promotes the patent maximalism agenda for the US. It was published earlier today. This is an agenda which involves trying to weaken if not thwart Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) inter partes reviews (“IPRs”) because they elevate the quality of granted (by the USPTO) and enforced (in courts) patents, e.g. using 35 U.S.C. § 101, only to be affirmed by the Federal Circuit if/when an appeal is allowed.

Alluding to Oil States, Slater wrote that the IPR process is “Here to Stay in Modified Form”. To quote:

In a previous post here, we described constitutional and procedural challenges to inter partes review (“IPR”) in the Oil States and SAS Institute cases taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court. We also posted here on Allergan’s attempt to avoid an IPR by assigning its challenged patents to an American Indian tribe that claims tribal sovereign immunity, an apparent insurance policy in case the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of IPR. In April, as widely-anticipated, the Supreme Court rejected the constitutional challenge to IPR in the Oil States case. However, Allergan’s insurance policy may never pay out – in late July, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected the applicability of tribal sovereign immunity to IPR. Thus, IPR is here to stay for the foreseeable future and the tribal sovereign immunity play looks to be on its last legs. There is, however, one crumb of comfort for critics of IPR – the Supreme Court’s SAS Institute decision, also in April, requires that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) decide the patentability of all patent claims challenged in an IPR once it is instituted. That decision overrules the prior PTAB practice of deciding the patentability of only the claims on which IPR was instituted – so called “partial institution”.

They keep trying to water down the rules and weaken the process, but thus far they haven’t been successful. Citing Oil States, patent maximalists such as Dennis Crouch are now looking for some ways to undermine IPRs and reduce quality of patents. Crouch looks at a new SCOTUS cert petition (request for the Supreme Court to weight in) in Advanced Audio Devices, LLC v HTC Corp.:

In Oil States, the patentee lost its broad challenge to the AIA Post Issuance trial system. However the majority opinion penned by Justice Thomas hinted that other collateral attacks on the system could find more success. Particularly, the court wrote that “our decision [finding that patents are public rights] should not be misconstrued as suggesting that patents are not property for purposes of the Due Process Clause or the Takings Clause.”

[...]

The Advanced Audio petition adds the additional twist that its patents were filed pre-AIA.

That does not matter. PTAB has already dealt with many patents which predate AIA, not just PTAB itself. It even uses Section 101 to invalidate patents predating Alice. This happened plenty of times. Cert petitions like these present nothing new; SCOTUS will likely decline.

The Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement is Paralysed, So Team UPC is Twisting Old News

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 1:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UPCA paralysis

Summary: Paralysis of the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) means that people are completely forgetting about its very existence; those standing to benefit from it (patent litigation firms) are therefore recycling and distorting old news

THE FIRST step of António Campinos as EPO President was UPC promotion, which includes attacking constitutions across many countries in Europe. Since then the EPO has been promoting software patents virtually every day (sometimes more than once per day) in spite of the ban in Europe. So it’s like the pertinent laws and truth itself don’t matter to the EPO. It’s like Battistelli is still in charge, but his face looks a little different now (nationality is the same).

“Actually, the United Kingdom does not want the Unified Patent Court; it’s just a bunch of law firms with a powerful lobby like CIPA that wants it and misrepresents SMEs, the country at large, and people who actually work in science and technology.”We have stumbled upon quite a few Unitary Patent puff pieces this week. IAM’s UPC propaganda mill was today’s biggest culprit. It’s like that same old UPC propaganda which the EPO’s PR agency paid IAM for.

Some hours ago David Holland, Roger Lush and Melanie Stevenson (Carpmaels & Ransford LLP) overlooked major UPC barriers. Citing UK-IPO (which is biased for obvious reasons), they promote/perpetuate two famous lies and say: “Looking to the future, the government proposes that the “UK should continue to participate in the unitary patent system and the Unified Patent Court that underpins it”, confirming the United Kingdom’s long-held desire to participate in this new pan-European system.”

Actually, the United Kingdom does not want the Unified Patent Court; it’s just a bunch of law firms with a powerful lobby like CIPA that wants it and misrepresents SMEs, the country at large, and people who actually work in science and technology. This is what happens when law firms write “the news”; it’s just marketing and lobbying. Speaking of law firms, hours ago Jörg Prechtel (Weickmann & Weickmann PartmbB) wrote this piece about the UPC, missing the point that the principal issue with UPC, as per the constitutional complaint in Germany, isn’t just conditions for renewal of judges’ contracts but the EPO having a long track record of breaking the law, attacking judges, and defaming them. Prechtel wrote this:

On 18 March 2018 the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe permitted the appointment of judges for a limited time (Richter auf Zeit), but only under specific conditions (Docket 2BvR 780/16).

This decision may affect a pending constitutional complaint against the UPC Agreement (for more information please see “Constitutional complaint against UPC Agreement”), since Article 4 of the Statute of the UPC provides that judges may be appointed for a limited time (six years) and can be re-appointed.

[...]

In light of this decision, the court’s stance regarding the UPC Agreement remains uncertain. While it considers the employment of Richter auf Zeit admissible in principle, there are restrictions (ie, temporary personnel requirements and the prohibition of re-appointment).

However, since the court system proposed by the UPC Agreement is international, the Federal Constitutional Court may not apply its strict national standards.

They are just trying to influence the outcome of the constitutional complaint against the UPC Agreement (UPCA); they’re not even good at hiding it. There are apparently four components to this complaint and it may not be decided/ruled on before next year or 2020. In the meantime UPCA languishes to the point where Team UPC has nothing at all to report; all they do is spin of old news.

Patents as Profiteering Opportunities for Law Firms Rather Than Drivers of Innovation for Productive Companies

Posted in America, Patents at 12:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The litigation ‘industry’ just wants lots and lots of lawsuits

Dark halloween

Summary: A sample of news from yesterday; the patent microcosm is still arguing about who pays attorneys’ fees (not whether these fees are justified) and is constantly complaining about the decline in patent litigation, which means fewer and lower attorneys’ fees (less work for them)

AUGUST is a relatively quiet (likely quietest of the year) month for the EPO and USPTO, so we don’t expect to hear many announcements and news. Nevertheless, yesterday IAM published this promotional piece about NantKwest, Inc v Matal, which goes a whole fortnight back. Here’s what it said:

On 27 July 2018 the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals en banc rejected the USPTO’s attempt to obtain attorneys’ fees after patent applicants appealed the rejection of an application in a de novo civil action. It reversed the earlier decision of a three-judge panel in NantKwest, Inc v Matal and expressly rejected the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ reasoning for allowing the USPTO to obtain attorneys’ fees for appeals against trademark denials.

“USPTO is once again contemplating the possibility of reviving a proposal that envisions all patent practitioners paying annual patent bar dues,” Watchtroll wrote. It’s all about money.

“To Roebuck it’s all about money; there’s no other reasons for these people to promote software patents, which are generally loathed by software developers.”Over at Watchtroll, Arista's loss is belatedly noted and G. Michael Roebuck promotes software patents, as usual. “This article presents a two-step approach to responding to software patent-ineligible subject matter rejections under 35 USC 101,” he wrote yesterday, “and drafting patent-eligible subject matter software patent applications having claims to an “improvement in computer functionality”. The first example describes the approach for responding to 101 rejections. The second example describes the approach for drafting patent-eligible subject matter software patent applications.”

To Roebuck it’s all about money; there’s no other reasons for these people to promote software patents, which are generally loathed by software developers.

Another site of patent maximalists wrote about the collapse of patent lawsuits. Law firms generally panic as patent lawsuits collapse (that seems like a suitable word), i.e. fewer patents are expected to be respected by courts (low legal certainty). To quote what’s outside the paywall:

US patent case filing was down in the first half of 2018. We examine the number of cases, types of defendants and Federal Circuit decisions affecting filing trends

Many Federal Circuit cases are now coming from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), namely inter partes reviews (IPRs) being appealed.

All the above (from yesterday) is that same old phony agenda, which puts litigation and patenting before science and technology. These people know very well what they’re trying to achieve; and that certainly ain’t innovation but litigation. The more, the merrier.

Links 9/8/2018: Mesa 18.2 RC2, Cockpit 175, WPA-2 Hash Cracking

Posted in News Roundup at 11:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Chrome OS 68 for Chromebooks Brings Material 2.0 Design, PIN Sign-In Support

      Google today promoted the Chrome OS 68 Linux-based operating system for Chromebooks to the Stable channel as version 68.0.3440.87 (Platform version: 10718.71.2/3) for most devices, a release that brings numerous new features, improvements, and security updates.

      Highlights of the Chrome OS 68 release include a brand-new Material 2.0 design for dialogs and secondary UI on Chrome OS, 802.11r fast BSS transition (FT) support for fast roaming, new Display Size settings for setting the size of a connected display, PIN sign-in support to allow users to use a PIN to sign into Chrome OS.

    • Chrome OS can now install Linux apps from .deb packages

      Linux applications are usually distributed in one of two ways – through a software repository, or by downloading an installer package from a website. For example, the Steam download page offers a .deb package for Linux users. Even though Linux app support on Chrome OS is improving rapidly, there has never been an obvious way to install .deb packages – until now.

    • Forget Surface Go — System76 offers huge back-to-school savings on Linux laptops

      Next month, students across America will be returning to school. Whether K-12 or college, technology has become increasingly important in the classroom. It is for this reason that a laptop can be an essential tool for a learner.

  • Server

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.17.14
    • Linux 4.14.62
    • Linux 4.9.119
    • Linux 4.4.147
    • Linux 3.18.118
    • More Laptop Quirks Queued For Linux 4.19

      The x86 platform drivers area of the Linux kernel is ready for the 4.19 kernel cycle to get underway next week.

      With linux-platform-drivers-x86 it’s largely drivers for handling different behavior on various x86 laptops/tablets. Like most cycles, much of the changes are just about handling quirks for new devices. Among the x86 platform driver updates queued in its “-next” tree for Linux 4.19 includes:

      - Support for the calculator hotkey on various Lenovo systems.

    • Sound Blaster Recon3D Finally Seeing Better Linux Support

      Creative Labs launched the Recon3D sound card the better part of a decade ago and finally patches have emerged providing for better Linux driver support.

      The Sound Blaster Recon3D powered by Creative’s SoundCore3D quad-core audio processor was popular years ago with gamers/enthusiasts and has tended to always be problematic under Linux, similar to many other Creative sound cards over the past two decades… Many users having no luck getting the Recon3D sound card working under Linux while others have seen varying degrees of success with different workarounds. But now thanks to an independent contributor to the ALSA drivers, Connor McAdams, proper Recon3D support appears long at last — well, at least for the sound cards having the 0×0013 device ID. (The Creative Recon3Di was already supported by Linux and there appears to be other Recon3D sound cards with different device IDs, which haven’t yet been added as quirks to the driver.)

    • A quick history of early-boot memory allocators

      One might think that memory allocation during system startup should not be difficult: almost all of memory is free, there is no concurrency, and there are no background tasks that will compete for memory. Even so, boot-time memory management is a tricky task. Physical memory is not necessarily contiguous, its extents change from system to system, and the detection of those extents may be not trivial. With NUMA things are even more complex because, in order to satisfy allocation locality, the exact memory topology must be determined. To cope with this, sophisticated mechanisms for memory management are required even during the earliest stages of the boot process.

      One could ask: “so why not use the same allocator that Linux uses normally from the very beginning?” The problem is that the primary Linux page allocator is a complex beast and it, too, needs to allocate memory to initialize itself. Moreover, the page-allocator data structures should be allocated in a NUMA-aware way. So another solution is required to get to the point where the memory-management subsystem can become fully operational.

      In the early days, Linux didn’t have an early memory allocator; in the 1.0 kernel, memory initialization was not as robust and versatile as it is today. Every subsystem initialization call, or simply any function called from start_kernel(), had access to the starting address of the single block of free memory via the global memory_start variable. If a function needed to allocate memory it just increased memory_start by the desired amount. By the time v2.0 was released, Linux was already ported to five more architectures, but boot-time memory management remained as simple as in v1.0, with the only difference being that the extents of the physical memory were detected by the architecture-specific code. It should be noted, though, that hardware in those days was much simpler and memory configurations could be detected more easily.

    • Teaching the OOM killer about control groups

      The kernel’s out-of-memory (OOM) killer is summoned when the system runs short of free memory and is unable to proceed without killing one or more processes. As might be expected, the policy decisions around which processes should be targeted have engendered controversy for as long as the OOM killer has existed. The 4.19 development cycle is likely to include a new OOM-killer implementation that targets control groups rather than individual processes, but it turns out that there is significant disagreement over how the OOM killer and control groups should interact.

      To simplify a bit: when the OOM killer is invoked, it tries to pick the process whose demise will free the most memory while causing the least misery for users of the system. The heuristics used to make this selection have varied considerably over time — it was once remarked that each developer who changes the heuristics makes them work for their use case while ruining things for everybody else. In current kernels, the heuristics implemented in oom_badness() are relatively simple: sum up the amount of memory used by a process, then scale it by the process’s oom_score_adj value. That value, found in the process’s /proc directory, can be tweaked by system administrators to make specific processes more or less attractive as an OOM-killer target.

      No OOM-killer implementation is perfect, and this one is no exception. One problem is that it does not pay attention to how much memory a particular user has allocated; it only looks at specific processes. If user A has a single large process while user B has 100 smaller ones, the OOM killer will invariably target A’s process, even if B is using far more memory overall. That behavior is tolerable on a single-user system, but it is less than optimal on a large system running containers on behalf of multiple users.

    • Some Problematic Laptops On Linux Will Soon Stop Making Loud Noises When You Reboot

      Shortly after writing about the Sound Blaster Recon3D finally getting Linux support yesterday, a Phoronix reader pointed out another frustrating Linux sound problem with a resolution on its way to the mainline Linux kernel.

      The problem is that for some laptops like recent LG Gram and HP Spectre hardware, when rebooting the system there will be “extremely loud noises upon reboot.” This isn’t the first time we have heard of some faulty hardware making loud popping sounds or other disturbances under Linux in certain scenarios.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Containers Microconference Accepted into 2018 Linux Plumbers Conference

        The Containers Micro-conference at Linux Plumbers is the yearly gathering of container runtime developers, kernel developers and container users. It is the one opportunity to have everyone in the same room to both look back at the past year in the container space and discuss the year ahead.

        In the past, topics such as use of cgroups by containers, system call filtering and interception (Seccomp), improvements/additions of kernel namespaces, interaction with the Linux Security Modules (AppArmor, SELinux, SMACK), TPM based validation (IMA), mount propagation and mount API changes, uevent isolation, unprivileged filesystem mounts and more have been discussed in this micro-conference.

      • LF Deep Learning Foundation Advances Open Source Artificial Intelligence With Major Membership Growth

        The LF Deep Learning Foundation, an umbrella organization of The Linux Foundation that supports and sustains open source innovation in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning, today announced five new members: Ciena, DiDi, Intel, Orange and Red Hat. The support of these new members will provide additional resources to the community to develop and expand open source AI, ML and DL projects, such as the Acumos AI Project, the foundation’s comprehensive platform for AI model discovery, development and sharing.

      • Linux Deep Learning expands: answer is still 42

        The Linux Foundation Deep Learning Foundation (LF DLF) has announced five new members: Ciena, DiDi, Intel, Orange and Red Hat.

        As an umbrella organization of The Linux Foundation itself, the LF DLF supports and sustains open source innovation in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Deep Learning (DL).

      • [Older] Twenty-Two Organizations Join The Linux Foundation and Invest in Open Source Technology
      • First Round of Keynotes Announced for Open Source Summit and ELC + OpenIoT Summit Europe [Ed: Microsoft is the “Diamond Sponsor"; thoroughly compromised?]
    • Graphics Stack

      • How the 60-evdev.hwdb works

        libinput made a design decision early on to use physical reference points wherever possible. So your virtual buttons are X mm high/across, the pointer movement is calculated in mm, etc. Unfortunately this exposed us to a large range of devices that don’t bother to provide that information or just give us the wrong information to begin with. Patching the kernel for every device is not feasible so in 2015 the 60-evdev.hwdb was born and it has seen steady updates since. Plenty a libinput bug was fixed by just correcting the device’s axis ranges or resolution. To take the magic out of the 60-evdev.hwdb, here’s a blog post for your perusal, appreciation or, failing that, shaking a fist at. Note that the below is caller-agnostic, it doesn’t matter what userspace stack you use to process your input events.

      • Mesa 18.2-RC2 Released With 17 Fixes So Far

        One week after branching Mesa 18.2 and issuing the first release candidate, the second weekly RC is now available for testing.

        Mesa 18.2-RC2 has 17 patches queued, including several V3D (formerly “VC5″) Broadcom driver fixes, build system updates, fixing the DRISW compilation for Android Nougat, and other small fixes.

      • Mesa 18.2.0-rc2

        The second release candidate for the Mesa 18.2.0 is now available.

      • AMDGPU LRU Bulk Move Functionality Increases Performance In OpenCL And Vulkan
      • AMD Releases 18.Q3 Linux Drivers for Radeon Pro, Including Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Support

        This update also brings Vulkan 1.1 support, and initial support for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS – which is great news for those who recently upgraded to the latest Ubuntu 18.04 LTS package.

        The package is mainly intended for Vega Frontier, Radeon Pro, Radeon Pro WX, and FirePro S/W graphics cards, and the entire driver stack is derived from the 18.20 driver branch which includes both PRO and All-Open driver options.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Richard Hughes: GNOME Software and automatic updates

        For GNOME 3.30 we’ve enabled something that people have been asking for since at least the birth of the gnome-software project: automatically installing updates.

        This of course comes with some caveats. Since it’s still not safe to auto-update packages (trust me, I triaged the hundreds of bugs) we will restrict automatic updates to Flatpaks. Although we do automatically download things like firmware updates, ostree content, and package updates by default they’re deployed manually like before. I guess it’s important to say that the auto-update of Flatpaks is optional and can easily be turned off in the GUI, and that you’ll be notified when applications have been auto-updated and need restarting.

      • GNOME Software 3.30 Will Automatically Update Flatpaks By Default

        The GNOME Software center for installing and updating of programs will begin automatically installing updates with the upcoming GNOME 3.30 release albeit limited to sandboxed Flatpak programs.

      • GNOME 3.30 Desktop Will Finally Bring Automatic Updates, but Only for Flatpaks

        The highly anticipated GNOME 3.30 desktop environment will be released in less than a month, and we bet Linux users can’t wait to install it on their favorite GNU/Linux distributions to discover all the new features and enhancements.

        One of the coolest, long-anticipated feature coming to the GNOME 3.30 desktop environment this fall is automatic updates. Yes, you’re reading it right, the GNOME Project is enabling automatic software updates for you so you won’t have to worry about if you’re running the latest version of a software or not, but only for Flatpaks at this time.

      • libgepub + rust

        In 2010 I was working with evince, the gnome PDF document viewer, trying to add some accessibility to PDF files. That was really hard, not because GTK+ or ATK technology but because the PDF format itself. The PDF format is really cool for printing because you know that the piece of paper will look the same as the PDF doc, and because it’s vector it scales and don’t loose quality and files are smaller than image files, but almost all PDF files have not any metadata for sections, headings, tablets or so, this depends on the creation tool, but it’s really hard to deal with PDF content text, because you don’t know event if the text that you’re reading is really in the same order that you read from the PDF.

        After my fight against the PDF format hell and poppler, I discovered the epub format that’s a really simple format for electronic books. An epub is a zip with some XML files describing the book index and every chapter is a xhtml and xhtml is a good format compared to PDF because you can parse easily with any XML lib and the content is tagged and well structured so you know what’s a heading, what’s a paragraph, etc.

        So I started to write a simple C library to read epub files, thinking about add epub support to evince. That’s how libgepub was born. I tried to integrate libgepub in evince, I’ve something working, rendering with webkit, but nothing really useful, because evince needs pages and it’s not easy to split an xhtml file in pages with the same height, because xhtml is continuous text and it adapts to the page width, so I give up and leave this branch.

      • My final report for GSoC 2018

        The Google Summer of Code 2018 is coming to an end for me, so it means that it’s time for the final report!

        [...]

        I’ve created a media (although for now it only works with pictures) viewer for Fractal. Its purpose is to easily have a better view of the images within a room, to be able to zoom in and out of them, to navigate between the different images of the room in the chronological order, to enter in a full screen mode and to save a copy of the media in the filesystem. I made a first implementation and then had to do a lot of other improvements. I’ve spent about a month working on it.

        There is still the need to improve the zoom of the media viewer as the pictures are a little bit blurred and it’s not possible to zoom beyond 100%. There are optimizations to do as the application becomes very slow when trying to zoom beyond 100% on large pictures.

      • GUADEC 2018

        A few weeks ago I attended GUADEC in Almeria, Spain. The travel was a bit of an adventure, because Julian and I went there and back from Italy by train. It was great though, because we had lots of time to hack on Fractal on the train.

        [...]

        On Monday I attended the all-day Librem 5 BoF, together with my colleagues from Purism, and some community members, such as Jordan and Julian from Fractal.

        We talked about apps, particularly the messaging situation and Fractal. We discussed what will be needed in order to split the app, make the UI adaptive, and get end-to-end encryption. Daniel’s work on the database and Julian’s message history refactor are currently laying the groundwork for these.

        On the shell side we talked through the design of various parts of the shell, such as keyboard, notifications, multitasking, and gestures. Though many of those things won’t be implemented in the near future, we have a plan for where we’re going with these, and getting designers and developers in one room was very productive for working out some of the details.

        We also discussed a number of exciting new widgets to make it easier to get GNOME apps to work at smaller sizes, such as a new adaptive preferences window, and a way to allow modal windows to take up the entire screen at small sizes.

  • Distributions

    • Nitrux – A Beautiful, Portable Apps-Focused Linux Distro

      Nitrux is a free, beautiful, open-source Ubuntu-based distribution with a focus on beauty, user efficiency, and portable universal app formats. It currently ranks #76 on DistroWatch’s popularity hits per day chart.

      It supports portable universal application formats including AppImage and Snaps and is based on the latest Ubuntu development branch and the latest KDE Plasma desktop version.

    • Reviews

      • Absolute Linux: Testing Snapshot/15.0 Based on Slackware Current

        I have reviewed Absolute Linux here already twice before. AL 13.1 fared better in my testing than the initial 14.0 release, but it’s been some time and things may have changed a bit. Absolute has always been an interesting Slackware modification for me, time to give it another chance. This time I am installing Absolute from the current tree, because a) the previous version is so old by now and b) the underlying Slackware current has undergone a major recompilation in the mass rebuild of 19th April 2018. There is no ISO available to install Absolute current from so I downloaded the file tree to another partition and pointed the Slackware installer ISO copied earlier to a USB thumb drive to it. Actually, a snapshot ISO is now available.

        This worked really well as Absolute Linux is basically Slackware with IceWM as window manager plus a few custom tools and a particular choice of applications – see the package list. Once the installer had found the Slackware64 directory it all went ahead as planned and a few minutes later I was finishing the install by supplying a password, setting up the root account etc. The only difference here is that Absolute is using a grey theme, but of course here we were using the original Slackware installer. Partitions were created with cfdisk prior the setup routine and of course only the package sets in the Absolute tree were available. This means only IceWM was available and no KDE series or other desktops/window managers. The entire download was 1960 MB. The distribution is now only available for the 64bit architecture.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Leap 42.3 Operating System Support Extended Until June 30, 2019

        The openSUSE Project announced this week that they’d extended support for the openSUSE Leap 42.3 operating system with six more months to allow more users to upgrade to the latest openSUSE Leap 15 release.

        Launched on July 26, 2017, the openSUSE Leap 42.3 operating system is based on SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) 12 Service Pack (SP) 3 and the long-term supported Linux 4.4 kernel series. Like previous openSUSE Leap 42 point releases, openSUSE Leap 42.3 was supposed to receive 18 months of support, until January 2019.

      • An Exciting New Direction

        It’s been over a year since we started the Kubic project, and it’s worth looking back over the last months and evaluating where we’ve succeeded, where we haven’t, and sharing with you all our plans for the future.

      • OpenSUSE Kubic Shifts Focus Following Self-Reflection

        OpenSUSE’s Kubic project that has been home to their container-related technologies as well as the atomicly-updated openSUSE “MicroOS” will be making some changes.

      • openSUSE Kubic Moves in a New Direction
    • Red Hat Family

      • Women in IT Awards USA winner: Margaret Dawson, Red Hat

        Margaret has led teams at companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500 firms including Amazon, Microsoft and HP. She grew up in Detroit and began her career in the automotive industry, an experience that helped her feel at home in the similarly male-dominated technology sector.

        She has a passion for mentoring women in technology and has made it her mission to share the lessons she has learned with others and to mentor them in their own journeys.

      • How do tools affect culture?

        Most of the DevOps community talks about how tools don’t matter much. The culture has to change first, the argument goes, which might modify how the tools are used.

        I agree and disagree with that concept. I believe the relationship between tools and culture is more symbiotic and bidirectional than unidirectional. I have discovered this through real-world transformations across several companies now. I admit it’s hard to determine whether the tools changed the culture or whether the culture changed how the tools were used.

      • GPU Accelerated SQL queries with PostgreSQL & PG-Strom in OpenShift-3.10

        In the OpenShift 3.9 GPU blog, we leveraged machine learning frameworks on OpenShift for image recognition. And in the How To Use GPUs with DevicePlugin in OpenShift 3.10 blog, we installed and configured an OpenShift cluster with GPU support. In this installment, we will create a more sophisticated workload on the cluster – accelerating databases using GPUs.

        One of the key parts of any machine learning algorithm is the data (often referred to as the data lake/warehouse, stored as structured, semi-structured or unstructured data).

        A major part of machine learning pipelines is the preparation, cleaning, and exploration of this data. Specifically removing NAs (missing values), transformations, normalization, subsetting, sorting, and a lot of plotting.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • PHPUnit 7.3

          RPM of PHPUnit version 7.3 are available in remi repository for Fedora ≥ 25 and for Enterprise Linux (CentOS, RHEL…).

        • Reducing the use of non-glibc allocators in Fedora

          Memory allocation for applications is a bit of a balancing act between various factors including CPU performance, memory efficiency, and how the memory is actually being allocated and deallocated by the application. Different programs may have diverse needs, but it is often the kind of workload that the application is expected to handle that determines which memory allocator performs best. That argues for a diversity of memory allocators (and allocation strategies) but, on the other hand, that complicates things for Linux distributions. As a result, Fedora is discussing ways to rein in the spread of allocators used by its packages.

        • Copr has a brand new API

          New Copr version is here and after several months of discussions and development, it finally brings a brand new API. In this article, we are going to see why it was needed, how it is better than previous API versions (i.e. why you should be happy about it) and try some code samples.

    • Debian Family

      • DebConf 18 – Day 2

        Although I have already returned from this year’s DebConf, I try to continue to write up my comments on the talks I have attended. The first one was DebConf 18 – Day 1, here we go for Day 2.

      • Final GSOC 2018 Report

        This is the final report of my 2018 Google Summer of Code project. It also serves as my final code submission.

        …]

        The main project was nacho, the web frontend for the guest accounts of the Debian project. The software is now in a state where it can be used in a production enviroment and there is already work being done to deploy the application on Debian infrastructure. It was a lot of fun programming that software and i learned a lot about Python and Django. My mentors gave me valuable feedback and pointed me in the right direction in case i had questions. There are still some ideas or features that can be implemented and i’m sure some feature requests will come up in the future. Those can be tracked in the issue tracker in the salsa repository. An overview of the activity in the project, including both commits and issues, can be seen in the activity list.

        The SSO evaluations i did give an overview of existing solutions and will help in the decision making process. The README in the evaluation repository has a table taht summarizes the findings of the evaluations.

      • I am Tomu!

        While I was away for DebConf18, I received the Tomu boards I ordered on Crowdsupply a while ago while the project was still going through crowdfunding.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Reporting Metrics Back to Ubuntu

            After some time on Kubuntu on this new laptop, I just re-discovered that I did not want to live in the Plasma world anymore. While I do value all the work the team behind it does, the user interface is just not for me as it feels rather busy to my liking.

            In that aforementioned post I wrote about running the Ubuntu Report Tool on this system, it is not part of the Kubuntu install or first boot experience but you can install it by running apt install ubuntu-report followed by running ubuntu-report to actually create the report and if you want, send it too.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • How open source is fuelling an explosion in fintech innovation

    The open nature of fintech is a clear break with traditional financial services. Where incumbent businesses have complex legacy IT systems – often developed over decades – the new fintech companies are small and agile, using open services to build their applications.

    As consumers have continued to embrace digitisation in every part of their lives, they are driving the digitisation of the financial services they use, with payments leading the way.

    The open technologies that fintech services are built upon are new and speak to the new age of financial services in the palm of consumers’ hands.

    “Fintech firms are establishing themselves not only as significant players in the industry, but also as the benchmark for financial services,” states Ernst & Young in its Fintech Adoption Index.

  • Guest View: In praise of open source

    When you think of little social movements that bring about big societal shifts, the first thing that comes to mind probably isn’t open source. But maybe it should be.

    The technological revolution that is steadily digitizing every nook and cranny of human activity obviously relies on code, and open-source code underpins much of the recent surge in innovation. Streaming movies? Digital Assistants? Autonomous cars? All made possible to some degree by the open-source movement and the rapid evolution it has enabled. Access to open-source code lets us reversion, refine, enhance, and scale programs quickly and exponentially — it’s a font of collective knowledge that fuels a whirlwind of computational advancement.

  • OpenStack and Open Source MANO: Technologies for NFV Deployment

    We have experienced how open source software technologies revolutionized the application development process, which ultimately resulted in digital transformation across various industry verticals. Open source technologies now are disrupting the telecom sector for building 5G internet, which will be powered by network functions virtualization (NFV) and software defined networking (SDN). With NFV and SDN, multiple network functions and control and management operations in telecom networks will be software-driven; enabling the cloud-native and DevOps approach.

  • Events

    • 5 golden rules for working openly with difficult people

      Sometimes these personalities can rub each other the wrong way, generate conflict, and be difficult to work with. Some of these people can be unclear in their expectations, overreact to relatively benign scenarios, and be unreliable. They can be your founders, executives, team-mates, other team members, or people who report to you. In many cases, people handle these challenging personalities in a sub-optimal way. They get distracted by the ego and emotion in the situation as opposed to focusing on clear, productive outcomes and building lasting trust.

    • OSCON’s 20th anniversary and more

      The O’Reilly Open Source Conference (OSCON) returned to Portland, Oregon this July for the 20th convocation of this venerable gathering. While some of the program focused on retrospectives, there were also talks and tutorials on multiple technical topics and open-source community management. To give you a feel for the whole conference, we will explore it in a two-part article. This installment will cover a retrospective of open source and some presentations on releasing projects as open source at your organization. A second article will include a few of the technical topics at the conference.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • State of Mozilla Support: 2018 Mid-year Update – Part 4

        The San Francisco 2018 All Hands flew by and so did the last two months. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have been able to attend this event.

        If I were to look back on some of the highlights, they would be pretty nitty gritty detailed. But I will share with you a few of them.

      • Onboarding team for 2nd half of 2018

        As we have entered the second half of the year, the Reps Council has worked on updating the Onboarding Screening Team for 2018-2.

        The scope of this team is to help on evaluating the new applications to the Reps program by helping the Reps Council on this process.

      • Mozilla B-Team: happy bmo push day!
      • DWeb: Social Feeds with Secure Scuttlebutt

        Scuttlebutt is a free and open source social network with unique offline-first and peer-to-peer properties. As a JavaScript open source programmer, I discovered Scuttlebutt two years ago as a promising foundation for a new “social web” that provides an alternative to proprietary platforms. The social metaphor of mainstream platforms is now a more popular way of creating and consuming content than the Web is. Instead of attempting to adapt existing Web technologies for the mobile social era, Scuttlebutt allows us to start from scratch the construction of a new ecosystem.

      • Firefox experiment recommends articles based on your browsing

        The new experiment is a cooperation between Mozilla and Laserlike. Laserlike is a startup that built a recommendation platform and the experiment taps into the data to provide recommendations.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Open Source Visual Studio Code Extension Helps Create Alexa Skills [Ed: Microsoft propagandist (for at least a decade) David Ramel does openwashing for Microsoft and surveillance in the listening device (bug) sense]
    • Guy Martin: Open Source Strategy at Autodesk [Ed: You know that Autodesk, a proprietary software giant, has paid some 'slush funds' to Zemlin's LF. Why else would Swapnil Bhartiya do an openwashing piece for them? Using the money they funnel to Zemlin?]
    • GitHub looses load-balancing open-source code on netops world [Ed: But GitHub is still a proprietary software company. It's just openwashing like Microsoft does.]

      Putting a bunch of machines behind a single IP address is a common enough trick, however, Julienne wrote that there’s a particular challenge for an organization like GitHub: network changes are frequent, and many load balancing technologies can break if there’s a change in the server lineup.

    • Scotiabank’s ‘PLATO’ team shows its serious about technology-first approach with open source release

      Not only did Arbuckle detail how his team of engineers has used its public cloud deployments to completely transform how Scotiabank builds new applications and integrates them into business processes, he also announced the bank’s first open source software release to Github. Initializer is the first open source module of many to come from Scotiabank, each module a new piece of the bank’s own Accelerator product that serves as its own integrated development pipeline, which integrates the required security controls and approvals for code as they move through various stages of production.

    • Apple’s iOS Health Records has 75+ backers, uses open-source frameworks for easy adoption [Ed: openwashing Apple-centric malware (it’s proprietary) that’s hoovering up medical data, misusing privacy practices]
  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Licensing/Legal

    • The business rationale for an open source software internal audit [Ed: Commercials as 'articles' at IDG again. IDG isn't dead yet. But it's dying. And it's now owned by some Chinese entity, just like House as Fraser and other firms that get liquidated...]

      There’s no debate about the value of using open source software (OSS) when building new business applications – cost, flexibility, quality and ease of use, to name a few – but its use comes with legal obligations and security vulnerabilities that can pose significant risks to organizations. To effectively pre-empt such risks, proactive OSS management is essential. To this end, conducting an audit of the use of OSS code can help companies get a handle on the emerging risk areas.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Capital F … As In Freedom

      Today, Bryan Lunduke announces the immediate release of the first issue of ‘Capital F’, a magazine dedicated to all things Free Software and Free Culture. Made available free of charge, ‘Capital F’ is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

  • Programming/Development

    • Launching the 2018 State of Rust Survey

      It’s that time again! Time for us to take a look at how the Rust project is doing, and what we should plan for the future. The Rust Community Team is pleased to announce our 2018 State of Rust Survey! Whether or not you use Rust today, we want to know your opinions. Your responses will help the project understand its strengths and weaknesses and establish development priorities for the future.

      Completing this survey should take about 10 to 15 minutes and is anonymous unless you choose to give us your contact information. We will be accepting submissions until September 8th, and we will write up our findings a month or so afterwards to blog.rust-lang.org. You can see last year’s results here.

    • Perform robust unit tests with PyHamcrest

      At the base of the testing pyramid are unit tests. Unit tests test one unit of code at a time—usually one function or method.

      Often, a single unit test is designed to test one particular flow through a function, or a specific branch choice. This enables easy mapping of a unit test that fails and the bug that made it fail.

      Ideally, unit tests use few or no external resources, isolating them and making them faster.

    • Adding None-aware operators to Python?

      A PEP that has been around for a while, without being either accepted or rejected, was reintroduced recently on the python-ideas mailing list. PEP 505 (“None-aware operators”) would provide some syntactic sugar, in the form of new operators, to handle cases where variables might be the special None value. It is a feature that other languages support, but has generally raised concerns about being “un-Pythonic” over the years. At this point, though, the Python project still needs to figure out how it will be governed—and how PEPs can be accepted or rejected.

    • The Grumpy Editor’s Python 3 experience

      LWN has been running articles for years to the effect that the end of Python 2 is nigh and that code should be ported to Python 3 immediately. So, naturally, one might expect that our own site code, written in Python, had been forward-ported long ago. Strangely enough, that didn’t actually happen. It has mostly happened now, though. In the process of doing this work, your editor has noticed a few things that don’t necessarily appear in the numerous porting guides circulating on the net.

      One often-heard excuse for delaying this work is that one or more dependencies have not yet been ported to Python 3. For almost everybody, that excuse ran out of steam some time ago; if a module has not been forward-ported by now, it probably never will be and other plans need to be made. In our case, the final dependency was the venerable Quixote web framework which, due to the much appreciated work of Neil Schemenauer, was forward-ported at the end of 2017. Quixote never really took the world by storm, but it makes the task of creating a code-backed site easy; we would have been sad to have to leave it behind.

      Much of the anxiety around moving to Python 3 is focused on how that language handles strings. The ability to work with Unicode was kind of bolted onto Python 2, but it was designed into Python 3 from the beginning. The result is a strict separation between the string type (str), which holds text as Unicode code points, and bytes, which contains arbitrary data — including text in a specific encoding. Python 2 made it easy to be lazy and ignore that distinction much of the time; Python 3 requires a constant awareness of which kind of data is being dealt with.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Democrats Vow Investigation of VA’s Shadow Rulers After ProPublica Story

      The top Democrat on the Senate veterans committee, Jon Tester of Montana, also chimed in saying the VA should be listening to veterans, not politics insiders. “Any influence and supervision of taxpayer-funded VA personnel and programs by unelected, unaccountable and politically-motivated advisors is deeply concerning,” Tester said in a statement.

      Another member of the committee called for a hearing. “It is just astounding to me that this group of totally unaccountable, unelected and behind-the-scenes people can exert this kind of influence,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), in an interview on CNN.

      The scrutiny comes at a sensitive time at the VA, where Robert Wilkie is serving his first full week as the new secretary. Wilkie has already run into resistance from the Mar-a-Lago Crowd’s allies in the agency, according to people familiar with the situation.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Army is buying microwave cannons to take down drones in mid-flight

      The US Army has a new plan for microwaving drones out of the sky. In a public solicitation last Friday, the agency announced its intention to purchase an airborne high-powered microwave system from Lockheed Martin, which is intended for use against drones. The weapon, which would be mounted to an airplane, would disable fixed-wing or quadcopter drones with a beam of focused radiation.

    • Giving Trump Carte Blanche for War

      Have you ever heard of Senate Joint Resolution 59 (S.J.Res. 59)? Neither had I. A friend of mine saw a blurb about it on an obscure national security blog and brought it to my attention. At first glance it didn’t seem to be any big deal. It’s inelegantly named the “Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) of 2018.” It was introduced on April 16, 2018 by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), and Tim Kaine (D-VA). Officially, the bill would “Authorize the use of military force against the Taliban, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and designated associated forces, and provide an updated, transparent, and sustainable statutory basis for counterterrorism operations.”

      It’s hard to oppose a bill that would “keep Americans safe,” as Corker said in the SFRC hearing. But this bill is so bad, such an affront to our freedom, such an attack on our civil liberties, that we should be compelled to oppose it.

      S.J.Res. 59 is bad for a number of reasons. First and most importantly, it would provide blanket permission for the president to launch a military attack of literally any size and intensity whenever he wants without specific congressional approval. That seems obviously unconstitutional to me, although I’m not a constitutional scholar. Still, the constitution says in Article I, Section 8 that only Congress shall have the authority to declare war, among other things military. It does not allow the president the ability to launch a war.

      Second, according to Marjorie Cohn, professor emerita at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, it also would write the president a “blank check to lock up Americans who dissent against U.S. military policy.” That’s right. If you oppose U.S. military policy, the president would have the right to lock you up indefinitely without charge.

    • A failed drone attack shows that Nicolás Maduro is vulnerable

      IT MAY be sinking ever deeper into slump, misery and corrupt dictatorship, adorned only by threadbare revolutionary rhetoric, but Venezuela has retained a surprising stability. Over the past 18 months Nicolás Maduro, the president, has pulverised the democratic but divided opposition. Most of Latin America did not recognise the rigged election in May in which he arranged another six-year term for himself, but the region has not taken any action to bring about the democratic transition it wants.

      And yet Mr Maduro is far from invulnerable. That was dramatically highlighted on August 4th, when an apparent assassination attempt against him played out on live television. There is still much that is murky about the incident, in which two drones carrying explosives flew towards Mr Maduro as he was speaking at a ceremony of the paramilitary National Guard in central Caracas. One ricocheted against a block of flats, starting a fire. The other was supposedly shot down. Officials said that seven people were injured but did not provide details.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Appeals Court Tells DOJ To Drop The Glomar And Hand Over Records About Prosecutorial Misconduct To Requester

      A man convicted for fraud makes his second appearance in the Fourth Circuit Appeals Court. The first was an attempt to have his sentence vacated via complaints of prosecutorial misconduct. Gregory Bartko not only discovered a government witness had perjured himself, but during his trial, the prosecution routinely delayed its production of evidence — something the district court noticed. It didn’t result in a new trial, but it did bring judicial hellfire down on the heads of the prosecution team.

      [...]

      The court noted the violations may have been “harmless” in the context of this specific case, but they are far from harmless in terms of due process. The appeals court asked the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate the US Attorney’s office in North Carolina — especially prosecutor Clay Wheeler’s [ed: oh, the irony available at that link] — repeated flouting of discovery rules and orders.

      Five years later, Bartko is receiving his second opinion from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals — this time pertaining to the DOJ’s repeated refusal to hand over documents, specifically those related to the OPR’s investigation of the prosecutor’s office involved in his criminal case. The DOJ handed over a few documents listing Bartko as the “complainant,” but for everything related to the court-requested investigation it gave him a Glomar.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Man spent 40 years of his life planting trees every day to create a forest

      A man in India is now literally reaping what he sow after planting trees every day for 40 years and turning a barren wasteland into a thriving forest with a healthy ecosystem.

      In 1979, Jadav Payeng, known as the “Forest Man of India,” started planting trees every day in his quest to revive the Majuli Island in Assam, India—the largest river island in the world. Increased flooding in India’s Brahmaputra river due to monsoon has destroyed homes and farms, and eroded more than half of Majuli’s land mass. Scientists say that the island could be gone in 15 to 20 years due to erosion.

      The sight of snakes scorched to death and piled up on sand due to lack of sand after an extreme flooding in 1979 pushed the then 18-year-old Payeng to create a forest.

      “When I saw it, I thought even we humans will have to die this way in the heat. It struck me. In the grief of those dead snakes, I created this forest,” Payeng told NPR.

    • Colorado hail storm kills 2 animals at zoo, injures 14 people

      Two animals were killed and 14 people were injured at a Colorado zoo when they were pummeled with large hail during an intense thunderstorm Monday, officials said.

      The Colorado Springs Fire Department said five people were taken to the hospital, while nine were treated at the scene after the afternoon storm passed over the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. FOX21 received several reports of baseball-sized hail in the area of southwestern Colorado Springs where the zoo is located.

    • Animals killed, people injured, after hail at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

      Two animals were killed and several people had to be taken to the hospital Monday after a hail storm rolled over Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

      It happened Monday afternoon when softball-sized hail pelted exhibits and breezeways throughout the zoo. Videos showed guests and animals taking cover whenever they could. Tuesday, about 75 percent of the walkways were considered safe, but skylights in four buildings were destroyed, including the Monkey Pavilion, the Reptile Building, Primate World, and the administration building.

  • Finance

    • Trump’s Privatization Plan Would Destroy the Postal Service

      This week, a task force created following an April executive order from Trump, is scheduled to deliver its recommendations for an overhaul of the Postal Service. Led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, the task force is expected to endorse the privatization proposal buried in the White House’s plan to reorganize the federal government—a radical assault on the administrative state.

    • PC Hardware Imported into US to Rise by 25% Due to New Trade Tariffs from August 23, 2018

      If you live outside the USA, in a European country, for example then this will not affect you. You can rest assured that this is between the US and China. At least for now.

    • China plans tariffs on $60 billion of US products

      China has announced plans to put tariffs of up to 25% on US products worth $60 billion, the latest salvo in an escalating trade war.

      The Chinese government said Friday that it would impose duties of 25%, 20%, 10% and 5% on the products if the Trump administration follows through on threats to tax $200 billion of Chinese goods.

    • How blockchain and the auto industry will fit together

      Automakers, insurers, and related partners see a big role for blockchain. What will change in the realms of payments, insurance, security, and safety?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Are Facebook and YouTube quasi-governmental actors?

      Do Facebook and YouTube constitute quasi-governmental actors that should be held to constitutional standards when regulating their vast marketplaces of ideas? Mr Tribe says that under current law, they aren’t. But he worries that if these “hugely influential and far-reaching entities” are “capricious” or even “partisan” in their rule-enforcement, the ideal of an open society may be compromised. “After all,” he says, “some of these ‘private’ entities are every bit as powerful as any single state or as most entire nations.” What that means for the contours of free speech in the social-media age is not immediately clear. It is, he says, a “profound puzzle” how to envision a legal framework in which these companies might be held to account for their editorial decisions without undermining their autonomy to “filter out vicious, dangerous and demonstrably false and misleading pseudo-information”.

    • Infowars app surges in popularity on Apple, Google Play stores

      The app has surged in popularity in recent days from the 47th to the 4th most popular Apple store news app in the United States. That position places Inforwars over CNN, Fox News and The New York Times’s apps, according to app analytics site, App Annie.

    • Consortium News Radio— Episode 1: Peter Van Buren

      On the premiere edition of Consortium News Radio we speak with Peter Van Buren, a former State Department official, whistleblower and victim of Twitter censorship. Van Buren speaks about his experiences in Iraq, the critical book he wrote about those experiences and how the Obama State Department eventually attempted to have him tried under the Espionage Act. This week Van Buren had his Twitter account permanently shut down and seven years of his Tweets wiped from the record. Why? Because he challenged mainstream journalists who contested a Tweet from journalist Glenn Greenwald that mainstream reporters support America’s wars and help bring them about. One corporate journalist decided to silence Van Buren by complaining to Twitter, which, within two days, and with no due process, obliged. Joe Lauria, editor-in-chief of Consortium News, interviewed Van Buren on Wednesday, August 9 for 40 minutes.

    • Chinese censors poo-poo new Winnie the Pooh movie

      Chinese film bosses have denied Ewan McGregor’s new Winnie the Pooh movie a release.

      No reason has been given for the decision, but it’s believed to be part of a nationwide clampdown on references to author A.A. Milne’s fictional bear, who has become a bizarre symbol of political dissent in China among citizens who believe the character resembles the nation’s leader Xi Jinping.

    • China: US Tech Firms Risk Complicity in Abuses

      Stakeholders and shareholders in Google and Facebook should urge the companies not to exchange user rights for access to China’s market, Human Rights Watch said. According to reporting in The Intercept, Google has been developing a search engine app to comply with China’s expansive censorship requirements. Facebook previously developed a censored version of its service for China, though never launched it.

      The US Congress, European Parliament, and other legislatures around the world should express concern at US companies who are cooperating with China’s censorship and surveillance, Human Rights Watch said.

    • Google Using A Honeypot To Track “Banned Words” For Its Chinese Search Engine

      The search giant stores the entries made by Chinese users before redirecting them to Baidu; it helps them get insights regarding what’s allowed and what’s banned in China.

    • Inside Google’s Effort to Develop a Censored Search Engine in China

      Google analyzed search terms entered into a Beijing-based website to help develop blacklists for a censored search engine it has been planning to launch in China, according to confidential documents seen by The Intercept.

      Engineers working on the censorship sampled search queries from 265.com, a Chinese-language web directory service owned by Google.

      Unlike Google.com and other Google services, such as YouTube, 265.com is not blocked in China by the country’s so-called Great Firewall, which restricts access to websites deemed undesirable by the ruling Communist Party regime.

    • School Board Demands Journalists Be Punished For Reporting On The School Board’s Redaction Failure

      A redaction failure by a public entity has led to a request for contempt charges to be brought against a Florida newspaper and two of its reporters. The Sun Sentinel obtained a copy of the Broward County School Board’s report on the Parkland shooter after a successful public records request lawsuit. The report was heavily redacted… or at least, it was supposed to be. But the school board screwed this task up.

    • Twitter Suspends Me Forever

      Hate what I write, hate me, block me, don’t buy my books, but please don’t celebrate handing over those choices to some company.

      I lost my career at the State Department because I spoke out as a whistleblower against the Iraq War. I’ve now been silenced, again, for speaking, this time by a corporation. I am living in the America I always feared.

    • Behind The Scenes At The Twitter Purge – With Peter Van Buren and Scott Horton
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Verizon Launched A VPN Without Bothering To Write A Real Privacy Policy

      As we’ve noted for a while, a VPN isn’t some kind of magic bullet. While it might help you hide some of your online activity from snoopy governments, nosy ISPs, or a packet sniffing dudebro at the coffee shop, it’s not some mystical panacea. Unfortunately, in the wake of seemingly endless privacy scandals and a federal apathy to any meaningful privacy rules of the road, many people have been flocking to VPNs without understanding that many VPNs are scams, poorly configured (making you less secure, not more), and that promises made about data retention are often hollow.

      Ironically, many of the companies most responsible for our privacy problems have now jumped into the VPN business to capitalize on consumer worries they themselves helped create. Like Facebook, which, in the shadow of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, thought it might be a good idea to launch a VPN that pretends to protect consumers from online harm, but actually exists solely to track your behavior online when you’re not visiting Facebook.

      Verizon, fresh off of its successful efforts to kill net neutrality and FCC broadband privacy protections, also recently launched a new VPN service dubbed Safe WiFi. Safe WiFi, you’ll be happy to learn, “protects your privacy and blocks ad-tracking.” But when I began digging into Verizon’s VPN for Motherboard, I found that the company had rushed the service to market so quickly, it failed to even write an actual privacy policy for the service. Instead, the company informed me it had simply copied a placeholder privacy policy lifted from McAfee, the company that actually built its VPN.

    • Internet overseer ICANN loses a THIRD time in Whois GDPR legal war

      The internet’s domain names overlord has failed in a third attempt to keep to the wheels from falling off its Whois service in Europe, raising questions over its competence.

      US-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was slammed by the Appellate Court of Cologne, Germany, for not having “sufficiently explained” nor provided a “credible reason” for seeking an injunction against German domain registrar EPAG.

      In short: EPAG wanted to sell domain names without collecting the domain owners’ administrative and technical contact details because it feared doing so would put it at risk of ruinous fines if it ran afoul of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However, its registrar contract with ICANN requires it to collect this information for the latter’s global Whois system. To force it to comply with its contract, and to hell with GDPR, ICANN took EPAG to court in May, seeking an order banning the registrar from peddling domain names if it refused to gather data for Whois.

    • ICANN Loses Yet Again In Its Quixotic Quest To Obtain A Special Exemption From The EU’s GDPR

      Back in May, we wrote about the bizarre attempt by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to exempt itself from the EU’s new privacy legislation, the GDPR. ICANN sought an injunction to force EPAG, a Tucows-owned registrar based in Bonn, Germany, to collect administrative and technical contacts as part of the domain name registration process. EPAG had refused, because it felt doing so would fall foul of the GDPR. A German court turned down ICANN’s request, but without addressing the question whether gathering that information would breach the GDPR.

      As the organization’s timeline of the case indicates, ICANN then appealed to the Higher Regional Court of Cologne, Germany, against the ruling. Meanwhile, the lower court that issued the original judgment decided to re-visit the case, which it has the option to do upon receipt of an appeal. However, it did not change its view, and referred the matter to the upper Court.

    • Pentagon bans use of fitness trackers and geolocation apps in sensitive military areas

      However, the Pentagon won’t put a blanket ban on such tech, presumably as it still wants its soldiers trying to be ‘the best of the best of the best, sir’. Rather, military big-wigs will have the right to determine whether their soldiers can use GPS features on their smartphones and fitness tracking gadgets and if its OK for them to get down to filling their rings.

    • Pentagon restricts use of fitness trackers, other devices

      Military troops and other defense personnel at sensitive bases or certain high-risk warzone areas won’t be allowed to use fitness-tracker or cellphone applications that can reveal their location, according to a new Pentagon order.

      The memo, obtained by The Associated Press, stops short of banning the fitness trackers or other electronic devices, which are often linked to cellphone applications or smart watches and can provide the users’ GPS and exercise details to social media. It says the applications on personal or government-issued devices present a “significant risk” to military personnel, so those capabilities must be turned off in certain operational areas.

    • How to Improve the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018

      For many years, a growing number of technology users have objected to the myriad ways that companies harvest and monetize their personal data, and users have called on companies and legislators to do a better job at protecting their data privacy. EFF has long supported data privacy protections as well.

      In March 2018, the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. The public learned that private data was harvested from more than 50 million Facebook users, without their knowledge and consent, and that the Trump presidential campaign used this private data to target political advertisements. Demand for better data privacy rules increased significantly.

      In May 2018, supporters of a California ballot initiative on data privacy filed more than 600,000 signatures in support of presenting the initiative to voters, nearly twice the number of signatures required to do so. But ballot initiatives are an imperfect way to make public policy on a complex subject like data privacy. Before enactment, it can be difficult for stakeholders to help improve an initiative’s content. And after enactment, an initiative can be difficult to amend.

      California legislators hoped to do better, but now they faced a deadline. June 28 was the last day the initiative’s sponsor could remove it from the ballot, and the sponsor told the legislature that he would do so only if they passed data privacy legislation first. Legislators rushed to meet this deadline, but that rush meant privacy advocates didn’t have much chance to weigh in before it was passed.

    • Tokyo Olympics will use facial recognition to bolster security

      It’s official: the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will use facial recognition as a security measure, confirming a 2017 report that the organizing committee was considering its use. You don’t have to worry about your privacy as a spectator, since it will only be used for athletes, staff members and media personnel. That is, unless you were hoping for a ticket-less entry, because you’ll still need to show your tickets and submit to luggage checks.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Federal Appeals Court Confirms Border Patrol Agents Can’t Kill People Across the Border With Impunity

      An unjustified shooting of a teenager across the border isn’t just wrong — it’s unconstitutional.

      On October 10, 2012, José Antonio Elena Rodriguez, a 16-year-old boy, was shot and killed on Calle Internacional, a street in his hometown of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico by a U.S. Border Patrol Agent.

      The agent, Lonnie Swartz, fired his gun through the U.S.-Mexico border fence, striking José Antonio approximately 10 times, with virtually all of the bullets entering from his back.

      The unjustified death devastated the Rodriguez family, and raised serious legal questions: If a U.S. Border Patrol agent uses excessive and unnecessary force to kill a noncitizen in a foreign country, are there consequences under the U.S. Constitution?

      Today, almost six years after José Antonio was killed, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that his mother can sue Swartz for damages. The Ninth Circuit’s decision involves several constitutional doctrines, but as the court recognized, at its core is a simple principle: “It is inconceivable that any reasonable officer could have thought that he or she could kill [José Antonio Elena Rodriguez] for no reason.”

    • Cops Go To Wrong House, Kill Innocent Man, Receive A Free Pass From Local Grand Jury

      A grand jury will indict a ham sandwich.

      The corollary, of course, is “if that’s what the prosecutor wants.” And prosecutors rarely want their ham sandwiches indicted.

      An unarmed man shot in the stomach by Officer Sarah Stumler of the Louisiana Metro Police recently discovered the corollaries of this truism still hold, even if the city is giving the victim $1.8 million in taxpayer cash to settle his lawsuit.

      There’s another lawsuit underway over the killing of Ismael Lopez by a Mississippi police officer. The Southaven Police Department obtained a warrant but went to the wrong address, shot at Lopez’s dogs, and apparently shot him after encountering him carrying a gun. The link between these is the failure to process the ham.

    • Kentucky city settles police shooting lawsuit for $1.8M

      Warrick was shot by Louisville Metro Police Officer Sarah Stumler in March 2017. Authorities had received a report of a man doing drugs inside a house. Upon searching the home, Stumler and other officers came across the unarmed Warrick, who was then shot in the stomach. He sued the city in February and argued excessive force was used.

      The case was sent in May to a grand jury, which declined to indict Stumler for assault. An internal investigation is ongoing. Stumler still is on the force, though her police powers are suspended.

    • Private Prison Giant CoreCivic Manipulates Montana Into Renewing Its Contract

      For-profit incarceration in Montana has failed people in prison and taxpayers. Gov. Bullock renewed private prison operator CoreCivic’s contract.

      In November 2017, Gov. Steve Bullock convened a special legislative session to fix Montana’s $75 million budget deficit. The executive and legislative branches arrived in the capitol, allotting themselves five days to hash out whether to cut essential services and programs, raise revenues, or both. CoreCivic — which owns and operates the Crossroads Correction Center, the only for-profit prison in Montana — smelled blood in the water.

      With its multimillion dollar state contract set to expire, CoreCivic made an offer to Gov. Bullock: If he agreed to extend the Crossroads contract for another 10 years, the private prison company would return $34 million that the state had been accruing in a “buy back” fund. The fund is currently under CoreCivic’s control, and its purpose was to help the state eventually purchase and take over the approximately 600-bed facility in Shelby, Montana.

      In response to CoreCivic’s blatant attempt to leverage the state into a decision that would entrench private prisons and harm taxpayers, the ACLU of Montana launched an aggressive lobbying effort. The result: Montanans called the governor and their legislators. Things got tense in the capitol, and eventually the governor said “no” to CoreCivic’s initial offer WHEN?.

      That “no” did not last, however. In late July, Gov. Bullock extended CoreCivic’s contract for two more years, rather than 10, in return for the $34 million. That’s two years too long.

    • The Ferguson Effect: Why Wesley Bell’s Primary Win in St. Louis Matters

      Yesterday, in what will go down as one of the most stunning political upsets in St. Louis County history, criminal justice reform advocate Wesley Bell unseated Bob McCulloch in the primary for the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s seat. McCulloch, an incumbent who has been in office for nearly three decades, is best remembered as the prosecutor responsible for overseeing the Grand Jury proceedings that resulted in the 2014 non-indictment of officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown. As we mark the four-year anniversary of Brown’s death this week, McCulloch’s dismissal is both historic and symbolic.

      There are four important lessons to be learned from what happened Tuesday night in St. Louis.

      First, the story of Wesley Bell’s win is the story of how local Black communities can use the ballot box as a tool for greater accountability. It is fair to suggest that Bell’s primary win was less about him per se and more about repudiating the legacy of McCulloch and the long history of state-sanctioned disregard for Black and brown lives. The story of McCulloch’s defeat is thus, in part, the story of how local communities on the ground continue to use personal, state-sanctioned tragedies as the catalyst for small political revolutions.

    • What’s the City of Chicago Doing About Its Problem With Duplicate Sticker Tickets?

      The City of Chicago has a message for drivers who received more than one sticker ticket in a single day: Take us to court. Or, if you’re feeling generous, just pay up.

      Seven weeks after ProPublica Illinois/WBEZ revealed that Chicago police officers and parking enforcement aides had, on some 20,000 occasions over the past decade, issued multiple citations for not having a required sticker on the same vehicle, city officials have made no apparent effort to refund the money — even though they said they might.

      Asked what was being done, finance department officials deferred to the city’s law department.

      Bill McCaffrey, a law department spokesman, said in a statement: “Depending on the circumstances, it is possible for a car to receive multiple tickets in a day. In those cases, motorists have the option to pay the fines for the violations or contest the tickets.”

      Officials with the finance department first raised the prospect of offering refunds or canceling debts in June, after they were informed by ProPublica Illinois/WBEZ that, over the past decade, the city had issued close to 20,000 duplicate citations to vehicles without the required city sticker.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • EFF to the FCC: Don’t Let AT&T and Verizon Get a Chokehold on Internet Access Competition

      The majority of Americans do not have a choice when it comes to high-speed Internet. People living in rural areas have poor quality and coverage when it comes to even mid-range broadband, and America is lagging behind other countries in fiber optics. There are very few things in place that help address these problems, and big ISPs are asking the FCC to end one of them. But EFF is stepping in to ask the FCC to deny AT&T’s and Verizon’s petition to give them a further chokehold on Internet access choice.

      On August 6, we filed a comment [pdf] opposing US Telecom’s (AT&T’s and Verizon’s trade association) petition for forbearance—the request that the FCC use its authority to repeal a key provision of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

      Today, thanks to this provision, a new telecom company doesn’t have to raise the huge amounts of money needed to initially build its own infrastructure. Existing incumbent telecom companies are required to share their infrastructure at established, affordable rates with new competitors. This allows them to buy space on an existing infrastructure at an affordable rate. That lowers the barrier to compete with the big, established telecom companies. And, where the new companies appear, customers finally have a choice. They can pick between, say, AT&T’s policies and those of a smaller ISP like Sonic.

      Not only does that provide much-needed ISP competition, new ISPs make money with mid-level Internet access they get through existing copper lines (the FCC decided in 2005 not to extend these sharing rules to fiber). And then they can use that capital to spend on building high-speed infrastructure and build in rural areas that need more and better coverage.

      Small, local ISPs are also vital for rural areas. 39 percent of rural Americans lack access to middle-level Internet service. And where big ISPs leave a gap in the market through a lack of willingness to upgrade, new local ones can step in to fill the gap.

    • US well behind China in race to 5G wireless: report

      China is well ahead of the US in the 5G race, outspending the latter by about US$24 billion since 2015 to set up wireless communications infrastructure and building 350,000 new sites, a report from Deloitte Consulting claims.

    • FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Gets Caught Lying! Assange Update
    • Investigation proves there was no cyberattack on the FCC prior to net neutrality ruling

      Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel put out a statement yesterday condemning the agency for falsely identifying a cyberattack as being the cause of the shutdown. “The [report] tells us what we knew all along: the FCC’s claim that it was a victim of a DDoS attack during the net neutrality proceeding is bogus,” she said. “What happened instead is obvious — millions of Americans overwhelmed our online system because they wanted to tell us how important internet openness is to them and how distressed they were to see the FCC roll back their rights.”

    • Here’s the Internal Report Proving the FCC Made Up a Cyberattack

      An investigation carried out by Federal Communication Commission’s own inspector general officially refutes controversial claims that a cyberattack was responsible for disrupting the FCC’s comment system in May 2017, at the height of the agency’s efforts to kill off net neutrality.

    • The One Telecom Group That Does Support Net Neutrality

      Then there’s Charles “Chip” Pickering, a conservative Republican former member of Congress and CEO of a telecommunications-industry group called Incompas. He supports net neutrality.

    • Dedicated first responder network raises privacy, transparency and net neutrality issues

      The single, unified network is also designed to allow first responders to gain easier and quicker access to a wide range of databases in different domains. Many of these contain sensitive personal information. For example, a 2017 FirstNet white paper explains how database access might be used by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP):

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • JPO commissioner will stay at the reins as her signature ADR initiative gets off the ground

      Japan Patent Office commissioner Naoko Munakata will stay on the job for a second year, IAM understands. After a year spearheading initiatives around SEP policy, we will see whether the JPO’s focus shifts or stays in the same place. Munakata took over the top job from Yoshinori Komiya in July 2017, becoming the first woman ever to serve in the role. Senior bureaucrats typically stay at the helm of the JPO for only one or two years.

    • CJEU GMO ruling could lessen CRISPR agri-patent worth but won’t stop filing

      Modified crops can continue to be patented in Europe after the CJEU’s ruling that they should be regulated by the GMO directive, but stringent regulation could make those patents less valuable than agri-firms once hoped

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • Top 14 Free Movie Download Websites | Completely Legal Places For 2018

        Short Bytes: Are you looking for some websites where you can download movies for free, legally? To answer this query, we are here with a list of top 14 free movie download websites where you can get some quality entertainment without paying any money.

      • Creative Commons awarded $800,000 from Arcadia to support discovery and collaboration in the global commons

        Creative Commons is pleased to announce an award of new funding in the amount of $800,000 over two years from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, in support of CC Search, a Creative Commons technology project designed to maximize discovery and use of openly licensed content in the Commons. Arcadia supports charities and scholarly institutions to preserve cultural heritage, protect the environment, and promote open access. Since 2002, Arcadia has awarded more than $500 million in grants to projects around the world.

        The digital commons — made up of over 1.4 billion CC licensed, public domain, and other openly licensed works — is massive, distributed, and growing. The Commons extends well beyond photos and video to include a myriad of content types — from open educational resources (OER) and scientific research to 3D models; from video games to VR landscapes. There is no larger compendium of shared human knowledge and creativity, available to everyone to reuse under simple, permissive terms. Despite the tremendous growth of the Commons and the widespread use of CC licenses, there is no simple user-friendly way to maximize discovery, use, and engagement with all of that content.

      • Wrongfully Accused ‘Pirate’ Wants $62,818 Compensation

        A Utah man, who was previously accused of pirating a movie through BitTorrent, wants the filmmakers responsible to pay his legal fees. The lawsuit in question was filed last year by the makers of the movie Criminal. After the defendant fought back the case was dropped voluntarily, leaving him with an expensive legal bill.

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