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04.15.19

Links 15/4/2019: Linux 5.1 RC5 and SolydXK Reviewed

Posted in News Roundup at 3:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Chef open sources 100% under Apache 2.0 license

    “Chef Enterprise Automation Stack lets teams establish and maintain a consistent path to production for any application, in order to increase velocity and improve efficiency, so deployment and updates of mission-critical software become easier, move faster and work flawlessly.”

  • New open-source software predicts impacts of extreme events on grids

    A new, free, open-source software reliably predicts how damage from hurricanes, ice storms, earthquakes, and other extreme events will restrict power delivery from utility grids. The Severe Contingency Solver for Electric Power Transmission is the only software available—commercially or open-source—that reliably supports analysis of extreme events that cause widespread damage.

    [...]

    This is the first software to reliably, consistently, and accurately analyze extreme-event damage to a power grid—and it is the only software guaranteed to provide a solution for a severely damaged power grid. It runs on a variety of operating systems, including Windows, OS X, and Linux. That way, no matter who the user is, the software can be deployed effortlessly.

    The Severe Contingency Solver, which is currently being used by U.S. government agencies, has potentially broader applications. The Los Alamos team is now working on similar solver capabilities in power distribution and gas networks. These new tools will further help network operators and policymakers understand and quantify how multiple critical infrastructures will respond to extreme events where many components are out of service simultaneously. This provides situational awareness beyond commercially available analysis software and helps stakeholders better respond to extreme events, such as deciding to mobilize FEMA or dispatching additional repair crews from neighboring areas.

  • Stealthy Start-Up Portends ‘Second Wave of SD-WAN’
  • The First SD-WAN Open Source Driving the Second Wave of SD-WAN by flexiWAN
  • flexiWAN Launches With Open Source SD-WAN Architecture

    Will open source usher in the second-wave of SD-WAN? Startup flexiWAN’s co-founder and CEO Amir Zmora thinks so.

  • FlexiWAN soft launches SD-WAN software based on open source architecture

    Israel-based start-up FlexiWAN has started conducting proof-of-concept trials to test its SD-WAN software product, which aims to use open source architecture as a differentiator. With this approach, the company hopes to attract IT managers by providing more control over the capabilities and elements within their networks.

  • FlexiWAN pushes SD-WAN into an open source architecture

    Among the goals of flexiWAN co-founder and CEO Amir Zmora is to give enterprises and service providers the ability to differentiate their SD-WAN services instead of relying on SD-WAN vendors to define them.

    After years of working in the VoIP space, and after attending numerous industry conferences where SD-WAN was a hot topic, Zmora said that he came to the realization that SD-WAN solutions were closed black boxes that didn’t enable innovation.

    [...]

    Chua said he has been waiting to see an open-source approach to SD-WAN. He said there were two elements to SD-WAN; the SD-WAN element and the universal CPE element.

    “So, on the SD-WAN side of things, which is, I think, where he’s (Zmora) starting, there are elements in place in open source where you can try to cobble things together to make an SD-WAN solution,” Chua said. “So, there’s IPSec or an open SSL VPN, firewalls, things like that.

    “What’s missing is that cloud control policy elements that aren’t quite there. So, there’s no open source equivalent, that I know of, on the whole cloud control side for the centralized policies, centralized configuration and of all the different SD-WAN components out there.”

  • ONS 2019: the balance is shifting from telco thinking to open source
  • New group pushes open disaggregation to chip level, with 5G in its sights
  • The ONF and P4.Org Complete Combination to Accelerate Innovation in Operator-Led Open Source
  • Opening Up for 5G and Beyond: Open Source and White Box Will Support New Data Demands

    As much as some people might think it’s just a question of bolting some new radios to towers and calling it a day, the truth is that 5G requires an entirely new approach to designing and building networks.

  • Why the mobile edge needs open source to overcome its pitfalls (Reader Forum)

    Edge computing dominated MWC 2019 along with 5G and all the robots at the show. In fact, according to some analysts, edge computing could be worth almost $7 billion within the next three years. Much of the new architecture’s advantages stem from the capacity offered by 5G to deploy scalable, typically cloud-based, compute platforms at the edge of the network. However, a growing number of operators are coming across a challenge when they look to scale services to the edge – portability is a headache.

  • Q&A: T-Systems’ Clauberg says industry needs more collaboration

    t last week’s Open Networking Summit in San Jose, California, Axel Clauberg spoke about the need for collaboration between the open source groups and SDOs ahead of a Friday morning panel that was comprised of many of the leaders of those organizations.

    At this start of this year, Clauberg slid over from his role as Deutsche Telekom’s vice president, aggregation, transport, IP (TI-ATI) and infrastructure cloud architecture, to Deutsche Telekom’s enterprise division, T-Systems. At T-Systems, Clauberg holds the title of vice president, strategic portfolio management and CTO of telecommunications services.

    Clauberg serves as the chairman of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and he also worked at Cisco for 13 years. All in all, Clauberg has seen the industry from various points of view over the years, which validates his call for more industry collaboration.

  • 10 operators, including AT&T and Verizon, align around creating task force for NFVi

    There are numerous attempts afoot to wrestle NFV into a more manageable and workable approach to virtualization.

    Last week at the Open Networking Summit, some of the carrier members of a new effort around simplifying network functions virtualization infrastructure (NFVi) presented their approach on a panel.

    The group, which is called Common NFVi Telco Task Force, is comprised of AT&T, Bell Canada, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, Jio, Orange, SK Telecom, Telstra, Verizon and Vodafone.

    Currently, there are too many types of NFVi floating around, which means virtual network functions (VNFs) vendors need to create multiple versions of their VNFs to work with the different flavors of NFVi. The Common NFVi Telco Task Force is taking aim at reducing the number of NFVi implementations down to three or four versions, according to AT&T’s Amy Wheelus, vice president of network cloud.

  • Ericsson and AT&T give network slicing an open source boost

    The Linux Foundation’s annual Open Networking Summit (ONS) has become of rising interest to the mobile and telco community as the open source organization has become increasingly focused on telecoms networks. There will be coverage of the highlights in next week’s edition of Wireless Watch, but one development caught our eye even before the event started on Wednesday. This was a demonstration of network slicing, harnessing the capabilities of the open source ONAP (Open Network Automation Protocol) software, which handles the management and orchestration (MANO) of all the components in a virtualized network.

  • Telcos need to take ownership of open source or risk losing a golden opportunity

    Of the 14 keynote sessions at last week’s Open Networking Summit (ONS) North America in San Jose, only two featured communications service providers. AT&T CTO Andre Fuetsch spoke about open source’s role in 5G, and China Mobile Chief Scientist Junlan Feng spoke about open source for network-based AI. This is no means a criticism of organisers The Linux Foundation and its LF Networking group, but it is a reflection of how the broader telco community has yet to fully accept the strategic importance of open source. Yes, many CSPs are involved in various open source projects, and some are heavily invested and supportive, but as yet there has been a reluctance to step up and take more control over the direction and scope of these projects. Whether it is fear or ignorance that is holding them back, CSPs must do more. After all, the majority of these projects are specifically aimed at, or relevant for, telecoms networks – ONAP, OPNFV, Akraino, Open Daylight, etc – with many others about to become essential, such as Kubernetes and the work of the CNCF. And there are many other open source foundations and groups focused on telecoms to consider.

  • Telco white-box switches receive a boost as ONF takes on P4

    AT&T, which has been leading the use of white box switch and routers and seeding much of the source code to the open source community, developed its own home-rolled dNOS network operating system, which has now become the DANOS project within The Linux Foundation. But there is a second option available, which has been developed by the P4.org group. The eponymously named P4 programming language describes how switches, routers and NICs process packets across white box hardware.

  • A Look at the Blockstream Company & Their Bitcoin Products & Technology

    Blockstream is a Bitcoin development company that has positioned themselves among the leaders of innovation in the broader industry. Founded by a team of notable cryptographers and Bitcoin developers, Blockstream offers a suite of open-source technology and projects designed to push the edges of a novel industry.

    Founded in 2014, Blockstream has raised $90 million from investors such as Blockchain Capital, Reid Hoffman, and Khosla Ventures.

  • Blockchain jobs remain unfilled, while skilled workers are being poached
  • PolyCash Aims To Disrupt The Betting Industry With Open Source Software

    PolyCash allows anyone to create secure betting applications on the blockchain. Many projects have launched which incorporate aspects of blockchain & cryptocurrencies with betting. But most of these projects maintain a traditional business model in which the house earns money by charging fees on each bet.

  • Crypto Lender Dharma Officially Launches on Ethereum Blockchain

    Opportunities to earn interest on your crypto are increasing, and Dharma is the latest to enter the fray.

    Announced Monday, lending startup Dharma is now open to everyone. Lenders and borrowers are matched peer-to-peer to set up crypto lending terms in a non-custodial fashion, governed by Dharma’s smart contracts.

    Dharma will differentiate itself from others in the market by offering depositors a fixed rate of return on the crypto they make available to lend.

  • Eric Voorhees compares trust in politicians to open source code

    Early Bitcoin advocate Eric Voorhees has said that “by holding Bitcoin, you are ultimately trusting open source code” in a dig at political systems all around the world.

    Political trust levels are currently plummeting. In countries like Venezuela, we can see political turmoil spilling into the lives of citizens who are now fleeing in droves across the borders. Also highly ranked on the list of politically unstable countries are Brazil, Ukraine, and Turkey, who have all seen major surprises in their recent elections.

  • Open source DEX protocol Loopring adds cryptography to technology mix

    Brecht Devos, protocol development lead, Loopring, said, “A number of hurdles have delayed the adoption of DEXs to date, including, but not limited to, a lack of scalability. However, there’s no doubting that decentralized exchanges represent the future of crypto trading, addressing, as they do, the multitudinous issues faced by users of centralized exchanges in their day-to-day transactions, such as the risk of hacks, personal data leaks, or blocked funds.

  • Ethereum Core Developers Debate Benefits of More Frequent Hard Forks

    A group of ethereum’s veteran open-source developers discussed the subject in a bi-weekly meeting Friday, wherein they aired the possibility that system-wide upgrades, also called hard forks, to the software could be enacted as often as every three months.

    Wanting to “check the temperature,” the developer asking the question explained that certain upcoming ethereum improvement proposals (EIPs) such as state rents would require multiple upgrades sequentially spaced out for full effect.

  • Digital Asset open sources ISDA derivatives blockchain code

    In February the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) released version two of its Common Domain Model (CDM) which aims to standardize the coding of derivatives trade events and processes. Today Digital Asset announced that it’s working with ISDA on an open source code library that implements the CDM in Digital Asset’s smart contracting language DAML.

    The aim of implementing the CDM across the derivatives sector is to save money, and the savings could be as much as $2.5 billion. Last year Ledger Insights spoke to Lee Braine from the Chief Technology Office at Barclays about ISDA’s new standard. “Across the post-trade derivatives industry, there is infrastructure deployed that is too complex for its current purpose. And the proposal is analogous to pressing a technology ‘reset button’ allowing you to go back and radically simplify the nature of that infrastructure.”

  • Blockchain Set to Revolutionize the Open Source Movement

    It is evident that open source has transformed the current world. Developers rely extensively on open source software since it dominates the developer infrastructure. From the many operating systems like Linux in the cloud to databases like MongoDB, MySQL, and Redis, open source is there. Also, the movement dominates the programming languages themselves like Python, C, Javascript, PHP, and Java.

    Open source is also good for the consumers featuring in their phones, Android, to their method of web access like Firefox and Chrome. Hence, it makes technology more accessible and open which enables anyone to build anything.

  • Web 3.0 Accelerates As Leading Browser Expands Crypto Wallet Integration and Ethereum Blockchain Support

    Web 3.0 browser Opera has released its latest update, Reborn 3, with new features including direct access to decentralized applications (DApps) on the Ethereum blockchain, an enhanced built-in VPN service, ad blocker, snapshot tool and design changes. Opera’s Reborn 3 also includes a native cryptocurrency wallet for Windows, macOS and Linux, a follow-up to the crypto wallet integration on Opera’s Android app in December 2018.

  • IOTA To Replace Its Coordinator With An Open Source Version Of Coordinator On Mainnet

    The first open source ledger built to power the future of internet of things, IOTA is in a lot of use previously, right from waste management to green energy solutions. And now with the development of Coordicide, the platform may get a lot more transparent.

    Coordicide is actually the effort of removing the Coordinator from the IOTA networks and its research stage. For developing the Coordicide, IOTA is making the inner workings of the current network set-up fully transparent. IOTA aims to do this with an open-sourced version of the Coordinator running on Mainnet.

  • Altcoin News: IOTA to Replace Coordinator With Open Source Version

    IOTA’s technology has been put to a lot of use in the last few months, from waste management to green energy solutions. Now, it is about to become much more transparent with the development of the Coordicide.

    In an April 8, 2019 blog post, the firm gave some more insight into the development of Coordicide and the changes that will be made in that regard in the near future. First, it was explained what exactly the Coordicide is. According to the post, it is a deliberate effort to remove the Coordinator from the IOTA networks and is its research stage.

    [...]

    This open source version of the coordinator is called the Compass and was initially released some months back and allowed the opening of a private network, running of tests, and development PoCs. So far, the Compass has been tested on the spamnet and devnet and is now ready to be moved to the mainnet. IOTA has stated that using an open source version of the coordinator will make the network more transparent while improving it.

  • Rasa Secures $13 Million Series A Investment Led by Accel To Power Conversational AI

    Rasa, the open source company that enables developers to build contextual AI assistants, announced a $13 million Series A funding round led by Accel, with participation from existing investor Basis Set Ventures. Also participating in the round were leading angel investors and entrepreneurs across AI, enterprise automation and open source, including Greg Brockman (Co-founder & CTO OpenAI), Daniel Dines (Founder & CEO UiPath) and Mitchell Hashimoto (Co-founder & CTO Hashicorp). Today’s investment brings Rasa’s total amount of funding to $14 Million, and the fresh capital will be used to move the headquarters to San Francisco, expand the team and fuel further growth, research and development.

  • Open-Source and Developer Friendly Chatbot Company, Rasa, Raises $13M Led by Accel

    Rasa announced today it has raised $13 million in a Series A round of funding led by Accel, with participation from Basis Set Ventures, Open AI’s Greg Brockman, UiPath’s Daniel Dines, and Hashicorp’s Mitchell Hashimoto. The company is known for its open-source platform for third parties that allows users to design and manage their own conversational chatbots, using both text and voice.

  • Rasa raises $13M led by Accel for its developer-friendly open source approach to chatbots

    Conversational AI and the use of chatbots have been through multiple cycles of hype and disillusionment in the tech world. You know the story: first you get a launch from the likes of Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Google or any number of other companies, and then you get the many examples of how their services don’t work as intended at the slightest challenge. But time brings improvements and more focused expectations, and today a startup that has been harnessing all those learnings is announcing funding to take to the next level its own approach to conversational AI.

  • Rasa Secures $13 Million Series a Investment Led by Accel to Power Conversational AI

    Rasa, the open source company that enables developers to build contextual AI assistants, announced a $13 million Series A funding round led by Accel, with participation from existing investor Basis Set Ventures. Also participating in the round were leading angel investors and entrepreneurs across AI, enterprise automation and open source, including Greg Brockman (Co-founder & CTO OpenAI), Daniel Dines(Founder & CEO UiPath) and Mitchell Hashimoto (Co-founder & CTO Hashicorp). Today’s investment brings Rasa’s total amount of funding to $14 Million, and the fresh capital will be used to move the headquarters to San Francisco, expand the team and fuel further growth, research and development.

    Enterprises of all sizes are looking to move text and voice conversations from agents to conversational AI. However, reliably automating text or voice-based conversations is extremely difficult. Traditionally, developers either use third party cloud APIs that are hard to customize or build their own tools on top of general purpose machine learning frameworks, which usually requires a big research team.

  • NAB 2019: Haivision Announces Peer-to-Peer Low-Latency Streaming for Its SRT Framework

    Prior to releasing SRT P2P to the open-source community, Haivision is seeking partners to collaborate and stress-test the technology at scale.

    [...]

    SRT P2P is the latest development for the SRT (Secure Reliable Transport) initiative that Haivision started in 2017 when the company open-sourced the SRT protocol and technology stack. SRT has been endorsed as a low-latency contribution and distribution streaming protocol by more than 200 companies across the broadcast and streaming industries. With a focus on video delivery, SRT P2P extends the SRT initiative to create a comprehensive framework for high-performance streaming from contribution through distribution and into delivery.

  • Netflix and Intel to Deploy AV1 CODEC For Content Streaming

    At The National Association of Broadcasters Show today, Intel and Netflix announced a new high-performance video codec that is available as open source and royalty-free to content creators, developers and service providers. Scalable Video Technology for AV1 (SVT-AV1) offers performance and scalability in video processing.

    AV1 is a royalty-free codec and offers improved compression compared to vp9 or hevc, the video bandwidth reduction can run upwards to 30 to 40 percent, without you seeing a difference. The best thing yet, this is a royalty-free model.

  • NAB ’19: Netflix and Intel Release SVT-AV1 Codec as Open Source

    This morning at NAB, Intel and Netflix together announced the SVT-AV1 codec which is capable of real-time 4K/60p 10-bit encoding when running on Intel Xeon Scalable processors and Intel Xeon D processors. To our knowledge, this is the first software-only AV1 implementation capable of real-time encoding and it represents an order of magnitude acceleration of AV1 encoding. The companies released SVT-AV1, or Scalable Video Technology for AV1, into the open source community for immediate availability.

  • Why the Apache Unomi Open-Source Customer Data Platform Is Worth a Look

    Customer experience (CX) demands personalization, and personalization requires access to a wide variety of customer data. Today, that data is commonly maintained in separate, siloed systems of record and engagement. However, marketers need a consolidated 360-degree-view of customer data to personalize content and make relevant recommendations. Thus was born the customer data platform (CDP), a relatively new approach to master data management for CX data.

  • Open-source project builds robot vision for shiny objects

    Contract R&D organisation, Southwest Research Institute, has developed a vision solution that improves robot handling of shiny metallic objects.

    The project integrates intelligent part reconstruction using the second generation of the Robot Operating System (ROS2) framework, an open-source software consortium for robotics applications.

    [...]

    Within the ROS framework is ROS-Industrial, which extends ROS capabilities to robotics in manufacturing and automation. This latest Southwest Research Institute and ROS-Industrial solution uses ROS2 to integrate cameras affixed to a robotic arm, collecting point cloud data at a high frame rate to create a 3D output mesh that optimises path planning.

  • Open Source Robotics: Hands on with Gazebo and ROS 2

    Louise Poubel gives an overview of ROS (Robot Operating System) and Gazebo (a multirobot simulator), the problems they’ve been solving so far and what’s on the roadmap for the future. In the second half of the talk, a hands-on demo walks through the creation of a robot in simulation and controlling and inspecting it using ROS 2, the next generation ROS.

  • Open Source Ionic Framework Woos PhoneGap Developers for Mobile Apps
  • Top 5 Open Source AI Solutions for Image Processing

    A few decades or even years ago, self-driving cars and computers with a human-like vision were just a figment of the fantasy writer’s imagination. But today, Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies allow cars to drive safely across busy streets and computers to interpret pictures almost like humans do.

  • What’s the point: Fluentd graduates at CNCF, GitLab updates, Datadog chats, and Azure cuts

    GitLab has released v11.9.8 of its Community and Enterprise Editions. The release delivers a handful of changes, including improved performance of GitLab’s Pull Request importer, and disables method instrumentation for diffs. Also this week, GitLab issued critical security releases 11.9.7, 11.8.7, and 11.7.11 for its Community and Enterprise Editions, fixing a flaw in the GitLab groups API which could have disclosed group runner registration tokens to unauthorirsed users.

  • The open source business model: can ‘free’ be ‘profitable’?

    The spirit and power of open source lies in freedom, and not in its being free.

  • The Open Science Of Reproductive Biology: A New Open-Source Project For Sperm Analysis

    Recently, a manifesto for reproducible science [1] has been published, where authors point to a list of good practices in order to guarantee the reproducibility of the scientific studies as much as possible. As part of what it is known as Open Science, one of the key points of this manifesto is the encouragement to make all data and software used publicly available, in order to make peer-review testing of the results and conclusions obtained in the corresponding studies. The problem here is that in most studies, the source code of the software used to either measure or analyze the data is private and inaccessible, making the comparison and understanding of why similar studies led to different conclusions difficult. Furthermore, an additional problem found is that, usually, the needs of the scientific community and the availability of commercial solutions for these needs are not always synchronized, with the former normally leading the latter. In other cases, the scientists need a level of flexibility to make changes that private solutions cannot offer because of the opaque nature of such programs.

    [...]

    In the recent years, some open-source alternatives have been proposed, but these programs are still way behind the commercial CASA systems in terms of ease of use and standardization, and they have not usually been designed to encourage the scalability and the continuity of the software development. Hence, the source code is usually written in one single file and published by references to static web pages or by links to a file hosting service, like Dropbox. In this scenario, users can download the software, but they cannot update or improve these programs for the benefit of other users. In the worst cases, the link is broken shortly after publication.

  • My Code Is Your Code: Embracing The Power Of Open Sourcing
  • How open source tech is changing the world

    Open source software (OSS) has been around for some time now, yet the benefits it can offer to a business are often overlooked.

    Open source is software in which the source code that was used to create the program is freely available for the public to view, edit, transform and redistribute. As such, any type of software program can be open source, including and not limited to operating systems (eg, Linux), databases (eg, PostgreSQL), applications (eg, OpenOffice.org), games and programming languages (eg, Python).

    OSS is identified by the type of licence it is released under. The licences OSS is released under are very specific and include the Apache 2.0 licence, Microsoft Public Licence and GNU General Public Licence. There may be a few variations; however, most open source licences require that the source code be freely available to everyone and users are free to modify the source code and redistribute the software and derived works at will.

  • How open source can survive the cloud

    Open source has been the backbone of cloud innovation for the past decade, from Linux and MySQL to Kubernetes, Spark, Presto, and MongoDB. But recent developments have thrown a dark cloud over the business model behind open source, and the industry must act now to avert stifling one of its greatest sources of innovation.

    As a co-creator and former project lead for Apache Hive, I know that incentives are critical for an open source ecosystem to thrive. Independent developers need the incentive to contribute their time and skills to open source projects, and those with an entrepreneurial mindset need the incentive to build companies around those projects to help them flourish.

  • Get Great 3D Scans with Open Photogrammetry

    Not long ago, photogrammetry — the process of stitching multiple photographs taken from different angles into a 3D whole — was hard stuff. Nowadays, it’s easy. [Mikolas Zuza] over at Prusa Printers, has a guide showing off cutting edge open-source software that’s not only more powerful, but also easier to use. They’ve also produced a video, which we’ve embedded below.

    Basically, this is a guide to using Meshroom, which is based on the AliceVision photogrammetry framework. AliceVision is a research platform, so it’s got tremendous capability but doesn’t necessarily focus on the user experience. Enter Meshroom, which makes that power accessible.

  • Events

    • Scale Summit, FOSS North and some routine changes.

      As a remote worker, you need to find ways to keep productivity levels high. No matter how exciting your work is, there are times in which you struggle with keeping up the pace. Looking back at my performance during the last couple of weeks of January and first few days of February, I discovered that I was getting into a productivity valley, which never happened to me after coming back from a couple of weeks vacation. I decided to do something about it before the issue had any impact in my overall performance.

      [...]

      I was invited by the FOSS North organizers to give a talk on Tuesday 9th April. This is a 2 days, 260 participants and two tracks event, that takes place in Gothenburg, Sweden. This was the fourth edition and the next one, at the same venue, will take place on March 30th and 31st 2020.

      It was my first participation at this event and my first time in Gothenburg. FOSS North is well organized, vibrant, it takes place in good facilities, there were great speakers (Adrian DeGroot, Chris Simmonds, Mirko Boehm, Molly de Blanc, Michael Kerrisk, Chris Lamb, etc), some interesting talks, the food was great… and I liked Gothenburg. There will be videos available from every session. The speakers dinner was fun and interesting, which is not always the case.

  • Databases

    • InfluxData charts new path for time series databases

      At Google NEXT this week, Google is introducing its own strategy for accommodating open source platforms. Rather than compete with its own implementations, it is making them first-class citizens on GCP with native integration to its own cloud management infrastructure. InfluxData, the creator of one of the most popular open source time series databases, has signed on. It occurs as time series databases are starting to crawl out from behind the shadows. We’ll be reviewing this more deeply next week in our postmortem on the event.

  • LibreOffice

    • Microsoft Office vs OpenOffice vs LibreOffice: Which one is better? [Ed: How a dedicated Microsoft propaganda site covered the Free software rivals to Microsoft Office]

      Microsoft Office remains to be a powerful platform among the office suits, however, with the rise of free alternative office suites like LibreOffice and Apache’s OpenOffice to Microsoft Office, the question arises if you have to switch from Microsoft Office to the open source Office suites. Both the Microsoft Office and Open source Office suits have their pros and cons, and one of the biggest decision you may have to face is to pick one among them.

      Are you planning to upgrade from your old Office suite or looking out for a changeover to new Office suites? Well, choosing between a commercially licensed Microsoft Office suite and an open-source platform like LibreOffice or an OpenOffice purely depends on how it fits your needs.

  • CMS

    • BigCommerce for Drupal Brings Customized Shopping Experiences to Drupal Community
    • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Pantheon Heroes

      WebOps for Drupal and WordPress provider Pantheon has launched a new online program, called Pantheon Heroes Community, “dedicated to contributing to the greater good of the open web.”

      The Heroes Community is meant to bring developers together with content and best practices for Drupal and WordPress. The content will be curated by a range of experts, including authors, educators, core contributors, enterprise developers and the people behind organizing events such as WordSesh, WordCamp US, JavaScript for WordPress and others, the company said in its announcement.

  • Education

    • ColorID discusses how open-source solutions can enable more options for campuses

      In a recent addition to the company’s tech article series, ColorID’s David Stallsmith discusses the options at a university’s disposal should it decide to pursue open-source hardware and software solutions. Opting for open-source solutions can offer an alternative to the traditional practice of opting for card system vendor solutions and the comprehensive ecosystems that come with, says Stallsmith.

      “Many organizations purchase these solutions exclusively from their system providers, but many others chose to acquire some applications and services from third-party suppliers,” he explains. “This latter arrangement allowed them to prioritize their options for the applications they needed according to price, features, brands and support.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Binance Labs Funding

    • Binance Labs Grants $45,000 to 3 Open-Source Blockchain Startups

      Binance Labs, the investment arm of cryptocurrency exchange Binance, has awarded grants of $15,000 each to three startups developing open-source blockchain technologies.

      Receiving the grants are Ironbelly, a mobile wallet for the Grin/Mimblewimble blockchain; HOPR, privacy-preserving messaging protocol; and Kitsune Wallet, an upgradeable on-chain wallet.

      The three startups are now the first “fellows” of Binance Labs’s Fellowship program, which funds and supports early-stage open-source development projects, according to a blog announcement Friday.

      According to Binance Labs director Flora Sun, innovation requires “an engaged community of developers and entrepreneurs who imagine ideas and create new projects to bring products to market.”

    • Binance Labs Gives $45k To Three Open-Source Projects

      According to the post, the firm has given at least $15,000 to each of its first three open-source Fellowship projects. The very first one is Ironbelly, which is basically an open-source mobile wallet specifically designed for the Grin blockchain. It aims to give customers the ability to both hold and transfer Gin crypto between individuals.

    • Binance Labs Grants $45,000 to Three Open-Source Projects

      Binance Labs, the investment arm of major cryptocurrency exchange Binance, has granted $45,000 to three different projects. The news was announced in a blog post on Friday, April 12.
      Per the post, Binance Labs has contributed $15,000 to each of its first three open-source Fellowship projects. The first project is Ironbelly, an open-source mobile wallet for the Grin blockchain that aims to enable customers to hold and transfer Grin cryptocurrency between people.

    • Binance Labs supports 3 Open-Source Blockchain Startups by offering $45,000

      Binance Labs, the investment arm of big cryptocurrency market Binance, has given $45,000 to 3 distinct jobs. The information was declared at a blog article on Friday, April 12.

      Per the article, Binance Labs has donated $15,000 to each of its three accessible Fellowship jobs. The first job is Ironbelly, an open-source portable pocket for its Grin blockchain which intends to allow clients to hold and move Grin cryptocurrency involving individuals.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GIMP 2.10.10 Image Editor released

      The development team of the free and open source image editor GIMP released GIMP 2.10.10 yesterday to the public. GIMP 2.10.10 is the first stable release of the program in 2019; the last release dates back to November 2018.

      GIMP is a cross-platform open source image editor that is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. We have followed the development of GIMP since our initial review of the application in 2005 on Windows and on Linux. Ghacks writer Jack Wallen published several GIMP tutorials here on this site in the past that offered tips on using layers, adding brushes, or changing the perspective of images.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open source drug research could open up medicine
    • Open source drug research could open up medicine

      Universal access to medicine could come via open source drug discovery, argues lecturer Dr Alice Motion. She works to make drug discovery less secretive, so that more people can help find the pharmaceuticals the world needs.

    • Subscription service Splice attracts $105M in funding by treating music like open-source code
    • Open-Source Techniques Have Created A Whole New Kind Of Reporter

      Open-source information is becoming more common in investigative reporting because of how powerful it can be for verifying and fact-checking.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Letter to the Editor: Open Source Textbooks

        To the Editor,. As primary races pick up steam across the country, the phrase “Free College” is making headlines, and for good reason.

      • Open-source textbooks lighten students’ financial load

        GRCC students are using free, open-source textbooks and saving a total of more than $3 million this year. Students Matthew Grotenhuis and Hunter Crum say the option takes weight off their shoulders financially, and they see it benefiting many of their peers.

        Plus, they say the easy-to-use, immediately available digital resources fit in with what they like and need as tech-savvy college students.Open-source textbooks lighten students’ financial load

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open-source and modular WiFi phone is hacker-friendly

        Now running on Kickstarter is a campaign to commercialize a minimalist open-source and hacker-friendly Voice-over-IP phone, which owners could use as a versatile and well-packaged multi-tool for their projects.
        While today’s smartphones have evolved into powerful computers, they are often too complex and tightly integrated to be opened-up by the majority of hackers. By design, they also tend to leak private data to third parties (through built-in apps, OS, and network operation). Ben Wilson, the electronic engineer behind California-based HackEDA which officially runs the WiPhone Kickstarter campaign, wants to help users regain control over their phone, a device they can easily take apart or incorporate into different projects, while controlling where the data goes.
        “It’s sort of like the phone James Bond would carry if he was also a programmer” explains Wilson, noting that the firmware is open and the hardware is expandable so one could add a LoRA radio, a mega battery back, or cover the back of it with an LED array. While the WiPhone is more intended to be an Arduino-compatible hacking tool than a phone, it is self-contained and also works well as a backup phone to make free VoIP calls over any WiFi connection.

      • Industrial 3D printing goes skateboarding

        Plastic pulled from the waste stream can find new use with the Gigabot X, an open source industrial 3D printer. A team shows how three Gigabot-printed sporting goods — skateboard decks, kayak paddles and snowshoes — can help burgeoning makerspaces and fab labs economically sustain their 3D printing centers.

      • RepRap Recyclebot Turns Plastic into 3D Filament for $700
      • Open Source Furniture: Download, Print And Build Online
      • Furniture can Now Be Downloaded and Printed, Thanks to Opendesk

        It seems like anything can be done online nowadays, including getting your furniture! Now, this is not your typical online electronic catalog where you click on your choice of item and somebody comes over to deliver. No. This is something more innovative than that.

      • Maryland students stand to revolutionize Alzheimer’s diagnostics: BTN LiveBIG

        Conversely, Synapto uses an open source, 3D-printed portable electroencephalogram (EEG) headset and proprietary mathematical biomarker analyses to comb through a patient’s brainwaves. Their hope is that this will lead to quicker and cheaper diagnosing that can be done in a physician’s office.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Security

    • Internet Explorer zero-day lets hackers steal files from Windows PCs [Ed: Microsoft Windows has back doors, so this is “small potatoes”]

      A security researcher has published today details and proof-of-concept code for an Internet Explorer zero-day that can allow hackers to steal files from Windows systems.

    • MicroBriefly: The tiniest firewall I have seen – Firewalla

      …BSD Unix, and about the size of a paperback novel (small by standards of those days). Now, solid state storage (SSD) and low power CPUs are tiny, enough to easily fit in a matchbox or lighter sized device.

    • ‘World’s First Smart Contract Firewall’ for EOS Launched By SlowMist

      Developers of EOSIO, an initiative supported by Block.one, a Cayman Islands-registered open-source software development firm with $4 billion in total funding (to date), have published a blog post, noting they’ve carefully looked into improving smart contract security on EOS.

      According to EOSIO’s blog, published on April 11th, FireWall.X provides an effective set of tools for “protecting smart contracts built” on EOS from “malicious hacks.” As explained by Zhong Qifu, a product manager at SlowMist Technology Co., the firm that developed FireWall.X, the “world’s first firewall” system for smart contracts aims to ensure the security of all EOS-based decentralized applications (dApps).

    • Bootstrap supply chain attack is another attempt to poison the barrel [Ed: Happens in proprietary software but we don't hear about it. Full of back doors.]

      Somebody smuggled something bad into the vast third-party, open-source supply chain we all depend upon.

    • Framing supply chain attacks

      The increase in the demand for innovative software has effectively reshaped the software development industry itself. Today, speed and agility are paramount and development teams are pushed to deliver highly advanced applications in record time — which means that writing every single line of code from the ground up is often not a sustainable practice. As the NIST puts it, “This ecosystem has evolved to provide a set of highly refined, cost-effective, reusable ICT solutions.”.

    • Apache Axis servers vulnerable to RCE due to expired domain
    • Building a data pipeline to defend New York from cyber threats
    • Linux Foundation aims to improve the sustainability and security of open source projects [Ed: Zemlin PAC pushing a Microsoft-led proprietary software effort]
    • Why AV companies are making their technology open source

      Some AV developers are opening source code for their technology, a strategy they can use to collect data and tech from anyone using their code, and which could help bring products to market faster.

      Why it matters: Open source providers are experimenting with how much of their technology to share, while protecting their intellectual property to stay competitive. Their decisions will have lasting implications for how AV technology develops.

    • Open Source Web Application SSO
    • Magento sites under attack through easily exploitable SQLi flaw

      A recently patched SQL injection flaw affecting the popular open-source e-commerce platform Magento is being actively exploited by attackers, so if you haven’t implemented the provided security update or patch, now is the time to do it.

    • A security researcher with a grudge is dropping Web 0days on innocent users

      Over the past three weeks, a trio of critical zeroday vulnerabilities in WordPress plugins has exposed 160,000 websites to attacks that allow criminal hackers to redirect unwitting visitors to malicious destinations. A self-proclaimed security provider who publicly disclosed the flaws before patches were available played a key role in the debacle, although delays by plugin developers and site administrators in publishing and installing patches have also contributed.

      Over the past week, zeroday vulnerabilities in both the Yuzo Related Posts and Yellow Pencil Visual Theme Customizer WordPress plugins—used by 60,000 and 30,000 websites respectively—have come under attack. Both plugins were removed from the WordPress plugin repository around the time the zeroday posts were published, leaving websites little choice than to remove the plugins. On Friday (three days after the vulnerability was disclosed), Yellow Pencil issued a patch. At the time this post was being reported, Yuzo Related Posts remained closed with no patch available.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Diego Garcia: The “Unsinkable Carrier” Springs a Leak

      The recent decision by the Hague-based International Court of Justice that the Chagos Islands — with its huge U.S. military base at Diego Garcia — are being illegally occupied by the United Kingdom (UK) has the potential to upend the strategic plans of a dozen regional capitals, ranging from Beijing to Riyadh.

      For a tiny speck of land measuring only 38 miles in length, Diego Garcia casts a long shadow. Sometimes called Washington’s “unsinkable aircraft carrier,” planes and warships based on the island played an essential role in the first and second Gulf wars, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the war in Libya. Its strategic location between Africa and Indonesia and 1,000 miles south of India gives the U.S. access to the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and the vast Indian Ocean. No oil tanker, no warship, no aircraft can move without its knowledge.

      Most Americans have never heard of Diego Garcia for a good reason: No journalist has been allowed there for more than 30 years, and the Pentagon keeps the base wrapped in a cocoon of national security. Indeed, the UK leased the base to the Americans in 1966 without informing either the British Parliament or the U.S. Congress.

      The February 25 Court decision has put a dent in all that by deciding that Great Britain violated United Nations Resolution 1514 prohibiting the division of colonies before independence. The UK broke the Chagos Islands off from Mauritius, a former colony on the southeast coast of Africa that Britain decolonized in 1968. At the time, Mauritius objected, reluctantly agreeing only after Britain threatened to withdraw its offer of independence.

      The Court ruled 13-1 that the UK had engaged in a “wrongful act” and must decolonize the Chagos “as rapidly as possible.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The Arrest of Julian Assange

      A few minutes after Julian Assange was scandalously arrested and dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London last week, I was contacted by RT.com to do an interview. While further comments will follow, here are my initial thoughts…

    • My Friend Julian Assange – Alicia Castro, ex ambassador in London

      In 2012, the year I arrived in London as ambassador, Julian Assange obtained the diplomatic asylum of Ecuador and settled in the embassy on Hans Crescent Street. That day the embassy was surrounded by cars of the British police and some agents struggled to enter. My first reflection was to send some trays with meat pasties –“empanadas”– and sweet pastries to alleviate the doings of ambassador Ana Alban. During the following days, together we organized a meeting of Latin American ambassadors, to follow from the legation of Ecuador the session of the OAS [the Organization of American States] where the asylum of Assange was discussed. We sat, for the first time, around that dark table, in an austere room. Suddenly, and discreetly, as we all were waiting, Julian Assange burst in. He was already a legend. I expressed to him how much, we the Latin Americans, had to thank for his revelations about the diplomatic cables that showed the deep and perverse degree of interference by the United States government in our affairs. I myself had as proof the cable that the ambassador of the United States in Argentina, Lino Gutierrez, wrote about my appointment as ambassador in Venezuela, where specific details of my actions are described, which I did not even remember.

      That day began a long series of encounters that I had with Julian throughout the four years of my mission in London and in subsequent years, when I visited him several times. Our first conversation revolved around the accusations in Sweden about sexual abuse; We spoke frankly, and I concluded that it was a fabrication of two unscrupulous women with whom he had casual relationships, who had been manipulated to accuse him of criminal doings. Sweden demanded his extradition to respond to these allegations –they never pressed charges against him– while his lawyers tirelessly requested that he could testify in London, since Sweden would extradite him to the United States for revealing state secrets.

      At that time, the embassy was crowded with interesting people who visited him; philosophers, politicians, musicians, designers. And I could regret that I had missed the visit of Zizek, Yoko Ono or Yannis Varoufakis, but in a next meeting I was meeting the designer Vivienne Westwood, the human rights lawyer Helena Kennedy, the filmmaker Ken Loach, Bianca Jagger, and mythical investigative journalists –such as the American Gavin MacFadyen, creator of the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) and the Australian John Pilger. Many of them are my friends until today. We tried to alleviate [Julian Assange’s] confinement with any excuse: we celebrated his birthday parties, his 100 days of asylum –for which I brought a cake with the number 100­–, my daughter and I went with enthusiasm to assemble Julian’s Christmas tree, and I also accompanied him at some New Year Eve festivities. end of the year accompanying him. Ecuador came to be at the centre of London’s political and cultural life, and former President Rafael Correa was recognized by the progressive sectors as a definite defender of human rights.

    • Lawyer: Ecuador Is Spreading Lies About Assange

      A lawyer representing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Sunday that Ecuador’s government has spread lies about his behavior inside its embassy in London, where Assange sought asylum in 2012.

      Lawyer Jennifer Robinson told British TV network Sky News the Ecuadorian government is spreading falsehoods to divert attention from its decision to revoke his asylum and allow his arrest at its British embassy,

    • Julian Assange and the Criminalization of Journalism

      After living under a grant of asylum in London’s Ecuadorian embassy for nearly seven years, WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange was forcibly ejected and arrested by British police on April 11. Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, accused Assange of “repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols.” After an anonymous source revealed the “INA Papers,” a dossier that implicated Moreno in money laundering and contained personal photos of his family, WikiLeaks tweeted about it but denied any connection to the hacking.

      Rafael Correa, who was president of Ecuador until 2017, had granted Assange asylum in 2012 to protect him from extradition to the United States to answer for WikiLeaks’s publication of evidence of U.S. war crimes. Ecuador’s foreign minister at the time, Ricardo Patino, said that without this protection, Assange could suffer “political persecution” or extradition to the U.S. where he might face the death penalty.

      In 2010, WikiLeaks published classified documentation of U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, which Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning had provided. It included the “Collateral Murder Video” that showed U.S. soldiers in an Army helicopter gunship kill 12 unarmed civilians walking down a street in Baghdad.

      Sweden investigated Assange in fall 2010 for allegations of sexual assault. Assange was living in Britain at the time. Sweden issued an extradition warrant so Assange could face questioning about the investigation in Sweden. Assange fought extradition but lost in Britain’s Supreme Court in June 2012. He sought and received refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

      In spite of pressure from the British government, in August 2012, Correa granted asylum to Assange, who has remained in the Ecuadorian embassy ever since. Sweden dropped its investigation of Assange in 2017.

    • Julian Assange’s Nightmarish Future

      While Julian Assange waits for what comes next — sentencing on skipping bail in England and a U.S. extradition request — he is being held in a maximum-security prison in London that has been called the “U.K.’s Guantanamo Bay” and has been used to detain alleged terrorists, sometimes indefinitely.

      The reputation of HM Prison Belmarsh raises natural concerns about the wellbeing of the WikiLeaks publisher there.

      “While many prisoners at Belmarsh say it’s difficult to see a doctor or a nurse, these services are available at the facility,” reports Bloomberg News, regarding the possibility of Assange receiving overdue medical attention.

      Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh had been used to detain high-profile national security prisoners indefinitely without charge under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act of 2001, passed six weeks after 9/11, until the House of Lords ruled it violated the British discriminatory and against the Human Rights Act.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Killing migratory birds, even unintentionally, has been a crime for decades. Not anymore

      Under Republican and Democratic presidents from Nixon through Obama, killing migratory birds, even inadvertently, was a crime, with fines for violations ranging from $250 to $100 million. The power to prosecute created a deterrent that protected birds and enabled government to hold companies to account for environmental disasters.

      But in part due to President Donald Trump’s interior secretary nominee, David Bernhardt, whose confirmation awaits a Senate vote, the wildlife cop is no longer on the beat. Bernhardt pushed a December 2017 legal opinion that declared the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act applies only when companies kill birds on purpose.

      Internal government emails obtained by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting provide evidence of federal wildlife agents opting out of investigations and enforcement, citing that policy change as the reason.

      First enacted to implement a 1916 treaty with Canada, the 1918 law was written to protect migratory birds – as well as their nests, eggs and even feathers – from being captured, sold or killed “at any time, or in any manner.” Similar treaties were signed by the governments of Mexico, Japan and the Soviet Union, now Russia, and included in the law.

    • New Satellite Photos Show Climate Change Is Sweeping Europe

      Climate change is picking up pace in Europe, thrusting farmers and power generators onto the front lines of a battle with nature that threatens to upend the lives of the half billion people who occupy the world’s biggest trading bloc.

      Last year was the third hottest on record and underlines “the clear warming trend” experienced in the last four decades, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service, which operates a network of satellites for the European Union that collects weather, soil, air and water data.

      Copernicus lenses captured dozens of images illustrating how climate change is unfolding on Europe’s landscape. The images were made available to coincide with a gathering of 15,000 scientists in Vienna at an annual meeting of the European Geosciences Union, which assesses the issue each year.

      The convention in the Austrian capital is a locus of discovery, where scientists present research and compare notes. The European Space Agency, which operates the Copernicus network, is boosting its 2019 presence after it developing a series of open-source data tools designed to help economies adapt to the hotter and drier seasons already impacting crop yields, power generation and river transport.

    • Ripe for the Picking: Wild weeds may provide a new food source

      The overgrown lots and sidewalks of California cities might not seem like a great place to seek out nutritious greens, but in a recent study published in PLOS ONE, Professor Philip Stark and his team have found evidence of a potentially untapped bounty of drought-resistant, edible weeds growing in the dense urban environments of three cities in the San Francisco East Bay region of California. Furthermore, the University of California, Berkeley research team’s findings suggest that even while soil in these environments may have higher levels of lead, cadmium, and other heavy metals, certain varieties of wild-growing greens are still safe to eat (after a thorough rinsing, that is!).

    • Violent Storms Sweep the South: 6 Dead, Dozens Injured

      Powerful storms swept across the South on Sunday after unleashing suspected tornadoes and flooding that killed at least six people – including three children – injured dozens and flattened much of a Texas town.

      Nearly 90,000 customers were without power in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Georgia as of midday Sunday, according to www.poweroutage.us as the severe weather left a trail of destruction.

      Two children were killed on a back road in East Texas when a pine tree fell onto the car in which they were riding in a severe thunderstorm Saturday near Pollok, about 150 miles (241 kilometers) southeast of Dallas.

      The tree “flattened the car like a pancake,” said Capt. Alton Lenderman of the Angelina County Sheriff’s Office. The children, ages 8 and 3, were dead at the scene, although both parents, who were in the front seat, escaped injury, he said.

    • Island Leader’s Plea From the Deep: Save the Oceans

      In a striking speech delivered from deep below the ocean’s surface, the Seychelles president on Sunday made a global plea for stronger protection of the “beating blue heart of our planet.”

      President Danny Faure’s call for action, the first-ever live speech from an underwater submersible, came from one of the many island nations threatened by global warming.

      He spoke during a visit to an ambitious British-led science expedition exploring the Indian Ocean depths. Oceans cover over two-thirds of the world’s surface but remain, for the most part, uncharted. We have better maps of Mars than we do of the ocean floor, Faure said.

      “This issue is bigger than all of us, and we cannot wait for the next generation to solve it. We are running out of excuses to not take action, and running out of time,” the president said from a manned submersible 400 feet (121 meters) below the waves, on the seabed off the outer islands of the African nation.

    • Who Will Pay to Clean Up Duke Energy’s Coal Ash Pits?

      Date on which the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ), citing science, ordered Duke Energy to fully excavate its remaining coal ash pits and move the toxic waste into lined landfills: 4/1/2019

      Number of remaining coal ash pits Duke Energy must excavate under the order: 6

      Number of its other North Carolina coal ash pits, many of them located along rivers or lakes, where Duke Energy has already begun or completed excavation: 22

      Date on which neighbors of Duke Energy’s Belews Creek plant — who have raised concerns about unusual patterns of brain cancers and other illnesses they fear may be connected to coal ash pollution — threw an “Excavation Celebration” to rejoice in the cleanup order: 4/7/2019

      In groundwater near the Belews Creek plant’s coal ash pits, percent by which the level of manganese — an element that at excessive levels can cause brain damage — exceeds state groundwater standards: 7,100

      Number of criminal violations of the federal Clean Water Act Duke Energy pleaded guilty to over its mismanagement of coal ash following the massive 2014 spill into the Dan River: 9

      Amount Duke Energy has claimed the excavation will cost, with the company hoping to pass that on to customers instead of shareholders, a matter the N.C. Utilities Commission will decide: about $10 billion

      Last year, amount the commission decided Duke Energy’s customers should pay to clean up other coal ash pits, with Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein vowing to appeal the decision: $546 million

    • Saying Goodbye to Planet Earth

      The spectacular rise of human civilization—its agrarian societies, cities, states, empires and industrial and technological advances ranging from irrigation and the use of metals to nuclear fusion—took place during the last 10,000 years, after the last ice age. Much of North America was buried, before the ice retreated, under sheets eight times the height of the Empire State Building. This tiny span of time on a planet that is 4.5 billion years old is known as the Holocene Age. It now appears to be coming to an end with the refusal of our species to significantly curb the carbon emissions and pollutants that might cause human extinction. The human-induced change to the ecosystem, at least for many thousands of years, will probably make the biosphere inhospitable to most forms of life.

      The planet is transitioning under our onslaught to a new era called the Anthropocene. This era is the product of violent conquest, warfare, slavery, genocide and the Industrial Revolution, which began about 200 years ago and saw humans start to burn a hundred million years of sunlight stored in the form of coal and petroleum. The numbers of humans climbed to over 7 billion. Air, water, ice and rock, which are interdependent, changed. Temperatures climbed. The Anthropocene, for humans and most other species, will most likely conclude with extinction or a massive die-off, as well as climate conditions that will preclude most known life forms. We engineered our march toward collective suicide although global warming was first identified in 1896 by the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius.

      The failure to act to ameliorate global warming exposes the myth of human progress and the illusion that we are rational creatures. We ignore the wisdom of the past and the stark scientific facts before us. We are entranced by electronic hallucinations and burlesque acts, including those emanating from the centers of power, and this ensures our doom. Speak this unpleasant truth and you are condemned by much of society. The mania for hope and magical thinking is as seductive in the Industrial Age as it was in pre-modern societies.

    • Israeli startup converts garbage into construction products

      Why plastic? Itself a blessing and a blight too, it was invented in the early 1900s and hailed for its indestructability, then bewailed for that very characteristic. We assuage our consciences by tossing one of every hundred containers we use towards a recycling bin, but recycled plastic quickly loses its features. UBQ’s composite includes cellulose from foods and wood and can thus be recycled indefinitely, the company explains.

    • China’s Auto Show Highlights Electric Ambitions

      This year’s Shanghai auto show highlights the global industry’s race to make electric cars Chinese drivers want to buy as Beijing winds down subsidies that promoted sales.

      Communist leaders are shifting the burden to automakers by imposing mandatory sales targets for electrics, adding to financial pressure on them amid a painful sales slump. Chinese purchases of pure-electric and hybrid sedans and SUVs soared 60% last year to 1.3 million — half the global total — but overall auto sales shrank 4.1% to 23.7 million.

      Buyers of electrics were lured with subsidies of up to 50,000 yuan ($7,400) per car, but that support was cut by half in January and ends next year.

      “Competition is getting more fierce,” said industry analyst Paul Gong of UBS.

  • Finance

    • “Keep It, It’s Yours.” Postal Workers’ Message to Public Denounces Trump Privatization Plan

      “Don’t sell this national treasure to private interests that will charge more for less service,” union says ahead of Tax Day events

    • The Tax System Works Against Us All

      According to a new poll, only 17 percent of Americans say they’re paying less in taxes this year, despite the GOP’s promises that the huge tax cuts they passed were for the middle class. Tax returns due April 15 are the first to be filed under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which passed Congress and was signed by President Trump about 16 months ago.

      It was their signature achievement, a tax cut package costing nearly $2 trillion that was supposed to rev up the economy, produce jobs and investment, and give every family a $4,000 raise.

      It hasn’t worked out that way. In fact, multiple polls show that a plurality of voters opposed the tax law from the beginning — and still do. In fact, nearly two-thirds now favor its outright repeal. Those same polls show that the public strongly believes our tax system favors the wealthy and big corporations, who aren’t paying their fair share.

      How did a major tax cut plan that promised happy-days-are-here-again prosperity for most working families fall so flat with taxpayers?

      Because most of us aren’t seeing benefits from the tax cuts in our paychecks or tax returns. But we’re seeing the real results in newspaper headlines.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • How McConnell is Killing the Senate

      Congress has recessed for two weeks without passing a desperately-needed disaster relief bill. Why not? Because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t want to anger Donald Trump by adding money for Puerto Rico that Democrats have sought but Trump doesn’t want.

      America used to have a Senate. But under McConnell, what was once known as the worlds greatest deliberative body has become a partisan lap dog.

      Recently McConnell used his Republican majority to cut the time for debating Trump’s court appointees from 30 hours to two – thereby enabling Republicans to ram through even more Trump judges.

      In truth, McConnell doesn’t give a fig about the Senate, or about democracy. He cares only about partisan wins.

      On the eve of the 2010 midterm elections he famously declared that his top priority was for Barack Obama “to be a one-term president.”

      Between 2009 and 2013, McConnell’s Senate Republicans blocked 79 Obama nominees. In the entire history of the United States until that point, only 68 presidential nominees had been blocked.

      This unprecedented use of the filibuster finally led Senate Democrats in 2013 to change the rules on some presidential nominees (but not the Supreme Court) to require simple majorities.

    • ‘Mayor Pete’ Makes It Official: He’s Running for President

      Pete Buttigieg, the little-known Indiana mayor who has risen to prominence in the early stages of the 2020 Democratic presidential race, made his official campaign entrance Sunday by claiming the mantle of a youthful generation ready to reshape the country.

      “I recognize the audacity of doing this as a Midwestern millennial mayor,” he said after introducing himself as “Mayor Pete.” “More than a little bold, at age 37, to seek the highest office in the land.” He was greeted with cheers of “Pete, Pete, Pete” from an audience assembled in a former Studebaker auto plant.

    • Which Candidates Are Mentioned Most Often on TV News?

      The one candidate who’s getting a much smaller percentage of TV news mentions than his average in the polls is Biden, who got 17 percent of the mentions and is averaging 31 percent in polls. Of course, Biden has not announced he is running, and further does hold a current office that might keep him in the news. Bernie Sanders also is covered somewhat less than his polling numbers: He got 19 percent of mentions, and averages 21 percent in polls. Andrew Yang, the least covered of the candidates who got more than a tiny amount of coverage, got 0.6 percent of mentions with a 0.8 percent polling average.

      All the other candidates are getting a share of coverage equal to or greater than their share of support in polls. The biggest gap was for Elizabeth Warren, who got 16 percent of mentions and averages only 6 percent in polls. Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand also got a substantially larger share of coverage compared to their poll averages.

      A couple of caveats are crucial. One is that the relationship between how much a candidate is covered and how much polling support they have can obviously go both ways: News managers may or may not decide how much to cover a candidate based on how much support they have, but voters are highly unlikely to express support for a candidate they’ve never heard of. Getting next to no coverage almost guarantees that a candidate will have little or no presence in polls—as the chart bears out.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Four Steps Facebook Should Take to Counter Police Sock Puppets

      Despite Facebook’s repeated warnings that law enforcement is required to use “authentic identities” on the social media platform, cops continue to create fake and impersonator accounts to secretly spy on users. By pretending to be someone else, cops are able to sneak past the privacy walls users put up and bypass legal requirements that might require a warrant to obtain that same information.

      The most recent examples—and one of the most egregious—was revealed by The Guardian this week. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security executed a complex network of dummy Facebook profiles and pages to trick immigrants into registering with a fake college, The University of Farmington. The operation netted more than 170 arrests. Meanwhile, Customs and Border Protection issued a privacy impact assessment that encourages investigators to conceal their social media accounts.

      Last fall, after the Memphis Police Department was caught using fake profiles to monitor Black Lives Matter activists, Facebook added new language to its law enforcement guidelines emphasizing that this practice was not permitted. Facebook also removed the offending accounts and sent Memphis a stern warning not to do it again. However, Facebook has proven resistant to sending warning letters to every agency caught red-handed; recently it turned down a request by EFF that it confront the San Francisco Police Department after court records revealed its use of fake accounts in criminal investigations.

    • The Challenges Facing Privacy Apps

      When we talk about privacy as a concept, we tend to drill into the benefits of privacy and the crucial role that it plays in our lives as individuals. In aggregate, privacy extends its role to protect fundamental freedoms that we all agree are pillars to a free and happy society.

      What we don’t talk about is the challenges that privacy apps face, and how often tools are not designed to fulfill the needs of the needs of the end user.

      [...]

      Using software that is open source is a critical piece of the puzzle, because this allows peer review to verify that the developer isn’t collecting unnecessary data to make the app or service work, and that the developers have considered all of the external privacy threats.

      If the software isn’t open source, there’s no way to verify this. You have to implicitly trust that the developer doesn’t want to grab your data for money, which is always in their interest to do. You are hoping that the developer is principled enough to resist the urge to make more money off of you. This is an even greater concern when the application is free. You have to consider how, if not through your data, is the app developer making money?

    • Spy on your smart home with this open source research tool

      Testing the IoT Inspector tool in their lab the researchers say they found a Chromecast device constantly contacting Google’s servers even when not in active use.

    • Tracking Phones, Google Is a Dragnet for the Police

      When detectives in a Phoenix suburb arrested a warehouse worker in a murder investigation last December, they credited a new technique with breaking open the case after other leads went cold.

      The police told the suspect, Jorge Molina, they had data tracking his phone to the site where a man was shot nine months earlier. They had made the discovery after obtaining a search warrant that required Google to provide information on all devices it recorded near the killing, potentially capturing the whereabouts of anyone in the area.

      Investigators also had other circumstantial evidence, including security video of someone firing a gun from a white Honda Civic, the same model that Mr. Molina owned, though they could not see the license plate or attacker.

      But after he spent nearly a week in jail, the case against Mr. Molina fell apart as investigators learned new information and released him. Last month, the police arrested another man: his mother’s ex-boyfriend, who had sometimes used Mr. Molina’s car.

    • Cops Are Increasingly Using Google’s Location History Data To Nab Criminals

      A New York Times report has revealed that federal agencies and cops use Google’s location history data trove to keep an eye on suspects and track their location. Google has a huge database called Sensorvault that contains location records of hundreds of millions of devices – both Android as well as iOS.

      The fact that law enforcement agencies tap into Google’s data is a boon as it helps in nabbing criminals. At the same time, it involves the risk of revealing the identities of bystanders and sometimes catching the wrong person as mentioned in the report.

    • Big Tech Lobbying Gutted a Bill That Would Ban Recording You Without Consent

      An Illinois bill that sought to empower average people to file lawsuits against tech companies for recording them without their knowledge via microphone-enabled devices was defanged this week after lobbying from trade associations representing Silicon Valley giants.

      On Wednesday, the Illinois State Senate passed the Keep Internet Devices Safe Act, a bill that would ban manufacturers of devices that can record audio from doing so remotely without disclosing it to the customer. But after lobbying from trade associations that represent the interests of Google, Amazon—makers of the microphone-enabled Google Home and Alexa smart speakers, respectively—and Microsoft, among other companies, the interests of big tech won out.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ‘In Culture, We Build Bridges, Not Walls’: World-Renowned Cellist Yo-Yo Ma Brings Bach to US-Mexico Border

      In a rebuke to the Trump administration’s cruel immigration policies and rhetoric, world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma gave a performance at the U.S.-Mexico border on Saturday, where he praised culture’s ability to “build bridges, not walls.”

      With the international bridge connecting the two countries visible behind him, the audience in Laredo, Texas heard the musician play an excerpt of Johann Sebastian Bach’s cello suites. An audience in the sister city of Nuevo Laredo was treated to a performance as well shortly after.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • A Pod world: How you’d trade your data for services over a decentralized internet

      In an era of big data and AI, what are the roles of decentralized internet and data storage concepts? The tensions and contradictions of these parallel developments were unpacked at SXSW in a compelling talk, Designing For the Next 30 Years of the Web, by Justin Bingham (CTO of Janeiro Digital) and John Bruce (Co-founder and CEO of Inrupt). They presented a whole new way of storing data and therefore breaking the current privacy paradigm, and their approach merits discussion outside of just one tech conference.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • EFF’s Tweet About an Overzealous DMCA Takedown Is Now Subject to an Overzealous Takedown

        Get ready for a tale as good as anything you’d see on television. Here’s the sequence of events: the website TorrentFreak publishes an article about a leak of TV episodes, including shows from the network Starz. TorrentFreak tweets its article, Starz sends a copyright takedown notice. TorrentFreak writes about the takedown, including a comment from EFF. EFF tweets the article about the takedown and the original article. EFF’s tweet…gets hit with a takedown.

        TorrentFreak’s original article about leaked episodes of television does contain a few screenshots of some of the leaked episodes—enough to establish the veracity of the story. It does not contain links to download the episodes, a fact to keep in mind as this story goes on.

        TorrentFreak then tweeted a link to its article, which did contain a thumbnail image, but not one that matches any of the screenshots in the article. An agency acting on behalf of Starz then used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to have Twitter remove the tweet, alleging copyright infringement. The complaint TorrentFreak received says the article has “images of unreleased episodes” of the show American Gods. It also maintains that TorrentFreak supplies “information about their illegal availability.”

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