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08.16.19

Links 17/8/2019: Wine 4.14 is Out, Debian Celebrates 26 years

Posted in News Roundup at 9:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • LHS Episode #297: The Weekender XXXII

        It’s time once again for The Weekender. This is our bi-weekly departure into the world of amateur radio contests, open source conventions, special events, listener challenges, hedonism and just plain fun. Thanks for listening and, if you happen to get a chance, feel free to call us or e-mail and send us some feedback. Tell us how we’re doing. We’d love to hear from you.

      • Sliding Politics | User Error 72

        Dealing with users who hate change, dumb phones, and different approaches to social media consumption.

        Plus infidelity, the state of the world, and consequences of small decisions.

      • Test and Code: 83: PyBites Code Challenges behind the scenes – Bob Belderbos

        Bob Belderbos and Julian Sequeira started PyBites a few years ago.
        They started doing code challanges along with people around the world and writing about it.

        Then came the codechalleng.es platform, where you can do code challenges in the browser and have your answer checked by pytest tests. But how does it all work?

        Bob joins me today to go behind the scenes and share the tech stack running the PyBites Code Challenges platform.

        We talk about the technology, the testing, and how it went from a cool idea to a working platform.

      • Linux Action News 119

        We go hands-on with the big Xfce release that took four years and five months to develop. Kubernetes gets an audit that might just set a precedent, and Google has a new feature for AMP that has us all worked up.

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.2.9

        I’m announcing the release of the 5.2.9 kernel.

        All users of the 5.2 kernel series must upgrade.

        The updated 5.2.y git tree can be found at:

        git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.2.y

        and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

        https://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-s…

      • Linux 4.19.67
      • Linux 4.14.139
      • Linux 5.4 Set To Remove Intel XScale IOP33X/IOP13XX CPU Support

        Linux 5.4 is set to remove the Intel IOP33X and IOP13XX series of processors that are part of the company’s former XScale product line for ARM-based CPUs.

        The XScale IOP processors were intended for handling I/O offloading from the main device CPU. These sub-1.2GHz processors were part of Intel’s ARMv8.5-based XScale product portfolio. But with no apparent users of the Intel IOP33X/IOP13XX hardware left — at least anyone that would likely be riding new Linux kernel releases — that support is going to be removed later this year with the Linux 5.4 release.

    • Applications

      • Things You Should Know About Linux Instant Messaging Programs

        One of the highly-desirable features of Linux – a primary reason that developers prefer it to other operating systems – is that it has been improved with a lot of free and open-source program. Many of the above platforms reflect this, making them powerful options for growing businesses looking into their software options as they scale. They’re also strong options for businesses for whom security is the highest priority, which is becoming a greater focus for organizations every day.

        From personal to professional, Linux-based instant messaging programs can offer you flexibility, communication, and security. If you’re running a Linux operating platform, make sure you look into this list of mainstream and alternative chat options for a reliable and robust messenger experience.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

    • Games

      • Twin-stick shooting combined with deck-building, ACardShooter is out now

        Deck-building is all the rage and now it’s come to twin-stick shooters too, with ACardShooter now available on Steam with Linux support.

      • Hunt down beasts, take their power and possibly save the world in Mable & The Wood, releasing soon

        Mable & The Wood is a Metroidvania that’s possibly nothing like any other. One with multiple endings and it’s possible to do it without killing anything.

        I’ve been excited about this game for so long, after discovering it a while ago and it was announced today that it’s going to be releasing on August 23rd! It captured my interest due to the unusual heroine, who carries around a sword too big to swing and it’s how you use the sword that makes it truly sweet. You stick it in the ground, then use your powers to recall it as it slices its way back to you.

      • Solve cable-based puzzles in the fully narrated game Filament, coming to Linux next year

        Currently in development by Beard Envy with publishing from Kasedo Games, the puzzle game Filament has you exploring a seemingly abandoned spaceship while sorting out all the cables.

        From what they said about it, it’s a story-rich and full narrated puzzle game. One that’s meant to be somewhat relaxing with you able to go at your own pace. Going by the official announcement, Linux support is confirmed for release sometime in Q1 next year.

      • Dota Underlords changes ranking again to be more about skill and less about time

        While in Early Access, Dota Underlords is in a constant state of flux and Valve have again changed the ranking system.

        They’re now using the well-known Elo rating system, so the number of points gained or lost now depends on the skill of your opponents. Why the switch? As Valve said, the Lords of White Spire leaderboard ended up being a list of who played the most instead of the best so they’re hoping this will solve it and be a little more fair to those who don’t play all the time.

      • Cerulean Days, a Visual Novel following the internet being shut down after a biological attack

        Cerulean Days certainly sounds like an intriguing Visual Novel. Set on a small modern island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, a deadly biological attack took place so the government shut the internet down, leaving the island disconnected from the world around it.

        [...]

        If you’re interested in trying it out, they do have a Linux demo available, looks like it was made with Ren’Py and it works quite well. Seems like it has some nice writing to it too along with some great artwork.

    • Distributions

      • Dominique Leuenberger: openSUSE Tumbleweed – Review of the week 2019/33

        Week 2019/33 ‘only’ saw three snapshots being published (3 more were given to openQA but discarded).

      • Reviews

        • Slackel Linux Works Well Inside Its Openbox

          The current Slackel Linux release can be a good choice for new users. It is easy to stumble through the installation steps, but this distro has some benefits.

          Slackel is a reliable operating system that is easy to use. If you like to learn how Linux works, Slackel gets you closer to understanding the pure Linux environment without resorting to the terminal window and the command line.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • Fedora Family

        • FPgM report: 2019-33

          Here’s your report of what has happened in Fedora Program Management this week.

          I have weekly office hours in #fedora-meeting-1. Drop by if you have any questions or comments about the schedule, Changes, elections, or anything else. (Just not this week because I will be traveling)

      • Debian Family

        • Debian celebrates 26 years, Happy DebianDay!

          26 years ago today in a single post to the comp.os.linux.development newsgroup, Ian Murdock announced the completion of a brand new Linux release named ##Debian.

          Since that day we’ve been into outer space, typed over 1,288,688,830 lines of code, spawned over 300 derivatives, were enhanced with 6,155 known contributors, and filed over 975,619 bug reports.

          We are home to a community of thousands of users around the globe, we gather to host our annual Debian Developers Conference #DebConf”>DebConf which spans the world in a different country each year, and of course today’s many “#DebianDay celebrations held around the world.

        • DebConf19: Brazil

          My first DebConf was DebConf4, held in Porte Alegre, Brazil back in 2004. Uncle Steve did the majority of the travel arrangements for 6 of us to go. We had some mishaps which we still tease him about, but it was a great experience. So when I learnt DebConf19 was to be in Brazil again, this time in Curitiba, I had to go. So last November I realised flights were only likely to get more expensive, that I’d really kick myself if I didn’t go, and so I booked my tickets. A bunch of life happened in the meantime that mean the timing wasn’t particularly great for me – it’s been a busy 6 months – but going was still the right move.

          One thing that struck me about DC19 is that a lot of the faces I’m used to seeing at a DebConf weren’t there. Only myself and Steve from the UK DC4 group made it, for example. I don’t know if that’s due to the travelling distances involved, or just the fact that attendance varies and this happened to be a year where a number of people couldn’t make it. Nonetheless I was able to catch up with a number of people I only really see at DebConfs, as well as getting to hang out with some new folk.

          Given how busy I’ve been this year and expect to be for at least the next year I set myself a hard goal of not committing to any additional tasks. That said DebConf often provides a welcome space to concentrate on technical bits. I reviewed and merged dkg’s work on WKD and DANE for the Debian keyring under debian.org – we’re not exposed to the recent keyserver network issues due to the fact the keyring is curated, but providing additional access to our keyring makes sense if it can be done easily. I spent some time with Ian Jackson talking about dgit – I’m not a user of it at present, but I’m intrigued by the potential for being able to do Debian package uploads via signed git tags. Of course I also attended a variety of different talks (and, as usual, at times the schedule conflicted such that I had a difficult choice about which option to chose for a particular slot).

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Feral GameMode on Ubuntu: Everything You Need to Know

          Feral GameMode is a discreet background utility that aims to improve gaming performance on Linux distributions like Ubuntu.

          It’s not a GUI app; there’s no multi-button dashboard, no toggle-fest, and no real feedback on how it’s running.

          Games compatible with GameMode are able to ‘request’ that a specific set of tweaks are applied to the host system and/or the game process(es) for a short period.

          These tweaks ensure system resources prioritise the gaming experience over other tasks, like drawing your desktop background or checking for updates.

        • The Best App Launchers for Ubuntu & Linux Mint

          So, thankfully, there is a world of alternative app launchers for Linux desktops — launchers that are more traditional, more interactive, and/or often more capable than what Ubuntu includes out of the box.

          Inspired by my recent play with rofi on the Regolith desktop I decided to test a bunch of ’em to compile this: a list of the best app launchers for Ubuntu and Linux Mint (in my opinion, of course).

        • Canonical Outs Major Linux Kernel Updates for All Supported Ubuntu Releases

          Available for Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo), Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), and Ubuntu 14.04 ESM (Trusty Tahr), the new Linux kernel security updates are here to patch more than 30 security vulnerabilities, including a heap buffer overflow discovered in the Marvell Wireless LAN device driver and a NULL pointer dereference discovered in the Near-field communication (NFC) implementation.

          The security patch also addresses a use-after-free vulnerability discovered by Google Project Zero’s Jann Horn in the Linux kernel when accessing LDT entries, as well as a race condition when performing core dumps. A flaw discovered by Andrei Vlad Lutas and Dan Lutas in x86 processors, which incorrectly handled SWAPGS instructions during speculative execution, was fixed as well.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • linuxjournal.com – Linux Journal shut its doors for good :(
      • Helping The Hispanic/Latinx Community With Open Source | Open Infrastructure Summit, 2019

        At the Open Infrastructure Summit, 2019, we sat down with Joseph Sandoval, SRE Manager for the Adobe Advertising Cloud platform, to talk about the work he is doing with the Hispanic/Latinx Community.

      • Events

        • Tantek Çelik: IndieWebCamps Timeline 2011-2019: Amsterdam to Utrecht

          While not a post directly about IndieWeb Summit 2019, this post provides a bit of background and is certainly related, so I’m including it in my series of posts about the Summit. Previous post in this series: Reflecting On IndieWeb Summit: A Start

          [...]

          I don’t know of any tools to take something like this kind of locations vs years data and graph it as such. So I built an HTML table with a cell for each IndieWebCamp, as well as cells for the colspans of empty space. Each colored cell is hyperlinked to the IndieWebCamp for that city for that year.

        • Meet SUSE at Cloud Foundry Summit in The Hague

          If you’re looking for a great excuse to visit the Netherlands, learn about Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes, and hang out with a cool and interesting community, come meet the SUSE Cloud Application Platform team at the Cloud Foundry Summit EU in The Hague. SUSE is a gold sponsor of the event, so we’ll have a booth complete with live demos and plenty of the cool chameleons that you’ve come to expect of us.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • btLr text direction in Writer, part 4

          You can get a snapshot / demo of Collabora Office and try it out yourself right now: try unstable snapshot. Collabora is a major contributor to LibreOffice and all of this work will be available in TDF’s next release, too (6.4).

        • LibreOffice Community at FrOSCon 2019

          LibreOffice development takes place mostly via the internet: volunteers, certified developers and other community members collaborate on programming, design, quality assurance, documentation and other tasks. But we also like to meet up in person, to share information, bring new people into the project, and have fun!

          So on the weekend of 10 and 11 August, we attended FrOSCon 2019 in Sankt Augustin, a town just outside Bonn, Germany. FrOSCon is one of the largest free and open source software (FOSS) conferences in the country, with around 2,000 attendees. Most of the visitors know about FOSS already, but some had only learnt about it recently, and were eager to discover more.

      • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

        • Apollo data graph brings managed federation to enterprises

          Data graph vendor Apollo is aiming to help overcome several obstacles to enterprises using graph databases with its latest Apollo Data Graph Platform update, which became generally available on July 16.

          Among the key new features in the platform are federated management capabilities that enable more scalability across different GraphQL data graph instances. GraphQL is an open source query language for APIs, originally created by Facebook that is used to enable data graph capabilities.

      • Programming/Development

        • ANNOUNCE: libnbd 0.9.8 – prerelease of high performance NBD
          I'm pleased to announce a new high performance Network Block Device
          (NBD) client library called libnbd.  It's written in C and there are
          also bindings available for Python, OCaml and (soon) Rust.
          
          0.9.8 is the third pre-release before the stable 1.0 version where we
          freeze the API, so feedback on API-related issues is very welcome now.
          
          Download:       http://download.libguestfs.org/libnbd/
          Documentation:  https://github.com/libguestfs/libnbd/blob/master/docs/libnbd.pod
          Fedora package: https://koji.fedoraproject.org/koji/packageinfo?packageID=28807
          Debian package: https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=933223
          Git repo:       https://github.com/libguestfs/libnbd
          Mailing list:   address@hidden (no subscription required)
          
          Here are some of the things you can do with this library ...
          
          Connect to an NBD server and grab the first sector of the disk:
          
          https://github.com/libguestfs/libnbd/blob/a5f8fd2f0f48e9cf2487e23750b55f67b166014f/examples/simple-fetch-first-sector.c#L14
          
          High performance multi-threaded reads and writes, with multiple
          connections and multiple commands in flight on each connection:
          
          https://github.com/libguestfs/libnbd/blob/master/examples/threaded-reads-and-writes.c
          
          Integrate with glib main loop:
          
          https://github.com/libguestfs/libnbd/blob/master/examples/glib-main-loop.c
          
          Connect to an NBD server from an interactive shell:
          
            $ nbdkit -f linuxdisk . &
            $ nbdsh --connect nbd://localhost
          
            Welcome to nbdsh, the shell for interacting with
            Network Block Device (NBD) servers.
          
            nbd> h.get_size()
            716266496
            nbd> buf = h.pread (512, 0)
            nbd> print ("%r" % buf)
            [prints the first sector]
          
          Use ‘fio’ to benchmark an NBD server:
          
            $ nbdkit -U - memory size=256M \
                  --run 'export unixsocket ; fio examples/nbd.fio '
          
          Rich.
          
        • libnbd 0.9.8 and stable APIs

          I announced libnbd yesterday. The libnbd 0.9.8 is a pre-release for the upcoming 1.0 where we will finalize the API and offer API and ABI stability.

          Stable APIs aren’t in fashion these days, but they’re important because people who choose to use your platform for their software shouldn’t be screwed over and have to change their software every time you change your mind. In C it’s reasonably easy to offer a stable API while allowing long term evolution and even incompatible changes. This is what we do for nbdkit and will be doing for libnbd.

          The first concept to get to know is ELF symbol versioning. Chapter 3 of Uli’s paper on the subject covers this in great detail. In libnbd all our initial symbols will be labelled with LIBNBD_1.0.

        • PyCharm 2019.2.1 RC

          PyCharm 2019.2.1 release candidate is available now!

        • Basics of Memory Management in Python

          Memory management is the process of efficiently allocating, de-allocating, and coordinating memory so that all the different processes run smoothly and can optimally access different system resources. Memory management also involves cleaning memory of objects that are no longer being accessed.

          In Python, the memory manager is responsible for these kinds of tasks by periodically running to clean up, allocate, and manage the memory. Unlike C, Java, and other programming languages, Python manages objects by using reference counting. This means that the memory manager keeps track of the number of references to each object in the program. When an object’s reference count drops to zero, which means the object is no longer being used, the garbage collector (part of the memory manager) automatically frees the memory from that particular object.

          The user need not to worry about memory management as the process of allocation and de-allocation of memory is fully automatic. The reclaimed memory can be used by other objects.

        • Twisted 19.7.0 Released

          On behalf of Twisted Matrix Laboratories and our long-suffering release manager Amber Brown, I am honored to announce the release of Twisted 19.7.0!

        • PyBay 2019: Talking about Python in SF

          We are back to San Francisco! Our team will be joining PyBay’s conference, one of the biggest Python events in the Bay Area. For this year, we’ll be giving the talk: Building effective Django queries with expressions.

          PyBay has been a fantastic place to meet new people, connect with new ideas, and integrate this thriving community.

        • 10 ways DevOps helps digital transformation

          DevOps helps organizations succeed with digital transformation by shifting the cultural mindset of the business, breaking down detrimental silos, and paving the way for continuous change and rapid experimentation: All those elements help organizations meet evolving customer demands, experts point out. This helps organizations “self-steer” toward better solutions to continually improve, says Matthew Skelton, head of consulting at Conflux and co-author of Team Topologies.

        • CloudBees Advances State of the DevOps World

          At its annual user conference, CloudBees previews a new Software Delivery Management platform as the DevOps vendor celebrates 15 years of Jenkins.

        • How do you verify that PyPI can be trusted?

          Now Go’s packaging story is rather different from Python’s since in Go you specify the location of a module by the URL you fetch it from, e.g. github.com/you/hello specifies the hello module as found at https://github.com/you/hello. This means Go’s module ecosystem is distributed, which leads to interesting problems of caching so code doesn’t disappear off the internet (e.g. a left-pad incident), and needing to verify that a module’s provider isn’t suddenly changing the code they provide with something malicious.

          But since the Python community has PyPI our problems are slightly different in that we just have to worry about a single point of failure (which has its own downsides). Now obviously you can run your own mirror of PyPI (and plenty of companies do), but for the general community no one wants to bother to set something up like that and try to keep it maintained (do you really need your own mirror to download some dependencies for the script you just wrote to help clean up your photos from your latest trip?). But we should still care about whether PyPI has been compromised such that packages hosted there have not been tampered with somehow between when the project owner uploaded their release’s files and from when you download them.

        • Spyder 4.0 beta4: Kite integration is here

          As part of our next release, we are proud to announce an additional completion client for Spyder, Kite. Kite is a novel completion client that uses Machine Learning techniques to find and predict the best autocompletion for a given text. Additionally, it collects improved documentation for compiled packages, i.e., Matplotlib, NumPy, SciPy that cannot be obtained easily by using traditional code analysis packages such as Jedi.

  • Leftovers

    • Health/Nutrition

      • The Microplastic Threat

        When Chelsea Rochman at the University of Toronto and colleagues began their study on medakas (small Japanese rice paddy fish), they did not expect to find what they did.

      • Ubuntu: Lady with borehole helps residents during water outage

        Briefly.co.za gathered that on Tuesday, there was a water outage in Huston’s Pretoria neighborhood. Huston said they were privileged to have a borehole and could go on with life as normal.

        On Wednesday night, her mother decided to help others by opening their borehole for public use. Residents lined up with buckets to get water from the kind family.

      • Ernest Coverson on Guns & Human Rights, Carey Gillam Under Attack From Monsanto

        This week on CounterSpin: The US undoubtedly needs better health care, including mental health care, and blithely violent cultural media is nothing to celebrate; but there is no actual mystery about the main reason behind the gun violence this country sees every day of the year—and that sometimes explodes into mass shootings, like those in El Paso and Dayton: It’s. the. guns. US law and policy undeniably reflects a greater value on the ability of some people to own weapons than on the ability of all people to be safe from gun violence. Vast majorities of Americans support serious regulation, but corporate media debate still seems to revolve around the supposed “rights” of the few, rather than the right of the many to live a life free from this scourge. We’ll talk about what it means to apply a human rights framework to gun violence with Ernest Coverson, End Gun Violence campaign manager at Amnesty International USA.

    • Security (Confidentiality/Integrity/Availability)

      • Security updates for Friday

        Security updates have been issued by Debian (freetype, libreoffice, and openjdk-7), Fedora (edk2, mariadb, mariadb-connector-c, mariadb-connector-odbc, python-django, and squirrelmail), Gentoo (chromium, cups, firefox, glibc, kconfig, libarchive, libreoffice, oracle-jdk-bin, polkit, proftpd, sqlite, wget, zeromq, and znc), openSUSE (bzip2, chromium, dosbox, evince, gpg2, icedtea-web, java-11-openjdk, java-1_8_0-openjdk, kconfig, kdelibs4, mariadb, mariadb-connector-c, nodejs8, pdns, polkit, python, subversion, and vlc), Oracle (ghostscript and kernel), Red Hat (mysql:8.0 and subversion:1.10), SUSE (389-ds, libvirt and libvirt-python, and openjpeg2), and Ubuntu (nginx).

      • A compendium of container escapes

        My name is Brandon Edwards, I’m Chief Scientist at Capsule8. Today we’ll be talking about a compendium of container escapes in the podcast. We’ve previously talked about escaping containers and the sorts of vulnerabilities people should be concerned with a while back. In particular we’re discussing how the RunC vulnerability had engendered all this interest, or concern, or almost shock, the trust the people are placing in containers was broken. Oh wow, an escape could happen!

        I think it’s really valuable to be able to communicate and show all the other ways that that sort of thing can happen, either from misconfiguration, or over granting privileges, or providing host mounts into the container, or having kernel vulnerabilities that could somehow compromise any of the elements of the security model of container, which is both fragile and complex.

    • Environment

      • Energy

        • Christopher Leonard’s New Book Puts an Ever-Expanding ‘Kochland’ on the Map

          Christopher Leonard’s new book, Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America, begins, appropriately enough, with an FBI agent, who is investigating criminal activity by the company, standing in a field with a pair of binoculars, trying to catch a glimpse of the daily operations of a company that prizes secrecy.

          Koch Industries was under investigation for theft of oil from the Osage and other Indigenous nations. Walking into the company’s office building involved passing through security checkpoints, Leonard explains, so numerous that one investigator later told Leonard that it “reminded him of traveling to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.”

          Through exhaustive reporting and extraordinary interviews with past and current company executives, including some turned whistleblower, Kochland offers readers a view far larger than can be seen through binocular lenses, walking readers past those layers of security checkpoints and into the inner workings of an institution that has for decades tirelessly built itself into practically all American lives, while largely evading accountability or transparency.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • The War on Nature

          Ancient Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Chinese and Indians respected or worshipped several gods. Those gods were usually forces of nature, which opened the mind, eyes and hearts of human beings to the mysteries, beauty and truth of the natural world.

        • Five Things to Watch at This Month’s Big Wildlife Trade Treaty Meeting

          Dozens of important and potentially controversial decisions for the world’s most imperiled wildlife will come out of Geneva over the next few weeks.

          That’s where the representatives from 183 nations will gather to discuss issues related to legal and illegal wildlife trade at the 18th triennial meeting of the member parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), a treaty aimed at regulating the commercial sale of threatened plants and wildlife.

          CITES protects species by adding them to what’s known as its Appendices — listings of species that may or may not be traded. Species listed on Appendix I are banned from all international trade, while those on Appendix II may only be traded from proven sustainable populations. About 90 percent of CITES listings appear on Appendix II.

        • Catch and Hang Live Chickens for Slaughter: $11 an Hour Possible!

          Koch Foods, a giant chicken processor that supplies Burger King, Kroger and Walmart (not affiliated with the Koch brothers) lost no time in replacing the five busloads of undocumented workers taken from its Mississippi plants this month due to an ICE raid. It is already holding “job fairs” to replace the workers.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • “Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)

        A dead-end street with a lemonade stand Where is the sky in upside down land? That question is hard if you can’t see the stars I’m really not sure, ask me tomorrow

      • Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?

        Have you ever wondered why we [women] are not just in armed combat against you? It’s not because there’s a shortage of kitchen knives in this country. It is because we believe in your humanity, against all the evidence.” —Andrea Dworkin

      • Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit

        The two-year Mueller investigation of Donald Trump’s alleged collusion (“largely synonymous with conspiracy”) with Russia is over. Nothingburger.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Pushing For Facebook, YouTube And Twitter To Ban Hate Speech Won’t Stop It From Migrating Elsewhere

        Remember a year ago when lots of people were blaming WhatsApp for violence in India, and demanding that there needed to be new laws passed to deal with WhatsApp? Well, if the actual problem is societal, it’s not much going to matter how you target a particular platform. Wired now has an article talking about another, super popular platform, TikTok, and arguing that it is “fuelling India’s deadly hate speech epidemic.” This, of course, is the same language that was used to discuss WhatsApp over the past few years.

        TikTok, as you may know, is the rapidly growing newish social media platform that is owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance. Of course, its rapid rise in popularity should already challenge the narrative that the big social media platforms — Facebook (along with Instagram and WhatsApp), YouTube, and Twitter — are so dominant that it’s impossible for new entrants to make a play. But, even more importantly, it shows that if the problem everyone is debating is a societal one, blaming the service providers in the middle for not magically stopping societal problems is not helpful. These problems will just keep appearing on each successive platform.

    • Privacy/Surveillance

      • The GDPR Is A Wide Open Vulnerability For Identity Fraud And Scams

        We’ve spent the last year and a half or so pointing out that, while it may have been well-intentioned, there are all sorts of consequences — whether intended or not — to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), including giving more power to the giant internet companies (when many argued the GDPR was necessary to curb their power), censorship of media, and a way for the rich and famous to harass people. But, of course, some might argue that those are worthy trade-offs if it did a better job protecting people’s privacy.

        About that… Last year, we pointed out that one consequence of the GDPR was that, in making it easy to “download” your data, it could open up serious privacy consequences for anyone who has their accounts hacked. In that story, we talked about someone having their Spotify account hacked, and having all the data downloaded — a situation that might not be that impactful. However, last week, at Black Hat, James Pavur, a PhD student at Oxford, explained how he exploited the GDPR to access a ton of private info about his fiancee.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Warnings, Ancient and Modern

        The wise priest Laocoön, old legends say, vainly warned against the famous “Trojan horse”. A hostile god sent giant serpents which strangled him and the big wooden present was opened. The soldiers hidden inside opened Troy’s gates so the Greek battalions could rush in, kill the men, enslave the women and destroy the city. Its ruins are still being uncovered.

        [...]

        Some AfD leaders and spokesmen, like nose-tip-bespectacled old Prof. Alexander Gauland, 78, and jolly, friendly Jörg Meuthen, 58, may seem almost harmless or reasonable – until they hit out at “those Muslims” who are endangering the purity of German blood and culture – or killing Germans.

        In an awful incident a week ago a mentally unstable man of Eritrean descent pushed a woman and her son under a train in Frankfurt. The boy died. Such horrors are grist for the AfD, which had fully ignored the shooting of an Eritrean only days earlier by a German, at random from his car window – perhaps the trigger for the later tragedy, committed by a man who was not in the refugee wave welcomed by Merkel in 2015 but had arrived years earlier, in Switzerland, not Germany. Yet one of the 91 AfD deputies in the Bundestag was quick with blame: “Angela Merkel, I curse the day you were born!”

        AfD boss Jörg Meuthen, asked in a TV interview if this was a proper reaction, smiled tolerantly: “I can understand it a bit if people react highly emotionally and perhaps then choose the wrong words.”

      • That Debacle at the Border is Genocide
      • With the Boeing 737 MAX Grounded, Top Boeing Bosses Must Testify Before Congress Now
      • Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common

        Writing under the title of “If the El Paso shooter had been Muslim”, Moustafa Bayoumi stated the obvious.

      • Uncle Sam was Born Lethal

        One of the occupational and intellectual hazards of being a historian is that current events often seem far less new to oneself than they do to others. Recently a leftish liberal friend told me that the United States under the Donald Trump had “become a lethal society.” My friend cited the neofascist Trump’s: horrible family separations and concentration camps on the border; openly white-nationalist assaults on four progressive nonwhite and female Congresswomen; real and threatened roundups of undocumented immigrants; fascist-style and hate-filled “Make America Great Again” rallies; encouragement of white supremacist terrorism; alliance with right-wing evangelical Christian fascists.

      • La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein

        Media tycoon and former Labour MP Robert Maxwell (father of Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s partner in crime) was given a state funeral in Jerusalem after *accidentally* falling off his yacht – the unluckily named “Lady Ghislaine”. Later it was revealed Maxwell Sr was a Mossad asset who used his vast network of connections and publishing platforms to run editorial interference over his purchased assets to influence enemies and friends alike, ensuring their fealty to the foreign government that had enlisted him for its espionage work.

      • Appeals Court Gives Gov’t One More Chance To Lock Up Men For Producing An ‘Illegal’ Drug Its Own Chemist Said Wasn’t Illegal

        How many chances does the government get to try to convict a couple of people for selling a drug analogue the DEA’s own chemist said wasn’t “substantially similar” to any controlled substance? Apparently the government will get at least one more swing at the plate, having batted .500 during its first two tries.

        In 2012, the DEA raided Zencense, a business owned by Charles Ritchie and Benjamin Galecki. They were charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substance analogues. The “spice” made by Zencense used XLR-11 and UR-144 as active ingredients. The government claimed these were analogues of JWH-018, which is a controlled substance.

        The defendants argued that their spice was not an analogue of a controlled substance. If true, this sunk the government’s case, because the conspiracy charges relied on the “knowing” distribution of illegal drug analogues.

        The government claimed XLR-11 and UR-144 were pretty much the same thing and pretty much identical to JWH-018. This testimony was undercut by one of the DEA’s own chemists, who had stated in other prosecutions that UR-144 was not an analogue of JWH-018. Not only that, but the chemist’s professional opinion on this subject was freely available online, as part of a handout on litigating synthetic drug cases.

      • NYPD Used Reverse Warrants To Round Up Proud Boys Members Suspected Of Beating Antifa Members

        The first documented case of the NYPD using reverse warrants to find criminal suspects has been revealed. It made its appearance in perhaps the most 2019 of cases: the trial of two members of the Proud Boys facing assault charges for allegedly attacking members of Antifa.

        Reverse warrants work this way: law enforcement agencies approach tech companies with geographic coordinates, asking for phone data for all phones within the geofenced area during a certain time frame. Using this data, law enforcement works its way backwards to probable cause, sifting through records to find what phones were in the area when the alleged crime was committed.

        Obviously, this is a highly-imperfect way to track down suspects. For one, GPS data collected by companies like Google isn’t exactly precise. For another, “fenced-in” areas will always contain numerous people who aren’t criminals or even suspects, but the data turns them all into suspects until investigators sort them out. The more heavily-trafficked an area is, the more likely the chance officers will pursue the wrong phones/people.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • FCC Forgets About, Then Dismisses, Complaint Detailing Verizon’s Long History Of Net Neutrality Violations

        So a few years ago we wrote about Alex Nguyen, one of the only folks to file a formal net neutrality complaint (pdf) with the FCC. Before the rules were killed, users could file a free complaint, of which there were thousands. But if you wanted to actually have your complaint looked at by the FCC, you needed to pay $225, submit an ocean of paperwork, and kick off a long-train of procedural and legal fisticuffs most consumers simply didn’t have time for. But Nguyen took the time, and filed a lengthy complaint outlining how Verizon Wireless had a long history of anti-competitive, restrictive behavior that harmed innovation and competition.

        With 300 citations across a 112-page document, Nguyen documented Verizon’s ugly history, including banning mobile payment services that competed with Verizon’s own payment offerings, blocking tablets from working on its network to promote its own tablets, and even banning devices from using GPS to — you guessed it — force subscribers to use the company’s own subscription GPS services. Most of these efforts violated not just net neutrality, but the “Carterfone” conditions affixed to Verizon’s spectrum to ensure the company would treat all devices and services fairly.

        Verizon’s long history on this front is fairly indisputable, and the company has never been held seriously accountable for any of it. And while Nguyen hoped he’d be the one to help hold Verizon to account, the regulatory capture in the telecom sector had other ideas.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents and Software Patents

        • Repurposing patented products: Inking a new test for infringement in Australia?

          The printer cartridges were modified overseas by Ninestar Image (Malaysia), which enabled their reuse in Epson branded printers. Calidad then imported them as ‘refills’ for subsequent sale. Seiko contended that the importation and sale of Calidad cartridges infringed two Australian patents (Nos 2009233643 and 2013219239). Calidad did not dispute that the refilled cartridges fell within the scope of the patent claims. Rather, Calidad submitted that it was the beneficiary of an implied licence, which allowed it to legitimately import and sell the cartridges in Australia.

          The question for the Full Court (Greenwood, Jagot and Yates JJ) of the Federal Court was whether a patent holder can prevent the commercial activities of another business that legitimately acquired the patented products repurposing them for resale in direct competition with the patent holder’s product.

          [...]

          Burley J noted that National Phonograph Co of Australia Ltd v Menck (1911) 12 CLR 15 (Privy Council) supports the principle that subsequent owners may assume they acquire patented products without any restrictions. Under National Phonograph, the purchasers of the printer cartridges are conferred an implied licence to use and dispose of the product as they wish. Burley J stated that while this approach allows the patent holder to impose limitations, the onus remains on them to communicate any limitations to the purchaser, or subsequent owners, at the point of sale or coming into ownership.

          In this case, the Epson cartridges had been refilled, and the memory chips were either reprogrammed or replaced by Ninestar, in order to restore them to their original condition. Interestingly, the court chose to leave the question whether such a modification might be regarded as a ‘repair’ of the patented product.

        • Ubisoft Entertainment, S.A. v. Oy (E.D.N.C.)

          In August 2018, Plaintiffs Ubisoft Entertainment, S.A. and Ubisoft, Inc. (collectively, “Ubisoft”) sued Defendant Yousician Oy (“Oy”), alleging that Oy’s software products infringed Ubisoft’s U.S. Patent No. 9,839,852 (the ’852 patent). In November 2018, Oy moved to dismiss on grounds that the claims of the patent are directed to patent-ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. On August 9, 2019, Judge Louise W. Flanagan of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina granted the motion and dismissed Ubisoft’s complaint.

          The ’852 patent is generally related to Ubisoft’s music video game, Rocksmith®, which is an interactive game designed to help users learn how to play guitar, such as by allowing users to play guitar along with visual learning aids displayed on a screen and providing users with useful feedback and statistics based on their performance. More particularly, the claims of the ’852 patent relate to a computer program that receives signals from a guitar device while a user is playing a song, assesses the user’s performance of the song, and determines a portion of the song where the user can improve the performance. Once the program determines where the user can improve, the program changes a difficulty level of the fingering notations for the determined portion of the song (e.g., changing a frequency or speed at which the notations are presented) and generates a “mini-game” targeted to improving the user’s performance of the determined portion. As an example, the mini-game might prompt the user to play the determined portion (or the entire song) without missing a note or without the aid of the displayed fingering notations.

          [...]

          Lastly, the Court dismissed Ubisoft’s arguments that Oy failed to prove that the recited steps in the claims are well-understood, routine, and conventional.

          Thus, the Court concluded that the claims were patent-ineligible and granted Oy’s motion to dismiss.

        • “Substantially Equivalent” Disclosure Satisfies Written Description

          This Hatch-Waxman litigation was triggered by the Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) filed by Actavis — seeking permission from the FDA to begin marketing weight loss drugs naltrexone hydrochloride and bupropion hydrochloride extended-release tablets. Nalpropion is the branded distributor of the Contrave and owner of the Orange Book listed patents U.S. Patents 7,375,111, 7,462,626, and 8,916,195. The lawsuit was started by Orexigen who held rights at the time. Nalproprion bought rights from Orexigen out of Bankruptcy in a $75 million asset purchase. (The problem is that the pills are not overly effective — ~10% weight loss, but only when combined with diet changes and exercise.)

          The patentee won the district court litigation and obtained an injunction against generic entry by Actavis until expiration of the patents in suit. On appeal, the Federal Circuit has partially reversed — finding some of the asserted claims obvious.

          The active ingredients were already known in the art, and so the claims at issue are directed toward (1) a method of treating obesity with naltrexone and bupropion and (2) a sustained release formulation of the two drugs in a single pill.

          The key prior art taught use of the two drugs (in sustained release form) to avoid weight gain associated with smoking cessation (rather than losing weight for obese/overweight patients). A second reference taught using bupropion for weight loss. Another reference taught the use of the two drugs as a treatment of depression and included case studies showing weight loss. The district court considered these references but found the weight loss effect were not clear enough and that there were too many potential side-effects to encourage experimentation.

        • Federal Circuit: ‘Physicality’ of Processing Paper Checks Does Not Save Solutran’s Claims from 101 Challenge

          The Federal Circuit recently reversed the District of Minnesota’s denial of summary judgment and held claims related to paper check processing invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101

        • Chinese Supreme Court Recently Clarified the Standard of Filing a Declaratory Judgment Action of Non-Infringement of Patent

          Declaratory-judgment actions of non-infringement are common in patent litigation because it allows the alleged infringer to proactively bring suit to resolve the situation and eliminate the cloud of uncertainty looming overhead. Under Chinese law, to bring a claim for declaratory judgment in a patent dispute, the claimant must establish that: (1) the patentee sends a “notice” of infringement; (2) the alleged infringer or a pertinent interested party demands the patentee to bring a lawsuit in court; and (3) the patentee refuses to withdraw the warning nor initiate a lawsuit within one month after receiving said demand or two months after the demand was sent.

          On a related note, a unique feature of China’s patent right enforcement mechanism is that infringement claims can be pursued both administratively and judicially. In the administrative system, allegations of infringement can be brought to a local branch of the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), which is authorized to issue an injunction in its province or city but is unable to award monetary damages.

          There is no bright-line rule for what is a “notice” of patent infringement as required by the law. A typical “notice” is a cease and desist letter. Sometimes a patentee, instead of sending a cease and desist letter to the alleged infringer or its reseller/distributor/customer, chooses to file a complaint with a local branch of the CNIPA to initiate an administrative enforcement action. Then, a question arises as to: (1) whether such administrative action should be regarded as a constructive “notice” of infringement that may give rise to declaratory judgment jurisdiction; and (2) whether a patentee’s notice letter or lawsuit against reseller/ distributor/ customer alone gives the supplier/manufacturer standing to seek declaratory relief against the patentee.

          [...]

          In China, administrative enforcement of patent rights has pros and cons compared with civil actions. The apparent pros include that administrative enforcement can usually be concluded within 4 months, much quicker than a civil proceeding which will normally takes 1-2 years for patent cases. The cons are that, local branches of the CNIPA would unlikely have the capacity to make infringement analysis if the determination of patent infringement is not straightforward.

        • Relating back to the Original Complaint

          The district court dismissed Anza’s infringement lawsuit — finding it barred by the six-year statute of limitations on collecting back-damages. The statute:

          [...]

          By the third filing, the original patent is no longer asserted but rather two family member patents; and two new products had been added as infringing (along with ten being deleted).

          On appeal, the Federal Circuit held that the claims directed to the six originally accused products properly relate back to the original complaint. For the allegations again the two new products, the court remanded for a new analysis on whether those allegations should also relate back.

          In its opinion, the appellate panel primarily focused on the question of notice — finding that the “technological overlap [between the patents] suggests that the aggregate of operative facts underlying infringement under the ’927 patent in the original complaint gave notice of the substance of the claims of infringement under the ’479 and ’864 patents in the second amended complaint.”

        • Construe Claims First; Then Rule on Eligibility

          In a split decision, the Federal Circuit has remanded this case — holding that the district court needs to construe the claims before adjuding patent eligibility.

          [...]

          MyMail’s patents cover the method method of modifying toolbars on a (PC) computer display from the server-side without user interaction. N.D. Cal. Judge Koh dismissed the case on the pleadings — finding the claims directed to the abstract idea of “updating toolbar software over a network without user intervention.” The court noted that the claims basically gather, analyze and process information and generate a response to transmitted data — all of which are generally abstract functions. In addition the court noted that the claims “relate to [the abstract idea of] using communications networks to update software stored on computers.” Under Alice Step 2, the court found no inventive concepts in the claim — but rather generic, conventional components such as “Internet-connected computers and servers.” While a “toolbar” might be interesting, they were already in widespread use as of the invention and so not an inventive concept.

          In an earlier proceeding, the E.D. Tex. construed the term “toolbar” with some particularity as a “button bar that can be dynamically changed or updated via a Pinger process or a MOT script.” MyMail, Ltd. v. Yahoo! Inc., 16-CV-1000 (E.D. Tex. Sept. 9, 2017). MyMail requested the same construction in this case — hoping that the added complexity would either (1) take the concept out of the abstract idea realm or (2) be considered an inventive concept. ooVoo argued that the prior claim construction was “wrong.”

          [...]

          The patent here stems from a broad provisional application filed in 1997 by Netsafe. Netsafe owned Robert Derry $70,000. He obtained judgment and was awarded the patent rights as payment back in 2000. Derry is the head of MyMail and lead inventor Thomas Selgas is a co-founder.

          Mymail obtained $6.8 million settlement on the patents from various companies back in 2005 and Selgas reportedly received a distribution of $1.1 million. According to IRS court filings, Selgas bought gold coins rather than paying taxes on the income. [US v. Selgas][DOJ Press Release]. That case is ongoing.

      • Copyrights

        • Copyright protection granted to Charlotte Tilbury makeup powder case and design

          Lookalike products pose a concern for many a famous brand, and many forms of legal action may be brought in efforts to quell this, from trade mark infringement to passing off and, also, copyright infringement. When it comes to makeup palettes, pursuit of a copyright infringement claim may be indeed a promising way to go, following Islestarr Holdings Ltd v Aldi Stores Ltd, heard under the Shorter Trials Scheme in the High Court of England and Wales (Business and Property Courts).

          In this case, Charlotte Tilbury successfully proved copyright infringement of 2 artistic works by Aldi: first, their ‘Starburst design’, which decorated the lid of the package containing two makeup powders; and the ‘Powder design’, embossed into the separate makeup powders in the package (pictured).

          [...]

          In the present case, copyright was easily proven once drawings of the designs were produced. Even if the drawings were not present, copyright would nonetheless subsist in this artistic work – fixation would not be an issue here.

          More often than not, subsistence of copyright protection will depend upon whether the Work seeking copyright protection is a ‘work’ at all (the CJEU case of Levola Hengelo, C-310/17 is an excellent example of this, see IPKat analysis here). For UK copyright law specifically, this will extend to whether the Work was ‘of the right kind’, as s1(1) of the CDPA 1988 sets out an exhaustive list of works in which copyright may subsist.

          Finally, since this judgment was heard under the Shorter Trial (as opposed to the Intellectual Property Enterprise Courts, where there is an upper damage limit of £500,000), this could be a potentially pricey problem for makers of lookalike products of this kind …

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