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10.14.19

Linux Foundation Board Meeting

Posted in GNU/Linux, Humour at 2:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Linux Foundation session in progress

Our reputation is sinking. How can we shut up our critics? Paid tweets and sponsored articles. Start promoting GNU/Linux desktops?

Summary: More sponsored keynotes and tweets — like more sponsored articles (or “media partners”) — aren’t what the Linux Foundation really needs

Links 14/10/2019: Linux 5.4 RC3, POCL 1.4, Python 3.8.0

Posted in News Roundup at 1:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • My Linux story: I grew up on PC Magazine not candy

      In 1998, the movie Titanic was released, mobile phones were just a luxury, and pagers were still in use. This was also the year I got my first computer. I can remember the details as if it were yesterday: Pentium 133MHz and just 16MB of memory. Back in that time (while running nothing less than Windows 95), this was a good machine. I can still hear in my mind the old spinning hard drive noise when I powered that computer on, and see the Windows 95 flag. It never crossed my mind, though (especially as an 8-year-old kid), that I would dedicate every minute of my life to Linux and open source.

      Being just a kid, I always asked my mom to buy me every issue of PC Magazine instead of candies. I never skipped a single issue, and all of those dusty old magazines are still there in Costa Rica. It was in these magazines that I discovered the essential technology that changed my life. An issue in the year 2000 talked extensively about Linux and the advantages of free and open-source software. That issue also included a review of one of the most popular Linux distributions back then: Corel Linux. Unfortunately, the disc was not included. Without internet at home, I was out of luck, but that issue still lit a spark within me.

    • Tired of Windows and Mac OS? Switch to Elementary OS!

      Elementary OS is one of the most beautiful and clean-looking operating systems available for use in computers. It is fast, open and privacy-oriented. Elementary has its characteristic design philosophy and made aesthetic use of colours. Over the years, this free-to-use operating system has collected heavy praise by reviewers around the world – making it a strong replacement option for both Windows and Mac users.

      The initial development of ElementaryOS started with building themes and applications for Ubuntu, which later inspired the developers to transform it into a full-fledged Linux distribution. The first release of the operating system was on 31 March 2011, and so far, it has been through continuous bugfix and major feature updates.

      The Elementary OS took shape with the concept of making Linux easier for non-technical users. Instead of terminal-based codes, elementary provides a graphical user interface and settings menus to allow users to perform almost all day-to-day tasks without writing any code.

    • Desktop

      • Jussi Pakkanen: Apple of 2019 is the Linux of 2000

        Last week the laptop I use for macOS development said that there is an XCode update available. I tried to install it but it said that there is not enough free space available to run the installer. So I deleted a bunch of files and tried again. Still the same complaint. Then I deleted some unused VM images. Those would free a few dozen gigabytes, so it should make things work. I even emptied the trash can to make sure nothing lingered around. But even this did not help, I still got the same complaint.

        At this point it was time to get serious and launch the terminal. And, true enough, according to df the disk had only 8 gigabytes of free space even though I had just deleted over 40 gigabytes of files from it (using rm, not the GUI, so things really should have been gone). A lot of googling and poking later I discovered that all the deleted files had gone to “reserved space” on the file system. There was no way to access those files or delete them. According to documentation the operating system would delete those files “on demand as more space is needed”. This was not very comforting because the system most definitely was not doing that and you’d think that Apple’s own software would get this right.

        After a ton more googling I managed to find a chat buried somewhere deep in Reddit which listed the magical indentation that purges reserved space. It consisted of running tmutil from the command line and giving it a bunch of command line arguments that did not seem to make sense or have any correlation to the thing that I wanted to do. But it did work and eventually I got XCode updated.

        After my blood pressure dropped to healthier levels I got the strangest feeling of déjà vu. This felt exactly like using Linux in the early 2000s. Things break at random for reasons you can’t understand and the only way to fix it is to find terminal commands from discussion forums, type them in and hope for the best. Then it hit me.

      • Pinebook Pro Linux laptop launches from $199

        After opening preorders back in July 2019 for the new Pinebook Pro Linux laptop, creator and manufacturer PINE64 has this week started shipping out the new Lenox laptop to customers. Powered by a 64-Bit Dual-Core ARM 1.8GHz Cortex A72 and Quad-Core ARM 1.4GHz Cortex A53 supported by Quad-Core MALI T-860 graphics and 4 GB LPDDR4 Dual Channel System DRAM Memory the Linux laptop is available to purchase priced at $199. Check out the video below for a quick overview of what you can expect from the PINE64 Pinebook Pro Linux laptop.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • GNU World Order 13×42

        On the road during the **All Things Open** conference, Klaatu talks about how to make ebooks from various sources, with custom CSS, using the Pandoc command.

      • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 165 – Grab Bag of Microsoft Security News

        Josh and Kurt about a number of Microsoft security news items. They’ve changed how they are handling encrypted disks and are now forcing cloud logins on Windows users.

      • Linux Action News 127

        Richard Stallman’s GNU leadership is challenged by an influential group of maintainers, SUSE drops OpenStack “for the customer,” and Google claims Stadia will be faster than a gaming PC.

        Plus OpenLibra aims to save us from Facebook but already has a miss, lousy news for Telegram, and enormous changes for AMP.

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.4-rc3
        Things continue to look fairly normal, with rc3 being larger than rc2,
        as people are starting to find more regressions, but 5.4 so far
        remains on the smaller side of recent releases.
        
        The diffstat looks fairly flat too, although we had a couple of
        staging drivers being removed here that show up as spikes. Drivers in
        general account for about two thirds of the diff, and it's not just
        those staging drivers, it's other small noise all over the place: usb,
        drm, iio, rdma..
        
        Outside of drivers, filesystems pop up more than perhaps usual, but
        it's again mostly low-grade noise all over: btrfs, cifs, nfs, ocfs,
        xfs and some core vfs fixes.
        
        The rest is arch updates (mainly arm64, x86, mips), tooling (mostly
        perf tooling updates, but also some selftest fixlets), documentation,
        and misc core kernel and mm stuff.
        
        There really isn't anything huge that stands out. You can scan the
        appended shortlog for a flavor of the details, it's not too long to
        just scroll through.
        
        Linus
        
      • Linux 5.4-rc3 Released Ahead Of Official Kernel Debut In November
      • Get to know Oracle Linux Virtualization Manager

        Linux Virtualization Manager can manage multiple on-premises hosts running Oracle Linux KVM. Oracle enhanced Linux KVM in the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) Release 5, an OS kernel tested and optimized for Oracle Linux 7 Update 5.

        Because Linux KVM is the same hypervisor used for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, admins have an easy migration path from the Linux Virtualization Manager environment to the Oracle Cloud platform. Linux Virtualization Manager also supports importing and exporting software appliances based on the Open Virtualization Format and Open Virtualization Archive standards.

        Oracle based Linux Virtualization Manager on the oVirt project, an open source virtualization platform developed by Red Hat. Linux Virtualization Manager relies on the oVirt engine for discovering KVM hosts and configuring storage and network resources. The platform supports KVM administration for multinode environments, offering a large-scale, centralized management platform for server and desktop virtualization.

      • Intel Firmware Binaries Land For AX200/AX201 Bluetooth Linux Support

        With devices beginning to hit store shelves using the new Intel WiFi 6 AX200 series chipsets, the firmware binaries have landed in linux-firmware.git for rounding out support for these latest WiFi/Bluetooth adapters.

        For a few kernel releases now since earlier this year these new Intel wireless chipsets have been supported by the mainline kernel but the firmware hasn’t been part of the de facto linux-firmware.git tree that houses the various firmware binaries for different hardware component support under Linux.

      • Graphics Stack

        • SHADERed 1.2.3 Released With Support For 3D Textures & Audio Shaders

          SHADERed is the open-source, cross-platform project for creating and testing HLSL/GLSL shaders. While a version number of 1.2.3 may not seem like a big update, some notable additions can be found within this new SHADERed release.

        • Vulkan 1.1.125 Released With SPIR-V 1.4 Support

          Succeeding Vulkan 1.1.124 one week later is now Vulkan 1.1.125 with a lone new extension.

          Vulkan 1.1.125 has its usual clarifications and corrections to this graphics API specification. Meanwhile the new extension introduced in the overnight v1.1.125 release is VK_KHR_spirv_1_4.

    • Applications

      • 4 Free and Open Source Alternatives to Adobe Photoshop

        Adobe Photoshop is a premium image editing and design tool available for Windows and macOS. Undoubtedly, almost everyone knows about it. It’s that popular. Well, you can use Photoshop on Linux using Windows in a virtual machine or by using Wine – but that is not an ideal experience.

        In general, we don’t have a lot of options available as a replacement for Adobe Photoshop. However, in this article, we shall mention some of the best open-source Photoshop alternatives available for Linux (with cross-platform support as well).

        Do note that Photoshop is not just a photo editor. It’s used by photographers, digital artists, professional editors for various usage. The alternative software here may not have all the features of Photoshop but you can use them for various task that you do in Photoshop.

      • starship – elegant cross-shell prompt at your fingertips

        The Command Line Interface (CLI) is a way of interacting with your computer. And if you ever want to harness all the power of Linux, it’s highly recommended to master it. It’s true the CLI is often perceived as a barrier for users migrating to Linux, particularly if they’re grown up using GUI software exclusively. While Linux rarely forces anyone to use the CLI, some tasks are better suited to this method of interaction, offering inducements like superior scripting opportunities, remote access, and being far more frugal with a computer’s resources.

        For anyone spending time at the CLI, they’ll rely on the shell prompt. I always seem to gravitate back to Bash even though I’ve used more than a dozen shells over the years. By default, the configuration for Bash on popular distributions identifies the user name, hostname, and the current working directory. I recently reviewed Liquid Prompt, an intelligent and non-intrusive prompt for Bash and zsh.

        starship is an alternative to Liquid Prompt. The software aims to show information you need while you’re working, yet being unobtrusive as possible.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Odds and ends, the Linux and gaming Sunday Section

        Almost time to begin another week full of news, before we do let’s run over a few interesting happenings recently.

        Let’s start with two bits of recent news about Godot Engine, the free and open source game engine. The 3.2 release cycle is going strong, with a second alpha release now available. A massive list of new features and improvements coming to Godot 3.2 can be found here. What’s even more exciting though is the Vulkan work coming with Godot Engine 4.0, with another short progress report post up for it. The new visual frame profiler coming certainly looks useful to help developers squeeze out some more performance.

        More AMD news for you, as it has been reported by Wccftech that AMD now command around 30%+ market share of the CPU market. That’s some very impressive growth, pushed forward by the Zen microarchitecture from 2017. As seen in the graph below from cpubenchmark.net, this is the highest they’ve seen it since 2007.

      • SFB Games to bring Tangle Tower to Linux post-launch if there’s enough demand

        British indie studio SFB Games, developer of the highly rated Detective Grimoire are working on a new game called Tangle Tower and with a little push they could bring it to Linux.

        Tangle Tower is a fully voiced point and click murder mystery adventure, set in a strange and twisted mansion. You will need to interrogate suspects and solve unique puzzles as you progress. Looks and sounds like a great game. Sadly though it’s currently scheduled to release later this month only for Windows and macOS on October 22nd, so no Linux support at launch.

      • Turn-based political simulation game ‘Lawgivers’ adds Linux support with the latest update

        Today I came across Lawgivers, a turn-based political simulation game which recently added Linux support and it looks like it could be a lot of fun.

        Since it’s a political sim, you will be tasked with leading your party into elections. If you manage to get voted in, you will be responsible for approving laws and shaping your country’s destiny.

      • The completely silly fighting game Foreskin Fury is out in Early Access

        After a short delay, you can now jump into Foreskin Fury and have a cock fight. Yes this is a very real game.

        Made in Unreal Engine, the aptly named Stupid Industries said it started off as a joke and they ended up actually learning Blender and Unreal Engine to turn the joke into something a little more real. Here we are, Foreskin Fury was accepted onto Steam and it supports Linux.

      • The currently free indie RTS ‘The Fertile Crescent’ should now work better at different resolutions

        The Fertile Crescent is an upcoming in-development indie RTS that feels like a retro Age of Empires and it’s really quite good. A new update is out (and it’s still free) fixing up the UI for different resolutions.

        I think more of you need to try this one, it’s a wonderful little RTS game that I honestly can’t wait to see expand. Hopefully now more of you actually will be able to try it, as they’ve made it so the interface properly scales with your resolution. Previously, there were problems if you had anything other than 1080p. Not only that, most of the interface was actually redesigned and it gives you more information.

      • Chiaki, the open source and cross-platform PS4 Remote Play client now supports the PS4 7.0 update

        Sony recently upgraded the system software on the PlayStation 4 which broke compatibility with the open source Remote Play client Chiaki. The developer acted quickly and a new release is up.

        This is the software we tested out recently and came away pretty impressed with it. Allowing you to stream games from a PlayStation 4 to a Linux desktop, seriously handy stuff since Sony don’t support it on Linux officially.

      • Adventure simulation, Pine, is now available on PC, Mac, Linux

        Developer Twirlbound and publisher Kongregate have announced today that Pine is now available on PC, Mac, and Linux. In addition, a launch trailer has been released that shows off the beautiful and animated world of Albamare. The adventure simulation has players control Hue, a young explorer on a mission to find a new home for himself and his small tribe.

        The launch trailer features combat, trading, exploration, archery, horseback riding, and dangerous creatures. Check it out below.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Interview with Fabian Mosakowski

          My name is Fabian Mosakowski and I’m an aspiring illustrator living in France. I’m currently working on my portfolio creating an illustrated fantasy tale called “If Only Blood Was Red”. It deals with what’s left of humans thriving to survive in a land that doesn’t welcome them.

          Currently as a hobby artist. I made a few comissions for close relatives but I’d like to make it professional once my portfolio will be done.

          Mainly fantasy as it’s the narrative thread of my project but I also mix it with dark art, another genre I really enjoy, to fit the story atmosphere. I also occasionnally work in vectorial or comic book style for lighter projects.

    • Distributions

      • Reviews

        • Archman GNU/Linux Xfce 2019-09

          Archman is an Arch Linux-based distribution developed in Turkey. The project’s website is available in both Turkish and English, which makes the distribution approachable to non-Turkish audiences. Archman has various releases with different desktop environments and release dates. In this review, I will be reviewing Archman’s Xfce 2019-09 release, which is codenamed Lake With Fish.

          To begin, I downloaded the 1.6GB ISO and copied it to a flash drive. I rebooted my computer, turned off Secure Boot, and started Archman from the flash drive. The boot process was quick, but I ended up at a graphical login screen instead of a working desktop environment. I pressed the Enter key and I logged in without needing a password.

          The live desktop looked very nice. It is an interesting blend of classic and modern. The live desktop has icons for the user’s home folder and Trash. There is also a shortcut for Hexchat and the Calamares Archman Installer. The panel at the bottom of the screen holds the application menu, shortcuts for showing the desktop/quickly minimizing all running applications, Firefox, the user’s home folder, sections for the currently running applications, switching desktops, a clock, Bluetooth and wireless controls, a battery meter, update notifications, volume control, and a log out/reboot/shutdown shortcut. The panel is 70% the width of the screen and set to automatically hide.

          I looked around the live desktop for a little while. I tested to make sure that everything was working okay with my hardware, and once I was certain that all my hardware worked, I moved on to installing Archman.

        • Xubuntu 19.10 overview | A operating system that combines elegance and ease of use.

          In this video, I am going to show an overview of Xubuntu 19.04 and some of the applications pre-installed.

        • Checking out Crunchbang++ 10 on my Thinkpad T480s
      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • Gentoo Family

        • Improving distfile mirror structure

          The Gentoo distfile mirror network is essential in distributing sources to our users. It offloads upstream download locations, improves throughput and reliability, guarantees distfile persistency.

          The current structure of distfile mirrors dates back to 2002. It might have worked well back when we mirrored around 2500 files but it proved not to scale well. Today, mirrors hold almost 70 000 files, and this number has been causing problems for mirror admins.

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • SUSE what, adoption’s still growing, shrugs OpenStack Foundation

          OpenStack chief operating officer Mark Collier told The Reg that while SUSE’s decision to abandon its OpenStack Cloud product is “obviously disappointing”, adoption is “strong and growing”.

          SUSE’s decision that it will “cease production of new versions of SUSE OpenStack Cloud” and “discontinue sales of SUSE OpenStack Cloud” is significant, given that it had a seat on the OpenStack board as a Platinum member – one of only eight companies which commits to provide major funding and full-time resources to the OpenStack Foundation, the others being AT&T, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Rackspace, Red Hat and Tencent. SUSE will now “carefully transition our board position and sponsorship level” according to a statement sent to The Reg, though it promises continued involvement at some level.

          It is tempting therefore to treat Collier’s remarks to The Reg as damage limitation, but in this case he has a point. OpenStack, which is a set of projects that enables users to run private clouds, has a huge customer base and its market is growing by about 20 per cent a year, according to recent figures and projections. There is not much competition if you want to run an open-source private cloud, and there can be good reasons to do so.

        • Highlights of openSUSE Asia Summit 2019

          The openSUSE.Asia Summit is one of the big events for the openSUSE community (i.e. both contributors and users) in Asia. Those who normally communicate online can meet from all over the world, talk in person and have fun. Members of the community share their current knowledge, experience and learn FLOSS technologies around openSUSE. The openSUSE.Asia Summit 2019 took place from October 5 to October 6, 2019 at the Information Technology Department, Faculty of Engineering, Udayana University, Bali.

        • Maintaining Enterprise Linux Kernels

          Forking the Linux kernel and using it as the basis of an Enterprise product is a challenging task. The pace of development in the upstream Linux kernel makes it hard to keep up with all the fixes that need to be backported. This article describes the process we use at SUSE to find and backport potentially required upstream fixes to our kernels.

          [...]

          Every fix that is reported will be evaluated by a developer and either backported to the kernel branches that need it or blacklisted, so that the fix is no longer considered. But who is the best person (or group) to report a fix to?
          The answer is easy if the fix is for a patch that was backported by someone within SUSE as part of a service pack development cycle. In that case the person who backported the patch is tasked with reviewing the associated fix. The same happens with upstream fixes that are authored or committed by a SUSE employee.
          Assigning fixes for patches that are part of the base-kernel is a bit more complicated. To that end we have introduced a maintainer model with an internal list of experts for most parts of the Linux kernel.
          The approach is similar to the MAINTAINERS file in the upstream Linux kernel, but the file at SUSE is simpler. It only contains a list of people and several path-specs per entry. Each potential fix for the base-kernel is matched against the path-specs in the maintainers list and assigned to the best matching entry. The fix is reported to the developers listed in the matching entry.
          But not all fixes could be assigned that way because the SUSE maintainers list does not cover the whole kernel source tree. For the remaining fixes a heuristic is used. It is based on which source code files in the kernel source tree are touched by the backports of each developer. This is matched against the file(s) a fix touches.

        • Suse: Equipped For The Hybrid Multicloud Age

          Linux as an operating system platform as well as other Open Source technologies as core elements are used in SAP infrastructures. This is applicable for Cloud as well as on-premises deployment. Thus, they are equipped for the Hybrid Multicloud age.
          Open Source arrived in the SAP world a long time ago. The Walldorf-based software company contributed to this development when it made the decision to only use the Linux operating system platform along with SAP Hana and Hana-based application solutions such as S/4.

          And the trend towards Linux with NetWeaver-based infrastructures with AnyDB has already provided the impetus for the deep penetration of Linux. The Hana figures quoted by SAP recently (during this year’s Sapphire conference) speak to this significance. The company now has 50,000 Hana licenses. In addition to Linux, other Open Source solutions are used in SAP environments in conjunction with Data Science and the use of Kubernetes. Kubernetes is used for the orchestration of containers as part of SAP Data Hub environments.

      • Slackware Family

        • LibreOffice 6.2.7 packages available for Slackware 14.2

          There was a recent update in my repository of LibreOffice packages, but that libreoffice-6.3.2 was just for slackware-current.

          There’s a recent release in the LibreOffice 6.2 stable series as well (ok… five weeks ago, not that recent…), and so I decided to use my build box’s free weekend to come up with packages for LibreOffice 6.2.7.
          This release has a security improvement over previous versions, in that it will popup a warning to the user if a document tries to run an embedded script (similar to existing warning mechanism for embedded macros).

      • Debian Family

        • Tails 4.0 RC out now with Linux 5.3, Tor Browser 9.0

          You can now download the latest Tails release candidate that not only comes with increased privacy but also Linux 5.3 and Tor Browser 9.

          Before delving into the news, let’s have a bit of an introduction to Tails, shall we? It sells itself as a live incognito system that focuses on user anonymity and privacy. With Tails, you will be able to browse the Internet without leaving traces, get access to censored content, and have all your messages, files, and emails encrypted.

        • Ritesh Raj Sarraf: Bpfcc New Release

          bpfcc version 0.11.0 has been uploaded to Debian Unstable and should be accessible in the repositories by now. After the 0.8.0 release, this has been the next one uploaded to Debian.

        • Utkarsh Gupta: Joining Debian LTS!

          Back during the good days of DebConf19, I finally got a chance to meet Holger! As amazing and inspiring a person he is, it was an absolute pleasure meeting him and also, I got a chance to talk about Debian LTS in more detail.

          [...]

          I had almost no idea what to do next, so the next month I stayed silent, observing the workflow as people kept committing and announcing updates.
          And finally in September, I started triaging and fixing the CVEs for Jessie and Stretch (mostly the former).
          Thanks to Abhijith who explained the basics of what DLA is and how do we go about fixing bugs and then announcing them.
          With that, I could fix a couple of CVEs and thanks to Holger (again) for reviewing and sponsoring the uploads! :D

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Ubucon Europe 2019 in local media

          News from the new Ubuntu distribution, the exploration of the several platforms and many “how to”, rule the 4-days agenda where the open source and open technologies are in the air.

          The Olga Cadaval Cultural centre in Sintra, is the main stage of a busy agenda filled with several talks and more technical sessions, but at Ubucon Europe there’s also room for networking and cultural visits, a curious fusion between spaces full of history, like the Pena Palace or the Quinta da Regaleira, and one of the youngest “players” in the world of software.

          For 4 days, the international Ubuntu Community gathers in Sintra for an event open to everyone, where the open source principles and open technology are dominating. The Ubucon Europe Conference begun Thursday, October 10th, and extends until Sunday, October 13th, keeping an open doors policy to everyone who wants to

          Afterall, what is the importance of Ubucon? The number of participants, which should be around 150, doesn’t tell the whole story of what you can learn during these days, as the SAPO TEK had the opportunity to check this morning.

          Organised by the Ubuntu Portugal Community, with the National Association for Open Software, the Ubuntu Europe Federation and the Sintra Municipality, the conference brings to Portugal some of the biggest open source specialists and shows that Ubuntu is indeed alive, even if not yet known by most people, and still far from the “world domain” aspired by some.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • SaaS/Back End/Databases

        • MongoDB vs. MySQL: How to choose

          During the dot-com bubble in the 1990s, one common software stack for web applications was LAMP, which originally stood for Linux (OS), Apache (web server), MySQL (relational database), and PHP (server programming language). MySQL was the preferred database mostly because it was free open source and had good read performance, which fit well with “Web 2.0” apps that dynamically generated sites from the database.

          Later the MEAN stack, which stood for MongoDB (document database), Express (web server), AngularJS (front-end framework), and Node.js (back-end JavaScript runtime), came to prominence. The MEAN stack was attractive, among other reasons, because the only language you needed to know was JavaScript. It also needed less RAM than an equivalent LAMP stack.

      • CMS

        • What’s New in Odoo 13?

          Fast, Simple and Effective Business Management- this is the motto of Odoo, the leading open source ERP of the globe. And this is what makes Odoo the prominent and most favorite choice among business enterprises. With the release of Odoo 13, the open-source ERP has become all more fit and robust to meet the diversified needs of businesses. With Odoo 13 users can go along with better designs and customizations.
          With each version release, Odoo makes it a point to bring in major and minor improvements in the application, alongside a set of new features for improving the user interface and functionality of the user. The users worth 3.4 million is the evidence of Odoo being the finest application for business management.

        • Becoming Better Digital Citizens Through Open Source

          The WordPress Project is on a mission to democratize publishing. As WordPress empowers more people to participate in the digital space, we have the opportunity to make sure that everyone can participate safely and responsibly. Today marks the start of Digital Citizenship Week. We are going to share how open source can be used as a tool for learners (regardless of age) to practice and model the essential parts of being a good digital citizen.

          [...]

          Digital Citizenship is for all age groups. Anyone who uses the internet on a computer, mobile device or a TV is a digital citizen. You don’t have to be tech-savvy already, maybe you are taking your first steps with technology. Digital Citizenship Week is a chance to reflect together on our impact on the digital world. It can help us to make our consumption more considered and our interaction friendlier. It enables us to make a positive difference to those around us.

          All of us can strive (or learn) to become better digital citizens. It can be affected by the access those teaching have had to digital skills and good practice. Adult education classes and community tech hubs play a part in basic tech skill development. Unfortunately, these are not always accessible to those in less populated geographic locations.

          Open source communities like WordPress already make a difference in encouraging the principles of digital citizenship, from sharing tech skills to improving security knowledge. They give people an opportunity to learn alongside their peers and many of the resources are available regardless of location, resources, or skills.

      • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

        • Use and throw culture based on lies can’t be coming from Free Software philosophy

          Similar thing happened to Stallman. Actually in an ironic way. This community is created by Stallman only. By 1980s beginning software sharing community was ceased to exist. Then 1983 Stallman himself gave birth to a new community with all legal protection. Because before there were no legal framework for sharing software. Stallman used copyleft idea and GPL to create such a community. There were no help and there were no support. Last 35 years he worked for that.

          Now some new bosses think that he dont look good. He is boring, repeating same thing all these 35 years. Lets get rid off him. You idiots, actually this is his house. You people piggybacked there.

          Still you can have a say if Stallman did anything wrong about free software. But there is nothing he did wrong. Still again I may support you if you with some guts initiate a trial against him on your own behalf. But you did nothing. Instead what you a shameless creature did? Hiding bind an upset woman reacting to smear campaign and lies. This is unacceptable and unethical.

      • Licensing/Legal

        • Contributor License Agreement and Developer Certificate of Origin references

          In the last few years I have come across the CLA topic several times. It is and will be a popular topic in automotive the coming years, like in any industry that moves from being an Open Source Producer towards becoming an Open Source Contributor.

          In my experience, many organizations take the CLA as a given by looking at the google, microsoft or intels of the world and replicate their model. But more and more organizations are learning about alternatives, even if they do not adopt them.

          What I find interesting about discussing the alternatives is that it brings to the discussion the contributor perspective and not just the company one. This enrichs the debate and, in some cases, leads to a more balanced framework between any organization behind a project and the contriibutor base, which benefits both.

          Throughout these years I have read a lot about it but I have never written anything. It is one of those topics I do not feel comfortable enough to write about in public probably because I know lots of people more qualified than I am to do so. What I can do is to provide some articles and links that I like or that have been recommended to me in the past.

      • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

        • Open Hardware/Modding

          • Raspberry Pi 4 PCI Express: It actually works! USB3, SATA… GPUs?

            Recently, Tomasz Mloduchowski posted a popular article on his blog detailing the steps he undertook to get access to the hidden PCIe interface of Raspberry Pi 4: the first Raspberry Pi to include PCIe in its design. After seeing his post, and realizing I was meaning to go buy a Raspberry Pi 4, it just seemed natural to try and replicate his results in the hope of taking it a bit further. I am known for Raspberry Pi Butchery, after all.

          • Raspberry Pi 4 B+ – PCI Express

            Why did I do it? Because I wanted to see if it can be done. Because Raspberry Pi 4 might be the cheapest device that is PCIe capable after a relatively minor modification (if I didn’t lift the capacitors when desoldering the VL805, this is literally 12 soldering points). That, in turn, can be quite handy for developing own PCIe cores for various FPGA based experiments.

            I’m sharing it to allow people to learn from this – and to dispel the myth that PCIe is somehow out of reach of hobbyists due to some concerns over signal integrity or complexities. Stay tuned for more Pi4/PCIe experimentation!

      • Programming/Development

        • How to Read SAS Files in Python with Pandas

          In this post, we are going to learn how to read SAS (.sas7dbat) files in Python.

          As previously described (in the read .sav files in Python post) Python is a general-purpose language that also can be used for doing data analysis and data visualization.

        • Daudin – a Python shell

          A few nights ago I wrote daudin, a command-line shell based on Python. It allows you to easily mix UNIX and Python on the command line.

        • How to Convert Python String to Int and Back to String

          This tutorial describes various ways to convert Python string to int and from an integer to string. You may often need to perform such operations in day to day programming. Hence, you should know them to write better programs.

          Also, an integer can be represented in different bases, so we’ll explain that too in this post. And there happen to be scenarios where conversion fails. Hence, you should consider such cases as well and can find a full reference given here with examples.

        • Thousands of Scientific Papers May be Invalid Due to Misunderstanding Python

          It was recently discovered that several thousand scientific articles could be invalid in their conclusions because scientists did not understand that Python’s glob.glob() does not return sorted results.

          This is being reported on by Vice, Slashdot and there’s an interesting discussion going on over on Reddit as well.

        • PyDev of the Week: Elana Hashman

          This week we welcome Elana Hashman (@ehashdn) as our PyDev of the Week! Elana is a director of the Open Source Initiative and a fellow of the Python Software Foundation. She is also the Clojure Packaging Team lead and a Java Packaging Team member. You can see some of her work over on Github. You can also learn more about Elana on her website. Let’s take a few moments to get to know her better!

        • Eclipse Che 7 and the .NET developer

          Eclipse Che 7, an open source in-the-browser development environment, allows you to define custom workspaces for your software development. Think of a workspace as you would think of a development PC: You have an operating system, programming language support, and all the tools necessary to write code. In this article, I’ll introduce the .NET developer to this new world and highlight ways you can use Eclipse Che to your advantage.

        • How to Convert String to Lowercase in Python

          Some times you may require to convert any string to lower case (all letters). This tutorial will help to convert a string (any case) to lower case as showing in the below image.

        • How to fuck up software releases

          I manage releases for a bunch of free & open-source software. Just about every time I ship a release, I find a novel way to fuck it up. Enough of these fuck-ups have accumulated now that I wanted to share some of my mistakes and how I (try to) prevent them from happening twice.

        • Django 3.0 beta 1 released

          Django 3.0 beta 1 is now available. It represents the second stage in the 3.0 release cycle and is an opportunity for you to try out the changes coming in Django 3.0.

          Django 3.0 has a raft of new features which you can read about in the in-development 3.0 release notes.

          Only bugs in new features and regressions from earlier versions of Django will be fixed between now and 3.0 final (also, translations will be updated following the “string freeze” when the release candidate is issued). The current release schedule calls for a release candidate in a month from now with the final release to follow about two weeks after that around December 2. Early and often testing from the community will help minimize the number of bugs in the release. Updates on the release schedule schedule are available on the django-developers mailing list.

        • LLVM “Stack Clash” Compiler Protection Is Under Review

          Two years after the “Stack Clash” vulnerability came to light, the LLVM compiler is working on adding protection against it similar to the GCC compiler mitigation.

          The Stack Clash vulnerability pertains to clashing/smashing another program’s stack while circumventing existing stack protections at the time. Stack Clash opens up the door to memory corruption and arbitrary code execution. Linux x86/x86_64 wasn’t the only one affected but also the BSDs and Solaris. Those unfamiliar with it or wanting to refresh your memory of it can do so via this Qualys blog post with the firm having discovered this vulnerability.

        • pocl v1.4 released

          Please note that there’s an official pocl maintenance policy in place. This text describes the policy and how you can get your favourite project that uses OpenCL to remain regression free in the future pocl releases.

        • POCL 1.4 Released For Advancing OpenCL On CPUs – Now Supports LLVM 9.0

          Version 1.4 has been released of POCL, the “Portable Computing Language” implementation that allows for a portable OpenCL implementation to be executed on CPUs as well as optionally targeting other accelerators via HSA or even CUDA devices.

          POCL 1.4 brings support for LLVM Clang 9.0, with that open-source compiler stack doing a lot of POCL’s heavy lifting. Support meanwhile for pre-6.0 LLVM releases were removed. POCL 1.4 also adds support for building relocatable POCL binaries and improves SPIR/SPIR-V support for CPU devices.

        • Linux Fu: Python GUIs For Command Line Programs (Almost) Instantly

          Not every programmer likes creating GUI code. Most hacker types don’t mind a command line interface, but very few ordinary users appreciate them. However, if you write command line programs in Python, Gooey can help. By leveraging some Python features and a common Python idiom, you can convert a command line program into a GUI with very little effort.

          The idea is pretty simple. Nearly all command line Python programs use argparse to simplify picking options and arguments off the command line as well as providing some help. The Gooey decorator picks up all your options and arguments and creates a GUI for it. You can make it more complicated if you want to change specific things, but if you are happy with the defaults, there’s not much else to it.

          At first, this article might seem like a Python Fu and not a Linux Fu, since — at first — we are going to focus on Python. But just stand by and you’ll see how this can do a lot of things on many operating systems, including Linux.

        • Python 3.8.0

          Python 3.8.0 is the newest major release of the Python programming language, and it contains many new features and optimizations.

        • Cool New Features in Python 3.8

          The newest version of Python is released today! Python 3.8 has been available in beta versions since the summer, but on October 14th, 2019 the first official version is ready. Now, we can all start playing with the new features and benefit from the latest improvements.

          What does Python 3.8 bring to the table? The documentation gives a good overview of the new features. However, this article will go more in depth on some of the biggest changes, and show you how you can take advantage of Python 3.8.

      • Standards/Consortia

        • Making Movies Accessible for Everyone

          For the first time, people who are deaf or hard of hearing will be able to enjoy the Nairobi leg of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, opening on October 15.

  • Leftovers

    • Security (Confidentiality/Integrity/Availabilitiy)

      • Use sshuttle to build a poor man’s VPN

        Nowadays, business networks often use a VPN (virtual private network) for secure communications with workers. However, the protocols used can sometimes make performance slow. If you can reach reach a host on the remote network with SSH, you could set up port forwarding. But this can be painful, especially if you need to work with many hosts on that network. Enter sshuttle — which lets you set up a quick and dirty VPN with just SSH access. Read on for more information on how to use it.

        The sshuttle application was designed for exactly the kind of scenario described above. The only requirement on the remote side is that the host must have Python available. This is because sshuttle constructs and runs some Python source code to help transmit data.

        [...]

        Depending on the capabilities of your system and the remote system, you can use sshuttle for an IPv6 based VPN. You can also set up configuration files and integrate it with your system startup if desired. If you want to read even more about sshuttle and how it works, check out the official documentation.

      • Hardening Firefox against Injection Attacks

        Firefox not only renders web pages on the internet but also ships with a variety of built-in pages, commonly referred to as about:pages. Such about: pages provide an interface to reveal internal state of the browser. Most prominently, about:config, which exposes an API to inspect and update preferences and settings which allows Firefox users to tailor their Firefox instance to their specific needs.

        Since such about: pages are also implemented using HTML and JavaScript they are subject to the same security model as regular web pages and therefore not immune against code injection attacks. More figuratively, if an attacker manages to inject code into such an about: page, it potentially allows an attacker to execute the injected script code in the security context of the browser itself, hence allowing the attacker to perform arbitrary actions on the behalf of the user.

        To better protect our users and to add an additional layer of security to Firefox, we rewrote all inline event handlers and moved all inline JavaScript code to packaged files for all 45 about: pages. This allowed us to apply a strong Content Security Policy (CSP) such as ‘default-src chrome:’ which ensures that injected JavaScript code does not execute. Instead JavaScript code only executes when loaded from a packaged resource using the internal chrome: protocol. Not allowing any inline script in any of the about: pages limits the attack surface of arbitrary code execution and hence provides a strong first line of defense against code injection attacks.

      • IPFire on AWS: Update to IPFire 2.23 – Core Update 136

        Today, we have updated IPFire on AWS to IPFire 2.23 – Core Update 136 – the latest official release of IPFire.

        This update includes security fixes for OpenSSL and the Linux kernel, an updated Perl, and of course many other fixes throughout the whole system.

      • Pros and cons of event-driven security

        Great news, everyone! Forrester Research says that 95% of all recorded breaches in 2016 came from only three industries: government, technology, and retail. Everyone else is safe… ish, right?

        Hold on for a moment. Tech? Retail? What kind of industry diversification is this? We are, after all, living in 2019, where every business is a tech business. And all of us are continuously selling something, whether it’s an innovative product or an amazing service.

        So what the report should have said is that 95% of all recorded breaches came from attacks on 95% of all businesses both online and offline. And some of the attackers went for the .gov.

        More on the matter, 43% of attackers target small businesses—and that’s a lot considering that, on average, a hack attempt takes place every 39 seconds.

        To top things off, the average cost of a data breach in 2020 is expected to exceed $150 million. These stats sound a bit more terrifying out of context, but the threat is still very much real. Ouch.

      • XML External Entity (XXE) Example

        According to OWASP, an XML External Entity attack is a type of attack against an application that parses XML input. This attack occurs when XML input containing a reference to an external entity is processed by a weakly configured XML parser. This attack may lead to the disclosure of confidential data, denial of service, server side request forgery, port scanning from the perspective of the machine where the parser is located, and other system impacts.

        If a parser accepts unsanitized XML, we can take advantage of that and send our own crafted external XML payload to exploit our target. This post won’t be long so let’s get into it.

      • Security updates for Monday

        Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (chromium, sdl, and unbound), Debian (clamav, libdatetime-timezone-perl, openssl, tcpdump, and tzdata), Fedora (cutter-re, jackson-annotations, jackson-bom, jackson-core, jackson-databind, jackson-parent, libapreq2, ming, opendmarc, radare2, and thunderbird), openSUSE (chromium), Oracle (kernel), and SUSE (axis, jakarta-commons-fileupload, kernel, sles12sp3-docker-image, sles12sp4-image, system-user-root, and webkit2gtk3).

    • Defence/Aggression

      • U.S. Begins Possible Full Withdrawal From Northern Syria

        The United States appears to be heading toward a full military withdrawal from Syria amid growing chaos, cries of betrayal and signs that Turkey’s invasion could fuel a broader war.

      • Retired Marine Gen. John Allen: ‘There is blood on Trump’s hands for abandoning our Kurdish allies’

        Gen. John Allen, the former commander of American forces in Afghanistan and former special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS under the Obama administration, told CNN the unfolding crisis in Syria was “completely foreseeable” and “the US greenlighted it.”

        “There was no chance (Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan) Erdogan would keep his promise, and full blown ethnic cleansing is underway by Turkish supported militias,” he said. “This is what happens when Trump follows his instincts and because of his alignment with autocrats.”

      • Turkey-Syria offensive: Kurds reach deal with Syrian army

        The Turkish offensive and US withdrawal has drawn an international outcry, as the SDF were the main Western allies in the battle against IS in Syria.

        But Turkey views elements of the Kurdish groups within the force as terrorists and says it wants to drive them away from a “safe zone” reaching 30km into Syria.

        It also plans to resettle more than three million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey within the zone. Many of them are not Kurds. Critics have warned this could lead to ethnic cleansing of the local Kurdish population.

      • Barnaby Joyce joins calls to stop extradition of Assange to US

        Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has joined calls for the Morrison government to try to halt Julian Assange’s potential extradition from Britain to the United States on espionage charges, as the WikiLeaks founder’s supporters intensify their campaign to bring him to Australia.

        Mr Joyce joined former foreign minister Bob Carr in voicing concerns over US attempts to have the 48-year-old Australian stand trial in America, where he faces a sentence of 175 years if found guilty of computer fraud and obtaining and disclosing national defence information.

        [...]

        Mr Joyce, a former National Party leader and now a government backbencher, said his support for Assange should not be “taken as a character reference about him”.

        “I support the proper process of Australian law as applied to our citizens in our land in respect of our laws; it is the essence of sovereignty,” Mr Joyce told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

    • Environment

      • Energy

        • California Blackouts Throw Spotlight on Disparity

          When the nation’s largest utility warned customers that it would cut power to nearly 2 million people across Northern California, many rushed out to buy portable generators, knowing the investment could help sustain them during blackouts.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Warren Campaign Beats Facebook’s Shady Ad Policies at Their Own Game

        Presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren this week targeted Facebook’s advertising policy—which allows politicians to circulate lies—with an ad of her own, which falsely claims that the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg endorsed President Donald Trump for re-election.

      • Hunter Biden to Resign From Chinese Board

        NEW YORK—Facing intense scrutiny from President Donald Trump and his Republican allies, Hunter Biden announced on Sunday that he will step down from the board of directors of a Chinese-backed private equity firm at the end of the month as part of a pledge not to work on behalf of any foreign-owned companies should his father win the presidency.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Privacy/Surveillance

      • [Older] China’s New Cybersecurity Program: NO Place to Hide

        This system will apply to foreign owned companies in China on the same basis as to all Chinese persons, entities or individuals. No information contained on any server located within China will be exempted from this full coverage program. No communication from or to China will be exempted. There will be no secrets. No VPNs. No private or encrypted messages. No anonymous online accounts. No trade secrets. No confidential data. Any and all data will be available and open to the Chinese government. Since the Chinese government is the shareholder in all SOEs and is now exercising de facto control over China’s major private companies as well, all of this information will then be available to those SOEs and Chinese companies. See e.g. China to place government officials inside 100 private companies, including Alibaba. All this information will be available to the Chinese military and military research institutes. The Chinese are being very clear that this is their plan.

      • Apple Safari browser sends some user IP addresses to Chinese conglomerate Tencent by default

        Apple admits that it sends some user IP addresses to Tencent in the “About Safari & Privacy” section of its Safari settings which can be accessed on an iOS device by opening the Settings app and then selecting “Safari > About Privacy & Security.” Under the title “Fraudulent Website Warning,” Apple says: [...]

      • Why You Shouldn’t Use Facebook

        These are in chronological order, starting with the earliest. So the whole thing should read like a nice, long privacy vortex timeline.

    • Freedom of Information / Freedom of the Press

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • #MeToo Movement’s Second Anniversary

        The global #MeToo movement has sparked significant social, cultural, and legal change, but many challenges remain, Human Rights Watch said, on the eve of the second anniversary of the #MeToo hashtag going viral on social media.

      • Lawyer for slain woman’s family says Fort Worth police should not be investigating themselves

        Atatiana Koquice Jefferson, 28, was killed around 2:30 a.m. Saturday after a neighbor called dispatchers to report the woman’s front door was open, police said.

        James Smith, Jefferson’s neighbor, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he called a non-emergency police number when he saw her doors open and lights on in the early morning hours. Officers arrived and parked near but not in front of the residence, police spokesman Lt. Brandon O’Neil said Sunday at a news conference.

        The officers were searching the perimeter of the woman’s home when they saw a person standing inside near a window and one of them opened fire, killing her, police said.

      • The False Balance Between Fascists and Antifascists

        Right-wing terror is a feature of daily life in present-day America. Ostensibly spontaneous violence incubates in the same ideological ecosystem as organized reactionary political associations.

    • Monopolies

This Week Techrights Crosses 26,000 Posts Milestone, 3 Weeks Before Turning 13 (2,000+ Posts/Year)

Posted in Site News at 4:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Time for another meme

Techrights; Exposing corruption; Oct 2019; Meme generator

Summary: A self-congratulatory post about another year that’s passed (without breaks from publishing) and another milestone associated with posting volume

THANKS to some help maintaining and running the site we believe it should be possible to increase productivity and take pace of publication up another notch. We expected to reach the 26,000 threshold (or milestone) some time next month, but we’re about to cross it before this week’s end. This certainly means that we’ve accelerated somewhat in recent weeks/months.

26,000 isn’t a particularly pretty number and 13 isn’t a special number/age except in one religion, so we probably won’t be preparing a cake or anything like that. Instead all effort/resources will go into more research, fact-checking and publication.

No Calls to “Remove Gates” From the Board (Over a Real Scandal/Crime), Only to “Remove Stallman” (Over Phony Distraction From the Former)

Posted in Bill Gates, Microsoft at 4:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft will need to cut ties/links to Gates to avoid association with trafficking and pedophilia

Thin ice, fat ego

Summary: Jeffrey Epstein’s connections to Bill Gates extend well beyond Gates himself; other people inside Microsoft are closely involved as well, so Microsoft might want to cut ties with its co-founder before it becomes a very major mess

IT HAS rapidly become very obvious and abundantly clear that Bill Gates keeps lying. He has done that for decades and nothing is changing. When caught in a lie he changes the story. The deposition tapes are an epic reminder of that.

The ‘circle’ of Gates — a circle which includes Microsoft Corp. and his father’s law firm — is a lying machine. Consider what has happened this past month. It goes something like this, courtesy of Bill Gates’ lawyers and spokespeople:

Phase 1) Gates doesn’t know Epstein
Phase 2) OK, he knows him, but just barely
Phase 3) OK, yes, they flew together (Gates has his own plane!)
Phase 4) OK, he went to ‘pedoville’, but he didn’t do anything

Compare this to the Saudi regime’s stance on Khashoggi:

Phase 1) he left safely
Phase 2) OK, he did not leave safely, but we don’t know what happened
Phase 3) OK, we killed him, we don’t know where the body is
Phase 4) OK, we chopped and cooked him in tandoori oven that was prepared in advance, but it wasn’t MbS’ fault or idea

In the case of MbS, they eventually had to find some scapegoats to put on trial for Khashoggi ‘justice’; they also gave money to his kids to keep them more quiet and docile.

“In the case of MbS, they eventually had to find some scapegoats to put on trial for Khashoggi ‘justice’; they also gave money to his kids to keep them more quiet and docile.”In the case of Gates, it certainly seems like media chose to go after Richard Stallman and destroy his career instead of Gates’.

The simplest way to explain why Bill Gates had so much concern over the fate of Epstein (even after his conviction) was that Gates knew if Epstein goes down, he himself (Gates) will inevitably go down with him. Gates was born ultra-rich and released from prison by his wealthy parents, so surely he knows people can get away with anything when/if they have money and connections.

Speaking of MbS and Gates, there are photo ops aplenty, e.g.

MbS and Gates

MbS and Gates

The people above aren’t in prison and there’s not even a formal investigation against them!

There are lots more like these photo ops (many occasions). Gates has long been eerily close to the Saudi regime — a subject that we covered here many times in the past. Psychopathic mentality has long attracted Gates, who appears to have an awkward ‘taste’ for particular people who are linked to crimes and oppression. Consider what he has just done in India.

Epstein’s connections to Bill Gates are not some casual or innocent links. It is perfectly clear that they go a long way back and Gates spokespeople/lawyers refuse to say how many times they met (it’s a lot!).

“Epstein’s connections to Bill Gates are not some casual or innocent links. It is perfectly clear that they go a long way back and Gates spokespeople/lawyers refuse to say how many times they met (it’s a lot!).”“BTW,” a source told us, “Melanie Walker/Sinofsky’s wife(?) was mentioned in the NYT article along with her long relationship with Epstein; since 92’. She was the one that introduced Epstein to Boris Nikolic who was ultimately named as the backup executor of Epstein’s will. Nathan [Intellectual Ventures/Microsoft CTO] straight up went to his Island though… Old Gawker article involving Nathan…”

In Gawker’s words: “there’s plenty of pictures from gatherings of scientists that Epstein has hosted on his private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Here he is with former Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold, for instance. There are also shots of Stephen Hawking hanging out on Epstein’s dime.”

Stephen Hawking was the supervisor of Nathan Myhrvold, so they’re closely connected as well.

Consider what we quoted from the NYT yesterday and consider again these passages a reader of ours sought to emphasise from this article: “In fact, beginning in 2011, Mr. Gates met with Mr. Epstein on numerous occasions — including at least three times at Mr. Epstein’s palatial Manhattan townhouse, and at least once staying late into the night, according to interviews with more than a dozen people familiar with the relationship, as well as documents reviewed by The New York Times. Employees of Mr. Gates’s foundation also paid multiple visits to Mr. Epstein’s mansion. And Mr. Epstein spoke with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and JPMorgan Chase about a proposed multibillion-dollar charitable fund — an arrangement that had the potential to generate enormous fees for Mr. Epstein.”

“Maybe it’s true — not entirely a joke — that the term “Micro-Soft” referred to something other than microprocessors and software.”If any of our readers can give us links/more information about this, we’ll look into it. We’ve long researched these people and surely there’s a lot of stuff they don’t want said, let alone verified

Some people with connections inside Microsoft tell us stories; having ‘smoking gun’ material (proof) to accompany these stories would be ideal. Over the years we’ve mentioned quite a few stories about pedophiles who worked at Microsoft or for Microsoft (from the outside) — surely an inconvenient truth to those looking to guard Microsoft’s image. In ‘damage control’ or damage-limiting efforts some of them approached me over the years in an effort to suppress or remove what we had published (not because it was false but because it harmed their employment prospects). Maybe it’s true — not entirely a joke — that the term “Micro-Soft” referred to something other than microprocessors and software.

“The Stupidest [Patent/Tax] Policy Ever”

Posted in Europe, Finance, Patents at 12:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ask her what she thinks of the status quo

Mariana Mazzucato
By Alex Taffetani. Own work, CC BY 3.0.

Summary: It’s pretty clear that today’s European patent system has been tilted grossly in favour of super-rich monopolists and their facilitators (overzealous law firms and ‘creative’ accountants) as opposed to scientists

Economists sometimes speak negatively and critically about today’s patent systems, seeing how far patent scope has come and how much litigation this incurs. Only those with very deep pockets can endure and pursue real justice. The USPTO has been compelled to stop that, partly owing to 35 U.S.C. § 101. The European Patent Office (EPO), on the other hand, persists like there’s no tomorrow and the sky is the limit when it comes to patent grants. António Campinos and Battistelli measure nothing but “products”; “quality” has come to mean speed (or pendency).

“This is often being done in Europe by companies that aren’t even European!”Patents have moreover become an “asset” for legal departments and law firms, not scientists. Just check who’s best served by them, especially in Europe.

In a new article/interview an economist called Mariana Mazzucato spoke of loopholes for tax evasion — basically tricks that have made it “legal” for large companies with patent monopolies to not pay tax on large transactions. This is often being done in Europe by companies that aren’t even European! To quote some bits: [via]

But a narrative of innovation that omitted the role of the state was exactly what corporations had been deploying as they lobbied for lax regulation and low taxation. According to a study by Mazzucato and economist Bill Lazonick, between 2003 and 2013 publicly listed companies in the S&P 500 index used more than half of their earnings to buy back their shares to boost stock prices, rather than reinvesting it back into further research and development. Pharmaceutical company Pfizer, for example, spent $139bn (£112bn) on share buybacks. Apple, which had never engaged in this type of financial engineering under Jobs, started doing so in 2012. By 2018, it had spent nearly one trillion dollars on share buybacks. “Those profits could be used to fund research and training for workers,” Mazzucato says. “Instead they are often used on share buybacks and golfing.”

That posed an urgent, more fundamental problem. If it was the state, not the private sector, which had traditionally assumed the risks of uncertain technological enterprises that led to the development of aviation, nuclear energy, computers, nanotechnology, biotechnology and the internet, how were we going to find the next wave of technologies to tackle urgent challenges such as catastrophic climate change, the epidemic of antibiotic resistance, the rise of dementia? “History tells us that innovation is an outcome of a massive collective effort – not just from a narrow group of young white men in California,” Mazzucato says. “And if we want to solve the world’s biggest problems, we better understand that.”

[...]

Soon, she became a regular visitor at Whitehall, advising both Cable and Willetts on policies such as the Small Business Research Initiative, which funded small and medium enterprises, and the patent box, which reduced the rate of corporate tax on income derived from patents (which she calls “the stupidest policy ever”).

Mazzucato knew that to influence politicians she would need to do more than just criticise. “The reason progressives often lose the argument is that they focus too much on wealth redistribution and not enough on wealth creation,” she says. “We need a progressive narrative that’s not only about spending, but investing in smarter ways.”

Patent policy as it currently stands needs reforming, but the EPO goes in the opposite direction. What it means by “reform” is making it worse, or making it more favourable to lawyers at the expense of scientists. Or programmers… after all, software patents are being granted in Europe in defiance of the law and against the will of actual programmers!

Notice how law firms refuse to speak out against software patents. They’re complicit. Quiet this weekend at IP Kat, as usual, except the article “2019 updates to the EPO Guidelines for Examination” — one of the latest such articles which we’ve mentioned lately (this blog is not the first to break down these changes).

“The exclusion of computer programs from patentability,” a section further down the bottom, speaks of “the [guidelines'] section relating the patentability of artificial intelligence and machine learning.” Rose Hughes speaks of what comes into effect in just over a fortnight from now:

The updated version of the EPO Guidelines for Examination is now available (here). The new guidelines come into force on 1 November 2019. The guidelines, as the name suggests, are a guide to the current case law and practise of the EPO and are not legally binding (see IPKat herefor a full discussion of legal precedent at the EPO and the role of the guidelines). The 2019 update to the guidelines incorporates some of the significant developments in the established case law of the Boards of Appeal. One key change to the guidelines this year is an update to the assessment of novelty of selection inventions. Other updates include clarification of the definition of “substance or composition” and a new section on the criteria of reasonable expectation in an assessment of obviousness for biotechnology inventions.

[...]

The patentability of software is another hot topic at the moment, and subject to its own referral to the EBA (IPKat: The patentability of computer simulated methods – another referral to the Enlarged Board of Appeal). The 2019 guidelines include some updates to the section relating the patentability of artificial intelligence and machine learning. In particular, the guidelines now clarify that “[t]erms such as ‘support vector machine’, ‘reasoning engine’ or ‘neural network’ may, depending on the context, merely refer to abstract models or algorithms and thus do not, on their own, necessarily imply the use of a technical means. This has to be taken into account when examining whether the claimed subject-matter has a technical character as a whole (Art. 52(1), (2) and (3))”.

But EPO created loopholes for these words and terms, e.g. buzzwords (“hey hi”) and hype (“blockchains”), not to mention vague nonsense like “technical effect”. So the EPO gets to pretend that it obeys the law while in practice breaking it with impunity. It’s being justified using pseudo-novelty and obfuscation.

Things ought to change. But will they? Who has more ‘lobbying’ power? Captured media of the litigation ‘industry’ keeps gaming the news and setting up events with stacked panels. People like Mariana Mazzucato would not be invited.

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