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05.22.20

Fiduciary Technology: Why It’s Often Impermissible to Use Microsoft (But It’s Done Anyway)

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 11:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Original by Mitchel Lewis at Medium (reproduced with permission)

Drake Microsoft

Summary: “As such and if your CTO isn’t actively moving tooling out of the Microsoft ecosystem like bailing water out of a sinking ship, then you should probably be looking for a new CTO.”

Leadership of public companies have one job: maximize shareholder value. Although the roles and governance of executives can vary wildly, CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, CSOs, and CTOs all operate in capacities that serve as a means to maximize value in their own way. Try as they might to muddy the waters and minimize this objective with discussions of ethically grounded missions and humanitarian causes, this is all done for PR purposes and executives of major corporations could be fired, fined, and possibly even thrown in jail for placing anything above shareholder value. It is their fiduciary duty; their modus operandi; their north star; their prime directive; their alpha and omega; their mecca; their great white buffalo; their holiest of holies; etc etc.

Since competitive trade is a form of war that is won with efficiency, CTOs, in particular, are tasked primarily with outfitting their company with the most efficient, secure, and reliable (dare I say best?) tools available in an effort to give their company a competitive advantage against their market competition. Quality isn’t cheap nor is it very objective in a world dominated by pervasive marketing where everyone markets themselves as the best, so a bevy of experience, tact, and research is required to navigate these waters successfully. In their world, minor insights can save millions while minor mistakes can cost millions just the same. Put simply, it’s the CTOs job to maximize shareholder value by constantly optimizing their tooling in favor of efficiency and revenue per employee metrics.

Ironically, the IT solutions that are the most complex, least secure, most unreliable, and most expensive over their lifespan, the worst solutions if you will, tend to be inexpensive upfront while the best solutions tend to be their inverse in that they are the simplest, most secure, most reliable, and least expensive over time tend to have higher financial burdens for entry. In comparison to the worst solutions, the best solutions also tend to be more agreeable for end users which maximizes revenue per employee while also minimizing downtime, the #1 IT expense for most organizations, along with reducing the labor required to maintain said technology to prevent downtime which is the #2 IT expense for most organizations; the initial cost of hardware and software licensing is a distant 3rd.

Based on this alone, one might expect that executive decision-makers in IT to be keeping companies on the simplest, most secure, and most reliable solutions available but this is hardly the case. Despite sparing no expense on IT and having grizzled veterans at the helm, anyone working in corporate America can confirm that the opposite often appears to be true. Almost as if they have pedestrians at the helm, most corporations can be found locked into a complicated hellscape of poorly implemented and virtually unsupportable IT solutions with a hodgepodge of cloud solutions that barely work while paying 3–5x more than they should be for their IT infrastructure as a consequence of all of this. In turn, this artificially limits user productivity and requires them to employ more people than they would otherwise have to if they were standardized on more efficient tooling; better tooling, less labor.

For example and even though both Apple and Linux solutions have been humbling Microsoft solutions for decades by generating anywhere from 1/2 to 1/3 of their ownership costs over their lifespan, you can still find that most major corporations and small-medium businesses are standardized on Microsoft solutions as if the opposite were true. In most scenarios, Microsoft solutions create more downtime, require more labor to implement and maintain, and are generally more complicated and more expensive than their market competition. In fact and when remembering that the majority of IT expenses occur after purchase, there is so much of a quality disparity between Microsoft solutions and their market competition that they often still wouldn’t financially competitive even if their licensing costs were free.

“Put simply, the implementation of Microsoft solutions puts any company at a significant competitive disadvantage from the perspectives of productivity and reliability while leaving them vulnerable to security breaches in comparison to competitors in the same market that are standardized on more efficient and secure Linux and/or Apple solutions.”Oddly enough, even when comparing Microsoft and Apple, both of which are standardized on their products, you’ll find that Apple generates 2–3x more revenue per employee on an enterprise scale. Although purely a coincidence, when IBM made the move over to the Apple ecosystem in 2016, they noticed their total ownership costs reduce to 1/3 that of their PC infrastructure. In doing this, support cases along with the requisite labor, downtime, and degraded productivity associated with them dropped dramatically as well when compared to their PC infrastructure. As far as CTOs are concerned, this is

On top of the added costs from downtime and labor inherent to standardizing on Windows, 99% of all ransomware attacks occur on Windows while half of all of their users in their vulnerable cloud services are actively being poked and prodded by various exploits and attacks at any given time. Microsoft solutions are also the most exploited in the industry and require more ancillary services and layers of defense to fortify their integrity which introduces even more complexity into the environment while reducing convenience and driving costs even higher. Put simply, the implementation of Microsoft solutions puts any company at a significant competitive disadvantage from the perspectives of productivity and reliability while leaving them vulnerable to security breaches in comparison to competitors in the same market that are standardized on more efficient and secure Linux and/or Apple solutions.

Drake not Microsoft

When considering the fiduciary duty of CTOs along with the the financial and operational shortcomings of Microsoft solutions in today’s market, one might think that a large component of a CTOs role is to avoid Microsoft solutions altogether as if they were sitting in a box labeled “COVID-19 Mucus Samples” or at the very least keeping their implementation to a minimum, and they would be right to some degree. But Microsoft’s market position indicates that this is clearly not happening and Microsoft PCs along with their sketchy suites of productivity and server software persist as the industry standard when no objective measure can merit such a reception.

From another angle, it seems as if the vast supermajority of CTOs are failing miserably at fulfilling their fiduciary duty by continuing to militantly implement Microsoft solutions to the point of them being the status quo throughout industry. There could be several potential reasons for this, sheer ignorance possibly being one of them.

At the level of CTO, one might think that an aptitude with the philosophy of technology, IT architecture, and IT finance is skills is must, but as is the case elsewhere in life, it’s often more of a question of who you know, how loyal you are, and how well they tow the company line in these positions. As such, many of those being paid to be experts in IT architecture and finance as a CTO is may not be as polished as they’d like you to believe. Although it may be news to people who don’t live and breathe IT finance and architecture that the majority of IT expenses occur after purchase and that focusing on initial price alone is a fool’s game, such understanding is fundamental in the realms of accounting and architecting information technology.

Alternatively, it could also be a simple case of bygones in leadership positions and old habits dying hard. To their credit, there was a time when the above was not true about Microsoft solutions and their dominant market position was earned but those days are gone. Despite working in technology, a word that is almost synonymous with change, anyone in the industry can recall instances with people with a devout preference for the status quo and an overt fear of change; especially among leadership; regardless of how sound the math is. CTO or not, like it or not, we tend to become bygones as we age and the continued prominence of Microsoft products could be a consequence of the tendency of CTOs to be of an older demographic *cough* boomers *cough*.

Another possibility is that they could also be conflicted. Rather than having to learn new technology and architecture, decision-makers can also ensure both their relevance and necessity by continuing to deploy solutions that require their expertise. Those with decades of experience in the Microsoft ecosystem can ensure both their continued relevance and necessity by continuing to implement these products while embracing newer technologies that they’re unfamiliar with can put them at a competitive disadvantage. Just as consultants recommend solutions that generate further necessity for their services, CTOs could be doing the same.

To be fair, CTOs are humans prone to error and technical change is also hard. In the world of enterprise change, it can often feel as if users are so change-averse that they will hate you regardless of whether you deliver them a better solution or a worse one just the same and this is often true. Over time, the pushback one can get from employees and execs by simply trying to improve employee and company efficiency can be astounding. In turn, this pushback can wear on the best of us and suffocate the ambition of entire IT departments.

“…it’s foolish to expect an unambitious CTO to radically change both their mindset and philosophy towards technology at the pinnacle of their career, let alone at their average senior age.”After all, why try to make things better when people resent you for it and potentially jeopardize your job when you can instead safely maintain the status quo and have people praise you for fixing the same problem on a daily basis like some nerdy version of Groundhogs Day? However, mitigating this kind of change apathy is part of the job and those that fail to do so consequently fail to do their job effectively. Although enterprise change is difficult and not for the faint of heart, no one said it was easy, this is why they make the big bucks, and they can always quit if they don’t like it.

Regardless of their reasoning, it isn’t difficult to determine which category your CTO falls into though; it’s just a career limiting move. For example and if your CTO can’t even tell you the proper order of IT expenses, then they’re most likely ignorant; chances are they won’t even be able to tell you what technology is. If they’re spouting off old debunked rhetoric about Apple or Linux solutions not having a place in the enterprise in response to the mere notion of implementing Apple or Linux solutions, then they’re most likely a bygone. And if they’re compromised, then they’ll likely avoid this conversation altogether or become incredibly petulant when cornered on the subject.

But whether they’re some combination of an ignorant, jaded, and compromised bygone is of little consequence as the result is still the same regardless of the road they travel on. That said, CTOs are seemingly failing to fulfill their fiduciary duties throughout industry by continuing to implement Microsoft and other antiquated solutions as if they were everything that they clearly are not. Few seem to have the chutzpah to adhere to their fiduciary duty to the point of obsoleting themselves and jeopardizing their relevance by implementing better solutions beyond their expertise.

In summary, it’s the primary role of a CTO to give their company a competitive advantage by ensuring that it has the most efficient tooling which many in these roles are failing at presently. Given Microsoft’s market stance and prominence throughout industry and since the name Microsoft is effectively anti-correlated with word quality while their products lack a competitive advantage or value proposition, a large component of a modern CTOs job is naturally to reduce Microsoft’s footprint within their infrastructure as much as possible and replace their tools with better alternatives from Apple, Linux, and the like; which again, many are failing at. Reasons such as this are why Microsoft has had to resort to the lock-in and anti-competitive tactics that they became notorious for

As such and if your CTO isn’t actively moving tooling out of the Microsoft ecosystem like bailing water out of a sinking ship, then you should probably be looking for a new CTO. Just as it’s a fool’s game to emphasize on initial price instead of the total cost of ownership or to expect the tired solutions produced by a tired monopoly propped up by the same tired lawyers to magically get better by several orders of magnitude any time soon, it’s foolish to expect an unambitious CTO to radically change both their mindset and philosophy towards technology at the pinnacle of their career, let alone at their average senior age. Many have generous exit packages while countless people under their employment have been let go under similar performance-related circumstances, so they shouldn’t take it personally.

Links 23/5/2020: FreeBSD 11.4 RC1, Wine 5.9

Posted in News Roundup at 9:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

    • Server

      • Linux kernel utility could solve Kubernetes networking woes

        As production Kubernetes clusters grow, a standard Linux kernel utility that’s been reinvented for the cloud era may offer a fix for container networking scalability challenges.

        The utility, extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF), traces its origins back to a paper published by computer scientists in 1992. It’s a widely adopted tool that uses a mini-VM inside the Linux kernel to perform network routing functions. Over the last four years, as Kubernetes became popular, open source projects such as Cilium began to use eBPF data to route and filter Kubernetes network traffic without requiring Linux kernel changes.

        In the last two years, demand for such tools rose among enterprises as their Kubernetes production environments grew, and they encountered new kinds of thorny bottlenecks and difficult tradeoffs between complexity and efficiency.

        IT monitoring vendor Datadog saw eBPF-based tooling as the answer to its Kubernetes scaling issues after a series of experiments with other approaches.

      • Buyer’s Guide for Bare-metal Hosted Linux Servers

        Metal hosted Linux servers are now an essential part of the IT infrastructure of many businesses and companies. They are also offering the best current technology. You can raise your status globally as a service provider because of the bare-metal server with amazing infrastructure.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • 2020-05-22 | Linux Headlines

        GNOME and Rothschild Patent Imaging resolve their legal dispute, massive layoffs loom at IBM, WordPress invests millions into the Matrix project, and two companies unexpectedly re-release code under open source licenses.

      • Real Python Episode 10: Python Job Hunting in a Pandemic

        Do you know someone in the Python community who recently was let go from their job due to the pandemic? What does the job landscape currently look like? What are skills and techniques that will help you in your job search? This week we have Kyle Stratis on the show to discuss how he is managing his job search after just being let go from his data engineering job. Kyle is a member of the Real Python team and has written several articles for the site.

        We discuss Kyle’s career and the skills that he’s developed, which are currently helping him in his job search. Kyle left academia to work as a data engineer. His background helps him to communicate between teams of scientists and engineers.

        We also talk about Kyle’s recent article on combining data in Pandas. Kyle shares a tip on Pandas efficiency, and hints at some lesser known features of Python generators.

      • Brunch with Brent: Kyle Rankin | Jupiter Extras 73

        Brent sits down with Kyle Rankin, Chief Security Officer and Vice President at Purism and former Tech Editor and columnist at Linux Journal. We explore his 10+ years with Linux Journal, as well as Purism’s culture, ideals, product design and engineering philosophies, and more.

    • Kernel Space

      • Open-Source NVIDIA/Nouveau Changes Submitted For Linux 5.8

        There hasn’t been too much to report on the open-source NVIDIA “Nouveau” kernel driver in some time since the enabling of Turing and no apparent progress on re-clocking to allow the graphics cards to hit their rated clock frequencies (the longstanding, number one limitation for this open-source driver), but some changes were sent in today for the upcoming Linux 5.8 kernel merge window.

      • Linux 5.8 Set To Optionally Flush The L1d Cache On Context Switch To Increase Security

        The Linux kernel patches that have been spearheaded by Amazon AWS engineers to optionally flush the L1 data cache on each context switch have now been queued in the x86/mm branch ahead of the upcoming Linux 5.8 kernel cycle.

        This L1d cache flushing on context switches is being done in light of the various CPU security issues that have come to light in recent times and acknowledging there are likely other yet to be discovered vulnerabilities. Flushing the L1d cache on context switches helps fend off data from being snooped or leaked via side channels.

      • Linux 5.8 To See Support For POWER10′s Prefixed Instructions

        Beyond the usual excitement of numerous x86 and Arm hardware advancements each cycle, Linux 5.8 is bringing new IBM POWER enablement work.

        Recently there has been an uptick in open-source/Linux enablement work for the forthcoming POWER10 and that holds true for Linux 5.8. There has been a patch series going around recently for introducing prefixed instruction support on the POWER front for a “future revision of the ISA.” That work is now ready and queued ahead of the Linux 5.8 cycle opening up in early June.

      • AMD Renoir Temperature Monitoring To Come With Linux 5.8

        When it comes to the support for AMD Ryzen 4000 “Renoir” laptop support under Linux, as outlined in my testing so far this month the main caveat is needing Linux 5.6~5.7 for good graphics support but on the likes of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS with Linux 5.4 you will not have GPU acceleration. At least in the case of the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 I have been using to test, you also need Linux 5.7 Git for battery sensor support. Another item that in turn is coming with Linux 5.8 is CPU temperature reporting for the Renoir processors.

      • Intel DPTF Battery Support Published For Linux

        The patches posted on Friday for the DPTF battery support expose new DPTF dynamic tuning information regarding laptop/ultrabook battery capabilities. Exposed are the maximum platform power that can be supported by the given battery, the maximum sustained power for the battery, the high frequency impedance value from the battery fuel gauge, and battery discharge current capability. The information is exposed via sysfs to user-space and also notification support for changes to the Intel Dynamic Tuning Battery state.

      • Allwinner Preparing Their A100 SoC Support For The Upstream Linux Kernel

        Allwinner Tech has prepared their initial Linux kernel patches for bringing up the A100 SoC. The A100 SoC is one of their newest tablet-focused SoCs moving forward.

        The Allwinner A100 is based on the Cortex-A53 paired with PowerVR graphics. This low~mid-range SoC is decent and better than some past Allwinner SoCs but not as interesting as the also recently announced Allwinner A200 in a big.LITTLE design and with much more exciting features.

    • Benchmarks

      • 100+ Benchmarks Of Amazon’s Graviton2 64-Core CPU Against AMD’s EPYC 7742



        Last week Amazon AWS promoted their Graviton2 instances to general availability status with a variety of different sized EC2 instances as well as a bare metal instance for tapping the full potential of their new SoC that features 64 Arm Neoverse N1 cores. Last week we ran through many benchmarks looking at Graviton2 on EC2 and bare metal performance while here is a follow-up article with more benchmarks and looking at how the sixty-four core Arm Graviton2 compares to AMD’s EPYC 7742 64-core CPU with and without SMT.

        For the past number of days I have been running 140+ benchmarks on Amazon’s Graviton2 m6g.metal instance for tapping the bare metal performance of this latest high-end Arm server SoC and then comparing it to the bare metal performance of EPYC 7742, AMD’s current generation 64-core server CPU offering. The EPYC 7742 was tested with and without SMT for matching the Graviton2 that lacks SMT. No Intel CPUs were tested in this comparison due to their current lacking of a 64-core processor. Both the AMD EPYC 7742 and Graviton2 feature eight channels of DDR4-3200 memory.

    • Applications

      • Audacity Fixes the Major Bug and Releases a Fresh Version 2.4.1

        Audacity recently released a major version 2.4.0. However, just after release, a critical bug is reported which caused the audio data corruption. The bug causes your audio to corrupt if you have two projects open and trying to copy-paste a snippet from one to another. The bug is fixed now with 2.4.1 release and you can install and use Audacity now.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine Announcement

        The Wine development release 5.9 is now available.

        What’s new in this release (see below for details):
        – Major progress on the WineD3D Vulkan backend.
        – Initial support for splitting dlls into PE and Unix parts.
        – Support for generating PDB files when building PE dlls.
        – Timestamp updates in the Kernel User Shared Data.
        – Various bug fixes.

      • Wine 5.9 Released With Latest WineD3D Vulkan Capabilities, DLL Improvements

        Wine 5.9 is out as the latest bi-weekly development release for this software allowing Windows games and applications to generally run quite gracefully on Linux.

        As outlined yesterday, Wine 5.9 comes with big improvements to the WineD3D Vulkan back-end for allowing Direct3D 9/10/11 over Vulkan as an alternative to their OpenGL code path (and yes, similar in nature to DXVK). This WineD3D Vulkan work is still underway but given the rapid progress it likely won’t be too long before it becomes quite usable.

      • Wine 5.9 is out with major WineD3D Vulkan work

        Alexandre Julliard of CodeWeavers today announced the Wine 5.9 development release, which sounds quite an exciting one. With the Wine team keeping up their regular biweekly release schedule, the amount that goes in is pretty damn impressive for this open source compatibility layer.

        While we already have the external DXVK project for translating Direct3D 9/10/11 to Vulkan, which is working out really well so far, the main Wine team are pursuing their own way and this release has “major” progress on that for the WineD3D backend. No need for sour grapes about it though, perhaps the rivalry between the competing methods will be good for both and we as users end up with a tastier drink.

      • Wine’s Direct3D Vulkan Back-End Continues Seeing An Uptick In Activity

        Henri Verbeet and other CodeWeavers developers have been focusing more on this WineD3D Vulkan back-end in recent weeks with many improvements due out tomorrow as part of the routine bi-weekly development cycle with Wine 5.9. This is for the Direct3D 9/10/11 over Vulkan back-end rather than OpenGL, not to be confused with VKD3D for Direct3D 12 over Vulkan. Wine developers have been working on this Vulkan back-end to WineD3D for a while now due to differing views/philosophies compared to DXVK that already does a thorough job implementing D3D 9/10/11 on Vulkan.

    • Games

      • Prepare for toxic rain and lots of fire in The Universim

        The Universim, the game that mixes in a god sim with a city-builder has expanded once again and in quite a big way with the environment.

        Crytivo’s “new breed” of god game certainly isn’t boring, and now your decisions make even more of an impact on the environment when you’re building up your civilization. You now have to deal with toxic rain, polluted water and more if you let the environment start getting ruined. Since it’s something of a god game though, your god powers can help you avert a true disaster if you have enough god points stored up. This is part of their ongoing attempts to make The Universim a lot more dynamic.

      • Humble has a big Spring Sale Encore, save on Humble Choice

        Humble Bundle announced they’re doing a little encore of their Spring Sale for this weekend and there’s some pretty huge discounts going on some great games.

        Their monthly Humble Choice bundle has it’s own special deal going too, for new subscribers you can now get 40% off the price of the Premium plan (the top tier of it). This brings the price down from £15.99 / $19.99 to £8.99 / $12 a month which is good value.

      • You can sign up for the Artifact 2.0 Beta now, plus a video

        Valve have opened up the process to get into the Beta for Artifact 2.0, the revamp of their failed competitive card game.

        They already blogged before about what they will be doing, with people who purchased before March 30 having priority but we didn’t know exactly how they will do it. Now we do! They’ve put up a page on the official Artifact website where you can login with Steam and put yourself into the draw for access to the 2.0 Beta. It’s a nice simple process at least.

      • Stylish literary mystery Sarawak will be in the Steam Game Festival

        We have another confirmed game that will have a Linux demo available for the Steam Game Festival, and it’s the very clever and stylish looking interactive fiction Sarawak.

        It was announced only recently and covered here on GOL back in April, with a curious setting split between Oxford and Borneo. They announced yesterday on Twitter, that they will also be putting up a demo for the SGF that runs between June 9 -15.

      • The Steam Spring Cleaning event is up to get you to play your old games

        Surprisingly, Valve are running an event that is not trying to get you to buy new games. To be fair though, it’s not the first time. The Steam Spring Cleaning 2020 event is now live.

        Running from now until May 28, the idea is to get you to play through your existing games and clear out your backlog. This links in with their recent Play Next feature to suggest games to you, which graduated from Steam Labs to appear on the Steam Store and as a shelf in your Steam Library. It also pulls in Remote Play Together, for games to share online with friends.

      • Spaceship colony sim Space Haven arrives in Early Access

        Build a spaceship, look after your crew and travel the stars in Space Haven as it’s now available in Early Access and it’s good.

        Embark on a space voyage with your ragtag crew of civilians in search of a new home. Build spaceships tile by tile, create optimal gas conditions, manage the needs and moods of their crew, encounter other space-faring groups, and explore the universe in this spaceship colony sim.
        The developer, Bugbyte, ran a successful Kickstarter campaign little over a year ago to raise $260,189. Since then they’ve been pushing out Alpha builds to backers, and they provided us with an early copy too. Many builds later, many hours played and it’s clearly shaping up to be an impressive game.

      • Electronic Arts to Release Source Code of Highly Successful Game

        Electronic Arts announced a surprise move this week. In something of an unprecedented move, EA will release the source code behind two massively popular games. Even if you haven’t played it, chances are, you’ve heard of Command & Conquer. The company will release the source code for two of its installment, Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert. Users who own the Remastered Collection of Command & Conquer will be able to dabble in designing maps, creating custom units, altering gameplay logic, etc. with the source code.

      • Command and Conquer Remastered finally moddable

        EA announced that the upcoming remastered collection will have mod support at launch. This was actually dodged around by game developer Petroglyph until the publisher spilled the beans. Releasing the source code is the best way to make mods for the game.

        Game producer Jim Vessela was the one to announce that the TiberianDawn.dll, and RedAltert.dll and their source code will be available under the GNU General Public License 3.0. A map editor will be available as well.

      • Pawnbarian turns Chess into a card-based roguelike

        Originally a short web-version you could have tried on itch.io, it’s now becoming a much bigger game that’s getting a proper desktop release. The developer sent word to us on Twitter about the demo now being on Linux, so I took a look to see what all the fuss is about. After playing it for a couple of hours I’m completely hooked in.

        It’s incredibly clever, quite simple but also thoroughly entertaining. Each level is a dungeon crawling puzzle, and you know where you don’t want to end the turn as it tells you where you will get damage so it’s up to you to use your cards to get in, do some damage and get out.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Anwesha Das: Gnome wins the battle against the patent troll

          The Gnome Foundation settled the dispute with Rothschild Patent Imaging (RPIL), RPIL agrees not to sue Gnome further for any intellectual property infringement. RPIL also signed to an undertaking to that effect.

          In the last week of September 2019, Rothschild Patent Imaging (RPIL) filed a lawsuit against the Gnome Foundation. The case was filed under Title 35 of the United States Code for the infringement of the patent and violation of the intellectual property rights of the RPIL. They claimed that Gnome’s Shotwell Photo manager, infringed the patent titled “Wireless Image Distribution System and Method,” being number 086.

        • GNOME Slays Troll

          Last year, Patent Progress reported on a troll targeting the GNOME Foundation, a major open source coordinating entity. Despite Director Iancu’s public statement claiming that trolls are a myth, this troll was very real. In fact, it was one of the Rothschild NPEs, one of a plethora of companies Leigh Rothschild has used in nearly 900 separate NPE patent lawsuits to date.

          Fortunately, however, GNOME was able to retain quality pro bono counsel. And after 10 months, they achieved not just a walk-away settlement where GNOME owes nothing, but actually went further. Neither the Rothschild subsidiary in this litigation, Rothschild Patent Imaging, nor any other Rothschild entity—or any entity purchasing a Rothschild-owned patent—can bring a lawsuit where the lawsuit alleges infringement by any software that is released under an open source license recognized by the Open Source Initiative.

        • Adrien Plazas: Handy 1 Alpha 1 and Migrating to GNOME

          A few days ago we released the first alpha of Handy 1, known as Handy 0.80.0.

    • Distributions

      • BSD

        • FreeBSD 11.4-RC1 Now Available
          [ Revised to correct the build name.  Because, of course...]
          
          The first RC build of the 11.4-RELEASE release cycle is now available.
          
          Installation images are available for:
          
          o 11.4-RC1 amd64 GENERIC
          o 11.4-RC1 i386 GENERIC
          o 11.4-RC1 powerpc GENERIC
          o 11.4-RC1 powerpc64 GENERIC64
          o 11.4-RC1 sparc64 GENERIC
          o 11.4-RC1 armv6 BANANAPI
          o 11.4-RC1 armv6 BEAGLEBONE
          o 11.4-RC1 armv6 CUBIEBOARD
          o 11.4-RC1 armv6 CUBIEBOARD2
          o 11.4-RC1 armv6 CUBOX-HUMMINGBOARD
          o 11.4-RC1 armv6 RPI-B
          o 11.4-RC1 armv6 RPI2
          o 11.4-RC1 armv6 WANDBOARD
          o 11.4-RC1 aarch64 GENERIC
          
          Note regarding arm SD card images: For convenience for those without
          console access to the system, a freebsd user with a password of
          freebsd is available by default for ssh(1) access.  Additionally,
          the root user password is set to root.  It is strongly recommended
          to change the password for both users after gaining access to the
          system.
          
          Installer images and memory stick images are available here:
          
          https://download.freebsd.org/ftp/releases/ISO-IMAGES/11.4/
          
          The image checksums follow at the end of this e-mail.
          
          If you notice problems you can report them through the Bugzilla PR
          system or on the -stable mailing list.
          
          If you would like to use SVN to do a source based update of an existing
          system, use the "releng/11.4" branch.
          
          A summary of changes since 11.4-BETA2 includes:
          
          o An update to llvm to fix `cc --version`.
          
          o A fix affecting ports using DTrace with lld 10.
          
          o A fix for spurious ENOTCONN from a closed unix domain socket.
          
          o Fixes related to certctl(8).
          
          A list of changes since 11.3-RELEASE is available in the releng/11.4
          release notes:
          
          https://www.freebsd.org/releases/11.4R/relnotes.html
          
          Please note, the release notes page is not yet complete, and will be
          updated on an ongoing basis as the 11.4-RELEASE cycle progresses.
          
          === Virtual Machine Disk Images ===
          
          VM disk images are available for the amd64, i386, and aarch64
          architectures.  Disk images may be downloaded from the following URL
          (or any of the FreeBSD download mirrors):
          
          https://download.freebsd.org/ftp/releases/VM-IMAGES/11.4-RC1/
          
          The partition layout is:
          
              ~ 16 kB - freebsd-boot GPT partition type (bootfs GPT label)
              ~ 1 GB  - freebsd-swap GPT partition type (swapfs GPT label)
              ~ 20 GB - freebsd-ufs GPT partition type (rootfs GPT label)
          
          The disk images are available in QCOW2, VHD, VMDK, and raw disk image
          formats.  The image download size is approximately 135 MB and 165 MB
          respectively (amd64/i386), decompressing to a 21 GB sparse image.
          
          Note regarding arm64/aarch64 virtual machine images: a modified QEMU EFI
          loader file is needed for qemu-system-aarch64 to be able to boot the
          virtual machine images.  See this page for more information:
          
          https://wiki.freebsd.org/arm64/QEMU
          
          To boot the VM image, run:
          
              % qemu-system-aarch64 -m 4096M -cpu cortex-a57 -M virt  \
          	-bios QEMU_EFI.fd -serial telnet::4444,server -nographic \
          	-drive if=none,file=VMDISK,id=hd0 \
          	-device virtio-blk-device,drive=hd0 \
          	-device virtio-net-device,netdev=net0 \
          	-netdev user,id=net0
          
          Be sure to replace "VMDISK" with the path to the virtual machine image.
          
          === Amazon EC2 AMI Images ===
          
          FreeBSD/amd64 EC2 AMIs are available in the following regions:
          
            eu-north-1 region: ami-0171ddce8f022db73
            ap-south-1 region: ami-0ce419119d57bcfe6
            eu-west-3 region: ami-0734a9f5e92637b4c
            eu-west-2 region: ami-038051fa4527a953d
            eu-west-1 region: ami-0eb6d2c2e9217eb41
            ap-northeast-2 region: ami-02aed7662b22d6719
            ap-northeast-1 region: ami-03a421ada4cda0b19
            sa-east-1 region: ami-07c35c72089c0e99e
            ca-central-1 region: ami-09148bb9e4fd3d821
            ap-southeast-1 region: ami-0a30839ee2c26f749
            ap-southeast-2 region: ami-012aaf1407aa769c5
            eu-central-1 region: ami-04eb925aabfc90761
            us-east-1 region: ami-0ed7a7f43a69ee31b
            us-east-2 region: ami-09da2197d92d47552
            us-west-1 region: ami-0f47fd5e7b03c6bf6
            us-west-2 region: ami-0ef108c97b8dae874
          
          === Vagrant Images ===
          
          FreeBSD/amd64 images are available on the Hashicorp Atlas site, and can
          be installed by running:
          
              % vagrant init freebsd/FreeBSD-11.4-RC1
              % vagrant up
          
          === Upgrading ===
          
          The freebsd-update(8) utility supports binary upgrades of amd64 and i386
          systems running earlier FreeBSD releases.  Systems running earlier
          FreeBSD releases can upgrade as follows:
          
          	# freebsd-update upgrade -r 11.4-RC1
          
          During this process, freebsd-update(8) may ask the user to help by
          merging some configuration files or by confirming that the automatically
          performed merging was done correctly.
          
          	# freebsd-update install
          
          The system must be rebooted with the newly installed kernel before
          continuing.
          
          	# shutdown -r now
          
          After rebooting, freebsd-update needs to be run again to install the new
          userland components:
          
          	# freebsd-update install
          
          It is recommended to rebuild and install all applications if possible,
          especially if upgrading from an earlier FreeBSD release, for example,
          FreeBSD 11.x.  Alternatively, the user can install misc/compat11x and
          other compatibility libraries, afterwards the system must be rebooted
          into the new userland:
          
          	# shutdown -r now
          
          Finally, after rebooting, freebsd-update needs to be run again to remove
          stale files:
          
          	# freebsd-update install
          
          
      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Silverblue: pretty good family OS



          I’m the go-to IT guy in the family, so my relatives rely on me when it comes to computers and software on them. In the past I also helped them with computers with Windows and macOS, but at some point I just gave up. I don’t know those systems well enough to effectively administer them and I don’t even have much interest in them. So I asked them to decide: you either use Linux which I know and can effectively help you with or ask someone else for help.

          Long story short: I (mostly remotely) support quite a few Fedora (Linux of my choice) users in my family now. It’s a fairly easy task. Usually after I set up the machine I don’t hear from the user very often. Just once 6 months and a year typically when I visit them I upgrade the machine to the new release and check whether everything works. But Fedora upgrades became so easy and reliable that recently I usually just found out that they had already done it by themselves.

          But there was still one recurring problem: even though they performed upgrades because it was probably a big enough thing to catch their attention they didn’t act on normal updates and I often found them with outdated applications such as Firefox.

        • Fedora program update: 2020-21

          Here’s your report of what has happened in Fedora this week. Fedora 30 will reach end-of-life on 26 May.

          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.

        • Five steps for telco service providers to evolve from connectivity to intelligent edge services

          Digital transformation, and the ability to embrace and capitalize on disruption, occurs when a company starts to behave like a software company. This is the top-line message from Mike Hansen, AVP of open telecommunications strategies at Red Hat, in a webinar, “Intelligent services at the telecommunications network edge.” But what does it mean for a communication service provider (CSP) that built a business delivering network connectivity services to act as a software company that delivers intelligent services? And how can CSPs make that transition?

          As Hansen explained, there are several technology trends converging that are creating historic opportunities for CSPs to become digital service providers (DSPs). Hybrid cloud is becoming the preferred compute model, and a hybrid cloud that is inclusive of edge computing is expected to emerge as the model for data-intensive workloads such as artificial intelligence that can help turn insights into actions faster. Already, CSPs have been deploying cloud infrastructure using network functions virtualization (NFV) that can operate at the network edge, as edge clouds. Also, cloud native application development is gaining traction as the method for creating applications that can take full advantage of hybrid cloud’s flexibility and scalability. Then there are billions of connected devices and sensors creating data, and 5G networks that will provide the bandwidth to carry all that data out to the edge, where it can be processed.

        • Build Smart on Kubernetes with OpenShift from anywhere in the world

          From the basics of spinning up an OpenShift cluster on IBM Cloud or installing Red Hat CodeReady Containers locally, to integrating app development tooling, you gain hands-on, practical experience that you can apply directly on your work projects. Beyond these basics, you explore adding machine learning, AI, and other cloud-based services into your applications to enhance app capabilities and overall user experience. Let’s explore some of the workshops and what topics they cover.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Ubuntu 20.04.1 LTS (Focal Fossa) Slated for Release on July 23rd

          While many of you out there are still digging out all the cool new features of the recent Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa) operating system or just barely took the wraps off it, the Ubuntu development team are working hard to bring you the next point release.

          Yes, I’m talking about Ubuntu 20.04.1 LTS, the first point release of the Focal Fossa series, which will pack all the latest security fixes and software updates to provide the community with an up-to-date installation media.

        • Ubuntu 20.10 Release Date & Planned Features (Continually Updated)



          Now, admittedly, it’s only May; development of this release (which is codenamed ‘Groovy Gorilla’) is still in the early stages. But already know a few things about what to expect, when Ubuntu 20.10 will be released, how long it’ll be supported for, and even a few of the features devs are hoping to sneak in.

          So keep reading to learn everything you need to know about Ubuntu 20.10 features, changes and improvements. And since this post is updated regularly throughout development why not bookmark it now to come check back and keep tabs on the progress!

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Open-source tech helps companies quickly adapt during pandemic

        As the COVID-19 pandemic shakes the world, companies need to change to embrace remote work and increasingly online operations. One way to quickly adapt to these new dynamics is to use open-source tools, available for access from anywhere in the globe, according to Alan Clark (pictured), who works in SUSE’s CTO Office focusing on emerging technologies and open source.

        “Our customer sentiments are changing; their purchasing habits are obviously changing. That’s changing the services that companies need to deliver,” Clark said. “And one of the powers of open source is being able to provide that to them and deliver those services very rapidly.”

      • Zstd 1.4.5 Released With 5~10% Faster Decompression For x86_64, 15~50% For ARM64

        Facebook’s compression experts responsible for Zstandard have today released Zstd 1.4.5 with more performance improvements.

        Zstandard 1.4.5 comes with faster decompression performance. On x86_64 CPUs the Zstd 1.4.5 performance benefits are in the area of 5~10%. But if you are running on Arm SoCs this time around it can be 15~50% faster. Most of the Arm decompression improvements will be on the lower end of that range but for certain SoCs under ideal conditions can be 50% faster.

      • Web Browsers

        • Chromium

          • Best Chrome Extensions for Screen Capture

            Oftentimes when you are browsing the Internet, you end up finding something that appears on your computer screen that you would like to share with others. These could be as simple as a meme that hooked you in, or as important as some error message that you need in order to consult with IT. You might even need to record your screen for a demo that explains how to use a tool or complete some task.
            At times like these, it is important to have tools that help in grabbing an image or recording your screen. This is where Chrome extensions for screen capture come into play, which come packed with features that may not be present in the default Snipping Tool.

            In this article, we will be looking at some of the best Chrome extensions for screen capture.

        • Mozilla

          • Mozilla Accessibility: Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day!

            Thursday, May 21, 2020, marks the ninth annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.

            Mozilla is committed to ensuring that all of our offerings are accessible and inclusive. Global Accessibility Awareness Day is a great opportunity to recognize and celebrate that.

          • Data@Mozilla: Sharing data on Italy’s mid-pandemic internet outage

            As a data engineer at Mozilla, my colleagues and I study how internet connectivity changes over time and across regions. Like inclement weather, network outages are simply a fact of life: equipment that powers the internet can fail for numerous reasons in any country. As we know from reports of internet shutdowns and throttling by governments in different parts of the world, sometimes outages can also be intentional. But in terms of data, Mozilla measures outages and connection issues through a series of different metrics, including telemetry upload failures.

          • Mozilla Accessibility: Proper VoiceOver support coming soon to Firefox on MacOS

            Firefox 75, released in April, saw the first fruits of this work. Most notably, we learned our way around the Mac code base and the accessibility APIs. In the process we uncovered a small, but significant, piece we were missing that made us very fast all of a sudden. This small, but mighty, patch, enabled us to progress much more rapidly than we had expected. We also made the VoiceOver cursor visible, and made it follow focus. Also, if navigating with VoiceOver, we made focus follow it if VoiceOver’s setting for that was enabled. And, we also fixed some initial labeling inconsistencies across the board.

          • Data@Mozilla: This Week in Glean: mozregression telemetry (part 2)

            With the probe scraper change merged and deployed, we can now start querying! A number of tables are automatically created according to the schema outlined above: notably “live” and “stable” tables corresponding to the usage ping. Using sql.telemetry.mozilla.org we can start exploring what’s out there.

          • This Week in Glean: Bytes in Memory (on Android)

            With the Glean SDK we follow in the footsteps of other teams to build a cross-platform library to be used in both mobile and desktop applications alike.
            In this blog post we’re taking a look at how we transport some rich data across the FFI boundary to be reused on the Kotlin side of things. We’re using a recent example of a new API in Glean that will drive the HTTP upload of pings, but the concepts I’m explaining here apply more generally.

          • Emily Dunham: Moving on from Mozilla

            Today – Friday, May 22nd, 2020 – is within days of my 5-year anniversary with Mozilla, and it’s also my last day there for a while. Working at Mozilla has been an amazing experience, and I’d recommend it to anyone.

            There are some things that Mozilla does extremely well, and I’m excited to spread those patterns to other parts of the industry. And there are areas where Mozilla has room for improvement, where I’d like to see how others address those challenges and maybe even bring back what I learn to Moz someday.

          • Protecting Search and Browsing Data from Warrantless Access

            As the maker of Firefox, we know that browsing and search data can provide a detailed portrait of our private lives and needs to be protected. That’s why we work to safeguard your browsing data, with privacy features like Enhanced Tracking Protection and more secure DNS.

            Unfortunately, too much search and browsing history still is collected and stored around the Web. We believe this data deserves strong legal protections when the government seeks access to it, but in many cases that protection is uncertain.

          • The USA Freedom Act and Browsing History

            ast Thursday, the US Senate voted to renew the USA Freedom Act which authorizes a variety of forms of national surveillance. As has been reported, this renewal does not include an amendment offered by Sen. Ron Wyden and Sen. Steve Daines that would have explicitly prohibited the warrantless collection of Web browsing history. The legislation is now being considered by the House of Representatives and today Mozilla and a number of other technology companies sent a letter urging them to adopt the Wyden-Daines language in their version of the bill. This post helps fill in the technical background of what all this means.

            Despite what you might think from the term “browsing history,” we’re not talking about browsing data stored on your computer. Web browsers like Firefox store, on your computer, a list of the places you’ve gone so that you can go back and find things and to help provide better suggestions when you type stuff in the awesomebar. That’s how it is that you can type ‘f’ in the awesomebar and it might suggest you go to Facebook.

            [...]

            Unfortunately, historically the line between content and metadata hasn’t been incredibly clear in the US courts. In some cases the sites you visit (e.g., www.webmd.com) are treated as metadata, in which case that data would not require a warrant. By contrast, the exact page you went to on WebMD would be content and would require a warrant. However, the sites themselves reveal a huge amount of information about you. Consider, for instance, the implications of having Ashley Madison or Stormfront in your browsing history. The Wyden-Daines amendment would have resolved that ambiguity in favor of requiring a warrant for all Web browsing history and search history. If the House reauthorizes USA Freedom without this language, we will be left with this somewhat uncertain situation but one where in practice much of people’s activity on the Internet — including activity which they would rather keep secret — may be subject to surveillance without a warrant.

      • SaaS/Back End/Databases

        • Instaclustr CTO on open source database as a service

          Ben Bromhead: Our original vision was wildly different and, like all good startups, we had a pretty decent pivot. When the original team got together, we were working on a marketplace for high value data sets. We took a data warehouse approach for the different data sets we provided and the access model was pure SQL. It was kind of interesting from a computer science perspective, but we probably weren’t as savvy as we needed to be to take that kind of business to market.

          [...]

          Our take on it [managed Cassandra as a service] is also a little bit different from some of the other vendors in that we really take a multi-technology approach. So you know, not only are we engaging with our customers around their Cassandra cluster, but we’re also helping them with the Kafka cluster, Elasticsearch and Redis.

          So what ends up happening is we end up becoming a trusted partner for a customer’s data layer and that’s our goal. We certainly got our start with Cassandra, that’s our bread and butter and what we’re known for, but in terms of the business vision, we want to be there as a data layer supporting different use cases.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • LibreOffice 6.4.4

          LibreOffice is the free power-packed Open Source personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and Linux, that gives you six feature-rich applications for all your document production and data processing needs: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base. Support and documentation is free from our large, dedicated community of users, contributors and developers. You, too, can also get involved!

        • Libre Office 6.4.4 packages available for slackware-current

          The Document Foundation released the latest version of LibreOffice (6.4.4) yesterday, and I compiled a set of packages for Slackware -current. Unfortunately Slackware 14.2 is stuck at LibreOffice 6.2.x because newer source releases can not compile against the old libraries of our stable platform anymore).

      • FSF

        • GNU Projects

          • FreeIPMI 1.6.5

            - Add FRU parsing workaround for Fujitsu Primergy RX1330, in which a CEh is used to indicate that no FRU data is available.

        • Licensing/Legal

          • Kernel sources for the Moto G8 Play and Nubia Play 5G are now available

            To promote such development as well as fulfilling the legal obligation regarding GNU General Public License v2, most OEMs nowadays publicly release kernel sources sometime after their devices hit the market. Now two major smartphone manufacturers, Motorola and Nubia, have released kernel sources for the Moto G8 Play and the Nubia Play 5G, respectively.

      • Programming/Development

        • Stack clash mitigation in GCC, Part 3

          In previous posts, Stack Clash Mitigation in GCC — Background and Stack Clash mitigation in GCC: Why -fstack-check is not the answer, I hopefully showed the basics of how stack clash attacks are structured and why GCC’s existing -fstack-check mechanism is insufficient for protection.

        • The 10 Best Programming Languages for Hacking

          One of the significant entities we have in Cyber Security is Ethical Hacking (ETH). It is the process of detecting and finding flaws or vulnerabilities in a system that a hacker would exploit.

          Anyone performing penetration testing would need several requirements to find the vulnerabilities and flaws in a system. One of them is an operating system dedicated to doing such tasks, e.g., Kali, Parrot, etc. You will also need several penetration tools and scripts. Even though these resources seem to be pretty efficient, background knowledge of different programming languages has proven to be essential in Ethical hacking.

        • Python

          • Difference between Map and Filter functions in Python

            In Python, map and filter functions application look similar and establishing the difference between the two might be sometime confusing.

            In this post, I would like to highlight the basic difference between the two functions with clear examples.

            While Maps takes a normal function, Filter takes Boolean functions. As a matter of fact, filter are maps with conditional logic, a Boolean logic.

          • Building Datagrid for CRUD in Flask in PythonGrid

            pythonGrid is a new free open source library to create a fully working datagrid for CRUD (Create, Read, Update, & Delete) for Flask that connects to a relation database such as Postgres or MySql/MariaDB database.

            It makes everyday datagrid tasks extremely easy. Standard functions like sorting, pagination, search, and CSV export are supported out-of-box without complicated programming.

          • 10 Tips to avoid getting Blocked while Scraping Websites

            Data Scraping is something that has to be done quite responsibly. You have to be very cautious about the website you are scraping. It could have negative effects on the website. There are FREE web scrapers in the market which can smoothly scrape any website without getting blocked. Many websites on the web do not have any anti-scraping mechanism but some of the websites do block scrapers because they do not believe in open data access.

          • Transmit extra data with signals in PyQt5 & PySide2

            Signals are a neat feature of Qt that allow you to pass messages between different components in your applications.

            Signals are connected to slots which are functions (or methods) which will be run every time the signal fires. Many signals also transmit data, providing information about the state change or widget that fired them. The receiving slot can use this data to perform different actions in response to the same signal.

            However, there is a limitation: the signal can only emit the data it was designed to. So for example, a QAction has a .triggered that fires when that particular action has been activated. The triggered signal emits a single piece of data — the checked state of the action after being triggered.

          • Check your email addresses in Python, as a whole

            So recently, in MDN, we changed the setting WELCOME_EMAIL_FROM. Seems harmless right? Wrong, it failed horribly in runtime and we didn’t notice until it was in production.

  • Leftovers

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Security

          • Security updates for Friday

            Security updates have been issued by CentOS (firefox, ipmitool, kernel, squid, and thunderbird), Debian (pdns-recursor), Fedora (php and ruby), Red Hat (dotnet and dotnet3.1), SUSE (dom4j, dovecot23, memcached, and tomcat), and Ubuntu (clamav, libvirt, and qemu).

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Exclusive: IG Fired Days After Inquiring About Pompeo’s ‘Donor Dinners’

        While Democrats are investigating whether State Department Inspector General Steve Linick was fired for probing into last year’s expedited $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, The American Conservative has learned of another, more direct reason for the IG’s abrupt firing: just days before Linick was removed, he sent a request for information about the “donor dinners” otherwise known as “Madison Dinners” that Pompeo has been hosting on the taxpayer dime for corporate and media big wigs.

        Before coronavirus cancelled them, the “Madison Dinners” were elaborate, unpublicized State dinners that Pompeo and his wife Susan hosted in Diplomatic Reception Rooms beginning in 2018. A bevy of big wig political donors, corporate CEOs, and conservative news media celebrities were invited to the dinners funded by taxpayers.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • P2P apps’ connection amnesia makes them less fault-tolerant

        Peer-to-peer (P2P) applications discover peer devices either using a centralized tracking server (e.g. Syncthing, Dat, BitTorrent) or a “server-less” distributed hash table (DHT). Server-less solutions like DHT are never truly serverless, though. I’ve previously discussed how DHT clients are overly reliant on centralized bootstrapping/introduction servers and how that acts as a single-point-of-failure.

        In that earlier article, I argued that DHT-clients should cache their DHT peers between sessions. Those peers aren’t guaranteed to be online the next time your client tries to join the network. However, P2P clients typically make hundreds of connections to the DHT swarm.

        This method would reduce clients’ reliance on bootstrapping servers and help maintain the network in the event of an intentional or unintentional service outage. As a bonus, it could speed up the process of rejoining the DHT swarm.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Software Patents

          • A Patent Emergency

            Despite this long history, the Federal Circuit found Chamberlain’s patent ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101 as directed to an abstract idea.

            [...]

            By the time this patent application was filed, all three of these elements were all “generally well understood in the art.” The innovative feature of the claims is that the system is designed to transmit the door’s “present operational status” — i.e., is it moving up; moving down; reversing; blocked; etc. The signal also includes a “relatively unique” identifier for folks with multiple garage doors so that the unclaimed receiver can tell which door is up/down. Note here that there is nothing new about these various status points — the only difference is that it that the signals are being sent, and being sent wirelessly.

            So, although the patent claims a garage-door-opener including various physical components, the point-of-novelty is that a particular signal is being sent wirelessly. In its decision, the Federal Circuit found the wireless transmission of status to be an abstract idea: “the broad concept of communicating information wirelessly, without more, is an abstract idea.”

          • Accelerated Memory Tech Disclaims Patent, Mooting Challenge

            On May 21, 2020, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) ruled it would not institute Unified Patents, LLC v. Accelerated Memory Tech, LLC, IPR2020-00191 given the claims were no longer valid. While technically a denial, it would be more fair to say the issue was moot, given Patent Owner’s earlier disclaimer of all the claims. The patent, U.S. Patent 6,513,062, was also ruled invalid under 101 in January 2020, prior to the statutory disclaimer. All other cases involving this patent have been terminated.

      • Copyrights

        • BREAKING: US Copyright Office finds current safe harbor system ‘unbalanced’ and ‘out of sync with Congress’ original intent’

          Today, the US Copyright Office released its much-awaited Report on Section 512 of the US Copyright Act, which was enacted in 1998 as part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and introduced the so called ‘safe harbor’ system into US law.

          As readers following all things intermediaries will know, the safe harbor system of the E-Commerce Directive was the EU response to the 1998 US legislation.

          [...]

          Last year, EU legislature excluded the availability of the hosting safe harbour – in relation to copyright infringements – in Article 17 of Directive 2019/790 (the DSM Directive) for activities falling within the scope of that provision.

Links 22/5/2020: App Icon Preview 2.0.0, dav1d 0.7.0, LibreOffice’s New Icons

Posted in News Roundup at 9:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux Systems Will Save More Power As Kernel Removes Disabled ASPM

        Active State Power Management (ASPM) is an enhancement of Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) that saves a lot of power by setting a device in idle state. The Linux kernel has also enabled ASPM support for the PCI Express interface.

        Now it seems like removal of a few lines of code that were ignored for the last 12 years can bring more power saving to some Linux system. Kai-Heng Feng from Canonical reported a bug for disabled ASPM L1 on TI PCIe-to-PCI Bridge. While pushing the patch to Linux, he also stated that disabled ASPM on the device prevents the Intel SoC from entering deeper Package C-State like PC8.

      • Linux 5.8 Prepped To Make Use Of TPAUSE Instruction With New Intel CPUs

        TPAUSE is the new instruction supported by Intel’s Tremont microarchitecture and beyond. TPAUSE allows for an optimized state that can provide low wake-up latency compared to existing delay mechanisms. With Linux 5.8, the kernel will begin making use of TPAUSE where supported.

        The Timed Pause instruction already saw patches for enabling new instructions like TPAUSE and UMONITOR/UMWAIT back for Linux 4.19. But now queued in x86/timers ahead of the upcoming Linux 5.8 cycle are the changes for the kernel to actually begin making use of TPAUSE for more power efficient suspension of execution. TPAUSE supports modes of low-latency but with less power savings or aanother state for greater power savings but with longer wake-up latency. That is configurable via an MSR while the default behavior is the greater power savings.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Valve adds Steam Workshop, Linux support to Half-Life: Alyx

        Yes, level editing is really cool, but the big news here is native support for Half-Life: Alyx, a VR video game, on Linux.

        Half-Life: Alyx has been out for around six weeks, and it’s been very well received. It’s something of a surprise, given that Valve isn’t really known for developing games anymore, but it’s welcome. (Perhaps we’ve probably got the former Campo Santo team to thank for that.)

        But when Valve does develop games, one thing that’s universally lauded is the company’s support for tinkering. While the likes of Konami and Nintendo are playing copyright whack-a-mole with fan projects, Valve flings open the doors to its engines, level editors, and modding tools. Even fan-made remakes like Black Mesa get a curt but approving nod from Papa Newell.

        Prepare for unforeseen consequences, then, as Valve throws open the doors to Steam Workshop for Half-Life: Alyx.

      • EA releasing Command & Conquer, Red Alert source code to help modders

        Why is June 5 so important? It’s because it’s the day EA will be launching Command & Conquer Remastered Collection. But EA making good with the modding community before the day the C&C Remaster comes out is glorious news. Jim Vessella, the Producer on the C&C Remaster at EA took to Reddit, where he said:

        “This is a key moment for Electronic Arts, the C&C community, and the gaming industry, as we believe this will be one of the first major RTS franchises to open source their source code under the GPL. Along with the inclusion of a new Map Editor, these open-source DLLs should assist users to design maps, create custom units, replace art, alter gameplay logic, and edit data”.

        Vessella continued: “Overall, we are incredibly excited to see what the community creates over the coming months. We anticipate some fantastic content for the Remastered Collection itself, some great updates in current community projects as they incorporate the source code, and perhaps we’ll even see some new RTS projects now made possible with the source code under the GPL”.

      • Awesome looking racer DRAG getting a Steam Game Festival demo

        With some fun sounding 4CPT physics (4-way contact point traction technology), DRAG looks to be a great racer and it’s getting a demo soon.

        As the Steam Game Festival comes closer, more developers seem to be announcing their confirmed participation in this huge online event. Taking place between June 9 – 15, Orontes Games announced DRAG making the cut on Twitter. DRAG only got a Steam page a few months ago, after being in development for a few years now using their own custom tech.

      • Editorial – Linux Gaming’s Ticking Clock

        Today there’s an undeniable truth that in a short window of time we’ve gained a wealth of games to play on Linux, but instead of the current dialogue focusing on finding common actions – how to capitalize on that potential, how to generate growth or even how to prevent too much damage being done, it too often ends up distracted in arguments that only focus on the past. These are fruitless. There’s nothing to be gained but the ego boost of a hollow personal victory. “Is Proton good or bad for Linux gaming?” is a tired old question, that was thrown around in slightly different forms long before Proton even existed. There’s a far more interesting topic: “Proton is here, so what next?”. Finding answers to this, collectively, should be our urgent priority, because there’s one thing seldom brought up in all these discussions: Proton’s current success is the child of impeccable timing, and it may not last.

      • Powkiddy X2 is a Low-End Nintendo Switch Lookalike

        Powkiddy specializes in handheld gaming consoles, and if their latest Powkiddy X2 portable game console looks familiar, it’s because it looks just like a Nintendo Switch.

        But the comparison stops there. The NVIDIA processor is replaced by a quad-core Cortex-A7 processor, the display has a lower resolution, the controllers aren’t detachable, and unsurprisingly you can’t play any Nintendo Switch games.

      • Civilization VI – New Frontier Pass launches without Linux and macOS

        Civilization VI – New Frontier Pass went live yesterday, well the first part anyway and it appears it’s launched without Linux and macOS.

        This is despite both platforms being supported for Civilization VI, and when we enquired about (see the bottom update) it before release we were told the plan was to have it “sim-ship” (ship simultaneously). With the first part, Maya & Gran Colombia Pack, out now along with a patch for everyone and both Linux and macOS missing we again asked about what’s happening.

      • A look at the Penumbra Collection on Linux with Mesa in 2020

        When I switched to using Linux full time in the spring of 2007, my first recourse for gaming was either emulation or playing many of my old ported favourites from id Software. It did not take me long to start looking further afield in search of other quality Linux native titles, but in a time when digital distribution was in its infancy, and the Indie revolution that it would bring had not quite started yet, new games were few and far between.

        At the same time, a small startup in Sweden was hard at work trying to expand their original Penumbra tech demo into a series of full fledged episodic horror games. The Penumbra Collection would be the ultimate result of that effort, with Linux support being provided by Edward Rudd. It would even go on to have its first instalment included as part of the original Humble Indie Bundle. The game soon caught my eye due to its strong graphics and advanced physics engine.

      • Comedy point and click Nine Noir Lives coming to Linux, demo soon

        Nine Noir Lives asks the question, “how many things need to be licked to solve a murder?”. A comedy point and click adventure that looks genuinely good. Appears one we missed too as we’ve not covered it before!

        The developer, Silvernode Studios, recently announced that they’ve been approved for the upcoming Steam Game Festival that runs from June 9 -15. This means they will have a playable demo during this time, to showcase their game to a bigger audience. When asked on Steam, Silvernode confirmed that there will be a Linux demo available.

      • XPRIZE Connect is trying to get kids coding with a competition

        The non-profit XPRIZE Foundation has announced XPRIZE Connect, a new “learning initiative” with the first being Code Games: A Global Game-Making Challenge to get kids coding.

        For ages 10 to 18, they want them to design and/or developer a video game with a theme across either Exploration, Environment, and Human Equity. It’s being supported by Endless Network, who focus on empowering a younger generation with tech skills. Also in collaboration with E-Line Media, a video game developer and publisher involved in titles like the upcoming Beyond Blue and Never Alone.

        To sweeten the pot a bit, they’re offering a prize of $1,000 to multiple entries, plus $2,000 will be awarded to the best games/designs. You’ve got quite a while to enter too, as nothing is needed until October 14 2020.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Welcome PDF Quirk

        How often have you scanned a letter, a certificate or whatever and looked for the right way to call $UTILITY to convert it to a PDF that can be shared via internet?

        For this very common use case I could not find a tool to make that really easy for the Linux desktop. Given my mission to help making the Linux desktop more common in the small business world (do you know Kraft?) I spent some time starting this little project.

        Please welcome PDF Quirk, the desktop app to easily create PDFs out of images from storage or directly from the scanner!

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • App Icon Preview 2.0.0 released

        App Icon Preview is the very first utility made by the GNOME Design Tooling team, created originally by Zander Brown a year ago. Since then, we have been crafting other small yet useful utilities for the GNOME design team.

      • GNOME gets big open-source patent win

        In 2019, the GNOME Foundation was sued by Rothschild Patent Imaging (RPI) for violating its “wireless image distribution system and method patent” (US Patent No. 9,936,086).” Rothschild, a Non-Practicing Entity (aka a patent troll), had filed 714 lawsuits over the past six years.

        Now, in a surprise move, GNOME, makers of the popular Linux desktop of the same name, won not only a release and covenant not to be sued for any Rothschild patent but a release and covenant to any software that is released under an existing Open Source Initiative (OSI) approved license.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • NuTyX 11.5 available with cards 2.4.115
      • NuTyX 11.5 Linux Distro Released: A Highly Flexible Operating System



        If you’ve ever thought of building your own Linux-based operating system, you must have come across the Linux from scratch (LFS) project. It’s one of the best guides that teaches you to build your own customized Linux system from sources.

        NuTyX is one such complete GNU/Linux distribution inspired by LFS and BLFS (Beyond LFS) that gives you full control of your OS. Continuing the development, the NuTyX dev team has released a new point version NuTyX 11.5 with minor improvements and package updates. So, let’s take a look at the new features and enhancements in NuTyX 11.5.

    • Slackware Family

      • Chromium 83 – packages for Slackware, news about Widevine plugin

        The COVID-19 crisis caused Google to change its release calendar for the Chromium browser sources, and they decided to skip the 82 release altogether, in order to focus on keeping the 81.x versions as safe as possible while working on their upcoming 83 release.

        And so this week, Chromium 83.0.4103.61 was introduced to the “Stable Channel” with lots of bugs fixed, of which 38 are security fixes. There’s also a lot of new and improved features which are introduced in this release but it seems that many of those are only available in Google’s official Chrome binaries.
        One of the notable changes for Chromium users (as opposed to Google Chrome users for which it has always worked this way) is that the Widevine content decryption module is now an official component of the browser. Like with Mozilla Firefox, the Chromium browser will now automatically download the Widevine library into your personal profile and enable access to DRM-protected content. In the URL “chrome://components/” you’ll see Widevine listed as a component, displaying its current version and a “Check for update” button.

    • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

      • 15 years

        With more than 500 millions od download, more than 30 mirrors in the world, my “little” repository, created 15 years ago, have became (I think) one of the reference pour PHP and RPM users, providing

        7 versions of PHP
        from 5.6 to 7.1 with security backports
        from 7.2 to 7.4
        8.0.0-dev
        150 extensions
        6 distributions
        RHEL / CentOS 6, 7 and 8
        Fedora 30 to 32
        3 distribution modes
        Base packages, 1 repository per version
        Software Collections for parallel installation
        Modules

      • 6 ways to optimize your innovation spend

        “Innovation happens at the intersection of functions; it organically comes from people closest to a problem,” says Red Hat CIO Mike Kelly. That’s one reason why he co-locates some of his technology staff with the business units they support.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian welcomes the 2020 GSOC interns

        We are very excited to announce that Debian has selected nine interns to work under mentorship on a variety of projects with us during the Google Summer of Code.

        Here are the list of the projects, students, and details of the tasks to be performed.

  • Devices/Embedded

  • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

    • Connect And Unify All Your Data With Grafana 7.0

      Grafana 7.0 is now generally available with enhancements to simplify the development of custom plugins and increase the power, speed and flexibility of visualization. This latest release helps organizations realize their monitoring, visualization and observability goals even faster, Grafana Labs said.

      Grafana 7.0 is an accumulation of effort commencing after 6.0 spanning nearing 18,000 commits and 3,699 pull requests from 362 contributors around the world. Additionally, there are hundreds of company, commercial and community data-source plugins and thousands of sample dashboards.

    • Keeping open-source groups alive: FOSS Responders



      Thanks to the coronavirus, technology events have been canceled left and right. This, in turn, is damaging the finances of companies and groups that depend on these events. Some open-source groups, such as The Linux Foundation, can deal with it. Others aren’t so fortunate. Some, such as Drupal Foundation, the Open Source Initiative (OSI), Open Source Matters (Joomla), and Ajv JSON Schema validator, are in real trouble. FOSS Responders is trying to help these and other groups and individuals.

      While open source powers billion-dollar businesses, many open-source projects operate on a shoestring budget. Groups such as Sustain, Open Collective, and the Core Infrastructure Initiative try to help these groups and the code they create stay above water.

    • A look at how Jitsi became a ‘secure’ open-source alternative to Zoom

      Apart from being open-sourced, Jitsi benefited from endorsements by a few highly-regarded names in the security community. In March, a privacy-focused browser Tor tweeted about the product as an alternative to Zoom.

    • Why the entire open source movement is under threat right now

      To date, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected over 170 technology events worldwide. Some of them have been postponed and others have moved online, but the majority have been cancelled outright.

      This has had a significant impact on the open source community, placing high-profile organizations and projects under mounting financial pressure.

    • dav1d 0.7.0: mobile focus

      The VideoLAN, VLC and FFmpeg communities have been working on a new AV1 decoder, dav1d, in order to create the best and fastest decoder.

    • Dav1d 0.7 Released With More Performance Optimizations

      The VideoLAN team responsible for the dav1d AV1 video decoder have just released dav1d 0.7 as the newest feature release and it comes with more performance optimizations.

      Dav1d 0.7 is bringing around 10% faster decode performance on x86_64 systems while seeing memory usage reduced as much as 25%. Additionally, dav1d 0.7 completes its Assembly code for 8-bit bit-depth content as well as introducing more AVX-512 Assembly.

    • Web Browsers

      • Mozilla

        • TenFourFox FPR23b1 available

          TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 23 beta 1 is now available (downloads, hashes, release notes). This version brings various oddiments of image tags up to spec, fixing issues with broken or misdimensioned images on some sites, and also has a semantic upgrade to Content Security Policy which should fix other sites but is most important to me personally because now TenFourFox can directly talk to the web BMC interface on Raptor Talos II and Blackbird systems — like the one sitting next to the G5. There is also a minor performance tweak to JavaScript strings and the usual security updates. Assuming no major issues, FPR23 should go live on or about June 2nd.

    • SaaS/Back End/Databases

      • Percona users detail open source database challenges

        The business networking platform LinkedIn uses MySQL extensively as a back-end data store for both internal and public-facing assets.

        LinkedIn has a centralized MySQL site reliability engineering (SRE) team that provides MySQL as a managed service inside of the company, which uses about 2,300 MySQL databases currently.

        LinkedIn engineer Karthik Appigatla, during a technology keynote session Wednesday at the 24-hour Percona Live Online conference, outlined how the business networking site has managed to scale and secure its MySQL deployment.

        [...]

        Meanwhile, e-commerce platform vendor Shopify has seen firsthand some of the problems when deploying database services in the cloud. The Ottawa-based vendor deploys its fleet of MySQL services on the Google Cloud Platform at large scale.

        Shopify engineers Akshay Suryawanshi and Jeremy Cole, outlined some of the challenges they faced with cloud deployment during a technology keynote session at the Percona conference on May 19.

        Suryawanshi noted that Shopify is used by more than a million merchants during the peak Black Friday through Cyber Monday shopping period (Nov. 29 to Dec. 2 in 2019) and it can handle hundreds of millions of queries across its MySQL infrastructure.

        A key promise of the cloud is the concept of elastic scalability that enables users to start up new servers on demand to handle traffic. Cole noted that sometimes the instant, on-demand promise doesn’t actually always work out as expected.

    • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

      • LibreOffice New 2020 Icons

        These icons are called the Mimetype Icons and they were used in the main applications desktop icon, and in the document files created by LibreOffice. My contribution was little, but it was very well received by the original author, and by the others developers. After many adjustments done together with the design team, and many icon sizes individually created, the final result became the official icons in the 3.3.1 release of LibreOffice, and stayed as that for many years.

        As you an see, my style was more decorative and shaded, full of degrades, highlights, outlines and shadows… And then, very shortly after that, the so called Flat Design became a thing, and a big thing. With its minimalism, lack of complexity, it made the life easier, both for users to understand, and for developers to create icons. It was quickly adopted by most software.

        So, Flat Design became the norm in the early 2010s, and with that, my styled icons for LibreOffice became more and more obsolete through the years. And yet they lasted in the official icon set, as far as I could find out, until the 6.1 release in 2018. After 7 years, they were finally replaced by a simpler and much more modern version made by Andreas Kainz.

    • FSF

      • Microsoft Build: Same old recycled stuff, no upcycling

        Often, a proprietary software company’s silence can speak as loudly as their latest campaign against a computer user’s right to freedom. This is the case with Microsoft’s developer-centric “Build” event. While Microsoft announced a few more welcome additions to its free software output, it missed the opportunity to demonstrate a real commitment to user freedom by upcycling its recently abandoned Windows 7 operating system under a free software license.

        The predictable failure here here fits together well with the corporation’s complex history of mixed messaging on freedom, which once compared copyleft to “a virus that gobbles up intellectual property like a Pac-Man,” and yet now would have you believe that it “loves [free software].” Our Upcycle Windows 7 petition has given Microsoft the perfect opportunity to take the next step in its promotion of free software, to show that its “love” was real. We are disappointed, but not surprised, that they have ignored this call from us and thousands of potential users.

        Although the petition signatures and “special gift” were signed, sealed, and delivered safely to their Redmond, WA headquarters, the FSF has not received any response from a Microsoft representative. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the operations of even the largest companies, but as of yet, we haven’t heard anything from Microsoft suggesting this was the reason for the lack of response. They certainly seem to have had the resources to put on a 48-hour video marathon about proprietary software.

    • Programming/Development

      • Gitops Days – Day 2 playlist
      • Fast data modeling with JavaScript

        As a backend developer at the Railwaymen, a software house in Kraków, Poland, some of my tasks rely on models that manipulate and customize data retrieved from a database. When I wanted to improve my skills in frontend frameworks, I chose Vue, and I thought it would be good to have a similar way to model data in a store. I started with some libraries that I found through NPM, but they offered many more features than I needed.

      • The Death Of Corporate Research Labs

        As someone with many friends who worked at the legendary corporate research labs of the past, including Bell Labs and Xerox PARC, and who myself worked at Sun Microsystems’ research lab, this is personal. Below the fold I add my 2c-worth to Arora et al’s extraordinarily interesting article.

      • Postel’s law in development

        The robustness principle doesn’t necessarily result in robust software. I made one change to increase compatibility (good) but that allowed another fault to be introduced reducing compatibility (bad).

    • Perl/Raku

    • Python

      • Dataquest: New Course: NumPy for Data Engineers

        We’ve just launched a new interactive online course that’ll take you from zero to pro with NumPy in the context of data engineering — dive in!

      • Switch A Django Project To Use Pytest – Building SaaS #57

        In this episode, I replaced the default Django test runner to use pytest. We walked through installation, configuration, how to change tests, and the benefits that come from using pytest.

        We started by looking at the current state of the test suite to provide a baseline to compare against. After that, I went to PyPI to find the version of pytest-django that we wanted to install. I added the package to my requirements-dev.txt and installed the update.

      • Invoking Zato Python microservices with OpenAPI

        One of the exciting additions of the upcoming Zato 3.2 release is the ability to invoke services through OpenAPI endpoints without a need for creation of REST channels explicitly – read more for details.

        Python code

        Supposing we have a service such as below – note that it is uses SimpleIO and that each of its input/output attributes is documented in the docstring – we would like to invoke it from an external application while delegating to Zato as much effort involved in it as possible.

      • … and benchmarks

        And he also tries Cython on this benchmark. However, for whatever reason, he tries it on the second version, where the Python runtime is doing all the work, not on the first one, which is the one that is computationally heavy in user code. Unsurprisingly, compiling the second version gives almost no speed-up compared to exercising the exact same implementation of the built-in range(), str(), map() and list() functions in the interpreter.

      • A beginner’s guide to web scraping with Python

        Many people find instructional books useful, but I do not typically learn by reading a book front to back. I learn by doing a project, struggling, figuring some things out, and then reading another book. So, throw away your book (for now), and let’s learn some Python.

        What follows is a guide to my first scraping project in Python. It is very low on assumed knowledge in Python and HTML. This is intended to illustrate how to access web page content with Python library requests and parse the content using BeatifulSoup4, as well as JSON and pandas. I will briefly introduce Selenium, but I will not delve deeply into how to use that library—that topic deserves its own tutorial. Ultimately I hope to show you some tricks and tips to make web scraping less overwhelming.

      • Waiting in asyncio

        One of the main appeals of using asyncio is being able to fire off many coroutines and run them concurrently. How many ways do you know for waiting for their results?

        There’s quite a bit of them! However the different ways have different properties and all of them deserve their place. However I regularly have to look them up to find the right one.

    • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

      • Linux Fu: Alternative Shells

        On Unix — the progenitor of Linux — there was /bin/sh. It was simple, by comparison to today’s shells, but it allowed you to enter commands and — most importantly — execute lists of commands. In fact, it was a simple programming language that could make decisions, loop, and do other things to allow you to write scripts that were more than just a list of programs to run. However, it wasn’t always the easiest thing to use, so in true Unix fashion, people started writing new shells. In this post, I want to point out a few shells other than the ubiquitous bash, which is one of the successors to the old sh program.

        Since the 7th Edition of Unix, sh was actually the Bourne shell, named after its author, Stephen Bourne. It replaced the older Thompson shell written in 1971. That shell had some resemblance to a modern shell, but wasn’t really set up for scripting. It did have the standard syntax for redirection and piping, though. The PWB shell was also an early contender to replace Thompson, but all of those shells have pretty much disappeared.

        You probably use bash and, honestly, you’ll probably continue to use bash after reading this post. But there are a few alternatives and for some people, they are worth considering. Also, there are a few special-purpose shells you may very well encounter even if your primary shell is bash.

    • Java

      • Oracle’s Linux Team Wishes the Java Community a Happy 25th

        From one open source community to another, Oracle’s Linux team would like to congratulate the Java community on its 25th anniversary! Java has an impressive history. It was a breakthrough in programming languages, allowing developers to write once and have code run anywhere. And, it has enabled developers to create a myriad of innovative solutions that help run our world. Read Georges Saab’s post to learn more.

        Both open source technologies, Java and Linux benefit from communities that collectively drive their advancements. While the technologies aren’t similar, there are areas where both work together and complement each other.

        One area is Java’s support for Linux HugePages. Using Linux HugePages can improve system performance by reducing the amount of resources needed to manage memory. The result of less overhead in the system means more resources are available for Java and the Java app, which can make both run faster.

      • Java programming language celebrates 25 years

        The Java programming language celebrates its silver anniversary this week, with May 23, 2020, marking 25 years from the day Sun Microsystems first introduced Java to the world. The venerable language has remained popular with enterprises even as a slew of rival languages, such as Python and Go, now compete for the hearts and minds of software developers. But Java is not standing still, with a revamp designed to address longtime pain points now in the offing.

        Arising out of the “Oak” project begun in 1991 and spearheaded by James Gosling, object-oriented Java gained fame for its “write once, run anywhere” portability, as the Java Virtual Machine supported multiple hardware platforms and operating systems, and Java applets could be run from a webpage. Java applets offered better performance than JavaScript for many years, but eventually fell out of favor with browser makers and were removed from Java in 2018.

  • Leftovers

    • Frances Goldin and a Unique New York Story

      Death comes to us all but this is one that I feel acutely. For many years, I lived across from Frances on New York’s East 11th Street, but I was not very familiar with her long history of housing activism. Our relationship began in 1981 when, overnight, little green trucks began towing cars supposedly illegally parked all along the Silk Stocking District (on Manhattan’s East side) and dragging them into a garage directly across the street from my apartment building. The business sprouted abruptly like a mushroom. It was a Mafia operation, and had no variance to permit it to operate. It totally disrupted the street, between Second and First Avenues. There was a grade school at the end of the bloc at the intersection of 11th Street and First Avenue, so this also posed a danger to small children. This was a safe street, thanks to the presence of the mob, which ran a parking garage adjacent to my building, and had a “social club” at street level directly under my fourth-floor apartment. There was never a lock on the door to the building because a Puerto Rican woman on the first floor ran a numbers bank, so there was a constant coming and going of clients, as well as her Italian boyfriend. The building was owned by Ivan Nazarkewyc, a Ukrainian. I once complained to him that we needed a lock on the front door for security. But he said that was impossible, without going into details. He had an arrangement with the numbers bank and the mob. I liked living there.

    • Now Is the Time to Practice Beauty

      Beauty is intimately and evolutionarily connected to the urge to live. It is the value associated most keenly with experiences that affirm our vitality in relation to the vitality of other beings.

    • Sparkke(ling) Isolation: Thursday Night Knock Offs Streamed Live

      The ultimate way to experience the pub at home, Thursday Night Knock Offs will showcase some of this country’s best female bands and solo artists live from Sparkke* at the Whitmore’s stunning rooftop in Adelaide, South Australia.

    • African e-commerce is getting a much needed boost from coronavirus lockdowns

      While there are some interested customers, e-commerce players require much higher levels of mainstream consumer adoption and retention to build viable businesses in a space where most still remain comfortable with shopping offline or are not yet fully convinced by the benefits of online shopping including wait times for delivery or the trust factor needed for online payments. But lockdowns across the continent during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic are helping to accelerate a change in attitudes with consumers in many pockets exploring e-commerce out of necessity.

  • Hardware

    • Intel has big plans to optimize Bluetooth and create all-wireless PCs

      We’ve gone down this road before, of course, with products like the Dell Wireless D5000, which forged a wireless connection between your PC and a wireless dock for all of your peripherals (including your monitor). It sounds like Intel’s goals this time are more ambitious.

    • Intel Corporation CEO Bob Swan

      After my reinstatement following a won suit, I returned to Intel. Immediately after my return begins a continuous workplace mobbing by my managers towards me.

      With the support of the human resources, which will give me disciplinary measures on the basis of facts built artfully by Intel, with the support of a complacent Intel’s works council.

      Intel proceeds with the systematic falsification of my work results, and the sabotage of all my work activities. it’s a long-term preparation work for my layoff in October 2018.

      My complaints and my requests to stop the workplace mobbing to Intel’s guarantee bodies, the legal department, the personnel department, the general manager of Intel Deutschland GmbH Christin E, have been totally ignored.

      So I decided to write to Intel’s new CEO, Bob Swan.

      The first email receives no reply. The second email within a few months is equally ignored.

      In my emails, I briefly describe workplace bullying and sabotage that I’ve been subjected to for almost a year.

      These are short emails, no excuse for him, the CEO will not have much time to read my emails.

      I offer to provide evidence of what I say. Offer that will not interest Intel CEO Bob Swan, who will never react to my emails.

      [...]

      What about Intel’s Code of Conduct someone could ask?

      Intel’s code of conduct, is a mere statement of beautiful ethical and moral principles, which serves to advertise externally the image of an Intel company attentive to ethics and morals.

      In reality, the code of conduct is very far from a company (Intel Mobbing Company) that has derailed towards an abyss of immorality, which manages to make a mess of any recognized ethical principle.

      Intel Corporation is a company that denies fairness and legality. Who scoffs at the laws, because he knows only one law, those of the strongest.

      The question remains: does Bob Swan, CEO of Intel Corporation, with his smiling face and friendly bald head, know of this rot inside Intel Corporation?

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Fundamentalist Pandemics: What Evangelicals Could Learn From The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam

      This spring, the novel coronavirus pandemic has raised the issue of the relationship between the blindest kind of religious faith and rational skepticism — this time in two countries that think of themselves as polar opposites and enemies: Supreme Leader Ali Khameini’s Iran and Donald Trump’s America.

    • China’s Two Sessions During Coronavirus
    • Guarding the Potatoes, Abandoning the People
    • Getting a Covid-19 Education: From Race to the Top to a Plunge to the Bottom

      The pandemic and federal education policy.

    • Demanding Greater Say in Covid-19 Safety Policies, Just 9% of Walmart Workers Report Ability to Socially Distance at Work

      Labor rights group United for Respect released new polling data regarding Covid-19 precautions as employees demanded to be able to serve on Walmart’s board of directors.

    • More than 1,000 workers at the biggest gold mine in Krasnoyarsk Krai were diagnosed COVID-19, making it one of Russia’s leading regions for coronavirus cases

      An employee of the Olimpiada Gold Mine in the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk Krai died of the coronavirus on May 21. This is the first death from the disease among the mine’s workers, hundreds of whom became infected with COVID-19 over the course of the last few weeks. The gold mine’s coronavirus patients make up about a third of the cases in the Krasnoyarsk Krai — a region that is home to 2.8 million people.

    • Why Russia needs to legalize ‘street medicine’ Pandemic be damned, a movement of volunteer medical workers is providing a lifeline to the country’s unsheltered

      Under normal circumstances, unsheltered people face enormous obstacles to getting necessary medical care. During the coronavirus pandemic, this assistance has become even harder to obtain, thanks to formal limitations (unsheltered people often lack passports and state health insurance policies) and simple neglect. In Russia, so-called “street medicine” is largely responsible for providing healthcare to the unsheltered. Meduza looks at how these volunteers have built an unofficial infrastructure to protect one of the country’s most vulnerable communities.

    • 54,000 Deaths Could’ve Been Prevented If Distancing Were Introduced March 1

      A newly released study from Columbia University concludes that tens of thousands of Americans likely died from COVID-19 due to the initial inaction and slow response to the disease from the Trump administration.

    • Florida, Georgia and Trump Are Lying. COVID Is Far From Over.

      COVID-19 doesn’t care about your opinions regarding its threat. It can come into your house, fluff your pillows, breathe on your toothbrush, lick your doorknobs, rearrange your furniture and settle down for a nice long visit before you even know it’s there.

    • Russia’s coronavirus spread continues to slow, as recovered patient population nears 100,000

      On the morning of May 21, Russian officials announced that the country recorded 8,849 new coronavirus infections in the past day (85 more new cases than the day before) bringing the nation’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 317,554 patients. 

    • Ramzan Kadyrov suspected of having the coronavirus

      The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, is suspected of having the coronavirus.

    • 1.1 Million Children Could Die as COVID Interrupts Food and Medicine, Study Says

      A new report finds 1.1 million children under 5 could die the next six months from secondary impacts of the pandemic, like disruptions to health services and access to food. Mothers are also imperiled. We speak with Tim Roberton, lead author of the study and assistant scientist in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and with infectious diseases pediatrician Dr. Beate Kampmann.

    • Refugees Worldwide Face Hunger and Deprivation as COVID-19 Spreads

      We look at the coronavirus threat to millions of refugees across the globe, where social distancing is often impossible and healthcare is extremely limited. We’re joined by Dr. Miriam Orcutt, executive director of Lancet Migration.

    • Trump’s COVID-19 Disinformation Campaign Is a Preview of the 2020 Elections

      In 2016, along with domestic pro-Trump propaganda campaigns, Russian operatives spread conspiracy theories and disinformation online in an attempt to sow political chaos and sway the presidential election. Now, the misinformation and conspiracy theories swirling around the COVID-19 pandemic provide a grim reminder of how disinformation continues to shape public discourse, with the 2020 elections only months away. Media watchdogs say homegrown disinformation is now a much bigger problem than foreign interference, thanks to President Trump, his reelection campaign and right-wing extremists fueling viral media content shared widely by the president’s supporters.

    • The latest COVID-19 quackery: Intravenous bleach

      It seems that, ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US in March, pretty much all that I’ve been blogging about has been COVID-19, be it quackery used to treat it, pseudoscientific claims and conspiracy theories about it, bad science concerning potential treatments, and antivaccine propaganda launched preemptively even before there’s an actual vaccine. For all the misinformation, pseudoscience, and conspiracy mongering over COVID-19, even I never thought I’d see the resurrection of one of the most abusive treatments I’ve ever come across for autism. I’m referring, of course, to “Miracle Mineral Solution” or “Miracle Mineral Supplement” (MMS) a.k.a. chlorine dioxide, a.k.a. a form of industrial bleach. The difference? Now the quacks are using it to treat COVID-19, because of course they are. Hilariously and bizarrely, it’s one of biggest über-quack grifters of all, Mike Adams, touting the use of bleach to treat the disease, with a story entitled Researchers claim 100 percent cure rate vs. covid-19 in 100+ patient trial conducted in Ecuador, using intravenous chlorine dioxide:

    • A Vaccine Might Mitigate Covid-19, But What About The Plague in Its Wake That’s Not Novel And Is Spreading?

      “Nobody’s seen this I would say since 1917, which was the greatest of them all, the greatest of this kind of battle,” the self-dubbed “wartime president” said. It’s reassuring, no doubt, to a grateful nation on course to lose over 100,000 of its citizens to COVID-19 by month’s end, to know that their health and wellbeing is the hands of a “wartime president” who once stated that avoiding STDs was the equivalent of the tour of duty he never did in Vietnam. When coronavirus deaths on his watch surpassed US fatalities in that war, he didn’t even muster a Tweet of feigned empathy.

    • From Plague to a Livable World

      The 2020 corona virus pandemic is not merely killing countless people. It is also having invisible but deleterious effects: psychological, political, and intellectual. Some people cannot cope with the severe economic effects of the plague, the constant barrage of bad news, and of being alone and isolated. They probably commit suicide. Others enter realms of fantasy and conspiracy. And still others, who know how to oil the wheels of power and influence, are taking advantage of America’s corrupt Trump administration.

    • Lockdown Delays Contributed to Massive US Death Toll, Says Modeling, Suggesting Lessons to Be Learned as States Reopen

      Implementing social distancing policies two weeks earlier could have saved nearly 54,000 lives, the new study found.

    • Pandemic Capitalism’s Cruel Absurdity

      The global pandemic has brought a new urgency to the need for political alternatives to status quo politics, a need for socialist politics, and organization and a vision of a future beyond capitalism.

    • ‘This Is My Retirement’: Trump’s Covid-19 Vaccine Czar Refuses to Sell Stock Holdings of Major Drug Company

      “If he retains stock in companies that are investing in the development of a vaccine,” said government watchdog CREW, “we can’t be confident of the integrity of any process in which he is involved.”

    • How the United States Government Failed to Prepare for the Global Pandemic

      On March 20, just after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic on March 11, the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) sent a cable to U.S. State Department instructing officials how they should speak about China and the novel coronavirus, according to the Daily Beast, which obtained the cable. One section of the cable is called “NSC Top Lines: PRC [People’s Republic of China] Propaganda and Disinformation on the Wuhan Virus Pandemic.” The cable says, “Chinese Communist Party officials in Wuhan and Beijing had a special responsibility to inform the Chinese people and the world of the threat, since they were the first to learn of it.” Instead, U.S. officials were instructed by the cable to contend, the Chinese government “hid news of the virus from its own people for weeks, while suppressing information and punishing doctors and journalists who raised the alarm. The Party cared more about its reputation than its own people’s suffering.” The cable suggests the NSC instructed U.S. officials to trumpet this narrative, and to say instead that the United States must be thanked for its “extraordinary humanitarianism.” “The United States and the American people are demonstrating once again that they are the greatest humanitarians the world has ever known,” the cable continued.

    • Battle Covid-19, Not Medicare for All: Doctors Demand Hospital Industry Stop Funding Dark Money Lobby Group

      “The AHA should immediately leave the PFAHCF and redirect that money to supporting patients and frontline healthcare workers.”

    • Nearly Half of All Tweets on Coronavirus Likely Came From a Bot, Study Says

      If you’ve read a recent social media posting that offers some questionable advice or dubious news about COVID-19, you’re not alone. In fact, users on Twitter have, on average, about a 50 percent chance of reading information regarding the disease that most likely came from a bot, according to findings from a recent study.

    • You Can’t Mask Stupid

      Unfortunately, that’s not how our society works. That’s not how communicable diseases work. That’s not how any of this works. Cell phone data shows that the small groups of largely white confederates who have attended anti-lockdown protests spread themselves across hundreds of miles, even into neighboring states, within 48 hours of attending one of their Covid parties. And, of course, the people most likely to congregate in large groups without wearing a mask are also the people most likely to show up at your local grocery store or Costco without wearing a mask, sneeze on your potential purchases, and then amble off in search of more “freedom” while leaving sickness and death in their wake.

      Quite simply: It’s the people who are most vocal about wanting the country to reopen who are making it too dangerous to reopen the country. It’s the people who are least concerned about their own health who are putting everybody else’s health at risk.

    • How Bad Is The COVID-19 Misinformation Epidemic?

      Measuring exactly how much bunk is out there to begin with is a challenge, in part because so much misinformation is shared through social media, said Gordon Pennycook, a behavioral psychologist at Canada’s University of Regina who studies fake news. It’s possible to measure, for instance, the number of tweets linking to specific fake news websites, but no way to see every instance a particular false claim is made on Facebook, especially when those claims can take many forms, including memes, Pennycook said.

    • America’s Pandemic Role Reversal: Over There Is Now Over Here

      Remember the song “Over There”?

    • Workers Are Afraid of Returning to Work. Will There Be a General Strike?

      Calls for a general strike are growing as millions of people consider going back to work after months of quarantine. Could a mass work stoppage be on the horizon? What about waves of local and regional general strikes as more cities and states move to reopen businesses during a global pandemic? Let’s consider the conditions of our current moment.

  • Integrity/Availability

    • Proprietary

      • Nvidia Gives In-Line Forecast Helped by Data Center Demand

        Beyond gaming and AI, Huang is targeting the market for self-driving vehicles, which require similar chip capabilities. Still, the majority of sales come from PC gaming, where Nvidia’s graphics chips create the most realistic experiences.

      • Three Paper Thursday: Will we ever get IoT security right?

        Just two weeks ago, Belkin announced to shut down one of its cloud services, effectively transforming its several product lines of web cameras into useless bricks. Unlike other end-of-support announcements for IoT devices that (only) mean devices will never see an update again, many Belkin cameras simply refuse to work without the “cloud”. This is particularly disconcerting as many see cloud-based IoT as one possible solution to improve device security by easing the user maintenance effort through remote update capabilities.

        In this post, I would like to introduce three papers, each talking about different aspects of IoT security: 1) consumer purchasing behaviour, 2) vendor response, and 3) an assessment of the ever-growing literature on “best-practices” from industrial, governmental, and academic sources.

      • CrowdStrike Falcon bolsters Linux protection with ML prevention, custom and dynamic IoAs

        CrowdStrike, a leader in cloud-delivered endpoint protection, announced the CrowdStrike Falcon platform is bolstering its Linux protection capabilities with additional features, including machine learning prevention, custom Indicators of Attack (IoAs) and dynamic IoAs.

      • CrowdStrike expands Linux protection, adds machine learning prevention
      • Pseudo-Open Source

      • Security

        • Swissbit Secure Boot for Raspberry Pi Relies on MicroSD Card and optional USB Stick

          Note that we previously wrote about an open-source Raspberry Pi 4 UEFI+ACPI firmware to make the board SBBR-compliant and support features such as UEFI secure boot, but Swissbit secure boot is completely unrelated and instead is a custom security and access control solution.

        • Linux security: 8 more system lockdown controls
        • Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt/Fear-mongering/Dramatisation

          • Safe-Linking: Making Linux exploitation harder [Ed: Self-promotional hype]

            Safe-Linking had the potential to block several major exploits that Check Point has investigated over the years, that turned ‘broken’ software products to ‘unexploitable’ products. “In the case of our research into smart lightbulb vulnerabilities, this would have blocked the exploit and attack.”

            While Safe-Linking is not a magic bullet that will stop all exploit attempts against modern-day heap implementations, the company says, it is another step in the right direction. “By forcing attackers to have a memory leak vulnerability before they can even start their exploit, we have raised the security bar and made exploitations harder to execute. This, in turn, helps to better protect users globally.”

        • Privacy/Surveillance

          • How a VPN can protect your internet history from The Patriot Act & the FBI

            If passed as is, the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020 will expand the infamous Section 215 of the Patriot Act to allow the FBI to view your internet search history without a warrant. This new surveillance capability was added to the Act by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a sneaky amendment. Another amendment by Senators Wyden and Daines would have removed the ability of the FBI to access internet history without a warrant; however, the vote to adopt that amendment was lost by a single vote. These are the 37 Senators that voted to let the FBI have warrantless access to your search history.

          • EFF to UN Expert on Racial Discrimination: Mass Border Surveillance Hurts Vulnerable Communities

            EFF submitted a letter to the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance to testify to the negative impacts of mass surveillance on vulnerable communities at the U.S. border. The Special Rapporteur called for submissions on “Race, Borders, and Digital Technologies” that examine the harmful effects of electronic surveillance on vulnerable communities and free movement at the border. These submissions will inform the Special Rapporteur’s 2020 thematic report to the U.N. General Assembly about how digital technologies used for border enforcement and administration reproduce, reinforce, and compound racial discrimination.

            Ms. E. Tendayi Achiume was appointed the 5th Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimiantion, xenophobia and related intolerance in 2017. In the United Nations, Special Rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council who serve in a personal capacity and report on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective. Special Rapporteurs also report back annually to the U.N. General Assembly (which is made up of 193 Member States). With the support of the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, Special Rapporteurs undertake country visits, intervene directly with States on alleged human rights violations, and conduct thematic studies like this report.

          • Court Tells Grandma To Delete Photos Of Grandkids On Facebook For Violating The GDPR

            We’ve talked for many years now about the overreach of the GDPR and how its concepts of “data protection” often conflict with both concepts of free expression and very common every day activities. The latest example, first highlighted by Neil Brown, is that a Dutch court has said that a grandmother must delete photos of her grandkids that she posted to Facebook and Pinterest, because it violates the GDPR. There is, obviously, a bit more to the case, and it involves a family dispute involving the parents and the grandmother, but, still, the end result should raise all sorts of questions.

          • Private Internet Access implores Representative Crow to protect internet privacy by voting “NO” on H.R. 6172

            RE: Vote “NO” on H.R. 6172, USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020

          • After FBI Successfully Breaks Into IPhones, Bill Barr Says It’s Time For Legislated Encryption Backdoors

            FBI Director Chris Wray’s potshots at Apple during the joint press conference about the Pensacola Air Base shooting weren’t the only ones delivered by a federal employee. Famous anti-encryptionist/current DOJ boss Bill Barr made even more pointed comments during his remarks, mostly glossing over the FBI’s brilliant discovery that the shooter was linked to al Qaeda — something al Qaeda had claimed shortly after the shooting took place.

          • House Democrats Have The Power To Protect Our Web Surfing From Warrantless FBI Searching; Instead, They’re Pointing Fingers

            You would think that House Democrat leaders like Speaker Pelosi and Reps. Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler, who helped lead the impeachment effort against President Trump, would leap at the chance to stop Trump and the FBI from conducting warrantless searches of Americans’ internet browsing habits. Instead, they seem to be supporting it and are trying to scapegoat Rep. Zoe Lofgren — who is trying to safeguard our internet surfing — because she’s dared to push for a fix to the law. At issue is the FISA renewal bill, in which Congress has decided to take the FBI’s “backdoor searches” out of the backdoor and moved them around the front: explicitly allowing the FBI to go trawling through internet/browsing/search histories collected without a warrant by the NSA.

          • As Congress Looks To Give FBI Broad Powers To Sniff Through Your Browsing History Sans Warrant, Wyden Asks ODNI How Often It’s Used

            The Wyden Siren is blaring. If you’re unfamiliar, Senator Wyden has a pretty long history of what is generally known as Wyden Siren letters to the Director of National Intelligence. Wyden, one of the few Senators who has consistently shown a belief in protecting the civil liberties of Americans, has spent over a decade sending letters to the Director of National Intelligence that always ask questions about how often certain very sketchy surveillance techniques are being used. And, every time he does so, it tends to be a signal that the method in question is used to a massive degree, while the intelligence community is running around insisting that it’s nothing to be concerned about. If we’ve learned one thing, however, in all these years, it’s that when Wyden asks these types of questions, it means you’d best pay attention, and the activity in question is happening way more than anyone thought before.

          • Yes, This Site Uses Cookies, Because Nearly All Sites Use Cookies, And We’re Notifying You Because We’re Told We Have To

            If you’re visiting our site today (and I guess, forever into the future if you don’t click “got it”) you will now see a notification at the bottom of the site saying that this site uses cookies. Of course, this site uses cookies. Basically any site uses cookies for all sorts of useful non-awful, non-invasive purposes. We use cookies, for example, to track your preferences (including when you turn off ads on the site, which we let you do for free). In order to make sure those ads are gone, or whatever other preferences stay in place, we use cookies.

          • Mark Zuckerberg on taking his massive workforce remote

            All of that pales, though, next to the announcement Zuckerberg made Thursday morning in a live stream to his employees. Beginning today, the company is making most of its open roles in the United States available for remote recruiting and hiring. And later this year, many of Facebook’s 48,000 employees around the world will be able to request a switch to remote work. Within the next decade, Zuckerberg predicts, Facebook — a company that until recently paid new hires a bonus of up to $15,000 to live near its Menlo Park headquarters — could be a largely remote workforce.

          • Facebook to Push Remote Hiring, Tells Employees They Can Move

            Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said the company plans to “aggressively open up remote hiring” starting immediately with the U.S., particularly for engineering talent. Based on internal employee surveys, he believes remote workers could make up as much as 50% of Facebook’s workforce in the next five to 10 years.

          • China moves to take full control over Hong Kong with a proposed national security law in China’s National People’s Congress

            Hong Kong will soon have a new national security law implemented without a single vote by a Hong Kongese politician. If that doesn’t sound democratic, that’s because it isn’t. The National People’s Congress (NPC) in China is starting its bimonthly meetings and at the top of the agenda is a new national security law for Hong Kong. Specifically, the agenda mentions a bill “on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security.” According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), such safeguards would include forbidding the following:

          • VPN Downloads Surge in Response to Hong Kong Security Law

            Unlike in mainland China, Hong Kong maintains an open [Internet] and relatively loose constraints on online speech because of the city’s semi-autonomous status. VPNs and U.S.-based messaging apps like Twitter and WhatsApp, which are banned on the mainland, are legal in Hong Kong.

            The national security law is expected to pass in China’s parliament before the end of its annual session next Thursday, but it would still take several procedural steps before being implemented. The law could lead to increased surveillance and censorship in Hong Kong, privacy advocates said.

          • Alibaba to invest $1.4 billion in AI system for smart speakers

            The company has released several models since then, including devices with displays. Its latest model, announced on Wednesday, costs 549 yuan ($77.28) and comes with a 10-inch screen.

            Alibaba competes with Xiaomi Corp and Baidu Inc in the smart speaker sector.

            In 2019, Alibaba shipped 16.8 million smart speakers to consumers, while Baidu shipped 17.3 million, according to research firm Canalys.

          • Bart Gellman on Snowden

            Bart Gellman’s long-awaited (at least by me) book on Edward Snowden, Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State, will finally be published in a couple of weeks. There is an adapted excerpt in the Atlantic.

            It’s an interesting read, mostly about the government surveillance of him and other journalists. He speaks about an NSA program called FIRSTFRUITS that specifically spies on US journalists. (This isn’t news; we learned about this in 2006. But there are lots of new details.)

            One paragraph in the excerpt struck me: [...]

          • Three Paper Thursday – GDPR anniversary edition

            This coming Monday will mark two years since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect. It prompted an initial wave of cookie banners that drowned users in assertions like “We value your privacy”. Website owners hoped that collecting user consent would ensure compliance and ward off the lofty fines.

            Article 6 of the GDPR describes how organisations can establish a legal basis for processing personal data. Putting aside a selection of `necessary’ reasons for doing so, data processing can only be justified by collecting the user’s consent to “the processing of his or her personal data for one or more specific purposes”. Consequently, obtaining user consent could be the difference between suffering a dizzying fine or not.

          • Why is This Website Port Scanning me?

            Whether the port scan is used as part of an infection or part of e-commerce or bank “security checks”, it is clearly malicious behavior and may fall on the wrong side of the law.

            If you observe this behavior, I encourage you to complain to the institution performing the scans, and install extensions that attempt to block this kind of phenomenon in your browser, generally by preventing these types of scripts from loading in the first place.

          • Grandmother ordered to delete Facebook photos under GDPR

            The GDPR does not apply to the “purely personal” or “household” processing of data.

            However, that exemption did not apply because posting photographs on social media made them available to a wider audience, the ruling said.

            “With Facebook, it cannot be ruled out that placed photos may be distributed and may end up in the hands of third parties,” it said.

          • ‘OK wallet’: Young women fire back at misogynistic name-calling on TikTok

            Men and women often claim that they are joking when they objectify one another. However, the back and forth has created a debate about sexism among Generation Z and whether the phrases are, in fact, meant to be humorous or are an incarnation of misogyny.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • A Machiavellian US in the Middle East

      The war in Syria has dropped out of the news, like almost everything else, in a time when the Coronavirus seems to dominate all discourse and reporting. But the regime of Bashar al-Assad continues to strangle its own country. The Russians continue to bomb on his behalf, terrifying civilians and hospitals. The Americans work semi-clandestinely to undermine both the regime and its Russian backers.

    • Rethinking Public Safety: Trust vs. Force

      We need to start over: set down the guns and strip this system down to the bone, with the intention of rebuilding our social infrastructure on a foundation of trust, cooperation and a belief in the sanctity of life.

    • Trump Condemned for Ditching Treaty That Has ‘Helped Prevent Nuclear War for Nearly Three Decades’

      “Once again, Donald Trump’s belligerent approach to foreign policy has put us all at risk.”

    • Trump’s “Blame China” Strategy Echoes Bush’s Targeting of Iraq

      There’s a meme that appears now and then on Facebook and other social media: “Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. Yet those who do study history are doomed to stand by helplessly while everyone else repeats it.”

    • The Wuhan Hoax

      Covid-19 and Trump’s war on the U.S. intelligence community.

    • “We’re Ready for Whatever, Whenever,’ Says Maduro as Venezuela Vows Navy Escort to Protect Iranian Oil Tankers from US Threats

      Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warns that the U.S. government “must give up bullying on the world stage and respect the rule of international law, especially free shipping in the high seas.”

    • Blaming Russia, Trump Plans to Exit Post-Cold War Arms Control Treaty

      The Trump administration will withdraw from a post-Cold War treaty that enabled signatories to keep tabs on member nations’ arms developments.

    • GOP Senate Candidate Assures Voters She Doesn’t Believe ‘Everything’ About QAnon Conspiracy Theory

      On Thursday, the day after the interview was published, Perkins posted a statement to Twitter denying that she endorsed the conspiracy that she has repeatedly promoted throughout her primary. “I’m disheartened that less than 24 hours after my win, my words were already being spun through the fake news machine and taken out of context. I was not endorsing Q/Anon, but rather stating that I appreciate the fact that there is still free speech in this country that allows for voices — including whistleblowers from both sides of the aisle — that may, or may not, bring to light issues Americans need to be aware of.”

    • U.S. Tussles With France, U.N. Over Counterterrorism Efforts in West Africa

      Trump administration officials have been quietly lobbying diplomats from France and the United Nations to appoint David Gressly, a veteran American U.N. official who has held a number of senior posts at the world body, as the U.N. special representative for Mali, overseeing a force of more than 11,000 African and European blue helmets. If selected, he would replace a former Chadian foreign minister, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, who is scheduled to step down at the beginning of next year after five years on the job.

      But France—which maintains a counterterrorism force of more than 4,500 troops in the semiarid West African Sahel region—has been cool to the prospect of an American leading the mission, preferring that the post be filled by an African candidate from a French-speaking country, according to Western and U.N. officials familiar with the matter. The U.N. mission, known as MINUSMA, constitutes a critical pillar of French ambitions to ultimately extricate itself from costly counterterrorism operations in the wider Sahel. France has urged the U.N. to expand its role in the region, providing logistical support to a coalition of regional governments, the G5 Sahel, that Paris hopes can fill the gap when French forces begin to depart.

    • US Marine Corps Manuals

      MCDP1 1 Strategy
      MCDP1 2 Campaigning
      MCDP1 3 Tactics
      MCDP1 Warfighting
      MCDP2 Intelligence

    • A QAnon supporter just won a Republican primary for US Senate

      Nevertheless, her victory — which came by a significant margin — is emblematic of the conspiracy theory’s influence among conservative voters, as is the way Perkins highlighted it in her victory speech.

    • Domestic Islamist Extremism Arrests and Plots in US Jumped 50% Last Year, New ADL Data Shows

      According to the data, compiled by the ADL’s Center on Extremism, there were a total of 30 arrests linked to domestic Islamist extremism in 2019, nine of which were for terror plots.

    • FATAH: Islamic call to prayer turns ugly

      This is what Muslims who have fled the tyranny of Islamic regimes such as Iran and Pakistan had feared. And it happened sooner than anyone expected: the use of megaphones around mosques to spread hatred and to do so under the protection of city by-laws rushed through by a scared bunch of politicians worried that they might be slurred by the obnoxious word Islamophobia that is simply a sword of Damocles hanging over the head of anyone who dare critique the actions of certain Muslims or their clergy.

    • Big surge in Chinese transgressions, most of them in Ladakh

      As tensions run high in eastern Ladakh, official data show there has been a marked increase in the number of Chinese transgressions into the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.

      The first four months of this year, according to official data, witnessed 170 Chinese transgressions across the LAC, including 130 in Ladakh. There were only 110 such transgressions in Ladakh during the same period in 2019.

    • All Border Issues With Nepal Will Be Dealt With Through Talks: Foreign Ministry

      Kathmandu also claims the highly strategic areas of Limpiyadhura and Kalapani, although Indian troops have been deployed there since New Delhi fought a war with China in 1962.

      Nepal’s move to release the new map came after a new road was inaugurated on May 8 by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh connecting the Lipulekh pass in Uttarakhand with the Kailash Mansarovar route in China. Nepal has protested against the new road and is said to be considering a security post in the area.

    • Real reason why Nepal mapped Indian territories as its own

      Six months later, Nepal has now released its new political map. Its old map obviously did not show Kalapani, Lipiyadhura and Lipulekh as its territories. These areas have not been under Nepal’s administration.

      There is more to Kalapani story and Oli’s anti-India stance. During his first term as Nepal’s prime minister, there was a constitutional crisis in Nepal fueling anti-India sentiments with India unofficially imposing blockade for months. To counter India, Oli had signed a series of agreements with China.

  • Environment

    • With Covid-19 Raging, Warnings of Worse-Than-Usual Hurricane Season Point to Trouble Ahead

      “Hurricane season is about to start and its risks will only grow and potentially compound any impacts from the pandemic.”

    • Dangerous Hurricane Season To Open Amidst COVID-19

      Emergency response officials need to develop COVID-19-safe evacuation plans, with safe locations and enforced social distancing, taking into consideration those most vulnerable socially and economically.

    • Climate Protesters Call Out ‘Hot Air’ of Financial Giant During BlackRock Annual Meeting

      “The time for rhetoric and baby steps is long gone. BlackRock has to make substantial changes to its entire investment model in order to be the climate leader it claims to be.”

    • Soaring Beyond the Green New Deal with Stan Cox

      When Stan Cox was writing his book, The Green New Deal and Beyond: Ending the Climate Emergency While We Still Can, he scripted these prophetic words: “The oft-predicted national decline in use of fossil fuels is nowhere to be seen, and it is unlikely to occur on its own, at least until the next economic meltdown.” He became one of those few people who dare predict the future; but it was unfortunate for humanity that his prediction came true. Between the time that Cox foresaw the conditions under which fossil fuel usage would go down and his book appeared in print, the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe, production crashed in country after country, and CO2 emissions dropped even more than they did during the 2008 financial crisis.

    • Too Many Demand Too Much of Renewable Energy

      Many have heard talk of coal miners finding new jobs installing rooftop solar panels. It’s less often mentioned, but it seems just as likely that at least some coal miners will transition to new jobs in the metals mining basic to building those solar panels. 

    • The covid and climate crises are connected

      The two crises do not just resemble each other. They interact. Shutting down swathes of the economy has led to huge cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions. In the first week of April, daily emissions worldwide were 17% below what they were last year. The International Energy Agency expects global industrial greenhouse-gas emissions to be about 8% lower in 2020 than they were in 2019, the largest annual drop since the second world war.

    • Mega solar plant uses 170,000 mirrors to generate heat for electricity

      The facility uses more than 170,000 devices called heliostats, each consisting of two mirrors that direct solar energy onto boilers found on the three centralised solar power towers. The boilers then use the sun’s heat to produce steam that drives turbines to generate electricity.

  • Human action will decide how much sea levels rise

    Sea levels will go on rising, because of human action. By how much, though, depends on what humans do next.

  • Energy

    • Sustainable palm oil? How environmental protection and poverty reduction can be reconciled

      The research data show that the expansion of oil palm in some regions of the world—especially Indonesia and Malaysia—contributes significantly to tropical deforestation and the loss of biodiversity. Clearing forestland also leads to substantial carbon emissions and other environmental problems. “However, banning palm oil production and trade would not be a sustainable solution,” says Professor Matin Qaim, agricultural economist at the University of Göttingen and first author of the study. “The reason is that oil palm produces three times more oil per hectare than soybean, rapeseed, or sunflower. This means that if palm oil was replaced with alternative vegetable oils, much more land would be needed for cultivation, with additional loss of forests and other natural habitats.”

  • Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • Warren Tops MoveOn Survey for Preferred Biden VP Pick

      The new poll shows 73% of the group’s members would be more likely to vote for the former vice president if Sen. Elizabeth Warren is his running mate.

    • ‘Just Give People the Money’: Progressives Rip Third Way-Approved Complicated Tax Credit Relief Proposal

      “Calling this peanuts is an insult to peanuts, an immediate tangible thing people could eat.”

    • Underscoring ‘Grotesque Nature of Unequal Sacrifice,’ Richest Americans Have Added $434 Billion in Wealth Since Pandemic Hit

      “While millions risk their lives and livelihoods as first responders and frontline workers, these billionaires benefit from an economy and tax system that is wired to funnel wealth to the top.”

    • How Germany’s Courts Might Destroy the Euro

      Germany’s highest court issued a ruling that could threaten the existence of the euro with a constitutional court decision that said the European Central Bank’s bond-buying operations exceeded the ECB’s legal remit, and violated German constitutional law. The U.S. equivalent of this would be a state Supreme Court limiting the ability of the U.S. Federal Reserve to conduct purchases or sales of Treasury securities.

    • McConnell Vows to Block Benefits While Pushing Corporate Legal Immunity

      Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed in a private call with House Republicans Wednesday that the enhanced unemployment benefits keeping millions of people afloat amid Great Depression-level joblessness will not be extended in the next coronavirus stimulus legislation, effectively endorsing a major income cut for a large swath of the U.S. population.

    • Social Studies for the Pandemic

      The push to re-open, get the economy up-and-running has the momentum behind it of people who’ve been starved for normal socializing, outings and cultural events, and even, if not felt in the same way, from the routine of going to work. But, for those willing to see, at the top where the decisions are being made by leaders who are supposed to have the peoples’ welfare front-and-center, the cold-hearted evil of neoliberal capitalism is being blatantly exposed. There’s no smiley-face on it when leaders are offering COVID-19 responses like the “herd immunity” approach (UK’s Boris Johnson) to essentially cull the old and vulnerable while the rest – in theory – develop “herd immunity.” But not only the evil ones – Trump, Bolsonaro, Johnson, etc., are to be held accountable. Does anyone believe we have in our representative government any who will fiercely oppose the too-rapid opening process, and stand up for the people being told they must go back to work or lose their job and unemployment payments? Who will take up the hopeless task of arguing for the good of all? And, more to my point, can we expect leaders to take up a (social) cause we (the people) have largely abandoned?

    • Senate Bill Would Guarantee Paychecks to Laid-Off Workers for Rest of 2020 ‘To Avoid Another Great Depression’

      “We cannot continue to allow tens of millions of Americans to lose their jobs, income, and health insurance during this horrific pandemic,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the bill’s lead sponsors.

    • Lives Depend on Argentina’s Debt Talks
    • 60 Million People Could Be Driven Into Extreme Poverty Due to the Pandemic

      A new report finds that as many as 60 million people could be reduced to living on less than $2 a day as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

    • Congress Must Do Much, Much, Much More to Help Tens of Millions Unemployed

      Nearly one in four workers has applied for unemployment benefits.

    • In a Class War—Like It or Not—the System Always Makes a Killing

      While negative coverage of Donald Trump has been common due to his handling of the pandemic, media outrage has been muted in relation to the magnitude of the dying in our midst.

    • While Pushing for Corporate Legal Immunity, McConnell Vows to Block Extension of Boosted Unemployment Benefits

      “Cutting back federal assistance at the height of the crisis would mean self-inflicted disaster, devastation, and additional deaths. That must not happen.”

    • In ‘Right-To-Work’ States, Restaurant Workers Mobilize During COVID-19 For Better Conditions

      For the past eight years, Johnathan Bo-o has worked on and off in the service industry, starting as a dishwasher at a restaurant in an Atlanta suburb when he was 17.

      The restaurant Bo-o was serving at prior to the pandemic was better than his previous workplaces. He thought to himself, “I’m doing fine for right now.”

    • What Happens To Restaurant Workers State-By-State Is Of National Consequence

      In April, after Shadowproof put out a call for pitches from journalists, Clare Busch proposed a report on labor and organizing among restaurant workers in Georgia. We are really glad she did because the impacts from the coronavirus outbreak remain intense.

      Restaurant workers have endured some of the worst aspects of the coronavirus crisis, with eight million or more workers fired or furloughed.

    • Rent Is Still Due in Kushnerville

      It was the day after April rent was officially due — April 6 — and Kevin Maddox was officially late. The week before, he had lost both of his jobs within a few days of each other. Both were at food-service warehouses. “My job is to get the food to the restaurants, and if no one’s going to the restaurants, then I’m out of a job,” Maddox said. So he filed for unemployment and now stood outside his small rental row house just beyond the Baltimore city line watching his young daughter as she rode around in her plastic car.

      His spirits were relatively high, all things considered. Both employers told him they’d take him back, as soon as things opened back up. That maybe helped explain why he still wore the cap from one of the warehouses: Maines Paper & Food Service Inc.

    • It’s Possible to Run for Office as an Unapologetic Socialist and Win

      Despite being an eternal disappointment to the majority of people, the capitalist-allied political establishment is able to remain in power in part by maintaining the illusion that politics is for experts, people with Rolodexes full of professional contacts, people who went to elite schools. Since the myth of meritocracy maintains that people get ahead professionally because they’re smarter or better than others, the people who are in charge (both as candidates and behind the scenes) are presumed deserving of their pedestal — and the proof of their deservingness is precisely that they’re in charge. It’s a dizzying tautology.

    • Let’s Not Be Duped Again By Deficit Hawks Peddling Austerity

      We could actually be on our way to a very different and promising future. But, count on it, the deficit hawks will soon be circling menacingly overhead, hell-bent on preventing any diversion from the austerity they’ve confined us to for decades.

    • ‘Staggeringly Cruel’: With 36 Million Newly Out of Work, Trump Says He’s Willing to Let Boosted Unemployment Benefits Expire

      “This is the worst economic crisis in 100 years and Donald Trump is doubling down on Herbert Hoover’s economic playbook and pushing workers to risk their health for his political benefit.”

    • It’s Time for a Robot Tax

      Taxing robots sounds unnatural, almost sci-fi like. While I use “robots’ to personalize automation, the reality is that workers, human beings, are being replaced by automation, often in the form of robotic functions in our major industries.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Despite Deadly Pandemic, Trump Says: “We Don’t Want Anybody to Do Mail-in Ballots”

      “Five states already have all-mail elections—Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.”

    • The Cynical Actors Surrounding Tara Reade

      At the outset, let me be absolutely clear that I have a particularly heightened level of sensitivity to matters of gender and violence against women. Almost everyone has either met someone with some kind of #MeToo story or, alternatively, has experienced gender-based violence in some form.

    • Trump’s Pick Could Move VOA Further Right—but It’s Never Been an Independent Outlet

      If the Trump administration has its way, the US State Department–funded news organization Voice of America may pivot further right. Senate Republicans today moved closer to installing reactionary media executive Michael Pack as head of the US Agency for Global Media, which governs Voice of America and other US state-run media. The decision follows Trump’s recent rebuke of the outlet for being inadequately nationalistic.

    • Why Thinking Makes It So: Donald Trump’s Obamagate Fixation

      The “gate” suffix has been wearing thin since the break-in scandal that gave it its birth.  Since Watergate, virtually anything dubious and suggestive, and much more besides, is suffixed.  Which brings us to the issue of President Donald Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.  Finding himself in hot water (did he ever leave it?) Trump has been sowing the seeds of “Obamagate”, a fairly grotesque measure that serves to fill the shallow spaces of the social mediaverse.

    • Trump-style Dysfunction Comes to Montana

      The Montana Public Service Commission is far from living up to its name. Instead of public service, we get a highly regrettable rat’s nest of in-fighting among its all-Republican members. Now, even more regrettably, not only is this public agency refusing to honor Montana’s constitutionally guaranteed “right to know” about our own government, but actually filed a lawsuit against media outlets that ask for information.

    • “Tom Perez’s Worst Nightmare”: Newly Elected DNC Member RL Miller to Push Dems on Climate

      The longtime activist has set her sights on the party’s platform, fossil fuel industry donations, and a climate debate in the next presidential race.

    • As Trump Says ‘Voting Is An Honor’ in Rant Against Mail-In Ballots, Progressives Respond: ‘Voting Is a Right’

      “Voting isn’t a gift given by leaders. Citizens have the right to vote.”

    • Authoritarianism is Shoddy

      Well, it is really happening. It is something of a shock to see yourself listed as a criminal for writing the truth. I have a tiny extra glimpse now into the way my friend Julian has been feeling.

    • Entrepreneur arrested in Moscow on suspicion of spreading false information about the sale of masks received as humanitarian aid

      The Russian Investigative Committee has arrested a 38-year-old entrepreneur from Moscow, suspected of disseminating false information about the sale of masks received as humanitarian aid during the coronavirus pandemic, the department stated on its website.

    • Man who called Duterte ‘buang’ on Facebook arrested for cyberlibel

      “ALAM NA PATTERN, MOSALIDA SI GO KONUHAY SIYA MOHANGYO SA BUANG NGA PANGULO, DIGONG G***. BUANG SI DIGONG,” Orcullo wrote on Facebook.

      (We already know the pattern. Go will create a scripted demand to that foolish Digong. Digong is a fool.)

      Members of Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit (RACU) 13 and Nasipit Municipal Police Station arrested Orcullo at his residence at 3 p.m.

    • Philippines Government Uses Cybercrime Law To Arrest A Citizen For Calling The President An ‘Asshole’

      All things are cyber these days, including handy government tools meant to shield thin-skinned leaders from criticism. For a guy who goes around bragging about killing drug dealers, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte seems oddly unable to handle being called what he is.

      [...]

      Good old libel, but with 100% more “cyber.” Whatever due process might have been in place for regular libel is pretty much gone now that it’s been stapled to an abusive “cybercrime” law that allows the government to punish critics with impunity. Truth is no defense when charged with “cyberlibel.” Nor are opinions considered protected, even though the country’s constitution says otherwise. Call the president an “asshole” and you get to go to jail, even it’s an opinion that’s arguably true.

    • Trump says he’ll cut off funding to states that make it easier to vote

      Trump is not telling the truth about Michigan’s plans. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson plans to mail an absentee ballot application to voters, not an actual ballot. Several Republican-led states plan to do the same thing. (Nevada, by contrast, will provide actual ballots to voters.)

    • The podcasting world is now Spotify versus everybody else

      There’s never been a single podcasting company that sells ads, makes shows, has an already-popular podcast player, and offers the tools to make new series. Spotify now has all of that, and the Rogan deal means it also offers a hit show that guarantees millions of people will regularly use its platform for podcast listening.

      The deal also, however, might foreshadow a future for the broader podcasting industry in which two sects develop: one that values privacy and an open ecosystem and another that’s closed-off and built around locked-down shows and targeted ads, like Spotify.

    • ‘The Corruption Is on Full Display: Trump Executive Order Directs All Agencies to Gut Business Regulations Amid Covid-19

      “Trump’s corporate-friendly executive order aimed at rolling back even more regulations that protect the public is just the latest sign that his solution to the pandemic is the opposite of what the public needs.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Let’s Talk About ‘Neutrality’ — And How Math Works

      So if the First Amendment protects site moderation and curation decisions, why are we even talking about “neutrality?”

    • Twitter will now let users choose who replies to their tweets: Here is how

      Earlier, Twitter had given the option to users to hide the replies from their timeline to give people some control over the conversations on the micro-blogging platform. It also redesigned its app a bit by including threaded replies, this gives a better view to users about who posted what. Twitter has also been trying out a feature called fleeting thoughts, which is similar to the Stories on Instagram. The posts will come with a time period and it will diminish from the site after the said time frame.

  • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

    • Hong Kong media groups to meet top cop over police ‘attacks’ on journalists in Mong Kok

      Eight organisations jointly signed a letter to police chief Chris Tang, including the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association (HKPPA), the Independent Commentators Association, Journalism Educators for Press Freedom, CitizenNews Staff Union, Ming Pao Staff Association, Next Media Trade Union, and the RTHK Programme Staff Union.

      The statement condemned officers who “attacked, interfered and caused unbridled humiliation to journalists” on the night in question. It made six requests to the force: stop all “verbal and physical abuse” of journalists; suspend the officers involved in the Mong Kok incident; ensure officers abide by the “Police General Orders,” “Police Force Ordinance,” and “Police (Discipline) Regulations” and other rules; publicly apologise to the journalists injured and humiliated in the incident; stop making unfounded accusations of ‘fake journalists’ and ‘fake journalist IDs’; provide specified plans for improvement of the force.

    • “Forgive Those Who Killed Our Father”: Sons Of Killed Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi

      The sons of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi said Friday that they “forgive” the killers of their father.

      “We the sons of martyr Jamal Khashoggi announce we forgive and pardon those who killed our father,” the Washington Post columnist’s son Salah Khashoggi said on Twitter.

      The legal ramifications of the announcement from Salah, who resides in Saudi Arabia, were not immediately clear.

    • The Death of Hope

      When foreign journalists would ask me if I thought that Antonio González Pacheco, alias “Billy el Niño” (BILLY THE KID), would ever be tried, I would answer no, that I never expected that there would ever be justice in Spain around the crimes committed during the Franco years. But deep down, I held on to the childish hope that an Argentine extradition suit against him would actually move forward and that one day we would see that criminal tried in a court of justice.

    • The Answer to the Media Industry’s Woes? Publicly Owned Newspapers.

      Newspapers must be for the people. It’s worth investing our tax dollars in them.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Thomas Jefferson: One Man, Two Legacies

      It’s painful to speculate how different our history might have been, the altered quotient of human suffering in this country, and the world, if Jefferson, Washington and Madison had freed their slaves.

    • New report says Russian law enforcement has spent more than $100 million on mostly unused riot control gear since 2015

      Over the past five years, based on public procurement data, law enforcement agencies in Russia have spent at least 7.3 billion rubles ($103 million) to acquire and maintain special non-lethal means of riot control, according to a new report by the “Agora” human rights group.

    • Morningside Case Shows Media Learned Few Lessons From Exonerated Five

      Many Americans now recognize the racism at multiple junctures of the criminal punishment system. Especially now, as our leaders refuse to release the disproportionately black and brown incarcerated people from prisons and jails, despite their being sites of serious COVID-19 outbreaks across the country.  But even before the pandemic, some media have played a significant role in that recognition.

    • Wife-Beating Guidance By Qatari Official Dr. Ahmad Al-Farjabi On Al-Jazeera TV: Some Women Must Be Subdued By Muscles; Women Almost Unanimously Agree That Beating Is Better Than Letting The Wives Ruin Their Families

      Dr. Ahmad Al-Farjabi, a shari’a expert from the Qatari Ministry of Religious Endowments, said in a May 6, 2020 interview on Al-Jazeera Network (Qatar) that Muslims are not the only people who beat their wives and that when a man suspects his wife might turn out to be rebellious, he should take the measures prescribed by the Quran, the third of which is beating his wife. Dr. Al-Farjabi added that even Western psychologists have said that wife-beating is “inevitable” for women who had been beaten while they were growing up and for women who have no respect for their husbands. He said that these kinds of women must be “subdued by muscles,” and that some kinds of women “may be reformed by beating.” Al-Farjabi also said that he has even heard from women at his lectures that it preferable to beat one’s wife than to allow her to ruin the home and lose her children. For similar statements from Dr. Ahmad Al-Farjabi, see MEMRI TV Clip No. 226

    • Suspected killer of Waziristan girls arrested

      The girls were gunned down on May 14 in Shamplan Garyam village of North Waziristan tribal district after their ‘objectionable’ video footage went viral on social media.

      North Waziristan district police officer Shafiullah Gandapur said suspected killer Mohammad Aslam, who was a cousin of the two girls, was held during a raid in an unidentified location.

    • Early release of Cohen and Manafort shows how unfair prison system is, experts say

      Groups and relatives advocating for the release of prisoners at risk from the virus say they don’t begrudge well-connected people achieving that goal. The problem, they said, is that many other people who could meet Barr’s criteria languish in prison, without legal help, unable to understand the complex process or lacking connections to help them as the pandemic spreads. As of Wednesday, the official tally had 59 federal prisoners dying from COVID-19 and more than 4,600 testing positive, though health experts believe that’s almost certainly an undercount.

    • Man who recorded Ahmaud Arbery’s shooting death on video arrested on murder charges

      The Georgia man who recorded the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery was arrested Thursday on charges of murder and attempted false imprisonment, authorities said.

      The man, William “Roddie” Bryan, 50, is the third person to be arrested in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, 25, on Feb. 23. Bryan will be booked into the Glynn County Jail, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said.

    • The No Land’s Man

      A mother giving birth to a child right in the midst of the road with other women covering the space with sarees stretched around her is no more limited to the Bollywood movies; they are real stories of the modern India. The other day a migrant woman gave birth to a child on the roadside while walking from Maharashtra province to her home in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh province. The lady and her family walked 150 kilometres after the delivery of the baby. Did it shake our conscience? Not really. After the nationwide lockdown was announced, many such incidences have happened with the interstate migrant workers and the central and state governments have shown their thick skins to it. Just a day before the above incidence a train rammed over and killed 16 migrant workers in Aurangabad of Maharashtra province when they were exhausted and resting on the railway track (They may have thought that no trains would come as it’s a lockdown) while walking back to their homes. And wait, much more such incidences are going to happen as many migrants are still on the road, walking, cycling, and going by an auto rickshaw or by a truck.

    • ‘They Are Executing An Innocent Man!’: Final Words of Walter Barton Spark Fresh Demand for End to US Death Penalty

      “The only way to avoid executing an innocent person is to abolish the death penalty altogether.”

    • Those Most in Need Of Mercy: Why Melissa Tanis Works to Get Elders Out of Prison

      For 25 years, Shakespeare Behind Bars, an organization whose charter states, “All human beings are born inherently good,” has entered prisons and cast people convicted of serious crimes in Shakespeare’s plays. The most notable effort so far has been at the Luther Luckette Correctional Facility in Kentucky, where a production of The Tempest became the subject of a 2005 documentary, Shakespeare Behind Bars. It was because of this film that Melissa Tanis, who grew up in Kentucky, rediscovered her father, Leonard, when she was in her 20s. Sentenced to 50 years for child sexual abuse, her father had disappeared into prison when Melissa was a child herself. A few weeks ago, I talked with Melissa, via FaceTime, about her father, about forgiveness, and the reasons that Melisa works now with Release Aging People in Prison, in New York City.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Verizon Tries To Temper 5G Enthusiasm After Report Clearly Shows US 5G Is Slow, Lame

      For the better part of two years, Verizon has insisted that fifth-generation wireless (5G) would revolutionize everything. Simply by upgrading from 4G to 5G, Verizon repeatedly insisted, we’d usher forth a “fourth industrial revolution,” resulting in smarter cars, smarter cities, and an endless array of innovation. 5G technology was so incredible, Verizon insisted, that it would also quickly usher forth incredible new cancer cures, allowing doctors to conduct remote heart surgery while wearing VR/AR headsets from the back of a rickshaw.

    • Beware Of Op/Eds Falsely Claiming The US Internet Only Works During A Pandemic Because Lobbyists Neutered The FCC

      In recent weeks, the telecom sector and FCC allies have been busy trying to claim that the only reason the US internet still works is because the FCC killed net neutrality rules in 2017. That repeal, you’ll recall, not only killed net neutrality protections, but the FCC’s ability to hold giant telecom monopolies responsible for pretty much anything, be it obvious billing fraud or kicking disabled people offline during a crisis.

    • How Most Of The Anti-Internet Crew Misread The News That The NY Times Is Getting Rid Of 3rd Party Advertisers

      One of the most frustrating aspects of discussing the internet, business models, and privacy is how many otherwise intelligent people continue to insist that Google and Facebook are “selling your data.” It’s a concept that is widely considered accurate, but has never been true. It’s so ridiculous that it leads to silly Congressional exchanges between elected officials who are sure the tech companies are selling data, and the people from those companies themselves. Doing targeted advertising is not selling data. There are many, many things you can reasonably and accurately complain about regarding big internet companies and their use of data, but “selling” the data is not one of them.

  • Monopolies

    • Restaurants rebel against delivery apps as cities crack down on fees

      When Pitas and Sticks, a Greek restaurant in Brooklyn, New York, gets an order from Grubhub, owner John Stamos gives each bag a personal touch, printing out a small note with a simple message: Grubhub orders are killing his business.

      “Small businesses like us need your support in this time of crisis,” Stamos writes in each note. “Online apps such as GRUBHUB ARE CHARGING US 30% of each order and $9 or more on orders made using phone numbers on their app or website … please help save the restaurant industry by ordering directly with us.”

    • Patents

      • USPTO Refuses to Recognize AI Inventorship, but Policy Questions Still Linger

        The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) decided[1] on April 22 that the artificial intelligence (AI) known as DABUS (Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience) could not be named as an inventor on an application for a patent on an improved beverage container. The USPTO rejected this bid for AI inventorship, citing a panoply of statutory language, including 35 USC §§ 100, 101, and 115; the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure; and Federal Circuit cases[2] holding that “only natural persons can be ‘inventors.’”

        While acknowledging that these prior rulings dealt with issues of corporate inventorship, the USPTO concluded that the holdings are equally applicable to issues of AI inventorship since the discussion of “conception as being a ‘formation in the mind of the inventor’ and a ‘mental act’ is equally applicable to machines and indicates that conception—the touchstone of inventorship—must be performed by a natural person.”[3]

        The petitioners argued that AI inventorship should be recognized because both the European Patent Office (EPO) and the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) had determined that DABUS “created the invention at issue.” But the USPTO rejected this argument because regardless of UK or European law, “[US] patent law does not permit a machine to be named as the inventor in a patent application.”[4] Moreover, the UKIPO and EPO determinations nonetheless concluded—like the USPTO—that regardless of whether DABUS “created” the invention, “DABUS cannot be named as the inventor.”

      • Intellectual Property – Vision Without Illusion Conference

        On the occasion of its 100th anniversary, the Patent Office of the Republic of Latvia (LPO) is hosting the international conference “Intellectual Property – Vision Without Illusion” on 21 May 2020.

        The event, which was initially planned to take place in Riga, has been changed to an online conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

        A wide range of experts from the IP field will be sharing their views about the importance of intellectual property in economic growth, taking into account the new challenges that the future will bring.

        The conference will bring together top representatives from the EUIPO, the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO), the European Patent Office (EPO), and the

        Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), among others. The agenda is available on the conference website.

      • European Patent Applications filed by Applicants from Africa

        This study aims to identify the profile of the filing of patent applications before the European Patent Office (EPO), wherein at least an applicant is domiciled in Africa, and to acquire more information about the main technological fields and applicants from Africa that seek patent protection within the member states of EPO.

        We have evaluated the European Patent Applications filed from 2009 to 2019 having an applicant domiciled in Africa (“EP Africa patents applications”) by means of the EP Bulletin search database, wherein 1227 documents were retrieved. Below is listed a Top 10 counting of the number of hits according to the Applicant’s country. It is remarkable the predominance of applicants from South Africa. Moreover, a significant amount of patent applications has associations of African applicants and from other countries, for example the U.S., France, Germany and United Kingdom.

        [...]

        Despite small fractions of “EP Africa patent applications” having applicants from Seychelles, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia, most African corporations do not seem to seek protection by means of a European patent. Considering that the examination criteria have not changed significantly in the last few years at EPO, it is possible to assess that the quality of the “EP Africa patents applications” has been improving, in view of the respective growing tendency of European patents granted.

      • Plants obtained from conventional breeding can’t be patented, European patent court rules

        The highest judicial authority at the [European Patent Office] EPO issued their opinion …. in the controversial G3/19 (Pepper) case. Contrary to previous decisions in G2/12 and G2/13 (Tomato/Broccoli), the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA) has found that plant and animal products produced by essentially biological processes should NOT be patentable.

        This U-turn is the end result of significant political pressure from across Europe in favor of farmers and breeders who consider that patents on plants obtained from conventional breeding methods will hinder their activities.

        Importantly, this new interpretation will not have retroactive effect on European patents granted before 1st July 2017, or pending European applications that were filed before this date.

      • An End To The Saga Of Whether Plants And Animals Produced By Essentially Biological Processes Are Patentable Before The EPO

        On 14th May the Enlarged Board of Appeal issued its opinion on the questions referred in case G3/19, otherwise known as the ‘Pepper’ case1. HGF have been following the case with interest, and attended the original Board of Appeal hearing which lead to the referral, our last update can be found here.

        The opinion marks the potential end to a saga which has created legal uncertainty in the field of plant and animal breeding and selection for over a decade. The issues began back in 2007 when the first referral to the Enlarged Board was made on the subject. This case became known as the infamous ‘Broccoli I’ decision of G2/072 and the subsequent related decision of ‘Tomatoes I’ of G1/083 . Enlarged Board of Appeal decisions usually produce final and binding decisions on issues of legal interpretation, however the tale of broccoli and tomatoes rumbled on to create two more subsequent referrals; G2/12 and G2/134 were consolidated and the decisions were issued together in 2015. These decisions, however, created controversy in that they essentially stated that the exclusion of essentially biological processes for the production of plants in Article 53(b) EPC does not have a negative effect on the allowability of a product claim directed to plants or plant material produced from an essentially biological process.

      • EPO Enlarged Board of Appeal Decision G 3/19 and the patentability of plant and animal products in Europe

        Last week the EPO issued another decision (G 3/19, “Pepper”) from the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA) regarding the patentability of plant and animal products. The decision is from the “extreme dark and bulky peppers” application and is the latest decision in over 2 decades of EPO case law relating to “essentially biological processes” for the production of plants and animals.

        The decision sets out detailed and fundamental principles for interpretation of the European Patent Convention (EPC) in the context of changing political and legislative circumstances. It is notable because it essentially overturns a previous decision of the EBA, uses a form of legal interpretation not previously adopted by the EBA, and discusses the powers of the Administrative Council (AC) of the EPO to amend the European Patent Convention (EPC).

        In this article of two halves, we first set out the practical consequences for the Agri-Tech sector, before summarising how we got here and examining some of the relevant legal principles in detail.

        [...]

        Our article from 2019 discusses the decision set out in T 1063/18 and can be found here. As a quick recap(sicum), here’s how the protection of plant and animal varieties has evolved over the years:

        Article 53(b) EPC states European patents shall not be granted in respect of plant or animal varieties or essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals.

        1999 – EBA decision G 1/98 was published and confirmed a claim directed to plant varieties was excluded from patentability, but “a claim wherein specific plant varieties are not individually claimed is not excluded from patentability under Article 53(b) EPC even though it may embrace plant varieties”.

        2010 – Combined EBA decisions G 2/07 and G 1/08 (“Tomatoes” and “Broccoli”) were published. They related to the patentability of claims relating to essentially biological processes (not products), and stated the exclusion to patentability set out in Article 53(b) EPC extended to “essentially biological processes for the production of plants”, as literally stated, and not just essentially biological processes for the production of plant varieties. Among other things, the decision confirmed processes that “contain or consist” of the steps of sexually crossing the whole genomes of plants are not patentable.

        2015 – The EBA published combined decisions G 2/12 and G 2/13 (“Broccoli II” and “Tomato II”, respectively), which related to the relevance of Article 53(b) EPC to the patentability of plant products obtained by the excluded “essentially biological processes”. In that decision, the EBA stated Article 53(b) EPC did not exclude such products from patentability, other than plant varieties specifically.

        July 2017 – Rule 28 EPC was amended by a decision of the Administrative Council (AC) to include an interpretation of Article 53(b) EPC under new Rule 28(2) EPC. The amended rule states, under Article 53(b) EPC, European patents shall not be granted in respect of “plants or animals exclusively obtained by means of an essentially biological process”. This clearly conflicts with the EBA’s interpretation of Article 53(b) EPC in G 2/12 and G 2/13.

        February 2019 – EPO Technical Board of Appeal (TBA) decision T 1063/18 was published. In that decision, the TBA concluded that Rule 28(2) EPC was in conflict with Article 53(b) EPC as earlier interpreted in G 2/12 and G 2/13. The TBA therefore disregarded Rule 28(2) EPC pursuant to Article 164(2) EPC, which states in the situation where any conflict arises between the Articles and Rules of the EPC, it is the Articles that prevail over the Rules. It seemed then the amendment to Rule 28 EPC by the AC was null and void.

        April 2019 – In light of legal developments since G 2/12 and G 2/13, namely interpretations and statements of the European Commission, the EU Council, the European Parliament and the EPO’s AC (all of which concluded there should be no patentability in the case of plants or animals obtained as a direct product of essentially biological processes), the President of the European Patent Office referred a point of law to the EBA. The questions posed aimed to clarify whether Rule 28(2) EPC as amended by the AC should be followed or not, with the President arguing it should be followed as written. The referral was not without controversy, and the proceedings relating to G 3/19 attracted no fewer than 41 amicus curiae briefs arguing both sides of the case.

        May 2020 – The present decision G 3/19 is published, and addresses that last question. In short, the answer is: yes, Rule 28(2) EPC as amended by the AC decision should be followed.

    • Copyrights

      • Libraries Have Never Needed Permission To Lend Books, And The Move To Change That Is A Big Problem

        There are a variety of opinions concerning the Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library in response to the pandemic. I’ve made it clear in multiple posts why I believe the freakout from some publishers and authors is misguided, and that the details of the program are very different than those crying about it have led you to believe. If you don’t trust my analysis and want to whine about how I’m biased, I’d at least suggest reading a fairly balanced review of the issues by the Congressional Research Service.

      • Grant for the Web Announces Early Grantees

        Grant for the Web, the $100 million fund for efforts that utilize and build upon the Web Monetization standard, today announced $250,000 in funding for a small group of projects: Free Music Archive, Coronavirus Tech Handbook, DEV, and Grant for the Web Ambassadors. These “early grantees” represent the wide array of endeavors that this project is designed to support.

        [...]

        Creative Commons is proud to work alongside Coil, Mozilla, and Loup on Grant for the Web, which is is working to “fund individuals, projects, and global communities that contribute to a privacy-centric, open, and accessible Web Monetization ecosystem.” We’re especially excited that Grant for the Web is committed to awarding at least 50% of all grant dollars to projects that will be openly licensed.

      • Welcome Our Summer 2020 Policy Intern
      • Anti-Piracy Lawyer Sues Torrent Sites for ‘YTS’ Trademark Infringement

        Pirate sites regularly get into trouble for breaching copyright law. However, a new case filed in Hawaii is of an entirely different order. A well-known anti-piracy lawyer has filed a lawsuit against several YTS sites because the company he represents obtained a similarly-named trademark this year. The complaint mostly targets ‘clones’ and the real YTS is not named.

      • Pirate IPTV Reseller Boom Media Ordered to Pay $3.3m in Damages

        A court in New York has ordered Boom Media, a prominent reseller of ‘pirate’ IPTV subscriptions, to pay $3.3m in damages to TV broadcaster DISH Network. The judgment states that Boom’s former operators, mother-and-son team Debra and John Henderson, should be held jointly and severally liable after failing to mount a defense.

Freedom Is Not Possible Without Privacy

Posted in Quote at 4:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we’re doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.”

Bruce Schneier

Privacy

Summary: Privacy was the subject of today's feature article; let’s not forget how essential a concept it is to guard against encroachments, no matter the given excuses

IRC Proceedings: Thursday, May 21, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:34 am by Needs Sunlight

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Enter the IRC channels now

How Surveillance Works: A Primer

Posted in America, Law, Security at 12:37 am by Guest Editorial Team

Article by figosdev

Echelon radar

Summary: “We are expected to carry around devices that violate our rights and deprive us of liberty, against our wishes and despite reasonable and valid protest. These devices take something sacred from us — they are an attack on our humanity, and they make us live more like livestock.”

First, there are years of protests against unfair treatment by governing bodies — kings, queens, dictators, corrupt legislatures, fascist landholders, slaveowners, whatever.

Then everybody with a stake in the corrupt system comes out to make excuses: they’re just doing their job, it isn’t easy to make everybody happy; the people are unreasonable and don’t know any better, it’s all for the better good of safety and being fair; it’s only because of these enemies of ours, etc.

Some details will differ of course, they always do. Some won’t.

For years, enough people are convinced to shut up by the media, and by friends and family. Someone always sides with the rulers — it feels safer. Others don’t have enough information or energy to say differently. Many are cautious, due to political pressure from whomever they have to answer to in life. Lots of people find their own ways to protest the injustice. Some lose all faith in government and become anarchists.

Over time, the government ratchets up surveillance more and more. This is how governments tend do to things — when something doesn’t work, do it more until it falls over. Increased surveillance leads to an increase of laws and an increase in prosecution.

It also leads to the realisation that no matter what laws and consequences you throw at people (even torture and death) that controlling them in theory (that’s the point of systems of control, after all) and controlling them in practice are different things. As in Chrichton’s “Jurassic Park”, chaos and unintended consequences increase until the system collapses or is significantly breached.

Sane systems reform, though “Power doesn’t listen”, and arrogance doesn’t listen either. Systems that are built on details without a bigger picture, judgement without sufficient mercy, and passion without any principles ultimately self-destruct, but they produce many people who are willing to help. Opposite systems, which are built on a big picture without sufficient details, mercy without judgement, or principles without passion, never quite get off the ground.

“Sane systems reform, though “Power doesn’t listen”, and arrogance doesn’t listen either.”Sustainability comes through the balance of these things — the Third Reich, as Mike Godwin’s favourite example, was bound to fall under its own unsustainable nature. But it did plenty of harm before that finally happened.

Eventually, a revolution takes place. The government becomes so overbearing or impoverished that the political squalor representing the best it has to offer is no longer worth living in, and people decide they would rather fight at all costs than continue in the same way. By now, the system has taken too much of everything, and only strained, fallacious benefits (“If you comply, we will beat you less!”) remain.

Revolutions either fail and postpone the next revolution, kill off everyone interested in fighting, or they succeed and put new people in charge of figuring out what the hell to do afterwards.

In a rare ideal, “The People” are put in charge to somehow “rule themselves”. Some details will differ of course, they always do. If the revolution was truly successful, then the next regime (assuming there is one) will be kinder to the rights of people than the previous. This is not always what happens, though it is in many ways an ideal.

Over the decades or even centuries, tragedies happen. Each tragedy causes everyone to regroup and try to figure out how they can minimise the current tragedy, or the next one like it.

Some plan whatever they’re able while doing their best to respect ideals and freedoms — others seem to invariably throw that out the window and blame “excess freedoms” for whatever disaster took place.

In light of the current disaster, I’ve already said that being free doesn’t need to negate responsibility or sanity. People can get together and decide that everybody would do better to stay indoors. How they go about enforcing it and other details make all the difference.

Whether the precautions are reasonable or not really is a matter for a debate. But if they get it wrong, more people die. (Most of us would like to minimise that). I haven’t come to any conclusions on the best course of action — freedom and safety both matter, and they are going to be in tension with each other at times. Freedom is lost when its importance is forgotten.

Conspiracy theorists love the Reichstag fire, because it was a situation where it’s historically accepted that authorities attacked their own “side” to justify extreme action. The fact that false flag attacks exist means that whenever there is a tragedy, some people are going to try to prove that it was deliberately caused by the same people charged with responding to it.

Other historical tragedies that led to changes in authority (or wartime status) include the Twin Tower attacks, Pearl Harbor and the Titanic disaster. I’ve personally heard people crediting the formation of the FCC with the Titanic sinking — the details differ slightly.

“A name you don’t hear as often as Assange, Manning or Snowden is William Binney. Binney is also an NSA whistleblower, but he has taken extra care to only speak out about things that he can legally get away with saying.”The FCC was a replacement for the Federal Radio Commission, itself established by the Radio Act of 1927, which succeeded the Radio Act of 1912, which brought the United States into greater accordance with other radio experts shortly after the Titanic disaster.

My hope is that people interested in history and standing against authority will continue to look for the real causes of authoritarian power grabs. As I’ve said before, the difference between journalism and conspiracy theory is usually how shallow or careful the methodology is.

Instead of getting too excited about finding mere connections, my hope is that people would then continue to test their theories, like science does. You can put your wild findings into a feedback loop, where plain noise gets louder and louder until it turns into a deafening but meaningless signal — or you can keep checking your findings to see if they really hold up to logic.

When science finds something strange or wonderful, it doesn’t stop there. It keeps checking, to be sure it’s right — not to “prove” it, but to be sure a mistake wasn’t made. To some extent, journalists do this as well. Academic historians are generally required to. People don’t always agree, because it is an ongoing process of discovering new evidence and putting it through the wringer.

Though tragedies and attacks are not likely all false flag events, the Reichstag fire was certainly not the only example of its kind. A quick trip to Wikipedia brings up the creation of the state of Manchukuo, after the seize of Manchuria was justified as a response to a pre-planned railway explosion.

Overreaching power grabs do happen, whether as a response to “faked” events or genuinely unexpected ones. While a false flag event certainly adds to the intrigue and the gall of those making the grab, overreaching power grabs and freedom are at odds regardless of the nature of a tragedy. The tragedy is the excuse, but the grab succeeds in part because people are too hasty to reconsider giving up their own rights in the middle of a disaster.

Invariably you will have historians, educators and activists, such as Richard Stallman speak out against such power plays. You’ll have whistleblowers like Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden or Reality Winner to expose the hypocrisy that often underlies the real nature of such power and corruption.

A name you don’t hear as often as Assange, Manning or Snowden is William Binney. Binney is also an NSA whistleblower, but he has taken extra care to only speak out about things that he can legally get away with saying.

Binney has spoken out against illegal, mass surveillance along three different lines of critique: it’s less effective, it’s more expensive (or more profitable for contractors) and it’s unconstitutional. The fact that it’s unconstitutional means that what they’re doing is illegal — but as many lament, in order to prove it’s illegal it has to be possible to prove it, and with everyone with sufficient authority to prove it with testimony being forbidden from talking about it, it’s nearly impossible to prove.

Nonetheless, when asked what the people should do, Binney has responded “I think we should indict them. What they’re doing is illegal.” When asked why they’re doing mass surveillance, Binney responded “Population control.” He could have meant the reduction of the population, as some will assume, or he could have meant controlling the population in the way a prison population is controlled. Either way, to borrow a phrase from a certain American president, it’s “Not nice”.

“When asked why they’re doing mass surveillance, Binney responded “Population control.” He could have meant the reduction of the population, as some will assume, or he could have meant controlling the population in the way a prison population is controlled.”So after a glimpse of how surveillance works politically, how does it work technically?

Traditionally, it comes from people watching targets and overhearing their conversations — and from learning about their routines. This can be done in person or electronically, using various types of microphones or tapped lines. Just like any creepy stalker, spies can learn a lot about a person’s routines from a simple pair of binoculars. But some people under state surveillance are followed closely enough that binoculars aren’t always necessary.

Some forms of line tapping can be heard, due to changes in current on the line. Today, most telecommunications go through either radio transmission or fiber optic transmission at some stage — which are less likely to produce an audible effect (especially when the transmission of such data is digital). Well over a decade ago, the USS Jimmy Carter was modified to tap undersea cables. I won’t ever do business with AT&T, because of how readily they assisted the government in illegally tapping American communications in room 641A.

Although you have to be important enough to have someone assigned to you, people still do surveillance the old-fashioned way, like the Stasi did in East Germany or the CIA or James Bond are known to do.

Although I strongly disagree with what’s being done to most of the population, I don’t have a problem with the fact that spying exists. I love James Bond. When it’s easy to tell who the bad guys are (the ones trying to kill us) and who the good guys are (the ones trying to stop them) it’s not hard to love a spy — especially a fictional, charming and amusing one like James Bond. When the “good” guys are doing all the things the bad guys are doing — and they’re doing it to all of us, then appreciating it becomes a lot more difficult. Richard Stallman adds this text to his emails:

    [[[To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider]]]
    [[[whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies,]]]
    [[[foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden's example.]]]

Of note is that the NSA are not acting like James Bond — they’re acting more like the Stasi. This link claims you need JavaScript, but it’s lying.

“Perhaps we’ll need to zoom out a bit to get both buildings side by side in order to compare them properly and visually.”

“We obviously need to keep zooming out. The scale of what the NSA is doing compared to the “old, evil Stasi” is slowly starting to come across.”

“Zoomed out to cover large parts of the German countryside, and it’s still just NSA archives. How big is this thing anyway?”

“The way surveillance works, is by simply collecting random pieces of data. That’s it — random pieces of data. And the more you have, the more you can piece together.”Maybe comparing them to the Stasi is an understatement.

The way surveillance works, is by simply collecting random pieces of data. That’s it — random pieces of data. And the more you have, the more you can piece together. Of course if this is your job and the purpose is to stop terrorists, you actually don’t want a dataset the size of a continent. You want it narrower than that. This is easier to work with, and nicest of all it’s more constitutional. But it’s also more cost effective, which means that somebody profits less.

Although I think the EFF has sold out, their older work with browser fingerprinting really helps you understand the bottom line of all this. You have little bits of data sloughing off everything you do, which traditionally nothing is done with — the reason you don’t have someone from the government trailing you all the time is that you aren’t worthwhile to them.

It’s nice when (like James Bond) they only intrude like this on the lives of the real bad guys. After all, surveillance routinely brings innocent civilians closer to the line of fire — and too often leads to raids where someone completely uninvolved is killed:

“The police in New York City
They chased a boy right through the park
In a case of mistaken identity
They put a bullet through his heart”

Rolling Stones, “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” (1973)

But they don’t only do this to the bad guys — Hoover’s take on American “subversives” in the 1940s for example, greatly exaggerated the problem and coincided with excessive and illegal wiretapping. Much more recently, The Occupy movement was under enough government surveillance that it should not be considered entirely paranoid for an activist to think it’s possible they are being watched or followed (though I would imagine it’s more likely their phone conversations and GPS movements are being scrutinised). Martin Luther King, Jr. — not exactly a bad guy — was under surveillance, for his activism and also his anti-Vietnam-war stance.

But however ridiculous it may get, we already know the amount of surveillance already being used is unconstitutional. It’s a matter of fact — what is failing to happen is that it’s not ruled against.

While few people are important enough to be assigned their very own FBI buddy, the politics do change a bit when there are enough spies (like with the Stasi) or enough electronics, like with the NSA or Google. Even in the 1940s, you had Census tabulation machines being used by the Germans to sort through groups of people more efficiently than they could ever do going through all those files by hand.

“The data is in your hair colour, name, age, operating system, web browser, screen height, favourite pizza, GPS coordinates, Wi-fi signal strength, SIM card, IMSI number, MAC address, typing speed, habitual typos, mouse movements, sleep patterns, eye movements, breathing patterns, gait, CPU clock, installed plugins, contact lists, holiday schedule, knowledge set, music preferences, browser history, the time you spend on each page on Google books, router brand, open ports, heat signature, scent, radio fingerprint…”Today, we have privacy advocates and data-mining experts doing the actual math of how many variables it takes to narrow things down to a single person — maybe there’s location data, maybe it’s just gender and first name — here’s a fun game you can make up with your friends.

How many people do you know named Bill? Let’s say it’s five. Now suppose that something happens — let’s say Bill took a flag. It doesn’t matter whose flag it is, you’re just trying to narrow it down. You consider that one or two of them were asleep at the time. One was too far away, unless he took a rocket. You’re already close enough, but you can keep playing.

People assume this only works with names or faces — it doesn’t. The narrow-it-down game which turns “unidentifiable data” into a single person on earth works with literally all kinds of data — every person on earth has a unique fingerprint. Just like famous cryptologist Fred Rogers used to say: “You are the only one like you”.

The data is in your hair colour, name, age, operating system, web browser, screen height, favourite pizza, GPS coordinates, Wi-fi signal strength, SIM card, IMSI number, MAC address, typing speed, habitual typos, mouse movements, sleep patterns, eye movements, breathing patterns, gait, CPU clock, installed plugins, contact lists, holiday schedule, knowledge set, music preferences, browser history, the time you spend on each page on Google books, router brand, open ports, heat signature, scent, radio fingerprint:

“…each transmitter (cell phones are just one type of radio transmitter) has rise time signature when first keyed caused by the slight variations of component values during manufacture…”Wikipedia on radio fingerprinting

Whether remotely or (more easily) in person, everyone is unique along so many different lines, that if like Agent J in “Men in Black” we all had a single letter “name” and removed our (literal) fingerprints, there would still be a countless number of axes along which our identities could be determined. The precise speed and direction you begin a walk with can be fed into an algorithm to determine your destination with frightening accuracy.

We are fortunate, as a society striving to be free — that no matter how frighteningly good these algorithms are, they also fail frequently. But that fact can help or hurt us, like it hurt the guy whose bicycle went through the wrong area when a crime was being committed. People who use algorithms heavily tend to rely on them increasingly, and trust them excessively. This excessive reliance and trust in algorithms can lead to great injustices, no differently than racism or sexism can lead to accusing or convicting an innocent person.

“It’s better to work towards privacy, not away from it.”But as better informed (more expert) people will tell you, the idea of “unidentifiable data” or “metadata” is incredibly misleading. “Metadata” is data, and identification happens when various islands of two or more variables are cross referenced to first narrow the possibilities down to a few people or single person, and it finally comes in contact with a piece of real-world data like location, name or physical features. If you’re 195cm tall, people don’t need your name to narrow it down to you; they just look for the tall guy. But they will need to know your geographic region.

With enough databases, we can track more people than ever before. So why isn’t it perfect? That’s just math and luck. But it’s a problem, when people have less freedom than ever before. It’s a problem when spies violate the rights of hundreds of millions of people. And William Binney is right.

Things can be done to take some of the axes of identification out of the equation. There is debate about whether this helps, though from Stallman to Snowden to Binney, the near consensus among activists is that it’s better to not give away what you don’t need to. It’s better to work towards privacy, not away from it.

On the other hand, you have people like the owners of Google, Facebook and Microsoft. They tell you it’s better to give up — it helps society, it’s pointless to try.

It’s very easy to tell which side respects your freedom, and which side profits from literally selling you out. You might be an anti-war activist like MLK or David Zucker, a digital rights activist like Richard Stallman or Mathieu Gauthier-Pilote, or you might just be some kid going to university that wants to be able to speak freely online without being threatened or harassed offline.

The lines between pro-privacy and anti-privacy are pretty clear. The importance of being pro-privacy should be as well. If we don’t stand for it, we lose too much of what belongs to us. And as people are saying, without privacy you begin to lose part of yourself.

Things will get worse, then people will get tired of it, and someday they will overthrow the oppression. But you don’t have to wait for that day, there are always some on the side of The People — from the easiest, less problematic times to the very darkest, most oppressive days. You get to choose who to support — and who you abandon. May we humbly suggest you stand against GIAFAM and mass surveillance?

We already know that most people aren’t going to yet. Look around, very few are resisting it. But it’s much more than no one.

“Robot surveillance will increase as well — not just from a room full of laser optics in an AT&T basement, but from the skies.”First, there are years of protests against unfair treatment by governing bodies — Then everybody with a stake in the corrupt system comes out to make excuses. Some details will differ of course, they always do.

Someone always sides with the rulers — it feels safer. Some lose all faith in government. Over time, the government ratchets up surveillance more and more. This is how governments tend do to things — when something doesn’t work, do it more until it falls over. Increased surveillance leads to an increase of laws and an increase in prosecution. Robot surveillance will increase as well — not just from a room full of laser optics in an AT&T basement, but from the skies.

The increases also lead to the realisation that no matter what laws and consequences you throw at people (even torture and death) that controlling them in theory (that’s the point of systems of control, after all) and controlling them in practice are different things. As in Chrichton’s Jurassic Park, chaos and unintended consequences increase until the system collapses or is significantly breached.

Some plan whatever they can while doing their best to respect ideals and freedoms. Freedom and safety both matter, and they are going to be in tension with each other at times.

Privacy is hard. Resisting surveillance is a little bit easier. Every step brings us closer to a culture of freedom, and every tiny bit of resistance takes us farther from a culture of mass surveillance. It’s not enough today — but if we keep trying anyway, it will help the world tomorrow.

This year we are still slaves — slaves of government surveillance, slaves of the people watching us, slaves of their ever-increasing expectations. We are expected to carry around devices that violate our rights and deprive us of liberty, against our wishes and despite reasonable and valid protest. These devices take something sacred from us — they are an attack on our humanity, and they make us live more like livestock. They are historical instruments of global war and international oppression, and they are not justifiable by any means. Next year, we hope that we will be truly free.

Long live rms, and happy hacking.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

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