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Links 25/5/2020: Wrapland Redone, DebConf20 Plans, Many More Games

Posted in News Roundup at 10:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Best Linux distros for small businesses in 2020

      Linux has become increasingly friendly for use by individuals and businesses, partly as an attempt to lure users away from Windows, but also because Linux has come to power not just the wider internet but also most cloud services.

      This means while Linux may seem like an intimidating option at first, it could actually be helpful in the longer run for those who need to develop their wider IT skills without proving so much of a challenge as initially feared.

      As Linux is free it means you don’t have to worry about licensing fees, and there are a number of virtual machine software platforms that will allow you to install different Linux (or other operating systems) on your existing computer. In fact, Windows 10 now famously ships with Linux as a virtual machine environment.

      However, if you would prefer to avoid virtual machines you could instead use an older desktop PC and simply install a Linux distro as the main operating system. Most Linux distros have low resource needs, but do watch out that hardware drivers you need are supported.

      So what’s the best choice for your small business? We’ve approached this selection with a few criteria in mind. Stability must come first: if you’re putting a distro to work, uptime is critical. Solid support provision comes a close second.

      Here therefore are the Linux distros we think are best for small business users.

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • World’s first AMD-only Linux laptop revealed

        Tuxedo Computers has launched what it calls the “world’s first AMD-only and Linux-preinstalled laptop”.

        The device is named the Tuxedo Book BA15, and it powered by the AMD Ryzen 5 3500U mobile chipset.

        Both Ubuntu and Tuxedo OS are installed on the system by default, and the included software allows users to perform the Linux distribution of their choice automatically.

        “For advanced users and selected devices we also offer openSUSE 15 with Xfce, Gnome, or KDE plasma,” Tuxedo Computers said.

        “Of course fully configured and installed with all available updates and device drivers.”

        If a user wants Windows on their laptop, they can order the laptop with the desired version of Windows installed alongside Linux.

      • Unboxing the latest Linux laptop from System76

        I’ve been on a journey from Mac to Linux since joining the staff at Opensource.com almost two years ago. In a huge step for me, I finally made the call to have my personal laptop also run Linux. Due to the coverage of System76 in our community, I thought I’d give it a shot.

        I’m coming from a MacBook Pro as my go-to device, so I went with a near-standard build of the Lemur Pro for a comparable system. A reasonably priced upgrade to more RAM and a speedy NVMe hard drive later, my order was on its way.

        Why this laptop? I want to continue my road to Linux as the main operating system of my life, and I like to support my company’s participation in open source. Ports were important (USB-C is a must, USB-A is nice to have), but the decision came down to a balance of sleek design, battery life, and enough power. I found the Lemur Pro specifications did the trick.

      • Top 15 Best Chromebook Laptops in 2020: The Experts’ Recommendation

        Even years ago, Chromebook was considered as an obsolete form of the laptop whose tasks were only confined to browsing online, checking emails, streaming low-quality videos, and playing low-end games. With the advent of the latest technology, as well as, at the users’ behest, the Chromebook has finally turned into a formidable piece of device to all the users with a transformation from clamshell design to sleeker or even opted for 2-in-1 design.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Kernel Space

      • Linus Torvalds Dumps Intel For 32-core AMD Ryzen On His Personal PC

        Linus Torvalds released Linux 5.7 rc7 today, saying it “looks very normal… none of the fixes look like there’s anything particularly scary going on.”

      • Linus Torvalds drops Intel and adopts 32-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper on personal PC

        Linux overseer Linus Torvalds has binned Intel on his personal PC and hinted that he hopes to one day run an ARM-powered desktop.

        In his weekly State of the Kernel post Torvalds released Linux 5.7 rc7, said the development process has been smooth and commented said “Of course, anything can still change, but everything _looks_ all set for a regular release scheduled for next weekend. Knock wood.”


        AMD will be over the moon that two high-profile IT pros have adopted their kit to work on the Linux kernel.

        Others will cling to the notion that Torvalds expects to one day run an ARM-powered desktop. Perhaps his remarks even mean that when the mythical Year Of Linux On the Desktop comes about it will be the Year of Linux On The ARM Desktop too.

    • Applications

      • Transmission BitTorrent Client 3.0 is here with Major Updates

        The lightweight and popular BitTorrent client Transmission 3.0 is released after more than two years of development.

      • Minase – SIXEL-based terminal file manager

        A file manager is software which provides a user interface to assist in the organization of files. It helps users with their daily work in managing their files on a hard drive or other storage device. With multiple terabyte hard disks becoming prevalent, file managers represent an essential tool in managing file systems.

        Every file manager provides basic operations such as to create, open, view, edit, search, rename, move copy, and delete files. However, file managers typically come supplied with sophisticated functionality including network connectivity, directory synchronizing, archive handling, advanced searching, shortcuts, file/folder comparisons, checksums, plugins, and more, making them an incredibly powerful tool.

        In the field of system administration, Linux has bags of graphical file managers. However, some users prefer managing files from the shell, finding it the quickest way to navigate the file system and perform file operations. This is, in part, because terminal file managers are more keyboard friendly, enabling users to perform file operations without using a mouse, and make it quicker to navigate the filesystem and issue commands in the console at the same time.

        There’s lots of terminal file managers available for Linux. One that we’ve not covered previously is Minase. It’s written in C++, published under an open source license, and relatively unknown. Let’s change that!

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Formula E Driver Disqualified After Cheating in Virtual Race

        Formula E driver Daniel Abt was disqualified after finishing third in a virtual race after it turned out he had been cheating by using a stand-in driver.

        Like most sports, Formula E events had been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the organization turned to virtual races using some of its drivers. Saturday’s Formula E “Race At Home Challenge” supported UNICEF and brought in drivers from around the world for the cause.

      • Free and open source FPS ‘Tomatenquark’ releases on Steam

        Derived from the classic Cube 2: Sauerbraten game, Tomatenquark aims to reinvigorate it and bring it to a new audience with it now live on Steam.

        While the game as it is right now should be fully functional, it doesn’t have a lot of built in content yet. It’s in Early Access and they plan to keep it that way until they extend it further. Mentioning more Steam integration, campaign content, more language support and taking on feedback from the community.

      • One Dreamer: Prologue is now supported on Linux

        One Dreamer: Prologue, a narrative-driven story about indie game developers is now supported on Linux.

        Telling the story of a failed VR game developer who inadvertently inspired two young kids to follow in his footsteps, One Dreamer: Prologue is a beautiful pixel-art puzzle adventure. After a short testing period which we highlighted recently, on May 19 the developer hooked up official Linux support on Steam so it must have gone well.

      • ScummVM officially testing Ultima IV, Ultima VI, and Ultima VIII

        Want to play some classic RPGs? ScummVM is helping to keep many classics alive and multiple Ultima titles should now work nicely in it.

        On May 21 the team blogged that Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar has been added, based on work from the xu4 project. With the ability to play as the original or as an Enhanced edition with VGA graphics. The ScummVM integration gives it some extras like multiple saves, keybind configuration and more.

        They also announced Ultima VI was added, based on the Nuvie project. Again this has an Enhanced mode, although it works differently, giving you things like a full-screen map and other features. They said due to a “miscommunication”, the Nuvie project may also continue as a standalone project.

      • Travel through hell to find demon girls in Helltaker, now on Linux

        Helltaker, a game about someone on a quest through hell to gather a bunch of demon girls is now available on Linux. It’s a small free game and it’s somehow become really popular. With an Overwhelmingly Positive user rating from over eight thousand users—there’s definitely something to it.

      • Treasure Tech is a seriously fun new classic DOOM conversion

        Treasure Tech is another fantastic DOOM conversion mod inspired by the Wario Land franchise and it’s out now.

        I will admit this mod is something hilarious. From the super-cheesy retro intro, to the ridiculous weapons. I couldn’t hold in my laughter the first time I used the starter pistol! Seeing those classic Doom enemies go flying into the wall. Absolute pure joy.

      • Winter Falling aims to blend elements of FTL with Total War

        FTL and Total War? Two very different games and one developer is attempting to take parts of both to create Winter Falling. From the same developer who made Mars Power Industries Deluxe, which I quite liked.

        The undead are coming – only you can stop them. Travel across the crumbling empire. Gather support. Make enemies. Lead troops in tense tactical battles, just you and your brain against the dying world… Make maps in the map editor, challenge friends!
        The gameplay involves you going through nodes across a map, engaging in real-time battles against hordes of the undead. You recruit different unit types, position your forces and then attempt to hold them off while using a few tricks up your sleeve like lighting trenches on fire while you cower behind them for safety.

      • FOSS sprite editor Pixelorama has a big new release

        Pixelorama is an increasingly advanced free and open source sprite editor, and just recently it had a massive new release with plenty of new goodies.

        With Pixelorama 0.7 they added in layer locking, cel linking, a cel-based timeline, you can export animations to gif, a UI overhaul, shortcut bindings for tools, a pixel-perfect mode, layer rotation, a new zoom tool and the lisr goes on. It’s quickly becoming quite fully featured!

      • ABS vs THE BLOOD QUEEN successfully funded and coming to Linux

        ABS vs THE BLOOD QUEEN, a 2D side-scrolling adventure set in the Killer Queen universe has managed to get successfully funded on Kickstarter.

        Mentioned here on GOL at the start of May, BumbleBear Games are bringing their popular true arcade machine game to new audiences with a PC release and it will be supporting Linux. Against their Kickstarter goal of $33K, the campaign ended on May 22 blasting past it with $47,373.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Krita, a FOSS digital drawing app, is now available for Android tablets and Chromebooks

          When it comes to digital drawing apps on Android, the Google Play Store offers a variety of different options to choose from. Sadly though, most of the professional-grade apps are either very expensive or offer only a few basic features for free. In order to give Android tablet and Chromebook users a feature-packed free and open-source alternative, the team behind Krita has now released its first beta on the platform.


          Unlike the Steam and Windows Store version, Krita for Android and ChromeOS is completely free to use, but you can buy a supporter badge from within the app to support development for the project. Do note that since this is an early access release, you might encounter some bugs while using the app on your device.

        • Wrapland redone

          The KWinFT project with its two major open source offerings KWinFT and Wrapland was announced one month ago. This made quite some headlines back then but I decided to keep it down afterwards and push the project silently forward on a technical side.

          Now I am pleased to announce the release of a beta version for the next stable release 5.19 in two weeks. The highlights of this release are a complete redesign of Wrapland’s server library and two more projects joining KWinFT.

        • Two More Projects Join KWinFT Fork Of KDE KWin, Beta Milestone Reached

          Announced over one month ago was KWinFT as a fork of KDE’s KWin with an emphasis on improving the Wayland support and better embracing modern technologies. A beta of KWinFT is now available.

          KDE developer Roman Gilg who has been leading this fork announced a beta version of KWinFT ahead of the KDE Plasma 5.19 stable release coming in two weeks. With this beta milestone the Wrapland server library has been re-engineered and two projects have joined the KWinFT initiative.

        • Interview with Clément Mona

          Iwanted to try someting different and a friend of mine showed me Krita in 2017.

          I loved how intuitive Krita is, I handled the program very fast, more over my Wacom tablet worked perfectly on it, and that was not the case with oher applications at this time.

          I love how fast I can paint with Krita. Also, the brush customisation is very nice and complete.

        • Week -1 : GSoC Project Report

          I have started working on my project earlier due to the uncertain times that we find ourselves in. Hence this is Week -1 report, a week earlier than the official start of coding period. This week corresponds to Week 1 of the planned timeline.

          This week was easier than expected. Adding the storyboard docker to Krita’s plugin system was very easy, thanks to the numerous dockers already implemented. Implementing outer GUI was tougher than that, but it was easy on absolute terms. The GUI consists of four QToolButtons namely Export, Comment, Lock(Icon), Arrange(Icon) and a QTableView(which will be promoted to a custom view). Three of these buttons Export, Comment and Arrange have a menu associated with them. Lock is a toggle button.

        • Kdenlive Titler Tool Rewrite – An Update

          Kdenlive’s Titler Tool rewrite began with GSoC 2019 and now I am happy to announce that we have an MLT producer which can play .qml files with animations! The producer is being now integrated in Kdenlive.

    • Distributions

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • Seize the opportunity to transform SAP and the enterprise, with SUSE

          For medium and larger businesses, ERP systems like SAP span multiple divisions and departments. SAP often powers collaboration and communication and acts as a single source of truth. From the central ERP, the business decision-makers can create change, and also monitor results, often in real-time.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Sysadmin skills: What junior sysadmins need to know

          As important as research and testing on their own is, just as important to a junior admin is knowing to ask for help when they do become stuck. A good mentor will not expect a junior admin to have all the answers, or indeed even the context to get started sometimes. While it is important for them to first try to figure out an issue on their own, spending too much time on a single problem to the exclusion of other work, or struggling so much that they become frustrated and distracted is counterproductive. They should take a crack at the issue, research it and work through it, but know when to call it and ask for help.

          A great way to learn through that process (and keep the additional workload put on the mentor to a minimum) is to ask for guidance on clearing the specific hurdle rather than having a mentor show them how to fix the entire problem all at once.

          There is nothing especially out of reach about being a systems administrator. There is no knowledge that couldn’t be learned by anyone and no technical skills required of a junior admin just starting out in the role. Far more important are the “soft skills” like knowing how to learn, how to test, and how and when to ask for help. Junior administrators who possess these skills will have no trouble picking up technical skills, and more importantly, no trouble being useful and contributing members of their teams.

        • Red Hat build of Eclipse Vert.x 3.9 brings Fluent API Query

          Red Hat Runtimes provides a set of comprehensive frameworks, runtimes, and programming languages for developers, architects, and IT leaders with cloud-native application development needs. The latest update to Red Hat Runtimes has arrived with Red Hat’s build of Eclipse Vert.x version 3.9. Red Hat Runtimes provides application developers with a variety of application runtimes and lets them run on the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform.

      • Debian Family

        • DebConf20 registration is open!

          We are happy to announce that registration for DebConf20 is now open. The event will take place from August 23rd to 29th, 2020 at the University of Haifa, in Israel, and will be preceded by DebCamp, from August 16th to 22nd.

          Although the Covid-19 situation is still rather fluid, as of now, Israel seems to be on top of the situation. Days with less than 10 new diagnosed infections are becoming common and businesses and schools are slowly reopening. As such, we are hoping that, at least as far as regulations go, we will be able to hold an in-person conference. There is more (and up to date) information at the conference’s FAQ. Which means, barring a second wave, that there is reason to hope that the conference can go forward.


          In an effort to widen the diversity of DebConf attendees, the Debian Project allocates a part of the financial resources obtained through sponsorships to pay for bursaries (travel, accommodation, and/or meals) for participants who request this support when they register.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Elementary OS vs Ubuntu OS


          Linux is one of the most popular open source operating system families. With each passing year, the rate at which Linux is growing in demand is also gradually increasing. This rapid growth that Linux has seen in recent years is likely because this operating system is not only powerful but also super smooth and extremely fast.

          Unlike other OS, such as Windows, Linux is less resource hungry, lighter, and has fewer vulnerabilities and bugs. Without any strict governing bodies dictating rules and requirements, Linux is easily customizable. With so many Linux distributions out there and no rules to govern them, each distribution has its own set of specific users and characteristics.

        • First Ubuntu 20.04 Point Release Arrives July 23

          But the upcoming release is not totally lacking in interest.

          From July 23 users of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS will finally be notified that ‘a newer version of Ubuntu is available’ and, if they wish to upgrade to Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, be able to do so.

          Ubuntu LTS releases only check for new LTS releases by default, and even then only “see” a new release once the first point release is made available.

          Why? Because LTS releases are about stability above all else. In a 5 year LTS cycle it’s not a huge issue to wait a couple of extra months. This way, users can be sure any early-bird bugs have been spotted, swooped on, and chowed down!

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • FreeFileSync: Open Source File Synchronization Tool

        FreeFileSync is an impressive open-source tool that can help you back up your data to a different location.

        This different location can be an external USB disk, Google Drive or to any of your cloud storage locations using SFTP or FTP connections.

        You might have read our tutorial on how to use Google Drive on Linux before. Unfortunately, there’s no proper FOSS solution to use Google Drive natively on Linux. There is Insync but it is a premium, non open source software.

      • #HowTo Cut Costs in the SOC

        This is also a good opportunity to revisit your packet capture solution, where your spending should be focused on hardware and storage. If you’re paying for expensive software licenses as well, check out open source alternatives like Moloch.


        Look for open source alternatives
        Whether it’s replacing a point security tool or simply augmenting what you have, try to periodically justify the cost of your commercial tools. Open source projects for blue team have come a LONG way in the last few years, and many of them now rival (or, in our opinion, exceed) the capabilities of expensive commercial tools.

        Conduct an analysis of alternatives for your big-ticket items on an annual or semi-annual basis. That way, you’ll always have a recent justification for the money you’re spending, and you’ll stay aware of potential challengers. Mitre has posted some guidance on Analyses of Alternatives (AoAs) here. Just keep in mind the total cost – do you have, or can you create, the engineering talent to manage new or open source tools?

      • Phoronix Test Suite 9.6.1 Released For Cross-Platform, Open-Source Benchmarking

        One month after the big Phoronix Test Suite 9.6 release, Phoronix Test Suite 9.6.1 is out as the first and only planned point release to this quarter’s feature series.

        Phoronix Test Suite 9.6.1 comes with some export improvements, continued tweaking of the new (PTS9) results viewer, a new phoronix-test-suite rebuild-test-suite sub-command, reporting of more perf events via the LINUX_PERF module, external dependency updates, and more. On the Phodevi (Phoronix Device Interface) front are improved detection of newer Arm Neoverse cores, Sway compositor version detection, and better CPU model handling on newer Apple Mac computers.

      • Web Browsers

      • SaaS/Back End/Databases

        • How Redis scratched an itch — and changed databases forever

          Why would you ever write a new database? Particularly an in-memory database, which, back in 2009, made zero sense to the ruling database class of the time. Salvatore Sanfilippo didn’t really care. He wasn’t trying to change anyone’s minds about what a database should be. He just needed to scale a real-time analytics engine, and MySQL couldn’t do so cost-effectively.


          In the early days of open source, some of the more well-known projects like Linux and MySQL tried to copycat the functionality of their proprietary, expensive peers (like Unix and Oracle). Over time, these (and other) projects have trended toward innovative, rather than imitative. At the same time, there were always projects, like Redis, that broke new ground or trod old ground in new ways that dramatically expanded the universe of users.

          And often they started with one person’s “itch.”

          For example, Daniel Stenberg just needed to be able to download and transfer currency rates for fellow IRC users, but there wasn’t a good way to do that. So he built Curl, which now boasts billions of users. In fact, you probably use Curl every day without knowing it.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • Community Member Monday: Rania Amina

          The first reason is, because Ahmad Haris (he’s my boss in the office) “sudo’d” me to apply for membership :-) But to be honest, I was indeed very interested in becoming a member since the LibreOffice Conference Indonesia in Surabaya about two years ago.

          By becoming a member, I think I can do things related to contributing to LibreOffice better than before. Being a member is a responsibility, in my opinion. Because it means I have to do my best from time to time for the LibreOffice community, both in Indonesia and outside. LibreOffice will get better if the community ecosystem is also good. Well, one of the tasks of members (in my mind) is to ensure that these communities can actively give feedback to LibreOffice, so that they can grow and develop better.

        • Collabora mentors students at GSoC 2020

          Google Summer of Code is an amazing, international program encouraging the participation of university students in open source software development. It enables students to independently gain practical experience on concrete projects and matches them with experienced developers. This year a record number of almost 2000 students are taking part in the sponsored projects. Collabora is always delighted to support GSoC projects: some of our experienced developers are mentoring the students: guiding them in the code, encouraging them, and supporting the growth of their skills.

      • Programming/Development

        • GCC’s JIT Library Sees Experimental Port To Windows

          For several years now GCC has offered a embeddable JIT compiler that for GPL applications can serve as a bytecode interpreter, an experimental Python compiler, and other possible use-cases with this libgccjit library. There now are patches pending for bringing libgccjit to Windows.

          Developer Nicolas Bértolo has worked on a port of libgccjit to Microsoft Windows. So far it’s been tested to work with the native-compilation branch of Emacs.

        • Python

          • [Community Bonding Period] What is Automatic Differentiation?

            The optimization process of deep learning models is based on the gradient descent method. Deep learning frameworks such as PyTorch and Tensorflow can be divided into three parts: model api, gradient calculation and gpu acceleration. Gradient calculation plays an important role, and the core technology of this part is automatic differentiation.

          • The Factory Method Design Pattern in Python

            In this article, we’ll be diving into the Factory Method Design Pattern, implemented in Python.

            Design Patterns define tried and tested solutions to various recurring problems in software development. They do not represent actual code, but rather ways in which we can organize our code for the optimum results.

            In a world of limited resources, Design Patterns help us achieve the most results with the least amount of used resources. It is also important to note that Design Patterns do not apply to all situations and it is crucial to assess the problem at hand in order to choose the best approach for that particular scenario.

            Design Patterns are divided into a few broad categories, though mainly into Creational Patterns, Structural Patterns, and Behavioral Patterns.

            The Factory Method pattern is a Creational Design Pattern.

          • Python Regex in a nutshell

            Regular expression is one of the tools that make programming easy and Python programming is not an excemption. In this article, I write on Python regex expecially and how I manage to keep a hang of them as they are kind of very easy to forget.

            Let me start with definition of regular expression, what I understand regular expression to be. Regular expression is a tool that allows us to search string of data using the pattern that matches the information we seek. Imagine it like this: Your boss have a chunk of nebulous and ovelwemingly obfuscating string of data and she has instructed you to fetch all the emails in that data. So instead of having to look up the emails one after the other in a 5000-line string of data, all you need to do is to define a regular expression pattern that matches email to help you get all the emails in that string of data.

          • Financial Independence – simulating ODEs with python

            Imagine one day you wake up and you know you are free to do whatever you like for the rest of your life… and… money is no longer a problem. You became truly financially independent and you no longer need to work to make it the next year. Does it sound appealing?

            While it may sound so, the path towards that goal is certainly not easy (unlike what Youtube Ads say about it). There exist many factors to be taken into consideration when dealing with your finance and reasoning is often obscured by the complexity.

            In this article, we are going to attack the problem mathematically and programmatically.

            We will model your wallet using a set of ordinary differential equations (ODEs) and we will later solve using scipy library and Python. At each stage, we will try to link the mathematical formulae with python code and explain the reasoning behind it.

            The goal will be to make the model explainable and expandable. We will create it step by step and, hopefully, that will reward us with a more intuitive understanding of both underlying math as well as the code.

          • PyDev of the Week: Cristi Vlad

            This week we welcome Cristi Vlad (@CristiVlad25) as our PyDev of the Week! Cristi teaches cybersecurity with Python on his Youtube Channel. He has also authored some books and writes on his blog. You can see his books there too.


            I always loved numbers. With a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering, I decided to pass on a great job opportunity in the field upon finishing my studies and to try my shot at computer stuff.

            There was something about the combination of entrepreneurship and improving my physiology that had a hard pull on me. So I began studying how to improve my physical and mental capacity, I delved into biochemistry, human anatomy and the scientific literature of sorts and I ended up writing 7 books on physical improvement.

            With an innate curiosity, I always tried teaching myself computer programming but, failed miserably for a couple of times. I tried learning JAVA, as I wanted to also wear the hat of Android developer. This was between 2011 and 2015.

        • Rust

          • Why I’m enjoying learning Rust as a Java programmer

            It’s been a long time since I properly learned a new language—computer or human. Maybe 25 years. That language was Java, and although I’ve had to write little bits of C (very, very little) and JavaScript in the meantime, the only two languages I’ve written much actual code in have been Perl and Java.

            I’m a co-founder of a project called Enarx, which is written almost entirely in Rust. These days I call myself an “architect,” and it’s been quite a long time since I wrote any production code. In the lead-up to Christmas 2019, I completed the first significant project I’ve written in quite a few years: an implementation of a set of algorithms around a patent application in Java. It was a good opportunity to get my head back into code, and I was quite pleased with it.

            Here are some of my thoughts on Rust, from the point of view of a Java developer with a strong object-oriented background.

  • Leftovers

    • What I Learned From Writing Letters To Strangers Across America

      These days, we’re stripped to our most primal longings to survive. And survival for humans means connection and communion wherever we can find it. It might be especially crucial for my generation. A quarter of millennials said in a YouGov survey last year that they have no acquaintances; 27% reported having no close friends and 30% said they had no best friends. And that was before the crisis hit.

  • Science

    • Trump’s EPA Wants to Weaken Science-Based Rules for Toxic Air Pollutants

      Ethylene oxide is a particularly dangerous chemical that’s both extremely flammable and potentially highly toxic to humans. Just a brief exposure to enough ethylene oxide gas can trigger vomiting and diarrhea, and respiratory problems that can damage the lungs. Long-term exposures to the chemical have been linked to cancers, reproductive problems, irreversible and heritable genetic changes, and neurotoxicity.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Why Barnard Castle

      In 2012 GlaxoSmithKline were fined $3 billion for fraud, overcharging and making false claims about medicines in the USA. In 2016, GlaxoSmithKline were fined £37.6 million in the UK for bribing companies not to produce generic copies of their out of patent drugs, thus overcharging the NHS.

    • What New York City’s Cholera Epidemics Can Teach Us in the Age COVID-19

      This isn’t the first time that New York City became the epicenter of a deadly disease. Consequently, this also isn’t the first time a widespread disease has been racialized and linked to the “other.” When cholera arrived on the shores of New York City in 1832, the disease had already ravaged parts of Asia and Europe. New York City officials and scientists did not understand the cause of the disease. Some saw cholera as divine retribution, only inflicted on the sinners of the city. In the 1830s, approximately 250,000 people lived in New York City. Many of them were craftsmen, canal-diggers, traders, merchants and bankers. This diverse labor force carved out socioeconomic rifts which slowed down the city’s response to impending epidemics.

    • The US Has a Long History of Weaponizing Aid to Other Countries

      The spread of the coronavirus will not save Iran from sanctions, the U.S. cried. “Our policy of maximum pressure on the regime continues,” U.S. Special Representative for Iranian Affairs Brian Hook said, as the State Department added more sanctions on Iran, one of the countries worst hit by the pandemic.

  • Integrity/Availability

    • Proprietary

      • Pseudo-Open Source

        • Openwashing

          • Microsoft Open Sources 1983’s GW-BASIC Programming Language [Ed: So basically it's published, not to be changed, on a proprietary software monopoly platform for openwashing purposes; PR stunt]

            Microsoft says GW-BASIC is now available on GitHub.

          • Open Source Foundation Pillar Project Launches Smart Wallet With First Ever Built-In Private Payment Network and Meta-Token [Ed: Overt Openwashing; the "about" section reveals no connection to code]

            London-based Pillar Project launched the Pillar Smart Wallet last Thursday, alongside the wallet’s in-built private payment channel to transform the way users interact with decentralized platforms and services.

            To promote the release, Pillar launched a referral campaign which attracted 2,549 new users, with 500k PLR given away in 72 hours. In total, 8,631 new users joined Pillar over the weekend.

            “Smart-contract accounts allow us to offer our users far better functionality and security, and this is what our latest upgrade is all about. Pillar users will now be able to confidently explore the wider blockchain ecosystem directly through the Pillar app,” says Michael Messele, chief executive officer of Pillar Project.

      • Security

        • Privacy/Surveillance

          • Israel Wants to Extend use of Proximity Detection App, but Tender Process Raises Questions

            The Israeli Ministry of Health issued a tender earlier this month calling for proposals for the establishment and maintenance of an application to help battle viral pandemics on the national level. According to the tender, the ministry wants to expand the use of the Magen (Hebrew for shield) app, which it launched to battle the outbreak of Covid-19 “to benefit the war on viruses in general.”

            The notion of ​​expanding the use of the app, originally developed by Matrix IT Ltd, the health ministry and information security, and open-source experts, is based on the app’s success so far. According to the health ministry the app that tracks individuals’ exposure to identified coronavirus carriers using location data from their mobile phones, has been downloaded by about one million users so far. The goal now is to expand its distribution to four million users.


            The terms of the new tender do not require the app to be based on open-source code, but only on the existing app, with the goal of “expanding its functionality,” according to the announcement.

          • Mozilla, Twitter, Reddit join forces in effort to block browsing data from warrantless access

            A group of seven internet companies are vowing to stand up for the privacy of its users this week when the United States House of Representatives considers the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020.

            Mozilla, Engine, Reddit, Reform Government Surveillance, Twitter, i2Coalition, and Patreon have asked four US legislators to explicitly prohibit the warrantless collection of internet search and browsing history.

            “We hope legislators will amend the bill to limit government access to internet browsing and search history without a warrant,” the Firefox-maker said in a blog post.

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Environment

  • Finance

    • Tenants in Properties Linked to Jared Kushner Fear Lift of Eviction Ban

      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.

    • ‘It tried to smother everybody’ How the Russian government’s obscure biological sanitation agency monopolized the COVID-19 research pipeline, delaying tests and potentially vaccines

      The Federal Service for Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare used to be the Russian government’s agency for monitoring sanitation compliance and consumer safety. Now, it’s the country’s most powerful biological security force. As the COVID-19 pandemic has escalated, so has the bureaucratic might of this otherwise-obscure regulatory arm, usually known by the (still-unwieldy) abbreviation Rospotrebnadzor. Its rank-and-file employees have fought to overcome the unexpectedly rapid spread of the disease, while their higher-ups have continued to push fiercely for ever-bigger budgets and ever-greater scientific achievements. Russian epidemiologists, geneticists, and virologists told Meduza investigative correspondent Liliya Yapparova why the country’s sanitation and disease czars have gotten 1.5 billion rubles ($21.1 million) in government funds to counter a global pandemic and how Russian research about COVID-19 has suffered as a result.

    • Your Employers Are Behind the Rush to Reopen

      The federal government squandered the time the states spent in lockdown. We still face a national shortage of COVID-19 test kits and PPE and there is no nationwide testing or contact tracing program. The United States has 4 percent of the world’s population, but about a third of the world’s coronavirus cases.

    • GOP Wants Cuts to Social Security and Medicare in Next COVID Stimulus Package

      A proposal by Sen. Mitt Romney to establish congressional committees with the specific goal of crafting legislative “solutions” for America’s federal trust fund programs has reportedly resurfaced in GOP talks over the next Covid-19 stimulus package, sparking alarm among progressive advocates who warn the Utah Republican’s bill is nothing but a stealth attack on Social Security and Medicare.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Disney+ Censors Cleavage From Episode of Old Disney Channel Series

      Disney+ is all about family-friendly content, so much so \ the platform is going to painstaking lengths to correct content which it feels might be a little too racy. First, it was adding some hair extensions to cover up a mermaid’s hindquarters in Splash. Now, as one tweeter has pointed out, the platform has blurred out another actor’s chest on a Disney series the service carries. As @lovelychubly points out, there’s an instance in an episode of Wizards of Waverly Place where Maria Canals-Barrera wears a purple v-neck shirt. While the shirt isn’t revealing the way it is, Disney+ added a blur to cover whatever subtle cleavage showed in the original cut of the episode.

    • ‘Back to the Future’ Writer Asks Universal to Destroy Censored Version of Sequel

      “The blame is on Universal who somehow furnished Netflix an edited version of the movie,” Gale said. “I learned about it some ten days ago from an eagle-eyed fan, and had the studio rectify the error. The version now running is the uncensored, unedited, original version.”

      He continued, “Apparently, this was a foreign version which neither director Robert Zemeckis nor I even knew existed, for some country that had a problem with the Oh La La magazine cover. I asked that the studio destroy this version. FYI, Netflix does not edit films — they only run the versions that are supplied to them. So they’re blameless. You can direct your ire at Universal, but I think they will be a lot more careful in the future — and with ‘the future.’”

    • China to Crack Down on Dissent, ‘Foreign Interference’ in Hong Kong

      Commentators in the city said the announcement had marked the end of Hong Kong’s promised autonomy under the “one country, two systems” formula.

      Civil Human Rights Front convenor Jimmy Sham, who organized several peaceful protests last year, including three attended by more than a million people, said it was still unclear what is meant by “subversion of state power,” or “interference by foreign forces.”

      But he called on the city’s seven million people to come out on the streets to oppose the new law.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • A History of News and Justice in the Americas
    • Black people are dying from coronavirus — air pollution is one of the main culprits

      Harvard researchers recently found that even the smallest increase of exposure to a common air pollutant is associated with a 15 percent increase in the death rate from COVID-19 (on top of increased risk of lung cancer and heart problems). Fossil fuel plants are among the top emitters of this particle, along with other pollutants that can cause or worsen asthma and shortness of breath. Partly due to a history of redlining, African Americans live closer to fossil fuel infrastructure than the rest of the population: A 2017 joint report from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Clean Air Task Force found that more than a million African Americans live within a half-mile of an oil and gas facility.

  • Monopolies

    • Patents

      • Using AI to invent therapeutics: Should artificial intelligence be recognised for inventive activity?

        Two patent applications naming artificial intelligence as the sole inventor were refused by the European Patent Office following oral proceedings on the grounds that an inventor must be a human being. Is a machine capable of truly inventive activity? If so, what are the implications for the protection of the resulting technology?

        Artificial intelligence (AI) can be broadly defined as the concept of a machine performing a task that is normally accepted as requiring human intelligence. AI algorithms ‘learn’ from data, information and even from their own decisions, and are capable of extracting concepts and relationships at high speed. AI is increasingly being incorporated into drug discovery pipelines.

        The most common applications use deep-learning algorithms – similar to those used in face and image recognition – which are ‘trained’ using experimental results or information on the 3D structure and binding properties of small molecules to recognise target specificities with much greater accuracy than what was previously thought possible. Use of AI in the initial stage of drug development can increase the speed, accuracy and predictability of candidate selection. A slight increase in the reliability of predictions can potentially save vast amounts of money.

    • Copyrights

      • Spotify Launches Crackdown on Tools Offering Premium Service For Free

        Spotify has filed a wave of DMCA takedown notices with Google in an effort to remove links to software claiming to offer a premium experience without paying. In many of its complaints Spotify warns that the company believes that the tools are intended to be used as “instruments of fraud”.

      • Which VPN Providers Really Take Anonymity Seriously in 2020?

        Picking the best VPN can be a tricky endeavor. There are hundreds of VPN services out there, all promising to keep you private. Some are more anonymous than others, however. To help you pick the best one for your needs, we asked dozens of VPNs what their logging policies are, how they handle torrent users, and what else they do to keep you anonymous.

      • Pirate ‘Treasures’ Continue to Show Up on Google Maps

        Spammers continue to abuse Google Maps to promote scammy pirate links. These ‘treasures’ show up through the maps feature from where they are picked up by search engines. This can be pretty effective, it seems, as some links are getting thousands of views.

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