Links 23/7/2020: Release of OpenRGB 0.3, DebianDay 2020 Coming

Posted in News Roundup at 6:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • From a dream to reality: How Linux changed my life

      This story is not about the money; it’s about how a lower-middle-class guy overcomes obstacles and learns from failures to achieve his dream.

      After completing school, everyone thinks about their college life, but for me, it was something a little different. I went to a normal private college—Haldia Institute of Technology, Haldia in West Bengal, India. I was not the best student, but computers were the subject that caught my interest.

      Private colleges often have higher fees but are considered lower in educational quality with limited placement scope. During the first year of my college life, I participated in a lot of sports, which was great until I lost interest in my studies as a result. I ended up with only average grades that first year. During my second year, some seniors came into one of my classes and asked about open source; at that point, I hadn’t even heard of the term yet, but I ventured an answer anyway. My classmates laughed at my obviously wrong guess but little did any of us know that experience would become the foundation of my great career.

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • The 3rd-Gen KDE Slimbook is Here, And Boy is it Powerful

        Hiding inside its thin and light magnesium alloy case is a powerful AMD Ryzen 4000 processor, ample RAM, speedy SSD, and a pre-installed version of the latest KDE Neon with Plasma desktop.

        Two display sizes are available: 14.1-inch and 15.6-inch. Both screens are Full HD IPS LED panels with 100% sRGB range. Size is the only real differentiator — and yes that 1.5-inch extra does feel huge when you’re a smol guy like me

      • The new KDE Slimbook is a Linux laptop with Ryzen 7 4800H

        The newest member of the KDE Slimbook family is one of the most powerful thin and light Linux laptops to date.

        The new KDE Slimbook Pro X features a 45-watt AMD Ryzen 7 4800H octa-core processsor with Radeon Vega graphics and a starting price of 899 Euros ($1040) for a model with a 14 inch display or 929 Euros ($1075) for a 15.6 inch version.

      • KDE teams up with Slimbook to bring a stylish new AMD Ryzen 4800H laptop

        Power, style and what looks like a pretty good price too. KDE and Slimbook team up to announce the KDE Slimbook, powered by a beefy AMD Ryzen processor. They’re not the first to announce a Linux laptop with a newer AMD Ryzen processor though, as we only just had TUXEDO announce their Pulse 15 too.

        This isn’t actually a brand new initiative either, KDE and Slimbook have actually been good partners for a few years now. This is the third generation, so hopefully together they’ve been able to craft something special and it certainly looks that way. If you’re in the market for a new laptop with Linux, this could be what you need.

    • Server

      • 25 Basic Linux Commands All System Admins Should Know

        System administrators are responsible for configuring, upkeeping, and delivering reliable operation of computer systems, especially in the multi-user computers (e.g., servers). A successful system admin offers

        This article covers some basic Linux commands that all system admin should know. If you are already a system admin, chances are, you will know these commands. If you are interested in the field of system administration, then learning these commands will improve your background knowledge in this area.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • FLOSS Weekly 588: KidOYO – Education & Open Source

        KidOYO teaches kids coding, computer science, engineering, and the concept of entrepreneurial learning, for K12 to University. Doc Searls talks with Shawn Powers and Devon Loffreto the owner of KidOYO, and also the creator of the term Sovereign Identity.

      • Destination Linux 183: It Is Okay To Use Nano

        Coming up on this week’s episode of Destination Linux we’re going to discuss the age old topic, why it is okay to use Nano instead of Emacs or Vim. In the news this week were going to discuss the latest announcement from Pine64 about the new more powerful PinePhone that also comes with a USB Dock in the Convergence Package. Speaking of Convergence, we’re going to discuss what “Real” Convergence is as a response to a blog post made by Purism. Later in the show we’ll let you know about a great game deal for the Warhammer series from Humble Bundle and we’ll cover some awesome community feedback from Space (sort of) and we’ve got the beloved tips/tricks and software pick. All of this and so much more on the Destination Linux podcast!

      • Benigànim signs Open Letter +++ Interview with city of Bühl +++ New Podcast

        We just sent out a big thank you to all the people who supported us over the years and who are supporting us now. With their help we have been able to build trust and grow expertise in the last decade and to cope with troubling times introduced with the global spread of the corona virus and its dramatic effects. With your help we even have been able to raise attention that we need global solutions to tackle global problems. And we have been heard.

        Members from our community convinced public hackathons to publish their results under free licenses. International and national political fora continue to demand that contact tracing apps have to be Free Software. Many national authorities are complying with these demands. Also in the last months, administrations in Hamburg, the Netherlands and Spain committed to use and focus more on Free Software. These are the positive developments we have seen in the last months – despite the crisis – and these are the fruits of our long-term commitment and your long-term support.

        It’s now time to share this good news. Let people know that Free Software matters even, or especially, in such difficult times introduced to us by the coronavirus. Use the chance yourself to order our professional promotion material, to talk with your friends, neighbours, employers or anyone else about the benefits of Free Software.


        In our sixth Software Freedom Podcast we invited Miriam Ballhausen to talk with us about copyright enforcement. Miriam is a German lawyer who specialises in Free Software copyright questions. Together we cover the basics about Free Software licensing and discuss how Free Software copyright can be enforced, what the steps to enforce it are, and why it is often enforced in Germany. We also explore how the REUSE project could help with being in compliance with Free Software licenses.

      • 2020-07-22 | Linux Headlines

        Two new Linux ultrabooks hit the market, Google is poised to enforce usage of Android Go on low-end devices, and the 3MF Consortium joins the Linux Foundation.

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.7.10

        I’m announcing the release of the 5.7.10 kernel.

        All users of the 5.7 kernel series must upgrade.

        The updated 5.7.y git tree can be found at:
        git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.7.y
        and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:


      • Linux 5.4.53
      • Linux 4.19.134
      • Linux 4.14.189
      • Linux 4.9.231
      • Linux 4.4.231
      • Graphics Stack

        • Shader Processing

          As I’ve touched upon previously, zink does some work in ntv to perform translations of certain GLSL variables to SPIR-V versions of those variables. Also sometimes we add and remove variables for compatibility reasons.

          The key part of these translations, for some cases, is to ensure that they occur on the right shader. As an example that I’ve talked about several times, Vulkan coordinates are different from GL coordinates, specifically in that the Z axis is compressed and thus values there must be converted to perform as expected in the underlying Vulkan driver. This means that gl_Position needs to be converted before reaching the fragment shader.

        • RadeonSI Lands Bits In Mesa 20.2 For Better Dealing With GPU Virtualization

          Well known open-source AMD graphics driver developer Marek Olšák has landed a set of 15 patches into Mesa 20.2 for improving the RadeonSI driver’s handling within virtualized environments.

          The support added is mid-command buffer preemption and when enabled is mirroring registers in memory using a register shadowing technique. This is being done so that the GPU can switch to a different process at any point within command buffers.

        • Open-Source NVIDIA “Nouveau” CRC Support Ready For Linux 5.9

          Stemming from documentation released by NVIDIA last year, the forthcoming Linux 5.9 kernel will feature CRC support on the display side thanks to the development work by Red Hat.

          Nouveau CRC support is coming in Linux 5.9 for Fermi and newer. This is about Cyclic Redundancy Checks (CRC) for error detection in the display handling on NVIDIA graphics cards.

    • Benchmarks

      • AMD Ryzen “Renoir” CPU Frequency Scaling Governor Performance

        With 129 tests carried out while also looking at the CPU power consumption and temperatures during benchmarking, here is a look at how the CPU frequency scaling governor plays a role in the performance of the latest-generation AMD Ryzen 4000 “Renoir” laptops for Linux.

        Running most Linux distributions on an AMD Ryzen 4000 series laptop will result in the CPUFreq “ondemand” governor used by default as a sane default for controlling the CPU frequency scaling behavior. But there is also the performance governor as the most performance-minded and quickest to ramp up CPU frequencies when needed, conservative for more conservative frequency scaling decisions, schedutil as the possible future default that leverages the Linux kernel’s scheduler utilization data for making more accurate power management decisions, and powersave as an attempt to conserve power use over performance. Those different CPUfreq governors are being benchmarked in this article with the Lenovo Flex 5 with Ryzen 5 4500U processor.

    • Applications

      • Top 8 File and Disk Encryption Tools for Linux

        Data protection is an imperative aspect of digital security for both businesses and individuals. In this new remote work environment brought on by COVID-19, securing one’s private data is more critical than ever.

        Linux handles this issue far better than Windows or MacOS due to its transparent open-source code and the passionate global community constantly reviewing it. With so many astute eyes on Linux source code, security vulnerabilities are quickly detected and solved – which is why those looking for a highly secure OS often turn to Linux.

        That being said, this doesn’t mean that your Linux computer is 100% unhackable. In fact, the growing popularity of Linux is making the OS an increasingly popular target among malicious hackers. Thus, it never hurts to add a layer of privacy in the form of file and disk encryption.

        File and disk encryption makes your data unreadable and unusable even if your computer does get hacked. In this article we explore the eight best file and disk encryption tools for Linux.

      • OpenRGB 0.3 Released For Open-Source RGB Lighting Control

        Out this evening is OpenRGB v0.3 as the newest feature release of this open-source RGB lighting control solution that works on both Windows and Linux. ASUS, ASRock, Corsair, GSKILL, Gigabyte, Kingston, MSI, Razer, and Thermaltake are among the brands of devices supported by this growing software package.

        OpenRGB 0.3 adds support for allowing one user-interface to now control multiple PCs’ RGB lighting, various other client / server improvements, numerous new drivers and different improvements, and dealing with a lot of other device-specific improvements/fixes.

      • Sorting the mess of vendor specific lighting apps, OpenRGB has a new release

        Having something with pretty RGB lighting and want to play with it on Linux? Often the hardware vendor doesn’t bother with Linux tools or drivers but the OpenRGB firmly has your back.

        This is not just another open source project for Linux to make up for vendors ignoring Linux, in fact it’s actually made for Windows too. Their aim is to sort the big stinking mess of vendor-specific tools and applications to deal with RBG lighting across various motherboards,

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Linux distro Fedora 33 may get DXVK as the default for Wine

        If you make use of the Wine compatibility layer on Fedora, it seems the upcoming Fedora 33 release may end up defaulting to DXVK for better performance.

        Currently in Fedora, like most distributions, Wine is mostly left alone. Once installed, it’s up to users to tinker with it and configure it (I much prefer using Lutris personally). That may change though if this latest proposal is accepted for Fedora 33 which releases in October 2020. There is currently a dedicated wine-dxvk package you can install to get it but this change would set DXVK as the default graphics backend for Wine to translate Direct3D 9/10/11 to Vulkan.

    • Games

      • [Godot] Announcing the monthly Live Q&A!

        What has been an idea (and something many community members suggested for a long time) is now a reality. We will be hosting a Live Q&A session with Godot core contributors the last week of each month.

      • A DIY USB gear stick for PC racing games

        If you’d like to add a gear stick to your PC racing game experience, then Oli Norwell has just the project for you.

        His USB device extends a joystick with a length of threaded rod through a custom-cut wooden plate, restricting movements to a 1-5/reverse/neutral layout. The shifter is held in different gear positions using magnets, in order keep it from automatically springing back to center.

        An Arduino Leonardo reads the switch states, and passes along the shift positions as a simulated joystick in HID mode. Possible future improvements include extra buttons, mode selection switches, and even an LCD screen for feedback.

      • Narrative exploration RPG ‘Vagrus – The Riven Realms’ enters Early Access

        Vagrus – The Riven Realms puts you in the shoes of a travelling caravan leader, as you explore the wastelands left over from the gods getting angry at humanity and basically annihilating everything while also leaving behind all sorts of horrors. It’s a setting that demands to be explored and sucks you right in with the impressive world-building.

        It’s been a long time coming, after being available on the crowdfunding platform Fig for a year already. This is where they used a hybrid model of Early Access / Crowdfunding to raise funds to develop the game further while also providing people with a copy to play right away. Which obviously proved to be worthwhile for them, as the campaign recently passed $95,000.

      • The no-violence survival platformer ‘Residual’ gets a demo and Kickstarter

        Orangepixel are a long-time indie game developer with titles like Space Grunts, Gunslugs, Heroes of Loot and more. Their next title is Residual, a survival platformer with a difference.

        Setting itself apart from the rest, there’s no combat. The whole idea is to have a non-violent game of survival and exploration which I will admit has made me most curious about it. Stranded on a strange alien world, your task is to find a way off as you come across the residual technology left behind an ancient advanced race.

      • Euro Truck Simulator 2 gets a big free update with SSAO

        For those who prefer trucking around Europe instead of America, SCS Software just upgraded Euro Truck Simulator 2 with some nice engine upgrades and location improvements.

        Much like they also did with American Truck Simulator just recently in their big update, this update for Euro Truck Simulator 2 brings in some graphics updates. This includes Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO), a redesigned route advisor, a redesigned RGB colour picker with support for specific color inputs (HSV, RGB, and HEX), and more. All dealership locations across the Euro Truck Simulator 2 map have received a refresh too, with each being unique. There’s plenty more map updates, improved automatic transmission for vehicles and so on. SCS continue giving ETS 2 plenty of attention.

      • It’s now easier than ever to play STAR WARS: The Old Republic on Linux

        With EA continuing to dump their older games onto Steam, the popular MMO STAR WARS: The Old Republic is now available thanks to Steam Play Proton it’s easier than ever to play it on Linux.

        Confused? Don’t know what Steam Play or Proton are? Check out our dedicated page first.

        This free to play MMO originally released in 2011 and it’s set thousands of years before the original Star Wars movies. A time when the Sith are very much around and something not explored in any of the movies. As a huge Star Wars fan, seeing this easy to access on Steam makes me happy. Not a fan of Origin? Good news for Linux users, as it’s not here. The Old Republic is one EA title that does not come with the Origin client and so it should be less of a nuisance.

      • Accessible and colourful fighting game ‘Fantasy Strike’ goes free to play

        Fantasy Strike, a fighting game designed to be easy for all types of players that released in July 2019 has now officially gone free to play.

        Created by Sirlin Games, they’re an ex-Street Fighter developer and they think of themselves as something of a “hardcore” fighting game player. Fantasy Strike was their attempt to create a fighting game that anyone could become reasonably good at quickly to enjoy it.

        Originally £23.79 / $29.99, with the free to play release all characters are unlocked for everyone to play with. Everyone also has access to online casual play, online ranked play, offline practice mode, and offline “single match” mode against AI so out of the box it’s a pretty full game. The update also came with two entirely new characters to boost the roster, Chancellor Quince and General Onimaru.

      • SuperTuxKart has a fresh Release Candidate out for testing

        It seems the current focus for SuperTuxKart is to improve the overall look and feel of it right now, giving it that all important professional feel. One of the big changes behind the scenes is the move to using more of SDL2, instead of Irrlicht which is missing some big features. They’re now using SDL2 for things like window creation and input handling. As a result it should get better with gamepad handling, hot-plugging and less gamepad input annoyances.

        The interface is also going through something of an overhaul to make it more modern. With the 1.2 update bringing in a “Modern” skin. A highlight there is the addition of SVG icons, along with work to enable the SuperTuxKart engine to properly render SVG files to ensure the UI looks great at high resolutions. They said they plan to blog about this more work in a future update.

      • Widelands, the Settlers II inspired RTS has a huge Build 21 release out now

        Widelands, a free and open source strategy game inspired by the classic Settlers II has now formally released the massive Build 21 update.

        Recently I wrote about the upcoming update after doing some pre-release testing, and it’s proven to be a wonderful RTS that keeps the spirit of the classic Settlers experience alive. Widelands is a strategy game where you don’t have direct-unit control, instead you place down orders and everyone gets to work—as long as your road system is connected up properly. I’ll openly admit to getting a bit carried away with playing Widelands recently sinking half a day into it.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Google Summer of Code 2020 – Post 6

          I updated the user interface of the Rocs graph layout plugin. Now, each layout algorithm corresponds to a tab. See below the tab for the Radial Tree Layout.


          The root vertex can be selected by the user or determined automatically. Currently, a center of the tree is used for automatic root selection. The user can also control the distance between nodes by changing the node separation. Tomorrow I will finish the tests and add some code to check if the graph being laid out is a tree.

          Note: I decided to change the title of my GSoC posts to reflect the fact that I am not being able to follow a weekly schedule.

        • Going Focal

          Here at KDE neon base camp we have been working on moving the base of our system to Focal, Ubuntu 20.04. If you’re interested in the mechanics you can see the status, and indeed help out, on our 20.04 workboard.

          But probably you’re more interested in giving it a try. This is in testing mode still and comes with a no money back warranty. Instrucitons are on the testing forum thread. You can either do an upgrade or a full install from the preview ISOs. Let us know how you get on!

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Alternative GNOME Shell Application Menu Extensions

          GNOME shell comes with a dashboard-like application menu layout by default. The default layout features a spacious, grid-like layout, search bar, and large icons for easy accessibility. Linux users who have used Unity or macOS application menus would find this menu familiar. This article will cover a few application menu extensions that can be used as alternatives for the default menu in the GNOME shell.

        • Ayush Mittal: Pitivi: Making the Render dialog usable: Render profiles

          It’s been around two months when I officially became a GSOC student Developer at Pitivi and now, the 1st coding month has completed. Although we had a structured proposal to follow during GSOC, we adapted as per what looked much more suitable and made more sense. If you have been using Pitivi, you are in for a surprise.

        • Alejandro Domínguez: Fractal: Update progress

          It’s being a busy month, but productive nonetheless!

          Since the last update about how things were going most of the error handling stuff has been reworked, as announced. There are a few bits remaining but they are in very specific places that require prior work in other areas. The approach chosen was to have a common trait that handled the error and each backend function now has a (mostly) specific error type that implements that said trait. Managing errors for new requests is as easy as creating a new type for the error that indicates all possible cases, composing over foreign error types if required, and implementing the trait HandleError to manage how the error should be shown in the GUI and/or logged, or just marking the trait if the default implementation is good enough.

        • Refactoring Pitivi’s Media Library

          Since my GSoC project is about improving Pitivi’s Media Library and introducing new features to it, the first task was to clean it up.

          To display assets the Media Library used a Gtk.TreeView widget to show a detailed list view and a Gtk.IconView widget to show a simpler icon view. Some major drawbacks with the previous implementation using two separate widgets are:

    • Distributions

      • Top 5 enterprise Linux distributions to consider adopting

        Most enterprise desktops run Windows or, to a lesser extent, macOS, but certain use cases require a Linux desktop OS.

        The Linux operating system install base has shown growth over the years, in part because Linux-based servers are so widely implemented in the cloud. Development teams, for example, might prefer to build their applications on Linux desktops so they’re working in a consistent environment. Server administrators and programmers could also find Linux’s flexible approach to be suitable for their work. Linux desktops are also becoming more user-friendly, increasing their overall appeal.

        For many organizations, the most important advantage that Linux offers is the reduced cost compared to the pricey Windows and Apple license fees. In addition, base Linux is an open source OS, providing more opportunities for customization.

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • SUSE offers new features in enterprise Linux and management software

          Germany-based open source software provider SUSE has announced major enhancements to two of its solutions for businesses to simplify and modernise their functions.

          The changes, SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Service Pack 2 and the latest in infrastructure management from SUSE Manager 4.1, are now available, the company said in a statement.

          “SUSE solutions, including SUSE Linux Enterprise, are designed for IT transformation,” said Thomas Di Giacomo, SUSE president of engineering and innovation.

        • Understanding Horizontal Pod Autoscaler

          Auto-scaling is a way to automatically increase or decrease the number of computing resources that are being assigned to your application based on resource requirement at any given time. It emerged from cloud computing technology, which revolutionized the way computer resources are allocated, enabling the creation of a fully scalable server in the cloud.

          What is the HPA?

          HPA or Horizontal Pod Autoscaler is the autoscaling feature for Kubernetes pods. HPA offers the following advantages: economic solution, automatic sizing can offer longer uptime and more availability in cases where traffic on production workloads are unpredictable. Automatic sizing differs from having a fixed amount of pods in that it responds to actual usage patterns and therefore reduces the potential disadvantage of having few or many pods for the traffic load. For example, if traffic is usually less at midnight, a static scale solution can schedule some pods to sleep at night, on the other hand, it can better handle unexpected traffic spikes.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Fedora Zine call for submissions

          The Design team is preparing a zine to recognize the amazing work done by everyone here in the Fedora Project. The zine will serve as a guide to future contributors as a sneak peek into what Fedora is all about and what kind of work we do. It’s also a fun way for Fedorans to express and showcase their creativity.

          A zine is an original, self-published mini-magazine that is intended for small circulation. Zines are intended for niche interest groups and communicate that interest through artistic expression. For centuries, zines have been aiding creative movements and artistic expressions all around the world.

        • Language is the OS that runs our thoughts

          I think in tech, it’s really important to get as much inclusive language as we can nailed down as soon as we can. One trend I’ve seen as time has gone on is that we’re abstracting on top of abstractions further and further out. If we can clean up the base it’s all built on top of, that will hopefully mean a lot less issues moving forward as new abstractions need to be named / expressed in language.

          I have seen a lot of pushback against the suggestion that we actively fix some of the language in our code that could enforce old and problematic ideas. I want to talk about why these words are not so benign, and why changing them matters.

        • Using IBM CloudLabs for Hands-on Kubernetes Training on IBM Cloud
        • How Red Hat is supporting the next generation of technology experts at the University of Massachusetts

          Red Hat is working to encourage the next generation of developers and computer programmers, and we are proud to work with The University of Massachusetts to help sponsor some of their intern and summer leadership, technology and computer science programs. The goal of these programs is to support college-aged students from diverse backgrounds who are interested in careers in technology, engineering and science.

          This summer, Red Hat is proud to sponsor the Leadership Academy, a new program launched by UMass Amherst and partners, led by equity and inclusion expert Nilanjana “Buju” Dasgupta. The goal of the Leadership Academy is to offer an online, fast-paced accelerator program for students of color and women to kickstart their journeys in technology and engineering. This is especially important during COVID-19, when many internship opportunities have been cancelled.

        • BrianzAcque Taps Red Hat to Activate Smart Water Kiosks

          Red Hat, Inc., the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that BrianzAcque, a provider of water and sewage utility services in Italy, has standardized on Red Hat OpenShift to manage its network of smart water kiosks across a hybrid cloud environment.

    • Devices/Embedded

      • Machine vision camera offers choice of Jetson TX2 or Xavier NX

        Adlink claims superior ease of use due to the camera’s compact all-in-one design and its pre-installed AI software. Optimized for machine vision, the stack integrates Ubuntu 18.04 L4T (Linux for Tegra) with Nvidia’s Jetpack 4.3 AI software, Basler Pylon, and machine vision sample code. There is no mention of support for the related, Kubernetes/OpenShift enabled Nvidia EGX AI edge computing stack, which Adlink launched last year on four Jetson-based embedded computers.

        Adlink touts the NEON-2000-JT2 for its safety certification from both the FCC and CE (European Commission) The camera is said to be validated for shock (11ms, 30G, half sine, 3 axes), vibration (5-500Hz, 5 Grms, 3 axes), and temperature stability (0 to 45°C). Typical power consumption is 30W. The 123.3 x 77.5 x 66.8mm, 700-gram camera offers EMC and ESD protections and optional IP67 compliance against ingress.

      • AWOW AK41 Mini Desktop PC – Video and Audio – Week 3

        Last week I looked at some benchmarking tests on the AWOW AK41. I’m eager to crack on and discover how this tiny machine performs as my main desktop machine. This series will also examine how the machine performs as a server. I’ll cover things like running WordPress on the machine, setting up a file server, a backup server, and much more.

        For this week, I’m going to look at an area very close to my heart. Multimedia. It’s a large topic to tackle. So I’ll confine this week to video and audio playback. I’ll tackle other multimedia tasks in a later edition of the blog.

      • Cooler Master Launches Pi Case 40 for Raspberry Pi 4 on Kickstarter

        Cooler Master, known for its PC cooling solutions and cases, has now launched a Raspberry Pi 4 case on Kickstarter.

        Cooler Master Pi Case 40 has already raised over $120,000 within a few hours, with the $27 Raspberry Pi 4 enclosure blasting pass the $10,000 funding target in about one hour.

      • Open Hardware/Modding

        • ATCwatch Arduino Firmware Works with PineTime, COLMI P8, “Da Fit” Smartwatches

          Earlier this week, we wrote about fake heart rate sensors found in ultra-low-cost fitness trackers as reported by Aaron Christophel. It turns out he also maintains an open-source project specific to P8 watch, PineTime, and other smartwatches compatible with Da Fit Android app: ATCwatch Arduino firmware.

          The firmware provides a basic menu system, notifications, and the latest implementation enables direct HTTP or HTTPS GET requests to control IoT devices and get info from the Internet. The current firmware consumes about 150-200uA standby current, and last roughly 92 hours on a charge with heavy notification and usage.

        • 5 Best Robotics Kits for Kids

          The best way to learn anything is to do it yourself. The fastest way is to have earlier projects to learn from and instructions. The instructions can come from documentation, videos and teachers. Today, you will learn about great kits for teaching your kids about robotics.

          Some of these kits are ready built and requires only hooking things up. You should consider how much of the building your kids may want to do. Depending on the kit, the focus is on learning how the mechanics are built and how to program the robots. In the beginning, you may want kits that assemble in minutes before you can experiment.


          Build Your Robot; you buy this kit to get going with understanding the logic and practicalities of robotics. You can connect the pieces without tools and start trying out the logic of robotics. The creators made a very pedagogic system, inputs are blue, and outputs are green.

          You receive four inputs and four outputs in the kit from BYOR. In the box, there is also the main board and some cables. The cables are the same as the audio cables for your phone. The inputs are distance, audio and light sensors. Also included is a tuning knob for manual control. The four outputs are a servo motor, a stepper motor, an LED and a buzzer. The idea of this package is that you build the body of a robot from cardboard. With the parts involved, you can make the simplest robots. To program the robot, you use microbit to program this robot. This makes it very easy to get started programming. On Linux, you can use MicroPython to program it. This kit is limited if you want to make useful robots, but it is very fast to get started. Aimed at education, you can use this kit to teach and learn about robotics. If you aim for bigger projects, you need another kit.

        • Arduino Programming Projects for Learning

          Arduino is an open-source single-board microcontroller that’s loved by makers around the world for its open nature, affordability, and ease of use. You can think of it as a lightweight Raspberry Pi with limited processing power but impressive versatility.

          It takes no time to connect an Arduino board (such as the Arduino UNO R3 or the Arduino Nano) to all kinds of sensors, actuators, and lights and program it to do just about anything you want.

          If you’ve never programmed an Arduino before, you have absolutely nothing to worry about because getting started with it is very easy. All the projects listed in this article come with source code, so you can get them to work first and figure out how they work second.

        • Control your Internet of Things projects from anywhere with the new Arduino IoT Cloud Remote app

          The latest dashboard for the Arduino IoT Cloud comes with a host of enhanced features. Creating your dashboard via a desktop or tablet is quick and easy. The tool automatically configures your devices (including the secure crypto element) and automatically generates the main code for your project, making setup as straightforward as possible. A broad set of simple widgets to connect to the properties provides maximum versatility and enables you to set up a new dashboard in minutes.

          Your dashboards, how you like them — all dashboards are fully customizable, it’s possible to group devices and organize them in any sequence — just drag and drop to arrange the layout, and select from multiple options including graphs to visualize the data. You can gather and display data from multiple IoT devices in one dashboard, and control those devices as required through your dashboard to fully integrate your solution.

      • Mobile Systems/Mobile Applications

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • 10 Reasons to Use Open Source

        For more than 50 years, the production and use of software and hardware have been almost entirely commercial. This is in stark contrast to the principles of the Free Open Source Software (FOSS) model. FOSS is based on communities and does not require the exchange of material goods to participate in the development process or to share the results.

        Rather, the interaction of individual actors is based on a shared philosophy in which common goods are created (abbreviated as “commons”) for the benefit of all. Behaviour is controlled by social norms, rather than legal regulations. The motivation in participating is less profit, but greater meaningful contributions to society for the benefit of all.

      • Events

        • Let’s celebrate DebianDay 2020 around the world

          We encourage our community to celebrate around the world the 27th Debian anniversary with organized [DebianDay][1] events. This year due to the COVID-19 pandemic we cannot organize in-person events, so we ask instead that contributors, developers, teams, groups, maintainers, and users promote The Debian Project and Debian activities online on August 16th (and/or 15th).

          Communities can organize a full schedule of online activities throughout the day. These activities can include talks, workshops, active participation with contributions such as translations assistance or editing, debates, BoFs, and all of this in your local language using tools such as [Jitsi][2] for capturing audio and video from presenters for later streaming to YouTube.

          If you are not aware of any local community organizing a full event or you don’t want to join one, you can solo design your own activity using [OBS][3] and stream it to YouTube. You can watch an OBS tutorial [here][4].

          Don’t forget to record your activity as it will be a nice idea to upload it to [Peertube][5] later.

        • GUADEC 2020 Kicks Off Today as GNOME’s First Virtual Conference

          The GUADEC 2020 (GNOME Users And Developers European Conference) event kicks off today until July 28th as GNOME’s first online conference in the coronavirus era.

          The time has come for the summer Linux conferences to open their doors to virtual visitors, and GUDEC 2020 is the first major Linux conference to switch to an online format. The event was supposed to take place in Zacatecas, Mexico, but as you can imagine, everyone is adapting every day to respond to the needs created by the COVID-19 crisis, which affects us all.

          GUADEC 2020 is the place where GNOME users and developers from all over the world gather together to share knowledge and discuss upcoming features of the next major release of the GNOME desktop environment, which is used by numerous Linux-based operating systems, including Ubuntu, Debian, openSUSE, Fedora, and many others.

        • openSUSE + LibreOffice Virtual Conference Extends Call for Papers

          Organizers of the openSUSE + LibreOffice Virtual Conference are extending the Call for Papers to August 4.

          Participants can submit talks for the live conference past the original deadline of July 21 for the next two weeks.

          The conference is scheduled to take place online from Oct. 15. – 17.

          The length of the talks that can be submitted are either a 15-minute short talk, a 30-minute normal talk and/or a 60-minute work group session. Organizers believe shortening the talks will keep attendees engaged for the duration of the online conference.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Mozilla Localization (L10N): L10n Report: July 2020 Edition

            Welcome Prasanta Hembram, Cloud-Prakash and Chakulu Hembram, from the newly created Santali community! They are currently localizing Firefox for iOS in Santali Ol Chiki script.

          • This is how I surf the Internet

            Aside from a handful of pinned tabs, I open a new tab for anything I need to do: search the web, file a bug, look up documentation, check on the news, the weather, you get the idea. I am also addicted to Firefox’s new tab page, so I’ll often open a new tab out of boredom to let Pocket suggest an article for me. I hardly ever look at the same tab twice. If I need to get to something, it is never worth digging through all those tabs, I’ll just type what I am looking for in a new tab, and hope for a good suggestion from the awesomebar. After a couple of days I’ll have hundreds of tabs open. I declare “tab bankruptcy”, I purge them all, and start over.

            A while ago I made an addon for myself. It was essentially a tab FIFO. It would only allow 10 tabs to be open at a time. If an 11th tab was created, the least recently activated tab would be closed.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

      • CMS

        • Unsplash Launches Official Plugin for WordPress

          Unsplash has released its own official plugin for WordPress, co-developed with the team at XWP. The plugin seamlessly connects Unsplash’s 1 million+ free high-resolution image library with the WordPress editor.


          Instant Images, a plugin that boasts one-click Unsplash uploads, is currently the largest competitor to the adoption of the official plugin with more than 50,000 active installs. Many other plugins have also added some form of Unsplash integration in the past. Chesser said his team has loved seeing the variety of applications developers have created with their API and they were hesitant to create their own plugin.

      • Programming/Development

        • Open Source Success: Git

          The Git software control system is widely used by software developers to track changes in source code. Git was created in 2005 by Linus Torvalds for Linux kernel development, and it is now used by developers and distributed teams around the world to contribute to open source projects. In this latest article in our open source success series, we’ll take a brief look at the history of Git and its rise to prominence.


          Within a matter of days, Torvalds had produced the Git revision control system. “Within weeks,” Brown wrote, “it was ready to host Linux kernel development.” Once Git was fully functional, Torvalds turned maintainership over to Junio C. Hamano and returned to Linux development.

        • Ruby on Rails 6.0 Slated For Fedora 33

          Fedora 33 is already set to be one of their largest releases ever and it’s only getting bigger.

          Adding to the recent change proposals like DXVK by default for Wine and Stratis 2.1 is another proposal, this time for packaging up Ruby on Rails 6.0.

          Ruby on Rails 6.0 was recently released with parallel testing support, Action Text and Action Mailbox, Webpacker by default, and other changes as outlined in the release notes. There are also a whole lot of fixes with Ruby on Rails 6.0.

        • The feature that makes D my favorite programming language

          Back in 2017, I wrote about why the D programming language is a great choice for development. But there is one outstanding feature in D I didn’t expand enough on: the Universal Function Call Syntax (UFCS). UFCS is a syntactic sugar in D that enables chaining any regular function on a type (string, number, boolean, etc.) like its member function of that type.

          If you don’t already have D installed, install a D compiler so you can run the D code in this article yourself.

        • My file menu is not full of eels [Ed: MacOS being a pain]

          This is the story of a bug in an open-source project I maintain; as the maintainer I review and sometimes fix bug reports from the community. Last week, a user reported that the ‘File’ menu of the application was not appearing on macOS. Some investigation showed this didn’t happen when using the default translation (i.e English), but a bit more investigation showed that it only happened when the language in use was Dutch.

          At this point I’d like to make it clear that I like the Dutch and especially gevulde koeken, a type of almond cookie you can only get in the Netherlands. When passing through Amsterdam Schiphol, I take care to stock up at the supermarket on the main concourse. If you’re passing through Schiphol and wonder why they’ve been cleaned out of cookies, it was me.

          Anyway, it was weird that the menu code I had written seemed to dislike the Dutch. Actually, as part of investigating the defect, I needed to switch my system language to Dutch. So I just did that for a week, and got to learn most of the macOS UI in Dutch. Lekker!

        • Python

          • Python Packages: Five Real Python Favorites

            Python has a vast ecosystem of packages, modules, and libraries that you can use to create your application. Some of these packages and modules are included with your Python installation and are collectively known as the standard library.

            The standard library consists of modules that provide standardized solutions to common programming problems. They’re great building blocks for applications across many disciplines. However, many developers prefer to use alternative packages, or extensions, that may improve on the usability and usefulness of what’s in the standard library.

            In this tutorial, you’ll meet some of the authors at Real Python and learn about packages they like to use in place of more common packages in the standard library.

          • Deep Learning Models in Keras – Exploratory Data Analysis (EDA)

            Deep learning is one of the most interesting and promising areas of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning currently. With great advances in technology and algorithms in recent years, deep learning has opened the door to a new era of AI applications.

            In many of these applications, deep learning algorithms performed equal to human experts and sometimes surpassed them.

            Python has become the go-to language for Machine Learning and many of the most popular and powerful deep learning libraries and frameworks like TensorFlow, Keras, and PyTorch are built in Python.

            In this article, we’ll be performing Exploratory Data Analysis (EDA) on a dataset before Data Preprocessing and finally, building a Deep Learning Model in Keras and evaluating it.

          • Glyph Lefkowitz: I Want A New Duck

            Mypy is a static type checker for Python. If you’re not already familiar, you should check it out; it’s rapidly becoming a standard for Python projects. All the cool kids are doing it. With Mypy, you get all the benefits of high-level dynamic typing for rapid experimentation, and all the benefits of rigorous type checking to complement your tests and improve reliability.1 The best of both worlds!

          • A Hundred Days of Code, Day 013, Day 14 – Python, Advanced Data Structures, Done!
          • PSF GSoC students blogs: Weekly Blog Post #4
          • Release: PyCharm 2020.1.4

            You can update PyCharm by choosing Help | Check for Updates (or PyCharm | Check for Updates on macOS) in the IDE. PyCharm will be able to patch itself to the new version, there should no longer be a need to run the full installer.
            If you’re on Ubuntu 16.04 or later, or any other Linux distribution that supports snap, you should not need to upgrade manually, you’ll automatically receive the new version.

        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

          • A grizzle about captive data

            A co-worker gave me some data for checking. The client had sent it in a RAR file. Inside the RAR was a Microsoft Access database. Inside the Access database was a single Access table, and inside the Access table was the data.

            I don’t know why the client did that matryoshka-style data packing, but I know that many people don’t understand that software is not data.

        • Build2 and Rust

          • Build2 v0.13 Released As C/C++ Build Toolchain Inspired By Rust’s Cargo

            Version 0.13 of the Build2 build toolchain is now available, the open-source project inspired by the Rust programming language’s Cargo system but instead tooled for C/C++ while serving not only as the build system but also a package and project manager.

            Build2 v0.13 now makes use of SPDX for the default license name, better handling of the library installation directory on UNIX-like systems, improved handling for project-specific configurations, ad-hoc recipes, support for package downloads via proxies, and other changes.

          • This Week in Rust 348
  • Leftovers

    • Hardware

    • Health/Nutrition

      • How should policymakers incentivize and regulate convalescent serum therapy for COVID-19?

        Over 120 years ago, a milk wagon horse named Jim was the United States’ most potent weapon against a raging diphtheria epidemic. During his lifetime, Jim—inoculated against the bacterial toxin that causes the disease—produced gallons of anti-diphtheria serum that, once extracted, could then be administered directly to patients. But tragic difficulties in making a safe and standard therapy from a single horse led Congress to pass the 1902 Biologics Control Act—the predecessor to the FDA’s current oversight over biologic products.

        While convalescent sera have largely fallen out of favor since the development of modern vaccines, there is renewed hope in the space: the development of therapeutic sera from recovered COVID-19 patients. Encouraging the development of safe, pure, and potent COVID-19 convalescent serum has recently tasked policymakers with numerous challenges—some old, and some new. In this post, we explain the “manufacture” of COVID-19 convalescent sera and explore the regulatory and innovation policy difficulties in maintaining it.


        Passive antibody therapy has a long history—including some improvements in survival during the 1918 flu pandemic and against the coronaviruses that caused SARS and MERS—and is expected to be most effective when administered before infection (when it can provide weeks to months of protection) or shortly after the onset of symptoms. Some researchers are studying the preventative effect of convalescent plasma in health care workers, but given the scarcity of plasma donors, this intervention mostly has been used for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

        The first randomized convalescent plasma trial for COVID-19 treatment, with 103 patients in China, found no statistically significant benefit among all patients but promising enough results among severely ill patients that a JAMA editorial found “optimism for the future of antibody therapy in this disease.” A matched control study in which 39 NYC patients with severe COVID-19 received convalescent plasma transfusions concluded that the treatment improved survival for non-intubated patients but not for intubated patients. But the lack of randomization makes interpretation more challenging. A report on 5,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients as part of the FDA expanded access program for convalescent plasma concluded that the treatment appears safe—but the study did not have a control arm, leaving efficacy uncertain. A number of registered randomized trials are recruiting patients, although enrolling a sufficient number of participants can be challenging. As the New York Times reports, although the “only way to know for sure if the treatment works is to randomly assign patients to receive antibodies or a placebo … it can be impossible to find many patients who agree to have their treatment randomized to an unknown treatment,” especially because the product is already accessible outside the clinical trial setting.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Privatisation/Privateering

            • Linux Foundation

              • 3MF Consortium to join Linux Foundation with new executive director Luis Baldez

                The 3MF Consortium, which has worked towards the development of a universal 3D printing specification since 2015, has announced that it will be joining the Linux Foundation as an open standards project. The organization behind the 3MF file format will also be moving forward with a new executive director, Luis Baldez, who is set to replace original co-creator Adrian Lannin. While the substitution is a major one, Lannin will remain a strategic advisor to the Consortium.

              • The Linux Foundation offers Advanced Cloud Engineer Bootcamp program

                Cloud jobs are hotter than hot. Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Indeed.com reported that between October 2015 and October 2019, cloud computing jobs increased by 55%. By 2022, Gartner predicts the public cloud services market alone will be three times bigger than overall IT services. The jobs are there. What we don’t have are enough cloud experts to meet the demand. The Linux Foundation is addressing this — with its recent introduction of a Cloud Engineer Bootcamp for new would-be cloud professionals. Now, The Linux Foundation has unveiled another new program, but it’s for experienced cloud engineers who need some help getting a leg up in their career: Advanced Cloud Engineer Bootcamp.

              • Linux Foundation Public Health projects first focused on Google-Apple Exposure Notification API

                The Linux Foundation Public Health Initiative has signed on seven premier members – Cisco, doc.ai, Geometer, IBM, NearForm, Tencent and VMware – as it works on two initial projects.

              • Solving technical debt with open source

                In a new Linux Foundation paper, Technical Debt and Open Source Development co-authored by Ibrahim Haddad, Ph.D. and Cedric Bail, M.Sc., the causes and consequences of technical debt are explored in detail. It includes discussions on identifying technical debt, how to minimize it, the role of open source development, and strategies to address the issue at scale.

                The authors worked together within the Open Source Group at Samsung Research and directly experienced minimizing internally carried technical debt via working with upstream open source projects. That experience covered dozens of open source projects used across multiple products and business units with varying degrees of involvement and expertise with upstream development.

              • How open source development provides a roadmap for digital trust, security, safety, and virtual work

                During COVID-19, we’ve all seen our daily lives, and those of many of our colleagues, friends, and family around the world completely changed. Many are adjusting to working from home and homeschooling their children, or caring for family and those with the virus. At the same time, billions worldwide are connected, sharing, and working together virtually despite their daily routines and working arrangements changing drastically.

                While there’s no disputing that the pandemic will dominate our collective attention for months to come, it’s a natural time to reflect on what is essential. It’s also a natural time as open source developers to consider how we should prioritize the most impactful work, and collaborate on technology development that can influence our world, for the better, after COVID-19.

                We’ve seen an uptick in interest around open source, in particular, as a means of helping humanity through these challenging times. What better way to solve a problem that affects all of us, collectively, than to share and build solutions to our problems, together?

                Here we outline the trends we’re seeing shape technology development in this unprecedented time. We believe this can also provide insight into what a post-COVID world may look like.

        • Security

          • Security updates for Wednesday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (librsvg and squid), Fedora (mailman, mingw-LibRaw, php-horde-kronolith, and targetcli), openSUSE (openconnect), Red Hat (cloud-init, container-tools:rhel8, dbus, java-1.8.0-openjdk, java-11-openjdk, jbig2dec, kernel, kpatch-patch, mod_auth_openidc:2.3, nodejs:10, openstack-keystone, rh-nodejs10-nodejs, sane-backends, thunderbird, and virt:rhel), SUSE (webkit2gtk3 and xrdp), and Ubuntu (evolution-data-server, linux, linux-aws, linux-aws-hwe, linux-gcp, linux-gcp-4.15, linux-gke-4.15, linux-kvm, linux-oem, linux-oracle, linux-raspi2, linux, linux-aws, linux-gcp, linux-hwe-5.4, linux-kvm, linux-oracle, linux-raspi-5.4, linux-riscv, linux, linux-aws, linux-kvm, linux-lts-xenial, linux-raspi2, linux-snapdragon, pillow, and python2.7, python3.4, python3.5, python3.6, python3.8).

          • Popular Linux-Based Toolkit REMnux® Version 7 Now Available

            SANS Digital Forensics and Incident Response (DFIR), a curriculum focus area of SANS Institute, today announces the availability of version 7 of the REMnux® toolkit for malware analysis, founded and primarily maintained by Lenny Zeltser, SANS Faculty Fellow and course author. Updates to the REMnux toolkit will be shared and discussed by Lenny Zeltser in a SANS webcast on July 28.

            REMnux is a popular Linux-based toolkit for reverse-engineering malicious software which malware analysts have been relying on for more than 10 years to help them quickly investigate suspicious programs, websites, and document files.

          • Information security recommendations for IPFire users

            As announced last week, this is the first post of a small series containing security recommendations for IPFire users. The series mainly applies to home users – which are estimated to roughly make up a third of all IPFire installations – and aims to achieve a security level that also offers protection against sophisticated attackers.

            When it comes to IT security, you will need to rely on the users sooner or later – think about being lured to enable Macros in malicious MS office documents. This is why raising security awareness of both administrators and users is the first step to a less insecure network. Hence this post focuses on non-technical aspects and preemptive information security (sometimes abbreviated as “infosec”) considerations.

          • Chromium 84 packages available for Slackware

            It took a bit longer than usual to come up with packages for the recently released Chromium 84. Google’s “Stable Channel” blog for Chrome announced the version 84.0.4147.89 just over a week ago, but as I was traveling at the time (without computer) new packages needed to wait.

            And just when I uploaded these packages to the mirror server I discovered that Google already released an update yesterday: 84.0.4147.94. That will have to wait since again I am busy at the moment. Enjoy the first 84 release though!

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Image “Cloaking” for Personal Privacy [Ed: BSD-licensed privacy-protection tool]

              2020 is a watershed year for machine learning. It has seen the true arrival of commodized machine learning, where deep learning models and algorithms are readily available to Internet users. GPUs are cheaper and more readily available than ever, and new training methods like transfer learning have made it possible to train powerful deep learning models using smaller sets of data.

              But accessible machine learning also has its downsides as well. A recent New York Times article by Kashmir Hill profiled clearview.ai, an unregulated facial recognition service that has now downloaded over 3 billion photos of people from the Internet and social media, using them to build facial recognition models for millions of citizens without their knowledge or permission. Clearview.ai demonstrates just how easy it is to build invasive tools for monitoring and tracking using deep learning.

              So how do we protect ourselves against unauthorized third parties building facial recognition models to recognize us wherever we may go? Regulations can and will help restrict usage of machine learning by public companies, but will have negligible impact on private organizations, individuals, or even other nation states with similar goals.

              The SAND Lab at University of Chicago has developed Fawkes1, an algorithm and software tool (running locally on your computer) that gives individuals the ability to limit how their own images can be used to track them. At a high level, Fawkes takes your personal images, and makes tiny, pixel-level changes to them that are invisible to the human eye, in a process we call image cloaking. You can then use these “cloaked” photos as you normally would, sharing them on social media, sending them to friends, printing them or displaying them on digital devices, the same way you would any other photo. The difference, however, is that if and when someone tries to use these photos to build a facial recognition model, “cloaked” images will teach the model an highly distorted version of what makes you look like you. The cloak effect is not easily detectable, and will not cause errors in model training. However, when someone tries to identify you using an unaltered image of you (e.g. a photo taken in public), and tries to identify you, they will fail.

              Fawkes has been tested extensively and proven effective in a variety of environments, and shows 100% effectiveness against state of the art facial recognition models (Microsoft Azure Face API, Amazon Rekognition, and Face++). We are in the process of adding more material here to explain how and why Fawkes works. For now, please see the link below to our technical paper, which will be presented at the upcoming USENIX Security Symposium, to be held on August 12 to 14.

              The Fawkes project is led by two PhD students at SAND Lab, Emily Wenger and Shawn Shan, with important contributions from Jiayun Zhang (SAND Lab visitor and current PhD student at UC San Diego) and Huiying Li, also a SAND Lab PhD student. The faculty advisors are SAND Lab co-directors and Neubauer Professors Ben Zhao and Heather Zheng.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Language changed as leaked report into Congo aid corruption made public

        An operational review that detailed widespread corruption and sexual exploitation in humanitarian aid operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been made public after a draft version was leaked to The New Humanitarian.

        The final version of the 80-page review – funded by DFID, the UK government department responsible for overseas aid – shows the domino effect of corrupt practices in Congo, impacting everything from staff recruitment to the delivery of aid. The report was released on Monday, a month after TNH obtained a draft.

        Sexual abuse and exploitation by aid workers was described as being widespread, with very few cases having been investigated because of ineffective reporting systems and perpetrators using money and influence to keep survivors and their families quiet.

        Parts of the final report – which comes as cash-strapped governments look to cut aid amid the COVID-19 pandemic – have been altered compared to the draft copy TNH obtained as part of a months-long investigation into aid operations in Congo, where hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign aid are spent annually.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • NLG-PDX Chapter Statement on Federal Troops in Portland

        For the past two months, after the police killing of George Floyd, tens of thousands of Portland residents have continued to engage in daily demonstrations against police violence and in support of the movement for Black lives. In response, the Portland Police and Multnomah County Sheriffs have used unnecessary and unlawful violence against them, including tear gas, OC spray, flash bang grenades, and other so-called “less than lethal” weapons to dispel protestors, enforcing a curfew in the early days and after the curfew was lifted, simply using force to clear the streets. The Portland Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG-PDX) has had Legal Observers in the streets every day and night who, along with members of the press, have also been the subject of police violence. NLG-PDX condemns the federal government and its use of Border Control and U.S. Marshals in their effort to act as anti-protest shock troops in our city. We call on the federal government, the City of Portland, and the State of Oregon to immediately expel federal law enforcement from Portland, and for all charges related to arrests by those forces to be immediately and summarily dropped.


        As the protests continued, President Donald Trump saw an opportunity to distract from his failures with the COVID-19 pandemic and burnish his credentials as a so-called “law and order president.” On the 4th of July, President Trump deployed federal law enforcement officers to Portland to “quell” the demonstrations. These federal officers—apparently including U.S. Marshals and members of BORTAC, a tactical unit within Border Patrol—have routinely subjected demonstrators to unconscionable violence. They have broken protesters’ bones with baton strikes and tackles, shot at least one protester in the head with so-called “less lethal” munitions, and indiscriminately launched huge amounts of tear gas and other chemical agents at crowds of demonstrators, all without warning. These officers do not wear name badges; they are unidentifiable and unaccountable as they terrorize Portlanders on a nightly basis. Recently, unidentified agents in military camouflage pulled random protesters into unmarked vans, taking them into custody to search their persons and belongings. To date, residents and local officials have not received an explanation or reason why federal agents are abducting people off our streets. When Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf visited the city this week to applaud the actions of this federal occupying force, he did not meet with the Mayor or the Chief of Police but did meet with the defiant head of Portland Police union. Alarmingly, on Monday Trump applauded the disturbing actions of federal troops in Portland saying they have done a “fantastic job,” and has signaled that similar responses to protests may be replicated in other U.S. cities.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Hot Pocket or Hot Potato?: Parallel Infringement + Antitrust Lawsuits

          The district court dismissed the lawsuit on summary judgment, and the 8th Circuit has now affirmed.

          Regarding inventorship, Inline never identified an actual person from Nestlé who should be considered a co-inventor or who has claimed to be a co-inventor. “On this record, we therefore affirm the district court’s dismissal of Inline’s claim of fraudulent procurement of the asserted patents based on false inventorship.” See Pro-Mold & Tool Co. v. Great Lakes Plastics, Inc., 75 F.3d 1568 (Fed. Cir. 1996) (“When an alleged omitted co-inventor does not claim to be such, it can hardly be inequitable conduct not to identify that person to the PTO as an inventor.”).

          Regarding the duty do disclose, Inline was able to avoid liability by dividing up the corporate knowledge. Even if the prior sales by Inline were material to patentability, there was no evidence that the particular individuals (the inventor + patent attorney) knew of those prior sales. Further, there was no due diligence duty for these two individuals to look into the company’s “similar designs created and sold in the past.” See Brasseler, U.S.A. I, L.P. v. Stryker Sales Corp., 267 F.3d 1370 (Fed. Cir. 2001) (“a duty to investigate does not arise where there is no notice of the existence of material information”).

        • Software Patents

          • Bots, Inc. Joins the Open Invention Network

            BOTS, Inc. (OTC: BTZI) (GERMAN EXCHANGE: M06.SG) an emerging innovator of products, technologies, and services for the rapidly growing digital robotic automation and manufacturing industry is proud to announce that it has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history. Bots Inc has become a licensee and member of the 3,200 strong community of OIN licensees. As a leading provider of robotic and blockchain technology and infrastructure, BTZI is committed to embrace open source software (OSS). The company has acquired Bitcoin ATM patent and other patent pending from First Bitcoin Capital Corp (OTC : BITCF) and is planning to develop Global Bitcoin ATM network utilizing open source software platform as a Joint Venture with First Bitcoin Capital.

          • Portal Communications, a Dominion Harbor sub, patent held unpatentable

            On July 22, 2020, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a final written decision in Unified Patents, LLC v. Portal Communications, LLC, holding all challenged claims of U.S. Patent 7,376,645 unpatentable. The motion to amend was also denied with the Board finding the claim was obvious under both of the prior art grounds Unified presented. The ‘645 patent is owned and asserted by Portal Communications, LLC, a subsidiary of well-known NPE, Dominion Harbor. The ‘645 patent, directed to natural language processing techniques, had been asserted against SoundHound, Microsoft, and Apple.

          • Federal Circuit: Amended Claims in IPR Should be Subject to Full Examination (Including 101)

            A divided Federal Circuit has authorized the PTAB to consider patent-eligibility challenges during inter partes review (IPR) proceedings in the context of a patentee’s motion to amend the claims. Uniloc had moved to amend with substitute claims and Hulu opposed. The PTAB then denied the motion to amend — concluding that the proposed claims were not subject matter eligible under Section 101. The PTAB’s subsequent rehearing denial was designated as precedential — holding that any ground of unpatentability can be considered in the context of a motion to amend.

            The PTAB holding is controversial because inter partes review proceedings are strictly limited to cancellation of claims “on a ground that could be raised under section 102 or 103 and only on the basis of prior art consisting of patents or printed publications.” 35 U.S.C. 311(b).

            On appeal, the Judge Wallach wrote the majority opinion joined by Judge Taranto. Judge O’Malley dissented.

            In his opinion, Judge Wallach looks to the statute and concludes that the limitations on the “grounds” for challenging a patent via IPR do not apply to whether the PTAB allows amendments to the claims.


            The implication here is that any new or amended claim must be fully reviewed for patentability–under all of the patentability doctrines–before being allowed. This is different from the limitations of Section 311 that are directed toward cancellation of already existing claims. The majority did not reach the issue of whether the PTO determination should be given deference — since the “text, structure, and history of the IPR Statutes are unambiguous.”

            Note here that this outcome is in sharp tension with the language of Aqua Products Inc. v. Matal, 872 F.3d 1290 (Fed. Cir. 2017) (en banc). In that case, the plurality opinion explained that challenges to amended claims should be limited since the PTO requires that substitute claims be narrower than the original claims. Here, the majority rejected this portion of Aqua Products–explaining that the en banc case did not have a majority opinion and that aspect of the case was thus merely dicta of a handful of judges.


            Writing in dissent, Judge O’Malley would have dismissed this appeal as moot. In particular by the time the PTAB issued its rehearing denial, the Federal Circuit had already held these claims invalid in the parallel infringement proceeding.

      • Trademarks

        • (Almost) everything you want to know about a portmanteau word as a mark

          From time to time, this Kat encounters an examiner’s assertion that the trademark in question is a “portmanteau” word or the equivalent. The idea here is that the mark consists of two words, which are truncated and blended to create a new word, such as smog (blending “smoke” and “fog”) and motel (blending “motor” and “hotel”). The objection usually made is that the trademark lacks distinctiveness, having reference to the descriptive meaning of the underling words from which the portmanteau mark is created.

          This kind of word poses an interesting challenge for the trademark system. Assuming that the underlying words are descriptive, under what conditions will the truncation and blending of these two words be deemed descriptive, or, to the contrary, is the newly coined term distinctive, despite its descriptive origins?

          So we are all on the same Kat page–this is not a situation where two descriptive terms are adopted in their entirely to create a new compound word. For example, and just to make Kat readers feel good, take the term “coronapocalypse” [this Kat recognizes that the letter “a” has been elided, of no matter], which, in a short period of time, has come to mean exactly what it appears to mean. In this case, both underlying words are retained in full in the new word.


          Third, it is better when there is an overlap in the distinctive sound of the two words. In the example above, the overlap is the sound “teen” in the coined word “quarantini”. This also aids the compactness of the portmanteau word, making it easier to be adopted.

          Fourth, the second element of the portmanteau word is more important than the first. The reason is that in a portmanteau word consisting of X and Y, it is argued that Y is the “core” of the coined word, with the result that XY is a type of Y, not a type of X”. This is explained by reference to the word “morona”, which is intended to be a synonym of “covidiot”, where both are derived from the words “corona moron”. Applying the rule, the word “morona” fails because, it is argued, “morona” is not a type of corona.

      • Copyrights

        • Retweeting pics can now get you in legal trouble in Japan

          Using Twitter in Japan just got a lot more complicated. The country’s Supreme Court has ruled that users who retweet copyright-infringing images can have their details passed onto rightsholders — whether they knew the pic was in violation or not.

          In a decision handed down yesterday, the court ordered Twitter to turn over the email addresses of three users who allegedly retweeted a copyright-infringing image on the platform, TorrentFreak reports.

          The ruling dates back to a case from 2014, when a photographer spotted one of his photos had been scraped from his website and posted to Twitter without his consent. He was also irked that retweeting the image automatically cropped his name out — a result stemming from Twitter‘s own algorithm and not the actions of its users.

Microsoft is Slipping Out of Control, Let’s Keep Free Software Momentum Until They’re Gone (or Too Weak to Matter)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 8:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GitHub is a siege against Free software, but it's operating at a massive loss and considerable lack of a business model (the goal is to undermine Microsoft’s competition or give Microsoft control over it)

Don't slip

Summary: There are positive signs and reasons for optimism; opponents of software freedom are in some sense on their last leg and we just need to persevere and stick together (while openly discussing the strategies leveraged against us)

THE Free software community needn’t despair; the attacks on the community are predictable. They’re reactionary. They’re disruptive, but we can endure it all, eventually. Efforts to divide us aren’t hard to see (along shallow and superficial lines).

Sacha Chua, who wrote for the Free Software Foundation the other day, said to us: “Moving off Github: Sure thing! I tried setting up Gitea, but I was having a hard time getting the built-in SSH server to work nicely with my docker+ufw+whatever set up. (I suck as a sysadmin!) It may have to wait until I’ve got a little more thinking time, since I’m mostly focused on childcare these days.”

“…remember that only a couple of months before the layoffs began Bill Gates left Microsoft (he knew what would come).”Microsoft is slipping off/out of balance (layoffs almost every week this summer), as it’s faking Azure numbers (this is what Microsoft tells shareholders its future is!) and Azure layoffs then follow, albeit very quietly. Microsoft is super-paranoid about its investors finding out. It would cause the shares to collapse; non-slip metal (as below) would not save Microsoft from slipping and remember that only a couple of months before the layoffs began Bill Gates left Microsoft (he knew what would come). He always knew there was much more money in mass vaccination campaigns than in software (he candidly spoke about this on camera) and he’s experimenting on Africans (seems like South Africans are the latest guinea pigs).

A texture of non-slip metal

Our advice to Free software aficionados is, keep up the good work, keep out of the traps (GitHub, Azure etc.) and wait patiently for the monopolies to lose their plot. COVID-19 is accelerating their demise. We know it, they know it, and earlier this week Debian revealed that it had managed to recruit many new developers during the lock-downs (more the twice the usual number).

Laptops With GNU/Linux Everywhere, a Sign of the Times in 2020

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 8:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sign of the Times (Harry Styles song, latest of many)

Economy's crisis
Market research has led even the largest OEMs to pre-loading GNU/Linux distributions (because that’s what a growing number of people wanted)

Summary: People are choosing to cut the fats from their computing; this belt-tightening exercise means that more are moving to GNU/Linux

THIS MORNING my wife told me that news had become overfilled with reports about laptops with GNU/Linux, pre-loaded even (and suitably configured for users; they don’t need to tinker). She asserted it had become too hard to keep track of things, as there are so many brands to choose from now, both large and small (bigger ones being Dell, Lenovo and so on). This is a sign of an economy in decline and people working from home, not having Microsoft and Windows imposed on them by some boss or IT department. They used to call it “BYOD”, now it’s just “remote work”. My wife and I both use Debian (“Buster”) and are reasonably happy with its KDE integration. We both installed about 7 desktop environments on it, but KDE is good enough for everything.

“Microsoft is laying off loads of workers, with a thousand more announced yesterday, while GNU/Linux makes big gains.”The past week has been the busiest week ever for Tux Machines, which she runs. It had the most traffic ever. Many of the stories these days aren’t about how to install GNU/Linux but where to buy a “PC” (usually laptop) with GNU/Linux on it. We’re not even counting Chromebooks, which are essentially GNU/Linux-powered (but don’t offer software freedom).

Times are changing. Microsoft is laying off loads of workers, with a thousand more announced yesterday, while GNU/Linux makes big gains. Those gains are measurable even without spyware. The longer this downturn lasts, the stronger GNU/Linux will become. People no longer want to waste money on Windows. Some cannot even afford it.

Links 22/7/2020: More GNU/Linux Laptops Surface

Posted in News Roundup at 8:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • Leftovers

    • Tech And COVID-19: MLB Rolls Out Remote Cheering Function In Its MLB App

      As we continue navigating this new world full of COVID-19, mostly alone due to the laughably inept response from our national leadership, there’s a certain humor to the ongoing push for a “return to normalcy.” What makes it so funny is how completely clear it is that “normalcy” is going to be anything but normal. Go back to work, but wear a mask and stay the fuck away from your coworkers. Get your kids back to school, but maybe not, also masks, and remote learning, and they have to eat their lunch in their classrooms. Restaurants are open, but only outside, with less people, and there will be temperature checks.

    • Return and Enter Are Two Different Keys

      If your keyboard doesn’t have a dedicated Enter key, you can type the Enter key by pressing Fn-Return. That’s why some Return keys have “Enter” printed in small type above the word “Return”. If your keyboard has neither a dedicated Enter key nor an Fn modifier key, I don’t think you can type Enter.

      Return and Enter do usually perform the same action, but not always: [...]

    • New White Paper on China’s Full-Spectrum Information Operations

      Our white paper explores the impact of technological innovations on these established strategies and tactics, asking the question: what is the scope and nature of China’s overt and covert capabilities, and how do they complement one another? We evaluate China’s capabilities through three timely case studies: 1) Hong Kong’s 2019-2020 protests; 2) Taiwan’s January 2020 election; and 3) the COVID-19 pandemic. To understand how China’s abilities compare to those of other powers, we contrast China’s activities with Russia’s.

  • Education

    • Missouri Governor Insists Kids That Get COVID at School Will Just “Get Over It”

      Missouri Governor Mike Parson, a Republican, has a stark message for parents of schoolchildren who might be worried about the spread of coronavirus if schools reopen this fall: their kids will “get over it,” he said.

    • “I Love My Students. I Also Want to Live”: Teachers Demand Safety as Trump Pushes Schools to Reopen

      As President Trump continues to push for schools to reopen even as COVID-19 rates skyrocket in many states, teachers are revolting. “I love my students, and I know that the best place for them to learn is in classrooms where they can collaborate and collectively solve problems,” says Seattle high school teacher Jesse Hagopian. He says teachers recognize that online learning is not an adequate replacement for in-class education, “but I also want to live, and I also want my students to live.” We also speak with Jitu Brown, national director of the Journey for Justice Alliance, which published an open letter to President Trump outlining 14 demands that must be met before schools are reopened, including zero new positive COVID cases for 14 consecutive days.

    • We Can Reopen Schools if We Make the City the Classroom

      The start of the academic year is just weeks away, and the nationwide debate about reopening schools during the Covid-19 pandemic is still raging. The Trump administration has called full steam ahead and threatened to slash federal funding to districts that fail to follow suit. The rationale for reopening schools is rooted not in public health but in politics. President Trump wants parents to return to the workforce and resuscitate the economy to help him win reelection in November.

    • In African nations, it’s doubly hard for kids to distance-learn

      Although the pandemic has disrupted education across the globe, the schooling crisis is more acute in Africa, where up to 80% of students don’t have access to the [I]nternet and even electricity can be unreliable, making distance learning difficult, if not impossible. Schools also often provide a refuge to vulnerable children, offering services that their families cannot afford.

  • Hardware

    • [Attackers] Can Now Trick USB Chargers To Destroy Your Devices—This Is How It Works

      Because the fast charger is essentially a smart device in its own right, it is open to a malicious compromise. An attack is very simple. With malware loaded onto a smartphone, an attacker connects to the charger, overwriting its firmware and essentially arming it as a weapon for whatever plugs in to it next.

      The interesting twist here is that the malware might even be on the target device. An attacker pushes that malicious code to your phone. The first time you connect to a vulnerable fast charger, the phone overwrites its firmware. The next time you connect to that same charger to repower your device, your phone will be overloaded.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Amid Tense Primary Fight, Powerful Democrat Rep. Richie Neal Condemned for Supporting Predatory Medical Billing Policy

      “Neal is one of the most powerful members of Congress, and it’s clear he’s using that power to benefit Wall Street fund managers instead of regular Americans.”

    • Why Is The US Trying To Punish Hackers For Accessing Vaccine Research We Should Be Sharing With The World?

      Back in May, I wondered why the US was trying to hide vaccine data from the Chinese. In fact, it was bizarre that the US government seemed concerned about Chinese hackers trying to access vaccine data, because why would anyone keep such data secret in the first place. This is a global pandemic and the way you solve a global pandemic is with a global solution, and the way to get there faster (and better) is with the open sharing of information. Hoarding and locking up information regarding a potential vaccine makes no sense at all. And yet, this morning, the DOJ made a big showing of how it had indicted Chinese hackers for trying to hack COVID-19 related research.

    • Why Is a Right-Wing Flack and Roger Stone Ally in Charge of Fauci’s Schedule?

      Last week the Washington Post published a report titled “Fauci is sidelined by the White House as he steps up blunt talk on pandemic,” which revealed that President Trump had not sought the counsel of the government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, in more than a month.

    • Health Care Workers’ Complaints Show the Morbid Dangers They Face During COVID

      During the darkest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, with thousands dying every day, America relied on a select few essential workers to keep society running, like postal workers, grocery workers and meat packers — all industries that have seen, together, hundreds of Covid-related deaths among workers. Chief among them are nurses, on the front lines of the pandemic, who have put their lives on the line to intubate disease victims and provide lifesaving medical care. Since the pandemic began, over 500 healthcare workers in the United States have died from the virus.

    • The Pentagon Confronts the Pandemic: Or How to Make War, American-Style, Possible Again

      On March 26th, the coronavirus accomplished what no foreign adversary has been able to do since the end of World War II: it forced an American aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, to suspend patrol operations and shelter in port. By the time that ship reached dock in Guam, hundreds of sailors had been infected with the disease and nearly the entire crew had to be evacuated. As news of the crisis aboard the TR (as the vessel is known) became public, word came out that at least 40 other U.S. warships, including the carrier USS Ronald Reagan and the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd, were suffering from Covid-19 outbreaks. None of these approached the scale of the TR and, by June, the Navy was again able to deploy most of those ships on delayed schedules and/or with reduced crews. By then, however, it had become abundantly clear that the long-established U.S. strategy of relying on large, heavily armed warships to project power and defeat foreign adversaries was no longer fully sustainable in a pandemic-stricken world.

    • Fox News Viewers More Likely to Believe COVID Death Count Is Fake, Poll Shows

      Nearly one-third of Americans believe the official count of the number of people who have died from coronavirus in the United States is being exaggerated, according to a poll published on Tuesday.

    • Multiple Job Holders: Who Are They and How Are They Holding Up During the Pandemic?

      According to the Current Population Survey (CPS), 8.1 million employees worked one or more additional jobs in a typical week in 2019. As the figure below shows, the number of these “employee multiple jobholders” had been trending upward since 2013 before the pandemic hit. (We use the term “employee multiple jobholders” here because, as we discuss further below, the CPS does not capture “nonemployee multiple jobholders”.) Over the same period, the percentage of all employees who are multiple jobholders has been stable (at about 5 percent of all employees), so the increase in the number of employee multiple jobholders before the pandemic was driven by the underlying increase in employment.

    • This Pandemic and the Ones to Come: Mike Davis’ “The Monster Enters”

      The Monster Enters, by Mike Davis, published this week, is a warning for future generations.  It is a must-read if we are understand our current predicament.  COVID-19 (SARS-Cov-2) is just the latest in a series of pandemics and near-pandemics that are becoming more frequent and more virulent.  Davis makes clear that the world is ill-prepared to deal with them.

    • Calls Mounting For Trump to Step Aside From Covid-19 Bungling

      Public Citizen’s open letter, co-signed by over twenty nonprofit civic organizations working for the public health, demanded that Trump and Pence immediately give up their disastrous daily mismanagement of the Covid-19 response. Trump’s bungling and ignorance have allowed the Covid-19 virus to spread faster at an alarming rate around the country.

    • Politicians and Business Interests Pushed Health Officials Aside to Control Reopening. Then Cases Exploded.

      Back in April, when public health officials were still helping lead Utah’s response to the coronavirus, the spread of the disease had slowed, stabilizing at fewer than 200 reported cases a day.

      Then came a shift in power, and priorities.

    • Investment in Child Care Can’t Wait until There’s a Coronavirus Vaccine

      Our economy cannot function without child care. That simple fact has been brought into stark relief by the recent pandemic, which has forced parents across the country to choose between supporting their family financially and caring for their children.

    • How to Understand COVID-19 Numbers

      It’s the middle of the summer, and the coronavirus has not gone away.

      When the pandemic first began, some had hoped that there’d be a lull during the summer, with the heat knocking the virus into submission, but it has continued its march across America, with outbreaks flaring across the southern and southwestern states. Arguments have also become part of the daily discourse, with people debating over case counts and death tolls, how the trends should be interpreted and whether the reported numbers can even be trusted.

    • Pelosi calls coronavirus the ‘Trump virus’

      “If he had said months ago, let’s wear masks, let’s not — let’s socially distance instead of having rallies and whatever they were, then more people would have followed his lead,” Pelosi argued on CNN. “He’s the president of the United States.”

      Pressed by CNN host Wolf Blitzer on whether she was asserting that thousands of Americans had died because of the president’s response, Pelosi responded, “Yes, that’s what I am saying. I think it’s clearly evident.”

    • 36 Steps Medical Authorities Have Taken To Guarantee Maximum Death & Disruption from Coronavirus

      Update: a reader has brought the number to 39 with these three additions:

      Fauci and NIH helped fund China’s research into the dangerous and banned gain of function that has made coronavirus so contagious.

      Bill Gates and Johns Hopkins University did a test run of a pandemic at the end of last year.

      Governments in the US, Canada, and Western Europe delayed stopping flights from countries with coronavirus outbreaks until enough infected people had entered the country to ensure widespread infection and make contract tracing impossible.

    • Here’s what Michigan nursing homes that escaped coronavirus did right

      In a unified, daily drumbeat, facilities emailed staffers and held daily leadership calls. They rigorously disinfected buildings and put up strict limits on what was brought inside and who could enter. They scoured for supplies and sewed — even steam-cleaned — their own masks.

      Measures like those have kept Rest Haven among the roughly 200 Michigan nursing homes that have not reported a single case of COVID among residents since the beginning of the pandemic, as of July 16, according to data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Integrity/Availability

    • Proprietary

      • [Old] Apple iPhone Warning: Dangerous New Lightning Cable Now On Sale

        Another reminder of the dangers of borrowing USB cables arrived over the weekend, with the news that an adapted iPhone Lightning cable that enables remote hacking of connected devices is now on sale. The OMG Cable, which looks and behaves just like an everyday Apple cable, was demonstrated to great effect at Def Con in August. It has now been prepared for “mass production.”

        Despite operating as normal—phones charge, iTunes opens, the usual dialog boxes appear—the OMG Cable contains a nifty wireless implant that can be accessed from an attacker in its vicinity. The transparency of this project is interesting—a capability normally kept behind closed doors within security agencies or on the dark web. And, as such, this does provide a powerful warning to users as to the risk of using cables or accessories from anything but fully trusted sources.

      • Pseudo-Open Source

        • Openwashing

          • How Slack, Airtable and open-source software connected New Yorkers during the pandemic [Ed: Openwashing of surveillance]

            The result: open-source software that uses Airtable spreadsheets, Slack collaboration software, and geocoding from Google or Mapquest to automatically find volunteers closest to a person requesting help. It’s now available to other groups trying to assist neighbors in need during the pandemic.

          • Open source library services platform [Ed: More openwashing]

            Started in 2018, the FOLIO project is a partnership between libraries, developers and vendors that was established to develop an open source library services platform (LSP). Prominent libraries provide their expertise and knowledge as subject-matter experts; the developers rely on input from subject-matter experts and collaborate with user experience (UX) designers to create the FOLIO platform and associated apps; and the vendors contribute to the deployment of FOLIO and to the provision of support services.

        • Privatisation/Privateering

          • Linux Foundation

            • 3MF Consortium joins Linux Foundation as Open Standards Project
            • The Linux Foundation Is Making It Even Easier for Health Agencies to Use Apple’s COVID-19 Exposure Notification System

              The battle against COVID-19 is far from over, and while some countries around the world have found themselves able to safely — and slowly — start easing lockdown restrictions, others have been facing second waves or even unfinished first waves, often as a result of moving too soon or not having the necessary health infrastructure in place to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

              As countries like South Korea and Singapore discovered early on, “contact tracing” has become an important part of controlling the pandemic, and most health authorities around the world have been doing it in some form or another. Usually, this is just done the old-fashioned way, which involves interviewing those who are diagnosed with COVID-19 to find out who they may have been in contact with, and then attempting to notify those individuals of their possible exposure to the virus so they can come in and get tested.

              Due to the complexities of adopting this on a wider scale, however, several government health agencies began to adopt digital methods of contact tracing. Singapore was among the first, with its TraceTogether app, which users could install on their iPhone or Android smartphone, where it would use Bluetooth to keep track of other smartphones that it came into close contact with.

            • Linux Foundation Announces Advanced Cloud Engineer Bootcamp to Turn Sysadmins into Cloud Administrators

              Last month, Linux Foundation launched the Cloud Engineer Bootcamp program. This one was focused on preparing candidates for entry level jobs as a cloud engineer.

      • Security

        • DOJ Indicts Cyprus National Who Apparently Hacked Ripoff Report And Deleted Negative Reviews

          We’ve covered incidents involving Ripoff Report for several years here at Techdirt. In most of the cases that we’ve covered, Ripoff Report has been the target of bogus DMCA takedowns and libel lawsuits from entities who would do pretty much anything to see negative reviews disappear.

        • EFF Welcomes Cybersecurity Expert Tarah Wheeler to Advisory Board

          Cybersecurity policy expert. Security researcher. Women in tech advocate. Entrepreneur. Tarah Wheeler’s expertise and experience encompasses the most pressing issues in tech, and we’re honored to announce that she is joining EFF’s advisory board. She will be helping us with our work on information security, data privacy, building diverse and effective engineering teams, and influencing the future of cybersecurity.Wheeler has long been involved in making tech systems more secure for everyone. She is an International Security Fellow at New America’s International Security Program, leading a new international cybersecurity capacity building project with the Hewlett Foundation’s Cyber Initiative. At Splunk, a big data analyzation platform, Wheeler was head of offensive security and technical data privacy. Earlier she was senior director of engineering and principal security advocate at Symantec Website Security, and designed systems at encrypted mobile communications firm Silent Circle. Wheeler is founder of information security consultancy Red Queen Technologies, and her 2018 Foreign Policy article on cyberwar called attention to cyberwarfare’s impact on civilians.In May Wheeler received the US/UK Fulbright Cyber Security Scholar Award for distinguished scholars in the field. She will conduct research at the University of Oxford and with the UK National Health Service (NHS) on defining cyber war crimes and mitigating civilian bystander harms in nation-state sponsored cyberattacks. Wheeler’s Fulbright-supported research will explore both the technical and the social elements of protecting people against cyberconflict by examining the civilian impact of the WannaCry ransomware attack on the NHS. Adding diversity and ensuring gender equity in tech and infosec has been a focus of Wheeler’s for nearly a decade. She is the lead author of the 2016 best-selling book Women In Tech: Take Your Career to The Next Level With Practical Advice And Inspiring Stories, which provides guidance from top female engineers, entrepreneurs, gamers, and coders.Wheeler is also a poker player, and says the game isn’t unlike cybersecurity work. Fixing security problems is tough, and in the moment can feel like everything rests on a single decision. “But, over time, you start to fine-tune your sense of decision making,” Wheeler said in an interview last year.“ That’s what poker is like—folding what you have calculated is likely not a winning hand, even if you’re not perfectly sure. Being sure enough that you make a good decision and following through on that good decision and gradually tuning your game so you’re better over time is what poker brought me when it comes to my decision-making process in cybersecurity.” Welcome to EFF, Tarah!

        • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ‘Choose People Over Pentagon’: Americans Urged to Call Lawmakers as Congress Set to Vote on 10% Military Budget Cut

      “In a moment of pandemic and urgent protest, we refuse to let Congress put defense contractors over peoples’ needs”

    • “The Fight Isn’t Over,” Say Anti-War Groups as 139 House Democrats Vote With GOP to Reject 10% Pentagon Budget Cut

      “Though our amendment didn’t pass, progressive power is stronger than ever. We will keep fighting for pro-peace, pro-people budgets until it becomes a reality,” said Rep. Mark Pocan.

    • Hiroshima and Nagasaki as Collateral Damage

      On August 6, 1945 found me in a car with my uncle, Frank Pryal. A NYC plainclothes detective, Uncle Frank drove through the busy streets of Manhattan up to the Central Park Zoo to meet his friend Joe. It was a lively place with families enjoying the animals. Joe, a gorilla, saw Uncle Frank coming and began beating on his chest as we approached. Frank took a cigar from his suit coat pocket, lit it, and gave it to him. Joe took a long drag and blew smoke at us…I remember laughing so hard that I had to bend over to stop.

    • 103 Democrats Join GOP in Voting Down Omar Amendment to Accelerate US Withdrawal From Afghanistan

      “There are people saying that we shouldn’t be too hasty in leaving. Too hasty? It’s been two decades.”

    • How Will US Warfare Survive the Pandemic?

      On March 26th, the coronavirus accomplished what no foreign adversary has been able to do since the end of World War II: It forced an American aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, to suspend patrol operations and shelter in port. By the time that ship reached dock in Guam, hundreds of sailors had been infected with the disease and nearly the entire crew had to be evacuated. As news of the crisis aboard the TR (as the vessel is known) became public, word came out that at least 40 other US warships, including the carrier USS Ronald Reagan and the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd, were suffering from Covid-19 outbreaks. None of these approached the scale of the TR and, by June, the Navy was again able to deploy most of those ships on delayed schedules and/or with reduced crews. By then, however, it had become abundantly clear that the long-established US strategy of relying on large, heavily armed warships to project power and defeat foreign adversaries was no longer fully sustainable in a pandemic-stricken world.

    • Robert Gates’ “Exercise In Power”: A Disingenuous Exercise in Public Relations

      Robert M. Gates’ “Exercise in Power: American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World” makes a strong case for the importance of greater use of economic and other non-military tools of U.S. statecraft and acknowledges the over reliance on the military instrument.  Gates does not address, however, the preponderance of our military power: bloated defense spending; the retreat from arms control; and the imbalance in military-civilian relations that allows the military to dominate the national security dialogue.  In the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union,  U.S. presidents decided to pursue U.S. military superiority over any combination of adversaries rather than conduct a strategic dialogue to solve geopolitical problems.

    • Did feds provide personal security for St. Louis couple who brandished guns at peaceful protesters?

      Parson did not say one way or the other whether the federal government had afforded the McCloskeys what would amount to a personal security detail. But he did confirm that he had spoken with the president about what to do in the event of charges.

    • Ivory Coast Reinforces Northern Borders Against Islamist Threat

      This was the first Islamist attack on Ivorian soil since the raid of a beach resort in Grand-Bassam left 19 people dead. There has been growing concern that insurgents have been moving further south since groups affiliated to al-Qaeda occupied urban centers in northern Mali in 2012. The world’s top cocoa grower had been largely spared from the violence which spilled over to several other countries in the region.

    • The new ways the military is fighting against information warfare tactics

      U.S. military teams deploy to other nations to help them defend against malign cyber activity inside their networks. “Those defensive teams then were able to identify tools that were on networks and publicly disclose them, [and] industry later attributed to being Russian tools,” he said. “That was a means for us to use our unique authorities outside the United States to be able to then identify adversary activity and publicly disclose it.”

      Officials have said this approach changes the calculus of adversaries while also taking their tools off the battlefield.

      “Disclosure is more than just revealing adversary intent and capabilities. From a cyberspace perspective, disclosure is cost imposing as it removes adversary weapons from the ‘battlefield’ and forces them to expend resources to create new weapons,” Col. Brian Russell, the commander of II Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, told C4ISRNET in June. “Disclosure forces the adversary to ask: ‘How were those capabilities discovered?’ It causes them to investigate the cause of the disclosure, forcing them to spend time on something other than attacking us. If I can plant a seed of doubt (messaging) that the disclosure might have been caused by someone working on the inside, it makes them question the system’s very nature, perhaps spending more time and resources to fix the system.”

    • As Campuses Cut Ties to Police, Sociology Departments Must Do the Same

      After beginning my Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Minnesota in 2011, it didn’t take long to realize that the department does more than produce knowledge — it also produces police. And my discipline is good at its job. So good, in fact, that Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, two of the officers implicated in George Floyd’s murder, graduated from the university’s Department of Sociology. As a recent alum of the department, I was troubled by its attempt to silence internal dissent by urging current graduate students to direct any media inquiries to the College of Liberal Arts. In a moment when protest and outcry is not only warranted, but necessary, silencing students is another example of sociology reproducing the problems it claims to study.

    • The Tactics of Terror in Portland

      Between 1973 and 1990 scores of people were disappeared by the US supported fascist regime of Augusto Pinochet in Chile. They were incarcerated, tortured and thousands were murdered. In fact, the official total of those killed by the regime is just over 40,000. But some critics suggest it was much higher. Pinochet was able to do all of this with the blessing of the CIA who assisted him in the coup against the elected President, Salvador Allende, and in his reign of terror afterward in Chile. The painful lessons of the Pinochet years have often been obscured under neoliberal historical revisionism, but with what is currently unfolding in cities like Portland, Oregon, it is urgent to revisit them.

    • Will Trump’s Secret Police Succeed in Provoking Riots in Your City?

      Portland is a test… but only a test.

    • Trump’s ‘law and order’ is starting to look like martial law

      This is sketchy stuff. And it’s not a good look for a country that’s supposed to be an open society. And it’s particularly distressing that the President is openly threatening cities based on the political affiliations of their leaders.

      The teams of masked authorities seen in Portland dressed up for war like special forces apparently belong to the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection Unit.

      They’re trained for drug missions, but with Trump demanding “law and order” and disagreeing with local authorities, they’ve been dispatched to American streets.

    • Immunity rule changed in wake of Harry Dunn death
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • “Credible Open Source Reporting”, the Intelligence Services and Scottish Independence

      I write as somebody who held Top Secret clearance for 21 years, with extensive daily use of Top Secret material that entire time, and the highest possible specific codeword clearance above Top Secret for 11 years. I personally conducted for the FCO the largest “action on” operation in GCHQ history. (“Action on” is the process of declassifying top secret material for, in my particular case, government to government use). I have also given evidence in person in a three hour appearance before Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee.

    • Twitter cracks down on QAnon conspiracy group, including a ban on 7,000 accounts

      Why is Twitter only cracking down now? Twitter tells The Verge that after monitoring closely and talking to experts, the company believes QAnon supporters have continued and in some cases increased harassment of Twitter users in recent weeks, and that it’s clear the content that QAnon supporters share is causing actual harm to those who use the service.

      That said, the first 7,000 accounts were banned for violations of Twitter’s existing policies. We’ll have to see how well Twitter enforces the new rules; in particular, blocking people from sharing any QAnon-associated URL could be like playing an impossible game of whack-a-mole.

    • Twitter to Crackdown on QAnon as Movement’s Influence Grows

      The social media company said it will permanently suspend accounts tweeting about topics that it knows are violating Twitter policy and coordinating abuses around individual victims or attempting to evade suspensions. Twitter will also ensure it’s not highlighting QAnon activity by keeping such posts out of trends and recommendation sections as well as blocking URLs associated with the movement.

      Twitter didn’t say how many accounts will be affected. NBC separately reported that about 150,000 accounts will be impacted and so far more than 7,000 QAnon accounts have been taken down in the last couple of weeks, citing an unnamed Twitter spokesman.

    • Twitter bans 7,000 QAnon accounts, limits 150,000 others as part of broad crackdown

      Twitter plans to permanently ban accounts that violate policies around platform manipulation, evasion of bans and operation of multiple accounts, behaviors commonly used by QAnon accounts, the spokesperson said. Twitter began blocking QAnon websites last week, and it will continue to block the distribution of QAnon-related URLs, the spokesperson said.


      Despite no evidence and numerous predictions that failed to materialize, QAnon support has trickled into the mainstream, with numerous Republican candidates for Congress openly espousing their support.

    • The Pro-Trump CIA Man: QAnon Madness and Upward Failure

      Michael Scheur is a pure product of the CIA. A career operations officer, he ran the first agency task force that hunted Osama bin Laden. Scheur authored the agency’s rendition program, which kidnapped suspected terrorists (and sometimes innocent people) and tortured them. He combined a deep knowledge of Islamic jihadist movements with a willingness to use illegal methods to fight them. In that regard, he was in the mainstream of the CIA.

  • Environment

    • Global Warming and Ocean Acidification Accelerate

      The global warming of the biosphere and its consequent acidification of the oceans is a complex of geophysical, biological and ecological, and sociological phenomena that are all accelerating. There is much that humanity could do to slow that acceleration, and to enact strategies for its own protection from Nature’s escalating assaults on civilization by the grand feedback loop of anthropogenic global warming climate change, but there is really nothing humanity can do to stop it.

    • Global Warming Is Driving Polar Bears Toward Extinction, Researchers Say

      Arctic sea ice grows in the winter and melts and retreats in spring and summer. As the region has warmed rapidly in recent decades, ice extent in summer has declined by about 13 percent per decade compared to the 1981-2010 average. Some parts of the Arctic that previously had ice year-round now have ice-free periods in summer. Other parts are now free of ice for a longer portion of the year than in the past.

      Dr. Molnar and his colleagues looked at 13 of the subpopulations representing about 80 percent of the total bear population. They calculated the bears’ energy requirements in order to determine how long they could survive — or, in the case of females, survive and nurse their cubs — while fasting.

      Combining that with climate-model projections of ice-free days to 2100 if present rates of warming continue, they determined that, for almost all of the subgroups, the time that the animals would be forced to fast would eventually exceed the time that they are capable of fasting.

      In short, the animals would starve.

    • Energy

      • How stored electricity can make cleaner fuels

        EU industry is seeking ways to save surplus power. Now it’s also hunting for methods to use that stored electricity to make green fuels.

      • Whose Allegiance? Three Percenters Militia Working in Bakken Oil Patch Raises Concerns of Domestic Terrorism Risk

        The Three Percenters are so named for the dubious historical claim that only three percent of American colonists took up arms in the Revolutionary War. Their adherents have frequently been involved with incidents of armed protests, hate speech, and threatening behavior across the U.S., and the group’s members have shown up prominently at recent protests related to both pandemic response measures and police brutality.

      • Oil and Gas in Flux: After a Series of Stunning Defeats, What’s Next for the Industry?
      • ‘The planet can’t wait,’ says Tim Cook as Apple goes carbon neutral

        One illustration of how Apple is pivoting its business to help nurture a more environmentally friendly approach is in the company’s decision to ensure its operating systems support a wide number of older iPhones, meaning you don’t need a new smartphone every year to enjoy the latest features.

      • The end of the Arab world’s oil age is nigh

        But don’t be fooled. The world’s economies are moving away from fossil fuels. Oversupply and the increasing competitiveness of cleaner energy sources mean that oil may stay cheap for the foreseeable future. The recent turmoil in oil markets is not an aberration; it is a glimpse of the future. The world has entered an era of low prices—and no region will be more affected than the Middle East and north Africa.


        There is sure to be resistance along the way. Start with the region’s wealthiest oil producers, which can cope with low prices in the short run. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have huge sovereign-wealth funds. Saudi Arabia, the region’s largest economy, has foreign reserves worth $444bn, enough to cover two years of spending at the current rate.

    • Wildlife/Nature

      • It’s Always the Ranchers

        A week ago, I was touring Montana public lands with my 13-year-old daughter. As we approached Yellowstone National Park, I explained how the slaughter of bison was largely to appease the livestock industry, pushed by a handful of ranchers who didn’t want bison migrating out of the Park. Bison, as it turns out, eat the same grass as cattle, and can carry the livestock disease brucellosis. Even though there has never been a documented case of cattle catching brucellosis from bison – not even one – in the Yellowstone ecosystem (all known cases were traced back to elk, according to the National Academy of Sciences), cattle producers fear losing “brucellosis-free” status which would make it harder for them to market their cattle. “It’s always the ranchers,” my daughter exclaimed.

      • Climate Change Is Set to Starve Polar Bears to Extinction by 2100

        In some regions they are already caught in a vicious downward spiral, with shrinking sea ice cutting short the time bears have for hunting seals, scientists reported in Nature Climate Change.

        Their dwindling body weight undermines their chances of surviving Arctic winters without food, the scientists added.

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • GOP Congressman Yoho Overheard Calling Ocasio-Cortez ‘F**king B*tch’ After Accosting Her on Capitol Steps

      “That kind of confrontation hasn’t ever happened to me—ever,” said New York Democrat after the exchange.

    • ‘This Is a Flashing Red Light’: Trump Triggers Alarm With Another Baseless Attack on Mail-In Voting

      “It is #VoterSuppression during the #Covid19 pandemic.”

    • Looming Immigration Services Shutdown May Fuel Voter Suppression in 2020

      Trump’s ghoulish exploitation of the coronavirus pandemic to further his anti-immigrant policies has also manufactured a crisis at the federal agency responsible for green cards, citizenship, asylum and myriad other immigration matters. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is about to run out of money, and if Congress doesn’t act, will furlough more than two-thirds of the USCIS workforce in August. Such a shutdown would further extend the “invisible wall” Trump created to suppress immigration of all kinds. In an election year in which Trump seems determined to use every tool of voter suppression possible, the shutdown of USCIS could mean hundreds of thousands of potential new voters may be denied the ballot.

    • Court Tells Trumpian Head Of US Agency For Global Media That He Can’t Fire People From The Open Tech Fund (At Least For Now)

      So, this is interesting. Last month we wrote about how Trump had appointed Michael Pack (a protege of Steve Bannon) to head up the US Agency for Global Media, which controls the various independent US overseas broadcasting operations: Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and Middle East Broadcasting. USAGM also oversees the Open Technology Fund, which is basically a government agency funding a ton of really important open source tools for getting around internet censorship and surveillance. OTF may sound like a misfit compared to the broadcasting operations, but it was spun out of Radio Free Asia, so its connection to USAGM is sort of a legacy one.

    • Seriously? John Kasich? What Is the Biden Camp Thinking?

      The Associated Press reports that the Joe Biden campaign has reached out to former Ohio governor John Kasich to speak on his behalf at the Democratic National Convention. Kasich, an anti-abortion, pro-gun Republican, ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. When he didn’t win, he voted for… John McCain, even though McCain wasn’t even on the ballot. So he speaks for a critical constituency of people who understand that Donald Trump is not fit to be president but can’t be bothered to use their vote to help.

    • Canada’s Nazi Monuments

      “Graffiti on monument commemorating Nazi SS division being investigated as a hate crime by police.” Ordinarily, you’d assume a headline about Nazis as victims came from The Onion (and indeed, they’ve been prescient on this). But it’s 2020; we’re well down the rabbit hole of the American president who calls neo-Nazis “good people,” and this all-too-real article is from the Ottawa Citizen, a major Canadian newspaper. Indeed, the news that Canada has a monument commemorating Third Reich soldiers is just the outer layer of a nesting doll of progressively shocking facts.

    • A Matter of Citizenship: Shamima Begum, Islamic State and Natural Justice

      Rarely do terms such as “Islamic State” and “natural justice” keep company. Both seem alien, uncomfortable, fundamentally ill-suited. For one, Islamic State’s own approach to natural justice, archaic and stone-age obscurantist, has tended to be distinctly unnatural and particularly brutal. But it has also invited, in response to its particular brand of terrorism, a troubling approach on the part of governments determined to excoriate it. For those taking to its sources of fanaticism, harsh measures are meted out.

    • How is Putin able to remove popularly elected governors?
    • Progressives Have a VP Short list: Barbara Lee, Nina Turner, Karen Bass

      Progressives want Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, to pick a running-mate who will mobilize the tens of millions of potential voters who want not only to beat Donald Trump but also to initiate bold structural change in the politics and the governance of the United States.

    • Trump’s 2020 Campaign Strategy Is Already an Impressive Train Wreck
    • How NOT to Resist Trump: Kayleigh McEnany’s Anti-Science Comments

      Media, particularly those who have made a habit of rhetorically opposing Donald Trump for the past four years, were awash last week with White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s controversial statements on reopening public schools in the middle of a pandemic. For example:

    • At This Trump-Favored Charity, Financial Reporting Is Questionable and Insiders Are Cashing In

      This election, one of President Donald Trump’s most influential advocates is 26-year-old Charlie Kirk, who has developed a unique bond with the first family. The conservative star dines with the president at Mar-a-Lago and rang in the new year there. During each of the last two winters, he used the club to hold a formal fundraiser for his nonprofit, Turning Point USA, that featured Donald Trump Jr.

      At a Turning Point event in June, the president, addressing the crowd, said, “Let us also show our appreciation to my good friend, Charlie. I’ll tell you, Charlie is some piece of work who is mobilizing a new generation of pro-American student activists.” On a Turning Point webpage soliciting donations, Trump Jr., a close friend of Kirk’s, is quoted as saying, “I’m convinced that the work by Turning Point USA and Charlie Kirk will win back the future of America.”

    • Georgia’s Election Disaster Shows How Bad Voting in 2020 Can Be

      The state’s Republican leadership did nothing to prevent this democratic disaster from happening, even though it had happened before, just two years ago.

    • We all know Donald Trump is preparing to rig or steal the election — but exactly how?

      I don’t know how all this will end, but I feel relatively secure in forecasting the mayhem. Honestly, as with everything Trump, I hope I’m wrong and this election wraps up without a glitch. But given King Joffrey the Flaccid’s actions lately, especially with his contra-constitutional deployment of unidentified soldiers to disappear protesters from the streets, it would be foolish to count on a smooth ride. The absolute best strategy for the Democratic Party, and indeed all Normals, is to prepare for a bloody mess before we have a winner. The party ought to be fully lawyered up in anticipation of Trump’s psycho-bombs detonating at polling places and in state capitals across the country. Don’t be blindsided.

      I think we can all agree that Donald Trump will not go quietly, or accept defeat with any measure of dignity. Knowing the stunts he’s likely to pull, and preparing accordingly, is half the battle.

    • ‘They just started whaling on me’: Veteran speaks out after video of federal officers beating him at Portland protests goes viral

      But residents like Mr David saw the administration’s response as an effort to create discontent in “any big, blue city”.

      “This is just the first domino to fall,” he said. “He is trying to see how far he can push it in Portland and create some kind of model for other cities so he can stir up enough chaos and discontent to try and win the election again. All of this is just doubling down on his strategy of division and chaos.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The PACT Act’s Attempt to Help Internet Users Hold Platforms Accountable Will End Up Hurting Online Speakers

      Recently, nearly every week brings a new effort to undercut or overhaul a key U.S. law—47 U.S.C. § 230 (“Section 230”)—that protects online services and allows Internet users to express themselves. Many of these proposals jeopardize users’ free speech and privacy, while others are thinly-veiled attacks against online services that the President and other officials do not like.

      These attacks on user expression and the platforms we all rely on are serious. But they do not represent serious solutions to a real problem: that a handful of large online platforms dominate users’ ability to organize, connect, and speak online.

    • A Case Where The Courts Got Section 230 Right Because It Turns Out Section 230 Is Not Really All That Hard

      Having just criticized the Second Circuit for getting Section 230 (among other things) very wrong, it’s worth pointing out an occasion where it got it very right. The decision in Force v. Facebook came out last year, but the Supreme Court recently denied any further review, so it’s still ripe to talk about how this case could, and should, bear on future Section 230 litigation.

  • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

    • State Dept-funded Transparency International goes silent on jailed transparency activist Julian Assange

      For over a year, the West’s top anti-corruption NGO, Transparency International, has not said a word about the world’s most prominent jailed transparency activist, Julian Assange. Is UK and UK government funding a factor in the organization’s silence?

    • ‘Everyone’s head spinning’ as Bauer axes eight magazines

      Having missed the traditional money-spinning September issue, the focus within Harper’s was on maximising the glimmer of hope October represented for the international fashion brand following months of uncertainty after Bauer Media Group “suspended” publication amid the COVID-19 health crisis.

      Instead, they were told that the Mercury Capital-owned Bauer Media Australia was to close the magazine along with other titles including InStyle, Elle, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Good Health, NW and OK!.

    • Detroit police officer charged for allegedly shooting 3 photojournalists with rubber pellets during protest

      After the majority of protesters had cleared the area, MLive photojournalist Nicole Hester and independent photographers Seth Herald and Matthew Hatcher encountered Debono with two other officers. The three photographers, all wearing press credentials, identified themselves as members of the press and with their hands up, asked to cross the street, the release said.

      As the three began crossing the street, Debono allegedly fired his weapon at them, striking all three with rubber pellets, according to the release.

      All three photographers were injured by the pellets. Hester sustained the most injuries, to her face, neck, arms and legs, according to the release. Herald’s wrist was injured and Hatcher was bruised on the face and ribs.

      Worthy said the three photographers were leaving the protest area and that there was almost no one else on the street when they were hit by the rubber pellets.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ‘Flagrantly Unconstitutional’: Trump Issues Order to Block Undocumented Immigrants From Being Counted in Census

      “This is another attempt by Trump to use scaremongering against immigrants and rig the system,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

    • Hamilton and the Iconoclasts of Tomorrow

      This week, 216 years ago, one founding father killed another in a duel in Weehawken, New Jersey. On that early July morning, the vice president of the United States squared off against the former secretary of the treasury. As virtually everyone in America now knows, thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alexander Hamilton didn’t survive the shootout with Aaron Burr.

    • John Lewis, a Founding Father of American Democracy

      John Lewis was a leader, but more workhorse than show horse. Show horses preen to win the applause of the crowd. Workhorses pull the wagon.

    • Progressive Community Mourns Death of Michael Brooks, A ‘Passionate Fighter for Justice’

      “Michael believed in bringing people together in the struggle for love and justice, fighting for all poor and working people, a struggle that he understood to be global.”

    • Defendant in controversial ‘New Greatness’ extremism case files lawsuit for illegal detention

      On Monday, July 20, Anna Pavlikova, one of the defendants in the controversial “Novoe Velichie” (New Greatness) extremism case, filed a five-million-ruble ($70,550) lawsuit against the Russian state for illegally holding her in pre-trial detention in 2018.

    • Roberto Mangabeira Unger’s Alternative Progressive Vision

      What is the way forward for progressives in a time when it seems both centrism and authoritarianism are resurgent? What should be the character and scope of a national program that progressives in and outside the Democratic Party can and should embrace? There are many places to look for answers to these questions, and no doubt the answers will have many inspirations.

    • When ‘Law and Order’ Means Maximum Chaos
    • A carefully planned career Khabarovsk’s new acting governor is known for weird ideas, but the man’s a pragmatist

      It took a week and a half for the Kremlin to select a new acting head for the Far Eastern Khabarovsk Territory, where the population has been protesting the arrest of their elected governor, Sergey Furgal. After nearly ten days of sustained demonstrations, President Vladimir Putin dismissed Furgal from his post on July 20, “due to loss of confidence,” and appointed State Duma Deputy from the Liberal Democratic Party Mikhail Degtyarev as the Khabarovsk Territory’s acting head. Degtyarev accepted the position without hesitation, saying that he was prepared to fly to the region immediately. Meduza breaks down Degtyarev’s political career.

    • ‘I have a selfie with Sergey Furgal’ Mikhail Degtyarev’s first press briefing as the Khabarovsk Territory’s acting governor, in brief

      I just arrived and I already heard how people shouted at me from their windows: “Degtyarev, leave!” I will gladly go, but now is not the time — because there are priority tasks. Why I was the chosen candidate is a question for the president. But the fact that I am from the LDPR [Liberal Democratic Party] is out of the federal center’s respect for the voters. I flew for seven hours and for seven hours I read about the situation in the Khabarovsk Territory. Many of the economic indicators are deserving of respect, some are cause for concern — we’ll deal with it. I have already been to the region before, more than once. A year ago I was with Sergey Furgal at a hockey game, I have a selfie. And I also, through Interpol, helped find a girl whose father had secretly taken her away from her mother to the United States — they managed to bring her back to Khabarovsk, even [TV presenter] Andrey Malakhov filmed a broadcast about it. The father turned out to be a half-crazed supporter of Alexey Navalny. So there’s something that connects me with the region. Time will tell whether or not I will become a Khabarovchanin. I have good connections in Moscow, and I will use all of them to achieve the maximum results. If Furgal is acquitted, I’m not going to compete with him in the elections — I’ll pack my things and leave. Khabarovsk has the most civilized police force in Russia, but there’s no need to provoke them. I don’t think that if I were to issue a decree dispersing the rallies, it would be a sentence for my governorship. But according to the regulations, I can’t issue such a decree. 

    • Black Lives Mattered, and Matter
    • Trump to Send Federal Agents to Protests in Chicago and Seattle Amid Crackdown

      As mayors in six cities call for the immediate removal of the president’s rapid deployment units and for Congress to investigate the tactics of federal authorities against antiracism protests, Trump says he may send agents to Chicago this week. “We’re looking at the infringement on our rights that is just escalating,” says Chicago activist Jitu Brown, national director of the Journey for Justice Alliance. We also speak with Jesse Hagopian, a history teacher in Seattle, where Trump has also vowed to send federal officers to quell ongoing demonstrations.

    • Trump to Send Federal Troops to Protests in Chicago & Seattle Amid Violent Crackdown by Local Police

      As mayors in six cities call for the immediate removal of the president’s rapid deployment units and for Congress to investigate the tactics of federal authorities against antiracism protests, Trump says he may send troops to Chicago this week. “We’re looking at the infringement on our rights that is just escalating,” says Chicago activist Jitu Brown, national director of the Journey for Justice Alliance. We also speak with Jesse Hagopian, a history teacher in Seattle, where Trump has also vowed to send federal officers to quell ongoing demonstrations.

    • Portland’s Wall of Moms Joined by Dads With Leaf Blowers Against Trump’s Police

      In response to the use of tear gas being utilized by federal officers against demonstrators, including a group of moms, in an uprising in Portland, Oregon, this week, a like-minded dads’ group encouraged others to show up to the event with leaf blowers in order to dissipate the chemical agents.

    • Portland Protests Grow Despite Violent Crackdown from Militarized Federal Agents & Local Police

      Heavily armed federal officers without name tags have carried out nightly attacks on antiracist demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, and snatched people off the streets into unmarked vans, sparking widespread outrage. “What we’ve seen is a continuous escalation in violence against our protesters,” says Lilith Sinclair, an Afro-Indigenous local organizer in Portland. They note the federal violence follows many years of “severe police brutality” from local police. “It’s left the people of Portland not only worried about their safety, but, even more so, justified in the fight that we’re engaged in.”

    • “Camouflaged Goon Squads”: Outrage, Legal Challenges in Portland as Federal Agents Snatch Protesters

      The U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon has called for an investigation into the conduct of federal officers deployed to protests in Portland, calling their behavior “unlawful.” Local officials are also mounting legal challenges to remove the agents from city streets. Juan Chavez, project director and attorney at the Oregon Justice Resource Center, says it’s a terrifying situation for Portland residents who face “these camouflaged goon squads” who often refuse to identify themselves or their agencies. “They just appear in the middle of the night next to people who are in and around downtown who then get corralled into these vehicles, not told where or who’s picking them up,” he says.

    • Trump Launches A War On Protesters
    • Rising Autocracy

      This is not only one of the worst times for American democracy, it is one of the most dangerous times.

    • National Media Promote ‘Progressive’ Baltimore Prosecutor, Ignoring Local and Alternative Exposés

      As global protests against police violence followed the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby was featured prominently in national corporate media discussing prosecutors’ role in police accountability. Since Floyd’s death, she has appeared on CNN (6/4/20, 6/9/20) MSNBC (6/4/20, 6/17/20), NPR (5/31/20), ABC’s Nightline (6/4/20) and NBC’s Today show (6/2/20), among other broadcasts. And she wrote op-eds for the New York Times (6/4/20), Washington Post (5/30/20) and Baltimore Sun (6/22/20).

    • Episode 98 – Cumbia and Music Activism with Mariposa del Alma and listener feedback re: George Floyd – Along The Line Podcast

      Along The Line is a non-profit, education-based podcast that provides listeners with context and analysis about various critical and contemporary issues and topics.

    • John Lewis’s Fight for Justice Continues With Miracle Boyd

      The nation is mourning the death of John Lewis, the sharecropper’s son who rose to become a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a hero to the Black freedom movement, and a respected member of the US House of Representatives.

    • The Real Choice: Social Control or Social Investment

      It’s time we invest in affordable housing and education, not tear gas, batons, and state-sanctioned murder. It’s time we invest in keeping children fed and out of poverty, not putting their parents behind bars. It’s time to defund the police, and invest in communities. We have no time to waste.

    • ‘UnIslamic’ Buddha statue discovered in Pakistan’s Mardan vandalised by workers

      The statue was discovered in Mardan’s Takht Bhai area, which was a part of the Gandhara civilisation, while the workers were digging to lay the foundation for the under-construction house.

      A video, which has since gone viral on social media, showed the construction workers smashing the Buddha statue using a sledgehammer and expressing their resentment against the unIslamic relic.

      Local media quoted an official of the Pakistan tourism department, who said that the authorities have taken note of the incident and are looking into the matter.

    • Sudan: Thousands protest repeal of Islamic restrictions

      The Sudanese government last week passed a number of laws that repealed various Islamic legal restrictions introduced while Bashir was in power, including the outlaw of apostasy and restrictions on women’s dress.

      The new legislation also prohibited Female Genital Mutilation and allowed the consumption of alcohol for non-Muslims and for mothers to travel with their children without the permission of the father.

      Ahmed Brair, 23, told Anadolu Agency that he joined the demonstrations to stop what he describes as the “apostasy government.”

      “We’re ready for jihad to defend Islam,” Ahmed said as he chanted “Nasur Aldin is an enemy of Allah” referring to the minister of justice who spearheaded the new laws.

    • How Oregon Is Pushing Back Against ‘Kidnap and False Arrest’ by Trump’s Agents

      In a harrowing new tactic, reminiscent of fascist regimes, armed federal officers without agency badges have begun grabbing protesters off the street, throwing them into unmarked cars and jailing them without formally arresting them, according to court records. The state of Oregon is seeking a permanent injunction to prevent what it alleges are violations of the Fourth Amendment’s protections against “unreasonable seizures” and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantees of due process.

    • New Local Lawsuit Challenges ‘Violent and Unlawful’ Attacks on Portland Protesters by Trump’s Secret Police Force

      “There is no positive delegation of authority in any law that makes the federal government’s recent forays into general policing in Portland either legal or constitutional.”

    • Portland Protests Face Violent Federal Crackdown Led by the Trump Administration

      Portland, Oregon, is at the center of a weekend’s worth of national news coverage due to the presence in the city of federal agents, which many have referred to as “secret police” because they are unidentifiable in the field. As the Trump administration continues to rattle its sabers against protesting civilians in Portland, people are attempting to track what’s happening, and headlines have poured out of the Pacific Northwest.

      It’s been more than a month and a half since the death of George Floyd kicked off a wave of Black Lives Matter protests. Now, President Donald Trump’s ire for the protests has turned to Portland, where more than 50 days of protests are again escalating after a weekend of violence by federal agents.

      As of Monday, July 20, here’s what we know about the situation in Portland: [...]

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Study: Community Broadband Drives Competition, Lowering Costs

        For all of the talk about being #1, America’s broadband networks are routinely mediocre. The U.S. consistently ranks among the middle of the pack in speeds and overall availability, while Americans continue to pay some of the highest prices in the developed world for both fixed and mobile broadband. The reasons aren’t mysterious: we’ve let a bunch of telecom giants monopolize the sector, dictate most US telecom policy in exchange for campaign contributions, and literally write state and federal law with a relentless focus on hamstringing competition.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Software Patents

          • Are digital twins as patentable as their physical counterparts?

            On 15 July 2020, the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the EPO met to discuss the criteria used to determine whether computer simulations can be patented in Europe. Patent attorney Parminder Lally summarises the hearing and provides her thoughts on the case, which could have a significant impact on how the EPO determines whether any software inventions such as computer simulations are patentable, particularly when the software inventions do not have a direct link to the physical world.

            We live in an increasingly digital world – not only do more of us communicate with each other and access information or content using ‘apps’ and the internet, but some of the work we may have previously conducted in the ‘real’ or physical world is now being performed using computer simulations or digital twins. For example, it is much more time- and cost-effective to simulate the behavior and performance of a new design of wind turbine blade, than to construct the wind turbine blade and test it in a real wind tunnel. Similarly, it is safer for the public to simulate how an autonomous vehicle performs in a virtual street and use data collected from the simulation to train the artificial intelligence that controls the vehicle, than to let an autonomous vehicle loose in our cities to collect that data.

            Many innovative companies in diverse technology areas use computer simulations, from those using software to design new cities, to those using digital twins to model the impact of changes to systems before implementing them in the real world, to those using software to identify and narrow-down potential new drugs for testing. In many cases, the simulations and software may help scientists and engineers to identify what not to do – in such cases, the output of the computer model may never be linked to a real-world product or method.

            It is, therefore, unsurprising that companies want to protect their computer simulation inventions, as these are useful and important tools that can help them to design, test, and implement or manufacture. However, whether computer-implemented simulations are patentable at the European Patent Office (EPO) has, to date, depended on whether the claimed invention has any technical features that prevent the claim as a whole from being excluded from patentability. Generally speaking, methods of simulation, design or modelling may comprise some features that fall under the category of mathematical methods or methods for performing mental acts (which are excluded from patentability), but if all of the features of the claimed subject matter relate to these categories, the claimed subject matter is excluded from patentability. Thus, the EPO looks to see if the claimed subject matter contains any functional technical features, or whether the claimed subject matter has a specific and defined technical purpose.

            However, last year, the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA) of the EPO was asked to consider whether a method of testing, by simulation, a modelled environment was a functional technical feature when there is no link in the claimed method to a physical entity or physical parameters (see here for a summary of the questions referred to the EBA; see here for the case itself). As noted above, this may be the case for many computer simulations or digital twin models, as well as in the field of training autonomous vehicles, finding and testing new drugs, designing and testing computer games, and so on.

      • Copyrights

        • R.I.P. Cable TV: Why Hollywood Is Slowly Killing Its Biggest Moneymaker

          Meanwhile, “cord cutting,” once pooh-poohed by the cable industry as a myth, has become a real threat: The number of pay-TV households peaked in 2010 at 105 million; now it’s down to approximately 82.9 million. And a study last year by eMarketer forecast that number to dip to 72.7 million by 2023. Now, it’s cable that’s on the ropes — and struggling for survival.

          “I think it’s 10 years, and there’ll be a total change of the guard,” says former DirecTV/AT&T Audience Network programming chief Chris Long, who’s now a producer. “At some point, people will make that decision of ‘I can get everything I want [in streaming]. I no longer need to have 180 channels that I only watch 12 of.”

        • French Torrent Giant YggTorrent Changes Domain to Avoid ISP Blocking

          YggTorrent, France’s largest torrent site, has moved to a new main domain to counter fresh ISP blocking in the country. The move to a Slovenian .si domain is the latest switch for the site, which was forced to jump to a Swedish domain in February after YggTorrent.ws was suspended by its domain registrar.

        • Hosting Provider is Not Liable for ‘Pirate’ Site, US Appeals Court Rules

          Hosting provider Steadfast is not liable for the copyright infringements of its customer, image-sharing site Imagebam.com. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed an earlier District Court verdict, arguing that forwarding DMCA notices to the customer is sufficient. The appeals court decision, which was opposed by one judge, also reopens the door for attorneys’ fees.

[Meme] Team UPC Layoffs Are Next

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No UPC, eh? The UPC Preparatory Committee is finished

Summary: Litigation lobbyists and parasites like patent trolls stand to lose the most from the UPC’s death

Very Strong Consensus That the UPC is Dead for Good (The UPC Hopefuls Might Try Another Thing, But It Can Take Almost a Decade)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 5:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UPC has sailed away

Don't slip

Summary: Team UPC is still trying to spread a bunch of lies about UPC; but judging by comments (and their responses), they’re convincing nobody anymore

SO AFTER 6 comments here, 8 comments here, 11 comments here, 7 comments here, and some more in “tweets” and in IP Kat (we’re reading these things patiently and carefully) we can say with confidence that just about nobody — not a single person — still believes that the UPC stands a chance. Team UPC may be lying to itself; deep inside it knows the truth. As covered before, the latest setback comes from the UK. Bristows took a day or two to put some spin together about it (which is unusual). Gregory Bacon eventually wrote:

The Preparatory Committee of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) published yesterday UK Withdrawal from the UPCA, reporting that “A deposit of the withdrawal notification of ratification has been deposited with the Council Secretariat” and that Amanda Solloway, the UK IP Minister, had made a parliamentary written statement in the House of Commons. Ms Solloway reported that, “by means of a Note Verbale”, the UK has withdrawn its ratification of the UPC Agreement and the UPC’s Protocol on Privileges and Immunities, and its consent to be bound by the UPC Agreement’s Protocol on Provisional Application (PPA). She explained (as she did in March to the House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee’s Chair, see here) that, in view of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the UK no longer wishes to be a party to the UPC system; participating in a court that applies EU law and is bound by the CJEU would be inconsistent with the government’s aims of becoming an independent self-governing nation. She stated that the UK had decided to withdraw its ratification now to ensure clarity regarding the UK’s status in respect of the Agreements and to facilitate their orderly entry into force for other states without the UK’s participation. The UPC Preparatory Committee stated that it will now convene to discuss the consequences of the UK withdrawal and agree a way forward.

What “way forward”? There’s none.

“Campinos has no clue about code; he never wrote any.”The good news is, the demise of the UPC will further curtail toxic EPO agenda. António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli, for instance, have been trying to promote software patents in Europe, but the courts aren’t having any of that. As we’ll include this new link in our next Daily Links, why not highlight again what’s happening at the EPO? Our comments below in yellow:

On 15 July 2020, the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the EPO met to discuss the criteria used to determine whether computer simulations can be patented in Europe. Patent attorney Parminder Lally summarises the hearing and provides her thoughts on the case, which could have a significant impact on how the EPO determines whether any software inventions such as computer simulations are patentable, particularly when the software inventions do not have a direct link to the physical world.

We live in an increasingly digital world – not only do more of us communicate with each other and access information or content using ‘apps’ and the internet, but some of the work we may have previously conducted in the ‘real’ or physical world is now being performed using computer simulations or digital twins. For example, it is much more time- and cost-effective to simulate the behavior and performance of a new design of wind turbine blade, than to construct the wind turbine blade and test it in a real wind tunnel. Similarly, it is safer for the public to simulate how an autonomous vehicle performs in a virtual street and use data collected from the simulation to train the artificial intelligence that controls the vehicle, than to let an autonomous vehicle loose in our cities to collect that data.

Many innovative companies in diverse technology areas use computer simulations, from those using software to design new cities, to those using digital twins to model the impact of changes to systems before implementing them in the real world, to those using software to identify and narrow-down potential new drugs for testing. In many cases, the simulations and software may help scientists and engineers to identify what not to do – in such cases, the output of the computer model may never be linked to a real-world product or method. [That in itself is a very weak argument for patents; just because something is ubiquitous doesn’t mean monopolies become necessary]

It is, therefore, unsurprising that companies want to protect their computer simulation inventions [you mean, algorithms and other abstract things they wish to monopolise], as these are useful and important tools that can help them to design, test, and implement or manufacture [but this is not an argument for patents]. However, whether computer-implemented simulations are patentable at the European Patent Office (EPO) has, to date, depended on whether the claimed invention has any technical features that prevent the claim as a whole from being excluded from patentability. Generally speaking, methods of simulation, design or modelling may comprise some features that fall under the category of mathematical methods or methods for performing mental acts (which are excluded from patentability), but if all of the features of the claimed subject matter relate to these categories, the claimed subject matter is excluded from patentability [and this is where the debate ought to end; stop patenting maths]. Thus, the EPO looks to see if the claimed subject matter contains any functional technical features, or whether the claimed subject matter has a specific and defined technical purpose. [“Technical” is just broad and vague mumbo-jumbo]

However, last year, the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA) of the EPO was asked to consider whether a method of testing, by simulation, a modelled environment was a functional technical feature when there is no link in the claimed method to a physical entity or physical parameters (see here for a summary of the questions referred to the EBA; see here for the case itself). As noted above, this may be the case for many computer simulations or digital twin models, as well as in the field of training autonomous vehicles, finding and testing new drugs, designing and testing computer games, and so on. [So it’s basically about patents on algorithms, in this case simulation or reverse-engineering a real-world scenario]

Since Campinos has already openly meddled in the affairs of the judges — repeatedly in fact — it may taint the outcome. We already know that the judges received some ‘bollocking’ in the past and UPC is being used as a threat against them. Whatever the outcome, the meddling by Campinos must be considered as a factor. Campinos has no clue about code; he never wrote any.

Fifth Round of Microsoft Layoffs in Less Than 2 Months: Another Thousand Job Cuts (6% of LinkedIn Workforce)

Posted in Microsoft at 4:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Days ago: Microsoft Lays Off Azure Staff and Much More, Spins These Layoffs as “Optimization Strategy” (Layoffs have become so routine at Microsoft that they’re hard to keep abreast of and distinguish)

ICE, beware

Summary: Now comes the fifth round of ‘layoffs wave’ at Microsoft. It’s not unreasonable to estimate that about 5,000 Microsoft jobs were cut in the past 7 weeks alone (including store staff).

JUST weeks after that recent privacy scandal and growing levels of oppressive censorship at LinkedIn we’re learning that, perhaps inevitably, there are deep cuts. LinkedIn pays the price for allowing itself to be absorbed by a nihilist corporation that relies on bribes and other crimes to make "business"… which hardly works for Social Control Media (entirely different business models).

“Is Azure going to shut down some more datacentres? Provisioning has become an issue, based on scattered reports. They already fire Azure employees and refuse to say how many.”“Microsoft’s professional networking site LinkedIn said on Tuesday it would cut about 960 jobs, or 6 percent of its global workforce,” NBC reports. Of course they’re just blaming COVID-19 again, even if the issues predate the pandemic and even its epidemic status. LinkedIn has been an utter failure since Microsoft took over. Like Nokia and Skype the grip on the market slipped rapidly after Microsoft had taken over. A major, massive plunge. Remember that about a decade ago Skype still enjoyed almost a monopoly in that space.

Is GitHub next? More layoffs there? Many senior engineers and managers left already; the whole ‘Arctic vault’ nonsense was intended to distract from this and from the ICE contract, which still causes an uproar this month, based on press reports.

GitHub is losing Microsoft a lot of money. There’s almost no net benefit other than the hostile attempt to entrap the competition.

Is Azure going to shut down some more datacentres? Provisioning has become an issue, based on scattered reports. They already fire Azure employees and refuse to say how many.

IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:20 am by Needs Sunlight



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