02.09.21

A Techrights Gemini Capsule

Posted in Site News at 8:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gopher it (or Gemini it) instead of WWW; Perl is used to do the conversions

Gemini/Gopher: Gopher it
Gemini is not Gopher

Summary: We’ll soon be ready to launch Techrights as a Gemini capsule; the coding is done for now and we’re doing some final testing/preparations

THE coding/code required to launch Techrights (TR) as a Gemini server (similar to the ol’ “gopher” protocol but somewhat more advanced and secure) is mostly ready by now, albeit it’s in stable alpha phase/quality. Our team has been working hard on this since the weekend. We’re enthusiasts of replacing the World Wide Web if we cannot fix it (and let’s face it, the W3C is thoroughly infiltrated by monopolies by now).

“We’ll do our best to secure availability and make all the information robust to censorship.”With a domain set up/registered (probably just a subdomain will do for now), links automatically added to static files (such as bulletins and IRC logs), a Gemini front page for TR, and indexes updated using cron jobs (we’ll write scripts to update everything, frequently, over time) we’ll probably be up and running very soon. How soon? We don’t want to promise anything or self-impose a deadline. It’s being tested locally first. If it grows a lot larger over time, self-hosting scope would be forsaken in favour of something ‘beefier’. With IPFS, for instance, self-hosting is possible because it is decentralised and so our objects, which get pinned elsewhere, can be served from anywhere around the world. Once they’re shared outwards anyway… (self-replication in swarms)

Expanding Biden: WWW, RSS, Text only, IPFS, GeminiWe’re extremely excited about the whole thing. Not many news sites, either in the domain of Free software or outside it, have presence in Gemini capsules (that’s what such “sites” are called in Gemini). Our capsule will be very, very large and extensive. Thanks to a lot of code, as well as a lot of underlying “content”, our Gemini capsule will likely be one of the largest out there in cyberspace.

In terms of censorship and free speech, Gemini isn’t all that great compared to IPFS. It’s a centralised thing, the protocol isn’t designed to withstand downtimes, and so censorious institutions (such as Benoît Battistelli‘s EPO, where António Campinos shields the institution from investigations into corruption) can still leverage lawyers and aggressive threats. That would not work as long as we use IPFS. As a side note, as we’ve just noted in the latest Daily Links, “The legality of Board of Appeal oral proceedings by video conference has been referred to the EBA,” but there’s “no mention of the fact, by AstraZenecaKat, that the judges on this Board lack actual autonomy and would likely just do what the Office demands. AstraZenecaKat moreover says that “In G2/19 the EBA found that Haar was indeed in Munich,” but this is a lie. They threw out the question as inadmissible. Not the same thing.”

What still happens at the EPO is nothing short of white-collar crime and it’s protected by media apathy, sometimes owing to bribes and blackmail (publishers that used to expose EPO corruption no longer wish to write about it, having been bullied by the “Mafia” which runs the Office). We’ll do our best to secure availability and make all the information robust to censorship.

Shown below is a snapshot of tests, displayed in a terminal-based browser (GUI ones exist too).

Gemini/Gopher tests

Links 9/2/2021: helloSystem, Linspire 10, Finnix 122

Posted in News Roundup at 7:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Patching

      • Free, Live Kernel Patching for the Raspberry Pi Now Available

        CloudLinux announced today that its KernelCare service now supports the Raspberry Pi platform providing live patching for the running kernel with zero downtime — improving security for IoT deployments.

        KernelCare for Raspberry Pi is a free service ensuring that IoT devices and assemblies are automatically updated and always available. This provides IoT projects with improved protection against newly discovered vulnerabilities as they are fixed, rather than being easy targets for hackers.

      • Microsoft is still struggling with broken Windows 10 updates | TechRadar

        Microsoft has once again released a series of Windows 10 Updates that appear to be causing problems for some users.

    • Server

      • Becoming a Linux system administrator: From sales to sysadmin

        Working under my own banner felt great, and I could only blame myself when things went wrong. I could follow my curiosity and use my common sense to avoid some pitfalls while still being young enough to walk straight into others. I loved every minute of it, and when I landed my first few contracts as a Lotus Notes developer, I managed to find a lot of limitations in the application, which kept me both challenged and motivated.

        I tried expanding my business and hired some staff. At the peak, I had six employees. However, I was too young and inexperienced at managing staff. They looked to me for guidance, but I had my head buried in development and the early days system administration. With my company on the brink of disaster, I realized I was not ready to be a manager and had to let everyone go. This was a very humbling experience, and I felt like dirt, but we all got through it with several lessons learned.

        The one-man-band company was back in the game, but I had run into issues because my applications were not performing as expected, and workflows were interrupted. I realized that my code was good, but the servers were poorly administered. Curiosity had me caught once again, so I started to learn server administration.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Full Circle Magazine: Full Circle Weekly News #199

        Ubuntu Giving Wayland Another Shot

        https://discourse.ubuntu.com/t/trying-wayland-by-default-again/20575

        Networking and Touchpads Work in Linux on M1 Macs
        [...]
        Greg Kroah-Hartman Needs Commercial Buy In For Longer Kernel Support

        https://lore.kernel.org/lkml/ef30af4d-2081-305d-cd63-cb74da819a6d@broadcom.com/

        Sudo Buffer Overflow Vulnerability Allows Unauthorized Root Access

        https://blog.qualys.com/vulnerabilities-research/2021/01/26/cve-2021-3156-heap-based-buffer-overflow-in-sudo-baron-samedit

        Libgcrypt 1.9.0 Released with Vulnerability

        https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2021/01/31/gnupg-crypto-library-can-be-pwned-during-decryption-patch-now/

        System 76 Posts Guide to Gaming

        https://blog.system76.com/post/641571610853326848/the-system76-guide-to-gaming-on-popos

        Linux Mint Ported 20.1 Features to LMDE 4

        https://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=4024

        Tails 4.15.1 Out

        https://tails.boum.org/news/version_4.15.1/index.en.html

        Nitrux 1.3.7 Out

        https://nxos.org/changelog/changelog-nitrux-1-3-7/

        Clonezilla Live 2.7.1-22 Out

        https://sourceforge.net/p/clonezilla/news/2021/01/stable-clonezilla-live-271-22-released/

        Gparted Live 1.2.0-1 Out

        https://gparted.org/news.php?item=237

        Gnome 3.38.3 Out

        https://ftp-chi.osuosl.org/pub/gnome/core/3.38/3.38.3/NEWS

        Firefox 85 Out

        https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/85.0/releasenotes/

        Nvidia Linux Driver 460.39 Out

        https://www.nvidia.com/Download/driverResults.aspx/170134/en-us

      • Is GNOME ready to tackle the SMARTPHONE ? A tour of Phosh on the PinePhone

        A lot of work has been put recently into making the various Linux desktop environments more able on mobile form factors. Let’s see how these efforts are panning out, starting with PHOSH, the GNOME mobile shell, and its applications.

      • Late Night Linux – Episode 111 – Late Night Linux

        Whether Debian should be easier for new users, Twitter pretends to care about decentralisation, a protip about portable monitors, how we should run an online FOSS Talk Live, and your feedback.

    • Kernel Space

      • So, you are a Linux kernel programmer and you want to do some automated testing…

        In October 2010, Steven Rostedt announced on the LKML that he was working on a script called ktest.pl to automate certain aspects of Linux kernel testing. The script is aimed at individual kernel programmers testing their patch series, and provides an alternative to the Autotest framework, which is powerful but quite involved for one person to set up.

        This post will cover ktest’s capabilities and requirements, and give concrete examples of how to use it in one specific environment, a single physical machine with a qemu VM run under virsh.

      • Graphics Stack

        • The Work Ahead For Ubuntu 21.04 To Switch To Wayland By Default

          Last month was the delightful news that Ubuntu 21.04 is aiming to use Wayland by default for non-NVIDIA systems on the GNOME desktop rather than the X.Org session. While there is two months to go until the Ubuntu 21.04 release, there still is more work ahead in making that shift a reality.

          The Ubuntu developers working on the Wayland-by-default transition have made their Trello workboard now public and it offers a glimpse at some of their planning and challenges around this significant shift in moving to Wayland by default. Their motivation in doing so now is to ensure that by Ubuntu 22.04 LTS next year the Wayland support will be shining and in excellent shape given that it is a long-term support release.

        • Ubuntu 21.04 will try to use Wayland by default

          I try to use Wayland wherever possible, since the performance gains and battery life improvements are just too good to ignore. There’s still two major blockers, though – first, NVIDIA support is problematic, at best, so my main computer will remain on X until NVIDIA gets its act together.

        • There’s Finally A Decent Vulkan Ray-Tracing Benchmark

          While so far only the NVIDIA proprietary driver on Linux supports the Vulkan ray-tracing extensions, eventually we will see support for these new Vulkan extensions with the AMD Vulkan drivers for the Radeon RX 6000 series and newer. There has also been work by Intel in preparing for Vulkan ray-tracing with Xe HPG. For when the time comes to test those implementations, there is finally one good, open-source, automated Vulkan RT benchmark so far.

        • NVIDIA Posts Patches For SVM Atomics Support With Open-Source Nouveau – Phoronix

          There are a new round of kernel patches posted today by NVIDIA for the open-source, traditionally reverse-engineered “Nouveau” graphics driver: implementing support for SVM atomic memory operations.

          NVIDIA has in the past posted Nouveau patches pertaining to Shared Virtual Memory (SVM) and Heterogeneous Memory Management (HMM). Their proprietary driver has been implementing bits of HMM and other new Linux kernel interfaces while with NVIDIA providing relevant pieces to Nouveau allows for demonstrating an open-source “client” / user of new code for satisfying upstream requirements. But Red Hat has also been actively working on improving the OpenCL/compute support for Nouveau too for some interesting reasons. So long story short, in the area of GPU compute is where NVIDIA has — and continued — volleying open-source patches.

        • RADV+ACO Look To Your Help For Improving The Vulkan Driver & Linux Gaming Performance

          RADV is a Vulkan driver for AMD GPUs that is part of the Mesa project and installed on most Linux distros out of the box. Our goal is to deliver a stable and performant driver to Linux gamers, and recently we’ve made our own shader compiler called ACO. To create the best possible experience, we’d like to take it a step further and ask our users for some testing and feedback.

    • Benchmarks

      • Beelink SEI Review – A Core i3-10110U Mini PC Tested with Windows and Ubuntu

        Prior to benchmarking, I perform all necessary installations and updates to run the latest versions of both OSes. I also capture some basic details of the device for each OS.

        [...]

        At first glance, the i3-10110U based Beelink SEi mini PC looks to be similar to the ‘NUC 10 Performance’ but without the Thunderbolt port and having lower USB specs (5Gbps rather than 10 Gbps). But by including a Windows Pro license and offering fully loaded configurations with RAM and storage the SEi is trying to be a price-conscious alternative.

        Compared to the previous generation of Gemini Lake mini PCs this is a more powerful device with both improved CPU and GPU performance. This does come at a slight cost as the fan is quite noisy when the processor is under load. It is unfortunate that ‘Power Limit’ throttling can occur seemingly randomly and it is not ideal having to check and reboot if affected. However, the inclusion of WiFi 6 and configurable storage options add to the improvements presented by the SEi.

    • Applications

      • The 15 Best Email Encryption Tools for Linux System

        Are you looking for the best email encryption tools for Linux? Because it’s essential to protect the contents of your emails from being viewed by others. The best way to do this is to encrypt them, which will stop others from accessing them. Anytime you send or receive sensitive information through an email service provider, you should always use some protection. Besides, many of these email security programs and software are available for Linux.

      • Chromium Losing Google Private API Support Soon [Options and Way Forward]

        Browser wars never seem to end. Now it’s the turn for Google Chrome. In case you are not aware, Google recently informed that they are shutting down private API support in all Chromium-based web browser on March 2021. We take a look at the situation and trying to figure out a way forward for our readers.

      • The 10 Best GIF Maker Apps for Linux

        If you take the word GIF and add the letter T in front of it as an extension, it sounds like a GIFT that keeps on giving. It is only a gift if you know how to create and implement one in various user-based circumstances. If you master the simple technicalities behind its creation and application, you immediately become the go-to guru for anything related to GIFs within your active community forums or social media platforms.

        You do not need a formal definition of the word GIF to relate to it. Your activeness and continuous interaction in many social platforms and community forums must have triggered an idea about it. The popularity of GIFs on the world wide web (www) is so broad that completely removing it will make the Internet’s definition incomplete.

      • Open-Source Apps That Have Good Privacy In Place

        Unfortunately there’re open-source apps that participate in mass surveillance and do not respect your privacy. Use our list for the best open-source apps for discretion…

      • Flowblade 2.8 Released with Customizable Panels Layout, Middlebar

        Flowblade, a multi-track non-linear video editor Linux, released new major 2.8 version today with focused on making the app more configurable.

        For 1680 x 1050 and higher screen resolution, now you can change the panels layout by moving panels to different positions using View->Panel Placement submenu.

      • Control Chromecast Devices From A Linux Desktop Via MPRIS Widgets Using chromecast_mpris

        chromecast_mpris is a daemon that allows you to control Chromecast devices from your Linux desktop using MPRIS widgets. The tool can also be used to open media and play YouTube videos on your Chromecast from the command line.

        MPRIS (Media Player Remote Interfacing Specification) support is available by default in the Plasma Desktop and Linux Mint, GNOME has a simple MPRIS widget in its Date / Time menu (and there are third-party extensions for this as well, like this MPRIS Indicator Button), playerctrl (a command line utility and library for controlling media players that implement the MPRIS D-Bus Interface Specification), etc.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • Getting hostname information from the beaker command line | Adam Young’s Web Log

        We use Beaker to allocate and loan computer hardware. If you want to talk to it via the comand line, you can use the bkr executable. Some of the information comes back as json, but beaker tends to speak xml. To look up a host name from a job, you need to be able to parse the xml. To do that, I used the xq execuable from the python yq package. Yes, x and y.

      • WordPress Menu

        Welcome back to WordPress 101 series. The series is dedicated to teaching WordPress CMS to WordPress beginners. If you have any questions, let me know in the comment section below.

        In this article, we are going to learn to structure menu(s) in a WordPress site. Menu(s) is an important part of any website. It is where website admin can put important links such as important categories, pricing page, FAQs, contact us, and so on.

      • GeoIP for nftables Brings Simplicity & Flexibility to GeoIP Filter

        What if you could block connections to your network in real-time from countries around the world such as Russia, China and Brazil where the majority of cyberattacks originate? What if you could redirect connections to a single network based on their origin? As you can imagine, being able to control these things would reduce the number of attack vectors on your network, improving its security. You may be surprised that this is not only possible, but straightforward and easy, by implementing GeoIP filtering on your nftables firewall with GeoIP for nftables.

      • List Or Check All Installed Linux Kernels From Commandline – OSTechNix

        Linux Kernel is the core component of a GNU/Linux operating system. It is a free, opensource, monolithic, modular, multitasking, Unix-like operating system kernel. It is created by Linus Torvalds for his i386 PC in 1991. We can install more than one Kernel in our system. Ever wondered how many Linux Kernels you have installed in your Linux box? No? Well, this brief tutorial will teach you how to view or check all installed Linux Kernels along with their versions from commandline in different Linux operating systems.

      • Oracle Linux Virtualization Manager: Managing Storage made easy with short training videos

        In this week’s blog, we present you with a set of short videos on managing storage in Oracle Linux Virtualization Manager. These videos introduce you to storage concepts and demonstrate how to create, attach, and maintain various storage types.

        In these videos, you will learn about storage domains that hold resources used by virtual machines. These resources include disk images, ISO files, templates, and snapshots. Supported storage types can be file-based storage like Network File System (NFS) or other POSIX compliant file systems. Oracle Linux Virtualization Manager also supports block-based storage types like Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) and Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) storage. You can also use locally attached storage for storage domains.

      • How to install Signal on a Chromebook

        Signal Messenger is a great way to securely talk to friends and family. The messaging service offers users an end-to-end encryption protocol to make sure only the folks involved can have access.

      • How to upgrade Friday Night Funkin to the latest version on a Chromebook

        Today we are looking at how to upgrade Friday Night Funkin to the latest version on a Chromebook. Please follow the video/audio guide as a tutorial where we explain the process step by step and use the commands below.

      • Using Rancher and RKE with MicroOS and Kubic

        Since SUSE acquired Rancher Labs, it’s time to explain how to run Rancher on MicroOS and how to import a Kubic cluster.

        I used Rancher 2.5.5 for this, newer versions my have different requirements.

      • Linux is the Most in Demand Skill Amongst Hiring Managers – Here’s How You Can Take Advantage

        Linux powers modern technologies, from the internet and cloud to supercomputers and mobile phones. That’s why the 2020 Open Source Jobs Report found that 74% of hiring managers are looking for Linux talent, more than any other skill. If you want to work on today’s hottest technologies, you need to have a solid understanding of Linux.

      • How to get LXD containers obtain IP from the LAN with ipvlan networking – Mi blog lah!

        You would use the ipvlan networking if you want to expose containers to the local network (LAN, or the Internet if you are using an Internet server, and have allocated several public IPs).

        Any containers with ipvlan will appear on the network to have the MAC address of the host. Therefore, this will work even when you use it on your laptop that is connected to the network over WiFi (or any router with port security). That is, you can use ipvlan when macvlan and bridged cannot work.

      • Install GT.M or YottaDB

        These instructions are a slightly modified version from the GT.M Acculturation Workshop.

      • How to Install Moodle on Ubuntu 20.04

        Moodle is a free and open-source learning management system (LMS). It is written in PHP programming language. Moodle is used by many schools, universities, and organizations for a better learning experience.

      • How To Install Gitlab on Debian 10 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Gitlab on Debian 10. For those of you who didn’t know, Gitlab is a graphical implementation of git, it is open-source repository management and version control system. GitLab is developed on Ruby on Rails. Using GitLab you can host your source code on your own server. This ensures the security of the code and gives you total freedom on the number of users as well as the number of repositories and the number of files. GitLab provides you with a platform to collaborate on projects and to keep track of changes in code. GitLab has widely used for software development and version control related tasks. In many ways, it is similar to GitHub, except you can install it on your own server.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step by step installation of Gitlab on a Debian 10 (Buster).

      • How to Assign/Remap Keyboard Shortcuts for Better Productivity in Linux – Make Tech Easier

        By default, Ubuntu comes with a set of keyboard shortcuts that you can use straight away. However, you may not like the default mappings of some of these keyboard shortcuts. They might be assigned to shortcuts you’re used to using for something else, disrupting your productivity. For example, if you have a keyboard with a media button, that button is automatically mapped to Rhythmbox. If your favorite media player is VLC, you may want to change the keyboard shortcut to your favorite application.

        There are several ways to manage your keyboard shortcuts in Linux. You can do it via Xmodmap (and Xkeycaps) or through your desktop environment’s keyboard/shortcut settings. This article will focus mainly on how to change the shortcuts or assign new ones on two of the most popular desktop environments, Gnome and KDE.

      • How to Add User to Sudoers or Sudo Group on Arch Linux

        Sudo allows a user to run commands or programs with security privileges of another user ( by default superuser). Superuser in Linux is called ‘root’.

        It is one of the best security practice is to use non-root user to perform server administration.

        In this quick article, we are going to create a user and add to a sudo group in Arch Linux.

      • How to Check Your Server Load in Linux

        One of the sectors where Linux has been at the forefront is the Web server industry. Linux distributions act as servers for a high majority of the websites on the Internet. Apart from websites, they are also used nowadays for Software as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, etc. platforms, all thanks to its ecosystem centered around security.

        Linux Server Load refers to the average work being done by a web server in a given amount of time. It is generally specified in averages of the last 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

      • How to Add Fingerprint Login in Ubuntu and Other Linux

        Many high-end laptops come with fingerprint readers these days. Windows and macOS have been supporting fingerprint login for some time. In desktop Linux, the support for fingerprint login was more of geeky tweaks but GNOME and KDE have started supporting it through system settings.

        This means that on newer Linux distribution versions, you can easily use fingerprint reading. I am going to enable fingerprint login in Ubuntu here but you may use the steps on other distributions running GNOME 3.38.

      • How Do You Import Bookmarks From Chrome to Firefox (Complete Guide)

        Firefox and Chrome are two of the most popular browsers on the market. There are other browsers like Opera and Edge that own smaller portions of the browser market.

        Every browser that tries to gain users must also provide them with an easy way to move away from their old browser and quickly adjust to the new one. A browser stores all sorts of information and it needs to be imported into the new browser if the transition is going to be smooth.

      • How to Create an Ansible Test Environment using LXD – buildVirtual

        LXD/LXC is great for setting up test / development environments as it allows us to quickly create Linux based containers that behave like full virtual machines.

        I recently had the requirement to develop an Ansible Playbook to configure a bunch of machines as a web farm. I decided to use LXD/LXC to create an environment where I could test the playbook quickly and easily. This meant I wouldn’t have to worry about needing to build any VMs, or anything external to the system I was working on.

        In the following sections I will show the commands I ran to create the environment, explaining what each part does, before showing the completed script at the end of the page, so please read through to the end! Before continuing, you will need to have installed LXC. Checkout this article on how to install LXC/LXD if you haven’t already.

      • How to Find Files in CentOS 8 on the Command Line

        Finding files in any operating is a very common task as you have multiple files residing on your system at a time. The GUI based methods of doing so are readily available for every operating system, however, in Linux, I mostly prefer the CLI based methods. That is why today we will learn the two most simple methods of finding files in CentOS 8.

      • What Is A Dockerfile ? – buildVirtual

        What is a dockerfile? When working with Docker you can download (pull) a pre-built Docker image from a registry such as Docker Hub, or you can build your own images by building from Dockerfiles. This article will look at what Dockerfiles are and how to write them so that you can build your own Docker images.

      • How to install Ubuntu on Windows 10 | FOSS Linux

        When it comes to operating systems, you will get majorly three or four choices. If you are here, you already know Ubuntu — a popular Linux distro. To learn and enjoy what Ubuntu offers, you need to install it. A fresh install on your hard drive will provide you the best way to use it in most cases.

      • How to setup a Kubernetes Cluster on AWS using Kops

        Kops is used to bringing up the Kubernetes cluster in the easiest possible way. It is a command-line tool used to create Kubernetes Clusters. Kops officially supports AWS where GCP, DigitalOcean, and OpenStack are in Beta. Kops can also generate Terraform files for the required cluster configuration. One can not only easily create a cluster using Kops, but also modify, delete and upgrade the Kubernetes version in the cluster.

        In this article, we will see the steps to create a Kubernetes cluster with 1 master and 1 worker node on AWS. Before we proceed, it is assumed that you are already familiar with Kubernetes

    • Games

      • Terraria port for Stadia cancelled after owner locked out of Google

        The head of a company that makes the popular Windows game Terraria has cancelled plans for a port to Google’s Stadia platform after his company’s Google account was disabled with no warning.

      • Proton 5.13-6 RC Continues With More Cyberpunk 2077 Fixes For Linux – Phoronix

        Valve and their partners at CodeWeavers have put out a release candidate for Proton 5.13-6 as the latest version of their Wine-based software for running Windows games on Linux via Steam Play.

      • Ocean’s Heart: Top-Down Zelda-Like Action RPG: Review

        Craving a Zelda-like game? Something from the 2D, pixelated era, like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the SNES, or The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for the Gameboy? Look no further than Ocean’s Heart, available on Steam since January 2021, and perfectly playable on Proton.

        Developed by Max Mraz and published by Nordcurrent, the game practically screams Zelda, from the same blue clothing the female protagonist, Tilia, wears that Link wears in Breath of the Wild, the short blonde hair, the sword, the boots, the top-down camera setting, the bows and arrows, the boomerangs, the bombs, the hearts, the magic, the rolling on the ground. Yet, it differs enough to still be a decent game, with different weapons, different characters, a different story, and different artwork. Whether you’re a seasoned Zelda fan or completely unfamiliar with the games in the series, I think Ocean’s Heart will appeal to both audiences. If you dislike the Zelda series though? Well, you probably won’t like this either.

        [...]

        Unfortunately for us, there’s no Linux version of the game, which I would imagine be a simple thing to do, since Solarus has cross-platform support, but the good news is it runs just fine on Proton. Occasionally on my end the game crashed when ALT + Tabbing out of the game or when my Series X controller disconnected, so be sure to save the game frequently.

    • Distributions

      • Finnix 122 Linux Distro for Sysadmins Released with Improved Boot Speed, Linux 5.10 LTS

        Finnix 122 comes six months after Finnix 121 with a bunch of improvements for the live ISO images, including faster boot times, better compatibility with systems using older BIOSes when booting the distro from a USB flash drive, smaller ISO size, and a redesigned boot splash screen with a prelonged default timeout of 30s.

        This release is fully synced with the Debian GNU/Linux 11 “Bullseye” (Testing) repositories as of February 6th, 2021, and it’s powered by the latest and greatest Linux 5.10 LTS kernel, which automatically translates to better hardware support.

      • Finnix 122 release notes

        Finnix 122 includes a number of fixes, new packages and new features:

        Improved USB flash drive boot compatibility on older BIOSes
        Improved boot speed
        Lowered ISO size
        Added “finnix” getting started command
        Added “wifi-connect” helper script

        [...]

      • New Releases

        • Linspire 10 Released

          This weekend, our development team is pleased to announce the release of Linspire 10.0, a major version update brings its codebase to the latest Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. Once again, PC/OS engineers have worked diligently to develop the best, most meticulously designed and engineered FOSS desktop on the market today, intuitive, efficient, ready for your workflow. There have been many changes incorporating features and functionality that elevate Linspire to the forefront of consumer operating systems / mainstream Linux distributions.

      • BSD

        • helloSystem is a FreeBSD Distro Modelled on Mac OS X (Off Topic)

          The following 600 words are all about a promising new FreeBSD distro and why it has me rather excited.

          So, for the duration of this ramble I’d appreciate you pretending it’s 2008 and this site is still called ‘FYIDYK’ — the forerunner to omg! with a worse acronym and a ‘cover everything’ attitude!

          In this post I look at what this distro is, what it isn’t, and what it hopes to become. Plus, I share a link to download installer images (warning: experimental) so you can try it out for yourself.

        • helloSystem Wants To Be The “macOS of BSDs” With A Polished Desktop Experience

          While it was a sad blow when PC-BSD/TrueOS stopped pursuing its desktop ambitions as what was arguably the leading BSD desktop operating system out there with a nice end-user experience, since then we have seen efforts like MidnightBSD, GhostBSD, and others fill the avoid with continuing to enhance the out-of-the-box BSD desktop system. A new entrant that is quite interesting is helloSystem that aims to be a “macOS of BSDs” for a polished desktop experience.

          This weekend during the virtual FOSDEM 2021 conference, which I believe was the first time I’ve heard of helloSystem. The helloSystem project shares similar design goals to that of macOS in being something that “just works”, doesn’t need much configuration, and works well out-of-the-box on the desktop. The helloSystem OS is powered by a FreeBSD base. Even the helloSystem desktop has been configured to look like an early MacOS X desktop.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

        • Solus 4.2 MATE Run Through

          In this video, we are looking at Solus 4.2 MATE.

        • Solus 4.2 MATE

          Today we are looking at Solus 4.2, the MATE edition. It comes with Linux Kernel 5.10, MATE 1.24, and uses about 900MB of ram when idling. Enjoy!

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • The unanswered question at CentOS community Q&A: How can we trust you now? [Ed: Microsoft Tim seeding doubt about GNU/Linux]

          The CentOS board conducted a public Q&A just ahead of last week’s FOSDEM 2021 open source conference – and there was an awkward silence when someone asked whether changing the end-of-life (EOL) date for a released project is something that might happen again.

          This killer query came about half an hour into the session, which can be viewed here. “A question has come in about the change of the EOL for a community deliverable during a release being very unusual. Is this [a] thing that could theoretically happen in the future?” said moderator Brian Exelbierd from Red Hat (and also a board member).

          A lengthy silence ensued before Pat Riehecky from Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, a CentOS board member since April 2020, offered: “It’s hard to predict the future.”

          Indeed, but this question was not really about the future, nor was it about CentOS Stream, though the board members (eventually) chose to answer as if it were.

        • IBM Champions help others to succeed – and gain a lot in return
        • In the era of open hybrid cloud, open source skills matter more than proprietary software skills [Ed: Open [sic] hybrid ‘clown’ is not Free software; they redefine things]

          Cloud technology is so prevalent today that a recent IBM Institute for Business Value study found that a typical enterprise uses nearly eight clouds from multiple vendors. The study also notes a surge in the adoption of hybrid clouds — the combination of public clouds, private clouds, and on-premises IT — noting that in the next three years, hybrid cloud adoption is expected to grow by 47%, and the average organization will be using nearly six hybrid clouds.

        • IBM entry-level flash storage gets update with hybrid cloud and container support [Ed: "Hybrid clown" again]
        • Data and AI brings power to the people [Ed: A racist company exploits black people to promote Microsoft’s proprietary software monopoly, GitHub]
        • IBM, Palantir Join Hands To Help Businesses Deploy Open AI Applications [Ed: IBM is still evil and moreover remember this when IBM tells you that it combats racism. It doesn’t.]

          IBM and Palantir Technologies have entered into a new partnership consisting of IBM’s hybrid cloud data platform designed to deliver AI for business, with Palantir’s next-gen operations platform for building applications.

          The product is expected to simplify how businesses build and deploy AI-infused applications with IBM Watson and help users access, analyze, and take action on the vast amounts of data that is scattered across hybrid cloud environments – without the need for deep technical skills.

          The new product, Palantir for IBM Cloud Pak for Data, is planned for general availability in March of 2021.

          Additionally, Palantir is adopting Red Hat OpenShift, allowing it to run anywhere in the hybrid cloud.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • 6 Best Free and Open Source Graphical XMPP Clients

        XMPP (also known as Jabber) is an open and free alternative to commercial messaging and chat providers. It is a secure battle-tested protocol developed by an independent standards organization.

        XMPP was designed for real-time communication, which powers a wide range of applications including instant messaging, presence, media negotiation, whiteboarding, collaboration, lightweight middleware, content syndication, EDI, RPC and more.

        The “X” in XMPP stands for “Extensible”, which means the core protocol is updated and extended with more features through a transparent process at the non-profit XMPP Standards Foundation every now and then. This results in some clients not implementing every feature of XMPP; for example, a typical instant messaging client won’t implement Internet-of-Things functionality.

      • Understanding Linus’s Law for open source security

        In 2021, there are more reasons why people love Linux than ever before. In this series, I’ll share 21 different reasons to use Linux. This article discusses Linux’s influence on the security of open source software.

        An often-praised virtue of open source software is that its code can be reviewed (or “audited,” as security professionals like to say) by anyone and everyone. However, if you actually ask many open source users when the last time they reviewed code was, you might get answers ranging from a blank stare to an embarrassed murmur. And besides, there are some really big open source applications out there, so it can be difficult to review every single line of code effectively.

      • My open source disaster recovery strategy for the home office

        I’ve worked from home for years, and with the COVID-19 crisis, millions more have joined me. Teachers, accountants, librarians, stockbrokers… you name it, these workers now operate full or part time from their homes. Even after the coronavirus crisis ends, many will continue working at home, at least part time. But what happens when the home worker’s computer fails? Whether the device is a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop—and whether the problem is hardware or software—the result might be missed workdays and lots of frustration.

        This article explores how to ensure high-availability home computing. Open source software is key. It offers device independence so that home workers can easily move between primary and backup devices. Most importantly, it gives users control of their environment, which is the surest route to high availability. This simple high-availability strategy, based on open source, is easy to modify for your needs.

      • Top open source, tech-smart, board-ready women executives | ZDNet

        That’s a bad thing and not just for women leaders. Studies show that employee productivity is significantly higher for companies with three or more women on their boards. That means both higher profits and dividend payouts. As the Bloomberg editorial board recently pointed out, if companies really cared about doing what’s best for shareholders they’d have more women leaders.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • This is What Firefox’s New “Proton” Redesign Looks Like on Ubuntu

            Firefox has had a number of major redesigns in the past, including the Australis UI update in 2014, and the the Photon uplift in 2017. A third is now on the way, dubbed Proton.

            Mozilla will roll our its latest ‘visual refresh’ later this year (possibly in Firefox 89). More than a mere tickle around the sides, the Proton redesign affects several parts of the core browser experience, including the new tab page, hamburger menu, and the tab strip.

            Confirmed Proton redesigns coming…

      • CMS

        • WordPress 5.7 Beta 2

          This software is still in development, so it’s not recommended to run this version on a production site. Consider setting up a test site to play with it.

      • FSF

        • Free Software Foundation awarded perfect score from Charity Navigator, plus eighth consecutive four-star rating

          The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has been awarded a four-star and 100% rating, the highest possible, from Charity Navigator, the largest independent evaluator of US-based nonprofit charities. The FSF was also selected for Charity Navigator’s “Top Ten List” as one of “10 Charities Worth Watching.” These designations exemplify the FSF’s strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency.

          Using objective analysis, Charity Navigator awards only the most fiscally responsible organizations a four-star rating, with metrics including governance, ethical practices, operations in accordance with industry best practices, and openness with donors and stakeholders. This is the eighth year in a row the FSF has received a four-star rating, a record attained by only six percent of the 160,000 charities evaluated by Charity Navigator. The FSF also earned perfect scores on “Financial Health” and “Accountability & Transparency,” resulting in the organization’s first-ever 100% rating, an accomplishment less than one percent of all charities evaluated by Charity Navigator are able to achieve. This is the second time the FSF has placed in the list of “10 Charities Worth Watching.”

        • Licensing/Legal

          • Molly de Blanc: Proprietary (definition) [Ed: Molly de Blanc does not understand that “Open Core” means proprietary; just stop saying “Open Source” as it’s dead; the people who are supposed to enforce the definition are braindead or eager to promote proprietary with openwashing. ‘Infiltrators’ inside “open source” who never contributed in practical (technical) terms to Free software are trying to destroy the whole thing by bending definitions and rebranding proprietary as “open”.]

            I recently had the occasion to try and find a definition of “proprietary” in terms of software that is not on Wikipedia. Most of the discussion on the issue I found was focused on what free and open source software is, and that anything that isn’t FOSS is proprietary. I don’t think the debate is as simple as this, especially if you want to get into conversations about nuance around things like Open Core.

            [...]

            I’ll start by proposing the following definition:

            Proprietary software is software that comes with restrictions on what users can do with the software and the source code that constitutes said software.

          • Modernizing Our Mission Statement [Ed: Defunct OSI changes, formally, its mission now that the majority of its budget is directed towards boosting Microsoft monopoly]

            We have reworked our mission statement. First of all, our positions have not changed but the activities that we focus on going forward will continue to extend beyond license approval. We remain stewards of the Open Source Definition (aka OSD) but we will also be looking for other ways to support, grow and maintain the open source ecosystem.

            Our old mission statement was pretty wordy and didn’t succinctly encompass all the work that we do anymore. The OSI finds itself in a very different place than we were when we started. Open source software is everywhere now and the tech landscape has changed quite a bit. The needs of the open source community are more varied and little more complicated than they were in 1998. We aim to meet the needs of a larger, more global community and that means declaring our intent to embrace change and update our tactics.

          • Code for AI becomes public as part of startup license structured by The Working Group

            Ilya Podolyako, the founder of Blackbird.io, released the underlying source code to the public under a GNU General Public License 3.0 license at bbio.fogbugz.com.

      • Programming/Development

        • Building Qt WebEngine Against Other Qt Versions

          We have recently gotten the question of how to build and test Qt WebEngine 5.15.3 a lot, so I would like to provide the details and potential problem of a mixed version build here.

          This is also relevant for anyone building WebEngine 5.15.x against Qt 5.12.x, another mixed version combination we provide some support for.

          First ensure you have all the build dependencies, the dependencies for Linux are listed on Building Qt 5 from Git. For macOS and Windows, it mainly means ensuring a Python2 (yes 2, Chromium still hasn’t fully migrated to Python3) and new for Qt 5.15.3, a node.js binary which is now used by Chromium to package certain web interfaces, and which can be downloaded from nodejs.org or using Homebrew on macOS. Bison and flex is also needed, but should be fairly standard on Mac and Linux and in qt5/gnuwin32 for Windows.

        • Khronos Releases SYCL 2020 For C++ Heterogeneous Parallel Programming – Phoronix

          SYCL as the single-source C++-based programming model for heterogeneous parallel programming is now revised to the SYCL 2020 specification released today by The Khronos Group.

          SYCL 2020 as the successor to the SYCL 1.2.x standard adds unified shared memory (USM) support, parallel reductions, work group and subgroup algorithm support, expanded interoperability, and SYCL atomic operations that more closely behave like C++ atomics. There are more than 40 new features of SYCL 2020 in full to enhance the programming experience from desktop and mobile through HPC deployments with this programming model based on C++.

        • Perl/Raku

          • raku = Easy | Hard – Physics::Journey

            In general, this pattern is used to have system experts do the low level, tricksy stuff (parsers, VMs, threads, optimisers) and domain experts can then employ a high level abstraction and for each to be able to focus on their specific domain(s) of interest.

            These patterns are often accompanied by the use of a powerful, low level language in the server, and a quick and flexible language in the client. You know the scene: Javascript and HTML accessing Java Object Oriented business logic and a SQL database with ACID transactions. And this asymmetric architecture has often made good sense, allowing the server to be fine tuned and type checked while still facilitating rapid application development and delivery via a variety of web / application presentations. Rust in general and the recently announced Rust rewrite of Apache come into this category

            But, when these specialisations turn into silos, then barriers may arise that can hamper adaptability, speed of delivery and front-to-back consistency. That’s one reason why bridges have arisen between server and client – Javascript and Node.js being one typical response from the market.

            Enter raku; like it predecessor perl, raku is a language that can ‘telescope’. From pithy one liners on the command line to deep class model introspection and mutation. Depending on the needs of the situation and the knowledge of the developer. So, raku combines an approachable on-ramp for less experienced coders and it offers power developers the keys they need to open up and adapt underlying structures to fit specialised requirements. Raku can even inline low level code (C, C++) where the limits of the language are reached. A reboot of the original perl philosophy of “making the easy things easy and the hard things possible”.

        • Python

          • Geolocation using Python | The Linux Rain

            Geolocating is the process of retrieving location-related information about a given IP address. And yes! It can be done using Python! So, let’s get right to it.

          • Pattern matching accepted for Python

            The Python steering council has, after some discussion, accepted the controversial proposal to add a pattern-matching primitive to the language. “We acknowledge that Pattern Matching is an extensive change to Python and that reaching consensus across the entire community is close to impossible. Different people have reservations or concerns around different aspects of the semantics and the syntax (as does the Steering Council). In spite of this, after much deliberation, reviewing all conversations around these PEPs, as well as competing proposals and existing poll results, and after several in-person discussions with the PEP authors, we are confident that Pattern Matching as specified in PEP 634, et al, will be a great addition to the Python language.”

          • Understanding Word Embeddings Using Spacy Python

            In this post, we will go over “What are Word Embeddings” and how to generate Word embeddings for stock tweets using Python package Spacy.

        • Rust

        • Java

          • Refactoring one Java CRUD Application via adding two constructors to Bean class

            The original application https://www.javatpoint.com/crud-in-jsp is using bean without any explicitly declared constructor . To be able invoke different constructors first one for “Update”,”Insert”, “Delete” and another one for “Select” which is supposed to be invoked explicitly we’ve done following updates to bean User.java. The more intensively we start to use JSP when developing applications, the more imperceptible we come to JSF technology .

  • Leftovers

    • Something Like Life

      The novel is a survivor. In the centuries since Cervantes turned the endeavor inside out, so many writers have set out to make the form, well, novel. From Proust’s long game to postmodern tricksters like Julio Cortázar to the contemporary faction of autofiction writers devoted to blurring the space between fiction and fact, the novel adapts even as it endures.

    • “A Simple Boy From the Prairie”

      But beyond my gratitude for someone noticing my writing, I was intrigued by the questions. And when I suggested we might publish the interview, I was even more intrigued by the student’s request to stay anonymous. She wrote that she was “extremely unsure of having my name on anything online. I know I am very strange (probably the strangest person I’ve ever met), but I’m not on Facebook or social media. I actually like the fact that googling my name gets no results about me. I don’t know if I’m ready yet to give up my blissful online non-existence. Is that crazy?”

      It didn’t seem crazy to me, but I asked if she might want to describe herself for readers. Here is her self-description:

    • Resistance Songs: Remembering Anne Feeney

      Although Anne died too young, she lived a long life.  She lived many lives during those 69 years, really, and she cheated death at least a couple times during her last decade on Earth.

      As I set out to write some words about my old and very dear friend, colleague, and fellow worker (that’s Wobbly for comrade), I feel compelled to note first that this is only going to be one of many remembrances of Anne Feeney that will be written, by many different people.  Anne personally knew many thousands of people around the world.  Many of them she spent a lot of time with over many decades, and knew very well.  A much larger number of people have listened to her music over the course of those decades, and thus had her in their lives in all sorts of other important ways.

    • Science

      • Misuse of the VAERS database: An old antivax deception repackaged to spread fear of COVID-19 vaccines

        With the rollout of safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19 finally starting to result in tens of millions of people receiving the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, with newer vaccines likely to be introduced in the coming months, the predictions that I (and many others) made months ago are coming to pass. I’m referring, of course, to antivaxxers resurrecting old antivaccine tropes, dusting them off, and updating them for the age of COVID. Examples abound, including antivaxxers claiming that COVID-19 vaccines cause female infertility, “reprogram your DNA“, are unnecessary because COVID-19 is not deadly, and even kill, particularly the elderly. Similarly, as expected, antivaxxers point to anecdotes of bad things happening to people after receiving the vaccine that are almost certainly coincidences and not related to the vaccine and are weaponizing them to spread fear. Certainly, it doesn’t help that there is at least one person who proclaims himself so very, very, very pro-vaccine is out there pointing to anecdotes and attacking critics to support his pet hypothesis that it’s dangerous to vaccinate people who have pre-existing COVID-19 antibodies. So I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that antivaxxers are now weaponizing the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) database to try to blame all manner of adverse events on vaccines, whether there is evidence of causation or not.

    • Hardware

      • This laptop has seven times the average number of screens

        A company called Expanscape has created the most Inspector Gadget-like device that I’ve ever seen. It’s a laptop prototype called the Aurora 7 (a working title), and attached to its humongous black box of a chassis are six extra displays that extend out in every direction away from the main screen, each showing its own windows and applications.

        If you’re like me, the first thought that comes to mind is “that poor hinge!” Yeah, poor hinge, indeed. Many laptop hinges don’t gracefully handle having one screen attached, let alone seven. Piggybacking on the main 17.3-inch 4K display are three other screens of the same size and resolution. Above the left and right displays is a single seven-inch 1200p monitor. You’ll also find one more seven-inch 1200p touchscreen display mounted into the wrist rest. This prototype weighs about 26 pounds and is 4.3 inches thick. It has an imposing, intimidating presence, and I haven’t even seen it in person.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Raji Sourani: Gaza Faces COVID Crisis as Israel Withholds Vaccines While Imposing Inhumane Blockade

        The World Health Organization estimates there have been 51,312 confirmed cases and 522 deaths from COVID-19 in Gaza since reporting began in July 2020, and the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees warns the Gaza Strip’s health system could collapse if the number of cases continues to rise. We get an update from Raji Sourani, human rights lawyer and director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza, on how Gaza has been impacted by COVID-19 as an ongoing blockade has destroyed its health infrastructure. “Our equipment is unable to deal with the emerging situation,” Sourani says.

      • House Democrats Say Trump Admin Told CDC to Suppress COVID Tests to Hide Cases
      • AOC, Schumer Finalize Plan to Cover Funeral Costs of COVID Victims Under FEMA
      • No Beach Dompas: an Illegal Dip in the Indian Ocean During South Africa’s Covid-19 Restrictions

        On 30 December 2020, the South African government put the country back on Level 3 restrictions to try and curb the surge in Covid-19 cases over the Christmas holidays. This included a ban on alcohol sales, and the use of any body of water open to the public – lakes, dams, rivers, and the oceans, including beaches.

        We had just spent two weeks in the interior, up in the Kalahari bordering Botswana and Namibia. It was hot, dusty and damn far from the beach – almost 500 kilometres from the Northern Cape’s Atlantic coastline, which had not banned beach access, partly due to being so sparsely populated, as well the water being very cold – and 1,500 km from the coastline of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), where we live.

      • First, Nurses Saved Our Lives—Now They’re Saving Our Health Care

        Tonia Bazel didn’t want to strike during a pandemic, taking time away from the patients on the infectious disease floor where she works. Nevertheless, she and the other nurses at Albany Medical Center in New York took to the picket line on December 1. They had been bargaining for two years following their vote to join the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) in 2018, and although wages and benefits had been the source of their initial concerns, conditions during the Covid-19 crisis had become the focus of their action. As a second wave of the virus began to wash over the state, they went on strike to demand better protective equipment and safer staffing levels.1

      • Cuba’s COVID-19 Vaccines Serve the People, Not Profits

        The New York Times’s running report on the world’s vaccine programs shows 67 vaccines having advanced to human trials; 20 of them are in the final phase of trials or have completed them. The United States, China, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, South Korea, and India have each produced many vaccines; most vaccine-manufacturing countries are offering one or two vaccines.

        Cuba is the only vaccine manufacturer in Latin America; there are none in Africa. The only state-owned entities producing the leading vaccines are those of Cuba and Russia.

      • Patient records stolen from Florida and Texas hospitals get published on the dark web [iophk: Windows TCO]

        A report from HIPAA Journal Dec. 29 said Leon Medical had been struck with Conti ransomware and that those behind the attack demanded a ransom payment in return for a decryption key and a promise not to publish stolen records. Those behind the attack claim to have stolen personal health information relating to more than 1 million patients, although Leon Medical Centers denied the figure, calling it grossly overstated.

        Conti ransomware was in the news at around the same time Leon Medical Centers is said to have hit. Industrial computer manufacturer Advantech Co. Ltd. was reported to have been struck by Conti ransomware Nov. 19, while Canadian voice over IP hardware and software maker Sangoma Technologies Corp. disclosed a Conti ransomware attack late December.

        How the data was stolen from Nocona General Hospital, however, appears to be a mystery. In stark contrast to Leon Medical Centers, Nocona has not published a breach disclosure on its website. Texomas reported that an attorney for the hospital chain told NBC Nocona that the company was not a victim of ransomware.

      • Why The Pandemic Is 10 Times Worse Than You Think

        The model’s conclusion: On any given day, the actual number of active cases — people who are newly infected or still infectious — is likely 10 times that day’s official number of reported cases.

        The model has not been published or peer-reviewed yet, but lead researcher, Jeffrey Shaman, an infectious disease specialist at Columbia University, shared the data exclusively with NPR. Here are more of the startling takeaways.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Security

          • Attacker changes chemical strength in Florida water treatment plant

            A malicious attacker was able to gain access to the water treatment plant in Oldsmar, a city in Pinellas County, Florida, and increased the concentration of sodium hydroxide to what the county sheriff Bob Gualtieri described as a “dangerous level”.

          • Arrest, Raids Tied to ‘U-Admin’ Phishing Kit

            Cyber cops in Ukraine carried out an arrest and several raids last week in connection with the author of a U-Admin, a software package used to administer what’s being called “one of the world’s largest phishing services.” The operation was carried out in coordination with the FBI and authorities in Australia, which was particularly hard hit by phishing scams perpetrated by U-Admin customers.

          • [Crackers] breach, attempt to poison Florida city’s water supply

            Pinellas County, Fla., Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced at a press conference Monday that the [attacker] had gained control of the operating system at the city’s water treatment facility and had attempted to increase the amount of sodium hydroxide in the water from 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million.

          • Security updates for Tuesday [LWN.net]

            Security updates have been issued by CentOS (flatpak), Debian (connman, golang-1.11, and openjpeg2), Fedora (pngcheck), Mageia (php, phppgadmin, and wpa_supplicant), openSUSE (privoxy), Oracle (flatpak and kernel), Red Hat (qemu-kvm-rhev), SUSE (kernel, python-urllib3, and python3), and Ubuntu (firefox).

          • Risk of local privilege escalation via setuid programs — 2021 — Blog — GNU Guix

            On Guix System, setuid programs were, until now, installed as setuid-root and setgid-root (in the /run/setuid-programs directory). However, most of these programs are meant to run as setuid-root, but not setgid-root. Thus, this setting posed a risk of local privilege escalation (users of Guix on a “foreign distro” are unaffected).

          • security things in Linux v5.8

            Linux v5.8 was released in August, 2020. Here’s my summary of various security things that caught my attention…

          • Cook: security things in Linux v5.8

            Kees Cook catches up with the security-related changes in the 5.8 kernel release.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Amazon Transparency Report Indicates Its Multiple IoT Devices Are Juicy Targets For Law Enforcement

              Never forget the IoT device you invite into your home may become the state’s witness. That’s one of the unfortunate conclusions that can be drawn from Amazon’s latest transparency report.

            • NYT Easily Tracks Location Data From Capitol Riots, Highlighting Once Again How US Privacy Standards Are A Joke

              First there was the Securus and LocationSmart scandal, which showcased how cellular carriers and data brokers buy and sell your daily movement data with only a fleeting effort to ensure all of the subsequent buyers and sellers of that data adhere to basic privacy and security standards. Then there was the blockbuster report by Motherboard showing how this data routinely ends up in the hands of everyone from bail bondsman to stalkers, again, with only a fleeting effort made to ensure the data itself is used ethically and responsibly.

            • Tor in the Media: 2020

              This year, we’re continuing a new tradition of reviewing media and news stories that mentioned Tor and the Tor Project. Our goal is to highlight what is changing (or not) in the conversation about privacy and censorship, as well as identifying the ways the media discusses Tor in the context of these challenges.

              Last year started off on a “normal” note–we were preparing to dive into our roadmap for 2020, and news outlets were publishing articles explaining Tor, demonstrating how to use Tor Browser to protect your privacy online, and highlighting how privacy is a human right Tor fights to make available for everyone online. And then COVID-19 changed everything.

            • Police used geofence warrant to make Google to identify George Floyd protestors

              We’re only aware of the search warrant because an individual who had their information given to the police by Google, Said Abdullahi, received an email from Google letting him know that the information had been handed over. Abdullahi then turned this information over to TechCrunch, who were able to get their hands on the geofence warrant. This is part of Google’s transparency push which alerts users when governments have accessed account information via a warrant or if an account has been the victim of suspected state actor hacking.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Let the Investigation Begin: the International Criminal Court, Israel and the Palestinian Territories

        The Trump administration made a point of imposing sanctions on court staff, specifically targeting chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, whose entry visa to the US was revoked.  The moves were instigated in response to investigative efforts by the prosecutor into the alleged commission of war crimes by US, Taliban and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.

        Israel has also kept a witheringly hostile eye towards the activities of the ICC.  The acceptance by Palestinian authorities in 2015 of the court’s jurisdiction heralded the next troubling step in scrutinising Israeli actions in the occupied territories.

      • Landmark ICC Decision Could Open the Door for Prosecuting Israel on War Crimes
      • ICC’s “Landmark Decision” Could Open Door to Prosecuting Israel for War Crimes in Palestine

        In a landmark decision, judges at the International Criminal Court say the body has jurisdiction over war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories, opening the door to possible criminal charges against Israel and militant groups like Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the international tribunal’s decision “pure anti-Semitism” and rejected its claim of jurisdiction, as did the United States, while Palestinian officials and human rights groups welcome the news. Human rights lawyer Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza, says the decision restores “the independence and the credibility of the ICC.” We also speak with Katherine Gallagher, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights and a legal representative for Palestinian victims in front of the ICC. She says the court’s ruling is “a landmark decision” that provides “some measure of accountability” when war crimes are committed in Palestinian territories. “There are just an array of violations that have been going on for years,” Gallagher says.

      • Pentagon: Extremist groups recruit from military

        Extremist groups “very aggressively recruit” military service members to leave the ranks, the Defense Department’s top spokesman said Monday.

      • Kurds Warn of Growing Islamic State Capabilities in Iraq

        Despite Abu Yasser’s death, Sarbast Lazgin, deputy minister of Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces, says the terror group has increased its activities while Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have yet to come to an effective joint mechanism on how to govern so-called disputed areas. Kirkuk is also considered part of the disputed territories between Baghdad and the KRG.

      • Suspected Islamists kill 10 in eastern Congo machete attack

        BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – Suspected Islamists killed 10 people in a raid on a village in eastern Democractic Republic of Congo and kidnapped several others, local authorities and a witness said.

        The attack, in which assailants used machetes, occurred on Friday night in the village of Mabule, around 25 km (16 miles) south east of Beni, the sources said.

      • Middle East: Are people losing their religion?

        Dorsey, an expert on the region, highlights two contrasting examples. While the United Arab Emirates has lifted the bans on alcohol consumption and unmarried couples living together, Saudi Arabia has labeled having atheist thoughts as a form of terrorism.

        As an example, Dorsey references Saudi dissident and activist Raif Badawi, who was convicted of apostasy, or insulting Islam. Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for questioning why Saudis are obliged to adhere to Islam — and asserting that religion did not have the answers to all of life’s questions.

      • The New Humanitarian | Humanitarian crises to watch in 2021: The people’s edition

        You’ve read The New Humanitarian’s annual lists of crises and policy trends to watch.

        That was our take. What’s yours? We asked that question of the audience during a recent conversation (video online here) to discuss with humanitarian practitioners and analysts the issues they expect will shape 2021.

        About 140 people from the 1,000+ online audience offered up a variety of themes – from food security to sanitation – and pointed to emergencies in countries and regions ranging from Palestine, Lebanon, the Sahel, and Yemen to more surprising locations, like Europe.

        Here’s what they said, compiled in this first-ever “people’s edition” of our annual humanitarian crises and trends to watch list.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • How We Found Pricey Provisions in New Jersey Police Contracts

        Calls for police accountability have included demands to examine the public money spent on law enforcement and the ways officers are disciplined. The Asbury Park Press and ProPublica examined the collective bargaining agreements that govern the relationship between unionized police forces in New Jersey and the towns where they operate.

        There are 565 municipalities in the state, and some that contract with police unions are as small as 1 square mile. Police unions consolidate their legal and collective bargaining expertise across the state.

      • How the Police Bank Millions Through Their Union Contracts

        One town’s police contract guaranteed a retiring lieutenant $121,000 for unused sick time. Another’s promises officers six months pay with no work required as a parting retirement benefit. In another contract, cops get paid $109 an hour for side gigs like monitoring traffic at construction sites.

        Despite attempts to rein in police union contracts in New Jersey, costly provisions remain common, an unprecedented analysis by the Asbury Park Press and ProPublica found. The news outlets identified contract clauses throughout the state that protect officer payouts that cost the public hundreds of millions of dollars.

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • Want to Reverse Inequality? Change Intellectual Property Rules.

        The explosion of inequality over the past four decades is appropriately a major focus of the political agenda for progressives. Unfortunately, policy prescriptions usually turn to various taxes directed at the wealthy and very wealthy. While making our tax structure more progressive is important, most of the increase in inequality comes from greater inequality in before-tax income, not from reductions in taxes paid by the rich. And, if we’re serious about reversing that trend, it is easier, as a practical matter, to keep people from getting ridiculously rich in the first place than to tax the money after they have it.

      • Opinion | The Year of Cheating the Poor

        People who have money can buy stocks, wait for awhile, and ultimately get richer by doing nothing. But low-income Americans have to depend on wages for their fair share of national economic growth—and wages have barely budged in over 50 years.

      • Budget Chair Sanders Hails CBO Score as Proof Congress Can Pass $15 Minimum Wage Through Reconciliation

        “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and the Senate to end the crisis of starvation wages in America and raise the minimum wage to a living wage of at least $15 an hour.”

      • “The People’s Champion”: Labor Leader Karen Lewis—Who Fought for Students, Teachers, and Community—Dies at 67

        “She fearlessly confronted the powerful.”

      • Larry Summers Is Still Worth Ignoring

        One heartening fact about Joe Biden is that he’s the first Democratic president in nearly 40 years who is not employing the services of Larry Summers, one of the most influential neoliberal economists of the last few decades. Summers has been a perennial power player ever since he served on the Council of Economic Advisers under Ronald Reagan from 1982–83. His Reaganite roots didn’t stop him from being repeatedly elevated to commanding positions of authority under the administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. He was secretary of the treasury from 1999–2001 and director of the National Economic Council from 2009–10.

      • The Shecession: Women Face Staggering Job & Income Losses Amid the Pandemic’s Economic Crisis

        As Democrats in Congress push forward on passing President Joe Biden’s sweeping $1.9 trillion stimulus package, many experts say measures to combat the economic fallout from COVID-19 must address the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women — especially women of color. Women in the U.S. lost 5.5 million jobs in the first 10 months of the pandemic, nearly 1 million more job losses than men, and, combined with increased responsibilities for caregiving at home, are experiencing a “shecession,” according to researcher C. Nicole Mason. “Women have been disproportionately impacted by job and income losses during the pandemic and during this economic downturn,” says Mason, who is president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a leading voice on pay equity, economic policies and research impacting women. “The reason for this is because women are overrepresented in the hardest-hit sectors: service, leisure/hospitality, education and healthcare services.”

      • Opinion | Note to Democrats: $1400 + $600 Does NOT Equal $2000

        On Covid-19 survival checks and our national deficit of the soul.

      • The Super Bowl’s Woke Capitalism

        We need to have a conversation about the National Football League’s use of “woke marketing” or “woke capitalism” or whatever you want to call it, before the weight of its contradictions causes us all to collectively crack. What the NFL did on Sunday was dare the viewing public to sweep away the Buffalo wings from their tables and proclaim the entire endeavor to be a snarling pack of lies.

      • Unemployment Falls to 6.3 Percent, But Job Growth Remains Weak

        The unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points in January to 6.3 percent. Much of this decline was due to people leaving the labor market as the employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) only rose by 0.1 percentage point. The EPOP now stands at 57.5 percent, 3.6 percentage points below its year-ago level.

        The establishment survey showed an increase of just 49,000 jobs, with the private sector only accounting for 6,000 of these jobs. There were sharp downward revisions to job growth for both November and December, so the level of private sector jobs reported for January was 198,000 below the November level.

      • It’s Easy to Fix Inequality: Tax the Rich

        The “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” of 2017—the signature legislation of the Trump administration and Republican-dominated Senate—disproportionately hurt poor and working-class Americans and lined the pockets of the ultra-wealthy. It depleted the Treasury, laying the groundwork to justify cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the law is projected to fuel a $1.9 trillion hole in the Treasury over 10 years. The law was also written to include numerous “Easter eggs” containing newer tax breaks on the wealthy, scheduled to hatch years after it was enacted. Now, as one of those buried tax breaks that will benefit millionaires is set to take effect, more than 100 Democrats signed on to a letter demanding it be repealed. That too is a step in the right direction.

        But much, much more is needed.

      • Gig Workers’ Data Rights Should Be Prioritized in Labor’s Next Fight
      • Conspiracy to Malign Farmers’ Movement in India

        For over two months now, hundreds of thousands of farmers have been waging an unprecedented struggle at five locations around the National Capital Region of Delhi  against three farm laws, which essentially seek to hand over control of India’s agricultural sector to large corporate houses. These farm laws were rushed through parliament without either consulting farmers unions or listening to any objections raised by the opposition in parliament. After eleven rounds of talks with representatives of the Central Government ended in failure, the farmers unions decided to intensify the struggle by holding a tractor parade on India’s Republic Day, i.e., January 26, 2021. 

        Permission was granted by the Delhi Police to hold the tractor parade on designated routes at three locations 20 to 30 kilometers away from the city centre. During the parade, agent provocateurs mislead a section of the agitated farmers to move away from the designated routes with their tractors and move to the city centre, where the historic Red Fort is situated. Red Fort is the 17th century monument where India’s National Flag is hoisted on Independence Day, i.e. on 15 August every year. After the breakaway sections arrived at the Red Fort, unwarranted violence broke out (and at another location enroute). Farmers’ unions believe that the violence was engineered to malign the farmers’ movement and to divert media attention away from the main tractor parade, which was an unprecedented success. Using the outbreak of violence as the excuse, the Indian Government is trying to do all it can to suppress the farmers’ movement. This article is an attempt to describe what actually transpired on January 26. 2021.

      • Democrats Push for Monthly Child Stipends as Part of Biden’s Stimulus Package
      • Opinion | Ending the Subminimum Tipped Wage Will Lift Up Black Workers and Benefit All Workers

        “If we are committed to ending systemic racism in the workplace, passing a living wage bill for tipped and non-tipped low-wage workers is essential to reducing inequality,” says racial justice champion Tanya Wallace-Gobern.

      • The Economic Problem

        One of the main tasks any company needs to do is allocate resources. Regardless of the product or the industry they’re in, they have to decide how to employ the assets they have to make money. No one has really “solved” this problem, and that’s why there are swarms of resource planning systems, project management tools, and cultish trend-following.

        After a C-suite shuffle at James B’s employer, one of the newly installed C-level execs had some big ideas. They were strongly influenced by one of the two life-changing books, and not the one involving orcs. A company needs to allocate resources. The economy, as a whole, needs to allocate resources. If, on the economic level, we use markets to allocate resources because they’re more efficient than planning, then we should use markets internally as well.

        For the most part, and for most groups in the company, this was just a book-keeping change. Everyone kept doing the same thing, but now instead of each department getting email accounts for every employee, each department got a pile of money, and used that to pay for email accounts for each employee. Instead of just getting a computer as part of the hiring process, departments “rented” a computer from IT. It created a surprising amount of paperwork for the supposedly “efficient” market, but at least at first, it wasn’t a problem.

        Before long, though, the C-suite started to notice that a lot of money flowed in to the IT department, but very little flowed back out. The obvious solution, then, was to cut the IT budget entirely. It would fund itself using the internal market, selling its services to other departments in the company.

        The head of IT reacted in a vaguely reasonable way: they jacked the internal billing rates as high as they could. Since they technically owned the PCs, they installed them with physical locks on the cases. If you wanted a hard drive replacement, you needed to go through IT. The problem is that IT had exclusive contracts with vendors, and those vendor SLAs were pretty generous- to the vendors. One HDD failure could take a PC down for weeks while you waited for a replacement.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Opinion | The World Welcomes Biden But Hedges Its Bets

        Will continued political volatility be America’s downfall?

      • President Biden Is Our Chance to End the Federal Death Penalty

        I come to you having witnessed six executions and engaged in 35 years of dialogue about the death penalty. I’m on fire to abolish government killing because I’ve seen it far too close-up, and I have a pretty good idea by now how it works—or doesn’t. I wasn’t at all surprised to see Donald Trump order 13 federal executions carried out before he left office: He had the discretionary power, and he used it. He was operating within the hopelessly flawed guidelines for government killing that the Supreme Court set forth in 1976 in Gregg v. Georgia, when it reinstituted the death penalty. After a national hiatus on executions from 1972 to 1976, Gregg renewed our capricious, racist, broken death penalty system, which has caused and is perpetuating unspeakable suffering.

      • Opinion | Hidden in Plain Sight: The “Unimpeachable” Offenses

        If what’s impeachable is only what members of Congress say it is, constituents should insist that egregiously narrow definitions must no longer prevail.

      • Impeachment Trial
      • Opinion | No Perks, No Cushy Benefits for Twice-Impeached President

        Someone who has disgraced the office of the president so maliciously should not reap its amenities for the rest of his life.

      • National vs. Human Security

        Yes, yes, yes. These words cut to the soul. Can we create a grown-up America? This is how it begins.

        The quote is from a letter to President Biden, put forward in early February by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Center for Victims of Torture and signed by 111 organizations, demanding that the new president shut down, at long last, the prison hellhole at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

      • The House’s Impeachment Trial Memorandum Is Damning

        “There’s a reason that the people’s branch is in Article One. Of course, we have the power to impeach a lawless president. He does not have the power to impeach us,” Representative Jamie Raskin, the Maryland Democrat who will serve as the lead impeachment manager for the Senate trial of Donald Trump, tells The Nation. “Now is the moment for us to stand up and to strongly reassert Congress as the dominant branch of the US government.”

      • Liz Cheney Is Right on Impeachment, and Wrong on Everything Else

        House Republicans have decided to keep Liz Cheney on as the third-highest-ranking leader in their caucus of deplorables. No surprise there. Cheney is a corporation-coddling and warmongering neoconservative, a hate-amplifying liar whose only sin in the eyes of her colleagues is that she got one thing wrong.

      • Politics isn’t for kids: Russian college student leaks recording of a heated exchange with her school’s administrators, who threatened her academic future after she was spotted at an opposition protest

        On January 31, eighteen-year-old Darya Kuznetsova, a junior at a technical college in Perm, joined a local protest to demand freedom for the jailed opposition politician Alexey Navalny. After the rally, supervisors at her school summoned her for a conversation “about her further education.” A recording of the discussion made its way to the Perm-based online journal “Zvezda.” Meduza provides the full text of the conversation here with Zvezda’s permission.

      • Rep. Cori Bush Denounces White Supremacist Violence from the Capitol Insurrection to Ferguson

        With former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial set to begin in the Senate this week, we feature the speech Democratic Congressmember Cori Bush of Missouri made Thursday on the floor of the House of Representatives to demand accountability for the attack on the U.S. Capitol. “On January 3, we stood together to swear our oath to office, to the Constitution. We swore to defend it against all enemies foreign and domestic,” Bush said. “It was attacked by a domestic enemy called white supremacy, and we must stand together now, today, to uphold that oath and hold every single person who helped incite it accountable.”

      • The Price of Democracy

        The sight of an unruly violent crowd storming the U.S. Capitol trying to overturn the results of a democratic election shows the evils of intervention whether domestic or foreign-inspired. This action evokes what the French did in Indochina, the Chinese in Tibet, the Belgians in the Congo, the British in China, the Russians in Crimea, the Italians and the Dutch in Africa, the Japanese in China and the U.S. in the Middle East and Latin America, among many others.

        In 1961, João Belchior Marques Goulart assumed as president of Brazil after the resignation of the president. He was a proponent of economic and land reforms and democratic rights. However, the U.S. government pressured him to impose a program of economic austerity. When Goulart refused to follow the U.S. dictates, the U.S. developed a plan called Operation Brother Sam (no sense of irony here) for the destabilization of Brazil’s government. Brazilian military officers took power and General Humberto Castelo Branco was installed as president in 1964. He immediately declared a state of siege and arrested more than 50,000 political opponents within the first month of being in power. The U.S. government approved the coup and reinstituted economic aid to the country.

      • Russia: A New Start?

        Under these inauspicious conditions, if you are brave enough to face down the cold and COVID to protest openly against the government of Vladimir Putin, your reward may well be a trip to jail. If you’re very good at your job of protesting, you might win the grand prize of an attempt on your life.

        Yet, for the last two weeks, Russians have poured into the streets in the tens of thousands. Even in the Russian Far East, protesters turned out in Yakutsk (45 below zero) and Krasnoyarsk (22 below).

      • ‘Not a Radical Idea’: Budget Chair Sanders Says ‘Room Full of Lawyers’ Working to Ensure $15 Wage Bill Survives Senate Rules

        “It says so much about how utterly rigged the system is that it takes a team of lawyers to figure out some hail-mary-pass way to raise the minimum wage.”

      • Democratic Party Leaders Are Rushing Through Impeachment in Lieu of a Real Trial
      • As DeJoy Readies New Assault on Postal Service, Pressure Grows for Biden to ‘Clean House’

        “My solution starts at the top: firing the whole board who presided over Trump and DeJoy’s wrecking of USPS,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr.

      • The Foreign Roots of Haiti’s “Constitutional Crisis”

        Sunday, February 7, is the end of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse’s term according to the constitution. He refuses to step down. Last week, the opposition called for a two-day general strike, uniting around a transition with the head of Haiti’s Supreme Court stepping in.

        Most reporting failed to note the international role, and particularly the U.S., in creating this “crisis.” And nearly all focused only on one segment of the opposition: leaders of Haiti’s political parties.

      • Iran Foreign Minister Tells Biden US ‘Violated’ Nuclear Deal, So It Is US ‘That Has to Return’

        “If the United States and its partners return to the deal,” said the nation’s top diplomat, “Iran will reverse its actions. All the actions we are taking are reversible.”

      • Even in Death, Sheldon Adelson Will Keep Undermining Democracy

        By dying, the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson did Benjamin Netanyahu one last favor. Adelson had been scheduled to testify as a prosecution witness in the Israeli prime minister’s corruption trial. Netanyahu allegedly used Adelson to secure more friendly coverage from a major Israeli newspaper. The complications of the case are too arcane to explain in this limited space, but take it from me: Wherever Adelson went, corruption—be it moral, legal, political, or cultural—was never far behind.

      • Without Twitter, Trump Is Left To Write Tweets He Would Have Said On Paper

        With both Twitter and Facebook banning Donald Trump’s account last month, after he inspired a mob of goons to ransack the Capitol, there has been something of an eerie quiet in the world. Having spent years making sure that every one of his often disconnected-from-reality tweets makes headlines or ruins many peoples’ days, the sudden quiet has been kind of odd.

      • Most Americans Back Trump’s Impeachment — Including Millions Who Voted for Him
      • Scotland’s External and European Ministry

        Scotland must be a fully functioning independent nation in two to three years. We need to start now to understand and plan for the physical infrastructure of governance a modern state needs. Just one of the vast gaps at present is the ability for an independent state to interact with other states; that is, after all, what defines the very being of a state. Scotland will need its own foreign ministry. In short time.

      • Cancel Perks for the Worst President in History

        No cushy benefits. No national security briefings. No perks for the worst president in history.

      • Ilhan Omar Warns Progressives Will Revolt If Dems ‘Poison’ Relief Bill by Curbing Eligibility for $1,400 Checks

        “Democrats with a slim majority in the Congress can’t pass this bill without progressives and must resist suggestions that will ultimately tank this relief bill.”

      • Ilhan Omar Says Lowering Income Threshold for Stimulus Will “Poison” Relief Bill
      • With Trump’s Second Impeachment Set to Begin, How Will It Differ From the First?
      • Schumer: GOP Embracing ‘Fringe Legal Theory’ With Claim That Trump Trial Is Unconstitutional

        “Given that the Constitution permits the Senate to impose the penalty of permanent disqualification only on former officeholders, it defies logic to suggest that the Senate is prohibited from trying and convicting former officeholders.”

      • Reddit Value Hits $6 Billion After Users Fueled a Stock Frenzy

        Terms of the funding, led by Vy Capital, push the company’s valuation to $6 billion, a spokeswoman said. Reddit intends to spend the cash to develop its advertising business, expand internationally and add video tools, the company said in a statement. The deal was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.

      • Reddit Buys 5-Second Super Bowl Ad, Touts GameStop Stock Craze

        Following the Super Bowl LV halftime show on Sunday, a five-second ad popped on air. Impossible to read the entire message unless paused, it was easy to make out that the spot was from the social media site Reddit, which has been in the headlines of late due to the GameStop and AMC stock drama.

      • A West Virginia newspaper chain is suing Google and Facebook over digital ad revenue

        The parent company of a West Virginia newspaper chain has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook and Google parent company Alphabet, alleging the platforms are siphoning away much-needed digital ad revenue. It appears to be the first such lawsuit by a news organization against the digital giants and makes the argument that the platforms represent a digital monopoly that should be broken up, like Standard Oil or AT&T were back in the day.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • On trend Russia’s Foreign Ministry makes its TikTok debut with videos about Alexey Navalny and ‘Sputnik V’

        At the end of last week, both the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Emergency Situations Ministry joined the popular video-sharing app TikTok. So far, Russia’s diplomats have uploaded two videos, both of which take aim at imprisoned opposition politician Alexey Navalny and his previous claims about the “Sputnik V” coronavirus vaccine. Meanwhile the Emergencies Ministry has promised viewers entertainment in the form of “tricks and challenges.”

      • Section 230 turns 25 today, and it’s never been more important

        Section 230 protects any owner or user of an “interactive computer service” — typically an app or website — from liability for content that someone else posted. Over the past few years, it’s drawn the ire of conservative politicians who want to punish “Big Tech” for banning users, but also lawmakers and activists who say it lets web services knowingly allow harassment, nonconsensual sexual imagery, and other illegal material. Congress has introduced several major reform proposals, and at least one will likely advance in the near future.

        The debate over Section 230, though, is a lot more complicated than one law or a few giant social networks. In the coming weeks, we’ll be hosting a live event with some of the people that Congress’ fight over Big Tech has left out — trying to reset the conversation to be less about Facebook and YouTube and more about the internet at large. But for now, on the 25th anniversary of Section 230 becoming law, I want to look at a few of the big questions that any proposal will have to grapple with.

      • War on Section 230 begins in earnest as Dem senators look to limit legal immunity for social networks, websites etc

        The three politicians proposed a bill they’re calling the SAFE TECH Act [PDF], which narrows the liability protection afforded to organizations by Section 230 of the US Communications Decency Act. Its full title gives a sense of the wrongs it aims to right: The Safeguarding Against Fraud, Exploitation, Threats, Extremism, and Consumer Harms Act.

        Section 230 of the CDA is the legal foundation of the modern internet because it provides a way for orgs to host user-generated content while, more or less, avoiding legal liability for that content. And it allows companies to maintain that qualified immunity even when they moderate user-generated content.

        Yet the content moderation decisions made by internet companies, particularly social media platforms, have displeased both Republicans and Democrats in the US, not to mention others abroad. The now departed Trump administration fumed about Section 230 repeatedly but, distracted by its election rejection insurrection, failed to push through acceptable reforms. Now it’s the Democrats’ turn.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Moscow court reduces journalist Sergey Smirnov’s jail sentence to 15 days

        The Moscow City Court has reduced the jail sentence handed down to Mediazona editor-in-chief Sergey Smirnov to 15 days, following an appeals hearing on Monday, February 8.

      • Press freedom coalition call on Biden’s Justice Dept. to drop the Assange prosecution
      • Press Freedom Groups Urge Biden DOJ to Drop ‘Disastrous’ Charges Against Assange

        “Now more than ever, it is crucial that we protect a robust and adversarial press,” the letter states. 

      • Opinion | Why the Biden DOJ Should Drop All Charges Against Julian Assange

        A successful prosecution of the Wikileaks’ founder and publisher would have far-reaching implications both for national security journalists and for the news organizations that publish their work. This isn’t an accident.

      • Press freedom groups call on Biden DOJ to drop Assange charges

        The letter was organized by the Freedom of the Press Foundation and signed by leading rights groups including Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, and PEN America.

      • EFF, Freedom of the Press Foundation and 22 Other Press Freedom Organizations Call on Attorney General to Drop Assange Prosecution

        The majority of the charges against Assange relate to the Espionage Act, a federal law passed in 1917 designed to punish espionage. The law’s broad language criminalized those who obtain and/or transmit materials related to the national defense (read the text of the law). While the authors of the law may have intended to keep the scope broad in order to encapsulate a wide range of espionage activities, today that law is being turned against publishers of information that seeks to hold government officials to account for unethical behavior.

        As we argue in our letter, prosecuting Assange under the Espionage Act raises the specter of prosecuting other journalistic institutions for routine investigative and publishing practices. As we state in our letter, “a precedent created by prosecuting Assange could be leveraged—perhaps by a future administration—against publishers and journalists of all stripes.” Both the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act raise serious constitutional concerns, and the selective enforcement of these laws is used to threaten journalists, whistleblowers, and publishers who seek to cast light on government malfeasance.

        The United States’ extradition request for Julian Assange was recently dismissed by a British judge, but Julian Assange is still in prison and the charges are likely to be appealed. Read EFF’s deeper dive into why the prosecution of Assange threatens press freedom and how the use of the CFAA against Assange fits into a larger pattern of selective enforcement of computer crime laws.

      • Canadian lawmakers vote to grant citizenship to Saudi blogger

        Members of Canada’s House of Commons on Wednesday unanimously voted to grant citizenship to Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who has been imprisoned in his home country since 2012 and whose wife and three children live in Canada.

        The motion asks Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino to use his “discretionary power” to grant Canadian citizenship to Badawi, “in order to remedy a particular situation and unusual distress.”

        He was convicted in 2014 to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam.” He received 50 of those beatings in January 2015, but the rest of the sessions — which were to be carried out weekly — were suspended after a global outcry.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Biden Administration Announces the US Will Rejoin UN Human Rights Council
      • Appeals Court Tells Lying Cop No ‘Reasonable’ Officer Would Think It’s OK To Tear Gas Journalists For Performing Journalism

        For some reason, we, the people, keep having to shell out cash to employ a lot of unreasonable law enforcement officers.

      • Behavioural analysis and Twitter check: EU security research tests new lie detector for border control

        The EU Court of Justice is to decide how extensively the Commission must inform about a research project sensitive to fundamental rights. The decision is of great significance, because the successor to iBorderCtrl, which has long been terminated, is also problematic.

      • Alexey Navalny’s associates announce plans to ‘build up pressure on Putin’

        On Monday, February 8, Alexey Navalny’s associates released a video outlining the future work of the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and other projects linked to the imprisoned opposition politician.

      • Levada’s latest One in four Russians have watched the ‘Putin’s Palace’ investigation, but a third of them think it’s fake

        Twenty-six percent of Russians have watched Alexey Navalny’s “Putin’s Palace” investigation, but a third of them think it’s fake, according to a new survey from the independent Levada Center. The poll’s results showed that young people were not only more likely to have watched the video but were also more inclined to believe it. That said, 77 percent of respondents who had watched or heard of the investigation said it didn’t change their attitude toward Vladimir Putin.

      • Human rights group ‘Memorial’ declares Navalny’s supporters prisoners of conscience

        The Russian human rights center “Memorial” has declared nine of Alexey Navalny’s supporters prisoners of conscience. This comes after they were placed under house arrest as suspects in a criminal case launched over alleged violations of sanitary and epidemiological rules during a pro-Navalny demonstration on January 23. 

      • New California law would exempt employees who speak out about discrimination from NDAs

        “SB 331 will prevent workers from being forced to sign non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements that would limit their ability to speak out about harassment and discrimination in the workplace,” Leyva said in a statement. “It is unacceptable for any employer to try to silence a worker because he or she was a victim of any type of harassment or discrimination—whether due to race, sexual orientation, religion, age or any other characteristic.”

      • New California law would give wronged workers a way out of NDAs

        Leyva introduced the bill, the Silenced No More Act, or SB 331, on Monday. She told Protocol that she anticipates that the colleagues who voted for her last NDA bill will vote for this one. She admitted that COVID-related issues will take precedence in the California legislature during the new year, “but there are issues that are just as important – like discrimination and harassment, especially based on age and race. If we don’t pass legislation, that’s another year that goes by that people are mistreated in the workplace. We don’t want people to be silenced.”

        Jess Stender, a senior counsel with Equal Rights Advocates, said Ozoma’s experiences “really shows why we need to prohibit these gag orders for all forms of discrimination.”

      • Alabama warehouse workers prepare to face down Amazon in union vote

        For the next seven weeks, employees at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama will vote on whether to become the first of the company’s US employees to unionize. The only other US Amazon employees to make it as far as a union election was a smaller group of maintenance workers at a Delaware warehouse in 2014. That effort failed after an aggressive anti-union campaign from a company that has long been hostile to worker organizing.

        The vote in Alabama, at a warehouse outside Birmingham called BHM1, comes at a pivotal time for the company and its workers. Amazon is emerging from the pandemic in a stronger position than ever: posting record earnings, opening new warehouses at a rapid clip, and hiring hundreds of new workers a day. Those workers, however, have become increasingly vocal about the fact that they haven’t shared in the company’s success. Last year’s wave of protests and walkouts over COVID-19 safety measures and other issues won some partial victories, but the Bessemer union, if it succeeds, would give workers the power to negotiate a contract that could lock in durable changes to wages and working conditions. It could also inspire other Amazon warehouses to organize.

        Workers at BHM1 say that one of the primary issues driving the union push is Amazon’s grueling and automatically enforced productivity metrics, a complaint that has prompted demonstrations at other Amazon facilities as well.

      • Film on Boko Haram’s terror competes at Oscars

        The terrorist horrors of the extremist group Boko Haram have killed more than 30,000 people and forced about 2 million to flee their homes since 2009. The group attained global attention in 2014 with the abduction of more than 270 schoolgirls in the north-eastern town of Chibok.

        “I felt it was important that we put some backstories and some personalities behind all these casualty statistics,” said Ovbiagele.

      • Swedish Preschool Linked to Violent Extremism Amid Rising Islamist Threat

        In the words of Magnus Ranstorp, one of Sweden’s leading terrorism experts, radical Islamists have “put a lot of gunpowder” on school activities in particular in a bid to influence young people and isolate them from secular society.

      • Sweden to Teach Migrants That Violence, Female Genital Mutilation, and Child Marriage are Wrong

        Among other things, the new arrivals will be informed that polygamy, female genital mutilation, child marriage, and domestic violence are forbidden, as is racism (inluding anti-Semitism, Afrophobia, and Islamophobia) and other forms of hostility.

        [...]

        Sweden, a relatively homogeneous nation until half a century ago, has in the past few decades embraced mass immigration, to the point where over a quarter of the population have a foreign background (up from 15 percent in 2000). Using a counting method now considered outdated, where having at least one foreign-born parent constitutes a foreign background, their proportion rises 33 percent, or about a third. Among young children, the proportion of non-Swedes is even higher.

      • The New Humanitarian | Mark Lowcock to leave UN OCHA

        The UN’s top humanitarian official is stepping down, opening up speculation about the nationality of his successor and prompting assessments of the Briton’s achievements and shortcomings over the past four years.
        In an email to the 2,100 staff of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on 7 February, Mark Lowcock announced he would step down in the coming months to spend more time with his family in the UK.

        Appointed in May 2017, Lowcock inherited a string of internal budget, administrative, and management challenges, while also being confronted with demands for broad reforms of humanitarian aid stemming from the World Humanitarian Summit. During his tenure, relief operations faced shrinking room for manoeuvre, with direct attacks, blockades, and manipulation – notably in Syria and Yemen – complicating many of the situations the international community was responding to.

        [...]

        He mobilised support for the UN’s largest ever single appeal – $10 billion to support 63 countries in the humanitarian response to COVID-19. Today, the plan is roughly 40 percent-funded, the bulk of it going directly to UN agencies, disappointing many who hoped this would be an opportunity to support frontline responders, especially national NGOs. OCHA’s management of donor-supported pooled funds and CERF did allow Lowcock to channel some funding to NGOs working on the pandemic.

        While Lowcock’s organisational abilities have met with some praise, his people skills are commonly cited as a weakness. Some of those contacted for this article said even his farewell email to staff seemed curt and lacking warmth. One senior aid official noted its praise of Lowcock’s boss, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, rather than colleagues and partners, reacting: “No thank you to staff… or even a reminder of the important work and mission of OCHA and their accomplishments?”

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • The Many Reasons To Celebrate Section 230

        I know that Section 230 is very much under attack these days, and I’ve seen so many people cheer when we point out that dumping 230 could take away (or at least, drastically alter) the sites we love and appreciate every day. I think this is because of a natural tendency of many people to focus on the negative side of things in existence, and to ignore all of the good that has resulted from them. In some ways, I think it’s a variation on the famous Douglas Adams quote:

      • 25 Years Later: A Celebration Of The Declaration Of The Independence Of Cyberspace

        As we’ve been noting in posts throughout the day, today is the day that, 25 years ago, then President Bill Clinton signed into law the Telecommunications Act of 1996. That large telco bill included, among many other things, the Communications Decency Act, a dangerous censorial bill written by Senator James Exon. However, buried in the CDA was a separate bill, written by now Senator Ron Wyden and then Representative Chris Cox, the Internet Freedom and Family Empowerment Act, which today is generally known as Section 230 of the CDA. A legal challenge later tossed out all of Exon’s bill as blatantly unconstitutional.

      • Justice Department drops challenge to California net neutrality rules

        The Justice Department dropped its 2018 lawsuit challenging California’s state net neutrality rules on Monday, removing one of the law’s major roadblocks preventing it from going into effect.

        In 2017, the Trump Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the Obama-era internet regulations banning internet service providers, like AT&T and Verizon, from throttling or blocking traffic and implementing paid fast lanes. The following year, California passed its own law instituting net neutrality rules at the state level. That law was quickly challenged by the Trump-led Justice Department, which argued that California’s law was preempted by the FCC’s 2017 repeal.

      • U.S. Justice Dept. drops challenge to California state net neutrality law

        Under then-President Donald Trump, the Justice Department in 2018 argued that federal law preempted the state statute prohibiting internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or offering paid fast lanes.

        California’s legislature voted to adopt its own statute after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2017 repealed net neutrality rules put in place by the administration of former President Barack Obama.

        Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel praised the Justice Department’s decision.

    • Monopolies

      • IP counsel bemoan demands of ASEAN anti-fakes enforcement

        Better and more harmonised enforcement efforts and region-wide collaboration will be key to battling counterfeits, say sources on the ground

      • Patents

        • Major IP team loss leaves Gowling without German patent practice [Ed: “Building on litigation” i.e. being a parasite like the ones who fund this publication]

          This is the second time in recent years that Gowling’s Munich office has suffered a major loss. The office, which traditionally focuses on IP, saw its first upheaval in 2017 when IP partners Alexander Bayer and Michael Schneider moved to Pinsent Masons. They were joined by two associates. Here, Gowling lost a large part of its patent litigation expertise in one go.

          Gowling then hired partners Carsten Schulte and Thomas Mayer to fill this gap. However, the team was unable to replicate the achievements of Gowling’s London IP practice, or benefit from the UK team’s close contact to notable clients such as Interdigital. Now Gowling lacks a clear overall strategy in Germany, where the firm only has a small soft IP team in Munich, and an M&A/corporate practice in Stuttgart.

          [...]

          Manuela Finger, an IP partner focusing on trademarks and unfair competition, along with two associates, remains at Gowling’s Munich office.

          Speaking to JUVE Patent, London IP partner and practice head Gordon Harris said of the plans in Germany, “We are very much still planning to be major players in the patent market in Germany. We are taking a moment to review and plan, though we have options already under consideration.”

          “Gowling will be looking to establish a significant team from the off, avoiding the difficulties of incremental step-by-step growth. We are also not constrained by geography and are looking widely in Germany, not just in Munich.”

        • A Look to the Future of International IP Arbitration [Ed: See UPC. It's dead. The UPC is doing nowhere because it is unconstitutional and its promotion involved corruption.]

          One of the most notable projects in European IP law is the establishment of the Unified Patent Court. This is part of a package of regulations on patent law, the core of which is the introduction of a European ‘community patent’ with unitary effect at the level of the European Union.

          Unfortunately, the project has met a few challenges; the UK has made final preparations to withdraw from the Unified Patent Court project and, in March 2020, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany declared that parliamentary approval of the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court is void on grounds of not achieving the necessary parliamentary majority.[

        • What does Brexit mean for biopharma companies?
          [Ed: “The UK has confirmed that it will not seek to be involved in the EU’s proposed Unitary Patent system,” it says, but UPC is dead regardless, so there is nothing to participate in.

          Post-Brexit, patent protection is unaffected.

          Patents covering the UK will continue to be granted by both the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) and the European Patent Office (EPO), neither of which are EU institutions. The UK will continue to be one of the 38 contracting states to the European Patent Convention, which is the international treaty that established the EPO. UK patent attorneys can also continue to represent their domestic and overseas clients before the EPO in obtaining European patents covering the UK and other European countries of interest.

          The UK has confirmed that it will not seek to be involved in the EU’s proposed Unitary Patent system. The future of the Unitary Patent was already uncertain before Brexit in any event. If, however, the system does come into being, there will be no change to the territorial scope of patents that can be obtained via the EPO, but simply that the patents granted for some EU countries (not including the UK) will be part of a Unitary Patent rather than individual patents for those countries. Further, Unitary Patents will be available to applicants regardless of nationality or residence and so UK companies would still be able to benefit from the system

        • FOSS Patents: Ericsson wants to arbitrate FRAND royalties for its standard-essential patent portfolio on a tilted playing field, Samsung filing with Federal Circuit shows

          The interesting part is not the continued bickering over the schedule. Granted, Samsung’s lawyers did a very good job making a boring secondary matter almost entertaining to read–I would truly regard that as an accomplishment. But there’s one aspect of this filing that ignited my interest: Samsung’s reply to Ericsson’s suggestion that Samsung should simply have accepted Ericsson’s proposal to resolve their FRAND royalty dispute through arbitration.

          I’m a longstanding critic of the notion that arbitration is the answer to SEP disputes. It’s not hard to see why policy makers, competition enforcers, and at times even judges would rather refer parties to arbitration, just so they wouldn’t have to deal with the intricacies of SEP licensing. Unlike the other popular alternative dispute resolution method, mediation, arbitration is sure to yield a result. But as Apple explained in a court filing almost a decade ago, arbitration gravitates toward the middle between both parties’ demands while courts are more likely to enter “sharp” rulings. The way I always explain this to people is that if you’re an implementer of a standard and you’re dealing with a SEP holder asking for $5 per unit when $0.50 might be more accurate, you can’t counterbalance that demand in arbitration: even if you proposed $0.01, the middle would still be $2.50, and negative royalties are obviously a non-starter. And that’s not the only issue.

          That is not to say arbitration could never be fair. It depends on the parameters.

          [...]

          The transparency of U.S. litigation often proves helpful. Those two exhibits to Samsung’s filing (Ericsson’s proposal and Samsung’s response) are now publicly accessible, and those dealing professionally with the question of SEP disputes can see what “willingness to arbitrate” means in many cases: it means that SEP holders want to tilt the playing field in their favor. That’s why it’s key not to allow SEP holders to enforce injunctions only because an implementer declined to arbitrate. Arbitration can work, but only if both parties define some specific questions that arbitration should answer, and the parameters under which the arbitration proceeds.

        • BREAKING: The legality of Board of Appeal oral proceedings by video conference has been referred to the EBA [Ed: Of course no mention of the fact, by AstraZenecaKat, that the judges on this Board lack actual autonomy and would likely just do what the Office demands. AstraZenecaKat moreover says that “In G2/19 the EBA found that Haar was indeed in Munich,” but this is a lie. They threw out the question as inadmissible. Not the same thing.]

          News has reached IPKat that a Board of Appeal has referred to the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA) the question of whether mandatory appeal hearings via video conference are legal. The news has been reported by a patent firm attendant at the Board of Appeal proceedings at which the question was referred, reported here.

          In order to avoid a growing back-log of cases during the COVID-19 pandemic, the EPO has been forced to transition to holding oral proceedings almost exclusively by video-conference (ViCo). The EPO also appears to be preparing for oral proceedings to be the new norm even once the pandemic is over. Particularly, at the beginning of this year, a new rule of procedure of the Boards of Appeal (RPBA) (Article 15a) was introduced. Article 15a permits a Board of Appeal to hold oral proceedings by ViCo whenever “the Board considers it appropriate to do so” (IPKat: The inexorable rise of EPO oral proceedings by video conference).

          [...]

          In G2/19 the EBA found that Haar was indeed in Munich. A similar [Merpel: and some would say commonsensical?] approach from the EBA in the present case would be to either reject the referral or find no legal issues with Article 15a. Either way, parties eager for their appeal to be heard before the Boards of Appeal can only hope for a swift resolution to the referral.

        • Software Patents

          • Velos Media Chinese patent challenged — Unified Patents

            On February 7, 2021, Unified filed an invalidity challenge in China against CN103299632, owned by Velos Media. The CN’632 patent is directed to video decoding techniques and was originally assigned to Ericsson before being transferred to Velos. The CN’632 patent is related to EP 2 664 149, which Unified filed an opposition on December 29, 2020. It is also related to U.S. Patent 9,414,066, which Unified has also challenged in the U.S. with IPR2020-00352, instituted on June 30, 2020.

          • $2,000 for WSOU prior art

            On February 4, 2021, Unified Patents added a new PATROLL contest, with a $2,000 cash prize, seeking prior art on at least claim 10 of U.S. Patent 8,209,411. The ‘411 patent is owned by WSOU Investments, 2020′s most prolific NPE. WSOU Investments, LLC is run by Craig Etchegoyen, formerly of Uniloc. The ’411 patent generally relates to systems and methods of providing content to a terminal and, more particularly, relates to systems and methods of providing content to a terminal having a limited display area for presenting such content. It is currently being asserted against Salesforce, in the Western District of Texas.

      • Copyrights

        • Conservative MP Files Amendment Calling on the Government to Withdraw Bill C-10

          The government will obviously not support the amendment. Indeed, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage has already started down the questionable path of conducting a hearing “about” the bill rather than a hearing on the bill itself as would normally occur once a bill receives second reading approval. I appeared before the committee on Friday – see this week’s Law Bytes podcast – but the rush to judgment outside conventional Parliamentary processes is disturbing. The latest motion to withdraw the bill entirely provides an important reminder that there are significant flaws in the proposed legislative reforms that demand careful study and consultation, not the fast track process the government is trying to pursue.

        • Software Pirates Using Comcast Face Unmasking, $150,000 in Damages

          People who downloaded and/or used pirated software owned by Siemens are about to become part of a copyright infringement lawsuit in the United States. According to the company, 142 yet-to-identified Comcast users were observed using unlicensed software. As a result, the developer wants Comcast to hand over their personal details so they can be pursued for damages that could reach $150,000.

        • Team-Xecuter Site is Down but The Domain Hasn’t Been Seized

          Team-Xecuter is widely known for creating ‘hacks’ that bypass digital restrictions on Nintendo consoles. Last year the U.S. Government indicted three alleged members. The official site remained online until a few days ago, when it became inaccessible due to database errors. While this could be related to the legal trouble, Team-Xecuter.com has not been seized.

GNOME Foundation and OSI Move on to ‘Extend’ Phase Against the Free Software Definition (or Against Software Freedom)

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNOME, GPL, OSI at 4:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: Today, February 9th, the anti-RMS lobby seems to have shifted gear by redefining proprietary software as ‘kinda open’ (openwashing)

The video above, which is in no way scripted or edited, is an urgent call for action because the war on software freedom is gradually progressing to the next phase, which is “extend” (the “embrace” goes quite some time back). The flailing OSI is changing its “Mission Statement”, just as both OSI co-founders warned last year (one thought "ethical" licences would be the vector and the other said that licences not compliant w.r.t. OSD were being approved regardless). The GNOME Foundation, which still works against the founder of GNU (the “G” in GNOME) while on IBM payroll and with two former leaders who now work full-time for Microsoft, redefines proprietary software (Four Freedoms be gone!), apparently one hour apart from the OSI post. The video discusses the importance of this and who stands to benefit. Moving the goalposts in whose favour? In favour of proprietary software.

Online Learning During Pandemic Tests the Elite Institutions

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 4:33 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock

Back in 2016, MIT launched their second MicroMasters program in Data, Economics and Development Policy (DEDP). Students and interns who I’ve mentored regularly ask me about future study options. DEDP stood out because of the very low fees and the fact that economics is so widely applicable in different areas of life. I recommended it to a few people. Even with the convenience of online learning, I never imagined I would have the option to do something like this myself. Voluntary activities like free software, amateur radio, Toastmasters and sport all use some of my time.

Moreover, I already gained experience in some of these topics in my work. The course simultaneously teaches the theory behind various regression models and how to do those regressions in R. I first started working with R in 2008 as a developer. For people with a similar background, the weekly tasks in R go very quickly. Nonetheless, a course like this still provides an interesting way to fill any gaps in theoretical knowledge.

Coincidentally, some of the women I’ve mentored in programs like Outreachy had asked me about female role models. One of the professors behind the DEDP course subsequently became only the second woman to win the Nobel Prize in economics. MIT Spectrum published an article about a woman from Brazil who was successful in the program. Overall, I’ve noticed that more women apply for things when they hear genuine success stories like that.

The course revolves around Microeconomics, probability and statistics and the application of these techniques in development economics, randomized control trials (RCTs) and social science in general.

Start today (or wait)

Calendar

The next round actually starts this week. If you are genuinely interested in something like this or if you have a friend or colleague who may be interested, now is the time to look. If you wait too long to start then you will fall behind in the coursework.

Online study during the pandemic

Many of the usual activities I do during the summer were canceled by the pandemic in 2020. When I saw these courses, I never imagined doing one of them myself but in the context of the pandemic, it felt like the smartest thing to do so I enrolled. Most of my work involves arranging data for other people to analyse. I felt this course would help me better understand the people who use my work and also improve my own skills in designing and marketing technology that people need and want.

While MIT marketing emphasizes the opportunity for people in the developing world, the reality is quite different. I found one other student doing the course in the neighbourhood of MIT and I heard a rumor about a high school student from wealthy Singapore completing it. The ability of courses like this to bring together participants from both developing countries and those who live in wealthier regions makes it more compelling.

Having mentored numerous students and interns at the masters level already, it was clear to me that the course is definitely on par with what students learn on campus.

Given that many elite schools sent students home to learn online during 2020 it raises some challenging questions, for example:

  • If both the regular MIT students and online edX students can learn the same topics in an online format during 2020, why do elite institutions need to charge such high fees and limit the number of students who enrol? In other words, by designing and marketing the DEDP course in this way, the professors have inadvertently put a spotlight on the economics of marketing traditional degrees.
  • If there are so many more people out there with MIT potential, is it really wise for employers to give preference to graduates of elite schools, could they be missing good candidates?
  • France’s VAE system allows people to acquire a qualification, like a masters, based on prior workforce experience. VAE legislation requires the universities to issue degrees that are indistinguishable from regular degrees, this rule is intended to eliminate discrimination by employers. MIT’s strategy, the MicroMasters title, appears to be the opposite. The confinement of traditional students to online learning brings this into question: there is very little difference between the two types of student any more.

Support during online learning

My contributions to free software projects were inevitably reduced during this time. Some people were quite respectful of my decision but it was really disappointing to find other people publicly attacking me. I’ve contributed more than two decades of effort to free and open source software projects as a volunteer but when I reduced my availability, some people began to persistently and aggressively complain.

Ironically, my highest score in the course was for 14.750x: Political Economy and Economic Development. The first paper was about assassinations and the final week studied a paper on Radio and the Rise of the Nazis. In 2017, volunteers and donors voted for me as their community representative in a free software organization. Character assassination plots were being hatched before I started my term:

Jitsi Meet

Online study doesn’t require any contact or collaboration with other participants. This may be a missed opportunity. Research suggests that collaborative learning can improve memory and critical thinking in particular. I personally volunteered to set up a daily call with other participants using Jitsi Meet. This has received a lot of positive feedback while also raising the possibility that proprietary software like Zoom is not necessary for education.

Challenges in examinations

The biggest challenge for this type of teaching may be the examination.

Examinations are not simply a tool for comparing students. The goal and deadline associated with an exam may help a student to apply effort and maximize learning.

One interesting study found that students actually remember more from a course if they are asked to do an extra quiz before starting the lessons. This emphasizes the relationship between exams, education and the functioning of the human mind. edX exploits some of these techniques already by inserting short quizes every few minutes through the lectures. This interactivity may give online students an advantage over students who attended the original lectures.

Yet full online examinations raise challenges in various ways, including the risks of cheating, network failures, equipment failures, the contamination of our home environments with an event that is acutely stressful for many people and the privacy implications of monitoring exams at home.

On top of all that is the risk of putting students under an acute stress during a time when they may be quite isolated. Before the pandemic, students doing online study may have had regular exposure to colleagues and friends but for those who are choosing to shelter, living through a lockdown or a temporary self-isolation, there is a heightened risk of adverse consequences. Even before the pandemic, experts were warning that suicide is the second leading cause of death among college-age students.

Recommendation

For people who are confident with calculus and linear algebra and motivated by the issues contemplated by social scientists, the material in this course is very rewarding.

As an engineer, it is in my nature to think about how projects will look when they are finished. When your project is an MIT course, you finish with an online exam. It is important to think about the revision plan, the location and the equipment you need from the very first week. The examination software monitors your room and the contents of your computer: it is the definition of spyware. With that in mind, you can not run it on a computer you use for other purposes, you really need to purchase a dedicated computer to run this software and test it is working a few weeks before the exam. Cleaning your home and setting up a computer the night before the test may only lead to more stress when you least need it.

With online learning, you are responsible for your learning experience. Reading a book like How we Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why it Happens (Benedict Carey, 2015) can help you be both a student and teacher at the same time. The techniques in this book are likely to improve your grades and also give you insights into how the edX platform works.

Online study may lead to more hours in front of your computer. Reducing blue light in the screen settings and using smart lights to adjust the room lighting can help make your eyes more comfortable.

With multiple variations of Covid now in the wild, it looks like the pandemic will not die down quickly. Educators, especially those who are keen to promote equality and access to education, may be able to find new insights during this period and use them to bring about permanent improvement in the delivery of education.

The Foundation of Shame

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Marketing, Microsoft at 7:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jim Zemlin in tuxedo
Photo credit: The Linux Foundation

Summary: The term “foundation” is being corrupted to the point where ‘non-profit’ (but actually for-profit) entities promote bad practices, monopolies, and openwashing of truly awful and oppressive things

THE sister site of ZDNet, TechRepublic, not only spreads Microsoft propaganda about the Raspberry Pi Foundation this week (yesterday). It employs longtime Microsoft moles and constantly spreads Microsoft propaganda and Linux Foundation propaganda, which is in turn linked to Microsoft’s. There’s just a marketing company behind it; it’s not a news site! But this rant isn’t about TechRepublic itself.

Last night I saw a worrying TechRepublic puff piece by someone whose name I never saw before, openwashing autocratic tools (‘vaccine passports’) devised by patent profiteers to blackmail people into buying their experimental prototypes (products), threatening punishment or retaliation in spite of variants/strains that make such “passports” nowhere as meaningful as actual tests (as is already done at airports). The title was “Open source ‘vaccine passports:’ Linux Foundation Public Health talks development, security, and digitally restoring trust”. My wife and I are pro-vaccination, but this infuriated both of us (myself last night and her this morning) for two reason: 1) the Linux Foundation is clearly misusing the name “Linux”. 2) those “passports” aren’t the solution and they mostly help Microsoft’s co-founder. In my wife’s view, this is another way Microsoft advances its agenda through the Linux Foundation (it has long been stated in the news that Microsoft wants to manage those “passports”) and the “contact-tracing” tools the Linux Foundation put its name behind had been outsourced to Microsoft’s proprietary software trap (GitHub). Not to even mention Gates’ stake in patents on vaccines [1, 2, 3].

“In my wife’s view, this is another way Microsoft advances its agenda through the Linux Foundation (it has long been stated in the news that Microsoft wants to manage those “passports”) and the “contact-tracing” tools the Linux Foundation put its name behind had been outsourced to Microsoft’s proprietary software trap (GitHub).”Whether you support those “passports” or not (what next? A “passport” to enter a building? A store? “Passports” for leaving one’s own apartment?), Linux as a brand has no place in “passports”. It’s bad enough that in the name of “Linux” they’re monopolising Web site trust and outsourcing both their own Web site and the project code to proprietary software of Microsoft [1, 2].

This institution has become "Stalin's dream" and people like my wife, who were only introduced to “Linux” one decade ago, already resent the brand, or at least the foundation (Torvalds’ employer).

Microsoft recently did similar things at the Raspberry Pi Foundation and since we’ve mentioned attempts to interject Rust (GitHub-controlled, not only for code) into Linux how about news from yesterday about a new thing called the Rust Foundation [1-4]? It was announced by Daniel Nazer from the EFF (where he used to combat “bad” patents such as software patents). He left the EFF to join Mozilla some 1-2 years ago and he does not mention that Microsoft is in the Board of the Rust Foundation [1]. The official announcement [4] calls Microsoft a “Founding member company,” reaffirming our suspicion about the direction of Rust.

“There are meanwhile more dodgy foundations being formed, where Microsoft sits on the board and all the code — not to mention newsletters and meeting minutes — are being outsourced entirely to Microsoft’s proprietary software monopoly.”So, in short, the “Linux” brand is now being used for privacy-violating (and pointless) contact-tracing, which we now know was grossly misused, mishandled and put in the hands of bad actors in direct violation of promises made to those choosing to participate (there were many press reports about it). That same “Linux” brand is also used for openwashing of so-called ‘vaccine passports’, painting with the “Linux” (or “ethical”) brush a threat to a decent society, never mind if such ‘vaccine passports’ are pretty useless anyway (there’s still hardly any data about efficacy of such vaccines).

There are meanwhile more dodgy foundations being formed, where Microsoft sits on the board and all the code — not to mention newsletters and meeting minutes — are being outsourced entirely to Microsoft’s proprietary software monopoly. You need to sign up with Microsoft to participate. Be sure to check who leads OpenJS, which is also linked to OSI and the Linux Foundation. This is how full-time Microsoft employees become the bosses of Torvalds.

Maybe all those foundation will end up just as corrupt as the Gates Foundation.

References (Rust Foundation):

  1. Mozilla Welcomes the Rust Foundation

    Today Mozilla is thrilled to join the Rust community in announcing the formation of the Rust Foundation. The Rust Foundation will be the home of the popular Rust programming language that began within Mozilla. Rust has long been bigger than just a Mozilla project and today’s announcement is the culmination of many years of community building and collaboration. Mozilla is pleased to be a founding Platinum Sponsor of the Rust Foundation and looks forward to working with it to help Rust continue to grow and prosper.

    Rust is an open-source programming language focused on safety, speed and concurrency. It started life as a side project in Mozilla Research. Back in 2010, Graydon Hoare presented work on something he hoped would become a “slightly less annoying” programming language that could deliver better memory safety and more concurrency. Within a few years, Rust had grown into a project with an independent governance structure and contributions from inside and outside Mozilla. In 2015, the Rust project announced the first stable release, Rust 1.0.

  2. The Rust language gets a foundation

    The newly formed Rust Foundation has announced its existence.

  3. Rust Foundation Established To Steward The Rust Programming Language

    Mozilla has been sponsoring the Rust programming language for more than a decade while in 2020 as part of Mozilla’s big round of layoffs most of the Rust team was let go along with dropping the Servo web engine team. Following that plans were drafted to create the Rust Foundation as an independent entity.

  4. Hello World!

    Today, on behalf of the Rust Core team, I’m excited to announce the Rust Foundation, a new independent non-profit organization to steward the Rust programming language and ecosystem, with a unique focus on supporting the set of maintainers that govern and develop the project. The Rust Foundation will hold its first board meeting tomorrow, February 9th, at 4pm CT. The board of directors is composed of 5 directors from our Founding member companies, AWS, Huawei, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla, as well as 5 directors from project leadership, 2 representing the Core Team, as well as 3 project areas: Reliability, Quality, and Collaboration.

Raspberry Pied in the Face — Part IV: Poor Crisis Management by the Raspberry Pi Foundation

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft at 7:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: The Raspberry Pi Foundation did a really awful job handling its so-called ‘community’, which it ended up insulting instead of apologising to

THE thugs from Microsoft (a "cult", according to former insiders) are ruining Raspberry Pis and the Raspberry Pi Foundation. As usual, it’s about money. We know who always ends up on top.

Incredibly damaged hardwareIn Part I, Part II, and in Part III we covered as slowly as possible the known facts, seeing that the media does a really lousy job, unless its sole job is spin and clickbait.

“They (RPT and RPF) can definitely recover from this,” an associate told us (the one who was first to discover and report this blunder), “but only if they put in massive effort to do so. The longer they wait the harder it becomes. If they wait long enough, then at some point it will become impossible.”

“Raspberry Pi OS has turned into spyware for M$,” one developer wrote. “This isn’t the first time that the #RaspberryPi Foundation changed your sources.list without asking…”

Noteworthy is this bit from another person: “Raspbian(.org) was started by Mike Thompson (long gone) and DD ‘plugwash’, who is still maintaining the archive which provides most packages for #RPi, after all these years.”

The incident alluded to is described as follows: “JFC. If you want to have Bluetooth on your #RPi (3B+) device you apparently ‘need’ to install the pi-bluetooth package, which requires the raspberrypi-sys-mods package which rewrites your /etc/apt/sources.list! Without asking.”

“Microsoft trolls and apologists abound,” an associate told us about comment threads such as these and less than a day ago we saw full-time Microsoft propagandists publishing puff pieces in the media (about this incident, but spun completely for marketing purposes).

Whatever others say, even if they’re salaried by Microsoft to say that, all we can do is repeatedly highlight verifiable facts.

$ sudo apt source raspberrypi-sys-mods 
Reading package lists... Done
E: Unable to find a source package for raspberrypi-sys-mods

What was done by the Raspberry Pi employee/s is truly mischievous not just because it’s Microsoft but because of how it was done. They had planned this for a while and we guess there’s a Microsoft deal (of some kind) they don’t wish to talk about. Because they keep totally silent (the Raspberry Pi team has not collectively issued any statement).

“Some people whom we spoke to had started looking into Raspberry Pi alternatives (many exist).”“In case you [are] still looking for how [this] gets on the rpi,” one reader told us the other day, “it comes with “Setting up raspberrypi-sys-mods” package; the corresponding commit can be found here: https://github.com/RPi-Distro/raspberrypi-sys-mods/commit/655cad5aee6457b94fc2336b1ff3c1104ccb4351 [It] Is even worse than you described, because it adds also /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/microsoft.gpg and comes back with every update.”

Although it may be device- and region-dependent, it seems like silently the Raspberry Pi team worked to clean up the mess by basically hiding it.

“This is not the outcome we hoped for when breaking this story, but the handling of the blunder was really poor and bodes badly for the Foundation. It resorted to Stalinist censorship in its own forums and it even insulted those whom it had injured (words like “Microsoft bashing” only inflame them).”Mogz was really unhappy about those shady practices. “I agree,” she said, “seeing plenty of people saying about switching distro … the maintainer’s determination, despite that, says a lot; they and Microsoft should urgently and actively be cut off, for sure. At least linuxers are having a strong reminder that Microsoft doesn’t love linux/privacy, so further news should get an even more attentive reception.”

We’re far from done with this series. The Microsoft deal — whatever its nature might be — is still there. There needs to be a statement from the people responsible for it. Microsoft has already collected a lot of data and tarnished the reputation of the Raspberry Pi. Some people whom we spoke to had started looking into Raspberry Pi alternatives (many exist). This is not the outcome we hoped for when breaking this story, but the handling of the blunder was really poor and bodes badly for the Foundation. It resorted to Stalinist censorship in its own forums and it even insulted those whom it had injured (words like “Microsoft bashing” only inflame them).

Judge Sites By What They Say, Not Who Reads or Links to Them

Posted in Deception at 7:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: People and companies ought to quit judging sites by those who link to them, as opposed to what those sites actually say

THE other day I chatted with an old friend whose favourite YouTube channels were being purged mostly because of who was subscribed to them (not what the channels actually said). We live in a climate of growing censorship; those who are in denial about it aren’t keeping up with the news or selectively absorbing what’s in the news sites (or maybe the reporters con the audience into thinking it’s just about far-right violence).

“I had a dispute with Canonical over a decade ago after someone who was rather rude had linked to Techrights and they tried to link that person to us (or to me personally).”Hours ago I saw the example above in Reddit (then decided to respond with a spontaneous video). This is the kind of crap we’ve written responses to about half a dozen times last year. When we republish police records or Bill Gates deposition videos we aren’t spreading “conspiracy theories” but putting actual evidence — hard evidence — in the public domain. It’s inevitable that due to the nature of social control media and appeal of clickbait some people will opportunistically spin what we actually wrote. It sometimes helps incite (by misportrayal, misrepresentation, misquoting etc.) against particular sites, which ought not be judged by who links to them. I had a dispute with Canonical over a decade ago after someone who was rather rude had linked to Techrights and they tried to link that person to us (or to me personally).

Penguin and TechrightsThe issue at hand isn’t unique to us. When this was brought up in FLOSS Weekly (I was on that show 12 years ago) the host Leo Laporte responded to Jono Bacon by stating that it’s not fair to judge a site by various people who read it and might occasionally link to it. Sites aren’t in control of how they’re presented (the context) and nor should they be. But to hold sites accountable for things they’re not in control of is unfair and it seems like social control networks (Twitter for sure) discriminate against particular sites based on a gross generalisation, hinged upon unhinged people who have nothing whatsoever to do with those sites.

It’s worth restating: we live in an atmosphere of incredible (and still growing) societal backlash/breakdown, fueled in part by unemployment and capitalist overstretch, accentuated by forced lock-downs caused by a pandemic. The response from the public is something like “tax the rich” or “eat the rich” or “billionaires ought not exist!”

The response from social control networks which they control (Twitter, for instance, controlled mostly by oligarchs) is to muzzle the masses, based on blanket censorship and no due process (let alone a right of appeal) [1, 2, 3].

Failing efforts to muzzle the masses, some throw the journalists inside the oven.

Twitter in Saudi hands

Techrights Gemini Site (‘Capsule’)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft, Site News at 5:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: We’ll soon have Techrights available over the Gemini protocol, which is light and elegant (and also enjoys fast-growing support)

THERE are many perfectly legitimate reasons to abandon the Web and the Web browsers that the Web is tied into. The Web is nowadays a chaotic mix of DRM, proprietary JavaScript you’re not allowed to disable (otherwise, you won’t be allowed to access many sites), and endless surveillance that goes beyond JavaScript (e.g. log files sold in retail quantities to so-called “data brokers”, sometimes by ISPs).

“It is understandable that many people won’t want to explore Gemini, having become accustomed to sites and Web browsers that they know, as well as processes they’ve long become familiar with.”We recognise the growing “Web fatigue” because we too share this fatigue. Last year, owing to lock-downs, we had spare time to work towards IPFS (“dweb” and censorship resistance) and now we’re working on a Gemini capsule for this Web site. The aim is to make it as rich an experience as the Web version.

It is understandable that many people won’t want to explore Gemini, having become accustomed to sites and Web browsers that they know, as well as processes they’ve long become familiar with. Gemini is actually not difficult at all to use (or even to set up; I’ve found that a lot simpler than setting up a Web site/server). Below we include the introductory part from Wikipedia and the above video explains what we’ve done so far (not much is left to complete before going “live”).

Gemini in Wikipedia

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