EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

02.21.17

Inverting Narratives: IAM ‘Magazine’ Paints Massive Patent Bully Microsoft (Preying on the Weak) as a Defender of the Powerless

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 8:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

If it looks like a patent troll, IAM will certainty love it and agonise over the bad reputation of trolls

IAM THE VOICE OF PATENT TROLLS

Summary: Selective coverage and deliberate misinterpretation of Microsoft’s tactics (patent settlement under threat, disguised as “pre-installation of some of the US company’s software products”) as seen in IAM almost every week these days

THERE IS A WAR against GNU/Linux. It’s a very big war. But a lot of it happens in the back room and it is being led by Microsoft, a notoriously corrupt company that still relies on bribes and blackmail for a lot of its deals (we have given many examples in the past).

Yesterday we saw a Microsoft-friendly site writing about the latest attack on Free software from Google. The site called it “Patently Ridiculous” (in the headline) that “Google [is] Ordered To Pay $20 Million Plus,” as we noted here the other day (it’s a notoriously trolls-friendly judge).

“Not all of this officially counts/qualifies as patent revenue (royalties) because Microsoft uses a clever trick now.”“Software patents are usually patents on the obvious wrapped up in as obscure, vague and technical a language as possible,” the site said. “In this case Google has been found guilty of infringing a “sandbox” patent in Chrome.”

That’s a software patent and it was found valid in one of those notorious courts in the Eastern District of Texas, so Google will hopefully appeal. But there is an even broader war going on, some of which involves Microsoft satellites that keep suing Android (or GNU/Linux) device makers. We provided plenty of examples in past years.

“This trick started about a year ago with Acer, not too long after it naturally followed from a lawsuit against Samsung that yielded a settlement 2 years ago (same effect, same consequences).”Microsoft itself is playing this aggressive game also directly, though it learned how to disguise it a little better. It is trying to make billions of dollars by shaking down Android OEMs and Chrome OS OEMs (often the same OEMs — more or less — as these two operating systems overlap one another more and more over time). Not all of this officially counts/qualifies as patent revenue (royalties) because Microsoft uses a clever trick now.

This trick started about a year ago with Acer, not too long after it naturally followed from a lawsuit against Samsung that yielded a settlement 2 years ago (same effect, same consequences). Then came Xiaomi (not only bundling of Microsoft malware but also payments to Microsoft, in the form of patent purchases). This was all along misportrayed by IAM, as we repeatedly showed. Either they are willfully ignorant or maliciously lying about it. Today IAM published another one of these puff pieces. It paints Microsoft as some kind of “good cop”, but what the author of this article conveniently neglects to say (or twists the facts of) is that Microsoft previously blackmailed HTC using software patents (around the same time Apple did so).

Here is how IAM put it:

The Microsoft petition – jointly filed with Taiwan’s HTC – argues that claims 14, 15 and 17 of the ‘695 patent should be invalidated on grounds of obviousness. The petition also notes that the ‘695 patent has been asserted by Philips along with several other patents in a series of infringement cases it filed in the District of Delaware back in December 2015. The seven of these lawsuits that remain active target Acer, Asus and HTC from Taiwan; Double Power Technology and Yifang from China; and US companies Visual Land and Southern Telecom. Microsoft has joined the Acer, Asus, Double Power, Visual Land and Yifang cases as a counter-defendant; it is also involved in the HTC case as an intervenor-plaintiff.

[...]

Of the defendants in the Philips lawsuits, we know that Microsoft signed HTC as a patent licensee back in 2010, and that it has revised and expanded existing IP licensing deals with Acer and Asus in recent years. With regards to both the latter, this involved the pre-installation of some of the US company’s software products on the Taiwanese manufacturers’ devices; this has also been a feature of headline patent deals signed with other major Asian companies, including Lenovo and Xiaomi. It may be the case that Microsoft has also offered some form of patent risk mitigation, similar to the aforementioned cloud customer programme, as part of these agreements – though that is just my speculation at this stage, and would be difficult to confirm since the details of such licensing arrangements are typically highly confidential.

Instead of ever acknowledging their mistakes/errors, Team IAM likes to pretend that I did not understand what they wrote. This Microsoft-powered site with many guests from Microsoft embedded in articles is fooling nobody. Microsoft is almost worshiped there and rarely is there even a single sentence critical of the company.

“Just using patents to coerce companies into doing what Microsoft tells them,” I told IAM. “It’s a form of blackmail.” But they keep repeating Microsoft’s talking points every month if not every week. That’s revisionism.

Watch how IAM framed a PTAB IPR petition (as if Microsoft cares for companies it blackmailed): “Microsoft IPR filed against Philips looks like another example of the company’s patent-plus value creation strategy.”

Blackmail with patent threats is not “Value creation”. It’s extortion, it’s blackmail. IAM needs to stop pretending that it’s a news site if trolls are painted as innocent victims and companies that terrify and bully the whole industry get treated like a banality to be ignored if not celebrated.

IAM, like the EPO which turned it into a propaganda mill, is a symptom of many of the things we stand against. The other day it celebrated European patent-based sanctions against Chinese companies (like the aforementioned OEMs from Taiwan or China) and only days ago it promoted patent tax through SEPs, which are inherently not compatible with Free/libre software. To quote:

Avanci was launched last September with Qualcomm, Ericsson, ZTE, KPN, InterDigital and Sony all agreeing to make their standard essential patents that read on 2G, 3G and 4G technology available for license across a range of IoT industry verticals. The first three sectors that Avanci has targeted are the auto industry, connected homes and smart meters. There’s no doubt that Avanci brings together some of the leading plays in wireless technology, but it also has some notable gaps such as Nokia and Huawei. Five months after it launched it is yet to conclude any licensing agreements, although Alfalahi insisted that feedback from the industry and from regulators has been positive and that his team continues to talk to a wide range of licensees and possible members. “We’re not saying that cross-licensing or one-on-one licensing doesn’t work, we just believe there’s a better way and over the last year it has become clear there is a need in the market,” he said.

By making up buzzwords like “IoT” or “4G” companies try to bundle together a bunch of patents that deny entry into the market (via standards) unless entrants pay a very large toll (sometimes more expensive than all the hardware combined). In reality, many of these patents are software patents, i.e. something which isn’t even patent-eligible in the vast majority of countries.

We read IAM not for information but mostly as an exercise in understanding the idealogical opposition; IAM stands for greed, protectionism, and litigation, in lieu with its funding sources (revenue sources are not limited to subscriptions).

The Sickness of the EPO – Part I: Motivation for New Series of Articles

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Facts don’t matter at the EPO anymore

Medical doctor for EPO

Summary: An introduction or prelude to a long series of upcoming posts, whose purpose is to show governance by coercion, pressure, retribution and tribalism rather than professional relationship between human beings at the European Patent Office (EPO)

THE EPO is no ordinary employer and not an ordinary place to work (or retire from). The best way to judge the character of a person (or an employer) is not the way he or she protects a friend or family (kinship); it’s often the way he or she treats/mistreats peers, especially in difficult times (times of trouble or trauma). Sympathy and care under stress, ordeal or challenge help build long-term relationships — the very thing which the EPO lacks. Utter lack of empathy seems to be a path to promotion, which means that those at the top of the ladder tend to be cruel, heartless, and greedy.

“Utter lack of empathy seems to be a path to promotion, which means that those at the top of the ladder tend to be cruel, heartless, and greedy.”In the series, which we will structure chronologically, details will be shown to demonstrate the EPO’s poor treatment of workers, the lack of a functional justice system, the lack of a proper appeals system, nepotism, harassment (from management/superiors), and lack of outside assistance from ILO, which basically discredits claims that the EPO deserves immunity.

Insensitivity at the EPO’s Management – Part VII: EPO Hypocrisy on Cancer and Lack of Feedback to and From ECPC

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ECPCSummary: The European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC), which calls itself “the largest European cancer patients’ umbrella organisation,” fails to fulfill its duties, says a source of ours, and the EPO makes things even worse

THE merciless EPO is one those things that, once you go further and delve even deeper, reveals much broader abuse which implicates more institutions. Not only European institutions are implicated but international ones too. 2 years ago we mentioned the ECPC's letter, which is still available online [PDF]. One can also access it from the link in this introductory page. We have already published the whole letter as text (mentioned in part 2), but one of our readers called it “another piece of information about the EPO and its bla bla mission, so caring about us citizens.”

“Our experience is not only about fighting cancer, but also about the absurd state of things in this branch of healthcare, the cancer and the many powerful industries connected.”
      –Anonymous
The EPO does not even care about its own workers, let alone citizens. One day we intend to show just how poorly if not arrogantly (inflammatory and indignant psychosis) the EPO treats workers with disabilities, illnesses, etc. It always leaves our jaw on the floor because in any other working place the employer would get sued for improper treatment (or mistreatment) of workers. Psychopathology at the EPO is what inflicts and now wholly dominates the management, not ordinary workers such as examiners. For the most part, examiners are the victims.

One of our readers was eager to share an old story which demonstrates just how bad experiences with the EPO’s management can be.

“At the time,” a reader told us, “I was struggling with my mother’s cancer, pancreatic cancer. The fight we went through is a chapter on its own and one day (hopefully soon) [when] I will find time and guts to publish it as a case study, since even if that terrible disease finally claimed my mother’s life, we could obtain some good results. Our experience is not only about fighting cancer, but also about the absurd state of things in this branch of healthcare, the cancer and the many powerful industries connected. Surprisingly, but now not really, EPO management jumped into this tragedy of my family, by exploiting (and in fact provenly aggravating) my nervous breakdown, and exacerbating the difficulties of coping with a deadly disease in my family distant over a thousand km and a severely ill father, with dementia.

“The letter speaks out the concerns that the ECPC has about a recent decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeal, how it is an obstacle and a further hurdle for scientific information sharing and consequently how it actually hampers progress in a field of medical research which is already burdened by questionable practices of keeping secret and hidden vital information. ”
      –Anonymous
“Well, in that horrible state of mind of those days, I bumped into this European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC) group (to me previously unknown) and into De Lorenzo’s open letter to the EPO. The letter speaks out the concerns that the ECPC has about a recent decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeal, how it is an obstacle and a further hurdle for scientific information sharing and consequently how it actually hampers progress in a field of medical research which is already burdened by questionable practices of keeping secret and hidden vital information.

“I was already on a long-term sick leave, having been missing from the Office for about a year, so I mailed it to my colleagues at the EPO to ask about it and they told me that no information whatsoever had ever been disclosed internally about that letter or about its related issue, which was to me no surprise of course.

“But whatever: up until the day I found that ECPC open letter no answer or even the slightest consideration could be documented, from the side of the EPO, and this was already several months after it was issued.

“…up until the day I found that ECPC open letter no answer or even the slightest consideration could be documented, from the side of the EPO, and this was already several months after it was issued.”
      –Anonymous
“I phoned the Italian branch of that institution, where its president Mr. De Lorenzo mostly operated and following their very own directions I sent a mail to ECPC, precisely addressing the attention of its president, asking whether an answer from Battistelli and the EPO had ever been received. Well, I got no answer from them either. De Lorenzo had been hit by scandals in the nineties in Italy, then being Minister of Health, and had been condemned to a third degree sentence, hence fully confirmed. So, maybe after his own troubled experiences, on which I express no opinion, he saw no [point] either and not much of an interest in messing about the “nasty and powerful” as he might sense EPO and Battistelli are (and rightly so). By the way, I never got an answer from ECPC or from De Lorenzo ever since… Don’t know, maybe he’ll answer, one day. I don’t tolerate politics mess-abouts with a topic like this, especially after what I have been through with mum’s disease and death. The painful efforts of a desperate fight and after that cancer caused the loss of so many people I knew.

“Anyway, and this is the juicy bit for you, after a good while I found a post in the LinkedIn profile of EPO; they posted a stupid pink ribbon, to show their support for the fight against this deadly disease…Ugh! Seeing the nerdy servile comments and thumb-ups on the post, I could not take it. So I took a screenshot for safety and posted the link to the ECPC letter there as a provocative reminder, to point out the hypocritical attitude of the EPO, so disgusting on such an issue. In the image below, a .png file, people should [be able to] see it. It is dated February 2015, so well after the open letter from ECPC and three months after my mother left us.

EPO Cancer support in LinkedIn

“Same as when I recently posted, as an ironical pun with the recent infamous habits at the EPO, a link to an exhibition on The World of Spying held in Berlin. Some visits on my LinkedIn profile, often anonymous, started to buzz around. Yet, and as up to present, no answer at all. Not on my post in LinkedIn, nor to the ECPC letter, what would be more important.

“How should I not think for a while, that Big Pharma is also having a say on that and dictates EPO/Battistelli behaviour?”
      –Anonymous
“Now, the issue addressed by the letter is urgent. It deals with the struggle that research has in pursuing a cure and it points out an obstacle caused by decisions and policies of the EPO. If the EPO believes in what it says about promoting research on cancer, it should at least give an answer. Well, no answer; So the EPO simply and very openly does not care, yet is hypocritical enough to purport the opposite with a stupid LinkedIn post, with a pink ribbon they should better shove up their [expletive].

“This episode has implications: why is the EPO reticent on this issue? Why not have the EBA [Enlarged Board of Appeal] express their views openly, on their very own decisions, either reconsidering or not their position? How should I not think for a while, that Big Pharma is also having a say on that and dictates EPO/Battistelli behaviour?

“The people at the Alltrials.net initiative should be also made aware of this…”

Checking the link of the letter again, it’s still there. “To my knowledge,” our reader noted, “it had never been answered by EPO or Battistelli himself.

“…if ECPC itself fails to further pursue such an important issue they brought up themselves and tolerates a total lack of consideration by EPO, then we might ask whether this is another corporate European money machine…”
      –Anonymous
“For the record, my direct enquiry by ECPC also remained unanswered: At the time I asked whether they got an answer from the EPO they told me, on the phone, they’d surely answer on this, they would surely follow up the issue and also let me know. But they never did. Which might cast some doubt about the seriousness of this type of initiatives or even about the organisations promoting them: if ECPC itself fails to further pursue such an important issue they brought up themselves and tolerates a total lack of consideration by EPO, then we might ask whether this is another corporate European money machine…

“But this might be a side note… or another story…”

Links 21/2/2017: KDE Plasma 5.9.2 in Chakra GNU/Linux, pfSense 2.3.3

Posted in News Roundup at 6:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Interview: Thomas Weissel Installing Plasma in Austrian Schools

      With Plasma 5 having reached maturity for widespread use we are starting to see rollouts of it in large environments. Dot News interviewed the admin behind one such rollout in Austrian schools.

    • Best Linux File Sharing Tips

      Today’s article is going to provide you with some useful Linux file sharing tips using common file sharing software. This article assumes two things. First, you’re running Ubuntu. Second, you’re comfortable typing recommended commands into a terminal window.

  • Server

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Kernel 4.10 Now Available for Linux Lite Users, Here’s How to Install It

      Minutes after the release of Linux kernel 4.10 last evening, Jerry Bezencon from the Linux Lite project announced that users of the Ubuntu-based distribution can now install it on their machines.

      Linux 4.10 is now the most advanced kernel branch for all Linux-based operating systems, and brings many exciting new features like virtual GPU support, better writeback management, eBPF hooks for cgroups, as well as Intel Cache Allocation Technology support for the L2/L3 caches of Intel processors.

    • Wacom’s Intuos Pro To Be Supported By The Linux 4.11 Kernel

      Jiri Kosina submitted the HID updates today for the Linux 4.11 kernel cycle.

    • EXT4, Fscrypt Updates For Linux 4.11

      Ted Ts’o sent out today the feature updates for the EXT4 file-system for the Linux 4.11 merge window as well as the fscrypt file-system encryption code.

    • Ten Collabora Developers Have Contributed 39 Patches to Linux Kernel 4.10

      Today, February 20, 2017, Collabora’s Mark Filion is informing Softpedia about the contributions made by a total of ten Collabora developers to the recently released Linux 4.10 kernel.

      Linux kernel 4.10 was released on Sunday, February 19, as you should already be aware of, and it brings a whole lot of goodies to goodies, among which we can mention virtual GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) support, Intel Cache Allocation Technology support, eBPF hooks for cgroups, as well as improved writeback management.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Mesa 13.0.5 Released for Linux Gamers with over 70 Improvements, Bug Fixes

        We reported the other day that Mesa 13.0.5 3D Graphics Library will be released this week, and it looks like Collabora’s Emil Velikov announced it earlier this morning for all Linux gamers.

        Mesa 13.0.5 is a maintenance update to the Mesa 13.0 stable series of the open source graphics stack used by default in numerous, if not all GNU/Linux distributions, providing gamers with powerful drivers for their AMD Radeon, Nvidia, and Intel GPUs. It comes approximately three weeks after the Mesa 13.0.4 update.

      • mesa 13.0.5
      • R600/Radeon TGSI Shader Cache Gets Closer To Merging

        Timothy Arceri, who is now working for Valve on the open-source AMD Linux stack, has sent out the latest patches for wiring in Mesa’s GLSL on-disk shader cache for R600g/RadeonSI drivers.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Plasma 5.9.2, Applications 16.12.2 and Frameworks 5.31.0 available in Chakra

        The latest updates for KDE’s Plasma, Applications and Frameworks series are now available to all Chakra users.

        Included with this update, is an update of the ncurses, readline and gnutls related group of packages, as well as many other important updates in our core repository. Be aware that during this update, your screen might turn black. If that is the case and it does not automatically restore after some time, then please switch to tty3 with Ctrl+Alt+F3 and then switch back to the Plasma session with Ctrl+Alt+F7. If that does not work, please give enough time for the upgrade to complete before shutting down. You can check your cpu usage using ‘top’ after logging in within tty3. You can reboot within tty3 using ‘shutdown –reboot’.

      • Chakra GNU/Linux Users Get KDE Plasma 5.9.2 and KDE Applications 16.12.2, More

        The developers behind the Chakra GNU/Linux operating system have announced today the immediate availability of all the latest KDE technologies released this month in the stable repositories of the distribution.

        Yes, we’re talking about the KDE Plasma 5.9.2 desktop environment, KDE Applications 16.12.2 software suite, KDE Frameworks 5.31.0, and KDE Development Platform 4.14.29, all of which can be found in your Chakra GNU/Linux’s repos if you want to run the newest KDE software.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • The Smallest Server Suite Gets Special Edition with PHP 7.0.15, Apache 2.4.25

        4MLinux developer Zbigniew Konojacki informs Softpedia about the availability of a special edition of the TheSSS (The Smallest Server Suite) Live Linux operating system.

        Carrying the same version number as the original TheSSS release, namely 21.0, and dubbed TheSSS7, the new flavor ships with more recent PHP packages from the 7.0.x series. Specifically, TheSSS7 includes PHP 7.0.15, while TheSSS comes with PHP 5.6.30.

      • Descent OS Is Dead, Arkas OS Takes Its Place and It’s Based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

        Some of you out there might remember the Descent OS distro created by Brian Manderville and based on the popular Ubuntu Linux operating system, and today we have some bad news for them as the development is now officially closed.

        Descent OS first appeared in February 2012 as a lightweight Ubuntu derivative built around the GNOME 2 desktop environment. Back then, it was known as Descent|OS, and was quite actively developed with new features and components borrowed from the latest Ubuntu releases.

      • Black Lab Linux 8.1 Out Now with LibreOffice 5.3, It’s Based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

        Softpedia was informed today by the Black Lab Software project about the general availability of the first point release to the Black Lab Linux 8.0 operating system series.

        Serving as a base release to the company’s enterprise offerings and equipped with all the long-term supported Linux 4.4 kernel from the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system, Black Lab Linux 8.1 comes with up-to-date components and the latest security patches ported from Ubuntu’s repositories as of February 15, 2017.

        “Today we are pleased to announce the release of Black Lab Linux 8.1. Our first incremental release to the 8.0 series. In this release we have brought all security updates up to Feb 15, 2017, as well as application updates,” said Roberto J. Dohnert, CEO of Black Lab Software.

      • Parrot 3.5 – Call For Betatesters

        We did our best to prepare these preview images including all the updates and the new features introduced since the last release, but now we need your help to understand how to make it even better, and of course we need your help to understand if there is something that doesn’t work as expected or something that absolutely needs to be included in the final release.

    • Red Hat Family

      • SSM uses Red Hat technology to modernise IT infrastructure

        RED Hat, Inc, a provider of open source solutions, announced that it has been selected by Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM) to support the development of a new and advanced gateway for the registration of companies and businesses in Malaysia.

        Mesiniaga Bhd, a systems integrator with 35 years of experience, is the primary implementer for this initiative.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Fedora 27 Aiming To Drop Out Alpha Releases

          In a similar effort to Ubuntu itself not issuing alpha/beta releases the past few years as they focused on the quality of their daily ISOs instead, Fedora developers have been discussing a similar maneuver of beginning to drop alpha releases from their schedule.

          Beginning with Fedora 27 we could see no more alpha releases, if the Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee approves of this change. The focus would be on ensuring Fedora Rawhide is always in good shape and save on release engineering time and other resources with putting out alpha builds.

        • Fedora macbook pro testers++

          In the final run-up to the Fedora 25 release, we slipped a week because there was a bug in installs on apple osx (now macos again) hardware. This was (and is) a use case the Workstation working group cares about, as they would love for folks with apple hardware to install Fedora and use it on that hardware. Sadly, we don’t have too many testers with this hardware to help our testing cycles, and many community members with this hardware also are using it day to day and cannot afford to reinstall and test at the drop of a hat.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • IOTA: IoT revolutionized with a Ledger

            Ever since the introduction of digital money, the world quickly came to realize how dire and expensive the consequences of centralized systems are. Not only are these systems incredibly expensive to maintain, they are also “single points of failures” which expose a large number of users to unexpected service interruptions, fraudulent activities and vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malicious hackers.

            Thanks to Blockchain, which was first introduced through Bitcoin in 2009, the clear benefits of a decentralized and “trustless” transactional settlement system became apparent. No longer should expensive trusted third parties be used for handling transactions, instead, the flow of money should be handled in a direct, Peer-to-Peer fashion. This concept of a Blockchain (or more broadly, a distributed ledger) has since then become a global phenomenon attracting billions of dollars in investments to further develop the concept.

          • Return Home and Unify: My Case for Unity 8
          • Can netbooks be cool again?

            Earlier this week, my colleague Chaim Gartenberg covered a laptop called the GPD Pocket, which is currently being funded on Indiegogo. As Chaim pointed out, the Pocket’s main advantage is its size — with a 7-inch screen, the thing is really, really small — and its price, a reasonable $399. But he didn’t mention that the Pocket is the resurrection of one of the most compelling, yet fatally flawed, computing trends of the ‘00s: the netbook. So after ten years, are netbooks finally cool again? That might be putting it too strongly, but I’m willing to hope.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Rewriting the history of free software and computer graphics

    Do you remember those days in the early nineties when most screensavers were showing flying 3D metallic logotypes? Did you have one?

    In this article, I want to go back in time and briefly revise the period in the history of computer graphics (CG) development when it transitioned from research labs to everyone’s home computer. The early and mid-1990s was the time when Aldus (before Adobe bought the company) was developing PageMaker for desktop publishing, when Pixar created ToyStory, and soon after 3D modeling and animation software Maya by Alias|Wavefront (acquired by Autodesk). It was also a moment when we got two very different models of CG development, one practiced by the Hollywood entertainment industry and one practiced by corporations like Adobe and Autodesk.

    By recalling this history, I hope to be able to shed new light on the value of free software for CG, such as Blender or Synfig. Maybe we can even re-discover the significance of one implicit freedom in free software: a way for digital artists to establish relations with developers.

    [...]

    The significance of free software for CG

    On the backdrop of this history, free software like Blender, Synfig, Krita, and other projects for CG gain significance for several reasons that stretch beyond the four freedoms that free software gives.

    First, free software allows the mimicking of the Hollywood industry’s models of work while making it accessible for more individuals. It encourages practice-based CG development that can fit individual workflows and handle unexpected circumstances that emerge in the course of work, rather than aiming at a mass product for all situations and users. Catering to an individual’s needs and adaptations of the software brings users work closer to craft and makes technology more human. Tools and individual skill can be continuously polished, shaped, and improved based on individual needs, rather than shaped by decisions “from above.”

  • ONF unveils Open Innovation Pipeline to counter open source proprietary solutions

    ONF and ON.Lab claim the OIP initiative to bolster open source SDN, NFV and cloud efforts being hampered by open source-based proprietary work.

    Tapping into an ongoing merger arrangement with Open Networking Lab, the Open Networking Foundation recently unveiled its Open Innovation Pipeline targeted at counteracting the move by vendors using open source platforms to build proprietary solutions.

  • [FreeDOS] The readability of DOS applications

    Web pages are mostly black-on-white or dark-gray-on-white, but anyone who has used DOS will remember that most DOS applications were white-on-blue. Sure, the DOS command line was white-on-black, but almost every popular DOS application used white-on-blue. (It wasn’t really “white” but we’ll get there.) Do an image search for any DOS application from the 1980s and early 1990s, and you’re almost guaranteed to yield a forest of white-on-blue images like these:

  • More about DOS colors

    In a followup to my discussion about the readability of DOS applications, I wrote an explanation on the FreeDOS blog about why DOS has sixteen colors. That discussion seemed too detailed to include on my Open Source Software & Usability blog, but it was a good fit for the FreeDOS blog.

  • Building a $4 billion company around open source software: The Cloudera story

    Dr Amr Awadallah is the Chief Technology Officer of Cloudera, a data management and analytics platform based on Apache Hadoop. Before co-founding Cloudera in 2008, Awadallah served as Vice President of Product Intelligence Engineering at Yahoo!, running one of the very first organizations to use Hadoop for data analysis and business intelligence. Awadallah joined Yahoo! after the company acquired his first startup, VivaSmart, in July 2000.

    With the fourth industrial revolution upon us—where the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres are blurred by the world of big data and the fusion of technologies—Cloudera finds itself among the band of companies that are leading this change. In this interview with Enterprise Innovation, the Cloudera co-founder shares his insights on the opportunities and challenges in the digital revolution and its implications for businesses today; how organizations can derive maximum value from their data while ensuring their protection against risks; potential pitfalls and mistakes companies make when using big data for business advantage; and what lies beyond big data analytics.

  • What we (think we) know about meritocracies

    “Meritocracy,” writes Christopher Hayes in his 2012 book Twilight of the Elites, “represents a rare point of consensus in our increasingly polarized politics. It undergirds our debates, but is never itself the subject of them, because belief in it is so widely shared.” Meritocratic thinking, in other words, is prevalent today; thinking rigorously about meritocracy, however, is much more rare.

  • A new perspective on meritocracy

    Meritocracy is a common element of open organizations: They prosper by fostering a less-hierarchical culture where “the best ideas win.” But what does meritocracy really mean for open organizations, and why does it matter? And how do open organizations make meritocracy work in practice? Some research and thinking I’ve done over the last six months have convinced me such questions are less simple—and perhaps more important—than may first meet the eye.

  • Events

    • OpenStack Summit Boston: Vote for Presentations

      The next OpenStack Summit takes place in Boston, MA (USA) in May (8.-11.05.2017). The “Vote for Presentations” period started already. All proposals are now again up for community votes. The period will end February 21th at 11:59pm PST (February 22th at 8:59am CEST).

    • [FOSDEM] Libreboot

      Libreboot is free/opensource boot firmware for laptops, desktops and servers, on multiple platforms and architectures. It replaces the proprietary BIOS/UEFI firmware commonly found in computers.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • pfSense 2.3.3 RELEASE Now Available!

      We are happy to announce the release of pfSense® software version 2.3.3!

      This is a maintenance release in the 2.3.x series, bringing numerous stability and bug fixes, fixes for a handful of security issues in the GUI, and a handful of new features. The full list of changes is on the 2.3.3 New Features and Changes page, including a list of FreeBSD and internal security advisories addressed by this release.

      This release includes fixes for 101 bugs, 14 Features, and 3 Todo items.

      If you haven’t yet caught up on the changes in 2.3.x, check out the Features and Highlights video. Past blog posts have covered some of the changes, such as the performance improvements from tryforward, and the webGUI update.

    • NetBSD Accomplishes Reproducible Builds

      A lot of Linux distributions have been focusing on reproducible builds support in the past few years — ensuring individuals can rebuild a bit-for-bit replica of the original source code. NetBSD has now accomplished their operating system can be built in a reproducible build fashion.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Three new FOSS umbrella organisations in Europe

      So far, the options available to a project are either to establish its own organisation or to join an existing organisation, neither of which may fit well for the project. The existing organisations are either specialised in a specific technology or one of the few technology-neutral umbrella organisations in the US, such as Software in the Public Interest, the Apache Software Foundation, or the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC). If there is already a technology-specific organisation (e.g. GNOME Foundation, KDE e.V., Plone Foundation) that fits a project’s needs, that may well make a good match.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • ESA affirms Open Access policy for images, videos and data / Digital Agenda

        ESA today announced it has adopted an Open Access policy for its content such as still images, videos and selected sets of data.

        For more than two decades, ESA has been sharing vast amounts of information, imagery and data with scientists, industry, media and the public at large via digital platforms such as the web and social media. ESA’s evolving information management policy increases these opportunities.

        In particular, a new Open Access policy for ESA’s information and data will now facilitate broadest use and reuse of the material for the general public, media, the educational sector, partners and anybody else seeking to utilise and build upon it.

  • Programming/Development

    • Key Traits of the Coming Delphi For Linux Compiler

      Embarcadero is about to release a new Delphi compiler for the Linux platform. Here are some of the key technical elements of this compiler, and the few differences compared to Delphi compilers for other platforms.

Leftovers

  • Surprising no one, Los Angeles is the most gridlocked city in the world

    In Los Angeles, every day brings a new carmageddon. The portmanteau was originally coined to describe a weekend in July 2012, when a section of 405 Freeway was closed for massive widening project. The traffic apocalypse turned out not to be as bad as predicted, but the additional lanes of freeway did nothing to alleviate LA’s legendary traffic woes. In fact, one could argue they’ve only gotten worse. According to a study released today, the City of Angels held the dubious distinction of ranking No. 1 for traffic congestion in the entire world.

    LA was the most gridlocked city in the world, with drivers spending 104 hours in congestion in 2016 during peak time periods, according to a massive review of global traffic data by analytics firm INRIX. That’s four whole days (plus eight hours) stuck in traffic. In that amount of time, you could watch Joel Schumacher’s 1993 Falling Down, in which an LA traffic jam spurs Michael Douglas into a spasm of rage-filled violence, over 50 times. Cool!

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Florida Supreme Court Reminds Politicians That Women Are Capable of Making Their Own Decisions

      The state’s high court blocked a law that unnecessarily makes women wait 24 hours before getting an abortion.

      Every day, people face important medical decisions. When tough choices arise, we consult with our health care providers about the pros and cons of different treatment options. We meditate on our goals and fears. Some of us will turn to family or friends for advice. Some of us will pray.

      No one goes to the state capitol building to ask a politician their opinion.

    • Hospital cuts planned in most of England

      Hospital services in nearly two-thirds of England could be cut or scaled back, BBC analysis of local plans shows.

      The proposals have been made by NHS bosses as part of a national programme to transform the health service and save money.

      They include everything from full closures of hospitals to cutting some specialist services such as accident and emergency and stroke care.

  • Security

    • Monday’s security advisories
    • Hackers take over microphones on Windows PCs to steal data

      Hackers targeting people in Ukraine have come up with something unusual: they use the microphones on Windows PCs to steal audio recordings of conversations, screenshots, documents and passwords.

      The cyber security firm CyberX calls it Operation BugDrop because the malware eavesdrops by controlling microphones — bugging its targets — and uses Dropbox to store the data that it steals.

      In a blog post, the company said it had confirmed that at least 70 people, from various sectors like critical infrastructure, media and scientific research, had fallen victim to the malware that was carrying out the cyber surveillance.

      While malware that takes over video cameras on PCs or laptops can be blocked by placing a piece of tape over the camera, the microphone on a PC or laptop requires dismantling to disable.

    • Trump’s Cybersecurity Plan is a Big No-Show at Key Event

      Tens of thousands of cyber professionals, academics, and a handful of public servants have swarmed downtown San Francisco for the annual RSA Conference — one of the largest digital and cyber security events of its kind.

      But trying to find a representative from the 3-week-old White House in the convention halls is like playing a game of Where’s Waldo. None appeared to attend, and panels discussing cybersecurity policy worked off of leaked drafts of an executive order abandoned by President Donald Trump’s administration.

      The White House did not respond to a request for comment on whether it had sent a representative to San Francisco for the week, and previous requests for comment on plans for the cybersecurity executive order went unanswered.

      Rudy Giuliani serves as White House cyber security adviser, though he has said little publicly on the topic since being appointed.

    • using yubikeys everywhere

      Everybody is getting real excited about yubikeys recently, so I figured I should get excited, too. I have so far resisted two factor authorizing everything, but this seemed like another fun experiment. There’s a lot written about yubikeys and how you should use one, but nothing I’ve read answered a few of the specific questions I had.

      It’s not a secret I’ve had a dim view of two factor auth, although many of my gripes are about implementation details. I think a lot of that remains true. Where two factor auth perhaps might succeed is in limiting the damage of phishing attacks. I like to think of myself as a little too savvy for most phishing attacks. That’s sadly true of most phishing victims as well, but really: I don’t use webmail. I don’t have any colleagues sharing documents with me. I read my mail in a terminal, thus on the rare occasion that I copy and paste a link, I see exactly the URL I’m going to, not the false text between the a tags. Nevertheless, if everybody else recommends secure tokens, I should at least consider getting on board with that recommendation. But not before actually trying these things out.

      To begin with, I ordered two yubikeys. One regular sized 4 and one nano. I wanted to play with different form factors to see which is better for various uses, and I wanted to test having a key and a backup key. Everybody always talks about having one yubikey. And then if you lose it, terrible things happen. Can this problem be alleviated with two keys? I’m also very curious what happens when I try to login to a service with my phone after enabling U2F.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Last man standing: McMaster for NSA?

      As I said at the end of my Friday post, once Trump was turned down by Harward, it became more likely that he would turn to the active duty military for his 3rd pick for the job. McMaster is among the best of them out there. For his Ph.D. dissertation, he wrote one of the best books on the Vietnam War, Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam.

    • Democrats, Liberals Catch McCarthyistic Fever

      Democrats and liberals are so angry about President Trump that they are turning to McCarthyistic tactics without regard to basic fairness or the need to avoid a costly and dangerous New Cold War, notes Daniel Lazare.

    • Former Swedish PM: More murders in Florida where Trump spoke than in Sweden last year

      Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt responded to President Trump’s remarks on Sweden again — this time with statistics on the country’s crime rates.

      In a tweet Monday morning, Bildt said the counties Trump made the speech at in Florida experienced higher murder rates last year than the whole country of Sweden did.

      “Last year there were app 50% more murders only in Orlando/Orange in Florida, where Trump spoke the other day, than in all of Sweden. Bad,” Bildt tweeted.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Assange must reduce ‘meddling’ in US policies while in Ecuadorian embassy – Moreno to RT (EXCLUSIVE)

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is sheltered in Ecuador’s embassy in London, should reduce meddling in the policies of countries Ecuador has friendly relations with, the frontrunner for Ecuador’s presidential elections, Lenin Moreno, told RT.

      [...]

      Moreno, who is so far leading in the count in the presidential elections in Ecuador which took place Sunday, may still have to face a second round of voting against his rival, former banker Guillermo Lasso, of the Conservative party.

      Moreno, a disabled former vice president, received 39.12 percent of valid votes out of 40 percent needed to win outright, the official preliminary election count, issued on Monday morning, showed, Reuters reported. Lasso, in turn, had 28.30 percent of the votes. At that point, 88.5 percent of votes were counted.

    • Federal Court Rules Against Public.Resource.Org, Says Public Safety Laws Can Be Locked Behind Paywalls

      Everyone should be able to read the law, discuss it, and share it with others, without having to pay a toll or sign a contract. Seems obvious, right? Unfortunately, a federal district court has said otherwise, ruling that private organizations can use copyright to control access to huge portions of our state and federal laws. The court ordered Public.Resource.Org to stop providing public access to these key legal rules.

      Public.Resource.org has one mission: to improve public access to government documents, including our laws. To fulfill that mission, it acquires and posts online a wide variety of public documents including regulations that have become law through “incorporation by reference,” meaning that they are initially created through private standards organizations and later incorporated into federal law. Those regulations are often difficult to access because they aren’t published in the federal code, but they are vitally important. For example, they include the rules that govern the safety of buildings and consumer products, promote energy efficiency, and control the design of standardized tests for students and employees.

    • Chinese whistleblower granted political asylum

      ‘Rebecca’ Jun Mei Wu has told SBS News she is relieved to have been granted asylum in Australia.

      Ms Wu worked for the digital arm of the People’s Daily state media empire from 2012 to 2016. She fled the city of Wuhan for Sydney after being detained and questioned by security officers over her affiliation with an underground Protestant church.

      “I’m very thankful to the Australian government for saving me from certain imprisonment in China,” Ms Wu told SBS.

      “My relatives are still under surveillance back home. The situation journalists face in China is dire.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • After Advancing Scott Pruitt Confirmation, Senator Heads Over to Energy Lobbyist Fundraiser

      Jody Gale and Joe Vacapoli, two lobbyists from Farragut Partners, were seen arriving at the Barrasso fundraiser together. Former Rep. Ed Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican who resigned in disgrace after mounting ethics scandals, joined the firm last year, and was also at the event with Barrasso. Farragut Partners represents Energy Future Holdings and Southern Company, two utilities that rely heavily on coal-fueled power plants and have clashed with environmental regulators.

      Another lobbyist, Conrad Lass, who represents the trade group for Chevron and ExxonMobil, was listed on the event invitation as a host.

      Barrasso, the new chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, has — like Pruitt — advanced oil and gas industry agenda items by moving to block environmental regulations. Records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics show that Barrasso collected over $1.1 million from the oil, gas, mining, and utility industries in the last campaign cycle.

  • Finance

    • ‘No deal’ Brexit would mean £6bn in extra costs for UK exporters
    • The day Britain died: Brexit, Trump and Scottish independence

      Last week a Rubicon was crossed as the House of Commons voted 494 to 122 – a government majority of 372 – to give a third reading to triggering Article 50.

      Just as seriously on the same day – Wednesday February 8th 2017 – the UK government reneged on its promise to take 3,000 child refugees (what was called the Dubs amendment) and slashed the number to 350. If that wasn’t enough the Commons at the same time voted to refuse to offer any guarantees to EU citizens living in the UK: content to use them as pawns in a high power poker game.

      It is going to be difficult for many in Scotland, and for many ‘openDemocracy’ readers, but Britain is over. There is no way back. Last week the very idea of Britain as outgoing, welcoming, doing the right thing, looking after the most vulnerable and being driven by a sense of humanity, was not only trashed but finally and fatally died.

      All of this requires that we get real about the debate here and recognise that we need to be tolerant, serious and embrace detail and facts, not faith and assertion. Unless the UK does an about turn on Brexit and Scotland, indyref2 is inevitable. The only issue will be timing and context.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Will Keith Ellison Move the Democrats Left?

      “Here’s the interesting thing about Islam,” Keith Ellison, the Minnesota congressman currently running for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee, said. It was a sunny, gelid afternoon just after Christmas. “The Prophet Muhammad—peace and blessings be upon him—his father dies before he’s ever born. His mother dies before he’s six. He’s handed over to a foster mom who’s so poor, the stories say, her breasts are not full enough to feed him. So he grows up as this quintessential orphan, and only later, at the age of forty, does he start to get this revelation. And the revelation is to stand up against the constituted powers that are enslaving people—that are, you know, cheating people, trying to trick people into believing that they should give over their money to appease a god that’s just an inanimate object. And those authorities came down hard on him! And his first converts were people who were enslaved, children, women—a few of them were wealthy business folks, but the earliest companions of the Prophet Muhammad were people who needed justice. I found that story to be inspiring, and important to my own thinking and development.”

    • The Real Enemy of the People Is a President Who Opposes the Free Press

      When John Fitzgerald Kennedy addressed the American Newspaper Publishers Association just two months after he was sworn in as the 35th president of the United States, he explained that: “I have selected as the title of my remarks tonight ‘The President and the Press.’ Some may suggest that this would be more naturally worded ‘The President Versus the Press.’ But those are not my sentiments tonight.”

      [...]

      But the point of Kennedy’s speech was a serious one. He had come, as a new president of the United States, to talk about the relationship between his administration and the media. He acknowledged “the dilemma faced by a free and open society in a cold and secret war,” and he spoke honestly of his hope for a measure of restraint in the coverage of particularly sensitive global disputes. But he also said: “The question is for you alone to answer. No public official should answer it for you. No governmental plan should impose its restraints against your will.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • 3 things companies must know about data sovereignty when moving to the cloud

      I hear it nearly every day – the lament of teams trying to transform their enterprise from ’80s-era software to the cloud: “Our state (or country, or regional authority) says that data can never leave our jurisdiction, which means we can’t store it in the cloud.”

      It’s true that data sovereignty presents technical and legal challenges when moving on-premises systems and information stores to the cloud. There is no United Nations resolution, European Union mandate, or international trade agreement that provides one blanket set of data sovereignty requirements that all countries follow. Privacy and data-hosting laws vary by country and state, and some are more strict than others.

    • Tech Groups Tell Congress to Consider Privacy Implications of NSA Surveillance Powers

      Several technology industry groups sent a letter to members of Congress last week urging them to ensure privacy safeguards are maintained when they vote to renew a section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which gives the National Security Agency broad powers to collect information on foreign nationals.

    • How US Intelligence Surveillance May Affect Immigrants

      Recent reports that the US monitored calls between members of President Trump’s campaign staff and Russian intelligence personnel have renewed controversy about the surveillance powers of the National Security Agency (NSA) and Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI), and how those bodies handle the information they collect. But anyone concerned about the scope or legality of the US government’s warrantless intelligence surveillance should also worry about the way these programs may affect the country’s border and immigrant communities.

    • History tells us the wars on privacy and sharing will get worse before it gets better

      All governments of the world are cracking down on privacy and increasing mass surveillance, sometimes in the name of copyright enforcement, sometimes in the name of fighting terrorism, sometimes because they just want to. There’s a pattern here of similar things in the past – something is horrible, horrible, horrible, until the point where fighting the phenomenon just looks silly, counterproductive, and inhumane. Cannabis is there today, and it’s going to be years if not decades until it’s just as silly to fight people sharing knowledge and culture with each other, trying to brand them as awful people.

    • Privacy in practice for self hosting

      One of the main issue with centralized internet services is the commercial exploitation of people private datas, and the relative lack of security of those data against states actors among others. Yet, being self hosted and using smaller provider do not automatically grant protection, and few people do have a concrete idea of what steps are needed to efficiently protect the privacy of others when hosting services, inspired by the policy of Mozilla, riseup and several others groups trying to do the right things

    • Understanding the different Maslow need levels for privacy

      When we aspire to have privacy, we may do so for a number of different reasons. All these reasons are valid, but some are more urgent than others, psychologically speaking. When debating privacy issues, it’s important to be aware of these psychological models and the very real consequences involved.

      The psychologist Abraham Maslow created a theory known as the Maslow Hierarchy of Human Needs, which predicts the ranked order people will adhere to in seeking out certain things in their life. Where privacy is ranked on this list is a matter of which environment you operate in, and it’s crucial to recognize the differences.

      Generally speaking, Maslow predicted that people won’t progress to addressing a higher level of needs until the current level is fully satisfied. The first level involves basic physiological needs – food, air, water, heat. Once these are satisfied, people start working on the second – safety from violence, safety in having food, air, and water for tomorrow as well; general freedom from worry. The third level is a sense of belonging to a group or tribe, the fourth is enjoying a sense of respect within that tribe, and the fifth and highest is self-development, once all other levels are satisfied.

    • Big Brother in the U.K.

      The United Kingdom’s Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority is not part of an agency tasked with fighting terrorism. It’s a licensing body that “regulates businesses who provide workers to the fresh produce supply chain and horticulture industry, to make sure they meet the employment standards required by law,” according to its mission statement.

    • Trump’s Attorney General’s Record on Privacy

      President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the country’s law enforcement has cleared the Senate.

      The Senate voted 52-47 on Wednesday to confirm Sen. Jeff Sessions, whose record on civil liberties issues—including digital rights—has drawn fire from Democratic lawmakers and public interest groups.

      EFF has expressed concerns about Sessions’ record on surveillance, encryption, and freedom of the press. Those concerns intensified during his confirmation process.

      Throughout his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and his written responses to additional questions from lawmakers, Sessions made a number of troubling statements. He said he would support legislation to enable a privacy-invasive Rapid DNA system. He refused to definitively commit not to put journalists in jail for doing their job. He dodged questions about Justice Department policies on Stingrays, and wouldn’t commit to publish guidelines on how federal law enforcement uses government hacking. He called it “critical” that law enforcement be able to “overcome” encryption.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Trump Effort To Protect Cops Doesn’t Match Facts

      President Trump put an executive order into effect last week to, in his words, “stop crime and crimes of violence against law enforcement officers.” But when the facts about police, violence and victims are considered — real facts, not alternative facts — the math doesn’t work. Like Winston Smith in George Orwell’s 1984, we are being asked to believe that two plus two does not equal four.

    • Where Protests Flourish, Anti-Protest Bills Follow

      State legislatures across the country are trying to crack down on protesters and make a mockery of the First Amendment.

      Over the past year, a historic level of activism and protest has spilled out into our nation’s parks, streets, and sidewalks — places where our First Amendment rights are at their height. The January 21 Women’s March, anchored in D.C. with echoes across the nation, was likely the single largest day of protest in American history. And yet, legislators in many states have followed up on this exuberant activism with proposed bills that are not only far less inspiring, but also unconstitutional.

    • Vague Rules Let ICE Deport Undocumented Immigrants as Gang Members

      Of the more than 680 people swept up during last week’s nationwide raids by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, none has attracted more attention than 23-year-old Daniel Ramirez Medina. Although he crossed into the United States illegally when he was a child, Ramirez Medina twice applied successfully for permission to stay in the country under the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program.

      The former California resident, who recently moved north to Des Moines, Washington, was detained on Friday when ICE went to his family’s home looking for his father, who is also undocumented and in removal proceedings.

      ICE claims Ramirez Medina’s DACA status is null and void due to evidence of gang involvement outlined by government attorneys in a brief filed earlier this week. The sum of the evidence is a tattoo on his arm that immigration officials believe is gang related, and statements that he allegedly made in custody that “he used to hang out with the Sureno[s] in California,” that he “fled California to escape the gangs,” and that he “still hangs out with the Paizas in Washington State.”

    • YODA, the Bill That Would Let You Own (and Sell) Your Devices, Is Re-Introduced in Congress

      Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) just re-introduced their You Own Devices Act (YODA), a bill that aims to help you reclaim some of your ownership rights in the software-enabled devices you buy.

    • Why a Jewish Organization Is Suing to Stop the Muslim Ban

      We assist refugees today not because they are Jewish, but because we are Jewish.

      I cringed when I heard the Trump campaign and administration start using “territory” as a euphemism for “religion.”

      It wasn’t just the thinly veiled attempt to institute a Muslim ban by another name. Sure, barring travelers from seven majority Muslim countries with an exception for religious minorities is pretty brazen, but so is the president going on television and saying we need to protect Christians more than Muslims.

      No, what made me wince was the sheer repetitiveness of it. We’ve seen this show before, and they haven’t even bothered to change the script.

    • Jeff Sessions’s Dubious Refugee Math

      How frightened should Americans be of refugees, and how much safer will they be under President Trump’s more restrictive refugee policy? If Americans are concerned about actual attacks involving committed terrorists sneaking through the vetting process with the intent to kill or maim Americans, the answer – based on statistics developed by Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions – appears, for all practical purposes, to be virtually zero.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Abandons Zero-Rating Investigation and Moves Backward on Net Neutrality

      Bad news for Internet users. In his first few days in office, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has shelved the Commission’s investigation into Internet companies’ zero-rating practices and whether they violate the Commission’s Open Internet Order.

      As recently as January, the FCC was rebuking AT&T (PDF) for seemingly prioritizing its own DirecTV content over that of its competitors. Now, Pai has made it clear that the FCC doesn’t plan to move forward with the investigation.

      Simply put, zero-rating is the practice of ISPs and mobile providers choosing not to count certain content toward users’ data limits, often in exchange for capping the speeds at which customers can access that content. Most major mobile providers in the U.S. offer some form of zero-rated service today, like T-Mobile’s BingeOn program for zero-rated streaming and Verizon and AT&T’s FreeBee Data program. Facebook, Wikimedia, and Google have their own zero-rated apps, too. While they are currently focused on emerging mobile marks in developing countries, this recent development from the FCC may open the domestic market to them in new ways.

    • How Tech Policies May Evolve Under Republicans and Trump

      On zero rating, F.C.C. Chairman Ajit Pai has already expressed a preference on that: It is something consumers seem to love. To be able to download or stream without letting it count against your data plan is extremely popular with consumers. I don’t have a problem with that.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Search Engines and Rightsholders Sign Landmark Anti-Piracy Deal

        After well over half a decade of backroom meetings facilitated by the UK Government, search engines and major rightsholder groups have signed an anti-piracy agreement. Both sides agreed on a deal in which search engines will delist and demote pirated content, faster and more effectively than before. The voluntary agreement, targeted at UK consumers, is the first of its kind in the world but appears to offer little new.

      • Kim Dotcom extradition to US can go ahead, New Zealand high court rules

        The high court in New Zealand has ruled Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom can be extradited to the United States to face a multitude of charges including money laundering and copyright breaches.

        US authorities had appealed for Dotcom’s extradition to face 13 charges including allegations of conspiracy to commit racketeering, copyright infringement, money laundering and wire fraud.

      • Kim Dotcom Extradition to Go Ahead, But Not on Copyright Grounds

        The New Zealand High Court today ruled that Kim Dotcom can be extradited to the US, but it won’t be on copyright grounds. After months of deliberation, Justice Murray Gilbert agreed with the US Government’s position that this is a fraud case at its core, an offense that is extraditable. Dotcom says he will fight on.

      • New Zealand will probably try and extradite Kim Dotcom to the US

        NEW ZEALAND’S JUDICIAL SYSTEM HAS DECIDED, AFTER ALL THIS TIME, that is is fair to send citizen Kim Dotcom to the US and meet its extradition demands.

        This is something that Dotcom has been fighting for some time, and we must admit that it has come as something of a shock to us. The case against Dotcom has been proved to be a bit lacking, and he does have the kind of legal backing that we would want in these circumstances.

        The ruling is a murky one. It was delivered by the Auckland High Court and ruled that Dotcom could now be extradited to the United States due to allegations of wire fraud, copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit racketeering, and money laundering. He was found guilty of 13 counts in all.

      • New Zealand High Court clears Kim Dotcom extradition to the US

        Megaupload website founder Kim Dotcom and three associates were on Monday cleared by a court in New Zealand to be extradited to the U.S. where he faces a variety of charges including copyright infringement and racketeering.

        Holding that copyright infringement by digital online communication of copyright protected works to members of the public is not a criminal offense under New Zealand’s Copyright Act, the High Court found that a conspiracy to commit copyright infringement amounts to a bid to defraud, which is an extradition offense listed in the treaty between the U.S. and New Zealand.

      • Healthy Domains Initiative Isn’t Healthy for the Internet

        EFF had high hopes that the Domain Name Association’s Healthy Domains Initiative (HDI) wouldn’t be just another secretive industry deal between rightsholders and domain name intermediaries. Toward that end, we and other civil society organizations worked in good faith on many fronts to make sure HDI protected Internet users as well.

        Those efforts seem to have failed. Yesterday, the Domain Name Association (DNA), a relatively new association of domain registries and registrars, suddenly launched a proposal for “Registry/Registrar Healthy Practices” on a surprised world, calling on domain name companies to dive headlong into a new role as private arbiters of online speech. This ill-conceived proposal is the very epitome of Shadow Regulation. There was no forewarning about the release of this proposal on the HDI mailing list; indeed, the last update posted there was on June 9, 2016, reporting “some good progress,” and promising that any HDI best practice document “will be shared broadly to this group for additional feedback.” That never happened, and neither were any updates posted to HDI’s blog.

      • It’s the End of the Copyright Alert System (As We Know It)

        The Copyright Alert System has called it quits, but questions remain about what, if anything, will replace it. Known also as the “six strikes” program, the Copyright Alert System (CAS) was a private agreement between several large Internet service providers (ISPs) and big media and entertainment companies, with government support. The agreement allowed the media and entertainmenet companies to monitor those ISPs’ subscribers’ peer-to-peer network traffic for potential copyright infringement, and imposed penalties on subscribers accused of infringing. Penalties ranged from “educational” notices, to throttling subscribers’ connection speeds and, in some cases, temporarily restricting subscribers’ web access.

02.20.17

EPO Caricature: Battistelli’s Wall

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Animal Office - The Wall

Summary: Battistelli’s solution to everything at the EPO is exclusion and barriers

The ‘New’ Microsoft is Still Acting Like a Dangerous Cult in an Effort to Hijack and/or Undermine All Free/Open Source Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 3:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Linux infestations are being uncovered in many of our large accounts as part of the escalation engagements.”

Microsoft Confidential

Summary: In an effort to combat any large deployment of non-Microsoft software, the company goes personal and attempts to overthrow even management that is not receptive to Microsoft’s agenda

IN LIGHT of the news (also the Microsoft-leaning fake news) from Munich, and also in light of Microsoft’s attempts to cause me trouble with my employer (that is their modus operandi apparently), now is a good time to share this story, which we learned about some months ago. Over the years we have covered examples of Microsoft retribution against individuals and organisations that were viewed as “enemies” of Microsoft. To Microsoft, competition is “enemy”, standards are an “enemy”, and even fair competition is an “enemy”. Less than a decade ago a government delegate compared Microsoft's methods to those of “Scientology cult”. That comparison was apt.

“I’ve been looking for Tim Bray’s blog post about how Microsoft went after his job; when they couldn’t get him fired, crushed his wife’s business.”
      –Anonymous
The latest example of it happened in the UK and is still happening (we might have some updates on this at a later time). We have shared this information with some Techrights members and studied the patterns before publishing anything.

“I’ve been looking for Tim Bray’s blog post about how Microsoft went after his job,” one member wrote, “when they couldn’t get him fired, crushed his wife’s business.”

“Also,” this member noted, “Microsoft has been after you before, do you have a blog entry about it? If not, it might be a good idea.”

I learned some more about it a few months ago in my employer’s Christmas dinner, but that might be an interesting subject which would be better left aside for another day.

Today we would like to focus on a bigger story which has been long coming. We waited before writing about this, as Microsoft is evidently back to these dirty tricks that many assumed had already ended. It is pretty serious and lawyers along with police are involved (in the UK). In the mean time, in order to not compromise any ongoing processes, we shall refrain from naming people and companies.

“Life for my friend and I has been pretty horrific. Still dealing with the aftermath…”
      –Anonymous
A person we spoke to said something “isn’t quite right at the moment” in some local authorities in the UK. These local authorities are in England. It has gotten so severe that relocations were needed. “A friend/former colleague,” we were told, “is in similar situation, but is skeptical of larger issues…”

Several key groups in the UK, those professing to promote Free/Open Source software, are now “in the hands of someone influenced by some very Microsoft-friendly people,” we got told. It’s too early/premature to name the culprits, but we might do so one day. “Microsoft’s “open source” staff contacted my boss,” I told the person, and they “tried to get me fired or something…”

The matter of fact is, this isn’t so uncommon. “Nothing surprises me,” this person told me. “Just remember Microsoft acts like a cult,” I explained, and it “always did,” based on people who knew Microsoft as officials. Look what happened in Munich recently, including the politics preceding it all the officials involved. “Life for my friend and I has been pretty horrific,” the person explained to me. “Still dealing with the aftermath…”

We are afraid we cannot say much more at the moment. “Still just dealing with complaints,” the person told me, who will “will make little progress until solicitors return from leave…”

Whether we can proceed to naming and shaming some of the parties involved only time will tell. What we know for sure, however, is that Microsoft still plays dirty and people who are in denial about it do so at their own peril.

“I figure that even if Microsoft goes bankrupt, there will be a very long tail due to its cult-like nature and the spread of its minions throughout industry and, now, even academia.”
      –Anonymous
“I know someone non-technical who considers Microsoft mostly dead,” a member told us. “From my perspective, I don’t count them gone until the office furniture is auctioned off and the officers past and present brought to justice before the courts of law.

“I figure that even if Microsoft goes bankrupt, there will be a very long tail due to its cult-like nature and the spread of its minions throughout industry and, now, even academia. The big breakthrough needed there will be a court decision rendering anti-disparagement clauses invalid so that those that have had a change of heart can speak out.”

This isn’t so rare and unusual an incident. “About Microsoft,” one member told us, “my dad now came to the conclusion on his own that Microsoft put pressure on the administration in my old job to force me out, first removing my boss, then me, then harassing the hell out of my former students. I have no opinion on his conclusion in that area due to lack of data aside from the harassment, the removal of my boss with no warning or reason given, and the discontinuation of my contract with the excuse of the lie of no more teaching. I had not suggested Microsoft as a cause at all to him because I have no data other than that the new managers gave the appearance of being both incompetent and assholish. There was something going on though with or without Microsoft involvement. Anyway, it looks like that whole institution may close soon.”

This is similar to something that happened to a potential client of ours in the UK. They get rid of people’s entire role, in order to get rid of the people who occupy these roles. It’s quite obvious that Microsoft and its resellers do this intentionally and consciously.

“I was going to meet someone who had widely deployed GNU/Linux and was using it for nearly 100% of their machines. While I was physically en route to their site, they got a panicked call from the top regional Microsoft sales representative who kept them on the phone a long while, trying all kinds of methods to get them to purchase Microsoft, even trying to wheedle a meeting agreement when a sale could not be reached.”
      –Anonymous
“Another time,” told us a member, “I was going to meet someone who had widely deployed GNU/Linux and was using it for nearly 100% of their machines. While I was physically en route to their site, they got a panicked call from the top regional Microsoft sales representative who kept them on the phone a long while, trying all kinds of methods to get them to purchase Microsoft, even trying to wheedle a meeting agreement when a sale could not be reached. They thought it was coincidence, I did not. Fortunately he had a good working relationship with his boss and his boss’ boss so when Microsoft went over his head, he survived unscathed. However, that site really wishes to remain very low profile some years more to further build up their position.”

I have come to witness this sort of “low profile” policy myself; Microsoft likes to keep a sort of “naughty list” of institutions or companies (to convert to Microsoft). There’s nothing they won’t do to derail the competition, even just for the sake of driving it out of business.

If you too have a similar story to share, even if pertinent details like names must be omitted, please get in touch with us. The world needs to understand what Microsoft is still up to.

PTAB Petitioned to Help Against Patent Troll InfoGation Corp., Which Goes After Linux/Android OEMs in China

Posted in Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 1:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Google uses IPRs to eliminate everything that’s left of this parasite

InfoGation Corp.Summary: A new example of software patents against Free software, or trolls against companies that are distributing freedom-respecting software from a country where these patents are not even potent (they don’t exist there)

InfoGation Corp. [sic] (corporations typically make things) is not a real company. Maybe it used to actually do something in the distant past, but now it’s just a pile of patents. Their Web site is a one-page stop, the classic troll-themed Web site, referring to “technology” (for so-called ‘licensing’) rather than actual products. Search the Web for the term “InfoGation Corp.” and just about every single result will be about some lawsuit, which is rather telling.

“Search the Web for the term “InfoGation Corp.” and just about every single result will be about some lawsuit, which is rather telling.”Under the “Patent Trolling Archives” section, the Patent Investor described InfoGation Corp. as an “assertion entity” (fancy name for troll), noting that after it had gone after Taiwan’s HTC (the first time we wrote about InfoGation Corp.) it also attacked other Google partners, mostly in China, e.g. ZTE and Huawei. Google stepped in to defend these partners.

Watchtroll is bashing PTAB, essentially by calling the patent holder, InfoGation Corp., “small software developer” (yes, software patents) and saying that those challenging the patents merely “gang up”. This is quite a lot of Watchtroll FUD in quick succession, e.g. after it had published a piece we debunked this morning. We don’t want to start a line-by-line rebuttal; instead we’ll just say that Watchtroll has been grooming this troll for quite some time (it wrote quite a lot about it in the past). It also exploits it for PTAB bashing — an old tradition at Watchtroll. Is PTAB going to trash some more software patents, thus taking InfoGation out of business once and for all? We sure hope so. This would help deter trolls and discourage further litigation such as this.

Links 20/2/2017: Linux 4.10, LineageOS Milestone

Posted in News Roundup at 12:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • When Open Source Meets the Enterprise

    Open source solutions have long been an option for the enterprise, but lately it seems they are becoming more of a necessity for advanced data operations than merely a luxury for IT techs who like to play with code.

    While it’s true that open platforms tend to provide a broader feature set compared to their proprietary brethren, due to their larger and more diverse development communities, this often comes at the cost of increased operational complexity. At a time when most enterprises are looking to shed their responsibilities for infrastructure and architecture to focus instead on core money-making services, open source requires a fairly high level of in-house technical skill.

    But as data environments become more distributed and reliant upon increasingly complex compilations of third-party systems, open source can provide at least a base layer of commonality for resources that support a given distribution.

  • EngineerBetter CTO: the logical truth about software ‘packaging’

    Technologies such as Docker have blended these responsibilities, causing developers to need to care about what operating system and native libraries are available to their applications – after years of the industry striving for more abstraction and increased decoupling!

  • Pieter Hintjens In Memoriam

    Pieter Hintjens was a writer, programmer and thinker who has spent decades building large software systems and on-line communities, which he describes as “Living Systems”. He was an expert in distributed computing, having written over 30 protocols and distributed software systems. He designed AMQP in 2004, and founded the ZeroMQ free software project in 2007. He was the author of the O’Reilly ZeroMQ book, “Culture and Empire”, “The Psychopath Code”, “Social Architecture”, and “Confessions of a Necromancer”. He was the president of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), and fought the software patent directive and the standardisation of the Microsoft OOXML Office format. He also organized the Internet of Things (IOT) Devroom here at FOSDEM for the last 3 years. In April 2016 he was diagnosed with terminal metastasis of a previous cancer.

  • Events

    • foss-gbg on Wednesday

      The topics are Yocto Linux on FPGA-based hardware, risk and license management in open source projects and a product release by the local start-up Zifra (an encryptable SD-card).

      More information and free tickets are available at the foss-gbg site.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Back End

    • What will we do when everything is automated?

      Just translate the term “productivity of American factories” into the word “automation” and you get the picture. Other workers are not taking jobs away from the gainfully employed, machines are.

      This is not a new trend. It’s been going on since before Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin. Industry creates machines that do the work of humans faster, cheaper, with more accuracy and with less failure. That’s the nature of industry—nothing new here. However, what is new is the rate by which the displacement of human beings from the workforce in happening.

    • Want OpenStack benefits? Put your private cloud plan in place first

      The open source software promises hard-to-come-by cloud standards and no vendor lock-in, says Forrester’s Lauren Nelson. But there’s more to consider — including containers.

    • Set the Agenda at OpenStack Summit Boston

      The next OpenStack Summit is just three months away now, and as is their custom, the organizers have once again invited you–the OpenStack Community–to vote on which presentations will and will not be featured at the event.

    • What’s new in the world of OpenStack Ambassadors

      Ambassadors act as liaisons between multiple User Groups, the Foundation and the community in their regions. Launched in 2013, the OpenStack Ambassador program aims to create a framework of community leaders to sustainably expand the reach of OpenStack around the world.

    • Boston summit preview, Ambassador program updates, and more OpenStack news
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Programming/Development

    • NVIDIA Makes Huge Code Contribution To Qt, New Qt 3D Studio

      The Qt Company today announced Qt 3D Studio, a new 3D UI authoring system, thanks to NVIDIA providing Qt with hundreds of thousands of lines of source code making up this application.

    • Cavium ThunderX Support Added To LLVM

      Cavium’s ThunderX ARM 64-bit processors are now formally supported by the LLVM compiler stack.

    • How copying an int made my code 11 times faster

      Recently, after refactoring some Rust code, I noticed that it had suddenly become four times slower. However, the strange part is that I didn’t even touch the part of the code that became slower. Furthermore, it was still slower after commenting out the changes. Curious, I decided to investigate further.

      The first step was to use git diff to display all changes since the previous commit, which was normal speed. Then I started removing them one by one, no matter how inconsequential, and testing to see if it was still slow after the change.

      [...]

      Adding the print statement causes the code to go from 0.16 seconds to 1.7 seconds, an 11x slowdown (in release mode). Then, I posted it in the rustc IRC channel, where eddyb and bluss suggested a workaround and explained what was going on.

      The fix was to the change the print line to the following, which does indeed fix the slowdown.

Leftovers

  • Cars

    • Reflecting on one very, very strange year at Uber

      As most of you know, I left Uber in December and joined Stripe in January. I’ve gotten a lot of questions over the past couple of months about why I left and what my time at Uber was like. It’s a strange, fascinating, and slightly horrifying story that deserves to be told while it is still fresh in my mind, so here we go.

      I joined Uber as a site reliability engineer (SRE) back in November 2015, and it was a great time to join as an engineer. They were still wrangling microservices out of their monolithic API, and things were just chaotic enough that there was exciting reliability work to be done. The SRE team was still pretty new when I joined, and I had the rare opportunity to choose whichever team was working on something that I wanted to be part of.

      After the first couple of weeks of training, I chose to join the team that worked on my area of expertise, and this is where things started getting weird. On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn’t. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn’t help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR.

    • Former engineer says Uber is a nightmare of sexism

      A former Uber engineer has published an explosive account of sexism and power struggles in the workplace, with allegations beginning from her very first official day with the company. The engineer, Susan Fowler (who left Uber in December and now works for Stripe), posted the account to her blog on Sunday, calling it a “strange, fascinating, and slightly horrifying story.” It is indeed horrifying.

      Sexism is a well-documented problem in Silicon Valley, but the particulars of Fowler’s account are astounding. She says problems began on day one, when her manager accosted her with details of his sex life:

    • Tesla Owner Who Sacrificed His Model S To Save Another Driver Gets Surprise From Elon Musk

      For those who may have missed the story, here’s the deal. Manfred Kick was driving his Model S on the German Autobahn near Munich and noticed that a person in a Volkswagen Passat was driving erratically on the highway, German publication Munchen Merkur reported. The Passat hit the guardrail several times and swerved suspiciously, so Kick realized that something was wrong.

      He didn’t know whether the Passat driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or whether some other issue was at stake, but he nonetheless decided to intervene to avoid a more serious accident. Kick accelerated to reach the Volkswagen Passat and when he looked over, he saw that the driver appeared unconscious.

    • Why buying used cars could put your safety at risk

      Charles Henderson sold his car several years ago, but he still knows exactly where it is, and can control it from his phone.

      The IBM researcher leading X-Force Red, the firm’s security testing group, wasn’t researching car security when he discovered a major privacy issue. He simply sold his car.

      “The car is really smart, but it’s not smart enough to know who its owner is, so it’s not smart enough to know it’s been resold,” Henderson told CNNTech. “There’s nothing on the dashboard that tells you ‘the following people have access to the car.’”

  • Proprietary Nightmares

    • SAP license fees are due even for indirect users, court says

      SAP’s named-user licensing fees apply even to related applications that only offer users indirect visibility of SAP data, a U.K. judge ruled Thursday in a case pitting SAP against Diageo, the alcoholic beverage giant behind Smirnoff vodka and Guinness beer.

      The consequences could be far-reaching for businesses that have integrated their customer-facing systems with an SAP database, potentially leaving them liable for license fees for every customer that accesses their online store.

      “If any SAP systems are being indirectly triggered, even if incidentally, and from anywhere in the world, then there are uncategorized and unpriced costs stacking up in the background,” warned Robin Fry, a director at software licensing consultancy Cerno Professional Services, who has been following the case.

    • “Active Hours” in Windows 10 emphasizes how you are not in control of your own devices

      No edition of Windows 10, except Professional and Enterprise, is expected to function for more than 12 hours of the day. Microsoft most generously lets you set a block of 12 hours where you’re in control of the system, and will reserve the remaining 12 hours for it’s own purposes. How come we’re all fine with this?

      Windows 10 introduced the concept of “Active Hours”, a period of up to 12 hours when you expect to use the device, meant to reflect your work hours. The settings for changing the device’s active hours is hidden away among Windows Update settings, and it poorly fits with today’s lifestyles.

      Say you use your PC in the afternoon and into the late evening during the work week, but use it from morning to early afternoon in the weekends. You can’t fit all those hours nor accommodate home office hours in a period of just 12 hours. We’re always connected, and expect our devices to always be there for us when we need them.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Michigan civil rights panel: Flint water crisis rooted in ‘systemic racism’

      The Flint drinking water crisis has its root causes in historical and systemic racism, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission said Friday in a hard-hitting report that calls the public health catastrophe ” a complete failure of government” and recommends a rewrite of the state’s emergency manager law and bias training for state officials.

      The report, unanimously adopted at a meeting of the commission in downtown Flint, also calls for the creation of a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” a model that was used in South Africa after apartheid as a way of rebuilding government trust and credibility by listening to and addressing specific concerns raised by Flint residents.

      It calls on Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to invite experts to provide training on “implicit bias” to his cabinet, his team responding to Flint, and to require all state departments, including the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Health and Human Services, to do the same for their staff. Implicit bias is unconscious bias that can be directed toward historically disadvantaged groups, influencing decision-making.

    • Commission report: ‘systemic racism’ played role in Flint water crisis

      The 129-page report does not claim there were any specific violations of state civil rights laws, but says “historical, structural and systemic racism combined with implicit bias” played a role in the problems, which still linger in the city’s drinking water almost three years later.

      “The presence of racial bias in the Flint water crisis isn’t much of a surprise to those of us who live here, but the Michigan Civil Rights Commission’s affirmation that the emergency manager law disproportionately hurts communities of color is an important reminder of just how bad the policy is,” state Sen. Jim Ananich, a Democrat from Flint, said.

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Finance

    • EVA: 79,000 prime working-age men are permanently outside labour force in Finland

      The Finnish Business and Policy Forum (EVA) has expressed its concern about the nearly 79,000 men in the prime working-age group who are not in employment, not in education and not eligible for disability pension.

      “Finland is home to 78,657 prime working-age men who can be labelled as missing workers. Not much is known about the activities of these 25–54-year-old men – except that they have disappeared from the labour force, apparently permanently,” EVA states in a report published on Thursday.

    • A Corporate Defender at Heart, Former SEC Chair Mary Jo White Returns to Her Happy Place

      Mary Jo White, whose tenure as chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission under President Obama bitterly disappointed those who hoped she would aggressively enforce banking laws, is rejoining the corporate defense team at Debevoise & Plimpton, marking her sixth trip through the revolving door between various government jobs and the white-collar defense law firm she calls home.

      Debevoise represents numerous major financial institutions under federal investigation, and White will now help those corporate clients manage their legal exposure.

      White got the call to return to Debevoise on Inauguration Day, her last day at the SEC. As Debevoise presiding partner Michael Blair told the Wall Street Journal, “We had been waiting to make that phone call for several years.”

      This latest trip through the revolving door is particularly disturbing because White declared in ethics disclosure forms before becoming SEC chair that she was retiring from her partnership at Debevoise, receiving a lump sum retirement payment of over $2 million. Instead of staying retired, she immediately went back to Debevoise after her government service ended, pocketing the money.

      It is not, however, surprising.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • ‘Life is a campaign’: After a difficult first month, Trump returns to his comfort zone

      As President Trump descended the stairs from Air Force One on Saturday evening, with a patriotic country song playing and thousands cheering, the 2020 election season officially began.

      Although the past several presidents have waited more than two years before jumping back onto the campaign trail, Trump’s first four weeks in office have shown that he just can’t stand too much time in Washington. One adviser calls political rallies the president’s “oxygen” — and Trump seemed to direly need a deep inhalation following a week that included his national security adviser resigning and his top replacement pick turning him down, his nominee for labor secretary withdrawing from consideration and accusations involving his campaign and Russia.

      “Life is a campaign,” the president told reporters aboard Air Force One. “Making our country great again is a campaign. For me, it’s a campaign.”

    • Presidential Impeachment, Explained

      Shortly following new revelations from the New York Times that President Donald Trump’s campaign team was in “repeated” contact with Russian officials ahead of the 2016 election, #TrumpImpeachmentParty began trending on Twitter in a call to take Trump out of office. But while the hashtag might be gaining steam, the process of impeaching a president is a lot easier said than done.

      What does it mean for a president to be impeached, what does the process look like, and is it even possible for Donald Trump to be impeached less than a month into his presidency? Here’s what you need to know.

    • Trump’s apparent security faux-pas-palooza triggers call for House investigation

      Representative Ted Lieu, a congressman from Los Angeles County, California, led fourteen other House Democrats on Friday in urging the House Government Oversight Committee to investigate “troubling reports” of President Donald Trump’s apparently poor security practices and the potential danger to national security posed by them—including his continued use of an unsecured Android device to post to Twitter, discussion of sensitive information (including nuclear strategy) in the restaurant at his Mar-A-Lago resort, and leaving classified material unlocked while visitors were in the Oval Office.

    • Trump attends private Mar-a-Lago event without telling press corps

      President Trump attended a private fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Saturday evening, without informing the press corps that follows him and reports on his movements.

      Trump made an unexpected stop at a fundraiser for Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute held at his resort in Palm Beach, Fla., the Washington Post reported.

      The event was not on his schedule.

      A video posted on Instagram shows Trump arriving at the private fundraiser, where he was met with cheers. More than 800 people attended the event, deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Sunday.

    • Donald Trump invited golf club members to help choose his cabinet, leaked audio suggests

      Donald Trump invited wealthy members of one of his golf clubs to help interview candidates for posts in his administration, leaked audio recordings have revealed.

      The Republican was taped telling guests to “come round” and help interview potential “generals and dictators”, claiming it would be “fun”.

      Audio recordings from a party hosted by Mr Trump at his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey in November – just two weeks after his election win – reveal comments he made to members.

    • Ralph Nader – Breaking Through Power Event
    • ACTION ALERT: WaPo’s Post Live Series Is a Love Letter to Corporate Conflicts of Interest

      Since 2010, the Washington Post has been banking on its pedigree and prestige by putting on Q & A sessions with influential Beltway personalities—sponsored by corporations directly involved in the topics of discussion. Event sponsors include Bank of America, Eli Lilly, Qualcomm, WGL Energy, AFLAC, GlaxoSmithKline and UnitedHealth, among others.

      These events, billed as “Post Live,” are generally fluffy, non-combative industry hype sessions sponsored by a relevant corporation and quarterbacked by a Washington Post columnist or reporter to lend it gravitas. The ideological scope, as one would expect based on who funds them, ranges from “how capitalism and the US military can be more awesome” to “capitalism and the US military are already awesome.” This ideological capture is seen most starkly in Post Live’s coverage of healthcare and war.

    • Event at University of La Verne – Fighting Fake News: 21st Century Global Critical Media Literacy

      Mickey Huff (Director of Project Censored, professor of social science and history, Diablo Valley College), Andy Lee Roth (associate director of Project Censored, instructor in sociology, Citrus College) and Elizabeth Blakey, (lawyer, sociologist, First Amendment scholar, and assistant professor of journalism, Cal State-Northridge) will examine news censorship, the origins of “fake news,” and how critical media literacy, particularly among young adults, will be essential for sustaining democracy in the 21st Century.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • A preview of self-censorship in the new political landscape

      Over the next few months, there’ll be plenty of debate about the role of the government in funding public broadcasting.

      The Trump administration reportedly has the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — and a host of other cultural and arts organizations– targeted for elimination.

    • Why Suzanna Mukherjee thinks the online space is evolving

      The biggest advantage of the medium, is that there is no censorship yet, says Suzanna. “In film and television, censorship is the biggest problem. At the end, owing to cuts, one finally cannot end up telling the story he or she sets out to do so,” Suzanna adds.

    • Legal impediments to Internet censorship

      Back then, cinema and television, on account of their inaccessibility to ordinary researchers, did not provide a convenient source of research information. To put it simply, it was basically impossible to cite television, and motion pictures were exhibited at the cinema houses at the whim of the film distributors.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Oldham headmistress makes fresh ‘Trojan Horse’ allegations against Islamist parents

      Allegations of a new Islamist “Trojan Horse” plot to wrest control of a state school have been made by a headmistress in the north of England.

      Trish O’Donnell, head of Clarksfield Primary School in Oldham since 2006, emailed the local council saying she had “very strong reasons to believe that… a ‘Trojan Horse’ agenda [is] being played out”, The Sunday Times reported.

      “Trojan Horse” refers to plots uncovered in 2014 in Birmingham schools in which Islamist groups attempted to infiltrate positions of authority and impose a conservative or Salifist ethos on their running.

    • Revealed: new ‘Trojan Horse plot’

      Fears of a new “Trojan Horse” Islamic plot to take over a state school in Oldham have been raised by its head teacher, who says she has been concerned for her personal safety.

      Trish O’Donnell, head of Clarksfield Primary School since 2006, has been so worried that she has worked from home for short periods in recent months.

    • Iranian morality police beat and detain 14-year-old girl ‘for wearing ripped jeans’

      A 14-year-old girl has been beaten and detained for wearing ripped jeans in Iran in the latest incident of police brutality against women and girls.

      Zahra*, who The Independent is not identifying for fear she may suffer reprisals, was celebrating her birthday with friends last week when a patrol of “morality police” pulled up.

      The teenager said officers tried to force her and her friends into their car in the city of Shiraz, beating them when they resisted.

    • ‘How is this ALLOWED?’ Fury as Turkish PM holds election rally in GERMANY
    • New Homeland Security Guidelines Call for the Sweeping Detention and Deportation of Illegal Immigrants: Report

      The Homeland Security Department has drafted sweeping new guidelines aimed at aggressively detaining and deporting immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, according to a pair of memoranda signed by DHS Secretary John Kelly.

      The memos dated Friday seek to implement President Donald Trump’s broad directive to crack down on illegal immigration. Kelly outlines plans to hire thousands of additional enforcement agents, expand on the priority list for immigrants marked for immediate removal and enlist local law enforcement to help make arrests, according to a person briefed on the documents, who confirmed the details to the Associated Press.

      “The surge of illegal immigration at the southern border has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and has created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States,” Kelly wrote.

    • Scrutiny for Supreme Court Pick Fails to Focus on Rights of Disabled

      Since Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee for the Supreme Court, media have coalesced around a few themes: One is about whether any Trump appointment should be blocked as payback to Republicans, as expressed in a New York Times headline (2/13/17): “Democrats’ Quandary on Gorsuch: Appease the Base or Honor the Process.” Spoiler: The paper thinks the real strain is on “those in the middle.”

      Another theme is Gorsuch’s “eloquence” and his being “hard to pigeonhole” as conservative: One story said he “didn’t skip a beat” when a friend came out to him as gay.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Jessica Gonzalez on FCC Chair Ajit Pai

      This week on CounterSpin: “T-Mobile Very Pleased with Direction of Change under Trump Administration, CEO Says.” That headline tells you pretty much what you need to know about Ajit Pai, Trump’s choice of chair for the FCC—the entity charged with representing the public interest in the communications industry. The phone company exec is pleased, he says, because Pai’s appointment signals “an air of less regulation.”

      The idea that the media industry hates regulation is fiction, given that it’s government that grants licenses to companies to use the public airwaves and monopoly franchises to cable companies. In so doing, as media scholar Bob McChesney has said, government isn’t so much setting the terms of competition as picking the winners. What’s objected to, of course, are public interest regulations—including the net neutrality rules that allow for a democratic and diverse internet. What’s ahead for the public interest under Ajit Pai’s FCC? We talk with Jessica Gonzalez, deputy director and senior counsel at the group Free Press.

  • DRM

    • Chrome 57 Will Permanently Enable DRM

      The next stable version of Chrome (Chrome 57) will not allow users to disable the Widevine DRM plugin anymore, therefore making it an always-on, permanent feature of Chrome. The new version of Chrome will also eliminate the “chrome://plugins” internal URL, which means if you want to disable Flash, you’ll have to do it from the Settings page.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Google v. Oracle: Fair Use of a Copyrighted API

        Back in 2012, the N.D. Cal. district court ruled that the portions of Java structure that Google copied were not themselves entitled to copyright protection. On appeal, however, the Federal Circuit reversed and ordered a new trial. In particular, the Federal Circuit panel led by Judge O’Malley held that the Java API taxonomy copyrightable as a whole and rejected the applicability of idea/expression merger doctrine. “Merger cannot bar copyright protection for any lines of declaring source code unless Sun/Oracle had only one way, or a limited number of ways, to write them.”

      • Search Engines, Rightsholders Agree Plan To Stop UK Consumers From Reaching Infringing Websites

        Search engines Google and Bing have signed a voluntary code of conduct with the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and the Motion Picture Association to prevent consumers from being directed to copyright-infringing websites, the UK Intellectual Property Office said on 20 February. The deal, brokered by the IPO, comes into effect immediately and is intended to reduce the visibility of infringing content in searches by 1 June, the office said.

      • Megaupload Founder Kim Dotcom Can Be Extradited to the U.S., a New Zealand Court Rules

        New Zealand’s High Court has found that Kim Dotcom, best known for creating the now-defunct file sharing service Megaupload, is eligible for extradition to the U.S., rejecting a legal appeal by the self-styled “internet freedom fighter.”

        But the judges supported an argument put forth by Dotcom and his legal team that the U.S. cannot extradite him for charges related to copyright violation, reports the New Zealand Herald.

      • New Zealand appeals court upholds Kim Dotcom extradition ruling

        An appellate court in New Zealand has upheld a lower court’s 2015 decision that Kim Dotcom and his co-defendants should be extradited to the United States to face criminal copyright-related charges involving his former website, Megaupload.

        In a ruling issued Monday afternoon local time (late Sunday night, Eastern Standard Time), Justice Murray Gilbert of the High Court of New Zealand ruled that while he agreed with one of Dotcom’s attorneys’ primary arguments—”that online communication of copyright protected works to the public is not a criminal offence in New Zealand”—the judge noted that nevertheless, Dotcom and his co-defendants remain eligible for extradition based on other elements in the case.

      • Dotcom Legal Team on High Court judgment

        This case is no longer the “largest criminal copyright case”, 1 at least as far as New Zealand is concerned. As we have said all along, there is no such offence under our Copyright Act. We were right. However, this afternoon the High Court judgment 2 was issued and, ultimately, although it concluded we are right, 3 the Court concluded that Kim is still eligible for surrender.

      • NZ court rules Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom can be extradited to U.S. for alleged fraud

        A New Zealand court ruled on Monday that internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom could be extradited to the United States to face charges relating to his Megaupload website, which was shutdown in 2012 following an FBI-ordered raid on his Auckland mansion.

        The Auckland High Court upheld the decision by a lower court in 2015 on 13 counts, including allegations of conspiracy to commit racketeering, copyright infringement, money laundering and wire fraud, although it described that decision as “flawed” in several areas.

        Dotcom’s lawyer Ron Mansfield said in a statement the decision was “extremely disappointing” and that Dotcom would appeal to New Zealand’s Court of Appeal.

      • Pirate Site With No Traffic Attracts 49m Mainly Bogus DMCA Notices

        It’s likely you’ve never heard of mp3toys.xyz since the site has very little traffic. However, thanks to a bungling anti-piracy outfit, the site is now the second most complained about ‘pirate’ site on the Internet, with Google receiving more than 49 million notices in just over six months.

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »

Further Recent Posts

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts