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Internet Under Attack: Latest News Stories

Posted in News Roundup at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz



  • We’ve Entered The Age Of ‘Fiber To The Press Release’

    While Google Fiber has managed to get ISPs to compete in the areas it’s deployed, the project has also managed to spawn a new, misleading but entertaining phenomenon I’ve affectionately labeled “fiber to the press release.” In a fiber to the press release deployment, a carrier (usually one with a history of doing the bare minimum on upgrades) proudly proclaims that they too will soon be offering 1 Gbps broadband. The announcement will contain absolutely no hard specifics on how many people will get the upgrades, but the press will happily parrot the announcement and state that “ISP X” has suddenly joined the ultra-fast broadband race. Why spend money on a significant deployment when you can have the press help you pretend you did?

  • Al Franken: Don’t let Comcast “manipulate Internet traffic”



  • Lexingtonians Consider Municipal Network Options in Kentucky

    Community leaders in Lexington are the latest to stand at a fork in the broadband road. In September, the franchise agreement between the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) and Time Warner Cable expired, resulting in a month-to-month agreement continuation. As they negotiate a new contract, local citizens have called for consideration of a municipal network.

  • No, the U.S. Isn’t ‘Giving Up Control’ of the Internet”

    On a sleepy Friday afternoon last week, the U.S. Department of Commerce dropped what seemed, to many, like a bombshell: It intends to transition its coordinating role over the Internet’s domain name system—those web addresses you type into your browser—to the global Internet community.

End of Week News: Mass Surveillance, Drones, Oversight Failure, Ukraine…

Posted in News Roundup at 11:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mass Surveillance


  • Obama’s Team Shuns U.N. Human Rights Council Drone Talks

    The United States apparently wants nothing to do with a United Nations Human Rights Council discussion on whether the country’s drone strikes may violate international human rights law.

  • Telecoms contractor could be called to account for drone deaths

    The revelation comes from a high-level review of a complaint that the £23m BT communications line supported drone missions that had accidentally killed between 426 and 1005 civilians in the last decade in the course of strikes on suspected insurgents, according to estimates of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

  • What Can “Forensic Architects” Tell Us About Drone Strikes and Genocide?

    A woman dressed in a black hijab is highlighted by the glare from a computer screen as she works with forensic architects in digitally recreating her home, the scene of a drone strike in Mir Ali, North Waziristan, Pakistan where five men, one of them her brother-in-law, were directly hit and killed on Oct. 4, 2010. This is the spot where she had laid out a rug in the courtyard, she explains, and where her guests sat one evening when the missile dove into their circle, leaving a blackened dent in the ground and scattering flesh that later, she and her husband had to pick up from off of the ground so they could bury their dead. Morbidly, the reconstruction of a drone strike is similar – the gathering of flecks of information when nothing else is available: through satellite imagery and video, the length of a building’s shadow, the pattern of shrapnel marks on a wall, and the angle of a photo, can help forensic architects determine where a missile struck and determine how it led to civilian deaths.

  • PolitiFact Muddies Truth on Drone Strikes Comment

    With drone strikes, not only is collateral damage recognized as a possible likelihood; it has become an accepted part of our foreign policy. Not only is America firing on citizens of sovereign nations, but they do so knowing that innocent people who had the misfortune of being at the wrong place at the wrong time are going to die. The old saying about the path of good intentions comes to mind.

  • Domestic Drones Are Inevitable

    As the weekly – sometimes daily – news stories never tire of telling us, domestic drones are coming. And as ABC News reported on March 17, they are arriving faster than the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can suss out the rules over their use. Though it’s technically illegal, and the FAA may issue fines if they catch you, ABC reports that commercial use of drones is starting to happen whether or not the government approves – as long as it doesn’t notice.

  • Locations of drone attacks changing to Afghanistan and Yemen
  • US’ use of armed drones complies with international law – State Dep’t lawyer

    The Pakistani draft, which was obtained by Foreign Policy, urges states to “ensure transparency” in record-keeping on drone strikes and to “conduct prompt, independent and impartial investigations whenever there are indications of any violations to human rights caused by their use.” It also calls for the convening of “an interactive panel discussion” on the use of drones.

  • Power Isn’t Funny

    For all of the nonchalant assurances that he is neither a “dictator” nor an “emperor,” Barack Obama is certainly trigger-happy with the power jokes.

  • Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope – it’s a drone stealing your identity
  • Camus in the Time of Drones

    Lucien rises from bed in the early morning. He dresses quietly, careful not to awaken his wife and infant son. He walks briskly across the city of Algiers in the pre-dawn light to a square that is already thick with people, their gaze fixed on a wooden platform and rising from it the stark outline of a guillotine.


    Camus’ essay on the barbarity of the death penalty was written in 1956, against the backdrop of the executions of hundreds of dissidents during the Soviet crackdown in Hungary, as well as the execution of Algerian revolutionaries condemned to death by French tribunals. He notes that by 1940 all executions in France and England were shielded from the public. If capital punishment was meant to deter crime, why hold the killings in secret? Why not make them a public spectacle?


  • Kerry’s Lonely Crusade Against Venezuela

    Images forge reality, granting a power to television and video and even still photographs that can burrow deep into people’s consciousness without them even knowing it. With a wide variety of sources and people on the ground to talk to, I thought I was immune to the repetitious portrayals of Venezuela as a failed state in the throes of a popular rebellion. But even I was not prepared for what I saw in Caracas: how little of daily life appeared to be affected by the protests, the normality that prevailed in the vast majority of the city. I, too, had been taken in by media imagery.


  • Cohen’s SAC hires CIA-backed Palantir to strengthen surveillance

    SAC Capital Advisors, the hedge-fund firm that agreed to pay a record fine to settle insider-trading charges, moved to boost surveillance by hiring Palantir Technologies, a Central Intelligence Agency-backed software maker.

  • We need Congress to fix the FOIA

    The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a critical law for making sure the public has a fighting chance to get copies of records the government might not want it to see. For more than 40 years, people have used the FOIA to uncover evidence of government waste, fraud, abuse and illegality. More benignly, FOIA has been used to better understand the development and effects – positive and negative—of the federal government’s policies.

  • Udall: Release report on CIA

    Sen. Mark Udall called on the White House again Thursday to declassify a report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation program during the war on terror.

  • U.S. Senate leader orders probe of alleged CIA computer hacking
  • Details of Illegal Torture That the CIA Doesn’t Want You to Know About

    Senate staffers say the agency tortured prisoners in ways that went beyond what the Bush-era DOJ approved, according to an Al-Jazeera America report.

  • Nancy Pelosi: When Legislators Take on the CIA, ‘They Come After You’

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s remarks in support of fellow legislator Dianne Feinstein, who is embroiled in a dispute with the CIA, ought to be the sort of thing that alarms everyone. After all, another powerful member of Congress claims that the spy agency she is charged with overseeing illegitimately resists checks on its autonomy.

  • Justice Dept. Is Cautious on Joining C.I.A. Fight

    Both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Senate Intelligence Committee believe that laws may have been broken in their bitter dispute over top secret documents relating to the C.I.A.’s detention program and who has the right to read them.

  • The CIA Spying Scandal, Watergate and the Decay of American Democracy

    In the nine days since Senator Dianne Feinstein revealed that the Central Intelligence Agency had spied on Senate Intelligence Committee staffers investigating CIA torture programs, the issue has been all but dropped by the political establishment and the media.


  • Deconstructing Putin

    Putin was strongest in his accusations of western hypocrisy. His ironic welcoming of the West having suddenly discovered the concept of international law was very well done. His analysis of the might is right approach the West had previously adopted, and their contempt of the UN over Iraq and Afghanistan, was spot on. Putin also was absolutely right in describing the Kosovo situation as “highly analogous” to the situation in Crimea. That is indeed true, and attempts by the West – including the Guardian – to argue the cases are different are pathetic exercises in special pleading.

    The problem is that Putin blithely ignored the enormous logical inconsistency in his argument. He stated that the Crimean and Kosovo cases were highly analogous, but then used that to justify Russia’s action in Crimea, despite the fact that Russia has always maintained the NATO Kosovo intervention was illegal(and still refuses to recognize Kosovo). In fact of course Russia was right over Kosovo, and thus is wrong over Crimea.


    The attempt to downplay Russia’s diplomatic isolation was also a bit strange. He thanked China, though China had very pointedly failed to support Russian in the Security Council. When you are forced to thank people for abstaining, you are not in a strong position diplomatically. He also thanked India, which is peculiar, because the Indian PM yesterday put out a press release saying Putin had called him, but the had urged Putin to engage diplomatically with the interim government in Kiev, which certainly would not be welcome to Putin. I concluded that Putin was merely trying to tell his domestic audience Russia has support, even when it does not.

  • Crisis in Ukraine: Russia Extends its Control over the Black Sea and Strategic Waterways
  • Crimean Tatars Asked to Vacate Land, Regional Official Says

    Ukraine’s breakaway region of Crimea will ask Tatars to vacate part of the land where they now live in exchange for new territory elsewhere in the region, a top Crimean government official has said.


Not Just GNU/Linux: News About Other Free Operating Systems

Posted in News Roundup at 11:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Genode OS

  • Genode OS Draws Up Plans For 2014

    The Genode Operating System Framework has been one of the more interesting and successful open-source OS research projects of recent times. Genode OS is becoming increasingly usable to enthusiasts and is also proving to be an interesting environment for developers. A lot of headway was made for Genode OS in 2013, but there’s already a list of TODO items for the community-based operating system in 2014.


  • MINIX 3 Successfully Ported To ARM

    MINIX 3.2.1 can successfully power-up on the BeagleBoard-xM with a working frame-buffer and is “off to discover the world.” While there is a frame-buffer, networking support doesn’t yet work on MINIX. MINIX 3.2.1 has been advertised as a great fit for ARM since its small, BSD licensed, and reliable.

Plan 9





  • FreeBSD Open-Source OS Comes to the PC-BSD Desktop

    Linux isn’t the only open-source operating system, and it isn’t the only one with both server and desktop components either. The FreeBSD Project is one of the earliest open-source operating system projects, with roots connecting it to the original open-source BSD Unix work performed at the University of California at Berkeley. On Jan. 20, FreeBSD 10 debuted, providing server users with multiple performance and virtualization improvements. While FreeBSD itself could potentially be used as a desktop system, the PC-BSD open-source project is the home base for FreeBSD as a desktop operating system.

BSD (General)

  • Call for papers

    EuroBSDcon is the European technical conference for users and developers of BSD-based systems. The conference will take place September 25 to 28 at InterExpo Congress Center in Sofia (see http://iec.bg/en/). Tutorials will be held on Thursday and Friday, while the shorter talks and papers program is on Saturday and Sunday.

  • OpenSSH 6.5 released

    This is a feature-focused release. New features: * ssh(1), sshd(8): Add support for key exchange using elliptic-curve Diffie Hellman in Daniel Bernstein’s Curve25519. This key exchange method is the default when both the client and server support it.

  • OpenSSH 6.5 Rolls In New Features
  • FreeNAS

Sharing and Freedom: the Philosophy Spreads Beyond Software

Posted in News Roundup at 11:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Open Source City

  • How to be an Open Source City

    An open source city, according to Jason Hibbets, project manager in Corporate Marketing at Red Hat, in his book ‘Foundation for an open source city’, is a blend of open culture, open government policies and economic development. It is an ecosystem made up of: a culture of citizen participation, effective open government policies and open data initiatives, open source user groups and conferences, and a hub for innovation and open source businesses.

  • Is Your City Open Source?

    Jason Hibbets is working to convince local governments to adapt open source ideas in their day to day operations. His book, “The Foundation for an Open Source City,” attempts to be a step by step guide for implementing open source ideas into government policies and solutions, based on his own experiences. He uses Raleigh, North Carolina, where he resides, as his example. He calls it the worlds first open source city. In a way, the small southern capital is his laboratory.

  • How to get started in civic hacking




  • America is About to Lose One of Its Best Public Resource: Public Libraries
  • Library Users Are a Social Group

    Pew Research Center released a new study on Thursday showing that library users are more social than people who do not go to libraries. The report questioned 6,000 Americans, ages 16 and up, and found that more than two-thirds of Americans are actively using libraries. Along with actively using the library, users typically are more social than those who do not use the library. Library users also tend to be more active.



Open Data

Open Hardware


  • Why The Blueprint of the 21st Century Should Be Open Source

    Today, we have 3D modeling software that can pack an exponential cache of information, render designs visible with incredible fidelity, and make those designs easier to adapt. BIM technology (building information modeling) has entered the workplace, too, improving coordination and productivity of all trades involved in project construction, effectively revolutionizing the manufacturing sector. This is technology that, like CAD, has undeniably been pushed forward via the open development and integration of components.

  • 3D printed hand brings the crowd to their feet

    Earlier this year, I shared my story about open source designs and my 3D printed prosthetic hand to a room of 4,600+ at Intel’s Annual International Sales Conference in Las Vegas. I joined Jon Schull on stage, the founder of e-NABLE, an online group dedicated to open source 3D printable assistive devices.

  • Measuring Open Source Hardware 3D-Printed Material Strength

    The word “open” is certainly a buzzword in 3D printing, but what does that really mean? While many are tossing around this phrase, few actually practice an open business and product philosophy. Open source hardware (or Libre hardware), notably led by the RepRap project, is experiencing rapid, cross-industry adoption. This philosophy empowers engineers, makers, builders, and creators with unprecedented freedom to change, update, and modify their products over time.


  • Call to all open source communities: Emphasize inclusion

    As a woman in open source, I have found that the values of community, open development, and flat organizational structure appeal equally to both men and women. The ability of local organizers to freely define what type of culture they are building allows them to adapt in order to appeal to the surrounding culture, while striving to improve access.

  • Crowdsourcing the OpenStack Summit agenda
  • Beginners in Open Source Week
  • Get more eyeballs: 5 steps to using design in your open source project

    At the Open Technology Institute (OTI), we’ve been working on opening our user feedback process as a way to improve our internal processes and collaboration, engage our user community more, promote non-developer contributions, and think more broadly about how open source process plays a role in the Commotion Wireless project, a free and open-source communication tool that uses mobile phones, computers, and other wireless devices to create decentralized mesh networks.

Software Licensing News: GPL, Copyleft, and Beyond

Posted in News Roundup at 11:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • Top 10 legal issues for free software of 2013

    Last year, I provided a look at the top legal issues from the year before. Continuing with this tradition, here is my take on the top ten legal developments in FOSS during 2013.

  • Choose The Best Licence For Your Open Source Project

    The licences page breaks down a number of popular options, including MIT, Apache and GPL. Each is explained in the form of Required / Permitted / Forbidden, so it’s clear what others can and can’t do with your work.

  • Science and Liberation: Science as Human Curiosity, as Authority and as Business

    Creative Commons and the GPL are legal tools to facilitate sharing, and in their domains they are analogous to peer review and publication in scientific journals for scientists. However, like the conflict between free and proprietary software, there is a conflict between open access and proprietary access to scientific publications, a conflict Aaron Swartz became aware of as an activist.

  • Copyright statements proliferate inside open source code

    Earlier today I was looking at a source file for the OpenStack Ceilometer docs and noticed that there’s a copyright statement at the top. Now, in no way do I want to pick on Nicholas. There are hundreds of such copyright statements in the OpenStack docs and code, and this is just the example I happened to be looking at.

  • Open Compute pushes GPL-like license for ‘open source hardware’
  • Should I use a permissive license? Copyleft? Or something in the middle?

    The open source license you choose for your project, or for the projects you choose to contribute to, can have significant effects on how what you contribute is used. One question that has garnered quite a bit of interest recently is the fall in popularity of copyleft licenses in favor of permissive licenses. An article last year looked at the issue of large number of projects on GitHub that have no explicit license and posited the question about whether we live in a ‘post open source software’ world, where seemingly open source software has no license. After some time, GitHub agreed that licensing is important and worked to improve the situation with a license chooser.

  • Which License Should You Use for Your Software?

    When I first started writing my little software programs, I borrowed some code from my chum Mike Field (a.k.a. The Mighty Hamster) who is based in New Zealand. At that time, I noticed that in the comments to his code, Mike had the line “// License: GPLv3″ (this refers to the GNU General Public License).

  • Apple Veteran Named PayPal’s First Head of Open Source Software

    Cooper has seen the benefits of open source collaboration first hand — and has learned the hard way what happens when developers don’t share code when they should. At Apple, she managed a team that developed a video chat program based on Apple’s QuickTime video format, and the code behind Quicktime wasn’t even shared with everyone inside the company. “There were some people in my group that helped write Quicktime, but because of an internal licensing struggle at the time, the QuickTime team shut them out of their own code tree,” she says. “It was really inefficient, and it really pissed me off.”

Links 20/3/2014: Instructionals

Posted in News Roundup at 11:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links 20/3/2014: Games

Posted in News Roundup at 10:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links 20/3/2014: Applications

Posted in News Roundup at 10:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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