01.18.21

Adding Images as Characters to the Daily Bulletins of Techrights

Posted in Site News at 9:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Aging gracefully, Trump vs Biden: HTML, Text

Summary: Our daily bulletins now have inside them coarse graphics, depicted using characters alone, and the tool used to generate them announced a new release earlier today; we showcase some of its features (in a new video)

SLOWLY but surely, behind the scenes at times, we’ve been enhancing the experience or the layout of the daily bulletins, which are served either over HTTP or over IPFS. This is the general direction we hope to embrace, seeing that the World Wide Web rapidly becomes unbearably bloated, so people rightly demand practical and lightweight alternatives.

“Chafa itself is Free software, unlike GitHub.”Over the weekend we began experimenting with image conversions into text, knowing we can use neither colour nor more than 79 columns (in width). Here’s some of the sorts of stuff we’re able to produce in the terminal:

Video download link

The tool in question is called Chafa; sadly enough it’s hosted and controlled by Microsoft servers (GitHub), but this new announcement was made outside that monopolistic platform which is proprietary software. Chafa itself is Free software, unlike GitHub.

01.17.21

Future Plans and Using Videos to Complement Text

Posted in Site News, Videos at 6:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We’ll remain focused on the underlying technology and policy issues, not political party tribalism

Biden Harris 'Fixed It': Change again?

Summary: Remarks on recent and impending site changes; We are not replacing text with video, we’re just trying to enhance the presentation a bit, especially where visuals help make a point or where browsing through Web sites (or leaks) is more suitable than static, linear presentation

THE site is increasingly being served over IPFS. We also have the capacity to self-host very large files, then deliver them at high speeds (without a CDN like ClownFlare). It makes the site a lot more difficult to censor (Google/YouTube rapidly becomes notorious for it [1, 2]) or to digitally attack. Since moving to the new server about 18 days ago we’ve had no issue staving off attackers (in the DDOS sense). Readers can probably sense that pages are now loading a lot faster, too. We also did a lot of coding at several levels, both for operations and monitoring. There are always some projects floating about, waiting for time to become available. IRC tooling, Raspberry Pi tooling, IPFS and so on. For those who are curious about that level of depth, all the details will always be available in IRC logs. For secure and anonymous document drops we’ll have to complete the migration to Alpine containers and then add SSL on top of it all. It’s still work in progress, which requires scheduling and prior planning. We don’t want to risk any downtime (or worse).

“Rehearsals cause recordings to be somewhat robotics and audiences can easily tell when they’re scripted; we don’t want that.”I have, by now, become more accustomed to and familiar with Free software tools that produce video (strictly with Free/libre software). The main weakness, I think, is the equipment used (low-cost and built into a laptop). There are lock-downs here and I do not shop online, so there’s no reprieve for at least another month. In the meantime, a clarification is in order. We do not intend to replace text with video; not ever or any time soon…

As a side note, we’ve promised ourselves (as Tim and I did when we published episodes of TechBytes) that there will be no preparation, no outlining, or even editing of what we record. It reduces complexity and makes production far less cumbersome. Spontaneity is possible as long as we have a set of URLs or Web pages with potential topics in them — topics which shall be dealt with in turn (sometimes reordering them helps a bit as it tidies up the mind). Rehearsals cause recordings to be somewhat robotics and audiences can easily tell when they’re scripted; we don’t want that.

Videos are actually a lot faster to make than text; the workflow is largely the same for video and upload speeds are the bottleneck (especially this month because of severe issues with the ISP). Some particular aspects of publications are easier and safer to do in video, e.g. when dealing with leaked material. At the moment we’re a little light on news (not much happening in GNU/Linux or anything else for that matter) but not light on material because there’s plenty to be said about software freedom and patents in the analytical sense.

“In terms of storage and bandwidth, we’re much better off on the new server. Disk space increased tenfold!”One advantage we have is that we rarely need outside help to maintain and run the site (even beyond the level of editing, e.g. provisioning, backups, upgrades). This greatly lowers the costs associated with keeping the site online and active 24/7. A lot of other sites don’t have that luxury because they’re not run by sufficiently technical people and any time they need help with something they need to shell out a lot money (which they don’t have unless their site is trying to sell something, in turn corrupting its independence and integrity). In terms of site traffic, Apachetop (site monitoring tool) says that over the past 10 days the site averaged 7MB/second in requests, largely owing to videos. Last week the demand for videos grew 50% compared to the prior week, so there seems to be no reason to abandon videos, at least as a side feature. In terms of storage and bandwidth, we’re much better off on the new server. Disk space increased tenfold!

01.07.21

Why We Do ‘InteLeaks’ (and a Call For Further Input/Contributions)

Posted in Site News at 3:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: A timely interlude calling for additional information about Intel; we’re aware that many Intel insiders have stories to tell, sometimes even incriminating hard evidence to support such stories, and we can facilitate source protection/anonymity

HERE is a bit of a spoiler: Imagine some people telling Intel to partner with Microsoft on the very same thing Microsoft is attacking, Linux.

As we’re going to show in this series, Intel is an hyper-hyped basketcase of a company. It failed to keep up with the times. It knows this. The management is well aware.

“We are very pleased to say that a month after we started doing Techrights videos we serve videos about 50k times per week.”“They don’t employ thousands of software developers without a reason,” a person knowledgeable about Intel told us. “They like getting a leg up on the competition, so if they can do that by driving FOSS projects, they can be assured no one else will ever be able to catch up.”

InteLeaks“Also,” this person noted, “by employing many of the top developers in FOSS communities the competition won’t have access to these same developers, which looks like a tactic to one-up your direct and indirect competitors by denying them access to adequate employees [...] It’s a bit like buying Donny van de Beek and putting him on the bench for most of the matches [...] hiring unqualified people hints at not being able to hire qualified ones, because they would rather work or are already employed elsewhere, probably where their skills in GNU/Linux are appreciated and actively used.”

As noted earlier on, albeit only in IRC, many of the names we’ve redacted were of people who live in countries (or came from countries) that hardly develop software. Those countries typically just procure from other countries. So their role in the Free software community is very small if not negligible. Many of the names are also female names. This suggests that Intel has not been hiring based on GNU/Linux skills/familiarity but to fill gender quotas.

Having said that, this is not the real scandal and we don’t intend to obsess or focus on that. At the EPO we’ve seen similar problems. Under the Benoît Battistelli/António Campinos regime the EPO is unable to recruit talent and it’s rapidly bleeding talent (losing what remained of it). The above video is an interlude and call for more information/leaks. We’ve been seeing a lot of interest in this series. This emboldens us to carry on and invest a great deal of time in it. Eventually we’ll organise everything in the Wiki.

We are very pleased to say that a month after we started doing Techrights videos we serve videos about 50k times per week. This exceeds our expectations by far. At this pace, we think it’s safe to say (given that this was measured during holidays), it’s about 200k per month if not more. This isn’t bad for such a new thing…

Of course when one self-hosts videos one ends up having to deal with high bandwidth costs (we’re not charged for it on a per bandwidth basis; we average about 6MB/sec). That’s why so many people out there, especially so-called ‘influencers’ and ‘vloggers’, outsource to companies like Google, which in turn become their ‘boss’. They can be selectively censored, demonetised, de-platformed, and as a result they self-censor. YouTube, for instance, is increasingly becoming about social control, not “social media”. Google has acquired great power over many people and their collective voices.

The video above invites people to send more material to us. Techright has, over the years, been a coding endeavour almost as much as a publication endeavour. Knowing how to do both certainly helps and source protection is of utmost importance. We still have a 100% (stellar) record at that. And later this year we turn 15!

01.03.21

Happy New Leaks

Posted in Site News at 5:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

All the best for 2021
Drawing attribution: Artwork (original here) by artist and Techrights reader, Mogz

Video download link

Summary: Video about the past day’s work and what’s coming up later today, notably the InteLeaks

THE VIDEO above covers a lot of topics and mentions what we’ve been doing lately. Special thanks go to Mogz for the artwork, which we love. She is an artist who really likes the site.

“The time take to open pages is now vastly improved; speed has been doubled or better!”“Just to send a funny little card,” she said, “to you and all contributors/readers, to wish all the best for 2021. [...] Thanks for all your work, and the best of wishes for 2021.”

The video mentions some of the pains we’ve had with E-mail, some of the work done on monitoring, automation, Raspberry Pi (for IPFS), cron jobs, and improving loading speed of the site. The time it takes to open pages is now vastly improved; speed has been doubled or better!

We’re now assessing how to release the Intel material [1, 2] (especially order of publication) because impact and reach certainly matter to sources.

Shown below is a 2-core processor from Intel; it’s well known that monopolies not only increase pricing but also lower quality of products. When they no longer have to actually compete (because they cheat) there is no incentive to actually improve because improvements cost extra money to develop. The legacy of companies like Microsoft and Intel is a big stain on this century; one can only imagine how much more progress would have been made if it weren’t for this monopolistic “Duo” (like the chip).

2-core processor

01.02.21

Look, Ma! No Web Browser! No WWW, Either… (or Why We Use IPFS)

Posted in Site News at 7:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Intel hub
To expose corruption we’re going to become a lot more difficult to censor

Summary: An explanation of why Techrights is moving (to the extent possible given the inertia or network effect of the World Wide Web) to decentralised protocols and clutter-free minimalism

BACK in November we explained why we had transitioned to IPFS — to the degree possible (given that many people aren’t familiar with it) — and shared this manual for ipfs as a command line tool (there are also graphical user interfaces for it, but at a lower level things are really quite simple and neat).

As many readers are aware, on a daily basis we issue a text-only bulletin for articles and Daily Links of the prior day. Generation of these bulletins was made automatic for the first time last night (3AM GMT) and the objects get added to IPFS a short time after that, along with IRC logs. Everything in this site can be read as plain text (except videos and images, for obvious reasons) and it can be retrieved without a Web browser; all that’s needed is an Internet connection. This way, as we’ve been explaining all along, censoring the stuff we publish is virtually impossible or at least infeasible in practice. The more people join the IPFS network, the more censorship-resistant we shall become.

“The more people join the IPFS network, the more censorship-resistant we shall become.”The above video shows how the Kate editor (of KDE, a desktop environment for GNU/Linux and BSDs for the most part) is used to read the site without a Web browser or how a Palm-sized Raspberry Pi is used to access similar stuff without the World Wide Web, either. All IRC logs, articles, and Daily Links are available in this fashion, with a daily update cycle (we might improve that frequency over time).

IPFS large logo

The Internet and the World Wide Web are not the same thing. You can use and access many things on the Internet without HTTP or HTTPS (an extra transport layer for encryption). When I first got an Internet connection at home (about 25 years ago) I didn’t even use a Web browser; I used IRC instead (and still use that same protocol at present; it’s our main collaboration tool). When Netscape became mainstream and even before MSIE took over (because of Microsoft’s illegal behaviour) bloat started to become a major problem; JavaScript was only the start of it. We need to trim things down on the Net and IPFS is one method for attaining that. In 2020 a lot of the ‘fattening’ of the Web and much of the growing complexity is the fault of Google et al (there’s also DRM, requiring proprietary software in a browser, due to W3C takeover by GAFAM, Netflix, and Hollywood).

“IPFS uses a great deal of encryption between nodes (by default).”Those of us who want a more censorship-resistant Internet which is also robust/resilient in the face of purely technical downtimes (such as server maintenance) are constantly exploring decentralised protocols, decoupled from any single central server/service. Having things presented in a simpler and lighter format means archiving is simpler, sharing is a lot faster, and there’s virtually no spying. IPFS uses a great deal of encryption between nodes (by default).

01.01.21

Happy New Year and Welcome to the New Server

Posted in Site News at 6:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: First video since crossing over to the new server and new datacentre; we’ve gotten accustomed to the new setup and we’re now preparing to release leaks

THE maintainer of Linux-libre wishes a “Happier GNU Year!” The past year has been difficult and the past fortnight has been difficult for yours truly because of an illness and stress related to a bunch of tasks, including urgent migration to a new server and new datacentre.

“We try to cover suppressed issues — things we cannot merely link to (as they’re not being published elsewhere).”As I explain in this video, we have lots of leaks coming (maybe we’ll start this weekend), so we’ve set aside the new/happy year’s greetings (we have a lockdown imposed on us; people are asked to stay home) and instead focus on the datacentre migration. E-mail is still not working (cannot sign up to leave comments; this is a longstanding problem), monitoring and backups are still work in progress, and some people’s DNS servers still point to a server that was disconnected hours ago, with all data on it destroyed (to ensure privacy).

InteLeaksWe have some good material coming soon; some of it is leaked material (mostly InteLeaks and EPO leaks). Mr. Oliva wants a “Happier GNU Year!” so we have some things to publish about software freedom and GNU as well. Generally, starting the year on a strong note/tone would boost morale. We welcome any additional information, including and not limited to leaks. We try to cover suppressed issues — things we cannot merely link to (as they’re not being published elsewhere).

The video above is the first we make in WebM format. We’ve generally found that it enjoys more widespread/broad browser support. Some people weren’t able to play videos encoded in Ogg Vorbis/Theora format.

12.30.20

2021 Will Be a Year to Pursue Justice

Posted in Site News at 2:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nobody's free until everybody's free. -Fannie Lou Hamer

Summary: After 4 years of sinister fascism and law-breaking (it was a lot worse than in prior years) 2021 could (but probably would not) be a year for accountability and justice

Short of last-minute coup attempts, in 3 weeks from now the United States will have a new president and maybe (according to reports) Edward Snowden will be allowed back into his home country (without risk of arrest). For the time being, Donald Trump is mostly pardoning violent criminals and reportedly himself/family (if possible), not just close associates. It’s really ugly. Really, really unprecedented. When nations fail they don’t fail gracefully. We saw that before (decades ago it was the Soviet Union). It’s not limited to nations by the way; we also see that in institutions such as the Linux Foundation and corporations like Microsoft, which now loot the American taxpayers.

“There’s no factual basis upon which to believe that 2021 will be any better than 2020.”2021 won’t be a good year. We already said that last week. There’s no factual basis upon which to believe that 2021 will be any better than 2020.

For us, as a site, 2020 was OK. For instance, over the past couple of weeks, owing to videos for the most part, Techrights served an average of almost 5MB/second. The year is almost over and we’ve more or less decided to continue making videos. They’re generally well received, we just need to improve their quality (over time).

Techrights traffic

12.29.20

Coming Soon: New Leaks for the New Year

Posted in Site News at 10:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When everything fails, blame “Russia” and “Chinese virus”

Shanghai

Summary: The Techrights team is working to release previously-unseen information (of interest to the general public); please bear with us

With a bunch of scheduled (for Christmas) maintenance tasks mostly completed, and with the datacentre migration still impending, we’re finally focusing on EPO publications (not mere memes; it’s slow news at the EPO albeit this new page shows management of the EPO ‘going rogue’; it’s nowadays breaking the law, the EPC, using a mere “decision” by the executive branch). We ask for readers’ patience because although it may seem like we’re not doing much lately (except videos and relatively short articles) we’ve actually been very busy working on other sorts of tasks (not visually obvious like the banner at the top of the blog or the new (simplified) front page). This morning, for example (it’s only 4AM), hours were spent communicating privately with key people. We have some exciting things lurking over the horizon and rushing them through would be counterproductive if not highly risky to sources. To the best of our ability (taking risk into account) we reveal information about operations in our IRC logs. Sometimes we redact a bit.

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