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09.20.20

DDOS Attacks Against Us Lately

Posted in Site News at 8:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

DDOS attacksSummary: (Distributed) Denial-of-service attacks or DDOS attacks have slowed down the site, but we treat that as evidence of suppression and fear (of what’s to come and what was recently published), or accuracy (in reporting) rather than inaccuracy

DDOS attacks may seem like a topic we frequently write about. But we touch it seldom and very briefly considering how often we come under DDOS attacks. Almost every week there’s some kind of DDOS attack against us, sometimes lasting minutes, sometimes hours, and sometimes entire days. Several days ago an attack lasted almost an entire day, slowing down the site for the whole day (sometimes rendering it unreachable or barely available; readers pointed this out to us) and when we fought back the attack intensified further, at a pace exceeding 10,000 page requests per minute. That attack coincided with a busy day (we posted about 20 posts that day) and it was exceptionally annoying because it interfered with site access when the site needed it the most. Well, it coincided, but maybe it was no coincidence. It’s different. It’s also difficult to pin-point the culprit or assess who’s behind it (the motivation/association, not just the IP addresses). Someone said it was likely the EPO (we published some important revelations lately), but there’s no evidence to actually support it.

“It’s also difficult to pin-point the culprit or assess who’s behind it (the motivation/association, not just the IP addresses).”Regardless and in spite of that nuisance, we’re currently preparing some material about Microsoft (leaks). If people out there are so desperate to make us despair and silence/slow down our work, then we’re probably on the right path.

As CounterPunch puts it in its support page:

CounterPunch's right enemies

Of course CounterPunch supports Julian Assange, who stands trial this month in the UK (because Wikileaks exposed crimes, hence in an act of blatant inversion the criminals try to hold the publisher/exposer accountable instead, for committing the act of courageous journalism, confronting power).

“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

Malcolm X

Malcolm X

Credits: Top image by Nasanbuyn under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International licence. Bottom image in the Public Domain.

09.14.20

Why We’re Called Techrights

Posted in Site News at 4:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Animal Rights Protest

Summary: Why we renamed to “Techrights” more than a decade ago and who made the suggestion/s

THE name Techrights came as a suggestion from Tracy, our Web host at the time, in 2010. He spent some time searching available domains when Novell had become obsolete (to be sold imminently), so the site’s identity needed to evolve accordingly. We considered doing so a lot sooner, but in IRC some people insisted that we should not leave Novell alone until the mission was accomplished. The site’s byline was a suggestion from Richard Stallman. He borrowed that from a publication of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He liked the word “sentry”; he still reads the site and apparently Linus Torvalds as well (sometimes).

“The site’s byline was a suggestion from Richard Stallman.”The site was vastly smaller 10 years ago. Depending on what’s being measured, it was about 5 times smaller (number of pages) and the readership was also a lot smaller (but not small). One of the things we’re happy to say and take pride in is that decisions were often made within the community (longtime contributors) and involved some open consultation. We’re also happy to say we have a perfect source protection record (nothing to brag about as much as to assure future sources). Being a very technical bunch, it comes almost naturally; the same cannot be said about the average lawyer or journalist. They don’t even use basic encryption and they extensively use this thing they call “smartphone” (surveillance equipment that can also make phonecalls… but rarely does).

Women Are Persons!Looking back at the whole thing, it’s good that the word “rights” was chosen. Some people think it’s a lot more meaningful than “freedom” because the word got distorted over time (like corporate deregulation). Stallman insisted to me that the “F” word would be more useful, but it was already too late to change. The term “rights” is associated with law (universally enforceable sometimes) and with principles such as “human rights”, “animal rights”, “women’s rights” and so on. The term “open” is so broad that it is slated for abuse and “free” has the issue of ambiguity (other than just “zero cost”). So we never really regretted the choice of name. “Tech” is a broad enough term, applicable both to hardware and software (even networking), so we can swiftly navigate from one topic to another (without drifting too far astray from the overarching umbrella/title). Sites must focus not only on important issues (of the time; timing matters, too) but also topics that they understand very well; otherwise they risk ending up making lots of errors, then framed as a non-factual chaotic mess (mainstream media is full of that).

“More Open Than Open [...] I am constantly amazed at the flexibility of this single word.”

Microsoft’s Jason Matusow

09.08.20

Large Corporations Have Not Got Your Back

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Site News at 5:40 pm by Guest Editorial Team

They have their own to protect; they just want to control everybody

Superhero meme: Billionaires Won't Save Us

Summary: The misguided idea that public interest groups can be sponsored by the very monopolies that those groups ought to replace may seem alluring at times; but autonomy and independence mean rejection of such money is ever more necessary

THE most saddening thing is, many Free software (or “Open Source”) institutions give up on people — along with mission statements — in favour of corporate money. The most obscene example of this is the Linux Foundation, which equates “growth” with money and conflates corporate buyout with “success”. The most depressing aspect of that is the spread of the phenomenon to other institutions, such as OSI, SFC, FSFE and to a lesser degree FSF (we’re still undecided about the last one). Debian has amassed a lot of money; much of it comes from corporations that don’t necessarily respect software freedom but have an interest in controlling Debian as a project/community.

“It helps the public hold people in positions of authority accountable (to the people, not to corporations/corporate sponsors).”One needn’t be a cynical anti-capitalist to say that there’s something wrong with corporate takeover of almost everything. Capitalism is not inherently about few corporations running the world; it just isn’t.

Over the next few days we’ll reproduce a bunch of older articles about the FSFE, based on insiders. When we reproduce article we do not necessarily endorse everything they say; the Free Software Fellowship articles do, however, contain a number of interesting facts/information. It helps the public hold people in positions of authority accountable (to the people, not to corporations/corporate sponsors).

09.06.20

How to Spot Diversion Tactics (Excuses and Distractions From Articles Not Convenient to the Reader)

Posted in Site News at 7:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Covered eyes

Summary: When the subject of an article harms oneself one is more likely to shoot the messenger (or the platform) rather than the article itself; here are some examples of patterns we’ve encountered/witnessed over the years

LET’S face it! There are companies out there that dislike Techrights because of things Techrights published about them. Those companies have employees and sometimes a loyal base of clients/supporters (Apple has plenty of these). So Techrights often becomes the target of cheap smears, with various individuals looking for excuses to never read Techrights and even tell people to do the same. It’s very common among comments/commenters. Sometimes it’s downright amusing.

If Techrights gets some facts wrong, state it out loud and upfront. But most complaints (almost all!) are saying nothing about the contents and instead changing the subject to something else (innuendo or nitpicking). Here are some examples: (I have encountered them all before)

“It’s old news”

“I found a typo”

“The headline’s capitalisation style is wrong”

“The site isn’t mobile-friendly”

“The fonts are of the wrong size”

“The stylesheet isn’t good with my browser”

“I don’t like the site”

“I dislike the author”

“The site is not secure enough”

“The site is slow (or down at the moment, maybe due to load)”

“The English is grammatically correct, but I don’t like its style”

“There’s not enough background”

“The site links to itself too much”

“This is conspiracy theory!”

“The author is anonymous and thus lacks credibility”

“I saw some crank linking to this site, hence the site is run by cranks”

“This is clickbait because it makes me angry”

“This is insensitive or intolerant because it points out something correct like a crime (which I prefer not to talk about)”

“It’s too strongly-worded and biased, e.g. it calls bribes “bribes” and not some euphemism like ‘contribution’ or ‘sponsorship’ or whatever…”

“The site looks like it needs a redesign and was made in the 1990s” (maybe it was! Doesn’t discredit the substance, does it?)

“It’s difficult on the eyes that I need to scroll and there’s no glitz such as “like” buttons”

“Comment(er)s are foaming at the mouth and I will hold the original author accountable for these”

“The author does not understand the topic and is merely emotional”

“The article’s site has a low budget; therefore, it cannot possibly get the story right”

“The format of the dates is American; I am not American, hence this site isn’t for me”

“The site quotes an anonymous source to protect from retribution/reprisal; thus, the source is fabricated or is lying”

“There are too many articles in that site and I cannot keep up, hence there’s something wrong with the site”

“The site covered this same subject before, hence it’s merely repeating itself and the message thus lacks legitimacy/novelty”

“The author supports some particular politics or particular political party which I dislike, hence I will read no further”

“Authors aren’t salaried for the work, hence they’re not bossed by rich media owners and cannot possibly produce anything of value”

“The authors are too young to know what’s going on; I’m older and I therefore know a lot more and have been around for longer; my views supersede all else”

“The article has far too many links; it really should be more like a professional newspaper, including not a single link or citation or traceable source”

“I don’t have time to read something this long (tl;dr)”

“I don’t like the picture in that article, so I will not read the article”

“This is pure hypocrisy because [add some smear about the author, whether factual or not]”

“Jealousy, hatred or bigotry/extremist views drove or motivated this posting; it’s thus invalid”

“The article contains leaked communication, hence it does something borderline illegal and I should not examine the evidence at all”

The list goes on and on, but that’s just exemplary.

09.03.20

IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs, Site News at 3:12 am by Needs Sunlight

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Enter the IRC channels now

08.31.20

Apologies for MP4 (a Patent Trap)

Posted in Site News at 11:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We’ll be soon moving back to WebM and/or Ogg

Apologies: letter and rose concept

Summary: The software patents trap, MP4, which companies like Mozilla needed to pay a licence to use, is currently being used (for recently-uploaded and locally-hosted videos), but we’ve developed software tools to replace that, maintaining broad browser/platform support whilst at the same time respecting software freedom a bit better

08.30.20

Publication 101: Reporting, Stenography, Leaks, Whistleblowing and Investigative Journalism

Posted in Site News at 6:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

I saw it from the inside, having been censored or self-censored regarding Microsoft (which became a sponsor/advertiser, in effect ‘bossing’ the publisher)

SJVN and ZDNet

Summary: The way to perceive news sites (based on my personal understanding and experiences, having left the site Datamation, where I encountered the censorious behaviour disgruntled writers occasionally rant and moan about)

THE term “Journalist” isn’t one that I use a lot; yes, Journalism Schools exist and people are trained to become “Journalists” by occupation/profession. They’re taught how to fact-check, strike balance, give the accused/exposed an opportunity to respond before publication and so on. I’d be the last person to bash Journalism as an occupation, especially what’s known as Investigative Journalism (capitalised intentionally; it’s a label). Investigative Journalism takes a very, very long time (sometimes months to properly study just one topic). If financially compensated for the time, it’s very expensive (thus rare).

Then there’s this thing called “reporting” (where there’s this vague thing called “reporter” with a “report”); it can be just some person reporting from a protest, describing what’s going on, sometimes filming the event but rarely making a journal or preparing some text/video in lieu with standards of “professional journalism” (a label often used when one gets salaried by a publication, often owned by oligarch/s and/or corporation/s).

“…some former “professional journalists” have become cynical about the whole thing and became independent after getting censored or self-censored (or being assigned ‘stories’ which are actually commercials for sponsors, i.e. spam in “report” clothing).”I became a lot more cynical about the above, seeing the failure to cover scandals at the European Patent Office (EPO). I spoke to and even met some people who tried to cover the scandals. I heard all sorts of stories, which aligned with my personal experience as a columnist. The editors and publishers exercise control and pressure on people whom they supposedly employ and pay to cover truth. The real client or customer isn’t readers but advertisers; the audience is the “product” sold to the advertisers and the larger the audience, the more valuable the “product”. It’s a little distressing when one realises it; some former “professional journalists” have become cynical about the whole thing and became independent after getting censored or self-censored (or being assigned ‘stories’ which are actually commercials for sponsors, i.e. spam in “report” clothing). “Whitepapers” aren’t that much different from many so-called ‘articles’ (except the way they’re presented and disclosures/length/depth).

So… what is Techrights?

We’re quite versatile. But our sole guiding principle or goal is truth. Covering just truth isn’t always easy; you get bullied for it (e.g. lawyers and SLAPP). We already have a track record of accuracy and we try to always get the facts right, especially facts that are suppressed and commonly distorted.

“We’re quite versatile. But our sole guiding principle or goal is truth.”How is this achieved? Well, for one thing, quality evidence (e.g. police FOIA) is required. So we’ve established a high degree of trust with sources in various places, including disgruntled employees and former employees. Whistleblowers in some cases. They’re unhappy with press coverage that they encounter. Stenography is an insult to their intelligence. e.g. lies from António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli, or propaganda about software patents in Europe (usually from European law firms, looking to increase litigation, even at the expense of innovation).

Leaks are very important to us because this is how we can produce unique (the press says “exclusive”) stories that are backed by hard material, e.g. words right from the horse’s mouth. Those who have not established a solid publication record will struggle to get any leaks at all because a high degree of trust and technical competence with encryption is required. People don’t put their job at risk just to get some article or few articles published by somebody else. Protection of sources is something we’re proud to say we’ve excelled at; to the best of our knowledge we have a 100% source protection record, which is rare (even Wikileaks had many of its sources caught and prosecuted).

“There’s this misconception which goes along the lines of, the bigger the news site is, the more reliable it must be.”Regardless of labels (“journalism” or whatnot), what really matters is accuracy. We want to publish only truthful information. Sometimes we keep the corresponding evidence close to our chest (unpublished) because there’s no other choice for source protection.

Don’t be drawn in or enticed or seduced by graphical effects of sites, budgets of sites, number of employees etc. There’s this misconception which goes along the lines of, the bigger the news site is, the more reliable it must be. Such sites want people to think or at least feel that way; but their work is typically controlled by rich people who conditionally bankroll the whole operation, looking to get something in return (agenda-setting).

08.25.20

Criteria for Stories Techrights Focuses On

Posted in Site News at 10:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Too much of the media is sadly full of crap and Public Relations (P.R.) because nowadays that’s where the money is

A magazine

Summary: A quick explanation of how we decide whether to focus on some particular topic or merely post links on the subject (this distinction is typically based on the need/s)

FINDING topics to cover isn’t hard. The hard part is making available enough time to cover as many of them as possible. Thankfully, Techrights is run by a bunch of us (volunteers; nobody gets paid), so there’s high capacity to research, produce, publish.

Looking at various GNU/Linux news sites or general news sites which habitually cover GNU/Linux, we’re accustomed to seeing stories like “Linux Mint [version here] released” or “Review of [Free software]” and we prefer the latter because it’s a lot more original. For the former kind of stories, one can just link to the original, which is both informative and worth the traffic (all of it, no ads and other nonsense like clickbait). We believe that to put the former kind in our Daily Links might be enough. There’s not much to say or to add when there’s a release of some software.

“Correcting falsehoods is a very high priority here; we’re up against a well funded P.R. “industry” — whose goal is generally to mislead the public or “shape perception” as they themselves put it.”There are certain types of stories that merit a response, either because they perpetuate a falsehood or are awfully incomplete. If the reactionary (correctional) angle is not covered elsewhere already, then we typically do a story or several. We also prefer to cover topics that are suppressed like the European Patent Office (EPO) scandals under António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli. If nobody else is willing to cover that, we will.

The rule of thumb is, if there’s something to say and it was already said, then we can link to that. If it’s missing, we need to write something. Correcting falsehoods is a very high priority here; we’re up against a well funded P.R. “industry” — whose goal is generally to mislead the public or “shape perception” as they themselves put it.

Let’s be clear: we don’t claim to be perfect (or try to patrionise the corporate media collectively). But as more people are becoming aware, corporate media is full of issues as this media is increasingly owned by oligarchs whose sole interest is misleading the public, not informing the public. It’s worse than just P.R.; it’s an occupation. It is like buying off one’s oversight/regulators. If we allow this to carry on, we basically permit reality distortion to work, e.g. painting back doors as a desirable, Linux as “communism” and Linux Foundation as anything other than a corporate front group.

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