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01.01.20

New Techrights Banner, Still Optimised for Screens as Little as 800 x 600 (in an Age of 1920 x 1080)

Posted in Site News at 3:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We aim to be legacy-friendly, not mobile-friendly

My kid asked me, Daddy, what's your new year's resolution? I said, same resolution, 1920 x 1080, but different techrights banner

Summary: Site looks changing a little; but it’s limited to visuals for the time being

THE PAST week was spent doing some work on the server, albeit nothing major or revolutionary like we had hoped (we’re waiting with a Devuan migration because of the Debian vote, which ended only this past weekend).

TechrightsWe last changed the top banner back in 2015 when the European Patent Office (EPO) threatened us, so a week ago we changed it to a Christmas-themed one and today we change it again. We hope regular visitors like this new one (readers might need to flush browser cache to see it). It might not change for years to come. It was, as usual, made using The GIMP. We strive to use only Free software to run the site. Below are some past banners we used (in no particular order).

Old Techrights banner

Old Techrights banner

Old Techrights banner

Old Techrights banner

Old Techrights banner

Old Techrights banner

Old Techrights banner

Old Techrights banner

Old Techrights banner

Old Techrights banner

12.31.19

Last Chance (in 2019) to Tip Us for the Work We Do

Posted in Site News at 8:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Need more potion

Roy's desktop
The work setup

Summary: The year is about to end, we’ve just cross another milestone (26,500 blog posts) and we welcome support from readers who find the site informative

THIS morning we published our 26,500th post. I had slept only 5 hours and woke up early to prepare articles for the site. There’s not much time left for 2019 (even if you live in Japan or Australia), but please consider buying some coffee to keep the momentum going. Even a couple of dollars can help, at the very least as means of moral support. We have plenty planned for 2020, even some drafts already in the making.

12.29.19

How Techrights is Run

Posted in Site News at 10:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Roy's desktop
Zoom in or click here for a larger version

Summary: What it takes to keep abreast of the site, monitor the server, produce articles and collect Daily Links

IN the interests of transparency, which we intend to improve (the only secrets we keep are our sources), I thought now would be a good opportunity to explain how Techrights is run from my end. So I took this photograph a few moments ago, with active workspaces being the most relevant of several (no E-mail and RSS feeds’ workspaces, for instance, are shown in this photograph). The above may be self-explanatory; the lower left runs GNOME Shell, top left Openbox, and it is KDE (4.x) on the right hand side. The workflow changes sometimes (there are also virtual desktops in use), but for composing articles, gathering news and so on things remain mostly the same. I keep all notifications well out of sight to avoid getting distracted (replying to comments only in large batches at a particular time).

There used to be 5 screens, but one of them died last year. There were only three screens when we began covering European Patent Office (EPO) scandals. The complexity associated with social control media (top right in the photo) makes matters a lot harder. I thought about quitting it altogether to better focus on producing articles, but social control media can still be marginally useful if used responsibly (with strict time limits and all notifications turned off or hidden away).

2019 Was a Strong Year for Techrights

Posted in Site News at 9:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The President of FFII has helped activism against software patents in Europe. He speaks at CCC in two hours.

FFII activism

Summary: Alliances with sites and a relationship of trust with various sources have helped us produce important stories throughout this year

THE Web site Techrights bears a motto/byline inspired or suggested by Richard Stallman almost a decade ago. “Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom” it says. Stallman was inspired by a publication of Jehovah’s Witnesses if I still remember this correctly (the term “Sentry” in particular). Techrights basically watches and reports on threats to software freedom and if that freedom is under attack, then it’s only likely that interest will grow. Techrights is of course cheering for freedom (and for rights; it’s even in the site’s name), but when things go awry we try to be objective about it. We remain honest and totally upfront. We don’t ‘perfume’ things. There’s no point if this reduces trust, which is our core asset other than independence (nobody can phone us and successfully threaten us into censoring a story).

“In the earlier days of this site the articles were put together a lot more quickly and they lacked depth.”The number of people involved in Techrights — both publicly and behind the scenes — is much greater than it has ever been. People contribute not only stories but also code and other input. We generally do investigations and we carefully conduct research that can take many hours. We break (as in exclusively cover) many stories and we try to give a voice to unique angles; that’s the priority right now; it’s about quality and accuracy, not quantity. In the earlier days of this site the articles were put together a lot more quickly and they lacked depth. But we’re improving over time. Sources increase in number; not only European Patent Office (EPO) sources but also Microsoft sources. Without their leaks and tips we’d have not much to report that’s actually new and unique.

“Without their leaks and tips we’d have not much to report that’s actually new and unique.”Our IRC channels are growing and improving. Around Christmastime we improved their public presentation (as in published logs) and we’re still working on that. We’re tweaking things with the aim of making our operations easier to watch, follow, and participate in. We’re as welcoming as ever, we’re still boasting a 100% source protection record, and we’re well connected to sites with shared goals, broadening our reach and the ability to produce stories, campaigns etc. In a few hours from now the President of FFII will give a CCC talk about UPC and software patents.

We’re very conscious of the dangers (or risk) associated with smear/whisper campaigns, including ridiculous ad hominem attacks that go something along the lines of, “I ignore what this site says because I dislike the font or the colours or [enter something about Russia!]”

“In a few hours from now the President of FFII will give a CCC talk about UPC and software patents.”People who are dismissive of things we publish need to put together an argument of substance, not personal insults. Thankfully, we barely ever see complaints of substance about things we publish. The most ludicrous and outlandish smears we saw this year insinuated that we’re somehow “like Trump” — a claim so easily refuted by anything we publish every single day.

A couple of days ago we set up our self-hosted Git server, which we might very soon make public.

12.26.19

Coming Soon: Techrights Git Server

Posted in Site News at 11:51 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Better late than never

White columns

Summary: Improving code transparency in Techrights as the 15th year starts (2020 will be fifteenth, 2006 being the first)

Techrights strives to pursue justice by means of exposing facts. This has been true since 2006 when our primary goal was to end patent blackmail (financial demands based on unnamed, unspecified software patents).

“Our IRC logs don’t typically provide sufficient code transparency, only conversational transparency.”Over the past year we’ve become louder about the need to delete GitHub and we’ve developed quite a bit of software for the site over the past 8 months or so. In order to keep it organised — complete with version control — we’re going to set up our own, local, self-hosted Git. This will hopefully increase transparency, too. Our IRC logs don’t typically provide sufficient code transparency, only conversational transparency.

“Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done.”High Court of Justice

12.25.19

Merry Christmas and (Soon) Happy New Year

Posted in Site News at 7:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A nice talk

Summary: Greetings to Christian readers and (in advance) wishes for the new year (to those using a Gregorian calendar)

TECHRIGHTS remains active and is revising/changing the workflow a little. We might soon add our own Git server as well. We’re very busy, much like Phoronix (every year, every day). But we nevertheless wish to pause and wish a happy Christmas to those who celebrate it (we do here). As always, we’re all ears and we watch the servers closely all the time, today included and tomorrow being no exception. We have some big stories on the way and next year a number of milestones.

12.22.19

Working at the Back End During the Holiday Period

Posted in Site News at 8:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Free tools

Summary: Plans for the next couple of weeks and a quick look back

BACK IN SEPTEMBER and again in October [1, 2] we spoke about entertaining Devuan GNU/Linux as our server operating system. For nearly half a decade we’ve been wanting and repeatedly trying to facilitate encrypted connections. We also ran the site on a laptop, experimenting on a virtual machine with it. But for technical reasons it’s not as simple as it sounds. The will is there, but package compatibility has long been a barrier. Full updates are available until August next year (and maintenance ones until 2024), but the underlying packages are old (longterm support), including a 3.x Linux kernel.

“Believe it or not, the site has looked almost the same since 2006 (only the top banner of the blog changed somewhat).”Over the next week or two we shall be testing — besides the live site — various potential migration or upgrade routes. We’re not ruling out Cent OS (which we’ve always used) and seeing the Debian vote on init systems we’re still not sure about the future of Devuan, so it’s a bit of a case of “wait and see” (watching what happens next). It’s possible but not guaranteed that the site will be migrated to a container, but the goal is to keep the look and feel identical (no visible changes to visitors/readers). Believe it or not, the site has looked almost the same since 2006 (only the top banner of the blog changed somewhat). It’s intentional, it’s deliberate, and it is considered desirable. This is who we are; we aren’t changing. Novelty just for the sake of novelty isn’t always a positive thing or — as the famous adage goes — “newer isn’t always better” (or “less is more”).

Remember this:

Old site layout

It used to look like this:

Fort banner

Before the torch came:

Torch

It started like this (a lot simpler, 2006):

Old site

In our humble beginnings we also used this image of Ballmer and Hovsepian, who is still trying to censor — using his lawyers as recently as this year — our criticism of his deeds at Novell.

Firefox search

The tally (number of blog posts) now stands at almost 26,500. It’s possible that next year — depending on our pace — we might reach 30,000 (seems unlikely because of my job). Back in 2009 we published 3,611 posts and in 2010 3,653 posts. In 2011 I started working full time and my ‘daytime’ (actually nighttime) job slowed me down a lot. I need to work hard for a living. So what we then had was (in reverse chronological order):

  • 2019: 1,605 Posts
  • 2018: 1,565 Posts
  • 2017: 1,661 Posts
  • 2016: 1,894 Posts
  • 2015: 1,204 Posts
  • 2014: 1,204 Posts
  • 2013: 1,323 Posts
  • 2012: 1,260 Posts
  • 2011: 2,457 Posts

I think my record for number of posts per day was 29. It was a very, very long day for me. Those willing to support the work with a jar of coffee (or several, each jar makes about 100 cups!) can give us a holiday donation. It really does help to keep us going. It also makes me less financially dependent on my nighttime job (extra shifts and the like; today I work 16 hours, on shift from 5:30PM until 9AM the following morning). We won’t be resting and we will never accept corporate money because our independence is by far our biggest asset.

12.16.19

Recharging for 2020

Posted in Site News at 5:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Colourful butterfly

Summary: Techrights prepares for another big year with more coverage than past years (we have become more efficient and our team grows)

Colourful seasons have gone. It’s cold. It’s dark. But we’re ready to rise again in 2020, maybe with a new operating system (we’re going to experiment around Christmas, as upgrades are long overdue). The site will definitely look the same, irrespective of what runs at the back end, as backward compatibility is very important to us and we don’t intend to change the look-and-feel any time soon, not even for so-called “smart” or ‘smart’ devices. The way things stand, the European Patent Office (EPO) is our top priority because nobody else covers it (not properly; puff pieces quoting EPO press releases don’t count), the USPTO affairs/matters at a policy level (pertinent court cases go into Daily Links), and we’ll keep an eye on software patents in Europe, which the EPO hopes to legitimise by smothering the national courts (with UPC, which António Campinos supports as much as Battistelli did).

“We’ll keep fighting, we’ll fight for those who need it.”We don’t expect 35 U.S.C. § 101 to be successfully undermined, no matter what the hive of lawyers keeps telling us. So we won’t pay too much attention to that. Instead we’ll focus more on GNU/Linux and attacks on it, including the attacks on GNU/Linux that we see coming from the Linux Foundation (it nowadays helps Microsoft more than it has helped actual GNU/Linux users). As always, we welcome but refuse to beg for financial support. We accept donations through PayPal and we’re grateful for any contribution readers can make, even if as meager as a jar of coffee’s worth (I pay less than 2 pounds for a jar of coffee, which makes about 100 cups to keep me awake, to keep me reading and writing). My wife and I run the site at our own expense and we reject corporate money for the sake of complete autonomy. We live a very frugal life; almost all the food we buy is significantly price-reduced and we mostly walk (sometimes public transport gets used; I haven’t owned a car in over a decade). We never turn on the heating unless there’s a guest. The upside is, that’s good for the environment as well. My birthday is tomorrow and I’ve planned nothing for it; I will be writing, as usual…

We’ll keep fighting, we’ll fight for those who need it. European patent examiners (let’s face it, the scientists/examiners do want increased quality of patents!), Free software users, and marginalised people in need of privacy and a platform through which they can blow the whistle. We got dozens of those in 2019.

2020 will be our fourteenth year as we’re proud to say that all our sources have been kept safe. We definitely intend to keep it that way whilst ensuring maximal level of transparency (reducing opportunity for mischief and misconduct).

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