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Links 22/1/2018: Linux 4.15 Delayed Again, Libinput 1.9.901

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • This is Why you Must Consider Open-Source IoT Solutions

    The Internet of things is growing exponentially. Its applications are unique and that is one of the reasons that this technology has become renowned. Organizations are finding ways to utilize this technology for improving their workforce, while AI impacts IoT to create smarter applications. Making use of IoT seems to be costlier for companies who are still in their infancy phase. For companies like these, open-source IoT solutions have been created so that they too can reap the benefits of IoT as a technology.

  • Ellcrys is a Breath of Fresh Air for Open Source Collaborators
    Ellcrys is an up and coming blockchain network that aims to revolutionize the way developers work together. In addition to trying to revitalize collaborative efforts, the company has an ICO that promises to make the mining and distribution of its native cryptocurrency fairer and more accessible.

  • Genode OS Framework Making Plans For 2018
    The Genode open-source operating system framework project has shared some of their planned goals for 2018.

    Genode in 2018 is looking to advance their "Sculpt" general purpose system scenario for the operating system. Back during the Genode OS 17.11 release they described Sculpt as "the approach to start with a minimalistic generic live system that can be interactively shaped into a desktop scenario by the user without any reboot. This is made possible by combining Genode's unique dynamic reconfiguration concept with the recently introduced package management, our custom GUI stack, and the many ready-to-use device-driver components that we developed over the past years."

  • How Open Source, Crowdsourcing Aids HIT Development
    HIT development is important for health IT infrastructure growth as organizations continue to go through their digital transformations. Entities are interested in the most innovative and advanced technology to assist with increased workflows and improve patient care.

    Open source and crowdsourcing to improve innovation are key to quickly building on technology being developed for healthcare. This is especially true when it comes to newer technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain.

    Healthcare organizations and healthcare technology companies cannot simply wait around for advanced technology to develop around them.

  • Open source in the enterprise: Trends and opportunities in 2018
    Some big events are set to come in 2018 – the recently announced Royal Wedding, the football World Cup in Russia and the incoming general data protection regulation (GDPR) to name just a few. And 2018 is also set to be a significant year for business technology.

    Some of the key trends in enterprise IT will include the continued move to hybrid cloud, the emergence of the container infrastructure ecosystem and ongoing growth in software-defined infrastructure and storage.

    Most interestingly, we foresee a number of significant open source developments here. So what exactly should we expect to see? And how can IT teams make the most of these emerging opportunities?

  • Keeping an Irish home warm and free in winter
    This issue would also appear to fall under the scope of FSFE's Public Money Public Code campaign.

    Looking at the last set of heating controls in the house, they have been there for decades. Therefore, I can't help wondering, if I buy some proprietary black box today, will the company behind it still be around when it needs a software upgrade in future? How many of these black boxes have wireless transceivers inside them that will be compromised by security flaws within the next 5-10 years, making another replacement essential?

    With free and open technologies, anybody who is using it can potentially make improvements whenever they want. Every time a better algorithm is developed, if all the homes in the country start using it immediately, we will always be at the cutting edge of energy efficiency.

  • The Meaning of Open
    Open systems create gravity wells. Systems that are truly open tend to attract others to join them at an ever-accelerating pace. In ecosystems that are ruled by a despot no matter how successful other participants in the ecosystem are, they fundamentally just empower the despot to have more leverage over them, because they have more to lose and their success feeds the despot’s success. In open systems, on the contrary, participants see that they don’t have to fear their own success fueling their own increasing subservience to a despot. Each individual entity who can’t plausibly build their own similarly-sized proprietary ecosystem to compete — the overwhelming majority of entities — is incentivized to pitch in on the open ecosystem. Investment in an open ecosystem by any one entity helps the entire ecosystem as a whole. This fact, combined with the fact that ecosystems generally get exponentially more valuable the more participants there are, means that in many cases over sufficient time scales truly open ecosystems create gravity wells, sucking more and more into them until they are nearly universal.

  • French Gender-Neutral Translation for Roundcube
    Here's a quick blog post to tell the world I'm now doing a French gender-neutral translation for Roundcube.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 58.0 “Quantum” Arrives With Faster Page Load Speeds And Code Compilation
        In November 2017, Mozilla launched its Firefox 57 web browser that was also called Firefox Quantum. It was hailed as a strong competitor to powerful Chrome web browser and we conducted a comparison of both browsers to give you a better idea. But, the story doesn’t end here; Mozilla is continuing to improve its work to deliver better performance with each release.

      • Paying it forward at Global Diversity CFP Day
        A CFP is a “Call for Papers” or “Call for Proposals” – many technical and academic conferences discover and vet speakers and their talk topics through an open, deadline-driven, online proposal submission process. This CFP process provides a chance for anyone to pitch a talk and pitch themselves as the presenter. Submitting a CFP, and having your proposal accepted, is one great way to get a foot in the door if you’re just getting started as a new speaker. And, for some developers, public speaking can be the door to many types of opportunity.

      • Firefox Nightly
        Creating a Gnome Dock launcher and a terminal command for Firefox Nightly

        About 18 months ago, Wil Clouser wrote a blog post on the very blog titled Getting Firefox Nightly to stick to Ubuntu’s Unity Dock.

        Fast forward to 2018, Ubuntu announced last year that it is giving up on their Unity desktop and will use Gnome Shell instead. Indeed, the last Ubuntu 17.10 release uses Gnome Shell by default. That means that the article above is slightly outdated now as its .desktop file was targeting the Unity environment which had its own quirks.

      • Lantea Maps Updates to Track Saving and Drawing
        After my last post on Lantea Maps (my web app to record GPS tracks), I started working on some improvements to its code.

        First, I created a new backend for storing GPS tracks on my servers and integrated it into the web app. You need to log in via my own OAuth2 server, and then you can upload tracks fairly seamlessly and nicely. The UI for uploading is now also fully integrated into the track "drawer" which should make uploading tracks a smoother experience than previously. And as a helpful feature for people who use Lantea Maps on multiple devices, a device name can be configured via the settings "drawer".

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • Some FreeBSD Users Are Still Running Into Random Lock-Ups With Ryzen
      While Linux has been playing happily with Ryzen CPUs as long as you weren't affected by the performance marginality problem where you had to swap out for a newer CPU (and Threadripper and EPYC CPUs have been running splendid in all of my testing with not having any worries), it seems the BSDs (at least FreeBSD) are still having some quirks to address.

      This week on the FreeBSD mailing list has been another thread about Ryzen issues on FreeBSD. Some users are still encountering random lockups that do not correspond to any apparent load/activity on the system.

    • European LLVM Developers’ Meeting lands in Bristol

      It’s been announced that the LLVM European conference, will be coming to Bristol this April.

      Celebrating LLVM technologies and the developers who have contributed to them, LLVM is an open-source project that has benefitted some of the world’s most successful technology companies.


  • Programming/Development

    • Octogenarianhood
      2018 began for me with an absolutely incredible 80th birthday celebration called Knuth80, held in the delightful city of Piteå in northern Sweden. It's impossible for me to thank adequately all of the wonderful people who contributed their time to making this event such a stunning success, certainly one of the greatest highlights of my life. Many of the happenings were also captured digitally in state-of-the-art audio and video, so that others will be able to share some of this joy. I'll link to that data when it becomes available.

    • Celebrating Donald Knuth’s 80th Birthday

      Don suggests that some of the participants who have a little free time might like to look at a few conjectures about set partitions and generating functions that he has put online at

    • Tidyverse and data.table, sitting side by side ... (Part 1)

    • Rcpp 0.12.15: Numerous tweaks and enhancements
      The fifteenth release in the 0.12.* series of Rcpp landed on CRAN today after just a few days of gestation in incoming/.

      This release follows the 0.12.0 release from July 2016, the 0.12.1 release in September 2016, the 0.12.2 release in November 2016, the 0.12.3 release in January 2017, the 0.12.4 release in March 2016, the 0.12.5 release in May 2016, the 0.12.6 release in July 2016, the 0.12.7 release in September 2016, the 0.12.8 release in November 2016, the 0.12.9 release in January 2017, the 0.12.10.release in March 2017, the 0.12.11.release in May 2017, the 0.12.12 release in July 2017, the 0.12.13.release in late September 2017, and the 0.12.14.release in November 2017 making it the nineteenth release at the steady and predictable bi-montly release frequency.

      Rcpp has become the most popular way of enhancing GNU R with C or C++ code. As of today, 1288 packages on CRAN depend on Rcpp for making analytical code go faster and further, along with another 91 in BioConductor.

    • My DeLorean runs Perl
      My signature hobby project these days is a computerized instrument cluster for my car, which happens to be a DeLorean. But, whenever I show it to someone, I usually have to give them a while to marvel at the car before they even notice that there's a computer screen in the dashboard. There's a similar problem when I start describing the software; programmers immediately get hung up on "Why Perl???" when they learn that the real-time OpenGL rendering of instrument data is all coded in Perl. So, any discussion of my project usually starts with the history of the DeLorean or a discussion of the merits of Perl vs. other, more-likely tools.

    • An overview of the Perl 5 engine
      As I described in "My DeLorean runs Perl," switching to Perl has vastly improved my development speed and possibilities. Here I'll dive deeper into the design of Perl 5 to discuss aspects important to systems programming.

  • Standards/Consortia


  • Should we consider adolescence to last until age 24?
    Thinking of adolescence as lasting until age 24 “corresponds more closely” to how the lives of young people today work, writes an expert in adolescent health.

    Compared to earlier generations, youth today are staying in school longer, marrying and having kids later, and buying a house later, writes Susan Sawyer, the chair of adolescent health at the University of Melbourne, in an op-ed published today in the journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health. The transition period from childhood to adulthood lasts far beyond age 19, when it is popularly thought to end. As a result, she writes, we should change our policies and services to better serve this population.

    Sawyer is hardly the first to notice these lifestyle changes. In 2010, The New York Times published a much-read article about how the experience of being a 20-something is changing. As the piece noted, adolescence itself is a social construct, and a century ago there was no such thing. Researcher Jeffrey Jensen Arnett told the Times that, now, there is a stage of “emerging adulthood” — which essentially means being in your 20s but still feeling conflicted about “identity exploration, instability, self-focus, [and] feeling in-between.”

  • Science

    • Fast computer control for molecular machines
      Scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have developed a novel electric propulsion technology for nanorobots. It allows molecular machines to move a hundred thousand times faster than with the biochemical processes used to date. This makes nanobots fast enough to do assembly line work in molecular factories. The new research results will appear as the cover story on 19th January in the renowned scientific journal Science.

    • How a Small Nuclear Reactor Could Power a Colony on Mars or Beyond (Op-Ed)

      When we imagine sending humans to live on Mars, the moon or other planetary bodies in the not-so-distant future, a primary question is: How will we power their colony? Not only will they need energy to create a habitable environment, they'll also need it to get back to Earth. For distant planetary bodies, like Mars, it's inefficient to bring fuel for the trip home; it's just too heavy. That means the astronauts need a power source to make liquid oxygen and propellant.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • US life expectancy just dropped for the second year in a row. Let’s stop the trend now
      U.S. gross domestic product is at an all-time high. U.S. life expectancy is not.

      Life expectancy has fallen for the second time in two years – from a high of 78.9 years in 2014 to 78.6 years in 2016. It fell for men and women, whites, blacks and Hispanics. Statistics show that thousands were preventable, premature deaths.

      Life expectancy is not supposed to fall in countries that are this rich, spend this much on health and pride themselves on taking care of each other. As a demographer working in a school of public health, I am astounded by the complacency at the loss of so many Americans in the prime of life.

    • Tom Petty died of accidental drug overdose, coroner says
      More than three months after rocker Tom Petty died, his official cause of death has been determined as an accidental drug overdose.

      Los Angeles County coroner spokesman Ed Winter confirmed Petty's autopsy results, which were written by Chief of Coroner Investigations Brian Elias, in a statement to USA TODAY.

      Petty had a mixture of fentanyl, oxycodone, temazepam, alprazolam, citalopram, acetylfentanyl and despropionyl fentanyl in his system. The musician,66, was found unconscious and in cardiac arrest at his Malibu home on Oct. 3 and died at the UCLA Medical Center that evening.

    • First There Was Prince. Now Tom Petty. When Will America Finally Wake Up to the Opioid Crisis?
      When pop star Prince died in April 2016, a gaggle of health care researchers and reporters—including me—tried to see the silver lining in his surprising, opioid-linked death. If even Prince, a famous teetotaler with access to the best medical care, could end up addicted to painkillers, surely that would show that the opioid epidemic was reaching every corner of America. Maybe in death, his celebrity could illuminate the high stakes of the crisis and force a reckoning.

      We were very wrong. More than 55,000 Americans—rich, poor, famous and not—have since died from their own opioid overdoses. The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that the death rate in 2018 could be even worse. And Friday night’s news that rock star Tom Petty died from his own preventable painkiller overdose, more than a year after Prince, underscores how far there is to go.

  • Security

    • PC desktop build, Intel, spectre issues etc.
      Apart from the initial system bought, most of my systems when being changed were in the INR 20-25k/- budget including all and any accessories I bought later.

      The only real expensive parts I purchased have been external hdd ( 1 TB WD passport) and then a Viewsonic 17″ LCD which together sent me back by around INR 10k/- but both seem to give me adequate performance (both have outlived the warranty years) with the monitor being used almost 24×7 over 6 years or so, of course over GNU/Linux specifically Debian. Both have been extremely well value for the money.

      As I had been exposed to both the motherboards I had been following those and other motherboards as well. What was and has been interesting to observe what Asus did later was to focus more on the high-end gaming market while Gigabyte continued to dilute it energy both in the mid and high-end motherboards.

    • Security updates for Monday

    • RedHat reverts patches to mitigate Spectre Variant 2
      RedHat previously released patches to mitigate this issue, however, in a rather controversial move, has decided to roll back these changes after complaints about systems failing to boot with the new patches, and instead is now recommending that, "subscribers contact their CPU OEM vendor to download the latest microcode/firmware for their processor."

    • Red Hat dumps Spectre CPU patches that brick servers
      Enterprise Linux vendor Red Hat will no longer distribute microcode patches to mitigate against the Spectre processor flaw after bugs in the patches stopped user systems from booting up.

      The company advised of its decision late last week after being alerted by its customers to problems with the patches.

      Red Hat is now reverting the microcode_ctl and linux-firmware packages it includes with its enterprise Linux distribution to older versions that are known to be stable.

      Microcode, also known as millicode and firmware, is software distributed by vendors to correct specific errors for processors.
    • 'Jeopardy!' champ hacked [sic] accounts of college president, vice president [iophk: "no cracking involved this was 100% the fault of the college and Google"]

      [...] and using a computer to commit a crime, both felonies. [...]

      Jass was able to access the accounts because of an April 24 issue with the college email system, hosted by Google. Hribar said there was network outage caused by loss of power.

      On April 25, users received a text message with a generic, standard passcode: "Please attempt to login to Gmail using this password. You should be prompted to change password after login..."

      Not everyone, however, was prompted to do so. Some did make the change using a tutorial. Some received an error and were unable to create a new password, the timeline states. Others did not alter the password at all. Neither Docking nor Caldwell immediately changed the password.

    • Health records firm badly hit by Windows ransomware

      A billion-dollar electronic health records company in Chicago is struggling to recover from an attack of a variant of the SamSam Windows ransomware.

    • Allscripts recovering from ransomware attack that has kept key tools offline

      In a conference call for customers on Saturday, which Salted Hash listened-in on, Allscripts’ Jeremy Maxwell, director of information security, said their PRO EHR and Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances (EPCS) services were the hardest hit by the ransomware attack.

      Other services had availability issues as well, but those have since been restored, such as direct messaging and some CCDA functionality.

    • Android Bug Hunter Gets $112,500 Bounty From Google For Pixel Remote Exploit Chain

    • Beware! These “Forced” Chrome And Firefox Extensions Are Almost Impossible To Remove

  • Defence/Aggression

    • China Urges U.S. to Abandon 'Cold War' Mindset in Bilateral Ties
      China’s National Defense Ministry said the U.S. should abandon a “Cold War” mindset and view Chinese national security and military efforts “rationally and objectively.”

      The instigators of militarization of the South China Sea are “other countries” that don’t seem to want to see peace in the region and are using the banner of “navigational freedom” to undertake military activities in a tyrannical manner, ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said in a statement released late Saturday.

      The statement was in response to a U.S. Defense Department strategy report, released last week, that singled out China’s military modernization and expansion in the South China Sea as key threats to U.S. power. China has undertaken massive land reclamation in the contested waterway that hosts $5 trillion in trade a year, to strengthen its claim to more than 80 percent of the area. That has strained ties with other claimant states, such as Vietnam and the Philippines, as well as the U.S.

    • Symbolic Violence In Neoliberalism

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Pair of giant pandas arrive from China to Finland
      The four-and-a-half-year-old male panda, Pyry, did not lose his appetite on the 6,500-kilometre flight from China to Finland but munched on a bamboo stem upon his arrival at Helsinki Airport on Thursday, 18 January, 2018.

    • We’re about to kill a massive, accidental experiment in reducing global warming

      Studies have found that ships have a net cooling effect on the planet, despite belching out nearly a billion tons of carbon dioxide each year. That’s almost entirely because they also emit sulfur, which can scatter sunlight in the atmosphere and form or thicken clouds that reflect it away.

      In effect, the shipping industry has been carrying out an unintentional experiment in climate engineering for more than a century. Global mean temperatures could be as much as 0.25 ËšC lower than they would otherwise have been, based on the mean “forcing effect” calculated by a 2009 study that pulled together other findings (see “The Growing Case for Geoengineering”). For a world struggling to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 ËšC, that’s a big helping hand.

    • Here’s the reason we’d never halt a geoengineering project midway through

      If we can’t reduce greenhouse-gas emissions fast enough to ward off catastrophic climate change, geoengineering may offer a fallback plan. Serious researchers are increasingly exploring measures, such as spraying tiny particles into the air to reflect more sunlight back into space, that wouldn’t reduce emissions but could offset the rise in global temperatures.

      A study published January 22 in Nature Ecology & Evolution suggests this is a bad idea. If the world ever starts doing geoengineering, the study warns, it may be too dangerous to ever stop.

      The problem, explains the paper, is that deliberately cooling the planet would mask any additional warming produced by greenhouse gases. This means that if the world decided to stop geoengineering, say, 50 years later, the greenhouse effect that had built up during that time would warm the planet very rapidly.

  • Finance

    • EU Tells Apple It Still Has to Show Them the Money

      Ireland’s delay in extracting some 13 billion euros ($15.9 billion) in tax from Apple has already raised the ire of EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. The EU is taking the Irish government to court for failing to recoup the money. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said it will start collecting the tax bill in the second quarter. Any funds will be held in escrow while Ireland and Cupertino, California-based Apple fight the EU order at court.

    • UK: Office for Students spearheads privatisation and policing of universities

      As early as 2012, the BBC reported that the government had approved more than 400 degree and diploma courses at private universities, without checking the quality of courses offered or student completion rates. In the same year, the amount of money paid to private colleges through unregulated courses trebled to €£100 million. The number of students on those courses doubled in the same period.

    • The Chinese think Palo Alto is dumpy
      Good news! The great Raw Water Story of 2017 is finally over. Google tells me that searches went up ten-fold over the raw water craze, but thankfully, humans seem to have filtered out any more stories or follow ups. Silicon Valley can rest easy.

      But wait! There is another crisis brewing, and it isn’t the animal fecal matter in your algae water.

      Over the past few days, we’ve seen the creation of a brand new genre of tech press article which might be called “the Chinese are really bored with Silicon Valley.”
    • Beijing Says U.S. Piracy List Lacks Objectivity, Relies on Third Parties
      Earlier in the week, Alibaba said it had become a “scapegoat” in “a highly-politicized environment” after being included on the latest list. It added that the Notorious Marketplaces list “is not about intellectual property protection, but just another instrument to achieve the U.S. government’s geopolitical objectives,” a reference to U.S. President Donald Trump’s efforts to get tougher on China for what he sees as an imbalanced trade relationship.
    • Rise Of The Contract Workers: Work Is Different Now
      In an old metal-stamping factory that was once part of Wheeling, W.Va.'s industrial past, a law firm has set up a futuristic model for how to get legal work done. Unlike the old factory, it relies heavily on new kinds of work arrangements.

      "Contractors are hired by the hour," says Daryl Shetterly, director of the Orrick firm's analytics division. "So we might have 30 people working today, and tomorrow we might have 80."

      Tenure for workers in the building used to be measured in decades. Now it might last a few days for the workers there today. While the building has had a facelift, Shetterly says, "it is a factory in that we work to drive efficiency and discipline into every mouse click."
    • PFI – A Cautionary Tale
      Here is my personal experience of the great push for the public sector to use the Private Finance Initiative.

      When I was Deputy High Commissioner in Accra, the British government was paying a very large sum to rent over 80 residential properties in a city where rents are very high for quality properties. However the British government owned a lot of land there, and it was an obvious saving to build our own residential compound.

      We accordingly drew up plans and got quotes, which were submitted to the FCO with details of the very substantial savings from the medium term. The response was that we had to invite private sector bids for a PFI scheme. This amounted to no more than asking the companies who had already submitted construction bids to submit pre-financing and maintenance plans. Needless to say this increased costs very substantially.

      But here is the kicker – in comparing the “build it ourselves” plan with the PFI plan, we were instructed to give an 8% cost advantage to the PFI scheme – the “public sector comparator” – to allow for the extra efficiency of the private sector. No matter we were comparing real costs to real costs, somehow magically an 8% saving would accrue from using the private sector, in a manner the Treasury refused to define. I simply shelved the whole scheme in disgust, but I understand this “efficiency saving” allowance was a standard feature of the PFI scam.

    • In 4 Days, Top CEOs Paid More than Bangladesh Garment Workers Life Earnings
      A CEO from one of the world’s top five global fashion brands - including Zara's parent company Inditex - has to work for just four days to earn what a garment worker in Bangladesh will earn in an entire lifetime, campaigning group Oxfam International said Monday. In the run-up to the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Oxfam has sought to put inequality at the heart of this week’s deliberations of the rich and powerful.

      “The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system,” said Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International’s executive director. “The people who make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food are being exploited to ensure a steady supply of cheap goods, and swell the profits of corporations and billionaire investors.”

    • Reskilling Revolution Needed for the Millions of Jobs at Risk Due to Technological Disruption
      The global economy faces a reskilling crisis with 1.4 million jobs in the US alone vulnerable to disruption from technology and other factors by 2026, according to a new report, Towards a Reskilling Revolution: A Future of Jobs for All, published today by the World Economic Forum.

      The report is an analysis of nearly 1,000 job types across the US economy, encompassing 96% of employment in the country. Its aim is to assess the scale of the reskilling task required to protect workforces from an expected wave of automation brought on by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

    • Massive cost overruns threaten to derail the bullet train. Here's what has to change
      Over the next year, Brown, the Legislature and the next governor will have to decide whether to create new revenue sources, dramatically delay its construction or scale it far back from a complete 550-mile system, among other possibilities.

      "The financial demand for this is so enormous," said Martin Wachs, a UCLA transportation expert and a member of a peer review panel that oversees the project. "We should have been more ready for this. The costs always rise and the schedule always slips, but that doesn't mean the project isn't justified."

      The rail authority last week named a new chief, longtime government executive and political insider Brian Kelly, who faces a big task to shore up the rail authority, restore the confidence of skeptical officials and fix a broad range of management, financial and political problems facing the authority across the state.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Facebook Wants to Open Special 'Community Skills Hubs' in Europe and Train a Million People

      Facebook also committed to having trained one million people and business owners by 2020.

    • President Trump made 2,140 false or misleading claims in his first year
      One year after taking the oath of office, President Trump has made 2,140 false or misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president. That’s an average of nearly 5.9 claims a day.

      We started this project as part of our coverage of the president’s first 100 days, largely because we could not possibly keep up with the pace and volume of the president’s misstatements. Readers demanded we keep it going for another year. The database has proved so useful — and even sparked the interest of academicians — that we now plan to keep it going for the rest of Trump’s presidency.

      Our interactive graphic, created with the help of Leslie Shapiro and Kaeti Hinck of The Post graphics department, displays a running list of every false or misleading statement made by Trump. We also catalogued the president’s many flip-flops, since those earn Upside-Down Pinocchios if a politician shifts position on an issue without acknowledging he or she did so.

    • Farewell, unpaid blogger: HuffPost drops free contributor platform that drove its growth

      The news was broken by HuffPost itself (which, like TechCrunch, is part of Oath, owned by gigantic carrier Verizon), which directly tied the move to the changing tides (not Tide Pods, although I personally think there is a connection) in the world of news media and how technology is used to distribute it.

    • HuffPost, Breaking From Its Roots, Ends Unpaid Contributions
    • Why Facebook has abandoned news for the important business of trivia

      Note the impersonality of all this. Somehow, this pestilential content has “exploded” on Facebook. Which is odd, is it not, given that nothing appears in a user’s news feed that isn’t decided by Facebook? What was actually going on, of course, was that the company’s algorithms explicitly selected the aforesaid objectionable content and displayed it, in order to ensure the continued growth of Facebook’s advertising revenues. The company’s annual results are due at the end of this month and will doubtless demonstrate the astonishing profitability of polluting the news feed in this way.

    • Facebook is done with quality journalism. Deal with it.

      For Facebook, journalism has been a pain in the neck from day one. Now, bogged down with the insoluble problems of fake news and bad PR, it’s clear that Facebook will gradually pull the plug on news. Publishers should stop whining and move on.

    • US Politics: Year 1 of President Trump aka Record Chaos: the Early Years. Oh and a Shutdown
      Let us take a look at US politics. (This blog article has nothing to do with our regular topics in mobile, tech & media). So I told you back in the summer of 2015, that the 2016 election cycle would be epic, and that for that reason, I would do articles about it. And boy did that year and a half deliver. The most drama-filled and wild circus in politics culminating in Hillary Clinton winning three million more votes than Trump, but due to US Presidential Election rules, Trump became President (there was no fraud, it is just that many of Hillary’s votes were grouped in states that she had ‘already won’ so Trump’s votes were more cleverly spread-out across more states. This is not the first time that the guy with less votes became President in the USA, only that Hillary’s was the biggest margin by far. Yes, she got 3 MILLION more votes than Trump. For context Finland total population is only 5.5 million). (PS this is another of my ‘long’ articles. Is about 10,000 words or about one chapter-length from one of my hardcover books. It will take you about half an hour to read, go get a good cup of coffee first before you start. But if you are interested in US politics, this will be worth your while.)

      After the election I felt it inappropriate to continue my snide remarks and ridiculing of Trump because he had won, fair and square, and had not even taken office. I wanted to give him a fair shake and the benefit of the doubt. It was theoretically possible that Trump would be a good or efficent President, and that maybe his election politics ‘persona’ was just weird. I don’t care if the President has infidelities (Bill Clinton) or speaks weirdly (Daddy Bush) or can’t pronounce ‘nuclear’ (W Bush), or is of different color than me (Obama) it is the results of the Presidency that count. So I wanted to give Trump a chance. The President’s term in the USA is 4 years, so now we have exactly the 1 year anniversary of his term (he started in January, not election day in November) and we have a record. One quarter of his time is done (of the first term, he could win re-election and get a second 4 years of course). And boy has this been a circus, even more wild than the election.
    • I’ve Got Another Nut Job Here Who Thinks He’s Running Things”: Are Trump and Kelly Heading for Divorce?
      Donald Trump’s relationship with John Kelly, his chief of staff, fraught from the beginning, may finally have gone past the point of no return. Two prominent Republicans in frequent contact with the White House told me that Trump has discussed choosing Kelly’s successor in recent days, asking a close friend what he thought about David Urban, a veteran Washington lobbyist and political operative who helped engineer Trump’s victory in Pennsylvania. Ivanka is also playing a central role in the search, quietly field-testing ideas with people. “Ivanka is the most worried about it. She’s trying to figure who replaces Kelly,” a person who’s spoken with her said.

      Kelly’s departure likely isn’t imminent, sources said. “He wants to stay longer than Reince [Priebus],” an outside adviser said. Trump can also hardly afford another high-level staff departure, which would trigger days of negative news cycles. “This could be like [Jeff] Sessions,” one of the Republicans explained, referring to Trump’s festering frustration about not being able to replace his attorney general.

    • NAFTA is close to falling apart with time running out

      Round 6 of the renegotiation of NAFTA, the pact between Mexico, Canada and the U.S., starts Tuesday in Montreal, Canada.

      No major progress has been made on key issues through the first five rounds. Only one more round after this week is scheduled, and Trump continues to repeat his threat that if he doesn't get the deal he wants, he'll withdraw.

      "It's going to be the decisive round," says Scott Sinclair, senior fellow at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
    • Reinventing Represent
      We asked readers to help us reconceive and redesign an interactive database that tracks Congress.
    • The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!
      The complete and unmitigated irrationality of the current epidemic of Russophobia does nothing to reduce its incredible virulence, as it continues to infect the entire political and media class. There is a zero chance that Russia will launch an attack on the UK, yet the entire corporate and state media is leading today with the “need” to spend billions against that most unlikely threat, as propounded by General Nutty McNutter.

      Researching Sikunder Burnes gave me crucial insights into the recurrence of Russophobia as a key element of British politics for two centuries, despite the fact historians can demonstrate that at no stage in that period has Russia ever planned an attack on the UK, or seriously considered it as an option. But the current Russophobia has new elements.

      We are currently in some sort of crisis of capitalism, as the concentration of wealth continues apace and the general population of western countries increasingly feel insecure, exploited and alienated. It is still very hard for voices that reject the neo-liberal establishment view to get a media platform, but Russia does provide comparatively small platforms in the West – like Russia Today and Radio Sputnik – which allow greater democratic freedom than western media in the range of views they invite to be expressed. So the ultra-wealthy, their politician servants and media lackeys view Russia as some kind of threat to the dominance of neo-liberalism .

      There are a number of ironies to this, not least the very real deficiencies in Russia’s domestic democracy and media plurality, and the fact Russia has an even worse oligarchic capitalism than the West and has a 1% completely integrated with their Western counterparts. But despite these ironies, the Western 1% perceive Russia as some sort of threat to their dominance. This leads in to the intellectually risible attempts to prove that Russia somehow “fixed” Trump’s election, for which no solid evidence can ever be adduced as it did not happen; but nevertheless vast resources continue to be spent in trying.
    • A Coming Russia-Ukraine War?
      A new draft law adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament and awaiting Petro Poroshenko’s signature threatens to escalate the Ukrainian conflict into a full-blown war, pitting nuclear-armed Russia against the United States and NATO, reports Gilbert Doctorow.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Why Hiring Sensitivity Readers Isn’t Supporting Censorship
      The first time I read a book starring a main character who looked like me, I was in high school. The book is titled “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Saenz, focusing on two teenage Mexican-American boys and their budding relationship. Saenz depicts two different aspects of the incredibly varied experience Latinx people can have in the United States through his principal characters.

      What surprised me the most about the novel was how intensely I related to Dante’s experience — he often felt disconnected from his extended family: neither Mexican enough for his cousins nor American enough for his friends at his new school. Dante articulated thoughts in his letters to Ari that I had never been able to on my own. It was life-changing.

    • ‘Indirect censorship, rightwing agenda’, journalists react to Hoot report
      Kashmir was the most muzzled place in India, said a report, The Indian Freedom Report: Media Freedom and Freedom of Expression in 2017, by media watchdog, The Hoot.

      The internet was disconnected 77 times in the entire country last year, 40 times in Kashmir alone, the report said. Kashmir fared badly on other parameters too.

      For veteran journalist Yusuf Jameel, there is no official censorship as such but the authorities create circumstances in which journalists find it difficult, impossible sometimes, to carry out their professional work.

      “For instance, they impose curfew and they don’t issue curfew passes, and if passes are issued they are not honored by the forces,” he said.
    • Censorship Office: Respect Starts at Home
      The Office of Censorship censors all films viewed in public places, or sold in video shops.

      Lovelyn Douglas, Enforcement & Compliance Director from the Office of Censorship, said parents must also be responsible for what they allow their children to view.

      In an exclusive interview with EMTV, the Office of Censorship allowed EMTV News a sneak peek into the process of film Censorship.
    • Student journalists testify for Missouri bill that would protect them from official censorship
      The “New Voices” movement seeks to protect student media from official censorship in public schools by codifying their rights in state laws.

      The effort has foundered twice before in Missouri, the setting for a 1988 Supreme Court decision that blessed censorship of K-12 student media and has also been used to censor college students.
    • Lebanon Decides Against Censorship of Spielberg Film
      The Post, a critically acclaimed American film about The Washington Post’s coverage of the 1971 Pentagon Papers, was banned in Lebanon due to director Steven Spielberg’s outward support of Israel.
    • Samourai Wallet Introduces Bitcoin via SMS Text Message for Censorship Resistance
      Bitcoin privacy wallet pioneers Samourai Wallet have announced a new proprietary app called Pony Direct, a transaction payment method (or to act as a relay) to send bitcoin via short message service (SMS), popularly used for texting. It’s a creative way to improve upon censorship resistance.

    • Palantir: The PayPal-offshoot Becomes a Weapon in the War Against Whistleblowers and WikiLeaks
      Peter Thiel, who once compared writers at Gawker to Al Qaeda after they wrote about his sexuality, is a close confidant of Donald Trump — who, as president, continues to crack down on whistleblowers (even denying them bail) and whose administration has named arresting WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange a top priority.


      Palantir began at PayPal as an antifraud algorithm that detected “unusual account activity.” However, following September 11, PayPal co-founder Thiel theorized it could be used to look for “terrorists.” He, along with his long-time associate Alex Karp, decided to name their offshoot company, which was based around the algorithm, after the all-seeing crystal from The Lord of the Rings. It was launched in 2004, two years after PayPal was acquired by eBay’s Pierre Omidyar.

      Upon launching, Palantir was largely funded by Thiel himself as well as by In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA – an agency also connected to Pierre Omidyar. Since its founding, Thiel has long had a hand in how Palantir is run and currently serves as its chairman. As of 2015, PayPal employees still composed 80 percent of Palantir’s management team.

    • U.S. Sanctions Abet Iranian Internet Censorship
      President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement if Tehran does not agree to renegotiate its terms this spring. But rather than tear up the nuclear agreement, the Trump administration should work to support the next #IranProtests — which would be far more likely to bring change to Tehran than would a U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

      Over the past several weeks, Iranian repression and internet censorship have stifled the widespread protests that, beginning late last month, shook Iranian politics and drew global support. Rapidly escalating events caught many in Washington off-guard and struggling to find opportunities to assist the protesters — an all too common pattern when it comes to Iran. But the underlying tensions that drew the protestors into the streets — low wages, unemployment, and government corruption — remain. Now is the time for the Trump administration to ensure that the United States will be prepared when Iranians come back out to demand change.

    • Europe Moves Ahead With Internet Censorship Enforcement As More Platforms Join

    • Mickey Huff Of Project Censored: A Year Into Post-Truth Presidency

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Take a former NSA head hacker, a Raspberry Pi, weird Kiwi radios and what do you get?
      The news that Rob Joyce, former head of the NSA's elite hacking squad and now White House cybersecurity coordinator, was giving a talk at the Shmoocon infosec conference raised hopes he would offer up some juicy insights into the surveillance state or Donald Trump's cyber policies.

      Instead Joyce talked about his very unusual hobby: uber-geek grade Christmas lights.

    • ‘NSA Reigns Supreme’ in Voice Recognition, Intercept Reports
      Citing documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, a report by The Intercept on Friday reveals that the agency has used highly refined voice recognition software for more than a decade. The software was instrumental in identifying former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who went into hiding after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the report says.

    • US renews NSA's internet surveillance programme
    • Donald Trump signs bill to renew NSA's controversial spying law
    • Stop Calling It “Incidental” Collection of Americans’ Emails: The Gov’t’s Renewed Surveillance Powers
      Now that the President has signed legislation reauthorizing the use of surveillance powers, it is important to reflect on how the terms of the public debate likely skewed public understanding of the privacy interests at stake. This is not simply an exercise in reflection on the past. It is also important to understand what powers have been handed this administration under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)—especially as questions will continue to be raised about the use and abuse of these powers. The language of the public debate has obscured the ways in which the law allows the government to acquire Americans’ communications without a warrant.

    • Cameroon has been putting the [I]nternet back on in its Anglophone regions for diplomatic visitors

      Since Jan. 17, 2017, the [I]nternet in Cameroon’s South West and North West regions has been completely off or severely slowed down for a total of 206 days as of Jan. 19 this year, according to Internet Sans Frontieres.

    • Never accept an MDM policy on your personal phone

      As you can see, once an MDM Policy is installed on your personal phone, your phone is no longer yours.

    • Nineteen Eighty-Four and India’s Severe Case of ‘Aadhaaritis’

      A fantastical view of the stupidities, fallacies, misconceptions, whims and fancies regarding Aadhaar.

    • NSA "Sincerely Regrets" Deleting All Bush-Era Surveillance Data It Was Ordered To Preserve

      Since 2007, the NSA has been under court orders to preserve data about certain of its surveillance efforts that came under legal attack following disclosures that President George W. Bush ordered warrantless wiretapping of international communications after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. In addition, the agency has made a series of representations in court over the years about how it is complying with its duties.

      However, the NSA told U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White in a filing on Thursday night and another little-noticed submission last year that the agency did not preserve the content of [I]nternet communications intercepted between 2001 and 2007 under the program Bush ordered. To make matters worse, backup tapes that might have mitigated the failure were erased in 2009, 2011 and 2016, the NSA said.

    • The end of passwords? Swedes embrace biometric login

      The technology [sic] magazine PC för alla’s annual password study found that nearly every second Swede uses their body to log on to their smartphones, tablets or computers. Of the magazine’s 5,000 respondents, almost half said they use some kind of biometric login such as their fingerprint or face.

    • Inside Amazon’s surveillance-powered no-checkout convenience store

      On the philosophical side, I’m troubled, of course — a convenience store you just walk out of is a friendly mask on the face of a highly controversial application of technology: ubiquitous personal surveillance.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Report Shows US Law Enforcement Routinely Engages In Parallel Construction
      A long report by Human Rights Watch delves into the secretive world behind the evidence given in criminal cases. Multiple law enforcement entities are making use of DEA tips to build cases and secure convictions, but they're burying the original evidence using parallel construction, whitewashing it of possible Fourth Amendment violations.

      Parallel construction is nothing new. The DEA has been a long-time participant in the practice. Documents obtained by C.J. Ciaramella in 2014 included training materials laying out explicit directions for hiding the origin of questionably-obtained intelligence. The DEA has had full access to domestic phone records thanks to the Hemisphere program. Records obtained via this legally-dubious method have been passed on to local law enforcement agencies with instructions to obscure the origin of "new" criminal investigations.

      The FBI has also encouraged parallel construction, most notably with the non-disclosure agreements its forces local agencies to sign before acquiring cell tower spoofers. Agencies are told to keep info about Stingray devices out of court at all costs -- up to and including dismissing charges. Consequently, Stingray deployments have been hidden behind ping requests and pen register orders, preventing courts from examining the origin of the evidence for Constitutional issues and preventing defendants from challenging the legality of the evidence used against them.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Backs Off Plan to Weaken Broadband Definition, But Still Can't Admit Limited Competition Is A Problem
      You might recall that a few years ago the FCC under Tom Wheeler bumped the standard definition of broadband to 25 Mbps downstream, 3 Mbps upstream. This greatly upset the broadband industry (and the numerous lawmakers and policy flacks paid to love them) because it highlighted a lack of broadband competition and deployment. That's especially true at higher speeds, where two-thirds of the U.S. lacks access to more than one ISP at that speed.

      But recently, the FCC under industry BFF Ajit Pai began playing around with the idea of weakening this definition. Under Pai's plan, the FCC would have declared that 10 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up wireless also counts as "broadband competition," letting the industry effectively say "mission accomplished." The problem is that wireless is often more expensive, capped (especially in rural areas), and inconsistently available (carrier coverage maps are notoriously unreliable).

      Fortunately, the FCC last week stated that for some, unspecified reason they'd be backing away from the plan. Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires the FCC to continually assess whether broadband is being deployed on a "reasonable and timely basis," and if not -- to do something about it. While the FCC hasn't released its full assessment yet, Pai ponied up a statement (pdf) last week that makes it clear that Pai believes everything is going swimmingly in the broadband market, thanks largely to his front assault on consumer protections like net neutrality...

    • Wehe: This App Tells If Your ISP Is Violating Net Neutrality Or Not
      Now that net neutrality in the US is moving towards its extinction, the internet providers have become free of the limitations of keeping the internet equal for websites. Although it might not be much visible currently, it’s possible for the internet providers to regulate the internet speed for websites as per their will.

      If you think you have trust issues with your internet provider, an app created by the researchers from Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts might be able to help you out. Known as Wehe, the app can tell you whether your ISP is throttling speeds or blocking some websites.

  • DRM/Showbiz

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Image rights and the unauthorized use of one's own portrait on cigarette packs
        This question may have different answers, depending on both the context in which the relevant image is used and the legal system considered. With particular regard to the latter, in countries that envisage 'image rights' (or publicity rights), the availability of protection may be even irrespective of the context in which one's own image is being used.


        Newspapers do not report whether Plescia’s case has come to an end, but it seems quite incredible – if true - that one could be photographed without their authorization and the resulting image could be included in the Directive's picture library and subsequently used for combined health warnings without obtaining all necessary permissions.

        In this sense, Plescia’s case is a useful reminder that, when it comes to using third-party images, wannabe users should not be just concerned about copyright issues (including the non-assignable moral rights of the author of the photograph), but also the rights of the person(s) portrayed in the photograph.

      • Julia Reda-Led Panel Discussion Reveals – Publishers’ Right Faces High Resistance From Academic Circles
        As in the case of Justitia holding up a set of scales and sword, the European Commission again pulled out their sword of justice recently to balance inequalities in our increasingly knowledge-based economies. In light of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy, the European Commission presented on 14 September 2016 a legislative initiative to further harmonise the EU copyright framework taking into account the increasing digital and cross-border uses of protected content.

        Every time new technology and innovative creations take shape in the marketplace, copyright law as the mirror of a balanced compromise between the rights and interests of the copyright owner and the general public has to provide adequate answers. In order to enable balance to be maintained for all stakeholders in a dispute, the legislator has the choice to answer on two levels.This is either through turning the scales to the more strict, traditional side and thereby remaining a strong position for the copyright owners so that new creations fall outside the definition of copyrighted work, which can if applied too strictly, risk stifling creativity. Or he can allow an open-minded approach by, for example, extending the exception catalogue, which then in turn can jeopardize the interests of already existing copyright owners – a continuously delicate operation since creating copyright law either on the national, European or international level.

      • Kim Dotcom sues New Zealand government for damages
        Kim Dotcom, the founder of file-sharing site Megaupload, is suing the New Zealand government for billions of dollars in damages over his arrest in 2012. The internet entrepreneur is fighting extradition to the US to stand trial for copyright infringement and fraud. Mr Dotcom says an invalid arrest warrant negated all charges against him. He is seeking damages for destruction to his business and loss of reputation. Accountants calculate that the Megaupload group of companies would be worth $10bn (€£7.2bn) today, had it not been shut down during the raid.

      • Kim Dotcom Sues Government for ‘Billions’ Over Erroneous Arrest

        Kim Dotcom is seeking billions of dollars in damages from the New Zealand Government over an invalid arrest warrant. The entrepreneur accuses the authorities of negligence and misfeasance, which resulted in the destruction of the highly profitable Megaupload service.

      • Copyright Trolls Obtained Details of 200,000 Finnish Internet Users

        In general terms, Finland was targeted by copyright trolls fairly late in the day, during 2013. But according to information compiled by an NGO activist, they're certainly making up for lost time. Since December 2013, the Market Court has ordered local ISPs to hand over the personal details of more than 200,000 Internet users, so that copyright trolls can pursue them for cash settlements.

      • China Seriously Doubts Objectivity of US ‘Pirate Site’ List

        Every year the US Government pinpoints some of the largest piracy websites and other copyright-infringing venues. The USTR calls on foreign countries to take appropriate action in response, but not all are convinced of the objectivity of the "notorious markets" list. China's commerce ministry, for one, notes that the US claims lack conclusive evidence and relevant data.

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