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Links 2/11/2018: System76 Thelio, Mesa 18.3 and Zchunk 1.0 Coming

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  • Desktop

    • Getting started with OKD on your Linux desktop
      OKD is the open source upstream community edition of Red Hat's OpenShift container platform. OKD is a container management and orchestration platform based on Docker and Kubernetes.

      OKD is a complete solution to manage, deploy, and operate containerized applications that (in addition to the features provided by Kubernetes) includes an easy-to-use web interface, automated build tools, routing capabilities, and monitoring and logging aggregation features.

      OKD provides several deployment options aimed at different requirements with single or multiple master nodes, high-availability capabilities, logging, monitoring, and more. You can create OKD clusters as small or as large as you need.

    • Dell Precision 5530 with Ubuntu Review
      The Precision is deceptive in size. It’s a 15inch laptop, and despite its relative thinness it feels large in the hand. Open it and the edge-to-edge screen gives the impression that they have some how snuck an even larger laptop into the housing of this sleek minimal model.

    • System76 Announces American-Made Desktop PC with Open-Source Parts
      Early in 2017—nearly two years ago—System76 invited me, and a handful of others, out to its Denver headquarters for a sneak peek at something new they'd been working on.

      We were ushered into a windowless, underground meeting room. Our phones and cameras confiscated. Seriously. Every word of that is true. We were sworn to total and complete secrecy. Assumedly under penalty of extreme death...though that part was, technically, never stated.

      Once the head honcho of System76, Carl Richell, was satisfied that the room was secure and free from bugs, the presentation began.

    • System76 reveal the Thelio, their new custom-built Linux desktop with three versions
    • Introducing Thelio: A new desktop computer from System76
    • System76 Unveils Thelio "Open" Desktops With Intel/AMD CPU Options, NVIDIA/Radeon GPUs

  • Server

    • Kinetica Announces Open Source Integration for RAPIDS Software

    • We spoke with 7 insiders about IBM's $34 billion Red Hat takeover — here's how the biggest software deal of all time came together
      IBM's acquisition of Red Hat was 20 years in the making, but it was a month-long whirlwind courtship that sparked the announcement of the largest software deal ever.

      The two tech companies began a collaboration to develop and grow Linux, the open-source software, in the 1990s. That partnership culminated in Sunday's announcement, in which IBM said it intended to purchase Red Hat, the world's biggest Linux company, for about $34 billion.

    • IBM chief on Red Hat deal: A hybrid cloud solution

    • 'Time will tell' what IBM's Red Hat acquisition could mean for Colorado

    • Here's who benefits the most from IBM's $34B buy of Red Hat

    • Red Hat released RHEL 7.6
      On Tuesday, Red Hat announced the general availability of RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) 7.6. RHEL 7.6 is a consistent hybrid cloud foundation for enterprise IT. It is built on an open source innovation, designed to enable organizations to match the pace with emerging cloud-native technologies. It also supports IT operations across enterprise IT’s four footprints. Just three months back the beta version of RHEL 7.6 was released.

      Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 addresses a range of IT challenges, emphasizes security and compliance, management and automation, and Linux container innovations.

    • Why Your Server Monitoring (Still) Sucks
      Early in my career, I was responsible for managing a large fleet of printers across a large campus. We're talking several hundred networked printers. It often required a 10- or 15-minute walk to get to some of those printers physically, and many were used only sporadically. I didn't always know what was happening until I arrived, so it was anyone's guess as to the problem. Simple paper jam? Driver issue? Printer currently on fire? I found out only after the long walk. Making this even more frustrating for everyone was that, thanks to the infrequent use of some of them, a printer with a problem might go unnoticed for weeks, making itself known only when someone tried to print with it.

      Finally, it occurred to me: wouldn't it be nice if I knew about the problem and the cause before someone called me? I found my first monitoring tool that day, and I was absolutely hooked.

      Since then, I've helped numerous people overhaul their monitoring systems. In doing so, I noticed the same challenges repeat themselves regularly. If you're responsible for managing the systems at your organization, read on; I have much advice to dispense.

      So, without further ado, here are my top five reasons why your monitoring is crap and what you can do about it.

    • KRS: A new tool for gathering Kubernetes resource statistics
      Recently I was in New York giving a talk at O'Reilly Velocity on the topic of troubleshooting Kubernetes apps and, motivated by the positive feedback and great discussions on the topic, I decided to revisit tooling in the space. It turns out that, besides kubernetes-incubator/spartakus and kubernetes/kube-state-metrics, we don't really have much lightweight tooling available to collect resource stats (such as the number of pods or services in a namespace). So, I sat down on my way home and started coding on a little tool—creatively named krs, which is short for Kubernetes Resource Stats—that allows you to gather these stats.

    • Red Hat to lead more than 40 sessions at OpenStack Summit Berlin
      Hosted in Berlin from November 13 to November 15, OpenStack Summit heads to Europe where attendees from around the world will come together for an opportunity to collaborate and learn about the latest innovations from the OpenStack community as well as CI/CD, Kubernetes integrations, and edge computing.

      As a headline sponsor of the event, Red Hat will be returning and leading over 40 sessions, demos, training classes, and much more.

    • Spring Boot-enabled business process automation with Red Hat Process Automation Manager
      With the release of version 7.1 of Red Hat Process Automation Manager (RHPAM), the platform now supports the deployment of the process automation manager runtime as a “capability” within Spring Boot applications. As Maciej Swiderski, the project lead for (the upstream community project for RHPAM) explained earlier this year, the KIE (Knowledge Is Everything) platform on which RHPAM is built provides Spring Boot Starters to quickly build a business application or microservice with process and case execution capabilities using a minimal amount of code.

      Spring Boot Starters comprise a set of dependency descriptors that can be added to your application to easily set up the right dependencies for your project. RHPAM now provides support for the following five starters.

    • Serverless Roadmap: Hosted and Installable Platforms
      The survey conducted for our “Guide to Serverless Technologies” asked a series of questions about the vendors and technologies that we will be using in the next 18 months to drive our coverage at The New Stack.

      The first half of the roadmap dealt with the platforms and frameworks on which serverless architecture is deployed. The leading hosted platforms are the big three cloud providers’ FaaS offerings. AWS Lambda has twice as many users as Azure Functions and more than three times as many as Google Cloud Functions. Although on-premises deployments are not widespread, they are widely being considered. In fact, the percentage planning to use Kubeless, OpenFaaS, and Apache OpenWhisk rivals those looking at AWS, Microsoft and Google. In other words, the battle for the next wave of serverless adoption is alive and well.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • The code of conduct at the Maintainers Summit
      The 2018 Kernel Maintainers Summit convened in Edinburgh, UK on October 22 with a number of things to discuss, but the top subject on most minds was the recently (and hastily) adopted code of conduct. Linus Torvalds made his reentry into the kernel community with a discussion of how we got to the current state of affairs, and the assembled maintainers had a relatively good-natured discussion on how this situation came about and where things can be expected to go from here.

      Torvalds started by noting that the conduct issue is not a new one; it has been "festering in the community" for years. The immediate cause of his decision to take a break and bring in the code of conduct was knowledge that The New Yorker article was coming; he noted that, contrary to what was written there, the author never tried to contact him. That article led to a number of discussions with friends and others; Torvalds concluded that the best way to "head things off" was to announce some changes with the 4.19-rc4 release. He acknowledged that this was done in private and it was rushed; it did not follow the usual open-source model. After the fact, he admitted to not being sure that the article justified all of the heartache that preceded it. But, as James Bottomley noted, the -rc4 announcement and adoption of the code of conduct did cause the article to be rewritten.

      The task of writing that announcement was not fun, Torvalds added, but contrary to some speculation on the net, he did write it all himself. He suggested that anybody who needs to write a message of that nature take a few days to think about it.

      Whether or not the article justified the trouble, he became convinced that he had taken the right course after about a week of reading the "vile garbage" that came from people who were opposed to it. He even saved a couple of particularly special emails that were sent to him; they dispelled any doubts that he was on the right side. From here, he only had a couple of suggestions. While he agrees with the addition of the interpretation document and the changes to the code itself, now would be a good time to stop making changes and just let things be. There are a lot of people worried about hypothetical situations, but we shouldn't make more changes unless and until something happens.

    • Making stable kernels more stable
      Improving the quality of stable kernel releases is a perennial subject at the Kernel and Maintainers Summit events, and this year was no exception. This session, led by Fedora kernel maintainer Laura Abbott, discussed a range of ideas but found no silver bullets. There is, it seems, not much that can be done to create better stable kernels except to perform more and better testing.

      Abbott's objective in running this session was to discuss ideas for reducing regressions in stable kernels. Those kernels are, after all, supposed to be stable; if they break, users will suffer and their trust in the entire process will be reduced. In the discussions prior to the summit, she had suggested that perhaps stable releases should sit in a release-candidate state for one week prior to release as a way of shaking out any bugs; that idea was not particularly well received. But we should do something, she said; if we are going to tell people that they should be running stable kernels, those people should not need to employ "an army of engineers" to debug those kernels. The stable kernels we are releasing now, she said, are not ready for production use.

    • Replacement of deprecated kernel APIs
      The kernel community tries to never change the user-space API in ways that will break applications, but it explicitly allows any internal API to be changed at any time if a solid technical reason to do so exists. But that doesn't mean that such changes are easy to do. At the 2018 Kernel Maintainers Summit, Kees Cook led a discussion on the challenges he has encountered when trying to effect large-scale API changes and what might be done to make such changes go more smoothly.

      There are, Cook said, two common ways of doing a large API transition: too fast and too slow. As an example of the former, he mentioned the timer initialization change, which took three development cycles to prepare and he said, threatened to give him repetitive strain injuries. When changes are done quickly then, as far as the rest of the community is concerned, thousands of patches tend show up at once. Those patches tend to not see the light of day until they are thought to be ready, and they can result in a lot of merge conflicts once they surface; as a result, these patches often do not get enough testing before going into the mainline.

    • LG Gram Laptop Feature Driver, Intel AtomISP2 Dummy Driver Queued For Linux 4.20
      The x86 platform driver updates were sent in overnight for the Linux 4.20~5.0 kernel cycle.

      This is the pull that provides better support for LG Gram laptops on Linux thanks to a new driver. This LG_LAPTOP driver allows for supporting the Fn keys, support for keyboard backlight and touchpad LED controls, and support for other features around different keys and ports.

    • The I3C Subsystem Won't Be Added For Linux 4.20 / 5.0
      While there was a push by its developers to align the I3C subsystem code for the next kernel, it's not going to happen for Linux 4.20.

      I3C is the sensor interface specification introduced in 2017 as an improvement over I2C by combining the best aspects of it with the SPI and UART specifications while making the standard suitable for IoT devices.

    • The Faster FUSE Has Been Fused Into Linux 4.20
      While File-Systems in User-Space (FUSE) have been notorious for being slow, with time FUSE has become a lot faster and with this current Linux 4.20 (5.0) development cycle there are yet more performance optimizations.

      Performance work for FUSE in this next version of the Linux kernel includes symlink caching, a hash table optimization, and copy file range support.

    • Linux Audio Miniconf 2018 report
      The audio miniconference was held on the 21st in the offices of Cirrus Logic in Edinburgh with 15 attendees from across the industry including userspace and kernel developers, with people from several OS vendors and a range of silicon companies.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Mesa 18.3 Feature Development Wraps Up While Mesa 19.0 Opens Up On Master
        Mesa 18.3 feature development is officially over with the code having been branched from Git master earlier today. Mesa 18.3-RC1 should be out soon to kick off the weekly release candidates while now Mesa Git master starts what will become Mesa 19.0.

        Mesa 18.3 brings a ton of OpenGL and Vulkan driver improvements especially. I'll have my usual feature overview in the days ahead, but as you already know if staying up-to-date on your Phoronix reading, there is a lot in store for this quarterly feature release.

      • Raven Ridge Isn't Yet Ready To Have GFXOFF & Stutter Mode Flipped On For Linux
        As part of the big DRM pull request for the next Linux kernel cycle, the AMDGPU driver enabled GFXOFF and Stutter Mode functionality for Raven Ridge. But this power-savings functionality is already being reverted for the next kernel release.

        GFXOFF allows turning off the graphics engine when it isn't needed in order to save power. Stutter mode support is another power-savings feature pertaining to video memory.

      • Mesa 18.3 Has A Busy Last Day Of Feature Development
        The branching of Mesa 18.3 is imminent and expected to happen anytime now. The Mesa developers of the different drivers have been very busy in merging their last-minute feature work for this final quarterly feature update to end out 2018.

      • NVIDIA Stabilizes Its Vulkan/OpenGL Ray-Tracing Extension
        It was just in mid-September that NVIDIA introduced its ray-tracing extension for Vulkan as VK_NVX_raytracing with it debuting as an "experimental" feature along with OpenGL/GLSL functionality. Already they seem happy with the design that it's being promoted to stable.

      • CLVK Takes Shape For OpenCL On Vulkan, But Performance Has A Long Ways To Go
        In addition to Zink taking shape for OpenGL over Vulkan, the separate and independent effort of CLVK continues marching along for OpenCL over Vulkan. I was experimenting with CLVK today and did some initial benchmarks.

        CLVK exposes OpenCL 1.2 although not all functionality is in place. There is not yet support for images, device partitioning, and many other pieces of CL functionality. But it is enough to get some of the SHOC OpenCL benchmarks running along with OpenCL conformance tests and other small demos.

  • Applications

    • 2 Useful Tools to Find and Delete Duplicate Files in Linux
      Organizing your home directory or even system can be particularly hard if you have the habit of downloading all kinds of stuff from the internet.

      Often you may find you have downloaded the same mp3, pdf, epub (and all kind of other file extensions) and copied it to different directories. This may cause your directories to become cluttered with all kinds of useless duplicated stuff.

      In this tutorial you are going to learn how to find and delete duplicate files in Linux using rdfind and fdupes command-line tools.

    • Zchunk update
      Eight months ago, I started working on zchunk, and it’s now almost ready for its 1.0 release. Once zchunk 1.0 is released, we will offer a stability guarantee. Only additions to the API will be allowed, and the ABI will always be backwards-compatible. All files created by older versions of zchunk will be able to be opened by new versions of zchunk, and files created by newer versions of zchunk will be able to be opened by the old versions.

      There is one important caveat to the last item: the zchunk format supports mandatory feature flags. It is possible that an older version of zchunk doesn’t support a certain feature flag, and, if so, that version of zchunk will be unable to open files that contain the new flag.

      As of version 0.9.12, zchunk also supports optional feature flags that provide extra information about the zchunk file. If a newer version of zchunk sets an optional flag, and the file is read by an older version that doesn’t recognize that particular flag, it will ignore the optional flag data and continue reading the file. This feature was requested at Flock this year, and I’m glad it will be available when zchunk 1.0 is released.

    • Zchunk File Format For Compressed Yet Efficient Deltas Nears 1.0 Release
      It was just earlier this year that Zchunk was announced for producing delta-friendly files with good compression ratios while now the 1.0 stable release is in sight.

      Zchunk is the file format initially developed by Jon Dieter that makes use of Zsync and Casync formats while utilizing Zstd for data compression.

      Zchunk 1.0 will mark a stability guarantee for the file format while new API additions and feature flags can still be introduced.

    • Popcorn Time – Stream Movies and TV Shows Instantly from Torrents
      Popcorn Time is an open-source torrent application that lets you stream an awesome catalogue of media content without any restrictions or need to wait for the torrents to download completely. What’s even cooler is the option to watch content in HD and with subtitles.

      The fact that it is inspired by Netflix is visible in its presentation and while you can run it in your browser, it has desktop clients for GNU/Linux, Windows, and Mac.

      Today, I will be showing you how to install Popcorn Time on any Linux distributions. You can download it from the software center or AUR if you run Deepin OS or Arch Linux (its distros included) respectively.

    • Keep yourself organized
      Over the years I tried various tools to organize my daily work and manage my ToDo list, including Emacs org-mode, ToDo.txt, Kanban boards and simple plain text files. This are all great tools but I was never completely happy with it, over time it always became to unstructured and crowded or I didn’t managed to integrate it into my daily workflow.

      Another tool I used through all this time was Zim, a wiki-like desktop app with many great features and extensions. I used it for notes and to plan and organize larger projects. At some point I had the idea to try to use it as well for my task management and to organize my daily work. The great strength of Zim, it’s flexibility can be also a weak spot because you have to find your own way to organize and structure your stuff. After reading various articles like “Getting Things Done” with Zim and trying different approaches I come up with a setup which works nicely for me.

    • Proprietary

      • Cacher – A Code Snippet Organizer for Pro Developers
        Cacher is a modern productivity app for organizing code snippets into vast libraries that you can collaborate on with teams. It features a beautiful GUI with support for coloured labels, folders, bookmarks for quick organization, 100+ programming languages with syntax highlighting, and nicely demarcated working areas.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Valve's digital card game Artifact releases this month with same-day Linux support
        Valve's new digital card game Artifact is go for launch on November 28th. They've now put up the official website with some more details as well as confirming their Linux plans.

        If there was any doubt in your mind about Linux support, I spoke to Valve today about the release just to make sure. They said this in reply to my question about same-day Linux support "Yes. Confirmed for Windows, Linux and Mac.". We've had confirmation previously, but it's always good to see it hasn't changed so close to release.

      • Steam Survey Reports The Latest Linux Gaming Marketshare For October
        Anyhow, Valve's Steam Survey puts the Linux gaming marketshare for October 2018 at 0.72%, which is surprisingly unchanged in the grand scheme given the Steam Play advancements. Valve's numbers today show 0.72% for Linux, which they report as a 0.05% increase over the month prior.

      • Steam Play thoughts: A Valve game streaming service
        With the talk of some big players moving into cloud gaming, along with a number of people thinking Valve will also be doing it, here’s a few thoughts from me.

        Firstly, for those that didn’t know already, Google are testing the waters with their own cloud gaming service called Project Stream. For this, they teamed up with Ubisoft to offer Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on the service. I actually had numerous emails about this, from a bunch of Linux gamers who managed to try it out and apparently it worked quite well on Linux.

      • Popular retro-inspired FPS DUSK still coming to Linux, due sometime next year
        That was a bit of a surprise, honestly after not hearing much on it I was a bit worried. Really happy to know it's coming as it does look like a lot of fun.

        Inspired by the looks of Doom, Quake, Heretic, Half-Life and more it has a soundtrack from Andrew Hulshult whose worked on quite a lot of games including Quake Champions, Dusk, Bombshell, Duke Nukem 3D Reloaded, Rise of The Triad 2013, Rad Rodgers, Amid Evil and plenty of others.

      • Nimbatus - The Space Drone Constructor is going to add drone racing, weather effects and more goodies
        Nimbatus - The Space Drone Constructor is an excellent Early Access game where you snap blocks together to make some truly ridiculous creations. Stray Fawn Studio have now outlined their future plans and it sounds fun.

        It's an addictive game, one where you can easily get lost in how configurable you can make your drones. Do you make them small and sneaky? Do you make them as big as the entire screen? Do you give them some automation with AI to do things for you or go fully manual? So many options, so little time.

      • Graveyard Keeper has a free Breaking Dead update allowing some automation
        If there's one thing I didn't like about Graveyard Keeper is all the constant manual labour. Well, not so much now as you will be able to resurrect bodies to do your bidding.

        A minor point, but they're claiming it's a "DLC". I've seen more developers and publishers muddle the DLC term lately, with some claiming free update patches are a "free DLC". Strange, but still technically true since it's content you download so whatever.
      • Time-management thriller 'Out of The Box' released earlier this year with Linux support
        One from the 'inbox of no return' that I sadly missed, Out of The Box from developer Nuclear Tales is a time-management thriller where you decide the fate of the quirky customers of a luxurious club and it has Linux support.

      • Sluggish Morss: Pattern Circus, a claymation dark sci-fantasy adventure will support Linux
        This looks absolutely fantastic! Sluggish Morss: Pattern Circus is a non-linear claymation dark sci-fantasy adventure on Kickstarter and it will support Linux.

        Surprisingly, their funding goal is quite low at only seven thousand and with 27 days to go they've already managed over two thousand so they're doing reasonably well.

      • Retro inspired arcade-style racer Slipstream had a big update with local multiplayer and new modes
        Slipstream is a racing game that looks like it was ripped out of the 90's and it's very cool. To make it sweeter, the latest and possibly last update expands it quite a lot.

      • Two Point Hospital now has a sandbox mode allowing you to be a little more creative
        To keep you entertained a little longer, Two Point Studios have updated Two Point Hospital with a new sandbox game mode.

        While it's a nice addition, it does require you to have played the game for a while first. You're not actually able to access it, unless you've gained at least one star in the third hospital. If you've already done that, you need to load you campaign once for it to show up.

      • Valve have pushed out another Steam Play update with the 3.16-4 beta including corefonts support
        Another exciting set of changes for Valve's new Steam Play system. This time the Proton beta 3.16-4 includes some really good stuff. If you don't see it show up, restart Steam.

      • Valve's Latest Steam Play Proton Beta Offers Up Useful Fixes
        Valve has ended out October with a very useful Proton beta update for Steam Play for enjoying Windows games on Linux. Valve has ended out October with a very useful Proton beta update for Steam Play for enjoying Windows games on Linux.

        Proton 3.16-4 is now in beta and this new version offers some key improvements. The 3.16-4 beta now ships with corefonts, which fixes a number of games that previously complained of missing text or would even result of crashes. There is also exposing NVIDIA graphics now to D3D games as AMD graphics in order to prevent Windows games from trying to load NVIDIA-specific Windows libraries that are not available on Linux. And there is also much better Steamworks compatibility, mouse focus/clipping improvements, updated OpenVR SDK, fixed keyboard input, and various other fixes. Proton 3.16-4 is now in beta and this new version offers some key improvements. The 3.16-4 beta now ships with corefonts, which fixes a number of games that previously complained of missing text or would even result of crashes. There is also exposing NVIDIA graphics now to D3D games as AMD graphics in order to prevent Windows games from trying to load NVIDIA-specific Windows libraries that are not available on Linux. And there is also much better Steamworks compatibility, mouse focus/clipping improvements, updated OpenVR SDK, fixed keyboard input, and various other fixes.

      • Open source cross-platform event-driven game engine 'GDevelop' now on itch, progressing well
        GDevelop [Official Site] is an open source cross-platform event-driven game engine that's quite promising. It's currently closing in on a new major release and it's also now on GDevelop 5 is currently in Beta and has been for a while with the 55th iteration released around 10 days ago.

      • Cross-platform development library SDL2 2.0.9 is out
        SDL 2.0.9 has been released today featuring some rather interesting new stuff. It's been a while, with 2.0.8 being released back in March of last year.

        What is SDL 2? Well, in their own words "Simple DirectMedia Layer is a cross-platform development library designed to provide low level access to audio, keyboard, mouse, joystick, and graphics hardware via OpenGL and Direct3D." (and Vulkan since 2.0.6). It's used by many game developers including Valve, Unity, Feral Interactive and no doubt a great many more.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Xfce Screensaver 0.1.1 Released
      The second release of Xfce Screensaver is now available! Featuring a number of bug fixes, translations, and general improvements, this release is a big step forward for the newest Xfce application.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Freenode#live
        This weekend, Freenode#live is in Bristol, in the UK. It’s a FOSS-community type event. I’ll be there with David, and we’ll be doing a KDE booth to show off our technologies (which are cool) and our community (which I think is a great one). Stop by and see the Pinebook. Chat about the Nextcloud Include project. Or tell us you prefer to use i3 — that’s diversity in action (and i3 works fine together with other software from the KDE community).

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • Fedora

      • Fedora 29 Design Suite Lab available
        Fedora 29 Design Suite is available for downloading with latest stable release applications including Gimp 2.10.6 among the features. On the bad news side, Blender 2.79b on Fedora 29 has broken user interface due to compatibility issue related to python 3.7. Workaround will be installing from the flathub directory.

        Next release will be interesting considering the structural change for the incoming Fedora 30 with the advent of flatpak packages.

      • Fedora Scientific Vagrant boxes are here!
        Fedora Scientific brings together the most useful open source scientific and numerical tools atop the goodness of the KDE desktop environment. From the beginning, our focus has been to provide scientists, engineers and programmers in numerical/scientific computing a Linux distribution which has most of the tools that they would need to use as part of their work.

        With the Fedora 29 release, we have also started to provide Vagrant boxes for Fedora Scientific to make it even easier to use Fedora Scientific while not doing away with your present operating system. The complete instructions for setting up a vagrant box are available at the download page.

      • Fedora 29 Released For Bleeding-edge Linux Desktop Experience
        Fedora is known to offer a bleeding edge Linux desktop experience; other distributions often employ many new technologies that are first implemented by Fedora. It’s also known as RHEL’s testing lab as Red Hat provides the newest features to Fedora users before shipping them in RHEL.

        Following the same trend, the Red Hat-supported and community-driven Fedora has just received its latest update in the form of Fedora 29. The next week also marks 15 years since the initial release of Fedora Core 1, so it’s kind of special.

        What makes Fedora 29 more exciting is the fact that it’s the first release to include Fedora Modularity feature on all different versions and spins. With Modularity, the developers can ship different versions of a package on the same base. You can choose a version of the software that matches your needs.

      • Red Hat Sponsored Fedora 29 Linux OS Available Now

      • Fedora 29, hands-on: Installing and upgrading
        Fedora 29 was released today, only one week later than the original schedule published last February! For those who are familiar with Fedora release cycles, this counts as being several weeks ahead of the "anticipated" release date. Congratulations and well done to the Fedora development and testing teams.

        The Release Announcement gives an overview of the new release, and includes some interesting history of Fedora -- 15 years since Fedora Core 1 was released! Goodness, how time flies when you're having fun.

        If you currently have Fedora 28 running, you can simply upgrade to the new release; there are two ways to do this, both are described in a Fedora Magazine article. I still prefer to use the CLI for major upgrades, so that's what I did on my Acer desktop system. The entire upgrade process took less than an hour, and ran without any problems at all.

    • Debian Family

      • Paul Wise: FLOSS Activities October 2018

      • Ben Hutchings: Debian LTS work, October 2018

      • Time for an official MIME type for patches?
        As part of my involvement in the Nikita archive API project, I've been importing a fairly large lump of emails into a test instance of the archive to see how well this would go. I picked a subset of my notmuch email database, all public emails sent to me via, giving me a set of around 216 000 emails to import. In the process, I had a look at the various attachments included in these emails, to figure out what to do with attachments, and noticed that one of the most common attachment formats do not have an official MIME type registered with IANA/IETF. The output from diff, ie the input for patch, is on the top 10 list of formats included in these emails. At the moment people seem to use either text/x-patch or text/x-diff, but neither is officially registered. It would be better if one official MIME type were registered and used everywhere.

      • Montreal's Debian & Stuff - November 2018
        November can be a hard month in the Northen Hemisphere. It tends to be dark, rainy and cold. Montreal sure has been dark, rainy and cold lately.

        That's why you should join us at our next Debian & Stuff later this month. Come by and work on Debian-related stuff - or not! Hanging out and chatting with folks is also perfectly fine. As always, everyone's welcome.

      • Mike Gabriel: My Work on Debian LTS (October 2018)
        after some nice family vacation in Tuscany, I did four hours of work on the Debian LTS project as a paid contributor at the end of this month. Thanks to all LTS sponsors for making this possible.

        I move over a backlog of 4h from October to November (so I will work 12h on Debian LTS in November 2018).

        Furthermore, I have signed up for Debian ELTS work with another 4h (as a start, more availability planned for upcoming months).

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 19.04 "Disco Dingo" Daily Build ISOs Now Available to Download
            Dubbed the "Disco Dingo," Ubuntu 19.04 will be released next year on April 18, 2019, and will be supported for nine months, until July 2020. Its development cycle started on October 25, 2018, with the toolchain upload, and the first daily build ISO images are already available to testers.

            Of course, these are based on the previous release, Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish), which was released earlier last month on October 18, so don't expect them to have any new features or enhancements, nor to look any different than the Ubuntu 18.10 live images.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Has Been Codenamed Disco Dingo
            This is a continually updated article about Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo release date, new features and everything important associated with it.

            Ubuntu 18.10 is released and it’s time to start looking for the upcoming Ubuntu 19.04.

          • Canonical’s Distribution of Kubernetes supported on Arm architecture
            Today, Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, announces that Canonical’s Distribution of Kubernetes (CDK) is now commercially available and supported on processors and servers based on 64-bit Arm€® v8-A architecture. The data centre is evolving to support new workload requirements, it is transforming to be optimised for workloads such as: 5G, the internet of things, edge computing, and the cloud. The shift is one that Arm and Canonical’s server ecosystem partners have been carrying out with Ubuntu. Canonical and Ubuntu were first with a server OS for 64-bit Arm architecture, and first to release Openstack and CEPH for 64-bit Arm.

          • A guide to snap permissions and interfaces
            Snap is a Linux application package management system which allow developers to easily publish self contained software packages (snaps) that work across many distributions and versions of Linux. Snaps have security at their heart, and are designed to ensure all applications support the principle of least privilege / authority. That is, each package only has access to the common groups of resources that it requires to perform its intended function.

            To support this, each package is sandboxed so that it runs in a constrained environment, isolated from the rest of the system – this is achieved via a combination of AppArmor, seccomp, mount namespaces, cgroups and traditional UNIX permissions. To then allow a package access to common resources, the snap system provides ‘interfaces’ to which packages can be granted access as required or determined by the user. This includes things like files within the user’s home directory, or files on removable media, as well as hardware devices such as webcams or audio devices (for a full list of interfaces see the snap documentation). Interfaces can also be provided from one snap to another, for example to let one snap provide services via DBus to another snap application, or to provide shared content from one snap to another.

            Access to a given interface corresponds to a particular permission for a snap package.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 19.1 Lands This Christmas with Cinnamon 4.0, Mainline Kernels Support
              Clement Lefebvre published his monthly newsletter to let us know what new features and improvements are being worked on for the next release of the Linux Mint operating system.

              Announced last month as the first update to the Linux Mint 19 series, Linux Mint 19.1 is dubbed "Tessa" and it will bring all the goodies from the Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS (Bionic Beaver) release on top of the a brand-new Cinnamon 4.0 desktop environment that's yet to see the light of day.

              The Cinnamon 4.0 desktop environment in Linux Mint 19.1 looks to shape up as a modern desktop interface thanks to a new panel layout with a larger and darker design. But the good old Cinnamon won't go away, as the developers promise it will be one click away if you don't like the new look.

            • Fresh Linux Mint 19.1 Arrives This Christmas

            • Xubuntu Development Update November 2018
              Aaaaaaaaaaaand, we’re back! After skipping last month’s development update, there’s a lot of new developments to unpack for the previous 2 months. Let’s get right to it.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • RISC OS goes Open Source, supports royalty-free Raspberry Pi projects
    As the new owners of Castle Technology Ltd, RISC OS Developments Ltd are proud to announce that RISC OS, the original OS for ARM processors is now available as a fully Open Source operating system (OS), via the Apache 2.0 licence under the continued stewardship of RISC OS Open Ltd.

    A high performance, low footprint OS, incorporating the world-renowned "BBC BASIC" provides a modern desktop interface coupled with easy access to programming, hardware and connectivity. RISC OS was one of the first operating systems to support the massively successful Raspberry Pi, for which it remains an ideal companion. Now truly Open, RISC OS make an ideal choice for royalty-free ARM-based projects.

  • Finally! The Venerable RISC OS is Now Open Source
    It was recently announced that RISC OS was going to be released as open-source. RISC OS has been around for over 30 years. It was the first operating system to run on ARM technology and is still available on modern ARM-powered single-board computers, like the Raspberry Pi.

  • Open source navigation: only a few clicks away
    The OpenIMU open-source GPS/GNSS-aided inertial navigation software stack was designed for low-cost precise navigation applications, enabling advanced, easy-to-deploy localization and navigation algorithm solutions for drones, robotics, and autonomous applications, at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional methods.

  • The Open Source Revolution Is Over – the Revolutionaries Won
    Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin sees multiple factors contributing to the ascent of the new paradigm. Open source won the support of mainstream technology leaders such as IBM and Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL); Linux became a standard server OS; and Linux was embraced by non-technology companies such as Toyota, financial services companies and entertainment companies, as well as telcos such as AT&T. (See Linux Foundation, AT&T Launch Akraino, Oh the Humanity! AT&T's Airship Open Infrastructure Project Takes Off and DANOS Fuels AT&T's White Box Binge .)

    Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) was a huge driver, Zemlin says. "Google effectively leveraged open source, specifically Android, to become the largest operating system in the world," he said. The open source Android operating system achieved dominance for mobile handsets.

  • Gravitational Open Sources its Kubernetes Packaging Solution, Gravity, to Quickly Deploy Cloud-Native Applications into On-Premise Environments

  • Introducing EmoPy: An Open Source Toolkit for Facial Expression Recognition
    In a recent ThoughtWorks blog post, Angelica Perez shared information about a new open source project for an interactive film experience. The project is called EmoPy and focuses on Facial Expression Recognition (FER) by providing a toolkit that allows developers to accurately predict emotions based upon images passed to the service.

    Perez defines FER as “an image classification problem located within the wider field of computer vision.” Computer vision is a hot topic, garnering investment from many large cloud providers to democratize access to these machine learning models through public APIs. The challenge though is the models and algorithms behind these services are not made publicly available and accessing high quality datasets is difficult. Pereze explains how EmoPy is different:

  • Turtl Secure Note Taking Tool Updated With Sharing For Its Android App, More
    Turtl, the "secure, encrypted Evernote alternative", was updated to version 0.7.2, which brings improvements like the ability to move a note to another space or board, and mobile sharing to the Android app, among others.

    Turtl is free and open source software to take notes, and store documents, images, bookmarks and everything you'd need in a secure place, with applications for Windows, macOS, Linux and Android. You can use the hosted service, which is free to use, with a premium service being planned for the future, or install it on your own server.

  • Evernote open source alternatives Part 1: Turtl
    Evernote, considered one of Silicon Valley’s unicorns, recently released its first major update in years. While templates have definitely been a much-requested feature, it is one that the community has long found ways around. And before that, Evernote made a big splash about redesigning its logo. These two events have caused many Evernote users to review the company’s recent history, the sustainability of its business, and possible alternatives. Now while there is no shortage of Evernote replacements out there, users may want to consider some from the open source world. In this three part series, we present such options, starting with the simplest one of all: Turtl.

  • Evernote open source alternatives Part 2: Standard Notes
    Some people fear that the Evernote ship has too many holes and too few crew members to stay afloat. Others have already started their exodus, looking for comparable services. While there’s no shortage of that, there’s something to be said for open source solutions that have the higher chance of surviving bankruptcy, hacks, and governments. Last time we took a look at Turtl, which turned out to be more of a Google Keep Notes alternative than an Evernote replacement. Now we try Standard Notes for a spin which places an even heavier emphasis on privacy and longevity.

  • Evernote open source alternatives Part 3: Joplin
    It will probably be a long while before Evernote disappears if it does at all. And it will also be some time before any open source software will be able to fill in those extra large shoes. Some alternatives, like Turtl, just stick to the bare minimum while others like Standard Notes try to find sustainability by offering features as part of a paid subscription. Joplin takes a rather different approach. In order to provide a note-taking interface and experience that matches or even surpasses Evernote, it mostly offloads one functionality to others: synchronization.

  • [Older, for context] Christopher Allan Webber: Spritely: towards secure social spaces as virtual worlds
    If you follow me on the fediverse, maybe you already know. I've sent an announcement to my work that I am switching to doing a project named Spritely on my own full time. (Actually I'm still going to be doing some contracting with my old job, so I'll still have some income, but I'll be putting a full 40 hours a week into Spritely.)

    tl;dr: I'm working on building the next generation of the fediverse as a distributed game. You can support this work if you so wish.

  • Announcing Goblins (the actor model foundation of Spritely)
    In my last post I talked about launching the Spritely project in all its ambitiousness. As I said, I plan on releasing it as a series of "demos". What I mean by "demo" is fairly loose: things you can try and see, artifacts to indicate progress as I go. Convergence slowly towards a goal.

    Over the last week I released the first version of the foundation of this work, which I'm calling Goblins. v0.1, a pre-pre-alpha release, is now out the door. Goblins is an actor model implementation for the Racket programming language. I think if you know some Racket, then the Goblins documentation should be fairly approachable, and I'd love to hear feedback. Not everything is documented, but it should give you a nice taste of what the core ideas are. (Astute readers may observe that Goblins' name shares striking resemblance to another project I have worked on; this is no coincidence and is indeed a hint as to what I think the future direction of that area of work is.)

    Most live distributed systems are in some way a language-level actor model implementation, but knowing that you're an actor model implementation may change how you do things. (ActivityPub is itself an actor model protocol, though I think not all implementors realize that.) Goblins is the third generation of an actor model I've written, the previous ones being XUDD and 8sync. (Maybe if you count the big rewrite I did of 8sync to run it on top of fibers, it could be the fourth generation.)

    If you read the Spritely blogpost you'll know that distributed games are part of the long con here. This isn't the first time I've written a game system on top of one of these actor model implementations; in fact if you scroll down on 8sync website you'll (currently) see a video of me presenting on Mudsync, a multi-user dungeon written in 8sync, where in the talk instead of slides I had rooms, and the audience was moving around in the world and I was changing it in response to their suggestions.

  • Haiku Operating System Gets Moving With Clang, Driver Fixes
    It's been just over one month since the long awaited release of Haiku R1 Beta 1 for reliving the BeOS experience as open-source. While it was a momentous occasion, the developers have continued advancing this free software platform.

  • Events

    • LPI releases updates to LPIC-1 and Linux Essentials certifications
      Linux Professional Institute (LPI) has released updated versions of its LPIC-1 and Linux Essentials certifications. The updated LPIC-1 program is version 5.0 and a Linux Essentials is updated to version 1.6.

      LPI's certification objectives are regularly updated to reflect changes to the skills required by open source professionals today. The update process involves a public community consultation in which Linux experts from all around the world review and comment on the certification objectives. In preparation for this update, beta exam labs were held in 19 countries to receive feedback on the new exams.

    • Catch Up on October Events with Videos from OS Summit, Linux Security Summit, and Open FinTech Forum
      October was big month for events at The Linux Foundation.

    • RHL'19 St-Cergue, Switzerland, 25-27 January 2019
      The Rencontres Hivernales du Libre (RHL) (Winter Meeting of Freedom) takes place 25-27 January 2019 at St-Cergue. invites the free software community to come and share workshops, great meals and good times.

      This year, we celebrate the 5th edition with the theme €«Exploit€».

      Please think creatively and submit proposals exploring this theme: lectures, workshops, performances and other activities are all welcome.

      RHL'19 is situated directly at the base of some family-friendly ski pistes suitable for beginners and more adventurous skiers. It is also a great location for alpine walking trails.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 64 to Add Enterprise Policy Support for macOS, New Tab Handling Features
        With the Firefox 63 release out the door, Mozilla is now working hard on the next release in the Quantum series, Firefox 64, which is expected to arrive in mid-December with various improvements and enhancements. Since the first beta releases of the upcoming Firefox 64 web browser already hit the testing channels, we thought to let you know about what to expect from the next major Firefox release. First and foremost, Firefox 64 will introduce new tab handling features to allow users to select multiple tabs from the tab bar.

      • Mozilla VR Blog: How to Run a UX XR Study
        This article is part four of the series that reviews the user testing conducted on Hubs by Mozilla, a social XR platform. Previous posts in this series have covered insights related to accessibility, user experience, and environmental design. The objective of this final post is to give an overview of how the Extended Mind and Mozilla collaborated to execute this study and make recommendations for best practices in user research on cross platform (2D and XR) devices.

      • Tor part 3: Tor Browser

        The Tor Browser is an official Tor project. It is a modified Firefox, including some defaults settings changes and some extensions. The default changes are all related to privacy and anonymity. It has been made to be easy to browse the Internet through Tor without leaving behing any information which could help identify you, because there are much more informations than your public IP address which could be used against you.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • OVH: the open source public cloud alternative from Paris
      Ask Michel Paulin, the new CEO at Paris-based OVH about how the firm plans to compete against hyperscale public cloud providers in the North American and Chinese markets, and he’ll be honest with you – he’s not going to compete. At least, not in terms of scale.

      “We’re not a giant, we’re much smaller,” Paulin says. “We don’t intend to compete on the same road, we compete on another road.”

      Enterprises that are migrating to a hybrid cloud infrast

  • CMS

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • How Open-Source Innovation May Transform Fashion
    • Streamline delivery with open source, they said. It's perfectly safe, they said [Ed: El Reg does marketing with or for anti-FOSS company Veracode]
    • Facebook open sources a set of Linux kernel products including BPF, Btrfs, Cgroup2, and others to address production issues
    • Facebook sets Linux kernel tools free
      After years of making the world more open and connected – to everyone's delight – Facebook recently moved on to bringing the world closer together.

      Amid its pursuit of global compression, the data harvesting biz nonetheless developed a handful of difficult-to-pronounce Linux kernel components to make the open source operating system better suited to swarms of servers.

      On Tuesday, Facebook made its suite of kernel tools available as open source, to help other organizations looking for a way to manage large numbers of Linux servers more efficiently.

    • 20 years into the movement, more than half of developers involved in open source [Ed: Author does not know that FOSS began AT LEAST 35 years ago with GNU]
      More than half of Canadian developers are actively participating in open source projects but there’s a disconnect when it comes to companies and their expectations surrounding open source versus their actual commitment to it.

    • One way street called Open Source
      Businesses generally do not walk the talk when it comes to open source software.

      That's one of the key findings of a survey of over 4 300 respondents from around the world, the majority of whom were developers or system administrators.

      The survey was conducted by cloud provider DigitalOcean which published the results in its seasonal report on developer cloud trends. This edition was focused exclusively on open source, to coincide with the open source movement's 20th anniversary.

    • Drop in the (Digital) Ocean: where open source is getting it wrong
      It’s easy to knock open source; there are frailties in fragilities in all code and open source libraries have been variously castigated by a litany of security software vendors attempting to ply their wares.

      But open source is having a harder time penetrating big-scale enterprise — this we know to be true.

      IBM Red Hat acquisitions notwithstanding, the road to open source penetration in enterprise through tangible software application development interaction is not as high as it could be.

      Developer cloud provider company Digital Ocean says it has spoken to over 4,300 developers around the world to compile an open source barometer report.

  • Funding

    • Open Source-Powered Neo4j Raises $80M Series E
      Neo4j, a Swedish-American open-source-powered graph database startup, has raised $80 million in a Series E round that brings its total capital raised to date to $160 million. (More on what a graph database is here.)

    • Neo4j raises $80 million for next-generation graph databases
      Graph databases — also known as graph-oriented databases — use graph structures for semantic queries, with nodes, edges, and properties representing and storing data. They’re a type of non-relational technology that depicts relationships connecting various entities — for instance, two people in a social network. And if the news out of graph database company Neo4j today is any indication, they’re a veritable cash cow.

      Neo4j announced that it has raised $80 million in a Series E funding round led by One Peak Ventures and Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital, with participation from Creandum, Eight Roads, and Greenbridge Partners. The San Mateo firm has brought in $160 million to date — the largest cumulative investment in a graph database company, it claims — and now has over 100 employees across offices in San Francisco and Malmö, Sweden.

    • Graph database biz Neo4j doubles total funding courtesy of $80m E-series splurge
      Graph database-flinger Neo4J has doubled its total funding after bagging $80m in E-round funding.

      The biz, which is headquartered in Silicon Valley but has strong links to Europe via Swedish founder and CEO Emil Eifrem, launched in 2007.

      To date, the most it has pulled in during a single funding round is €£36m, having raised a total of $80m prior to today's funding round. This means today's E-series funding – led by UK-based One Peak Partners and Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital – doubles its total to date.

      The firm didn't divulge its valuation, but the with a big name like Morgan Stanley in the picture, this puts it in good stead as it attempts to fend off new players in the graph database market, which has been predicted to grow from $821.8m in 2018 to $2.4bn in 2023.
    • Neo4j nabs $80M Series E as graph database tech flourishes
      Neo4j has helped popularize the graph database. Today it was rewarded with an $80 million Series E to bring their products to a wider market in what could be the company’s last private fundraise.

      The round was led by One Peak Partners and Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital with participation from existing investors Creandum, Eight Roads and Greenbridge Partners. Today’s investment exactly doubles their previous amount bringing the total raised to $160 million.

    • Handshake's $200K Pledge Extends Reach of Open Source Initiative
      The Open Source Initiative€® (OSI) is thrilled to announce the largest single donation in organizational history, a $200,000 contribution from Handshake. Handshake is a new system for the internet namespace that builds in security, openness, and reliability from the start. Handshake's work—as a community-oriented organization, and the open technologies delivered—will jump-start a new era of public internet commons, where critical infrastructure is owned by the open source developers who build and sustain it.

      As a symbol of Handshake's commitment to open source software, developers, and communities, the organization has pledged the entirety of their venture capital investment (approximately US $10.2M) to the free and open source software community. In addition to the generous support provided to the OSI, other recipients include, OSI Affiliate Members Debian, KDE e.V, Mozilla Foundation, and Wikimedia Foundation, as well as several other non-profits working in the public interest through openness and collaboration.

  • BSD


    • GNU Bison 3.2 got rolled out
      On Monday, the team at Bison announced the release of GNU Bison 3.2, a general-purpose parser generator. It converts an annotated context-free grammar into a deterministic LR or generalized LR (GLR) parser, employing LALR(1) parser tables. This release is bootstrapped with the following tools, Gettext, Autoconf 2.69, Automake 1.16.1, Flex 2.6.4, and Gnulib v0.1-2176-ga79f2a287

    • GRUB Bootloader Now Supports Reading Disks With Btrfs RAID 5/6
      As the first commits to upstream GRUB in one month, this GNU boot-loader now supports reading Btrfs file-systems in RAID5 or RAID6 modes.

      Two years ago the Btrfs RAID 5/6 code was found to be very unsafe but over the course of many kernel cycles there have been numerous fixes to the Btrfs file-system's native RAID 5/6 code. If you are on a recent kernel (say Linux 4.16+ appears to be in good shape), the Btrfs RAID code for these levels should be in good shape.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Making the GPL more scary
      For some years now, one has not had to look far to find articles proclaiming the demise of the GNU General Public License. That license, we are told, is too frightening for many businesses, which prefer to use software under the far weaker permissive class of license. But there is a business model that is based on the allegedly scary nature of the GPL, and there are those who would like to make it more lucrative; the only problem is that the GPL isn't quite scary enough yet.

      The business of selling exceptions to the GPL, where one pays the copyright holder for a proprietary license to the code, has been around for a long time; MySQL AB was built on this model, for example. Companies that buy such a license normally do so because they fear that their own code may fall under the requirements of the GPL; vendors tend to take an expansive view of what constitutes a derivative work to feed those fears and encourage sales. It is a model that has been shown to work, and it has generally passed muster even with organizations that are committed to the spread of free software.

    • The Contributor Covenant Is Now Adopted By All Intel Open-Source Projects (OTC)
      Intel's Open-Source Technology Center (OTC) is now the latest organization making use of the Contributor Covenant for aiming to do more to promote a welcoming and inclusive environment.

      Intel OTC is adopting the Contributor Covenant for all of their open-source projects. They went with the Contributor Covenant as they feel it's well written and represented, provides a clear expression of expectations, and represents open-source best practices.

    • Conservancy Adds Dr. Laura Fortunato and Bdale Garbee to its Board of Directors
      Our Board of Directors grows from seven to nine members today. As the Conservancy continues to grow, it makes sense to draw on a wider field of expertise to inform our work. Tony Sebro, former Conservancy staff member and now Deputy General Counsel at the Wikimedia Foundation, joined our board at the beginning of the year. Today we bring on two brand new board members, one an academic with interests in reproducibility and open research, the other a longtime free software activist and expert. We look forward to both broadening and deepening our impact in the coming years and a larger board is a critical piece of our long-term plan to support and promote software freedom in more places than ever before.

      Dr. Laura Fortunato is associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at the University of Oxford, where she researches the evolution of human social and cultural behavior, working at the interface of anthropology and biology. An advocate of reproducible computational methods in research, including the use of Free/Open-Source tools, she founded the Reproducible Research Oxford project, with the aim to foster a culture of reproducibility and open research at Oxford.

  • Programming/Development

    • How to become a hacker for beginners
      Hacking is a community known to many but understood by few. A hacker is a person that keenly studies computer and networks systems and their security mechanisms. Accessing computers without a permit has been a popular culture in the modern age which has been embraced by many people. How do hackers learn to hack, is a common question in the mind of many people who ponder on the intelligence portrayed by most pirates and aim to become overnight pro hackers. This article provides tips on how to become a hacker and what it takes to succeed in the hacking arena.

    • Picking a governance model for Python
      The Python language project has been officially "leaderless" since the mid-July announcement that Guido van Rossum was stepping down. He is, of course, the founder of the language and had served for more than two decades as its Benevolent Dictator for Life (BDFL). But he did not appoint a successor and left it up to the project's core developers to come up with a new governance structure. In the three months since, a great deal of work has gone into that effort, which has to bootstrap itself since there was not even any mechanism to choose how to select a new governance model.

      As with nearly any sizable change for Python, the governance question was broken up into a series of Python Enhancement Proposals (PEPs). In this case, PEP 8000 is an overview (or index) of the different PEPs that are being considered. The starting point, though, is to determine how those competing proposals (there are six currently, though there is a fair amount of overlap between them in various ways) will be chosen. That is the role of PEP 8001 ("Python Governance Voting Process").

    • RcppTOML 0.1.5: Small extensions
      Coming on the heels of last week’s RcppTOML 0.1.4 release bringing support for TOML v0.5.0, we have a new release 0.1.5 on CRAN with better encoding support as well as support for the time type.

      RcppTOML brings TOML to R. TOML is a file format that is most suitable for configurations, as it is meant to be edited by humans but read by computers. It emphasizes strong readability for humans while at the same time supporting strong typing as well as immediate and clear error reports. On small typos you get parse errors, rather than silently corrupted garbage. Much preferable to any and all of XML, JSON or YAML – though sadly these may be too ubiquitous now. TOML has been making inroads with projects such as the Hugo static blog compiler, or the Cargo system of Crates (aka “packages”) for the Rust language.

    • cloc – Count Lines of Code in Many Programming Languages
      While working on different projects, sometimes you might be required to provide a report or statistics of your progress, or simply to calculate the value of your code.

      There is this simple yet powerful tool called “cloc – count lines of code” that allows you to count all number of your code and exclude comments and blank lines at the same time.

      It is available in all major Linux distributions and supports multiple programming languages and file extensions and does not have any specific requirements to be used.

    • RcppAnnoy 0.0.11

      A new release of RcppAnnoy is now on CRAN.

      RcppAnnoy is the Rcpp-based R integration of the nifty Annoy library by Erik. Annoy is a small and lightweight C++ template header library for very fast approximate nearest neighbours—originally developed to drive the famous Spotify music discovery algorithm.

      This release updates to a new upstream version (including a new distance measure), and includes a spiffy new vignette by Aaron Lun describing how to use who Annoy from C++ as he does in his new BioConductor package BiocNeighbours.


  • Flickr To End 1TB Free Storage Option; 1,000 Photos Allowed For Free Users Now
    Flickr, the popular image and video hosting service, changed its ownership recently in April. SmugMug, the new owner of the company, has announced their first change since the change of ownership and this is a huge change.

    Informing the users, Flickr said in a press release, “Unfortunately, “free” services are seldom actually free for users. Users pay with their data or with their time. We would rather the arrangement be transparent.”

    Free users can now upload 1,000 photos regardless of the size.

  • Flickr Announces New Photographer-Centric Improvements to Flickr Pro, Free Plans

  • Science

    • US consortium to build six new powerful data centres in Norway and Finland

      Each facility being built by the Silent Partner Group of Companies is to have minimum capacity of 250MW, so their combined capacity would put the data centre network at the top end of the market going by power.


      The data centres will take advantage of the widely used renewable energy sources in both Norway and Finland and the sites will aim for a PUE of below 1.1. Excess heat from the sites will be shared with local district heating systems.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Lawmakers Call for Independent Inquiry at Psychiatric Hospital After ProPublica Illinois Report on Abuse of Children
      State lawmakers Thursday called for an independent investigation of a Chicago psychiatric hospital, citing a ProPublica Illinois report that found allegations of sexual assault and abuse of children, as well as safety violations related to suicidal patients.

      In a letter to the head of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, three state lawmakers said they support the recommendation of DCFS’ acting inspector general, Meryl Paniak, to appoint an independent reviewer to go into Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital and examine the agency’s response to incidents there.

      Separately, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois gave DCFS until the end of the day on Friday to respond to a list of demands that included an independent assessment of the hospital. The ACLU, which monitors DCFS as part of a federal court consent decree, said it would return to court next week if the agency doesn’t respond satisfactorily.

      The state’s child welfare agency has investigated 16 allegations of abuse or neglect at the hospital, on Chicago’s North Side, since January. Some of the reports involved children who had already been cleared to be released from the hospital but languished there because DCFS could not find them a more appropriate place to go.


      The Illinois Department of Public Health in recent months conducted a series of inspections at the hospital on behalf of federal regulators. The agency faulted the hospital for having doors and phone cords that posed suicide risks, as well as other violations. Federal officials threatened to cut off funding if the hospital did not correct the deficiencies.

      Hospital officials went to court in late September to stop the move, saying they would be forced to close the facility if they lost funding. Federal officials granted the hospital two extensions and said Lakeshore has until the end of November to fix the violations.

    • The VA Shadow Rulers’ Signature Program Is “Trending Towards Red”
      When senators asked Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie in September about the three Trump supporters who’ve been quietly shaping the agency’s agenda from the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort, he minimized his interactions with the trio, saying they’d had a single meeting on a seemingly dry subject: electronic medical records.

      As unexciting as that might seem, it is a subject that will shape the agency for decades to come. The VA gave a software company a $10 billion no-bid contract to replace the agency’s records system. The new system is supposed to synchronize with data from other providers, as the VA increasingly sends veterans to private doctors instead of treating them in-house.

  • Security

    • When Good Software Goes Bad: Malware In Open Source [Ed: 'Supply chain' malware isn't a FOSS issue. Proprietary software is itself malware, and its entire supply chain is malicious]
      Open Source software is always trustworthy, right? [Bertus] broke a story about a malicious Python package called “Colourama”. When used, it secretly installs a VBscript that watches the system clipboard for a Bitcoin address, and replaces that address with a hardcoded one. Essentially this plugin attempts to redirects Bitcoin payments to whoever wrote the “colourama” library.

      Why would anyone install this thing? There is a legitimate package named “Colorama” that takes ANSI color commands, and translates them to the Windows terminal. It’s a fairly popular library, but more importantly, the name contains a word with multiple spellings. If you ask a friend to recommend a color library and she says “coulourama” with a British accent, you might just spell it that way. So the attack is simple: copy the original project’s code into a new misspelled project, and add a nasty surprise.
    • Google Home Hub Can Be Exploited By One Line Of Code
      Security researcher Jerry Gamblin revealed how a few lines of codes written in XML for Google Home Hub can be used to gain access to user data. It can exploit an undocumented and unsecured API and force the device to reboot or reveal data.

      Gamblin wrote in a blog post that he found a number of open ports being used by the device. Out of sheer curiosity, he opened the command prompt on his computer to test the Google Home’s Hub security.

    • Google Home (in)Security

      I was surprised to see so many ports open so I started to do some research and found that these devicies have an undocumented (and amazingly unsecured) API

    • Apple Watches Bricked After watchOS 5.1 Update; Users Asked To Return

    • Cell Phone Security and Heads of State

      Three broader questions obviously emerge from the story. Who else is listening in on Trump's cell phone calls? What about the cell phones of other world leaders and senior government officials? And -- most personal of all -- what about my cell phone calls?

    • iOS 12.1 Flaw Allows Anyone To Access Your Contacts; Here’s A Fix

    • Apache Web Server Moves Forward with TLS 1.3
      Over its long history, the Apache HTTP Server Project (commonly referred to as just Apache) had dominated the web server market and even now in 2018, it continues to hold the top spot, according to a number of different measures.

      The most recent release of Apache is version 2.4.37 which became generally available on Oct. 23, providing a series of updates that will help the open source project to continue to hold its top spot.


      In recent years, Apache has come under increasing competitive pressure from rivals, most notably the nginx web server.

      According to Netcraft's October 2018 Web Server Survey, Apache still holds the lead in terms of active sites on the internet with 57.6 million active sites, down from 70.8 million sites in September. In contrast, Nginx powered 42.2 million active sites in October, up from 39.9 million in September.

    • Security updates for Thursday

    • Employee Watching Porn At Work Infected US Government Agency's Network
      Like everywhere else this has happened, the DOI expressly forbids the use of work computers for porn viewing. It also makes employees sign a form stating that they understand what's forbidden and what can happen to them if they violate these policies. It's apparently not much of a deterrent. The report doesn't say what happened to [redacted] -- only that this employee admitted they were familiar with the policies they violated.

      DOI also forbids connecting personal devices to work computers. That policy isn't being enforced either, apparently. If the DOI isn't actively monitoring work computers for these two violations, it really can't lay all the blame for the malware infection on its unofficial porn hub. Proactive measures are far more useful than post-infection policy patches.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • A Century on From WW1, 100 Years of Work Remains to Clear Munitions

      In a normal year, the Metz Demining Centre says it collects between 45 and 50 tonnes of ordnance, and it estimates there are at least 250 to 300 tonnes still buried in the nearby rivers and rolling hills of eastern France.

    • Politics “as if” in Riyadh
      Saudi Arabia first denied the Khashoggi murder and then blamed it on rogue security agents. Neither version has enjoyed much credibility but the ability to make the population repeat incredible claims is itself a form of power for Arab autocrats.

      The Saudi reaction to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi seems, repeatedly, to defy reality. The monarchy initially rejected all responsibility. When evidence leaked by Turkish investigators became overwhelming, they changed the story to suggest a surprise physical altercation was followed by accidental death. They then acknowledged that Saudi operatives were behind the killing, but claimed it had been a rogue operation. All three versions are widely seen to lack credibility. Is this just a case of bad PR?

      Part of the answer is that Muhammad bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, seems to have been genuinely surprised at the vehement reaction to the murder. Being caught off guard, however, is not the only probable reason for Riyadh’s doubling down.

      Once the regime denied responsibility for the crime, repeating the official story – however incredible – became a loyalty test for Saudi citizens. This is the argument put forward by Laleh Khalili, a professor in Middle Eastern politics at SOAS in London. She suggested that it is Riyadh’s way of practicing politics of “as if”. This is an idea that the scholar Lisa Wedeen first developed in the context of Syria and the personality cult that once surrounded Hafiz al-Assad, president Bashar al-Assad’s father.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Ecuador rejects Julian Assange claims and insists he follows their rules
      JULIAN Assange has lost his battle with the country who has granted him asylum and effectively been told to play by their rules — or else.

      The Australian-born WikiLeaks founder had filed a lawsuit against Ecuador alleging his “fundamental rights” had been violated after the South American country imposed a new set of rules on him.

    • Julian Assange: The house guest who overstayed his welcome?
      Six years after Julian Assange fled to the country’s diplomatic mission in Knightsbridge, yards from the world-famous Harrods department store, facing extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations, the WikiLeaks founder appears to be burning bridges with the only people known to have helped him since then.

    • Feds accuse ex-CIA employee of continuing leaks from prison
    • CIA Coder Jailed for 'Vault 7' Leaks Complains of 'Cruel and Unusual' Punishment
    • Coder charged with leaking CIA hacking secrets to WikiLeaks says he's being tortured in prison

    • Julian Assange May Lose Asylum in Ecuadorian Embassy

    • Failure to play by rules risks asylum, Ecuador warns Assange
      Ecuador could revoke the asylum status granted to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange if he fails to abide by new regulations governing his stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, a top official said Wednesday.

      "If Mr. Assange doesn't comply with these rules, obviously the Ecuadorian government will be able to reconsider its decision of having granted him asylum and revoke it," Attorney General Inigo Salvador said.

      It was the latest sign of rising tensions between Ecuador and Assange, who has been held at the embassy since 2012, when the previous Ecuadorian administration granted the anti-secrecy activist political asylum.

    • Julian Assange to be EXTRADITED? Furious Ecuador demands 'RESPECT' from Wikileaks founder

    • Ecuador says UK won't extradite WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange to face death penalty abroad
    • ‘Assange‘s asylum restrictions similar to a maximum security jail‘ – human rights activist

    • Julian Assange, Modern Day Political Prisoner
      Over 7 months have passed since WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was deprived of his ability to communicate with the outside world in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he was granted asylum with the risk of extradition to the US, relating to his organization’s publications. Recently, after UN Special Rapporteurs for Freedom of Expression and Refugees visited the country, it appeared that Ecuador would finally end this isolation of its refugee and own citizen, which Human Rights Watch general counsel described as being similar to solitary confinement.

      Yet, injustice on Assange continues. President Lenin Moreno who was said to partially restore Assange’s communication, now with a special protocol, imposes prison-like surveillance and restriction on his free speech. Under the new rules, Assange is banned from expressing opinions that are considered political or could interfere with Ecuador’s relationship with other nations. Journalists, lawyers and anyone else who seek to visit Assange are required to disclose their private details including email accounts and links to their social media, which then will be shared with UK authorities.

      On Monday, a judge in Ecuador ruled against the suit filed by WikiLeaks lawyer, the former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon who argued that this Ecuadorian government’s inhumane treatment of Assange violates his basic human rights. This came while there is an increasing pressure from the US on Ecuador to evict Assange. Joining the aggression of the Trump administration, members of the US Congress urge the Ecuadorian President to persecute Assange, calling him a "dangerous criminal" and a "threat to global security".

    • Ecuador’s government cuts off all access to Julian Assange
      According to the Courage Foundation, which has campaigned against the persecution of Julian Assange, the Ecuadorian Embassy in London has forbidden access to all visitors to the WikiLeaks publisher, including his lawyers, until Monday, amid an urgent lawsuit. Most immediately, the ban obstructs a legal appeal by Assange against an Ecuadorian judge’s decision last week to uphold a draconian “protocol” that President Lenín Moreno’s government has sought to impose on him, in fundamental violation of the right to political asylum. The protocol essentially bars Assange from making any political comments whatsoever, because they might be deemed detrimental to the interests of Ecuador’s government or any other government.

    • Joshua Schulte, suspected CIA leaker, claims he's being tortured while awaiting trial
      Joshua Schulte, a former CIA computer engineer suspected of leaking classified hacking tools to WikiLeaks, said he is being subjected to “torture” while awaiting trial for espionage. Mr. Schulte, 30, said he is being inexplicably held in solitary confinement and denied access to his medication, writing materials, legal documents and lawyer, according to a letter addressed to U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty filed in Manhattan federal court Monday. “My fellow slaves constantly scream, pound and claw at their cages attempting to get attention for basic needs to be fulfilled. I count myself lucky to be able to eat,” he wrote from Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center. “No human being should ever have to experience this torture,” the former CIA coder continued. “Otto Warmbier received better treatment and more justice in North Korea than I have received in America. Terrorists receive better treatment in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — I have seen the footage myself.” Warmbier, a 22-year-old college student from Ohio, was arrested in North Korea in January 2016. He was held captive for 17 months prior to being released to the U.S. in June 2017 and dying hours later.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • WWF report: Mass wildlife loss caused by human consumption

      In a report, the charity says losses in vertebrate species - mammals, fish, birds, amphibians and reptiles - averaged 60% between 1970 and 2014.

      "Earth is losing biodiversity at a rate seen only during mass extinctions," the WWF's Living Planet Report adds.

    • A ‘great and merciless thinning:’ the vanishing world of insects
      What would English literature look or sound like if there were no insects? What if someone were to ransack the literary past, taking away all the references that poets have made to crickets, grasshoppers, beetles and bees?

      A great silence would follow. Poems that were full of life would suddenly be untenanted, their landscapes no longer pulsing with clicking beetles, stridulating crickets, whirring mosquitoes or the various wing-tones of dragonflies, mayflies and damselflies.

      If you were to hold a bug-less collection of Emily Dickinson’s poetry in your hands – a copy in which all descriptions of insects had been removed with a penknife – what would be left? One scholar, tabulating the number of insects and arthropods that appear in her work, concludes that 10 per cent of Dickinson’s poetry concerns the world of bugs. The book you hold would be shot through with holes.

      Dickinson wrote her poems when the American countryside was teeming with insect life, a time of incredible abundance for those “little things” that, in biologist’s E. O. Wilson’s phrase, “run the world.” Today, the prospects for insect life are very different. According to one recent study, insect numbers in Germany have plummeted by 75 percent in the past three decades. Worse still, this study is based on data taken from nature reserves – meaning that the decline of populations on intensively managed farms is likely to be even greater. Other countries are faring no better. We are living, as naturalist Michael McCarthy puts it, through a “great and merciless thinning.”

  • Finance

    • Select Committee confirms that roaming charges will resume after no-deal Brexit

      The DCMS Digital Single Market Scrutiny meeting of 24th October confirmed the suspicion that the current freedom of movement around the EU without surcharge is likely to be killed off when we strike out alone.

    • Just 10 percent of Finnish consumers use cash

      Some public agencies no longer accept cash. For example recycling centres and some libraries in the capital region only accept card or electronic payments.

      Additionally, there is no law which requires shops and services to accept cash payments - unless a customer has no other way of paying than with bank notes.

    • Catabolism: Capitalism’s Frightening Future
      “Out of the frying pan, into the fire” is an apt description of our current place in history. No matter what you think of globalization, I believe we’ll soon discover that capitalism without it is much, much worse.

      No one needs to convince establishment economists, politicians and pundits that the absence of globalization and growth spells trouble. They’ve pushed globalization as the Viagra of economic growth for years. But globalization has never been popular with everyone. Capitalism’s critics recognize that it generates tremendous wealth and power for a tiny fraction of the Earth’s seven billion people, makes room for some in the middle class, but keeps most of humanity destitute and desperate, while trashing the planet and jeopardizing human survival for generations to come.

      Around the world, social movements believe “Another World Is Possible!” when neoliberal globalization is replaced by a more democratic, equitable, Earth-friendly society. They assume that any future without globalization is bound to be an improvement. But now it appears that this assumption may be wrong. In fact, future generations may someday look back on capitalism’s growth phase as the dynamic days of industrial civilization, a naïve time before anyone realized that the worst was yet to come.

    • Why Labour's pledge to "renationalise electricity" doesn't go far enough
      The trend towards neoliberal electricity markets is a global one, and one that Labour must start to reverse. To my knowledge, only one jurisdiction has done so to date (although a number of others have resisted the pressure to liberalise altogether). In 2003, New Brunswick, Canada, split its publicly owned electrical utility, NB Power, into a transmission company, a distribution and retail company, an independent system operator, and three generating companies. While no assets were privatised, the system operator was meant to ensure the "efficient operation of a competitive market" in electricity (7).

      Ten years later it was clear that this had been both an ideological and a business mistake. New Brunswick was too small a market for meaningful competition, so all that this fragmentation had done was add extra costs. The government passed a new Electricity Act (8) which merged the companies back into a single utility with a statutory monopoly and a mandate to ensure low and stable electricity rates (9). Interestingly, NB Power also now took over provincial efficiency initiatives, marketing energy-efficient products to households and providing grants for renovations. Permission from cabinet was needed for all important business decisions and day-to-day oversight was provided by the independent Energy and Utilities Board.

      With the restoration of a vertically-integrated utility, it once again became possible to engage in long-term planning. At least once every three years NB Power is required to produce an “integrated resource plan” which assesses future electricity demand, surveys the company’s existing assets, projects what new infrastructure will need to be built, and consults with stakeholders (10). These are required to look at least 20 years in the future, ensuring that potential new projects are discussed well before they need to be built. The vertical integration of NB Power also means that plans for efficiency and demand management initiatives are treated as equally viable approaches as building new generators. While NB Power has not been mandated to do so, it is this sort of approach which would be required to aggressively decarbonise electricity and fight global warming.

    • ‘The American People Overwhelmingly Oppose Cuts to Social Security’ - CounterSpin interview with Nancy Altman on Social Security and the election
      A Times editorial argues, “It hardly seems fair to ask more sacrifice from the working poor to maintain the living standards of the retired rich.” And on a Sunday chat show, a pundit calls a politician’s defense of Social Security “pandering to the elderly,” without contradiction.

      Here’s the thing: That article, by veteran New York Times reporter and friend of FAIR John Hess, was written in January 1988.

      Corporate media get a number of things wrong when they talk about Social Security, but perhaps the most significant is to present it as a contentious issue in this year’s budget battles when, really, the fight over Social Security is an ideological one—with many on side and few on the other—that’s been going on since the program began, 83 years ago.

    • Bezos & Bipartisanship: Voting For Vets Not Always Best Choice For Them or Us
      My own experience, as a journalist covering veterans’ affairs, leads me to question this approach for two reasons. First, past military service does not insure trust-worthy—or even pro-veteran–behavior inside the Beltway, as revealed by the federal indictment of former Marine, Duncan Hunter Jr., a five-term Republican Congressman from Southern California.

      Second, “bi-partisanship” has been the guiding principle of recent Congressional action adversely affecting the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), its 300,000 employees, and nine million patients. Former military men and women, in both parties, have jeopardized the quality of veterans’ care by embracing privatization of VHA services and leaving the government’s own hospitals and clinics for veterans increasingly under-funded and under-staffed.

      This out-sourcing trend got a further boost in May when Congress passed the VA MISSION Act.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Unraveling Trump’s Toxic Agenda

      Nobody had high hopes for Trump’s environmental policy. He had, after all, said climate change was a hoax and sent out more than 100 skeptic tweets even before running for president. But the speed, recklessness and spite with which his administration has sought to upend environmental protections has been breathtaking. Climate change aside, even the common-sense need to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink is being challenged as the administration has unleashed a slew of regulatory rollbacks. And his science-denying, fossil-fuel-fetishising policies couldn’t come at a worse time — the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has just published its most dire report yet, advising that if we don’t get to zero carbon emissions by 2050, we’ll blow past a 1.5 C temperature rise, the threshold for disaster.

      Below, a list of Trump’s most reckless policies yet.

    • Facebook's user base is declining in Europe and that ought to terrify its American bosses

      The decline is significant because Facebook has more users in Europe than it does in the US. The downshift comes after the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal and the implementation of Europe's new continent-wide privacy law known as GDPR.

    • Facebook is LOSING users in Europe, as the social network struggles to repair its image

      However, the fact that there has now been two successive periods of user decline in Europe suggests that people in the UK, France and elsewhere on the European continent are growing weary of Facebook.

      The #DeleteFacebook movement has been steadily gaining momentum ever since the end of 2016, a year in which Facebook was used as a platform for fake news and misinformation during the US presidential election.

    • New York Times boss Mark Thompson: 'When it comes to news, Facebook still doesn’t get it'

      These are troubling days for journalism, says New York Times chief executive and former BBC director general Mark Thompson. Even the primacy of fact and well-sourced, objective reporting over delusion and propaganda is under assault. Transparency is the first task for those writing the algorithms, he argues. (Extract from Anti-Social Media: The Impact on journalism and Society, published today).

    • Facebook Approves Political Ads From 100 Out Of 100 Fake Senators

      Facebook confirmed their approval of the 100 "Paid for by" disclosures by fake Senators, adding that they never should have been approved. Hilariously, they argued that the feature has brought a new level of transparency to political advertisements, suggesting that we should focus on the big picture.

    • We posed as 100 senators to run ads on Facebook. Facebook approved all of them.

      On the eve of the 2018 midterms, Facebook's "Paid for by" disclosure for political ads is easily manipulated.

    • The power of the network: Facebook is turning into an Apple lookalike

      On the earnings call, Zuckerberg said usage of his company's products was shifting from the Facebook and Instagram news feeds to ephemeral "Stories" and private messaging.

      On the latter, he said: "We are leading in most countries, but our biggest competitor by far is iMessage. And in important countries like the US where the iPhone is strong, Apple bundles iMessage as the default texting app and it's still ahead. In countries where there's more competition between iOS and Android, like much of Europe, people tend to prefer our services."

    • Facebook Could Be Unrecognizable by 2020

    • Media companies in campaign for responsible journalism

      The responsible journalism logo is about adherence to ethical practices, not necessarily quality. As the Council for Mass Media points out, that determination is something that depends on what each individual means by "quality".

    • Let’s stop pretending Trump is just pretending

      If Trump held a rally that began, “I know I said that I’d fix our broken health care system, but I’m gutting protections for people with preexisting conditions,” the crowd would boo him instead of CNN. Trump can’t run on his actions in office. His key achievements are unpopular. Instead, he’s boldly lied again and again. He claims he supports protections for people with preexisting conditions, while his administration weakens them. He’s lied about a tax plan that he says will help the middle class, while instead it gives breaks to the ultra-wealthy.


      We should not look for an apology from Trump. He has shown us who he is. And there’s no reason to doubt his sincerity.

    • Ohio’s Congressional Map is Broken. Here Are 3 Ways to Fix It.
      As Ohio voters head to the polls next week, many will struggle to overcome congressional districts that have allowed politicians to choose their voters instead of the other way around.

      Thanks to an aggressive redistricting operation, Ohio’s current congressional map, enacted in December 2011, is gerrymandered to lock in a 12-to-4 district advantage for Republican candidates.

      In each subsequent election, it has worked according to plan: In 2012, Republican candidates earned 51 percent of the statewide vote, but secured 75 percent of the state’s congressional seats. In 2014, they earned 59 percent of the vote, but held onto 75 percent of the seats. In 2016, the Ohio GOP took 57 percent of the vote, and — yet again — kept 75 percent of the Congressional seats.
    • How Big Oil Dodges Facebook’s New Ad Transparency Rules
      A Facebook ad in October urged political conservatives to support the Trump administration’s rollback of fuel emission standards, which it hailed as “our president’s car freedom agenda” and “plan for safer, cheaper cars that WE get to choose.” The ad came from a Facebook page called Energy4US, and it included a disclaimer, required by Facebook, saying it was “paid for by Energy4US.”

      Yet there is no such company or organization as Energy4US, nor is it any entity’s registered trade name, according to a search of LexisNexis and other databases. Instead, Energy4US — which Facebook says spent nearly $20,000 on the ads — appears to be a front for American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, a trade association whose members include ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Shell. In 2015, when the Energy4US website was launched, it was registered to AFPM, which is also first on a list of “coalition members” on the site. AFPM, which did not respond to calls and emails for this article, has spent more than $2.5 million this year lobbying the federal government, including advocating for less stringent emission standards.

      Although Facebook now requires every political ad to “accurately represent the name of the entity or person responsible,” the social media giant acknowledges that it didn’t check whether Energy4US is actually responsible for the ad. Nor did it question 11 other ad campaigns identified by ProPublica in which U.S. businesses or individuals masked their sponsorship through faux groups with public-spirited names. Some of these campaigns resembled a digital form of what is known as “astroturfing,” or hiding behind the mirage of a spontaneous grassroots movement. In most cases, Facebook users would have to click on the ad and scrutinize the affiliated website to find any reference to the actual sponsor.
    • UK sexual politics have become ‘profoundly authoritarian’ says Beatrix Campbell
      Beatrix Campbell is a prominent feminist with 14,000 Twitter followers and an OBE (Order of the British Empire) honour from the Queen.

      In October, she was one of nearly 200 people who signed an open letter, published in the Observer newspaper, arguing that debate about potential reforms to the UK’s 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA) was being silenced.

      I spoke with her amid a consultation in England and Wales into these reforms, which would make it easier for trans people to change their legal gender. It was extended by three days until 22 October “due to the high volume of responses”.

      A previous Scottish consultation also attracted an avalanche of responses – with opposition to the reforms dominated by two groups: conservative Christian organisations, and some women’s campaigns.
    • Angela Merkel’s Last Days
      Cultural compilations such as James Frazer’s The Golden Bough are rich with these accounts: the high priest or leader of a tribe, whose lengthy tenure is wearing thin, is set for the sacrifice, either through ritual or being overthrown by another member. The crops have failed; a drought is taking place. The period of rule has ended; the time for transition and new blood replacements have come. Since 2005, Angela Merkel’s Chancellorship has been one of the most stable and puzzling, a political stayer ruthless in durability and calculating in survival.

      Swords and daggers are being readied. The Christian Democrats (CDU) and Social Democrats (SPD), bound by a tense partnership, have been getting a battering in Germany’s state elections. Poor showings in Bavaria and Hesse are proving omens of oracular force. The Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) now finds itself with a presence in all 16 regional parliaments. The Greens have been polling strongly, while the Left Party and Free Democrats have doggedly maintained their presence. The day after the poor showing Hesse, Merkel announced that she would not be seeking re-election as leader of the Christian Democrats in December. Nor would she be running again as Chancellor in 2021.
    • How North Carolina’s Early Voting Changes Affect Voters
      When a North Carolina law changed early voting rules to require each county to open and close all of their polling locations at the same times, opponents worried the move would be a heavy burden for cash-strapped counties. According to a detailed analysis of early voting locations conducted by WRAL News in Raleigh, the law’s critics were onto something.

      Across North Carolina, only 70 out of 100 counties changed their early voting locations to comply with the law, and most voters in those counties didn't see much of a change in the length of their drive to the polls. But WRAL’s analysis found voters in poor and rural counties are disproportionately affected by the law. Rural voters are now farther away from their nearest early voting location in 2018 than they were in 2014, compared with voters in urban and wealthier counties. White and Republican voters appear to be affected more than members of other parties and racial groups.

      This year, ProPublica contacted more than two dozen county election officials regarding the new uniform hour requirements. None were in favor of the law, and many argued it would decrease access.
    • Got a letter saying your Florida voter registration needs updating? Don’t panic (yet)
      Her friends and family told her not to vote by mail.

      They had read news stories warning of rejected ballots across the county, and decided the risk was too great.

      But Laura Redwine was busy, and besides she had nothing to hide. She'd already voted by mail in the 2018 primary, she said, her first time casting a ballot in Florida after she moved here last year. She bubbled in her picks and sent the form.

      Then she got a letter from Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections. It said officials needed an updated signature from Redwine, on a Florida Voter Registration Application, which was included in the envelope. The letter was dated Oct. 26 and reached her the week before election day, long past the registration deadline for what she considered a critical midterm.

    • Our Rent is Due
      In the past seven days of this country, a man executed two Black people at a grocery store; bombs were mailed to opponents of the president; and 11 people were murdered in a synagogue by an anti-Semite. And throughout all this, tens of thousands of children remain locked away at our southern border.

      After the shooting in the Pittsburgh synagogue, anguished sentiments of “What are we to do?” have erupted on my phone, in my email, and within me. It is difficult to find words to console one another and to, as one of my colleagues often reminds me, protect our amygdalae from the constant onslaught of hate, vitriol, and violence. And while a part of me agrees that we must take care of ourselves and our minds as we ask “what now?” I believe we have a growing and urgent responsibility as psychologists and psychoanalysts to speak wherever we can and about what we are witnessing.

      In the book, The Power of Witnessing: Reflections, Reverberations, and Traces of the Holocaust, Nancy Goodman writes that witnessing makes one “more human and more desirous of recognizing hatred and naming it as such…It is okay to have nightmares to be more human. It is important to know the unbearable.” When we imagine what it feels like to be separated from our children; when we imagine the human capacity to hate to such a level that innocent blood is shed; when we try and understand how a human being could look at another human being and see not a person, but an alien, and then treat them as such, we are engaging in the difficult process of witnessing. And it is this experience of witnessing the unbearable that connects human beings to one another and that compels us to act.

    • Campaign Finance Board Flubs Parolee Right to Vote Information
      The New York City Campaign Finance Board posted regrets Wednesday after not updating their Voter Guide to reflect an executive order restoring the voting rights of some previously incarcerated voters.

      On page 15 of the 2018 Voter Guide (English), a response to whether a convicted felon can vote reads, “If you have been convicted of a felony, you can register and vote after you complete your sentence and/or parole.”

    • Mail-In Ballot Postage Becomes a Surprising (and Unnecessary) Cause of Voter Anxiety
      At the absentee ballot parties organized by assistant professor Allison Rank and her political science students at the State University of New York at Oswego, young voters can sip apple cider and eat donuts as they fill out their ballots. But the main draw is the free stamps.

      “The stamp was actually the thing I was concerned about,” one freshman told Rank after she explained the process of completing and mailing in a ballot. According to Rank, only one store on the rural upstate campus sells postage. It has limited hours and only takes cash, which many students don’t carry.

      It’s not only students who may be short a stamp this election. An increasing number of Americans vote by mail in an age when fewer of us have a reason to keep postage on hand. But it’s long been an open secret among election officials: Even though the return envelopes on many mail-in ballots say “postage required,” the U.S. Postal Service will deliver even without a stamp.

      “In cases where postage on returning Absentee or Vote-By-Mail ballots has not been affixed or is insufficient, it is the U.S. Postal Service’s policy to not delay returning ballots to the appropriate Board of Election as addressed on the return ballot envelope,” Postal Service spokesperson Kim Frum said in an email to ProPublica. “The Postal Service is steadfast in our commitment to support democracy. We will not deny a voter their right to vote by delaying a time-sensitive ballot because of insufficient postage.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Khashoggi fiancée: Trump should 'not pave the way for a cover-up'

      "President Trump should help reveal the truth and ensure justice be served. He should not pave the way for a cover-up of my fiancé's murder. Let's not let money taint our conscience and compromise our values," she added.

    • The case of Jamal Khashoggi

      However, it is Saudi Arabia that has done something that no reasonable human being and government should allow to be pushed under the collective global carpet. A man was murdered by a ruling regime inside its own embassy; this must not be taken lightly.

      This is not a small matter. If this is what Mohammad bin Salman can do when he is the Crown Prince and thumb his nose at the world, imagine what he can do when he is King.

    • European Human Rights Court Backs Sharia Blasphemy Law

      The European Court of Human Rights — which has jurisdiction over 47 European countries, and whose rulings are legally binding on all 28 member states of the European Union — has effectively legitimized an Islamic blasphemy code in the interests of "preserving religious peace" in Europe.

    • European court rules insulting Prophet Mohammed ‘not freedom of expression’

      Defaming the Prophet “goes beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate" and "could stir up prejudice and put at risk religious peace,” the ruling stated.

    • Now It's Official: Europeans Can't Criticize Islam

      How many Europeans are even aware of the Council of Europe's existence – or, if they are, could explain what it does? How many know the difference between the ECHR and the ECJ? Relatively few, I suspect. But this is par for the course in Europe, where the elected governments, in the decades since World War II, have built up a network of international bodies that wield considerable power while operating in the shadows with little or no accountability to the people. Guardian of democracy, indeed.

    • Tech giants censor Swedish sex education video

      A campaign launched by a Swedish authority which provides information about sex, health and relationships to under-25-year-olds has been censored by social media platforms.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Surveillance Targets Deserve Answers About Mysterious Wiretaps
      New Information Could Get to the Bottom of Riverside’s Massive Wiretap Campaign

      Riverside, CA – Two individuals with no criminal record—one of whom is a retired California Highway Patrol officer—are asking a California Superior Court why their phones were tapped in 2015. These are just two targets of hundreds of questionable wiretaps authorized by a single judge, Helios J. Hernandez, in Riverside County.

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, LLP represent the targeted individuals, who were never charged and never received any notification that they were the subject of a wiretap order, despite the law requiring such notice within 90 days of the wiretap’s conclusion. Instead, they only learned about the wiretap from friends and family who did receive notification.

      The wiretap in this case was issued over three years ago, a time when Riverside County was issuing a record number of wiretaps. In 2014, for example, the court approved 624 wiretaps, triple the number of any other state or federal courts. The targets were often out of state, resulting in hundreds of arrests nationwide. After a series of stories in USA TODAY questioned the legality of the surveillance, watchdogs said that the wiretaps likely violated federal law.

      “There are very real questions about the legitimacy of the warrant-approval process in Riverside County during the time when our clients were wiretapped, including questions about the behavior of the judge and the District Attorney’s Office,” said EFF Staff Attorney Stephanie Lacambra. “The court should release information about how this wiretap was approved and why, so both our clients and the public can understand what happened during Riverside County’s massive surveillance campaign.”

    • Private messages from 81,000 hacked Facebook accounts for sale
      Hackers appear to have compromised and published private messages from at least 81,000 Facebook users' accounts. The perpetrators told the BBC Russian Service that they had details from a total of 120 million accounts, which they were attempting to sell, although there are reasons to be sceptical about that figure. Facebook said its security had not been compromised. And the data had probably been obtained through malicious browser extensions.

    • Personal Facebook Messages Of 81,000 Users Up For Sale
      As per a BBC report, the hackers appear to have found a way to steal the private messages of thousands of Facebook users — 81,000 to be exact. While most of the compromised accounts are from Russia and Ukraine, some are also from US, UK, Brazil, and other nations.

      This revelation originally comes from the BBC Russian Service. The notorious actors claim that they have the details of about 120 million accounts. To steal the information, the well-known method of malicious desktop browser extension was used.

    • Free Wi-Fi Hotspots Can Track Your Location Even When You Aren’t Using Them
      Free Wi-Fi! — In the age of the internet, everyone loves to hear these two words. But beware! It might follow you wherever you go, even when you are not connected anymore.

      Nowadays, hundreds and thousands of businesses and public spaces offer “free Wi-Fi hotspots.” You can find them in shopping malls, airports, cafes, restaurants, etc. The US has the highest number of such establishments.

      However, such free Wi-Fi connections are managed by third-party providers who provide internet connectivity in exchange for your valuable sign-up details.

    • Feds Also Using 'Reverse Warrants' To Gather Location/Identifying Info On Thousands Of Non-Suspects
      Because nearly everyone carries a tracking device on their person these days, it's become a whole lot easier for the government to find out where everybody's been. It's TinEye but for people, and it appears to be a new go-to tool for law enforcement. What used to be officers canvassing the area where a crime took place is now a warrant sent to Google to obtain location data and identifying info for all people and devices in the area.

      These so-called "reverse warrants" first started coming to light earlier this year. The Raleigh Police Department (NC) was serving warrants to Google in hopes of figuring out who to suspect of committing crimes, rather than having a suspect in mind and working forward from there. The warrants were of the "general" variety, guaranteed to give the RPD location/identifying info of hundreds of non-suspects who just happened to be in the area. There's some evidence Google has pushed back against these warrants, but it hasn't been enough to deter law enforcement from continuing to use Google as one-stop shopping to bulk location/identifying info.

    • Pentagon Wants to Predict Anti-Trump Protests Using Social Media Surveillance

      The United States government is accelerating efforts to monitor social media to preempt major anti-government protests in the US, according to scientific research, official government documents, and patent filings reviewed by Motherboard. The social media posts of American citizens who don’t like President Donald Trump are the focus of the latest US military-funded research. The research, funded by the US Army and co-authored by a researcher based at the West Point Military Academy, is part of a wider effort by the Trump administration to consolidate the US military’s role and influence on domestic intelligence.

      The vast scale of this effort is reflected in a number of government social media surveillance patents granted this year, which relate to a spy program that the Trump administration outsourced to a private company last year. Experts interviewed by Motherboard say that the Pentagon’s new technology research may have played a role in amendments this April to the Joint Chiefs of Staff homeland defense doctrine, which widen the Pentagon’s role in providing intelligence for domestic “emergencies,” including an “insurrection.”

    • Be ready to trace the origin of messages, WhatsApp told

      The government on Wednesday said it does not want WhatsApp to “decrypt and read” messages sent on its platform but “insists” that the Facebook-owned firm be able to trace the origin of messages that lead to serious crimes.

    • India’s Government Wants WhatsApp To Reveal The Locations And Phone Numbers Of People Using It For Real-World Violence

      WhatsApp has been the under fire in India, its largest market with more than 200 million active users, after violent mobs fueled by rumors spread through the app lynched nearly 30 people in various parts of the country in the last few months. In the wake of the lynchings, WhatsApp has been tussling with the Indian government that has, among other things, demanded that the company build a way to trace messages sent over it. WhatsApp has refused to do this, saying that it would compromise the privacy of its users (everything sent over WhatsApp is encrypted).

    • India wants ability to trace WhatsApp messages to stop violence

      The Indian government’s latest request for the information comes amid an outbreak of violence and lynchings in the country that have been catalyzed on the platform.

    • How Congress could rein in Google and Facebook

      Six months and several hearings later, Congress is still figuring out exactly what fixing privacy might mean. After ambitious new data-sharing regulations like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Congress is planning its own data privacy law, and how it’s written will matter immensely for companies like Google and Facebook.

      Industry leaders and consumer advocates are already locking horns over the provisions of the bill, like whether it will prohibit states from enacting their own tougher privacy rules or exactly how it will define personal information. This fight will determine how the US government will be able to restrain predatory privacy practices for the foreseeable future.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Taliban kill woman, lover over adultery: Afghan official

      The Taliban killed an Afghan woman accused of adultery and her lover in western Ghor province after it was discovered that she had fled her husband to be with another man, an Afghan official said.

    • Iranian harasser tells woman she ‘deserves rape’ for not wearing hijab

      Iranian activist Masih Ali Nejad, who has been living in the United States for years, told Al Arabiya English that she filmed her encounter with the man and posted it to Instagram, garnering more than 1 million views.

    • 'Thousands' of Google Employees Expected to Walk Out on Thursday Over Handling of Sexual Harassment Cases

      Employees from more than 60 percent of Google offices worldwide will participate, organizers for the walkout told Gizmodo in an email. Google maintains 23 offices in the U.S., three in Canada, and more than 50 others around the globe.

    • Georgia Government Officials Celebrate Halloween By Engaging In Pointless Hassling Of Sex Offenders
      Technically, this may be legal under the state's expansive sex offender laws. It doesn't sound all that Constitutional, which may result in a courtroom challenge in the near future. Mayor Jones has a perfectly good reason to do this, though: a long history of zero incidents on Halloween in his town. Jones claims this is being done "across the state," but WQAD reports "no other surrounding counties" are engaging in this technically-legal roundup.

      If Jones was really concerned about safety and crime during Halloween, he would have his law enforcement out on the streets, rather than sitting guard at City Hall. And if criminals who've already paid their debt to society can be locked up for nebulous reasons, why isn't Jones tossing everyone ever picked up on vandalism charges into the ad hoc lockup for the night? It seems like they might pose more of a safety issue than the sex offenders Mayor Jones believes -- without a shred of evidence -- would kidnap trick-or-treaters if not otherwise detained.

      And all of this doesn't even get to the problems of the sex offender registry itself and the fact it contains people who did nothing more than have sex with a 17-year-old when they were 20 or engaged in sexting with another teen. Or the fact that kids are far more likely to be abused by someone they know and trust, rather than some stranger offering Halloween candy on Halloween. All of this is willfully ignored by law-and-order types like Sheriff Long and Mayor Jones to score points with constituents who are equally as oblivious. It's just another form of security theater -- one that has a lot to say about safety, but actually does nothing to make anyone safer.

    • The Pittsburgh Double Bind: Presidents Shouldn’t Be So Important
      US president Donald Trump’s announced visit to Pittsburgh in the wake of America’s latest mass shooting — eleven synagogue congregants dead at the hand of an antisemite fanatic — received a cool reception.

      The mayor didn’t want him to come. The county executive didn’t want to meet with him. Local Jewish leaders didn’t want him there. Congressional leaders of both parties declined to join him.

      On the other hand, I suspect that if Trump HADN’T scheduled a visit to the city, many of the same people would have publicly demanded to know why not.

      It’s not just Pittsburgh, it’s not just Trump, and it’s not just mass shootings or other terror attacks.

      Presidents who don’t show up to publicly mumble prayers, hug victims, and sign emergency aid proclamations after hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes are uncaring heels. They’re ignoring heartbreak in the heartland — too busy playing politics to acknowledge tragedy.

    • Chicago Teachers Just Voted to Authorize the First Charter School Strike in US
      On Tuesday, teachers at 15 Chicago charter schools voted 98 percent to authorize a strike as they continue to bargain a contract with Acero Schools, the largest unionized charter network in the city. On Friday, four locations of the Chicago International Charter Schools (CICS) will take a strike authorization vote. And teachers at nine other Chicago charter networks are also in contract negotiations, and could similarly opt to take strikes votes in the coming months.

      If no agreement is reached, Chicago could be home to the nation’s first-ever charter strike. Teachers have been inching closer to this possibility for the past two years, during which time eleventh-hour deals have narrowly averted strikes against at least three other charter operators.

      That’s a stunning reversal from 2012, when Chicago charter operators bragged that, unlike unionized public schools, charters were unaffected by teacher strikes.

    • Judge Says Memphis PD's Surveillance Of Protesters Violated 40-Year-Old Consent Decree
      Spying on people engaged in First Amendment-protected activity is a time-honored government tradition. The FBI, NSA, and CIA pioneered unconstitutional surveillance in the 1960s, leading eventually to the Church Committee's smackdown and a series of reforms aimed at preventing the casual abuse of surveillance powers.

      It worked. A little. The DHS has picked up where the other agencies left off, portraying its surveillance of protesters as part of its national security purview. The NYPD has also done this regularly, violating both the Constitution and agreements it made following civil rights lawsuits.

      The Memphis Police Department is another law enforcement agency that can't keep its nose out of the public's First Amendment business. A decision handed down by a Tennessee federal court will hopefully put an end to the Memphis PD's long-running violation of a 40-year-old consent decree.

    • Warehousing Immigrant Children in the Texas Desert
      The Tornillo detention camp represents a major shift in the policy and practice of putting the best interests of the child first.

      Since June, the federal government has been operating a massive tent city in the West Texas desert to detain immigrant children who have traveled to the United States seeking protection from persecution and abuse in their home countries.

      Last week, I visited the Tornillo detention camp with colleagues from the ACLU of Texas. There are currently over 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant kids at Tornillo, most from Central America, who were transferred from long-term shelter placements. They’re presently waiting to be reunified with family members or other sponsors while their immigration cases move forward. The sprawling detention camp has the capacity to detain up to 3,200 children.

      Federal law prioritizes the best interests of the child. In the case of immigrant minors, that means prioritizing reunification and placing children in the least restrictive setting possible. Typically, these children are transferred from Department of Homeland Security custody to shelters across the country run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, where they wait to be reunified with family members or other sponsors while their cases move through the immigration courts.

    • Government Accuses Former CIA Employee Of Using Contraband Phones To Leak From Prison
      The United States government accused a former CIA employee charged with leaking to WikiLeaks of “brazen disclosure of classified information while incarcerated at the Metropolitan Correctional Center” in New York.

      Already charged with violating the Espionage Act and other offenses, Josh Schulte was charged with two additional offenses—another alleged violation of the Espionage Act and an alleged violation of a protective order in his case.

      Josh Schulte was charged on June 18 with thirteen offenses that included allegedly violating the Espionage Act by stealing classified information from the CIA. It also included a prior charge involving child pornography. They stem from his alleged leak of “Vault 7” files but Schulte maintains he did not leak the files.

      In a letter from U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman to Judge Paul Crotty, the government claims [PDF], “In or about early October 2018, the government learned that Schulte was using one or more smuggled contraband cellphones to communicate clandestinely with third parties outside the MCC.”

      “The government immediately commenced an investigation into Schulte’s conduct at the MCC,” Berman adds. “The FBI has searched, among other things, the housing unit at the MCC in which Schulte was detained; multiple contraband cellphones (including at least one cellphone used by Schulte that is protected by significant encryption); approximately 13 email and social media accounts (including encrypted email accounts); and other electronic devices.”

    • We Cannot Fight Anti-Semitism and Anti-Black Racism in Isolation
      few years ago, during a mid-April synagogue service as we reflected on the Passover narrative, a fellow worshiper joked that so many congregants were on spring vacation that we should move our services to Florida. I froze. Many white Jews picture Florida as the land of vacation and retirement homes. I remember it as the place my father was nearly lynched.

      I share this story because it encapsulates the empathy gap between white Jews and people of color (including Jews of color), and how an overly narrow focus on anti-Semitism prevents many white Jews from attending to the broader plague of racism. As we grieve the deaths of 11 murdered Jews and two murdered African Americans this week, it is crucial for all our sakes that we recognize we are fighting the same battle.

      I am a Jew by choice, the child and grandchild of African Americans who fled racist terror in the South only to encounter redlining, discrimination and police violence in the North and Midwest. Like many white Jews, I have been shaken and terrified by the racial violence unleashed this week.

    • The Proud Boy President
      Donald Trump has been and promises to remain a cancer on the presidency and on the nation as a whole. It is not as if there were no warning signs. And it should not have taken belated public service announcements to alert Americans to the fact that flirting with fascism would prove dangerous to the health of our republic, though like cigarette ads, it was hard to see the latent danger lurking behind the glitz and glamor of the Trump brand as initially hyped by corporate media. America has elected its first (and hopefully its last) click-bait president. However, in the wake of the package bombs against Trump’s Democratic critics, the need to excise this malignancy has become more urgent.

      It is often said that the presidency is a bully pulpit; Trump has turned it into a cudgel that he offers to his base as he directs them toward violence against the press and his many detractors. Speaking at a rally in Montana only weeks following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a tone-deaf Trump heaped praise on “his guy” congressman Greg Gianforte for body slamming a reporter in 2017. Media sites, apparently under the impression that the public expected anything better from Trump, reported that Twitter users were “shocked” by Trump’s unveiled avowal of violence. Really? It’s a bit like being shocked that Megyn Kelly would see nothing wrong with blackface and everything wrong with black Jesuses and Santas.

      Given the regularity of Trump’s vacillating bloviations, nothing that comes out of the White House these days is shocking; it is all business as unusual, the business in question being the relentless unraveling of American civility. Here, Trump’s consistent inconsistency is more a strategy than a sign of mental decline, since it provides him the cover of plausible deniability however implausible those denials may be. Like his bromanatic partner in hyperbolic self-promotion Kanye West, Trump borrows a page from W.C. Fields: “If you can’t dazzle with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.” The sobering reality is that it has worked. Many Americans are either bedazzled by its blinding glare or simply do not care so long as Trump grows the economy and stokes their most primal fears.

    • Brazilan democracy's paroxism
      Bolsonaro affirmed that all “minorities” must adapt to the “majority” way of living and thinking. His model is that of a white, Christian, authoritarian and heterosexual patriarchy.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • U.S. declines in [I]nternet freedom rankings, thanks to net neutrality repeal and fake news

      Last year, the U.S. was 21 in the global internet freedom ranking — the lower number, the better a country ranks. That was behind Estonia, Iceland, Canada, Germany and Australia. This year the U.S. is at 22 — thanks to the repeal of net neutrality and the renewal of U.S. spy powers.

    • All The Mergers In The World Apparently Can't Save AT&T From Cord Cutting
      Over the last five years AT&T and Verizon have been desperately trying to pivot from stodgy, protectionist old telcos -- to sexy new Millennial media juggernauts. And while this pivot effort has been notably expensive, the net result has been somewhat underwhelming. Verizon, for example, spent billions to gobble up AOL and Yahoo, but its lack of savvy in the space has so far culminated in a privacy scandal, a major hacking scandal, a quickly shuttered website where reporters couldn't write about controversial subjects, and a fairly shitty Millennial streaming service that even Verizon's own media partners have called a "dud."

      Verizon's new CEO Hans Vestberg appears to have gotten the message (that stodgy old telcos kind of suck at disruption and innovation) and has been shifting Verizon back toward its core competency: running networks.

      AT&T's efforts have been notably more expensive than Verizon's, but just as underwhelming. The company first decided to shell out $70 billion for a satellite TV provider (DirecTV) on the eve of the cord cutting revolution. And, after a lengthy DOJ lawsuit, shelled out another $89 billion for Time Warner in a quest to gain broader media and advertising relevance. That was paired with the launch of a new streaming service, DirecTV Now, which the company hoped would help it beat back the tide of cord cutting.

    • Verizon Just Obliterated Ajit Pai's Justification For Killing Net Neutrality
      If you'll recall, FCC boss Ajit Pai has spent the better part of the last few years insisting that giving the telecom industry whatever it wants will somehow magically boost sector investment, jobs, and competition. Of course if you've paid attention to history you'll probably notice that in telecom, it never actually works that way. Former FCC boss Mike Powell (now the top lobbyist for the cable industry) engaged in much of the same behavior in the early aughts, promising that if you obliterate consumer protections and regulatory oversight of ISPs, telecom Uptopia magically springs forth from the sidewalk. Instead, we got Comcast.

      It's a cycle of dysfunction Americans just can't seem to learn anything from.

      Since the start of his tenure, Ajit Pai and the GOP have taken a flamethrower to numerous, basic consumer protections ranging from basic privacy rules governing the sale and collection of your private data, to net neutrality rules that protect consumers and competitors from being nickel-and-dimed by lumbering telecom monopolies. He's also attacked efforts to bring competition to cable boxes, has slowly dismantled broadband programs for the poor, attacked states rights' to protect consumers or build their own networks, and basically neutered the FCC's ability to protect you from monopoly power.

    • How Indian Government’s Digital Authoritarianism Is Interfering With “Internet Freedom”
      Global internet freedom has continued to deteriorate for the 8th consecutive year in 2018, according to a report from Freedom House, an organization that tracks Internet freedom decline or incline each year.

      The study explicitly states the governments are using terms like “fake news” and “hate speech” to consolidate their power over the Internet. And the situation is overly alarming in countries like India and Sri Lanka where government shuts downs the Internet in majors parts of the country, every now and then in the name of “public interest.”

      “India leads the world in the number of internet shutdowns, with over 100 reported incidents in 2018 alone,” says the report, citing many temporary shutdowns of mobile internet and social media channels during mass protest’s, riots, and violence rooted from misinformation.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • ITC judge didn't buy testimony for which Qualcomm paid a single expert $3-4 million in Apple dispute
      There's a lesson for life that Qualcomm may have learned in recent weeks as an unintended side effect of its dispute with Apple: if smart judges figure out whom they can trust, the facts are not for sale.

      Qualcomm's patent litigation campaign against Apple (and, by extension, chipset maker Intel) has suffered a few setbacks already. The first two judicial decisions against infringement complaints brought by Qualcomm came down in Washington, D.C. (United States International Trade Commission) in September and in Munich (Munich I Regional Court) in October.

    • JPO presents a positive view of Legal Tech
      As most people know, Japan’s market is controlled by the heavy hand of government. To make it easier for companies to start new businesses, the government prepared the ”Gray Area Resolution System” in 2014. This system allows business operators to make inquiries about whether or not some regulation is applied to a new business they are going to start.

      Recently, a company which provides a software which helps users prepare trademark applications used this system to make an inquiry about whether selling this software violates a provision of Patent Attorneys Act which restricts the services provided by other than patent attorneys or patent professional corporations.

      Then, Japan Patent Office (JPO) presented a view that it doesn’t violate the provision of Patent Attorneys Act, because the company just provides a software which helps users prepare trademark applications at the discretion of themselves, and not provide a service to prepare trademark applications. This is the view just for this particular business, not for general Legal Tech. However, it will surely serve as a spur to development of Legal Tech.

    • An Indian perspective on intermediaries and safe harbours
      By the very nature of their activities, internet intermediaries, the facilitators of the virtual world, carry content or provide services that may be fraught with legal liability, i.e. the content may be defamatory or racist or published without the permission...

    • Copyrights

      • The Pirate Bay Remains Mysteriously Inaccessible to Many

        Over the past few weeks, many people have been under the impression that The Pirate Bay is down. It's not. Instead, the site is simply inaccessible on some networks around the world. The Pirate Bay is aware of the issue. It's not related to ISP blocking or domain name trouble, but the true source of the problem remains a mystery.

      • Hollywood Urges FTC to Help Combat Online Piracy

        The MPAA hopes that the Federal Trade Commission will offer a helping hand to curb the ongoing threat of online piracy. The commission could bring unfair and deceptive trade practices actions against services that market pirate streaming devices, the Hollywood group suggests. In addition, it could help convince European policymakers that privacy regulations shouldn't be used to shield domain name WHOIS data.

      • As Canadian ISPs Requested, Canada Get Proposed Law To Ban Copyright Settlement Letters
        It seems to me that this actually goes further than ISPs had requested. All those ISPs had asked was to not be party to something that looks like extortion of their own customers. This law, by my reading, goes further and forbids the common settlement letter entirely. While this all still has to be voted on and approved before it becomes law, all of the early response to this news has been positive from the Canadian public. The government going against that sentiment and siding instead with copyright trolls would be an insane move, meaning that this will likely pass into law. And then, perhaps, we can export a like law to the States. You know, to "bring our copyright laws in line to meet our international trade obligations"?
      • Australia is the Testbed for the World's Most Extreme Copyright Blocks
        It's been three years since Australia adopted a national copyright blocking system, despite widespread public outcry over the abusive, far-reaching potential of the system, and the warnings that it would not achieve its stated goal of preventing copyright infringement.

        Three years later, the experts who warned that censorship wouldn't drive people to licensed services have been vindicated. According to the giant media companies who drove the copyright debate in 2015, the national censorship system has not convinced Australians to pay up.

        But rather than rethink their approach -- say, by bringing Australian media pricing in line with the prices paid elsewhere in the world, and by giving Australians access to the same movies, music and TV as their peers in the US and elsewhere -- Australia's Big Content execs have demanded even more censorship powers, with less oversight, and for more sites and services.

        The current Australian censorship system allows rightsholders to secure court orders requiring the country's ISPs to block sites whose "primary purpose" is to "is to infringe, or to facilitate the infringement of, copyright (whether or not in Australia)."

        Under the new proposal, rightsholders will be able to demand blocks for sites whose "primary effect" is copyright infringement. What's more, rightsholders will be able to secure injunctions against search engines, forcing them to delist search-results that refer to the banned site.
      • What can be the main events in the life of a copyright work in Europe? Here's another map
      • Revisiting Star Athletica’s impact on copyright
        Copyright practitioners were wondering how the Supreme Court’s Star Athletica v Varsity Brands decision would affect the functionality doctrine when it was issued in March last year.

      • Controlled Digital Lending

        The analysis is based on the idea that a library can lend either the physical or the digital version of a physical book it owns. This covers, for example, the Internet Archive's collection of digitized books.

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