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Links 4/1/2021: Emmabuntüs Debian Edition 4 Alpha 2 and More on Microsoft Getting Cracked (Blaming ‘SolarWinds’)

  • GNU/Linux

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.11 rc2

        Time to slowly crawl out from under all the xmas wrapping paper piles and go test...

      • Kernel prepatch 5.11-rc2

        The second 5.11 kernel prepatch is out for testing.

      • Linus Torvalds says: Crawl out from under the wrapping paper and go test Linux

        5.11 rc2 is tiny in comparison to rc1, Torvalds explained, which included a "huge dump of AMD GPU descriptor header files" that account for around two-thirds of the entire update.

        These file additions, codenamed Van Gough, are destined for the upcoming generation of AMD Ryzen mobile accelerated processing Unit (APUs) expected to arrive this year. Torvalds said these files "completely dwarf[s] all the 'real' changes in Linux 5.11."

        Given the lull over the festive period, rc2 of Linux 5.11 is far smaller – "tiny", in fact – than rc1, with the main fixes centered around small computer system interfaces [SCSI] and block devices, according to Torvalds.

        He added that the quiet festive period may or may not end up affecting the release schedule of Linux 5.11: given that most of the code was submitted before the holidays, the merge window shouldn't have been hugely impacted, he said. Despite this, a similarly small rc3 could result in delays to the final release of Linux 5.11.

        "I expect next week to slowly start ramping up fixes, but I know some people are still on vacation or just in an extended food coma, and there's a delay from testing to fixes, so we'll see. Maybe rc3 ends up being fairly small too," Torvalds wrote.

      • Linux NVMe Simple-Copy Support Inches Closer To The Kernel

        Another one of the features you won't find in the Linux 5.11 kernel is support for the recently ratified NVMe Simple Copy but work on supporting that feature continues.

        Last month we wrote about Linux preparing support for the NVMe Simple Copy command that allows for copying multiple contiguous ranges to a single destination LBA with that copy operation being handled by the SSD controller.

        The NVMe Simple Copy specification was ratified in 2020 and it's looking like the Linux kernel could soon see support for it. Among the initial use-cases in mind for this command are during F2FS garbage collection or Btrfs relocation/balancing.

      • [RFC PATCH v4 0/3] add simple copy support
      • Graphics Stack

        • Mike Blumenkrantz: New Year New Corrections

          As long-time readers of the blog know, SGC is a safe space where making mistakes is not only accepted, it’s a way of life. So it is once again that I need to amend statements previously made regarding Xorg synchronization after Michel Dänzer, also known for anchoring the award-winning series Why Is My MR Failing CI Today?, pointed out that while I was indeed addressing the correct problem, I was addressing it from the wrong side.


          A script-based git blame revealed that ANV has a different handling for implicit sync than other Vulkan drivers. After a well-hidden patch, ANV relies entirely on a struct attached to VkSubmitInfo which contains the swapchain image’s memory pointer in order to handle implicit sync. Thus by attaching a wsi_memory_signal_submit_info struct, everything was resolved.

        • Intel Keem Bay Accelerated Hashing Driver Positioned For Linux 5.12

          Keem Bay, Intel's third-generation Movidius VPU (Vision Processing Unit), continues seeing more upstream open-source hardware support within the Linux kernel. Coming to the Linux 5.12 kernel in a couple months will be more support within the crypto subsystem.

          The Keem Bay VPU features much faster inference performance over its predecessors and intended for edge computing with use-cases from drones to other computer vision scenarios. The ARM-based SoC that is part of Keem Bay has yielded a lot of upstream kernel bits over time as well as a brand new DRM kernel driver needed for display support with this latest Movidius product.

        • RADV Vulkan Driver Begins Landing Optimizations For AMD Smart Access Memory

          Following RadeonSI seeing optimizations around AMD Smart Access Memory (Resizable BAR) support last month, the Radeon Vulkan driver "RADV" within Mesa 21.0 is also seeing similar treatment.

          Linux has been seeing more work in recent weeks around Smart Access Memory / Resizable BAR support and that continued this morning with Mesa 21.0 Git seeing the initial RADV support.

    • Benchmarks

      • AMD Performance On Linux 5.11 Remains Mixed Due To Schedutil With Frequency Invariance

        Back on Christmas I wrote about Linux 5.11 regressing for AMD performance on Zen 2 and newer systems where the just-added CPU frequency invariance support was often hurting various workloads when using the default "Schedutil" scheduler utilization frequency scaling governor. Since then and through the holidays I have been carrying out many more benchmarks looking at the Linux 5.11 performance with a particular focus on the AMD desktop/server platforms.

        Long story short, the new AMD frequency invariance support found with Linux 5.11 and utilized by Schedutil is often causing performance regressions. I have found some Zen 2 systems not being plagued by slower performance but have found more systems reaffirming my prior report and benchmark results. The regressions happening for Linux 5.11 on AMD do indeed appear to be squarely due to frequency-invariance/Schedutil and if switching over to the CPUFreq "performance" governor will avoid the regression (and generally better performance too, but a pity most Linux distributions do not default to that preferred governor for optimal performance).

    • Applications

      • Linux at Home: Digital Art with Linux

        We are told by our governments that in the current crisis the single most important action we can take is to stay at home and minimise the amount of contact with others. The new variant of Covid-19 is much more transmissible than the virus’s previous version. The advice to stay safe is therefore even more important. It’s only with everyone abiding by the law can we protect our health services and save lives.

        In this series, we look at a range of home activities where Linux can play its part, making the most of our time at home, keeping active and engaged. The change of lifestyle enforced by Covid-19 is an opportunity to expand our horizons, and spend more time on activities we have neglected in the past.

        Now is a great time to take up a new hobby. How about digital art? Instead of painting on canvas or paper, digital art software allows you to paint and draw directly onto a computer, which has a number of amazing advantages: It’s a lot less messy, and you can do it in even the smallest spaces. It’s more forgiving, and offers an unlimited number of experimental possibilities. Many beginners are attracted to digital drawing because drawing software allows them to more easily produce visually appealing illustrations.

      • QuiteRSS: A Free Open-Source RSS Reader for Linux Desktop

        Personally, I utilize services like Feedly to keep up with the latest happenings across the globe. But, it is a web-based service offering some optional premium features that I may never require.

        So, I looked at some feed reader apps available for Linux and QuiteRSS seemed like an impressive solution as an alternative to web-based services.

        In this article, I’m going to share a few key highlights about QuiteRSS along with my experience with it.

      • Release Roundup: Scrcpy 1.17, BpyTOP 1.0.55, BleachBit 4.2.0, Safe Eyes 2.1.1, SimpleScreenRecorder 0.4.3 And Gammy 0.9.61

        Quite a few applications were updated recently, and this article covers the changes in these new releases.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • Manually install a DEB package on Debian or Ubuntu - PragmaticLinux

        Sometimes you want to install software that is not readily available in the Debian or Ubuntu online software repository. Luckily, a lot of third party software providers make a DEB package available for you to install. This article explains how you can manually install software bundled as a DEB package onto your Debian system. Since Ubuntu derives from Debian, the explanation applies to Ubuntu based systems as well.

      • VirtualBox & VERR_SYMBOL_VALUE_TOO_BIG error

        By and large, my VirtualBox experience is largely pleasant. There are some problems here and there, sometimes serious problems - like the bridged networking issue - but overall, it offers a useful, flexible environment to test operating systems and software quickly, efficiently, smartly. Network isolation, snapshots, Bob's your uncle.

        Then, all of a sudden, a few days back I tried to launch a virtual machine, and it wouldn't. The error message contained the following: Failed to load R0 module ... for device 'usb-ehci' (VERR_SYMBOL_VALUE_TOO_BIG). Well, that sounds rather cryptic. Let's troubleshoot.

      • Ubuntu 21.04- Download latest Daily Build Live ISO file

        The final stable release of Ubuntu 21.04 Hirsute Hippo will officially be released in April 2021, however, if you are a developer or one who just wants to try out it then its daily LIVE ISO is available to download.

        Yes, daily a new version of Ubuntu 21.04 will be available to download on the official website of Canonical. However, after installing it once on your virtual machine or physical machine you don’t need to get the latest copy of the daily build ISO every time.

      • Create Live bootable USB using Ubuntu 20.04’s Startup disk creator

        Ubuntu’s official Startup Disk creator is a very lightweight tool available since Ubuntu 8.04, even on the latest 20.04/18.04 LTS versions. It has a very simple interface with just three buttons and a two-step process for creating a bootable USB drive using the ISO file of any Linux or Windows OS.

      • How To Encrypt Root Filesystem on Linux – devconnected

        As a system administrator, you probably already know how important it is to encrypt your disks.

        If your laptop were to be stolen, even a novice hacker would be able to extract the information contained on the disks.

        All it takes is a simple USB stick with a LiveCD on it and everything would be stolen.

        Luckily for you, there are ways for you to prevent this from happening : by encrypting data stored on your disks.

        In this tutorial, we are going to see the steps needed in order to perform a full system encryption. You may find other tutorials online focused on encrypting just a file or home partitions for example.

        In this case, we are encrypting the entire system meaning the entire root partition and the boot folder. We are going to encrypt a part of the bootloader.


      • How to Update Kali Linux - buildVirtual

        After you have gone through the steps to install Kali Linux, one of the first tasks you should carry out is to update Kali Linux to ensure you have the latest patches and software packages.

        If you have a default installation of Kali, it is recommended that you check for updates every few weeks. You should check more often if you need an updated version of a tool, or if a security update has been released however.

        This article covers what you need to know about how to update Kali Linux kernel. First, it details how to update the Kali Linux repository configuration, and then how to update Kali Linux using the command line.

      • How to create Live Ubuntu 20.04 USB using Rufus - Linux Shout

        The benefit of using a Live USB of Ubuntu, that you don’t need to install anything on your internal hard drive, directly from the USB drive, we can use a full-fledged Linux operating system. We can access all system hardware, storage devices on Live Linux even can install software just like we normally do. The best thing is as you restart your PC everything installed or done on the LIVE Linux will be gone, I mean it gets reset to its original form every time we restart our PC or laptop. However, if you want to store data of the LIVE Linux on the same USB drive then use the persistence storage method.

      • Booting my Raspberry Pi 4 from a USB device

        The Raspberry Pi 4, however, has fixed both of those problems. USB boot is enabled by default, and the Pi 4 has two USB 3.0 ports which make USB mass storage devices noticeably faster than SD cards. So, in theory, USB boot should be gaining in popularity, but it seems to me that is not happening. Perhaps it is because of a lack of familiarity with the possibility, or a lack of detailed examples of doing it. So I will run through various aspects and examples of it in this post.

        The first question to ask, I suppose, would be why is USB boot interesting at all? Well, one good reason I have already mentioned is that a USB 3.0 device is faster than an SD card. Another is that USB drives tend to cost less than microSD cards of the same size, and as the storage capacity goes up, the price difference gets larger. The reason I have gotten into this, however, is that I recently got a Raspberry Pi 4 case which includes an M.2 SSD adapter, and that drive connects via USB. (I will be writing about that case in my next post.)

      • RHEL/CentOS 8 shim kernel signatures

        Due to hardening within the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 kernel, which was released as part of the CVE-2020-10713 update, previous Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 kernel versions have not been added to shim’s allow list. If you are running with Secure Boot enabled, and the user needs to boot to an older kernel version, its hash must be manually enrolled into the trust list. This is achieved by executing the following commands:

      • How to Set Up ModSecurity with Nginx on Debian/Ubuntu

        This tutorial is going to show you how to install and use ModSecurity with Nginx on Debian/Ubuntu servers. ModSecurity is the most well-known open-source web application firewall (WAF), providing comprehensive protection for your web applications (like WordPress, Nextcloud, Ghost etc) against a wide range of Layer 7 (HTTP) attacks, such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and local file inclusion.

      • How to Change a User's Default Shell in Linux

        In this Linux quick tip we will discuss changing a users (or your own) shell. There was once a time when bash was the default shell on almost all Linux systems. That is not necessarily true anymore. However, after this short tutorial you will feel comfortable changing your default shell to any that you desire.

      • How to Use Virtualbox VMs on KVM In Linux

        Are you considering making a switch from VirtualBox to KVM hypervisor? One of your greatest concerns would be starting all over again by creating new virtual machines in KVM – an arduous task to say the least.

        The good news is that instead of creating new KVM guest machines, you can easily migrate the VirtualBox VMs which are in VDI format to qcow2 which is the disk image format for KVM.

        In this guide, we are going to outline a step-by-step procedure of how you migrate VirtualBox VMs into KVM VMs in Linux.

      • LHB #21.01: Docker Notify, Ansible e-book and Planned Improvements for 2021

        You probably have made your new year resolution. So have I, for Linux Handbook. Here are the plans for Linux Handbook in 2021.

      • Testing 2.5 Gbps Ethernet on the Raspberry Pi CM4

        Only 2.5 Gbps? What about your 5 Gbps post?

        "But wait a second," I hear you say, "didn't you already get 4.15 gigabits through the Intel i340 card last month?"

        Well, yes. But that was in aggregate, through five separate 1 Gbps interfaces.

        And while you can bond interfaces sometimes, life is simpler with a big fat pipe. And 2.5 Gbps, as I'll demonstrate later, is probably about as much as the current BCM2711 Raspberry Pi processor can handle.

      • Hacker News vs in C++, an exercise in parsing json http api's and date/time/timezones

        I recently wondered how many top posts on the Hacker News frontpage are also on Lobsters. At first I reached for my trusty Python, because when I need to do some JSON API parsing that's what I'll use. (Otherwise bash is my default goto for small things, except when json, networking or associative arrays are involved.)

        But, then, a thought came to my mind. Why not try it with reasonably modern C++. It's what I do at work, so why not a simple personal project. It would involve dependency management (json & http library), parsing both API endpoints and, most importantly, doing stuff with time. Time, timezones and dates are hard.

        This article contains a bit of my learning process, compilation and usage instructions and an example run. Go look at the code and run the code yourself. Let me know if my timezone calculations are working outside of GMT+1.

      • How To Install AnyDesk on Linux Mint 20 - idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install AnyDesk on Linux Mint 20. For those of you who didn’t know, AnyDesk is the world’s most comfortable remote desktop application. Access all your programs, documents, and files from anywhere, without having to entrust your data to a cloud service. You can say it’s an alternative to the TeamViewer, which is available free. Anydesk provides a faster remote connection than any other existing remote desktop application.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step by step installation of AnyDesk on a Linux Mint 20 (Ulyana).

      • Network address translation part 1 – packet tracing - Fedora Magazine

        Network address translation is one way to expose containers or virtual machines to the wider internet. Incoming connection requests have their destination address rewritten to a different one. Packets are then routed to a container or virtual machine instead. The same technique can be used for load-balancing where incoming connections get distributed among a pool of machines.

        Connection requests fail when network address translation is not working as expected. The wrong service is exposed, connections end up in the wrong container, request time out, and so on. One way to debug such problems is to check that the incoming request matches the expected or configured translation.

      • Create your first serverless function with Red Hat OpenShift Serverless Functions - Red Hat Developer

        Serverless is a powerful and popular paradigm where you don’t have to worry about managing and maintaining your application infrastructure. In the serverless context, a function is a single-purpose piece of code created by the developer but run and monitored by the managed infrastructure. A serverless function’s value is its simplicity and swiftness, which can entice even those who don’t consider themselves developers.

        This article introduces you to Red Hat OpenShift Serverless Functions, a new developer preview feature in Red Hat OpenShift Serverless 1.11. I will provide an overview, then present two example applications demonstrating Serverless Functions with Node.js. Please check the OpenShift Serverless Functions Quick Start document for the example prerequisites.

      • Bootlin training courses for beginning of 2021 - Bootlin's blog

        It’s the beginning of 2021, and Bootlin’s offering of online training courses continues. We have dates available for our 5 training courses, at an affordable cost, and with the same quality characteristics of all Bootlin courses: trainers with proven in-field experience, fully open-source training materials and worldwide recognized training contents.

      • How to Check port is Listening or currently Use in Linux

        Last week, we had a problem with our System through which I could not share my screen remotely from my network computer. Then we check the port status, and the port was closed.

        So, I thought many other Linux Folks also facing this kind of issue in every day.

        In this guide, We will show you how to check the port status in Linux and the method to close the unwanted port.

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Fifth time for some more fixes - Wine 6.0 RC5 is out now

        No squashed grapes here as the Wine team continue cleaning up ready for a huge new release of the Windows compatibility layer with Wine 6.0 Release Candidate 5 out now.

        Currently in a feature-freeze, this means no big new features go in, only the fixes needed for the release.

    • Games

      • OBS Studio looks set to get useful Browser Panel Docking in the Linux version

        Are you a video content creator on Linux using OBS Studio? Chances are if you livestream you have lots of windows open for chat and all sorts and OBS Studio might be about to make that easier for you.

        There's an open Pull Request on the OBS Studio page on GitHub (meaning it's not in the project yet), which adds in the ability to add in dedicated web browser windows docked directly into OBS Studio. The idea is to bring the browser integration closer in parity to the Windows version.

      • Godot Engine had a very productive 2020, lots coming to this FOSS game engine in 2021

        Godot Engine is probably the most promising free and open source game engine around, and they clearly had a very productive 2020 with big plans for 2021.

        Just before the year was up, and as we took our holiday break, developer Fabio Alessandrelli wrote up about the ongoing and impressive progress on the Web Editor and the HTML5 export. The progress on it has been somewhat mind-blowing with it now having GDNative supported with HTML5 exports from Godot, and the web editor itself has now hit what they say is the Beta stage and you can try it out at this new temporary address.

      • Mad Max and Shadow of Mordor delisted for Linux and macOS on Steam | GamingOnLinux

        It seems Feral Interactive have a few less ports available to buy supported for Linux and macOS to start off 2021 with as both Mad Max and Shadow of Mordor have been delisted for both platforms.

        The change happened just before the end of 2020 on both titles, as seen on SteamDB (#1 - #2). On the macOS side, they lost even more as a few Lego titles also vanished and Batman: Arkham City too from mentioning macOS. Why? They all have a common publisher - Warner. Confirming this to me on Twitter, Feral Interactive stated "Hi, these games have been removed from sale on macOS/Linux due to their licenses expiring.".

      • FNA dev and porter Ethan Lee stops future macOS ports, Linux to be their focus | GamingOnLinux

        Ethan Lee, the developer responsible for the XNA reimplementation FNA along with around 50 game ports to Linux and macOS has announced they're stopping future macOS ports with a big update to a bunch of existing games.

        Don't know who they are? You've probably played plenty of games either ported by them or running on tech created / maintained by them including: Streets of Rage 4, Superliminal, FEZ, Transistor, Rogue Legacy, Salt and Sanctuary, Owlboy and loads more.

      • Latest free games for Stadia Pro out now includes F1 2020, Hotline Miami | GamingOnLinux

        As a new month has begun, Google has rolled out multiple new titles for subscribers of the optional Stadia Pro subscription. Here's what they are and what else is to come to Stadia.

        While not quite as big as December 2020 which ended up giving Stadia Pro subscribers 9 games to claim overall, there's still some good stuff going in.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • KDE will hopefully have a 'Production-ready' Wayland session for Plasma in 2021

          A KDE developer who regularly blogs about all the work going into the KDE ecosystem through the likes of the Plasma desktop environment and the various applications, has given an overview of what they expect to see through 2021.

          Sounds like there's plenty of exciting work coming up for KDE and Plasma this year! Nate Graham mentions in the latest post that amongst other things, they might finally have a "Production-ready Plasma Wayland session". A lot of work went into this through 2020 and before that Graham mentioned that it "felt like a mess" but a whole year of progress changed that. Through 2021 we can expect to see a "trend of serious, concentrated Wayland work to continue in 2021" and to be in a better shape for more people to use.

          Quite a long time coming, as it's been said that Wayland would replace X11 for years now and having KDE in top shape with it will certainly help push it forwards even more.

    • Distributions

      • New Releases

        • Slackware-Based Puppy Linux 7.0 Adds UEFI Boot Support, Many Improvements

          Designed to boot on any x86 computer, the Slackware-based Puppy Linux 7.0 distribution is here about three and a half years after the previous release with support for booting on 64-bit and 32-bit UEFI computers.

          Additionally, this release introduces experimental support for UEFI tools like efivar, efivarfs, mokutil, and sbsigntoo, as well as support for Puppy Linux’s FrugalPup installer to install the distribution on 64-bit or 32-bit UEFI and BIOS computers to either local disk drive, USB or SD/MMC devices.

        • ExTiX 21.1 Released based on latest Deepin Desktop [Review]

          The ExTiX team announced the release of the latest version of the desktop – ExTiX 21.1 based on the latest Deepin desktop 20.1 which released a while ago.

        • ExTiX 21.1 based on Deepin 20.1 Released with New Features and More Improvements

          ExTiX is a desktop Linux distribution based on Debian and Ubuntu that offers alternative desktop environments. It also comes with several pre-installed applications and system tools.

          Recently, the developer of ExTiX has announced the release of ExTiX Deepin 21.1, which is based on Deepin 20.1. Let’s take a look at what’s new with the release.

          In case you didn’t know, ExTiX is developed by Arne Exton, a Swedish developer who is quite known for Exton Linux distributions. ExTiX versions are usually based on Ubuntu with alternative desktop environments like LXQT and KDE.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • What actions do you take when patching goes wrong? | Enable Sysadmin

          Patching and updating systems is a key step in reducing possible attack vectors against your infrastructure. When there are systems in your environment that are not up to date with patches, there could be attack vectors that you don’t know about potentially affecting your entire organization. However, what steps do you have in place for when a patching event doesn’t go as expected?

          For example, dependencies might not be met, there could be mismatched versions across i686 and x86_64 RPMs, new package versions might not work as expected, or something else might go wrong. When something goes wrong, it’s important to have a plan for how to proceed. This will reduce the stress level and ensure that everybody working on the task knows what the other people are doing.

        • 8 Kubernetes insights for 2021

          The end of the year is the perfect time to look back and explore where we've been and where we're going in the Kubernetes world. I particularly want to focus on the ecosystem that formed around Kubernetes in 2020, which several great articles on covered. I'll review them in the order they were published.

          It all started in February with a great article called Basic kubectl and Helm commands for beginners by Jessica Cherry. Jess introduces readers to two simple tools to get started with Kubernetes: kubectl, technically part of Kubernetes, and Helm, which makes it easier to install and set up applications on Kubernetes. These tools are extremely useful for new Kubernetes users.

          In March, Lee Carpenter wrote about Directing Kubernetes traffic with Traefik. The article gives a good background on how networking works in Kubernetes and how to configure things in the application definition (Kube YAML). Before reading Lee's article, I hadn't tracked Kubernetes networking closely for a while, and I learned that Traefik comes preconfigured now as an Ingress controller. Very cool.

        • 10 ways Ansible is for everyone |

          Here we are again at the end of another year with a great set of articles about Ansible from I thought it would be nice to review them in a series of progressively advancing topics. I hope to help stimulate the interest of people just getting started with Ansible. There were also a series of summary articles, which I've included for your casual follow-up.

        • Paving The Road Ahead For A Better Ride

          We always sit behind the wheel of the present as we drive to the future with our baggage from the past in the trunk.

          It is with this in mind that we contemplate 2021 and the uncertainty of regional, national, and global economies as well as how the coronavirus pandemic will be handled around the world in some pretty tricky political climates. These forces will affect all IBM i customers, of course, and we are not so much interested in describing all of these complex turbulences as they intertwine. What we do want to do is provide a few ideas as we start this new year to help get the IBM i community to a place with a better climate, which we all know of out there. This is not a wish list or a New Year’s resolution as such, but rather a listing of ideas that we think can be implemented that will increase the viability and resilience of the IBM i base and therefore Big Blue’s own IBM i business as well as the many downstream software and services companies that live in the IBM i community.

          The very first thing that Big Blue can do, and this is so simple, is to admit that among enterprise customers, the IBM i base is still its very largest enterprise computing customer base. There may be millions of licenses of Red Hat Enterprise Linux out there, but we would guess – and we have to because neither Red Hat nor IBM has ever given us a customer count – that there are still, at somewhere around 120,000 unique customers worldwide, more IBM i customers than there are Red Hat customers in the enterprise. (We are not counting supercomputing facilities and massive server farms at the telcos and service providers here, and besides, there are only a few thousand supercomputing centers worldwide and probably only a thousand or so relatively large service providers at that.) So what we want, right off the bat, is for Arvind Krishna, IBM’s chief executive officer since April 2020, right when the coronavirus pandemic was really kicking in, and for James Kavanaugh, its chief financial officer, to actually talk about the IBM i business and its customers like they matter to International Business Machines. Not IBM Systems customers, not Power Systems customers, not Cognitive Systems customers, but IBM i customers. Let the IBM I customer base know that they are on the CEO’s and CFO’s radar, and that they matter.

          That leads me to the next thing I want IBM and its Power Systems channel partners to do. I want IBM to actually make a concerted effort to identify the workloads that are running on X86 iron at IBM i shops and figure out ways to either port this code to Power Systems through integrated runtimes or find alternatives running on Linux partitions. There is a vast amount of work that can be brought back onto Power iron, and it is amazing to me that Big Blue doesn’t even try to do this. If the market is going to shift to Linux and away from Windows Server in the long run for many kinds of workloads – and that is what it looks like to me from the trend data – then get on the front of that curve and help drive Power Systems as well as Red Hat revenues using IBM i shops as the testbed for this.

        • 5 Things to Know About IBM’s New Tape Storage World Record

          Data has been around for thousands of years in physical form, all the way back to cave paintings where primitive civilizations innovated ways to preserve tribal memories. The human race's quest for knowledge, and with it the inexorable and exponential growth of data, has required ever more sophisticated ways of storing, securing and retrieving information. Even as new technologies have arrived, tape media has proven to be one of the most secure, most reliable and most enduring ways to store data.

          Tape has progressed a long way since the reel-to-reel images one might think of from the 1960s. Today's tape technologies are the cornerstone of the world's largest enterprises and hyperscale cloud providers because of the cost, security and durability. At IBM, we continue to reinvent tape, from working with the largest hyperscale providers to future proofing the technology for decades to come.

        • IBM Sets New Tape Storage Record

          IBM recently demonstrated a new record in magnetic tape storage capabilities. With this new milestone, scientists “discovered that a single tape cartridge has the potential to store about 580 terabytes (TB) of data.” To help put that into perspective, IBM says, “580 TB is equivalent to 786,977 CDs stacked 944 meters high, which is taller than Burj Kalifa, the world’s tallest building.”

      • Debian Family

        • Septor Linux 2021 Released With Kernel 5.9.15 And KDE Plasma 5.20.4

          As we enter the new year, a brand new edition of Septor Linux distribution has been released with upgraded applications and an upstream distribution version.

          For those who don’t know, Septor Linux is a Debian GNU/Linux-based operating system that aims to provide a private computing environment for surfing the Internet anonymously.

        • Emmabuntüs Debian Edition 4 Distro Sees Second Alpha Release Featuring Xfce 4.16

          Coming more than eight months after the first alpha release, Emmabuntüs Debian Edition 4 alpha 2 is based on Debian GNU/Linux 11 “Bullseye” alpha 3 and features the recently released and awesome Xfce 4.16 desktop environment.

          If you want to get a taste of Xfce 4.16 and your current GNU/Linux distribution doesn’t offer it in its software repositories, you can download the Emmabuntüs Debian Edition 4 alpha 2 release and run it live from a USB stick.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Ardour Digital Audio Workstation Finally Exploiting Intel/AMD FMA For More Performance - Phoronix

        The Ardour open-source, cross-platform digital audio workstation rung in 2021 by mainlining support for using Intel/AMD FMA functionality for greater performance.

        FMA3 has been supported by CPUs for years going back to AMD Piledriver and Intel Haswell for fused multiply-add. Now in 2021, Ardour is supporting optional usage of FMA on capable processors. The initial use-case for FMA in Ardour is for the multiply accumulate operations within audio channel mixing. The initial code was found to indeed reduce the number of CPU instructions as a result during the channel mixing.

      • Private Patreon Public Beta

        This is built on Woocommerce, just like the rest of my store. The software is a $398 annual fee. If everyone was to switch from Patreon to direct, it would more than cover the expense. I don’t expect that to happen. But many folks have said that they’d patronize me if they didn’t have to go through Patreon. I expect most of them were just spewing hot air, but here’s their chance. If I can come close to breaking with Patreon fees, I’ll consider it a win. Disintermediation is valuable in and of itself.

      • Commenting via Mastodon!

        Following Carl Schwann’s post, I have now enabled comments on my blog, starting with this post. It’s surprisingly simple for someone who has not done much mucking around with Hugo before!

        If you’re also using Hugo, here’s how I did mine: [...]

      • CMS

        • 19 Free open-source self-hosted Invoicing and billing solutions

          In a dynamic business environment invoices are created regularly and require custom workflow according to the enterprise business process.

          Invoice and order management solutions are built to manage billing and invoicing documents generally. Some of them manage orders and post-sale subscription billing.

          Most of ERP (Enterprise Resources Planning) solutions include invoice, billing and order management features.

      • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

        • Open Access/Content

          • A new mandate highlights costs, benefits of making all scientific articles free to read

            The group, which calls itself Coalition S, has fallen short of its initial aspiration to catalyze a truly international movement, however. Officials in three top producers of scientific papers—China, India, and the United States—have expressed general support for open access, but have not signed on to Plan S. Its mandate for immediate open access will apply to authors who produced only about 6% of the world’s papers in 2017, according to an estimate by the Clarivate analytics firm, publisher of the Web of Science database.

      • Programming/Development

        • The GAMECHANGING features of PHP 8!

          I'm excited about PHP 8! In this video we explore 10 of the most EXCITING new features in this NEW version of PHP!

        • Software will eat Hollywood. Whose software?

          Much of that disruption is due to how content is produced. A traditionally produced blockbuster movie can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and can take up to a year in CGI and other task after the last shot.

          Software hugely costs those costs, together with production times and economics risks. It’s software that makes it possible to produce and distribute a whole eight-episodes season of The Mandalorian, make millions of people worldwide watch it at a cost of about 120 USD millions.

        • Software development stuck in the 1990s

          MIT research fellow Jonathan Edwards has warned that while software "is eating the world. But progress in software technology itself largely stalled around 1996".

          Writing in his bog he said that in 1996 there were LISP, Algol, Basic, APL, Unix, C, Oracle, Smalltalk, Windows, C++, LabView, HyperCard, Mathematica, Haskell, WWW, Python, Mosaic, Java, JavaScript, Ruby, Flash, Postgress [sic] and afterwards it was expected to have been IntelliJ, Eclipse, ASP, Spring, Rails, Scala, AWS, Clojure, Heroku, V8, Go, React, Docker, Kubernetes, Wasm.

          However all that stalled in the internet boom around 1996 that caused this slowdown because programmers could get rich quick. Then smart and ambitious people moved into Silicon Valley, and founded startups.

        • Learn Fortran by writing a "guess the number" game |

          The first compiled programming language I learned was Fortran 77. While growing up, I taught myself how to write programs in BASIC on the Apple II and later in QBasic on DOS. But when I went to university to study physics, I learned Fortran.

          Fortran used to be quite common in scientific computing. And once upon a time, all computer systems had a Fortran compiler. Fortran used to be as ubiquitous as Python is today. So if you were a physics student like me, working in the 1990s, you learned Fortran.

        • Perl/Raku

          • Let us Have a Productive Year of 2021

            In February, I started to join "The Weekly Challenge"(PWC in short, as initially it was called "Perl Weekly Challenge" while the name "Perl6" hadn't been replaced by Raku). Then I slowly involved in the Perl community as a beginner.

            At first, my codes are messy! I have forgotten from where I heard of Perl Best Practices(by Damian Conway; btw, I have to revisit it again), and adopted some of its advice. And then I read more codes and decided to maintain my code more modularized and structured; in addition, I have learnt to use the unit testing package in Perl (thanks to Perl Monks).

            At a very early time, I just want to use programming for my ameteur mathematician dream. My codes are encouraged by the code reviewer Ryan as "analytic". The second week I joined PWC, I hit on my favorite stuff ‒ number theory in math. I provided a different but optimized solution. [1] It started a series of email conversations with Ryan Thompson. Besides "hard knowledge" of Perl I learnt from the discussion, I started blogging here with his encouragement.

        • Rust

          • Feeling a little Rusty? v1.49 arrives just in time for new year’s, elbows language onto 64-bit Arm

            As usual, the Rust language update also includes a new release of Cargo. This time, Rust’s package manager has learned to build independently reproducible crates with cargo-package, and accept glob patterns for package and target specifications. Version 1.49 also includes a new build-time environment variable called CARGO_PRIMARY_PACKAGE for indicating “root packages requested on the command-line”. This is meant to be especially helpful when using the –fix flag, since it can let lint collection clippy know when to not emit lints to reduce problems in that particular scenario.

            Speaking of clippy, the collection gained a variety of false positive fixes, and 17 new lints since the last release to help finding issues like loops with just one element, inefficient calls to Mutex::lock, or the integration of less than ideal methods. The lint for identifying drop_bounds has been uplifted into rustc and was therefore deprecated in clippy, while single_char_push_str was renamed to single_char_add_str and zero_width_space is now known as invisible_characters. Developers looking for string_lit_as_bytes or rc_buffer will need to turn to nursery or restriction respectively, as those lints have been moved there.

            Before making the switch to Rust 1.49, a brief look into the compatibility notes is advised, since changes in the stripping of whitespaces in comments or treatment of macros ending in semi-colons might lead to slightly different behaviour of old programs.

  • Leftovers

    • The Invisible Shepherd

      Happy Twenty Twenty-one We need to hit the pharmacy and pick up some free calendars — the word you know’s from Latin calendarium, account book that’s a book of debts and book’s from beech the tree of death — but, seriously Economy, the Nomos, springs Instead from trees of dogma All of which’ll grow into a labyrinth An invisible shepherd That shepherds you through — Nomos, from nemein, land capture For pasture The nomeus, the shepherd, is a colonizer Exploiter of earth and sheep alike Spreader of strife, and disease, Polluting and looting Your skin, your eyes The other tree, of Physis, Is the tree of life, the tree of ease Whose leaves, says John of Patmos, Are the medicine of the people And just as Nomos pollutes the land And poisons skies and seas Physis, physician, the healer, as the remedy Spreads ease and frees This desecrated Eden

    • Like Falling Flowers

      These seasonal reflections have me thinking a lot about the state of our world and what we might expect for this new year. I wonder about further glacial melting and rising sea levels in a place like this – as I think all of us around the world who live on islands should. These days though, it feels differently, that all around us, there are heavy stones of despair falling on our heads and between endless wars and climatological disasters looming, one wonders about relief. Any relief. Will the summer come again? Will it continue to be warmer than the last, thus, up here, wetter? Or will it simply be another casualty of the stop and go effects of warmer global temperatures and bring us earlier falls, and even deeper, darker winters? Will sanity rule our politicians? Will there be attempts to stop wars, to forgive debt, create new possibilities out of despair and maybe restore a little hope for a better tomorrow? I do not know, but I have my doubts.

      So a number of images came to mind as I sat on this eerily quiet January first, all of them potential responses or reactions to the enormity of the new world we face.

    • Same Procedure as Every Year: The Story of "Dinner for One"

      This 90th birthday is characterised by notable absences. After nine decades, mortality has done its bit of gathering.€  The venerable lady has been left the sole survivor of a circle of beloved friends.€  The bawdy subtext here is that they are all males and must have been a rather naughty crew at that.€  She misses them, and longs for their company.

      The task for James seems, at least initially, innocuous. The table, with Miss Sophie at the head, is set for the spectral guests: Admiral von Schneider, Mr Pomeroy, Sir Toby and Mr Winterbottom.€  James assumes the role of each of the departed, standing before each empty seat for each course that will be served.€  “They are all here, Miss Sophie,” begins James.€  But his task is not merely to mimic them and assume their persona with conviction; he is also required to drink their share.€  The task is formidable, challenging both sobriety and liver.€  A different set of drinks must accompany the servings for the phantom guests: sherry with the mulligatawny soup; white wine with the fish; champagne with the bird; port with the fruit.

    • Our need for rituals, and one thing that really upsets it | Stop at Zona-M

      Rituals are symbolic acts. They represent, and pass on, the values and orders on which a community is based. They bring forth a community without communication; today, however, communication without community prevails.

      [That] definition, as clever as it is, almost seems to suggest that rituals are merely instrumental.

      But “We can define rituals as symbolic techniques of making oneself at home in the world… They are to time what a home is to space: they render time habitable.”

      Rituals are the process by which we fully inhabit time in the way that humans are meant to.

      Do we experience time in clicks? In bandwidth? In quantifiable streams of data, raw and mindlessly accumulating?

    • Science

      • Physics of Fluids

        As a first entry to my blog I plan to have a series on simulating fluids in Computer Graphics. The first blog posts will be a theoretical introduction to the physical model of fluids, the Navier-Stokes equations. After this I plan to write an article about different ways for fluid simulations in Computer Graphics. The last part of the series should be about implementation details of an actual fluid simulation. Critiques and comments are welcomed.

      • I do not see Artificial intelligence here

        Rows of images of baby photograps, only baby photographs, with no results at all about that quote? Huh?

        Now it is perfectly possible, quite likely actually, that no legally usable version of that shot and quote exist.

        I mean, OK, sure, everybody who deserved compensation for any creative contribution to that movie is surely long dead by now. But why on Earth should such an insignificant detail hurt the stranglehold Hollywood, and all monopolistic publishers and media, have on culture?

    • Education

    • Hardware

      • [Old] EU Signs €145bn Declaration to Develop Next Gen Processors and 2nm Technology

        Among the itemized points in the declaration, the states agreed to focus on the design ecosystem, supply chain capabilities and first industrial deployment of advanced semiconductor technologies, including scaling towards leading-edge process technologies for processor chips. It also plans to work towards common standards and, where appropriate, certification for trusted electronics, as well as common requirements for procurement of secure chips and embedded systems in applications that rely on or make extensive use of chip technology.

        The 17 member states who signed the declaration are:

        Belgium, France, Germany, Croatia, Estonia, Italy, Greece, Malta, Spain, The Netherlands, Portugal, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania, Finland, [and] Cyprus

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Opinion | America Was Always Going to Bungle the Vaccine Rollout

        "It isn't hard to think up a simple set of rules that would ensure shots are going into arms as quickly as possible."

      • Looking back on 2020: Too many physicians behaving badly

        As I sat down yesterday to write this post, it suddenly occurred to me: This will be my first post of 2021. Out of curiosity about the year that just ended, I scrolled back to my very first (substantive) post in 2020 and noticed that it was a about crowdfunding cancer quackery through GoFundMe, with the second post being about the goop lab on Netflix and the third being about a bogus attempt by an antivaxxer to claim that antivax parents could get a medical exemption to school vaccine mandates just by lying about their child having had an anaphylactic reaction to a vaccine. Worthy topics, all, but nonetheless I couldn’t help but think, How quaint. I then realized that it was around that time that what later came to be known as SARS-CoV-2 but then was known just as the novel coronavirus that had first emerged in Wuhan, China was just a blip on the world news. True, by the end of January I had deconstructed the very first conspiracy theory about COVID-19 that I had encountered, namely that a larger-than-usual use of the influenza vaccine in China had led to an increased susceptibility to the novel coronavirus, thus starting the outbreak that was to turn into our current pandemic. It was a strangely precise claim that I ended up revisiting and refuting again and again. Sadly, to this day, the claim that the flu vaccine increases your susceptibility to COVID-19 by 36% remains one of those viral bits of pandemic disinformation that just won’t die, and I still see it popping up from time to time. Worse, it’s a claim that was popularized by a physician.

      • Emergence of New COVID Variant Reflects Critical Need for Vaccination
      • Reverse Engineering Source Code of the Biontech Pfizer Vaccine: Part 2

        In short: the vaccine mRNA has been optimized by the manufacturer by changing bits of RNA from (say) UUU to UUC, and people would like to understand the logic behind these changes. This challenge is quite close to what cryptologists and reverse engineering people encounter regularly. On this page, you’ll find all the details you need to get cracking to reverse engineer just HOW the vaccine has been optimized.

        I thought this would just be a fun puzzle, but I have just been informed that figuring out the optimization procedure & documenting it is tremendously important for researchers around the world, as this would help them design code for proteins and vaccines.

        So, if you want to help vaccine research, do read on!

      • FarmVille Once Took Over Facebook. Now Everything Is FarmVille.

        Then, that June, came FarmVille. If you weren’t among the tens of millions of people tending a cartoon patch of land on Facebook each day, piling up an endless stream of cutesy collectibles, you were still getting copious nags and nudges from your friends asking for help. The game either pulled Facebook users into an obsession or persistently reminded them that they were missing out on one.

      • In bloody year for U.S. cities, Akron lost several children to gun violence

        Jeff Asher, a New Orleans-based crime analyst, has been chronicling the crime data from 57 cities with populations over 250,000 people. Murders are up 36 percent through at least September compared to 2019, he said.

        “It’s not as bad as it was in the 1980s and early 1990s, but I’m not sure it’s fair to compare it to the worst period in modern history,” said Asher, a former CIA analyst.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Security

          • Thoughts On Flash

            Flash had to die. It had too many knocks against it years before it finally met its maker this week, and the internet moved forward without it. But the groundbreaking internet plugin’s death in many ways reflects a win in favor of a more technical, more methodical internet, one where systems are built to work efficiently, rather than experimental playthings that kind of sit in their own space. In a world where the conventions of user experience win out more times than not, Flash was simply about being creative at the start. And that made it divisive. Today’s Tedium, the first of 2021, ponders the departure of an old friend from our digital lives—and what we might have lost in the process.

          • Grid regulator warns utilities of risk of SolarWinds backdoor, asks how exposed they are

            The North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), a not-for-profit regulatory authority backed by the U.S. and Canadian governments, said in a Dec. 22 advisory to electric utilities that there was no evidence indicating that the malicious tampering of SolarWinds software had impacted power systems. But the fact that software made by Texas-based firm SolarWinds is used in the electric sector has made vigilance important, according to NERC.

          • Microsoft Says 'SolarWinds' [Crackers] Viewed Internal Code

            Microsoft acknowledged Thursday that attackers who spearheaded a massive hack of government and private computer networks gained access to its internal "source code," a key building block for its software.

          • Microsoft says SolarWinds [attackers] accessed company source code

            It’s also noteworthy that Microsoft’s approach to source code “means we do not rely on the secrecy of source code for the security of products, and our threat models assume that attackers have knowledge of source code,” the post said. “So viewing source code isn’t tied to elevation of risk.”

          • SolarWinds Hackers Viewed Microsoft’s Source Code [Ed: Swapnil and team as megaphones of Microsoft face-saving spin]

            Microsoft has revealed that the nation state group behind the recent SolarWinds cyberattack managed to view source code repositories for some of the company’s products.

            The tech giant said it detected malicious SolarWinds applications in its environment, which the company isolated and removed.

          • Microsoft Says Russian [Crackers] Viewed Some of Its Source Code

            The [attack], which may be ongoing, appears to have begun as far back as October 2019. That was when [crackers] breached the Texas company SolarWinds, which provides technology monitoring services to government agencies and 425 of the Fortune 500 companies. The compromised software was then used to penetrate the Commerce, Treasury, State and Energy Departments, along with FireEye, a top cybersecurity firm that first revealed the breach this past month.

          • Linux Pentesting: What Is It and How Can It Improve Network Security?

            When setting up and testing a network security system, it is critical to make sure it is working properly and free from vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious hackers. The best way to improve and guarantee the security of your network and prevent attacks is by continuously testing it for potential flaws - which is where pentesting comes in quite handy. This article will introduce the concept of pentesting to improve and verify network security, explain basic pentesting methodology and explore some excellent pentesting tools, distros and OSes available to Linux users in 2021.


            Pentesting, or the practice of staging cyberattacks that mimic legitimate security incidents, can help improve network security by allowing administrators to identify and improve weak points in network security systems, and verify that the modifications they make are working as they should to prevent future attacks. There are many excellent tools, distros and OSes designed to assist in the pentesting process available to Linux users - Kali Linux, Parrot Security OS, Nmap and WebShag being among our favorites. Pentesting requires careful planning and methodology, and should be one element of a comprehensive, defense-in-depth approach to network security.

          • Security updates for Monday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (chromium, dovecot, flac, influxdb, libhibernate3-java, and p11-kit), Fedora (ceph and guacamole-server), Mageia (audacity, gdm, libxml2, rawtherapee, and vlc), openSUSE (jetty-minimal and privoxy), Red Hat (kernel and kernel-rt), SUSE (gimp), and Ubuntu (libproxy).

          • mdBook security advisory

            The Rust Security Response Working Group was recently notified of a security issue affecting the search feature of mdBook, which could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary JavaScript code on the page.


            The search feature of mdBook (introduced in version 0.1.4) was affected by a cross site scripting vulnerability that allowed an attacker to execute arbitrary JavaScript code on an user's browser by tricking the user into typing a malicious search query, or tricking the user into clicking a link to the search page with the malicious search query prefilled.

            mdBook 0.4.5 fixes the vulnerability by properly escaping the search query.

          • What Is The SSL Certificate And How To Get It?

            SSL certificates have become crucial for any website. You can get an SSL certificate for free with the help of LetsEncrypt and SSL for free. If your site has subdomains, you can get a wildcard SSL as well.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Banning Government Use of Face Recognition Technology: 2020 Year in Review

              On January 9, after first calling and threatening to arrest him at work, Detroit police officers traveled to nearby Farmington Hills to arrest Robert Williams in front of his wife, children, and neighbors—for a crime he did not commit. He was erroneously connected by face recognition technology that matched an image of Mr. Williams with video from a December 2018 shoplifting incident. Later this year, Detroit police erroneously arrested a second man because of another misidentification by face recognition technology.

              For Robert Williams, his family, and millions of Black and brown people throughout the country, the research left the realm of the theoretical and became all too real. Experts at MIT Media Lab, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Georgetown's Center on Privacy and Technology have shown that face recognition technology is riddled with error, especially for people of color. It is one more of a long line of police tools and practices that exacerbate historical bias in the criminal system.

              2020 will undoubtedly come to be known as the year of the pandemic. It will also be remembered for unprecedented Black-led protest against police violence and concerns that surveillance of political activity will chill our First Amendment rights. Four cities joined the still-growing list of communities that have stood up for their residents' rights by banning local government use of face recognition. Just days after Mr. Williams' arrest, Cambridge, MA—an East Coast research and technology hub–became the largest East Coast City to ban government use of face recognition technology. It turned out to be a distinction they wouldn't retain long.

            • Spot the Surveillance: How to Identify Police Surveillance at Protests and Large Gatherings

              The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Kurt Opsahl with show you how to identify surveillance technologies that law enforcement may use at protests and other public gathering to spying on people exercising their fundamental rights. Learn how to spot the surveillance so you can advocate effectively for the policies necessary to protect your rights and bring transparency to the police surveillance.

            • Brexit Deal Mandates Old Insecure Crypto Algorithms

              In what is surely an unthinking cut-and-paste issue, page 921 of the Brexit deal mandates the use of SHA-1 and 1024-bit RSA: [...]

            • Alexa, who else is listening?

              This talk investigates smart assistants like Alexa and Siri. For half a year we collected in an experiment our own Alexa voice data, analyzed and investigated it. We deeply looked into accidental triggers. These are words and sentences which wake Alexa and Siri up, even if they shouldn’t. Every time for a couple of seconds, audio data, is transmitted to Amazon or Apple. And as it is widely known, real people are listening to that. Sex, children, employers talking to their bosses – we met whistleblowers and transcribers, who have worked for the big tech companies. They improve the artificial intelligence of smart speakers for the price of private eavesdropping. The analyzed metadata revealed even more how deep smart speakers intrude your private sphere – and that in the end Amazon, Apple and Google will know (nearly) everything about you. Disclaimer: This research was part of a journalistic research, which was already published in june 2020.

            • Wrong About Signal

              Signal has been moving in the direction of adding PINs for some time because they realize the danger of relying on the phone number system. Signal just mandated PINs for everyone as part of that switch. Good for security? I really don't think so. They did it so you could recover some bits of "profile, settings, and who you’ve blocked".


              In summary, Signal got people to hastily create or reuse PINs for minimal disclosed security benefits. There is a possibility that the push for mandatory cloud based PINS despite all of the pushback is that Signal knows of active attacks that these PINs would protect against. It likely would be related to using phone numbers.

              I'm trying out the Element which uses the open Matrix network. I'm not actively encouraging others to join me, but just exploring the communities that exist there. It's already more featureful and supports more platforms than Signal ever did.

            • Should you allow telemetry? [Ed: Surveillance by any other name...]

              Let's start the year with some important philosophy - an article discussing the pros and cons of data telemetry in software products, including functional and financial objectives, indirect and direct data analysis, personal and non-personal data, privacy implications, data leaks, product quality, and more. All your base are belong to us. Enjoy.

            • Downloading Twitter Data or Not

              At this rate I already forgot why I initiated the download in the first place! I am old. Then I remembered, I’m only doing this because I was having a chat with some friends, and mentioned a tweet I’d sent about 10 or so years back, but couldn’t find it online.

              With the download taking so long, I decided to investigate Twitter search a little further. I had previously been searching for it with the only word I could recall, “chopper”, but turned up no results. With a fresh, New Year brain I remembered another word from the tweet - “spooks”. Boom! found it.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • OPCW chief dodges questions on Syria cover-up after new leaks, attacks on whistleblowers
      • Nomination of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize

        Our hope lies in lives like those of Chelsea, Ed and Julian, their altruism helping restore our faith in ourselves and in our brothers and sisters everywhere. We allow ourselves to be inspired by their courage and example as they motivate us to act. If they are capable of such great acts of love, maybe we too can do something for others – at least we can try to keep the Golden Rule, ‘do unto others as you would have them do to you’ (which all religions preach). We each can try to do no harm, and try to do what is right.Chelsea Manning, as an American soldier based in Iraq, could not go along with the murder of Iraqi civilians. Julian Assange, as a publisher, had to do his duty and disclose facts of the Iraqi and Afghan wars to the public. Edward Snowden, working in U.S. intelligence, could not remain silent knowing that his government was carrying out illegal surveillance of US citizens and world governments.They could have remained silent but chose the hard road to tell the truth. Now they are being punished cruelly and vindictively by those who broke international laws, the very people who should be held responsible for the deaths of children and civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen…Currently Assange is in Belmarsh Prison, UK, facing extradition charges to USA, as the British government cooperates with the American Grand Jury to condemn him (an Australian citizen and publisher) to cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment, which could even lead to the death penalty.Even more insidious, with a few honourable exceptions, the Main Stream Media–if not silent at the unjust torture of Assange by the UK and US governments–collude in the abuse of Assange, a fellow publisher. If Assange is extradited to USA to stand trial and imprisoned for truth telling, thereafter no reporter, newspaper or publisher in the world will be safe from the same treatment by the USA and other repressive governments opposed to public accountability and scrutiny. Snowden is seeking asylum in Moscow (Russia have just granted him citizenship to help protect his life) and is unable to return to his home in the USA lest he be arrested and confined to an American prison for life.Manning is in an American prison, having been re-arrested and held because she courageously refuses to give testimony against Assange. All of these three Champions of Peace followed their consciences, did their duty with love. I am sure that they were afraid, but they endured their Dark Nights of the Soul, they each did something beautiful and magnificent in service of others. We must all be grateful for their uplifting spirits.The Nobel Committee could protect and help save the lives of these three champions of peace by awarding them the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. By doing so you would honour the will of Nobel, in acknowledging true heroes of Peace. The Nobel committee would also give great hope to publishers, journalists, writers, and many who face repression and persecution by their governments as they struggle to be the writers of truth and history of humanity. Thank you. Peace, Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate

      • 100 Dead in Attacks on Two Villages in West Niger

        The two villages are about 120 kilometers north of the capital, Niamey, in the Tillabéri region, bordering Mali and Burkina Faso. This region known as "the three borders" has been regularly targeted for years by jihadi groups.

      • Pakistan coal miners kidnapped and killed in IS attack

        The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the killing of 11 coal miners in the western Pakistani province of Balochistan.

      • Situationer: Mourning the butchered

        Though sectarian violence has decreased the number of Hazara coal miners in Balochistan in one and half decades, there is still a sizeable number of them in Mach and other coal mines in the province, who are compelled to work as coal miners due to economic crunch. Their economic activities in Quetta have dwindled to their ghettoised communities in eastern and western parts of the city: Marriabad and Hazara Town.

      • Minorities protest torching of Hindu shrine

        The participants said the historical building was set on fire by people due to negligence of the local police, and demanded of the provincial government to take action against the district police officer, the DSP and the area SHO.

        The people did not act all of a sudden as they had had planned it in advance, but the police did not take notice, they lamented.

        The protesters said the destruction of the historical shrine had caused serious unrest among the Hindu community. They urged the government to ensure protection to the people and their worship places.

        The minority community members expressed satisfaction over the suo motu notice taken by the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

    • Environment

      • Taiwan addresses water shortages following unusually dry year

        Last year marked the first time since 1964 that a typhoon did not hit Taiwan during flood season which is from May to November, said Wang Yi-feng (王藝峰), deputy director-general of the Water Resources Agency (WRA). As a result, there were only 661 millimeters of rainfall from June to November, an all-time-low, compared with average annual rainfall in the period of 1,635 mm, WRA data showed.

        During the fall, Feitsui Reservoir in New Taipei and Shihmen Reservoir in Taoyuan saw their water storage level fall to 48 percent and 43 percent, respectively, according to the agency. In response, the government introduced a raft of measures, including ceasing water supplies for agricultural irrigation in some regions south of Taoyuan.

      • One in Three US Rivers Changed Colors Between 1984 and 2018
    • Finance

      • Opinion | Want Bargaining Rights With That?

        “We can now say that New York City is the first place in the country where fast-food workers will no longer be at-will employees."

      • The Marxist Pioneer

        Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2020. 213 pp., $74.99

        When the French left looks at its founders, the socialist Jean Jaurès is often fondly remembered as a great orator, historian, and a champion of peace who was murdered for that belief in 1914. By contrast, his Marxist contemporary, Jules Guesde is dismissed as sectarian and dogmatic. Yet Guesde deserves better than this. Thankfully, French historian Jean-Numa Ducange has written an accessible, well-researched, and largely sympathetic biography of Guesde. Ducange’s biography not only rescues Guesde from neglect but shows how indispensable he was to introducing Marxism into France and making it a political force to be reckoned with.

      • Financialization of Big Tech is BIG

        This post concludes (for 2020, at least) my summaries of an important SOMO report about the main characteristics of the Big Tech model and how it is a mix between feudalism and Animal Farm.

      • The Richest 500 People in the World Added $1.8 Trillion to Their Wealth in 2020
      • People in Debt Have Formed a Union to Fight Back
    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Trump’s Chaos Casts Shadow Over Electoral College Vote as Nation Awaits Stimulus
      • How Steve Bannon Tried to Destroy Pope Francis

        After nearly two decades, the Best Picture Oscar-winning Spotlight, and a purported top-to-bottom institutional reform that has defrocked hundreds of clerics while leading to the disgraced retirement of a bevy of Bishops, Cardinals, and maybe even a Pope, what more could be said about the Catholic Church’s clergy child abuse scandal? How could this grisly episode, a moment that tore away one of the most painful scabs on one of the world’s oldest theological bodies, still have any novel insights?

        For the casual observer, the recent headlines about former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who almost overnight went from jet setting with Davos elites to a defrocked hermit’s existence in an undisclosed location somewhere in the United States, seemed like a tragic yet just conclusion to a Shakespearean saga of power and perversion. The Vatican published the so-called McCarrick Report in November 2020, an extra-ordinary text the Holy See allowed to be authored by a lay attorney who in turn invoked copyright protections in a fashion I have not seen on any judicial document before. It not only condemned McCarrick once and for all but laid substantial guilt at the feet of Pope St. John Paul II. The Polish pontiff was allegedly appraised repeatedly of McCarrick’s awful behavior and yet, due to his own history in Krakow dealing with a Communist government that frequently made similar accusations against clerics for seemingly-politicized reasons, allowed the American to continue to ascend upwards through the hierarchy to become a Prince of the Church.

      • Sanders, Other Critics Denounce GOP Senators' 'Pathetic' Attempt to Undermine Biden's Election Victory

        "It is a sad and tragic day for our country that 140 members€ of the House of Representatives, 13 senators and a defeated president are attempting to undermine American€ democracy and our Constitution."

      • Opinion | Trump and Iran in Last 17 Days: Will They or Won’t They?

        "Trump's economic and financial blockade on Iran is such that things could always spiral out of control."

      • Opinion | A Year Ago the U.S. Assassinated a National Leader

        The Soleimani assassination and its anniversary ought to provide occasion for Americans to think carefully about the nature of what each side in this badly plagued relationship has done to the other.€ 

      • Opinion | I Never Thought Democrats Could Win Georgia. Could It Happen Twice?

        The critical Senate run-off race is too close to call. But a massive voter mobilization effort may just tip the balance.

      • Trump pressures Georgia's Raffensperger to overturn his defeat in extraordinary call
      • Trump Accused of 'Criminal Extortion' After Asking Georgia Officials to 'Find' 11,000 Votes for Him

        "Knowing what Trump has said in leaked phone calls, just imagine what he's said in calls that weren't."

      • Pelosi wins Speakership for fourth time in dramatic vote

        House Democrats rallied Sunday to elect Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as Speaker in the 117th Congress, overcoming opposition from a handful of restive moderates urging new leadership to grant Pelosi her fourth term at the top of the chamber.

        The 216-209 vote was more dramatic than anyone would have guessed just two months ago, when Democrats went into the elections predicting big gains to pad their House majority in 2021. Instead, they lost at least 13 seats, trimming their numbers to a mere 222 seats — the smallest House majority in decades — and complicating Pelosi's effort to keep the Speaker's gavel for another two-year term.

      • France reportedly resumes collecting digital services tax from tech giants

        France has resumed the collection of a digital services tax from major tech companies such after pausing the levy earlier this year, according to a new report.

        An unnamed French official cited by the Wall Street Journal this morning said that the tax, which stands at 3%, is now once again in effect. The tax is levied on revenues generated in France from certain types of digital services. It applies to large tech companies such as Google LLC and Facebook Inc. that have annual sales of at least €25 million, or about $30 million, in France and at least €750 million or about $921 million globally.

      • After embracing remote work in 2020, companies face conflicts making it permanent

        Although the pandemic forced employees around the world to adopt makeshift remote work setups, a growing proportion of the workforce already spent at least part of their week working from home, while some businesses had embraced a “work-from-anywhere” philosophy from their inception. But much as virtual events rapidly gained traction in 2020, the pandemic accelerated a location-agnostic mindset across the corporate world, with tech behemoths like Facebook and Twitter announcing permanent remote working plans.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • The RBG Affect: Where the Rubber ‘Meats’ The Road On Science, Global Warming And The Convenience Of Hypocrisy

        US Supreme Court judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg knew a lot about activism and the fight for women’s rights. And like the current battle to arrest global warming, RBG also knew a bit about people ignoring the bleedingly obvious when it suited. Geoff Russell explains.

      • REAL-ID Act amended, but DHS doesn’t get the exemptions it wanted

        Amendments to the REAL-ID Act of 2005 were included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which was signed into law by President Trump on December 27, 2020.

        But somewhere in the sausage-making that saw the REAL-ID Modernization Act and numerous other unrelated measures inserted into the 2,124-page omnibus pandemic relief and appropriations bill, the key provisions sought by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) were removed from the final bill.

        That leaves the DHS still required by existing Federal laws to respond to our objections, to request and obtain approval from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and to post OMB-approved notices at TSA checkpoints explaining what is required, and on what legal basis, before it can try to deny anyone passage through a checkpoint or travel by common carrier on the basis of their failure or refusal to show ID.

      • Pinduoduo Worker’s Death Renews Scrutiny of 996 Work Culture

        The e-commerce company confirmed on Monday that an employee died after working past midnight last week, without providing additional details. That sparked a social media backlash against the company and the relentless working schedules expected of its employees, with a hashtag about the incident drawing more than 150 million views on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo service.

        The so-called 996 office schedule -- 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week, plus overtime -- has spurred criticism in previous years following complaints from tech workers and earlier deaths. Still, tech billionaires from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founder Jack Ma to Inc. chief Richard Liu have endorsed the practice as necessary for survival in an intensely competitive industry and the key to accumulating personal wealth.

      • Time to speak up on Tibet

        In this context, the TPSA provides an opportunity for India to re-articulate its position on the subject. This is in the background of China violating all agreements (such as 1993, 1996, 2005 and 2013 agreements) on the borders and the resultant military stalemate since May 2020. As China itself has been raising the Kashmir issue at the United Nations (four times in the last one year), India must seriously reconsider its Tibet policy.

        First, India needs to send, in a synchronous manner, signals of its displeasure to China and insist on reciprocity on Tibet and Kashmir issues. Second, India must coordinate with the US on Tibet issues. Third, on trans-boundary water issues, India must seek Tibetans’ support as well as organise multilateral pressure along with Bangladesh and affected Southeast Asian countries. Fourth, India must organise international Buddhist conventions, with the participation of the Dalai Lama and the head monks of the trans-Himalayan region, Mongolia and Southeast Asia.

      • The New Humanitarian | Humanitarian policy trends 2021

        Past mega-crises have spurred reforms, so 2020 could be a historic turning point for the humanitarian sector. So the theory goes. But in practice, there's the likelihood not much will change.

        Given the growing numbers of people affected, the disruptions to conventional ways of working, and the prospect of dwindling funding, the pandemic year reignited conversations about aid reform. Sheer necessity made things possible that previously seemed out of reach: Donors showed greater flexibility; international organisations took more of a back seat to local leadership; and COVID-19 drove a super-charged appetite for delivering aid as cash.

        Whether that momentum will continue as vaccines are rolled out, travel restrictions are lifted, and life moves towards some semblance of normality is uncertain. As we said in last year’s list, reform in the aid sector never comes easily.

      • Cowboy Confederates | Dissent Magazine

        The Clint Eastwood Western The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), a genre-defining fantasy of anti-government violence, finds redemption for the failed ideas of the white South in the bloody plains of the American West. Eastwood’s character, and the entire idea of the American West in the film, are the product of two of the biggest blows against white supremacy in U.S. history: the Civil War and the civil rights movements. The book on which it was based, The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wales (1972), was written by a former Klansman named Asa Earl Carter who went by the pen name Forrest Carter (a nod to Confederate hero and Grand Wizard of the postbellum Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest). Carter had been on the lunatic fringe of the struggle to maintain white supremacy in Alabama during the 1950s and 1960s. His biggest claim to fame was writing George Wallace’s 1963 inaugural gubernatorial address, which included the infamous line, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” As the civil rights movements advanced, however, Carter came to believe that George Wallace and even the KKK were too soft for his particular brand of racism. So he moved to Texas. Out west, he rebuilt his identity and carried forward the struggle to maintain his idea of freedom.

        Carter’s book, and Eastwood’s movie, tell an allegorical story of a Missouri farmer who loses everything to a merciless band of Union soldiers who slaughter his family and burn his home after the Civil War. In the novel, the desperate Wales nails G.T.T. (Gone to Texas) on his door and joins a guerrilla band of Confederates who exact their revenge on the soulless Yankee intruders. In one famous scene from the movie, Eastwood wipes out an enormous swath of Union soldiers with a Gatling gun. The Civil War never ended for Josey Wales, just like it—and the struggle against the civil rights movement—never ended for Carter himself. The film’s initial director, Philip Kaufman, who was eventually fired by Eastwood, found the whole story of redeeming the Confederacy in the West through violent anti-government rebellion to be “fascist” and “nutty.”

        The historian Heather Cox Richardson also finds the connection between South and West troubling—but accurate. In How the South Won the Civil War, Richardson shows how once-defeated ideas and politics stayed alive and then flourished by moving west. “In the West,” she writes, “Confederate ideology took on a new life, and from there, over the course of the next 150 years, it came to dominate America.” White Southerners continued their resistance to federal incursions on white supremacy through a geographic shift to what they saw as “the only free place left in America.” They believed that Reconstruction-era “Republicans who passed laws to protect freed people were not advancing equality; they were destroying liberty.” The mythology (and she stresses that most of it was myth) of the American cowboy took on the individualism that once belonged to the Jeffersonian yeoman. Both stock characters were capable of heroic feats of grit, pluck, and determination.

      • The Murder of a Witch | Dissent Magazine

        Several years ago, a local Veracruz paper carried news of a horrific murder. A woman had been found mutilated, floating face up in the river. It was yet another case of femicide in a country with one of the highest rates in the world—a rate that has doubled in the last five years. Mexican activists have recently ramped up the scale and urgency of decades-long protests against officials and their reluctance, or in some cases active resistance, to address the problem: this past spring, thousands of Mexican women went on strike in the capital to protest the ongoing violence. The woman murdered in Veracruz had been known locally as “the Witch.” She was killed by her ex-lover after he became convinced that she was bewitching him to force him to return to her side.

        When Mexican journalist and author Fernanda Melchor came across the story, she thought about traveling to the town and writing an investigative account of the murder—her own version of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Instead, she wrote a novel, Hurricane Season, published in 2020 and shortlisted for the International Booker Prize. Set in the imagined town of La Matosa, recognizable in its details as a version of Veracruz, the story begins with a band of young boys, carrying a pail of rocks for an unknown “battle,” who come across “the rotten face of a corpse floating among the rushes and the plastic bags swept in from the road on the breeze, the dark mask seething under a myriad of black snakes, smiling.” The dead woman, the Witch, had disappeared as hurricane season approached—just as her mother, who had also been known as the Witch, had vanished years before amid the equally devastating hurricane of 1978. This is one of many repetitions in Hurricane Season, where traditions of physical brutality, unhappy liaisons, and broken dreams of escape are passed down between generations, like family heirlooms. The beginning scene is the shortest of the book’s eight breathless, ranting chapters, which distend out into space and move backward and forward in time. Each chapter foregrounds one of several interrelated characters in La Matosa. There is the young Yesenia who struggles to support her siblings and seethes against her grandmother’s obvious preference for her indolent cousin Luismi, one of the Witch’s ex-lovers, whom she witnesses whisking the corpse into a car. There is Luismi’s new lover, the thirteen-year-old Norma, who is carrying her stepfather’s child, and will end up in the hospital after an abortion gone awry; Luismi’s stepfather Munra, who inadvertently abets the gang of young men preparing to make the Witch answer for her power over them; and another member of the gang, the angry and repressed Brando.

    • Monopolies

      • What the cyberoptimists got wrong - and what to do about it: Tech unexeptionalism and the monopolization of every goddamned thing

        They stole our future. Let's take it back.

        Here at the end of the world, it's time to take stock. Is technology a force for good? Can it be? Was it ever? How did we end up with a world made up of "five websites, each filled with screenshots of text from the other four" (h/t Tom Eastman)? Should we worry that machine learning will take away our free will through A/B splitting and Big Five Personality Types? Where the fuck did all these Nazis come from?

      • Cory Doctorow – Fireside Chat: Reading and Q&A

        Fireside Chat with Cory Doctorow. Make sure not to miss Cory's main talk "What the cyberoptimists got wrong - and what to do about it" one hour earlier, day 19:00h in rc1.

      • Chaos Communications Congress

        I'm about to go offline until 2021 and I had planned to do absolutely no work of any sort while on break, but I made an exception, for an exceptional opportunity: the 32nd Chaos Communications Congress, which is remote this year.

      • The Big Tech Model

        While the individual business activities of our seven Big Tech companies differ extensively (see Table 2.1), this section details a generic framework - the Big Tech model - distilling the common features of these firms.

        This framework builds on the concepts of monopoly rents, platformisation and financialisation. Where monopolisation and financialisation are recurring characteristics in the history of modern capitalism, platformisation is how these features are expressed and augmented under contemporary digital-and-digitising capitalism.

        According to political philosopher Nick Srnicek, platforms like those operated by our Big Tech firms share four essential characteristics.

        First, platforms function as intermediary infrastructures that bring different user groups together - whether as users/buyers and developers/sellers in the Apple App Store, or as private individuals who build their own content on social media like Facebook.

      • Big Tech = Feudalism + Animal Farm, digitized. Via tax havens

        Note that some companies - notably Alphabet and Facebook - have a share structure that consists of multiple classes of shares.

        In this structure, class A shares carry the right to one vote during the annual shareholder meeting, class B shares carry the right to ten votes and class C shares carry no voting rights at all. For companies with such a share structure, the share ownership presented here represents only class A shares.

        As a consequence, individual shareholders might exert disproportional voting rights compared to the share of the respective company’s stock that they hold.

        While the ownership shares presented above thus appear to suggest that institutional shareholders, such as the Vanguard Group, BlackRock or State Street, wield the most power over the Big Tech companies, this is often not the case.

        In the case of Alphabet, Sergey Brin and Larry Page own less than 13 per cent of stock but control more than 51 per cent of the company’s voting power. In the case of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg owns just 0.17 per cent of the company’s class A shares, but 81.8 per cent of its class B shares. Together with some proxy voting power he exerts for other shareholders, Zuckerberg’s total voting power amounts to 57.9 per cent. In both cases, shareholder proposals to change this structure to a one-share-one-vote model were frequently rejected by those controlling the existing voting power.

      • Financialization of Big Tech

        The coronavirus and its political management have brought forward clear economic winners and losers. Giant technology companies, often referred to as ‘Big Tech’, unambiguously lead the first category, as investors swarmed to tech blue chip stocks during the pandemic.

        This was caused by the massive increases in digital communication, shopping, and streaming services across the globe.

        Businesses and universities moved some if not all of their activities online, while governments worldwide have tried to harness Big Tech’s mounting capabilities to manage and ultimately overcome the virus.

      • Guest post: The new IP [sic] Court in Ukraine: is there any room for improvement?

        As a result of comprehensive judicial reform, Ukraine has set out to establish a new specialised intellectual property court (the IP Court). The UK has provided technical assistance to Ukraine on the establishment and functioning of the new IP Court. This DFID/FCO funded project was implemented by the Centre for Commercial Law Studies (QMUL) and led by Dr Noam Shemtov and Prof Ioannis Kokkoris. It was guided by the International Advisory Board, chaired by Lord Neuberger (former President of the UK Supreme Court) and comprising eminent international and Ukrainian IP judges and practitioners. The administration of the project was managed by Maria Tymofienko. In her role as project Research Coordinator, Dr Olga Gurgula, Lecturer in IP Law at Brunel University London, led the research team that prepared the final report and recommendations. In a previous guest post, patent expert Dr Olga Gurgula provided updates from Ukraine as well as highlighting important next steps for the Ukrainian Patent Office. In this post, she talks about the new IP Court in Ukraine and highlights some findings and recommendations prepared by the project. Over to you, Olga.

      • Patents

        • Practical Implementation of the Requirements of the SPC Waiver Regulation

          Regulation (EU) 2019/933, amending the Regulation (EC) No 469/2009 concerning the supplementary protection certificate for medicinal products (hereinafter referred to as the Regulation) was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 11th June 2019 and thus came into effect on 1st July 2019. The amended Regulation establishes the so-called “SPC waiver”, that excludes certain acts, which would otherwise require the consent of the SPC holder, from protection conferred by the SPC, if the prescribed conditions are met. In order to avail from this waiver, the maker shall, inter alia, timely notify the Industrial property office(s) of the EU Member States in which such making is to take place (hereinafter referred to as the Offices), using the standardized form (Annex -Ia of the Regulation). To this end, the Regulation lays down several requirements on the Offices vis-à-vis the prescribed conditions for parties wishing to benefit from this waiver. Implementation of these requirements was the subject of my personal study.

        • Top trends in European patent law 2020 [Ed: Juve says "UPC is still alive" but that's just part of the lobbying and the lie; with the UK 'out' UPC can never ever start]

          The beginning of 2020 brought a shock for UPC supporters – although the UK’s final ‘no’ was no longer a surprise. Then, another setback in March followed the UK’s rejection of the project, as the German Constitutional Court upheld the constitutional complaint made against the UPC. The court ruled that the Act of Approval to the Agreement needed a two-thirds majority by the Bundestag. This is because the act would have entailed a substantial amendment of the constitution. Thus, the ruling brought the UPC process to an abrupt halt. Many experts foresaw the death of the UPC once and for all.

          But, only a few days after the ruling, the German Federal Government announced it would once again put the UPC law before parliament again. The government wanted to ensure Germany could complete UPC ratification, with at least a continental version of the UPC able to commence its work. With great speed, in the following months the government pushed the legislation. At the end of November, the German Bundestag agreed by the two-thirds majority required. Then, shortly before Christmas, this decision was followed by the Bundesrat, the second chamber of the German parliament.

        • USPTO Provides Update on COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program [Ed: The patent extremists will continues taking advantage of a pandemic to introduce self-harming (to the patents' quality and the patent system) changes]

          In an e-mail News Brief distributed last week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reported on the participation to date in its COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program. The pilot program, which was implemented last May, allows applicants that qualify for small or micro entity status to request prioritized examination without paying the fees typically associated with such prioritized examination (see "USPTO Announces COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program"). In announcing the pilot program, the Office noted that it would endeavor to reach final disposition of applications within six months, provided that applicants respond promptly to Office communications.

          In addition to providing expedited examination for qualifying applications, the pilot program also eliminates the requirement to pay the prioritized examination fee set forth in 37 C.F.R. €§ 1.17(c) ($1,050 for micro entities and $2,100 for small entities) or the processing fee set forth in 37 C.F.R. €§ 1.17(i)(1) ($35 for micro entities and $70 for small entities). In addition to the requirement that applicants qualify for small or micro entity status, the claims of a participating application must cover a product or process related to COVID–19, and such product or process must be subject to an applicable FDA approval for COVID–19 use. Such approvals may include, for example, an Investigational New Drug (IND) application, an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE), a New Drug Application (NDA), a Biologics License Application (BLA), a Premarket Approval (PMA), or an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). When the pilot program was announced, the Office noted that it would accept up to 500 requests.

      • Copyrights

        • A Smorgasbord of Bad Takedowns: 2020 Year in Review

          In terms of takedowns, 2020 prefaced the year to come with a January story from New York University School of Law. The law school posted a video of a panel titled “Proving Similarity,” where experts explained how song similarity is analyzed in copyright cases. Unsurprisingly, that involved playing parts of songs during the panel. And so, the video meant to explain how copyright infringement is determined was flagged by Content ID, YouTube’s automated copyright filter.

          While the legal experts at, let’s check our notes, NYU Law were confident this was fair use, they were less confident that they understood how YouTube’s private appeals system worked. And, more specifically, whether challenging Content ID would lead to NYU losing its YouTube channel. They reached out privately to ask questions about the system, but got no answers. Instead, YouTube just quietly restored the video.

          And with that, a year of takedowns was off. There was Dr. Drew Pinsky’s incorrect assessment that copyright law let him remove a video showing him downplaying COVID-19. A self-described Twitter troll using the DMCA to remove from Twitter an interview he did about his tactics and then using the DMCA to remove a photo of his previous takedown. And, when San Diego Comic Con went virtual, CBS ended up taking down its own Star Trek panel.

        • Top 10 Most Popular Torrent Sites of 2021

          As another year kicks off, we take a look at the most popular torrent sites are at the start of 2021. Continuing a long-standing top 10 tradition, we see that The Pirate Bay is the favorite among torrenting users, beating YTS and 1337x. What stands out is that the number of popular English-language torrent sites has declined, while foreign language sites are growing.

        • Police Have a 'Secret Weapon' to Stop Fans Streaming Pirate TV For Free

          Police, anti-piracy groups, and sports companies are fighting a battle, not only to prevent pirate IPTV services from operating but also to stop fans from becoming illegal streaming customers. Interestingly, a potent part of their arsenal consists only of carefully constructed words that, when delivered into the hands of the lazy and unscrupulous, can be amplified to distort and mislead.

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