07.30.15

Surveillance Machine With a Keylogger: Vista 10 Will Spy on the User (Over the Internet) Even While Playing Games

Posted in Vista 10, Windows at 5:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“David Smith commented that Gartner will not bash MS if MS chooses to slip Vista.”

Jamin Spilzer, Microsoft

Summary: Microsoft is making it clear that even playing a simple game like Solitaire on Vista 10 will make one subjected to spying (for targeted ads); other serious violations of privacy revealed upon release

TECHRIGHTS does not wish to cover Vista 10 too much (we significantly reduced such focus in 2010), but it’s inevitable, since Microsoft pays a lot of companies to flood the Web with Vista 10 spam, that we should feel the need to respond.

Over at ZDNet, part of CBS, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes that Microsoft is now trying to make money from Solitaire, making it just spyware like the rest of the stack (studying the users for ads delivery), unless one ‘upgrades’ it. To quote the original: “Microsoft is once again bundling Solitaire with Windows, but if you want an ad-free experience then that’s going to cost you.”

So if you ‘upgrade’ (for ‘free’) to Vista 10, you will lose access to ‘free’ Solitaire, which now spies on everyone (for ads). Based on recent reports, Microsoft does not give people the ability to block surveillance through ads, unless they install an alternative Web browser (one that is not bolted into Windows). As The Register put it, one can “forget about extending the browser in any way, at least at first.” “Norton Antivirus doesn’t want you to use Microsoft Edge because it currently lacks extensions,” says this headline from a Microsoft advocacy site. So basically, Vista 10 is optimised for maximal surveillance.

But wait, it gets worse. A lot of articles were written upon the release of Vista 10, making it clear that Microsoft, despite the NSA leaks, made Windows even more privacy-hostile. Here are some examples from the news:

- Just remember folks…

Just remember folks – upgrading to Windows 10 – Asimov/CEIP/WER (MS’ real time telemetry system built into W10 to collect data on your usage patterns) will be running.

Until someone comes up with a tool to remove it or stop it then, literally everything you do is reported back to MS.

Microsoft said that it would be removed during release-to-manafacturing (RTM) – and it wasn’t so upgrade with this in mind (or wait).

- Disable KeyLogger Windows 10

Install Windows 10

Press Shift + F10 on the loginscreen to open commandprompt

Input the following commands:

sc delete DiagTrack

sc delete dmwappushservice

echo “” > C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Diagnosis\ETLLogs\AutoLogger\AutoLogger-Diagtrack-Listener.etl

- Windows 10: Here are the privacy issues you should know about

Windows 10 has just arrived and there’s a new Privacy Policy and Service Agreement from Microsoft coming swiftly in its wake.

The new policies take effect on 1 August and there are a few unsettling things nestling in there that you should be thinking about if you’re using the company’s services and software.

The Privacy Statement and Services Agreements combined come to 45 pages. Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, Horacio Gutierrez wrote that they are “straightforward terms and polices that people can clearly understand.” The reality is, you’re probably not going to read them. So I did…

And, like so many other companies, Microsoft has grabbed some very broad powers to collect things you do, say and create while using its software. Your data won’t be staying on your computer, that much is for sure.

Data syncing by default

Sign into Windows with your Microsoft account and the operating system immediately syncs settings and data to the company’s servers. That includes your browser history, favorites and the websites you currently have open as well as saved app, website and mobile hotspot passwords and Wi-Fi network names and passwords.

- Microsoft’s new small print – how your personal data is (ab)used

Microsoft has renewed its Privacy Policy and Service Agreement. The new services agreement goes into effect on 1 August 2015, only a couple of days after the launch of the Windows 10 operating system on 29 July.

The new “privacy dashboard” is presented to give the users a possibility to control their data related to various products in a centralised manner. Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, Horacio Gutierrez, wrote in a blog post that Microsoft believes “that real transparency starts with straightforward terms and policies that people can clearly understand”. We copied and pasted the Microsoft Privacy Statement and the Services Agreement into a document editor and found that these “straightforward” terms are 22 and 23 pages long respectively. Summing up these 45 pages, one can say that Microsoft basically grants itself very broad rights to collect everything you do, say and write with and on your devices in order to sell more targeted advertising or to sell your data to third parties. The company appears to be granting itself the right to share your data either with your consent “or as necessary”.

A French tech news website Numerama analysed the new privacy policy and found a number of conditions users should be aware of:

By default, when signing into Windows with a Microsoft account, Windows syncs some of your settings and data with Microsoft servers, for example “web browser history, favorites, and websites you have open” as well as “saved app, website, mobile hotspot, and Wi-Fi network names and passwords”. Users can however deactivate this transfer to the Microsoft servers by changing their settings.

This was also foreseen a year ago. See this article from 2014, warning about privacy violations as per the preview:

Controversy has erupted around Microsoft’s Windows 10 preview. More specifically, questions are being raised about the amount of tracking – and the depth of tracking – that was built into the preview.

The Windows 10 technical preview goes so far as to monitor your typing, potentially crossing the line from instrumentation of alpha-level software into creepy corporate surveillance.

Truth be told, I honestly don’t think anyone but the extreme nutter fringe had, or has, a problem with being tracked in the preview. When you download the preview it is pretty upfront about the fact that it will monitor everything it can find to monitor.

The problem is that both Microsoft and the US government have lost the trust of the general populace. Discovering borderline technologies incorporated into Windows 10′s technical preview (like the built-in keylogger of ultimate controversy) simply serves as a catalyst for concerned citizens to ask the questions that have been bothering them for some time.

How much of this instrumentation will be in the release version? What are the specifics of the type and quantity of data being collected during the preview and – far more critically – what data will our Redmondian overlords be collecting on us in the release version of the operating system?

There are many more articles about privacy violations in Vista 10, but we don’t wish to focus too much on Windows, which is a dying/rotting platform.

This has become quite so horrible that Windows is now a huge risk of espionage for any corporation, let aside governments (fewer of them than corporations). There’s no longer a legal violation required for the NSA (e.g. cracking, warrantless access to datacentres)). The spies are able to gain access to sensitive data (as fine-level as keylogging, which means passwords too), using just a secret, wide-ranging warrant or ‘lawful’ interception of Microsoft data transmissions (probably with bogus/weak ‘encryption’ or none at all). No sane person who is aware of these conditions (effectively legal waivers) should allow Vista 10 to be used. It’s not an “upgrade”, it’s not “free”, it’s just “sellout” (of oneself).

07.29.15

Links 29/7/2015: Akademy 2015 Ends, NetBSD 7.0 RC

Posted in News Roundup at 7:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Technology Week looks at potential of open-source tech

    Experts from industry and academia gathered in Cambridge at the weekend to discuss just that as part of the city’s first Open Technology Week.

    Open technology refers to items for which the source code or designs are available free of charge for users to use and modify.

  • Intel to shift Hillsboro engineers to Texas for open source project

    Intel Corp. engineers from Portland will play a role in the development in a new tech development center that’s opening in San Antonio.

    As the San Antonio Business Journal reports, Intel announced a significant investment with Rackspace in a new OpenStack Innovation Center that will be based at Rackspace’s headquarters in San Antonio.

  • 10 tips for better documentation

    Last July, after a full week at OKFestival, I managed to find enough energy to attend the Write the Docs EU Berlin Unconference. I only managed to attend one day of the event, but it was worth it because Paul Adams, a free software advocate and Director of Engineering at KDAB, led a discussion in which we came up with rules for helping documentation teams be more productive:

  • This is why your open source project is failing

    At OSCON this year, Red Hat’s Tom Callaway gave a talk entitled “This is Why You Fail: The Avoidable Mistakes Open Source Projects STILL Make.” In 2009, Callaway was starting to work on the Chromium project—and to say it wasn’t a pleasant experience was the biggest understatement Callaway made in his talk.

  • NPR releases open source social media tools for newsrooms

    The helpful folks at NPR have released a collection of fully customisable, open source tools to help journalists create visually engaging images for social media.

    The tools – called Quotable, Factlist and Waterbug – were announced last night by Brian Boyer, editor of the NPR visuals team, as an easy way “for you to create those fashionable social graphics for your news organisation”.

  • Growing pains: Open source ubiquity raises ownership, governance issues

    Overlapping scope and membership can confuse users, Miniman warns. Unlike the rules produced by standards committees, foundations don’t guarantee interoperability between implementations. IT organizations need to develop an understanding of how open communities operate, how different licensing models work and how they can become actively involved in shaping open source software.

  • Open source software is the only way to keep up

    Between 2005 and 2010, software development accelerated so quickly that some said open source had won the corporate market. But it didn’t stop there. In 2015, surveys showed that companies were using, supporting, and creating more open source software.

    If we look at this pattern, then we can see open source will just keep growing. It’s not going anywhere. If you’re not using, contributing, or supporting it, then you’re going to be left behind.

  • DHI Group plans to sell off Slashdot and Sourceforge

    DHI Group—formerly known as Dice Holdings Incorporated prior to this April—announced plans this morning to sell the combination of Slashdot and SourceForge. The announcement was made as part of DHI’s 2Q15 financial results, which were mostly positive, with DHI showing an increase in revenue over the same period last year (totaling $65.8 million) and a net income of $5.7 million.

  • Move over Skype, Facetime, Hangouts. Here comes Spreedbox, a fully open source, secure videoconferencing solution

    Following the trend of privacy-respecting products and projects coming out of Europe (e.g., ownCloud, Kolab, and Plasma Mobile), German firm struktur AG has started a Kickstarter project called Spreedbox, which aims to offer a secure audio video conferencing service. According to the project page, “The Spreedbox is a unique device for secure audio/video conferencing, text and video messaging and file sharing. The Spreedbox is your own conferencing, meeting and file exchange service on the Internet and puts the control and security of your data into your own hands.”

  • Open Source Is Going Even More Open—Because It Has To

    Open source foundations are nothing new. Linux Foundation has been around since 2007, and other major projects like the Eclipse code editing tool and the Apache web server have been governed this way for even longer. Many of the most important open source projects in recent years, such as the Hadoop big data crunching platform and the database system Cassandra, are managed by the Apache Foundation. But it’s unusual to see so many new foundations created so quickly.

  • Student researchers collaborate virtually with help of open-source software

    A typical summer research program—the institute’s Nanobio Research Experience for Undergraduates, for example—brings students together to one host university, where they work in different laboratories on various projects. In the new pilot training program on Computational Biomolecular, students use an open-source software called Rosetta to work together on problems in computational biology and are mentored by faculty who are part of a global collaborative team known as the Rossetta Commons. The software gives users the ability to analyze massive amounts of data to predict the structure of real and imagined proteins, enzymes, and other molecular structures.

  • Dice Selling Slashdot and Sourceforge

    FS tells me that Ars Technica reports that Dice is selling the Slashdot and Sourceforge sites. The company in their second quarter earnings announcements stated they have “not successfully leveraged the Slashdot user base to further Dice’s digital recruitment business”, and are planning to divest this business.

  • Events

    • Tips for how to plan an open source event

      Step 1 is very clear: Document your event. This way you have shared document that all organizers can refer to as the event progresses. We started with a sample document Kara and Francesca provided. The document is broken down is to several sections and you’re free to copy the document and use it to plan your own event. I’ll review some of the sections in more detail below.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • DreamHost CEO Details OpenStack Customer Use Cases [VIDEO]

      DreamHost has made a name for itself over the years as being a friendly, yet low-cost hosting provider, offering both shared hosting as well as virtual private servers (VPS). DreamHost is also a major backer of the open source OpenStack cloud platform and now offers the DreamCompute cloud server as well.

  • Databases

    • Amazon’s MySQL database challenger Aurora exits preview

      Following three years of development and nine months of testing, Amazon Web Services (AWS) on Tuesday announced that its Aurora database engine is now generally available to customers.

      AWS first debuted Aurora during its re:Invent conference in November 2014, positioning the database as a lower cost, higher performance alternative to the widely used open source MySQL database and other similar commercial offerings.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • loop optimizations in guile

      Sup peeps. So, after the slog to update Guile’s intermediate language, I wanted to land some new optimizations before moving on to the next thing. For years I’ve been meaning to do some loop optimizations, and I was finally able to land a few of them.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Open source runs Croatia’s geospatial services platforms

      Croatia’s Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection has become one of the country’s major users of open source solutions. The software is making possible two geospatial service platforms on biodiversity and environmental protection, unveiled in May.

    • Western Greece switches to using open source GIS

      The Decentralized Administration of Peloponnese, Western Greece and the Ionian is recommending the use of open source software solutions for its Geographic Information Systems. A memo from the IT department wants all public administrations to start using Qgis.

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Amazon proposes drones-only airspace to facilitate high-speed delivery

    Amazon is proposing that a pristine slice of airspace above the world’s cities and suburbs should be set aside for the deployment of high-speed aerial drones capable of flying robotically with virtually no human interference.

    The retail giant has taken the next step in its ambition to deliver packages via drone within 30 minutes by setting out in greater detail than ever before its vision for the future of robotic flight. It envisages that within the next 10 years hundreds of thousands of small drones – not all of them Amazon’s or devoted to delivery – will be tearing across the skies every day largely under their own automated control.

  • Science

    • New study into lack of women in Tech: It’s NOT the men’s fault

      A new study into causes of the scarcity of women in technical and scientific fields says that it is not discrimination by men in the field keeping the ladies away. Nor is it a repugnance felt by women for possibly dishevelled or unhygienic male nerds.

      No, the reason that young women don’t train in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) areas – and thus, don’t find themselves with jobs at tech companies, in IT etc – is quite simply that they mostly don’t know enough maths to do those courses.

      “It is all about the mathematical content of the field. Girls not taking math coursework early on in middle school and high school are set on a different college trajectory than boys,” says economics prof Donna Ginther.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • QEMU Vulnerability Exposes The Host Through Emulated CD-ROM Drive

      Back in May was the big “VENOM” security vulnerability affect QEMU whereby VM security could be escaped through QEMU’s virtual floppy disk drive. In June was a PCNET controller buffer overflow allowing a guest to escape to have host access. Today there’s a similar security vulnerability going public about its virtual CD-ROM drive.

    • Websites, Please Stop Blocking Password Managers. It’s 2015

      Rather than fancy zero-day exploits, or cutting-edge malware, what you mostly need to worry about when it comes to security is using strong, unique passwords on all the sites and services you visit.

      You know that. But what’s crazy is that, in 2015, some websites are intentionally disabling a feature that would allow you to use stronger passwords more easily—and many are doing so because they wrongly argue it makes you safer.

    • The Ashley Madison hack — this time it’s personal

      Last week I argued that requiring backdoors in strong encryption would result in the effective end of encryption and provide a veritable buffet of sensitive data to both the government and those with malicious intents. Encryption with backdoors is not encryption at all.

    • Malware on Linux – When Penguins Attack

      Regular Naked Security readers will know that some security topics cause more friction that others.

      Lately, artificial intelligence has provoked its fair share of excitement.

      Surveillance and privacy are other topics that draw out some very varied viewpoints.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Zimbabwean officials: American man wanted in killing of Cecil the lion

      The man suspected in Cecil’s death is Walter James Palmer of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, according to Johnny Rodrigues, head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force.

    • Dentist who killed Zimbabwe’s Cecil the lion hires PR firm amid global backlash

      A picture of Palmer posing with another lion he had killed on a previous hunting trip was widely circulated in the media yesterday after it emerged that he paid £32,000 to take part in a big game hunt in Zimbabwe.

    • Zimbabwe: American being sought for killing of protected lion named Cecil

      Zimbabwean police said Tuesday they are searching for an American who allegedly shot a well-known, protected lion with a crossbow in a killing that has outraged conservationists and others.

      The American allegedly paid $50,000 to kill the lion named Cecil, Zimbabwean conservationists said. Authorities on Tuesday said two Zimbabwean men will appear in court for allegedly helping with the hunt. The American faces poaching charges, according to police spokeswoman Charity Charamba.

      [...]

      Palmer, 55, pleaded guilty in 2008 to making false statements to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about a black bear he fatally shot in western Wisconsin outside of the authorized hunting zone, according to court documents.

      [...]

      If convicted, the men face up to 15 years in prison.

    • Cecil the lion’s killer revealed as American dentist
    • Cambridge professor ‘claims three leading climate scientists may have been assassinated’

      A Cambridge professor has reportedly claimed three scientists investigating the effect of global warming upon melting Arctic ice may have been assassinated.

      According to The Times, Peter Wadhams, a professor of ocean physics, said Seymour Laxon of University College London, Katherine Giles also at UCL and Tim Boyd of the Scottish Association for Marine Science had been murdered, after all three died within a few months of each other in 2013.

  • Finance

    • Trillion-dollar world trade deal aims to make IT products cheaper

      A new global trade agreement that eliminates tariffs on more than 200 kinds of IT products should result in lower prices to technology buyers around the world as it is implemented over the next three years.

    • Trillion euro technology trade deal could cut the cost of consoles

      A EUROPEAN TECHNOLOGY TRADE DEAL worth trillions of euros has been agreed between Europe, China and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

      The deal follows negotiations between the above parties and sees an accord reached on things like customs duties on items including games consoles, semiconductors and digital media.

    • TPP Undermines User Control and That’s Disastrous for Accessibility

      The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) threatens all users’ ability to access information and participate in culture and innovation online, but it’s especially severe for those with disabilities or who otherwise depend on content in accessible formats. That’s because it doubles down on broken policies that were heavily lobbied for by Hollywood and other major publishers that impede the distribution of accessible works.

    • The creepy reason banks want us all to have ‘tap and pay’ cards… even though they’re a godsend to fraudsters

      Are any words in the English language more abused than ‘for your convenience’? As soon as you read them you know that it’s not your convenience an organisation has in mind, but its own.

      Last week, my bank sent me a contactless debit card. If you don’t have one yet, the chances are you soon will have.

      It looks like any other credit or debit card, but contains a tiny radio receiver which – when it is waved within a couple of inches of a ticket machine or terminal at a shop checkout – can be used to make a payment.

  • Censorship

    • Lifting jokes on Twitter: no laughing matter?

      An example is a tweet by freelance writer Olga Lexell (whose Twitter account is now private) – “saw someone spill their high end juice cleanse all over the sidewalk and now I know god is on my side” – which a number of Twitter users have republished without any attribution to her as the author of the original tweet.

      Ms Lexell decided to submit a DMCA takedown request. Apparently not just God, but also Twitter was on her side. The micro-blogging platform decided in fact to withhold the allegedly infringing tweets. However (and incidentally), as IPKat readers can see here there is still a number of tweets that reproduce her joke in its entirety.

    • Donald Trump’s Clueless Lawyer Threatens Press, Says It’s Ok To Rape Your Spouse

      A few weeks ago, we wrote about the absolute ridiculousness of Donald Trump’s “lawsuit” against Univision, which made some bizarre claims about the First Amendment and defamation that clearly did not apply. While there may be a legitimate contractual dispute hidden somewhere in all that mess, there was so much fluff that it made you wonder who is actually advising the entertainer (pretending to be a politician) on legal issues. Apparently, it’s some guy named Michael Cohen, who isn’t just out of his depth on stuff, but he appears to be actively making things worse. In an astounding article over at The Daily Beast, which was initially over claims of “rape” by Donald Trump’s ex-wife Ivana during their divorce proceedings, Cohen not only claimed that you can’t rape a spouse, but also threatened to ruin The Daily Beast if they published an article. Lawyering by bullshit threats, apparently.

  • Privacy

    • Internet Australia and EFA support ALP call for Data Retention Act review

      Internet Australia and EFA have given their support to the Labor Party’s call for a review of the Data Retention Act legislation which it helped bring into law.

    • LinkedIn Just Changed This Very Popular Feature — and People Are Complaining

      LinkedIn is dealing with some very unhappy users after making it more difficult for them to export contacts.

      Business Insider reports that users can still download their contacts for the site, but it now takes longer. As of Thursday, LinkedIn users had to get an archive of their data to do the procedure, and that can reportedly can take up to 72 hours. Before, users could download user contact information immediately.

    • LinkedIn brings back contact export feature after user backlash
    • A simple developer error is exposing private information on thousands of websites

      Git is a developer’s best friend… except when it’s not used properly and exposes a site’s security.

      The tool is used for version control. It tracks changes to code over time, so that multiple developers can work together efficiently and roll back if they need to.

      Git is also the core tool used to contribute to social coding site GitHub, though they aren’t the same thing.

      It’s a glorious tool and fairly straightforward to use, but has a steep learning curve, as most of the interactions you’ll have with it are through the command line.

    • NSA ordered to destroy phone records it collected illegally

      In case you were worried the National Security Agency was still probing around your phone records, soon enough they will be deleted.

      The Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced that the “bulk collection” of phone data the NSA illegally collected under Section 215 of the Patriot act will be locked away starting November 29, 2015.

      The data will effectively be out of reach from agency employees ad infinitum, effectively making it unusable in anti-terrorism or national security investigations. The only exception will be a three-month period, in which “technical personal” can check the data for the sole purpose of verifying records produced under the new USA Freedom Act.

    • Peru Adopts Data Retention Decree: Declares Location Data No Longer Protected

      The Peruvian President today adopted a legislative decree that will grant the police warrantless access to real time user location data on a 24/7 basis. But that’s not the worst part of the decree: it compels telecom providers to retain, for one year, data on who communicates with whom, for how long, and from where. It also allows the authorities access to the data in real time and online after seven days of the delivery of the court order. Moreover, it compels telecom providers to continue to retain the data for 24 more months in electronic storage. Adding insult to injury, the decree expressly states that location data is excluded from the privacy of communication guaranteed by the Peruvian Constitution.

    • Michael Chertoff Makes the Case against Back Doors

      One of the more interesting comments at the Aspen Security Forum (one that has, as far as I’ve seen, gone unreported) came on Friday when Michael Chertoff was asked about whether the government should be able to require back doors. He provided this response (his response starts at 16:26).

    • Jim Comey Finally Has a Dastardly Criminal Who Made His Texts Unavailable
    • Nope, White House won’t pardon Snowden

      Unsurprisingly, the White House formally announced Tuesday that it will not be granting a pardon to Edward Snowden anytime soon.

      Immediately after Snowden was formally charged in 2013 with espionage, theft, and conversion of government property, supporters began petitioning the White House to pardon the famed former National Security Agency contractor.

    • Is it possible to permanently delete a social media profile?

      Put it online and it will live forever (Image: Aldo Sperber/picturetank)

      They thought they could get away with it. The 37 million people who put nude photos and intimate details of their sexual fantasies on the Ashley Madison website (which has the slogan “Life is short. Have an affair”) had a get-out clause.

      Ashley Madison, like some other sites, offers a hard delete – a guarantee that for a certain amount of money, your data will be scrubbed from all of its internal records. To permanently destroy all traces of your affiliation with the adultery social network costs £15 in the UK.

      However, a hacker collective called Impact Team has revealed that customers’ details aren’t entirely deleted. Compliance with auditing requirements means that the credit card details and name used to scrub the account remain in Ashley Madison’s database, rather defeating the point.

    • DOJ To Court: Hey, We’re Shutting Down Section 215, So We Can Probably Stop Arguing About The Legality Of Bulk Collection

      Just as James Clapper’s office was officially announcing the death of the bulk phone metadata program (ending November 29th, with three months of post-wind-down wind-down for data analysts), the DOJ was filing a motion in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals basically arguing that its finding that the program was illegal really doesn’t matter anymore.

  • Civil Rights

    • Amal Clooney launches Supreme Court appeal on behalf of Chagos islanders

      Almost a decade ago, Britain’s High Court and Court of Appeal ruled that they and their descendants could return to some of the 65 islands, though not to Diego Garcia. Those decisions were challenged by the government and overturned in 2008 by the Law Lords, then Britain’s highest court.

    • Letter to the Telegraph: End “distressing” exile of Chagossians

      In 1985, I called at Saloman Atoll, which is about 100 miles north of Diego, when crossing by yacht from Darwin to Aden. The abandoned houses and roofless church, together with the overgrown pathways were distressing to see. It is to our shame that we treated these islanders so cruelly and it is high time we made amends and repatriated them.

    • In Iraq, I raided insurgents. In Virginia, the police raided me.

      I got home from the bar and fell into bed soon after Saturday night bled into Sunday morning. I didn’t wake up until three police officers barged into my apartment, barking their presence at my door. They sped down the hallway to my bedroom, their service pistols drawn and leveled at me.

      It was just past 9 a.m., and I was still under the covers. The only visible target was my head.

      In the shouting and commotion, I felt an instant familiarity. I’d been here before. This was a raid.

    • Eight Years After Bogus Expulsion Over Supposed ‘Threat,’ Former Student Obtains $900k Settlement From University

      It’s taken former Valdosta State University (VSU) student Hayden Barnes most of a decade and two trips to the 11th Circuit Appeals Court, but his efforts to hold the school accountable for its abusive behavior have finally paid off.

    • The Wheels of Justice Turn Slowly

      On the evening March 14, 2013, a heavily-armed police force surrounded my home in Annandale, Va., after responding to a phony hostage situation that someone had alerted authorities to at our address. I’ve recently received a notice from the U.S. Justice Department stating that one of the individuals involving in that “swatting” incident had pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge.

    • White House Finally Answers Snowden Pardon Petition: The Only Good Whistleblowing Is Punished Whistleblowing

      The White House has finally responded — more than two years later — to a petition asking for a pardon of Edward Snowden. The petition surfaced soon after Snowden went public with his identity. Less than three weeks later — June 25, 2013 — it had passed the 100,000-signature threshold.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • RIAA Wants Domain Registrar to Expose ‘Pirate Site’ Owner

        The RIAA has obtained subpoenas from a federal court in Columbia ordering domain name registrar Dynadot to hand over the IP and email addresses and all other identifying information related to the operator of the unauthorized music service Soundpiff. In addition, the RIAA notes that the registrar may want to disconnect the site due to its repeated infringements.

      • Happy Birthday Copyright Bombshell: New Evidence Warner Music Previously Hid Shows Song Is Public Domain

        Last minute evidence that completely turns a legal case on its head doesn’t come about all that often — despite what you see in Hollywood movies and TV shows. The discovery process in a lawsuit generally reveals most of the evidence revealed to everyone pretty early on. And yet… in the high profile lawsuit over the copyright status of the song “Happy Birthday,” the plaintiffs “Good Morning to You Productions” (who are making a documentary about the song and are arguing that the song is in the public domain) have popped up with a last minute filing, saying they have just come across evidence that the song is absolutely in the public domain.

        And, here’s the real kicker: they discovered this bit of evidence after two questionable things happened. (1) Warner/Chappell Music (who claims to hold the copyright for the publishing, if it exists) suddenly “found” a bunch of relevant documents that it was supposed to hand over in discovery last year, but didn’t until just a few weeks ago, and (2) a rather important bit of information in one of those new documents was somewhat bizarrely “blurred out.” This led the plaintiffs go searching for the original, and discover that it undermines Warner Music’s arguments, to the point of showing that the company was almost certainly misleading the court. Furthermore, it definitively shows that the work was and is in the public domain.

      • Filmmakers fighting “Happy Birthday” copyright find their “smoking gun”

        The “smoking gun” is a 1927 version of the “Happy Birthday” lyrics, predating Warner/Chappell’s 1935 copyright by eight years. That 1927 songbook, along with other versions located through the plaintiffs’ investigations, “conclusively prove that any copyright that may have existed for the song itself… expired decades ago.”

      • WordPress Rejects 43% Of All ‘Piracy’ Takedown Notices

        WordPress has published new data on the number of piracy takedown notices the company receives. During the first half of the year copyright holders sent close to 5,000 requests to the blogging platform. Of these takedown notices a surprisingly high percentage was rejected due to inaccuracies or plain abuse.

      • So far, WordPress denied 43% of DMCA takedown requests in 2015

        This week WordPress released the latest edition of its recurring transparency report, revealing 43 percent of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown requests it received have been rejected in the first six months of 2015. It’s the lowest six-month period shown in the report, though it only dates back to 2014. However, WordPress said this headline figure would be even higher if it “counted suspended sites as rejected notices.” That change in calculation would bump the WordPress DMCA denial rate to 67 percent between January 1 and June 30, 2015.

07.28.15

MPEG-LA is Preparing New Patent Obstruction (Called DASH) Against Free Software, OIN Grows

Posted in Patents at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A new conspiracy against free multimedia software, set up by the MPEG cartel, is called DASH

THERE ARE many reasons to be concerned about the Apple- and Microsoft-backed patent troll known as MPEG-LA. In the fight against peace and justice, there are various strategies which maximise collateral damage (usually harming the majority of people for the benefit or profit of war-loving monopolies). Some are rooting for DAESH, but MPEG-LA is now rooting for something called “DASH”, only a week after the HEVC Advance press release and news coverage (very similar to MPEG-LA).

Here is the press release, a puff piece titled “MPEG LA issues call for DASH technology patents”, and another early article that says: “Just when Media Source Extensions and Encrypted Media Extensions are making HTML5-based video playback a reality, DASH royalties threaten to derail it.” (the headline says “An Unhappy Surprise: MPEG LA Is Forming a Patent Pool for DASH”)

We are definitely going to hear more about it in days, weeks, months and perhaps years to come. It’s an assault on everyone; it’s a cartel that strives to tax everyone. This is also an assault on Google with WebM, not just Free software codecs such as the Ogg family. Google has had no effective response to it so far (trying to appease MPEG-LA by paying or cooperating, just like Mozilla, makes the problem worse), other than improving prior art search and relying on publicity stunts, claiming to be giving some patents away to fight trolls (MPEG-LA is technically a troll, one that is backed and funded by Apple and Microsoft, among other giants).

We have finally found one good article about Google’s publicity stunt. It is a new article by Jeff John Roberts, published yesterday to say: “The other big reason the Google giveaway won’t mean much for startups is that those patents – or any other patents – won’t stop the trolls. That’s because patent trolls, unlike productive companies, are just shells without real assets or business operations, meaning they’re not vulnerable to counterclaims in a patent case. As it stands, for now, the trolls will continue to plague startups and big companies alike unless Congress musters the will to pass proposed laws to undercut their business model.”

A publicity stunt is all that is, just like IBM et al. with OIN, which cannot combat patent trolls at all. Today we learn that DataCentred joins OIN. The media calls it “open source alliance” even though it is little or nothing to do with Open Source, except perhaps the covered software. The British media says that DataCentred “joins the Open Invention Network to protect Linux users against software patent aggression.

“DataCentred has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN) to leverage the use of open source and protect users of the Linux OS against software patent aggression.”

What has OIN ever done to protect GNU/Linux? There are hardly even any examples of deterrence. OIN may be good for IBM, but what about Free software developers who have no patents and can hardly join the OIN at any meaningful level of capacity?

Big companies like IBM — much like patent trolls — are not vulnerable to patent counterclaims, let alone claims. If you are a small software company, IBM will find something on you and be able to drive you out of business using legal fees. The same goes for Microsoft.

The very idea that patents can help protect the ‘little guy’ (or girl) is ludicrous. Vast software patent troves make everything potentially (and likely) infringing, so everyone is rendered vulnerable. The frantic rush to stop patent trolls rather some particular kinds of patents is due to them being a ‘hack’. When fighting against patent trolls, software giants like IBM or Microsoft cannot make counterclaims. Large patent aggressors (like trolls, but with known brand) such as Apple, IBM, HP and Microsoft hate trolls because they’re essentially a loophole. But they are happy to create or feed their own (loyal) trolls such as MOSAID, CPTN, Intellectual Ventures, and even MPEG-LA. Lobbyists in the US push hard for ‘reform’ only when it comes to patent trolls simply because that’s what mega-corporations want. There is a besieged government, which in turn becomes a government of occupation (against the people), where patents are just a corporate tool.

New Zealand’s Media Gets History Wrong on Software Patents

Posted in Australia, Patents at 11:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Setting the record straight on the fight against software patents in New Zealand

HALF a decade ago we wrote a great deal about the patents debate in New Zealand because there was serious risk of software patents invading another country. Being a Five Eyes country, if it happens in New Zealand, then it can be further expanded to Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada, just like many oppressive laws, especially in recent years (because “terrorism!” or “ISIS!” or something like that). Colonial/imperialist legacy has plenty to teach us about manufacturing and exploitation of public panic to sway public opinion and thereafter change laws.

A new article from the press in New Zealand points out the relationship between lobbying for software patents and so-called ‘trade’ deals (protectionism for multinationals). Paul Brislen is quoted sparingly and it says the following: “The negotiations had been conducted in secret and the New Zealand IT industry was concerned.”

Yes, same thing happened when it came to software patents. Large corporations such as Microsoft and IBM lobbied in secret.

Another quote: “One of the biggest issues for New Zealand was the country’s patent law and the issues for copyright.”

Copyright is an interesting one. As we now know, based on the Kim Dotcom case in New Zealand, the US Department of Justice and the FBI now apparently reign over New Zealand.

Another quote: “Parliament passed a new law about two years ago because the previous patent legislation did not cover software and IP, Mr Brislen said.”

Plutocrats and their corporations never rest until they get what they want. It can be a constant battle for power.

Another quote: “The legislation was held up for a long time while the Government debated how to respond to lobbying to introduce a law which would devalue patents.”

Patents needn’t be “devalued”, many need to be abolished, especially software patents.

Last quote: “The industry lobbied the Government to say software should not be subject to a patent.”

Well, that’s what companies from New Zealand said, but not foreign companies like Microsoft and IBM, which also used their lawyers in New Zealand to pressure the government,

Don’t let the media (especially in New Zealand) rewrite history. Software developers from New Zealand did a fine job mostly (not entirely because a loophole was left in tact, just like in Europe) defending themselves from patent aggressors and software monopolists from abroad. The article has flaws in it, but at least it recalls a big and important battle over software patents — one that Europe and the US hardly even have anymore. All that the press talks about right now is “trolls”.

Not Only Vista 10 Crashes a Lot, Any .NET Application Does Too (Updated)

Posted in GPL, Microsoft at 10:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

‘We had some painful experiences with C and C++, and when Microsoft came out with .NET, we said, “Yes! That is what we want.”‘

Miguel de Icaza

Summary: Microsoft software is quickly becoming synonymous with crashes as any piece of software developed with Microsoft’s tools, not just the underlying platform, crashes chronically

LESS than an hour ago we noted that the corporate media had finally realised that Vista 10 crashes a lot (we knew about it for quite a while because people from Microsoft told us).

Now that very severe .NET bugs are coming to the surface (as only some of the source code is being revealed) a friend of Microsoft reveals that not only .NET is unstable; any application developed with the “just-released .NET 4.6 runtime” is basically breaking, so badly in fact that there are chronic crashes. To quote Microsoft’s friend, Tim Anderson:

A critical bug in the optimizer in the just-released .NET 4.6 runtime could break and crash production applications, we’re warned.

“The methods you call can get different parameter values than you passed in,” says Nick Craver – software developer and system administrator for Stack Exchange, home of the popular programming support site Stack Overflow – in a post today.

This is what we have come to expect. It’s just Microsoft ‘quality’. With bugs like these, many applications could be compiled to include involuntary back doors. Microsoft now hopes to inject code into BSD/GNU compilers. These projects, in turn, should be principled and strict enough reject Microsoft’s shoddy code. When it comes to compilers, there is an increased security risk too, as our recent articles about Visual Studio explained [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], especially this article. You cannot build secure and robust software on a flaky and insecure (often by design) foundation.

“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”

Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive

Update (30/7/2015): Microsoft now acknowledges but downplays the issue.

The Government of Bulgaria Sells Out to Microsoft, Again

Posted in Microsoft at 10:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Coat of arms of Bulgaria

Summary: Despite some promises and reassurances that Bulgaria will consider Free/libre software, the Bulgarian government hands out a lot more of taxpayers’ money to the Mafia

ABOUT six years ago in Bulgaria promises were made regarding Free software. Knowing Microsoft’s political influence in Europe, we didn’t have nor did we keep) high hopes. We already know that Microsoft is blackmailing British politicians. We found out about it earlier this year. Well, maybe Microsoft bribed them too. Microsoft is like the Mafia and the criminal activities continue to this date; nobody in Microsoft is being sent to jail over it because Microsoft is based on the US, where Microsoft has firm control over the government (just like in the Indian government and Asia in general, but not quite to the same degree, including all the entryism, courtesy of Microsoft lobbyists and ‘former’ employees).

Anyway, earlier this month we learned that Bulgaria, where officials are generally not so hard (or expensive) to corrupt, signed another deal with Microsoft. Here are some details:

Bulgarian government will pay EUR 30,000,000.00 yes 30 Millons of EURO to Microsoft for licensee fees for using Windows OS and Office packages for the Bulgarian administration in the next three years.

They pay this amount every three years i.e. about EUR 10M per year are spent on something which have completely free and open source alternative which every one could use free of charge.

Seems not very logical?

Not quite, you forget that this is the Bulgarian government. The government administration officers here have one and only target when they get in power – to cash their efforts.

What they could cash if there is no money to spend on free Linux OS?

[...]

What if these 100 Millions were invested in the Bulgarian education instead to fill the pockets of corrupted administration and Microsoft? We never know as this would never happen here.

As the blogger points out, this is a big deal as this is the equivalent of allowing the “UK government to spend 1830 millions of EURO for MS licensees”. Yes, that’s nearly two billion euros! Microsoft has just robbed Bulgaria and few care to notice and fight back. Maybe we need some whistleblowers here…

“You’re going out with a girl, what you really want to do is have a deep, close and intimate relationship, at least for one night. And, you know, you just can’t let her feel like that, because if you do, it ain’t going to happen, right. So you have to talk long term and white picket fence and all these other wonderful things, or else you’re never going to get what you’re really looking for.”

James Plamondon, Lead Microsoft Evangelist

Corporate Media Finally Finds Out That Vista 10 Crashes a Lot

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 10, Windows at 10:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“LH [Longhorn/Vista] is a pig and I don’t see any solution to this problem. If we are to rise to the challenge of Linux…”

Jim Allchin, Windows manager, not long before Vista’s release

Summary: Stability issues of Vista 10 are belatedly reported to be a major catastrophe, leaving it unusable for many early adopters

The other day we noticed some ‘damage control’ (advice) from a Microsoft advocacy site regarding many crashes in Vista 10. People from Microsoft had told me about this quite a while back. Pogson calls Vista 10 “Another heavily advertised consumer-product is looking more like Vista every day. Forced updates of an incredibly complex piece of software from Day One is a recipe for disaster.”

Right now (earlier today) even the British media wrote about it. Microsoft insiders told me that too, as they know it’s a huge issue, not just based on personal experiences. Why did the press not mention this until a day or two before the release? Does the press not confidentially speak to Microsoft developers? If so, what does this tell us about the press? Mostly PR these days…

Microsoft is in serious trouble because Vista 10 is a dud with back doors and front doors. Even Microsoft’s hardware business, be it phones or consoles like XBox, is becoming more of a failure (Sony is winning the consoles war). According to this other new reports, the forced automatic updates (can install new back doors at any time, without giving the option to opt out) will discourage gamers from exploring Vista 10. Valve, which is headed by a Mirosoft veteran, already abandoned Windows in favour of Debian GNU/Linux, simply because Vista 8 was so terrible.

Vista 10 is a faulty piece of software and also a back door facility (into one’s physical hardware). No responsible business should even consider adopting it, not even as a ‘free’ (gratis) update. Microsoft is already losing billions of dollars and laying off thousands of staff every month, not to mention abandoned/discontinued products. There is no safety in counting on Microsoft.

Links 28/7/2015: Linux 4.2 RC4, New Logos and Bug ‘Branding’ for FUD

Posted in News Roundup at 5:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Eating our own dog food in open source

    There are no guaranteed solutions, of course, but there are smart things we can do. One of the biggest is “eating our own dog food.” If you’re putting on an open source conference, there’s no reason you can’t use open source software to create the flyers, video promos, banners, T-shirt graphics, and the myriad of other pieces of content to run and promote the show. If you’re working for a company that ostensibly has a commitment to open source, ask if your marketing material is being produced with open source software. If it isn’t, then ask why not. And if you happen to be a creative at one of these companies, why aren’t you?

  • Open Source rising as Cloud Computing, Analytics take off – Study

    Open source software has become a critical driver for innovation at leading companies and public-sector organizations around the world, according to a new research report produced by Oxford Economics in partnership with Wipro Limited.

    The report, The Open Source Era, also shows that open source software is essential to the use of other cutting-edge technologies and that open source methodologies have spread far beyond software development.

  • Check out this open source programming typeface entirely generated by code

    Typefaces designed for programmers aren’t a new idea, but I’m particularly taken with Iosevka, a monospace coding typeface that’s completely generated using Node.js.

    The project – which is inspired by existing coding typefaces Pragmata Pro, M+ and PF DIN Mono – aims to produce characters that “have a narrow shape to be space efficient and compatible to Chinese, Japanese and Korean characters.”

  • Capital One Launches Hygieia Open-Source DevOps Dashboard

    The bank launched its Hygieia DevOps dashboard at the O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) last week in Portland, Ore. The Capital One Agile development teams all use the technology.

  • New Portal For IBM Open Source Projects

    IBM has just launched developerWorksOpen to enable developers to collaborate using its open sourced technologies. It is poised to provide new tools, in particular with regards to mobile.

  • Open Source IFTTT Collection Introduced

    IFTTT (If This Then That) has this month introduced a new collection of new open source projects as well as updating existing ones.

  • Roadies vs. rock stars: The art of open leadership

    Allen Gunn is a facilitator, open source technologist and Executive Director of Aspiration, where he helps NGOs, activists, and software developers make smarter use of tech for social change. Later this month, Aspiration is partnering with Greenpeace’s Mobilisation Lab to host the first-ever Open Campaigns Camp in Berlin. We recently got together to chat about working open and the leadership required to make it work.

  • How to get designers involved in your software project

    Kravets showed us a report she found. It reviewed 23,493 GitHub projects and found that 75.3% had no gender diversity at all. This brought Kravets to the following quote from Malcolm Gladwell: “The world that we could have is much richer than the world we’ve settled for.”

  • The right way to fail

    In the open source industry, we often hear that we should fail quickly and often, but that doesn’t make failure any less scary. Failure seems like a personal problem, but it’s really a corporate problem. We use the phrase “failure is not an option,” and people are so proud to live by it. The fact of the matter, said Scavarda and Hawthorn, is that this statement should say “failure is not an option; it is a requirement.” The truth is that it’s not a matter of whether we will fail, but when we will fail and what will be our timeline for our recovery.

  • The Dronecode Foundation aims to keep UAVs open

    Unmanned Aerial Vehicles’ (UAV) applications and capabilities are advancing at a phenomenal rate, and the cost of these systems is decreasing at an equally impressive rate largely because of the open source. In many cases, open source projects are outpacing the development of their equivalent closed source systems.

  • phpMyAdmin Bids SourceForge Farewell

    phpMyAdmin, the popular free and open source web based tool for administering MySQL databases, has left the SourceForge building.

    In a blog post on Saturday, the project’s infrastructure coordinator, Michal Čihař, announced that a migration from Sourceforge is all but complete. The few remaining items left on the SourceForge server will be “hopefully handled in upcoming days as well.”

  • Boundless: Commercial open source geospatial software

    Boundless’ global customer base uses the OpenGeo Suite, a complete open source geospatial web services stack, to deploy solutions for web mapping, transportation, telecommunications, open government, and a diverse range of other solutions. The OpenGeo Suite provides a continually updated geo web services platform along with maintenance agreements that include support and training to support the growing functionality of continually enhanced open source geospatial software.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 42 Nightly Is Now Built In GTK+3

        Firefox Nightly for Linux has been compiled with GTK+3 and the stable version of Firefox 42 may be the first one to be released with GTK+3.

      • Mozilla Toys with Crowdsourcing Ideas for its Browser and Tools

        Can your ideas make one of the most popular Internet browsers better? Mozilla is considering the possibility. The company is launching a testing initiative next month that will let Firefox users try out possible changes to the browser. The project is called “Idea Town” and basically seeks to crowdsource ideas for browser- and web-centric new concepts.

      • How is Firefox OS Different from Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Ubuntu Touch

        firefox-os-phone-firefox-os-phone-While choosing a new mobile phone to buy, you must consider all different available options. Earlier I’ve written about the differences between Ubuntu Touch, Android OS, and Windows Phone. Today I’m going to add another contender in the list – the Firefox OS – and I’ll discuss how is Firefox OS different from others.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Seven Key Milestones in OpenStack’s Five-Year History

      On July 19, 2010, Chris Kemp, at the time NASA’s CTO for IT, went on stage at the OSCON open-source conference to announce OpenStack, a new open-source effort along with Rackspace. Five years later, OpenStack has emerged as one of the leading cloud platforms governments and big-name companies around the world use. Best Buy and Walmart are among the major retailers that use OpenStack while major carriers, such as Comcast and AT&T, are also users and contributors. One of the biggest drivers of OpenStack’s growth in the last five years was the formation of the OpenStack Foundation, a vendor-neutral, multi-stakeholder effort to help build and promote the OpenStack platform. While OpenStack in 2010 was made up of two companies, the OpenStack Foundation in 2015 numbers well over 100 members. Another key driver of OpenStack’s growth is continued technical innovation. In 2010, the OpenStack Platform started with just two projects: the Nova Compute Project and the Swift Storage Project. Over the years, multiple additional projects were added, including Glance image, Horizon dashboard, Neutron network and Keystone identity. Here’s a look at key milestones in OpenStack’s five-year history.

    • A new center for innovation, celebrating five years, and more OpenStack news
    • Q&A: Pepperdata’s Chad Carson Discusses Getting Much More Out of Hadoop

      In the data analytics and Hadoop arena, the folks at Pepperdata have an interesting story to tell. Pepperdata’s cofounders ran the web search engineering team at Yahoo during the development of the first production use of Hadoop and created Pepperdata with the mission of providing a simple way of prioritizing Hadoop jobs to give resources to the ones that need them most, while ensuring that a company adheres to its SLAs.

  • Databases

    • The Companies That Support Linux: MariaDB

      MariaDB Corporation is a provider of open source database solutions for SaaS, cloud and on-premise applications that require high availability, scalability, and performance. Built by the founder and core engineering team behind MySQL, MariaDB has more than 2 million users globally and over 500 customers in more than 45 countries — most of whom are running Linux.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD Making Progress With Their Linux Binary Emulation & More
    • Not Learning Unix is a Mistake

      It has occurred to me that not learning Unix is a grave mistake. My relatively early exposure to Unix was important. I may not have appreciated Linux as much or even at all if I hadn’t had that ability to experiment at home with Xenix. Learning about Unix develops new mental muscles like playing a musical instrument or learning a new language. But learning these new processes becomes more difficult with age. To me the exact technical details are less important. It does not really matter if you are a Linux user or if you use one of the BSDs or even something more exotic like Plan 9. The important thing is you can learn new concepts from what I will broadly refer to as the Unix/Internet Community.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • cps soup

      In the olden days, Guile had no compiler, just an interpreter written in C. Around 8 years ago now, we ported Guile to compile to bytecode. That bytecode is what is currently deployed as Guile 2.0. For many reasons we wanted to upgrade our compiler and virtual machine for Guile 2.2, and the result of that was a new continuation-passing-style compiler for Guile. Check that link for all the backstory.

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • UK health service nurtures open source communities

      The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is nurturing a growing number of communities of software developers working on open source solutions. NHS’ Code4Health team is now supporting 17 communities that bring together health care providers, developers and supporters.

  • Programming

    • Mmm, what’s that smell, Google+? Yes it’s death: Google unhooks ‘social network’ from YouTube

      Google is no longer forcing Google+ on the world: people will be able to log into YouTube, and other Googley services, without having to create mandatory Google+ profiles.

      From now on, only those who deliberately sign up for Google+ will create profiles on the ghost town of a social network. Previously, Google harassed users of YouTube, Gmail and so on, to convert their accounts into Google+ accounts, a move obviously designed to boost G+’s sad numbers. It didn’t go down very well at all – a lot of folks hated it.

    • Google to block access to unofficial autocomplete API

      Google has decided the autocomplete API it informally offers will no longer be available for “unauthorised” users as of August 10th.

Leftovers

  • ‘Sepp Blatter deserves a Nobel Prize for Fifa leadership,’ says Vladimir Putin

    Sepp Blatter deserves a Nobel Prize for his leadership of Fifa, according to Vladimir Putin.

  • Security

    • Unhinged Linux backdoor still poses a nuisance, if not a threat

      If successfully planted, the malware tries to register itself in the system as a daemon (system service). Thereafter it uses LZO compression and the Blowfish encryption algorithm to chat to command and control servers. Every packet contains a checksum, so that the recipient could verify data integrity.

    • Researchers analyze faulty new Linux backdoor
    • Seven things security experts do to keep safe online

      Cybersecurity experts aren’t like you or I, and now we have the evidence to prove it. Researchers at Google interviewed more than 200 experts to find out what security practices they actually carry out online, and then spoke to almost 300 non-experts to find out how they differ.

    • Why Chrysler’s car hack ‘fix’ is staggeringly stupid

      More than a million Chrysler vehicles, including Jeeps, Ram pickups, and Dodge vehicles, are vulnerable to a major vulnerability that could drive them — literally — off the road.

      Last week, the company recalled 1.4 million vehicles at risk of a remote hijack vulnerability, which, as detailed by Wired, can result in a hacker remotely operating the brakes, interfering with the driver’s visibility by switching on the windshield wipers, and even shutting off the engine.

    • The Elderly & the Scam Masters

      Jane answered the phone and a pleasant young man identified himself as an internet technician with Microsoft. He told her they’d received a report that something was extremely wrong with their computers and he was calling to help.

      [...]

      From here it gets crazy. There was a $200 payment made to this “tech expert” and then he calls back and says that payment wasn’t necessary. In fact, an error was made and a draft of $2,000 had been made and not $200. He needed to take his $1,800 back. Of course, the “bank statement” Jane looked at did indeed show $2,000 instead of $200, so Jane was being asked to refund the $1,800.

    • We Can Put An End To Identity Theft
    • Darkode Hacking Forum Taken Down by FBI and Europol

      In a joint operation that included law enforcement agencies from 20 countries, the infamous Darkode hacking forum has been taken down.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • The last thing Labour needs is a leader like Jeremy Corbyn who people want to vote for

      At last sensible Labour politicians are injecting some maturity into the leadership debate. To start with, Tony Blair’s aide John McTernan called anyone who nominated Jeremy Corbyn a “moron”, which is such a refreshing change from the divisive and childish approach of the Left.

    • A Terrorism Case in Britain Ends in Acquittal, but No One Can Say Why

      Ian Cobain, a reporter with The Guardian, is one of very few people who know why a student arrested by armed British police officers in 2013 was finally acquitted this year of terrorism charges.

      Problem is, he cannot report what he knows. He was allowed to observe much of the trial, but only under strict conditions intended to keep classified material secret. His notebooks are being held by Britain’s domestic intelligence agency. And if he writes — or even talks — about the reason that the student, Erol Incedal, 27, was acquitted, Mr. Cobain faces prosecution and possibly jail.

    • WikiLeaks: Saudi Arabia eyes Arabian Sea port

      According to a document recently published on WikiLeaks, authorities in Saudi Arabia are looking for a new access point on the Arabian Sea. This implies either a port in the Sultanate of Oman or in Yemen.

    • Daesh, The Revolutionary Neoliberal Party and the British Falsehood Corporation

      Lord Hall, the director general of the BBC, is to be questioned by MPs over his refusal to refer to Islamic State using the term ‘Daesh’ (an Arabic abbreviation that means ‘one who crushes something underfoot’ and ‘one who sows discord’) because it is pejorative and therefore biased. Controversial British prime minister David Cameron had sent a request to the BBC supported in a letter signed by 120 MPs from across the spectrum – Labour, Tory and SNP.

    • ‘Swiftboating’ J Street to Smear Iran Deal as ‘Anti-Israel’

      No explanation was given of what these goals are, nor was any evidence given that “barely any Israeli” agrees with these goals.

      While New York Times editors didn’t make Shmuel Rosner specify what the alleged goals of the avowedly pro-Israel peace group J Street are that “barely any Israeli” agrees with, context suggests the most obvious explanation: J Street has backed the Obama administration’s diplomacy with Iran and is backing the Iran nuclear deal, and that’s why opponents of the Iran nuclear deal are attacking J Street and saying that J Street’s claim to be “pro-Israel” is dubious.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Global Derivatives: $1.5 Quadrillion Time Bomb

      Along with credit default swaps and other exotic instruments, the total notional derivatives value is about $1.5 quadrillion – about 20% more than in 2008, beyond what anyone can conceive, let alone control if unexpected turmoil strikes.

      The late Bob Chapman predicted it. So does Paul Craig Roberts. It could “destroy Western civilization,” he believes. Financial deregulation turned Wall Street into a casino with no rules except unrestrained making money. Catastrophic failure awaits. It’s just a matter of time.

      Ellen Brown calls the “derivatives casino…a last-ditch attempt to prop up a private pyramid scheme” – slowly crumbling under its own weight.

      For years, Warren Buffett called derivatives “financial time bombs” – for economies and ordinary people.

    • Going Mainstream

      I pointed out that Nicola Sturgeon’s appearance in the TV leadership debates was the first major airing of an anti-Trident argument on broadcast media in England for a decade. Actually hearing anti-austerity arguments led to a huge surge in support for the SNP in England as well as Scotland.

    • UK economy accelerates with growth of 0.7%
    • Prostitution and drug dealing add £10billion to the economy under bizarre rules which mean crime boom is good news for Osborne

      Prostitution and drug dealing provide a £10billion boost to the economy, new research revealed today.

      Bizarre new European rules mean that for the first time illegal activities must be included in the official estimates of the size of the economy.

      It means a booming sex trade or an expansion in cannabis factories will provide a boost to George Osborne’s economic outlook.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • A Crucial Realization About Journalism is Learned by Being its Subject

      Journalistic objectivity is a sham, a horribly misleading and self-flattering conceit.

    • Aaronovitch Blusters to a Well of Silence

      But something else struck me about the twitter record. Aaronovitch’ twitter account claims to have 78,000 followers. Yet of the 78,000 people who allegedly received his tweet about my insanity, only 1 retweeted and 2 favourited. That is an astonishingly low proportion – 1 in 26,000 reacted. To give context, Mark Doran has only 582 followers and yet had more retweets and favourites for his riposte. 1 in 146 to be precise, a 200 times greater response rate.

      Please keep reading, I promise you this gets a great deal less boring.

      Eighteen months ago I wrote an article about Aaronovitch’s confession that he solicits fake reviews of his books to boost their score on Amazon. In response a reader emailed me with an analysis of Aaronovitch’s twitter followers. He argued with the aid of graphs that the way they accrued indicated that they were not arising naturally, but being purchased in blocks. He claimed this was common practice in the Murdoch organisation to promote their hacks through false apparent popularity.

    • ‘There Is Effectively No Limit on Money in Politics’ – CounterSpin interview with Brendan Fischer on Wisconsin campaign corruption

      Walker was accused of coordinating with outside groups, namely Wisconsin Club for Growth and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. And these are groups that, after the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, can accept unlimited secret donations, and Walker’s campaign is still bound by campaign finance limits that the US Supreme Court has consistently upheld.

  • Privacy

    • NSA has paid Utah $1 million to police entrance on Redwood Road

      From the start of 2014 through March of this year, the NSA has paid the state $1,033,850 to patrol the perimeter of the data center, according to records provided by UHP.

    • Judges slam UK’s FBI over farcical Wire-style mission: National Crime Agency comes under fire for bugging plot ‘failures’

      Britain’s equivalent of the FBI has been condemned by judges after a sophisticated bugging operation against alleged money-launderers descended into farce and a series of ‘grave failures’.

      The National Crime Agency deployed 100 officers in 30 cars to seize the bosses of a company in West London under investigation.

      While the suspects were being interviewed at a police station, NCA chiefs hid listening devices in their offices.

    • Exclusive: Feds Regularly Monitored Black Lives Matter Since Ferguson

      The Department of Homeland Security has been monitoring the Black Lives Matter movement since anti-police protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri last summer, according to hundreds of documents obtained by The Intercept through a Freedom of Information Act request.

    • Researchers claim they’ve developed a better, faster Tor

      Tor, the world’s largest and most well-known “onion router” network, offers a degree of anonymity that has made it a popular tool of journalists, dissidents, and everyday Internet users who are trying to avoid government or corporate censorship (as well as Internet drug lords and child pornographers). But one thing that it doesn’t offer is speed—its complex encrypted “circuits” bring Web browsing and other tasks to a crawl. That means that users seeking to move larger amounts of data have had to rely on virtual private networks—which while they are anonymous, are much less protected than Tor (since VPN providers—and anyone who has access to their logs—can see who users are).

  • Civil Rights

    • ISIS Sting…or FBI Catfishing?

      Alex Ciccolo was arrested after weeks of talking to an FBI agent he thought would sell him weapons for a terror attack—and who likely knew he was mentally ill.

    • FBI Overreach? Alexander Ciccolo And The Line Between Imagined And Actual Threat

      The ever-vigilant Federal Bureau of Investigation has once again reminded us of the constant threat of domestic terrorism plots — by inventing one. But the most recent story has a more tragic twist than many other FBI “national security” capers, since it involves as well a betrayal of family values.

    • Podcast: Recent FBI Sting, White Terrorism Threat, Transgender Activist Interrupts Obama & Marriage Equality

      …the threat of white terrorism, which the US government largely ignores; a recent elaborate FBI sting against a poor black felon that shows where the agency is putting its resources; and how the FBI monitored live streams of Ferguson protests.

    • Wesley Clark Calls for Internment Camps for “Radicalized” Americans

      Retired general and former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark on Friday called for World War II-style internment camps to be revived for “disloyal Americans.” In an interview with MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts in the wake of the mass shooting in Chatanooga, Tennessee, Clark said that during World War II, “if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didn’t say that was freedom of speech, we put him in a camp, they were prisoners of war.”

    • Pat Buchanan Brings His Xenophobia To Meet The Press

      Former MSNBC employee Pat Buchanan used an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press to frame immigration as a “massive invasion” and “conquest of the West” by “third-world … border jumpers.” During the appearance, host Chuck Todd did not mention Buchanan’s past history of racist comments, or that NBC’s cable channel MSNBC parted ways with Buchanan in 2012.

    • The CIA Paid This Contractor $40 Million to Review Torture Documents

      But VICE News has exclusively obtained more than 100 pages of contracting documents [pdf below] that show it was CIA officials who insisted on outsourcing work related to the Senate’s review — and that it was the CIA that paid more than $40 million to one of its longtime contractors for administrative support and other tasks related to the report. Those tasks included compiling, reviewing, redacting, and posting to a server the more than 6 million pages of highly classified CIA cables and other documents Senate Intelligence Committee staffers pored through during the course of their probe.

    • Torture Is Bad. So Psychologists Helped the US Redefine It

      The Hoffman report (so named because the principal investigator is a lawyer named David Hoffman) was commissioned by the American Psychological Association to examine a 2005 APA publication called the Psychology Ethics in National Security document (PENS). This document, voted into policy by APA leadership at the time, outlined the conditions in which a psychologist could ethically work alongside military and intelligence interrogators. Critics from within and without the APA had—since the document’s inception—suspected foul play. The Hoffman report lays those accusations bare, by showing that the APA’s head of ethics had been directly working with the military to create a back-scratching policy.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

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