12.27.17

Links 27/12/2017: MPV Player 0.28, 4MLinux 23.1.1, FreeBSD Quarterly Status Report

Posted in News Roundup at 1:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Nostalgia

        However, I cannot avoid feeling sad about the demise of FirefoxOS. While most of the apps have Android versions by now, some of the games never made it to Android. For example, my three favorite games, or what I called “The Cat Trilogy”, were doomed to extinction and cannot be found in the Android app ecosystem.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • How Dell built a community to prepare for an open future

      No one working in cloud and data centers should be surprised that organizations have changed how they run their IT departments. Applications are written and deployed differently, moving away from monoliths to microservices. Organizations operate their data centers by applying development principles to operations through open source software and community collaboration. Open source software is used heavily in development, testing, and production. In a survey done in 2016, 90% of respondents say open source improves their efficiency, interoperability, and innovation, and 65% of companies are contributing to open source projects.

      This type of “innovation-through-openness” has proven that global collaboration on code and inclusivity of diverse intellectual contributions advance the technological state of the art and solve problems faster.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD Quarterly Status Report – Third Quarter 2017

      FreeBSD Project Quarterly Status Report – 3rd Quarter 2017

      This quarter’s FreeBSD developments continue to provide excitement and
      promise for further developments. I myself have a soft spot for manual
      pages, so it is especially good to see that we have gained some
      documentation for writing them (and I hope that this will translate to
      more and improved manual pages in the future!). The core@ entry is also
      of particular note, with the introduction of the FCP process and the
      recognition of the first non-committer FreeBSD Project Member (and
      more). Read on to find out more about these, as well as improved
      support for the AMD Zen family of processors (e.g., Ryzen), and a whole
      lot more!

    • FreeBSD Had A Busy Q3’2017 With AMD Zen Improvements, Intel iWARP

      The FreeBSD Quarterly Status Report covering work done in the third quarter has now been published.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Swatantra 2017 Draws Attention to Possibilities of Free and Open Source Software; Highlights Kerala’s IT Initiatives

      Swatantra 2017, an international conference on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), became the platform for discussions on emerging developments in the field, and highlighted the major FOSS initiatives of the Government of Kerala.

      Held on 20 and 21 December 2017 at Thiruvananthapuram, Swatantra 2017 was the sixth edition of the conference held on a triennial basis, and was organised by the International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS), an institution set up by the Kerala government.

      Around 400 free software enthusiasts – students, IT professionals and others – participated in the conference, with 36 speakers from across the globe sharing their experiences and leading sessions on a range of topics. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the conference, the slogan of which was ‘Celebrating Freedom’.

    • Paytm launches virtual incubator to promote ‘Build for India’ initiative

      Paytm on Tuesday announced the launch of its ‘Indian Open Source Project Incubator’, where professionals and students can build open source-based solutions, and share these projects with the global developer community.

    • Paytm launches incubator initiative ‘Build For India’ to promote open-source projects

      Paytm, India’s digital payments unicorn, announced its plans to launch its incubator programme enabling startups to build and share tech solutions in the country. Through the ‘Build For India’ initiative, Paytm will bring together students and professionals who can build open source solutions and share them with the developer community worldwide.

    • Paytm looks for the next big thing in its startup incubator

      Paytm is all set to join the ranks of India’s growing accelerators and incubators through its incubator programme to enable building and sharing of solutions among technology developers in India. The ‘Build For India’ initiative will see Paytm bring together students and professionals, who can build open-source-based solutions and share those projects with the global developer community.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Unit Testing: Time-Consuming but Product-Saving

      Long-time Node.js advocate Ashley Williams kicked off her recent Twitter thread in the same sort of stream of consciousness that many devs go through when they are coming to terms with the truth: Unit testing is annoying but necessary.

      Unit testing is an essential part of developing software applications. Also called component testing, it is all about isolating one unit of code to verify that it’s working as it should be. And unlike many types of testing, this is usually done by the developer of the code itself.

      A unit test differs from an integration test because an integration test, as its name suggests, focuses on the interaction between these units, modules, or components, as a unit test focus on one specific piece. The unit test also mocks behavior while the integration test runs on the actual code or in production.

    • podlators 4.10

      podlators is the source for Pod::Man and Pod::Text, which convert POD documentation to man pages and text documents.

      This version includes a fairly significant formatting change for Pod::Man: man page links and function names (including auto-discovered function names) are now bold instead of italic.

    • FRustrations 1

      I’ve been hacking about learing Rust for a bit more than a year now, building a Hawk crate and hacking on a distributed lock service named Rubbish (which will never amount to anything but gives me a purpose).

      In the process, I’ve run into some limits of the language. I’m going to describe some of those in a series of posts starting with this one.

      One of the general themes I’ve noticed is lots of things work great in demos, where everything is in a single function (thus allowing lots of type inference) and most variables are ‘static. Try to elaborate these demos out into a working application, and the borrow checker immediately blocks your path.

      Today’s frustration is a good example.

Leftovers

  • New Jersey town will close streets to fight navigation app traffic
  • Navigation Apps Are Turning Quiet Neighborhoods Into Traffic Nightmares

    With services like Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps suggesting shortcuts for commuters through the narrow, hilly streets of Leonia, N.J., the borough has decided to fight back against congestion that its leaders say has reached crisis proportions.

  • In the travel industry, resentment towards tourists grows

    Travel is a major global industry, but in 2017 it attracted unprecedented resentment and retaliation towards tourists. A growing global backlash against tourism extended from tropical rain forests to urban destinations like Rio de Janeiro and Venice.
    I have studied tourism’s social and environmental consequences along the coastlines of Colombia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, in the rain forests of Peru and Ecuador, on the islands of Fiji and the Galapagos and across the Savannahs of South Africa and Tanzania. My research and that of numerous other scholars spotlights a key fact: More tourism is not always better. Increasing the number of visitors has generated profits for travel companies – particularly the cruise ship industry – but it has not always benefited local communities and environments where tourism occurs.
    Fortunately, once people are aware of the often surprising ways in which their trips impact local people and places, it becomes easy to ensure that their travel has more positive consequences for the destinations they visit.

  • Why Is Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt Technically Serving In The Department Of Defense?

    A staunch supporter of the Democratic Party and critic of President Donald Trump, Schmidt still continues to lead the Defense Innovation Board (DIB), even well after the new administration took over in January. This begs the question: should Schmidt’s history of partisan advocacy and condemnation of Trump be a worrisome prospect for the current White House?

    Regardless of the answer, Trump’s retention of Schmidt may be emblematic of more than political divisiveness within the current administration, like from “Obama holdovers.” In fact, it may be the opposite of unwanted internal discord and a sign of an underlying ethos for the Trump administration — diversity of thought.

  • Hardware

    • Apple Facing A Bunch Of Lawsuits After Admitting It Slows Down Older Devices, But Insisting It’s For A Good Reason

      There was a bit of controversy last week concerning Apple slowing down older devices. It started, as so many things do, with a Reddit post, noting that Apple appeared to be slowing down the processor on phones with older batteries. Geekbench’s John Poole then ran some tests confirming this. Apple then confirmed that it was doing so. All three of those links above also present the reason for this — which is not necessarily a nefarious one — though that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good explanation either. In short, it was a solution to a problem of older batteries causing “spontaneous” or “unexpected shutdowns.”

      But, of course, slowing down the phone to avoid those kinds of shutdowns still has the impact of reduced performance on older phones — which ultimately angers users or makes them feel like they need to upgrade before they really do. This wouldn’t necessarily be a huge issue if two things were true: (1) it was easy to replace the batteries and (2) Apple was clear and upfront about this — telling people they could avoid this issue by replacing the battery. Neither of those things are true. Apple makes it quite difficult to replace the batteries (though, not impossible) and only now is explaining this “hack.”

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Saudi raids kill over 70 Yemeni civilians in 48 hours

      At least 71 civilians have been killed in the last 48 hours in air raids carried out by a Saudi-led military coalition targeting Houthi rebels in Yemen, residents and local media say.

      Residents told Al Jazeera that several air strikes rained down on the capital Sanaa early on Monday, killing at least 11 people, including three children and two women.

    • Saudi-led airstrikes kill 9 family members in Yemen’s Sanaa

      A family of nine members, including five children, were killed on Monday morning when Saudi-led coalition warplanes hit the family’s house five times in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, residents and a Xinhua photographer at the scene witnessed.

      “Father, his wife, two women (who are sisters to the father), and five little children were killed on the spot after their house was hit by five missiles fired from fighter jets of the Saudi-led coalition,” Xinhua photographer reported.

      Rescuers and medics said five other people from nearby houses were critically wounded.

      Residents said the targeted family’s small house is located inside a cemetery near a densely populated neighborhood.

    • Trump’s Continuation of US Interventionism

      President Trump’s recent report on National Security Strategy supposedly reflected his America First “realism” but his approach seems more like old wine in a new bottle, particularly his continued strong support for Saudi Arabia and Israel in the Middle East combined with an even more aggressive U.S. policy in Asia aimed at containing China as well as confronting North Korea.

    • FBI Celebrates Taking Down A ‘Terrorist’ Who Told Undercover Agents He Couldn’t Go Through With An Attack

      The enthusiastic republishing of the FBI’s narrative does little more than rewrite the DOJ’s press release. Very few have dug into the charging documents. If they had, they might not have depicted a terrorist attack that was never going to happen as somehow being “thwarted” by the arrest of a 26-year-old man reeling from the recent loss of his children in a custody battle.

      According to the criminal complaint [PDF], Everitt Jameson was planning to detonate explosives at Pier 39 in San Francisco, a popular destination for tourists. The lead-up to Jameson’s arrest (and supposed “thwarting”) was filled with FBI informants and undercover agents, but not a single actual member of a terrorist group.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Gove faces pressure from Labour over free vote on foxhunting ban

      Michael Gove is facing demands from Labour to explain whether the government has abandoned a Conservative general election manifesto pledge to give MPs a free vote on whether to overturn the foxhunting ban.

      It follows reports that Theresa May will announce in early 2018 plans to permanently drop the commitment to a House of Commons vote, in a move that would risk infuriating rural Tories.

    • China’s Shanghai to battle ‘big city disease’ by limiting population to 25 million

      China’s financial hub of Shanghai will limit its population to 25 million people by 2035 as part of a quest to manage “big city disease”, the cabinet has said.

      The State Council said on its website late on Monday the goal to control the size of the city was part of Shanghai’s masterplan for 2017-2035, which the government body had approved.

      “By 2035, the resident population in Shanghai will be controlled at around 25 million and the total amount of land made available for construction will not exceed 3,200 square kilometers,” it said.

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Here Are the Absolute Best Artworks We Saw Around the World in 2017

      Following Trump’s election, everyone pretty much knew 2017 was going to be an angry year, but what remains stunning is how much of that anger turned inward, setting off rounds of extreme vetting and denunciation within the ranks of the left-leaning cultural community itself. It is to the accidental but nonetheless great credit of the Whitney Biennial, the best -ennial I saw all year, that it encapsulated this tendency in an almost uncanny way with the inclusion of two works. The first, of course, was Dana Schutz’s painting of the remains of Emmett Till, which sparked a blazing controversy over whether the white Schutz had the right to portray the grievous power of Till’s black body, and whether the work should be removed from the show (as the curators refused to do) or even destroyed.

    • TEENS: The affect of censorship on a teenager

      So when faced with those doubts, those questions, those rare signs ambiguity that ultimately build that child up into the adult they will become, the method of approaching it should be met with a nurturing hand filled with explanations, answers, debates, and evidence. Not arguments, belittlement or the passive aggressive responses of, “Sit down and be quiet,” “I didn’t see your hand up,” and, “That’s just how things are, we’re moving on now.”

      When one destroys that inquisitiveness, how can you complain about the lack of critical thinking? When the system is based on building a soldier who walks in straight lines and fires on command, how can you ask for a general who can think of strategies and can lead the herd you’ve created?

    • China’s latest blockbuster cautiously tests censorship limits about Sino-Vietnamese war

      It is not usual to see in China’s cinemas so many sensitive topics, including the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), the Sino-Vietnamese war (1979) and the 1-million disarmament of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the 1980s, touched on in one single film. But Youth, a new film directed by Feng Xiaogang, which is currently being screened across the country, shines a light on these “taboo” periods.

      The film immediately gained widespread attention after its debut and became a blockbuster. This past weekend, Youth (Fanghua in Chinese), grossed over 800 million yuan ($122 million) at the box office. Chinese moviegoers from different generations have contributed to Youth’s overnight success.

      For those citizens born after the 1990s, they said they hoped to learn about the “forgotten history” not mentioned in their school textbooks or to understand more about their parents’ lives. For the middle-aged and the elderly born after the 1950s, they simply wanted to revisit the memories of their tumultuous youth.

    • Vietnam’s new internet censorship army and China blocks 13,000 sites in 3 years

      As you are kicking back, finishing off the last of the festive food, and browsing through Facebook or Netflix, spare a thought for those living in the one-party Communist states of Vietnam and China, where the online censorship situation continues to deteriorate.

    • Europe’s Ongoing Attack On Free Speech, And Why It Should Concern Us All

      David Kaye, a law professor who has also been the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression (quite the title!) has penned a very interesting article for Foreign Affairs (possibly behind a paywall or registration wall) about how Europe’s recent attempts to regulate the internet are now a major threat to free speech. It talks about many issues we’ve written about, from the awful Right to be Forgotten cases to efforts to fine internet platforms if they don’t magically disappear hate speech. While telling internet platforms to “fix it’ may feel good, the reality is that it doesn’t work, creates more problems, and gives those platforms even more power as the de facto speech police (something we should all be worried about).

    • Censorship: Feds plot to control dialogue

      parently, federal policy analysts were presented with a list of forbidden words recently, handed down from the Trump administration. An age-old strategy: control people by controlling the dialogue.

    • China has shut down 13,000 websites since 2015 – state media

      China has shut down or revoked the licenses of 13,000 websites since 2015 for violating the country’s internet rules, state media reported Sunday.

      The news comes as the Communist country continues to strengthen its already tight regulation of the internet, a move which critics say has picked up pace since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012.

    • China shuts down more than 13,000 websites in past three years

      China has closed more than 13,000 websites since the beginning of 2015 for breaking the law or other rules and the vast majority of people support government efforts to clean up cyberspace, state news agency Xinhua said on Sunday.

    • China closes more than 13,000 websites in past three years

      China has closed more than 13,000 websites since the beginning of 2015 for breaking the law or other rules and the vast majority of people support government efforts to clean up cyberspace, state news agency Xinhua said on Sunday.

      The government has stepped up already tight controls over the internet since President Xi Jinping took power five years ago, in what critics say is an effort to restrict freedom of speech and prevent criticism of the ruling Communist Party.

    • China’s censors have taken down 13,000 websites in 3 years

      A report from the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress has revealed that China has either shut down or revoked licenses for more than 13,000 websites since the start of 2015, or just under 3 years ago. It had also prompted the closure of nearly 10 million internet accounts (most likely social network accounts).

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Intelligence Community Apparently Wants More Snowdens, Continues Ouster Of Official Whistleblower Channel

      The Intelligence Community — sixteen government agencies engaged in intelligence work under the ODNI’s direction — doesn’t have much in the way of effective oversight. It’s also not fond of whistleblowers, despite several legislative efforts to force the IC to play nice with those who report wrongdoing. Because of this, it’s been repeatedly rocked by leaks. That’s the sort of thing that happens when someone clamps down on the official whistleblowing routes: the pressure has to escape somewhere.

      Things will get worse in the IC, especially for whistleblowers, before it gets any better… or if it gets any better. A few months ago, the IC began ousting its in-house oversight. Dan Meyers, the Inspector General for the IC, is slowly and steadily being stripped of his power. Not only is Meyers barred from communicating with whistleblowers, but he’s forbidden from briefing Congress or IC agencies about his office’s tasks. He’s also been stripped of his staff.

    • Facebook Transparency Report: Lots Of Government Surveillance, Bad Copyright Takedown Requests

      Facebook, which was a bit late to the party, recently released its latest transparency report. In a break from earlier versions of the report, the social media giant has finally moved beyond only detailing requests for information by the government and its alphabet agencies and is now including intellectual property requests and statistics as well. There is a decent amount of information in both sections of the report, but on matters of both intellectual property requests and government information requests, an analysis of the numbers leads to some troubling conclusions.

      Let’s deal with the IP section first. The headline of much of the media reporting on this has been about the 377,000 or so requests Facebook got to take down content based on IP issues, with well over half of those specifically being about copyright. It’s not a small number and some are using it to make the case that Facebook is Mos Eisley when it comes to copyright infringement: a hive of scum and villainy. Tragically for those arguments, the validity of those requests makes this all seem far less impactful.

    • Slot machine lovers will have to confirm identity to play by 2023

      However, even before 2023, some slot machines will require user identification before customers can use them. As the stock of machines is renewed, some of the newer installations will always demand user authentication.

    • Protecting Immigrants from High Tech Surveillance: 2017 in Review

      In 2017, the federal government surged its high tech snooping on immigrants and foreign visitors, including expanded use of social media surveillance, biometric screening, and data mining. In response, EFF ramped up its advocacy for the digital rights of immigrants.

    • Russia’s Putin calls for Web activities of some firms to be monitored

      “We need to look carefully at how some companies work in [I]nternet, in social media, and how widely they are involved in our domestic political life,” Putin said, speaking at a meeting with leaders in Russia’s parliament about a new “foreign agents” law.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • A Grim Year for Imprisoned Technologists: 2017 In Review

      The world is taking an increasingly dim view of the misuses of technology and those who made their names (and fortunes) from them. In 2017, Silicon Valley companies were caught up in a ongoing trainwreck of scandals: biased algorithms, propaganda botnets, and extremist online organizing have dominated the media’s headlines.

      But in less-reported-on corners of the world, concerns about technology are being warped to hurt innocent coders, writers and human rights defenders. Since its founding, EFF has highlighted and defended cases of injustice and fearmongering perpetrated against innocent technologists. We advocate for unjustly imprisoned technologists and bloggers with our Offline project. In 2017, we continue to see fear being whipped up against those who oppose oppression with modern tools—as well as those who have done nothing more than teach and share technology so that we can all use and understand it better.

      Take Dmitry Bogatov, software developer and math lecturer at Moscow’s Finance and Law University. Bogatov ran a volunteer Tor relay, allowing people around the world to protect their identities as they used the Internet. It was one part of his numerous acts of high-tech public service, which include co-maintaining Xmonad and other Haskell software for the Debian project.

    • EFF Goes to Battle at the California Statehouse: 2017 in Review

      In the wake of the 2016 election, California lawmakers quickly adopted the posture of “The Resistance.” For the digital rights community, this presented an opportunity to pursue legislation that had not previously enjoyed much political momentum. As a result, EFF staff found themselves trekking back and forth between San Francisco and Sacramento to testify on everything from surveillance transparency to broadband privacy. In the end, we checked off a number of victories, but also some defeats, and created more opportunities for next year.

    • What We Discovered During a Year of Documenting Hate

      The days after Election Day last year seemed to bring with them a rise in hate crimes and bias incidents. Reports filled social media and appeared in local news. There were the letters calling for the genocide of Muslims that were sent to Islamic centers from California to Ohio. And the swastikas that were scrawled on buildings around the country. In Florida, “colored” and “whites only” signs were posted over water fountains at a high school. A man assaulted a Hispanic woman in San Francisco, telling her “No Latinos here.”

      But were these horrible events indicative of an increase in crimes and incidents themselves, or did the reports simply reflect an increased awareness and willingness to come forward on the part of victims and witnesses? As data journalists, we went looking for answers and were not prepared for what we found: Nobody knows for sure. Hate crimes are so poorly tracked in America, there’s no way to undertake the kind of national analysis that we do in other areas, from bank robberies to virus outbreaks.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • DRM

    • Seven Awful DRM Moments from the Year (and Two Bright Spots!): 2017 in Review

      The Apollo 1201 project is dedicated to ending all the DRM in the world, in all its forms, in our lifetime. The DRM parade of horribles has been going strong since the Clinton administration stuck America with Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) in 1998. That law gave DRM special, hazardous legal protection: under that law, you’re not allowed to remove DRM, even for a lawful purpose, without risking legal penalties that can include jailtime and even six-figure fines for a first offense.

      That’s a powerful legal weapon to dangle in front of the corporations of the world, who’ve figured out if they add a thin scrim of DRM to their products, they can make it a literal felony to use their products in ways that they don’t approve of — including creative uses, repair, tinkering and security research. (There’s an exemption process, but it’s burdensome and inadequate to protect many otherwise legal activities.

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