Links 8/1/2018: Final RC of Linux Kernel 4.15, Linux at CES

Posted in News Roundup at 4:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • 5 Differences Between Linux And Windows

    Are you an entirely new computer user who just bought a PC and had Microsoft Windows pre-installed on it? Seeking out what’s beyond the realm of Windows Operating System, exploring curiously what Linux is and how it is different from the former one that already came with your computer when you purchased it. Or is it the other way around where Linux was the default Operating System on your computer? Either case, you are at the right place and I’ll be pointing out some major differences between the two.

  • What I See for LJ 2.0: in a Word, Community

    It has been too long, but I was at least one of the founders of the Seattle UNIX User’s Group. I remember the first meeting well. It took place at Seattle University, and our guest speaker was Bill Joy. He impressed me in that he had a huge pile of overhead transparencies (remember, this was in the 1980s), asked a few questions of the group, selected some of them and started talking. He was right on target.

    My point is that I became a UNIX geek in about 1980, and although UNIX was hot stuff at Bell Labs, it wasn’t exactly a household word. The users group was our tool to build the community.

    In the 1980s, I was running a small company that published UNIX reference cards and did UNIX training and consulting. I chose UNIX because I saw a need for decent documentation and training. We were filling that void.

  • Desktop

    • You GNOME it: Windows and Apple devs get a compelling reason to turn to Linux

      Open Source Insider The biggest open source story of 2017 was unquestionably Canonical’s decision to stop developing its Unity desktop and move Ubuntu to the GNOME Shell desktop.

      What made the story that much more entertaining was how well Canonical pulled off the transition. Ubuntu 17.10 was quite simply one of the best releases of the year and certainly the best release Ubuntu has put out in a good long time. Of course since 17.10 was not an LTS release, the more conservative users – which may well be the majority in Ubuntu’s case – still haven’t made the transition.

  • Server

    • Why I Find Nginx Practically Better Than Apache

      According to the latest web server survey by Netcraft, which was carried out towards the end of 2017, (precisely in November), Apache and Nginx are the most widely used open source web servers on the Internet.

      Apache is a free, open-source HTTP server for Unix-like operating systems and Windows. It was designed to be a secure, efficient and extensible server that provides HTTP services in sync with the prevailing HTTP standards.

      Ever since it’s launch, Apache has been the most popular web server on the Internet since 1996. It is the de facto standard for Web servers in the Linux and open source ecosystem. New Linux users normally find it easier to set up and use.

      Nginx (pronounced ‘Engine-x’) is a free, open-source, high-performance HTTP server, reverse proxy, and an IMAP/POP3 proxy server. Just like Apache, it also runs on Unix-like operating systems and Windows.

      Well known for it’s high performance, stability, simple configuration, and low resource consumption, it has over the years become so popular and its usage on the Internet is heading for greater heights. It is now the web server of choice among experienced system administrators or web masters of top sites.

    • 5 reasons Kubernetes is the real deal

      I’ve been to a lot of tech conferences in my life, but there was something different about the December 2017 KubeCon/Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) Summit in Austin. Sure, there’s a ton of hype around Kubernetes, but it’s something more. Not only did attendance go up by a staggering amount vs. 2016 (there were more than 4,000 people in Austin) but it was about who was and wasn’t there. The content was solid, the Linux Foundation did its usual fabulous job running the event, but the real highlight for me was about the who.


      Many open source projects come from one developer’s crazy/beautiful idea, but leave lots and lots to be done before the use cases are built out and proven. In this case, similar to MapReduce/Hadoop, the primary use case and even most key foundational technical elements have been proved out, in production at Google for years.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.15-rc7

      Ok, we had an interesting week, and by now everybody knows why we were
      merging all those odd x86 page table isolation patches without
      following all of the normal release timing rules.

      But rc7 itself is actually pretty calm. Yes, there were a few small
      follow-up patches to the PTI code still, and yes, there’s been a fair
      amount of discussion about the exact details of the Spectre fixes, but
      at least in general things have been nice and calm. And we’re actually
      back to “normal” in that most of the patches are drivers (mainly GPU,
      some crypto, some random small things – input layer, platform drivers
      etc). There are misc small filesystem and arch updates too.

      The appended shortlog is small enough that it’s easy to just scroll
      down and get a feel for what happened.

    • Linux Kernel 4.15 to Arrive in Two Weeks as Linus Torvalds Releases Seventh RC
    • Linux 4.15-rc7 Kernel Released
    • Graphics Stack

      • Nouveau NVC0 Gallium3D Lands OpenGL Bindless Texture Support

        Longtime Nouveau Gallium3D contributor Ilia Mirkin has landed OpenGL bindless texture (ARB_bindless_texture) support within Mesa 17.4-dev Git.

        ARB_bindless_texture is an important OpenGL extension for reducing the API and OpenGL driver overhead of resource bindings and allows accessing texture objects without first needing to bind/re-bind them. RadeonSI has already supported this extension as it’s needed for Feral’s port of Dawn of War III for Linux. This extension isn’t currently mandated through OpenGL 4.6 but is important for “AZDO” purposes.

    • Benchmarks

      • Benchmarking Linux With The Retpoline Patches For Spectre

        While the Kernel Page Table Isolation (KPTI) patches were quick to land in the mainline Linux kernel for addressing the Meltdown CPU vulnerability, the “Retpoline” patches are still being worked on as the leading approach on the Linux side for dealing with the Spectre CPU vulnerability. The Retpoline patches are said to have little impact on performance, but here are our benchmarks of these kernel patches for seeing how they affect a variety of AMD and Intel systems.

      • Phoronix Test Suite 7.8 Milestone 1 Released
  • Applications

    • Eddy – Easily Install Debian Packages on Elementary

      Eddy is a simple Debian package management GUI tool in Elementary OS that allows installation of Debian packages by dragging and dropping Debian files onto a GUI window. The tool can be installed straight from App Center platform or installed from source. Let’s see how we can install from source on Elementary 0.4.1 Loki.

      Installing from AppCenter is the preferred way of installing Eddy since it contains the stable, tested version of the application. Compiling from source provides you with the latest “commit” with the newest functionality that may not be released as a part of an update in AppCenter or in general.

    • Announcing BadISO

      For a few years now I have been working on-and-off on a personal project to import data from a large collection of home-made CD-Rs and DVD-Rs. I’ve started writing up my notes, experiences and advice for performing a project like this; but they aren’t yet in a particularly legible state.

      As part of this work I wrote some software called “BadISO” which takes a possibly-corrupted or incomplete optical disc image (specifically ISO9660) and combined with a GNU ddrescue map (or log) file, tells you which files within the image are intact, and which are not. The idea is you have tried to import a disc using ddrescue and some areas of the disc have not read successfully. The ddrescue map file tells you which areas in byte terms, but not what files that corresponds to. BadISO plugs that gap.

    • MusE 3.0.0 released

      Three years after the last stable release, version 3.0 of the MusE MIDI/Audio sequencer is now available. As you might expect there many changes since the last release including a switch to Qt5, a new Plugin Path editor in Global Settings, a mixer makeover with lots of fixes, a system-wide move to double precision of all audio paths, and much more.

    • Linux Release Roundup: Wine, Soundnode, Etcher + More

      Welcome to our first Linux Release Roundup of 2018 — and as you might expect from the first week of a new year, there’s not an awful lot to round up!

      I like to assume that app developers spent their holidays enjoying themselves rather than beavering away on apps for our collective benefit.

      Even so, here are a couple of recent updates – but warning: this post contains Electron.

    • Proprietary

      • 7 Best Alternatives To Microsoft Office Suite — 2018 Edition

        Some people need specific features or compatibility with other contacts, and that’s understandable; it’s expected to come at a price. But what about those who don’t need much out of an office software? The average person, even if technically inclined, doesn’t need much out of a word processor (I mean, it’s not like it’s a text editor or anything). So, should you pay for something that you don’t need? Probably none of my business, so I’ll just give you the facts to make an informed decision and select the best Microsoft Office alternative…

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Forgotten FOSS Games: Boson

        Back in September of 1999, just about a year after the KDE project had shipped its first release ever, Thomas Capricelli announced “our attempt to make a Real Time Strategy game (RTS) for the KDE project” on the kde-announce mailing list. Boson 0.1, as the attempt was called, was based on Qt 1.4, the KDE 1.x libraries, and described as being “Warcraft-like”.

        Development continued at a fast pace over the following year. 3D artists and sound designers were invited to contribute, and basic game play (e.g. collecting oil and minerals) started working. The core engine gained much-needed features. A map editor was already part of the package. Four releases later, on October 30, 2000, the release of version 0.5 was celebrated as a major milestone, also because Boson had been ported to Qt 2.2.1 & KDE 2.0 to match the development of the projects it was based on. Then the project suddenly went into hiatus, as it happens so often with ambitious open source game projects. A new set of developers revived Boson one year later, in 2001, and decided to port the game to Qt 3, the KDE 3 libraries and the recently introduced libkdegames library.

      • Descenders is an extreme downhill biking game is coming to Linux

        Although it may not list it on the Steam store page, the developer of Descenders [Steam, Official Site], an extreme downhill biking game has confirmed it will be released for Linux.

      • Feral has patched Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III for Linux to fix Vulkan on NVIDIA 384

        For those who noticed Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III [Steam] was a bit broken on the NVIDIA 384 driver series, Feral has now fixed it.

      • 5 arcade-style games for Linux

        Gaming has traditionally been one of Linux’s weak points. That has changed somewhat in recent years thanks to Steam, GOG, and other efforts to bring commercial games to multiple operating systems, but those games often are not open source. Sure, the games can be played on an open source operating system, but that is not good enough for an open source purist.

        So, can someone who uses only free and open source software find games that are polished enough to present a solid gaming experience without compromising their open source ideals? Absolutely! While most open source games are unlikely to rival some of the AAA commercial games developed with massive budgets, there are plenty of open source games, in many genres, that are fun to play and can be installed from the repositories of most major Linux distributions.

      • Turns out Linux market share on Steam did not go back up in December

        Originally, the December market share for Linux on Steam was shown as 0.43%, but Valve have revised this down to 0.26%. So that’s a decrease of 0.01 percentage points from November to December.

      • SuperTux: A Linux Take on Super Mario Game

        When people usually think of PC games, they think of big titles, like Call of Duty, which often cost millions of dollars to create. While those games may be enjoyable, there are many games created by amateur programmers that are just as fun.

        I am going to review one such game that I love to play. It’s called SuperTux.

      • PhysicS cheats

        I guess the goofiest stuff in basic game physics is really just about mapping player controls to in-game actions like jumping and deceleration; the rest consists of hacks to compensate for representing everything as a box.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Season Of KDE 2018

        It’s been 5 months since I came to GCompris community, but it feels it was a few days back. I came here as a newbie in open source, not even knowing how to ask sensible questions (that’s very important which I learned during my works in GCompris), not even knowing how and where to begin.

        But I deeply thank our awesome community and helpful mentors, Johnny Jazeix, Timothee Giet, Divyam Madaan, Emmanuel Charruau and Rudra Nil Basu who kept guiding me and helped me constantly in my tasks through which I learned a lot of things, which otherwise I could have never got the opportunity to learn.


        I will continue to contribute to GCompris for a long time and help our software grow, as much as I can.

      • Beginning 2018

        2017 began with the once-in-a-lifetime trip to India to speak at KDE.Conf.in. That was amazing enough, but the trip to a local village, and visiting the Kaziranga National Park were too amazing for words.

        Literal highlight of last year were the eclipse and trip to see it with my son Thomas, and Christian and Hailey’s wedding, and the trip to participate with my daughter Anne, while also spending some time with son Paul, his wife Tara and my grandson Oscar. This summer I was able to spend a few days in Brooklyn with Colin and Rory as well on my way to Akademy. So 2017 was definitely worth living through!


        First, I’m so happy that soon Kubuntu will again be distributing 17.10 images next week. Right now we’re in testing in preparation for that; pop into IRC if you’d like to help with the testing (#kubuntu-devel). https://kubuntu.org/getkubuntu/ next week!

      • Interview with Emily K. Mell

        That it’s free! I think it’s remarkable that the open-source community could create something of this quality without a money spigot. Given Adobe’s outrageous pricing scheme for Photoshop, you’d think that software like this couldn’t exist anywhere else. Krita is a much better option.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Loving Gitlab.gnome.org, and getting notifications

        I’m loving gitlab.gnome.org. It has been only a couple of weeks since librsvg moved to gitlab, and I’ve already received and merged two merge requests. (Isn’t it a bit weird that Github uses “pull request” and Everyone(tm) knows the PR acronym, but Gitlab uses “merge request”?)

  • Distributions

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora 28 Looking To Promote Its AArch64 Server Support

        The latest in the long list of planned features/changes for Fedora 28 come down to an AArch64 promotion.

        Fedora developers are looking to promote their AArch64 / ARM64 / ARMv8 server offerings to being a “primary architecture” for this next Fedora release. The Fedora AArch64 server installer, Cloud images, and Docker base images would be the same status then as the other primary server architectures like x86_64.

      • Video: Red Hat Showcases ARM Support for HPC at SC17

        In this video from SC17, Jon Masters from Red Hat describes the company’s Multi-Architecture HPC capabilities, including the new ARM-powered Apollo 70 server from HPE.

      • PodCTL #20 – Gathering Kubernetes Communities

        Before Kubernetes became popular, we had a suspicion that these trends would happen and we started the OpenShift Commons community. Whereas the Kubernetes community is focused on the technology, the OpenShift Commons community strives to bring together both technologists and practitioners to share knowledge and work to solve common challenges.

      • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Salsa webhooks and integrated services

        Since many years now, Debian is facing an issue with one of its most important services: alioth.debian.org (Debian’s forge). It is used by most the teams and hosts thousands of repositories (of all sorts) and mailing-lists. The service was stable (and still is), but not maintained. So it became increasingly important to find its replacement.

        Recently, a team for volunteers organized a sprint to work on the replacement of Alioth. I was very skeptical about the status of this new project until… tada! An announcement was sent out about the beta release of this new service: salsa.debian.org (a GitLab CE instance). Of course, Salsa hosts only Git repositories and doesn’t deal with other {D,}VCSes used on Alioth (like Darcs, Svn, CVS, Bazaar and Mercurial) but it is a huge step forward!

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Rethinking your open source use policy

    I spoke with someone the other day that was fired from his job as a technical product manager after more than 20 years of experience. He is now job-searching but is finding it difficult. There is a new bar set for speed of technology development that capitalizes on agile software development practices and leveraging open source technologies—two things that were not taken seriously just ten years ago. According to 69 percent of senior executives, this digital transformation is forcing us now to rethink our cybersecurity strategies.

    To accommodate these time constraints from management, developers have turned more and more to open source code as a great asset to build products and features, as opposed to writing code from scratch. Open source technologies are available openly on the internet through sites like GitHub and SourceForge. Open source code now makes up 90 percent of the code composition of our modern applications.

  • New-Age Networking Predictions for the New Year: Open Source

    As software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV) and other new-age networking initiatives mature, we’ll be taking a look at what’s in store for some of the most promising projects in the new year, now examining the open source movement.

    Modern networking techniques such as SDN and NFV are closely tied to the open source phenomenon. As they’ve originated, evolved and matured, such approaches naturally have gravitated to open source, which itself is in the midst of a rising popularity trend.

  • What is Lisa OS, the legendary operating system by Apple to be released for free

    The Computer History Museum in California has decided to go ahead and release the Apple’s legendary Lisa operating system for free. The OS will now be available as open source for everyone. However, even back in 1983, Apple had a reputation being forward with its product. The tech giant announced Lisa desktop computer on January 19, 1983. Officially, “Lisa” stood for “Local Integrated Software Architecture”, however, there are multiple reports that state that the name of the OS was also the name of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ daughter.

  • Lisa OS: Steve Jobs’ rare failed project to be released for free as open source
  • Events

    • FOSDEM 2018 talk: Perl in the Physics Lab

      FOSDEM 2018, the “Free and Open Source Developers’ European Meeting”, takes place 3-4 February at Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Campus Solbosch, Brussels – and our measurement control software Lab::Measurement will be presented there in the Perl devrooom! As all of FOSDEM, the talk will also be streamed live and archived; more details on this follow later.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • New Contribution Opportunity: Content Review for addons.mozilla.org

        For over a dozen years, extension developers have volunteered their time and skills to review extensions submitted to addons.mozilla.org (AMO). While they primarily focused on ensuring that an extension’s code adhered to Mozilla’s add-on policies, they also moderated the content of the listings themselves, like titles, descriptions, and user reviews.

        To help add-on reviewers focus on the technical aspects of extension review and expand contribution opportunities to non-technical volunteers, we are creating a new volunteer program for reviewing listing content.

      • Socorro in 2017

        Socorro is the crash ingestion pipeline for Mozilla’s products like Firefox. When Firefox crashes, the Breakpad crash reporter asks the user if the user would like to send a crash report. If the user answers “yes!”, then the Breakpad crash reporter collects data related to the crash, generates a crash report, and submits that crash report as an HTTP POST to Socorro. Socorro saves the crash report, processes it, and provides an interface for aggregating, searching, and looking at crash reports.

  • CMS

    • Netlify 1.0 Launched, More Open Source News

      On Dec. 7, 2017, Netlify announced its open source Netlify CMS project had hit version 1.0, boasting a fully-redesigned UI, a new media library and identity management.

      Mathias Biilmann, CEO of Netlify, told CMSWire Netlify 1.0, “provides an open source alternative to the rising number of proprietary headless CMS offerings that enable how developers actually work today — in Git and increasingly decoupling the front and back end.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • GhostBSD 11.1 – FreeBSD for the desktop

      GhostBSD is a desktop oriented operating system which is based on FreeBSD. The project takes the FreeBSD operating system and adds a desktop environment, some popular applications, a graphical package manager and Linux binary compatibility. GhostBSD is available in two flavours, MATE and Xfce, and is currently available for 64-bit x86 computers exclusively. I downloaded the MATE edition which is available as a 2.3GB ISO file.

      Booting from the installation media brings up a graphical login screen where we can sign into the live desktop environment using “ghostbsd” as the account name with no password. The live MATE desktop is presented with a two panel layout. At the top of the screen we find the Applications, Places and System menus. The top panel also plays host to the system tray. The bottom panel features a task switcher and a widget for switching between virtual desktops. On the desktop we find icons for launching the Caja file manager and the GhostBSD system installer. There is also an icon which launches the HexChat IRC client and automatically connects us with the project’s chat room.

    • LinuxAndUbuntu Review Of TrueOS A Unix Based OS

      Trust me, the name TrueOS takes me back to 1990s when Tru64 UNIX operating system made its presence. TrueOS is PC-BSD’s new unified brand built upon FreeBSD-CURRENT code base. Note that TrueOS is not a Linux distro but is BSD Unix.

      ​FreeBSD is known for its cutting-edge features, security, scalability, and ability to work both as a server and desktop operating system. TrueOS aims at having user-friendliness with the power of FreeBSD OS. Let us start with going into details of different aspects of the TrueOS.

    • Qt 5.9 on FreeBSD

      Tobias and Raphael have spent the past month or so hammering on the Qt 5.9 branch, which has (finally!) landed in the official FreeBSD ports tree. This brings FreeBSD back up-to-date with current Qt releases and, more importantly, up-to-date with the Qt release KDE software is increasingly expecting. With Qt 5.9, the Elisa music player works, for instance (where it has run-time errors with Qt 5.7, even if it compiles). The KDE-FreeBSD CI system has had Qt 5.9 for some time already, but that was hand-compiled and jimmied into the system, rather than being a “proper” ports build.


    • Ten Things I Wish I’d Known About bash

      Here I’ve focussed on the things that either confused me or increased my power and productivity in bash significantly, and tried to communicate them (as in my book) in a way that emphasises getting the understanding right.

    • Emacs for Science

      I typically cover software packages that do actual calculations to advance scientific knowledge, but here I’m exploring a slightly stranger tool in the arsenal of scientific computation.

      Emacs is a text editor that has almost all the functionality of an operating system. A collection of enhancements and configuration settings are available bundled under the name of scimax. Being an Emacs user myself, I was surprised I’d never heard of it before now. This project has been in development for some time, but it recently has started to find wider attention.

  • Programming/Development

    • Breezy: Forking Bazaar

      A couple of months ago, Martin and I announced a friendly fork of Bazaar, named Breezy.

      It’s been 5 years since I wrote a Bazaar retrospective and around 6 since I seriously contributed to the Bazaar codebase.

    • Bazaar Version Control System Forked As Breezy

      While the developers acknowledge modern open-source projects should be using Git as their distributed revision control system, if you find yourself still using GNU Bazaar there is now a fork known as Breezy.

      With Canonical not doing much to push Bazaar the past several years, Breezy has been quietly in development the past several months by some independent developers. Breezy is cleaning up Bazaar’s bugs as well as porting the code-base from Python 2 to Python 3, which is important with Py2 nearing its end-of-life. This is more work than Canonical developers have done the past few years on Bazaar with many of the company’s projects now having switched over to Git.

    • Rust 2018

      I want 2018 to be boring. I don’t want it to be slow, I want lots of work to happen, but I want it to be ‘boring’ work. We got lots of big new things in 2017 and it felt like a really exciting year (new language features, new tools, new libraries, whole new ways of programming (!), new books, new teams, etc.). That is great and really pushed Rust forward, but I feel we’ve accumulated a lot of technical and social debt along the way. I would like 2018 to be a year of consolidation on 2017′s gains, of paying down technical debt, and polishing new things into great things. More generally, we could think of a tick-tock cadence to Rust’s evolution – 2015 and 2017 were years with lots of big, new things, 2016 and 2018 should be consolidation years.

    • A proof-of-concept GraphQL server framework for Rust

      Recently, I’ve been working a new project, a framework for GraphQL server implementations in Rust. It’s still very much at the proof of concept stage, but it is complete enough that I want to show it to the world. The main restriction is that it only works with a small subset of the GraphQL language. As far as I’m aware, it’s the only framework which can provide an ‘end to end’ implementation of GraphQL in Rust (i.e., it handles IDL parsing, generates Rust code from IDL, and parses, validates, and executes queries).

      The framework provides a seamless GraphQL interface for Rust servers. It is type-safe, ergonomic, very low boilerplate, and customisable. It has potential to be very fast. I believe that it can be one of the best experiences for GraphQL development in any language, as well as one of the fastest implementations (in part, because it seems to me that Rust and GraphQL are a great fit).

  • Standards/Consortia

    • The Fight For Patent-Unencumbered Media Codecs Is Nearly Won

      Apple joining the Alliance for Open Media is a really big deal. Now all the most powerful tech companies — Google, Microsoft, Apple, Mozilla, Facebook, Amazon, Intel, AMD, ARM, Nvidia — plus content providers like Netflix and Hulu are on board. I guess there’s still no guarantee Apple products will support AV1, but it would seem pointless for Apple to join AOM if they’re not going to use it: apparently AOM membership obliges Apple to provide a royalty-free license to any “essential patents” it holds for AV1 usage.


  • Science

    • Sheriff David Clarke Exposes The Dumbing Down Of Academic Achievement

      Some teachers, saying they felt pressure to pass failing students and get them to graduation, cooperated with the investigation. An internal e-mail shows that in April, just two months before the end of the school year, only 57 students were on track to graduate. Many of the others could scarcely read or write.

    • Quantum ‘spooky action at a distance’ becoming practical

      A team from Griffith’s Centre for Quantum Dynamics in Australia have demonstrated how to rigorously test if pairs of photons – particles of light – display Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance”, even under adverse conditions that mimic those outside the lab.

      They demonstrated that the effect, also known as quantum nonlocality, can still be verified even when many of the photons are lost by absorption or scattering as they travel from source to destination through an optical fiber channel. The experimental study and techniques are published in the journal Science Advances.

    • With the Summit Supercomputer, U.S. Could Retake Computing’s Top Spot

      In November of 2012, the semiannual Top500 rankings of the world’s supercomputers gave top billing to a machine constructed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Tennessee. Aptly named Titan, the machine boasted a peak performance of more than 27 × 1015 floating-point operations per second, or 27 petaflops. It was an immense computing resource for researchers in government, industry, and academe, and being at the top of the supercomputing heap, it helped to boost pride within the U.S. high-⁠performance computing community.

      The satisfaction was short-lived. Just seven months later, Titan lost the world-supercomputing crown to a Chinese machine called Tianhe-2 (Milky Way-2). And three years on, yet another Chinese number-crunching behemoth—the Sunway TaihuLight—took over the title of world’s most powerful supercomputer. Its peak performance was 125 petaflops. After that, Titan wasn’t looking so titanic anymore.

    • Robots Have Replaced Humans in 25% of China’s Ammunition Factories

      China is one country leading the charge when it comes to embracing robotics and artificial intelligence. Last year, the country saw the first robot dentist successfully operate on a patient, and there are plans to build an unmanned, AI-powered police station in a capital city. Both developments show signs of China’s progress to becoming a global leader in AI by 2030.

      To be a leader in AI, however, also means using such technology in the workforce as a replacement for human workers. Recently, China has done so in using automation to increase its supply of bombs and artillery shells.

  • Security

    • OpensshSftpChrootCodeExecution

      The sftp component from OpenSSH provides a chroot-feature for hardening. It is stated in documentation, that the chroot root directory must not be writable. This page documents some analysis results following discussion on openssh-dev mailing list. Some people were questioning the read-only restriction. Here should be some arguments, why it still makes sense in 2018.

    • Linus Torvalds Is Not Happy About Intel’s Meltdown and Spectre Mess

      Famed Linux developer Linus Torvalds has some pretty harsh words for Intel on the fiasco over Meltdown and Spectre, the massive security flaws in modern processors that predominantly affect Intel products.

      Meltdown and Spectre exploit an architectural flaw with the way processors handle speculative execution, a technique that most modern CPUs use to increase speed. Both classes of vulnerability could expose protected kernel memory, potentially allowing hackers to gain access to the inner workings of any unpatched system or penetrate security measures. The flaw can’t be fixed with a microcode update, meaning that developers for major OSes and platforms have had to devise workarounds that could seriously hurt performance.

    • Weekly Roundup 2018 – Week 1

      Mageia kernel updates to mitigate these two flaws are already being worked on. Mageia 6 kernel updates released in the last 24 hours don’t as yet solve all the problems, but kernel-4.14.12-2.mga6 is in updates/testing (as is the .mga7 kernel for Cauldron). Expect updates very shortly. Our thanks to our tireless kernel devs and our ever busy QA team!

    • DragonFlyBSD’s Meltdown Fix Causing More Slowdowns Than Linux

      Following the move by Linux to introduced Kernel Page Table Isolation (KPTI) to address the Meltdown vulnerability affecting Intel CPUs, DragonFlyBSD has implemented better user/kernel separation to address this issue. While the Linux performance hit overall was minor, in our tests carried out so far the DragonFlyBSD kernel changes are causing more widespread slowdowns.

    • Episode 76 – Meltdown aftermath
    • Woo-yay, Meltdown CPU fixes are here. Now, Spectre flaws will haunt tech industry for years
    • Meltdown and Spectre Fixes Arrive—But Don’t Solve Everything
    • Vendors Share Patch Updates on Spectre and Meltdown Mitigation Efforts

      Intel, Amazon, Microsoft and others are playing down concerns over the impact of the massive Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities affecting computers, servers and mobile devices worldwide.

      The two flaws, Spectre and Meltdown, are far reaching and impact a wide range of microprocessors used in the past decade in computers and mobile devices including those running Android, Chrome, iOS, Linux, macOS and Windows. While Meltdown only affects Intel processors, Spectre affects chips from Intel, AMD, ARM and others.

    • Handling of CPU bugs disclosure ‘incredibly bad’: OpenBSD’s de Raadt

      Disclosure of the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, which affect mainly Intel CPUs, was handled “in an incredibly bad way” by both Intel and Google, the leader of the OpenBSD project Theo de Raadt claims.

    • Wall Street Journal kicks off 2018 by throwing mud at Kaspersky

      Last year, the three big mainstream US newspapers ran articles that more or less spelt the death knell for Kaspersky Lab’s deals with the American public sector. The new year has hardly begun, but The Wall Street Journal has been quick off the mark to recycle old claims against the Russian security firm, apparently relying on the old adage that if mud is thrown, then some will stick.

    • Triple Meltdown: How So Many Researchers Found a 20-Year-Old Chip Flaw At the Same Time

      In fact, the bizarre confluence of so many disparate researchers making the same discovery of two-decade-old vulnerabilities raises the question of who else might have found the attacks before them—and who might have secretly used them for spying, potentially for years, before this week’s revelations and the flood of software fixes from practically every major tech firm that have rushed to contain the threat.

    • Actual field testing of Spectre on various Power Macs (spoiler alert: G3 and 7400 survive!)
    • Cryptocurrency Mining Operations Take Aim at SSH Servers

      As the value of cryptocurrency continues to rise, there has been growing interest from attackers and security researchers alike.

      So far in January 2018, multiple new attack vectors against cryptocurrencies have been disclosed as well as at least one major vulnerability. While there are potentially great opportunities to be had with cryptocurrency, the security issues serve as a reminder that there are risks too.

      A report released Jan. 8 alleges that among those now taking aim at cryptocurrency is the government of North Korea, which is conducting an un-authorized Monero mining operation. On Jan 3. a report from security firm F5 revealed that attackers are using a new python script to mine Monero on servers. While un-authorized mining operations are taking aim at servers, the security of the Electrum digital wallets used to access cryptocurrency has also been at risk and was patched on Jan. 7.

    • Clear Linux Rolls Out KPTI Page Isolation & Retpoline Support

      Intel’s own Clear Linux distribution has now been updated with protection for addressing the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities disclosed last week.

    • What You Need to Know About the Meltdown and Spectre CPU Flaws

      The computer industry is racing to deal with several new vulnerabilities that affect the majority of processors in modern computers and mobile devices. The flaws enable new attacks that break the critical memory defenses in operating systems and bypass fundamental isolation layers, including those vital to virtualization and container technologies.

      The most serious of the flaws, dubbed Meltdown or CVE-2017-5754, allows applications running in userspace to extract information from the kernel’s memory, which can contain sensitive data like passwords, encryption keys and other secrets. The good news is that Meltdown can be largely mitigated through software patches, unlike two other vulnerabilities known collectively as Spectre (CVE-2017-5753 and CVE-2017-5715) that will require CPU microcode updates and will likely haunt the industry for some time to come.

    • GCC 8 Patches Posted For Spectre Mitigation

      There’s been a well-published branch the past few days of a patched GCC 7.2 code-base with the code changes for fending off Spectre while now patches have arrived on the mailing list for Spectre/CVE-2017-5715 of mainline GCC 8.

      Toolchain expert H.J. Lu of Intel has posted a set of five patches for Spectre mitigation with the current GCC 8 code-base. These patches introduce the new -mindirect-branch, -mindirect-branch-loop, -mfunction-return, -mindirect-branch-register options for GCC. Enabling the new functionality converts indirect branches to call and return thunks in order to avoid speculative execution.

    • Spectre and Meltdown explained

      I found this great article of Anton Gostev about Spectre and Meltdown, so I’m reposting it here :

      By now, most of you have probably already heard of the biggest disaster in the history of IT – Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities which affect all modern CPUs, from those in desktops and servers, to ones found in smartphones. Unfortunately, there’s much confusion about the level of threat we’re dealing with here, because some of the impacted vendors need reasons to explain the still-missing security patches. But even those who did release a patch, avoid mentioning that it only partially addresses the threat. And, there’s no good explanation of these vulnerabilities on the right level (not for developers), something that just about anyone working in IT could understand to make their own conclusion. So, I decided to give it a shot and deliver just that.

    • Weekend tech reading: Spectre/Meltdown recap, 400Gbps Ethernet, next-gen DisplayPort
    • Security updates for Monday
    • What cryptographic key generation needs is a good source of entropy

      Let’s move to computers. As opposed to board games, you generally want a computer to do the same thing every time you ask it to do it, assuming you give it the same inputs: you want its behaviour to be deterministic when presented with the same initial conditions. Random behaviour is generally not a good thing for computers. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, such as when you want to use your computer to play a game, as things get boring quickly if there’s no variation in gameplay.

      There’s another big exception: cryptography. Not all cryptography, though; you definitely want a single plaintext to be encrypted to a single ciphertext under the same key in almost all cases. But there is one area where randomness is important, and that’s in the creation of the cryptographic key(s) you’re going to be using to perform those operations. It turns out that you need to have quite a lot of randomness available to create a key that is unique—and keys really need to be truly unique. If you don’t have enough randomness, not only might you generate the same key (or set of them) repeatedly, but other people may do so as well. If they can guess what keys you’re using, they could do things like read your messages or pretend to be you.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ISIS: the comeback

      As to the army losses, Iraq’s defence ministry announced that the war had cost the army 64,000 casualties, including 26,000 killed (as reported by a Beirut media source). Most external assessments put the army’s size as not much more than 100,000. Even if the ministry includes some paramilitary police units and others in its counting, Baghdad will have serious problems in maintaining internal security once ISIS returns to its pre-caliphate strategy of guerrilla warfare.

    • Trump’s Vow to Support Iran Opposition Carries “No Credibility” as Demonstrations Enter Sixth Day

      As anti-government demonstrations enter their second week in Iran and spread to several key cities, President Donald Trump tweeted it’s ”TIME FOR CHANGE!” and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley called for an emergency meeting to discuss the developments. “Despite the attention that these anti-government protesters have gotten over the past week, there was no indication … that this was a repeat of 2009. … This was not a mass uprising,” says Tehran-based reporter Reza Sayah. We also speak with Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council, who notes a new budget deal in Iran’s parliament that would cut government payments to the poor and raise fuel prices 50 percent was “the straw that broke the camel’s back” prior to the protests.

    • Time to Wake Up: Viewing the Protests From Inside Iran

      One outcome of recent protests in Iran has been a blizzard of commentary. Poking their heads up are the “Iran experts” that sit in comfy squishy chairs behind prestigious think tank desks bought with money from Saudi Arabia, the Israeli Lobby, and the warmongering industry. Alongside these are the tired delusional bleats from the Rajavi and Pahlavi cults, which are always guaranteed to be out of touch with reality. Mixed in with this crowd are the “regime change” cheerleaders and the pissed off losers that backed the anti-Assad “opposition-terrorists” who see an opening to punish Iran for its success in Syria. If you don’t want to get blinded in this blizzard make sure to identify whose axe the commentator is sharpening and then ignore what they have to say.

      I certainly don’t want to pretend to be an “Iran expert” but at least I’ve been living here for the past seventeen years and have hired and fired workers, had to deal with numerous government organizations while trying to manage a business, chased various cases through the judicial system, and pursued a claim against the Revolutionary Guard for the past five years regarding a grave injustice that took me into the heart of the power structure.

    • The next war: ISIS plus expertise

      The first is linked to the impact of western military campaigns. The Pentagon reports that three years of intense air and drone operations since August 2014 have killed over 60,000 adherents of ISIS. Many western citizens, who see these people as terrorists who deserve no better, will applaud this result. At the same time, those numbers mean that many more family members and friends are affected. The deaths are also widely reported in social media, with coverage that attributes to these martyrs a heroic role as true upholders of Islam against its Crusader-Zionist foes.

    • Report: China Building Military Base on Afghan-Tajik Border

      China is building a military base for the Afghan armed forces in the province of Badakhshan, a senior Afghan military official has said. The plan, if it is realized, promises a deeper Chinese military involvement in Tajikistan, which is necessary as a supply corridor to Badakhshan.

      The plans for the new base were worked out during a visit last month by an Afghan defense delegation to Beijing, the official, General Dawlat Waziri, told the news site Fergana News.

      At that meeting, the two sides announced their intention to “deepen pragmatic cooperation in various fields including anti-terrorism operations, and push forward the state and military relations between the two countries.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • WikiLeaks is promoting a pirated copy of Trump book Fire and Fury

      WikiLeaks is promoting a pirated copy of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, a bestselling book on Donald Trump’s first year in office. Yesterday, it tweeted a Google Drive link described as a full PDF of Fire and Fury. It deleted that tweet, but re-posted the link with an added degree of separation, saying that the book had “leak[ed] onto internet.” Google has since removed the file in question.

    • WikiLeaks tweets then deletes link to full text of Trump book

      WikiLeaks tweeted on Sunday and later deleted a link to Michael Wolff’s book about US President Donald Trump’s first year in office.

      The link leads to a PDF stored in Google Drive, which includes the entire text of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” a new book about the president that Trump dismissed last week as a “pile of garbage.”

      WikiLeaks, which is infamous for publishing restricted documents, later deleted the tweet, but the damage was largely done. The link is now circulating widely across the internet and is still live at the time of writing.

    • Why Is WikiLeaks Trying to Kneecap Michael Wolff’s Book?

      Michael Wolff’s bombshell behind-the-scenes look at President Trump’s first year in office is still making waves, despite continued questions around some of his book’s claims. Perhaps that’s because the response from President Very Stable Genius has only reinforced the book’s running theme: that many around Trump and in congressional leadership question whether he is fit to hold office. It seems it’s not just the president—who’s, like, really smart—with a demonstrated interested in the book’s failure, however. Monday morning, the media organization Wikileaks, which claims to seek more government transparency on behalf of citizens, tweeted out a link to the full text of Wolff’s book.

    • WikiLeaks posts link to transcript of ‘Fire and Fury’

      WikiLeaks tweeted a link late Sunday to what appears to be the manuscript of the controversial new book “Fire and Fury” about President Trump.

      The tweet, which includes a link to a PDF, claims it is “the full text” of the book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff.

    • The Latest: WikiLeaks tweets link to text of Trump book

      The website WikiLeaks has tweeted a link to the text of the new book critical of President Donald Trump that has angered the president, his staff and his allies.

      An electronic image of the text of author Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” appeared online Sunday, two days after its release.

      Posting the text of a book without permission would violate copyright restrictions and potentially damage sales. Yet, hours after WikiLeaks tweeted the link, “Fire and Fury” remained No. 1 on Amazon’s lists of hardcover and ebook bestsellers.

    • WikiLeaks tweets link to leaked Donald Trump book; Fire and Fury remains top of Amazon bestseller list

      The website WikiLeaks has tweeted a link to the text of the new book critical of President Donald Trump that has angered the president, his staff and his allies.

    • WikiLeaks shares full text of Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff’s explosive new book on Trump, online

      Whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks on Sunday (7 January) posted the full text of Michael Wolff’s new book ‘Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House’, an explosive tell-all about President Donald Trump and his administration, on Twitter.

      The website tweeted a link to the text of the new book that has captivated the interest of millions by painting an unflattering picture of the president and his closest aides.

      “New Trump book ‘Fire and Fury’ by Michael Wolff. Full PDF:” the tweet read along with a link to a Google Drive containing the full text of the book.

    • WikiLeaks deleted a tweet linking to the full text of the explosive book about the Trump White House

      The radical pro-transparency group WikiLeaks posted, and then quickly deleted, a tweet linking to the full text of “Fire & Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by author Michael Wolff.

      The book paints President Donald Trump and his administration in an unflattering light and features several explosive quotes from former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

    • WikiLeaks deletes Twitter post with link to entire ‘Fire and Fury’ Trump book

      WikiLeaks shared the complete text of a new book containing explosive allegations about President Trump before deleting its post on Twitter.

      The post from the organization’s official Twitter account read: “New Trump book “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff. Full PDF.”

      The PDF showed hundreds of pages of what appeared to be Wolff’s book without page numbers.

    • Donald Trump book Fire and Fury posted free online by WikiLeaks in unprecedented move

      The profitability and sales of Michael Wolff’s scathing book about United States President Donald Trump appear to have come under attack by WikiLeaks, which has posted a link to a free online copy.

      Fire and Fury has become an instant best-seller since it went on sale on Friday, with hard copies sold out in many stores within an hour.

    • WikiLeaks takes aim at Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury, posts link to manuscript

      Radical transparency site WikiLeaks has gone after author Michael Wolff following the publication of a controversial book that puts the Trump White House in an unflattering light.

      ​The Twitter account for the organisation published the link to the book by the New York-based media critic which has created a firestorm for US President Donald Trump over the past week.

    • WikiLeaks publishes damaging new Trump book in full

      WikiLeaks has published the full text of Michael Wolff’s newly released book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

      The website’s official Twitter account posted the link to a Google drive on Monday morning, leaking the book that has dominated headlines for free.

    • WikiLeaks shares full text of Wolff’s Trump book

      WikiLeaks posted the full text of Michael Wolff’s explosive new book about President Trump on Sunday.

      The website’s official account tweeted a link to a Google Drive containing the full text of the book.

      “New Trump book ‘Fire and Fury’ by Michael Wolff. Full PDF:” the tweet read.

    • WikiLeaks ‘shares Fire and Fury Michael Wolff book slammed by Donald Trump as fiction’

      Although it is not known if it is the entire publication, the leak comes after huge lines snaked outside of book shops in the US after it was released.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Trump proposed a massive expansion of offshore drilling—what can states do?

      On Thursday, the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced a proposal to expand federal offshore drilling areas substantially, which could put more than 90 percent of the federal offshore land known to contain oil and gas up for auction in the five years between 2019 and 2024.

    • Cruelty and Suffering Billed as “Religion”

      Once again, ritual slaughter is being debated in Europe. Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, other European countries and New Zealand have banned or limited religious slaughter. Now, new rules in the Netherlands state that no more animals can be killed for kosher and halal meat than “necessary to meet the actual need of the religious communities present in the Netherlands.” Also, if an animal is not “insensitive to pain” within 40 seconds of slaughter, it must be shot.

      In both kosher (sanctioned by Jewish law) and halal (sanctioned by Islamic law) slaughter, cattle, sheep, goats and poultry have their throats cut while they are fully conscious. After a disturbing film of hog slaughter was shown in 1957 to Congress, the 1958 Humane Methods of Slaughter Act was passed in the U.S. which requires animals to be made insensitive to pain before being “shackled, hoisted, thrown, cast or cut.” Ritual religious slaughter is exempted.

      In 2004, undercover video at the Agriprocessors’ kosher slaughterhouse surfaced, showing cows that did not die from having their throats cut but got up and thrashed around in heartbreaking agony. The video led to a USDA investigation that “reported many violations of animal cruelty laws at the plant,” reported the New York Times. (Trump commuted the sentence of an Agriprocessors’ owner for financial wrongdoing late last year.) The undercover activists who shot the video were later identified as Hannah and Phillip Schein, a married couple who keep kosher themselves, dispelling charges that their motives were anti-Semitic.

      When the grisly video surfaced, a coalition of rabbis and kosher certifying agencies in the United States was quick to defend the images. “After the animal has been rendered insensible, it is entirely possible that it may still display certain reflexive actions, including those shown in images portrayed in the video,” they wrote on a kosher-certification website.

    • Amazing moment hero whale saves snorkeler from shark by hiding her under giant fin while pushing her to safety

      This is the heart-stopping moment a giant 50,000-pound humpback whale protected an unsuspecting snorkeler from a SHARK by pushing her through the water.

      The stunning video Nan Hauser and her team were able to capture – including point-of-view footage – show how the whale pushed whale biologist Nan with his head and his mouth.

      The male tucked her under its pectoral fin – and even lifted the biologist out of the water on one occasion – which cannot be seen in the clip.

  • Finance

    • Liam Fox’s Pacific plan is toxic. Post-Brexit trade policies need proper scrutiny

      Right at the centre of the TPP – guaranteeing all of business benefits – is the toxic “corporate court” system, which gives transnational corporations and superrich investors a special arbitration system to sue governments when they enact any policy that the investor doesn’t like. Putting cigarettes in plain packaging, banning dangerous chemicals, raising the minimum wage, stopping toxic power plants being built – anything that might affect big business’s bottom line can lead to a claim being lodged.

    • The Free Market Made Us Do It!

      Apologists for the many millions in compensation that America’s largest corporations regularly dole out to their top executives have essentially one basic, all-purpose go-to defense.

      America’s corporate giants, this defense contends, are just paying the going “market rate” for top-notch executive talent. So chill out, America. Average Americans who complain about excessive executive pay, says Stanford Business School’s Nick Donatiello, simply do not realize “how much compensation is required, given the market for talent, to attract and motivate the right people.”

      Any company that tries to go cheap and get by without that “right talent,” America’s corporate wisdom continues, would never be able to successfully compete in our globalized marketplace.

    • It’s Time to Confront the Scourge of Capitalism in the Food System

      In December, the Kraft Heinz Company launched a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign in response to “prolonged negative perceptions” about the health risk associated with its products. Between 2014 and 2016, Kraft Heinz’s net income fell by an astounding 24 percent, due in no small part to concerns about the corporation’s nutritional record. Kraft’s new “Family Greatly” campaign attempts to dissuade parents from substituting Kraft classics for more nutritious alternatives. Ostensibly, it enjoins parents to cut themselves some well-deserved slack, by reminding them “nobody’s perfect.” The predatory character of this advertising campaign should come as no surprise given that it has been administered by the Leo Burnett Co. advertising house of the creator of both Marlboro Man and Ronald McDonald, the originator behind both “lifestyle advertising” and “lifestyle diseases.” While much ink has been spilled critiquing the likes of Burnett (see the work of Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, Adbusters and Juliet Schor), his advertising model has only grown stronger and more perverse over the decades. Therefore, a restatement of old critiques will not be enough to consign predatory advertising to the dustbin of history. The “silent ingredient in our food system” — capitalism — must be reintroduced into the food discourse, according to Eric Holt-Giménez’s A Foodie’s Guide to Capitalism. Only then will steps be taken to remedy the structural causes of predatory advertising.


      Rather than cater to demands for healthier meals, the corporate food regime has redirected billions into advertising. Kraft tripled its advertising expenditures (between 2014 and 2016), spending upwards of $700 million in some years. But Kraft isn’t the only one. Between 2009 and 2012, fast-food advertising expenditures in the US as a whole increased by 8 percent, reaching an eye-watering $4.6 billion in 2012. That year, McDonalds alone spent more on advertising than all fruit and vegetable producers did, combined. But fast food only accounts for about a third of net advertising. The total advertising bill in 2002 was a staggering $12.7 billion — most of which promoted fast food, processed snacks and soft drinks. This level of spending made possible an exposure rate of 10 food ads per hour of TV watched in 2002. By 2009, that figure had increased to 12.7 per hour.

    • Brexit: More than 2,300 EU academics resign amid warning over UK university ‘Brexodus’

      More than 2,300 EU academics have resigned from British universities over the past year amid concerns over a “Brexodus” of top talent in higher education.

      New figures show a 19 per cent increase in departures of European staff from universities last year compared to before the EU referendum, and a 10 per cent rise from some 2130 resignations in 2015-16.

      Theresa May has urged EU citizens to stay in the UK after Britain leaves the bloc but prolonged uncertainty over post-Brexit rights has made some academics fearful for the future, critics warn.

    • VAT will be the next Brexit headache for thousands of British businesses

      We are told that 2018 will open a new chapter in the Brexit negotiations, with “Phase 2” allowing discussions about the framework for a future trading relationship (though not, it should be noted, actual trade deal talks). Yet with every page turned in this saga comes a series of potentially costly and complex problems, largely unforeseen at the time of the referendum.

      The “EU VAT Area” is a case in point, and it could have consequences for businesses and their customers. We’ve taken it for granted that goods and services traded with our neighbours don’t have customs duties, but also don’t attract import VAT at the border. It’s been so simple that we even stopped talking about “imports and exports” with the EU and called the products going back and forth “arrivals and dispatches” instead. When you’re trading within the EU, goods and services are treated as effectively VAT-free. This is because there’s a common agreement which means VAT paid from one business to another can be recovered and offset.

    • Five Jobs That Are Set to Grow in 2018

      The future of work is going to be determined by artificial intelligence and automation. These technologies will eliminate some jobs, but they will also create new opportunities and greater demand for the jobs that humans still do best. We decided to shine the spotlight on five positions you will see much more of on job boards in 2018.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Mark Zuckerberg Essentially Launched Facebook’s Reelection Campaign

      Still, under the gestures towards accountability, Zuckerberg sounds like an incumbent who doesn’t really think he will lose, testing the bounds of what he can get away with. The posture is more contrite, the geopolitical stakes are higher, but Zuckerberg is still pushing the same solution he did last year in his 6,000-word manifesto on democracy: fix Facebook with more Facebook.

    • Trump and Faust: What They Destroy

      Donald Trump, like Goethe’s Faust, has rejected reason. Faust felt that, having studied everything (including “regrettably, theology”), he had dried up his own juices. He had enjoyed nothing and discovered nothing. Hence, he was open to the Faustian wager: a bet that all the tricks of Mephistopheles could not get him to relish the moment and desire it to stay.


      Unlike Goethe’s Faust, Trump at 71 is unlikely to change. Perhaps some of what Trump is destroying can be rebuilt. But many lives, institutions, scientific knowledge, and environmental quality are being damaged—some beyond repair. If some Herr watches all this, he is unlikely to approve the ruination of creation.

      With Trump we have an unheavenly kingdom. Ignorance. Impetuosity. Avarice. Thin skin. No ideas, fixed ideas, false ideas. What a combination in and around a White House where the president can fire nuclear weapons in less than fifteen minutes and destroy much of civilization in an hour!

    • I’m, Like, Really Smart: On Watching The Gorilla Channel

      The gorilla story spread so fast on Twitter – complete with memes – that, an hour or so later, Ward posted a dismayed follow-up, lamenting a parody “making up shit about Trump but people believe it so you become part of the problem.” When his creation kept spreading, he switched to a new, clarifying username – “the gorilla channel thing is a joke” – to try and stop the flood. After that, many admitted they’d believed the prank up to the part about viewing time, which seemed suspect. Trump didn’t have the attention span to watch anything for 17 hours, they argued, and besides, that didn’t leave enough time for Fox News. The buzz got so loud that Netflix – cheekily? – posted, “Please stop asking if we have the gorilla channel.” And Ward’s debunking didn’t stop Vice from creating its own real if placid livestream of gorillas lounging and strolling; it prompted both gratitude and Trumpian complaints like, “They aren’t fighting – this is boring.”

    • Trolling Trump, Journalism Watchdog to Hold ‘Global Press Oppressor Awards on Monday at 5:00′

      CPJ documents threats to press freedom including cases of journalists being killed, injured and imprisoned while reporting as well as attacks on the media by Trump and other politicians.

      The group’s announcement mirrored Trump’s earlier tweet saying that he would be holding “THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock.” (sic)

      “Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media,” the president added.

    • On the ‘Open Secret’

      Yesterday I argued that Michael Wolff’s revelations about Donald Trump, in his new book Fire and Fury, constituted an “open secret,” in the sense that term had been used after the revelations of sexual aggression by Harvey Weinstein and others.

      That is: an unusually thorough work of investigative reporting, as in the NYT’s Weinstein coverage, or an unusually vivid set of anecdotes and quotes, as with Wolff, managed to focus attention on patterns that “everyone” already knew about, in some general sense, but that no one had bothered to correct.

    • Stephen Miller had to be escorted off CNN’s set after his interview with Jake Tapper went off the rails

      White House adviser Stephen Miller was escorted off the set of CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday after a contentious interview with host Jake Tapper.

      Two sources close to the situation told Business Insider that after the taping was done, Miller was asked to leave several times.

      He ignored those requests and ultimately security was called and he was escorted out, the sources said.

      CNN declined to comment.

    • Trump Plans to Attend College Football Championships, Sparking Protests

      President Trump is reportedly heading to Atlanta today to attend the college football national championship game between Alabama and Georgia. The NAACP and other groups are organizing protests against Trump’s attendance, which comes after Trump has spent months criticizing NFL football players for taking the knee during the national anthem to protest against police brutality and racial injustice.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • NBC slammed by Golden Globes viewers for unnecessary censorship of Frances McDormand’s speech

      Frances McDormand may have given the best speech of the night at the 2018 Golden Globes – not that viewers at home were allowed to hear any of it, as producers went trigger happy with the bleep button, censoring many words that weren’t offensive or rude.

      Frances won Best Actress – Drama for her role in the powerful Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and she began her speech by telling the nominees in her category to head to the bar as the ‘tequila is on me’.

    • It Took Only Three Days For Germany’s New Hate Speech Law To Cause Collateral Damage

      Germany’s new hate speech law just went into effect at the beginning of the year and it’s already paying off. But not in the way German government officials expected, nor in the way anyone who isn’t in the German government wanted it to.

      The law is a bad one: it criminalizes certain speech, which is already problematic. The problems go much deeper than that, though. Instead of targeting German citizens who post illegal speech, the government targets American social media platforms, demanding the removal of illegal posts in less than 24 hours on the pain of up to €50m fines. On top of that, employees of service providers tasked with removals can also be fined €5m personally for not reacting fast enough to government demands.

      So, it’s bad. And determining what is or isn’t illegal is in the eyes of government beholders. Faced with the prospect of expensive fines, Twitter, Facebook, etc. are probably not going to be second-guessing many government requests for content deletion. Worse, it’s going to encourage service providers to be proactive, amplifying the underlying vagueness of the German “hate speech” law. False positives are a given. We just didn’t expect the collateral damage to occur so quickly.

    • What is NEMESIS? Former NSA hacker is building an AI to spot hate symbols online

      Former NSA analyst Emily Crose is building an artificial intelligence (AI) program to spot symbols of hatred online. She is calling it NEMESIS and it will look for what are known as “dog whistles” – less obvious, sometimes obscure memes, logos, and images that are actually symbols of hate.

      NEMESIS can pick up such symbols from various social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and even Reddit, for which she has served as a moderator in the past, reports Motherboard. Symbols like a black sun, certain forms of Pepe the frog memes, and images that are not readily obvious as hate symbols can be picked by the AI.

      Crose aims to help social media companies to effectively control such hatred using the AI. She also wishes to expose people who are actively and knowingly using and sharing such content.

    • This former NSA analyst is now targeting white supremacists on Twitter
    • [Papua New Guinea] Chief Censor: Broadcasters beware
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Want Anybody’s Personal Details From Aadhaar, India’s Billion-Person Identity Database? Yours For $8

      We’ve been writing about the world’s largest biometric database, India’s Aadhaar, since July 2015. Over 1.1 billion people have now been enrolled, and assigned an Aadhaar number and card, which represents 99.9% of India’s adult population. There are currently around 40 million authentications every day, a number that will rise as Aadhaar becomes inescapable for every aspect of daily life in India, assuming it survives legal challenges. That scale necessarily entails a huge infrastructure to handle enrollment and authentication. So it will comes as no surprise to Techdirt readers that it turns out you can obtain unauthorized access to the Aadhaar system very easily, and for very little cost.

    • Privacy May Finally Be Starting to Matter in China

      Baidu is being sued over allegations of spying on its users—the latest sign that Chinese citizens are beginning to question surveillance.

    • CIA Access To Aadhaar Issue Raised In Rajya Sabha

      The controversial issue of how Aadhaar is threat to National Security and how American Central Intelligence Agency has direct access to it via UIDAI certified foreign spy companies as reported by GreatGameIndia – How CIA Spies Access India’s Biometric Aadhaar Database has been raised today in Rajya Sabha by Sukhendu Sekhar Roy.

    • Facebook Bug Could Have Let Advertisers Get Your Phone Number

      The potential to access users’ phone numbers was a clear breach of Facebook’s data-use policy.

    • Your car may soon serve you ads — how about a pizza?

      Santa Clara auto-tech firm Telenav has just announced an “in-car advertising platform” for cars that connect to the [I]nternet.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Saudi Arabia: three years since Raif Badawi was flogged for blogging

      On 9 January, we will be holding a special lunchtime vigil at the Saudi Embassy in London to mark three years since Raif Badawi was first flogged. Please join us between 1-2pm, even if just for a few minutes on your lunchbreak, to show the Saudi authorities we will not forget him. Activists are asked to meet at the Curzon Street entrance to the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mayfair, London (note: the postal address of the Embassy is 30-32 Charles Street).

    • 30,000 Tainted Convictions, One Path Forward

      In late November, the Massachusetts Attorney General and state district attorneys — in response to a lawsuit by the state’s public defenders (the Committee for Public Counsel Services), the ACLU of Massachusetts, and the law firm Fick & Marx — agreed to move forward with the dismissal of more than 8,000 drug convictions tainted by the misconduct of Sonja Farak, a former state crime lab chemist, and by the misconduct of former state prosecutors. This news follows the record-setting dismissal, in April, of 21,839 drug convictions tainted by the misconduct of Annie Dookhan, another former crime lab chemist.

    • AARP and Key Senators Urge Companies to End Age Bias in Recruiting on Facebook

      The largest advocacy group for older Americans and the two top members of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging are calling on employers and tech companies to stop limiting recruitment ads on Facebook and other online sites to younger workers.

      “It appears age discrimination is alive and well in the digital era,” Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president of AARP, said in a statement on Friday.

      “We urge online platforms to take the steps needed to ensure they’re not supporting age-biased recruiting and hiring practices. And we continue to call on all employers to end bias in their employment practices,” she said.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Those Annoying Cable Channel Blackouts Are Only Going To Get Worse In 2018

      The last few years, cable TV customers have faced a growing number of obnoxious carriage fee blackouts, which occur when broadcasters and cable operators can’t agree on new programming contracts. Such feuds usually go something like this: a broadcaster will demand a fairly obnoxious price hike for the same content, to which the cable provider (already awash in complaints about higher rates) will balk. Instead of negotiating their differences like adults, this content is subsequently blacked out for paying customers to force a settlement. Customers never see refunds for the inconvenience of being used as props.

      For weeks, consumers are bombarded with PR missives, new websites and on-screen tickers all trying to amplify public outrage and drive greater pressure for one side or the other to buckle. After a while, the two sides strike a new confidential deal, and the higher rates are then quickly passed on to consumers. In a letter to lawmakers last year, Dish Network argued that consumers have faced 750 such broadcaster blackouts since 2010, with the retransmission consent fees that broadcasters demand growing a whopping 27,400% between 2005 and 2016.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Things to remember about Swiss patent litigation in 2017

      The Swiss Federal Patent Court came to the conclusion that in light of the still unclear case law in the EU there is no reason to change the Swiss practice and move away from the infringement test when examining the validity of Swiss SPCs for combination products. Harmonization of Swiss law with EU law did not compel adopting the ECJ’s case law of Medeva by Swiss courts. While it was correct that the Swiss SPC was introduced to harmonize Swiss law with the (then) relevant European legislation regarding SPCs, a complete harmonization was unnecessary according to the court because it would not lead to better market access of pharmaceutical products in Switzerland or in the EU. Switzerland is not part of the EU regulatory framework for the approval of pharmaceuticals. Drugs approved in the EU would still need separate authorization in the EU, and vice-versa.

    • Copyrights

      • Legal to share more than 11,000 movies listed on IMDB?

        I’ve continued to track down list of movies that are legal to distribute on the Internet, and identified more than 11,000 title IDs in The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) so far. Most of them (57%) are feature films from USA published before 1923. I’ve also tracked down more than 24,000 movies I have not yet been able to map to IMDB title ID, so the real number could be a lot higher. According to the front web page for Retro Film Vault, there are 44,000 public domain films, so I guess there are still some left to identify.

        The complete data set is available from a public git repository, including the scripts used to create it. Most of the data is collected using web scraping, for example from the “product catalog” of companies selling copies of public domain movies, but any source I find believable is used. I’ve so far had to throw out three sources because I did not trust the public domain status of the movies listed.

      • Pirate Bay Founder: Netflix and Spotify Are a Threat, No Solution

        Pirate Bay founder and former spokesperson Peter Sunde believes that piracy will decrease over time. However, people won’t be better off when online media distribution is in the hands of the powerful few. “Netflix, Spotify etc are not a solution, but a loss,” he says.

President Battistelli Silently Curtailed Part Time Home Working Introduced by His British Predecessor, Alison Brimelow

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Shot at the back while nobody noticed (and then the staff representatives were repeatedly lied to about it)

Original: English [PDF] | French [PDF] | German [PDF]

EPO Part Time Home Working

Summary: An initiative introduced a year before Battistelli became the EPO‘s President was silently suppressed shortly after he had taken over, just like the Audit Committee

How the Creation of a Role for ‘Chief Information Officer’ at the EPO Came About

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Also see: Raw: Battistelli Comes Up With a “Chief Information Officer” Role and Offers This Position to Man From Same Place as Him

Original: English [PDF] | German [PDF]

Chief Information Officer of the EPO

Summary: The EPO‘s French CIO, who is being criticised by staff for mishandling EPO budget, took a newly-created role (suggested shortly after Battistelli had become President)

The Patent Microcosm is Setting Up a Huge Number of Anti-§ 101 Events in an Effort to Thwart Alice and Promote Software Patents

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 1:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

But can money always buy perception?

Money stack

Summary: Patent law firms and their front groups are coordinating the dissemination of misinformation by stacked panels in a large number of events or so-called ‘webinars’

THE USPTO, according to this, deserves to have quality of patents questioned. They call it the “Patent Quality Chat Webinar Series”, but given the entity which organises it, we can expect only the patent microcosm to participate. Also see this promotion of “Patent Eligibility in 2018″ by Patently-O (this too is an event for — and by — the patent microcosm). They just try to dominate/control the conversation. It’s not a real debate; it’s about § 101, which is mentioned there explicitly, so it’s about software patents and Alice.

“It’s not a real debate; it’s about § 101, which is mentioned there explicitly, so it’s about software patents and Alice.”Isn’t it all just very revealing, with headings and overview text such as “Overview of the most recent Federal Circuit case law regarding Section 101″? It’s all about trying to undermine § 101 and creating public/Congressional support for that. Even Watchtroll reared its ugly head several hours ago, complaining about § 101 using the false pretense that it “Arrests U.S. Progress” (that’s the headline). It says that “discovery of GIRK1 as a biomarker for breast cancer diagnostics would run into 35 U.S.C. § 101, the basic threshold statute for determining patentability of subject matter, under the Supreme Court’s March 2012 ruling in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc.”

So what Watchtroll would rather see is millions of women with breast cancer; just so that the patent maximalists can become richer. Disgusting.

And here’s more on § 101. The patent microcosm has become very shameless and blatant about trying to work around/undermine the rules. “Webinar on Drafting Software Patents to Survive § 101 and AIA Challenges” is the title of the following:

Strafford will be offering a webinar entitled “Drafting Software Patents to Survive Section 101 and AIA Challenges — Anticipating and Minimizing the Risk of 101, 103 Rejections, Recent Court Guidance” on January 23, 2018 from 1:00 to 2:30 pm (EST). Michael L. Kiklis and Stephen G. Kunin of Oblon McClelland Maier & Neustad will provide guidance to patent practitioners on how to draft their patent applications to overcome both § 101 and AIA challenges.

So it’s basically a bunch of patent lawyers moaning about § 101. Then there’s this new press release about “Artificial Intelligence and The Patent Law” (probably this bunch of lawyers are to speak about how calling software “AI” helps in sneaking software patents into the USPTO).

“So it’s basically a bunch of patent lawyers moaning about § 101.”Lastly, the front group for patent maximalists (which IBM uses to lobby against § 101 in its current form) is planning another “webiner” (video commercial).

Why are there suddenly so many § 101 events? Because it’s the new year? Is there a coordinated effort to stuff the media with anti-§ 101 pieces? And anti-Alice? Whatever it is, there’s probably plenty of rebuttals (to do) ahead…

Outsourcing and Offshoring Patents for Extortion and Tax Evasion

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, Microsoft, Patents at 12:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Some of the latest examples of patent mischief and antitrust issues; the darker side of patents explored

THE most grotesque elements of both the European and north American patent systems would have to do with bypassing the law. Racketeering and tax evasion are apparently OK as long as patents are used to achieve these.

Apple, for example, is fast becoming like BlackBerry, which is trying to not look like a patent troll and is thus delegating the blackmail to another entity. This new report calls it outsourcing and notes that that “BlackBerry’s exit from the device-manufacturing business was part of a broader turnaround strategy as the company worked to streamline its operations to focus on the more promising software and services market.”

The patent extortion is now done from an external entity. Microsoft does the same thing.

As for Apple? It still does all the litigation directly, albeit it uses patents for ‘legalised’ tax evasion. They just make up the law. Widely used tricks of billionaires like Tim Cook are being used routinely. This is how an Apple advocacy site put it:

Reuters notes that Apple could be caught out by one provision in the bill. The bill introduces a minimum tax of around 13% on income from patents held overseas, and this could put an end to one method Apple has used to reduce its tax bill.

The original says:

The U.S. Republican tax overhaul passed by Congress this week will allow Apple Inc (AAPL.O) to bring back its $252.3 billion foreign cash pile without a major tax hit – a long-standing company goal.

Other provisions of the bill, namely the cut in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, are also a big boon for Apple.

But not everything went the company’s way. A critical difference between the Senate version of the bill and the final version could actually raise the amount of cash taxes that Apple pays on profits from patents held abroad, tax experts said.

We already wrote a great deal about this (patents ‘boxes’ as a tool of corporate tax evasion in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe). There is even a new article about it in the Irish press.

What about those Apple fines in Europe? Or the notorious tax avoidance that Florian Müller wrote about last year? Will Apple ever pay? Will it just lobby like Microsoft did?

Qualcomm’s fight with Apple was recalled by Müller at the start of the year when he wrote about the status of the case in the United States, Europe and Asia. To quote:

Ever since I can remember, no information and communications technology company has ever faced as many simultaneous and earth-spanning antitrust problems as Qualcomm: unilateral-conduct investigations by competition authoritities in the United States, Europe and Asia; thorough merger reviews of Qualcomm’s proposed acquisition of NXP; and antitrust lawsuits brought by Apple in multiple jurisdictions. Then there’s at least one other company (analysts believe it’s Huawei) that stopped paying license fees. Some early-stage decisions made by federal judges in the Northern and Southern Districts of California didn’t work out well for Qualcomm. It’s losing the most momumental multi-front war any company in this industry has ever been embroiled in.

From the outside it’s always easy to say: they should settle, especially since they can’t realistically win. It’s never a bad idea to promote peace, and here it’s just impossible to imagine that all those regulators and judges and private parties are wrong and Qualcomm (plus Maureen Ohlhausen, the last woman standing in Qualcomm’s corner) are right. But let’s be realistic: there is so much at stake here that Qualcomm will most likely still be the first item on my list for next year’s first blog post, too.

There’s a legitimate antitrust element to it — one that we covered here before.

It would be a shame if patents became famous for trolling, extortion, and anti-competitive practices. That is not what the patent system should be about.

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