Apple and Microsoft Are Still Suing Companies — Using Patents of Course — Which ‘Dare’ Compete (by Leveraging GNU/Linux)

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 6:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Steve Jobs threatened to sue me, too. [and also] Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. They’d flown in over a weekend to meet with Scott McNealy. [...] Bill skipped the small talk, and went straight to the point, “Microsoft owns the office productivity market, and our patents read all over OpenOffice.” [...] Bill was delivering a slightly more sophisticated variant of the threat Steve had made, but he had a different solution in mind. “We’re happy to get you under license.” That was code for “We’ll go away if you pay us a royalty for every download” – the digital version of a protection racket.”

Jonathan I. Schwartz, Sun

Summary: The vanity of proprietary software giants — as the latest news serves to reveal — targeting companies with patent lawsuits, both directly and indirectly


ARLIER today we wrote about Apple v Samsung because there’s an important ongoing case right now. It’s in the United States. For the second time this week Josh Landau (CCIA) wrote about this patent trial:

Opening arguments in Apple v. Samsung started this morning. While round six of the long-running case deals with smartphone patents, the potential impacts range much further. As I noted in my post yesterday, a rule of design patent damages that allows patentees to receive the total profits on the entire product even though the design is only applied to a small component of that product could have potentially negative impacts almost everywhere.

Let’s start with one area that impacts nearly everyone—the auto industry.

Parts Of A Much Larger Whole

Before becoming a lawyer, I worked for a Tier 1 supplier as an automotive engineer. Tier 1 suppliers primarily sell integrated components directly to auto manufacturers like Ford or Daimler, and their products typically include components from smaller suppliers (so-called Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers).

A typical car might include more than 15,000 parts, made by more than 20 different Tier 1 suppliers, which each source components from dozens of Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers. Even your cup holder might be composed of multiple molded plastic pieces and some metal to attach it to the vehicle structure. Most of those components have little to nothing, individually, to do with the decision to buy the car. A cup holder, however pretty, just isn’t worth buying a car for.

But each and every one of those thousands of components ultimately winds up in a vehicle selling for tens of thousands of dollars.

Apple now wants an extraordinary amount of money for a stupid design patent or a few — things whose level of sophistication may match the mental level of a person with single-figure age [1, 2]. To think that patents were granted on such things isn’t just laughable but outright insane.

Similarly, in Microsoft Corporation v Corel Corporation, the dispute was about some stupid designs and lawyers got paid possibly millions of dollars arguing over it. Microsoft just uses patents, exploiting deep pockets to sue its much poorer rivals, trying to bankrupt them still (so much for ‘new’ Microsoft). Here’s the latest on that, as covered some hours ago:

Following a jury trial, the court denied defendant’s renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law that plaintiff was not entitled to disgorgement damages under 35 U.S.C. § 289 for infringement of its design patents because plaintiff’s software qualified as an article of manufacture.

It’s not only Microsoft that’s suing for Microsoft (directly). There’s also Intellectual Ventures, the Microsoft patent troll which hoards patents and sues Microsoft’s rivals by proxy. It also passes patents by the thousands to other trolls, such as Dominion Harbor which was recalled some hours ago by IAM:

Since Intellectual Ventures started ramping up its rate of sales early last year, it has been clear that the secondary market for patents has a new and particularly deep well of assets shaping it. Among the large disposals, the firm has transferred a portfolio of almost 4,000 former Kodak patents and two big portfolios of legacy American Express and NEC rights, all to Dominion Harbor. Throughout its existence IV has always sold assets – and let others expire – but not at the rate of the last 12 to 18 months

Here we are in 2018 and Apple is still suing Android OEMs while Microsoft passes huge sums of money to patents trolls that attack/target GNU/Linux product producers. To pretend there’s some sort of “patent standstill” (as Red Hat prefers to put it) is to simply lie to oneself.

The Anti-PTAB (Patent Quality), Anti-§ 101 Lobby is Losing Its Mind and It Has Become Amusing to Observe

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 5:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It is actually Watchtroll who should consider stepping down and maybe a career change


Summary: The rants about the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), the courts and even the law itself have reached laughable levels; this reveals that the real agenda of patent maximalists is endless litigation and their methods boil down to those of an angry mob, not legal professionals

THE REFORMS implemented at the USPTO 7 years ago (AIA), combined with a long series of Supreme Court decisions, have changed the ‘attack surface’ of patent lawyers. Patents are no longer presumed valid because many are not.

“Patents are no longer presumed valid because many are not.”We sometimes amuse ourself trying to see what patent extremists are saying. Watching their reactions can be literally funny. Just a few hours ago Watchtroll threw another tantrum, in which the blowhard in chief quote-mined the Director of the USPTO to come up with the headline Section 101 ‘weakens the robustness of our IP system’ (attributing this to Iancu, a friendly hand).

“…we generally view him as somewhat of a caricature of the patent microcosm — a little bit like the “Fox News” of the patent world.”Attacks like these (on Section 101, courts, PTAB and so on) aren’t uncommon. They’re a case of quote-mining. This is Watchtroll’s style. Whether he accepts it or not (we refer to the site and the person as “Watchtroll”), we generally view him as somewhat of a caricature of the patent microcosm — a little bit like the “Fox News” of the patent world.

Watchtroll constantly attacks PTAB, hoping that it would magically go away like Michelle Lee did (after Watchtroll had sort of endlessly bullied her). Watchtroll last attacked PTAB again about 8 hours ago. When the US Supreme Court said that it was absolutely fine with PTAB (just under a month ago in Oil States) Watchtroll characteristically attacked the judges, the courts, and just about everyone! This too isn’t uncommon. Watchtroll does it all the time. It last smeared the high courts only a couple of weeks ago. It smeared the US Supreme Court only about a week ago.

Truly pathetic is the fact that Watchtroll has just, once again, boosted the ‘United States’ (not really) Chamber of Commerce 2018 “Global IP Index,” which is misleading propaganda of the highest order, delivered/put forth to officials on behalf of patent extremists (insulting their own country in an attempt to change policy). David Wanetick actually keeps promoting this nonsense, which many patent rationalists are openly rejecting (they mock this index).

Meanwhile (also earlier today), Professor Michael Risch mentions a Koch-funded AstroTurfer (or patent trolls’ mouthpiece), Adam Mossoff. It’s a pseudo-scholar whose goal seems to be feeding anti-PTAB talking points to Justice Gorsuch and others (on Koch’s payroll). It worked in Oil States and he publicly bragged about Gorsuch citing/quoting him in the decision. This reaffirms the view that the Koch brothers control Gorsuch by proxy, but anyway, these are the concluding words from Risch:

But much of this work is historical. Of late, as the abstract notes, it’s all about the what: What inventions? What classes? What litigation? How many claims? I think people clamor for stories about innovators; I believe my most downloaded (by far) SSRN paper, Patent Troll Myths, resonated because it looked hard at the innovators – individuals to small entities to large companies. Dan Burk looks at innovators (but without data) in Do Patents Have Gender?

I’m sure there are examples I’m not thinking of, but more data and analysis in this area would be welcome. Patents exist in service to their inventors, and so it makes sense to understand who those are to better understand whether patents are achieving their goals…or even what the goals are.

Patent scholars who work for universities and not for think tanks of billionaires do understand that patent balance is needed. Patent maximalism has no place in academia. Because it’s simply irrational and detached from reality…

Looking at some other sites of the patent microcosm throughout the day, we’ve found Michael Loney speaking about PTAB changes that are relatively minor (they already leave Oil States well behind, perhaps hoping not to draw much attention to it). Loney wrote:

Patent owners may not benefit from the proposed shift to the Phillips claim construction standard at the PTAB if it reduces the chance of a stay and leads to a less nuanced Markman construction

Patent owners [sic] have long called for the change proposed by the USPTO last week for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to use the Phillips standard for claim construction. But it is questionable they would benefit much from it.

We wrote about this over the weekend. It’s very much overblown. Michael Borella also wrote about the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), namely a kind of rant about § 101. His opening paragraph in the PTAB-hostile Patent Docs:

The Patent Trial and Appeal Broad (PTAB) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has often been criticized [by patent maximalists] for being particularly harsh when reviewing appeals of claims rejected by an examiner of grounds of patent-ineligibly under 35 U.S.C. § 101. According to some sources, examiners are affirmed about 80-86% of the time in these matters.[1] Therefore, when the PTAB reverses an examiner’s § 101 rejection, it is worthwhile to note how and why.

These rates say nothing about whether that’s just or unjust; if some doctor deems/detects 90% of babies as having no birth defects, does that make the doctor “harsh” or “biased”? No. That’s just very irrational an argument.

The truth of the matter is, the patent microcosm refuses to accept reality and protests against it by bashing the laws, bashing the court, bashing jurists/judges and so on.

Many patents are absolutely fine. They’re not abstract. Here’s a new example — in the form of today’s press release — of patents on more physical things and here’s another:

Sigma Labs, Inc. (NASDAQ:SGLB) (“Sigma” or the “Company”), a provider of quality assurance software under the PrintRite3D® brand, today announced that the Company was allowed a seminal patent entitled “Method and System for Monitoring Additive Manufacturing Processes.” The patent provides protection for methods of assuring part quality using real time data from multiple sensor types.

Manufacturing and sensors aren’t the same as some silly algorithms reducible to mathematics, which is the sort of patents that PTAB regularly deals with. If the patent maximalists refuse to accept that the law was corrected and that it actually helps technology companies, then they simply aren’t interested in science and technology, only litigation. Let them sob…

EPO Has Become Overzealous About Software Patents, Probably More So Than Almost Anywhere Else

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

From the latest Gazette

Software patents in Europe

Summary: The promotion of an extreme patent regime in Europe continues unabated; whether it succeeds or not depends on what EPO examiners and citizens of Europe can do

THE patent extremists have lost their moral compass and have sunk to an ethical abyss. We habitually cover this in relation to American law firms, but in Europe there’s some of that too.

“Radio silence unless/until the EPO dedicates some budget for PR firms to flood the media with advertisements for the European Inventor Award (which the EPO promotes in Twitter about half a dozen times per day).”Earlier today we saw a firm of UPC boosters advertising a “Seminar” about something which does not even exist: “German and UPC patent infringement litigation proceedings” (the page is in German).

The EPO was meanwhile (earlier today) pushing for software patents in the US ahead of the other ‘seminar’ (even if software patents in Europe are generally not allowed). They will probably advise people to use all sorts of buzzwords (like the AI hype promoted some hours ago at IP Watch). Why does the media not raise this issue, let alone the EPO scandals and corruption? Finnegan is reposting/cross-posting this puff piece that we mentioned last week in another site, but there was no other news about the EPO today. Radio silence unless/until the EPO dedicates some budget for PR firms to flood the media with advertisements for the European Inventor Award (which the EPO promotes in Twitter about half a dozen times per day).

As we noted some days ago, KIPO and South Korean press nowadays repeat EPO-funded propaganda in favour of software patents. There’s an EPO push for software patents these days, they just refer to these as “4IR” or whatever. As IAM explained some hours ago, patent trolls have begun coming out of Korea:

Last month this blog reported on Firstface, an apparent NPE headquartered in Seoul which recently brought patent infringement complaints against both Apple and Samsung in the United States. A new set of statistics released by the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) show that this is not an isolated case, but part of an unambiguous trend. In conjunction with the Korea Intellectual Property Protection Agency, KIPO prepares a detailed annual report on US patent litigation involving Korean entities. Overall, 2017 was a busier year than 2016 for in-house patent counsel in Korean firms.

In general, KIPO does not allow patents on algorithms.

Software patents are not allowed in India either, but similar loopholes exist there (European says “as such” and India says “per se”). Earlier today a news site spoke about Newgen Software as follows:

It has four patents registered in India and 28 outstanding patent applications in India and two outstanding patent applications in the USA.

Forget about it. Such patents are not allowed and would not be accepted by courts. Neither in India nor in the US after 2014 (Alice, USPTO, Section 101). As for the UPC, it’s generally regarded/considered to be a Trojan horse for software patents in the whole of Europe, bypassing national patent laws/policies. It is just as insane as that sounds.

Links 15/5/2018: Black Duck’s Latest FUD and the EFF’s EFFail FUD Debunked Further

Posted in News Roundup at 1:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Chrome OS to get neat new tricks alongside support for Linux apps
  • What’s new in Chrome OS and Chromebooks at Google I/O 2018
  • Google Chrome OS now has a built-in Linux virtual machine and aims to be a better tool for coders
  • The Eric Lundgren Story: When Free isn’t Free

    If you told me that one day I might be writing an article defending Microsoft’s draconian ideas on software licenses, I’d never have believed it. Yet here we are. I don’t like the way Microsoft licenses their software, and I imagine many Hackaday readers feel the same way. But at the same time I recognize they have the right, as the creator of said software, to license it however they see fit. If we celebrate legal victories over those who would violate the terms of the GNU GPL license, we cannot in the next breath condone the violation of proprietary licenses simply because they run counter to the hacker ethos.

    As a community we fought back against people selling prints of Creative Commons Non-Commercial models downloaded from Thingiverse, a scenario nearly identical to the one Eric has found himself in. Ignorance to the fine print doesn’t absolve you from being held accountable; just because you found it for free online doesn’t mean you can put it into mass production and pocket a profit.

    When he chose to use proprietary software for his computer refurbishment plans, he took on the burden of following the restrictive licenses such software is bound by. Had he decided instead to put into production install discs for Ubuntu or any other GNU/Linux distribution, things would have gone very differently. His goals of putting old computers back into service would have been met, and he would have not been in violation of the software’s license. But that’s not the choice he made.

  • Desktop

    • Microsoft’s Linux Adoption: How Things Change [Ed: Surely Matt Hartley understands how Embrace, Extend, Extinguish works, no? Seems so...]

      When Microsoft began promoting themselves as the company that “Loves Linux,” some Linux community members were skeptical. Some even believed that Microsoft’s move to embrace Linux was based on the once tried and true “embrace, extend, extinguish” approach to technology we’ve seen in the past. And this concern is based on a hisory of the past use of this strategy.

      While it’s a valid to worry about Microsoft’s motivation behind their self-claimed embrace of Linux, I think Microsoft’s motivation is more selfish than a desire to extinguish Linux would suggest. Based on their activity with cloud computing and more recently, the Internet of Things (IoT), I believe Microsoft is looking to utilize technology that has proven itself in those fields – Linux is that technology.

      Linux is a means to an end for Microsoft. It allows the software giant to participate with greater efficiency by utilizing existing toolsets. The official reasoning that Microsoft offers is Linux and open source in general provides a great ecosystem. An ecosystem Microsoft is now (apparently) motivated to give back code to. My own concern, however, is how much of this code being given back upstream is good for the community.

      The concern that I have is I believe the code being sent upstream must always benefit Microsoft directly or indirectly in some way. I haven’t seen any examples of Microsoft providing code that benefits projects that are unrelated to their own efforts. Perhaps I missed something along the way, but due to their anti-FoSS history, it’s unreasonable to expect Microsoft to give back to projects that might not benefit them directly or indirectly. And yes, Microsoft’s sponsorship of various Linux conventions is an example of indirect benefit to Microsoft.

  • Server

  • Kernel Space

    • IWD 0.2 Released For Advancing Intel’s Linux WiFi Daemon

      Last week marked the release of IWD 0.2, the second public release of this WiFi daemon for Linux systems destined as a replacement for WPA Supplicant.

      It was back at the end of 2016 that the code was made public while now there is finally the second version release. IWD 0.2 brings support for several new features as well as several bug fixes.

    • Linux Foundation and ONF

      • Linux Foundation LFCS & LFCE: Maja Kraljič

        A couple of years ago I decided to start using Linux because I didn’t want to support corporations any more — especially where open source solutions are available. So I bought a computer just for that purpose, installed the current version of Ubuntu (Ubuntu 16.04 at the time), and took the Introduction to Linux course on edX.org which opened a new world of possibilities for me.

      • The edge defines experience, but can’t be done without open source – ONF

        For years the industry has been focusing on the core network, but the tides are beginning to turn, with the edge taking centre stage. While this is a promising development, the economics are simply not supporting the ambition.

        “Edge processing is vital,” said Timon Sloane, VP of Marketing & Ecosystem at ONF. “When we started talking about this it was a novel idea, but the industry is just catching on now. The subscriber edge is where experience is created.”

        This focus on the edge of the network is a huge opportunity, but also presents a massive problem. The core network is easy. It is one place, easy to manage, but the edge consists of thousands of sites which are usually located within three miles of the customer. Most of the time these sites are windowless, concrete bunkers, with little or no lighting, representing 80% of operator CAPEX. Upgrading these sites is critical to the performance of the network, but is a time consuming and expensive job.

      • The First 10 Years of Software Defined Networking

        In 2008, if you wanted to build a network, you had to build it from the same switch and router equipment that everyone else had, according to Nick McKeown, co-founder of Barefoot Networks, speaking as part of a panel of networking experts at Open Networking Summit North America.

        Equipment was closed, proprietary, and vertically integrated with features already baked in, McKeown noted. And, “network management was a dirty word. If you wanted to manage a network of switches, you had to write your own scripts over a lousy, cruddy CLI, and everybody had their own way of doing it in order to try to make their network different from everybody else’s.”

      • ONF: Major Vendors Not Joining Open Edge

        The major incumbent telecom vendors have not embraced the Open Networking Foundation’s new initiative to build the supply chain and ecosystem to enable rapid deployment of edge computing, an ONF executive said here today. As a result, that effort is moving forward with other vendors.

        Speaking at the Open Compute Project workshop in advance of BCE, Timon Sloane, vice-president of marketing and ecosystem, admitted that those “major incumbents” — whom he didn’t specifically name — were part of a December Open Networking Foundation meeting at which the strategy was adopted that involved operator-driven reference designs that would push open source edge platform deployments forward faster. (See ONF Operators Take Charge of Edge SDN.)

        “If you had looked at our partner list a few months ago, you would have seen all major incumbents on our partner list,” Sloane commented in response to an audience question. “Those incumbents have not stepped up, they have not shown us they are making that level of investment. So we have made a shift.”

      • Lisbeth McNabb Joins the Linux Foundation as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer

        The Linux Foundation, the organization of choice for the world’s top developers and companies to build and advance open technology, today announced Lisbeth McNabb is joining the organization as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Operating Officer (COO).

        McNabb brings extensive finance and operations experience to The Linux Foundation, having lead teams at large organizations such as Match.com and PepsiCo. McNabb will manage the finance and operations teams at The Linux Foundation.

      • New Technologies Lead to New Linux and Cloud Training Options
    • Graphics Stack

      • OpenCL 2.2 Sees A Maintenance Update With Document Clarifications, Bug Fixes

        While OpenCL 2.2 support by the major hardware vendors’ drivers are sadly languishing, a new maintenance release of this year-old OpenCL standard was issued today to provide various bug fixes as well as documentation clarifications to the specification. Additionally, there is also an update to the OpenCL SPIR-V specification.

      • AMD’s Compressonator 3.0 Brings Better Texture Compression

        AMD’s GPUOpen team has released Compressonator 3.0, the latest major update to this tools collection for dealing with texture and 3D model compression and optimizations for Linux, macOS, and Windows.

        The Compressonator 3.0 release brings improved texture compression, mesh optimizations, mesh compression support, and other enhancements.

      • X.Org Server 1.21 Opens For Development

        Following the long drawn out and feature-packed X.Org Server 1.20 cycle, the 1.21 window officially opened up today.

        Adam Jackson of Red Hat who continues serving as the X.Org Server release manager today did the post-1.20 version bump to begin allowing new feature material to land for this next cycle.

        For the time being xserver Git is living as version and Adam’s latest codename is “Carrot and Ginger Soup.”

        No release plans have been posted yet, so it remains to be seen if 1.21 will aim to get back on a six-month release cadence like X.Org had been getting good at delivering on. Or if it will be like 1.20 where it was one and a half years in the making.

      • AMDKFD In Linux 4.18 Bringing Vega GPU Support

        The AMDKFD kernel driver in the upcoming Linux 4.17 has the long-awaited discrete Radeon GPU support working so it can be used with the ROCm/OpenCL compute user-space, but Vega GPU support wasn’t ready for this release. Fortunately, it’s ready for Linux 4.18.

      • Four Years After Launch, AMD Kaveri Sees Huge Performance Boost On Linux

        For those making use of AMD Kaveri APUs, the latest Linux graphics stack improvements will now yield much better performance — up to twice as fast in some instances! Here are some benchmarks with Ubuntu 18.04 on the AMD A10-7870K.

      • AMDVLK Driver Adds VK_KHR_display Support

        The AMD developers working on their official Vulkan driver code updated the public source trees yesterday for XGL and PAL that form the AMDVLK open-source Linux driver.

      • GEM Improvements & Better Intel Icelake Support Coming To Linux 4.18

        Building off their first batch of DRM updates for Linux 4.18, the Intel open-source crew has submitted a second batch of new feature material to DRM-Next that in turn will land with this next kernel cycle.

        Changes with this pull request include NV12 pixel format support finally being firmed up, a number of Intel Icelake improvements, GVT virtualization updates, Panel Self Refresh (PSR) updates, execlist fixes and updates, “tons” of GEM memory management improvements, and a variety of other fixes and code improvements.

    • Benchmarks

      • The Performance Of Clear Linux With GCC 8

        Intel’s Clear Linux operating system has been among the first notable Linux distributions upgrading to the recently-released GCC 8.1 as the default system compiler and then proceeding to rebuild its packages against this annual update to the GNU Compiler Collection. Here are some before/after benchmarks of their GCC 8 deployment for those interested.

        GCC 8 offers many compiler improvements from tentative C17 and C++20/C++2A support to newer CPU support and performance optimizations. In fact, our tests have found for some significant compiler boosts on Intel Skylake hardware but there are also benefits for AMD Ryzen and other CPU microarchitectures.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • A weekend at Akademy-es in Valencia

        This past weekend I travelled to Valencia, the third biggest city in Spain, located by the Mediterranean sea, to attend to Akademy-es, the annual meeting of the KDE community in Spain. At this event we also hold the KDE Spain annual assembly.

        KDE España is the legal entity behind the KDE community in Spain and legally represents KDE in my country. We are about 30 members and it was founded in 2009 although Akademy-es started a few years earlier.

      • My First Post!

        I’m Michael, a students taking part in this year’s GSoC. I am working on improving the “palette” docker for Krita.

        Finally I’ve got something that’s almost a blog set up. Hopefully it’s set up. This post is a test.

        Krita is the first open source project I have contributed to, so I don’t really know the ecosystem of the open source world. When I heard that should be posting blogs on Planet KDE, I thought it would be like posting on some online forum. Sign up, log in, and post. I later realized it’s not that simple…

        All right. I am going to do some web stuff some day. I can make today that day. As a result, I now have a super ugly Github Pages blog. But it will become prettier one day.

        Back to my GSoC project. You can find the descriptions here.

      • [Krita] Interview with El Gato Cangrejo

        The performance in Linux, I recently changed my OS from Windows 7 to Linux Mint and I have noticed a significant difference in performance between the systems. I noticed a difference in performance between working in grayscale and working in color too, and and also I’m waiting for some layer FX’s as the ones in photoshop, specifically the trace effect, which I used a lot when I worked with photoshop.

      • Plasma Sprint in Berlin

        Last month the developers of Plasma, KDE’s featureful, flexible and Free desktop environment, held a sprint in Berlin, Germany. The developers gathered to discuss the forthcoming 5.13 release and future development of Plasma. Of course, they didn’t just sit and chat – a lot of coding got done, too.

        During the sprint, the Plasma team was joined by guests from Qt and Sway WM. Discussion topics included sharing Wayland protocols, input methods, Plasma Browser Integration, tablet mode for Plasma’s shell, porting KControl modules to QtQuick, and last but not least, the best beer in Berlin.

      • KDE Plasma Developers Collaborating With Sway On Wayland Support

        A KDE Plasma development sprint recently happened in Berlin. One of the most interesting takeaways out of that event was the collaboration with the lead Sway developer, the increasingly popular i3-compatible Wayland compositor.

        Drew DeVault who leads Sway’s development and also the wlroots Wayland library attended the KDE Plasma sprint to begin talks of collaborating with KDE developers on Wayland support.

        He was talking with the Plasma crew about collaboration over Wayland protocols, bouncing around of ideas between projects, and also discussing matters like remote access support for Wayland.

      • Ubuntu Studio 18.10 To Offer A KDE Plasma Desktop Option

        The multimedia-focused Ubuntu Studio Linux distribution has used GNOME since its inception and while that is continuing for now, a sign of a possible shift is coming with Ubuntu Studio 18.10 to offer a KDE Plasma desktop option.

        For this next Ubuntu Studio release, the GNOME Shell desktop will be their default environment but they are going to offer a KDE Plasma option — the first time they have offered an alternate desktop option. They would like to make it an option to select at install-time what desktop is preferred by the user, but due to size/packaging constraints, they may end up offering two separate ISOs.

      • Plans for Ubuntu Studio 18.10 – Cosmic Cuttlefish

        For Ubuntu 18.10, we have been starting to think outside-the-box. There is something to be said of remaining with what you you have and refining it, but staying in one spot can lead quickly to stagnation. Coming up with new ideas and progressing forward with those ideas is the cure to stagnation. If we can’t move forward, then we become stagnant, and a stagnant Linux distribution is a dying distribution. Technology is constantly changing and evolving, so we decided for this release cycle, and with the new leadership, Ubuntu Studio is undergoing something of a “reboot”; this is to say we’ll be adding new technologies and making some changes along the way.

        Ubuntu Studio is an unique flavor of Ubuntu. Currently, it is the only remaining flavor of Ubuntu that is tied to its applications as opposed to its desktop environment. Originally, Ubuntu Studio started as an add-on to an existing Ubuntu installation, which used the GNOME 2 Desktop. Then Ubuntu Studio started to release its own CD images for direct download, as opposed to being an add-on. This included the GNOME 2 desktop and all of the metapackages much as it exists now.

        In 2010, Ubuntu changed to move to Unity. With concerns about the performance of the brand-new desktop environment, and with GNOME 2 being deprecated in favor of GNOME 3, the Ubuntu Studio team decided to adopt the Xfce desktop, keeping an experience as close to GNOME 2 as possible, and to avoid the performance issues of KDE’s Plasma 4.

      • New in Qt 5.11: improvements to the model/view APIs (part 1)

        The Qt model/view APIs are used throughout Qt — in Qt Widgets, in Qt Quick, as well as in other non-GUI code. As I tell my students when I deliver Qt trainings: mastering the usage of model/view classes and functions is mandatory knowledge, any non-trivial Qt application is going to be data-driven, with the data coming from a model class.

      • Akademy 2019 Call for Hosts

        The organization of this year’s Akademy is in full swing: the official conference program is out, we have had an insightful interview with one of the keynote speakers, another is coming soon, and attendees are already booking flights and accommodation. The #akademy IRC channel on Freenode and the Telegram group are buzzing with messages, advice and recommendations.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Reducing the number of image copies in GNOM

        In the context of GIMP/GNOME, the only thing that knew how to draw RGB images to X11 windows (doing palette mapping for 256-color graphics cards and dithering if necessary) was the GIMP. Later, when GTK+ was written, it exported a GtkPreview widget, which could take an RGB image buffer supplied by the application and render it to an X window — this was what GIMP plug-ins could use in their user interface to show, well, previews of what they were about to do with the user’s images. Later we got some obscure magic in a GdkColorContext object, which helped allocate X11 colors for the X drawing primitives. In turn, GdkColorContext came from the port that Miguel and I did of XmHTML’s color context object (and for those that remember, XmHTML became the first version of GtkHtml; later it was rewritten as a port of KDE’s HTML widget). Thankfully all that stuff is gone now; we can now assume that video cards are 24-bit RGB or better everywhere, and there is no need to worry about limited color palettes and color allocation.

      • Get A Floating Live Window Preview In Gnome With Window Corner Preview Extension

        I really like the Opera video pop out feature, but I wanted this for any window, and not just web videos, so I searched for a Gnome picture-in-picture alternative, and I came across Window Corner Preview, a Gnome extension which does just this in an intuitive way.

        Window Corner Preview shows a floating live video preview of a window in a screen corner. The extension can be useful in multiple situations, like watching a terminal window for some activity, keep an eye on a YouTube or Netflix video, use it as a way to see a webcam preview, and so on.

      • GSoC 2018 with GNOME: Internationalization of Fractal (part 1)

        It is the beginning of the coding period and I will first work on investigating on implementing the internationalization of Fractal and then find a way to do it. At this moment, internationalization support in Rust is limited and new, so no GTK application written in Rust have implemented it yet. And it is very exciting to work on this with this perspective, furthermore because I will write some blogposts that will try to explain how to do it and I hope it could help other people to do so!

      • Implementation of the PartialEq trait for Message
      • Improving the development experience for GNOME Settings

        After Bastien and Rui announced that they were stepping down from maintainership of GNOME Settings, I went ahead and volunteered to take care of it. This was not a random act, though; for quite some time, I’ve been adding and changing code all around. I was pretty involved in moving to the new layout, and with the help of other contributors, implemented the redesigns of various panels. Clearly, I have a technical debt to the app.

        Adding to that, assuming maintainership over it also aligns well with the goals of my employer, Endless, and gives a nice upstream/downstream overlap. With that, I can spend a bigger chunk of my work time on upstream tasks. Moreover, it allows us to have a stronger relationship with the GNOME community — after all, it allows me to bridge the insights and knowledge we gain from our users to a wider community.

      • Google Summer of Code 2018 at GNOME

        Hi! I am Aditya Manglik from Wien, a.k.a. carpediem on IRC. Currently I am pursuing a Bachelor’s thesis in Deep Learning from TU Wien. I am interested in software, operating systems and AI. Travel, hiking and football occupy rest of the time.

        I started with Linux ~7 years ago when my Windows desktop failed to boot because of a curious experiment accident with system32 files. Looking back at that moment, I am glad for the few hours of initial pain which was worth several years of sanity. Since then I have been working with Linux as the primary platform. I like Open Source Software because it’s much more fun to break and fix something, which really helps understand what’s happening in the machine. I used to like C/ C++ quite a bit, but you can probably throw any language and I am happy to learn it.

      • Nautilus Will No Longer Launch Binaries Or Desktop Files

        Nautilus (or Files), the Gnome file manager, received a Git update which removes its ability to launch binaries or programs in general. That means you won’t be able to double click binaries, scripts, or desktop files to run them – this includes the ask dialog which lets you choose if the file should be launched or displayed.

        A quite big consequence of this change is that you won’t be able to launch AppImage files from Nautilus any more, though I think AppImage files were not intentionally targeted by this change (I may be wrong). As a side note, this also affects applications or games distributed as self-extracting scripts.

      • GNOME Is Removing the Ability to Launch Binary Apps from Nautilus

        Last year Nautilus lost the ability to show desktop icons — now GNOME developers plan to drop another familiar feature.

        According to a code commit on Gitlab the famous file manager is set to lose the ability to run binaries and launch apps directly.

        Or, to put it another way, you won’t be able to double-click on programs, scripts or apps to launch them using Nautilus.

  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • Mageia Blog (English) : Issues with the Grand Update?

        This should not be needed, as 32-bit libraries should be able to co-exist on a 64 bit install, as they may be needed for third party applications.

        Bug 23016 has been reopened to study this a bit more. For now, we’re watching for reports, and giving you the workaround of uninstalling the 32 bit library.

        It’s not that 32-bit isn’t able to mix with 64-bit in all cases, just in some, where there are files in the lib package that should be in a different (non-arch specific) package. In these two cases, it’s the /usr/share/locale/ files are in both the 32 and 64 bit packages, with identical names and paths.

        The rpm package manager allows a file to be owned by more than one package, provided the attributes are identical, but it blocks updating with a new version, since it’s trying to update one of the packages, but until the other version is updated too, there is a conflict. We’re keeping a watch-out for these packaging errors.

        It’s possible that if you’ve used DNF to do the update, rather than urpmi, you won’t have this problem; as we gather more information, we’ll add it to roundups in the coming weeks.

        While all this Grand stuff has been happening, we’ve also been doing plenty of the usual things, including over 300 packages into Cauldron.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • OpenSUSE Leap 15 Supports Transactional Updates Using Btrfs / Zypper / Snapper

        Of the many new features coming to openSUSE Leap 15 that is built from the same sources as SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 is support for transactional updates.

        Incubated by the Kubic Project for fleshing out an openSUSE micro-OS container operating system, openSUSE Leap 15 supports transactional updates — to basically update operating system packages in an atomic manner. Under this transactional approach, updates will either be applied all together in a single transaction or not at all. If something goes wrong, the system can also be returned to the previous functioning state.

      • Transactional Updates in openSUSE Leap 15

        This blog is part of a series of technical blogs leading up to the release of openSUSE Leap 15. All of the blogs provide a use case regarding openSUSE Leap and the packages available in the distribution. Happy reading.

        Transactional Updates is one of the exciting new features available in the upcoming release of openSUSE Leap 15, which is scheduled to be officially released May 25.

        Contributed by the Kubic Project, Transactional Updates provides openSUSE systems with a method of updating the operating system and its packages in an entirely ‘atomic’ way. Updates are either applied to the system all together in a single transaction, or not at all. This happens without influencing the running system. If an update fails, or if the successful update is deemed to be incompatible or otherwise incorrect, it can be discarded to immediately return the system to its previous functioning state.

        This differs from existing alternatives that already exist in the open source world. Some users use a rather exorbitant approach of maintaining multiple versions of their system in multiple partitions on disk to switch between the partitions to address a fear of tampering with a perfectly running system.

      • Status update for openSUSE Conference

        The openSUSE Conference is right around the corner and attendees list keeps growing for oSC18, which will take place May 25 – 27 at the Faculty of Information Technologies of Czech Technical University in Prague.

        There are about 250 people signed up to attend the conference and most of the talks have been scheduled for this year’s conference. In addition to the conference, there will be a cryptofest on May 26, which will incorporate comes oSC18. The schedule for the cryptofest list three oSC18 security-focused talks and will be room 107.

        There are several track that will be taking place at the conference like an openSUSE track, a cloud and containers track, an open source track, a desktop and application track and an embedded track. On Saturday, May 26, will be a lightingbeers talk where people will get a free beer and give a short 5 minutes talks; people can sign up for this at http://bit.ly/2wtjczw.

    • Red Hat Family

      • View from the airport: Red Hat Summit 2018

        Red Hat proves it’s a force to be reckoned with in the hybrid space

        Red Hat’s annual meet is a chance for the company and its customers, to celebrate all things open source; yet this year’s summit was about something more important.

        With the weight of 25 years behind it, the pressure was on the company to make a bold stand, proving to the industry that it can ward against the likes of Amazon and other goliaths looking to wrestle control of the highly lucrative hybrid cloud market.

        The past few days have proved one thing. Red Hat is poised to become the dominant force in hybrid cloud and open source.

      • IBM, Red Hat expand cloud alliance

        The agreement builds on IBM’s recent move to re-engineer its entire software portfolio with containers, including WebSphere, MQ Series and Db2. Container technologies are fast becoming a safe and reliable way to move applications across multiple IT footprints, from existing data centres to the public cloud and vice versa. Going hand-in-hand with IBM’s shift to containerised software, is Red Hat’s expansive portfolio of enterprise-grade, cloud-native, and hybrid cloud infrastructure solutions, which, when combined, provide a clear pathway for enterprises to adopt hybrid cloud computing.

      • Red Hat lists companies that have deployed full open hybrid cloud infrastructure

        Red Hat, Inc. has announced that organizations across the globe including Banco Multiva; Genesys; and UKCloud have deployed a fully open hybrid cloud infrastructure based on Red Hat technologies. By implementing the Linux container and Kubernetes-based Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform on massively-scalable cloud infrastructure offered through Red Hat OpenStack Platform, these organizations are accelerating their digital transformations with infrastructure that is designed to be as flexible and automated as the workloads running on it.

      • Why Amazon and Red Hat are the two biggest winners in enterprise cloud

        In picking winners in the cloud wars, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the most obvious choice. As the resident hegemon, it’s hard to argue with a company that has accelerated its growth over the past two quarters on top of a run-rate that dwarfs that of all other vendors…combined.

      • PodCTL #35 – Kubernetes News & Events

        The end of April and early May is the heart of the Spring tradeshow season, and this year it was packed with Kubernetes events and news. We look back at the Kubernetes-related news and trends coming out of Cloud Foundry Summit, KubeCon/CloudNativeCon and Red Hat Summit.

      • Making the Operation of Code More Transparent and Obvious

        You can study source code and manually instrument functions as described in the “Use the dynamic tracing tools, Luke” blog article, but why not make it easier to find key points in the software by adding user-space markers to the application code? User-space markers have been available in Linux for quite some time (since 2009). The inactive user-space markers do not significantly slow down the code. Having them available allows you to get a more accurate picture of what the software is doing internally when unexpected issues occur. The diagnostic instrumentation can be more portable with the user-space markers, because the instrumentation does not need to rely on instrumenting particular function names or lines numbers in source code. The naming of the instrumentation points can also make clearer what event is associated with a particular instrumentation point.

      • Scientific Linux 7.5 Officially Released Based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5

        The developers of Scientific Linux, a free and open-source clone of Red Hat’s RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) operating system, released a new update to the latest Scientific Linux 7 series.

        Now that Red Hat released the final Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 update to its Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 operating system series, the open-source and free clones have started popping up, beginning with CentOS Linux 7.5 (1804) and now continuing with Scientific Linux 7.5.

        However, like in the case of CentOS Linux 7.5, don’t expect to see any major changes or new features included in the Scientific Linux 7.5 release, which appears to be only a small update to the Scientific Linux 7 operating system series adding a few updated components and minor improvements.

      • Red Hat Updates KVM-Based Virtualization

        Red Hat today announced the general availability of Red Hat Virtualization 4.2, the newest release of its Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM)-powered virtualization platform. Built on the enterprise-grade backbone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Virtualization 4.2 offers significant product updates from a simplified user interface to new capabilities around virtual networking, pairing new capabilities with Red Hat’s enterprise-grade reliability and support to lay a more stable foundation for IT innovation. Introduced in tandem with the new version is Red Hat Virtualization Suite, comprised of Red Hat Virtualization and Red Hat CloudForms, Red Hat’s hybrid infrastructure management platform, offering a pre-integrated, simplified access point to open virtualization technologies combined with management.

      • Dynatrace Launches OneAgent Operator to Enhance Automation in Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform Environments

        Software intelligence company Dynatrace, last week announced from Red Hat Summit 2018, “Dynatrace OneAgent Operator”.

        Dynatrace’s OneAgent is a set of specialised processes that run on each monitored host to collect business and performance metrics. As one of the first Red Hat partners to integrate the Operator Framework SDK into its platform, platform administrators will be able to automate the management, updates and roll-out of its OneAgent in their Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform environments.

      • Red Hat Enhances Foundation for Digital Transformation with Latest Version of Red Hat Virtualization
      • Jim Whitehurst: Why aren’t we more invested in our work?

        Understanding employee engagement is difficult—and so is defining engagement in the first place. Many smart people offer different definitions of “engagement,” but most seem to agree that it refers to the emotional connection people feel to their work.

        And it’s becoming one of the most frequently cited challenges for organizations around the world. Statistics about employee engagement tell a sobering story. For example, a Gallup study found that only 15% of employees globally feel engaged at work (in the U.S. and Canada, that number is 31%—not much better).

      • Watch over 100 Red Hat Summit 2018 session videos online

        Over 100 breakout sessions from Red Hat Summit 2018 are now available to watch on YouTube. Even if you were at Summit, there were too many sessions to attend all of the ones you might have wanted to see. All of the recorded sessions are in one big searchable YouTube playlist. In the next few weeks, a number of the developer sessions will be highlighted on this blog by topic.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Review: Fedora 28

          For this review I used Fedora Workstation with a vanilla GNOME desktop environment, and I tried to use native GNOME applications as much as possible. I found vanilla GNOME to be a mixed bag. There were many aspects I really liked but there also a few things that made me cringe.

          Let’s start with the positives. The documentation is quite good – it is well written and covers all the basics. I also quite like how GNOME handles notifications; they are displayed underneath the clock and clicking on the clock brings up a menu that shows recent notifications. The notification area is also used to display calendar appointments and what music is playing. At first I saw the notification area as an ugly, humongous monster but I grew to like it.

          Most GNOME applications are pretty, and the absence of toolbars and buttons encouraged me to learn various keyboard shortcuts. After a few hours I no longer missed the minimise button on windows – using the Super-H shortcut is quicker and easier than clicking with the mouse on a minimise button. GNOME applications also use a pleasantly consistent work flow. For instance, applications such as Files, Music and Photos all give you the option to mark items as a “favourite”, which in effect is a handy bookmarking system. Similarly, to perform a search in applications such as Files, Web and Software you simply start typing. It takes a little time to get used to but it soon becomes second nature. Having to use the Ctrl-F keyboard combination to do a search now feels a little slow.

          That said, I don’t buy into the “distraction-free” philosophy. The GNOME desktop certainly looks very clean – there is just one panel with a few items. Personally, though, I like to be able to open applications with the click of a button, and I like to see what applications I have got open at all times (whether via a dock or task bar). I can’t get used to constantly opening the “Activities overview” to access applications, work spaces and the search menu. It feels like I am using a mobile phone desktop environment on a PC.

          My main gripe with GNOME, though, are applications such as Photos. In Shotwell, I can instantly see how many photos I have. I can easily find images by browsing to the relevant directory. I can choose which directories photos are imported from, and if Shotwell’s toolbars become too overwhelming I can simply hide them. GNOME Photos has stripped all these functions and assumes that I am happy to spend hours organising my photo collection in a new way, by adding them to albums. And then Photos doesn’t even find images in the directory it is supposed to automatically retrieve images from.

          Of course, this is my personal opinion, and it is more about GNOME than it is about Fedora. As I mentioned in the introduction, I like Fedora for its release cycle, package manager and because it is at the forefront of many new technologies. I work in a web hosting environment with many CentOS and CloudLinux servers, and Fedora seems a natural fit. Plus: GNOME can be tweaked.

          As for Fedora itself (sans-GNOME), it seems Fedora 28 is another solid release. I upgraded one my PCs from version 27 to 28 without any issues. SELinux hasn’t thrown any mysterious alerts at me yet. Updates are applied quickly and cleanly and just about all software I want to use is available. It is a pleasantly boring experience.

          I also like where Fedora is going with the third party repositories. Fedora’s project leader, Matthew Miller, recently talked on the Late Night Linux podcast about how Fedora is trying to find the right balance between software freedom and providing a functional system. He was unapologetic about the third party repos: “[...] being a theoretical, pure freedom distribution that doesn’t actually work on anybody’s hardware doesn’t help anybody.” I very much agree and hope Fedora will add more third party repositories. At the same time I would like to see better integration of Flatpak repositories and applications.

          Finally, I should mention that there are various Fedora spins. If you don’t like GNOME, you have the option to install Fedora with the KDE, Xfce, LXQt, LXDE, MATE, Cinnamon or Sugar on a Stick desktops.

        • GSoC 2018: Kicking off the Coding

          It’s May 14, and this is when we officially start coding for GSoC, 2018 edition. This time, I would be working on improving the Fedora Community App with the Fedora project. This marks the beginning of a journey of 3 months of coding, patching, debugging, git (mess) and the awesome discussions with my mentors and the community.

          The Fedora App is a central location for Fedora users and innovators to stay updated on The Fedora Project. News updates, social posts, Ask Fedora, as well as articles from Fedora Magazine are all held under this app.

        • Fedora 28: Better smart card support in OpenSSH

          Smart card support was introduced around 2010 with OpenSSH 5.4. The inital scope was restricted to the RSA keys — the only supported key type at that time in OpenSSH — other than legacy DSA keys. Previously, users needed to specify the PKCS#11 driver for the smart card. Additionally, the OpenSSH client had to query the server with all the stored keys in the card, until an acceptable key was found. This slowed down authentication, and reveals public keys to the server that might not be necessary (e.g., if we have a single card with keys for distinct servers).

          Over the years, OpenSSH gained support for additional authentication keys, such as ECDSA and later EdDSA. However, the smart card subsystem has not changed much since the early days. Cards with ECDSA keys are not yet supported, and there is no option for the user to specify the key to use when connecting to a server. Fedora 28 addresses these limitations. This article describes these improvements, the background behind them, and how they can be used.

        • Moving to Fedora Atomic 28
        • Fedora BoF report from Summit 2018
    • Debian Family

      • Renata D’Avila: Debian Women in Curitiba

        At MiniDebConf Curitiba last year, few women attended. And, as I mentioned on a previous post, there was not even a single women speaking at MiniDebConf last year.

        I didn’t want MiniDebConf Curitiba 2018 to be a repeat of last year. Why? In part, because I have involved in other tech communities and I know it doesn’t have to be like that (unless, of course, the community insists in being mysoginistic…).

        So I came up with the idea of having a meeting for women in Curitiba one month before MiniDebConf. The main goal was to create a good enviroment for women to talk about Debian, whether they had used GNU/Linux before or not, whether they were programmers or not.

        Miriam and Kira, two other women from the state of Parana interested in Debian, came along and helped out with planning. We used a collaborative pad to organize the tasks and activities and to create the text for the folder about Debian we had printed (based on Debian’s documentation).

      • Derivatives

        • Knoppix 8.2 Linux Distribution Released

          Longtime Linux users likely have many fond memories of the Knoppix Live CD Linux distribution and today a new release is now available.

          Knoppix 8.2 is now available to succeed last year’s 8.1 release. Knoppix 8.2 features a wealth of package updates over 8.1, including the use of the Linux 4.16 kernel, KDE Plasma 5.12.4, Qt 5.10, and hundreds of other package updates for this Debian-based Live CD/DVD/USB distribution.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Kali Linux vs Ubuntu – Which Distro is Better for Hacking?

            Kali Linux is the most popular penetration testing and hacking Linux distroibution and Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution. Since it is kind of common knowledge that Linux is a more convenient OS to use for hacking than Windows, the next question is a no-brainer; which Linux distro is the best to use for hacking?

            But what is hacking anyway? And why does it matter which distribution is being used? Let’s get to it.

          • Ubuntu 18.10 Planning For GS Connect, Allowing Phone Integration With The Desktop

            Canonical has expressed interest in shipping Ubuntu 18.10 with GS Connect, the GNOME Shell implementation of KDE Connect that allows interfacing with your phone from the desktop. GS/KDE Connect allows receiving phone notifications on your desktop, viewing and responding to messages from your desktop, and to use your phone as a remote control to the desktop, among other features.

          • Ubuntu 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish May Include Out-of-the-box Android Integration

            If you’re reading this article, there are great chances that you might be owning a computer as well as a smartphone. In such case, very often we feel the need for a seamless integration between both the devices. While Apple is known for how well its devices work with each other, Microsoft has also been making similar attempts.

          • Ubuntu 18.10 May Include Some Seriously Neat Android Integration…

            Ubuntu 18.10 could come with some seriously neat Android integration available out-of-the-box.

            Ubuntu desktop manager Will Cooke has proposed shipping the GSconnect GNOME Extension by default in Ubuntu 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish.

            But what is this extension, and why might it benefit Ubuntu desktop users?

            Let’s find out.

          • Ubuntu Make Developer Tools Installer 18.05 Adds Support For Atom Beta, Eclipse Javascript, Re-Enables Unity3D

            Ubuntu Make, the app that allows installing developer tools on Ubuntu systems, was updated to version 18.05, which includes new IDEs, like Atom Beta, Goland, or Eclipse Javascript, fixes, and other improvements.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 527
          • Flavours and Variants

            • The Nifty Dozen: 12 cool features in Ubuntu MATE

              Ubuntu MATE 18.04 Bionic Beaver will hopefully work around its bugs and problems and present a robust, unified, slick desktop to its users. Regardless, there’s no denying the wealth of innovation and fun that’s gone into this product. For a few years, I thought MATE was sort of simmering quietly, and then, bam, it comes back like a horde of Rohan warriors riding to Gondor. Or something.

              If you’re looking for an Ubuntu-like experience, Ubuntu MATE comes as close to the original as possible, and it also gives you phenomenal, unprecedented level of flexibility to customize and change your desktop however you feel like. The understated power of Gnome 2. Of course, it’s not all about Unity. On its own, as a classic desktop, Ubuntu MATE comes loaded with interesting features and options that allow you to use the system however you fancy – a classic look or a modern MAC-like look, dock, panels, global menu, themes, you name it. Shake and bake. Time to explore then. Just beware the bugs.

            • This Week in Lubuntu Development #5

              Some work was done on the Lubuntu Manual by Lubuntu contributor Lyn Perrine and Lubuntu Translations Team Lead Marcin Mikołajczak. You can see the commits they have made here.

              We need your help with the Lubuntu Manual! Take a look at PROGRESS.md on our GitHub or Launchpad repositories, or contact us for ways to help there. Otherwise, if you know another language, you can also help with translations! Pull requests on GitHub or Merge Requests on Launchpad are always welcome.

            • Pinguy OS 18.04 Beta2

              I have added Unetbootin and Stacer to the new build.

              Unetbootin does work but picking files does not. You have to set the path to the ISO manually.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Tencent unveils China’s first open source Go AI, made on spare WeChat server processing power

    Tencent has unveiled its Go-playing AI program, “PhoenixGo,” on Github, making its source code and training model available on the open source platform (in Chinese). The program, developed by WeChat’s translation unit, is the first open source Go AI project in China. A team of WeChat engineers focusing on the development of machine translation decided to use the spare processing power of WeChat’s servers to train the PhoenixGo program, which implemented AlphaGo Zero, the latest version of DeepMind’s champion-defeating AlphaGo, and increased its training efficiency. PhoenixGo’s source code and training model can run on a single GPU chip and perform at the same level as a professional Go play.er.

  • Open source drives development in motor industry

    Open source is playing an increasingly important role in bringing tomorrow’s cars onto roads around the world today.

    Much of this innovation is taking place under the auspices of Automotive Grade Linux (AGL), a collaborative open source project that brings together vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and technology companies in an effort to develop an open platform for the ‘connected’ car.

    The development of this de facto industry standard with Linux at its core and hosted at The Linux Foundation is enabling rapid development of new features and technologies for ordinary vehicles.

    So, for example, AGL is now in Toyota vehicles around the world. The first AGL-based Toyota infotainment system was announced earlier this year on the 2018 Toyota Camry in the United States. The system is now also in vehicles globally.

  • XRP Symbol: An Open-Source Project Initiated for Finding New Logo For the XRP Tokens

    The XRP digital currency commonly referred to as the Ripple cryptocurrency in the global community looks to be set for an image makeover of its own. In a bid to assign a new logo for the XRP tokens, Alexavier Guzman has unveiled an open-source platform called XRP Symbol. Under this new initiative, Ripple token or XRP will also be assigned a Unicode-compliant currency sign.

    One of the major reasons for Guzman to start this initiative was that he realized that XRP doesn’t have a Unicode Standard symbol, but instead an ISO 4217 currency code (XRP).

  • Open Source Pitfalls At The Biotechnology-High Technology Crossover [Ed: Windows site having a rant at FOSS, neglecting to mention that there are far greater risks associated with proprietary software (licensing, security etc.)]

    Software is eating the biotechnology world. Managers in the traditional biotechnology sector may not be familiar with open source software and related compliance issues, but these issues are bound to come up as they develop technology solutions to the problems of biotechnology.

    Many computer programmers like to incorporate code from open source software into software products because there is no point in reinventing the wheel for standard, simple or common software functionalities.

  • Open Source Software: What Is It and Which is the Best?

    Linux is probably the most well known of the open source projects, which first came into being in 1991. Due to the source code being freely available and viewable, it is easy to make and distribute your own version. You obviously have to have the programming chops for that though.

    The most well-known version of Linux is arguably Ubuntu. But there are others which are just as popular including Debian, Puppy Linux (a very lightweight 200MB version ideal for older computers), Linux Mint, and Fedora. My personal favorite is a security-focused version called Tails which deserves an article all of its very own.

    Linux can be installed on a computer or it can be run as a Live CD or portable app. If you partition your computer, it can be dual-booted alongside Windows.

  • Ohio Supercomputer Center upgrades open-source HPC access portal

    Developers of the Ohio Supercomputer Center’s innovative web-based portal for accessing high performance computing services have recently upgraded its capabilities.

    OSC recently announced the release of Open OnDemand 1.3, the first version using its new RPM Package Manager, or Red Hat Package Manager, a common standard for distributing Linux software.

    Open OnDemand is an open-source version of OSC OnDemand, the center’s online, single-point-of-entry application for HPC services. Open OnDemand is a project funded by the National Science Foundation to develop a widely shareable web portal that provides HPC centers with advanced web and graphical interface capabilities.

  • LikeCoin, a cryptocurrency for creators of openly licensed content

    Conventional wisdom indicates that writers, photographers, artists, and other creators who share their content for free, under Creative Commons and other open licenses, won’t get paid. That means most independent creators don’t make any money by publishing their work on the internet. Enter LikeCoin: a new, open source project that intends to make this convention, where artists often have to compromise or sacrifice in order to contribute, a thing of the past.

    The LikeCoin protocol is designed to monetize creative content so creators can focus on creating great material rather than selling it.

  • The Cherry on Top: Add Value to Existing Risk Management Activities With Open Source Tools

    Telling people about the virtues of open source security tools is like selling people on ice cream sundaes: It doesn’t take much of a sales pitch — and most people are convinced before you start.

    It’s probably not surprising that most security professionals are already using open source solutions to put a cherry on top of their existing security infrastructure. From Wireshark to OpenVAS and Kali Linux, open source software is a key component in many security practitioners’ arsenal.

  • Top 8 open source AI technologies in machine learning

    Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are quickly transforming almost every sphere of our lives. From how we communicate to the means we use for transportation, we seem to be getting increasingly addicted to them.

    Because of these rapid advancements, massive amounts of talent and resources are dedicated to accelerating the growth of the technologies.

    Here is a list of 8 best open source AI technologies you can use to take your machine learning projects to the next level.

  • Open source vs free software: what’s the difference?

    February 2018 marked the 20th anniversary of the official recognition of open source software. However, the debate regarding the differences, if any, between ‘open source’ and ‘free’ software continues unabated.

    Richard Stallman, who is credited with developing the concept of ‘free software’ in the 1980s, says the term ‘free software’ has nothing to do with cost. For him, free software is a social movement, a philosophy, while open source is a development methodology.

  • Events

    • Open source connecting people and technology

      Candice Herotodou, formerly Mesk, will speak about agile. A collaborator by nature and involved in all things agile and DevOps, Herotodou will relay the story of her journey in a presentation titled DevOps Culture: Are you ready?

    • Fractal Hackfest 2018

      The last couple of days I was in Strasbourg for the Fractal Hackfest. We made some fundamental decisions for the future of Fractal, our Matrix client. We also decided on some basic architectural changes we want to make.

      You probably already read about the split of Fractal into two separate apps, to cover two different use cases: Barbecue and Banquet. Barbecue will mostly cover “one to one” chats and Banquet high-traffic group chats and IRC-like rooms. We are certain that the split is the right direction for Fractal, but we didn’t define the exact split between the apps.

    • Fracturing Fractal Fracturing Fractal

      Last week my employer Purism allowed me to attend the Fractal hackfest in Strasbourg. There we chatted about the future of Fractal and of the messaging applications Purism needs for the Librem 5.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Deep Dive: New bookmark sync in Nightly

        For the last two years, the Firefox Sync team has been hard at work improving bookmarks on all our platforms. Last year, we added support for uploading bookmarks to Firefox for iOS, and made change tracking more durable on Android. Today, we’d like to tell you about our latest project to overhaul bookmark sync in Firefox for Desktop.

      • Firefox 61 Beta 6 Testday, May 18th

        We are happy to let you know that Friday, May 18th, we are organizing Firefox 61 Beta 6 Testday. We’ll be focusing our testing on: Accessibility Inspector: Developer Tools, Audio Context using sampleRate and Web Compatibility.

      • What’s Your Open Source Strategy? Here Are 10 Answers…

        Mozilla is a radically open and participatory project. As part of the research we compiled into turning openness into a consistent competitive advantage, we identified that the application of open practices should always be paired with well-researched strategic intent. Without clarity of purpose, organizations will not (and nor should they) maintain long-term commitment to working with community. Indeed, we were not the first to observe this.

      • curl user survey 2018

        The curl user survey 2018 is up. If you ever use curl or libcurl, please donate some of your precious time and provide your answers!

        The curl user survey is an annual tradition since 2014 and it is one of our primary ways to get direct feedback from a larger audience about what’s good, what’s bad and what to focus on next in the curl project. Your input really helps us!

      • WebRender newsletter #19

        I skipped a newsletter again (I’m trying to put publish one every two weeks or so), sorry! As usual a lot of fixes and a few performance improvement, and sometimes both the same time. For example the changes around image and gradient repetition were primarily motivated by bugs we were encountering when dealing with repeated backgrounds containing very large amounts of repetitions, and we decided to solve these issues by moving all images to the “brush” infrastructure (bringing better batching, faster fragment shader and the ability to move more pixels out of the alpha pass), and optimize the common cases by letting the CPU generate a single primitive that is repeated in the shader. I don’t always properly highlight fixes that benefit performance but they are here.

      • GSConnect, Mozilla Firefox 61, Scientific Linux 7.5, GNOME and Nautilus

        The Mozilla team has been hard at work to address all of the known problems plaguing their bookmark sync functionality. A new engine has been developed to address these issues which landed in the latest Nightly build.

  • Databases

    • The Ultimate Postgres vs MySQL Blog Post

      I should probably say up front that I love working with Postgres and could die happy without ever seeing a mysql> prompt again. This is not an unbiased comparison — but those are no fun anyway.

  • Healthcare

    • Healthcare Open Source Projects Speed Up Technology Adoption

      Organizations are currently faced with an onslaught of advancing HIT infrastructure technology that needs to be developed to meet each organization’s unique needs. Healthcare open source projects are essential to developing and deploying new and innovative technology.

      Open source software makes its code freely accessible to anyone. Users can access and modify source code under a licensing agreement and modify it to meet their needs. This modified code can then be shared back with the community so it can be used by others to help improve other infrastructure tools.

      Open standards encourage competing implementations of the same standard, rather than creating competing platforms. This can benefit consumers, according to a report published by the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

    • Philippines to integrate open-source electronic medical record platform for enhanced health programs

      According to an announcement by the Ateneo de Manila University (ATENEO), the Philippine Department of Health Region VII is integrating the SHINE OS+ electronic medical record system of Smart Communications and Ateneo Java Wireless Competency Center (AJWCC) with its existing reporting tool to enhance the region’s health programs.

      Integration of SHINE OS+ with its existing reporting tool will help enhance the Department of Health Region VII’s health programs. Central Visayas, or Region VII of the Philippines, is made up of four provinces, which are Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental and Siquijor. Some of the health programs that the Department of Health Regional Office VII is focusing on include the control and elimination of human rabies and leprosy by 2020.

      Launched in 2011, SHINE OS+ stands for Secured Health Information Network Exchange open-source system. It allows health units to submit aggregated medical data directly to the region’s Health Console in order to retrieve information on a timely manner.

  • Funding

    • Prisma raises $4.5M seed round led by Kleiner Perkins

      Silicon Valley’s Kleiner Perkins led the round, with participation from a number of angel investors, many of whom have deep roots in the developer and/or open source space, including Nick Schrock, one of the creators of GraphQL itself.


    • 5 Emacs modes for writers

      Not all writers work within the confines of a word processor. More than a few of us tap out words in a humble (and sometimes not so humble) text editor.

      When you find a text editor that works for you, and works the way you want it to, you tend to hold onto it like that beaten up leather jacket, like that dog-eared book, or like that collection of old vinyl records.

      For some, that editor is vi or Vim. For others, it’s Nano or Atom. For me, that editor is Emacs. Why? Mainly because of its variety of modes, including some crafted especially for writers.

      Here’s a look at five Emacs modes that writers will find useful.

    • The fatal flaw of libertarianism, exemplified by BSD vs GPL

      I’ll get right to the point: libertarianism’s fatal flaw is that it commits a fallacy, the name of which I do not know, in assuming that the fewest up-front restrictions on personal freedoms necessarily and inevitably translates into the most freedom for the most people into the indefinite future.

      The BSD vs GPL licensing example is perhaps the single best illustration of this I’ve seen in the tech world to date. Debate, and I use the term charitably, rages on still about the merits of each license, with the BSD partisans making almost verbatim the exact same argument just laid out above: that the BSD license is morally, ethically, and pragmatically superior because it places fewer restrictions on who may do what with the code.

      By contrast, they say, the GPL is infectious, inserting itself like a retrovirus into the replication machinery of any code licensed with it and forcing certain behaviors (redistribution of source) the BSD types disagree with. As I understand it, the reason they give explicitly for disliking this is that it means fewer people will use the GPL compared to the BSD license, which theoretically therefore translates into BSD-licensed code both proliferating and persisting more than its GPL’d siblings.

      What this *actually* means, on the psychological and perhaps subconscious level, is “fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me.” Sorry guys, but it’s the truth: dress it up however you like, but the underlying principle here is “I don’t wanna share.”

      It also betrays an almost stunning naivete about human nature, the very same one that small-L-libertarianism itself seems predicated on. There is a sort of ceteris paribus assumption at work here, one which assumes that the wide world of coding is meritocratic (it is not), equal-access (it is not), and measures worth solely on quality, correctness, usefulness, etc., of code (it does not). It is the Just World Fallacy writ small and in C, you might say.

      It *completely* fails to take into account human nature, and such wholly non-technical yet pervasive and powerful human engines of corruption as the corporation. Witness Theo de Raadt’s anger, entirely justified morally but also entirely his own fault, over the lack of gratitude from corporations who took OpenSSH and OpenBSD itself for their own use and contributed back, perhaps, a single laptop, which took over a year to arrive.

      From the outside, this makes perfect sense. I mean, if you leave a plate of cookies out with a sign that says “free cookies,” you don’t have a right to complain when someone comes by and takes the entire plate for him/herself. But somehow this simple and obvious line of thought seems to elude the BSD-license partisans, or maybe they quash it for ideological reasons, such as faith (and it *is* a faith position…) in the idea that their code will conquer by virtue of spreading far and wide and continuing to evolve.

    • Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup time: May 18th starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC
  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Edge computing and the importance of open infrastructure

      Open infrastructure is not as much about packaging and deployment as it is about creating a consistent paradigm and environment for running workloads in the form best used to address those applications. Many edge workloads today run on Linux or in VM’s, they may evolve for simplified lifecycle management, or they may be superseded by a next generation of applications.

    • Metsä Wood Launches a Groundbreaking Platform for Open Source Wood
    • How citizen science and open-source tech can create change

      As a teenager, Jason Gomez never was the biggest fan of science, and among his peers, environmental work brought to mind planting trees. But he lived in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, where asthma and heart disease affected the lives and health of many residents. Uprose, a local environmental justice organization, recruits youth volunteers like Gomez to understand that these are not side effects of living in a working-class neighborhood that one should just accept–they are the result of planning and design decisions that de-prioritize the health and well-being of the residents of those neighborhoods. Specifically, in Sunset Park, they are the result of the Gowanus Expressway, a large elevated highway that runs directly through the neighborhood.


      And with open-source software, their findings are becoming easier to verify and share. Red Hat, a leading open-source tech company, created a documentary called The Science of Collective Discovery featuring citizen scientists like Cooper and the Uprose team to highlight the practice for its annual Summit in San Francisco this week.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Develop your Linux apps on this RISC-V board

        A funny thing happened on the way to a writing up this hardware announcement. Going through all the cool features (which I’ll get to in a minute), I realized that this announcement is really about the software, whether that was the intention or not.

      • RISC-V Benchmarks Of SiFive’s HiFive Unleashed Begin Appearing

        Over the past week, benchmarks of this first RISC-V development board have begun appearing on OpenBenchmarking.org by the Phoronix Test Suite. Here are some of those initial benchmark numbers.

        SiFive’s HiFive Unleashed as a reminder is the first RISC-V Linux development board and uses the Freedom U540 SoC. SiFive claims this is the “world’s fastest RISC-V processor” and is in a 4+1 multi-core design with clock speeds up to 1.5GHz, features a 2MB L2 cache, Gigabit Ethernet, 64-bit DDR4 with ECCm and is manufactured on a 28nm process. The HiFive Unleashed development board has 8GB of DDR4, 32MB quad SPI flash, microSD card for storage, and more via SiFive.com.

      • paradiddle, an open-source 3D-printed drumming prosthesis by dominic siguang ma

        ‘paradiddle’, an essential rudiment of drum beats, is an open-source 3D-printed upper-extremity prosthesis designed specifically for amputee drummer by young china-born and USA-based designer dominic siguang ma. to develop unique features that would allow the drummer to play more intuitively and comfortably, the designer worked with renowned amputee drummer greg anton.

  • Programming/Development

    • Plotting the Jet Stream, or Other Winds, with ECMWF Data

      I’ve been trying to learn more about weather from a friend who used to work in the field — in particular, New Mexico’s notoriously windy spring. One of the reasons behind our spring winds relates to the location of the jet stream. But I couldn’t find many good references showing how the jet stream moves throughout the year. So I decided to try to plot it myself — if I could find the data. Getting weather data can surprisingly hard.

      In my search, I stumbled across Geert Barentsen’s excellent Annual variations in the jet stream (video). It wasn’t quite what I wanted — it shows the position of the jet stream in December in successive years — but the important thing is that he provides a Python script on GitHub that shows how he produced his beautiful animation.

    • An introduction to the Pyramid web framework for Python

      In the first article in this four-part series comparing different Python web frameworks, I explained how to create a To-Do List web application in the Flask web framework. In this second article, I’ll do the same task with the Pyramid web framework. Future articles will look at Tornado and Django; as I go along, I’ll explore more of the differences among them.

    • MapTool: A robust, flexible virtual tabletop for RPGs

      When I was looking for a virtual tabletop for role-playing games (RPGs), either for local play or for playing on a network with family and friends around the world, I had several criteria. First, I wanted a platform I could use offline while I prepped a campaign. Second, I didn’t want something that came with the burden of being a social network. I wanted the equivalent of a Sword Coast campaign-setting boxed set that I could put on my digital “shelf” and use when I wanted, how I wanted.


  • A closer look at power and PowerPole

    The crowdfunding campaign has so far raised enough money to buy a small lead-acid battery but hopefully with another four days to go before OSCAL we can reach the target of an AGM battery. In the interest of transparency, I will shortly publish a summary of the donations.

    The campaign has been a great opportunity to publish some information that will hopefully help other people too. In particular, a lot of what I’ve written about power sources isn’t just applicable for ham radio, it can be used for any demo or exhibit involving electronics or electrical parts like motors.

  • Science

    • The Vehicle of the Future Has Two Wheels, Handlebars, and Is a Bike

      But cooler tricks are possible. We’re now seeing dockless bike sharing, where all the tech is crammed into each bike, eliminating the need for docking stations. When riders are done, they just park and lock the bike and walk away; the bike simply awaits the next user. This makes the systems cheaper (those docks cost a lot), so dockless bikes can be rented for as little as a buck an hour.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Somali woman ‘with 11 husbands’ stoned to death by al-Shabab

      She was buried neck-deep and pelted to death with stones by al-Shabab fighters, say residents of the southern Sablale town.

    • Stone throwers target train in Kashmir, services suspended

      However, the mob then damaged the railway property, including the track and the signal system installed along the track.

    • US may impose secondary sanctions on European firms working with Iran: NSA John Bolton

      Following United States’ withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, White House national security adviser John Bolton on Sunday said there is a possibility of secondary sanctions being imposed on the European companies doing business with Iran.

      He, however, believes that some European countries will eventually support the United States despite comments from some leaders expressing regret over Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal.

      “I think the Europeans will see that’s in their interest ultimately to go along with this,” Bolton told CNN.

    • Countries that continue to deal with Iran could face US sanctions: National Security Advisor John Bolton

      Europeans are going to face the effect of US sanctions already because much of what they’d like to sell to Iran involves US technology for which the licenses will not be available, the Trump administration said on Sunday.

    • European allies regret Trumps decision on Iran deal while Israel, Saudi back it

      Washington/London (PTI) US President Donald Trumps decision to abandon the landmark Iran nuclear deal has shocked the world, with Americas closest allies like France, Germany and the UK expressing concern over it while Irans foes Israel and Saudi Arabia have welcomed the move.

    • Killing Gaza

      Israel’s blockade of Gaza—where trapped Palestinians for the past seven weeks have held nonviolent protests along the border fence with Israel, resulting in scores of dead and some 6,000 wounded by Israeli troops—is one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. Yet the horror that is Gaza, where 2 million people live under an Israeli siege without adequate food, housing, work, water and electricity, where the Israeli military routinely uses indiscriminate and disproportionate violence to wound and murder, and where almost no one can escape, is rarely documented. Max Blumenthal and Dan Cohen’s powerful new film, “Killing Gaza,” offers an unflinching and moving portrait of a people largely abandoned by the outside world, struggling to endure.

      “Killing Gaza” will be released Tuesday, to coincide with what Palestinians call Nakba Day—“nakba” means catastrophe in Arabic—commemorating the 70th anniversary of the forced removal of some 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 by the Haganah, Jewish paramilitary forces, from their homes in modern-day Israel. The release of the documentary also coincides with the Trump administration’s opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

    • The World Will Not Mourn the Decline of U.S. Hegemony

      There are good reasons to bemoan the presence of the childish, racist, sexist and ecocidal, right-wing plutocrat Donald Trump in the White House. One complaint about Trump that should be held at arm’s-length by anyone on the left, however, is the charge that Trump is contributing to the decline of U.S. global power—to the erosion of the United States’ superpower status and the emergence of a more multipolar world.

      This criticism of Trump comes from different elite corners. Last October, the leading neoconservative foreign policy intellectual and former George W. Bush administration adviser Eliot Cohen wrote an Atlantic magazine essay titled “How Trump Is Ending the American Era.” Cohen recounted numerous ways in which Trump had reduced “America’s standing and ability to influence global affairs.” He worried that Trump’s presidency would leave “America’s position in the world stunted” and an “America lacking confidence” on the global stage.

      But it isn’t just the right wing that writes and speaks in such terms about how Trump is contributing to the decline of U.S. hegemony. A recent Time magazine reflection by the liberal commentator Karl Vick (who wrote in strongly supportive terms about the giant January 2017 Women’s March against Trump) frets that that Trump’s “America First” and authoritarian views have the world “looking for leadership elsewhere.”

      “Could this be it?” Vick asks. “Might the American Century actually clock out at just 72 years, from 1945 to 2017? No longer than Louis XIV ruled France? Only 36 months more than the Soviet Union lasted, after all that bother?”

    • U.S. Media Whitewashes Gaza Massacre

      As Israel killed more than 50 Palestinians in cold blood protesting the American embassy move on Monday, U.S. corporate media failed to accurately report what happened in Gaza, once again meekly protecting the government line, argues Joe Lauria.

    • When Is a Massacre Not a Massacre?

      On the day the Israeli Defence Force massacred dozens of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza and maimed over 400 more, our media has carefully avoided the use of the word massacre. Here is a Google search of News I did five minutes ago on the word “massacre”.


      The Western media far prefers the word “clashes” to “massacre”. Because those terrible Palestinians insist upon demonstrating against the continuing theft of all their land and resources, and keep attacking innocent Israeli bullets with their heads and bodies. If you look through the Google search of News this time for “clashes”, you discover that the western and Israeli media peculiarly have precisely the same preference for this entirely inappropriate word. That, again, is fascinating.

    • The Stomach-Churning Victim Blaming by “Labour Friends of Israel”

      The true face of the organisation calling itself “Labour Friends of Israel” has been revealed today, in truly disgusting victim-blaming tweets reacting to the massacre of over fifty Palestinians – including yet more children – by the Israeli Defence Force in Gaza.

    • The (Unrecognized) US Contribution to Bloodshed in Syria, Part Two

      Bashar Al-Asad did not intend to declare enmity with the U.S. when he took over from his father in 2000. On the contrary, he was keen on impressing Western leaders and governments, and incorporated many of the Western-promoted economic “reforms” (a mere code word for neo-liberal policies which dismantle state social programs, end subsidies to the poor, and initiate privatization plans which benefit MNCs).

      Bashar also continued a previous regime policy of security-intelligence cooperation with the U.S., especially since Syrian intelligence kept comprehensive files on Islamists after their past anti-regime activities (with the support of the Jordanian government by the admission of King Husayn in December 1985). Bashar was keen on pleasing Western powers perhaps in the hopes of obtaining Western investment and political pressure on Israel over the occupied Golan Heights.

      Hoping most likely to ingratiate himself with Western powers, Bashar accepted the Saudi peace plan (or so-called “Arab Peace Plan,” the name which came to then Crown Prince Abdullah bin `Abdul-`Aziz’s mind upon meeting New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman). Bashar not only gave the Syrian regime’s approval, but pressured the Lebanese to approve the plan as well, despite the misgivings of then President Emile Lahoud. The plan was later officially adopted (on behalf of the Arab people) in the Beirut Arab League summit in 2002.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Ecuador hints it may hand over Julian Assange to Britain and the US

      Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa stated in a Spanish-language interview on Wednesday that her government and Britain “have the intention and the interest that this be resolved.” Moves were underway, she said, to reach a “definite agreement” on Assange.

    • Ecuador May Soon End Asylum for Julian Assange

      Julian Assange is in immense danger. Remarks made this week by Ecuador’s foreign minister suggest that her government may be preparing to renege on the political asylum it granted to the WikiLeaks editor in 2012 and hand him over to British and then American authorities.

      On March 28, under immense pressure from the British and U.S. governments, Ecuador imposed a complete ban on Assange having any Internet or phone contact with the outside world, and blocked his friends and supporters from physically visiting him. For 46 days, he has not been heard from.

      Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa stated in a Spanish-language interview on Wednesday that her government and Britain “have the intention and the interest that this be resolved.” Moves were underway, she said, to reach a “definite agreement” on Assange.

    • Mum’s the word on Julian and Mr Squiggle

      WHEN Julian Assange’s mother agreed to our request for an interview, she set very strict parameters: “I will talk about Mr Squiggle and only Mr Squiggle.”

      Christine Assange is a puppeteer, and she is very worried about the decline of her artform.

      Her phone has been running hot, however, with national and international media seeking comment on arguably a more pressing matter: the arrest in England of her son, the editor-in-chief of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, who has been accused of rape in Sweden.

      When contacted by The Sun-Herald on the Sunshine Coast last week, Ms Assange had nothing to say – until the subject turned to Mr Squiggle, the moon-dwelling marionette with a pencil for a nose who entertained generations of Australians on ABC television for 40 years. Mr Squiggle was back in the news because his creator, Norman Hetherington, had died, aged 89, in a Sydney hospital.

    • People Lie To Themselves About Julian Assange To Justify His Persecution

      “I’ll tell you what else is dying — common decency, respect, compassion, consideration for others, dignity, honesty, integrity, positive patriotism, credibility, kindness, manners, social norms and mores,” tweeted a former Detective Superintendent of London’s Metropolitan Police Service in response to a news story about a White House official making light of Senator John McCain’s death.


      The retired Detective Superintendent in question is named Caroline Goode. She worked on the Edward Snowden investigation and justified the detention of Glenn Greenwald’s husband David Miranda under the absurd veil of anti-terrorism laws as his electronic belongings were taken by the UK government. She does not actually believe that Christine Assange raised “the smelly kid in class”, and she does not actually believe that he can leave the embassy whenever he wants.

      Cognitive dissonance is defined as “the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values.” Someone like Goode, for example, probably takes great psychological comfort in the belief that she served for decades in a system that is good and just; it gives her a sense of personal validation. Taking on a contradictory belief, like the belief that that same system has imprisoned a journalist for publishing authentic documents about powerful people, would cause her tremendous psychological discomfort until she abandoned one of the two contradictory beliefs.

    • Is time running out for Julian Assange at the Ecuador embassy? Foreign Minister says her country and Britain want the situation ‘resolved’ and are seeking a ‘definite agreement’

      Ecuador’s foreign minister has hinted that Julian Assange’s time in the country’s London embassy could be coming to a close.

      María Fernanda Espinosa said that Ecuador and the United Kingdom both want the situation to be ‘resolved’ and are working together to form a ‘definite agreement’.

    • The WikiLeaks-ization of the American Media

      Scott Shane had an interesting piece over the weekend in the New York Times on a topic I wrote about last year: What should journalists do when they receive “authentic and newsworthy” information from a foreign intelligence service? The question has become salient again because of Amy Chozick’s worry that she was an “unwitting agent of Russian intelligence” due to her reporting about the Russia-hacked DNC emails in 2016. (Shane himself wrote in late 2016 that the Times had become “a de facto instrument of Russian intelligence.”)

      Shane suggests that the problem with the DNC leak stories was not their content, which “revealed true and important things, including the party leadership’s hostility to Bernie Sanders’s campaign and the texts of Mrs. Clinton’s private speeches, which she had refused to release.” The problem, rather, was that “Russian hackers chose not to deliver to American voters the same inside material from the Trump campaign,” and thus “the tilt of the coverage was decided in Moscow.” By counting on reporters to “follow their usual rules” of reporting truthful information in the public interest, Shane concludes, “the Kremlin hacked American journalism.”

    • Revealed: Ecuador spent millions on spy operation for Julian Assange

      Ecuador bankrolled a multimillion-dollar spy operation to protect and support Julian Assange in its central London embassy, employing an international security company and undercover agents to monitor his visitors, embassy staff and even the British police, according to documents seen by the Guardian.

      Over more than five years, Ecuador put at least $5m (£3.7m) into a secret intelligence budget that protected the WikiLeaks founder while he had visits from Nigel Farage, members of European nationalist groups and individuals linked to the Kremlin.

      Other guests included hackers, activists, lawyers and journalists.

      In the lead-up to the US presidential election in 2016, his whistleblowing website WikiLeaks released several batches of emails connected to the Democratic party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

      Last month, the Democratic National Committee filed a lawsuit against the Russian government, Donald Trump’s campaign and WikiLeaks, alleging a conspiracy to help swing the election for Trump.

      Documents show the intelligence programme, called “Operation Guest”, which later became known as “Operation Hotel” – coupled with parallel covert actions – ran up an average cost of at least $66,000 a month for security, intelligence gathering and counter-intelligence to “protect” one of the world’s most high-profile fugitives.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The stunningly lopsided growth of wind power in the US, in 4 maps

      The power you get from a wind turbine has a cubic relationship to the wind speed, he says. If you double the wind speed, you get eight times more power. So it makes sense that utilities are planting wind turbines in the places with the most wind.

    • South Korean company under fire for alleged deforestation in Papua oil palm concession

      A report by WRI shows ongoing deforestation in an oil palm concession in Papua, Indonesia, operated by a subsidiary of South Korea’s POSCO Daewoo.

    • Thai environment protesters claim victory in battle over forest housing

      Environmental activists in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai claimed victory after the country’s military government agreed in talks on Sunday not to use forested land to develop luxury property.

      It follows a protest in Chiang Mai last week in which more than 1,000 demonstrators protested against the construction of a government luxury housing project earmarked as homes for judges on land in the foothills of the province’s famous Doi Suthep mountains.

    • Greenpeace blasts palm oil industry deforestation in West Papua

      A palm oil supplier to Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever is destroying rainforests in the Indonesian-ruled Papua region, a new investigation by Greenpeace International has revealed.

      Satellite analysis suggests that around 4000ha of rainforest were cleared in PT Megakarya Jaya Raya concession between May 2015 and April 2017 – an area almost half the size of Paris.

    • Some migratory birds arrive early – others not at all

      Ornithologists say that certain species have come to Finland early and in plentiful numbers this spring – but that others are suffering drastic drops in population due to human activity.

    • The world’s bleak climate situation, in 3 charts

      Global average temperatures have risen about 1.1 degrees Celsius since preindustrial times. At current rates, they could exceed 1.5 degrees by 2030. And global greenhouse gas emissions, after a brief lull from 2014 to 2016, are rising again.

    • Hope for Corals:

      Historically, coral conservationists have focused their efforts on protecting these invaluable marine resources from direct environmental threats, like land-based pollution and damaging fishing practices. While these efforts continue, researchers are now also looking at ways to tackle coral reef restoration more proactively.

    • Carbon Emissions From Travel Industry Are 4 Times Higher Than Estimates

      It should come as no surprise that with more than 100,000 commercial flights a day, the airline industry creates a lot of carbon emissions. Those emissions are potentially more damaging than those from ground-based transportation because most of them are inserted directly into the upper atmosphere where they cannot be absorbed by the normal carbon sinks — trees, oceans, and the earth itself.

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Music censorship: Tanzanian MPs speak truth to power

      Across Africa government institutions tasked with promoting music are stifling the industry by arresting performers and banning music videos on the basis of indecency. Several Tanzanian MPs recently came out to protest against these laws. Though still a drop in the ocean, the outcry represents what African artists need to do to mitigate against draconian laws designed to oppress freedom of expression.

      Early this year, Russian belly dancer Ekaterina Andreeva, 31, popularly known as Johara, was arrested in Cairo for ‘inciting debauchery’ and spent several days in jail. This happened in a country known as one of the originators of belly dancing. Late last year, an Egyptian court sentenced Shyma Ahmed, 21, to two years in prison for the ‘sexually suggestive’ video ‘I Have Issues’.

    • Turkey’s post-coup crackdown leads to climate of fear, self-censorship in academia: HRW

      Turkey’s universities are experiencing a period of self-censorship and a lack of academic freedom as hundreds of academic staff members face prosecution and thousands more have lost their jobs, international nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released on Monday.

      “The Turkish government’s crackdown is targeting academics and damaging its universities,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Academics and students should be free to express, teach, and research controversial or critical ideas without risking dismissal or imprisonment.”

      “The government has carried out mass firings of academics without due process, using dubious allegations of links to terrorism or the July 2016 coup plot. It is also investigating and prosecuting academics on trumped-up terrorism charges. The authorities are interfering with student protests on campus, and prosecuting student activists. And officials are interfering with academic research on controversial topics.

    • Academic Freedom Under Fire, Breeds Self-Censorship in Turkey, HRW Says

      The government dismissals of academics, prosecutions against university staff members and arrests of professors create a toxic climate of fear on campuses across Turkey, Washington-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented in a recent report.

      HRW noted that the government’s meddling in academic affairs and police intervention to break up student groups consequentially lead to self-censorship and choking off academic freedom.

      “The Turkish government’s crackdown is targeting academics and damaging its universities,” HRW Europe and Central Asia director said in a statement.

    • More censorship from Blizzard, but why?

      Over the weekend, overwatch contenders happened. During that event a few things happened. Richard Lewis reported that Fusion University’s jerseys were banned because the front had the acronym FU for Fusion University. On top of that the twitch stream decided to ban monkaS because it was a frog. Other words included “sucks” and “lmao”. They then banned a player’s ID which was Climax.

      So I’ve thought about this for a long time. A seriously long time and I don’t understand why? As far as I know, none of the League of Legends streams ever went that far. I’ve never seen it in CS:GO, SC2, Hearthstone, Dota 2, Quake, Smash 4, Street Fighter, FGC, or any other console games that I’m aware of.

    • Denver Post staffers protest owners, ‘unconscionable censorship’

      More than 50 staffers also signed a letter blasting what they call “unconscionable censorship” at The Post. The letter posted at the Denver Newspaper Guild’s website references the May 3 resignation of editorial page editor Chuck Plunkett. “Chuck resigned Thursday after the chief operating officer of DFM, Guy Gilmore, blocked Chuck from publishing an editorial that forcefully criticized DFM and Alden. Chuck’s resignation followed the firing last month of the editorial page editor for our corporate sibling, the Boulder Daily Camera, who also spoke out against our owners,” the letter reads. Alden-owned DFM is Digital First Media, the entity that operates The Post.

    • Protect Journalism—Why It Matters

      The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents Congress from making any law prohibiting or abridging the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press. However, private corporations are not being held accountable for their efforts to suppress and threaten a robust media and press.

      Communities throughout the United States that are considered to be media deserts—places with a lack of diverse print and digital news coverage—are hit the hardest when their papers are owned by private investment firms and corporations such as Alden Global Capital/Digital First Media.

    • Apparently Pro-DNC Filing in Wikileaks Lawsuit Asks Court, ‘Are You the Emissary of the Devil?’

      An interesting filing in the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) lawsuit against Russia, Wikileaks and the Trump 2016 campaign graced the Southern District of New York (SDNY) on Monday afternoon.


      The letter also contains a disparate list of seemingly unrelated court cases. The list begins with United States v. Boucher (the first case addressing whether government investigators can compel criminal suspects to reveal their encryption passwords) and ends with State of Louisiana v. Nathan Foreman (which, by all indications, is a fairly straightforward second degree murder case.) Interspersed within the list are various cases filed against targets in special counsel Robert Mueller‘s wide-ranging Russiagate probe.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The EU won’t save academic freedom

      [...] But if academics are too fearful or confused to defend academic freedom without the EU’s help, academia is in deep trouble. After all, it’s not regulations, bureaucracy or the EU that will defend academic freedom – or stop lecturers from being bullied by their colleagues.

    • A minute of your time to help defend the press

      Leveson II would be disastrous for press freedom. Aimed at probing the relationship between journalists and the police, politicians and public officials, it would chill investigative journalism, and obstruct the relationships between reporters and sources that allows the press to expose official corruption.

    • Review: Twitter and Tear Gas

      For Turkey, you can substitute just about any other country about which US engineers tend to know little. (Speaking as a US native, that’s a very long list.) You may even be able to substitute the US for Turkey in some situations, given that social media companies tend to outsource the bulk of the work to countries that can provide low-paid workers willing to do the awful job of wading through the worst of humanity and attempting to apply confusing and vague terms of service. Much of Facebook’s content moderation is done in the Philippines, by people who may or may not understand the cultural nuances of US political fights (and, regardless, are rarely given enough time to do more than cursorily glance at each report).

    • Censorship must go

      In a move criticised across all political and legal lines, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has once again banned all broadcasts by Peace TV. The station is openly run and just as openly favours the red shirts and their political face, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, or UDD. Every Thai media, print and broadcast, blasted the blatant and poorly thought out act of censorship.

      There seldom is an excuse to censor a Thai publication or broadcaster. The charge used to once again shut down the only popular outlet of a major political force is ludicrous. The NBTC ban claimed that four news and analysis programmes could cause confusion or spark division. As in the past, the commission was unable to point to a single, actual case of confusion or division that could be traced even indirectly to Peace TV.

    • Police Realizing That SESTA/FOSTA Made Their Jobs Harder; Sex Traffickers Realizing It’s Made Their Job Easier

      For many months in the discussion over FOSTA/SESTA, some of us tried to explain how problematic the bills were. Much of the focus of those discussions were about the negative impact it would have on free speech on the internet, as the way the bill was drafted would encourage greater censorship and more speech-chilling lawsuits. But as we heard from more and more people, we also realized just how incredibly damaging the bill was going to be to those it was ostensibly designed to protect. Beyond the fact that it was passed based on completely fictional claims about the size of the problem, those who actually were victims of sex trafficking began explaining — in fairly stark terms — how SESTA/FOSTA would put them in greater danger and almost certainly lead to deaths.

      While supporters of the bill seem to insist that because the bill puts legal liability on platforms that are used for sex trafficking that it will magically make sex trafficking disappear, the reality is more complex. While we can argue about Backpage’s complicity in what happened on its platform, for years it was used as a tool to protect sex workers, giving them more control over their lives and who they worked with. As we’ve pointed in the past, a recent study found that Craigslist, back when it had its “erotic services” section, appeared to decrease female homicide rates by an astounding 17.4%. Backpage picked up the slack when Craigslist was bullied into closing that section, but now it’s gone too.

    • PETA Sues Texas A&M for Facebook Censorship

      In a groundbreaking move, PETA has just filed a federal lawsuit against Texas A&M University (TAMU) challenging the school’s use of a filter on its official Facebook page. The filter automatically deletes visitor posts and comments if they contain words such as “PETA,” “cruelty,” “lab,” and other terms associated with our high-profile campaign against the school’s muscular dystrophy experiments on dogs.

    • EFF Sues Texas A&M University For Violating PETA’s Free Speech Rights By Blocking Group From Its Facebook Page

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued Texas A&M University on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for blocking comments on its official Facebook page that mention PETA by name or use certain words to criticize the university’s use of dogs in muscular dystrophy experiments.

      The school, the nation’s second-largest public university by student enrollment, won’t publish any post containing the animal rights group’s name, or posts containing at least 11 words, including “cruelty,” “abuse,” “torture,” “lab,” “testing,” and “shut.” The censorship started after PETA began an advocacy campaign against Texas A&M for a medical research lab studying muscular dystrophy in dogs for the purposes of finding a cure for the human version of the disease. The lab breeds golden retrievers to develop the illness, and subjects the dogs to cruel and inhuman treatment, PETA maintains. The organization uses social media, including Facebook, to publicize its campaign.

    • California Gov’t Thinks It Might Be Able To Regulate Fake News Sometime Before 2020

      Good lord. Somehow recent overseas efforts to regulate fake news, hate speech, etc. haven’t managed to persuade US government officials to think two or three times before introducing the same sort of legislation. Whatever hasn’t been turned into blatant vehicles for government censorship has produced a steady stream of embarrassing collateral damage.

      In the United States, the First Amendment protects a wide variety of unpopular speech, but that isn’t stopping California legislators from trying to govern their way through the “fake news” problem. Eric Goldman reports an effort has been started to put the state in the business of directly regulating online speech.

      The bill has been heavily edited since its introduction in February. At that point, the Cali legislature wanted to compel social media services to inform users what steps it was taking to protect them from “fake news” as defined by the California government, if and when the government ever gets around to defining exactly what it thinks “fake news” is.

    • Censor Board Institution Needs to be Abolished, Thrown in the Garbage, Says Unfreedom Director Raj Amit Kumar

      At a time when Indian cinema continues to tread the waters of balancing self-censorship and CBFC bans, several filmmakers refuse to bow down to the diktats, and make it a point to create content they wish to see. Raj Amit Kumar’s Unfreedom, which was banned by the CBFC, owing to its explicit lovemaking scenes, the depiction of lesbian relationships, Islamophobia and religious fundamentalism, finally saw the light of the day with its Netflix release last month.

      In a society torn apart by political, religious and sexual turmoil, Unfreedom combines two stories about religious fundamentalism and intolerance. One follows a Muslim terrorist Husain (Bhanu Uday), attempting to silence a liberal Muslim scholar Fareed (Victor Banerjee). The other story is about a young woman Leela (Preeti Gupta), who defies her devout father Devraj (Adil Hussain) and escapes an arranged marriage because she is secretly involved in a lesbian romance with Sakhi (Bhavani Lee).

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • On 5th anniversary of Snowden leak, one state effectively bans the NSA

      Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden marks five years in exile next month. And 11 days after the anniversary of his initial public surveillance disclosure, the first state will implement a law that arguably cuts the NSA off from local water and electricity.

      There isn’t a known NSA facility in Michigan, but the law’s author says it sends a clear message with a ban on state and local officials, including law enforcement and public utilities, cooperating with federal agencies that allegedly collect personal data without legal process.

      “It hangs up a sign on Michigan’s door saying, ‘No violation of the Fourth Amendment, look elsewhere’,” said state Rep. Martin Howrylak, a Republican. “Democrats as well as Republicans would certainly stand very strong in our position on what this law means.”

      Michigan’s Fourth Amendment Rights Protection Act takes effect June 17 after passing with a single “no” vote in the legislature.

    • Facebook Suspends 200 Apps In Data Misuse Investigation

      Over a month ago, Mark Zuckerberg had promised to look into data abusing apps like Cambridge Analytica’s, and the results of the ongoing investigations are finally here.

    • Fourth Amendment Gets A Small Boost At The Border From Fourth Circuit Appeals Court

      The Fourth Circuit Appeals Court has handed down a decision [PDF] suggesting the Fourth Amendment might still provide some minimal protection at our nation’s borders. Most rights are considered to be waived — especially those affecting privacy — thanks to a prevailing national security interest that is seldom challenged by courts. Two years ago, a California federal court looked at the Supreme Court’s Riley decision (which instituted a warrant requirement for cellphone searches) and decided that simply didn’t apply within 100 miles of US borders.

      This precedential decision doesn’t cut the government quite as much slack. While it recognizes border security is a national priority, it’s not as quick to give federal agencies a free pass on Fourth Amendment exceptions. The underlying facts make it a less-than-ideal challenge, but even so, the court finds enough to work with in the Riley decision to suggest not all border searches should be suspicionless.

      Hamza Kolsuz, the appellant, had been caught twice exiting the country with firearms parts in his luggage. Those incidents occurred in 2012 and 2013. The parts were seized both times, with federal agents explaining licensing requirements but choosing not to arrest Kolsuz for violating federal law.

    • Summer of Code: The Plan. Act 1: OpenPGP, Part Two

      The Coding Phase has begun! Unfortunately my first (official) day of coding was a bad start, as I barely added any new code. Instead I got stuck on a very annoying bug. On the bright side, I’m now writing a lengthy blog post for you all, whining about my issue in all depth. But first lets continue where we left off in this post.

      In the last part of my OpenPGP TL;DR, I took a look at different packet types of which an OpenPGP message may consist of. In this post, I’ll examine the structure of OpenPGP keys.

    • Prison Phone Monopoly Securus Under Fire Again, This Time For Doling Out Everybody’s Private Phone Location Data

      For years now we’ve noted how a company by the name of Securus has managed to obtain a pretty cozy, government-supported monopoly over prison phone and teleconferencing services. Like any monopoly, this prison monopoly has pretty traditionally resulted in not only sky high rates upwards of $14 per minute for phone calls, but comically poor service as well. It’s something advocates (like outgoing FCC staffer Mignon Clyburn) have been trying to rectify for years, only to have Trump FCC boss Ajit Pai completely deflate those efforts last year.

      But Securus’ monopoly — and the government pampering and cronyism that helped create it — has other additional costs as well. Interstate inmate calling service (ICS) companies effectively buy their privileged positions from local governments, who then expect some favors in return. For example, Securus was recently accused of routinely spying on privileged inmate attorney communications, information that was only revealed after Securus was hacked in late 2015. Given the generalized apathy for prison inmates and their families (“Iff’n ya don’t like high prices, don’t go to prison son!”) reform on this front has been glacial at best.

    • Victory in Alasaad for Our Digital Privacy at the Border

      Government searches of cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices without a warrant when we cross the U.S. border may violate the First and Fourth Amendments, according to a powerful ruling by a federal court last week in a civil rights lawsuit brought by EFF and the ACLU.

      It is the latest and greatest of a growing wave of judicial opinions challenging the government’s claim that it can ransack and confiscate our electronic devices—just because we travel internationally. By allowing the EFF and ACLU case to proceed, the district court signaled that the government’s invasion of people’s digital privacy and free speech rights at the border raises significant constitutional concerns. This post analyzes the decision and explains what’s next for the case.

    • The FBI Supposedly Has 7,775 Un-hackable Phones. We’re Asking for Proof

      EFF sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the FBI and other Department of Justice agencies to get some straight answers about approximately 7,800 supposedly un-hackable cellphones.

      Law enforcement agencies say they have a problem–criminals all use encrypted devices, making those devices inaccessible to law enforcement. They call this the “Going Dark” problem, saying that modern encryption is so good that all the criminals in the world are “going dark” to government surveillance. To stop this, these agencies are clamoring for laws that would mandate backdoors be placed in encryption algorithms that allow for law enforcement access.

    • Privacy Badger Rolls Out New Ways to Fight Facebook Tracking

      On Thursday, EFF released a new version of Privacy Badger featuring a new, experimental way to protect your privacy on–and crucially, off–Facebook. It specifically targets link tracking, Facebook’s practice of following you whenever you click on a link to leave facebook.com.

    • UK newsstands will sell ‘porn passes’ to verify ages under new laws

      The law will require websites to verify the users ages, or face stiff penalties. Those who don’t comply risk being blocked by internet service providers, and would face fines of up to £250,000 ($350,000). However, the implementation of those rules have been delayed to give the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) more time to draft its guidelines. Once it does so, those new guidelines will require approval from Parliament.

    • How a “location API” allows cops to figure out where we all are in real-time

      The Texas-based Securus reportedly gets its data from 3CInteractive, which in turn buys data from LocationSmart. Ars reached 3CInteractive’s general counsel, Scott Elk, who referred us to a spokesperson. The spokesperson did not immediately respond to our query. But currently, anyone can get a sense of the power of a location API by trying out a demo from LocationSmart itself.

      Currently, the Supreme Court is set to rule on the case of Carpenter v. United States, which asks whether police can obtain over 120 days worth of cell-site location information of a criminal suspect without a warrant. In that case, as is common in many investigations, law enforcement presented a cell provider with a court order to obtain such historical data. But the ability to obtain real-time location data that Securus reportedly offers skips that entire process, and it’s potentially far more invasive.

    • Service Meant to Monitor Inmates’ Calls Could Track You, Too

      Thousands of jails and prisons across the United States use a company called Securus Technologies to provide and monitor calls to inmates. But the former sheriff of Mississippi County, Mo., used a lesser-known Securus service to track people’s cellphones, including those of other officers, without court orders, according to charges filed against him in state and federal court.


      “Securus is neither a judge nor a district attorney, and the responsibility of ensuring the legal adequacy of supporting documentation lies with our law enforcement customers and their counsel,” the spokesman said in a statement. Securus offers services only to law enforcement and corrections facilities, and not all officials at a given location have access to the system, the spokesman said.

    • Cops Can Track Your Phone “Within Seconds” — Senator Wants To Know Why

      We might have a hint, but we never let our brain trick us into the fact that real-time tracking has made way past movies. A breaking story by NY Times has uncovered Securus Technologies — a US-based company that runs a service for monitoring calls to prison inmates.

    • This senator wants to know why police can track any phone in seconds

      Police officers tracking cell phones through wireless carriers has become a more prominent legal issue as technology has made the process much easier over the last few years. The Supreme Court is reviewing a case on whether the government needs a warrant to demand your phone’s location history. The legal issues surrounding this topic are why Securus’ simple method strikes such a nerve — it’s often expected that the Fourth Amendment protects innocent people from digital surveillance.

    • GDPR creates problems for online enforcement [Ed: Trademark, copyright and patent lawyers moan about privacy because it makes it harder for lawyers to send legal threats like the ones they send me]

      A blackout of the ICANN WHOIS platform as a result of the General Data Protection Regulation will result in a field day for bad actors to purchase and misuse domain names

    • 3 million Facebook users affected by new data leak: report

      Those who had access to the data would’ve been able to view 3.1 million users’ app scores that reveal personal characteristics about a particular individual, like their conscientiousness, agreeableness and neuroticism, according to the report.

      Additionally, the app had collected data from “22 million status updates from over 150,000 users, alongside details such as age, gender and relationship status from 4.3 million people.”

    • A ‘Dumb’ Version Of Cambridge Analytica Exposed 3 Million Facebook Users’ Data: Report [Ed: Overlooks the fact that Facebook already compromised the privacy of billions of people who never even signed up for the site or consented to spying]

      The word Cambridge now reminds most of us about Cambridge Analytica and Alexandr Kogan. A report from New Scientist reveals that there was another data collection project, conducted by University of Cambridge’s Psychometrics Centre, to conduct personality tests and source the data of Facebook users through the app called myPersonality.

    • Huge new Facebook data leak exposed intimate details of 3m users

      However, for those who were not entitled to access the data set because they didn’t have a permanent academic contract, for example, there was an easy workaround. For the last four years, a working username and password has been available online that could be found from a single web search. Anyone who wanted access to the data set could have found the key to download it in less than a minute.

    • Google will make its paid storage plans cheaper
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Ontario woman arrested, jailed in U.S. for driving with a Canadian licence

      Eventually Nield was allowed to use her debit card and post her own bail. She said she also had to pay $200 to remove her car from the impound.

    • Why Utah now has first ‘free-range’ parenting law

      But “there’s no such thing as ‘free range’ parenting,” she says. “This is normal parenting.”

    • The Commodification of Learning and the Decline of the Humanities

      In “The Dying Art of Disagreement,” published in The New York Times last Autumn, Bret Stephens discusses our failure to have reasoned discussions, stating: “We no longer just have our own opinions. We also have our separate ‘facts,’ often the result of what different media outlets consider newsworthy.” Stephens elaborates on the ways in which the polarisation of opinion has become personal, to the extent that facts remain up for debate, weighed against feelings he claims are “purchased at the cost of permanent infantilization.” He implores his readers to embrace an education model that does not seek fixed answers but instead opens up texts and ideas to interrogation.

    • Police stop Native American brothers during US college tour

      “Apparently, a parent on the tour called police because they were too quiet. That made them suspicious,” Mrs Kahneratokwas Gray told the Denver Post. “They were trying to listen. Why should it be a crime to listen and not engage in a conversation?”

    • Black men arrested in Philadelphia Starbucks reach agreement on compensation

      Two black men arrested while waiting at a Philadelphia Starbucks store reached a confidential financial settlement with the coffee chain and dropped legal claims against the city. The city agreed to pay each man $1 and committed $200,000 to fund an entrepreneurship program for public school students.

    • The TSA Can’t Even Defend Their Water Fountain Against Me

      I — somehow — was randomly given Pre Check for both legs of my flight to the Arkansas Literary Festival.

      I got a taste of how travel used to be — back before we were all made to take off our shoes, get in a prison stance to get groped, and have our belongings pawed by cop-costumed, dead-eyed government workers.


      As I (and many others) have pointed out, what we have now is the mere pretense of security. What I believe it ultimately is: Obedience-training for the American public so we’ll be docile as our rights are yanked from us.

    • Jails are replacing visits with video calls—inmates and families hate it

      “I have experienced prison visitation a lot in my life,” she told Ars—her father spent some time in prison when she was a child. “This was the most dehumanizing and impersonal that I’ve ever experienced. I’ve visited through glass before and that broke my heart when that happened. This was even worse.”

      On the kiosks Parr and Harker used, the video camera was several inches above the screen. As a result, “when you look at the person on the screen, you cannot look them in the eye,” Parr said. “There’s no eye contact whatsoever.”

    • Is There Room in Diversity For White People?

      And yet wholesome is not the word that comes to mind when one assesses the newest wrinkle in academia’s attempt to balance the scales: an all-out, unapologetic assault on ‘whiteness’ itself. Today’s college administrators increasingly frame diversity and inclusion as lessons that must be learned by whites alone—and they’re lessons that too often unfold as interventions that force whites to regard themselves less as full partners in diversity than an obstacle to be overcome so that other constituencies might thrive. (This flows from another favored academic trope, the concept of the zero-sum society, wherein white success necessarily comes at the expense of non-white failure.) Colleges require the injection of units—if not whole introductory courses—on diversity in major subject areas “from physics to forestry,” as the Atlantic put it, and syllabi confirm the prevailing view of whiteness as something of an anachronistic disease that, like cholera, has no place in modern life.

    • Georgia Governor Vetoes Terrible Cybersecurity Law That Would Have Criminalized Security Research

      Georgia legislators chose to deal with blowback from from some election security gaffes (and the mysterious wiping of servers containing evidence sought in a lawsuit) by introducing a godawful “cybersecurity” bill that would have criminalized security research. The bill passed by the state Senate criminalized password sharing and “unauthorized” access, even if there was no malicious intent.

    • Group to Send Lawyers to Help Incarcerated Teens

      Young men in custody at a youth correctional facility in southern Illinois may soon have private attorneys to represent them in court after officials said they were concerned about their legal representation.

      The James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, which provides low-income Evanston youths with legal and social services, said it is recruiting lawyers to take the cases of youths charged with assaulting staffers at the Illinois Youth Center at Harrisburg. The lawyers also will review cases of youths already convicted and serving adult prison sentences.

      ProPublica Illinois reported in October that youths at Harrisburg were being sentenced to lengthy terms in adult prisons for shoving, punching or spitting at guards — incidents that had typically been handled with discipline at the facility.


      Saline County, which has a population of around 25,000 people, does not have its own public defender’s office. The county instead contracts with local lawyers to serve as public defenders.

    • ‘No-Fault’ Attendance Policies Penalize Pregnant Workers and Anyone Who Gets Sick

      As any woman who’s ever been pregnant will tell you, those nine months can be a physical roller coaster, with symptoms ranging from nausea to intense fatigue to joint pain to urinary infections. And that’s just a “normal” pregnancy. Countless women also suffer from complications like hypertension, diabetes, and placenta previa. At the very least, pregnant women need to see their doctors once a month for prenatal care, increasing in frequency to bi-weekly and then weekly in the final stages of pregnancy.

    • The Bogus Reasons ICE Uses to Lock Up Asylum Seekers

      On Thursday, May 17, the ACLU will be in federal district court to challenge the Trump’s administration’s arbitrary and illegal incarceration of thousands of asylum seekers who fled persecution, torture, or death in their countries of origin.

      For our plaintiffs, and the class members they represent, the chain of events leading to incarceration was the same: They presented themselves to immigration officers, passed screenings, and were found to have credible asylum claims. Then they were locked up in immigration jails across the country.

      All of them applied for “humanitarian parole,” or release from detention, presenting evidence that they were not flight risks or dangers to the community. And yet, ICE denied every request, often with form letters that provided no indication that their applications and supporting documents were taken seriously.

    • Google and Facebook Join the Fight Against the Predatory Bail Industry

      Last week, global online-advertising giants Google and Facebook announced that they will no longer accept advertising from bail bonds agencies. In a blog post, Google said its decision to block bail bond ads is part of a broader effort to protect users from damaging content — the same reason it had recently banned ads for payday loans. This development comes just a month after a scathing front page report in The New York Times, which documented the exploitative nature of the for-profit bail bonds industry.

      “We made this decision based on our commitment to protect our users from deceptive or harmful products,” said David Graff, Google’s senior director of global product policy. Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of global policy management, added, “Advertising that is predatory doesn’t have a place on Facebook.”

    • At a Killer’s Sentencing, Native Americans Talk of Both Healing and Enduring Suspicions

      There was one moment, however, when a matter not part of the formal proceeding was broached: Was Walker’s killing of Smith-Kramer driven by hate for Native Americans? The authorities had concluded there was not sufficient evidence to make such a charge. But many in the Quinault Nation had remained insistent that Smith-Kramer, struck dead at a local campsite as he celebrated his 20th birthday, had been targeted for his heritage.

      And so when the local prosecutor invited members of the Quinault Nation to speak last Friday, Fawn Sharp stood and addressed the court.

      “From our perspective we don’t believe it was an accident,” Sharp, the tribe’s president, said. “But something that came from a deep dark place.”

      The Smith-Kramer killing on the Olympic Peninsula along Washington’s Pacific coast briefly gained local and national notoriety when early accounts included claims that Walker or others with him in his truck that night had used Native slurs during the fatal incident. And for some involved with advocacy on behalf of indigenous peoples, the case shone a rare light on the often underappreciated issue of hate crimes against the country’s Native population.

    • Researchers Find Breathalyzers To Be Just More Faulty Cop Tech Capable Of Putting Innocent People In Jail

      Good news for motorists: law enforcement is using something just as unreliable as $2 field drug tests to justify arrests and searches. Field drug tests have been known to declare donut crumbs meth and drywall dust cocaine. Yet they’re still in use, thanks to their low price point. A costlier apparatus, used to determine blood alcohol levels during sobriety tests, appears to be just as broken as cheap drug tests.

    • The CIA is psyopsing America to help torturer Gina Haspel get the job of CIA boss
    • How the C.I.A. Is Waging an Influence Campaign to Get Its Next Director Confirmed
    • Couple shot dead in suspected ‘honour killing’ in Karachi

      In October 2016, a joint sitting of both houses of parliament passed two key pro-women bills that had been pending assent for a long time.

      The move at that time was cautiously hailed by women’s rights activists. More than a year on, however, lawyers and activists say honour killings are still occurring at an alarming pace.

      At least 280 such murders were recorded by the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan from October 2016 to June 2017 ─ a figure believed to be understated and incomplete.

    • Gang-raped Mewat teen kills self; 8 Muslim Men booked

      Eight men came on two motorcycles and in a car and abducted her from her house on Monday night. They allegedly took her to the Maahon road and gang-raped her. After committing the crime, the accused fled the spot, leaving her to die.

    • ADL report: 90% of Islamist attacks in US since 2002 were homegrown, not foreign

      The Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday said an internal analysis it conducted of Islamist attacks and plots in the US over the past 16 years had shown that 90 percent were carried out by US citizens or legal residents.

    • Netherlands: Anti-Islam election video may be broadcast

      PVV leader Geert Wilders welcomed the decision, noting that voters would be exposed to “the truth about Islam” again during election campaigning.

    • Furious Migrant Mob “Forcefully Prevents” German Police From Deporting Asylum Seeker

      It appears that nationalists were on to something when they warned about “no go” zones in Germany, Sweden and other European countries that have taken in millions of migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea and elsewhere since 2015.

    • Migrants ‘issue ultimatum & forcefully prevent’ German police from deporting failed asylum seeker [iophk: "the police just rewarded that behaviour by releasing them"]

      German police have been forced to release a failed asylum seeker they were due to deport after being confronted by an angry mob of migrants. The officers caved in to the crowd’s demands and fled to avoid a “dangerous escalation.”

    • DOJ, DHS Sued Over Inaccurate ‘Terrorist Entry’ Report

      At the beginning of the year, the DOJ and DHS teamed up to release a report (very) narrowly crafted to support President Trump’s claims about inherently-dangerous immigrants. Known as the “terrorist entry” report, it skewed data and omitted all mentions of domestic terrorism to paint a distressing picture of foreign individuals wreaking havoc on US soil.

      The omission of domestic terrorism was by design. The Executive Order predicating the report [PDF] specifically called only for numbers on “foreign nationals in the US who have been charged with terrorism-related offenses.” That’s because those numbers would look pretty unimpressive stacked up against terrorist acts perpetrated by US citizens, as was pointed out by Lawfare’s vetting of the report.


      Neither agency is in any hurry to correct the record. The president has leaned on this report frequently to shore up anti-immigrant rhetoric and justify travel bans. And both agencies can hook up to federal fund fire hoses by presenting immigration as a source of national security threats. It may take a court order to push these agencies to reveal their underlying stats and methodology, if not issue a corrected report fixing its numerous errors.

    • The rise of universities’ diversity bureaucrats

      Some are paid lavishly: the University of Michigan’s diversity chief is reported to earn $385,000 a year. What explains their rise?

    • Moroccan, 20, flees home to live Western-style life
    • The West Betrays the Kurds

      The Kurds today, like the Czechs in 1938, were sacrificed in vain. The West has betrayed the Kurds three times in the last three years. They were our ideal allies. They opened their cities, such as Erbil, to tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians expelled by ISIS from Mosul. Iraqi Kurdistan is today the only place in the Middle East, along with the State of Israel, that harbors and protects all religions and minorities.

    • Threats to Apostates ‘Most Severe’ in Muslim Countries and Beyond

      Others have quietly formed secret organizations, such as the Dutch Facebook groups “Ex-Muslims in The Netherlands” and “Moroccans Without Religion.” According to the Dutch newspaper Trouw, membership in these groups is by invitation only and most of the members remain anonymous. Many have hidden their viewpoints even from their own families. “Ex-Muslims in the Netherlands” members give each other emotional support, but also recommend books to one another, including titles by outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins and Charles Darwin, Trouw reports.

    • Group alleges threat to Hindu students in Jamia, Delhi Police on alert

      “Radical organisations on campus were threatening Hindu students after incidents like Kathua rape and AMU controversy. Two students, who are Hindus, were beaten up inside the campus. We organised this march to fight that intimidation,” said Rahul Tiwari, one of the organisers of the march.

    • Islamist prisoners kill five Indonesian counter-terrorism police

      Islamist militant prisoners have killed five members of an elite Indonesian counter-terrorism force at a high-security jail and were holding one of them hostage on Wednesday, police said.

    • Not Forgetting the Rohingyas

      The news cycle moves on, and having had their fifteen minutes of Western compassion, whole peoples are left to struggle on with the wreck of their lives. Today the media suddenly recall again the terrible dispossession and oppression of the Palestinian people. In a couple of weeks time, they will be back to claiming that anybody who recalls that is an anti-semite. The fashion for worrying about the Rohingyas has entirely passed; the TV crews have gone and the Hollywood celebrities moved on to their next fad. But the plight of the dispossessed has still worsened.

      The British conquest and occupation of what they knew as Burma met with some of the stiffest national resistance – characterised by the British as “fanatic” – the British ever encountered, as the invaders advanced up the rivers in a series of 19th century wars and were resisted from behind multiple fortified bamboo stockades. It is a very little known episode in British history, largely because it was so inglorious. The Burmese never did become docile under Imperial rule, and for that reason a high proportion of the ancestors of the present day Rohingya were employed as Imperial functionaries (not only military and police), in a classic British move of exploiting ethnic and religious tensions, which policy was absolutely conscious and deliberate at the time. The Rohingyas had themselves in large part been driven out of an expansionist Burma in the 1780’s, and the British returned a great many from Bengal, exploiting a pre-existing conflict in classic fashion. This background, which in no way justifies the recent ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas, is essential to understanding the root of recent events; it is a perspective almost entirely absent from media narrative.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Senate Will Vote Wednesday To Try And Save Net Neutrality

      While U.S. net neutrality protections technically end on June 11, efforts to restore the rules continue. On Wednesday the Senate is now formally scheduled to hold a vote to try and use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to reverse the FCC repeal. The CRA can reverse a regulatory action with a majority vote in the House and Senate; it’s what the GOP and Trump administration used to kill popular broadband privacy rules before they could take effect last year.

    • Pirate Site Blocking Threatens Canada’s Net Neutrality, House of Commons Committee Says

      The Canadian pirate site blocking proposal threatens net neutrality, the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics warns. In a report that’s supported across the political spectrum, the committee urges the Government to use its authority to intervene, if required.

    • Dems increasingly see ‘electoral dynamite’ in net neutrality fight

      “This bill does one simple thing: It gets every member of the Senate on the record for or against net neutrality,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said Wednesday. “Republicans are going to regret it from a public policy standpoint and a political standpoint.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • IP freely? What a wind-up! If only Trevor Baylis had patent protections inventors enjoy today

      Software companies have a new weapon, thanks to the EU. There is potential to protect the software via the EU Trade Secrets Directive, although the UK government must implement it into UK law by 9 June 2018. AA Thornton, litigation partner Geoff Hussey, has written an article on the directive here.

      Another option open to SMEs eager to protect their IP is the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC). Started in 2013, it covers claims of up to £500,000 and provides a mechanism for streamlined procedures. It places a £50,000 cap on the amount of costs recoverable from the losing side – encouraging a level playing field between multinational and corporate mouse.

    • Korea’s law amendment aims to strengthen trade dress protection

      Changes to Korea’s Unfair Competition Prevention Act follow a 2016 Supreme Court relating to trade dress

      Amendments to Korea’s Unfair Competition Prevention Act (UCPA) targeting trade dress protection will come into effect July 18 2018.

    • The Abolition of Form 18, Discovery Limits, and Lawyering

      “Back when I was young,” all we had to do to file an infringement suit was use Form 18 and basically allege “Plaintiff owns a patent and you sell stuff that infringes it.” (For one story about the process of repealing it (and almost all of the forms that used to be sufficient as a matter of law to state a claim), read here.) Abolishing the form meant that the Iqbal/Twombly requirements of pleading factual material, not naked allegations or legal conclusions, which if true plausibly showed infringement.

      That eliminated the ability to sue for infringing some patents — say a method claim practiced inside a factory.

      At the same time Form 18 went away, the scope of discovery was narrowed. While everyone focuses on the proportionality requirement, Rule 26 was also narrowed to eliminate the ability of a court, even for good cause, to permit discovery into the subject matter of a suit — only discovery into claims or defenses was permitted, and it had to be proportional and so on.

    • New York v. Aleynikov — On Second Thought, New York State’s Penal Code (Unlike Federal Criminal Law) Covers Electronic Reproduction of Source Code

      To recap, Mr. Aleynikov left Goldman Sachs on June 5, 2009 to take a job with another trading firm where he would be writing HFT software.[1] Before he left, first on June 1 then again on June 5 (his last day as an employee), he downloaded portions of the Goldman Sachs HFT software source code and uploaded them to a server in Germany. He later downloaded the source code to his personal computer and allegedly used it to structure HFT code modules for his new employer.

    • Trademarks

      • Lion withdraws application for ‘dank’ trademark

        Brewing giant Lion says it has withdrawn its trademark application for the word “dank”.

        The company caused a stir in the craft beer world last week with the move, which it said was in relation to a product it was developing.

        It said the trademark application was aimed at stopping others from trying to copy its IP, not from using the term altogether.

        “We recognise the application caused concern about the restrictions this would put on others, and as such we have chosen to withdraw the applications,” the company said.

      • Despite Its Problems, More Consumers Should Behave Like Beer Drinkers To Keep Trademark At Bay

        Here’s a fun thing I never thought I’d find myself saying: the world should take a cue and be more like beer drinkers. Specifically, that is, when it comes to how the beer drinking community reacts to trademark law. Any review of this site’s coverage of trademark law as it pertains to the alcohol and beer industries will show that there is a burgeoning problem in this industry, where explosive growth in craft brewing has resulted in a likewise explosive growth in trademark disputes. What’s somewhat unique in the industry, however, is the sense of community both between brewers and drinkers and, more importantly, between brewers themselves. This bond has muted what would otherwise be disastrous intellectual property squabbles.

    • Copyrights

      • Can YouTube be primarily liable for users’ infringements?

        Can YouTube be considered primarily responsible (and, therefore, potentially liable) for the making available of user-uploaded content through its platform? In other words: can YouTube be considered as directly making acts of communication to the public?

        This is the crucial question Germany’s Federal Court of Justice (BGH) will need to address in a case (I ZR 140/15) that was heard last week. The decision is due on 13 September.

      • Danish ISPs That Teamed Up To Beat Back Copyright Trolls Get Huge Legal Win

        While the world over is dealing with the scourge that is copyright trolling, it is true to say that this virus has not spread everywhere equally. One of the hardest hit countries has been Denmark, where a few copyright trolling practices have caused an insane amount of headaches for the public, and chum within the court systems. It all got bad enough to turn rivals into bedfellows, with two major ISPs, Telenor and Telia, teaming up to push the legal fight to unmask their respective customers back on the copyright trolls. The duo’s initial efforts at convincing the legal system that the privacy rights of its customers trumped the rights of copyright trolls to extract settlement cash from them went poorly, with the District Court finding for the copyright trolls.

        But the fight for customer privacy didn’t stop there and the companies appealed the case up to Denmark’s higher courts, which decided for the ISPs and consumer privacy.

      • Keep Old Recordings From Getting a New and Confusing Copyright Law

        The newest version of the Music Modernization Act, S. 2823, added in provisions from the bill known as CLASSICS, turning a largely great bill into a bad one. We have to tell the Senate to reject this version of the bill.

        S. 2823 was introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch on May 10. It follows the bad precedent set by the House of Representatives by combining the largely good Music Modernization Act with the bad CLASSICS Act. An act which would establish a new system for compensating songwriters and music publishers when their songs are played on digital services has now been polluted by an act which creates a new pseudo-copyright that presents new barriers for fans of old music. S. 2823 extends parts of federal copyright to cover sound recordings made before 1972, which are currently covered by an assortment of state laws.

      • The Pirating Elephant in Uncle Sam’s Room

        US entertainment companies are lobbying and litigating in favor of pirate site blockades around the globe. In addition, they’re also urging domain registries to ban pirate sites, a practice even the US authorities are helping with. These measures are needed to protect revenues, the argument goes. But if that’s the case, why is there little action on their home turf, the largest pirate nation of all?

Xiaomi, Samsung, TCL and Others Demonstrate That in a World With an Abundance of Stupid Patents Like Design Patents Nobody is Safe

Posted in America, Apple, Asia, Samsung at 9:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Zach Snyder patent

Summary: The “Cult of Patents” (typically a cabal of law firms looking to have everything on the planet patented) has created a battlefield in the mobile world; every company, once it gets big enough, faces a lot of patent lawsuits and dying companies resort to using whatever is in their “portfolio” to destroy everyone else inside the courtroom (or demand ‘protection’ money to avert lawsuits)

SEVERAL days ago we wrote about failing mobile giants (Coolpad included) resorting to litigation. This is nowadays happening in China as well. As an Asian news site put it yesterday:

Smartphone maker Coolpad has sued Xiaomi for infringement of three patents that are associated with the user interface.

The company Coolpad asked a Shenzhen court to cease selling Xiaomi smartphones five.

Another Asian site (south Asia) mentioned it yesterday, albeit only among many other topics:

“Interesting patents – Voting just got interesting, Wear healthy, stay healthy!, Supreme Court issues notice to Nuziveedu Seeds, Coolpad Sues Xiaomi, Brazil & EU reject Gilead’s patent on hepatitis C & HIV drugs, Peripheral claiming versus Central claiming, Patent Tip of the week and other Weekly Patent News,” presented by the Patent attorneys and experts of BananaIP Counsels, India’s leading Patent Firm.

This isn’t the only legal battle Xiaomi is facing. On the patent front, as mentioned yesterday, there’s also the Shenzhen-based Yulong:

A lawsuit filed in China last week accused Beijing-based Xiaomi of developing mobile devices which contain patent infringing technology.

The complaint was filed at Jiangsu Province Nanjing Intermediate People’s Court on Thursday, May 10.

Yulong Computer Telecommunication Scientific (Shenzhen) Company, a provider of telecommunications equipment and a subsidiary of Coolpad Group, initiated the suit.

The complaint accused Xiaomi, a developer of consumer electronics and software, of infringing one of Yulong’s invention patents (Chinese patent number ZL200610034036.7). The patent covers a “multi-mode mobile communication terminal interface system and method for call recording”.

Further east in Japan Kyocera is becoming litigious — a rather rare thing for Japanese firms. It’s actually suing German companies in Germany using ‘haptic’ patents. Here are some details:

Japanese conglomerate Kyocera has very rarely asserted its patent rights in recent years; but a recent deal with Bosch and an assertion against another German supplier show that even in traditionally conservative Japan, the potential prize represented by the auto sector is too big to ignore. Last Tuesday, the company announced a licence agreement with Robert Bosch Car Multimedia, a subsidiary of industrial conglomerate Bosch. The noticed disclosed only that the German firm would gain access to haptic feedback technology for use in automotive solutions. This deal came just one month after Kyocera launched a German patent litigation suit against another auto parts supplier – Preh GmbH…

Right next to them in Korea there’s a battle Samsung faces half a world away — in the United States. Apple is dragging Samsung back to court — a patent battle that receives a lot of media attention (e.g. [1, 2]) mainly because Apple is involved. Corporate/mainstream media has a rather poor grasp/understanding of the case, so it’s mostly repeating superficial claims (without proper assessment/fact-checking/healthy level of scepticism). To quote Tech Spot‘s background to this (objective chronology of events):

Apple and Samsung are back in court over a patent dispute that started back in 2011. This will be the third court appearance over the same five design infringements. Two of the patents involve the front and back look of the original iPhone. A third violation is over the GUI (graphical user interface), and two others concern software functionalities such scrolling and pinch to zoom gestures.

In 2011, Apple sued Samsung claiming the South Korean company’s phones, including the Galaxy S2, copied the iPhone in both physical and software design. The Cupertino-based firm was awarded over one billion dollars in 2012. The judge in the case reduced the award to around $940 million citing that the jury had made an error in its calculations. A second trial resulted in the award amount being further reduced to about $400 million.

For a better, in-depth analysis of this we suggest reading informed blogs. We previously wrote about the design patents at hand [1, 2] and so did Josh Landau (CCIA), who last night noted that “[i]f design patents on a small piece of a product can regularly be applied to the profits on the entire product, it will have a huge impact on whole swaths of industry—many of them far from the high-tech sector.”

Indeed. Apple’s designs aren’t even particularly clever; some are downright laughable!

As Landau put it:

A district court trial. A retrial, after part of the verdict was vacated. An appeal to the Federal Circuit. A Supreme Court opinion with a remand to the Federal Circuit. A remand from the Federal Circuit back to the district court. Seven years after Apple originally filed suit against Samsung, we’re right back in Judge Koh’s courtroom for the sixth part of this dispute, a third jury trial on damages.


If design patents on a small piece of a product can regularly be applied to the profits on the entire product, it will have a huge impact on whole swaths of industry—many of them far from the high-tech sector. Those industries will be placed at risk of in terrorem threats of litigation and chilling effects on product design and development. Disgorgement of total profits on the whole product for a design patent covering only a small component will reduce willingness to work with smaller suppliers who can’t indemnify the manufacturer. It will make manufacturers seriously reconsider providing open access to their systems. It might even drive a wave of design patent troll lawsuits.

Another decent analysis came from Florian Müller, who has been following these trials for 8 years. Here’s his latest:

There we go again. For the fourth time in six years (minus a few months), Apple and Samsung will square off again, starting today, in the San Jose building of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. It’s the third trial in the first Apple v. Samsung case (the related complaint was filed in April 2011) and the fourth in total (if we add the 2014 trial in the second case, filed in 2012).

Via Twitter I provided the parties with a link to the Guinness Book of Records website. This might be a new record: four trials between the same two parties in one federal district court within less than six years.

In some ways, it’s déjà vu all over again, or Groundhog Day, as Korean-American Judge Lucy H. Koh calls it. But not in all ways. Samsung scored a major victory in the Supreme Court in 2016 on what should be considered the appropriate article of manufacture for determining design patent damages in the form of a disgorgement of unapportioned infringer’s profits under 35 U.S.C. § 289. Apple had been awarded huge amounts at two previous trials, based on a standard overthrown by the highest court in the land. Now it will be up to a jury whether the ultimate outcome will, or will not, be reflective of Samsung’s SCOTUS victory.

There’s the legal part, which is a test that the U.S. government laid out in an amicus curiae brief filed with the Supreme Court. That one is suboptimal, and people far more qualified than me to discuss design patent law find it wanting. There are various restrictions on the parties, especially on Samsung, as to what kind of evidence and testimony they’re allowed to present and what kinds of argument they’re allowed to raise. And what may ultimately decide is psychology: whether the jury will, or will not, buy Apple’s portrayal of Samsung as a copyist.

What will happen at the end? Well, we hope that not only will Apple’s case collapse but design patents as a whole will collapse as well, in due course. Nobody benefits from these except patent lawyers, who already made a fortune from these pointless patent disputes between Apple and Samsung.

We suppose that one day in the not-so-distant future Apple will become another BlackBerry. Apple may become just a pile of patents and a long list of lawsuits. This certainly is what happened to Ericsson, whose latest news isn’t about a product but about a lawsuit (Ericsson Inc. et al v TCL Communication Technology Holdings Limited et al). Ericsson no longer does much except feeding patent trolls and suing lots of companies using patents. Now it wants millions for doing nothing at all, just sitting on a bag/bundle of very old patents:

The court granted plaintiff’s motion to reconsider an earlier order granting defendant a new damages trial and upon reconsideration reinstated the jury’s $75 million verdict because the extensive evidence of unaccused products was not reflected in the verdict.

Notice the trend in all the above cases; companies love to brag about patents being “defensive” and all, but once their real business grinds to a halt all they have to show for it is a list of lawsuits. This means that the underlying problem is the patents themselves, not only who uses them and when.

A Google-Centric and Google-Led Patent Pool Won’t Protect GNU/Linux But Merely ‘Normalise’ Software Patents

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, OIN, Patents, Red Hat at 8:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Patent pools, which are basically the wrong solution to a very clear problem, continue to expand and promote themselves; the real solution, however, is elimination of abstract patents, notably software patents

OIN is no longer the only ‘game’ in town. IBM is the foremost player in OIN and OIN is not against software patents (same as IBM). A key staff from OIN recently left to join the Conservancy, which is strongly against software patents.

“…perhaps, to use OIN’s explanation, it’s trying to prevent such patents from ending on the laps of patent trolls. Just perhaps… in which case, wouldn’t it be better to work toward these patents’ elimination (using Section 101)?”The Google-led, Red Hat-backed LOT Network is in some headlines these days. It’s described as “defensive”, as usual. It’s not new, it’s just making another ‘charm offensive’, this time with Lenovo in the mix. Engine recommends LOT Network, which was mentioned in the puff piece from Bloomberg (copied a lot by Indian media) the other day. Some more Indian media has licensed and published it since. What was it all about? Did the author liaise with LOT Network for a puff piece, knowing that she would soon see further coverage like this? We now see two sites that habitually write about EPO scandals perpetuating the myth of “free patents and membership”. There’s no such thing as “free” patents because patents are something being taken away to begin with, it’s not a “charity” to give it ‘back’. It’s a PR stunt of large firms with many patents which they refuse to bury. To quote WIPR:

Non-profit LOT Network has announced two new programmes to “enrich and protect the global start-up community”, in efforts to incentivise innovation and encourage responsible patent use.

LOT, which lists Google, Canon, and Dropbox as its members, announced its new programmes on Thursday, May 10.

Mike Lee, head of patents at Google, said: “We think the protections afforded by LOT should be available to established and start-up companies alike, and do not want cost to be a barrier to participation.”

The first scheme is the Patent Transfer Program, which will allow qualifying start-ups to receive three free patents from LOT. The second is the organisation’s plan to expand free membership to LOT to any operating company which has up to $25 million in annual revenue.

Here’s the other new article about it:

The LOT Network, a Google-led patent initiative that aims to combat so-called ‘patent trolls’, has announced a new extended free membership, available to any company having up to $25 million in annual revenue.

Alongside the new membership, the LOT Network is granting qualifying startups three free patents, provided they have a membership in the LOT Network.

The group said it believes that “startups fuel innovation” and has “committed to share patents provided by its members with startups to promote and fuel further innovation and encourage these startups to join the LOT Network.

The first 200 operating companies in the LOT Network with $500,000 to $25 million in annual revenue or $500,000 to $25 million in financing over the past 18 months are eligible to receive patent assets at no cost.

The problem is that rather than work towards elimination of software patents they sort of ‘normalise’ them. Meanwhile, as IAM noted yesterday, RPX hoards more such patents:

RPX has acquired a small portfolio of patents from former search behemoth Lycos, according to an assignment recorded late last week with the USPTO. In total, the defensive aggregator picked up 24 assets from the tech company which grew rapidly during the 1990s dotcom bubble before quickly being eclipsed by the likes of Google and seeing a massive fall in value. The deal assignment was executed last November but has only just shown up on the PTO assignment database.

Those Lycos patents are likely software patents which are about to expire (almost 20 years since the dotcom bubble burst). What will RPX do with these? It did not buy these just for vanity; perhaps, to use OIN’s explanation, it’s trying to prevent such patents from ending on the laps of patent trolls. Just perhaps… in which case, wouldn’t it be better to work toward these patents’ elimination (using Section 101)?

Companies like Red Hat and Google try to “add value” by compiling a patent “portfolio”; if or when they die or get sold to another company those patents can be used offensively; see Sun and Oracle. Patents are never defensive; that’s just not how patents work. To call them “defensive” is part of the PR stunt, which IBM did a lot of a decade or more ago.

The Patent Microcosm is Still Looking for Ways to Bypass CAFC/PTAB Invalidation of Many US Patents

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 7:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

If they cannot crush PTAB IPRs (Oil States), then they attack the court, and failing that they attack AIA (the law)

Trolly-O Patently-O
As the old saying goes: “Throwing shit against the wall and seeing what sticks

Summary: In pursuit of patent maximalism (i.e. a status quo wherein US patents — no matter their age — are presumed valid and beyond scrutiny) pundits resort to new angles or attack vectors, ranging from the bottom (IPRs) to the top (Supreme Court)

THE week has just begun, but there’s already plenty of news about the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), which rules/deems many patents granted by the USPTO to be invalid.

Under the title “CAFC Affirms Rejection of Application for Incorrect Inventorship” Watchtroll has just covered what was covered by Patently-O before. That was yesterday. Patently-O has meanwhile gone on to covering what was covered by Techrights over the weekends. It’s about an HTC case demonstrating the impact of TC Heartland on patent aggression in the US. Here are some key bits:

In re ZTE (Fed. Cir. May 14, 2018) is an important case establishing that the plaintiff has the burden of proving proper venue in patent cases.

In May 2018, the Federal Circuit denied HTC’s writ-of-mandamus request on improper-venue grounds — holding that – like most issues – appeal of improper venue decision should ordinarily wait until final judgment. See, Dennis Crouch, The US Venue Laws Do Not Protect Alien Defendants, Patently-O (May 9, 2018); In re HTC Corp., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 12182 (Fed. Cir. 2018). Less than one-week-later, the Federal Circuit has swung the other way — this time granting ZTE’s motion for writ of mandamus on the issue of improper venue. The ZTE panel (Judges Reyna, Linn, Hughes) did not cite HTC, nor are there any overlapping judges with the HTC panel (Chief Judge Prost, and Judges Wallach and Taranto). Of course, TC Heartland was an improper venue case that went to the Supreme Court on mandamus.


In TC Heartland, the Supreme Court ruled that patent-venue is a unique patent law question. Here, the Federal Circuit has extended that general principle to hold that sub-determinations such as burdens-of-proof related to improper venue challenges are also issues of patent law for the Federal Circuit to decide.


Here, the district court had placed the burden on the defendant ZTE of proving improper venue – on remand that burden needs to shift. The appellate panel went on to caution the lower court about finding a “regular and established place of business” in E.D. Texas based upon an “arms-length contract for service” with a call center provider.

The bottom line is, aside from the fact that foreign companies have less control over the venue of litigation (we covered this a few days ago), there’s more of a burden on the accused rather than the accuser.

Patently-O then wrote about the America Invents Act (AIA) of 2011. Dennis Crouch noted that a precedent being vacated “means that the “financial services” limitation of the covered-business-method [CBM] provisions are again up for interpretation.” The ‘beef’ of his argument (speaking of IPRs, PGRs and CBMs):

In the America Invents Act (AIA) of 2011, Congress created a trio of AIA-Trials: Inter Partes Reviews; Post Grant Reviews; and Covered Business Method (CBM) Reviews.

The CBM program is particularly targeted at claims for data processing or other operations used in the “practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service” and not covering “technological” inventions. In PNC Bank v. Secure Axcess, the Federal Circuit narrowly interpreted the eligibility for CBM review – holding that the claims themselves must be directed to a financial service. A patent does not qualify for CBM simply because it can be used in the financial service industry.

Patently-O is generally very AIA-hostile, at least in the sense that it attacks PTAB and IPRs routinely (in a thinly-disguised fashion). Anything that casts a shadow on AIA would likely be seen as desirable by Patently-O, which went further yesterday when it wrote about CAFC’s assessment of PGRs. Crouch said that “USPTO is empowered to decide AIA-style patent challenges regardless of whether any actual controversy exists between the patent-challenger and the patent owner.”

This is important because bogus (wrongly-granted) patents need to be squashed even when there’s no court battle, perhaps just threats thereof. In his article “Injured by Estoppel” Crouch says this:

A major limitation on Federal Court policy-setting is the actual-controversy limitation housed in Article III of the U.S. Constitution. “Article III” courts are limited to hearing “actual cases and immediate controversies.” Hollingsworth v. Perry, 133 S. Ct. 2652 (2013). As an executive agency, the USPTO is not so limited. Rather, the USPTO is empowered to decide AIA-style patent challenges regardless of whether any actual controversy exists between the patent-challenger and the patent owner. Thus, when Altair Pharma filed its Post Grant Review petition, the USPTO did not even need to consider whether Altair had any interest in the litigation. However, even in AIA-trials, the case-or-controversy issue arises upon appeal to the Federal Circuit since the Federal Circuit is an Article III court bound by the case-or-controversy jurisdictional limit. Here, the PTAB sided with the patentee Paragon and a major element stumbling block for Altair’s appeal was proving it had standing.

Estoppel can be used to prevent the assessment/trial (or petition/litigation) from proceeding. In this particular case PTAB did not ‘veto’ the examiners, so to speak. The net effect is the same though; as the patent maximalists like to put it, the patent “survived”. If they cannot get rid of PTAB and cannot even slow it down, then “estoppel” and other tricks are likely to be used. Basically anything which can deny patent justice, instead giving leeway to patent maximalists…

Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs) Make the United States a Much Better Place for Innovation and Creation

Posted in America, Patents at 6:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As opposed to predatory litigation

Jim Logan of Personal Audio

Summary: Jim Logan of Personal Audio LLC (a patent troll, above) suffers one final blow and other news of interest serves to show just how valuable IPRs have become in the US

THE PATENTS which the USPTO had granted for a number of decades perished in recent years. Many of these, software patents in particular, became worthless. This was fine because it meant less litigation. Revocation of patents in no way affects the existence of actual, physical products.

“Revocation of patents in no way affects the existence of actual, physical products.”As we noted several months ago, the WesternGeco v Ion case at the Supreme Court does not really interest us because it does not deal with patent scope. Having said that, we’ve just become aware of the courts in the US invalidating patents at hand, owing to PTAB IPRs:

The Federal Circuit has affirmed the PTAB’s invalidation of claims of three patents involved in the WesternGeco v Ion case at the Supreme Court

No doubt the patent maximalists won’t be happy about this. To them it’s another reminder that patent maximalism is going away.

“No doubt the patent maximalists won’t be happy about this. To them it’s another reminder that patent maximalism is going away.”Here we have the professor-bashing, PTAB-bashing Mr. Gross having a go at Google. He claims that “after prompting and directing PTO to kill [sic] almost all of these types of data analytics patents, GOOG wants its spinoff to be able to sue someone on same type of concepts” (calling it a “spinoff” is an overstatement, as does accusing Google of “prompting and directing” the USPTO to “kill”). This is probably more of that Michelle Lee-bashing spiel. They keep blaming Google for everything. They pretend that Google alone (or primarily) is responsible for the demise of patent maximalism. Another PTAB-bashing twit has written this tweet about a PTAB decision from the end of April, noting that: “The PTAB Affirmed the Examiner’s 101 Rejection of an SMS Device and Added Another 101 Rejection: https://anticipat.com/pdf/2018-04-30_13437195_178334.pdf

Software patents, as usual. Speaking of which, the EFF’s Daniel Nazer continues the fight against software patents and patent trolls, having used IPRs against Personal Audio LLC, a notorious patent troll. Having gotten out of the Eastern District of Texas, this whole case seems to be over for good after “the Supreme Court rejected Personal Audio’s petition for review.”

From Nazer’s new outline of it:

Back in early 2013, the podcasting community was freaking out. A patent troll called Personal Audio LLC had sued comedian Adam Carolla and was threatening a bunch of smaller podcasters. Personal Audio claimed that the podcasters infringed U.S. Patent 8,112,504, which claims a “system for disseminating media content” in serialized episodes. EFF challenged the podcasting patent at the Patent Office in October 2013. We won that proceeding, and it was affirmed on appeal. Today, the Supreme Court rejected Personal Audio’s petition for review. The case is finally over.

We won this victory with the support of our community. More than one thousand people donated to EFF’s Save Podcasting campaign. We also asked the public to help us find prior art. We filed an inter partes review (IPR) petition that showed Personal Audio did not invent anything new, and that other people were podcasting years before Personal Audio first applied for a patent.

Meanwhile, Adam Carolla fought Personal Audio in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas. He also raised money for his defense and was eventually able to convince Personal Audio to walk away. When the settlement was announced, Personal Audio suggested that it would no longer sue small podcasters. That gave podcasters some comfort. But the settlement did not invalidate the patent.

Let this be another reminder of the value of PTAB and IPRs. The loser here is a troll (Jim Logan) which produces nothing whatsoever. The winner? Plenty of producers.

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