Why Coding Needs to Be More Accessible to Everyone

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 2:11 pm by Guest Editorial Team

By figosdev

Access Sign

Summary: “Nobody needs to go to Microsoft school to learn Microsoft-only tools that are only useful to Microsoft (and basically turn teachers into salespeople) but both Microsoft and Apple have had this conflict of interest with education since the 1980s at the latest — not all of which (only most of it) is terrible.”

Regulatory capture is a common hazard to rule-making, where rules that are designed for everyone become corrupted or changed in a way that puts the interests of some over the interests of the broader good.

ProhibitedA perfect example of a rule that benefits everyone is the example of pooping and drinking — you want to poop one place, but drink from a different place. Short of everyone having space-station grade recyclers, this rule allows people to drink water that is relatively safe rather than infected with all kinds of disease-causing organisms. While this rule still applies today, there are similar modern equivalents involving industrial and chemical waste that are not always followed as much as they should be.

Where groups of people are involved, such a simple rule quickly leads to working out which places are designated for pooping and which are for drinking. If a committee or other authority is assigned the task of deciding where these activities are to take place, there are many opportunities for the assignment to favour some people over others.

When making rules or designing pretty much anything, corruption is a factor in assigning better conditions to some people (or purposes) than others, but corruption is not a requirement. All it takes to favour one group (or one purpose) over another is specialisation, paired with forgetting or neglecting to serve another group or purpose.

It’s alright that not every thing or every design works for every purpose, but sometimes the result is that a purpose once well-served becomes increasingly neglected. When this isn’t just a matter of scale (buggy whip production has gone down over the years, but only as a function of the number of buggies still in operation) it can have negative effects. Some negative effects are unintended, but all negative effects are (by definition) negative.

“Obviously this varies and exaggerates a little, but students too often leave school demonstrating persistent, low-level trauma and a general fear (at least strong aversion) to entire subjects that school “ruined” for them.”Contemporary education at least, is of poor design with notoriously poor results. The easiest way to sugarcoat this is to find some statistical way to show that things have at least improved, but this says nothing about how far we have to go or why things work as poorly as they do.

Throughout the world in general, the most common approach to education is to have fierce competition where often very little is needed, and to insist on perfection where the ideal is arbitrary, inaccurate, out of date or on a whim:

“Why did I fail the quiz? It asked what the largest city in Turkey is and I said Istanbul!”

“Because that’s wrong, the book says Constantinople.”

“But it’s not even called that anymore — my family came here from Istanbul!”

“The quiz is on what the book says. Go sit down.”

While there’s nothing wrong with striving for perfection as a long-term goal, it’s a miserable and unrewarding place to begin the learning of any subject! Certainly you don’t want doctors or rocket scientists to go into surgery or engine design with the basic attitude of “Well, nothing’s perfect, is it?” but then engineers have a far more realistic concept of fault tolerance than schools do.

The broad educational approach is too often more like:

“School can suck the enjoyment out of any kind of learning. It doesn’t actually have to, it’s simply designed that way.”1. Attempt to teach student

2. Test student

3. In the event of failure, discard student and try teaching a different one

Obviously this varies and exaggerates a little, but students too often leave school demonstrating persistent, low-level trauma and a general fear (at least strong aversion) to entire subjects that school “ruined” for them.

To use myself as an example, I had no trouble reading as a child — I was able to read before I began school, I sometimes read far enough ahead of the class that I was sent to a higher-grade only for reading. Reading wasn’t a problem, and yet (not when I was in a higher-grade class, just to be clear) some of the exercises that were tangential to reading were so thoroughly unpleasant that I lost my ability to enjoy fiction for nearly the entire time I was in school.

After graduation, I slowly began enjoying fiction again. But I enjoyed it before it was required, and school nearly killed that for me. School can suck the enjoyment out of any kind of learning. It doesn’t actually have to, it’s simply designed that way.

The sad thing is that people are natural learners — learning is a basic function of the brain itself, and some of the approaches we can trace all the way back to Confucius (who was neither the worst teacher of all time, nor the best possible teacher for every subject) do more to get in the way of education than they do to assist.

Of course many people suspect education is broken, and offer various solutions.

Some start with the idea of refuting “one-size-fits-all” so literally that they believe everyone needs a completely individual “bespoke” approach. While one-size-fits-all does fit poorly, we don’t need to spend a great deal of time trying to fit nine extra sleeves or triangular footwear — we can probably come up with a very small number of approaches that can be tweaked in small ways to fit well.

“Nobody needs to go to Microsoft school to learn Microsoft-only tools that are only useful to Microsoft (and basically turn teachers into salespeople) but both Microsoft and Apple have had this conflict of interest with education since the 1980s at the latest — not all of which (only most of it) is terrible.”Most “education reform” is industry propaganda designed to co-opt education for state-subsidised training for the corporate workplace, which naturally enrages anyone who is serious about education. Sadly if you’re working with Microsoft, you’re probably helping to fund this corporate takeover and co-opting of public schools. The goal there is to replace general-purpose education, just as much as they want to replace general-purpose computing.

Nobody needs to go to Microsoft school to learn Microsoft-only tools that are only useful to Microsoft (and basically turn teachers into salespeople) but both Microsoft and Apple have had this conflict of interest with education since the 1980s at the latest — not all of which (only most of it) is terrible. Apple computers are after all, computers too, and you can still learn general-purpose computing on them IF that’s what people are really teaching. (And if the computer design itself still allows it…)

Sadly, we continue to erode the concept of general-purpose education and move towards training future customers, and replacing broader conceptual learning with increasingly vendor-specific education. In many ways the schools have already been taken over.

But even as the goals are corrupted, what hasn’t changed is the overall approach. It’s easier, more enjoyable, and less trauma-inducing to explore knowledge and build it up than to put constant emphasis on a ruler while bellowing “Not tall enough! Not tall enough!” as if doing so will cause people to grow that much faster. Learning is growth, and knowledge increases just as naturally as height. We can help people love education, or we can continue to make people hate and fear learning itself.

Computers had already gained a reputation for being unforgiving and requiring precision before most people were required to work with them. Tell someone with no first-hand experience that JUST ONE missing or out-of-place semicolon can prevent an entire program from working, and many will imagine a world where computing (at least coding) is a next-to-impossible task.

What they WON’T think (but we could have taught) is that “It’s cake to find the place where the semicolon is missing or misplaced, and then fix it — often with a single keypress.” Instead we let them develop the notion that the task is virtually impossible, before they even get started.

It’s incredibly sad to constantly watch education undermine itself and teach destructively, rather than instructively. While education is supposed to help learners build up knowledge, evaluation — and even teaching style — continues to kick over sand castles. Of course people learn that the real point of education is NOT learning — just career fodder or a means of finally escaping the classroom, because that’s what we actually teach. Then when they have escaped, learning so many things is just a painful feeling they never want to revisit. And this is a public service?

“Rules and facts are not useless, but if we stop challenging and questioning them then we stop progressing as a society.”The solution isn’t to pretend that every answer is right, or to toss away the idea that some answers are in fact better than others — it would be self-contradicting, for one (every answer is fine; except the way we teach, of course!)

Up isn’t down, right isn’t left, black isn’t white — it’s actually very useful to know things the way they are. However, the people who have greatly advanced not only society but science and technology are people who are not overly focused on what’s not possible, or what’s wrong — but people who are able to (as Einstein put it) turn the ruled paper sideways, so the lines don’t get in the way. Rules and facts are not useless, but if we stop challenging and questioning them then we stop progressing as a society. And still the way we teach rewards people for generally not questioning things.

Outside of stereotypically “creative” tasks such as art and music (and often tragically even during those classes as well) we don’t teach people to have imagination or to utilise it as a learning tool — we teach people to put that away and think like a book, not like a mind.

But people aren’t book-machines, they aren’t pen and paper; they are creatures capable of thought and feeling, which most instruction does little to utilise. Still, most education is made for books, for pen and paper but not for people.

Computers, we are taught — are rigid, precise, mechanistic and mathematical metal and plastic beasts which we can tame only by donning a mantle of rigid, precise, mechanistic or deterministic thinking. There is no room for trial and error, and this is certainly no place for creativity! To operate the machine, one must CONFORM to the specification.

This is ultimately mythology, as it was when this monstrous rigidity was applied to all other subjects. But computers seem to offer the perfect vindication for the sort of rigid, unimaginative lesson-drilling that schools are the frequent purveyors of, even when a few teachers hope to transcend the relentless bore of the system that employs them.

What better proof of “sit up straight, eyes on the board, repeat after me” than a computer, after all? And yet poor Albert, bless him, he can’t even turn his paper the right way. What a shame!

Teaching would be far more effective and efficient if we actually assisted people in learning how to think — not the “one right way” of thinking, any more than the “one correct genre of music” or the “one correct style of painting”, but certainly how to think.

And while we are hopefully teaching people to make greater use of their minds, we are busy countering that with teaching them to accept information unquestioningly and that regurgitating bits of data is more valuable than thought. There is the true shame, and the results are all around us.

What’s more, those misaligned efforts ultimately produce more teachers who “teach” that way than those who don’t, and along comes a bunch of experts to “transform education” by slapping a veneer of flexibility onto a system optimised for producing intellectual cogs and levers — but not enriching minds unless it happens incidentally and appropriately, so as not to disrupt the other “learning” going on.

Similarly, we are meant to instruct students in coding so that they can control their devices (rather than be controlled by them) and all the while we are teaching them to simply accept rote and regurgitated data as if it were written in stone by the finger of God. Aren’t we saddling them all with mixed messages, at best?

“…we don’t teach people to have imagination or to utilise it as a learning tool — we teach people to put that away and think like a book, not like a mind.”After all that, really, what are students supposed to think?

We have these machines that most teachers don’t understand, and we have to drill into students the idea that if you conform perfectly to the machine’s design it will do some desired thing. The only thing you can’t do is break out of this conformity. It’s not optional — you must think and work just as rigidly as bits and octets, as that’s all it can understand.

This has been repeated without question for decades, and the real tragedy is we used to do so much better. Sure, we also taught that the computer is rigid and unforgiving — but moments later, we demonstrated the exact opposite. With coding, you can turn the ruled paper sideways.

But first you have to excel at maths.

Actually that isn’t true either, since the 1950s people (including professors of mathematics like Grace Hopper, who knew a few things about computers herself, having invented some programming languages that are still in use 60 years later) have worked very hard so that you do NOT have to be be good at maths to code. I’m not good at maths — I’m absolutely terrible. I did terribly with virtually all things numeric in school. I just barely got by, while my peers managed exceptionally well by comparison. Even today I remain abysmal in the subject.

The reason people (wrongly) assume that being good at computers requires an aptitude for maths (an aptitude I clearly and demonstrably lack) is that computers are mathematical. Everything they actually do is numeric.

But by that argument, you must also excel at maths to play the violin — music is incredibly rich with numeric information both in theory and practice. Do you want to write a sonata for the flute? You’re just going to have to learn inverse Fourier transforms! If you want me to explain them, I’ll need to go to the Wikipedia article and pretend that I get what it says. I confess that I don’t know the flute either, so it’s entirely possible that the cause is I never learned inverse Fourier transforms.

Computers still use principles of the Jacquard loom, so of course if you want to design ugly jumper patterns then you must first learn calculus and honours level physics. It isn’t true, but we can make the argument just the same.

When we are done arguing, someone can say that applications have made this possible — no, you don’t need to learn to code to create a jumper pattern, but you also don’t need to be good at advanced maths to learn to code — because programming languages themselves have that much in common with the applications that save us from the “need” to code.

“People didn’t need to attend years at university to learn coding then, it didn’t require a computer science degree or a special aptitude — only a bit of interest and a bit of time, as would learning any sort of new subject.”And how many schools are teaching that? No, you have so many schools regurgitating things that were really literally true in 1952 that they’ve forgotten to check or question the accuracy of their own teaching for the past seven decades of instruction. It’s what we’ve always said, so it must be Constantinople, NOT Istanbul! Why not just teach people that to code you’ll need a keypunch, or paper tape?

We ultimately teach both students and their teachers that coding requires skills it doesn’t require, that they must follow rules are not by any means unbreakable laws, and that there are no alternatives to this — all of which are false. But we teach these falsehoods if only by omission, and they are what most people (who would only know better through better education or hands-on learning) including many teachers believe.

To do far better than this, education would not even need to learn from its mistakes; it would only need to learn from its successes. The problem is that this is an area where education rarely learns at all.

If it simply learned from its successes it would have several options, both from the past and the present. It would be able to look at basic literacy in the present, and discover that when people suffer while learning to read (due to either a natural disability such as dyslexia, or due to an incredible lack of exposure to education previously) there are many different approaches that can be applied to save an individual from illiteracy.

Do we do that for computer education, including coding? Quite rarely.

Even if we chose to ignore the present and what lessons we could take from literacy reform, we could still look to the past for guidance — for things we did that worked quite well, but that we abandoned foolishly on a whim.

There was a period when personal computers were very new, when coding was a key feature of the system anyone purchased. People didn’t need to attend years at university to learn coding then, it didn’t require a computer science degree or a special aptitude — only a bit of interest and a bit of time, as would learning any sort of new subject.

Wouldn’t it be nice if more instructors were aware of that? They might even become more comfortable with the subject themselves, before projecting their fears and feelings of inadequacy and helplessness about technology onto their students.

In fact you can go on YouTube and watch old programmes such as TVOntario’s “Bits and Bytes” from 1983, or the BBC’s The Computer Programme from ’82, or “Making the Most of the Micro” also from 1983. The latter was part of the “BBC’s Computer Literacy Project” — please let that sink in: “Computer Literacy Project”. It was acceptable to say this was a matter of literacy in 1983. Try that now, and you risk insulting most users (as well as teachers).

“We are teaching more that is destructive and misleading than we are teaching what is helpful and correct.”What happened of course is that sometime around the 1990s, we gave up on the idea of teaching computing to make way for application training. Forget understanding your computer! Just purchase this word processor or video game and learn applications instead! Along with this new mythology of false implications like you need a PhD from Oxford to write a Hello World program (or at least, anything worth learning) there is the false dichotomy of being able to code versus purchasing or downloading applications.

We are teaching more that is destructive and misleading than we are teaching what is helpful and correct. We give them a very limiting mythology, which some would argue is bad enough — then we give them no tools or information to question, test or challenge that mythology. And a big part of the reason we do that is we don’t give anything better to the instructors themselves. If they don’t know any better than this, they won’t teach any better than this.

So even if we don’t have our students going back to when computing was actually taught before university, we could still take our educators back far enough to see where the rest of it went wrong — a history lesson for teachers and administrators, just so they know what is actually possible.

They won’t need to listen to the inexplicable ramblings of Steve Wozniak, who now tells people that before age 11 students are incapable of the logic needed to write code, when we can simply watch Episode 6 of Bits and Bytes where (ordinary, standard-issue) 7-year-olds are learning to write code — on a machine that Wozniak himself helped design!

We can go back as far as 1953, when Grace Hopper was proposing that English be used to write code instead of symbols. Not that you’d really want to code in something that follows this rule as rigidly as COBOL did, but in 1957, prior to (and contributing to) the completed design of COBOL itself, IBM’s FORTRAN had a brother called COMTRAN, which looked like this:



And that was in 1957! By this time, you could use ALGO (very similar to ALGOL) on a computer that was no more than 1.5 metres by 1 by 1 metre in size — granted it cost the equivalent of half a million dollars in today’s money — and ran a language that was hardly more complicated than the BASIC examples they were showing in Bits and Bytes or The Computer Programme a quarter of a century later. ALGO was inspired by ALGOL 58, which heavily inspired BASIC in 1964 and (to a certain debatable degree) Python in 1991.

**But soon there were even easier languages than this!** And this is what we ought to be teaching — that a programming language is itself so much like an “application” in the level of abstraction and convenience it is CAPABLE of offering, that we can essentially create languages that are as easy to use as applications themselves!

“ALGO was inspired by ALGOL 58, which heavily inspired BASIC in 1964 and (to a certain debatable degree) Python in 1991.”So why don’t we do that? For one, we already have. There are many ways we could continue to improve on existing designs (and I regularly advocate doing so) but as with all designs, there have been many dead ends along the way. The biggest problem with code like “COMPARE.EMPLOYEE.NUMBERS. GO TO COMPUTE.PAY WHEN DETAIL EMPLOYNO” (apart from the all caps — note that this code dates from an era where telegrams were still sent in ALL CAPS and decades later, early Apples did not all feature lowercase characters) is that all-English coding can be more tedious to learn or use than coding with some (minor) amount of abbreviation or symbols.

Most languages go too far the other way and are too cryptic to be completely ideal for beginners, but since the 1960s it has PROVEN trivial (not a magnificent feat of engineering or design, but closer to common sense) to strike a balance between “code” and “English” that the above-mentioned 7-year-old coders will not struggle with.

We just don’t teach that often enough.

At the core of my frustration is the fact that this was a solved problem a few decades ago, which nearly everyone teaches is a practically unsolvable problem today. We could teach coding, a few decades ago, to anybody who could read and write English. Yet somehow today it’s impossible. Well, no it isn’t. But it has to be grueling and awful — no, that’s just how schools are for some stupid reason.

But only children are capable of learning these new things — no, there is ample footage of people in their 60s learning what we used to call basic computing skills, which today we would call coding. So nearly everything we teach about this is ultimately a series of erroneous and even disproven assumptions. But we continue to teach them, we keep cementing computer illiteracy and computerphobia into place because we can — we tell people that applications are okay, but you can channel what’s left of your computerphobia into the demon pits lurking beneath the GUI. Once again, this isn’t really education — it’s marketing.

And at the core of this mythology is the half-truth that computers are inflexible. Well, they’re inflexible until some genius comes along and (through years of study, meditation and of course, a computer science degree or two) manages the absolutely Herculean task of taming the impossible machine into an application that even a poor user can handle.

But there are rules, there are rules! Just as a genie cannot abide that one of your three wishes is for more wishes, the genius of the computer who can make you an application has one absolute and strict limitation — the one thing they CANNOT do is make a programming language that anybody can learn. That sort of “application” is simply beyond the realm of all possibility, so we no longer try to do it. But we at least save people the trouble of wondering if it’s possible — No, it isn’t! Go sit down.

When Hopper wanted English to replace mathematical symbols for writing programs, the application (for her programming language) was business, not computer literacy. Programming languages designed specifically to be broadly accessible as their primary feature did not really enter the picture until the early 1960s.

“So “ease of use” or ease of learning will always strike a pleasant balance between an absurdly flexible and frustratingly rigid design.”Before Pascal was designed for programming education in 1970, the most notable efforts towards a language specifically for learning were BASIC and Logo. You absolutely can learn BASIC, possibly even by just watching British or Canadian television from 30 to 40 years ago, but Logo would be even easier. The main drawback with Logo is telling someone that that drawing what looks like Spirograph designs or animating a cat is the same thing as coding — yet it is. It would of course, take further instruction to prove it.

You can even learn coding skills without a computer, simply by applying slightly different rules to “Simon Says” (a game more universal than many people might realise) and replacing the computer with one or more participants who respond to a specific rule in a specific way.

Yes, computers are very inflexible. What’s the first thing that people do with a computer after switching it on?

They load software that is more flexible than the computer was to begin with.

THAT’S the lesson we need to be teaching and demonstrating, not this cargo cult teaching that basic computing is “nearly impossible” to learn. This is what ultimately would better empower users. Of course there’s nothing wrong with expert-level coders or expert-level instruction; just that neither are prerequisites to coding (most of them would not exist if it were, Linus Torvalds included — he was not an expert to begin with).

You can make the computer INCREDIBLY flexible in what it can do and respond to, but the way that’s done is through coding. You can even make the task of coding itself incredibly flexible! The only thing is, if you make it TOO flexible it will become unpredictable, and it’s actually easier to learn if the computer remains somewhat predictable. So “ease of use” or ease of learning will always strike a pleasant balance between an absurdly flexible and frustratingly rigid design.

We don’t need anybody to be afraid of this.

We could just tell people (they wouldn’t believe us) that if they find existing programming languages unpleasant, they could simply design their own. The instructions they would need to design such a language are not necessarily more complicated than our new “Simon Says” game, but actually implementing such a language would be SLIGHTLY more complicated. They would probably need assistance.

Slightly, because the way of demonstrating programming language design is demonstrated in an episode of The Computer Programme from 1982, although I first watched it years after I started teaching this sort of thing. In Episode 3, they have the BBC Micro connected to a robot arm; the arm is controlled by a sequence of relatively cryptic (probably numeric) commands that someone has stuffed into BASIC subroutines.

“What passes for instruction is as horrible as this — and as a result, most people think the subject is even impossible for them.”By simple use of single-line IF/THEN commands and an INPUT statement, the “user” (or coder) can now control the robot with simple commands like UP, DOWN, etc. or even quickly add their own commands, as the host of the show does.

He does this without knowing how to write a programming language per se, in all of a few seconds, but it’s so important to always remember that computers are very inflexible and require rigid and unforgiving precision!

It might suffice to simply take all the computer teachers in the world and lock them up in a huge warehouse with food and toilets, and not let them out until they’ve learned how to code. But that would only reinforce the horrible way they already teach.

Instead, we need to show them that far from being an inflexible, rigid and unforgiving interface as far as the user is concerned, that any ORDINARY (standard-issue) human can create their own programming commands, which they can then use to code — in a language of their own design, if it so pleases them. There is certainly ample opportunity for creativity and imagination there!

But to do that, we need to give educators access to better information, a better story than the tired mythology of things that never work unless you have entered and conformed to a veritable priesthood of ideas and concepts. It isn’t so, nor was it since the last 1950s. It isn’t Constantinople anymore.

If you don’t like the rules of programming languages, we need to impart (better yet demonstrate, hands-on) a certain amount of information that a child can easily manage to learn — and let these poor souls who were taught lies and half-truths that said certain amount of information will let them do virtually anything they want or imagine.

That’s the simple truth, and we have denied it to anyone who hasn’t excelled at the very (misleadingly) narrow group of things we insist are “coding” (You MUST do X, you will NEED Y, you cannot avoid Z — all of which came later on and never were required in the first place) can prove to themselves that most of these “rules” are in fact, options.

It is so pervasive that even those who CAN prove the myth to be a myth do not question it, and carry on in light of all the evidence against it as though it were true.

“To be certain, part of the reason it is like this is because education and industry have different needs — we have ceased to tend to the needs of education itself, and settled for the needs of industry, which can abide and even thrive on far more ignorance (and misleading information) than a quality education can abide.”What passes for instruction is as horrible as this — and as a result, most people think the subject is even impossible for them. Why wouldn’t they? Their instructors never learned any better.

To be certain, part of the reason it is like this is because education and industry have different needs — we have ceased to tend to the needs of education itself, and settled for the needs of industry, which can abide and even thrive on far more ignorance (and misleading information) than a quality education can abide. This conflict of interest has lead to tweaking education to neglect itself in certain areas. As with regulatory capture, not all of this neglect actually requires corruption — but corruption is a feature nonetheless.

Coding is not just a skill for a career in computers, anymore than writing is just a skill for people who intend to write books for a living. It is much closer to a realistic understanding of what a computer (or better yet, what the average user) can do. Average, because we are only talking about the skills that roughly anybody can learn, if we bother to teach.

But I mark any quality of education damnable, which would do less harm if we did NOT send someone to school for it, but that we would far better serve them just by sitting them in front of 80s television instead. A school that cannot out-teach a BBC Programme or even approach its accuracy and helpfulness perhaps should not exist. Rather than have you take this to its most literal conclusion, I insist that better education could easily be possible. We simply. Don’t. Bother.

“A school that cannot out-teach a BBC Programme or even approach its accuracy and helpfulness perhaps should not exist.”We ought to teach computer literacy to students, so that computers work for them, and not the other way around. But we will continue to fail, until we can first help their teachers. As we fail, we ultimately teach most people to let computers control them — this bodes extremely poorly for society and the future. Please, let’s stop conditioning people to feel and then act helpless. Let’s stop making this more difficult or “impossible” than it really is. It does help Microsoft, that’s true — though it does great harm to everyone else.

We also need to better understand this general trauma that education creates, because although the efforts to combat it will ultimately need to be run through some sort of quality control (at least peer review) by some sort of experts, the only people who can ultimately prevent the trauma caused by the educational system are the people who run the educational system.

Excellent tutoring (created by giving to tutors what we cannot give to other educators, perhaps) can take the edge off (but not prevent) some of the trauma caused by the generally abysmal quality of education — at least softening the blow. It would be very nice if we could actually teach people, rather than conditioning them to believe that entire subjects are impossible for them to learn. The latter is nothing but a great disservice, and should never be funded with public money.

Long Live rms, and Happy Coding.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

Links 13/12/2020: Mageia 8 in Beta 2, CRUX 3.6.1 and OpenSUSE Tumbleweed Review

Posted in News Roundup at 12:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

    • Server

      • T-Mobile’s Kubernetes Confidence Knows No Bounds

        “We see Kubernetes as our platform forward for the future and we will continue to drive more and more of our application landscape to Kubernetes as time goes by,” Joe Searcy, a member of T-Mobile US’ technical staff on platform engineering, said during a webinar sponsored by Portworx. “We don’t see a lot of reasons not to put everything on Kubernetes at this point.”

    • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.11 Adding New Driver For Another Budget-Friendly, LCD Character Display – Phoronix

        Adding to the Linux 5.11 changes and set of new drivers is “lcd2s” as a driver for supporting a 20×4 LCD character display connected via SPI/I2C and with this support can serve as a kernel console output device.

        The LCD2S driver is for supporting the Modtronix LCD2S character display. This is a single-color, 20×4 serial LCD display that can interface with the system via SPI/I2C.

      • AMD SB-TSI Sensor Driver Set To Appear With Linux 5.11 – Phoronix

        There are a lot of changes coming with Linux 5.11 and on the AMD side includes the likes of VanGogh and Dimgrey Cavefish graphics support, AMD EPYC Zen 3 support in the AMD_Energy driver, AMD RAPL Zen1/Zen2/Zen3 PowerCap support, an AMD SoC PMC driver, and the AMD Sensor Fusion Hub driver for Ryzen laptops is finally being mainlined… Another new addition was queued up this weekend by way of hwmon-next and that’s the AMD SB-TSI sensor driver.

        Going back to early in 2020 we reported on Google engineers working on this AMD SB-TSI code for the Sideband Temperature Sensor Interface. This is about reading the AMD SoC temperature connected to a BMC.


        The Linux kernel already supports the AMD Zen CPU temperature monitoring via the k10temp driver.

    • Applications

      • Monitoring Plugins 2.3 released

        While our last release has matured for quite a little time, there raised demands within our community for a new release. The development has settled this fall and @sni was already using master for a while in production, so we thought about to release. Anyway Debian Freeze is coming, let’s cut a new upstream release! The last question was: Who should cut the release?

        The last releases was done by @JeremyHolger, but these days everybody is short on time. Fortunately Holger has documented the whole release process very well, so I jumped on the band wagon and slipped into the release wizard role.

      • Zrythm 1.0.0-alpha.6.0.1 release
        Zrythm v1.0.0-alpha.6.0.1 has been released!
        (by Panos Alevropoulos, CC-BY-SA 4.0)
        Zrythm is a digital audio workstation designed to be featureful and
        easy to use. It allows limitless automation through curves, LFOs and
        envelopes, supports multiple plugin formats including LV2, LADSPA,
        DSSI, SFZ, SF2, VST2 and VST3 (via Carla), works with multiple backends
        including JACK, RtAudio/RtMidi and SDL2, assists with chord
        progressions via a special Chord Track and chord pads, and can be used
        in multiple languages including English, French, Portuguese, Japanese
        and German.
        Zrythm is free software written in C using the GTK+3 toolkit and can be
        extended using GNU Guile (Scheme).
        Zrythm is currently in alpha and we are working towards
        stabilizing the project format and entering the beta phase.
      • Zrythm Inches Closer To v1.0 As Open-Source Digital Audio Workstation – Phoronix

        Earlier this year we covered Zrythm as an open-source digital audio workstation that is cross-platform, supports a wide variety of plug-ins, and built atop GTK3. Back then it was on the pre-1.0 version numbering while this weekend marks the release of 1.0 Alpha 6.

        Zrythm kicked off the 1.0 Alpha releases in September and that has routinely continued through this weekend’s release of 1.0 Alpha 6. This latest release continues bringing fixes and other changes.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • How to Install and Set Up Your Own Mumble Server

        Mumble is an open-source voice chat application that advertises itself as free, secure, and high-quality. It’s free in that anyone willing to put up the server space can host a Mumble server. Services exist that will host one for you, but they typically operate on a paid or freemium basis.

        If you want to avoid fees and have complete control over your Mumble server, then read on.

        The server-side app for hosting Mumble is called Murmur. You can set Murmur up on Windows, Linux, or macOS, but we’re using Linux Mint in our example pictures. Your screen may look a little different.

      • How to install a printer – looking for drivers | Arcolinux.com

        ArcoLinux has printer support enabled by default.

        If you are working on Arch Linux then you need to read up about cups.

        Cups and its packages provides support for thousands of printers but maybe not (yet) the latest printers.

        Check out this page to know more about your particular brand.

        Do not forget the AUR. It hosts many drivers you can install.

        Watch the video to see all the options.

      • How to add a new user to the group in Linux

        Suppose you do want another person to have complete access like you in your system. Then you are in the right place.

        In Linux, every user has restrictions based on permission they have; while creating, you can achieve level security in your system by providing correct permission to every single user who tries to access your system locally or remotely.

        Suppose you want to restrict a particular user from accessing a specific file and want to give access to another user. Here changing ownership cannot solve this big problem.

        So, what should we do? If you think to add that particular file in a specific group and allow users to access who will be in that group, then yes, you are absolutely correct.

      • [Quick Tip] Remove ‘Window is Ready’ Notification & Focus Window Immediately | UbuntuHandbook

        In the default Gnome desktop when you trying to open an application, the app window sometimes does not get into focus immediately, instead it pops up ‘xxx’ is ready notification and opens the window behind the current focused window.

        This usually happens when another window is getting focused during the process of launching a desired application.

      • What is ip command in linux

        The ip command is a useful tool for assigning an address to a network interface and/or configure network interface parameters on Linux operating systems. It is used to bring interfaces up or down, assign and remove addresses and routes, manage ARP cache, and much more. This command replaces old good and now deprecated ifconfig command on modern Linux distributions. In this article, we will discover the practical use cases of this command

      • How to use Ethtool in linux

        Ethtool is a useful linux utility that we can use to view and modify the ethernet device settings. By following this article, you will learn how to change the speed in your network card, modify auto-negotiation settings and changing duplex modes in your network card.

      • How to take backups in linux using TAR command
      • How to take Backups in linux using dd command
      • What is arping in linux?
      • Echoping in linux Explained
      • 8 examples of using ifconfig command
    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • KDE’s December 2020 Apps Update

          KDE apps are always being improved and enhanced. But not only that, KDE developers are also constantly working on new applications to cover users’ needs. Today’s release is no different: the new bundle updates email, calendar and contact suite, Kontact; adds new travel assistant apps Itinerary and KPublicTransport to the list of available programs; and, for the first time, includes Partition Manager, the Konversation chat client, and KTorrent into our regular release service.

        • KDE Applications updated to 20.12.0 » PCLinuxOS

          KDE Applications have been updated to 20.12.0 and shipped to the software repository.

        • KDE Frameworks updated to 5.77.0 » PCLinuxOS

          The KDE Frameworks packages have been updated to 5.77.0 and shipped to the software repository.

        • KTextEditor – Small Things Matter – Continued

          I more or less always start my Kate session inside a terminal, to let the project plugin auto-load the right one for the current working directory.

          What I ignored for a long time is the noise this produces inside the terminal.


          As nice this might be for debugging, I think for the normal user this is pointless.

          No valid suggestion in Sonnet is just a valid API result, no need to inform the user on the terminal/log.

          Same for Samba stuff: In many cases the user not even configured that at all or isn’t able to modify the potential “bad” Samba configuration. In my case these settings are even intentional the way they are out of compatibility constraints in the local network.

        • Season of KDE 2021 is coming

          Since 2013, the KDE Student Programs has been running Season of KDE. Season of KDE is a program similar to, but not quite the same as, Google Summer of Code. It offers an opportunity for everyone (not just students) to participate in both coding and non-coding projects that benefit the KDE ecosystem. In the past few years, SoK participants have not only created new application features, but have also developed the KDE Continuous Integration System, statistical reports for developers, a web framework, ported KDE applications, created documentation, and contributed to KDE with lots and lots of other tasks.


          There is already a list of proposed projects available in the wiki. You have little less than a month to find a project that interests you and your mentor. Your goal is to get noticed by the mentors by, for example, sending Merge Requests to their projects, sending high-quality bug reports, or simply by starting to interact with them. Remember that many KDE developers have a life beyond KDE and won’t respond immediately. Also, it is recommended you contact the mentors in the public channel so that if they can’t respond, someone else can.

          Once you find a project and a mentor, you can submit a proposal for a project at the Season of KDE site. Note that you will need a KDE Identity account to register. We have some guidelines for proposals on the wiki. Your mentor will review your idea and, if nothing goes wrong, your proposal will be accepted on the 11th of January.

    • Distributions

      • New Releases

        • CRUX 3.6 Released!


          Unfortunately an issue has been discovered with the 3.6 release,
          specifically during an upgrade. Fortunately it’s easy to fix. In the
          near future a 3.6.1 minor release will replace it, but if you have
          already upgraded from 3.5 to 3.6 using the 3.6 release ISO, the fix is


          1. Uninstall ‘openrdate’ and install ‘rdate’.
          2. Uninstall ‘mesa3d’ and install ‘mesa’.


          1. Manually edit /var/lib/pkg/db and rename ‘openrdate’ to ‘rdate’.
          2. Manually edit /var/lib/pkg/db and rename ‘mesa3d’ to ‘mesa’.

          If you do not use mesa3d and it was not installed, ignore the
          mesa-related parts of this.

          Apologies for the confusion if you’ve already upgraded and run into this!


      • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva/OpenMandriva Family

        • Mageia 8 in beta2

          We are happy to announce the release of Mageia 8 Beta 2. After a long time since the beta 1, we look forward to hearing your feedback and thoughts so that we can continue to get Mageia 8 ready for release.As we said in a previous post, a lot of work had to be done for the basesystem upgrade, java, kernel, and the graphical stack. These upgrades are now in a state that allows for the Beta 2 ISO’s to be built and tested.


          A full list of included packages is available in the .idx file for the classical installation media or the .lst file for the live iso images.

          For those that want to jump in and test straight away, the images can be downloaded here, as always with pre-release images, use your best judgement.

          The set of available ISO images is the same as in Mageia 7, offering installation media for both 32 and 64 bit systems, 64bit live images for Plasma, GNOME and Xfce, as well as a 32bit live image for Xfce. Some of the major improvements in ISO are that our netinstall can now be used to install over WIFI connections with WPA encryption. Previously, only WEP encryption was available.

        • Mageia 8 Beta 2 Released With A Platter Of Updated Packages

          Mageia 8 Beta 1 came all the way back in August while ahead of Christmas that has now been succeeded by a second beta release for this Mandriva/Mandrake-derived Linux distribution.

          Mageia 8 has been admittedly slow to see its release as the developers involved have been working on killing off their remaining Python 2 usage, switching to Zstd for RPM packages, improving the ARM support, and better supporting the likes of the F2FS and NILFFS2 file-system coverage.

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • openSUSE Tumbleweed – Review of the week 2020/50 – Dominique a.k.a. DimStar (Dim*)

          Dear Tumbleweed users and hackers,

          The weekly review for 2020/50 is a bit late, but technically, it is still week 50, so ‘just in time’. Since my last review, Tumbleweed has managed to publish 5 snapshots (1203, 1205, 1207, 1209 and 1211). The fact that they are 2-day intervals is pure co-incidence and by no means planned. 1204 simply never was published, as 1205 reached QA before all reviews could be completed and the snapshot was discarded. 1206 was not produced, as I skipped the check-ins last Sunday. 1208 was again a ‘too fast build compared to test time; and 1210 was discarded due to packaging / build issues around the kubernetes 1.20 updates.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Harish Pillay (IBM/Red Hat): The vibrancy of open source projects/products

          In 2002, Red Hat, in response to customer needs for supportable Linux operating systems, Red Hat created Red Hat Advanced Server 2.1 which in 2003, was renamed as Red Hat Enterprise Linux 2.1. This change to a subscription based model of consumption of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, upset the community who have been consuming Red Hat Linux since the launch of RHL in 1994.

          Yes, I was part of that user community that was not happy with the change. And, yes, I did try to see what I could do to continue to benefit from what RHL used to provide in the new RHEL space.

          I was not alone in that pursuit. There were many efforts around the world to create a RHL-like system available at no cost to the end user but based on the RHEL code base. The code base of RHEL is available for download because Red Hat complies to and exceeds the requirements of the GNU General Public License of making available the code that goes into a product. [See here for a twitter thread on how Singtel and Aztech have failed to respect the terms of GPL license of the code running in their products]

          Of all those efforts, two of them stood out – Community Enterprise Operating System and White Box Enterprise Linux. Both projects took the code of RHEL and compiled the binaries from the code so that users can freely download the ISOs and/or rpms and do as they pleased.

          There is another distribution, Scientific Linux, maintained by Fermi Lab, that is primarily used by research institutions around the world and is a downstream of RHEL Naturally, anyone is free to use SL for their own uses as well.

        • How to Migrate your CentOS 8 Linux to CentOS Stream – Linux Shout

          As we know RHEL is the upstream version of CentOS, therefore, the 8.x version of Redhat used by CentOS will be discontinued at the end of 2021. Yes, the decision has been taken by the RedHat team, however, they are not completely abandoning the CnetOS project but only the LTS version that has been used widely on various servers, especially by hosting ones. The company will continue with CentOS Stream, a variant of the Linux distribution that has been available since September 2019, a “rolling-release” means the latest update every month and thus fresher packages than Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

          The reason why they want to still continue the rolling-release is to make the enterprise RedHat OS more stable and bug-free. Therefore, this will force users to look for CentOS alternatives for their servers and most of them for sure will go for Ubuntu LTS versions. Oracle Linux and OpenSUSE are also good contenders in the list. The only issue that will be there is the migration. For example, CPanel (WHM) runs on CentOS, therefore either the hosting companies have to go for RHEL, a paid solution, or CloudLinux.

        • Disable Suspend Mode on Laptop Lid Close with Ansible and Systemd

          I have a CentOS 7 laptop where every time I close the lid, the system suspends. I’d like to change this behaviour so that nothing would happen instead.

        • CentOS alternatives following pivot by RHEL – TECH dot AFRICA

          RedHat, sponsors/owners of the CentOS project, announced a new direction for CentOS in the first week of December 2020 that has thrown the web hosting industry into some unrest. Essentially, CentOS, as it is, would be discontinued with the project being moved to a new model that is more upstream and taps new features and fixes from Fedora directly, instead of RHEL.


          Someone has opened a petition on change.org with about 7,500 signatures at the time of writing, to try to convince RHEL against their new move though the new direction is very unlikely to be reversed.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Programming/Development

        • 4 Cobol Misconceptions and My #5

          This article in Forbes identifies four misconceptions that have harmed Cobol’s reputation but also continues the misconception that Cobol is just a mainframe language when in reality companies such as Micro Focus have made Cobol available on Windows and Unix. The language created by Grace Murray Hopper to make computers easier for normal people to program lives on – as well it should!

        • What web developers love about the Brackets text editor | Opensource.com

          The Brackets text editor is an editor geared primarily at web developers. Appropriately, its Edit menu is full of functions especially useful to users of web programming languages, with a focus on the classic combination of HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

          However, it supports many languages and formats relevant to the internet, including XML, Markdown, YAML and JSON, PHP, Lua, Java, and Python, as well as some common general languages like C, C++, and even the output of diff commands.

        • Excellent Free Books to Learn Objective-C – LinuxLinks

          Objective-C is a general-purpose, dynamic, object-oriented programming language that adds Smalltalk-style messaging to the C programming language. It’s designed to be easy to use and read, while enabling sophisticated object-oriented design.

          Objective-C was the main programming language supported by Apple for macOS, iOS, and their respective application programming interfaces (APIs), Cocoa and Cocoa Touch, until the introduction of Swift in 2014.

          Apple would prefer Objective-C to be considered dead and buried. But some developers prefer Objective-C to Swift. The TIOBE Index currently ranks Swift in 13th place and Objective-C in 19th place.

          Here’s our recommended free books to learn Objective-C.

        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

          • Become shell literate

            Shell literacy is one of the most important skills you ought to possess as a programmer. The Unix shell is one of the most powerful ideas ever put to code, and should be second nature to you as a programmer. No other tool is nearly as effective at commanding your computer to perform complex tasks quickly — or at storing them as scripts you can use later.

  • Leftovers

    • So Long! Farewell!
    • Review: Because Internet

      Informal writing is not entirely new, of course. We’ve had personal letters for nearly as long as we’ve had writing, not to mention private notes, diaries, and other writing intended for tiny audiences. But consider who wrote private letters and, on top of that historical filter, whose private letters were preserved for linguistic research. Until relatively recently, only the upper classes were literate and had access to the infrastructure to write and send letters. Someone’s letters or private notes were unlikely to be preserved unless they were someone famous and important, and thus often well-educated and more likely to take a more formal tone in writing.

      If you compare this to the Internet-driven blizzard of work and personal email, SMS conversations, chatrooms, and social media posts, the difference is obvious in both volume and level of informality. We’re all on the Internet, we all read and write with a frequency that would be staggering to the average person from even fifty years ago, and while one may take a bit of additional care with a tricky email to one’s manager, the SMS message to one’s friend is as informal of a use of language as a conversation over coffee.

    • Science

      • Google showed us the danger of letting corporations lead AI research

        The trouble is, there aren’t many alternative venues in AI that can fund accountability-focused research. Because of the massive computational costs associated with building out AI models, much of the major work in the field gets concentrated in the hands of a small number of companies and universities that can afford it.

    • Education

    • Health/Nutrition

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Feds: K-12 Cyberattacks Dramatically on the Rise

          In an alert from the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), officials said that data from the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) shows that in August and September, 57 percent of ransomware incidents reported to the MS-ISAC involved K-12 schools, compared to just 28 percent of all reported ransomware incidents from January through July.

          Ransomware is not the only problem, though – CISA and the FBI said that trojan malwares, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, phishing and credential theft, account hacking, network compromises and more have all been on the rise since the beginning of the school year.

        • Apple’s Greatest Chip Challenge: Replacing Qualcomm Modems

          Apple Inc. has become a chip powerhouse in the past decade, beating some of the semiconductor industry’s leading companies at their own game. But the iPhone maker is embarking on its biggest challenge to date as it tries to replace Qualcomm Inc. cellular modems with its own design.

        • Security

          • FireEye breach: State-sponsored attackers stole hacking tools

            “This attack is different from the tens of thousands of incidents we have responded to throughout the years,” Mandia shared.

            “The attackers tailored their world-class capabilities specifically to target and attack FireEye. They are highly trained in operational security and executed with discipline and focus. They operated clandestinely, using methods that counter security tools and forensic examination. They used a novel combination of techniques not witnessed by us or our partners in the past.”

            The attackers’ discipline, operational security, and techniques point to it being a state-sponsored attack, thought Mandia refrained from saying or speculating about which nation-state might be behind it. (According to The New York Times, the lead suspects at this moment are Russian hackers.)

            The attackers accessed and stole FireEye’s Red Team tools, which the company uses to probe other organizations’ security posture to help them improve it.

          • Daniel Stenberg: the critical curl

            Google has, as part of their involvement in the Open Source Security Foundation (OpnSSF), come up with a “Criticality Score” for open source projects.

          • Open Source Project Criticality Score 2020 for python projects

            I just now found about Open Source Project Criticality Score under the Open Source Security Foundation (OpnSSF) from Daniel Stenberg’s blog post.

            He wrote about the critical C projects (all calculations are done only for Github based projects), so I decided to look at the list of the Python projects.

          • Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt/Fear-mongering/Dramatisation

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Facebook Monopoly Cases to Be Overseen by Obama-Nominated Judges

              Cooper was a partner at law firm Covington & Burling before he was nominated 2013 and joined the court in 2014. Boasberg, a former homicide prosecutor, was nominated in 2010 and joined the court in 2011.

            • Facebook faces most serious breakup threat yet from lawsuits

              The twin lawsuits filed against Facebook this week by the government and more than 40 attorneys general are the most serious effort to break the social media giant up to date.

              The cases, which differ slightly, focus on the allegation that Facebook made acquisitions in an effort to decrease competition in the social network marketplace and ultimately worsened the quality of options available to consumers.

              The Federal Trade Commission and 48 state and territory attorneys general propose a solution to that issue: divestiture.

            • ‘The Wrath Of Mark’: 4 Takeaways From The Government’s Case Against Facebook

              They accuse Facebook of, as the FTC puts it, “suppressing, neutralizing, and deterring serious competitive threats” to its own dominance in social media.

              The company did so, the authorities allege, by swallowing some rivals — most notably photo-sharing app Instagram and messaging service WhatsApp — and suffocating others by cutting off valuable access to Facebook’s data and systems.

              Here are four key takeaways: [...]

            • U.S. Schools Are Buying Phone-Hacking Tech That the FBI Uses to Investigate Terrorists

              The Cellebrite used to gather evidence in that case was owned and operated by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. But these invasive phone-cracking tools are not only being purchased by police departments. Public documents reviewed by Gizmodo indicate that school districts have been quietly purchasing these surveillance tools of their own for years.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • The Trump Administration Has Gone on an Underreported Execution Spree
      • Assessing the threat from America’s far right

        Mr Jackson’s is one of several new books to warn that America’s far right is now more active than at any time since the early 1990s. The Department of Homeland Security agrees, and in testimony to Congress this autumn the FBI’s director, Christopher Wray, called the far right—and white supremacists in particular—America’s gravest domestic-terror threat. Last year, when 48 people were killed in 16 attacks, was their most lethal in a generation. A previous bout of such violence eased only after an anti-government fanatic, Timothy McVeigh, bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people.

      • Trump deal with Morocco is yet another headache for Biden team

        On Thursday, Morocco became the fourth Arab state this year to announce it would establish relations with Israel. It was another diplomatic win for the Trump administration, with US President Donald Trump tweeting that it was “a massive breakthrough for peace in the Middle East!”

        Setting aside the hyperbole — Morocco and Israel have long had a quietly amicable relationship — the Moroccans extracted a high price from the US: recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the long-disputed territory of Western Sahara.

      • The Texas lawsuit shows Republicans went from fighting Democrats to fighting democracy

        The case and the Republican House members’ support of it illustrates the biggest problem Biden will face in office — and one that will inform or impede his ability to deal with the towering crises of the Covid-19 pandemic and our precarious economic situation: How can a U.S. president govern, let alone solve major problems, if one of our political parties is openly hostile to our entire political system?

      • ‘An Indelible Stain’: How the G.O.P. Tried to Topple a Pillar of Democracy

        And it meant that Republican leaders now stand for a new notion: that the final decisions of voters can be challenged without a basis in fact if the results are not to the liking of the losing side, running counter to decades of work by the United States to convince developing nations that peaceful transfers of power are key to any freely elected government’s credibility.

      • UK: Former Home Secretary Says ‘Islamist Ideology’ is ‘Twisted Version of Islam’

        The United Kingdom’s former Home Secretary Sajid Javid has just published an op-ed The Sun in which he appears to be calling for a new realism in response to the Islamic jihad threat, but a closer look reveals that he is just indulging in the same old wishful thinking and willful ignorance that we have heard thousands of times from politicians all over Europe and North America.

      • France Is Still Under Attack

        The attitude of successive French governments every time a serious attack is carried out — the less serious ones go unnoticed — has been the same. The president and his ministers give speeches denouncing the danger and promising firmness; then nothing happens. On February 16, 2015, Prime Minister Manuel Valls actually instructed his countrymen that “the French should get used to living with the terrorist threat”.

      • US nears sale of four sophisticated drones to Morocco – sources

        While the State Department has authorized the sale of the unmanned aerial vehicles, the sources said, it was not known if the US officials have approved exporting the drones with weapons attached, two of the people said.

    • Environment

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Jeffrey Lewis – The Story of Chile (a low-budget documentary)
      • This Is Not a President
      • ‘Exactly What the Country Needs Right Now’: SCOTUS Rejects Texas Suit Challenging Election Results

        “It’s over over over over and 90% of GOP needs to recognize reality.”

      • No, Trump Isn’t Following Stacey Abrams’s “Playbook” in His Refusal to Concede
      • SCOTUS Throws Out Texas Lawsuit Seeking to Flip Election Results for Trump
      • Twitter Briefly Limits Interaction With Trump’s Election Tweets

        This was just one of Trump’s tweets that was not only flagged by Twitter as a disputed claim, but was restricted to user engagement. However, Twitter soon restored interaction to Trump’s tweets.

      • PODCAST: Democracy on the Edge

        HEATHER COX RICHARDSON: Millions of people are not necessarily reading the Arizona GOP Twitter feed. And there is a lot of posturing going on I think in this particular moment. So, I think that the fears that I see of people thinking that we are in fact on the verge of a civil war are probably overblown. That being said, I do think we have a real problem in this country and have had one at least since the overturning of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987. And possibly from before that, with the rise of Ronald Reagan, and maybe even before that with the concept of William F. Buckley Jr., for example, that rather than making arguments based in fact, what we really need to do is indoctrinate people to believe a certain narrative about the way America works. And what we really have now is a whole bunch of people who no longer are in a relationship with reality, if you will. And they really do want to have their lives mean something. They want to care about something. They want to be important. And they are laying their ideology on the line in this moment to say that they’re going to fight for what they believe is America. Now, that being said, we’ve been here before. We were here in the 1850s, and after 1860, when, in fact, our leaders did manage to bring those people into a civil war, they discovered pretty quickly that what they were fighting for was not some version of America in which ordinary Americans would go ahead and be able to have a future. What they were fighting for was the very wealthy, who essentially walked away from that war and left that entire Southern region devastated. And that’s the thing I always worry about, is so many of these keyboard warriors are really brave until the rubber meets the road. And then they discover that they’re actually burning down their own homes. It’s all fun and games until the actual shooting starts, as people like Kyle Rittenhouse found out.

      • Tibet’s Dalai Lama Affirms Plan to Live a Long Life

        Concerns over the health of the Dalai Lama have renewed uncertainties in recent years over his possible successor after he dies, with Beijing claiming the right to name his successor and the Dalai Lama himself saying that any future Dalai Lama will be born outside of China.

        Meetings between the Dalai Lama and foreign leaders have meanwhile drawn the anger of Beijing, which regards the exiled spiritual leader and Nobel laureate as a separatist seeking to split Tibet from China’s rule.

        In what he calls a Middle Way Approach, though, the Dalai Lama says that he seeks only a “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet as a part of China, with guaranteed protections for the region’s language, religion, and culture.

        A formerly independent nation, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force nearly 70 years ago, following which the Dalai Lama and thousands of his followers fled into exile in India and other countries around the world.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • New ‘high-level push’ to free Julian Assange
      • Current Time Journalist Held At Minsk Airport, Belongings Seized

        Belarusian security agents have seized the computer and documents of a journalist at Minsk’s airport after briefly holding him upon arrival from Ukraine.

        Roman Vasyukovich, a correspondent for Current Time, the Russian-language network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA, said some of his possessions were seized at the airport without explanation.

      • Ruhollah Zam: Iran executes journalist accused of fanning unrest

        Ruhollah Zam was hanged on Saturday after the supreme court upheld a death sentence against him, state television reported.

        Zam, who had been living in exile in France, was reportedly detained after travelling to Iraq last year.

      • Iran executes dissident journalist Rouhollah Zam

        Dissident Iranian journalist Rouhollah Zam was hanged in Iran on Saturday morning, according to state television IRIB.

        Zam was found guilty of “corruption on earth,” a charge that does not specify a crime​ but is sometimes used by the Iranian government for alleged attempts to overthrow it.

        Zam ran the ​online opposition news site Amad News, which was accused by Tehran of inciting violence during deadly protests in 2017 and 2018, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported in 2019.

      • Iran Executes Opposition Journalist Ruhollah Zam

        The semiofficial ISNA news agency reported on December 12 that Tehran’s Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office announced Zam’s execution by hanging.

        The execution comes days after Iran’s judiciary announced the Supreme Court had upheld a death sentence against the 47-year-old journalist, drawing international condemnation.

        Following confirmation that the execution had been carried out, international media watchdogs issued statements of protest.

      • Iran Executes Opposition Figure Who Encouraged 2017 Protests

        Iran on Saturday executed Ruhollah Zam, a former opposition figure who had lived in exile in France and was implicated in anti-government protests, state television said.

        The broadcaster said the “counter-revolutionary” Zam was hanged in the morning after the supreme court upheld his sentence due to “the severity of the crimes” committed against the Islamic republic.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Incarcerated Women Are Punished for Their Trauma With Solitary Confinement
      • This System Is Supposed to Protect People With Developmental Disabilities. It Is Falling Apart.

        Many people in Arizona have developmental disabilities. These are sometimes called DD. DD includes:

        Arizona has a system to protect people with DD. The state created it 40 years ago. Volunteers make sure people with DD are safe and healthy. The volunteers include:

      • They Made a Revolutionary System to Protect People With Developmental Disabilities. Now It’s Falling Apart.

        More than 40 years ago, Arizona set up a revolutionary system to protect the safety of residents with developmental disabilities like Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy.

        The state created panels of volunteers — family members, nurses, disability advocates — in different regions to oversee the agency charged with the care of those with developmental disabilities.

      • The Biden Administration’s Disability Rights To-Do List

        When President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris take office, their administration must act quickly to protect the rights of and promote opportunities for people with disabilities.

        West Resendes is a Skadden Fellow in the ACLU’s Disability Rights Program, where he is primarily working on efforts to divest from law enforcement in schools and reinvest in school-based mental health staff. His national work uses integrated advocacy and disability rights framing to highlight and address how police disproportionately target students with disabilities and students of color. West is also engaged in ongoing litigation to reform the statewide carceral and parole systems in Georgia for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. West is the first culturally Deaf attorney to work at the ACLU since its co-founder, Helen Keller.

        Zoe Brennan-Krohn is a staff attorney at the ACLU’s Disability Rights Program.

        Brian Dimmick is a senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s Disability Rights Program.

      • Nigerian police hunt for missing students after school attacked

        There were chaotic scenes at the school on Saturday as desperate parents and security personnel gathered to search for roughly half of the school’s 800 students who were still missing, one parent and a school employee told Reuters.

        Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, is plagued by violent bandits who regularly attack locals and kidnap for ransom. Attacks by Islamist militants are common in northeastern parts of the country.

      • Nigeria Deserves the U.S.’s Tough Love on Religious Freedom

        The country will be listed alongside Iran, China and North Korea. That’s because, like those countries, Nigeria is either unwilling or unable to provide this fundamental human right to its citizenry.

        It’s an astonishing indictment of Africa’s largest economy and most populated country. It is a direct signal that the patience the United States has long reserved for its great African friend is wearing thin. It also demonstrates a change in public opinion in the United States—Americans will no longer sit idly by amid reports and images from almost daily atrocities. “Why,” they and many elected officials are beginning to ask, “are we sending one billion dollars in U.S. taxpayer assistance annually?”

      • Miniskirted no more: Jewish woman charts 8 years of oppression under Iran regime

        Saper, who managed to escape Iran with her husband and children to the US in 1987, chronicles her unique story in her concise memoir, “From Miniskirt to Hijab: A Girl in Revolutionary Iran.” The bookwon the 2020 Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award for traditional non-fiction and is nominated for the Clara Johnson Award for Women’s Literature.

        In speaking recently with The Times of Israel from her home near Chicago, Saper, 59, emphasized that her experiences in Iran differed from her Jewish peers in another key way.

      • ‘Free Papua Movement’ Intensifies Amid Escalating Violence

        Separatists have waged a low-key insurgency for decades in a quest for self-rule. Calling for independence in West Papua is considered treason under Indonesian law, and raising the independence flag can bring a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

        Two years after Papuans declared independence in 1961, Indonesia sent troops to occupy the former Dutch territory, and has maintained a military presence ever since. In 1969, in a vote regarded by many Papuans as rigged, Indonesia rounded up a thousand tribal leaders and held them until they agreed to join Indonesia.

        The result was called “The Act of Free Choice,” and, after ratification by the United Nations, became Indonesia’s legal foundation for controlling West Papua. Many Papuans see their region as occupied and would like a true referendum to decide its status.

      • ‘War Against Sex Workers:’ What Visa and Mastercard Dropping Pornhub Means to Performers

        “This is something we in the industry have known about for a long time, but often the trafficking or child porn headlines will drown out our voices,” cam model Mary Moody told me. “We saw a similar issue unfold under SESTA/FOSTA when survival or full service sex workers were unable to verify through Backpage and had to move to the more risky street based work, where a disproportionate amount of minority groups are arrested.”

        Porn performers have dealt with deplatforming and discriminatory payment processing practices from the beginning of the internet and beyond, but have always adapted, finding new ways to continue their work. But if two of the biggest credit card companies in the world can choose to deny service to Pornhub—a household name for online porn—some worry that nothing’s stopping them from denying service to smaller platforms, too.

    • Monopolies

      • California Asks to Join Google Monopoly Case Filed by DOJ

        California Attorney General Xavier Becerra wants to join the antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet Inc.’s Google filed by the Justice Department and a group of states.

        Becerra’s office filed court papers Friday seeking a judge’s approval to be added to the case as a plaintiff. California would be the first state led by a Democratic attorney general to join the case.

      • Invigorating your portfolio: a summary [Ed: Litigation maniacs leveraging COVID-19 to push the mirage of non-existent 'property' and encourage hiring lawyers, bothering rivals etc.]

        IP relevance, portfolio value, managing the patent process, interacting with IP offices, the impact of COVID-19 on counterfeiting and how the pandemic is affecting working practices: these were just a few of the topics discussed over 3 days at the third annual summit hosted by Kilburn & Strode and Berkeley Center for Law & Technology this week.

        Titled “Invigorating your Portfolio: Optimize IP assets, reduce risk and increase value”, the summit was held virtually over three days, with a mix of keynote presentations, panel discussions and open Q&A. Participants included in-house counsel, US and European attorneys and IP office representatives.

        Is your IP relevant?

        The big question posed on the first day was: how do you demonstrate the value of your IP portfolio? Key to achieving this is ensuring the portfolio is relevant (to products and revenue streams, both yours and those of competitors) and ensuring executive attention. The two aims ultimately go together: CEOs and CFOs are likely to focus on relevance when evaluating the strength of an IP portfolio.

      • Patents

        • Verdant Technologies receives European patent

          Verdant Technologies™, a recently launched technology company focused on product life extension for perishable products, announces that the European Patent Office had granted Patent No. 15 735 823.5-1107 to Verdant for the electrostatic printing process, or photocopy process, used in their growth regulator technology HarvestHold™.
          The USPTO granted Verdant two patents (US 9,421,793 and 10,376,472) for its 1-MCP electrostatic printing press technology in 2016 and 2019. The addition of the EPO patent signals a milestone in protecting their revolutionary postharvest plant life extension delivery technologies as Verdant’s HarvestHold technology enters the global market.

        • Does Switzerland need a new patent system with a fully examined patent, utility models and opposition proceedings?

          As mentioned above, the most important proposed innovation is the introduction of a national patent based on a fully fledged patent examination by the Intellectual Property Institute (IPI). Under current law, the IPI carries out only a limited examination of national patent applications dealing only with the technical character of the claimed invention, sufficiency of disclosure, clarity, uniformity of the inventive concept, amended subject matter and formal requirements.(2) If the new law becomes effective, the IPI would also examine the two crucial requirements of novelty and inventive step. The R-PatA extends the IPI’s examination powers and brings its competence on a par with that of the European Patent Office, which has always examined patent applications in detail (EPC Patent Guide, p 47 et seqq). While novelty and inventive step have always been a condition for a legally valid Swiss patent, the two requirements have never been examined in the context of examination proceedings in Switzerland. Third parties that want to invalidate a Swiss patent because of alleged lack of novelty or inventive step must initiate revocation action proceedings before the Federal Patent Court under the current law.

          The second major revision is the planned introduction of a utility model as a further protective right for technical inventions. This so-called ‘small patent’ is intended by the legislature to replace the current national Swiss patent, but it would have a validity term of only 10 years. In addition, a utility model cannot protect inventions in the field of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and chemical substances and processes. Most importantly, the utility model is subject only to a limited examination procedure, which is simpler and more time and cost effective but at the same time competent enough to exclude obviously abusive applications. Novelty and inventive step will not be examined during examination proceedings concerning utility models. The utility model should therefore meet the needs of Swiss applicants which are looking for an uncomplicated and affordable protection of their inventions. The utility model is a possibility to ensure prompt protection while a patent application is still pending. It also qualifies for the so-called ‘patent box’ under Swiss tax law.

          This proposed dual system with fully examined patents on the one hand and utility models on the other offers companies and inventors more choices for the protection of their inventions. It is one of the goals of the new system to enhance the attractiveness of Switzerland as a location for innovation.


          As is well known, Switzerland is not a member of the planned unitary EU patent system comprising a European patent with unitary effect and the Unified Patent Court, so a revision of the Swiss patent system could make sense in this context.

        • A deep dive into EPO opposition representation reveals Germany and the UK dominate

          Diego Alonso-Martinez and Wannes Weymiens of NLO review patentee and opponent nationalities in opposition procedures before the EPO during the 2017-2019 period

        • EU SEP bombshell; BlackBerry portfolio sale latest; Samsung shops for wireless patents; Germany leads in EPO oppositions; Data is the new IP frontier; plus much more – IAM

          EPO opposition proceedings are on the increase, with German entities holding sway in representation instructions against a growing challenge from UK-based firms.

        • UPC – Progress On German Ratification [Ed: Parroting self-serving lies from the EPO to support the fiction that the UPC is coming]

          The EPO also writes that ratification by Italy is essential, in place of the UK. Italy ratified the agreement in 2017, and the UK withdrew its ratification earlier this year. As well as the positive conclusion of the procedure in Germany, a further two Signatory States need to agree to be bound by the Protocol on Provisional Application in order for the project to move into its final phase. The EPO has said it is “ready to register the first Unitary Patents. For Unitary Patents to become available, the UPCA has to enter into force which requires the ratification by 13 of the 25 participating EU Member States, including France, Germany and Italy.”

        • Mixed response to EU’s compulsory licence position [Ed: Charlotte Kilpatrick pushing lies of patent zealots to help obstruct research into COVID-19 and limit people's access to life-saving medicine]

          European pharma sources respond to the European Commission’s IP Action Plan, saying COVID has shown that IP does not block access to medicine

        • Brands fear effects of ANDA venue win – but should they? | Managing Intellectual Property

          BMS, Sanofi and others say a Federal Circuit ruling, if affirmed in a rehearing, could reshape Hatch-Waxman litigation. Others think it only affects Mylan

        • FRAND licensing in an Unwired world (jurisdictional issues with global FRAND determinations, component level licensing, the “ND” prong of FRAND) [Ed: This is what a system looks like when its sole purpose is to help the rich bankrupt the poor and drive small businesses... out of business]
        • Patent Office Updates You Need to Know

          The European Patent Office (EPO) updated information on extensions and interruptions in member states. Effective January 4, 2021, oral proceedings before the Examining and Opposition Divisions will be held remotely. Oral proceedings that cannot be held remotely will be postponed until after September 15, 2021. More information here.

        • ‘Endurance test’: counsel react to EPO’s virtual exams [Ed: This is nonsense and hogwash; those aren’t even legal from several perspectives! There are scandals as well.]

          Lawyers say the EPO may need to be lenient for next year’s virtual exams, which will provide a test run for a potentially paper-free future

        • IP disputes: Agreement between Bühler and swisca, Norwegian court finds BioMar does not infringe patent

          Bühler and swisca today announced that they have been able to settle their dispute out of court.
          The background to the case was that several long-standing employees terminated their employment contracts with Bühler in February 2018 and founded the company, swisca, in September that same year.

          swisca operates in the market as a competitor of Bühler in certain product segments including in feed technology applications.

          Bühler claimed that due to the rapid market entry of swisca, a dispute arose between the two parties regarding the use of intellectual property (IP) and know-how by swisca.

          The companies, it said, had different views on this matter and the facts of the case were subject to legal proceedings.

        • Court finds BioMar feed does not infringe patent [Ed: Another new example of frivolous patent lawsuits facilitated by the EPO]

          Feed group BioMar has won its battle against a patent infringement claim by competitor, STIM AS.
          STIM’s request to ban the sale of BioMar’s Intro Tuning has been denied. The Norwegian courts have ruled that BioMar’s smoltification feed does not infringe STIM’s patent and the production and sale of the feed will continue as per normal.
          In July, STIM AS submitted a request to the Norwegian courts, stating that BioMar should be prohibited from the sale of their smoltification feed Intro Tuning. According to STIM, the feed violated a new European patent that STIM has recently been granted.


          “We are very happy with the outcome of this case. The decision from the court is in accordance with the European Patent Office’s (EPO) understanding of STIM’s patent, and thus as expected. This decision means that fish farmers can continue to choose feed from our product portfolio that promotes growth and health during smoltification and transfer to seawater”, said Håvard Jørgensen, Managing Director of BioMar Norway.

        • Verdant Technologies Granted European Patent for Electrostatic Printing of Plant Growth Regulator

          Verdant Technologies™, a recently launched technology company focused on product life extension for perishable products, announces that the European Patent Office had granted Patent No. 15 735 823.5-1107 to Verdant for the electrostatic printing process, or photocopy process, used in their growth regulator technology HarvestHold™.

          The USPTO granted Verdant two patents (US 9,421,793 and 10,376,472) for its 1-MCP electrostatic printing press technology in 2016 and 2019. The addition of the EPO patent signals a milestone in protecting their revolutionary postharvest plant life extension delivery technologies as Verdant’s HarvestHold technology enters the global market.

        • Landscape analysis of 5G patent families

          Figure 1 shows the cumulative number of 5G patent families from January 2017 to September 2020. The blue area shows declared 5G patent families by declaration month. The red line shows granted 5G patent families that have at least one granted patent as of October 5 2020. Some of the patent applications in the declared 5G patent families become granted patents over time. In each dot in the red line, we determined whether the declared 5G patent families in each declaration month have at least one granted patent as of October 5 2020, rather than as of each declaration month.


          Figure 6 shows the distribution of the technical specification groups (TSGs) of the declared 5G patent families. The three main TSGs are radio access network (RAN), services/systems aspects (SA), and core network and terminals (CT). RAN defines radio communications between user equipment (UE) and the core network. SA is responsible for overall architecture and service capabilities. CT is responsible for the core network. All of the top 15 companies declare more 5G patent families in RAN compared with SA and CT. This is because the majority of the enhancements of 5G technology lie within the radio access part of the network. Huawei and Nokia have a larger number of patent families in SA and CT than the other 15 companies, and it is expected that they are also actively working on standardisation in these areas.

      • Trademarks

        • USPTO comments should lead to e-commerce liability, say brands [Ed: "Shop Safe Act" -- like many other US "Acts" -- is a bit of a misnomer as it's not about actual safety but protectionism for the super-wealthy and monopolies]

          The USPTO’s request for comments on contributory liability for e-commerce platforms could help shape the proposed Shop Safe Act

      • Copyrights

        • Cyberpunk 2077′s Stream-Safe Setting Option For Its Music Failed To Keep Streamers Safe

          In November, as we were finally coming to the day when CD Projekt Red’s newest opus, Cyberpunk 2077, was going to be released to the world, we wrote about how the developer had included a setting for the game specifically to keep streamers safe from copyright strikes. Essentially, the setting was meant to strip out all licensed music from the game and replace it with music that wouldn’t land streamers in copyright jail while doing let’s-plays. On the one hand, it was nice to see a developer so in favor of having its games streamed do this sort of thing. On the other hand, the fact that CD Projekt Red had to do so showed both what a failure Amazon/Twitch and the like have been at supporting their streamers through music licensing deals and, more importantly, what a hellscape copyright enforcement has become that all of this was even necessary.

        • Anti-Censorship VPN Service Agrees to Block Major Pirate Sites

          After being targeted in a copyright infringement lawsuit featuring backbone provider Hurricane Electric, a US-based ISP that operates a VPN service helping people circumvent Internet censorship in Iran, China and Russia has agreed to block several major pirate sites. These include The Pirate Bay, RARBG and YTS but there is plenty of scope for scaling up.

        • Danish Police Eyes Torrent Tracker Users After Arrest and Shutdowns

          The Danish State Prosecutor has confirmed its role in shutting down two popular torrent trackers and the arrest of the alleged operator of Danishbits. The operator of Nordicbits, who confirmed his involvement, was apprehended in Spain but has sinced passed away. Police, meanwhile, aren’t ruling out the possibility that users of the site will be identified.

Further Dissection of the EPO’s Response to EPO Strike (to Commence in Just Over a Day From Now)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 11:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO's very own propaganda chief
The EPO‘s very own propaganda chief, Luis Berenguer Giménez

Summary: Another look at the sort of media coverage one can find about Tuesday’s EPO strike; miraculously — albeit just like before — Europe’s second-largest institution going on strike (work stoppage) is some sort of ‘underground’ or ‘niche’ news item

THE taboo subject (to those guilty of it!) which has long fascinated and interested us is media manipulation. For the past 14+ years we’ve been very vocally critical of corruptible media outlets that take money from the subject/s they cover. We saw Novell doing it, we saw Microsoft doing it, and the EPO does this all the time (clear misuse of EPO funds). This isn’t journalism; call it what you like or what you will (there are many words to describe those sorts of things), it’s corruption of the very concept and the trade of journalism. To make matters worse, it serves to distract from real, genuine, investigative journalism (the notion of “googlebombing” is relevant here; it makes it harder to separate actual signal from organic noise)

“Nothing is being said by Wingrove about the faked ‘study’, EPOTIF or any of the really big scandals, but what else can be expected from a career UPC booster, who goes out of his way to lie about the UPC because the employer (and sponsor) has an agenda?”As EPO insiders are aware (without exceptions, surely), there’s a strike this coming Tuesday. We’ve spent the past few days carefully studying who covers this announcement and, if so, to what extent. In the past we wrote some very detailed articles about EPO management meddling in media affairs, sometimes even blackmailing and bribing journalists/publications. Propaganda, censorship, spin and “plot twist” became far too common. Sometimes entire sites/blogs got derailed (or course IP Kat has said nothing about the strike; just before the weekend it relayed another EPO ‘ad’, instead).

IP Kat gagsWithout further ado, let’s take stock of what was (and wasn’t) said. This would be the third such post and it’s likely there will be another tomorrow. Just earlier today we mentioned Watchtroll, WIPR, Chinese media and press releases regarding the “4IR” fluff; Chinese propaganda from the EPO shows that there’s much in common between Chinese dictatorship and today’s EPO.

Here’s what Chinese media in English said (putting aside stuff composed in Mandarin):

Notice how this is pretty much like a template. This is a bunch of government mouthpieces, not independent media. They try to get across the “open for business” message even if the doors are literally shut and staff is on strike. Effective enough propaganda?

We’ve set aside coverage not in English (Watchtroll, WIPR and few others did the same in English).

Paid-for press release for American publishers:

Paid-for press release for British publishers:

Scroll down a bit in this ResponseSource copy to find it signed by an old 'mate' of Campinos, Luis Berenguer Giménez.

How much money is being spent on this noise? Also mind the timing/dates. As we recently showed, the EPO’s management is trying to googlebomb away the ‘signal’ and push a bunch of puff pieces instead. It’s certainly not a coincidence; we see this being done every time there’s a really embarrassing (or criminal) thing happening — something which the managers desperately try to hide.

Composed by Patrick Wingrove on Friday albeit tucked into a “roundup” was this section which said “SUEPO had already called for the strike in a letter to its members last week. Both organisations cited social conflict at the EPO as the main reason for proposing the strike.”

That hardly sums up or represents their positions; “social conflict” is such a vague term and it says nothing about the substance of the grievances. Let’s have a look at the whole thing:

EPO staff-representative bodies call for strike on December 15

The EPO’s Central Staff Committee and the Staff Union for the EPO called for a strike to take place on Tuesday, December 15, during a meeting of the Administrative Council this week.

In a letter sent to EPO staff on Thursday, December 10, the staff committee encouraged personnel to join the strike and said staff work packages had been consistently eroded.

“All the while, our president maintains that the staff he meets are happy, that social dialogue is working at full speed and that all is going well in EPO-land (our production has not suffered, even today),” the letter read.

“This is in stark contrast to the emails, phone calls and messages we keep receiving by many colleagues who are increasingly suffering from the unabated production pressure and management by spreadsheet, topped up by the social isolation due to the pandemic.”

SUEPO had already called for the strike in a letter to its members last week. Both organisations cited social conflict at the EPO as the main reason for proposing the strike.

The EPO has yet to publicly respond to the call.

Instead it just flooded the media. It doesn’t want any coverage, not even a short mention like the above (which we think merits an article of its own, but they've been busy doing puff pieces with António Campinos in recent weeks — same as they did with Benoît Battistelli).

Nothing is being said by Wingrove about the faked ‘study’, EPOTIF or any of the really big scandals, but what else can be expected from a career UPC booster, who goes out of his way to lie about the UPC because the employer (and sponsor) has an agenda? There's an example only 10 days old. Here’s another new piece from them, effectively noise. This is little but nonsense and hogwash; they speak of “virtual exams” at the EPO; those aren’t even legal from several perspectives and they're associated with top-level corruption. Not something Wingrove and his employer would like to mention; maybe do an actual article about the actual scandals and the cover-up.

In short, the patent ‘media’ isn’t ready to tackle the ‘difficult’ subjects, which basically expose corruption and other arrestable offences. Too deep in the pockets of the culprits and their collaborators/accomplices, they can at best give some “lip service” while facilitating (maybe the next day) the same abuses which led to the strike.

“A President cannot always be popular,” Harry Truman said. But when the EPO’s President has 3% approval rates it really ought to be reported, oughtn’t it? C.S. Lewis once said:

“Human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and can`t really get rid of it.”

We suppose that so-called ‘journalists’ at Managing IP [sic] know what it takes for them to keep the job. That mostly includes lying, e.g. doing staged ‘interviews’ with Campinos and giving a platform to overzealous litigation firms.

Spreading lies? You’re hired! Not spreading imposed-from-above lies? You’re fired!

ZDNet Has Just Cooked Another Crooked Story Tacitly Blaming Linux and Postgres for Something That’s to Blame on Neither

Posted in Deception, FUD, GNU/Linux at 9:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Human error is not a software bug

PgMiner botnet attacks weakly secured PostgreSQL databases

ZDNet's Catalin CimpanuSummary: As the latest example shows, the art of perception management (or “reality distortion”) at ZDNet is up on display 12 months after its parent company collapsed (rendered defunct on December 4th, 2019), reminding people of the real agenda or the true bosses at the helm

THERE’S shoddy journalism, there’s intentionally bad journalism, and then there’s ZDNet — a class of its own! They’re defaming Free software people (making stuff up or saying the exact opposite of what’s true), blaming Windows security problems on "Linux", and hiring professional liars like Catalin Cimpanu to do what they did in other sites for a number of years. The goal is clearly not to inform readers but to mislead them and moreover attract them using click-bait junk.

“The goal is clearly not to inform readers but to mislead them and moreover attract them using click-bait junk.”In the above example, which is new, it’s the latest from Cimpanu; notice how he’s trying to attribute to “Linux” an issue that doesn’t have anything to do with “Linux” or even “PostgreSQL”; it’s about incompetent administrators whose systems are (mis)configured to give away control. So how come we end up talking about “Linux” or even “PostgreSQL”? How come ZDNet continues to ignore back doors in Windows, which constantly kill more patients than COVID-19 ever did? The tactic is called “reality distortion” or perception management. To quote Wikipedia on perception management in Journalism:

Journalism is a field that organizations, companies, governments, and individuals will attempt to use to manage the public’s perception of that specific organization, company, government, or person. Perception management through journalism has been seen especially in regard to government propaganda and war. This becomes problematic when governments promote certain ideas that they want the public to believe through journalism, without the journalists and media properly attributing their sources.

Another issue in the journalism field is between the corporate business of keeping a news organization afloat versus the ethics of reporting and reporting the truth. Just as with any other major corporation or even small businesses there are conflicts between the reporters and the executives within a news organization. Reporters with strong ethics will want to run all stories that are “newsworthy”, but some of those stories may be censored by editors because the executives have sent a note down the chain specifying that a certain story may or may not run.

In the case of ZDNet, follow the money to better understand who their clients are (the likes of Microsoft and the Linux Foundation). The parent company collapsed exactly one year ago, so now the site has new “masters” (or “paymasters”) with a new business model. It operates accordingly.

How EPO Management Manufactures Non-News to Distract the General Public From EPO Lawbreaking and Strikes (With Help From Paid-for Publishers)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No press coverage about a strike; plenty of paid-for fluff about a so-called ‘study’ wrapped in a buzzword

Action for peace

Summary: With the EPO strike just a couple of days away one might expect the media to say something about Europe’s second-largest institution reaching the boiling point; but instead we find EPO-scripted fluff in dubious publications connected to the EPO and the litigation fanatics, in effect cheering/egging on the EPO’s management

THE EPO‘S PRESIDENT António Campinos has failed. He failed very quickly. Yesterday we wrote a couple of articles to show proof that he had failed within months, not years. Not only could he not restore peace; his popularity sank, he became a 'lame duck', and many people want him out. Strikes under the banner of “enough is enough!” are a belated culmination of it all.

“Strikes under the banner of “enough is enough!” are a belated culmination of it all.”We strongly encourage EPO insiders and outside observers alike to pay attention to the role media has played in cover-up as well as distraction. There are several things they don’t want the public to see; one is the crime and the illegalities, including the Commission's role in it (the second is strike-related ‘media blackout’). How come nobody covered that? Also see the comments here (pretty much all of them blasting CIPA, a longtime booster of Benoît Battistelli, which now supports a violation of the EPC). Litigation firms and media in their pockets are squashing a genuine discussion about these matters. So while management of the EPO keeps breaking the law we’re supposed to not care? Trust those “responsible adults” to sort things out while even the Commission is complicit? There’s this new analysis from a law firm which concludes that “depriving parties and representatives of their right to personal appearance before the EPO infringes Article 116 EPC” (it’s actually in Lexology), but where has the mainstream media been?


Jorge Campinos and António CampinosWe’re meanwhile seeing no lack of arse-covering fluff; days ago the EPO used puff pieces from Watchtroll (link to this ‘article’ intentionally omitted, as usual) and from the government of China (china.org.cn) to promote some pro-software patents fluff and to distract from the strike. Muireann Bolger of World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR), a person whose name we never saw before, issued this piece of EPO ‘spam’, echoing the same buzzwords salad as the EPO’s: “…smart connected technology, Internet of things, patent filings, 5G, AI, data management, wearable technology, fourth industrial revolution” (clueless nonsense and hype).

This is what happens when the patent office and the media are run by PR people, or “words people” who lack any kind of background in science so they compensate for it by parroting buzzwords.

Those three (above-mentioned) EPO puff pieces were partly inspired by a PR campaign. We can see the EPO pushing paid-for press releases for the UK spin, e.g. in ResponseSource (as usual). The contact is an old friend/colleague of Campinos:

Media contacts European Patent Office

Luis Berenguer Giménez
Principal Director Communication / Spokesperson
Tel.: +49 89 2399 1203

Oh, wow. It’s like the EPO is a “family business”….

“A study [sic] published today by the European Patent Office (EPO),” it says. Published… just a day or two after notification of strike. Coincidence?

The situation at the EPO is not good; to say the least… as it’s an understatement. SUEPO has promised a whole year of conflict ahead, emphasising that the strike is only the start of it. And read this new comment which says:

When the new president took office in July 2018 his mandate from the AC was to restore social peace. Now half way through his mandate, the only possible conclusion is that this aim is far of being achieved. One could even say that he has failed.

Whilst his predecessor was very distant and arrogant, he appeared friendlier. But this was only a façade and reality hit the staff quicker than it wished.

One wonders what his hidden agenda could be. One obvious possibility is to continue the destruction of the EPO started by its predecessor. This is prima facie the only logical conclusion. But who would profit from it? National offices? The UPC? Those are possibilities, but this means that the EPC and the EPO have had their best time.

He continues to do everything to render the EPO less attractive as an employer. Who wants to leave its country of origin, leaving behind its social security system and pension scheme, to come to Munich or The Hague with the risk of being fired after 5 years, be it in the first instance or in the boards of appeal? This is the more so if a potential candidate has a family. The EPO is not any longer a worthwhile employer.

The recruitment might become very local as at least the family of those recruits will not have any change in their way of living. Other recruits could be young people, fresh from university, and merely coming from countries which have not reached the standard of living from Germany or The Netherlands. I do not doubt their capacities, it is just that recruitment becomes lopsided and this is never good. It would be interesting to have a distribution of staff by nationality, be it in DG1 or in the BA.

On top of this the head of the EPO takes pretext of a revenue gap to further diminish the salaries and pensions. The whole financial study leading to this conclusion is a mere fake and any reasonable person will see that the starting assumptions can only have come to mind in a twisted brain.

Not only have a study by a renowned accountancy firm hired by the staff representation but also a deep analysis by the Pensioner’s Association shown how unrealistic the “financial” study is. The instruction to the firm chosen by the EPO was clearly to come to the conclusion that there will be a deep financial gap.

One of the assumptions is that the EPO, after a 4% fee increase for 2020, there will be no further fee increases from then on till 2038! In parallel the salaries will grow and hence an enormous deficit is foreseeable. Simply ludicrous!

The whole scenario reminds me of a French expression saying that if you want to kill your dog, you claim it has caught rabies.

The problem of the EPO is that the AC does not play its role. The tail is wagging the dog and the immunity given for good reasons to the EPO is being misused and has ended up with a feeling of impunity. The EPO has become a playground for would be managers and their minions, and the worse is that they manage the EPO as it was their property and with methods which go back to the 19th century.

No wonder staff wants to react. One can only support their action. Forcing most of the staff in home office does not mean that it cannot react to what is to be considered as a disgrace.

One thing appearing already is that the trail of destruction started by the former head of the EPO is aggravated by its successor. Is this what the users of the European Patent system want? I would expect a reaction from the profession as a whole and not merely by some individuals. Folks, it is your future which is at stake as well. It is high time to realise it!

John Wooden once said:

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

At the moment the EPO is wasting money on reputation-laundering fluff; it’s a waste of EPO funds and it will backfire. The sooner the media (what’s left of independent media) realises what’s really going on at the EPO, the better, and the longer it takes the more scandals will exist. 4 or 5 years of Battistelli tyranny entailed a torrent of negative publicity for the EPO around 2014-2017, causing the Office to become incapable of recruiting the people it needs.

Later in the day we may revisit the failure of the media, seeing that it’s too occupied and far too busy doing marketing instead of journalism, much as can be expected from a “Sold Asset” rather than independent investigator. It can be interesting to have the EPO audited one day, theoretically at least (if auditors are allowed indoors), to see just how much money was wasted on bribery and blackmail, in effect “fixing” the media coverage regarding the EPO. Then there are bribes for scholars, payments to PR firms, not to mention millions of euros for hours-long annual festivals. Is this what a patent office was entrusted to pursue back in the 1970s? Surely not.

IRC Proceedings: Saturday, December 12, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:02 am by Needs Sunlight

HTML5 logs

HTML5 logs

#techrights log as HTML5

#boycottnovell log as HTML5

HTML5 logs

HTML5 logs

#boycottnovell-social log as HTML5

#techbytes log as HTML5

text logs

text logs

#techrights log as text

#boycottnovell log as text

text logs

text logs

#boycottnovell-social log as text

#techbytes log as text

Enter the IRC channels now

IPFS Mirrors

CID Description Object type
 Qma7YXbTC1GachUMmfydSqGBYDwYaUjXDbauWLtaQApfee IRC log for #boycottnovell
(full IRC log as HTML)
HTML5 logs
 QmfVaB5C8eipzFrGDaWSETYPoGbt1Mh9Sn4iTGCb8MvYdg IRC log for #boycottnovell
(full IRC log as plain/ASCII text)
text logs
 Qmeb2AK76z1uWhsMFch6ciVKZ2doLV77jjja4To2hiQ31p IRC log for #boycottnovell-social
(full IRC log as HTML)
HTML5 logs
 QmXF3VQ396xSC3THfqBB8oBffnBg43jjmrPGa4FYQJkHgp IRC log for #boycottnovell-social
(full IRC log as plain/ASCII text)
text logs
 Qmd2F2bFpoFyESgbwFFb2j46df1yd92gpX8wXFvEXiRQ2s IRC log for #techbytes
(full IRC log as HTML)
HTML5 logs
 QmaBkKfd6bZPWAJexQsd21MwgvLwJT8ecB19yuoZGJMR24 IRC log for #techbytes
(full IRC log as plain/ASCII text)
text logs
 QmRiUS2gieTuG5B4mvo8zK4RoZv9VandRStY13cwPymeuh IRC log for #techrights
(full IRC log as HTML)
HTML5 logs
 QmZZ4crpJ3u2Q6LsLHWQLQqQNMyb5PSwexG3qbcSfsx5hs IRC log for #techrights
(full IRC log as plain/ASCII text)
text logs

IPFS logo

Bulletin for Yesterday

Local copy | CID (IPFS): QmdouB7iwNKj8ZU7ab1Z5zsMaER5uXJZLnFx1U2iHwkZGd

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources




Samba logo

We support

End software patents


GNU project


EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com

Recent Posts