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Links 23/10/2018: Mesa 18.3 Planned, RISC OS Adopts Apache Licence, Mozilla Firefox 63.0 Available

GNOME bluefish



  • Kernel Space

    • Greg Kroah-Hartman, not Torvalds, pushes Linux 4.19
      Greg Kroah-Hartman, the temporary Linux kernel maintainer, has released version 4.19 of the Linux kernel before Linus Torvalds returns to the helm for the Linux 4.20/5.0 development cycle. Kroah-Hartman described the kernel as “solid” and that this would be beneficial as it will be a long-term kernel that will be used by distributions for some time. Unusually, the release was pushed this morning as opposed to a Sunday which is the usual day for kernel releases when Linus Torvalds is in charge.

      The release of Linux 4.19 was put off for an extra week, with the additional time, contributors were able to send in a “small trickle” of "good" bug fixes. With the extra waiting time, however, the next Linux kernel is likely going to receive lots of new changes which could open up the potential for quirks in the software as debugging will take longer.Greg Kroah-Hartman, the temporary Linux kernel maintainer, has released version 4.19 of the Linux kernel before Linus Torvalds returns to the helm for the Linux 4.20/5.0 development cycle. Kroah-Hartman described the kernel as “solid” and that this would be beneficial as it will be a long-term kernel that will be used by distributions for some time. Unusually, the release was pushed this morning as opposed to a Sunday which is the usual day for kernel releases when Linus Torvalds is in charge.

      The release of Linux 4.19 was put off for an extra week, with the additional time, contributors were able to send in a “small trickle” of "good" bug fixes. With the extra waiting time, however, the next Linux kernel is likely going to receive lots of new changes which could open up the potential for quirks in the software as debugging will take longer.

    • Linus Torvalds Returns to Linux After Time Off for Being a Jerk [Ed: After "being a jerk". This is how Microsoft- and Bill Gates-funded press covers Torvalds coming back]

    • Linus Torvalds returns to Linux development with new code of conduct in place

    • PC version of Linux 4.19 lands with PC version of Linus Torvalds: Kernel handed back to creator
      Woke Linus Torvalds has returned from a four-week exile to once again steer the Linux kernel, the widely used software project he founded nearly 30 years ago.

      The American-Finnish ex-firebrand programmer is back as its official custodian, according to temporary lead Greg Kroah-Hartman in an announcement for version 4.19 of the kernel for PCs, servers, and shedloads of other gear.

      "And with that, Linus, I'm handing the kernel tree back to you," Kroah-Hartman concluded. "You can have the joy of dealing with the merge window :)"

    • Linux Kernel 4.19 – Long Term Support, USB Type C, and WiFi 6
      This was a rather special release due to the fact that, at about half way through the process, Linus Torvalds left the helm of Linux kernel development to take a rare break. However, Greg Kroah-Hartman took over until the release was ready and is now handing the reins back to Torvalds.

      Another interesting fact about this iteration is that 4.19 will be a Long Term Support (LTS) kernel. That is, it will receive updates and patches to keep it safe and maintained for at least a couple of years. The last LTS kernel (which is still supported) was 4.14, released in November 2017.
    • Kees Cook: security things in Linux v4.19
      While it seems like ages ago, the fixes for L1TF actually landed at the start of the v4.19 merge window. As with the other speculation flaw fixes, lots of people were involved, and the scope was pretty wide: bare metal machines, virtualized machines, etc. LWN has a great write-up on the L1TF flaw and the kernel’s documentation on L1TF defenses is equally detailed. I like how clean the solution is for bare-metal machines: when a page table entry should be marked invalid, instead of only changing the “Present” flag, it also inverts the address portion so even a speculative lookup ignoring the “Present” flag will land in an unmapped area.

    • Linux Kernel Interface To Finally Allow For Programmable LED Patterns
      It's not often we get to talk about the LED drivers for the Linux kernel... Yes, the class of Linux kernel drivers to support controlling the brightness of LEDs via supported drivers and exposing that to user-space. With Linux 4.20~5.0 comes finally the ability to program "patterns" for LEDs.

    • Linux 4.20~5.0 Bringing Better x86 32-Bit Hibernation Support
      Intel's Rafael Wysocki sent in the power management updates today for the Linux 4.20~5.0 kernel cycle.

      On the power management front for this next Linux kernel, there is better x86 32-bit hibernation support. Hibernation bug fixes were back-ported from the x86_64 kernel code to x86 32-bit for consolidating the x86 hibernation handling and allowing a lot more 32-bit systems to behave correctly should you still be running them and wish to correctly hibernate for power conservation.

    • IBM s390 Code For Linux 4.20 Bringing Several Features
      Should you be into Linux on z Systems, the IBM s390 code for the Linux 4.20~5.0 cycle is coming with several feature additions.

      The s390 code is bringing a few features that have been available on other platforms for a while including KASAN (Kernel Address Sanitizer) as well as support for virtually mapped kernel stacks.

    • ​Linus Torvalds talks about coming back to work on Linux
      "'I'm starting the usual merge window activity now," said Torvalds. But it's not going to be kernel development as usual. "We did talk about the fact that now Greg [Kroah-Hartman] has write rights to my kernel tree, and if will be easier to just share the load if we want to, and maybe we'll add another maintainer after further discussion."

      So, Kroah-Hartman, who runs the stable kernel, will have a say on Linus' cutting-edge kernel. Will someone else get write permission to Torvalds' kernel code tree to help lighten the load?

      Stay tuned.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Open Source: Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. Join Academy Software Foundation (EXCLUSIVE)

      • How the Linux Foundation is reckoning with its security and diversity issues
        Linus Torvalds is back in charge of Linux. With that elephant out of the room - what else might the Linux Foundation be keen to address?

        Speaking with Computerworld UK at the Open Source Summit in Edinburgh this week, executive director of the Foundation, Jim Zemlin, outlined three key areas of improvement: application security, diversity, and data sharing.


        These are the most pressing issues outlined by Zemlin, but another area where the Foundation hopes to see improvement is bolstering collaboration, specifically around the rise of machine learning, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics.

        As these become more important to how people build technology products and services, Zemlin adds, the importance of code sharing also increases.

        "I think the concept of taking open source practices of code sharing and lending them to data sharing is something that we could assist on, and to that end we've created an open data licence - two of them actually, a copyleft one and a more permissive data licence, similar to how standardised open source licences made it easy to share code, make it easy to share data."

      • Celebrating 15 Years of the Xen Project and Our Future
        In the 1990s, Xen was a part of a research project to build a public computing infrastructure on the Internet led by Ian Pratt and Keir Fraser at The University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory. The Xen Project is now one of the most popular open source hypervisors and amasses more than 10 million users, and this October marks our 15th anniversary. From its beginnings, Xen technology focused on building a modular and flexible architecture, a high degree of customizability, and security. This security mindset from the outset led to inclusion of non-core security technologies, which eventually allowed the Xen Project to excel outside of the data center and be a trusted source for security and embedded vendors (ex. Qubes, Bromium, Bitdefender, Star Labs, Zentific, Dornerworks, Bosch, BAE systems), and also a leading hypervisor contender for the automotive space. As the Xen Project looks to a future of virtualization everywhere, we reflect back on some of our major achievements over the last 15 years. To celebrate, we’ve created an infographic that captures some of our key milestones — share it on social. A few community members also weighed in on some of their favorite Xen Project moments and what’s to come:

      • Linux Foundation Technical Advisory Board election call for nominations
        The Linux Foundation's Technical Advisory Board is chosen by a vote at the Kernel Summit each year; this year, that will happen during the Linux Plumbers Conference in November.

    • Graphics Stack

      • New LTS Kernel 4.19 and NVidia Patch
        Under 24h after Linux Kernel 4.19 LTS is released by Greg, Patrick decided to bump the kernel used in -current to the latest LTS release. This new major version brings tons of new and interesting features, as written in Kernel Newbies.


        I'm pretty sure it will showed up soon enough as KDE 5 is getting more stable and polished. It has been tested by Eric (and some other) for some time and it's proven to be solid.
      • A 2018 Autumn Linux Driver Update For The ATI RAGE 128 Series
        The open-source display driver for supporting these graphics cards where 32MB of SDRAM was suitable, 250 nm fabrication was standard, and core clocks around 100MHz were competitive is still being maintained... Two decades after the release of the ATI RAGE series, the open-source Linux driver continues seeing some activity and in fact a new driver release.

        The lone independent driver contributor ushering along the RAGE driver (xf86-video-r128) is Kevin Brace who started working on the VIA OpenChrome open-source driver in recent years and for the past number of months recently shifted focus to the classic RAGE driver. He released the xf86-video-r128 6.12.0 driver today to address two build failures. Besides addressing build problems, he also began writing some of the XAA/EXA 2D acceleration code. He did note of the changes to the 2D acceleration code paths, "It is always possible that I can mess up the code, but it appears that the code is working correctly."

      • [Mesa-dev] 18.3 release plan

      • Mesa 18.3 Gets A Release Date Towards The End Of November
        Intel open-source developer Dylan Baker has laid out a proposed release schedule for the upcoming Mesa 18.3 quarterly feature release.

        There are two key dates: 31 October is the proposed branching date and 21 November is the proposed Mesa 18.3.0 release date. Between those two dates would be the usual weekly release candidates and there is the potential for the Mesa 18.3.0 release to be drawn out to the end of November or early December depending upon any open blocker bugs, which is common for the Mesa quarterly feature releases.

    • Benchmarks

      • Serves Up Its 35 Millionth Test Profile/Suite Benchmark Download
        Just a little more than one month after crossing 34 million downloads, the 35,000,000 milestone was achieved -- continuing the trend that's been going on for the past number of quarters. serves test profiles/suites separate from the Phoronix Test Suite package itself to allow new tests to be easily introduced without having to upgrade the PTS client itself, update existing tests with version controls, etc. is also what allows users to upload their own test results publicly, obtain various hardware/software statistics, and much more.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt 5.9.7 Released
        Qt 5.9.7 is released today. As a patch release Qt 5.9.7 does not add any new functionality, but provides important bug fixes and other improvements.

        Compared to Qt 5.9.6, the new Qt 5.9.7 contains almost 60 bug fixes. In total there are around 180 changes in Qt 5.9.7 compared to Qt 5.9.6. For details of the most important changes, please check the Change files of Qt 5.9.7.

        Qt 5.9.7 can be updated to using the maintenance tool of the online installer. For new installations, please download latest online installer from Qt Account portal or from Download page. Offline packages are available for commercial users in the Qt Account portal and at the Download page for open-source users.

      • Plasma 5.14.2
        Today KDE releases a Bugfix update to KDE Plasma 5, versioned 5.14.2. Plasma 5.14 was released in October with many feature refinements and new modules to complete the desktop experience.

      • KDE Plasma 5.14.2 Desktop Environment Improves Firmware Updates, Snap Support

      • Is Pine64 Considering a Linux Smartphone Running KDE Plasma?
        It’s not confirmed but it is likely that Pine64 is considering a budget Linux smartphone running KDE Plasma.

        Pine64 is a hardware vendor famous for its Linux-based Single Board Computers like Pine A64. These ARM boards are inexpensive and cost only $15-$20.

        Pine64 also has an $89 Linux laptop called Pinebook. This laptop actually runs the Pine A64 underneath it.

        Pine64 works with a few Linux distributions to provide a smooth running operating system for Pinebook. KDE Neon is one of those Linux distributions and it seems that this partnership will have some new and exciting ventures in future.

      • Google Code-in 2018 is about to start!
        After a break in 2017, the KDE community is participating in the Google Code-in contest as a mentoring organization. This means that pre-university students aged 13 to 17 from all over the world will be able to contribute to the Free Software movement by helping KDE develop software products that give users control, freedom, and privacy.

        Google Code-in is a global online contest with the goal of helping teenagers get involved in the world of open source development. Mentors from the participating organizations lend a helping hand as participants complete various bite-sized tasks in coding, graphics design, documentation, and more.

        This year we have tasks from KDE Connect, a project that enables all your devices to communicate with each other; GCompris, an educational software suite; KDE Partition Manager, our disk partitioning utility; and the KDE Visual Design Group, our interface usability experts.

      • Celebrating KDE’s 22 years and embracing new contributors at LaKademy 2018
        Almost two weeks ago we had the seventh edition of the LaKademy, an event that has been held in Brazil since 2012. As you may know LaKademy’s main goal is to get together the Latin American contributors of KDE community and to attract new ones. We don’t have talks like in Akademy because the event’s idea is to be a space for sprints. So people work in small groups doing specific tasks like fixing bugs, developing new features or translating software and documentation.

  • Distributions

    • Lakka – Transform Your Old PC into a Retrogaming Console
      Lakka is a free, lightweight, and open-source Linux distro that turns a small PC into a full-blown game console. It features a beautiful and user-friendly UI with eye candy colours and a PS4-like User Experience.

      You can install it on your SD card and easily set it up or run it LIVE. Its wide range of joypad support allows you to use PlayStation, XBox, and Nintendo game controllers.

      If you don’t have a PC to use Lakka on you can dedicated hardware at a cost as low as $30 thanks to its support for a variety of computers not excluding Raspberry Pi, Raspberry 2, HummingBoard, Banana Po, Odroid, CuBox-i, Cubietruck, and Cubieboard 2.

      Lakka is the official OS of RetroArch which takes care of its inputs and display, and it implements all game systems as a libretro core. This separation ensures that users are able to configure their setup once and have their changes effected across all game systems.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Security Update For Leap
        openSUSE has released an updated kernel for Leap 42.3 to address several vulnerabilities. An attacker could exploit some of these vulnerabilities to cause a denial of service or escalate their privileges.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat: Creativity is risky (and other truths open leaders need to hear)
        Leaders are all too aware of the importance of invention and innovation. Today, the health and wealth of their businesses have become increasingly dependent on the creation of new products and processes. In the digital age especially, competition is more fierce than ever as global markets open and expand. Just keeping pace with change requires a focus on constant improvement and consistent learning. And that says nothing about building for tomorrow.

      • APAC Financial Services Institutions Bank on Red Hat to Enhance Agility
      • APAC banks aim to use open source to enhance agility

      • Huawei CloudFabric Supports Container Network Deployment Automation, Improving Enterprise Service Agility
        At HUAWEI CONNECT 2018, Huawei announced that its CloudFabric Cloud Data Center Solution supports container network deployment automation and will be available for the industry-leading enterprise Kubernetes platform via a new plug-in.

      • Redis Labs Integrates With Red Hat OpenShift, Hits 1B Milestone
        Redis Labs is integrating its enterprise platform as a hosted and managed database service on Red Hat’s OpenShift Container Platform. That integration includes built-in support for Red Hat’s recently launched Kubernetes Operator.

        The Redis Enterprise integration will allow customers to deploy and manage Redis databases as a stateful Kubernetes service. It will also allow users to run Redis Enterprise on premises or across any cloud environment.

      • Death Road to Canada adds 4-player local co-op along with new game modes
        In today’s post, we’re talking about failure. In episode 4, “Fail Better,” we learn how Google has systematically learned to embrace (each and every) failure as an opportunity to learn, grow, and prevent classes of similar problems from happening again. We also learn how one of the most popular video game franchises of all time may not have been so successful had the developers been successful in their first attempt at an algorithm for some rather prominent non-player characters (NPCs).

        Whether we like it or not, some amount of failure is inevitable. To this end, I started this week’s discussion with Jared and Michael by asking about how an early failure may have led to a different—or even a beneficial—outcome.

      • Failure as a catalyst: Designing a feedback loop for success
        Emotional Resonance (context): I was turned down by Red Hat for a scrum master position because I wasn’t “qualified enough” even though this is what I had been doing prior to my job search. Red Hat was a fantastic opportunity for me and an opportunity to work on tech at a software company. I really wanted to work there. I longed to work there. (Note: Red Hat saw the error of their ways 4 months later and offered me a position that was hand crafted for my experience. The rest is history. And I’m forever grateful to my hiring manager.)

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Fedora Toolbox — Hacking on Fedora Silverblue
          Fedora Silverblue is a modern and graphical operating system targetted at laptops, tablets and desktop computers. It is the next-generation Fedora Workstation that promises painless upgrades, clear separation between the OS and applications, and secure and cross-platform applications. The basic operating system is an immutable OSTree image, and all the applications are Flatpaks.

          It’s great!

          However, if you are a hacker and decide to set up a development environment, you immediately run into the immutable OS image and the absence of dnf. You can’t install your favourite tools, editors and SDKs the way you’d normally do on Fedora Workstation. You can either unlock your immutable OS image to install RPMs through rpm-ostree and give up the benefit of painless upgrades; or create a Docker container to get an RPM-based toolbox but be prepared to mess around with root permissions and having to figure out why your SSH agent or display server isn’t working.

        • Fedora 28 : Alien, Steam and Fedora distro.
        • Fedora Toolbox ready for testing!
          As many of you know we kicked of a ambitious goal to revamp the Linux desktop when we launched Fedora Workstation 4 years. We wanted to remove many of the barriers to adoption of Linux as a desktop and make it a better operating system for all, especially for developers.

          To that effect we have been pushing a long range of initiatives over the last 4 years ago, ranging from providing a better input stack through libinput, a better display system through Wayland, a better audio and video subsystem through PipeWire, a better way of doing application packaging and dependency handling through Flatpak, a better application installation history through GNOME Software, actual firmware handling for Linux through Linux Vendor Firmware Service, better manageability through Fleet Commander, and Project Silverblue for reliable OS updates. We also had a lot of efforts done to improve general hardware handling, be that work on glvnd and friends for dealing with NVidia driver, the Bolt project for handling Thunderbolt devices better, HiDPI support in the desktop, better touch support in the desktop, improved laptop battery life, and ongoing work to improve state of fingerprint readers under Linux and to provide a flicker free boot experience.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 550

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 550
            Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue 550 for the week of October 14 – 20, 2018.

          • Ubuntu 18.10 is a Cosmic Cuttlefish of new Linux loveliness
            CANONICAL HAS announced the release of its bi-annual update to the Ubuntu operating system.

            Ubuntu 18.10, aka Cosmic Cuttlefish, is out now. It's not a long-term version so this is more aimed at individual users, as companies prefer to wait for an LTS to commit.

            So what's new in this build? Well, one of the biggest bugbears - graphics driver updating - has been addressed, so there'll be no more of all that sideloading the updates nonsense.

            Canonical has confirmed that this simpler process will get a graphical clicky interface, but not until (probably) version 19.x.

            But in the meantime, the way Ubuntu uses RAM for graphics has been given a kicking and should be a lot more efficient for migrating gamers.

          • Ubuntu 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish is now ready to download
            It’s October which means that we were due an Ubuntu release and Canonical hasn’t failed us this time around. Starting now, users who want to download Ubuntu 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish can do so. The latest version of the popular Linux distribution is only supported for nine months, until July 2019, with it being an inter-LTS release, therefore, you may want to consider sticking with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS on your mission-critical systems.

            Ubuntu 18.10 is no small release; out-of-the-box users will be greeted with a new theme dubbed Yaru and a new icon theme called Suru. It marks the first time that the distribution has received a significant overhaul since Ubuntu 10.10 when Canonical, the firm that makes Ubuntu, decided to throw out the brown colour scheme in favour of the purple, orange, and black theme we’re all now so used to.

          • You Can Now Buy an Official Ubuntu 18.10 T-Shirt
            The reverse of each 100% cotton tee bears the Ubuntu brand mark and text that reads “Cosmic Cuttlefish 18.10”.

            The shirt is both unisex and available in sizes small through quad XL. This should ensure there’s a comfy fit for virtually everyone (though, alas, not me – I’m an XS, and “small” is just too dang big).

            As well as making a great xmas gift idea an Ubuntu-loving loved one, the shirt is also a novel way to communicate your computing preferences to the wider world as you go about your shopping in Walmart, or as a certified conversation starter at tech conferences.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • System76 releases Ubuntu-based Pop!_OS 18.10 Linux distribution
              System76 is making huge moves lately. The company used to just sell re-branded computers running Ubuntu, and while there was nothing wrong with that, it has much more lofty goals. You see, it released its own Ubuntu-based operating system called "Pop!_OS," and now, it is preparing to release its own self-designed and built open source computers. In other words, much like Apple, System76 is maintaining both the software and hardware aspects of the customer experience.

              While its new hardware is not yet available, the latest version of its operating system is. Following the release of Ubuntu 18.10, Pop!_OS 18.10 is now available for download. While it is based on Ubuntu, it is not merely Canonical's operating system with System76 branding and artwork. Actually, there are some significant customizations that make Pop!_OS its own.

            • Ubuntu MATE 18.10 Released for GPD Pocket PCs, Raspberry Pi Images Coming Soon
              Shipping with the latest MATE 1.20.3 desktop environment and Linux 4.18 kernel, Ubuntu MATE 18.10 is now available with updated apps and core components, better hardware support, and, for the first time, images for the GDP Pocket and GDP Pocket 2 handheld computers, along with the generic images for 64-bit Intel PCs.

              According to Martin Wimpress, Ubuntu MATE 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish) includes some hardware-specific tweaks and other improvements to core components in an attempt to make the Linux-based operating system work out-of-the-box and without any hiccups on both the GDP Pocket and GDP Pocket 2 tiny computers.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Acorn Computer's RISC OS operating system finally goes fully open source
    RISC OS, the operating system that powered Acorn Computer's Archimedes computers in the 1980s and 1990s, has been fully released to open source.

    The move was welcomed by Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton: "RISC OS is a great demonstration of how much performance a well-tuned operating system and user interface can wring out of a platform. Moving to a free open source licence should bring a renewed interest to RISC OS."

    The shift to open source will enable the operating system to be used in new environments and markets, according to RISC OS Developments director Andrew Rawnsley. "This move unlocks a lot of opportunities for RISC OS that were previously inaccessible due to former licence restrictions. We look forward to seeing the exciting projects that this makes possible," said Rawnsley.

  • Roughly 30 years after its birth at UK's Acorn Computers, RISC OS 5 is going open source
    RISC OS was designed and developed by Acorn Computers, once dubbed the Apple of Britain, in the 1980s to run on the fledgling 32-bit Arm processor family, also designed by Acorn. Yes, the Arm that now powers the world's smartphones, embedded electronics, Internet-of-Things, and more, although it's come a long way since its mid-1980s genesis.

    The operating system, meanwhile, began life as the rough-around-the-edges Arthur 1.20 in 1987 for the ARM2-powered Archimedes A305 and A310, and by 1989, had morphed into the more slick RISC OS 2, written mostly in handcrafted assembly language for performance and memory-footprint reasons.

  • Acorn Computer's RISC OS finally goes open source
    RISC OS, the operating system that powered Acorn Computer's Archimedes computers, has been released to open source.

    The shift to open source will enable the operating system to be used in new environments and markets, according to RISC OS Developments director Andrew Rawnsley.

    "This move unlocks a lot of opportunities for RISC OS that were previously inaccessible due to former licence restrictions. We look forward to seeing the exciting projects that this makes possible," he said.

    The move was welcomed by Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton, too, who swooned: "RISC OS is a great demonstration of how much performance a well-tuned operating system and user interface can wring out of a platform. Moving to a free open source licence should bring a renewed interest to RISC OS."

  • RISC OS goes open source with Apache 2.0 license
    ROD will be working alongside community maintainers ROOL to republish the source code to this popular niche operating system under the Apache 2.0 License, in a move aimed at removing existing barriers to entry for developers from the open source community and enabling free-of-charge use in commercial products for the first time in RISC OS's history.

  • The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache€® HTTP Server v2.4.37
    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the all-volunteer developers, stewards, and incubators of more than 350 Open Source projects and initiatives, announced today Apache€® HTTP Server 2.4.37, the latest version of the world’s most popular Web server.

    Apache HTTP Server is an Open Source HTTP server for modern operating systems that include UNIX, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS/X, and Netware. For more than 23 years, the award-winning server software has been lauded as a secure, efficient, and extensible server that provides HTTP services observing the current HTTP standards.

  • Benjamin Mako Hill: Why organizational culture matters for online groups
    Leaders and scholars of online communities tend of think of community growth as the aggregate effect of inexperienced individuals arriving one-by-one. However, there is increasing evidence that growth in many online communities today involves newcomers arriving in groups with previous experience together in other communities. This difference has deep implications for how we think about the process of integrating newcomers. Instead of focusing only on individual socialization into the group culture, we must also understand how to manage mergers of existing groups with distinct cultures. Unfortunately, online community mergers have, to our knowledge, never been studied systematically.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 63 Released with Tab Switcher Changes, More Robust Web Extensions
        Firefox 63 is the first version of the web browser to run web extensions (previously known as add-ons) in their own processes on Linux systems. Firefox already runs “out-of-process extensions” in its Windows and Mac builds.

        Although largely a technical change it should lead to some tangible performance benefits, and help improve the overall security and stability of Firefox. Should an add-on crash or have a memory leak it can no longer take the rest of the browser (or its tabs) with it.

      • Cameron Kaiser: TenFourFox FPR10 available
        TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 10 final is now available (downloads, hashes, release notes). This version is live now. Other than outstanding security updates, in this version I also retracted the change (by flipping the pref) for unique data URL origins in issue 525 because of some reported add-on incompatibility. I'm looking at a way add-ons can get around this with their existing code for FPR11, but you're warned: many sites rely on this behaviour to reduce their cross-site scriping surface, and we will have to turn it back on sooner or later.

        The changes for FPR11 (December) and FPR12 will be smaller in scope mostly because of the holidays and my parallel work on the POWER9 JIT for Firefox on the Talos II. For the next couple FPRs I'm planning to do more ES6 work (mostly Symbol and whatever else I can shoehorn in) and to enable unique data URI origins, and possibly get requestIdleCallback into a releaseable state. Despite the slower pace, however, we will still be tracking the Firefox release schedule as usual.

      • RGSoC wrap-up - Supporting Responsive Images in Servo
        Hey everyone, this is Nupur Baghel and Paavini Nanda, from the team “101 Days of Summer”. Both of us are computer engineering undergraduate students from New Delhi, India. We were involved with Servo this summer under the Rails Girls Summer of Code program and spent an amazing 3 months implementing functionalities to support responsive images in Servo

      • This Week In Servo 116
        In the past weeks, we merged 61 PRs in the Servo organization’s repositories.

      • Searchfox in Phabricator extension
        Being able to search code while reviewing can be really useful, but unfortunately it’s not so straightforward. Many people resort to loading the patch under review in an IDE in order to be able to search code.

        Being able to do it directly in the browser can make the workflow much smoother.

        To support this use case, I’ve built an extension for Phabricator that integrates Searchfox code search functionality directly in Phabricator differentials. This way reviewers can benefit from hovers, go-to-definition and find-references without having to resort to the IDE or without having to manually navigate to the code on or Moreover, compared to or, the extension highlights both the pre-patch view and the post-patch view, so reviewers can see how pre-existing variables/functions are being used after the patch.

      • Mozilla Firefox 63.0 "Quantum" Is Now Available for Download, Here's What's New
        The Mozilla Firefox 63.0 "Quantum" web browser is now available to download for all supported platforms, including Linux, Mac, and Windows, ahead of tomorrow's official launch.
      • Latest Firefox Rolls Out Enhanced Tracking Protection
        At Firefox, we’re always looking to build features that are true to the Mozillia mission of giving people control over their data and privacy whenever they go online. We recently announced our approach to Anti-tracking where we discussed three key feature areas we’re focusing on to help people feel safe while they’re on the web. With today’s release, we’re making progress against “removing cross-site tracking” with what we’re calling Enhanced Tracking Protection.

      • Firefox 65 Will Block Tracking Cookies By Default
        Mozilla today released Firefox 63, which includes an experimental option to block third-party tracking cookies, protecting against cross-site tracking. You can test this out today, but Mozilla wants to enable it for everyone by default in Firefox 65.

      • The Path to Enhanced Tracking Protection
        As a leader of Firefox’s product management team, I am often asked how Mozilla decides on which privacy features we will build and launch in Firefox. In this post I’d like to tell you about some key aspects of our process, using our recent Enhanced Tracking Protection functionality as an example.

      • Firefox 63 Lets Users Block Tracking Cookies
        As announced in August, Firefox is changing its approach to addressing tracking on the web. As part of that plan, we signaled our intent to prevent cross-site tracking for all Firefox users and made our initial prototype available for testing.

        Starting with Firefox 63, all desktop versions of Firefox include an experimental cookie policy that blocks cookies and other site data from third-party tracking resources. This new policy provides protection against cross-site tracking while minimizing site breakage associated with traditional cookie blocking.

      • Firefox 63 – Tricks and Treats!
      • Firefox 63 Released, Red Hat Collaborating with NVIDIA, Virtual Box 6.0 Beta Now Available, ODROID Launching a New Intel-Powered SBC and Richard Stallman Announces the GNU Kind Communication Guidelines
        Firefox 63.0 was released this morning. With this new version, "users can opt to block third-party tracking cookies or block all trackers and create exceptions for trusted sites that don't work correctly with content blocking enabled". In addition, WebExtensions now run in their own process on Linux, and Firefox also now warns if you have multiple windows and tabs open when you quit via the main menu. You can download it from here.
      • Changes to how Mozilla Readability extracts article metadata in Firefox 63
        Mozilla Readability will now extract document metadata from Dublin Core and Open Graph Protocol meta tags instead of trying to guess article titles.

        Earlier this year, I documented how reader mode in web browsers extract metadata about articles. After learning about the messy state of metadata extraction for reader mode, I sought to improve the extraction logic used in Mozilla Readability. Mozilla Readability was one of the first reader mode parsers and it’s used in Firefox as well as other web browsers.

  • Oracle

    • Announcement: VirtualBox 6.0 Beta 1 released
      Please do NOT use this VirtualBox Beta release on production machines! A VirtualBox Beta release should be considered a bleeding-edge release meant for early evaluation and testing purposes.
    • Oracle Pushes VirtualBox 6.0 Into Public Beta
      Oracle's Munich developers responsible for maintaining the VirtualBox virtualization software this morning announced the first public test release of the upcoming VirtualBox 6.0.

      While VirtualBox 6.0 is referred to as "a new major release", as of the beta one stage there are just a few features to note. With VirtualBox 6.0 Beta 1 there is support for exporting a virtual machine to the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. The second listed feature at this stage for v6.0 are improvements to the graphical user-interface for this VM software.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Open source initiative to improve residential Wi-Fi [Ed: No, OpenSync is about broadening the reach of in-home surveillance]
      Operators Liberty Global, Bell and Comcast have signed up to OpenSync that was announced at the Broadband World Forum. It creates a silicon, CPE, and cloud-agnostic approach for the curation, delivery and management of emerging residential services leveraging managed Wi-Fi.

    • Plume and Samsung Launch OpenSyncâ„¢ Open Source Initiative
      Following the large-scale deployment of residential Wi-Fi services relying on its core elements, the cloud managed modern home services pioneer Plume, and the world’s largest consumer electronics manufacturer Samsung announced the formation of a new open source software initiative called OpenSyncâ„¢. The initiative, whose elements have been deployed by Liberty Global, the world’s largest international TV & broadband company, Bell, Canada’s largest communications company, and Comcast, the largest broadband company in the US, creates a silicon, CPE, and cloud-agnostic approach for the curation, delivery and management of emerging residential services leveraging managed Wi-Fi.

    • Oracle helps users curate their way through the growing open-source cloud stack [Ed: "SPONSORED POST BY PETER BURRIS" and "This post is sponsored by Oracle Corp." So Mr. Burris is basically a PR agent, paid by Oracle for openwashing and googlebombing.]


    • Richard Stallman Announces “GNU Kind Communication Guidelines”
      It seems that the GNU Project isn’t unaffected from the development happenings in the land of Linux. After Linux kernel community introduced its Code of Conduct to make the contributors and maintainers follow certain rules and make the community more welcoming to the new contributors, Richard Stallman said that strict of conduct are “repressive and rigid.”

      In the latest development, he has announced “GNU Kind Communications Guidelines.” The initial version of the guidelines is available online and Stallman has requested the GNU contributors to follow them.

    • Guidelines for "kind communications" in free software communities
      Richard Stallman's new GNU Kind Communications Guidelines are a brief set of guidelines for being "kind" in your interactions in free software communities, with the explicit goals of ensuring participation from "anyone who wishes to advance the development of the GNU system, regardless of gender, race, religion, cultural background, and any other demographic characteristics, as well as personal political views."

      It's similar to other codes of conduct that have started to become the norm in tech circles, but with some free software-specific clauses ("be kind when pointing out to other contributors that they should stop using certain nonfree software. For their own sake, they ought to free themselves, but we welcome their contributions to our software packages even if they don't do that. So these reminders should be gentle and not too frequent—don't nag").

  • Programming/Development

    • Living on the command line: Why mistakes are a good thing

    • Getting started with functional programming in Python using the toolz library
      In the second of a two-part series, we continue to explore how we can import ideas from functional programming methodology into Python to have the best of both worlds.

      In the previous post, we covered immutable data structures. Those allow us to write "pure" functions, or functions that have no side effects, merely accepting some arguments and returning a result while maintaining decent performance.

    • The code's crashed again, but why? Tell us your war stories of bugs found – and bugs fixed
      Even the best software goes wrong from time to time. So, what exactly happens when it throws a wobbly, especially when it's a key component in a production environment?

      Whether it's a total crash, a transaction failure, or the mangling of important data, there's going to be some kind of business impact. And the more the problem persists, the greater the level of pain, loss, and disruption.

      Everyone wants faults identified, diagnosed, and fixed ASAP. Identification is not normally a challenge – user complaints, curses, screams, and threats usually provide a pretty good clue. But before anyone can prioritize and schedule a fix, someone needs to diagnose the problem.

    • Why does the C Programming language refuse to die?
      As a technology research analyst, I try to keep up pace with the changing world of technology. It seems like every single day, there is a new programming language, framework, or tool emerging out of nowhere. In order to keep up, I regularly have a peek at the listicles on TIOBE, PyPL, and Stackoverflow along with some twitter handles and popular blogs, which keeps my FOMO (fear of missing out) in check.

      So here I was, strolling through the TIOBE index, to see if a new programming language is making the rounds or if any old timer language is facing its doomsday in the lower half of the table. The first thing that caught my attention was Python, which interestingly broke into the top 3 for the first time since it was ranked by TIOBE. I never cared to look at Java, since it has been claiming the throne ever since it became popular. But with my pupils dilated, I saw something which I would have never expected, especially with the likes of Python, C#, Swift, and JavaScript around.

    • RcppTOML 0.1.4: Now with TOML v0.5.0


  • What does Stack Overflow want to be when it grows up?

    Thus, what I'd like to do right now is peer into that glorious abyss for a bit and introspect about the challenges I see facing Stack Overflow for the next 10 years. Before I begin, I do want to be absolutely crystal clear about a few things: [...]

  • Science

    • The future is old

      There's no instant solution here, because the answer lies in a million things that need to align perfectly together. However, before any of that happens, there needs to be a mind shift, across the entire industry, whereby the future landscape of technology usage - and technological dependence - will include a growing proportion of older people. This cannot be easily changed. Demographic shifts take decades and sometimes even longer to realize.

  • Microsoft

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Upfront NHS charges one year on - 6 reasons why they harm us all
      When you’re expecting a baby the last thing you want to be thinking about is whether you can afford over €£6,000 to go into hospital for the labour. For most people in England this isn’t yet a consideration but for the past year it has been the reality for many migrant women.

      A year ago today, the government introduced upfront NHS charges for certain migrants as part of its 'hostile environment'. Before that bills were sent after people received medical care. Primary care (i.e. GP visits), visits to accident and emergency, and treatment for some infection diseases remains free for all. However, secondary care (such as being on a ward in the hospital or X-Rays), community care (including midwifery and abortion services), and care deemed ‘non-urgent’ is now liable for upfront costs for many migrants.

      I’ve seen it for myself when I volunteered with Doctors of the World, supporting migrants to access healthcare in the UK. One patient we saw had a stroke, and was admitted to hospital unconscious. They were not charged for their time in A&E, however they were charged over €£40,000 for their time in the Intensive Care Unit (secondary care). The Doctors of the World clinics in London see many cases where lifesaving care – including cancer chemotherapy, surgery and palliative care – is withheld unless paid for upfront because it is classified as ‘non-urgent.’

  • Security

    • Libssh CVE-2018-10933 Scanners & Exploits Released - Apply Updates Now
    • Cross-Hyperthread Spectre V2 Mitigation Ready For Linux With STIBP
      On the Spectre front for the recently-started Linux 4.20~5.0 kernel is STIBP support for cross-hyperthread Spectre Variant Two mitigation.

      Going back to the end of the summer was the patch work for this cross-hyperthread Spectre V2 mitigation with STIBP while now it's being merged to mainline.

    • Targeted vs General purpose security
      There seems to be a lot of questions going around lately about how to best give out simple security advice that is actionable. Goodness knows I’ve talked about this more than I can even remember at this point. The security industry is really bad at giving out actionable advice. It’s common someone will ask what’s good advice. They’ll get a few morsels, them someone will point out whatever corner case makes that advice bad and the conversation will spiral into nonsense where we find ourselves trying to defend someone mostly concerned about cat pictures from being kidnapped by a foreign nation. Eventually whoever asked for help quit listening a long time ago and decided to just keep their passwords written on a sticky note under the keyboard.

      I’m pretty sure the fundamental flaw in all this thinking is we never differentiate between a targeted attack and general purpose security. They are not the same thing. They’re incredibly different in fact. General purpose advice can be reasonable, simple, and good. If you are a target you’ve already lost, most advice won’t help you.

      General purpose security is just basic hygiene. These are the really easy concepts. Ideas like using a password manager, multi-factor-auth, install updates on your system. These are the activities anyone and everyone should be doing. One could argue these should be the default settings for any given computer or service (that’s a post for another day though). You don’t need to be a security genius to take these steps. You just have to restrain yourself from acting like a crazy person so whoever asked for help can actually get the advice they need.

    • Oracle Moves to Gen 2 Cloud, Promising More Automation and Security [Ed: Ellison wants people to blindly trust proprietary blobs for security (a bad thing to do, never mind the CIA past of Oracle and severe flaws in its DBs)].
      A primary message from Ellison is that the Gen 2 Oracle cloud is more secure, with autonomous capabilities to help protect against attacks. Ellison also emphasized the segmentation and isolation of workloads on the Gen 2 Oracle cloud, providing improved security.

    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #182
      Here’s what happened in the Reproducible Builds effort between Sunday October 14 and Saturday October 20 2018...

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Embassy murder squad made 4 calls to Saudi crown prince's office on day Khashoggi was killed

      The Saudi entourage who went to the embassy in Turkey to cut off journalist Jamal Khashoggi's fingers, inject him with a drug to silence him, and dismember him with a bone saw made four calls that day to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's office, according to Turkish media reports.

    • 4 calls made from consulate to Saudi prince’s office the day Khashoggi was killed: report

      A member of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s entourage made four calls to the royal’s office from the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul the day Jamal Khashoggi was killed there, a pro-government Turkish newspaper reported Monday.

    • Khashoggi’s Disappearance Is a Test for Britain

      But when reports emerged this month of another attack—Saudi Arabia’s suspected abduction and murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul—the response was markedly different. Words of condemnation were replaced with expressions of concern, and threats of reprisals swapped with calls for patience. Implicit in this more muted response was concern for what would be at stake if the U.K. were to confront its Gulf ally, with whom it shares a strategic intelligence partnership, as well as billions of pounds in trade.

    • #WeHearYouKhashoggi

      The image you see above, is part of a full page ad we ran in The New York Times Sunday Edition today, October 21, 2018. Late last night, we were informed that our ad had been pulled, but around 80,000 copies had already left.

      The ad had already been approved and paid for. However, that wasn’t the beginning of the story. First, we tried to run it in the Washington Post, who was initially excited, but then kept asking for the artwork to be changed more and more until finally saying they simply didn’t want to run it at all.

    • Life in Kerch, a day after a school massacre rocked the city
      Shortly before noon on October 17, an eighteen-year-old student at Kerch Polytechnic College in eastern Crimea detonated a homemade bomb in the school’s lunchroom. Vladislav Roslyakov then roamed the building, shooting everyone he could from a legally purchased hunting rifle. Roslyakov murdered 19 people — a list of the victims’ names was made public on October 18 — and injured another 48, before turning the gun on himself. Meduza special correspondent Irina Kravtsova traveled to Kerch, to find out how this small Crimean city is weathering the aftermath of the massacre.

    • Blaming Saudis for Corrupting Otherwise Human Rights–Loving US
      As FAIR has noted for years, one of the primary ideological functions of US corporate media is to maintain the mythology that the US is a noble protector of democracy and arbiter of human rights. When material facts—like wars of aggression, massive spying regimes, the funding and arming right-wing militias and the propping up of dictators—get in the way of this mythology the response by most pundits is to wave away these inconsistencies (, 2/1/09), ignore them altogether (, 8/31/18) or spin them as Things That Are Actually Good (, 5/31/18).

      There is, however, another underappreciated trope used to prop up this mythology: that the US political class does bad things, not because bad things serve US imperial interests, but because they’re corrupted by sinister foreign actors.

      As more information about Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s brazen murder at the hands of the Saudi government comes to light, some in the US press are positioning Saudi Arabia as having “corrupted” Washington—as Khashoggi’s own editor lamented on Twitter last week. It’s a reassuring narrative, and one that will likely grow increasingly popular in the coming weeks: The Saudis have “corrupted,” “played” or “captured” an otherwise benevolent, values-based US government.

    • What can Better Call Saul tell us about the state of the UK criminal records system?
      The finale of the fourth season of the AMC drama Better Call Saul aired last week. For those not in the know, Better Call Saul is the prequel series to the massively popular drama, Breaking Bad. It tells the origin story of Saul Goodman, then known as Jimmy McGill, a morally conflicted lawyer with a history of criminal offending and a complex relationship with his upstanding brother, Chuck.

      Simmering beneath the surface of this story, for nearly 40 hours of programming, has been a debate about offending, rehabilitation and our perception of people who have offended. For a brief moment in last week’s finale this boiled over into full view as we met Kristy Esposito, a high school student who applies for a scholarship funded by Hamlin Hamlin McGill, the prestigious law firm where Jimmy’s brother practiced. Jimmy, for reasons that aren’t relevant here, is a panellist for the scholarship interviews.

      We don’t see any of the interviews, but it is revealed after the fact that Kristy scored lowest, getting only one vote. Three other candidates are therefore picked to receive the scholarship. The chair of the meeting asks if there’s anything else before wrapping up and Jimmy clears his throat, purposefully, looking visibly uncomfortable. He reveals that Kristy’s single vote was from him and “for what it’s worth I think we should give her another look.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • NSA and CIA Whistleblowers Speak at Gallatin
      Former Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency officers spoke about the importance of understanding whistleblowing at a Gallatin School of Individualized Study event. The conversation centered around two panels of various whistleblowers, advocates and historians who discussed the history, evolution and impact of whistleblowing as well as its relationship to national security.

      One of the panelists was former CIA Counterterrorism Officer John Kiriakou, who blew the whistle in 2007 on the CIA’s torture of suspected al-Qaeda operatives and was subsequently indicted under the Espionage Act of 1917.

      “I was passed over for a promotion after expressing that I didn’t want anything to do with the torture program,” Kiriakou said. “You can’t possibly feel more alone on the day you are arrested.”

      Another panelist was former NSA Senior Executive Thomas Drake, who exposed the United States government’s violations of the rights of citizens through secret mass surveillance after 9/11 and intelligence failures. He was indicted in 2010 by the Obama administration, also under the Espionage Act.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Hurricane Michael Survivor Calls Out Climate Denier Politicians
      In Mexico Beach, Florida, Russell King’s house is the only beachfront property that survived Hurricane Michael with little damage. But the fact it survived the latest record-breaking hurricane doesn’t give King peace of mind. Can it withstand the next storm that comes its way?

      Climate scientists predict that storms will continue to intensify, and King takes this to heart, worrying the next one could take down his house. I met King on October 14, four days after Hurricane Michael made landfall and wiped out a large portion of Mexico Beach, a small town on Florida’s panhandle. The storm swept into the area with winds of up to 155 miles per hour (mph), just two shy of reaching a Category 5 storm designation.

  • Finance

    • The good ship Brexit’s mission of free trade and empire
      ‘Free trade’ is really just the name given to the ideology that justifies global power imbalances.

      “If we’re talking about trade deals, we’re not talking about people's interests, not talking about people’s lives – they’re only talking about the interests of the multinational corporations in order to facilitate their business activities, especially in developing countries.”

      That was the warning earlier this month from Rachmi Hertani, director of Indonesia for Global Justice, about the push for the ‘free trade agenda’ in post Brexit trade deals. She was speaking at an event about trade deals and the global south after Brexit, organised by campaigning organisation Global Justice Now.

      As Britain looks to make new trade deals, politicians are promoting a Brexit where multinationals rule over elected governments as well as over the people they are meant to represent.

      International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, Theresa May and co. have been clear in their ambitions for the global south. “The thriving economies of south and east Asia and, increasingly, Africa, are, and will become, ever more important,” said Fox in July as he gave the Margaret Thatcher Freedom Lecture at the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington. He spoke of the “golden economic opportunities” presented by “the rise of the collective wealth of developing countries.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • America, Compromised: Lawrence Lessig explains corruption in words small enough for the Supreme Court to understand

      For decades, America has been undoing the great work of history's anti-corruption movements, allowing the wealthy to intervene directly in politics, creating political outcomes that increase their wealth -- lather, rinse repeat.

      The courts and their ideological backers -- the Chicago School economists who used shitty math to prove that greed is good and that corruption consists solely of direct quid-pro-quo bribery -- have served as enablers and even cheerleaders for this new Gilded Age, celebrating anonymous political cash contributions as a form of speech protected under the First Amendment and arguing that the Framers of the Constitution would have agreed wholeheartedly with them.

    • The Necessity of “Lesser-Evil” Voting
      It’s election season again, that joyous time of the biennium, and you know what that means: a renewal of the perennial left-wing debate over “lesser-evil voting.” Is it wrong to vote for a Democrat, rather than someone on the genuine left, in order to keep a reactionary or a fascist out of power? Or, on the contrary, is it wrong to vote for a leftist who has apparently no chance of victory, thereby denying a vote to the Democrat and so increasing the odds that the reactionary candidate will win? The most famous advocate of “lesser-evil” voting is Noam Chomsky, who argues that the most immediate moral imperative is to prevent the worst possible electoral outcome from occurring. Critics of lesser-evil voting are legion, as a simple Google search indicates.

      The writer Nick Pemberton recently contributed to this debate in a Counterpunch article entitled “Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why the Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved.” It’s a long and rambling article most of which isn’t worth responding to. Nevertheless, since Pemberton has resurrected the issue, I’d like to weigh in on the side of reason and morality. Maybe a miracle will happen and I’ll reach one or two people.

      It’s to the credit of Pemberton and many of his allies in this debate—e.g., B. Sidney Smith and Andrew Smolski—that they acknowledge it’s a risky proposition to disagree with Chomsky. The man has a preternatural ability to be rational and right about nearly everything. And on this issue too, I think, he’s absolutely right, and his critics are wrong. Now, if Chomsky can’t convince the critics then I certainly can’t, but hopefully I can at least provide a bit of food for thought.
    • How To Verify If Your Florida Mail-In Ballot Has Been Received
      Mail ballots are convenient but lack certain perks that voting in person gives voters. Namely, mail-in ballots are ten times more likely to be thrown out by county Supervisors of Elections than in-person ballots, according to a report issued last month by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

      And then, mail-in voters don’t get to proudly sport the “I Voted” stickers around town.

      Electionland, a collaboration between ProPublica and local news organizations including WLRN, has shined light on another potential downside: confusion.

      The Electionland project aims to cover the act of actually voting. Not the politics -- the who said what rat race stuff -- but how people experience the act of voting itself.

      Through its central database, Electionland has received reports from Florida voters who have already mailed out their ballots that have recently received flyers that say that they have “not yet returned” them. This includes voters from Broward, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Orange, Volusia, Duval, Brevard, St. Lucie, Marion, Pasco, Alachua, Seminole and Brevard Counties.
    • Under Trump, Journalists Face Greater Risk Of Warrantless Electronic Searches At Border
      Warrantless searches of electronic devices by Customs and Border Protection have tripled at the United States border in the last three years. The growth in searches puts press freedom at great risk.

      The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) spoke with over two dozen national and international journalists, who were subjected to or threatened with searches. They published a report on the “wide powers” claimed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents.

      Around 1 million people cross U.S. borders every day. Less than 1 percent have their electronic devices searched. Nevertheless, electronic device searches went from 8,500 in 2015 to more than 30,000 in 2017.

      CBP contends it must operate with a “border exception” when it comes to needing a warrant to search the electronic devices of individuals. It searches devices for threats to “national security,” which includes “classified information.” That directly threatens journalists and their confidential sources.

      According to the report from CPJ and RSF, from 2006 to June 2018, 37 journalists were “stopped collectively for secondary screenings more than 110 times.” At least four journalists were questioned while leaving the country.

      Nearly all of the 20 journalists, who said their devices were searched, had their devices taken out of sight.
    • A Debate for Auditor: What the Papers Wouldn’t Say
      Why does the Green Party elect so few people in the US while similar parties have elected representatives across the globe. Some have suggested it is the way Greens organize or problems with the leadership.
    • “No People, Big Problem”: Democracy and Its Discontents In Latvia
      No people, no problem (Нет людей, никаких проблем) is the quote often attributed to Joseph Stalin. Yet, if there is a lesson from Latvia’s October 6, 2018 national election, the problem was not the oft-repeated histrionics about its electoral takeover by ethnic Russians. The problem was demographics (‘No people, big problem’) and waning enthusiasm for democracy.

      Democracy’s health worsens in Latvia, while it is on life-support in many parts of the world. The problem with Latvia’s election was, first, how few people voted, as only 54 percent of the eligible electorate participated (remembering Latvia still has significant, but declining number of ethnic Russian non-citizens, who can’t vote in national elections). This turnout represented a drop from many of Latvia’s previous elections and is low compared to most other EU national votes. Voter turnout has been dropping globally (with some variation by country and time) for three decades at least.

    • Donald Trump’s strategy as midterms approach: lies and fear-mongering
      The U.S. president has unleashed a blizzard of false statements about immigration and health care in the run-up to November’s congressional elections.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • YouTube backed itself into a corner with Logan Paul and PewDiePie

      Now, the company is in a bind no matter what it does. If it continues to refuse to release Scare PewDiePie, the YouTube community will be up in arms over the question of fairness. If it brings back Scare PewDiePie, at least some of the public will see it as the company wavering to pressure and inadvertently rewarding Kjellberg despite his mistakes. While other people helped make the show possible, Kjellberg is the main draw of Scare PewDiePie, and there’s no way around the fact that a Kjellberg show would glorify the YouTuber.

    • Framing 'ethnic diversity' debate as about 'threat' mainstreams hate, say academics
      An open letter from academics opposed to the mainstreaming of far right ideas as open debate, such as the forthcoming debate with Claire Fox, David Aaronovitch, Trevor Phillips and academics Matthew Goodwin and Eric Kaufmann.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Stealthy UK startup drops veil on next frontier of speech wizardry
      If you've been amazed by Amazon's Alexa, Microsoft's Cortana and Google Assistant, you might think continuous speech recognition is done and dusted – and that there are no mountains left to climb. However, a young British company has developed a radical new approach with spectacular results, based on low-level signal processing.

      Unlike speech-to-text products, Eloqute analyses speech habits in real time. The result is an educational tool designed to improve an English* speaker's pronunciation – something with a huge and growing market as business travellers seek to impress their clients, and more call centres use non-native English speakers.

    • Now Apps Can Track You Even After You Uninstall Them
      Some providers say these tracking tools are meant to measure user reaction to app updates and other changes. Jude McColgan, chief executive officer of Boston’s Localytics, says he hasn’t seen clients use the technology to target former users with ads. Ehren Maedge, vice president for marketing and sales at MoEngage Inc. in San Francisco, says it’s up to the app makers not to do so. “The dialogue is between our customers and their end users,” he says. “If they violate users’ trust, it’s not going to go well for them.” Adjust, AppsFlyer, and CleverTap didn’t respond to requests for comment, nor did T-Mobile, Spotify, or Yelp.

      Uninstall tracking exploits a core element of Apple Inc.’s and Google’s mobile operating systems: push notifications. Developers have always been able to use so-called silent push notifications to ping installed apps at regular intervals without alerting the user—to refresh an inbox or social media feed while the app is running in the background, for example. But if the app doesn’t ping the developer back, the app is logged as uninstalled, and the uninstall tracking tools add those changes to the file associated with the given mobile device’s unique advertising ID, details that make it easy to identify just who’s holding the phone and advertise the app to them wherever they go.
    • Now App Developers Can Track You Even After Uninstallation
      It’s no coincidence if you encounter ads of apps which you uninstalled a long time ago. A recent report from Bloomberg suggests that app developers have found a “legit” way to track you even if you deleted any of their apps.

      Apparently, there are companies which offer uninstall tracking services to app developers of Android and iOS, both. They essentially work as silent push notifications which developers have long been using to refresh app information without notifying the user — like updating your social app without your knowledge is one example

      However, in this case, the silent push notification is specifically sent to test whether the app is installed or not.

    • Windows servers still infected by DarkPulsar NSA exploit
      Researchers from security outfit Kaspersky Lab say they have found about 50 systems infected by the DarkPulsar malware, part of the NSA exploits which were dumped online by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers in 2017. A research brief written by Andrey Dolgushev, Dmitry Tarakanov and Vasily Berdnikov said DarkPulsar was in the implants category of the dump which included two frameworks called DanderSpritz and FuzzBunch. DarkPulsar was not a backdoor in itself, but just the administrative part of a backdoor.

    • Kaspersky says it detected infections with DarkPulsar, alleged NSA malware
      The hacking tools were leaked by a group of hackers known as the Shadow Brokers, who claimed they stole them from the Equation Group, a codename given by the cyber-security industry to a group that's universally believed to be the NSA.

      DarkPulsar went mostly unnoticed for more than 18 months as the 2017 dump also included EternalBlue, the exploit that powered last year's three ransomware outbreaks --WannaCry, NotPetya, and Bad Rabbit.

      Almost all the infosec community's eyes have been focused on EternalBlue for the past year, and for a good reason, as the exploit has now become commodity malware.

      But in recent months, Kaspersky researchers have also started to dig deeper into the other hacking tools leaked by the Shadow Brokers last year.

      They looked at FuzzBunch, which is an exploit framework that the Equation Group has been using to deploy exploits and malware on victims' systems using a CLI interface similar to the Metasploit pen-testing framework.

    • NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden: 'I Can't Say I'm Safe' In Russia
      Just weeks after journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed, American whistleblower Edward Snowden conceded to a European audience that he’s uncertain of his safety while in Russia.

      “As for the future in Russia and what will happen there, I can’t say I’m safe. I don’t know,” Snowden said Thursday via video linkup from Moscow to a crowd in Innsbruck, Austria.

      The former National Security Agency contractor released thousands of secret documents to the media, exposing global electronic eavesdropping by NSA of foreigners and law-abiding Americans. He fled to Russia in 2013 to avoid trial in the U.S. on espionage charges.

    • NSA leaker Snowden: I'm not safe in Russia
      Edward Snowden has raised concerns regarding his safety in Russia, where the former U.S. intelligence contractor has resided for over five years in the wake of leaking classified National Security Agency documents. “As for the future in Russia and what will happen there, I can’t say I’m safe. I don’t know” Mr. Snowden said Thursday during an address telecast to a crowd in Austria.

      “But the real question is: Does it matter?” the NSA leaker added. “I didn’t come forward to be safe.”

      Mr. Snowden, 35, had has passport revoked while traveling internationally in June 2013 shortly after revealing himself as the source of recently leaked NSA documents, leaving him stateless and stranded at an airport near Moscow for several weeks prior to ultimately receiving asylum from Russian President Vladimir Putin. He previously worked for the CIA in addition to government contractors Dell and Booz Allen Hamilton, including a stint at the latter’s office in Kunia Camp, Hawaii, prior to being terminated after leaking documents exposing the NSA’s surveillance abilities and operations.

    • NSA 'Deputy Chief' Sent Sexually Explicit, Racist Emails To Women: Report

    • NSA Finalizes $6.7 Billion in Classified Tech Contracts
      The National Security Agency is quietly beginning work on a new series of three communications contracts valued at $6.7 billion.

      Details are sparse because the classified contracts—collectively called Greenway—were secretly awarded to telecommunications giant AT&T and defense contractors General Dynamics and ManTech International over the past year. Redacted legal documents following a protest of one of the contracts in March indicate the NSA’s goal is to “technically evolve” its IT environment.

    • Minority Report-inspired billboards will target shoppers with tailored ads

      They created technology that uses facial recognition cameras within billboards to identify characteristics from passersby, such as their age or gender. It then uses that information to tailor adverts.

    • Are the Police Using Smart-Home IoT Devices to Spy on People?

      IoT devices are surveillance devices, and manufacturers generally use them to collect data on their customers. Surveillance is still the business model of the Internet, and this data is used against the customers' interests: either by the device manufacturer or by some third party the manufacturer sells the data to. Of course, this data can be used by the police as well; the purpose depends on the country.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Australia to double jail terms for white-collar crimes

      Australia said on Sunday (Oct 21) that jail terms for white-collar crimes would be doubled and penalties against misbehaving companies sharply increased in a further fallout from a scathing inquiry into the finance sector.

    • Texas Teens Can't Graduate High School Until They've Been Told How To Behave Around Cops
      In short, it's best not to record a stop for your own personal safety because there's no telling what a professional highly-trained in law enforcement and force deployment might do if they see something in someone's hand -- even if that something is 1,000,000x more likely to be something everyone carries with them (a cellphone) than a weapon. Most people aren't going to escalate a traffic stop into a murder one charge. But that's hardly reassuring to highly-trained law enforcement officers, who are led to believe every interaction with the public carries the potential of death and destruction and respond to every movement like bunnies scattering at the sound of a stepped-on twig.

      Since highly-trained law enforcement officers are completely unpredictable, it's up to Texas' education system to crank out harmless teen drivers. Hence the stupid law and the stupid course, which comes with graduation strings attached.

      The "notes for drivers" says it's "recommended" officers treat drivers courteously, but there's certainly no law requiring courteous behavior, much less one that withholds a police academy diploma until would-be officers of the law complete their "Don't Be An Asshole" course.

    • Interview with the Free Women’s Movement (TJA) in North Kurdistan
      “Actually we have been calling our experience World War III. This is a war of destruction. The state does not call it a war, but this is the experience of those affected.”

    • Man Accused of Groping Woman on Southwest Flight: Trump Says It's 'OK to Grab Women By Their Private Parts'
      A suspect detained after allegedly groping a woman on a Southwest Airlines flight tried to excuse his behavior by citing President Donald Trump's remarks about women.


      Alexander's defense is a reference to the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape, in which Trump boasted that when you are famous, you can do whatever you want to women, including "grab them by the pussy."

      Whether or not Alexander was really emboldened by Trump to commit sexual assault, or simply used Trump as a convenient excuse after getting caught, there is no denying that Trump's behavior is setting a dark example. Data from the FBI show that hate crimes surged after Trump was elected. Trump is also openly encouraging hostility to the free press, praising Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) for assaulting a reporter even as he faces criticism for his weak response over the suspected political murder of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi.

    • City Council Seized, Crushed Resident's Legally-Parked BMW While He Was In The Hospital
      We're used to stories about asset forfeiture being abused to seize vehicles from citizens here in the US, with the vehicle/sales proceeds going directly to the bottom line of the agency seizing them. That encourages all sorts of abuse performed in the name of Drug Warring but, in reality, just creating a somewhat sustainable revenue source for the government.

      At least in this context, seizures of vehicles make sense. Perverted incentives have created a demand for assets drug cartels just can't deliver, so it's up to average Americans -- many of them not at all involved in international drug trade -- to make up the difference. But what can you even make of this atrocity, performed by the Flintshire, Wales government?

    • Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Above The Law’ By The O’Jays
      The O’Jays, a well-known rhythm and blues group from Canton, Ohio, that has recorded music for several decades, plan to release a final album before retiring next year. That album includes a tune which confronts the class warfare of the rich and their political defenders in Washington.

      The song, “Above the Law,” opens with the chorus, “How much money would you give to live above the law, how many souls would you sell to dwell above the law.” These may seem like questions, but for the O’Jays, they are statements of scorn.

      “As long as it’s working in your favor, you love the law,” they add. “Making our lives a living hell—above the law!”

    • The tip-off from a Nazi that saved my grandparents

      When Alexander Bodin Saphir's Jewish grandfather was measuring a high-ranking Nazi for a suit in Copenhagen 75 years ago he got an important tip-off - the Jews were about to be rounded up and deported. It has often been described as a "miracle" that most of Denmark's Jews escaped the Holocaust. Now it seems that the country's Nazi rulers deliberately sabotaged their own operation.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Ajit Pai, Telecom Lobbyists Are Now Coordinating Their Lies In Perfect Symmetry
      So we've made it pretty clear by now that the FCC's entire justification for repealing net neutrality was based entirely on fluff and lobbyist nonsense. But because the Administrative Procedure Act requires that regulators actually provide hard data to justify massive reversals in policy, both the Ajit Pai FCC and his BFFs at Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T have clung tightly to one, completely false claim: that net neutrality harmed network investment. But as we've stated countless times, that's simply not true.

      That's not an opinion, it's based on SEC filings, earnings reports, and the on-the-record statements of nearly a dozen telecom industry CEOs.

      That undeniable fact hasn't really bothered the folks at US Telecom, the telecom industry's biggest lobbying and policy organization. The group last week penned a blog post with an accompanying graph proudly proclaiming that telecom network investment was on a sharp upward trajectory after the repeal of net neutrality.

  • DRM

    • Why A Blockchain-based DRM Has Always Been A Terrible Idea
      I've threatened in the past to write up a post explaining why a blockchain-based DRM is a terrible idea that will flop -- and it appears I finally need to do so, with the sort of announcement that Sony is preparing to use the blockchain for "next-gen DRM." I should note that, unlike some people, I'm actually not a blockchain skeptic. I think that it does have a few potentially revolutionary and disruptive uses. But... I also think that nearly every use of the blockchain that has been championed so far is incredibly silly and pointless. In most cases, what people claim they're using a blockchain for would better be served with... a database. If you're just replacing a database with a blockchain-based system, all you're really doing is adding unnecessary inefficiency and complexity.

      So while a blockchain does have efficiency and complexity weaknesses compared to a database, it does have two potential advantages -- but only if those advantages are necessary to the service being built. The first advantage is that the blockchain can be truly distributed, rather than centralized. For years, we've discussed the problems of too many centralized systems, whether it's the siloing of information, the weird incentives it creates for the central database controller, or simply the fact that a centralized system creates a single point of failure and/or point of attack for a would-be assailant. A blockchain can help limit (though not eliminate) some of those problems -- and that can open up some incredible new services. The second big thing that a blockchain does better than a database is that it creates a more trustworthy way to prevent the "double spending" problem.

    • Netflix to raise $2 billion in debt to fund more original content

      The funds will be raised in the form of senior unsecured notes, denominated in U.S. dollars and euros, it said.

      This debt offering is the sixth time in under four years that Netflix is raising $1 billion or more through bonds, noted Variety, which was among the first to report the news. As of September 30, Netflix’s long-term debt had reached $8.34 billion, up 71% from $4.89 billion in the year ago quarter, it said during its last earnings, Variety’s report also noted.

    • Netflix Plans to Raise $2 Billion in New Debt to Fund Content Spending

      As of Sept. 30, 2018, Netflix reported $8.34 billion in long-term debt, up 71% from $4.89 billion a year prior. The latest proposed debt offering is the sixth time in less than four years that the company is raising $1 billion or more through bonds.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Neurim Reloaded: New CJEU referral to clarify the availability of SPCs for novel therapeutic applications
      Supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) used to be granted in the European Union only for novel active ingredients, but not for new therapeutic applications of previously authorized active ingredients. While this practice fundamentally changed as a result of the CJEU’s landmark decision Neurim (C-130/11) of 19 July 2012, the scope of this ruling has given rise to considerable controversy ever since.

      A new referral to the CJEU is expected to clarify the requirements established in Neurim. This referral was made by the Court of Appeal of Paris with decision of 9 October 2018 in Santen v. INPI (RG no. 17/19934) , which was first reported on the SPC Blog. It is not only noteworthy as being the first French referral relating to the SPC Regulation (EC) No. 469/2009; the prospective ruling of the CJEU can be safely assumed to have major significance for the availability of SPCs for new therapeutic applications of “old drugs”, and possibly even beyond that.

    • Trademarks

      • One Company's Story Of The Soft Cost Of Aggressive Trademark Enforcement
        When we talk about trademark disputes around here, we're often talking about them at the start of a bullying process or at the conclusion of a trial. Those are the natural checkpoints for covering these kinds of disputes, with either the initiation of the dispute, often times specious, or the conclusion when an outcome is reached, often times unfortunate. Less discussed but certainly as important are the softer outcomes of trademark bullying and disputes. And it's useful to highlight just what it can cost a small entity that is victimized by all of this.

        Dick Fowles and Kate Ackerly opened a clothing store in 1993 called Peter-Blair Accessories, named after the duo's godchildren. Out of the blue in 2009, Fowles and Ackerly received a letter from Blair Corp., a discount retailer of accessories that primarily sells its goods online. Blair Corp. too sold ties and accessories on its website, though they were significantly different in terms of price and quality. The letter accused Peter-Blair Accessories of infringing Blair Corp. trademarks by selling its goods online. After a great deal of back and forth, Blair Corp. agreed to allow the smaller clothier to sell only its own branded ties online. Nothing else.

      • Questioning the trade mark judges
        The EUIPO Board of Appeal has heard two oral hearings in 23 years. A third is coming up in November 2018! This hearing concerns the trade mark MONOPOLY (which has been the subject of some monopolistic trade mark manoeuvring). The hearing is in the context of a cancellation action regarding new trade mark applications being filed on a regular basis to avoid the risk of marks being revoked for non use. This is a rare case where it is necessary to have oral evidence to explain the written information submitted to the board. In Salmi's view, it is hard to see the additional value from a hearing as it is usually perfectly adequate to see the information in documents.

      • What's your party drink? - Prosecco v Red Bull
        Asolo argued that there was no likelihood of confusion between the signs because the goods are not similar; specifically that energy drinks are not similar to alcoholic drinks. As such, the Board of Appeal had wrongly considered a connection between the goods, on the basis that they might be mixed. Asolo brought the argument home by pointing out that Red Bull packaged their product with a warning: ‘do not mix with alcohol’ and marketed it as a drink that gives energy and alertness - the opposite effect of consuming alcoholic drinks. For example, they argued, a consumer wishing to remain alert, such as a driver, would not consider substituting an alcoholic drink for a non-alcoholic energy drink.

    • Copyrights

      • EFF Urges Supreme Court to Support Fair Use in TVEyes Case

      • Canadian ISPs Want Ban on Piracy Settlement Notices

        Canadian ISPs are calling on the Government to prevent copyright holders from using the country's notice-and-notice scheme to forward piracy settlement demands. These notices can be intimidating to Internet subscribers and are seen as abusive by many. In addition, the ISPs would like to see a more standardized approach to the notices, which will save on processing costs.

      • UK Govt. Mulls Easy Pirate Site Blocking & Streaming Crackdown

        The UK government says it will consider the possibility of introducing extrajudicial 'pirate' site blocking so that rightsholders will not have to go to the High Court every time they want a resource rendered inaccessible. Further work will also take place in the Android and Kodi app arena, to identify ways the supply of infringing content can be disrupted.

      • YouTube CEO says EU’s new copyright legislation threatens jobs, smaller creators

        However, the language in legislation isn’t clear on how enforcement should take place — it doesn’t say, for example, that sites have to use upload filters. Others believe that YouTube’s existing Content ID system, which scans videos after upload, would be sufficient.

        YouTube, for its part, seems to be believe that Article 13 will require more than the existing Content ID system to be compliant.

        Writes Wojcicki, “Article 13 as written threatens to shut down the ability of millions of people — from creators like you to everyday users — to upload content to platforms like YouTube. It threatens to block users in the EU from viewing content that is already live on the channels of creators everywhere. This includes YouTube’s incredible video library of educational content, such as language classes, physics tutorials and other how-to’s.”

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