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Links 31/10/2019: Linux Mint 19.3 is "Tricia," Mesa 19.3 RC1, Qt 5.13.2 and Linspire 8.5 Released

  • GNU/Linux

    • Meet the Startup That Wants to Connect Linux to the Blockchain

      Cartesi operates based on the entirely pragmatic principle that achieving full consensus over every computation within all applications is at odds with achieving true scalability. Therefore, it’s a layer 2 solution that enables intensive computations to take place off-chain, in Cartesi nodes. These nodes are general, self-contained Linux systems, running on a deterministic RISC-V architecture.

      Smart contracts from any blockchain can request off-chain computations to be performed on off-chain data by a Cartesi node. Because the computations are happening off-chain, this enables Cartesi nodes to run vastly more complex dApps than existing blockchains can manage. Developers can request that the nodes submit the results of the off-chain computations, or dispute the results provided by others.

    • Server

      • IBM

        • Achieving maximum performance from a fixed size Ceph object storage cluster

          We have tested a variety of configurations, object sizes, and client worker counts in order to maximize the throughput of a seven node Ceph cluster for small and large object workloads. As detailed in the first post the Ceph cluster was built using a single OSD (Object Storage Device) configured per HDD, having a total of 112 OSDs per Ceph cluster. In this post, we will understand the top-line performance for different object sizes and workloads.

          Note: The terms "read" and HTTP GET is used interchangeably throughout this post, as are the terms HTTP PUT and "write."

        • File systems unfit as distributed storage backends: lessons from 10 years of Ceph evolution

          For a decade, the Ceph distributed file system followed the conventional wisdom of building its storage backend on top of local file systems. This is a preferred choice for most distributed file systems today because it allows them to benefit from the convenience and maturity of battle-tested code. Ceph's experience, however, shows that this comes at a high price. First, developing a zero-overhead transaction mechanism is challenging. Second, metadata performance at the local level can significantly affect performance at the distributed level. Third, supporting emerging storage hardware is painstakingly slow.

          Ceph addressed these issues with BlueStore, a new back- end designed to run directly on raw storage devices. In only two years since its inception, BlueStore outperformed previous established backends and is adopted by 70% of users in production. By running in user space and fully controlling the I/O stack, it has enabled space-efficient metadata and data checksums, fast overwrites of erasure-coded data, inline compression, decreased performance variability, and avoided a series of performance pitfalls of local file systems. Finally, it makes the adoption of backwards-incompatible storage hardware possible, an important trait in a changing storage landscape that is learning to embrace hardware diversity.

        • Why you don't have to be afraid of Kubernetes

          It was fun to work at a large web property in the late 1990s and early 2000s. My experience takes me back to American Greetings Interactive, where on Valentine's Day, we had one of the top 10 sites on the internet (measured by web traffic). We delivered e-cards for,, and others, as well as providing e-cards for partners like MSN and AOL. Veterans of the organization fondly remember epic stories of doing great battle with other e-card sites like Hallmark. As an aside, I also ran large web properties for Holly Hobbie, Care Bears, and Strawberry Shortcake.

          I remember like it was yesterday the first time we had a real problem. Normally, we had about 200Mbps of traffic coming in our front doors (routers, firewalls, and load balancers). But, suddenly, out of nowhere, the Multi Router Traffic Grapher (MRTG) graphs spiked to 2Gbps in a few minutes. I was running around, scrambling like crazy. I understood our entire technology stack, from the routers, switches, firewalls, and load balancers, to the Linux/Apache web servers, to our Python stack (a meta version of FastCGI), and the Network File System (NFS) servers. I knew where all of the config files were, I had access to all of the admin interfaces, and I was a seasoned, battle-hardened sysadmin with years of experience troubleshooting complex problems.

          But, I couldn't figure out what was happening...

          Five minutes feels like an eternity when you are frantically typing commands across a thousand Linux servers. I knew the site was going to go down any second because it's fairly easy to overwhelm a thousand-node cluster when it's divided up and compartmentalized into smaller clusters.

        • The economic impact of Red Hat Enterprise Linux: How IT professionals benefit

          It’s not overstated to say that the IT landscape completely changed with the introduction of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, more than a decade and a half ago. For 2019, IDC estimated a global business revenue of $188 trillion. Of this, they estimate that at least 40% is touched by software, leaving the IT footprint to be an estimated $81 trillion. Yes, you read that right, $81 trillion. As all of this software forming the global business IT footprint has to run on an operating system, IDC estimates that over 50% is running on Linux, with Red Hat Enterprise Linux accounting for 25% of that.

          That’s a lot of big numbers but what does it all mean? It means that Red Hat Enterprise Linux has changed the experience of many IT professionals around the globe. In a software-centric world, ongoing we have seen higher demand in support and IT services which in turn further helps fuel the global IT ecosystem.

          When IDC asked IT organizations how Red Hat Enterprise Linux benefitted them, they discovered a 12% savings in IT staff productivity. This means that IT professionals spend less time managing servers, doing routine IT tasks, resolving support calls, deploying new business apps and upgrading mission-critical apps. But that’s not all.

        • The spooktacular tale of Red Hat's Halloween release

          In many stories and myths, naming is important. Knowing the proper name of something gives you power over it. Likewise, naming has been important for Red Hat Linux over the years.

          The Halloween release was actually a paid beta and not a 1.0. The Halloween release was dubbed Red Hat Software Linux 0.9, and started a tradition of having a codename for the release that lasted through the final Red Hat Linux release (9.0.93, "Severn"), and carried over to Fedora for many years.

          The tradition was to have a name for a release that was somewhat related to the previous release name. For example, the 1.0 release was "Mother's Day," and "Rembrandt" followed "Picasso," and "Colgate" followed it. (For the record, the best release name was a Fedora release, dubbed "Zod." Allowing many fun headlines playing off the Superman II villain.)

    • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Kernel Space

      • Linus Torvalds: "Git proved I could be more than a one-hit wonder."

        Recently some neighbor kids asked me what I do for a living. "I read and write emails," I told them. They weren't very impressed.

        However, they'd likely be a bit more impressed had they heard the same thing come from the mouth of Linus Torvalds, founder of the Linux operating system. In a fireside chat at the Open Source Summit Europe, Torvalds was asked how he spends his time as the kernel maintainer. "I read email," was Torvalds' reply. But not just any email. The email Torvalds answers helps to keep over 25 million lines of code humming for the hundreds of millions of Linux-powered devices worldwide. So it kind of matters if he replies.

      • BPF and the realtime patch set

        Back in July, Linus Torvalds merged a patch in the 5.3 merge window that added the PREEMPT_RT option to the kernel build-time configuration. That was meant as a signal that the realtime patch set was moving from its longtime status as out-of-tree code to a fully supported kernel feature. As the code behind the configuration option makes its way into the mainline, some friction can be expected; we are seeing a bit of that now with respect to the BPF subsystem.

      • Implementing alignment guarantees for kmalloc()

        kmalloc() is a frequently used primitive for the allocation of small objects in the kernel. During the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory Management Summit, Vlastimil Babka led a session about the unexpected alignment problems developers face when using this function. After a few months he has come back with the second version of a patch set implementing a natural alignment guarantee for kmalloc(). From the strong opposition it faced initially, it seemed that the change would not get accepted. However, it ended up in Linus Torvalds's tree. Let's explore what happened.

        The issue Babka wanted to fix is the fact that kmalloc() sometimes returns objects that are not naturally aligned (that is, aligned to the object size if that size is a power of two). Most of the time, though, kmalloc() does return naturally aligned objects and some drivers and subsystems have come to depend on that property. The exceptions are when SLUB debugging is enabled or when the SLOB allocator is used. kmalloc() is essentially a shell around the SLAB, SLUB or SLOB allocator, depending on the kernel configuration; interested readers may wish to read an article on the reasons SLUB was introduced and look at a LinuxCon 2014 slide set [PDF] on the three allocators. Unexpectedly returning an unaligned object can cause data corruption and other errors. In response to that problem, Babka proposed to guarantee natural alignment for allocated objects with power-of-two size, so that all alignment expectations are fulfilled.

      • Really fixing getrandom()

        The final days of the 5.3 kernel development cycle included an extensive discussion of the getrandom() API and the reversion of an ext4 improvement that was indirectly causing boot hangs due to a lack of entropy. Blocking filesystem improvements because they are too effective is clearly not a good long-term development strategy for the kernel, so there was a consensus that some sort of better solution had to be found. What was lacking was an idea of what that solution should be. It is thus surprising that the problem appears to have been dealt with in 5.4 with little in the way of dissent or disagreement. The root of the problem in 5.3 was the blocking behavior of getrandom(), which will prevent a caller from proceeding until enough entropy has been collected to initialize the random-number generator. This behavior was subjected to a fair amount of criticism, and few felt the need to defend it. But changing getrandom() is not easy; any changes that might cause it to return predictable "random" numbers risks creating vulnerabilities in any number of security-sensitive applications. So, while various changes to the API were proposed, actually bringing about those changes looks like a multi-year project at best.

        There is another way to ensure that getrandom() doesn't block during the bootstrap process: collect enough entropy to ensure that the random-number generator is fully initialized by the time that somebody needs it. That can be done in a number of ways. If the CPU has a hardware random-number generator, that can be used; some people distrust this solution, but mixing entropy from the hardware with other sources is considered to be safe by most, even if the hardware generator is somehow suspect. But not all CPUs have hardware random-number generators, so this solution is not universal in any case. Other potential solutions, such as having the bootloader or early user space initialize the random pool, can work in some situations but are not universal either.

        Another possible solution, though, is jitter entropy: collecting entropy from the inherently nondeterministic nature of current hardware. The timing of even a simple sequence of instructions can vary considerably as the result of multiple layers of cache, speculative execution, and other tasks running on the system. Various studies into jitter entropy over the years suggest that it is real; it might not be truly nondeterministic, but it is unpredictable, and data generated using jitter entropy can pass the various randomness test suites.

        Shortly after the 5.3 release, Thomas Gleixner suggested using a simple jitter-entropy mechanism to initialize the entropy pool. Linus Torvalds described this solution as "not very reliable", but he clearly thought that the core idea had some merit. He proposed a variant of his own that, after some brief discussion, was committed into the mainline at the end of the 5.4 merge window.

      • "git request-pull" and confusing diffstats

        When a kernel subsystem maintainer has a set of commits to send up the chain toward the mainline, the git request-pull command is usually the right tool for the job. But various maintainers have noticed over the years that this command can sometimes generate confusing results when confronted with anything but the simplest of histories. A brief conversation on the linux-kernel mailing list delved into why this situation comes about and what maintainers can do in response. While git request-pull is intended to be a general-purpose command, it's no secret that its output is designed for the needs of one specific consumer; it contains almost everything Linus Torvalds needs to know when considering a request to pull a tree into the mainline kernel. This information includes the commit upon which the tree is based, the timestamp for the most recent commit in the tree, the tree to pull the commits from, the maintainer's description of the changes, a list of commits (in the git shortlog format), and a diffstat showing which files will be touched. See a typical pull request to see how all of those elements are worked into a single email.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Mesa 19.3 Has The Very Preliminary OpenGL + Vulkan Driver Support Ready For Intel Gen12

          Similar to the flurry of Radeon driver activity in buttoning things up ahead of the Mesa 19.3 feature freeze, the Intel open-source crew has landed some last-minute bits around the Tiger Lake "Gen 12" enablement.

          In recent months there has been a lot of Intel Tiger Lake / Gen12 Linux enablement activity. On the kernel side Linux 5.4 has the initial bits to be evolved over the coming cycles. Meanwhile over in user-space the initial "Iris" OpenGL and "ANV" Vulkan driver support is in place for Mesa 19.3.

        • Mesa 19.3-RC1 Released With OpenGL 4.6 For Intel, Many Vulkan Driver Improvements

          Mesa 19.3 feature development is now officially over and Mesa 20.0 is open for development on Git master. This final Mesa series of 2019 comes with many exciting OpenGL and Vulkan drivers.

          One of the key improvements with Mesa 19.3 is that Intel's OpenGL i965/Iris drivers now supports OpenGL 4.6! Thanks to the SPIR-V ingestion support finally landing, the Intel open-source Linux graphics driver finally has OpenGL 4.6 capabilities in full. AMD has also been working towards RadeonSI OpenGL 4.6 support but with that also transitioning them to NIR it's been a long-time coming and hasn't materialized for Mesa's final 2019 release.

        • mesa 19.3.0-rc1
          Hi List,

          I'd like to announce the availability of 19.3.0-rc1 and the beginning of the 19.3.0 release cycle. Despite the short release cycle we've got plenty of good things in store for you. Among them the OpenGL 4.6, initial Intel gen12 support, lots of new Vulkan extensions, and meson support for windows.

          Expect a new RC each Wednesday for the next few weeks until the release tracker is cleared. You can see the tracker here: Please be sure to add any issues to that tracker that block the release.


          New Features ============

          GL_ARB_gl_spirv on i965, iris. GL_ARB_spirv_extensions on i965, iris. GL_EXT_demote_to_helper_invocation on iris, i965. OpenGL 4.6 on i965, iris. EGL_EXT_image_flush_external VK_ANDROID_external_memory_android_hardware_buffer on RADV. VK_KHR_shader_clock on Intel, RADV. VK_KHR_shader_float_controls on Intel, RADV. VK_KHR_spirv_1_4 on Intel, RADV. VK_KHR_timeline_semaphore on RADV. VK_KHR_vulkan_memory_model on Intel. VK_EXT_shader_subgroup_ballot on Intel. VK_EXT_shader_subgroup_vote on Intel. VK_EXT_texel_buffer_alignment on RADV. VK_INTEL_performance_query on Intel. Meson support for windows using MSVC and MinGW scons has been deprecated for non windows Initial Intel gen12 (Tigerlake) support on anvil and iris

          git tag: mesa-19.3.0-rc1
        • Radeon Open-Source Linux Graphics Have A Wild Day For Mesa 19.3 From 8K Decode To ACO

          With Mesa 19.3 scheduled to be branched today and that marking the end of feature development for this next quarterly installment to these open-source Linux OpenGL/Vulkan drivers, developers are in a mad rush landing last minute improvements. The open-source Radeon driver support has a lot to stand in particular from today's work.

    • Linux Mag

    • Applications

      • 7 Meritorious Free Linux Modelers

        Linux offers a rich platform for anyone with an artistic inclination. With low cost hardware, quality open source software, and an ounce of talent, artists can produce professional-looking computer graphics.

        There is a relatively small range of open source software that offers the ability of rendering images with Linux. Rendering is the process of taking a 3D model and displaying it as a two-dimensional image. Unfortunately, some of the applications have not seen any development in recent years, abandoned by their developers with no one coming forward to step into their shoes. Nevertheless, there are still some high quality, open source Linux modelers which are worth investigating.

      • Cockpit 206 and Cockpit-podman 10

        Cockpit 206 and Cockpit-podman 10 are available now....

      • HPLIP 3.19.10 Released with 64-bit Ubuntu 19.10 Support

        HPLIP 3.19.10, HP developed printer and scanner drivers for Linux, was released today with new devices and 64-bit Ubuntu 19.10 support.

      • Geany is a programmer friendly open source text editor for Windows, Linux, macOS

        Geany is an open source cross platform text editor that is designed specifically for programmers thanks to its built-in support for over 50 programming languages.

        Just download Geany for Windows, Linux or Mac OS X to get started. Windows users need to install the application on their devices before it can be used.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • CodeWeavers Working On Vulkan Shared Memory Support In Wine

        CodeWeavers' Derek Lesho has been working on Vulkan shared memory support for Wine to expose some interesting use-cases.

        Vulkan shared memory support within Wine is being worked on to ultimately allow the likes of DXVK and D9VK to support Direct3D shared resources.

        The four patches sent off today add the initial plumbing and handling for VK_KHR_external_memory_fd for passing around external file descriptors with Vulkan. The patches also include custom helpers for describing the GPU resources.

    • Games

      • Casual 5v5 action game Kronorite recently added Linux support

        Kronorite seems to have gone completely under the radar. A team-based casual action game with each team trying to capture the map and it added Linux support back in September.

        It cross-platform multiplayer between Windows and Linux, sadly though it hasn't managed to find many players at all. However, it does support bots so you can still create your own game and play with AI and it actually looks like it could be quite amusing. You get access to a few simple shapes to place down cover, steps and so on and then all hell breaks loose as teams fight for supremacy.

      • FOSS building sim OpenTTD based on Transport Tycoon Deluxe has a new test release

        Based on the absolute classic Transport Tycoon Deluxe, the free and open source OpenTTD has a major new release build out that's in need of some testing.

        While it might closely mimic Transport Tycoon Deluxe is some ways, it's not the same. There's tons of advancements included in OpenTTD, it's still actively developed too since a few days ago OpenTTD 1.10.0-beta1 was released.

      • FOSS game engine 'GDevelop' integrates the Yarn Dialogue editor in the latest build

        Creating dialogue in your games with GDevelop just got a lot more advanced, as the team have integrated the Yarn Dialogue editor into their FOSS game engine.

        Quick refresher, what is GDevelop? It's an open source game engine, allowing you to create HTML5 and native games using an event-based system. Good for 2D games, prototyping, a younger audience and more. It's quite powerful and now even more so.

        GDevelop 5.0.0-beta82 was released a few days ago, which amongst other improvements integrates the Yarn Dialogue editor. Yarn (itself inspired by Twine) was originally made for Night in the Woods (and others) allowing you to create advanced and dynamic dialogues with multiple choices.

      • SDL Picks Up ARM Optimizations For Helping Games On Devices Like The Raspberry Pi

        Gaming on ARM-based boards like the Raspberry Pi will soon have the potential for running much better thanks to a series of ARM Assembly optimizations that were just merged into SDL2.

        Developer Ben Avison has been floating patches since November of last year providing some ARM Assembly optimizations for SDL2. He noticed on the Raspberry Pi there was poor graphics performance as a result of SDL routines.

        In a Python game using SDL on the Raspberry Pi 3, the existing SDL implementation led to around a 9.6 FPS average while using the ARMv6 tuning went to 22 FPS and then with the SDL NEON optimizations it hit 27 FPS.

      • The classic FOSS run and gun action game C-Dogs SDL just had a big new release

        It's not just OpenTTD having a new release lately, as the seriously classic C-Dogs SDL also has a big new build to run and gun through.

        Originally a DOS freeware title from Ronny Wester, serving as a sequel to their previous DOS game Cyberdogs it was eventually open sourced and ported to SDL. Just recently the current maintainer, Cong Xu, put out a brand new 0.7.0 release on October 29.

      • Don't Starve Together gains another new character with their Halloween event live

        Klei Entertainment have expanded their stylish survival game Don't Starve Together, with the character Wurt making an appearance along with the Hallowed Nights event.

        Wurt is "a young and impressionable merm" who became fascinated with the survivors. Going against the trend of other merms of stomping everything, Wurt decided to venture out and learn more. Klei also put out a brand new animated short to introduce Wurt:

      • Valve rolls out the new Steam Library and Remote Play Together for everyone

        That's it, done, finished. The beta is over and the new Steam Library along with Remote Play Together is now out for everyone as soon as your client updates.

        We have tons of new features to play with that have been talked about before like: the ability to sort games into dynamic collections, the customizable home page with different shelves of games made from your collections, a list of recent updates at the top of your Library home, overhauled game pages, a new events system, a Linux "Tux" icon to filter only Linux games in your list and so on.

      • Graveyard Keeper - Stranger Sins expansion is out allowing you to build your own tavern

        You're no longer just a Graveyard Keeper and a Priest all in one, you're now also in charge of building and running your own tavern in the Graveyard Keeper - Stranger Sins expansion.

      • Fatbot Games have announced the first-person steampunk dungeon crawler Vaporum: Lockdown

        As a prequel to the original stylish first-person dungeon crawler, Vaporum: Lockdown follows Lisa Teller, a scientist who is a part of a mysterious research project in the middle of an ocean.

        Continuing to be inspired by the likes of Dungeon Master I and II, the Eye of the Beholder series and the more recent Legend of Grimrock I and II. Like the previous game, Vaporum, this will also support Linux and it's due out sometime early next year.

      • Mixing retro FPS flavour with modern design, Hedon is now available on GOG

        After releasing a freeware version back in March this year and then appearing on Steam a few months later, Hedon is now available on GOG as well.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • KDE/Qt

        • Qt 3D Studio 2.5 released

          We are happy to announce that the Qt 3D Studio 2.5 is now available via the online offline installers. For description about the new features please refer to the 2.5 Beta release blog post. For detailed information about the Qt 3D Studio, visit the online documentation page.

        • Qt 3D Studio 2.5 Released With Stereoscopic Rendering, Autodesk Maya Export
        • KDE: Consistency Update

          It's been a month since Consistency was announced as an official goal for KDE at Akademy. During this time, we have focused on setting up all the tools needed to support the goal and tracking already active consistency tasks. Here's an update on what we have done so far and the main tasks we're working on.

          We have created a Consistency page on the community wiki where you can learn what the consistency goal is and find out how you can easily get involved in it. Check it out, regardless of your level of technical expertise!

        • Plasma 5.17.2

          Today KDE releases a bugfix update to KDE Plasma 5, versioned 5.17.2. Plasma 5.17 was released in October 2019 with many feature refinements and new modules to complete the desktop experience.

          This release adds a week's worth of new translations and fixes from KDE's contributors. The bugfixes are typically small but important and include...

        • KDE Plasma 5.17.2 Desktop Environment Brings More Than 25 Bug Fixes, Update Now
        • Qt 5.13.2 Released

          We have released Qt 5.13.2 today. As a patch release, Qt 5.13.2 does not add any new functionality but provides many bug fixes and other improvements.

          Compared to Qt 5.13.1, the new Qt 5.13.2 contains more than 200 bug fixes. For details of the most important changes, please check the Change files of Qt 5.13.2.

          Qt 5.13.2 can be updated to existing online installations by using maintenance tool. For new installations, please download the latest online installer from the Qt Account portal or from the download page. Offline packages are available for commercial users via the Qt Account portal and at via the download page for open-source users.

        • Happy Halloween - Dark theme for more KDE website

          Halloween was the perfect occasion for me to hack together a dark theme for more KDE websites. So now a dark theme version is also available for and planetkde.

          It is using prefers-color-scheme: dark media query so it’s only available if you browser prefers the dark theme version.

        • Some thoughts regarding discussion culture

          First of all I want to say thanks for hosting me on your blog and letting me write this guest post!

          I am Florian Müller from Germany, working as a Sysadmin at a small tech collective. I have been a KDE user for years, but I am quite new to the KDE community. This years Akademy was my first and I am looking forward to dive in deeper and contribute more to KDE.

          I had a really good time at Akademy in Milano, got to know so many cool people and learned a lot about the KDE community and KDE in general. Thanks a lot to everyone organizing this unique event! I am sure it won't be the last time I'll attend Akademy.

          I want to share some things I noticed about discussion culture, please feel free to criticize/discuss/comment, so maybe we can work out some guidelines for that in the future. First of all some words about discussion culture in general. Because all people are different, we need technics to allow everyone to participate in group discussions. When people are not that confident in general, they tend to not raise their voices in bigger groups, also if they have opponent opinions to the main stream. So in order to have a greater culmination of creativity and ideas, we need to create an atmosphere to make it easier for everyone to participate.

    • Distributions

      • Here’s Why Blazing Fast Linux OS Peppermint 10 Just Blew Me Away

        get a thrill from pushing the limits of hardware. Whether that’s trying (in vain) to stress out a Falcon Northwest Talon with 32GB of RAM and a 12-core AMD Ryzen processor, or seeing what a cheap (roughly $165) little Intel dual-core 2.1GHz laptop with 4GB of RAM can truly handle. When I slapped Windows 10 on the Asus VivoBook E203M it was capable of multi-tasking, albeit with frequent “Not Responding” messages and the enthusiasm of a drunk snail. But when I installed Linux distribution Peppermint OS, it just screamed.

        Until this week, Peppermint OS wasn’t even on my radar. That changed when Zeb from Destination Linux suggested giving it a shot on the meager Asus VivoBook after a decidedly lackluster Windows 10 experience. I was hesitant because it incorporates the LXDE desktop (alongside a few elements of Xfce) which I was completely unfamiliar with. You just don’t see it infiltrating headlines or podcast discussions as often as Gnome, KDE and Xfce.

      • Reviews

        • NetRunner | Review from an openSUSE User

          NetRunner (19.08) is not one of those distributions I hear touting its uniqueness and wonders loudly on the Internet. As part of a two week challenge for BigDaddyLinux Live, I lassoed an ISO and took it for a spin on a VM. Some may argue that a VM doesn't make for a good test experience and I would agree to that, sort of? This is not going to be a test of NetRunner's performance on bare metal but rather, this is an impression of how the developers are answering the operating system question.

          Bottom Line Up Front, NetRunner has a look of its own. The default software is refreshingly not minimal as that seems to be the talk of many Linux enthusiasts (I blame Arch for that). The included pieces of software makes for a great showcase of the various KDE applications. Personally, this is a good approach for most users. Those minimal installation folks should just learn to remove software using the package manager if that is such a huge issue. I am not keen on the default theme with the red cursor and the lack of a usable Dark NetRunner theme. Aside from that, it appears to be a good KDE Plasma experience and a fine showcase of the various applications a Linux user should try. This is my biased review of NetRunner as an openSUSE user.

      • New Releases

        • Linspire 8.5 Linux Operating System Released, Based on Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS

          Linspire 8.5 "Swordfish 2" is a major release compared to the previous versions, bringing numerous updated components and various new features for a full-fledged Linux desktop experience. Just like its little brother Freespire 5.0, Linspire 8.5 is based on Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS (Bionic Beaver) and uses the Linux 5.0 kernel.

          Similar to Freespire 5.0, the goal for Linspire 8.5 was to address the bloatware complaints from the community and make the distribution slimmer by including only the "best of breed" applications. Of course, this means that, if users want to replace the default apps or install more, they can use the software center utility.

        • Linspire 8.5 Released
      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • openSUSE Leap 15.0 to Reach End of Life on November 30th, 2019, Upgrade Now

          The openSUSE Project has published an advance discontinuation notice for the openSUSE Leap 15.0 operating system release, which will reach end of life on November 30th, 2019.

          Based on the SUSE Enterprise Linux 15 operating system series, openSUSE Leap 15.0 was released 18 months ago, on May 25th, 2018, and it was the first release of the openSUSE free and open-source computer operating system to change and sync its version numbering with upstream SLE (SUSE Enterprise Linux) releases.

          In one month from today, on November 30th, openSUSE Leap 15.0 will reach end of life, which means that it will no longer receive software updates and security patches for its components. Therefore, users are encourage to prepare to upgrade to the latest version, openSUSE Leap 15.1, as soon as possible within the next month.

      • Fedora Family

        • Fedora 31 released (Linux distros)

          Fedora 31 is here, and it brings a number of improvements, new features, and other software updates.

          Fedora is a free and open source GNU/Linux-based operating system backed by the folks at Red Hat -- a company which was acquired by IBM earlier this year. So it's good to see that it continues to receiver regular updates.

          Among other things, Fedora 31 includes an update to the GNOME 3.34 desktop environment, improvements to the Wayland display manager, a move to a Linux 5.3 kernel and many, many other changes.

        • Fedora 31 has just rolled out

          Many under the armor improvements and a lot of changes, new features, and new graphical experiences: here we are, the new Fedora 31 release.

          Obviously, the big GUI step forward for Fedora Workstation is the latest GNOME 3.34 update, which brings some visual changes, different functions, and real performance improvements.

          Fedora 31 also drops the 32-bit support, so now you can’t find 32-bit ISO images on Fedora Downloads. Fedora Media Writer and the Fedora 31 x86_64 DVD ISO are available on the page and they make it really easy to give Fedora a try. Another lost is about Docker package: it has been removed from Fedora 31. It has been replaced by the upstream package moby-engine, which includes the Docker CLI as well as the Docker Engine.

        • Fedora 31 Linux released with Linux 5.3 kernel, GNOME 3.34 and more

          As planned this week the new Fedora 31 Linux distro has been released bringing with it a wealth of new features for users to enjoy, “thanks to the hard work of thousands of Fedora community members and contributors”. Fedora is a free and open source GNU/Linux-based operating system and the latest release features an update to the GNOME 3.34 desktop environment, improvements to the Wayland display manager, a Linux 5.3 kernel and more. If you’re using an older 32-bit only i686 system, though, it’s time to find an alternative — we bid farewell to 32-bit Intel architecture as a base system this release.

        • Firefox tips for Fedora 31

          Fedora 31 Workstation comes with a Firefox backend moved from X11 to Wayland by default. That’s just another step in the outgoing effort of moving to Wayland. This affects Gnome on Wayland only. There is a firefox-wayland package available to activate the Wayland backend on other desktop environments (KDE, Sway)

          Wayland architecture is completely different than X11. The team merged various aspects of Firefox internals to the new protocol where possible. However, some X11 features are missing completely. For such cases you can install and run firefox-x11 package as a fallback.

        • podman-compose: Review Request

          Want to use docker-compose.yaml files with podman on Fedora?

        • Fedora 31 Performance Is Still Sliding In The Wrong Direction - Benchmarks Against Ubuntu 19.10 + Clear Linux

          The performance of Fedora 30 on multiple systems has generally been coming up short compared to the likes of Ubuntu, Clear Linux, and openSUSE Tumbleweed. With this week's release of Fedora 31 I was hopeful that the performance would be more competitive to other prominent Linux distributions, but sadly that doesn't appear to be the case. Here are some initial benchmarks of Fedora Workstation 31 compared to Fedora Workstation 30, Clear Linux 31450, and Ubuntu 19.10.

          The performance of Fedora on recent releases has frankly not been too impressive. While Red Hat has been doing a lot to add more features to the Linux desktop and other new functionality throughout the stack, performance has seemingly not been a major focus for them in recent times. On many different AMD and Intel systems, the performance of Fedora has generally lagged behind the likes of Ubuntu, openSUSE Tumbleweed, and Debian Buster. Of course, also behind Intel's Clear Linux that tends to be the gold standard for x86_64 Linux performance.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Linux Mint 19.3 Codename Revealed as "Tricia," Will Arrive Just Before Christmas

          Last month, Linux Mint project leader Clement Lefebvre revealed the fact that the team is currently working on Linux Mint 19.3, which is expected to arrive this Christmas with many improvements and updated components. Now, Clement Lefebvre revealed the codename of Linux Mint 19.3 as "Tricia."

          Based on the latest Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS point release of the Canonical's Bionic Beaver operating system series, Linux Mint 19.3 "Tricia" will be shipping with upgraded kernel and graphics stacks, consisting of the Linux 5.0 kernel series and X.Org 1.20 display server, for improved compatibility with modern hardware.

        • Monthly News – October 2019
        • Linux Mint Pulling In MPV-Based Celluloid Media Player + Dropping Last Mono Dependency
        • Linux Mint 19.3 ‘Tricia’ Will Arrive December Wearing Many Changes

          The changes pencilled in for Linux Mint 19.3 — which will be based on Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS and include the latest hardware enablement (HWE) stack — include adopting Celluloid (formerly GNOME MPV) as default media player, replacing Xplayer and VLC respectively.

          Mint 19.3 will also jettison its final mono dependency via the removal Tomboy from the default install (Tomboy will remain available from the repos). Note-taking needs are now catered to with Gnote, which is noted as supporting HiDPI displays.

          Brand wise the new Linux Mint logo will also feature heavily in the release, most notably on a refreshed GRUB screen (image top right) and in a new animated Plymouth boot splash.

        • And They Scream: “OMG! He Doesn’t Even Use Ubuntu?!”

          A hair raising shrill startled the deadened air last night as thousands of long-time omg! ubuntu! readers woke, suddenly, with a fear soaking sweat on their brow and a pounding heart in their chest.

          Shallow breath stifled the terrifying thought that was troubling their mind from escaping their mouth.

          Each thump of the body’s hardest working muscle hammered down hard on the realisation that, despite many years passing, they still know nothing about the Linux setup used to develop and maintain the omg! ubuntu! website..

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Top opensource Android apps

        Since my transition to Linux 🐧 I have acquired a culture of open source software, a culture that is expanding with every day I spend in Linux.

        Especially after having seen the importance of open source applications in fighting the monopoly of Big softwares companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Adobe ...

        It has expanded to include even the way I use my smartphone, where I have become inclined to use open source applications, because of my love for open source on the one hand, and on the other hand because of the thirst of commercial software to spy on my personal information as well as the aggressive bad ads that hinder the good use of softwares.

      • Events

        • GStreamer & automated testing in Lyon

          Following three days at Embedded Linux Conference Europe, Collaborans are continuing their stay in the capital of France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region to take part the annual GStreamer Conference, as well as the Automated Testing Summit.

          Our entire multimedia team will be attending the GStreamer Conference, which takes place at L'Embarcadère on October 31 & November 1. They'll be presenting no less than a dozen times during the conference, on topics including RTP jitter buffer timers, network streaming protocols and PipeWire in the automotive industry. Read below for details & links to each of their talks.

          Back at the Palais des congrès de Lyon where ELCE took place, Gustavo Padovan, Linux Core Technologies Lead, will be taking part in the Automated Testing Summit on October 31. KernelCI will undoubtedly be a hot topic and heavily discussed as it became a Linux Foundation project just a few days ago.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Creating HTML content with a fixed aspect ratio without the padding trick

            It seems to be a common problem, you want to display some content on the web with a certain aspect ratio but you don't know the size you will be displaying at. How do you do this? CSS doesn't really have the tools to do the job well currently (there are proposals). In my case I want to display a video and associated controls as large as possible inside a space that I don't know the size of. The size of the video also varies depending on the one being displayed.

          • William Lachance: Using BigQuery JavaScript UDFs to analyze Firefox telemetry for fun & profit

            For the last year, we've been gradually migrating our backend Telemetry systems from AWS to GCP. I've been helping out here and there with this effort, most recently porting a job we used to detect slow tab spinners in Firefox nightly, which produced a small dataset that feeds a small adhoc dashboard which Mike Conley maintains. This was a relatively small task as things go, but it highlighted some features and improvements which I think might be broadly interesting, so I decided to write up a small blog post about it.

            Essentially all this dashboard tells you is what percentage of the Firefox nightly population saw a tab spinner over the past 6 months. And of those that did see a tab spinner, what was the severity? Essentially we're just trying to make sure that there are no major regressions of user experience (and also that efforts to improve things bore fruit):

          • Shadow tree encapsulation theory

            Types 3 through 5 do not have any kind of support and type 4 and 5 encapsulation would be hard to pull off due to Spectre. User agents typically use a weaker variant of type 4 for their internal controls, such as the video and input elements, that does not protect confidentiality.


            Type 2 encapsulation gives component developers control over what remains encapsulated and what is exposed. You need to take all your users into account and expose the best possible public API for them. At the same time, it protects you from folks taking a dependency on the guts of the component. Aspects you might want to refactor or add functionality to over time. This is much harder with type 1 encapsulation as there will be APIs that can reach into the details of your component and if users do so you cannot refactor it without updating all the callers.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • The Document Foundation releases LibreOffice 6.3.3

          The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 6.3.3, the third minor release of the LibreOffice 6.3 family, with many quality and compatibility improvements. LibreOffice 6.3.3 “fresh” is targeted at technology enthusiasts and power users, who are invited to update their current version.

          LibreOffice’s individual users are helped by a global community of volunteers: On the website and the wiki there are guides, manuals, tutorials and HowTos. Donations help us to make all of these resources available.

          LibreOffice 6.3.3’s changelog pages are available on TDF’s wiki: (changed in RC1) and (changed in RC2).

        • LibreOffice 6.3.3 Office Suite Released with over 80 Bug Fixes, Download Now
      • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

        • GraphQL a cut above the REST, say query lang's fans: Airbnb, Knotel, others embrace the tech

          At the GraphQL Summit in San Francisco on Wednesday, Matt DeBergalis, co-founder and CTO at data plumbing biz Apollo GraphQL, urged companies to appoint a data graph champion to help ease the implementation of GraphQL, a query language for fetching data.

          It's not yet a given that organizations want to implement GraphQL. But at a gathering arranged by Apollo, which makes the de facto standard open-source client and the commercial Apollo GraphQL Platform, there's a certain incentive to imagine GraphQL everywhere.

          It's already halfway there, at least among the 472 companies attending the show – about 52 per cent of organizations represented are already using the technology in production. Some of the more recognizable names include Airbnb, Audi, Expedia, The New York Times, Medium, PayPal, and Priceline.


        • GIMP 2.10.14 Released with Minor Fixes, Tool Improvements

          GIMP 2.10.14 is the latest bug fix update in the 2.10.x series, which debuted earlier this year. The aim? Making GIMP "rock-solid".

          As such, there are no major new feature additions, but there are several notable improvements to talk about.

          Firstly, many old filters have been ported to GEGL, the image processing library at the heart of GIMP. If you're a frequent photo filter user this is big news as GEGL support not only improves the overall performance but offers "on-canvas" previewing, too.

        • GNUnet 0.11.8 released

          We are pleased to announce the release of GNUnet 0.11.8.

          This is a hotfix release for 0.11.7. As always: In terms of usability, users should be aware that there are still a large number of known open issues in particular with respect to ease of use, but also some critical privacy issues especially for mobile users. Also, the nascent network is tiny (about 200 peers) and thus unlikely to provide good anonymity or extensive amounts of interesting information. As a result, the 0.11.8 release is still only suitable for early adopters with some reasonable pain tolerance.

        • GNUnet 0.11.7 released

          We are pleased to announce the release of GNUnet 0.11.7.

          This is a bugfix release for 0.11.6, fixing a lot of minor bugs, improving stability and code quality. Further, win32 support was removed for reasons you may read below. In this release, we again improved the webpage in general and updated our documentation. As always: In terms of usability, users should be aware that there are still a large number of known open issues in particular with respect to ease of use, but also some critical privacy issues especially for mobile users. Also, the nascent network is tiny (about 200 peers) and thus unlikely to provide good anonymity or extensive amounts of interesting information. As a result, the 0.11.7 release is still only suitable for early adopters with some reasonable pain tolerance.

        • FSFE Newsletter October 2019

          This month, we focus our attention on digital restrictions and the International Day against them. To this end, we launched our first episode of the monthly Software Freedom Podcast, this time starring Cory Doctorow talking about DRM. We have published our yearly report, summing up our activities of the past 12 months and shining light on the community we build our success on. As usual, you will also discover upcoming events with the FSFE, including our Annual Community meeting, as well as recordings and information from events we participated in.

        • Being a citizen: Turning the lenses on self

          There is always a consequence to exclusion and creation of elite classes in view of citizenship, because “the reason that a good citizen does not use such destructive means to become wealthier is that, if everyone did so, we would all become poorer from the mutual destructiveness” (Richard Stallman).

          If we are all corrupt and Hegelian materialism becomes the new norm, then, what will become of us as a people? What will become of our country?

      • Programming/Development

        • Changing the Python release cadence

          The idea had undoubtedly been discussed before, but the current push began with a 2018 Python Language Summit presentation on changing to a yearly major release that was given by Łukasz Langa—the release manager for Python 3.8 and 3.9. Roughly a year later, he proposed doubling the release frequency in the first posting of PEP 596 ("Python 3.9 Release Schedule"). That would mean a major Python release every nine months. Around the time that PEP 596 was being discussed, Nick Coghlan created PEP 598 ("Introducing minor feature releases"), which was meant to speed up feature releases; it was an early progenitor of the rolling-release model.

          Nine months, as proposed in PEP 596, was too fast of a cycle for many, but the steering council did indicate support for a change of the release cycle; a one-year cycle was seemingly a better fit for most commenters. The council thought that the 3.9 schedule PEP was the wrong place to propose this kind of change, however; it suggested that a new PEP be created to propose the cadence change. To that end, Langa created PEP 602 ("Annual Release Cycle for Python"), returning to his original one-year cadence that was better received than the shorter cycle.

          In the discussion of the PEP, Steve Dower suggested an even faster pace of continuous alpha releases. Coghlan was intrigued by Dower's proposal, so they teamed up to create PEP 605 ("A rolling feature release stream for CPython"). When it was posted for discussion, Coghlan noted that he had withdrawn his earlier proposal in favor of the new one.

          PEP 605 itself is something of a wall of text, but it is also accompanied by a lengthy design discussion posting as well. As part of the discussion on both PEPs, though, it became clear that there was some confusion about the background and, in particular, what problems they were both trying to solve. That, naturally, led to yet another PEP, which was authored by Langa, Dower, and Coghlan: PEP 607 ("Reducing CPython's Feature Delivery Latency"). Looking at that PEP would seem to be a good starting point for disentangling the various pieces here.

        • AMDGPU Gets Some Promising Fixes For Linux 5.4: Clang, Undervolting, Golden Settings

          - Updates for building the AMDGPU driver under LLVM Clang. With LLVM Clang 9.0 and Linux 5.3+ the kernel can build with mainline code-bases of each (finally Clang'ing the x86_64 mainline Linux kernel!), but AMDGPU has been one of the problematic modules running into issues. A few fixes to AMDGPU now should have it working properly with Clang.

        • This Week in Rust 310
        • CPython Core Developer Sprint 2019

          During the week of September 9th to September 13th, 34 core CPython committers gathered together in the Bloomberg London headquarters for the 2019 Python core developer sprint. The core developer sprint is an annual week-long meeting in which the CPython core team has the opportunity to meet each other in person in order to work together free from distractions. Having this many core developers in the same room allows us to work efficiently on several aspects of the Python language and CPython (the default implementation). This can include topics such as future designs and in-process PEPs (Python Enhancement Proposals), prototyping exciting changes that we may see in the future, various core development processes such as issue triaging and pull request reviewing, and much more! This is a very exhausting week for everyone, but also a very productive one, as these meetings are known for generating a much-needed boost in core development, especially close to new releases.

        • qutebrowser development blog: 2019 qutebrowser crowdfunding with shirts, stickers and more!

          I'm very happy to announce that the next qutebrowser crowdfunding went live today! o/

          This time, I'm focused on recurring donations via GitHub Sponsors. Those donations will allow me to work part-time on qutebrowser! Thanks to the GitHub Matching Fund, all donations (up to $5000 in the first year) will be doubled.

          Just like in the 2017/2018 crowdfundings, it'll be possible to get t-shirts and stickers again. I'll also add some new swag to the mix :)

        • Python REST APIs With Flask, Connexion, and SQLAlchemy - Part 4

          In Part 3 of this series, you added relationships to the REST API and to the database that supports it. This gave you a powerful tool you can use to build interesting programs that send persistent data, as well as the relationships between that data, to a database system. Having a REST API gives you the ability to create a Single-Page Application (SPA) with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. This is a good starting point before you make the jump to more powerful front-end frameworks, like Angular or React.

        • Python Write File/ Read File

          This tutorial covers the following topic - Python Write File/Read File. It describes the syntax of the writing to a file in Python. Also, it explains how to write to a text file and provides several examples for help.

          For writing to a file in Python, you would need a couple of functions such as Open(), Write(), and Read(). All these are built-in Python functions and don't require a module to import.

        • GitLab pulls U-turn on plan to crank up usage telemetry after both staff and customers cry foul

          GitLab has swiftly backtracked on plans to add telemetry services to track usage of its products.

          VP of product Scott Williamson announced on 10 October that "to make GitLab better faster, we need more data on how users are using GitLab".

          GitLab is a web application that runs on Linux, with options for self-hosting or using the company's cloud service. It is open source, with both free and licensed editions.

          Williamson said that while nothing was changing with the free self-hosted Community Edition, the hosted and licensed products would all now "include additional JavaScript snippets (both open source and proprietary) that will interact with both GitLab and possibly third-party SaaS telemetry services (we will be using Pendo)". The only opt-out was to be support for the Do Not Track browser mechanism.

        • Python 3.8 Adds Walrus Operator, Improves Developer Experience

          The new release of the popular programming language includes capabilities to help developers produce better code, but it might take a while for enterprise adoption.

        • 4 Python tools for getting started with astronomy

          NumFOCUS is a nonprofit charity that supports amazing open source toolkits for scientific computing and data science. As part of the effort to connect readers with the NumFOCUS community, we are republishing some of the most popular articles from our blog. To learn more about our mission and programs, please visit If you're interested in participating in the NumFOCUS community in person, check out a local PyData event happening near you.

        • Bash completion in Zato commands

          This is a quick tip on how to quickly and easily enable Bash completion for Zato commands - each time you press Tab when typing a Zato command, its arguments and parameters will be auto-completed.

        • Configurama - Building SaaS #36

          In this episode, we turned our attention to handling settings and configuration. We discussed different techniques for handling settings, looked at available tools, and started integrating one of the tools into the project.

          The initial discussion in the stream focused on different ways of doing settings. I talked about what I view as a difference between configuration (mostly static stuff) and settings (dynamic parts of the app).

          I also discussed where to get settings from. We talked about the 12 Factor App style with environment variables, and secret management tools like HashiCorp Vault and AWS KMS. Ironically, I blanked out on AWS Secrets Manager as an option. Additionally, we considered the alternative of reading settings from a file instead of environment variables and the security implications of environment variables.

        • Site.js: now with auto server reload on source code changes

          Sorry, your browser doesn't support embedded videos. But that doesn’t mean you can’t watch it! You can download this video directly, and watch it with your favourite video player.

  • Leftovers

    • Talking with The Mighty Diamonds: “Harmony Can Never Go Out of Style”

      On September 25th at the Dub Club in Los Angeles, I interviewed one of the best reggae bands ever, the Mighty Diamonds. What follows is a transcript of that interview; it has been modified only slightly for clarity and space considerations.

    • 25 (More) Funny Computer Quotes

      22. Microsoft has a new version out, Windows XP, which according to everybody is the ‘most reliable Windows ever.‘ To me, this is like saying that asparagus is ‘the most articulate vegetable ever.

      13. "I am not out to destroy Microsoft, that would be a completely unintended side effect." - Linus Torvalds

    • Health/Nutrition

      • How We Found New Chemical Plants Are Being Built in South Louisiana’s Most Polluted Areas

        The data for our story and corresponding graphic comes from several sources. We provide details on each below.

        The bulk of the analysis relies on data from the Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) model, which was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Manufacturing facilities with 10 or more employees in particular industries, which are in possession of chemical quantities above specific thresholds, are required to disclose information on their toxic emissions to the Toxics Release Inventory, a program administered by the EPA. The EPA releases this information online each year as required by the 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. RSEI translates the TRI data, which is reported by weight, into values that reflect the relative risk to human health. These indicators allow regulators, companies and communities to assess risks and take action relative to a specific facility or waste stream.

      • I’ve Investigated Industrial Pollution for 35 Years. We’re Going Backwards.

        Louisiana’s 100-year romance with the petrochemical industry has come with an undeniably steep human price tag. Tens of thousands of people, living cheek-by-jowl with belching plants along the Mississippi River, are exposed to toxic chemicals at rates that are among the highest in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

        And that exposure level will almost certainly increase dramatically over the next few years, as a multibillion-dollar boom brings dozens of new and expanded plants, many in the same communities that the EPA says already face the greatest health risks.

      • Welcome to “Cancer Alley,” Where Toxic Air Is About to Get Worse

        ST. GABRIEL, La. — Over a half-century, Hazel Schexnayder saw this riverside hamlet transformed from a collection of old plantations, tin-roofed shacks and verdant cornfields into an industrial juggernaut.

        By the early 1990s, she’d had enough of the towering chemical plants and their mysterious white plumes, the roadside ditches oozing with blue fluid, the air that smelled of rotten eggs and nail-polish remover, the neighbors suffering miscarriages and dying of cancer.

      • Why Louisiana’s Air Quality Is Going From Bad to Worse, in 3 Charts

        The chemical industry is growing rapidly in Louisiana at the same time that the state is backsliding when it comes to toxic levels of cancer-causing chemicals in the air. We investigated. Here’s what we found.

        We mapped estimated air toxicity levels along the lower Mississippi River using EPA data, then overlaid the locations of chemical projects that have been approved or are pending approval by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

      • Monsanto “Intelligence Center” Targeted Journalists and Activists - Validated Independent News

        Levin wrote that Monsanto “adopted a multi-pronged strategy” to target Carey Gillam, a Reuters journalist who has investigated links between Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer and links to cancer. Monsanto also monitored a not-for-profit food research organization, U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), and the Twitter account of musician Neil Young, who has been a prominent, outspoken critic of Monsanto.

      • SpaceX Expansion of 5G Threatens Global Health - Validated Independent News

        SpaceX launched its first group of sixty satellites on May 23, 2019 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Musk plans to launch subsequent rounds of satellites in November and December, with the ultimate aim of providing 5G coverage from space once a network of 420 satellites is in place. Although corporate news media—including Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and FOXNews—have covered SpaceX’s ambitious plans for launching many more satellites in the near future, this coverage does not address health risks associated with 5G technology.

    • Security (Confidentiality/Integrity/Availabilitiy)

      • Linux maintainer: Patching side-channel flaws is killing performance

        Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the worst side-channel vulnerability of them all?

        For a while it was Meltdown and Spectre, the two biggies that kicked off the era of microprocessor security worry in early 2018, followed some months later by another contender, PortSmash.

        In May this year, news emerged of more weaknesses with fancy names – ZombieLoad (CVE-2018-12130), RIDL, and Fallout (CVE-2018-12126, CVE-2018-12127, CVE-2018-12130, CVE-2019-11091).

        The thread loosely holding this list together is a new class of weaknesses known as Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) flaws, in the case of PostSmash and ZombieLoad in Intel’s Simultaneous Multithreading (SMT) hyper-threading.

      • Intel CPUs can be exploited unless you disable hyper-threading, Linux dev claims

        If that sounds familiar, you might have remembered it from the ZombieLoad episode back in May, where it first came to light along with other MDS-based exploits including Fallout and RIDL.

        The only way to be truly safe from any potential attack vector along these lines is simply to switch off hyper-threading. Kroah-Hartman said of OpenBSD (an open source security-focused OS): "A year ago they said disable hyper-threading, there's going to be lots of problems here. They chose security over performance at an earlier stage than anyone else. Disable hyper-threading. That's the only way you can solve some of these issues. We are slowing down your workloads. Sorry."

      • Indian Nuclear Power Facility Denies Unverified Reports of a Cyber Attack

        A statement attributed to R. Ramdoss, the training superintendent and information officer at the plant, clarified that 'Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) and other Indian Nuclear Power Plants Control Systems are stand alone and not connected to outside cyber network and Internet,' apparently asserting that physical separation from global networks --or 'air-gapping' --would suffice as a protective measure.

      • Cyber attack at Kudankulam; critical system safe [iophk: Windows TCO]

        'Domain controller-level access [gained] at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. The government was notified way back,' said cyber security professional Pukhraj Singh, who in a series of tweets on Monday and Tuesday contended that he was first alerted by a 'third party that discovered the hack and had in turn alerted the National Cyber Security Coordinator on September 3.

      • In these hours an alleged cyber attack on the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu made the headlines, but the KKNPP denies it.

        Worrying news made the headlines, the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) was hit by a cyber attack. Some users are claiming on the social media that a piece of the 'DTrack' malware has infected the systems at the KKNPP.

        The DTrackmalware was described by Kaspersky in September as a tool that could be used to spy on the victims and exfiltrate data of interest. The malware supports features normally implemented in remote access trojan (RAT). Below a list of some functionalities supported by the Dtrack payload executables analyzed by Kaspersky: [...]

      • Over 15 Indian States Have Been Infected By The Dtrack Malware: Kaspersky Report

        Researchers at Kaspersky had also uncovered "ATMDtrack" back in 2018, a malware that invades the Indian Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and steal customer card data. "Following further investigation using the Kaspersky Attribution Engine and other tools, the researchers found more than 180 new malware samples which had code sequence similarities with the ATMDtrack - but at the same time clearly were not aimed at ATMs," Kaspersky told IANS.

      • What is Dtrack, the spytool that is to blame for attacks on Indian financial institutions?

        Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky announced the discovery of Dtrack, a hitherto undetected spytool which has proliferated Indian financial institutions and research centres. The new spyware is a different strain of the ARMDtrack malware that was discovered in 2018. It was created to infiltrate ATMs in the country and siphon card data of customers.

      • After Server Breach, NordVPN Has Strengthened Security Measures

        What do you do when you find out the company you were entrusting with your privacy was hacked? Panic? There may have been a lot of that going on when NordVPN admitted to a security breach of their server.

        The good news is that NordVPN is on top of it, and it has already strengthened security measures. But will they be able to trust NordVPN again?

    • Defence/Aggression

      • The Baghdadi Scam

        "In the end it doesn’t matter if Baghdadi is dead or when or how he died.”

      • Afghanistan: CIA-Backed Forces Commit Atrocities

        CIA-backed Afghan forces have committed summary executions and other grave abuses without accountability.€ These strike forces have unlawfully killed civilians during night raids, forcibly disappeared detainees, and attacked healthcare facilities.

      • Countries Blast China at UN Over Xinjiang Abuses

        Nearly two dozen countries confronted€ China at the United Nations this week, voicing outrage over its persecution of Turkic Muslims in€ Xinjiangand demanding the government comply with international obligations on the freedom of religion.

      • I Write About Endless Wars and I Keep Crying at Work

        In my case, I cry at work --often quite profusely --about once every two weeks. And that's if I'm lucky. The past couple of months? More times than I can count. And not over a nasty e-mail, a rude response, or a mean coworker (of which, I'm proud to say, I have none). No, I'm crying for a simple enough reason: because my job in communications breaks my heart. It does so over and over again. And yet I stay. I keep doing it, tears and all, because I want to make a difference, because I just hate the world I'm trying to change and how cruelly it treats so many people. And I cry because some days (most days, perhaps) I'm not sure I can make a difference at all.

        So, what could cause this public relations professional to get that upset? Well, I think it has something to do with what I work on, day in and day out. Most so-called PR flacks I know have portfolios that include things like consumer goods, public health campaigns, or corporations in crisis. Not me. My focus at work is on America's wars and how they are being waged.

      • Turkey summons U.S. ambassador over House resolutions on Armenian genocide, sanctions

        Turkey's foreign ministry said it summoned U.S. Ambassador David Satterfield over two resolutions passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

        The Turkish ministry said in a statement early Wednesday that it rejects the nonbinding House resolution to recognize the century-old mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide. The bill passed 405-11.

      • Colonel testifies he raised alarm on Trump's Ukraine call

        Alexander Vindman, a former 20-year military officer who had served in Iraq and later as a diplomat, on Tuesday said he heard Donald Trump ask Ukraine's president to investigate his potential 2020 rival Joe Biden.

        Vindman, the first witness who claims to have heard Trump's July 25 call with Volodymyr Zelenskiy to testify so far, said the conversation had so alarmed him that he reported the matter to lawyers for the National Security Council (NSC).

      • Czech-Chinese Ties Strained As Prague Stands Up To Beijing

        "It was quite obvious that the only thing that the Beijing side was focused on was their propaganda, and not the political or cultural exchange we were interested in," Hrib tells NPR.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • VA's Whistleblower Office Retaliated Against Whistleblowers And Buried Complaints

        I think President Trump likes the idea of whistleblowers. As long as they're coughing up tips about Deep State conspiracies against the administration, he's probably cool with it. No one's done that yet, so he's stuck battling whistleblowers who are blowing the whistle in his general direction.

      • A Facebook content moderation vendor is quitting the business after two Verge investigations

        The professional services firm Cognizant will exit the content moderation business after two Verge investigations into working conditions at sites dedicated to Facebook, the companies said today. Cognizant had hired thousands of moderators around the world to remove hate speech, terrorism, and other inappropriate content from platforms including Facebook, Google, and Twitter.

        'We have determined that certain content work in our Digital Operations practice is not in line with our strategic vision for the company and we intend to exit this work over time,' the company told The Verge in a statement. 'This work is largely focused on determining whether certain content violates client standards -- and can involve objectionable materials.'

    • Environment

      • Greta Thunberg declined a climate award because the world needs more action, fewer awards

        "The Nordic countries have a great reputation around the world when it comes to climate and environmental issues," she said in a written message on Instagram. "There is no lack of bragging about this. There is no lack of beautiful words. But when it comes to our actual emissions and our ecological footprints per capita -- if we include our consumption, our imports as well as aviation and shipping -- then it's a whole other story."

      • US Army Says Thirsty Soldiers Are Drinking Too Much Bottled Water

        The report was released in August, and by analyzing outside research, its authors determined that the Army's reliance on bottled water is unsustainable in the face of climate change.

        'The U.S. Army is precipitously close to mission failure concerning hydration of the force in a contested arid environment,' the authors' wrote, adding that 'the Army must reinvest aggressively in technologies both in-house and commercial off the shelf in the next 5-10 years to keep pace with rising global temperatures, especially those arid areas in or poised for conflict.'

      • 'Start Listening': Greta Thunberg Rejects Major Environmental Award

        "It is a huge honor," Thunberg said of the Nordic Council Environment Prize. "But the climate movement does not need any more awards."

        "What we need is for our politicians and the people in power to start listening to the current, best available science," she added.

      • Rising sea levels threaten hundreds of millions -- and it's much worse than we thought

        And by 2050, land that is currently home to about 300 million people will fall below the elevation of the average annual coastal flood -- meaning they could face severe floods at least once a year. By 2100, land that is home to 200 million people could sit permanently below the high tide line, rendering those coastal areas all but unlivable.

        "The results indicate that, yes, a great deal more people are on vulnerable land than we thought," said Benjamin Strauss, one of the study's co-authors and CEO of non-profit organization Climate Central. He added that these affected regions need to take immediate action to avoid the impending "economic and humanitarian catastrophe."

      • 'Someone Cancel the Climate Crisis Too Please': Citing Social Unrest, Chile President Bows Out as COP25 Host

        "The climate talks in Chile were canceled because of the very issues that are at the heart of the climate emergency: social inequality, disrespect for human rights, and an economy that prioritizes big business and polluters over the needs of everyday people."

      • Belated Rains, Beleaguered Farmers: the Climate Crisis in Bhandara

        Inside a tiny hole on the hardened soil lies a dead crab, its legs severed from its body. “They are dying of the heat,” says Devendra Bhongade, pointing at holes all over his five-acre paddy farm.

      • As I Walked Out to the Streets to Block Traffic: Extinction Rebellion and the Battle For Life On Earth

        It’s that time of year, in fact as they say, it’s that time of life. It’s that time for show-downs and choices, for heroes and villains, that time for fighting in the street. Yes, as the temperature moves to the cool of autumn the friction of action is heating things up on a global scale, seriously! Around the world, from Hong Kong to Paris to Lebanon, Ecuador and Santiago it’s catching fire in those spots where passions rise with public unrest, civil disobedience and revolution. In London the extinction rebellion has been outlawed. In Hong Kong it was laws against masks and folks in South Dakota are being convinced to go along with throwing away their rights and a piece of the constitution with new anti-protest laws designed to protect oil pipelines. Whistle-blowers and truth tellers sit in prisons while the cream of the bought and sold elite enjoys the spoils of their crimes. The wealth gap continues to grow forcing millions into poverty, 2 million people here in the US still sit in prisons, pressure from refugees fleeing violence and climate disruption still push at the gates and too much co2 still comes spewing out from the exhaust of the industrial machine. The wars the empires wage to subdue the world, steal the resources and grease the pockets are now undisguised; out-right criminal actions having dropped all pretense of those silly notions of things like spreading freedom and democracy. Trump and his gang move closer every day to that most hated and dreadful of outcomes for the world’s most lethal power, further movement towards dictatorship and fascism.

      • Energy

        • On Those California Fires

          As California burns, the press is offering all number of explanations for why this is so; naming everything from drought and climate change, to lack of sufficient acres of prescribed burns and forest thinning, to the failure of PG&E to properly maintain the electrical grid. The ‘problems’, or so the press would have the public believe, are fixable things (assuming climate change is actually fixable). I’ve yet to see it written anywhere that the problem is none of the above and that there isn’t, in fact, ‘a problem’ although that’s not to say, we aren’t in deep shit!

        • California Must Take Back Its Power—Literally

          We Californians are watching our state burn. Our houses are literally on fire, and yet we should not be surprised. Our current “new normal” is an utterly predictable consequence of global warming. While the climate crisis fueling our wildfires is the direct result of the fossil fuel industry’s profit-driven corporate greed, another culprit, one that has for years valued moneyed interests over human needs, is also to blame: the nation’s largest utilities company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E).

        • EPA Disbanded a Clean Air Science Panel. We Met Anyway – And Here's What We Found
        • ‘Is This About the Oil Industry?’ House Oversight Hearing Explores Big Oil’s Role in Weakening Clean Car Standards

          At Tuesday’s hearing of the Oversight Committee’s Environment subcommittee, the oil industry’s importance in affecting the weaker standards for vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions was front and center as Republicans led an ultimately unsuccessful effort to adjourn the hearing before witness testimony even€ began.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Going to the dogs A humane animal welfare law is about to take effect in Russia. A new report found that most regions are still killing stray dogs and cats indiscriminately anyway.

          In December of 2018, the Russian government approved a new law titled “On the responsible treatment of animals” that is scheduled to take effect at the beginning of 2020. Among other things, the law prohibits catching stray dogs for the purpose of killing them. The Animal Welfare Association, a Russian nonprofit, spent half a year studying state purchases in Russia’s regions as well as local legislation that remained in place after the new federal law was passed only to conclude that in most regions, officials have continued to have stray animals euthanized. Meduza reviewed the association’s report and discovered that even if local governments follow Russia’s new, more humane regulations, cruelty toward stray dogs and cats throughout the country is likely set to increase.

        • When Justice Delayed Means Extinction: the Case of the Delta Smelt

          The signature event of the 2019 California Water Year is the arrival of extinction for the Delta smelt, a two-inch, nearly transparent fish at the bottom of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta food chain. The smelt’s demise signals critical dangers for two species of Coho salmon, one species of Steelhead and resident killer whales that feed on them.

        • Grizzlies, Helicopters and the North Cascades: Fighting for the Integrity of Wilderness is Not a “Mental Illness”

          I don’t know much about Conservation Northwest, a Seattle-based nonprofit dedicated to “protecting, connecting and restoring wildlands and wildlife” from the Washington Coast to the British Columbia Rockies. I like what I do know. I know it’s an affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation, a good organization I used to work for and continue to support. The organization’s founder and executive director, Mitch Friedman, seems to be a smart guy who passionately fights for a lot of important, worthwhile causes. Some folks might even consider him an extreme fundamentalist. I don’t. I’ve got a hunch he and I likely see eye-to-eye on most things.

        • World’s species numbers stay much the same

          Life is on the move. Everywhere, the mix of creatures is changing for better and worse. The world’s species remain diverse. But for how long?

    • Finance

      • Unlevelled Fields: Brexit, Workers’ Rights and the Environment

        The smorgasbord of Brexit terms has been further plated up with the latest acronym: the WAB or Withdrawal Agreement Bill. It comes in at 115 pages, with an added bonus of 126 pages of explanatory notes. For something seemingly so significant, not much time was on offer for those in the Commons to peruse, let alone digest it. Rushed before the members last Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hoping that the most significant constitutional change to Britain in decades would be a push over.

      • Big Corporations Affirm Economy “For All Americans” While Lobbying ALEC - Validated Independent News

        Some of the companies that participated in both meetings include Blue Cross Blue Shield, Bayer AG, Chevron, FedEx, NRG Energy, Vistra Energy, United Parcel Service, Pfizer, USAA, Marathon Petroleum, and Duke Energy. The investigative news site Documented published the list of companies that attended ALEC’s secretive meetings.

      • The Widening Gap Between the Super-Rich and Other Americans

        Despite the upbeat words from America’s billionaire president about the “economic miracle” he has produced, economic inequality in the United States is on the rise.

      • U.S. Senate Greenlights Funding to Help Prevent Families From Losing Their Land

        This week, in a near-unanimous vote, the U.S. Senate passed an amendment to help heirs’ property owners clear titles. Heirs’ property refers to land that has been handed down informally within families, often over several generations; without clear title, the land is vulnerable to legal loopholes that jeopardize ownership. The amendment included $5 million for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s relending program, which would assist families with heirs’ property in resolving ownership issues. The funding is the same amount included in a House bill, which passed in June.

        The program allows eligible lending organizations, like cooperatives and credit unions, to provide loans to landowners who are seeking to clear up or consolidate ownership, helping them pay for legal assistance or obtain necessary documentation, for example.

      • Interview: Journalist Rania Khalek On The Protests That Erupted Throughout Lebanon

        Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned as nationwide protests against the government continued.

        Rania Khalek, co-host of the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast, believes this leaves Lebanon vulnerable. The United States government will probably warn against a potential “Hezbollah government.” The next government in Lebanon may even face sanctions that further compound a looming economic crisis.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • US Machinations Drive Protest in Hong Kong - Validated Independent News

        Since June, protests in Hong Kong have intensified despite Lam’s withdrawal of the extradition bill. Demands for democracy, not the bill, have now become the aim of many protesters, who hope to court Western support, particularly from the United States, by displaying American flags and singing the US national anthem.

      • Of Course a US President can Murder Somebody Without Legal jeopardy–Ain’t That Great!

        During his campaign for president, Donald Trump said that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” without losing voters.

      • Election Rollercoaster in Eastern Germany

        Germany is really riding a rollercoaster these days, but this is no amusement park; there’s lots of suspense but rarely joy – and quite a few politicians are very unwell! Not only politicians! Well then, who’s climbing, who’s plunging? Look quick – it’s moving fast!

      • Who Exactly Are Biden’s Bundlers?

        The Joe Biden campaign is short on cash, so short that it has moved from disavowing an outside super PAC earlier this year to throwing the door open to one last week. That begs the question: If Biden is compromising on this stance for a buck, what other things might he be willing to trade for fundraising help? And with whom?

      • Sanders Campaign, Progressives Rip Biden Super PAC: 'Enough of the Wealthy and Powerful Buying Candidates and Elections'

        "The reality is... he's an AstroTurf candidate," said writer Norman Solomon.

      • Money Talks, Bullshit Walks on Cable News

        Is it any wonder that the nation’s “liberal” cable news stations CNN and MSNBC can barely contain their disdain for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and even (to a lesser degree) for that of Elizabeth Warren while they promote the nauseating center-right candidacies of the bewildered racist and corporatist Joe Biden, the sinister neoliberal corporate-militarist Pete Butiggieg and even the marginal Wall Street “moderates” Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris? Next time you click on these stations, keep a pen and paper handy to write down the names of the corporations that pay for their broadcast content with big money commercial purchases.

      • Who Makes Money When a Bunch of Conspiracy Theorists Throw a Party at Trump’s Hotel?

        This month, about a thousand supporters of President Donald Trump gathered at his resort in Florida to discuss a variety of unsupported theories. There were panels on the “Russia Hoax” and “Voter Fraud in the USA.” One speaker endorsed the theory that former President Barack Obama had planned to “turn over” North Africa to al-Qaida.

        The American Priority Conference and Festival at the Trump National Doral Miami drew national attention for a video shown that depicted a fake Trump shooting and stabbing members of the media. And as ProPublica and WNYC detailed, speakers also told conference-goers to prepare for “war” and invoked other violent imagery. (The conference organizers said they oppose all political violence.)

      • Top Trump Adviser Steps Down Ahead of Impeachment Testimony

        President Donald Trump’s top adviser for Russian and European affairs is leaving his job at the White House, a day before he’s scheduled to testify before the House impeachment investigators, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

      • Bolton Summoned; First Big Vote Set on Impeachment Probe

        House investigators are summoning former national security adviser John Bolton to testify in their impeachment inquiry, deepening their reach into the White House as the probe accelerates toward a potential vote to remove the president.

      • Senators Say Trump May Have Violated Federal Law by Pressuring Countries Into Opposing Abortion Rights

        The administration, charged Democratic senators, pressured 70 countries to support an effort "to deny resources and education that could help millions of women and girls around the world."

      • Even Bojo Johnson Can’t Find His Promised Brexit Wunderland

        By all accounts, even those given by his immediate family, BoJo Johnson is a piece of work.

      • Twitter bans political ads ahead of 2020 election
      • Ahead of Spanish election, fake Facebook pages spend Euro40,000 on ads

        Some of the pages themselves are named after these parties and encourage abstention at the upcoming general election on November 10.

      • Zuckerberg doubles down on Facebook political ads policy after Twitter ban

        Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday ardently defended Facebook's controversial political advertising policy a little more than an hour after Twitter took a shot at its rival while announcing it will ban all political ads from its platform.

        "Although I've considered whether we should not carry [political] ads in the past, and I'll continue to do so, on balance so far I've thought we should continue," Zuckerberg told investors on a quarterly earnings call.

      • Twitter to ban all political advertising

        "While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics," company CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted.

      • Twitter Bans Political Ads Ahead of 2020 Election

        Twitter, reacting to growing concern about misinformation spread on social media, is banning all political advertising from its service. Its move sets it apart from Facebook, which continues to defend running paid political ads, even false ones, as a free speech priority.

      • Jack Dorsey Announces Twitter's Ban on Political Ads by Subtweeting Zuckerberg

        In his statement, Dorsey pointed to the notion of paid reach through political ads --as opposed to 'earned reach' from a tweet spreading naturally through retweets --as a key reason behind the company's decision, noting that 'a political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet.' 'Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people,' Dorsey continued. 'We believe this decision should not be compromised by money.' The CEO noted that political ads on the internet 'present entirely new challenges to civic discourse: machine learning-based optimization of messaging and micro-targeting, unchecked misleading information, and deep fakes. All at increasing velocity, sophistication, and overwhelming scale.' While Dorsey noted that these problems 'affect ALL [Internet] communication,' the Twitter leader said it's 'best to focus our efforts on the root problems, without the additional burden and complexity taking money brings.' 'Trying to fix both means fixing neither well, and harms our credibility,' Dorsey added.

      • See, Facebook? Twitter Proves You Can Ban Political Ads

        The new policy applies to political candidates as well as advertising around political issues, but will include exceptions for things like voter registration. The company plans to reveal a detailed version of the policy on November 15, and it will go into effect on November 22.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Blizzard Loses First Sponsor Due To Stance On Hong Kong Speech

        Just a quick update on Blizzard and the ongoing backlash against the company over its attempts to muzzle its eSports competitors from making "political" comments about "politics", which mostly means not pissing off the laughably thin-skinned Chinese government over the fact that Hong Kong exists. It started when the company yoinked away prize money and issued a 1 year ban to a Hearthstone player, continued as it then issued more bans, then got weird when it decided to try to appease the backlashing public by halving that original ban, all of which led to basically everyone other than Beijing remarking on how totally shitty Blizzard is.

      • Trump’s War on the Free Press Reeks of Dictatorship

        Donald Trump seems to think the United States is some kind of banana republic. He has already defied the standards of nepotism and inserted his daughter and son-in-law into the highest levels of our government. As for robbing the Treasury like the dictators he admires, it’s tough to ignore funneling taxpayer funds to his private hotels and his quickly retracted attempt to host the G-7 nations at his Doral resort in Florida. But now, in a move that cannot be seen as anything other than what it is, he has decided to expand his war on the free press by announcing that the White House would cancel subscriptions to the New York Times and the Washington Post and€ order all government offices to do the same.

    • Privacy/Surveillance

      • Strengthen California’s Next Consumer Data Privacy Initiative

        EFF and a coalition of privacy advocates recently asked the sponsor of a new California ballot initiative to strengthen its provisions on consumer data privacy.

        The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) created new ways for the state’s residents to protect themselves from corporations that invade their privacy by harvesting and monetizing their personal information. Specifically, the CCPA gives each Californian the right to know exactly what pieces of personal information a company has collected about them; the right to delete that information; and the right to opt-out of the sale of that information. The CCPA is a good start, but we want more privacy protection.

      • Company Threatens To Sue NBC For Reporting On Its Facial Recognition Tech Being Used Against Palestinians

        Earlier this week, NBC News had quite a story about a facial recognition tech company in Israel, named AnyVision, that is being used by the Israeli military to conduct surveillance on Palestinians in the West Bank. Much of the article focuses on the fact that Microsoft invested in AnyVision, at a time when Microsoft claims it's been taking the moral high ground and unwilling to work on more nefarious uses of things like facial recognition technology. The story hits on a bunch of different points that we regularly cover at Techdirt, from misuses of facial recognition to large company hypocrisy. But we're writing about it for a different reason: the way that AnyVision's CEO reacted upon being contacted by NBC reporters...

      • Apple Card: New 24-month plan has no interest on new iPhone purchases

        The Apple Card is an Apple-branded credit card from MasterCard. Unlike the current Barclaycard Visa with Apple Rewards, which is a partner card, the Apple Card is owned and operated by Apple.

      • Cash: A German love affair

        According to Kirchler, Germans are mainly concerned that they could lose control of their finances if cash were to be replaced by cashless payment methods. He identifies two aspects to this notion of control: For one, they fear that it could lead to more control by the state or banks. Secondly, they have the impression that they can better control their expenses by handling actual money.

      • Canalys: Huawei grows 66% in China smartphone market at expense of competition

        The China (mainland) smartphone market improved sequentially in Q3 2019 as shipments reached 97.8 million, from 97.6 million units in Q2. China is still shrinking against the previous year, though the decline has narrowed to -3%. Huawei extended its market lead by shipping 41.5 million smartphones, to reach a record market share of 42%, an annual growth of 66%. This is Huawei’s sixth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth amid a gloomy China market. Shadowed by Huawei’s strong performance, the remaining top five vendors, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi and Apple, shrank further. Their combined share only accounted for 50% of the market, down from 54% in Q2 2019, and 64% in Q3 2018.

      • Your Smart TV Is Sending Data without Your Knowledge

        No doubt, the collectors of usage data from smart TVs would argue that the information they acquire is “non-personal” and that their intention is only to improve the viewing experience for all.

    • Freedom of Information / Freedom of the Press

      • Max Blumenthal Arrest Exposes Hypocrisy of Western Media and ‘Human Rights’ NGOs

        Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal, a prominent journalistic critic of US policy toward Venezuela,€  was arrested by DC police on Friday, October 25, in connection with a protest at the Venezuelan embassy, and held incommunicado. But if you rely on corporate media, or even leading “press freedom” groups, you haven’t heard about this troubling encroachment on freedom of the press.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Federal Court Says 'Touch DNA' Analysis Is Mostly Guesswork That Can't Be Used As Evidence

        DNA was supposed to be the gold standard of criminal evidence. And it can be, but only under very specific circumstances rarely found in the messy world of crime scenes. DNA evidence is easily contaminated by the people handling the evidence, not to mention anyone else who's been at the crime scene. This has resulted in law enforcement agencies spending years chasing phantom criminals, only to find out the DNA investigators kept finding at crime scenes came from other officers, first responders, or even the person packing their DNA kits back at the manufacturer.

      • “Social Justice Evangelism”—How Congregations Have United to Shelter Immigrants - Validated Independent News

        From protesting at the border and local Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices, to visiting detention camps in witness, to offering physical sanctuary and protection to those at risk of deportation, Bader documented vividly what Reverend Nathan Empsall, the campaign director of Faithful America, a 165,000-member online emergency network of Christians, calls “social justice evangelism” and other congregation leaders refer to as “radical hospitality.”

      • Lesbianism as a Threat to Patriarchy - Validated Independent News

        Across numerous cultures, women are expected to be motherly figures who should marry male partners, support their husbands, and raise children. When women display autonomy from men, they are subject to violence and dehumanization, typically through demeaning insults that often attack their physical appearance, brains, and morals. Lesbianism, Bindel wrote, is an affront to some men, for the simple reason that lesbians “have refused compulsory heterosexuality and have openly and unashamedly rejected men sexually.”

      • Illinois Foster Care Services Fail Families - Validated Independent News

        Matias’s son was born with heroin in his system. After it cleared from his body, the DCFS placed the boy with foster parents, Jana and Peter Palenik. Matias knew both foster patents spoke perfect English, but he was not aware they were only speaking Slovak (their first language) at home. Shortly after his son turned one, Matias realized that his first word was “Mamka,” the word for ‘mother,’ not in Spanish or English, but in Slovak. When Matias realized his son was being raised to speak a different language, he became afraid that the process to win back custody of his son would be even more difficult.

      • Georgia Woman Takes Home $100,000 Settlement After Bogus Criminal Defamation Arrest By Her Ex-Husband (And Current Deputy)

        Nearly five years after being unlawfully arrested for violating a law declared unconstitutional thirty-two years ago, the ex-wife of a particularly stupid law enforcement officer is getting paid.

      • The Scourge of Human Trafficking in Yemen - Validated Independent News

        Due to lack of educational opportunities and economic collapse, Yemeni people are literally sacrificing their bodies to provide for their families. Between 2015-2017, more than 10,000 cases of organ sales have been documented by the Yemen Organization for Combating Human Trafficking, a Sana’a-based NGO. Actual figures are almost certainly higher, because many cases go unreported owing to the practice being illegal, religious concerns, and the stigma of the practice in a conservative society.

      • Cops: People In Their Own Homes Are In The Wrong Place At The Wrong Time Whenever A Cop Enters Unlawfully

        It's not a trend. It's disturbing, trend or no trend. It just is. You're the enemy, even when you're in your own home. That's the arguments cops are making for killing or maiming people who had no idea law enforcement officers had entered their residence.

      • Indigenous Women Raped and Murdered Near Oil Company Camps - Validated Independent News

        In June 2019, Canada released a 1,200-page report showing a strong link between oil extraction zones and missing and murdered women in Canada.€  It cited rotational shift work, substance abuse, economic insecurity, sexual harassment in the workplace, and a transient workforce as key factors contributing to increased violence against Native women in communities near fossil fuel infrastructure.

      • Malaysia: Repeal Abusive Security Law

        (Bangkok) –The Malaysian government should urgently repeal the draconian 2012 Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act (SOSMA).

      • Kyrgyzstan: Bill Threatens Workers’ Rights

        Draft amendments to Kyrgyzstan’s trade union law would severely inhibit independent trade union organizing and violate international labor treaties to which Kyrgyzstan is a party, Human Rights Watch said today. Parliament should reject the amendments when they are presented for a third reading.

      • From Message Board to Crowded Bar

        The Game: The Game subverts the classic dating sim format by reversing the roles. The player instead controls a femme-presenting avatar on a quest to meet her friend in a cramped bar full of men. Uninvited suitors insert themselves into the player's personal space, forcing her to engage in dialogue while each man attempts to seduce her using his particular method.

        Washko crafted each interaction by pulling from the archive of materials she amassed, allowing each pick-up artist to speak for himself; the strategies implemented by their digital doubles are lifted word for word from their own writing and teaching materials. Her portrayals reveal each PUA's affect and personality, ranging from aggressive to pathetic to sarcastic to nerdy and at times so charming that one is momentarily disarmed.

      • 'World is messy': Obama scolds 'politically woke' purists

        'There is this sense sometimes of 'the way of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people, and that's enough,'" Obama said, adding, "'If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn't do something right or used the wrong verb. Then, I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself because, man, you see how woke I was?'

        "You know, that's not activism. That's not bringing about change. If all you're doing is casting stones, you're probably not going to get that far," he added.

      • Turkish Forces Doing 'soft' Ethnic Cleansing in Northeast Syria

        "They were told, 'We have orders not to physically touch the Christians, but know that you have no land here anymore,'" said Ishak, a member of the political bureau of the Syrian Democratic Council in northeastern Syria and a graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He said the Syrian armed groups allied with Turkey "are repeating what they did in Afrin," the Turkish invasion in northwestern Syria using Syrian militants in 2018.

        "In Afrin, they took the harvest of the Kurds who lived there and now they are doing it to the Christians. The Christians in Ras al-Ayn own at least one-third of the agricultural land there. These forces are basically carrying out a 'soft' ethnic cleansing. The Christians are being frightened by these people, and then they lose their source of income. The Christians then ask why should they stay and live under the Islamists," said Ishak.

      • Threats to Kill Wilders Over Mohammed Cartoons Could Mean Six Years in Prison

        The suspect accused of threatening far right leader Geert Wilders, and preparing a terrorist plot, should be sent to prison for six years, the Public Prosecution (OM) said during closing statements against Junaid I. in court on Tuesday. Wilders was present in the courtroom earlier in the day, but declined the opportunity afforded him to make a statement as one of the victims in the case, saying he only wanted to look into the eyes of the suspect.

        Junaid I. also stands accused of sedition with terrorism as a motive. The 27-year-old Pakistani man was arrested after traveling from France to The Hague in August, where he was eventually arrested at a train station.

      • Iraqi Kurds turn to Zoroastrianism as faith, identity entwine

        In a ceremony at an ancient, ruined temple in northern Iraq, Faiza Fuad joined a growing number of Kurds who are leaving Islam to embrace the faith of their ancestors -- Zoroastrianism.

        Years of violence by the Islamic State jihadist group have left many disillusioned with Islam, while a much longer history of state oppression has pushed some in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region to see the millennia-old religion as a way of reasserting their identity.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Comcast's 'Free' Streaming Box Is Actually $13 After Stupid Fees

        Back in March, Comcast heavily hyped the looming launch of a new streaming TV box that a press release proclaimed would provide "real value" to Comcast broadband customers for free. It was Comcast's attempt at trying to fend off the growing array of $7-$14 per month streaming services that have been popping up and causing Comcast customers to cut the cable TV cord. Comcast noted at the time the offering would only be made available to the company's existing broadband subscribers, and would only feature streaming services sanctioned by Comcast...

      • Xfinity is Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) Attacking my Internet

        They injected 581 lines of JavaScript code, resulting in a total of 48.5kb data resulting in additional data towards my data cap, as well as my page becoming interactive ~250ms slower. This means that even though my internet is faster than before, my computer performs worse when utilizing Xfinity internet.

        Not only is it morally wrong to inject content into websites, but it is also extremely dangerous.

    • Monopolies

      • Zuckerberg defends buying Instagram amid antitrust scrutiny

        During a quarterly call with investors, Zuckerberg said he believes many of the recently launched antitrust investigations into Facebook "are going to be about our acquisition of Instagram."

      • Zuckerberg Defends Instagram Deal Against U.S. Antitrust Probe

        Mark Zuckerberg tried to knock down criticism that Facebook Inc.'s acquisition of Instagram harmed competition and should have been blocked by U.S. antitrust enforcers.

      • Patents and Software Patents

        • Qualcomm's German outside counsel: all mobile communications technology resides in baseband chipset

          In the FTC v. Qualcomm antitrust litigation, particularly in its opposition to the FTC's motion for summary judgment on chipset-level licensing, Qualcomm disputed that cellular standards are implemented by baseband chips. Qualcomm claimed that only "complete devices" can implement cellular standards (which failed to persuade Judge Lucy H. Koh of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California).

        • German judge wants EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager to do his job: Nokia v. Daimler

          The biggest news from today's Nokia v. Daimler doubleheader patent infringement hearing in Munich was Huawei's potentially groundbreaking German antitrust lawsuit against Nokia over the former handset maker's refusal to extend an exhaustive component-level standard-essential patent (SEP) license to Huawei, which is at least an indirect--through telematics control unit (TCU) makers like Continental--supplier to Daimler. But there's more (I typed 11 pages of notes)...

          The two divisions of the Munich I Regional Court that hear patent infringement cases (the 7th Civil Chamber and--which held today's hearings--the 21st Civil Chamber) appear to have an interesting self-concept. While they very much focus on patent cases, their responsibility extends to all fields of civil law, depending on what issues get raised in their cases. Competition law is not an exception. But their protective instincts consistently benefit patent holders, even trolls and other abusers, and apparently never those whose business are profoundly impacted by antitrust violations.

          Hogan Lovells's Dr. Benjamin Schroeer ("Schröer" in German), counsel for Nokia v. Daimler intervenor Peiker (a Valeo subsidiary), was one of several attorneys for Daimler suppliers who explained to the court how their clients are affected by Nokia's refusal to extend exhaustive component-level licenses to them, choosing to sue Daimler instead. But what matters to the court is that Nokia holds patents and elected to sue Daimler over them--end of story, for the time being...

          Dr. Schroeer suggested that Daimler is just serving as a proxy for Nokia to sue because, in reality, it's about the telematics control units (TCUs) supplied by the likes of Peiker and Continental. In that context he even hinted at a violation of the intervenors' right to be heard. Whether he meant to indicate to the Munich court that they're considering a complaint with the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany wasn't clear--but that's where a complaint over a denial of the right to be heard would ultimately go.

        • Game changer in automotive patent wars? Huawei brought antitrust complaint against Nokia in German court to get exhaustive module-level SEP license

          The Munich I Regional Court scheduled a Nokia v. Daimler "double-header" for today: first hearings (several months after which there will be trials followed by decisions) in two of the Finnish company's ten patent infringement cases pending against the German car maker.

          The wireless standard-essential patents-in-suit are EP1388234 and the related German patent DE60240446C5 on a "hybrid automatic repeat request (HARQ) scheme with in-sequence deliver of packets" as well as EP2797239 on "a method and a telecommunication device for selecting a number of code channels and an associated spreading factor for a CDMA transmission." On June 5, the same court held a hearing on Nokia's infringement action against Daimler over EP1671505 on a "redundancy strategy selection scheme," and indicated a strong inclination to rule in Nokia's favor, unless things change when the actual trial takes place on February 6, 2020.

          A number of suppliers of telematics control units (TCUs) to Daimler are intervening in the infringement case on the automotive company's behalf: Continental (which tried twice, but unsuccessfully so far, to shield Daimler from Nokia's lawsuits by means of a U.S. antisuit injunction), BURY, Bosch, TomTom (world-famous for its navigation systems), and Valeo subsidiary Peiker. Another intervenor, Huawei, makes cellular communications modules that are at the heart of many TCUs made by others; Huawei is also known to offer TCUs, but its counsel mentioned only its connectivity modules today.

          Another factor that sets the Chinese mobile technology company apart from the other intervenors is that Huawei is presently obtaining several times more SEPs--and has a far higher share of existing 4G patents--than Nokia. By contrast, the TCU makers intervening in this case largely don't own cellular SEPs. What lends this particlular importance is that it shows it's about product-focused innovators (car makers, TCU makers, and the likes of Huawei, Samsung, and LG) versus companies like Nokia and Ericsson, whose current product business is a shadow of its former self, so they increasingly focus on patent monetization.

        • How to fix the patent quality crisis

          The United States has a serious problem – arguably a full-blown crisis – in patent quality: a flood of bad patents devaluing the good ones and reducing the benefit of patenting for true inventors. That’s a threat to the viability of the entire system, yet some are suggesting weakening standards for receiving patents as a solution – the exact wrong thing to do.

          Patents are supposed to be hard to get. They aren’t participation awards. This isn’t a kids’ soccer league, and not every applicant should get a patent just for showing up.

          Now, patent quality rarely gets the attention it deserves, so Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) should be commended for addressing it at a hearing this week. It’s the high-tech industry's hope that the hearing makes clear that instead of lowering the bar, we need to apply existing standards more rigorously to improve patent quality.

          What is “quality?” It’s simple: Good patents satisfy the requirements of the Patent Act – that the invention be new, disclosed with specificity and clarity, and appropriate subject matter. Bad patents do not and were erroneously issued by the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).

          The impact of these patents is similarly simple: Valid patents generally benefit innovation and economic growth. Invalid patents harm them. A great example is MPHJ’s famous “scan-to-email” patent: it should never have been granted and was ultimately invalidated, but not before MPHJ asserted it against 16,000 targets, almost all of them small businesses.

          How pervasive is the quality problem? A study by a University of San Diego law professor estimated that 28 percent of all patents are partially or entirely invalid. For patents on software and business methods, the estimate ranges from 39 to 56 percent. While that’s remarkably high, these figures are incomplete and do not reflect the full magnitude of the problem.


          Third, the ability to challenge invalid patents needs to be strengthened. Improving quality going forward doesn’t address invalid patents already granted. The 2011 America Invents Act created Inter Partes Review (IPR) to address this problem. These proceedings work well, yet critics argue that too many patents are being invalidated and are fighting to weaken IPR. Hobbling IPR is like addressing high crime rates by telling the police to stop making arrests. It would improve the statistics while making the underlying problem worse.

          The solution to poor quality isn’t to lower the bar. We need to address quality head on by making it less likely invalid patents are granted and by strengthening the ability to challenge them when they do.

      • Copyrights

        • EU: 51% of Young People Pirated Nothing During the Last Year

          According to a new study published by the European Union Intellectual Property Office, 51% of 15 to 24-year-olds haven't pirated any digital content during the past 12 months. While around a third admit to consuming content from illegal sources, the EU says it is rare for young people to rely exclusively on pirated material. Overall, 80% of the sample use licensed sources to access digital content.

        • Criminal Pirate Bay Investigation Closed After Statute of Limitations Expired
        • We Created a CC Style Guide; It’s Yours to Remix

          As with any organization, Creative Commons’ (CC) brand should help CC build trust with its stakeholders and the broader open movement, as well as maintain and grow CC’s reputation, legitimacy, and leadership in the Global Commons.

        • Our FOIA Lawsuit Gets Results: ICE Admits It Didn't Really Seize A Million 'Copyright Infringing' Domains

          Earlier this year, we sued ICE over its failure to provide relevant documents in response to a FOIA request we had made late last year. Late last week that lawsuit came to an end, after we agreed to dismiss it after ICE finally handed over the documents we had requested, which should have supplied last year. What we have now learned is that ICE didn't even bother to look in the proper place for the documents, and (not surprisingly) that once they handed over the documents, they reveal that ICE's legally-confused, bragging press release about all the domains it had seized... was not even remotely accurate. Perhaps that's why ICE didn't want to share the details with us or anyone else.

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