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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 1 hour 40 min ago

Microsoft Essentially Sends Malware to Windows and Bricks It

9 hours 13 min ago

The cost of cheap and/or underqualified staff?

Summary: Microsoft is once again bricking Vista 7, demonstrating lack of reliability or very low quality programming

Jason Evangelho said that “New Windows 7 Patch Is Effectively Malware”. This is how he put it in the headline at Forbes, showing just how “professional” Microsoft has become. It is so “people-ready” that it bricks computers. A Microsoft booster told the story like this: “Microsoft withdraws bad Windows 7 update that broke future Windows 7 updates”. Actually, it’s not just about future updates. It’s a a lot worse than that. Vista 7 becomes like a brick, unable to change. The full details are found further down in smaller fonts:

One of this week’s Patch Tuesday updates for Windows 7 has been withdrawn after some users discovered that it blocked installation of software containing digital signatures, including first- and third-party software, and even other Windows updates.

[...]

With Windows Update so important to keeping Windows users secure, a loss of confidence would be very bad news. But if this kind of problem continues, that seems like an inevitable outcome. While IT departments might be able to test updates in a lab before deploying them, providing some protection against faulty fixes, home users have no such luxury. Users have to have confidence that installing an update won’t break their machine. Broken, withdrawn updates shake that confidence.

Years ago (more than half a decade back) we warned that Vista 7 was basically just a lump of hype, perceptions distortion, and shameless lies. Now we see more evidence of this.

Microsoft Peter’s praises of Vista 7 and other Microsoft spyware continue nonetheless. Even when there is a serious problem he is belittling the problem rather than giving Microsoft a hard time. That is the role of Microsoft boosters. “Botched KB 3004394 triggers error messages, but no response from Microsoft” said the heading from IDG, showing that Microsoft is silent on such a serious matter. They’re speechless! Years ago we warned that a lot of key Windows developers were leaving and then often being replaced by cheap or poorly qualified staff. We said this would harm the quality of patches, not just of future versions of Windows. We were right.

Perhaps it is time to switch off Microsoft boosters like Microsoft Peter. Over the years he has done little more than mock Microsoft’s critics, including regulators (he still publishes revisionism about Microsoft’s browser abuses), so if we ever pursue the truth, we need to steer away from Microsoft’s media moles.

Microsoft Lays Off Staff, Cheapens Labour as More Companies Are Dumping Microsoft’s Lock-in, NSA-Friendly Services, and Windows

9 hours 41 min ago

Summary: A look at some of Microsoft’s latest woes, including an appeal for cheaper labour amid decrease in business

MICROSOFT HAS not been having a good year, irrespective of what its shareholders wish to believe. The NSA leaks have not done this monopolistic informant any good and Ballmer was pushed out. So was a lot of the workforce, as Microsoft had announced massive layoffs, even bigger than in prior years. It’s a company that is shrinking, based on several parameters.

Putting aside the publicity stunt ‘lawsuit’ from Microsoft (over data in Ireland, not just a tax haven to Microsoft), the company is fading away. Microsoft fails to make the news as much as it used to (we used to observe the company very closely) and when it makes the news it’s not often rosy. Microsoft is a proprietary software company that uses software to spy on the entire world. If information (or knowledge is power), then a lot of information facilitates domination of one group over another. That’s what NSA is about. Microsoft is basically an apparatus of imperialism and a lot of nations, including China and Russia, seem to be getting it, whereupon they migrate to GNU/Linux. Microsoft is now paying the price of sucking up to its government.

On the subject of Microsoft layoffs, their true extent has been impacted by a strategy from around 5 years ago. Microsoft hides the scale of layoffs by hiring cheap/temporary staff without worker protections/privileges (pension, compensation etc.) and sometimes by recruiting overseas (countries with lower salaries) while laying off ‘expensive’ — albeit usually more skilled — staff. Here is a new report’s summary: “The federal government has granted an exemption to Microsoft Canada that will allow the company to bring in an unspecified number of temporary foreign workers to British Columbia as trainees without first looking for Canadians to fill the jobs.

“A notice posted on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website says foreign workers will receive specialized training in a new human resources development centre in the province. The tech giant will not have to perform a labour market impact assessment (LMIA) — a rigorous process that would include a search for Canadians who could fill the positions.”

As we showed here several years ago, Microsoft uses British Columbia to bypass visa restrictions in the United States (where Gates does plenty of lobbying on visa issues so as to enrich himself further at the expense of the middle class). People who will be working in British Columbia will be mostly immigrants if history is anything to judge by. Also notice that the report says “foreign workers” and “foreign trainees”. It’s a race to the bottom. It’s a race game – a game of globalists who deprive workers and take away their rights.

“Perhaps Canadian citizens are too smart or honest to qualify,” wrote one of our readers.

Regarding Microsoft’s influence, it is rapidly diminishing. Binstock’s site will finally stop advertising Microsoft under the guise of ‘news’. “Killed by sucking up to Microsoft” said a reader of ours about this news regarding the death of Dr. Dobb’s, whose Web site is not to be confused with the paper publication. The Web site basically became a Microsoft mouthpiece in recent years, after a Microsoft booster, Andrew Binstock (editor), drove it to the ground along with its credibility (we gave many examples), just like Elop did at Nokia. The death of the site was mourned by a Microsoft booster, Tim Anderson, who labelled it “specialist programming site” although in recent years it was run almost single-handedly by a Microsoft booster. It is actually not too shocking that Dr. Dobb’s put a Microsoft booster in charge; its new owner, a partner of Microsoft (UBM), put a Microsoft advertiser in charge perhaps in order to attract more advertising money. UBM merely committed suicide or shot the site at the back of the head when it chose bias over news, but either way, it’s all over now.

What happened at Dr. Dobb’s is not the exception. Many pro-Microsoft sites died or went silent. Remember Microsoft Watch, which was Microsoft advertising disguised as “watching”? Not only the sites died; their authors too went away or turned to other areas. Quite a few Microsoft boosters, including major ones like Joe Wilcox and Ian Fried (no typo), have left the scene or turned to other areas. Microsoft media proxy is quickly eroding. Other memorable examples include Microsoft Emil, Microsoft Nick, and Microsoft Jack, who is not very active anymore and sometimes covers Google or Linux these days (not necessarily bashing them, either).

This does not mean that Microsoft has run out of moles in the media. Here for instance we have Microsoft .NET advertisements and openwashing. This was published a few days ago in a Microsoft-funded British news site and it was authored by the Microsoft-bribed Tim Anderson (the same guy who mourns the loss of yet another Microsoft propaganda site, as noted above). This “Exclusive Interview” from Anderson is basically giving Microsoft a platform and dubbing it ‘news’. Complete nonsense. Please also note that Microsoft’s proxy in the UK (Accenture) wants to keep bamboozling managers under the guise of “advice” because it’s a very lucrative market in financial terms. One of Microsoft’s many moles at CBS reminded us that it’s all about Microsoft. The timing seems right because a lot of the British public sector and exploring and even moving to Free software, more standards (such as ODF), and greater technological autonomy.

“The timing seems right because a lot of the British public sector and exploring and even moving to Free software, more standards (such as ODF), and greater technological autonomy.”Not just the public sector moves away from Microsoft. Some of the biggest companies in the private sector are increasingly doing the same thing. Earlier this year we wrote about Ford dumping Microsoft after Ford had been Microsoft’s close ally for years. “Good news,” called it a reader, “except for the fact that it is inflicting “infotainment” systems on buyers.”

As asked: “Is QNX still hybrid?” Well, it is not Free software like Linux, but alas, the main problem is that BlackBerry is becoming a patent troll and this is where Ford is heading. As Simon Sharwood put it the other day:

As foreshadowed in February, Ford has announced a new in-car entertainment and communications system that will run on BlackBerry’s QNX real-time operating system, not Windows as is the case for the company’s current efforts.

Ford Sync 3 will offer touch-screen and voice recognition controls. The latter will allow drivers to command both their vehicle and apps on their phone. Siri control is another feature.

The auto-maker’s offered a touch-screen system for some time now, but it’s widely regarded as one of its weak points. A complete refresh on a new operating system therefore looks like a good move.

It’s certainly one BlackBerry will appreciate, as broader uptake of QNX is one of its hoped-for exit routes from the mucky world of smartphones. A few million highly-visible QNX machines shipped each year will therefore be most appreciated.

Just because Ford left Microsoft doesn’t mean it made the right choice. It just chose a lesser evil.

We were gratified to learn that Facebook, which uses GNU/Linux in its servers, rid itself of Microsoft as well. Microsoft is so yesterday that even Facebook dumps it. As the media in California put it, “Facebook confirmed that it’s no longer including search results from Bing on its site. The Bing deal began around the time Microsoft bought its Facebook stake, and was renewed in 2010.

“The move will hurt Bing’s search market share, which was already ailing after a recent redesign of Microsoft’s consumer web site, MSN.”

Will Microsoft shares in Facebook also be returned (forcibly)? They cannot be turned into private ownership, sadly enough, which harms self determination at Facebook. Microsoft has held Facebook hostage for many years. Either way, traffic in Facebook very rapidly declines these days (that’s a story for another day), so we don’t expect the company to be around for much longer. Incidentally, Mac Asay, writing in the Microsoft-centric media, calls Facebook “largest open-source company”, which is utter nonsense. Mac Asay also dubs people he does not agree with “jerks”, but that’s quite typical of him (he is the only person in Twitter whom I know blocked me). Mr. Asay — it is worth reminding readers — had applied for a job at Microsoft before he worked for Novell.

The bottom line is, Microsoft is rotting and we are hoping that it will go down the same path in years to come. Its once-large empire is now just a fort begging for survival and sacrificing its own staff.

Links 19/12/2014: Robolinux 7.7.1 LXDE, Red Hat Thriving

Friday 19th of December 2014 05:22:09 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Linux & FOSS Predictions for 2015

    You can tell it’s the holiday season — a lot of people are focusing more on the guy with the red suit who looks quite a bit like Jon ‘maddog’ Hall than they are on digital matters. This also is the time of year, naturally, where pundits make their predictions for the following year.

    However, I should admit something here. Truth in advertising: I don’t have a good record in predicting the future. I have a hard enough time predicting what to wear the following day — oh, right: clothes. But Linux and FOSS being, well, Linux and FOSS, these projections are as good as any prediction now being foisted on the FOSS public by the army of digital pundits out there.

    So what’s going to happen in 2015?

  • Slovakia – Yet Another Government Discovers GNU/Linux Is The Right Way To Do IT

    They put GNU/Linux on those PCs although they could have used that other OS and they found they saved money. The PCs are easy to manage thanks to FLOSS package-management. They were in total control of the PCs because it’s FLOSS, not code designed by some corporate salesmen, but folks who make software that works for the user. That’s been my experience in schools. That’s the experience of other folks who use GNU/Linux in the real world.

  • Desktop
    • Tipping Points

      The last few years has been some kind of a tipping point. Most OEMs are shipping some GNU/Linux units. Many retailers sell them to consumers. European governments are getting behind a move to accept FLOSS and GNU/Linux for purchases. China, India, Russia, Brazil, and several other governments have committed to FLOSS. The preferences for that other OS and its way of doing things are dying. Many schools run GNU/Linux because it is very affordable and their graduates are filling a demand for an educated workforce. Android/Linux is thriving. There’s no reason GNU/Linux cannot as well. It is better suited to run on legacy PCs than Android/Linux. Large screens matter. Mice and keyboards matter. GNU/Linux works very well with them and the performance continues to improve.

    • ​Free software GNU/Linux laptop in development

      Linux laptops are available from major computer OEMs such as Dell and Lenovo and specialized Linux vendors such as System76 and ZaReason, but the Free Software Foundation (FSF), which would prefer it if I referred to Linux as GNU/Linux, doesn’t approve of any of them thanks to their use of proprietary firmware. That may not continue to be the case.

    • Purism discovered how to make open-source software laptops even more open

      You may be rolling an obscure flavor of Linux on your new laptop and sporting a Free Software Foundation bumper sticker on your bio-diesel powered V-Dub, but chances are your open-source laptop isn’t really that “free,” thanks to closed firmware binaries hidden deep inside hardware itself.

  • Server
    • Docker CTO Solomon Hykes to Devs: Have It Your Way

      “We made a very conscious effort with Docker to insert the technology into an existing toolbox. We did not want to turn the developer’s world upside down on the first day. … We showed them incremental improvements so that over time the developers discovered more things they could do with Docker. So the developers could transition into the new architecture using the new tools at their own pace.”

    • OPNFV – Our First 90 Days

      In 2014, the widespread interest in creating a platform for Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) was evident across all sectors. NFV is moving out of the labs and into the field. A recent study by Infonetics predicts that the SDN and NFV markets are expected to exceed $11 billion by 2018. We’re excited to see the industry embrace open source as the way to bring NFV to market faster.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • WTFTW: A Tiling Window Manager Written In Rust

      The WTFTW project is an X tiling window manager written in Rust. The WTFTW name is short for Window Tiling For The Win. WTFTW is written against the latest Rust nightly code, with Rust 1.0 approaching next year. This tiling window manager can be easily tested in Xnest or Xephyr.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • digiKam Software Collection 4.6.0 released…

        The digiKam Team is proud to announce the release of digiKam Software Collection 4.6.0. This release includes many bugs fixes in Image Editor and Batch Queue Mananger. Thanks to Maik Qualmann and Jan Wolter to propose patches in KDE bugzilla.

        See the new list of the issues closed in digiKam 4.6.0 available through the KDE Bugs-tracking System.

      • KDAB contributions to Qt 5.4

        Qt 5.4 was released just last week! The new release comes right on schedule (following the 6-months development cycle of the Qt 5 series), and brings a huge number of new features.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
  • Distributions
    • A declining number of Linux distros might be killing distrohopping
    • New Releases
    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • GTK 3.14, Nautilus 3.14 Land In Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet [Quick Update]

            Quick update for Ubuntu users planning to use Ubuntu 15.04: GTK 3.14 has landed in Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet. And of course, the default Ubuntu themes, Ambiance and Radiance, have been updated with GTK 3.14 support.

            Furthermore, Nautilus, an application that wasn’t updated in quite a while and was still at version 3.10, has been updated to version 3.14:

          • Ubuntu 15.04 Alpha 1 For Its Various Flavors

            While Ubuntu itself no longer puts out alpha/beta releases in favor of just testing out the daily Live ISOs, the various Ubuntu flavors still participating in the traditional release process have done their first alpha releases this afternoon for Ubuntu 15.04.

          • What is Ubuntu Snappy?

            If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably heard about this new thing from Canonical called “Snappy” Ubuntu Core, but at the same time trying to understand exactly what it is may leave you cross-eyed, especially with the buzzwords such as “cloud”, “containers” and “apps” floating about. Once you get a handle on it, it’s obvious that Canonical’s new baby isn’t terribly useful for those of us who are simply users, but perhaps it provides an interesting preview of what could come to the desktop version of Ubuntu in the future.

          • China Mobile launches Ubuntu contest for developers

            China Mobile and Canonical have launched the ‘Ubuntu Developer Innovation Contest’ to engage developers “with the next generation of mobile experiences on Ubuntu – which don’t revolve around apps and the app icon grid”.

            Contest submissions can include Scopes and Apps (HTML5 and QML native), and finalists will be selected for two tracks – student and independent developers.

          • First Ubuntu Phone Will Launch In Europe This February

            The first Ubuntu Phone will go on sale in Europe in the second week of February.

          • Flavours and Variants
  • Devices/Embedded
    • LG’s webOS 2.0 TVs are coming to CES

      LG’s attempt to resurrect webOS for smart TVs is entering a new phase at CES 2015. A wide range of webOS 2.0 TVs will be displayed in Vegas, and LG is focusing on performance; the company says that starting the YouTube app from the home screen is 70 percent faster, for example, and overall boot times should be up to 60 percent quicker.

    • Phones
      • Jolla’s Sailfish OS Update 10 Is Now Available

        The tenth update to Jolla’s Sailfish mobile operating system is now available. This update is version 1.1.1.26 and is codenamed Vaarainjärvi.

      • Tizen
        • Quick Notes – Hand-Written Note App for Samsung Gear

          The application Quick Notes was created by Application Developer Piotr Walczuk. The idea behind the app is to have the ablity to write down handwritten notes on your wrist, anywhere (well almost), and is available for the Samsung Gear / Gear 2 and Gear S Tizen Smart watches.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets
      • Can Jolla Deliver the First Open Source Tablet?

        Some dreams die hard. After the KDE-based Vivaldi tablet failed to appear after three years of anticipation, Jolla is planning a free software tablet of its own. The product is off to a roaring start, having just raised $1,824,055 in its crowdfunding campaign– almost five times the original target. So, this time, we might actually see some hardware.

        Mind you, whether the tablet will satisfy everyone remains open to doubt. Although Jolla is talking loudly about being “people powered” and listening to want users want, some requests, especially for hardware, may be impossible to fulfill. The manufacturing capacity of advanced features is limited world-wide, and monopolized by large companies like Apple and Samsung.

        More importantly, exactly how free the tablet will be has yet to be announced.

Free Software/Open Source
  • The helpful stranger and meaning of open source

    I’ve been a software engineer for almost 15 years now, and although I didn’t realize it at the time, I’ve been working with open source software from the get-go. From basic GNU command line utilities to C compilers, open source was there from the start.

    Even though my professional focus has changed over the years, in one form or another I’ve been living in a open source ecosystem—be it the operating system I used, the libraries I worked with, or even the integrated development environment (IDE) I used on a daily basis. Despite that, it never occurred to me to contribute to open source software until I joined Red Hat three years ago and began working on oVirt, an open source data center virtualization project.

  • Geeks give back: Be an open source tester

    Are you using open source software for free? Do you wish you could contribute, but don’t have the time to learn how a new developer community works?

    Giving cash donations is not necessarily the best way to give back to an open source community. Instead, try channeling any frustration you may feel with open source software and help with testing. It’s good for your blood pressure and good for the rest of the users of the code!

  • Eure-et-Loir department now using Nuxeo document system

    The administration of France’s Eure-et-Loir Department has implemented Nuxeo, an open source enterprise document and content management system. The solution is used to exchange documents between the department’s services and, sometime next year, also with partner-organisations.

  • Events
  • Web Browsers
  • SaaS/Big Data
  • Databases
    • PostgreSQL 9.4 released

      Version 9.4 of the PostgreSQL relational database management system is out. “This release adds many new features which enhance PostgreSQL’s flexibility, scalability and performance for many different types of database users, including improvements to JSON support, replication and index performance.”

    • PostgreSQL 9.4 Increases Flexibility, Scalability and Performance

      The PostgreSQL Global Development Group announces the release of PostgreSQL 9.4, the latest version of the world’s leading open source database system. This release adds many new features which enhance PostgreSQL’s flexibility, scalability and performance for many different types of database users, including improvements to JSON support, replication and index performance.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
  • CMS
    • WordPress 4.1 and distraction free writing mode

      WordPress 4.1 is out and one of its new features is a revised “distraction free writing mode.” I seem to remember that it had something like this before, but it was not as well implemented as it is in WordPress 4.1. Now, when you push the distraction free writing mode button, everything else fades away except what you need to write your post.

  • Business
    • Semi-Open Source
      • Open Source vs. Hosted Shopping Cart Solutions

        Given all the options and varying needs of stores, there is no right or wrong answer. Keep in mind that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Having said that, stores seeking the greatest bang for the buck (as in sales generated to investment spent), and those seeking the most flexibility for growth in the future, should highly consider open source for their ecommerce engine.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • What Does It Mean for Your Computer to Be Loyal?

      We say that running free software on your computer means that its operation is under your control. Implicitly this presupposes that your computer will do what your programs tell it to do, and no more. In other words, that your computer will be loyal to you.

      In 1990 we took that for granted; nowadays, many computers are designed to be disloyal to their users. It has become necessary to spell out what it means for your computer to be a loyal platform that obeys your decisions, which you express by telling it to run certain programs.

    • FisicaLab update

      Well, I just want to share the progress in the development of FisicaLab. As you know I want a module for thermodynamics in version 0.4.0. This means that FisicaLab needs the ability to handle data from steam tables.

  • Public Services/Government
    • Sandia looks to open-source robot tech

      Researchers at federal defense and energy laboratories are open sourcing some of the electronics and software for two advanced ambulatory robots in hopes of boosting their ability to handle perilous situations.

      In a Dec. 16 announcement, the Energy Department’s Sandia National Laboratories said it is developing more energy-efficient motors to dramatically improve the endurance of legged robots performing the types of motions that are crucial in disaster response situations. The project is supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

  • Openness/Sharing
  • Programming
  • Standards/Consortia
    • OpenSocial Foundation Moving Standards Work to W3C Social Web Activity

      Building on the 31 July 2014 announcement of the W3C Social Web Working Group, the OpenSocial Foundation and W3C today announce the transfer of OpenSocial specifications and assets to the W3C. As of 1 January 2015, OpenSocial Foundation will close and future work will take place within the W3C Social Web Activity, chartered to make it easier to build and integrate social applications into the Open Web Platform.

    • Google delivers an early Christmas gift: Google Drive support for ODF

      Google, in a surprise move, today announced support for ODF (Open Document Format) in its products.

      I remember the days when I had to sheepishly asked people who wanted to share files with me to go back to .doc or .docx as none of the Google properties would talk to ODF files. That was quite embarrassing because I invested a lot of time in liberating those people from Microsoft’s vendor-locked file formats.

Leftovers
  • Security
  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression
    • People Who Live in ‘Flyspecks’ Shouldn’t Fling Metaphors

      I suppose you could argue that Cuba was a threat to the United States during 1962′s Cuban missile crisis–which was very long ago indeed. I’m more struck by Post reporters Juliet Eilperin and Greg Jaffe’s little geography lesson, comparing Cuba to a “flyspeck”–or, in other words, insect excrement.

      Cuba, as it happens, is 42,426 square miles in area–making it bigger than Iceland or Ireland, neither of which would probably like to be compared to fly poop.

  • Privacy
  • Civil Rights
    • Corrupt Greater Manchester Police Officer Jailed

      A corrupt Greater Manchester Police has been jailed after accessing police computer systems and passing on confidential information.

      Pc Katie Murray (born 22/04/1984) of Dunkirk Street, Droylsden was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office and one count of breaching the Data Protection Act. She was jailed for two years and nine months.

      The information was passed on to her sister Lyndsey Murray, (born 10/05/1981) of Ruskin Road, Droylsden, and former partner, Jason Lloyd, (born 20/11/1970) of Peregrine Close, Droylsden, who were both found guilty of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. Lynsey Murray was jailed for six months.

    • CIA Torture report

      If the history of this century has been about anything so far, then it is the bargain of national security. A constant state of war carried out on a need-to-know basis.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality
    • Making the Internet a utility—what’s the worst that could happen?

      Title II gives the Federal Communications Commission power to regulate telecommunications providers as utilities or “common carriers.” Like landline phone providers, common carriers must offer service to the public on reasonable terms. To regulate Internet service providers (ISPs) as utilities, the FCC must reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, a move that consumer advocacy groups and even President Obama have pushed the FCC to take.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Don’t make Google the whipping boy for others’ failings

        Google’s motto “do no evil” never meant that much. Google always did what it had to do for its own benefit, but it was seen as — and arguably was — a company changing the world for the better. Now it appears that governments around the world are taking the position that Google can’t do anything right.

      • Paulo Coelho Wants to Give The Interview Away Using BitTorrent

        Sony may have withdrawn The Interview but not everyone is scared of releasing the movie. Author Paulo Coelho, whose book The Alchemist has sold in excess of 165 million copies, has just offered to buy the rights to the movie from Sony. He informs TorrentFreak that it would go straight on BitTorrent, for free.

      • Researchers Make BitTorrent Anonymous and Impossible to Shut Down

        While the BitTorrent ecosystem is filled with uncertainty and doubt, researchers at Delft University of Technology have released the first version of their anonymous and decentralized BitTorrent network. “Tribler makes BitTorrent anonymous and impossible to shut down,” lead researcher Prof. Pouwelse says.

Another Microsoft Partner Markets Linux FUD Using Logo, Name, and Lies

Friday 19th of December 2014 05:14:06 PM

The great power of lies and gullible journalists

Summary: Microsoft’s partner Alert Logic is trying to label a feature of Linux a security flaw and even makes marketing buzz for it

IF A reporter or two can be bamboozled into printing a lie (digitally distributing it), this can lend some credibility/legitimacy to the lie and then it is possible that the lie will spread and be echoed in other reports. Hence the importance of this matter.

“They are trying to change perceptions around Free software security.”Several journalists have already rebutted something that I debunked some days ago when I first saw some nonsense about “Grinch” with a suitable “marketing” image. Here is one rebuttal among a few:

The Grinch flaw was reported by Stephen Cody, chief security evangelist at Alert Logic. Cody alleges that the Grinch flaw enables users on a local machine to escalate privileges. Leading Linux vendor Red Hat, however, disagrees that the Grinch issue is even a bug and instead notes in a Red Hat knowledge base article that the Grinch report “incorrectly classifies expected behavior as a security issue.”

The original security researcher that reported the Grinch found that if a user logs into a Linux system as the local administrator, the user could run a certain command that would enable the user to install a package, explained Josh Bressers, lead of the Red Hat Product Security Team.

“Local administrators are trusted users,” Bressers told eWEEK. “This isn’t something you hand out to everybody.”

We believe it was Joab Jackson (IDG) who first gave a platform to the Microsoft partner (Alert Logic) that used marketing buzz and a lie against Linux, soon to be rebutted by Red Hat. I had contacted Mr. Jackson, who later told me that he posted a follow-up (or correction).

Jackson’s correction may have come too late as we saw the lie spreading to a few other news sites later on (thankfully not too many sites). Here is one example of garbage ‘reporting’ (FUD and lies), generated by the FUD firm with with a catchy name, sort of logo etc. (generated by a Microsoft partner we might add). Apart from Jackson’s piece we saw at least 3 more such articles (which came afterwards). How many are going to post a correction? How many articles will be withdrawn? How many follow-ups will be published? Tumbleweed. Silence.

It is usually Windows that has zero-days during Christmas, not GNU or Linux. There was recently other nonsense with a name, claiming to be a flaw when it was actually some other malware (potentially developed by the Russian government) that users actually have to install (not from repositories) to be infected by. It was akin to a phishing attack, but it was widely used in the press (even in IDG, Jackson’s employer) to characterise GNU/Linux as insecure.

Remember what the Microsoft-connected firm did with "Heartbleed" (the name it made up with a promotional logo). It’s all about marketing and hype. They are trying to change perceptions around Free software security. What matters is what people remember, not the truth. This is all about discouraging users or buyers.

A reader has alerted us about this article from Armenia . “Note the job title of the ‘softer,” he said. Here is the relevant portion:

Armenia’s Minister of Defense Seyran Ohanyan received Microsoft Corporation’s Regional Director for Public Safety/National Security/Defense Robert Kosla.

Joke or real? It sounds like a joke, but they are definitely not joking. Armenia talks to the NSA’s biggest partner and back doors-loving company about ‘security’, so seeing the job title from Microsoft is truly hilarious! Microsoft is good at insecurity and lies, not security.

“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”

–Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive

Redmonk is Spreading Black Duck’s Anti-GPL Talking Points After Payments From Black Duck, Microsoft

Friday 19th of December 2014 04:50:38 PM

CBS pleases Microsoft

Summary: CBS’ ZDNet spreads the GNU-hostile narrative which comes from Redmonk, funded by Microsoft and Black Duck, citing Black Duck, which also comes from Microsoft and is a partner of Microsoft

Redmonk has been the subject of both praises and criticism over the years. We often agree with what Redmonk shows, but sometimes the impact of money, e.g. money from Microsoft, seems to be playing a role in analyses. It is difficult to dismiss the role of financial dependence; casting it irrelevant would be rather naïve. Whenever a company says something positive about a paying customer it’s rarely just a coincidence. The company is aware of its sources of income and develops a sort of “sixth sense” in the same way that politicians learn to love and defend their funders, not speaking out about them or voting against these funders’ interests. The Koch brothers, for example, sure have an impact on climate policies through various groups they pay. That it why money is handed out in the first place. Bill Gates does a lot of this too, e.g. bribing news sites, news channels, analysts, politicians, decision-makers etc. What we have commended Redmonk for in the past is the policy of full disclosure (well, not entirely full as proportionate contributions are never mentioned).

Microsoft pays Black Duck, which pays analysts who repeat its claims at face value on the face of it. Black Duck has in fact been paying lots of sources to help legitimise its talking points. Even the Linux Foundation is paid by Black Duck (hard to say how much, but probably enough to buy silence on criticism and free publicity at times). Redmonk has been paid by Black Duck too.

“Open Hub is just a new name for a company created by people from Microsoft.”There was a long discussion about this in Twitter (here is just a portion) in light of an article from ZDNet that relayed Black Duck’s talking points using two data points both owned by Black Duck, including its hires from Microsoft. It should be noted that Black Duck is not the only Microsoft-connected proprietary ‘think tank’ trying to tell us that the GPL is declining (in relative terms, not absolute, wherein lies a bias and spin opportunity). OpenLogic, headed by a man from Microsoft, does it too and we have named other such entities. It’s ugly out there. Analysts sell agenda, not information.

To spare readers the misinformation, the short story is that several days ago Redmonk was spreading Black Duck’s anti-GPL talking points and now it turns out Black Duck had paid Redmonk. As noted in this article, “Black Duck, the parent company of Open Hub, has been a RedMonk customer but is not currently.”

Open Hub is just a new name for a company created by people from Microsoft. Companies tend to change names to evade negative perception/publicity. Some patent trolls and mercenaries do that a lot. Behind closed doors Redmonk is not advising companies that copyleft is dying, not disclosing that its figured are biased by a Microsoft deal from 2009. It also impacts what news sites are reporting, creating a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy/bias against the GPL. Here is what ZDNet wrote the other day, not even spelling Ohloh correctly (so we can assume there’s no understanding that this company came from Microsoft). SJVN wrote: “Berkholz learned, using data from Ohlol, an open-source code research project now known as Open Hub, that “Since 2010, this trend has reached a point where permissive is more likely than copyleft [GPL] for a new open-source project.””

Remember where this entity called Open Hub came from. It’s a bunch of people from Microsoft.

Now see the bottom of ZDNet’s posts, which unlike Redmonk does not disclose the Black Duck and Microsoft connection (financial connection to both). That’s how Microsoft’s propaganda makes it into ZDNet.

ZDNet remains one of the world’s crappiest tech tabloids, especially now that it is owned by CBS. It still employs a lot of Microsoft staff (past and present) to publicly smear, bash, and insult Linux/Android. Here is a new example where a Microsoft employee writes about (bashes and belittles) Android in this very trashy tabloid (that pays him to do this). This is part of a pattern and it’s amazing that ZDNet pretends to be a news site. Under CBS’ wing it just serves sponsors. Watch the disclosure a the bottom: “Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.”

Yeah, right!

There is a lot more, including links, in the Twitter discussions. Even Redmonk staff weighed in, but has not responded to the rebuttals. Bruce Perens warned that Black Duck's claims about the GPL are "B.S.". There is too much B.S. in today’s news, emanating from people who pretend to be journalists and analysts but are actually agents of propaganda or marketing. Be sceptical and go back to the sources to assess the facts.

‘Good’ Software Patents From EA Show Cases Where DRM is a Patent Infringement

Friday 19th of December 2014 04:12:03 PM

Summary: Where two evils collide the public benefits, or how some software patents discourage the use of DRM

SOFTWARE patents are a horrible thing because in a world where almost everything is now controlled by computers with general-purpose or specialised software nearly every action/process can potentially become a monopoly, or a milking cow of someone (usually a large corporation) who had little to do with invention, just opportunism. It puts tremendous pressure on ‘small’ software developers and offers protectionism to software conglomerates such as IBM. Software patents are in injustice for many reasons including their undeniable impediment to innovation, which makes them the antithesis of patents (where publication in exchange for temporary monopoly was supposed to encourage dissemination of knowledge and thus innovation). Abstract ideas rather than utility were never supposed to be patentable. Likewise, copyright law has been extended to cover all sort of ridiculous things (like a story/plot, based on vague similarities, APIs, etc.) even to the point of encouraging no innovation or creativity (e.g. lasting well beyond the death of the original creator). The latter is often enforced upon the public using some ugly software hacks like DRM (turning computers against their users), so the relationship is deep and inherent.

“So here we have two evils fighting against one another. “It is rather ironic when software patents do something good by discouraging the use of DRM as DRM itself becomes a patent monopoly. Such was the case in this legal case. “Between the company’s general disposition and the incredible failure of the SimCity launch,” says an article, “Electronic Arts is becoming a name associated directly with digital rights management. The most infamous DRM platform the company has used is probably SecuROM, which was noteworthy for being equal parts mega-annoying to paying customers, as well as being so massively ineffective that games employing SecuROM later became amongst the most pirated video games of all time. But, results aside, EA would tell you that it needed to use DRM to protect the company from piracy. Even if SecuROM failed, the company had to at least try, or else the freeloaders that live the highlife getting around intellectual property laws would win. Violating IP laws is wrong, damn it, and EA was going to do everything in its power to right that wrong.”

So here we have two evils fighting against one another. It is not easy to pick a side. On the one hand we have monopolies on software and on the other we have monopolies on access to data. Both are detrimental to the common good.

Richard Stallman: What Does It Mean for Your Computer to Be Loyal?

Friday 19th of December 2014 09:17:40 AM

Summary: New article from Richard Stallman

We say that running free software on your computer means that its operation is under your control. Implicitly this presupposes that your computer will do what your programs tell it to do, and no more. In other words, that your computer will be loyal to you.

In 1990 we took that for granted; nowadays, many computers are designed to be disloyal to their users. It has become necessary to spell out what it means for your computer to be a loyal platform that obeys your decisions, which you express by telling it to run certain programs.

Our tentative definition consists of these principles.

Neutrality towards software

The computer will run, without prejudice, whatever software you install in it, and let that software do whatever its code says to do.

A feature to check for signatures on the programs that run is compatible with this principle provided the signature checking is fully under the user’s control. When that is so, the feature helps implement the user’s decision about which programs to run, rather than thwarting the user’s decisions. By contrast, signature checking that is not fully under the user’s control violates this principle.

Neutrality towards protocols

The computer will communicate, without prejudice, through whatever protocol your installed software implements, with whatever users and whatever other networked computers you direct it to communicate with.

This means that computer does not impose one particular service rather than another, or one protocol rather than another. It does not require the user to get anyone else’s permission to communicate via a certain protocol.

Neutrality towards implementations

When the computer communicates using any given protocol, it will support doing so, without prejudice, via whatever code you choose (assuming the code implements the intended protocol), and it will do nothing to help any other part of the Internet to distinguish which code you are using or what changes you may have made in it, or to discriminate based on your choice.

This entails that the computer rejects remote attestation, that is, that it does not permit other computers to determine over the network whether your computer is running one particular software load. Remote attestation gives web sites the power to compel you to connect to them only through an application with DRM that you can’t break, denying you effective control over the software you use to communicate with them. Netflix is a notorious example of this.

We can comprehend remote attestation as a general scheme to allow any web site to impose tivoization or “lockdown” on the local software you connect to it with. Simple tivoization of a program bars modified versions from functioning properly; that makes the program nonfree. Remote attestation by web sites bars modified versions from working with those sites that use it, which makes the program effectively nonfree when using those sites. If a computer allows web sites to bar you from using a modified program with them, it is loyal to them, not to you.

Neutrality towards data communicated

When the computer receives data using whatever protocol, it will not limit what the program can do with the data received through that communication.

Any hardware-level DRM violates this principle. For instance, the hardware must not deliver video streams encrypted such that only the monitor can decrypt them.

Debugability

The computer always permits you to analyze the operation of a program that is running.

Documentation

The computer comes with full documentation of all the interfaces intended for software to use to control the computer.

Completeness

The principles above apply to all the computer’s software interfaces and all communication the computer does. The computer must not have any disloyal programmable facility or do any disloyal communication.

For instance, the AMT functionality in recent Intel processors runs nonfree software that can talk to Intel remotely. Unless disabled, this makes the system disloyal.

This page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Links 18/12/2014: LinuxQuestions.org Polls, Fedora for POWER

Thursday 18th of December 2014 05:28:23 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • 6 Ideal Last Minute Linux Xmas Gift Ideas

    Christmas, Yule, Winterville, new socks day… Whatever you call it you’ll be panic stricken to hear that it’s almost here. Like the rest of us in denial, you are a little stumped for ideas.

  • The Cuban Experiment

    That leaves Cuba as a somewhat pristine testing ground for the hypothesis that GNU/Linux is “good enough”. StatCounter shows Cubans use GNU/Linux ~6% of page-views. Will this increase or decrease if the embargo is officially lifted? Presumably, eventually, Cubans will be able to afford all kinds of IT. What will they choose? I expect the Chinese will sell/give them whatever they want. There are also some South American OEMs who can cater to their Spanish-language preferences. Will they order up Android/Linux smartphones and tablets or legacy PCs tied to Wintel or GNU/Linux? I would bet that Android/Linux will get their vote because they have no lock-in and Android/Linux is affordable. They may want servers and desktops too, but without lock-in, I would bet the share going to GNU/Linux will be relatively huge, especially considering they are already getting around 6% share of page-views by GNU/Linux. They have a lot of in-house expertise, something that has held back adoption in other places. I think anything over about 10% will unleash a flood of further adoption. It’s not like they are stuck at ~1%.

  • Desktop
  • Server
    • The Growing Linux on Power Ecosystem

      Earlier this month, a report by the Linux Foundation identified that Linux deployments are up 14 percent over the last three years, while Windows is down 9 percent. In addition, Linux solutions have grown 23 percent since 2013. What this further confirmed is that our strategy for IBM Power Systems growth is aligned with market realities: that Linux continues to grow in both the cloud and in enterprise application deployments – and more and more enterprises are turning to the value of Linux. (Source: ZDNet)

    • Rackspace Embraces OpenPOWER

      IBM’s efforts to expand and open the base of its Power server system architecture is growing today with the inclusion of cloud data center vendor Rackspace. Rackspace is now the 80th member company to join the OpenPOWER Foundation, which is now entering its second year of operations.

    • Eight years at Rackspace
    • Rackspace joins OpenPOWER

      What’s one of the parent companies of OpenStack and a top private-cloud hosting companies doing in OpenPOWER? Helping to push open-source from software into hardware.

    • Docker and the Linux container ecosystem

      Linux container technology is experiencing tremendous momentum in 2014. The ability to create multiple lightweight, self-contained execution environments on the same Linux host simplifies application deployment and management. By improving collaboration between developers and system administrators, container technology encourages a DevOps culture of continuous deployment and hyperscale, which is essential to meet current user demands for mobility, application availability, and performance.

    • How Linux containers can solve a problem for defense virtualization

      As the virtualization of U.S. defense agencies commences, the technology’s many attributes—and drawbacks—are becoming apparent.

      Virtualization has enabled users to pack more computing power in a smaller space than ever before. It has also created an abstraction layer between the operating system and hardware, which gives users choice, flexibility, vendor competition and best value for their requirements. But there is a price to be paid in the form of expensive and cumbersome equipment, software licensing and acquisition fees, and long install times and patch cycles.

  • Kernel Space
    • Unikernels offer a stripped down alternative to Linux

      Cloud systems are always built from three layers: machine, operating system (OS), and application. A few new projects are throwing away this classic approach and starting again with all-in-one applications and OSs. Projects like Mirage, HaLVM, and LING provide a stripped-down cloud alternative to multi-purpose systems like Linux. These all-in-one systems are called unikernels.

    • New Input Drivers Coming For Linux 3.19 Kernel

      One of the latest pull requests for the Linux 3.19 kernel is the input driver subsystem pull, which includes numerous updates along with a few new drivers. The new drivers will benefit some Google Chromebooks in running the latest upstream kernel.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Radeon vs. Modesetting DDX Performance Comparison

        With xf86-video-modesetting continuing to add support for new features while being a generic hardware driver as long as there’s an underlying DRM/KMS driver, how is the 2D and OpenGL performance compare when using this driver on an AMD GPU instead of the specialized xf86-video-ati DDX driver? Here’s some benchmarks.

      • Multi-Stream Transport 4K Monitors To Become Better Supported On Linux

        For a number of months David Airlie at Red Hat has been working on DisplayPort Multi-Stream Transport (DP MST) handling for Linux. Keith Packard over at Intel is now playing with DP MST too for bettering modern 4K display support on Linux within X.Org Server based environments.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Enhancing Your Work Habits with KDE

        As I write, at least six desktop environments are popular among free software users. However, even with long familiarity, none of the others come close to the versatility of KDE. KDE starts with the classic desktop and adds many of the features that other desktops include, such as panel widgets and special effects. Some of its features, such as hot spots on the screen edges, were unique a few years ago but have since been added to other environments (e.g., Cinnamon). Moreover, even now, few other desktops offer the same degree of customization as KDE, whose settings include options for bringing a window into focus and actions to take when an external device is plugged in.

        However, where KDE truly excels is in enhancements that extend the traditional desktop and give users new ways to work. Tabbed windows, Desktop Layouts, Activities – all of these are relatively simple improvements on the desktop, but the effect of even the simplest on your work habits can be enough to make you impatient with the limitations of other desktops.

      • KDE Ships Plasma 5.1.2, Bugfix Release for December

        Tuesday, 16 December 2014. Today KDE releases a bugfix update to Plasma 5, versioned 5.1.2. Plasma 5.1 was released in October with many feature refinements and streamlining the existing codebase of KDE’s popular desktop for developers to work on for the years to come.

      • Clock-to-color wallpaper plugin for Plasma5

        Today I came across this interesting idea – http://whatcolourisit.scn9a.org/ – basically it puts the current time as the background color. You really need to see it in action

      • KDE Applications 14.12 – New Features, Frameworks Ports

        Today KDE released KDE Applications 14.12, delivering new features and bug fixes to more than a hundred applications. Most of these applications are based on KDE Development Platform 4 but the first applications have been ported to KDE Frameworks 5. Frameworks is a set of modularized libraries providing additional functionality for Qt5, the latest version of the popular Qt cross-platform application framework.

      • KDE Applications 14.12 Released
      • Leaving KO

        Inge, Tobias and I founded KO GmbH in 2007 in Magdeburg. We named it KOfficeSource, because we believed that KOffice, which is Calligra these days, was getting ready for the big time, especially on mobile. Nokia was beginning to invest heavily into open source, Intel joining in with Moblin, the times were heady and exciting! After a bit of rough-and-tumble about the name, we renamed KOfficeSource GmbH to KO GmbH and from 2010 on, we were in business!

      • Krita and KO GmbH

        This might sound boring with all the excitement around our first beta for the 2.9 release, but in the interest of being an open project, it’s an important message.

        From January 1st, KO GmbH will no longer be involved with Krita. Until now, the Krita maintainer, Boudewijn Rempt, was employed at KO GmbH. KO GmbH publishes Krita Gemini on Steam and provided commercial support for Krita to VFX studios and artists. While there was growth in the business, it was never enough to keep KO GmbH solvent.

        From this point on, the Krita Foundation will support the Krita Studio users. The foundation will provide CentOS and Ubuntu LTS builds, as well as bug fixes and engaging in custom development projects.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GTK+ On Windows Now Supports OpenGL

        For users of the GTK+ tool-kit on Windows, OpenGL support is coming and follows in the footsteps of GTK’s recent OpenGL focus and enablement on Linux.

      • Actually shipping AppStream metadata in the repodata

        For the last couple of releases Fedora has been shipping the appstream metadata in a package. First it was the gnome-software package, but this wasn’t an awesome dep for KDE applications like Apper and was a pain to keep updated. We then moved the data to an appstream-data package, but this was just as much of a hack that was slightly more palatable for KDE. What I’ve wanted for a long time is to actually ship the metadata as metadata, i.e. next to the other files like primary.xml.gz on the mirrors.

      • Paper: New Material Design Inspired GTK Theme

        Paper is a new material design inspired GTK theme, which is currently in beta. “Its design is mostly flat with a minimal use of shadows for depth”, mentions its website, and it was developed primarily for the GNOME (Shell) and other desktops that make use of header bars.

  • Distributions
    • Reviewing 2014, Penguin Porn, and Dropping Distros

      Today in Linux news are several reviews of the events of 2014. Elsewhere Linux.conf.au lost its hashtag to an adult entertainment awards and another Linux security flaw is making the news rounds. KDE 3-clone Trinity desktop saw a new release and Bruce Byfield asks why the number of Linux distributions are declining.

    • Get Out the Vote for LinuxQuestions.org

      One great thing about this poll — probably the best thing about this poll — is that each of the categories has an extremely wide range of candidates, and there are programs in many of the categories that I’ve never heard of. Hearing about them for the first time, I get to try them out. So not only is it fun — yeah, I think voting is fun (so shoot me) — it’s also educational.

    • Is distrohopping on the decline in Linux?

      So what to make of this decline? My initial reaction was to be somewhat horrified when I first started reading the Datamation article. But then I realized that the actual number of distros lost amounts to 38. While I’m not happy to see that, I also think it’s quite understandable given how Linux has changed over the last five years or so. And has Linux itself has become more mature, so have many Linux users.

      Along with the decline in the number of Linux distributions, we may also be seeing less and less distrohopping among Linux users.

    • New Releases
    • Screenshots
    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family
      • Red Hot Red Hat, Mageia Gives Back, and Linux Awards

        Today in Linux news, the Mint project announced the release candidate for 17.1 KDE. In other news the Mageia project donates 250€ to GCompris and TheStreet says Red Hat stock is poised to become “red hot” in 2015. LinuxQuestions.org announced their 2014 Members Choice Awards today and Bruce Byfield has some tips for KDE users.

      • It’s Christmas in FOSS-land!

        See, Mageia is a community-driven Linux distribution. Everybody here volunteers and does the work because he or she can and because they want to contribute. The money that we collect in donations goes to paying for server costs, hardware repairs and upgrades, supporting booths and handing out merchandise at conventions (and in one case, flying in a repair person when everything broke).

        [...]

        GCompris is a software suite of educational activities for children from 2 to 10. Helping to introduce children to Linux helps the whole Linux world to grow :). Of course, our donation is only a small part of what GCompris is trying to raise, so if you have some money that you budgeted for a good cause and are looking for that good cause, we think that GCompris is it.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Red Hat and IBM Ratchet-Up Linux Partnership

        Red Hat’s recent announcement of its Enterprise Linux 7.1 Beta noted that the new OS provides a variety of enhancements and innovations, including support for Ceph userspace components, Docker v1.2, FreeOTP (a two-factor authentication application) and OpenLMI (a standardized remote API), plus improved interoperability with Windows file and print services.

      • Fedora 21 Released For POWER & AArch64 Hardware

        While Fedora 21 was officially released last week, coming out today is the release of Fedora 21 for the PowerPC and ARM AArch64 architectures.

        Fedora 21 and its packages are now officially available for IBM POWER servers as the only PowerPC systems being officially supported by the PPC release. Support for Apple’s older PowerPC systems is mentioned as a PPC platform that’s most likely broken and will not be working out-of-the-box. Fedora for POWER in the 21 release offers an installer for the Fedora Server product, support for 32-bit Power has been dropped in favor of 64-bit, and there’s numerous enhancements to Fedora on POWER compared to older releases.

      • Customers reporting interest in cloud, containers, Linux, OpenStack for 2015

        As 2014 comes to a close and IT departments reflect on their initiatives heading into the new year, we asked a group of 115 Red Hat customers — ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses — about their priorities for 2015. What we heard from the respondents is promising going into the new year: Budgets are increasing (or at least staying the same); Linux adoption is increasing; cloud deployments will be dominantly private or hybrid; OpenStack is hot; and interest in containers is emerging.

      • How Red Hat Is on the Path to Become Red Hot in 2015 — and Beyond

        Enterprise software giant Red Hat (RHT) will report fiscal third-quarter results Thursday. And investors who still regard Red Hat as just a Linux software company aren’t paying attention.

      • Red Hat Brings Business Intelligence and Data Analysis Suite to the Public Cloud

        Red Hat (RHT) has broadened the deployment options for its integrated data analysis and business intelligence platform with the announcement that Red Hat Enterprise Linux for SAP HANA can now run across a variety of public cloud providers that Red Hat has certified, as well as on new hardware configurations.

      • Can Red Hat (RHT) Continue the Earnings Streak in Q3FY15?
      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux for SAP HANA Extended To Open Hybrid Cloud

        Red Hat announced that Red Hat Enterprise Linux for the SAP HANA platform is now available to be deployed across the open hybrid cloud. This of course includes via those public cloud providers certified by Red Hat.

      • SAP: Linux for HANA Deployable in Hybrid; Fujitsu’s Cloud’s Australia Launch
      • Fedora
        • Fedora 21

          Fedora 21 is out and I’ve been able to spend some time with it. The last version of Fedora I looked at was more than two years ago, so there have been quite a few changes since then. The new version of Fedora comes in three basic options: Fedora Cloud, Fedora Server and Fedora Workstation.

        • Fedora 21 Workstation Installation Guide with Screenshots

          Have you tried Fedora 21? What do you think about the new version? Also, what do you think about the new spins of Fedora 21? Do you like the new releasing system?

        • Fedora 21 – Gnome Terminal and IRSSI

          Well It seems that the default install of Gnome Terminal in Version 3.14.2 doesn’t play nicely with Irssi. If you have multiple channels open, you’re unable to ALT-1 or ALT-2 to get to each channel.

        • Fedora 21, 22, and 19, firewall discussion, and holiday break

          While Fedora 22 is already rolling into the target zone, we do want to make sure we look back at this previous cycle and identify things we can improve — ideally, specific and actionable changes. In the end, we came out with (another!) great release, but there is always something to learn. In particular, we ended yet again in a last minute scramble to get a release we could feel good about signing off on out before the holidays, and next time around it would be nice to put less stress on all of our contributors (including the quality assurance team and the developers needed to make those late fixes.)

        • Improving Eclipse Platform Stability On Rawhide

          The Eclipse platform on Fedora Rawhide can be pretty unstable at times. Every update to one of its dependencies requires a rebuild. As a result, it has been on our TODO list for a while to work out some way of making Eclipse more resilient to these kind of dependency updates (at least in cases where a rebuild shouldn’t be required). Looking upstream, there are quite a few bugs relating to this topic (410710, 410785, 408138) .

        • Fedora 21: Linux fans will LOVE it – after the install woes

          With Fedora’s installer it isn’t immediately clear what you need to do – or even that you need to do something – until you click each button and find out, which runs the “select your layout” and installs. It’s not that bad; it’s not like installing Arch, but it did leave me wondering “why?” Why not just go with the familiar, narrative-like sliding screen animation that, well, pretty much every other OS out there uses?

        • Elasticsearch & wxPython 3 Proposed For Fedora 22
        • FLOSS Weekly 319

          Mathew Miller joins Randal and Joe to talk about the release of Fedora 21. Fedora 21 is an operating system based on Linux and developed by the community-supported Fedora Project.

    • Debian Family
  • Devices/Embedded
    • Qseven i.MX6 COM adds industrial temperature range

      Aaeon’s first ARM-based COM — a Qseven-based “AQ7-IMX6″ module running Android or Linux on a Freescale i.MX6 — has added an industrial temperature option.

    • Green Hills challenges “rudimentary” Linux debug

      Green Hills Software has announced a software development environment for embedded Linux developers.

      According to Green Hills, the Linux development software in its MULTI tool suite will address the “rudimentary” state of many debuggers for Linux, which it said were “difficult to learn, setup, and use and lack the powerful control and visibility that modern electronic systems demand”.

    • Video: Headless ARM9 SBC boots Linux in less than a second

      Technologic has posted a video demo of its fast-booting headless PC/104-expandable SBC, which runs Debian on a PXA16x SoC and includes a Lattice FPGA.

    • Raspberry Pi’s Gallium3D Driver Could Now Run Significantly Faster

      Eric Anholt, the lead developer developer behind the Broadcom VC4 Mesa/Gallium3D driver stack for supporting the Raspberry Pi, has announced a new performance achievement.

    • Phones
      • Android
        • Second generation Android One phones to arrive in Q1 2015

          Karbonn Mobile is preparing to release its second-generation Android One smartphone, according to the Executive Director of Karbonn Mobiles, Shashin Devsare, who recently spoke at the Dream 500 Million Smartphones event in New Delhi. The successor to the Karbonn Sparkle V is scheduled to arrive in the first quarter of 2015.

        • 2014 Was the Year of Android Everywhere

          Android has never enjoyed quite the same fanboy enthusiasm among its users as Apple’s iOS or desktop Linux. Yet, thanks in part to the fairly open licensing of the Linux-based mobile OS, Android quickly evolved and improved. Like Google Search, it quietly crept into our lives, and decided to stay. Android smartphones and tablets now represent about 80 percent and 70 percent global market share, respectively (see the companion article, Android Dominates Global Smartphone Market in 2014.)

        • Android Dominates Global Smartphone Market in 2014
        • These are the new faces of Android Wear

          Google has opened a section to the Play Store dedicated to serving new watch faces for Android Wear smartwatches. Until this new debut, which accompanies a significant software update for the Android Wear watches themselves, the only choices available were the standard ones preloaded by Google, a few extras provided by manufacturers like LG, and a few from grassroots fans who made their own. Now Google has an official development kit for new faces and a whole bunch of options already populating the store. You’ll find some of the standouts below, in both their active and passive modes, and you can peruse the full collection of novelties in our comprehensive hands-on gallery.

        • Samsung believes wearables ‘will create a new era of power dressing’ in 2015
        • Tile’s tiny Bluetooth stuff-tracker now works with Android

          The Android app, which hits Google’s Play Store today, will work with every Tile the company has shipped so far. It’s a different story in terms of what phones it works with, with the app requiring Android 4.4 KitKat or higher, as well as Bluetooth 4.0. Tile says it’s also only optimized its software for a handful of phones, including Samsung’s Galaxy S5, the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, HTC One, and HTC One M8.

        • Android 5.0/5.1 Lollipop UK release date, new features and upgrades: Android 5.1 could be here by February

          We’ve been running Android Lollipop for a few months now, back when it was known only as Android L, and you can see the new features and screenshots here. We’ve also tested out the increased battery life, but Lollipop is no faster than KitKat

Free Software/Open Source
  • GEMS To Use Telegram’s Secure Open Source Code

    Over the past few weeks, there have been a lot of conversations in the world of cryptocurrency about the GEMS project. GEMS brings us the social messaging aspect we have all grown so accustomed to, and integrates it with the power of the blockchain, by offering GEMZ tokens. In order to gain user adoption, GEMS users will be able to contact people who use Telegram, or one of the third party applications built on top of Telegram.

  • Spiceworks free Network Monitor system health check

    Spiceworks is offering its “free” (no, it actually is) Network Monitor software as ‘now available’ for download.

  • Open Source Has Won: Now What’s Your Strategy?

    Nonetheless, open source is here to stay. If your organization isn’t using open source software in mission-critical applications, you’re in the minority. Even then, I suspect you are using open source software and just don’t know it.

  • The elements to a better future for software

    I was working for a company, not as a developer, but as a “User Experience (UX) Architect.” I worked in project management team prototyping User Interfaces (UIs), and handing them off to the dev team. Inevitably, everything I wrote was just put into production, or adapted slightly. I was working on a project in 2008 that needed to make cross domain Ajax requests, and back then it was a real pain. I needed a solution to prove out my concept for the app, and I said, “I know some Flash, and I know that it can do that.” So I built a JS API wrapper around an invisible flash file, with the same API as the XMLHttpRequest (Ajax) object, and I called the project flXHR (flash based XHR).

    Once I got it working, I thought, “Maybe other people will find it useful?” so, I released my code as open source. Back then, open source was pre-GitHub, so source was all on my website, and I pointed people at it from blog posts, etc. I also put code on Google Code too, but there wasn’t as much of a community back then either. In early 2009, I wanted to get into conference scene. 2009 was the first big JavaScript-specific conference, JSConf, and so I decided to go and speak about SWFObject (one of the most downloaded projects on the web at the time), which I was using heavily in flXHR. I was a core dev for SWFObject and gave a “B track” talk at the conference. Only like three people showed up to my first talk, but I fell in love with the idea that I could speak to call attention to open source code and inspire others to help make it better!

    The fullness of my open source perspective came later that year, in November of 2009. I released the project I’m probably most known for: LABjs (a performance-optimized dynamic script loader). I gave a talk at JSConfEU in Berlin Germany about script loading. Two hours before going on stage, I was overhearing lots of people talking about this new site called GitHub, so I went and signed up while I was sitting in the audience. I pushed all my LABjs code there, and that was my first official: “I am in the FOSS community” moment.

  • 2014: The Open Source Tipping Point

    For the last ten years open source has expanded into more and more segments of the computing industry. But as we review 2014, a new story emerges: software development has fundamentally shifted toward an open source model. Especially for the infrastructure software used for scale-out computing, open source is the de facto choice; in fact, it’s virtually impossible to find examples of scale-out infrastructure that is not open source.

  • Google Releases End-To-End Chrome Extension to Open Source
  • Google makes End-to-End open source — moves project to GitHub

    Back in June, Google announced an alpha Google Chrome extension called “End-to-End”. This project was designed to easily encrypt traffic between two points. Having encryption be easy is key, as users will avoid complicated solutions. The problem is, not everyone uses Chrome; some people prefer Firefox, Safari, Opera and more. Why is this a problem? In order for End-To-End to be effective and adopted as a pseudo-standard, it must be available for browsers other than Google’s own.

  • Most organizations still slow to embrace open source solutions

    The reasons aren’t entirely obvious, so FierceCIO spoke with Ponemon Institute’s Larry Ponemon for his take on the slow race to adopt open source. The Ponemon Institute recently conducted a study looking at adoption rates of open source solutions versus proprietary software, and why organizations lean either way.

    [...]

    According to Ponemon, the percentage of open source business applications being used by organizations in the U.S. is approximately 30 percent, and about 25 percent in India.

  • My life in open source, and the mentors who led the way

    I have been working on the Apache http server for almost 20 years now. I’ve written 9 books about httpd, and spoken at more than fifty conferences. I’m a member of the Apache Software Foundation, where I serve as a board member and as Executive Vice President. I am responsible for putting on ApacheCon, both in North America and Europe, which is the official conference of the ASF.

  • 5 community managers give their biggest tip for 2015

    I’ve grown a lot as a community manager this past year. Much of that growth was focused on learning and listening. Throughout my travels to various events and conferences this year I’ve seen a few themes come through that I think are important—they are: inclusiveness, diversity, and empathy. So, when I started to think about what to share with you this year from what I’ve learned, I decided to amplify some of what others have learned too that reinforce these themes.

  • Voice of the Masses: What was your FOSS highlight of 2014?

    Yes, 2014 is nearly over, and it’s been quite a year for Free Software. As the Linux Voice team prepares to meet up for our final podcast of the year, we want to hear from you: what event from the last 12 months really stands out to you? Maybe it’s a new release of your favourite software or distro, or a quote from a certain FOSS celebrity. Perhaps you converted someone to Linux, or made an awesome discovery via our Finds of the Fortnight™.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Firefox OS Expands to Nearly 30 Countries

        Firefox OS has brought choice to the mobile industry with 14 smartphones offered by 14 operators in 28 countries. Firefox OS unlocks mobile ecosystem participants from the barriers set by proprietary systems, allowing for independence, control and innovation.

      • Priv8 adds sandboxed tabs to Firefox

        While Mozilla is still hard at work to integrate the multi-process architecture e10s in Firefox which is a prerequisite for sandboxing in the browser, add-on developers are already one step ahead of the organization.

  • SaaS/Big Data
    • Google Helps To Use Big Data For Global Surveillance — And That’s Good

      The system works by analyzing data from the Automatic Identification System (AIS) network, which broadcasts a ship’s location. Although AIS was primarily designed as a safety mechanism to avoid collisions at sea, information about the vessel’s behavior can be derived by analyzing AIS data for the identity, speed and direction of broadcasting vessels. Global Fishing Watch uses that analysis to remove all the cargo ships and other non-fishing vessel activity

  • Databases
    • MongoDB Acquires WiredTiger and its Open Source Storage Engine

      MongoDB has acquired WiredTiger, a company with database storage engine technology. WiredTiger will be integrated into MongoDB for performance, scalability, and hardware efficiency gains in the upcoming MongoDB 2.8. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

  • Healthcare
    • Open Source Electronic Health Record Alliance Joins Open Source Initiative

      The Open Source Electronic Heath Records Alliance, or OSEHRA, a non-profit community dedicated to supporting open source users, developers, service providers, and researchers engaged in advancing health information technology, has joined the Open Source Initiative’s (OSI) Affiliate Membership program. OSI Affiliates are organizations committed to public support for open source software and the role the OSI plays therein. The current Affiliate membership is a who’s-who of the world of open source software.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • December 2014 GNU Toolchain Update
    • Protect your privacy – Help GnuPG hire a second developer!

      GnuPG is the world’s leading privacy tool, with an estimated base of more than four million active users world-wide, and a thousand new users each day. It guards emails, files, and programs from snooping and spying on Windows, Mac, and GNU/Linux. This crucial program needs your help to keep going in 2015 and beyond.

    • GnuPG and g10

      After the release of GnuPG 1.0 in 1999 it turned out that this was not a write once and forget project. The unrestricted availability of the software and public concerns about the acquirement of PGP Inc. by NAI Inc. (coincidentally at the time of the initial GnuPG release in December 1997) raised a lot of interest by those who always cared about privacy issues.

  • Public Services/Government
    • Slovak statisticians rely on open source for voting machines

      The Slovak Republic’s Bureau of Statistics has used PCs running Ubuntu Linux for recording votes in the country’s municipal election on 29 November. Using open source saves money, says Štefan Tóth, Director Geneŕal of Informatics Section at the agency. For the bureau’s IT system administrators, Ubuntu proves easier to maintain and configure, and the software also withstands malware attacks better than the proprietary alternative, director Tóth confirms

  • Openness/Sharing
    • The project that wants to bring an open source, print-at-home connected car to a road near you

      If cars are indeed set to become “smartphones on wheels”, able to connect to the internet and each other, there are a few things we need to settle first. What kind of operating system will they run on, for example, and will they use proprietary or open source applications? Will upgrades to the car’s underlying system happen as seamlessly as mobile OS updates do today, or will you have to call out a mechanic?

    • What To Expect In 2015: Robots Join The Open-Source Revolution

      The number of downloads doubled in 2014, to 3.5 million, and Gerkey expects adoption to spike again with the release of ROS 2.0 this summer. The upgrade will coordinate swarms, improve walking, and support smart sensors—basically, assimilate the world’s robots.

    • GovDelivery Acquires Open Source Data Software Company NuCivic

      NuCivic designs open-source, data-sharing tools for government and non-profit organizations, an area the company said is facing a “tidal wave of demand” as more people press for access to government records.

    • GovDelivery Acquires NuCivic to Bring Proven Open Source Solutions to Government

      Drupal is widely-adopted by international, federal, state and local governments, including many GovDelivery clients. NuCivic’s Drupal-based product and integration expertise will allow GovDelivery to expand its services to meet broader needs of government innovators. NuCivic clients and the Drupal community within government will benefit from accelerated investment in building and enhancing productized solutions purpose built for government on the Drupal platform.

    • Open Access/Content
      • The doyen of Open Access in India

        Met with Subbiah Arunachalam, the doyen of Open Access in Science. He must be in his 70s, but his passion and enthusiasm for Open Access always amazes me. I asked him how he got interested in this area, and he said that when he was at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), he wanted access to a journal, Surface Science, and asked a friend of his in the US to send him a copy. His friend quietly subscribed him to the journal, and Arun started getting the copies. When Arun looked at the cost of the journal, he was shocked, and realized that even IISc could not afford to subscribe to this journal.

      • Good bye Bugzilla, welcome Phabricator.

        After ten years of using Bugzilla with 73681 tickets and ~20000 user accounts and after months of planning, writing migration code, testing, gathering feedback, discussing, writing more code, writing documentation, communicating, et cetera, Wikimedia switched from Bugzilla to Phabricator as its issue tracking tool.

    • Open Hardware
      • Hong Kong’s Scoutbots is cleaning up our oceans with open source technology

        “Scoutbots is the company and Protei is its most well-known technology. Scoutbots is about exploring and protecting the ocean with open source technology. Protei is the open hardware, shape-shifting sailing robot. It is a new type of unmanned boat, and the hull is shifting. It provides better steering capability, more energy efficiency, stability, manoeuvrability, and many new properties when it comes to sailing,” he said.

  • Programming
    • How strong is peer review in open source?

      An example of a standard open source peer review process begins with a software author submitting their code and documentation to their project’s mailing list. It is then examined by other contributors and project managers; potential problems and improvements are discussed amongst the community and author before the changes are either accepted or rejected. GitHub uses the version control software Git to offer a streamlined system in which project managers can oversee their source code while still allowing for code review. Due to its ease of use, GitHub has become a popular host for version control and code review, with over 2,000,000 repositories uploaded to the site as of 2011.

    • CMake 3.1 Brings Windows Additions, Target Compile Feature

      Version 3.1 of the CMake build system is now available with various improvements.

  • Standards/Consortia
    • Google Promises Better Compatibility with Open Source Documents

      Google (GOOG) may soon be taking open OpenDocumentFormat (ODF), the native file format in virtually all modern open source word processors, like LibreOffice and OpenOffice, more seriously. That’s according to a statement from Google’s open source chief speaking about the future of the company’s cloud-based app suite.

    • Fuzz about Google supporting odf

      First of all because the support comes way too late. Secondly because its not even close to be good.

      Back several years ago Google was politically supporting the process of getting odf approved as an open standard but they never really bothered. The business was clearly to keep both odf and ooxml/docx out of their products and keep their own proprietary document format.

      Implementing good and solid interoperability is actually not difficult but it is a huge task. Google could have done this three or four years ago if they wanted to. But they didn’t. Both proprietary software vendors has been busy making interoperability difficult while the providers of true open standards has been improving interoperability month by month.

    • Google improves support for ODF

      The Open Document Format, published November 2006, aimed to make complex documents more future proof. Most competing document formats were non standardized, complex, binary formats which would make their contents hard or impossible to read in contemporary applications a decade or two in the future. An open standard is a big step towards preserving data for future use. Another advantage is that it reduces the costs of switching between different applications, giving users more choice in the tools they use to process documents on and off line.

Leftovers
  • Christmas travel chaos looms as airport staff vote to STRIKE on December 23 and 24

    Employees of air service provider dnata at Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports voted by more than 4-1 in favour of walkouts in protest at an imposed 2.2 per cent increase, union Unite said today.

    The union said that a workforce of “haves and have nots” was being created because supervisors were given a rise of 4.5 per cent.

    Unite called for peace talks to avert the threat of a two-day strike on December 23 and 24.

  • Science
  • Security
  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression
    • “The Interview” Is The Most Dangerous Dumb Comedy In The World

      Here’s guessing Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and James Franco never thought their North Korea assassination comedy would come to this.

      [...]

      It’s worth noting as the fallout from the film, which includes the cyber attack on Sony Pictures, multiple massive leaks of studio data, threats against employees, and the recent vow from the “Guardians of Peace” that “the world will be full of fear,” surges past the actual 112-minute feature whose theatrical release was just canceled. Star Seth Rogen, who also co-wrote and -directed the film, and his fellow lead James Franco have canceled their press appearances and a planned premiere in New York, while theater chains after theater chain announced they weren’t going to show it until Sony scrapped the opening date altogether. In the process, The Interview has become the most dangerous dumb comedy in the world.

    • US Plans to Re-Establish Embassy in Havana

      In a true mark of the extent of the policy reversal that President Obama announced today, the U.S. will open an embassy in the previously-banned country.

      Obama announced that the Secretary of State and his department will be tasked with re-establishing an official embassy in Havana.

    • Witness Cuba’s Evolution in 39 Photos
    • Before you plan that trip to Cuba: will the US government let you go?
  • Transparency Reporting
    • Slavoj Zizek on Wikileaks

      In this exclusive extract from everyone’s favourite Slovenian critical theorist’s new broadside, Žižek discusses the data insurrections of recent years

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife
    • New York State Just Banned Fracking

      After years of wrangling between environmentalists, lawmakers, and fossil fuel companies, New York’s top public health administrator said he would ban fracking in the state, citing health risks.

    • The Science on Fracking Is In: Not One Well!

      While filming a new movie in London, I learned that the sole shale gas well in the nation — just a few hours north of me — has triggered two earthquakes, suffered a “structural integrity failure,” and risked poisoning water supplies.

      That’s right: the only fracking well in the United Kingdom failed and caused two earthquakes!

      This news is a stark reminder of what’s at stake in my home state of New York, where newly re-elected Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that he will soon make an announcement about fracking.

      In his first four year term to date, despite much sound and fury from the gas industry, Governor Cuomo maintained a de facto moratorium on the practice. The emerging science shows the wisdom of that decision — as scientists themselves are quick to point out. Just last week, Concerned Health Professionals of New York presented the Governor with an updated, hundred-page Compendium on the risks and harms of fracking to health, water, air, wildlife, and economic vitality.

    • Obama removes Bristol Bay area of Alaska from oil and gas drilling

      Barack Obama has announced he is removing more than 52,000 sq miles (135,000 sq km) of waters off Alaska’s coast from consideration for oil and gas exploration or drilling.

  • Finance
    • Whistle-Blower on Countrywide Mortgage Misdeeds to Get $57 Million

      A former Countrywide Financial executive who became a whistle-blower is collecting more than $57 million for helping federal prosecutors force Bank of America to pay a record $16.65 billion penalty in connection with its role in churning out shoddy mortgage and related securities before the financial crisis.

      Edward O’Donnell reached an agreement last week with the government that enables him to collect part of the settlement that Bank of America agreed to pay in August in a deal with federal prosecutors and a number of state attorneys general, according to a court filing.

    • Serial’s $2,500 Phone Bill and the Prison-Calling Racket

      The final installment of “Serial,” a cult-favorite podcast reinvestigating a 15-year-old murder case, will begin just like every other episode with the names of two companies: First a partially mispronounced plug for the show’s sponsor, then an unpaid mention of a prison telecom provider. “This is a Global Tel-Link prepaid call from Adnan Syed, an inmate at a Maryland correctional facility.”

      [...]

      Here’s another way to think of the exorbitant phone rates paid by prisoners: For the price of single hour-long phone call at 89¢ per minute, you could buy a monthly wireless plan from Verizon (VZ) that includes unlimited voice calls and text messages, as well as 1 gigabyte of data service.

    • Privatization of Boston Public School Buses

      In 
September 2013 Veolia, a transnational corporation that contracts with the City of Boston to transport school students, began an illegal lockout of Boston public 
school bus drivers for protesting the company’s union busting practices. Veolia officials fired four 
leading members of the Boston School Bus Drivers Union in an attempt to weaken the union and 
move forward with privatization plans. In response to the firings, Keegan O’Brien reports for Socialist Worker, “the union has spent the past year building a vocal, public campaign win reinstatement for the union leaders and force an end to the company’s anti-union attack.”

    • Open Letter: Proposed Trade Secrets Directive Risks EU Health, Environment, Free Speech And Mobility

      We strongly oppose the hasty push by the European Commission and Council for a new European Union (EU) directive on trade secrets, which contains overly-broad protection and inadequate safeguards. This unbalanced piece of legislation will result in legal uncertainty and endanger freedom of expression and information, corporate accountability, information sharing and, possibly, innovation, rather than create a competitive and sound business environment in the EU, as the Commission claims.

    • VC Madness Redux: Stop them Before they Kill the Economy Again

      Frank snorted. iBalls! What a lame concept! He thought he’d seen everything during the madness of the Internet bubble years – companies formed to sell dog food over the Internet; year-old start-ups raising $100 million investment rounds; companies going public without a dollar in sales. He had assumed it would be decades before the high tech industry saw that type of insanity again.

      But no – things seemed to be heating up all over again, and maybe worse. Now that Twitter had re-legitimated the no-revenues business model, the venture capitalists were charging back in, hoping to raise mega-funds once again that were far too big to invest intelligently. Too big, that is, unless they started fire-hosing money down the gullets of companies with nonsensical business plans again, just like before.

    • A Full-Blown Economic Crisis Has Erupted In Russia

      The 8th largest economy on the entire planet is in a state of turmoil right now. The shocking collapse of the price of oil has hit a lot of countries really hard, but very few nations are as dependent on energy production as Russia is. Sales of oil and natural gas account for approximately two-thirds of all Russian exports and approximately 50 percent of all government revenue.

      So it should be no surprise that the fact that the price of oil has declined by almost 50 percent since June is absolutely catastrophic for the Russian economy. And when you throw in international sanctions, wild money printing by the Central Bank of Russia and unprecedented capital flight, you get the ingredients for an almost perfect storm. But those of us living in the Western world should not be too smug about what is happening in Russia, because the nightmare that is unfolding over there is just a preview of the economic chaos that will soon envelop the whole world.

    • A black hole for our best and brightest: Wall Street is expanding, and the economy is worse off for it.

      The thing Deborah Jackson remembers from her first interviews at Goldman Sachs is the slogan. It was stamped on the glass doors of the offices in the investment bank’s headquarters just off Wall Street, the lure of the place in two words, eight syllables: “Uncommon capability.”

      Jackson joined Goldman in 1980, fresh from business school and steeped in the workings of government and finance. She found crackerjack colleagues and more business than she could handle. She worked in municipal finance, lending money to local governments, hospitals and nonprofits around the country. She flew first class to scout potential deals — “The issue was, can you really be productive if you’re in a tiny seat in the back?” — and when the time came to seal one, she’d welcome clients and their attorneys to Manhattan’s best restaurants.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying
    • Fox News: President Obama Calling Pakistan Terror Group “Terrorists” Isn’t Good Enough

      Fox News is moving the goalposts on how President Obama should respond to terrorist attacks, complaining that the White House’s statement on a deadly attack on a Pakistani school did not mention “the Taliban.” The network had previously attacked Obama for not using the words “terrorist” and “terrorism,” two words that appear in the president’s statement.

    • Dana Milbank and the Bias of Centrism

      FAIR has always argued that reporters and pundits who present a kind of right-in-the-middle, both-sides-are-doing-the-same-thing approach to politics are really just displaying a different kind of media bias. Take Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, who wrote a column (12/16/14) explaining there was a “little parlor game” going on in Washington: Is liberal Democrat Elizabeth Warren more like former far-right Sen. Jim DeMint, or is she the left version of far-right Sen. Ted Cruz?

    • Fox Host Missed Obama’s Reassurance To Americans Over Film Threats

      Fox News host Martha MacCallum falsely claimed that President Obama failed to reassure Americans to continue movie-going after Sony’s film The Interview prompted terror threats. However, Obama had encouraged Americans to “go to the movies” hours earlier.

    • More Pointless Campaign 2016 Journalism

      Wasting time covering the presidential race right now isn’t just confined to the Republican field, though.

  • Censorship
    • Swedish ISP Refuses to Block The Pirate Bay

      In its response to a lawsuit filed by rightsholders last month a Swedish ISP has refused to block The Pirate Bay and streaming portal Swefilmer. Several major music and movie companies initiated legal action against Bredbandsbolaget in November, but the ISP says there is no legal basis for a web blockade.

    • Virgin Media is interrupting browsing with a note about an adult content filter

      VIRGIN MEDIA is sporadically showing its internet users a note that suggests that they might benefit from an adult content filter – something that many people do not want, and that many others find do not work.

    • The Pirate Bay’s Facebook Page Is Shut Down Too

      Following in the footsteps of the main site, Pirate Bay’s Facebook page with nearly half a million likes was shut down a few hours ago. It’s unclear whether the Pirate Bay crew deleted the page or if Facebook took action against the troubled site.

  • Privacy
    • Over 700 Million People Taking Steps to Avoid NSA Surveillance

      There’s a new international survey on Internet security and trust, of “23,376 Internet users in 24 countries,” including “Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States.” Amongst the findings, 60% of Internet users have heard of Edward Snowden, and 39% of those “have taken steps to protect their online privacy and security as a result of his revelations.”

    • Verizon’s New, Encrypted Calling App Plays Nice With the NSA

      Verizon is the latest big company to enter the post-Snowden market for secure communication, and it’s doing so with an encryption standard that comes with a way for law enforcement to access ostensibly secure phone conversations.

    • Turkey as “partner and target” of U.S. Surveillance

      In August 2014, Der Spiegel and The Intercept reported “how deeply involved America has become in Turkey’s fight” against separatist Kurds along the Turkey-Iraq border. This report was based on documents from the archives of whistleblower Edward Snowden. In one of the NSA document Turkey is identified as both “partner and target” for U.S. surveillance. For instance, U.S. surveillance tracked the mobile phone location data of leaders in the separatist Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and shared updated information with the Turkish government every six hours, and in the case of one particular mission, once every hour.

    • Microsoft vs. DoJ: The battle for privacy in the cloud

      What issue can unite the EFF and BSA? Fox News and The Guardian? Amazon and eBay? The ACLU and the Chamber of Commerce?

      The issue is the demand by the Department of Justice that Microsoft deliver the email correspondence and address book data from one of their customers as demanded by a warrant, apparently related to a drugs case (though all the documents remain sealed). Microsoft won’t. The reason? The customer, the email, and the server it’s on are all in Ireland and operated by a local subsidiary.

    • Who’s Been In Your Fridge? 3 Ways To Secure Your Internet Of Things Devices

      Piers Wilson, head of product management at Tier-3 Huntsman examines the main security issues being introduced by IoT, and outlines three basic steps that can help to overcome them

    • Internet of Things audio is being scuppered by proprietary tech

      NEW RESEARCH SUGGESTS that progress of the Internet of Things (IoT) is being slowed by proprietary systems and interoperability issues.

      The ‘State of Play’ report by audio engineering firm CSR set out to examine the user perspective on home audio, and in doing so made some interesting discoveries about the nature of interconnected tech.

    • New TISA Leak: US On Collision Course With EU Over Global Data Flows

      Although most attention has been given to the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), also known as TTIP, it’s important to remember that a third set of global trade negotiations are underway — those for the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), which involves more countries than either of the other two. Like TPP and TAFTA/TTIP, TISA is being negotiated in strict secrecy, but earlier this year the financial services annex leaked, giving us the first glimpse of the kind of bad ideas that were being worked on. Now, another leak has surfaced, which reveals the US’s proposals to free up data flows online.

    • TTIP: The EU-US trade deal explained

      In 2012, after a widespread protest, the European Parliament rejected a multilateral agreement to harmonise and step up anti-counterfeiting law. Protesters had claimed the agreement threatened privacy by encouraging surveillance of personal data. Some critics have suggested proposals in TTIP on intellectual property could have a similar effect to the proposed anti-counterfeiting measures – claims which are denied by TTIP’s supporters.

    • Secret WTO Trade Deal Threatens Internet Freedom, New Leak Reveals

      Global governments are secretly negotiating a little-known mega trade deal that poses a threat to internet freedoms and boon to corporate interests, analysts warned Wednesday, citing a just-leaked U.S. proposal.

      The Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), under discussion between a 50-country subset of World Trade Organization members for nearly two years, is so secretive that its talks aren’t even announced to the public, making it even more shadowy than the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

      Kept in the dark about the deal, the global public will be hugely impacted by its provisions.

      “What these closed-door negotiations do is cement in place rules for global governance—rules that affect a whole host of issues that aren’t about trade at all, such as privacy, financial stability and much more,” Melinda St. Louis, International Campaigns Director for Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, told Common Dreams.

    • Congress sets limits on overseas data collection

      A little-noticed provision in the Intelligence Authorization Act passed by Congress last week puts restrictions on spy agencies’ ability to keep communications collected overseas, but critics say it does not go far enough to protect Americans’ privacy.

  • Civil Rights
    • Will Cuba Now Cash 55 Years’ Worth of Guantanamo Rent Checks?
    • Nearly 80,000 prisoners in the United States are held in solitary confinement for months

      John Boston, director of the Prisoner’s Rights Project of the New York City Legal Aide Society at the American Civil Liberties Union, described this as a form of “punitive segregation” without trial. Normally, Nevins writes, “when an individual is accused — even in prison — of doing something unlawful, he or she would normally have the right to due process before spending nine months in segregation.

    • North Korea asks United Nations to investigate CIA torture ‘crimes’

      North Korea has asked the UN security council to address the CIA’s harsh treatment of terror suspects instead of its own human rights situation.

      North Korea’s UN ambassador, Ja Song-nam, objected to the inclusion of his country’s human rights record on the security council’s agenda for debate as a first step toward a possible referral to the international criminal court (ICC).

    • Barrett Brown Will Just Have To Wait for That Sentence

      “Lots of bench conferences and long recesses — this hearing has it all!” That was the sarcastic assessment yesterday of Tom Korosec, who was covering Barrett Brown’s sentencing hearing for Bloomberg. Tom and I know each other. He has written for both D Magazine and D CEO. We were standing around during an afternoon recess, marveling at how little Tom would have to work with when it came time to file his story. Before lunch, Judge Sam Lindsay had already warned everyone that things were moving so slowly that he wouldn’t issue his sentence until January 22.

    • The Latest Twist in the Bizarre Prosecution of Barrett Brown

      Barrett Brown entered the federal courtroom shackled, with a slight swagger in his step and squinting into the light. He took his seat next to his defense team and quietly set about flipping through a stack of loose-leaf papers and then began writing. When asked by the judge if he knew why he was in court that day, Tuesday, Brown – who has spent two years in federal custody – leaned into the microphone and with a warbly Texas accent, said clearly and plainly, “I am to be sentenced today.” And then he returned to his papers.

      Wearing a prison-issued orange uniform, the 33-year-old Brown scribbled for hours as a federal prosecutor attempted to portray him, not as a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in The Guardian, Vanity Fair and the Dallas-based Dmagazine, but instead as a spokesman, strategist and contributor to the hacktivist collective Anonymous. It was the final phase of a criminal prosecution that at one point threatened Brown with more than 100 years in prison, as a result of his work on thousands of files hacked by Anonymous from the servers of HBGary Federal and Stratfor, security intelligence firms and government contractors. Through the online collective he founded, called Project PM, Brown analyzed and reported on the thousands of pages of leaked documents. The HBGary hack revealed a coordinated campaign to target and smear advocates for WikiLeaks and the Chamber of Commerce, while the Stratfor hack provided a rare window into the shadowy world of defense contractors.

    • WaPo Won’t Say ‘Torture’–Unless It Makes Torture Sound Better

      Now, that’s not really what the Washington Post/ABC poll (12/11-14/14) found. The actual question was, “All in all, do you think the CIA treatment of suspected terrorists was justified or unjustified?” To which 59 percent said it was justified.

      In another question, the poll asked, “Do you personally think the CIA treatment of suspected terrorists amounted to torture, or not?” There 49 percent said it was torture.

      (Note that “suspected terrorist” does a lot of work in these questions; keep in mind that one of the Senate Intelligence Committee report’s key findings was that many of those tortured had no connection to terrorism.)

    • CIA Health Professionals’ Role in Systematic Torture, Including ‘Human Subjects Research’

      An organization of United States health professionals has put out a comprehensive analysis of the role US health professionals played in the CIA torture program. The analysis, stemming from the US Senate intelligence committee’s executive summary of its torture report, raises alarming questions about whether these professionals engaged in “human subjects research” that constituted a crime against humanity.

    • Jailed CIA officer: ‘Crimes were committed,’ officers should be ‘prosecuted’
    • Press Freedom Fight: Reporter James Risen Faces Subpoena in CIA Whistleblower Case

      JAMES RISEN: Without aggressive investigative reporting, we can’t really have a democracy, because the only real oversight for the government is an independent and aggressive press. And I think that’s what the government really fears more than anything else, is an aggressive investigative reporting in which we shine a light on what’s going on inside the government. And we can’t do that without maintaining the confidentiality of sources.

    • In Leak Case, Court Authorizes Subpoena for Testimony from New York Times Reporter James Risen

      A federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, has authorized a subpoena for New York Times reporter James Risen to force him to provide testimony in the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling. Prosecutors would be able to ask if he had a “prior non-confidential reporter-source relationship” with Risen.

    • DOJ’s Risen Plot Thickens

      After a federal court hearing yesterday, ExposeFacts investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler wrote that the government appears to be maneuvering to be able to ask Risen some slippery-slope questions in order to open up the subject of his sources for cross-examination.

    • N.Y. Times reporter ordered to answer questions in CIA leak case

      A federal judge on Tuesday ordered New York Times reporter James Risen to appear in court to answer questions about his book detailing a failed CIA effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear weapons program, in a case that has become a touchstone of press freedom.

      Though Risen has taken a firm stance about not revealing the identity of his sources, U.S. prosecutors said in a court filing early on Tuesday they would seek to ask Risen if he had a confidentiality agreement with the individual who provided certain information for the 2006 book “State of War.”

    • Bill O’Reilly: African-Americans Should Wear “Don’t Get Pregnant At 14″ On Their T-Shirts
    • “Witness 40″: Exposing A Fraud In Ferguson

      The grand jury witness who testified that she saw Michael Brown pummel a cop before charging at him “like a football player, head down,” is a troubled, bipolar Missouri woman with a criminal past who has a history of making racist remarks and once insinuated herself into another high-profile St. Louis criminal case with claims that police eventually dismissed as a “complete fabrication,” The Smoking Gun has learned.

    • Dick Cheney’s America

      Of course Americans are OK with torture. Look at how we treat our prisoners.

    • Why We Need the Gory Details About Torture

      Whether you use the word or not, Americans are OK with torture because they believe it’s effective at gaining information that couldn’t be obtained by any other means. The fact that the Senate report knocked down that argument doesn’t seem to have gotten much traction.

    • Obama issues ‘executive orders by another name’

      President Obama has issued a form of executive action known as the presidential memorandum more often than any other president in history — using it to take unilateral action even as he has signed fewer executive orders.

      When these two forms of directives are taken together, Obama is on track to take more high-level executive actions than any president since Harry Truman battled the “Do Nothing Congress” almost seven decades ago, according to a USA TODAY review of presidential documents.

    • Oakland cops disciplined 24 times for failing to turn on body-worn cameras

      Over the last two years, the Oakland Police Department (OPD) has disciplined police officers on 24 occasions for disabling or failing to activate body-worn cameras, newly released public records show. The City of Oakland did not provide any records prior to 2013, and the OPD did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.

      The records show that on November 8, 2013 one officer was terminated after failing to activate his camera. Less than two weeks later, another resigned for improperly removing the camera from his or her uniform. However, most officers received minor discipline in comparison.

    • Venezuelans march to protest US sanctions

      Supporters of the Venezuelan government took to the streets of the country’s capital Caracas on Monday to protest against sanctions that US Congress approved last week. The country’s socialist government also called for Monday’s march to mark the 15th anniversary of Venezuela’s constitution.

    • Homeland Security and Corporate Sponsors Host Urban Shield Event

      In September 2014, the Department of Homeland Security and approximately 100 corporate sponsors hosted the eighth annual Urban Shield training exercises in Oakland, CA. The event, billed as the largest first-responder training conference in the world, brought together 35 SWAT teams from across the country and as far away as Singapore, South Korea, Israel, and Bahrain. As Shane Bauer reported for Mother Jones, in addition to Homeland Security, more than a hundred corporations provided up to $25,000 each to sponsor the event.

    • It took a jury 10 minutes to convict 14-year-old George Stinney Jr. It took 70 years after his execution to exonerate him.

      In March 1944, deep in the Jim Crow South, police came for 14-year-old George Stinney Jr. His parents weren’t at home. His little sister was hiding in the family’s chicken coop behind the house in Alcolu, a segregated mill town in South Carolina, while officers handcuffed George and his older brother, Johnnie, and took them away.

      Two young white girls had been found brutally murdered, beaten over the head with a railroad spike and dumped in a water-logged ditch. He and his little sister, who were black, were said to be last ones to see them alive. Authorities later released the older Stinney – and directed their attention toward George.

      “[The police] were looking for someone to blame it on, so they used my brother as a scapegoat,” his sister Amie Ruffner told WLTX-TV earlier this year.

      On June 16, 1944, he was executed, becoming the youngest person in modern times to be put to death. On Wednesday, 70 years later, he was exonerated.

    • Senate’s report on CIA torture was comprehensive

      The Senate Intelligence Committee last week released its report on the CIA detention and interrogation program, which in some cases amounted to torture. Since then, defenders of the program have been vocal.

      But instead of disputing facts — supported by 6.3 million pages of the CIA’s own records — they are complaining about process.

    • Alheli Picazo: The party of Cheney or of McCain?

      The executive summary of a nearly 7,000 page report into the C.I.A.’s Detention and Interrogation program under the Bush administration confirmed not only what has long been public knowledge – that America did, in fact, engage in torture – but also revealed that, despite an aggressive PR blitz extolling the virtues of its interrogation program, the C.I.A. knew full well the “enhanced” techniques had failed.

    • The kidnapping and torture of Maher Arar in my name is a personal stain

      His wife, Monia, tending his 5-year-old daughter and 7-month-old son, knew only that he disappeared en route to Canada.

      His underground cell was the size of a grave.

      Mr. Arar’s secret rendering to torture touched numerous facilities in New York City and New Jersey. He was initially arrested and detained at Kennedy International Airport. He was held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn for 12 days. On the day he was illegally deported, he was transported through New York area traffic to the airport in Teterboro, N.J. The U.S. government has used dozens of other civilian airports in the United States and around the world, from Las Vegas and Bangor, to Johnston County, N.C., to Rome, Frankfurt, Greenland, Ireland and Albania. It has twisted the everyday world – all over the world — into a gruesome parody of America’s promise.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality
    • One group dominates the second round of net neutrality comments

      A letter-writing campaign that appears to have been organized by a shadowy organization with ties to the Koch Brothers inundated the Federal Communications Commission with missives opposed to net neutrality (NN), an analysis by the Sunlight Foundation reveals.

    • “Shadowy” anti-net neutrality group flooded FCC with comments [Updated]

      “A shadowy organization with ties to the Koch Brothers” spearheaded an anti-net neutrality form letter writing campaign that tipped the scales against net neutrality proponents, according to an analysis released today by the Sunlight Foundation.

      The first round of comments collected by the Federal Communications Commission were overwhelmingly in support of net neutrality rules. But a second round of “reply comments” that ended September 10 went the other way, with 60 percent opposing net neutrality, according to the Sunlight Foundation. The group describes itself as a nonpartisan nonprofit that seeks to expand access to government records.

      [...]

      The 1.6 million reply comments analyzed fell short of the 2.5 million comments the FCC said it received, the Sunlight Foundation acknowledged. Based on the files the FCC released, the foundation said it’s “reasonably sure that the FCC’s comment counts are incorrect and that our analysis is reasonably representative of what’s there, but the fact that it’s impossible for us to know for sure is problematic.”

    • Bizarre Fight Commences Over Who ‘Won’ Latest Net Neutrality Comment Round

      Back in October, we pointed out the pointlessness of focusing on who sent more comments to the FCC over net neutrality, as there appeared to be a whole lot of astroturfing and misleading tactics being used to ratchet up the counts. That didn’t mean that the commenting and looking at the information wasn’t useful — it is — but there was little value in a purely “numbers” based focus on how many comments were filed from those “for” or “against.” With so many coming from various online forms, the weight they would have on the final FCC decision is about as close to nil as possible.

    • TISA Leak: EU Data Protection and Net Neutrality Threatened

      Last month I wrote about the threat that TTIP represented to data protection and privacy in the EU because of its likely insistence that data flow as freely as goods. We still don’t know for sure how TTIP will be approaching this area, but today we had an important leak of a section from TISA – the Trade in Services Agreement – that forms part of a kind of trinity of trade agreements along with TTIP and the TransPacific Partnership agreement (TPP).

  • DRM
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • MPAA Wants to Use DMCA to Effectively Bring Back SOPA

        In “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” Winston Smith’s job was to rewrite the past for the Inner Party. Mainly, he made people vanish from the pages of history. Anyone who came under the party’s bad graces suddenly disappeared from from all media; from all newspaper articles, books, television archives and any other mentions. In Orwell’s world, anyone declared a nonperson was completely erased. S/he never existed.

      • Sony leaks reveal Hollywood is trying to break DNS, the backbone of the internet

        Most anti-piracy tools take one of two paths: they either target the server that’s sharing the files (pulling videos off YouTube or taking down sites like The Pirate Bay) or they make it harder to find (delisting offshore sites that share infringing content). But leaked documents reveal a frightening line of attack that’s currently being considered by the MPAA: What if you simply erased any record that the site was there in the first place?

      • Pirate Bay Responds to The Raid, Copies and The Future

        The Pirate Bay crew has broken its silence for the first time since the site was knocked down hard by a raid in Sweden last week. The people behind the site are still considering their options and have no concrete comeback plans yet. Nevertheless, they encourage the public to keep the Kopimi spirit alive.

Links 16/12/2014: Google and ODF, Civilization: Beyond Earth Comes to GNU/Linux

Wednesday 17th of December 2014 12:52:39 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Ten Linux Desktops Showing How Windows and Mac OS X Designs Are Trapped in the Past

    When people think about Linux, they usually imagine old desktops and terminals running in full screen. The truth is that the platform has evolved tremendously in the past few years and it’s safe to say that it’s well above anything done by Microsoft and Apple.

  • Linux Malware vs Phishing Schemes

    For years now, we’ve been told about the dangers of how various types of malware like worms and other threats were going to catch the growing Linux user base off guard. As of the year 2014, nothing remotely close to this has happened. Malware exists, but for desktop Linux users, it’s a non-issue.

    Despite this fact, there continues to be rumors that malware “could” affect desktop Linux users. It seems the mere “threat” holds greater proof of concept than the reality that no one is actually seeing malware threats on their Linux desktop.

    In this article, I’ll examine current threats to the Linux desktop and explain why I believe phishing is far more dangerous to most Linux users than malware.

  • Turn Your Old Computer into a Gaming Console with LinuxConsole 2.3 OS

    LinuxConsole is an operating system built for older computers with the aim of transforming those PCs in Linux gaming consoles. A new upgrade for this distro has been made available right now and it comes with a number of important updates.

  • 2015 will be the year Linux takes over the enterprise (and other predictions)

    Jack Wallen removes his rose-colored glasses and peers into the crystal ball to predict what 2015 has in store for Linux.

  • Welcome to the 2014 LinuxQuestions.org Members Choice Awards

    Welcome to the 2014 LinuxQuestions.org Members Choice Awards. The categories have been chosen, the nominees have been posted and I’m happy to announce that the polls are now open. To vote, visit http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi…ce-awards-113/ and select your entry in each category. If you have any suggestions for additions or modifications to poll nominees, please post in the thread for the poll in question. Any general suggestions should be posted in this thread.

  • What will happen to Linux in 2015?
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 3.19 Features Set to Surface in 2015

      Linux 3.19 will be the first new Linux kernel of 2015 and it’s already shaping up to be chock full of interesting bits. The merge window for Linux 3.19 hasn’t yet closed, but the first set of Git Pulls shows lots of activity.

      Human Interface Devices (HID) get a boost in the Linux 3.19 release cycle. Among the interesting bits is support for Microsoft’s Surface Pro. This isn’t full support for running Linux on a Surface Pro device.

    • BLD Kernel Scheduler Updated For Linux 3.19

      The Barbershop Load Distribution (BLD) CPU load distribution technique has been updated for the mainline Linux 3.18 kernel.

      BLD is the out-of-tree scheduler that’s been around for nearly three years and continues to be updated for new kernel releases as a scheduler that works well for SMP systems but not NUMA systems.

    • Pay For Faster Linux Kernel Performance? There’s Patches For That

      The “eXt73″ patch-set aspires to yield faster kernel performance and better power efficiency. Independent benchmarks published of the eXt73 patch-set indicate faster performance out of the patched Linux kernel, but these patches do come at a cost for end-users.

    • Linux Foundation Announces Biannual Individual Membership Drive and New $100 Certification Discount for Members

      The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux and collaborative development, today announced its biannual Individual Membership Drive in which the organization will donate $25 to Free Geek for each new member who joins today through January 16, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. PT. Individual members of The Linux Foundation help advance the Linux operating system and support the work of Linux creator Linus Torvalds.

    • NFTables 0.4 Released As Eventual IPTables Successor

      Work is still underway in a steadfast manner for NFTables as an eventual replacement to IPTables for packet filtering on Linux. Released today was NFTables v0.4 with functionality offered as of the Linux 3.18 kernel.

    • Benchmarks
      • AMD Kaveri: Open-Source Radeon Gallium3D vs. Catalyst 14.12 Omega Driver

        With an AMD A10-7850K Kaveri APU with Radeon R7 Graphics running on Ubuntu 14.10, the following Radeon Linux driver configurations were tested:

        - Ubuntu 14.10 following a clean install with the Linux 3.16 kernel, xf86-video-ati 7.4.0, and Mesa 10.3.0.

        - Ubuntu 14.10 with the Oibaf PPA enabled plus using the Linux 3.18 stable kernel from the Ubuntu Mainline Kernel PPA. The updated user-space components via the Oibaf PPA were xf86-video-ati 7.5.99 and Mesa 10.5-devel Git. This is basically a look at the latest open-source AMD Radeon graphics code for the Kaveri APU.

        - Switching Ubuntu 14.10 back to the Linux 3.16 kernel and then enabling the fglrx-updates driver in the Ubuntu Utopic archive that provides fglrx 14.20.7 / OpenGL 4.4.12968.

        - Upgrading the Ubuntu 14.10 system to using the new Catalyst 14.12 Omega driver — fglrx 14.50.2 / OpenGL 4.4.13283

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • Efl and Elementary 1.12.2 releases

      Here is another update for the 1.12.x series for EFL and Elementary, courtesy of the EFL team. The Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL) is the prefered native development framework for Tizen and provides all the libraries you need to create powerful applications.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Overview of Qt3D 2.0 – Part 1

        Back in the days when Qt was owned by Nokia, a development team in Brisbane had the idea of making it easy to incorporate 3D content into Qt applications. This happened around the time of the introduction of the QML language and technology stack, and so it was only natural that Qt3D should also have a QML based API in addition to the more traditional C++ interface like other frameworks within Qt.

      • KDAB Provides An Overview Of Qt3D 2.0

        The next-generation Qt3D component to the Qt tool-kit is finally starting to come together.

      • KDE Plasma 5.1.2 Released
      • Plasma 5.1.2 Bugfix Release

        Plasma 5.1.2 is the December output from our desktop team. It’s a bugfix release which adds several dozen fixes and the latest translations.

      • 2014.12.16: Trinity Desktop Environment R14.0.0 Released!

        The Trinity Desktop Environment (TDE) development team is pleased to announce the immediate availability of the new TDE R14.0.0 release. The Trinity Desktop Environment is a complete software desktop environment designed for Unix-like operating systems, intended for computer users preferring a traditional desktop model, and is free/libre software.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
  • Distributions
    • Pearl Linux MATE Wants to Offer the Ultimate Mac OS X Clone, Fails Miserably

      Pearl Linux MATE is a new Linux distro that aims to provide an experience similar to that of Mac OS X. It’s based on Ubuntu MATE and it’s not really good. In fact, it might be a good example of how not to make an OS.

    • Tanglu 2 Offers Classic GNOME and KDE Desktop with the Help of Debian – Gallery

      Tanglu, a Linux distribution based on Debian that provides a classic GNOME and KDE desktop experience, has finally reached version 2.0 and is now available for download.

    • Best Xfce distro of 2014

      You know the drill. ‘Tis a fun drill. We vote for the best distribution plus its associated desktop environment, of the year. Several days back, we discussed KDE, and today, we will talk about Xfce, the desktop that broke through the thick sheet of irrelevance like a nuclear submarine surfacing from underneath the arctic ice caps, and became one of the leading choices for Linux users out there.

      Sure, we cannot disregard Unity, or Cinnamon, but those are singular choices for particular distributions, whereas Xfce happily abides in many a developer house. What’s more, it’s grown and matured and become pretty and more than just useful, while still being perfectly capable of reviving old machines as well as being posh and modern on the latest hardware. And that’s why we are doing this little contest here. Our players for this round are, in no particular order.

    • Why is the Number of Linux Distros Declining?

      The number of Linux distributions is declining. In 2011, the Distrowatch database of active Linux distributions peaked at 323. Currently, however, it lists only 285. However, exactly why the decline is taking place and how much it matters remains unclear.

    • Reviews
      • Kali Linux review

        There are two separate conclusions to this review. No, three. First, do not trust everything your friends say. Second, T400 is still unusable in the Linux world. Three, Kali seems like a very nice security distribution. However, just by using it, you won’t become an expert. That’s the prerequisite actually.

        Compared to BackTrack, which it succeeded, Kali feels a little more complete, more robust, even though both distros have the same focus and balance on normal, daily usability and forensics. This is a good thing. Moreover, it offers a wealth of hacking and analysis tools that can not only help you audit and secure your environment, but also learn a whole lot about the network stack and command line usage.

        A free bonus. If you’re a professional or an enthusiast with a interest in the realm of digital security, you might want to give this operating system its due spin, even though it may not magically fix your Wireless. That’s a lesson for me. For you, the fun part of exploring, testing and learning. Take care.

      • Parsix GNU/Linux 7.0 – a desktop Debian distribution

        Overall, my experiences with the latest version of Parsix GNU/Linux made a poor impression. Some of the issues were certainly hardware related and may not affect other users, but several appeared to be poor design/implementation decisions or a result of bugs missed during testing. I’d also like to see the Parsix distribution offer a wider range of editions to provide a wider variety of desktop environments out of the box. Perhaps a different desktop environment would have offered a more stable and more responsive experience.

    • New Releases
      • CYBORG HAWK LINUX

        The most advanced, powerful and yet beautiful penetration testing distribution ever created.Lined up with ultimate collection of tools for pro Ethical Hackers and Cyber Security Experts.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Fedora
        • 2015 Predictions and Coming Attractions

          As 2014 draws to a close a few folks are looking ahead to 2015. Jack Wallen pens his predictions for Linux next year. Phoronix has gathered a few Fedora 22 tidbits and OMG!Ubuntu! has some for Ubuntu 15.04. Dedoimedo.com reviews Kali Linux and the Hecktic Geek tests Fedora 21. And finally today, Dedoimedo picks his top Xfce distro of the year.

        • Fedora 21 Review: Conveys a Fantastic ‘GNOME Classic’ Experience

          The Fedora community took almost a year for developing and releasing the version 21. Though I am not exactly clear of the exact reasons for this delay, after using the default Gnome 3 spin for a couple of days, I must say ‘the wait’ was worth waiting for, after all, “all good things take time”.

          However, first it is worth noting that I have an immense respect for the Gnome desktop developers for they have mastered some aspects of the art of simple, intuitive & lightweight software design, though, because they have little regard for what the end-users have to say, in their arrogance, have over simplified things and rendered it, from a certain outlook, useless (this is my opinion only).

          But as proven by Nature, the successful counterbalance for such ignorance is usually acquired through the act of intervention by a higher force. And luckily for end-users like me, RedHat intervened (a while ago) and demanded that they develop a desktop interface that is similar to the old ‘Gnome Classic’. And so they did, and not that it fixed all the over simplifications of individual applications, I consider it to be reasonably enough, enough to the extent where I could at least consider using it (again, I can only speak for myself).

        • Fedora Developer Roundtable | LAS 343

          We talk with five developers from the Fedora project behind some of the recent amazing work that has seen a major milestone release in Fedora 21, treating Fedora more as a product & laying the groundwork for amazing future technologies.

        • Fedora 21 : Video Overview and Screenshot Tours
        • Fedora 22 Will Not Be Released Before 19 May 2015

          For the Fedora 22 schedule in its current form on the Wiki, the Fedora 22 Alpha release will come no earlier than 10 March, the beta release no earlier than 14 April, the final Fedora 22 Freeze no earlier than 5 May, and the official Fedora 22 release no earlier than 19 May.

        • Heroes of Fedora QA: Fedora 21 – Part 2
    • Debian Family
      • Editing Debian online with sources.debian.net

        How cool would it be to fix that one bug you just found without having to download a source package? and without leaving your browser?

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu 15.04 to Include GNOME 3.14, Updates to Default Apps

            It may sound like a small update but it should have a big impact on the lives of developers and users alike: Ubuntu 15.04 will ship with GTK 3.14.

            Released with the rest of the GNOME stack back in September, the latest and greatest version of the desktop and underlying technologies missed out on inclusion in Ubuntu 14.10.

          • Debian vs Ubuntu: How Far Has Ubuntu Come in 10 Years?

            Ubuntu recently released 14.10 “Utopic Unicorn”, which coincides with the fact that Ubuntu is now 10 years old! The king of Linux distributions has come a long way since its inception in 2004, so it’s a good idea to go down memory lane and take a look at the journey it has gone through so far. We’ll also take a look at how it has developed differently to Debian, the distribution upon which it is based.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • High traffic on the package repositories

              Our main repository packages.linuxmint.com isn’t currently able to serve connections to everybody. This can result in errors, timeouts and delays in apt-get, and in your update manager.

            • Monthly News – November 2014

              The release of the Cinnamon and MATE editions of Linux Mint 17.1 “Rebecca” were very well received. We were excited to unveil what we had worked on since the previous release and continuing to work on the same package base was a breeze. It was fun also to see people upgrade to 17.1 with ease, that went really well as well. We’re getting close to the end of the year though so I hope we’ll get the opportunity to talk about 17.1 and design topics again, but for now I’d like to touch a few words on the Xfce and KDE editions. We’re expecting their release candidates to be available next week. Only minor bugs remain and we’re confident they’ll pass QA very easily. KDE was upgraded to 4.14 and MDM received support for KDE Wallet (the wallet is now created and opened in the background, so no user interaction is necessary). Xfce was given out-of-the-box support for Compiz (just like in the MATE edition), Xfburn received Blu-ray support, the Whisker menu was upgraded and the default configuration was refined. The stable release for these two editions was estimated for the end of December but the RCs are a few days late, Christmas and the New Year will certainly eat a few days and there are items in the roadmap which were postponed but might come back into 17.1 as the dev. team is still looking into them (in particular we’re not happy with the look and feel of xscreensaver and with the fact that unlocking the session doesn’t unlock the screensaver in KDE and Xfce). It’s too hard to say just yet whether the stable ISOs will be out this year or the next.

  • Devices/Embedded
    • Low-power COMs run Linux and Android on Cortex-A5 SoC

      MYIR introduced a pair of Linux- and Android-ready COMs and baseboards featuring Atmel’s low-power, 536MHz SAMA5D3 SoC, with LCD, GbE, and dual CAN ports.

    • Raspi-Sump

      In June 2013, we had the unfortunate luck of a basement flood, caused by a tripped electrical breaker connected to our sump pump. There are so many things that can go wrong with a sump pump. You always are on guard for power outages, blown breakers, sump pump failures, clogged pipes and all manner of issues that can arise, which ultimately can end with a flooded basement. I needed a way to alert me of issues when I was not at home. Audible alarms are fairly cheap and are great when you are physically in the house. They fail miserably when you are ten miles away at work. I had a Raspberry Pi that I had tinkered with periodically but for which I never had a real purpose. I decided to try to put the Pi to work as a dedicated sump pit monitoring device. Hopefully, the Pi could send me SMS alerts if a problem arose while I was away.

    • Phones
      • How The Mighty Art Fallen (Smartphones)

        No hot house monopoly required… Meanwhile, Apple sold 9 million more units than last year while achieving 12.7% market share. Android/Linux got 83%. So, the “one true way” and the company run by “geniuses” giving “creatives” what they want, are holding small niches in a market owned by Android/Linux through FLOSS goodness and ordinary hard work.

      • Tizen
      • Android
        • Android 5.0 Lollipop: Update Dates for Nexus, Samsung, HTC as well as Sony Devices

          Some consumers are still awaiting the release of Google’s latest operating system, the Android 5.0 Lollipop, and with so many devices out in the market, anticipation is high for when the update becomes available for handheld devices.

        • Google’s Chromecast still dominates streaming media
        • Android Headliner: More Than A Year Later The Chromecast Is Still Number One For Streaming Media

          Ever since the dawn of the smartphone, streaming media has gotten bigger and bigger, and we have struggled to find easy ways to fling the media we hold on our handheld devices to the big screen. While there has been many ways to get our favorite streaming media onto our TV’s for some time, like micro USB to HDMI for example, it wasn’t until the launch of Google’s streaming media HDMI dongle, the Chromecast, that things became truly simple and allowed for the mass majority to put what they want to watch onto their TV’s using their smartphone as the control. The Chromecast has come quite a long way and has been out for well over a year now, and it’s still the number streaming media device out there even with all the competition that has emerged and is still coming.

        • 3 Reasons Apple TV Is Losing to the Google Chromecast

          As consumers look to add streaming capability to their television setup (without buying a brand-new smart TV), they are increasingly purchasing streaming devices. People are opting for streaming sticks or set-top boxes that expand their video options without making an impact on their living room setup or their wallets. But recent data brings bad news for Apple: in 2014, Google’s Chromecast streaming stick became more popular than the Apple TV set-top box, leaving Apple in third place behind both Chromecast and consumer favorite Roku.

        • This $35 dock lets you use your Android smartphone as a full-fledged desktop

          Every year, our smartphones get more and more powerful. These handheld computers certainly aren’t going to compete head-to-head with a PS4 or a high-end gaming PC, but they pack more than enough horsepower to run a full-fledged desktop computing experience. But can your smartphone really replace your desktop? That’s exactly what a new Kickstarter project aims to do.

        • Andromium transforms your Android into a pocketable desktop computer
        • Andromium could turn your smartphone into a desktop (crowdfunding)

          Motorola’s Atrix line of Android phones were designed to work with Lapdock keyboard docks, but they’ve been discontinued. Canonical tried to breath new life into the category by crowdfunding the Ubuntu Edge smartphone which could also function as a desktop computer… but the company didn’t meet its ambitious fundraising goals.

        • Canonical’s Stripped-Down “Snappy” Ubuntu Comes To Google’s Compute Engine

          A week ago, Canonical released the first alpha version of its new minimalist “Snappy” edition of Ubuntu Core for container farms. To the surprise of many, the launch partner for Snappy was Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform. Starting today, however, you will also be able to use this version of Ubuntu on Google’s Compute Engine.

        • Google Cloud offers streamlined Ubuntu for Docker use

          Ubuntu Core was designed to provide only the essential components for running Linux workloads in the cloud. An early preview edition of it, which Canonical calls “Snappy,” was released last week. The new edition jettisoned many of the libraries and programs usually found in general use Linux distributions that were unnecessary for cloud use.

        • Hearthstone is coming out on Android

          Blizzard’s acclaimed free-to-play trading card game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is finally making an appearance on Android tablets. Currently, it is only available in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, but there are plans for a worldwide rollout in “the days ahead.” In a statement, CEO Mike Morhaime says that the company is also aiming to bring the title to more mobile platforms, including smartphones.

        • Netflix now supports Android Wear, but it’s not the remote control you’re hoping for

          One of the cooler things you can do with an Android Wear smartwatch is remotely control media-playing apps on your connected Android device. SoundCloud is a great example of this, using the watch to display the cover art of what you’re listening to and some basic volume and playback controls. Netflix’s latest Android update sounds like it would do the same, with the company promising to let you “play” videos using the watch, but it’s actually much narrower in functionality.

Free Software/Open Source
  • Godot Engine 1.0 Is Out, Open Source Game Engine & Editor

    The newly open-sourced game engine Godot (which we covered more here) received its first major release today! In the middle of the winter game-jam too, even though the release candidates have been out for a week or so.

  • Godot Engine Reaches 1.0, Releases First Stable
  • Open-Source Godot 1.0 Engine Released & Declared Stable

    With Godot 1.0 being declared, it marks a point at which the game engine is stable, every feature present should work, the UI is solid and allows for visually editing games, the scripting language and debugger work, and most engine features are properly documented. Over the past ten months, Godot has received a lot of help from the community and the developers call it “the most advanced open source game engine” and is the first in popularity for its category on GitHub.

  • Should We All Be Contributing to FOSS?

    The LedgerSMB project gets contributions from “a large number of sources in a large number of ways,” said Chris Travers, a blogger and contributor to that effort.

  • Report: IoT Improving Code Quality in Open Source Java Projects

    Mountain View, Calif.-based software testing company Coverity has just released a new Scan report, this one focused on open-source big data projects and the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) on the quality of those projects. In a nutshell, the report concludes that IoT and the tsunami of data that phenomenon is expected to generate over the next decade is actually having a positive affect on code quality. Among the largest big data projects in this Scan — Apache Hadoop, Hbase and Cassandra — quality has improved steadily, the report’s authors found.

  • Is commercial open source more secure than proprietary alternatives?

    In summary, IT professionals are gravitating to commercial open source for security and privacy now more so than ever. Gone are the days when cost considerations led the decision to move to open source; today, IT professionals value commercial open source for business continuity, quality and control. On the horizon, expect to see broader adoption of commercial open source. In fact, the most telling result of the Ponemon Institute survey may be the coming exodus from proprietary to commercial open source software, particularly when it comes to collaboration.

  • Internet of Things: Engineering for Everyone

    Not too long ago, the idea of open source was synonymous with “free,” because, of course, there is no upfront cost involved. That perception was successfully realigned, through education, towards “liberty,” the freedom to use the resource without cost.

  • How To Avoid The Community Of Open Source Jerks

    Open source is the new default for many areas of software. But open source is different, and that’s causing some problems for newbies. While some reduce open source to “free software I can download,” open source can be much more.

  • Top 10 open source projects of 2014

    Last year’s list of 10 projects guided people working and interested in tech throughout 2014. Now, we’re setting you up for 2015 with a brand new list of accomplished open source projects.

  • Events
    • Web Engines Hackfest 2014
    • Penguin porn? NO! Linux folk in #LCA2015 standoff

      Each January Linux luminaries from around the world descend on Australia and New Zealand to attend Linux.conf.au, an antipodean penguinista gathering of sufficient gravitas that Linus Torvalds himself often makes the trip.

      The event is referred to as “LCA”, and for the 2015 edition has used #LCA2015 as its hashtag.

      But organisers of the event have noticed there’s another organising using #LCA2015, namely the Live Cam Awards.

  • SaaS/Big Data
    • VMware Emulates Red Hat Path With Cloud Foundry Foundation

      Thanks to its support of OpenStack, an open source Infrastructure-as-a-Service, or IaaS, system for clouds, Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) has soared to new heights. By supporting the OpenStack foundation, originally backed by Rackspace (NYSE:RAX), with talent, Red Hat made itself an indispensable partner to companies seeking to build their own clouds, with a top-line growth rate that would be the envy of an Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) and steady profits exceeding 10% of revenue.

    • Cloud Foundry Foundation: A Smart Move for VMware

      In a move that parallels some smart moves made by Red Hat in the cloud computing space, VMware has launched an independent foundation supporting its Cloud Foundry platform. The Cloud Foundry Foundation is focused on VMware’s own Platform-as-a-Service offering of the same name, but will concentrate on fostering an ecosystem surrounding Cloud Foundry. In this game, as Red Hat has shown with its efforts surrounding OpenStack, partnerships will be everything.

    • Looking Ahead: Rebuilding PaaS in a Containerized World

      Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) technology has transformed the way enterprise applications and services are deployed and delivered. Benefits including flexibility, agility, scalability and efficiency continue to attract growing numbers of business users. Globally, the PaaS market was valued at $1.60 billion in 2013, and it’s forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 25.7 percent over the next few years to reach $7.98 billion by 2020, according to a recent Transparency Market Research report.

  • CMS
    • SoakSoak Malware Attacks WordPress Sites

      Over 100,000 WordPress sites have been infected by vulnerable third-party plug-in that many may not even realize they are running, and that number is growing.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Print this guide

      The FSF Giving Guide is an easy-to-use resource that can make a difference in what people buy. We just need to get it in front of them.

  • Openness/Sharing
    • National Geographic takes open source to the wilderness

      I had the opportunity to catch up with Shah Selbe, an explorer by heart, and for National Geographic. I asked him about how he got into this kind of conservation work, how he learned about open source and came to use it, and how he applied open source methods to his work on the Okavango Wilderness Project.

    • Regulatory hurdles may blunt future of open source GMO crops as patent expires for GMO soybeans

      The development, testing, and regulation of genetically engineered crops usually takes a significant investment of time and resources, so these crops are patented so that their developers can recoup their investments. Farmers who grow these crops usually pay licensing fees for the use of the technology, and sign license agreements that restrict their ability to save the seeds. Now, a variety of GMO herbicide-tolerant soybeans has been released by the University of Arkansas with no technology fees, and no license agreements to sign. This is possible because the patent for the first genetically engineered trait in soybeans has expired. The world of “generic” or Open Source GMOs is upon us, however, there are still some practical challenges ahead.

    • Open Access/Content
      • Literary works given new life in public domain

        The public domain. Creating legacy and enabling creativity, one literary work at a time.

        Works in the public domain belong to everyone. Anyone can use public domain works in any manner they wish. They can republish the work as is, or they can use a public domain work as the inspiration and groundwork to create something new and exciting. However, the length of time before a creative works enters the public domain has grown longer and longer in recent decades. In the United States, the Copyright Act of 1976 and the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 greatly increased the length of time before a work would enter the public domain. The situation is very similar in other parts of the world.

    • Open Hardware
      • MeArm Open Source Pocket Robotic Arm MeBrain Controller (video)

        Benjamin Gray has created an open source pocket sized robotic arm that has been specifically built to be easy to build and simple to control. Now he would like to take into production his new controller called MeBrain for the robotic arm that will make it even easier to use and make it even more accessible.

  • Standards/Consortia
Leftovers
  • 17 signs you were on the Manchester club scene in the ’90s

    Clubbing in ’90s Manchester wasn’t all about the Hacienda, you know? Let’s have a look at some of the people, nights and tunes that haven’t always taken centre stage…

  • Are CIOs Bamboozling Their Colleagues With ‘Technobabble’?

    And worryingly, this is coming at a time when industry insight suggests that the role of the IT leader is evolving into a more strategic business position, according to ReThink Recruitment.

  • Car stuck on tram tracks in Chorlton triggers more Metrolink misery

    Trams on the Metrolink Manchester Airport line grounded to a halt due to a car being stranded on the tracks this evening.

    It is the FIFTH time a car has driven along the new airport line in the past three weeks .

  • Science
    • Kevin Kunze, Lloyd Morgan, and Max Anderson

      Even as cell phones become almost ubiquitous, evidence is accumulating that their emissions can cause brain tumors and other maladies. Peter and Mickey speak about the health hazards of cell phones with Kevin Kunze, Lloyd Morgan, and Max Anderson.

    • BMW is working on cars your smartwatch can park

      Come CES 2015, luxury automobile maker BMW will be showing off its recent advances in autonomous vehicle research, including the smartwatch-operable Remote Valet Parking Assistant. The i3 research vehicle is equipped with four “advanced laser scanners,” which can map and identify hazards within an environment. This data can be used by the i3′s on-board assistance system to automatically trigger brakes when needed.

  • Security
    • Tuesday’s security updates
    • Docker Updates for Three Security Vulnerabilities

      The open-source Docker project has updated the Docker engine for container virtualization to version 1.3.3, fixing a trio of security vulnerabilities. The security advisories for the Docker vulnerabilities were first publicly released on Dec. 11 although not every vendor in the Docker ecosystem has been in a hurry to update. Docker has emerged over the course of 2014 to become a popular technology for application virtualization and now has the support of Amazon, IBM, VMware, Microsoft and Red Hat, among others.

    • Antivirus Live CD Will Disinfect Your Windows OS

      Antivirus Live CD is a Linux distribution based on 4MLinux that includes the ClamAV scanner. It’s built for system admins who need a lightweight live CD with an antivirus scanner. A new versions has been released and is now available for download.

    • The Ethics Of Publishing Hacked Information

      It reminds me distinctly of the situation we found ourselves in in 2009 when a hacker delivered a truckload of internal Twitter information. See In Our Inbox: Hundreds Of Confidential Twitter Documents. See the updates to that post for how it all played out.

      Twitter also halfheartedly threatened to sue us over the publication of that information, although we felt that we were on pretty firm legal ground in moving forward. People were both fascinated with the information, and enraged that we would publish it.

    • The FBI Used Open Source Hackerware to Uncover Tor Users In 2012

      According to the report, the FBI relied on Metasploit to first deanonymize users operating Dark Net child porn sites during a sting called Operation Tornado. Metasploit is an open source package that makes many of the the latest known exploits readily available to hackers. It seems the FBI relied upon an abandoned project of Metaploit called the “Decloaking Engine” to unmask users in the 2012 busts.

    • The FBI Used the Web’s Favorite Hacking Tool to Unmask Tor Users

      For more than a decade, a powerful app called Metasploit has been the most important tool in the hacking world: An open-source Swiss Army knife of hacks that puts the latest exploits in the hands of anyone who’s interested, from random criminals to the thousands of security professionals who rely on the app to scour client networks for holes.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression
    • NBC: Someday We Might Learn That Drones Kill Civilians

      A critical look at US drone attacks is not the kind of thing you expect to see on a Sunday chat show, but that is what NBC’s Meet the Press gave viewers on December 14. Still, there were some problems.

    • NATO Deployment on Russian Border Raises Nuclear Risks, Say Caldicott and Chomsky

      According to Helen Caldicott, the founder of International Physicians against Nuclear War, which won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize, the expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders is “very, very dangerous,” and amounts to the breaking of a guarantee that the U.S. made the last Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, before the breakup of the Soviet Union, that NATO would never be allowed to expand to Russia’s border. Addressing the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in October 2014, Caldicott observed, “The nuclear weapons, are sitting there, thousands of them. They are ready to be used.”

  • Transparency Reporting
    • Why the ‘case’ against Julian Assange in Sweden should be dropped, and dropped now!

      The ‘case’ is at a preliminary stage – no charges were ever made against Mr. Assange – is now in its FIFTH YEAR!

    • Holder OKs limited Risen subpoena

      MacMahon also suggested that if Risen testifies, the defense could introduce evidence about the scope of the government’s investigation into the Times reporter. POLITICO previously reported that the feds obtained Risen’s bank records, credit reports and details of his travel. The defense attorney said in court Tuesday that prosecutors also got copies of Risen’s Fedex receipts as well as “Western Union transactions of his children.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife
  • Finance
    • ‘Disruptive, Demanding’ Elizabeth Warren vs. ‘Can-Do’ Pragmatists

      The default setting of corporate media’s political compass is that Democrats need to “move to the middle” in order to win. FAIR has been documenting this for more than 20 years, and 2014 is no different. Look no further than the coverage of the effort, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), to oppose a provision in the recent omnibus spending bill that would weaken Dodd/Frank financial regulation.

      The objection seems pretty straightforward: As lawmakers like California Democrat Maxine Waters (Washington Post, 12/12/14) said, this was “reversing a provision that prohibits banks from using taxpayer-insured funds, bank deposits, to engage in derivatives trading activity.” In the run-up to the financial crisis, banks used federally insured funds to make bets on things like mortgage-backed securities. That left the public to bail out banks for their risky behavior. The language of this specific deal, as many have noted, came directly from Citigroup.

    • The Political Economy of Austerity Now

      Government austerity for the masses (raising taxes and cutting public services) is becoming the issue shaping politics in western Europe, north America, and Japan. In the US, austerity turned millions away from the polls where before they supported an Obama who promised changes from such policies. So Republicans will control Congress and conflicts over austerity will accelerate. In Europe, from Ireland’s Sinn Fein to Spain’s Podemos to Greece’s Syriza, we see challenges to a shaken, wounded political status quo (endless oscillations between center-left and center-right regimes imposing austerity). Those challenges build impressive strength on anti-austerity themes above all else. In Japan, Prime Minister Abe resorts to ever more desperate political maneuvers to maintain austerity there.

    • Going Beyond Private Versus Public

      The new, more Republican Congress may “privatize” the United States Postal Service: dismantle the public enterprise and turn mail services over to private enterprises. Such a privatization would mimic what the US military has done with part of its activities and what many states and cities did with utilities, transport systems and schools. Privatizers always assert that private enterprises function more efficiently and will thus cost society less than public enterprises.

    • Bitcoin Is To Credit Cards What The Internet Was To The Fax Machine: So Much More

      Many are still seeing bitcoin as just a currency, as just a transaction mechanism. Its underlying technology is far more than that. It has the ability to reduce governments to spectators rather than arbiters, the power to make wars cost-inefficient, and the power to decentralize power itself.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying
    • Right-Wing Media’s New Phony Scandal: Obama Watches Sports

      Right-wing media outlets manufactured phony outrage over President Obama’s recent remark on ESPN Radio that he usually watches SportsCenter while working out in the morning. In 2007, President Bush similarly admitted to watching ESPN while working.

    • Sydney siege: Rupert Murdoch criticised over ‘heartless’ congratulations tweet

      Rupert Murdoch’s arguably ill-advised tweet has been condemned by Twitter users for being “insensitive”.

      The News International boss and managing director of Australia’s News Limited congratulated the Australian Daily Telegraph for being the first to report on the “bloody outcome” of the Sydney siege.

    • Fox’s O’Reilly: ‘All the Wolves Have Been Muslims’

      The problem is that media–not just Bill O’Reilly–mostly don’t categorize non-Muslim terrorism as terrorism. So when a white supremacist in England kills a Muslim–an 82-year-old grandfather, to be more specific–it hardly makes the news (FAIR Blog, 11/1/13), even when the killer admitted that he “would like to increase racial conflict.”

      When a married couple in Las Vegas who were connected to far-right movements killed two police officers and a bystander, media shied away from calling it terrorism (FAIR Blog, 6/13/14)– even though early reports indicated the pair had left a note declaring, “The revolution is beginning,” along with a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag.

  • Censorship
    • At least 25 journalists, police officers detained in Turkey raid

      Police in Turkey detained more than 25 journalists and fellow police officers Sunday in a nationwide operation that saw the editor of a popular opposition publication taken into custody.

      It was the latest mass roundup targeting alleged loyalists to an influential cleric that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused of attempting to topple his government.

  • Privacy
    • The Inside Story of How British Spies Hacked Belgium’s Largest Telco

      When the incoming emails stopped arriving, it seemed innocuous at first. But it would eventually become clear that this was no routine technical problem. Inside a row of gray office buildings in Brussels, a major hacking attack was in progress. And the perpetrators were British government spies.

      It was in the summer of 2012 that the anomalies were initially detected by employees at Belgium’s largest telecommunications provider, Belgacom. But it wasn’t until a year later, in June 2013, that the company’s security experts were able to figure out what was going on. The computer systems of Belgacom had been infected with a highly sophisticated malware, and it was disguising itself as legitimate Microsoft software while quietly stealing data.

      Last year, documents from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden confirmed that British surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters was behind the attack, codenamed Operation Socialist. And in November, The Intercept revealed that the malware found on Belgacom’s systems was one of the most advanced spy tools ever identified by security researchers, who named it “Regin.”

    • 4 seconds of body cam video can reveal a biometric fingerprint, study says

      In the wake of Ferguson, where protests erupted after an 18-year-old unarmed black teenager was shot by police, many have called for body cameras to be mandatory for on-duty police officers. Still, few municipalities have set rules governing the use of body cams and the footage taken with them.

    • The Trouble with Tor

      Confidence that Tor can reliably provide users with anonymity on the Internet has been shattered, thanks to recent revelations. Tor alternatives do exist, however.

  • Civil Rights
    • Cheney Seems Unfazed By Question About Innocent Detainee Who Died (VIDEO)

      Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday continued to fiercely defend the harsh interrogation techniques employed by the CIA under the Bush administration after 9/11.

      On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Cheney said he would use the questionable interrogation methods “again in a minute.”

      Host Chuck Todd asked Cheney to respond to the Senate Intelligence Committee report’s account that one detainee was “chained to the wall of a cell, doused with water, froze to death in CIA custody.”

    • The Five’s Terrorism Solutions: Cut Off Toes, Spy On Muslims, Torture Detainees
    • May denies torture report redactions

      The Home Secretary has denied asking for redactions in the CIA torture report and rejected calls for a judge-led inquiry into British involvement in US-led torture.

      Appearing in front of the Home Affairs Committee this afternoon, Theresa May told MPs: “I have certainly not asked for any redactions to take place in the report.”

      She did not say whether other Home Office officials had asked for the redactions, but added that they would only have been requested for reasons of national security.

    • Sydney gunman Man Haron Monis claimed he was ‘tortured’ for political beliefs

      The gunman at the heart of the Sydney 16-hour siege claimed he was “tortured” for his political beliefs while being held in custody.

      Man Haron Monis was free on bail when he used a shotgun to hold 17 people hostage at the Lindt Chocolat Cafe during rush-hour on Monday morning.

      He and two hostages died in a barrage of gunfire when police stormed the café in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

    • Sentencing Looms for Barrett Brown, Advocate for “Anonymous”

      Barrett Brown could face almost 10 years in prison on criminal hacking charges, but his allies say he’s just a journalist and the government is punishing him to stifle free speech.

    • Dear Chelsea Manning: birthday messages from Edward Snowden, Terry Gilliam and more

      The jailed whistleblower turns 27 this week. Supporters including Joe Sacco, Vivienne Westwood, JM Coetzee, Michael Stipe and Slavoj Žižek sent her letters, poems and drawings. Luke Harding introduces their work

    • Washington Post Shrugs Off Torture Because, You Know, It Polls Well

      We’ve written before about Jay Rosen’s excellent explanation of “the church of the savvy,” in which political reporters seem more focused on describing the “horse race” aspect of politics rather than the truth. It’s the old story in which the press ignores, say, a really good concept because “politicians won’t support it.” A key giveaway for a “savvy” post is to focus on “what the polls say” rather than what reality says. That doesn’t mean that polls are never useful or shouldn’t be reported on — but when they get in the way of the actual story, it can make for ridiculous results.

    • Victoria police officer investigated for tasing driver, 76
    • Cobb County to pay $100K to woman arrested for ‘F-bombing’ cops

      Cobb County is paying $100,000 to a woman who police arrested for shouting profanity to protest their actions.

      Amy Elizabeth Barnes, a well-known political activist, sued in federal court saying the county violated her First Amendment rights and maliciously prosecuted her when it jailed her on charges of disorderly conduct and the use of abuse words to “incite an immediate breach of the peace.”

      She had been shouting “Cobb police suck” and “(Expletive) the police” and raising her middle finger while riding her bicycle past two officers questioning an African-American man outside a convenience store on Easter Sunday 2012.

    • Clueless cop gets schooled: Watch this horrific defense of police killing

      Follmer is demanding an apology from the Cleveland Browns’ Andrew Hawkins, who wore a “Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford” shirt on Sunday. He laid out his authoritarian solution to the epidemic of cops killing unarmed black men in an interview with MSNBC’s Ari Melber Monday night.

      The clash between Follmer and Hawkins perfectly encapsulates the rival worldviews leading to rising unrest over police abuse – and when you listen to the two men, it’s clear who has the better argument.

    • Cop is producing “Breathe easy: Don’t break the law” shirts — but it has nothing to do with Eric Garner, he swears

      We know many people are awful. We’ve seen the evidence! But still, no matter how thoroughly I try to storm-proof my emotional windows (my eyes and ears), droplets of hate somehow manage to trickle through, causing a flood in my basement (my heart n’ soul).

      A growing number of protesters (including high-profile athletes) have adopted the phrase, “I can’t breathe,” as something like a rallying cry. The statement references Eric Garner’s last words as he was killed by NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in an illegal chokehold. A coroner determined the death a homicide, but a grand jury still decided not to indict Pantaleo. A real failure of the justice system, right?

      Apparently not everyone agrees, and some, specifically the South Bend Uniform Company, even find the phrase’s appropriation offensive. The company, owned by Corporal Jason Barthel, a cop with the City of Mishawaka Police, has started producing shirts reading “Breathe easy: Don’t break the law,” a response that is particularly biting given the fact that 1) Eric Garner was not breaking the law, and 2) He is dead.

    • Policing is a Dirty Job, But Nobody’s Gotta Do It: 6 Ideas for a Cop-Free World

      It’s time to start imagining a society that isn’t dominated by police

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Sony Leak: The Secret Meetings That Set Hollywood’s Anti-Piracy War Plan

        Every year, legal representatives from seven of the biggest movie studios in the country gather in Sherman Oaks, California to talk about all things anti-piracy. Which isn’t surprising; it’s their livelihood, after all. But what does leaves a sour taste in your mouth is their plan to spread the DMCA-dispensing gospel: With shadowy back room dealings and skewed facts.

        According to an email in the leaked inbox of Sony Pictures General Counsel Leah Weil, the meeting is facilitated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) as a way for the top lawyers at Sony, Time Warner, Viacom, Paramount, Disney, NBC Universal, and Fox to put their heads together and talk global strategy.

      • Sony Hackers Threaten to Release a Huge ‘Christmas Gift’ of Secrets

        As leaks from the recent Sony hack continue to make headlines and company executives apologize for insensitive comments made in exposed emails, we still don’t know how the hack occurred or the exact nature of the demands made by the attackers. But we’ve learned a bit about Sony’s security practices. And we’ve learned that the attackers may have tried to extort Sony before releasing its secrets. We’ve also learned that attempts by Sony to rally public support from rival studios has failed.

      • News Agencies Are Within Their Rights to Report on the Leaked Sony Data

        On Sunday, a lawyer from Sony Pictures Entertainment sent a strongly-worded letter to news organizations, including The New York Times and Hollywood Reporter, demanding that they not report on the vast quantity of data in the Sony leak.

      • The Pirate Bay crew ‘couldn’t care less’ about being taken offline

        One of the filesharing site’s administrators says it’s taking a break, but promises that if it returns ‘it’ll be with a bang’

      • Swedish Supreme Court Determines Movie Piracy Fines

        A long-running case in Sweden has concluded with a determination on how pirates should be sentenced for each movie downloaded illegally. The case, which involved the downloading of 60 movies, went all the way to the Supreme Court. The jail sentence demanded by the prosecution was rejected but stiff fines were handed down.

Bill Gates’ Pet Troll Intellectual Ventures is Collapsing as Founder Quits

Tuesday 16th of December 2014 09:28:16 PM

Gates and his friend are not having the last laugh

Summary: Intellectual Ventures founder leaves after an exceptionally large round of layoffs, despite recent subsidies from Sony and Microsoft

As noted in the previous post, software patents are gradually going away (if trends are to be judged). Not too long ago we showed how Intellectual Ventures laid off much of its staff after the Alice ruling (amid other ongoing issues). The layoffs were widely reported on and now we learn that Detkin is leaving while saying that “market is tough right now”. It is hilarious because he refers to extortion as a “market”. The news about his departure is excellent news, but he probably won’t go to prison for extortion and a pyramid scheme.

Here is the word from the site which targets trolls but not patent scope:

Here’s some schadenfreude for your Monday: seems that Peter Detkin is leaving Intellectual Ventures. As I noted about a year ago, IV has been having a tough time, although it’s not clear why Detkin is stepping down.

It is worth noting that Sony and Microsoft recently paid more money to Intellectual Ventures in order to keep it afloat. It is also worth noting that Microsoft and Sony share investments in other massive patent trolls and they also share a role in crimes, outlined in part by [1,2,3] (below) and revelations about Sony threatening journalists while launching DDOS attacks. As Will Hill put it the other day:

Inside the Perception Management and Censorship Machine: The Sony Crack Yields Evidence of More Sony Criminal Conduct

Techdirt reports political corruption and bribery against Google by all the major movie studios, all missed by the incompetence or malice of The Verge, a Microsoft mouthpiece. Big publishers are insatiable censors interested only in maintaining their dominant position as determiners of world culture. Google’s efforts to please them only served evil.

The Microsoft press also focuses on Hollywood celebrities and personalized trivia. While it’s nice to learn that Sony executives are racist pigs with a 0.01% sense of privilege and power, hundreds of articles like this will pollute the name space and make it difficult to find real news later.

email exchanges also included racially insensitive remarks about President Obama and derisive comments about Hollywood heavyweights like Kevin Hart and Adam Sandler.

Microsoft often pollutes name spaces and is probably coming to the rescue of their big publisher pals. Microsoft is also persistent censorship threat. They are the biggest issuer of DMCA take down requests, a prolific briber of public officials, university professors, and they created an entire search engine by spying on Windows users to know what results scrape from Google. If you want to know just how dishonest a company they are read their training manuals about subverting the press [2]

Sony themselves are using every botnet and cracking tool at their disposal to stop people from sharing their leaked emails. Amazon Web Services is also being used to censor the files. It’s not about movies, it’s about the embarrassment of power.

The company is using hundreds of computers in Asia to execute what’s known as a denial of service attack on sites where its pilfered data is available … Sony is using Amazon Web Services, the Internet retailer’s cloud computing unit, which operates data centers in Tokyo and Singapore, to carry out the counterattack … individuals who attempted to access the torrent file encountered bogus “seeds” — or computers — that sapped the resources of their software …

There’s a great deal of fear mongering and BS going on. While the attack was typical Windows malware, the FBI is reported to say it’s really sophisticated and that 90% of businesses and governments are open to similar attacks. If you don’t use Windows, you don’t have to worry about this one. The FBI also says there is no connection to North Korea, but that’s being brought up about as often as Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Sony is a criminal company as has been obvious since their nasty music CD root kit fiasco. Not only did they root millions of computers, which must have included sensitive “protected” military, government and health care systems, they committed criminal copyright infringement by using GNU software to make it. As Richard Stallman noted at the time,

Sony didn’t comply with all that [the GPL]. That’s commercial copyright infringement, which is a felony. They’re both felonies, but Sony wasn’t prosecuted because the government understands that the purpose of the government and the law is to maintain the power of those companies over us, not to help defend our freedom in any way.

If you did not believe him then, Snowden and other brave people are providing you with plenty of proof.

One more area where Sony and Microsoft intersect is patent attacks on Google, among other attacks of other types. See the new report titled “Leaked Emails Reveal MPAA Plans To Pay Elected Officials To Attack Google”. A lot of companies, including Facebook which uses the same lobbyists as Microsoft, pressure politicians to harm Google, a steward or guardian of some important FOSS projects, including Linux-based operating systems.

In other news from the above site (the original is unfortunately behind a paywall), there is a new breed of troll which Matt Levy explains as follows:

Here’s the scenario: a patent troll files a suit (or suits) and wins a big judgment. Another company then files an inter partes review petition with the PTAB against the patent troll’s patent and demands a payoff from the patent troll in exchange for withdrawing the petition. If the troll doesn’t pay, it risks losing its patent in the IPR.

I would be more upset about this if I could stop laughing, although it’s hardly a positive development. It can’t be good to have more trolls, even if their victims are patent trolls. Unless of course this new twist helps spotlight dysfunctionality in the patent system for the new Congress.

It’s like extortion against extortion and it is not going to work (blackmail is inherently a problem). It’s like trying to extinguish terrorism using terrorism.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Sony Leak: The Secret Meetings That Set Hollywood’s Anti-Piracy War Plan

    Every year, legal representatives from seven of the biggest movie studios in the country gather in Sherman Oaks, California to talk about all things anti-piracy. Which isn’t surprising; it’s their livelihood, after all. But what does leaves a sour taste in your mouth is their plan to spread the DMCA-dispensing gospel: With shadowy back room dealings and skewed facts.

    According to an email in the leaked inbox of Sony Pictures General Counsel Leah Weil, the meeting is facilitated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) as a way for the top lawyers at Sony, Time Warner, Viacom, Paramount, Disney, NBC Universal, and Fox to put their heads together and talk global strategy.

  2. Sony Hackers Threaten to Release a Huge ‘Christmas Gift’ of Secrets

    As leaks from the recent Sony hack continue to make headlines and company executives apologize for insensitive comments made in exposed emails, we still don’t know how the hack occurred or the exact nature of the demands made by the attackers. But we’ve learned a bit about Sony’s security practices. And we’ve learned that the attackers may have tried to extort Sony before releasing its secrets. We’ve also learned that attempts by Sony to rally public support from rival studios has failed.

  3. News Agencies Are Within Their Rights to Report on the Leaked Sony Data

    On Sunday, a lawyer from Sony Pictures Entertainment sent a strongly-worded letter to news organizations, including The New York Times and Hollywood Reporter, demanding that they not report on the vast quantity of data in the Sony leak.

Keeping Software Patents Out of Europe Following the Demise of Software Patents in the US

Tuesday 16th of December 2014 08:59:28 PM

Finally seeing the light?



A lighthouse in Denmark

Summary: Instability in the EPO seemingly prevents further expansion of patent scope, which is the subject of scrutiny of EPO staff

TECHRIGHTS has neither actively observed nor spotted much discussion/debate about the Unitary Patent as of late; either it’s being silently stalled or it is being pushed forth in secret (behind closed doors). Truth be told, the EPO is now wrestling with much bigger issues and we will continue to expose damning facts about people who currently run the EPO. They need to be sacked or forced into resignation.

Watch how a lawyers’ propaganda site, IAM, tries to defend the Mafia of the EPO (very much expected from such a zealous site), though as this site puts it:

Keep in mind that this is a poorly attempt to disguise oneself’s doubtful actions! The IAM interview with Battistelli is in my opinion a one-sided version of events. The origin and core of this conflict isn’t about salaries or that 1 judge who was suspended solely rather than violation of National, European and International Law’s in respect of Social Security, Basic Rights and Human Rights! The list of suspended and dissmissed, in some cases, illegal dissmissed servants is long! Do not forget, and here is the point where it starts to get really nasty, in case of dissmissal, wrongfully or not, proven or not, EPO servants do have absolutely NO RIGHTS!!! NO SOCIAL SECURITY, nothing Nada, Niente whereas every European Citizen do own this Rights!
Why does Battistelli don’t comment on why he rules out the labour union first?

Battistelli will most likely be out quite soon. Our EPO series is far from over and it will continue when the time is right (many newspaper journalists go on vacation soon, so it might be worth waiting).

” It is important to impede or altogether prevent the proliferation of software patents; the place they spread from is cracking down on them.”The USPTO, unlike the EPO, is gradually treading away from software patents. Due to the bias of software patents-centric lawyers in the media is may appear like nothing is changing, but actually, a lot is changing quite rapidly in the US. Here is a new example of selective coverage by lawyers’ media and blogs of software patents proponents like Dennis Crouch, who says: “The US Patent Office has released a new set of guidelines for judging patent eligiblity based upon the Supreme Court’s recent quartet of Bilski, Mayo, Myriad, and Alice. The guidelines do not carry the force of law but are designed to serve as a manual for examiners when determining eligibility.”

These guidelines will be hard to change unless SCOTUS gets involved again, which is rare (happens perhaps twice per decade). We are thankful for these developments which not only will hurt patent trolls but also villainous extortion operations such as Microsoft’s. It is important to impede or altogether prevent the proliferation of software patents; the place they spread from is cracking down on them.

Links 15/12/2014: OSI 2014 Annual Report, GPLv2 Court Test

Tuesday 16th of December 2014 01:00:15 AM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Magical Open Source Music Workstations

    Linux is an ideal platform for professional audio production. It is an extremely stable operating system that has good support for audio hardware. Using a Linux machine as the focus of your recording setup opens a world of possibilities for an affordable price.

    Ubuntu Studo is an officially recognised version of Ubuntu that is aimed at professional musicians, and audio, video and graphic enthusiasts. The distribution includes an excellent range of open source multimedia software, and has a tweaked Linux kernel which offers good operation for audio applications at lower latencies, lower than the human perception threshold. The time that elapses between a hardware device issuing a hardware interrupt, and the time the process that deals with it is run is known as latency. Linux can be set up well to handle realtime, low-latency audio.

  • What is good audio editing software on Linux

    Whether you are an amateur musician or just a student recording his professor, you need to edit and work with audio recordings. If for a long time such task was exclusively attributed to Macintosh, this time is over, and Linux now has what it takes to do the job. In short, here is a non-exhaustive list of good audio editing software, fit for different tasks and needs.

  • Watson wannabes: 4 open source projects for machine intelligence

    Over the last year, as part of the new enterprise services that IBM has been pushing om its reinvention, Watson has become less of a “Jeopardy”-winning gimmick and more of a tool. It also remains IBM’s proprietary creation.

    What are the chances, then, of creating a natural-language machine learning system on the order of Watson, albeit with open source components? To some degree, this has already happened — in part because Watson itself was built in top of existing open source work, and others have been developing similar systems in parallel to Watson. Here’s a look at four such projects.

  • Neil Anderson Re-Joins Sopra As Principal Open Source Architect For Scotland

    Neil Anderson re-joined Sopra last week as a Principal Open Source Architect for Scotland. This appointment will help us meet the growing demand for Open Source solutions both in Scotland and across the UK. Sopra has been leveraging Open Source software to deliver business solutions for many years and, whilst working with Open Standards, is delivering the flexibility, collaboration, sharing and “best of breed” solutions that the public sector demands.

  • Why Open-Source Software is Changing the Face of the Information Age

    Few advancements in modern technology have taken the world by storm as much as open-source software (OSS). Once the domain of geeks, idealists, computer scientists and activists, OSS has become a mainstream fact of life and given rise to a plethora of operating systems, technologies and applications that are often taken for granted.

    However, becoming mainstream can sometimes mean a death sentence to a cause. All too often, “mainstream” becomes synonymous with “mundane.” And when something reaches that point, it often loses its appeal along with the very support that drove it to mainstream status.

  • AllSeen’s Open Source Internet of Things: One Year On

    Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about one of the Linux Foundation’s Collaborative Projects, with the rather disconcerting name of AllSeen. I found that problematic, since the AllSeen Alliance hopes to create the de facto standards for the much-hyped Internet of Things. One of the my chief concerns with this idea is that it could make today’s surveillance look positively restrained – imagine if spy agencies and general ne’er-do-wells had access to detailed knowledge about and perhaps even control over individual components of your “intelligent” home.

  • Events
    • OSI 2014 Annual Report

      First, let me start off by thanking all of you in the open source software community for your tremendous support and help throughout my first year with the Open Source Initiative. It has been quite a transition for me, moving from the formality and conventionalism of institutions of higher education, to what in many ways feels like a start-up. I’m truly fortunate—the OSI and the open source software community are energetic, creative, smart and for me personally, motivational. I was honored to join the OSI in November 2013, thrilled to work with the Board and our members this year, and excited about the possibilities and opportunities in 2015.

    • Web Engines Hackfest 2014

      Last week I attended the Web Engines Hackfest. The event was sponsored by Igalia (also hosting the event), Adobe and Collabora.

      As usual I spent most of the time working on the WebKitGTK+ GStreamer backend and Sebastian Dröge kindly joined and helped out quite a bit, make sure to read his post about the event!

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
      • Google’s Software Removal Tool Keeps Chrome Humming Properly

        One of the ways in which Google has been preserving the purity of its Chrome browser is to carefully police what kinds of extensions will work with it. In late 2013, Google decreed that the longstanding Netscape Plug-in API (NPAPI), which extensions have worked with for many years, is the source of many problems. Google has also delivered an update on its plan to remove NPAPI from Chrome.

  • SaaS/Big Data
    • 10,000 OpenStack questions, debunking myths, and more
    • Supporting 3 init systems in OpenStack packages

      Providing support for all 3 init systems (sysv-rc, Upstart and systemd) isn’t hard, and generating the init scripts / Upstart job / systemd using a template system is a lot easier than I previously thought.

      As always, when writing this kind of blog post, I do expect that others will not like what I did. But that’s the point: give me your opinion in a constructive way (please be polite even if you don’t like what you see… I had too many times had to read harsh comments), and I’ll implement your ideas if I find it nice.

  • BSD
    • LLVM 3.5.1 Is Coming Soon

      Tom Stellard of AMD released the LLVM 3.5.1-rc1 release prior to the weekend to solicit testing prior to officially putting out this first point release to LLVM 3.5. Stellard in large part continues to organize these point releases for yielding more frequent stable LLVM updates to help out users and distribution packagers in getting out AMD GPU LLVM back-end fixes and improvements.

    • Get started with FreeBSD: A brief intro for Linux users

      Among the legions of Linux users and admins, there seems to be a sort of passive curiosity about FreeBSD and other *BSDs. Like commuters on a packed train, they gaze out at a less crowded, vaguely mysterious train heading in a slightly different direction and wonder what traveling on that train might be like — for a moment. The few who cross over find themselves in a place that is equal parts familiar and foreign. And the strange parts can be scary.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GCC Has Been Ported To The Visium Architecture

      The newest platform that the GNU Compiler Collection has been ported to is Visium. AdaCore is now looking to contribute their GCC Visium port to mainline.

      Never heard of Visium before? Neither have we, but it’s yet another platform where GCC can serve as the code compiler. Eric Botcazou of AdaCore explained Visium as “a 32-bit RISC architecture with an Extended Arithmetic Module implementing some 64-bit operations and an FPU designed for embedded systems…The Visium is a classic 32-bit RISC architecture whose branches have a delay slot and whose arithmetic and logical instructions all set the flags, and they comprise the moves between GP registers (which are inclusive ORs under the hood in the traditional RISC fashion).”

  • Public Services/Government
    • Justice’s API release signals bigger win for open source

      The Justice Department’s first foray into the open data world with the launch of two APIs is noteworthy. But the underlying reason why DoJ could release the software code is really the story here.

      First, the APIs, or application programming interfaces, that Justice released are codes for Web developers to build mobile apps and other software more easily to find press releases and job openings.

      Nothing ground breaking in terms of APIs.

      Skip Bailey, a former chief information officer at the DoJ’s Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the APIs are part of how Justice is moving to open source platform, Drupal. And that, he said, is the big accomplishment.

  • Licensing
    • GPLv2 goes to court: More decisions from the Versata tarpit

      The General Public License Version 2 (GPLv2) continues to be the most widely used and most important license for free and open source software. Black Duck Software estimates that 16 billion lines of code are licensed under GPLv2. Despite its importance, the GPLv2 has been the subject of very few court decisions, and virtually all of the most important terms of the GPLv2 have not been interpreted by courts.

  • Openness/Sharing
  • Programming
    • Rust 1.0: Scheduling the trains

      With the launch of Cargo and crates.io, Rust’s ecosystem has already seen significant expansion, but it still takes a lot of work to track Rust’s nightly releases. Beginning with the alpha release, and especially approaching beta1, this will change dramatically; code that works with beta1 should work with 1.0 final without any changes whatsoever.

      This migration into stability should be a boon for library writers, and we hope that by 1.0 final there will be a massive collection of crates ready for use on the stable channel – and ready for the droves of people trying out Rust for the first time.

    • Python Update Limits Risk of POODLE Attacks

      Python 2.x was supposed to be long gone by now. Instead, it’s getting security fixes to keep legacy users current.

    • Peering into the future of software development

      Now is the best time ever to be a software developer – in terms of employment, organizational impact, and the amazing breadth of tools and platforms available. The future seems even brighter: Over time, I’m betting software development will become the No. 1 technology priority for most enterprises.

      That might seem like an overreach, when today’s biggest enterprise technology budget items remain networking, storage, servers, and licensed software. But over the next 10 or 15 years, enterprises will move more and more of their operations to the cloud — and devote more and more resources to building and revising applications on those cloud platforms to differentiate their businesses.

  • Standards/Consortia
Leftovers
  • Security
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife
  • Censorship
    • Haia closes over 10,000 Twitter accounts in 2014

      The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia) has shut down 10,117 Twitter accounts during the year because of religious violations, its spokesman, Turki Al-Shulail, has revealed.

      “Their users were committing religious and ethical violations. Haia blocked and arrested some of their owners. However, it was hard to follow all the accounts due to the advanced security used in this kind of social media,” he told the media.

  • Civil Rights
    • Weasel Words

      Straw has climbed down a bit from his days of power and glory, when he told the House of Commons, immediately after sacking me, that there was no such thing as the CIA extraordinary rendition programme and its existence was “Mr Murray’s opinion.” He no longer claims it did not exist and he no longer claims I am a fantasist. He now merely claims he was not breaking the law.

      His claim of respect for the law is a bit dubious in the light of Sir Michael Wood’s evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry. Wood said that as Foreign Office Legal Adviser, he and his elite team of in-house FCO international lawyers unanimously advised Straw the invasion of Iraq would be an illegal war of aggression. Straw’s response? He wrote to the Attorney General requesting that Sir Michael be dismissed and replaced. And forced Goldsmith to troop out to Washington and get alternative advice from Bush’s nutjob Republican neo-con lawyers.

    • Update: NPR Doesn’t Ban ‘Torture’–but Offers Euphemisms to Use in Its Place

      Of course NPR did not ban the word “torture”–but it did, according to ombud Alicia Shepard (6/21/09) a few months earlier, decide “to not use the term ‘torture’ to describe techniques such as waterboarding but instead [use] ‘harsh interrogation tactics,’” because “the role of a news organization is not to choose sides in this or any debate.”

    • At Least 26 People Who Had Nothing To Hide Tortured By CIA

      Twenty-six innocent people have been tortured by the CIA. These were people who had literally nothing to hide, but they had something to fear anyway. Civil liberties are either applied to everybody without exception, or will be reliable for nobody.

    • Video shows John Crawford’s girlfriend aggressively questioned after Ohio police shot him dead in Walmart

      Police aggressively questioned the tearful girlfriend of a young black man they had just shot dead as he held a BB gun in an Ohio supermarket – accusing her of lying, threatening her with jail, and suggesting that she was high on drugs.

      Tasha Thomas was reduced to swearing on the lives of her relatives that John Crawford III had not been carrying a firearm when they entered the Walmart in Beavercreek, near Dayton, to buy crackers, marshmallows and chocolate bars on the evening of 5 August.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Sony orders news outlets to stop reporting on stolen data

        Sony Pictures has demanded that news organisations stop reporting on the information stolen by hackers in the crippling attack on the studio.

        The demand was sent to media companies in a three-page letter written by Sony Pictures’ lawyers Boies, Schiller & Flexner after a wave of highly embarrassing data releases by hackers.

        “Sony Pictures Entertainment does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading or making any use of the stolen information,” the letter read.

      • Pirate Bay Responds to The Raid, Copies and The Future

        The Pirate Bay crew has broken its silence for the first time since the site was knocked down hard by a raid in Sweden last week. The people behind the site are still considering their options and have no concrete comeback plans yet. Nevertheless, they encourage the public to keep the Kopimi spirit alive.

      • “How To Learn Absolutely Nothing In Fifteen Years,” By The Copyright Industry

        The Pirate Bay was shut down this week. Whether or not it resurfaces, that event has already triggered a wave of innovation that will spawn exciting new sharing technologies over the coming years, just like when Napster was shut down fifteen years ago

      • Leaked Emails Reveal MPAA Plans To Pay Elected Officials To Attack Google

        Okay, it’s no secret that the MPAA hates Google. It doesn’t take a psychology expert to figure that out. But in the last few days, some of the leaks from the Sony Pictures hack have revealed the depths of that hatred, raising serious questions about how the MPAA abuses the legal process in corrupt and dangerous ways. The most serious charge — unfortunately completely buried by this report at The Verge — is that it appears the MPAA and the major Hollywood studios directly funded various state Attorneys General in their efforts to attack and shame Google. Think about that for a second.

Links 14/12/2014: Calligra 2.9 Beta, Krita 2.9 Beta

Sunday 14th of December 2014 10:41:49 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Highest Performance ARM Desktop Ever

      That’s the claim CompuLab (the folks who gave us TrimSlice) makes about their Utilite2 device. I think they are very close to being truthful. Performance is not just about the network, the CPU, the graphics, and RAM. It’s about how it all works together. TrimSlice has a winner every way except in RAM. These days, 2gB is limiting, even for browsing the web. Modern browsers like FireFox and Chrome cache so much stuff and Chrome preloads pages that a user might click, that the browser takes all available RAM and performance drops off in 2gB. On my system, with 4gB RAM and hundreds of processes, Chrome is taking gigabytes of virtual memory and sometimes causes swapping if I have a dozen pages open.

  • Kernel Space
    • MIPS Has An “Unusually Large Pull” For Linux 3.19 Kernel

      The MIPS architecture improvements and new features for the Linux 3.19 kernel are aplenty due to many MIPS patches not being merged for Linux 3.18 and then aside from that a lot of developers sending in lots of new work.

      Among the MIPS changes for Linux 3.19 are:

      - Debug improvements like better backtraces on SMP systems and improving the backtrace code used by oprofile.

      - Octeon platform code clean-ups.

    • XLennart: A Game For Systemd Haters With Nothing Better To Do

      It seems that a good number of Linux users who despise systemd as an init manager have a lot of time on their hands… From making websites bashing systemd, forking distributions over their position of using systemd, personal attacks against systemd developers, to writing page after page of forum comments about negative points of systemd. There’s now even an anti-systemd game.

      XLennart is the anti-systemd game that’s a modification of the XBill game. The game is self-described as “a hacker named, ‘Lennart’ who has created the ultimate computer virus that is cleverly disguised as a popular init system. XLennart is commentary on a certain Linux/Unix topic, but I’ll let you figure out which one.”

    • Blk-mq Gets Further Improved With Linux 3.19, NVME Gets Ported

      On Saturday, Jens Axboe then sent in the block driver updates for Linux 3.19. After having gone through many code revisions, the NVMe block driver was converted to being a blk-mq driver. The blk-mq-based NVMe driver implementation is simpler and will hopefully offer greater performance too. The NVMe Linux kernel driver is responsible for supporting storage devices using the NVM Express specification with solid-state drives attached via the PCI Express bus.

    • Btrfs For Linux 3.19 Has Improved RAID 5/6 Support

      Btrfs maintainer and Facebook employee Chris Mason sent in his Btrfs file-system updates for the Linux 3.19 merge window.

    • STI DRM Improvements Coming For Linux 3.19

      Beyond the DRM graphics improvements for Linux 3.19 affecting the most common kernel graphics drivers, the STI driver will too see improvements for this next kernel version.

    • Graphics Stack
  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Krita 2.9: First Beta Released!

        Last week, the first preparations for the next Krita release started with the creation of the first Krita 2.9 beta release: Krita 2.9 Beta 1. This means that we’ve stopped adding new features to the codebase, and are now focusing on making Krita 2.9 as stable as possible.

        We’ve come a long way since March, when we released Krita 2.8! Thanks to the enthusiastic support of many, many users, here and on kickstarter, Krita 2.9 has a huge set of cool new features, improvements and refinements.

      • Krita 2.9 Is Now In Beta With Many Improvements

        KDE’s Krita graphics editing / digital painting program is now in beta for its upcoming v2.9 series.

        Krita 2.9 Beta 1 marks the end of feature development with now the focus on being stability ahead of the official Krita 2.9 release.

      • Calligra 2.9 Beta Released

        We’re pleased to present you the first beta release in 2.9 series of Calligra Suite for testing! We will focus on fixing issues including those that you’d report. All thus to make the final release of 2.9 expected in January 2015 as stable as possible!

        When you update many improvements and a few new features will be installed, mostly in Kexi and Krita as well as general ones. Finally in 2.9 a new app, Calligra Gemini, appears. Read below to see why it may be of interest to you.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • Tanglu 2 (Bartholomea annulata) released!

        We are glad to announce the availability of the second release of Tanglu, codename “Bartholomea”.

        This release contains a large amount of updated packages, and ships with the latest release of KDE 4 and GNOME.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Managing Red Hat Enterprise Linux across heterogeneous environments

        In 2014, Red Hat launched Red Hat® Satellite 6, a new version of its classic Red Hat Enterprise Linux® life-cycle management solution. It includes some of the best in open system-management technology and a flexible architecture to manage scale from bare-metal to virtualized environments, and in public and private clouds.

      • Fedora
        • New Features Proposed For Fedora 22

          Beyond the potential feature of Fedora’s X.Org input stack using libinput, there’s been several other features proposed for the next Fedora Linux release.

          Among the proposed Fedora 22 changes that have to still be approved by the Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee (FESCo) include:

          - Upgrading to Ruby on Rails 4.2 but that might even change to be a request for Ruby on Rails 5.

          - The ability to provide UEFI Secure Boot Blacklist Updates.

        • How to install Fedora: Hands-on with Anaconda installer

          Fedora 21 was released this week and it looks like a great release so far, but one area where Fedora can be challenging for a new user is installation. Fedora developers decided to move away from the time-tested wizard-like installer where the user takes various steps in linear order ensuring none of the important steps is missed, instead adopting the hub & spoke model.

          While I appreciate the good intentions of UX designers and developers there are a couple of flaws in the installer that make the whole process a bit, I would say, complicated.

        • 5tFTW: Five Fedora 21 FAQs

          After Tuesday’s awesomely successful launch of Fedora 21, this Five Things in Fedora This Week covers a few questions that I’ve been asked a lot, by the press and by users who haven’t been following Fedora development closely. I hope this will clear up some of the concerns, and as always I’m happy to discuss further in comments, email, IRC, social media, or in person.

        • Heroes of Fedora QA: Fedora 21

          With Fedora 21 out the door and into the wild, I’ve finally had time to gather stats on who contributed to the Fedora QA efforts. With each milestone release (and usually each quarter), QA likes to give a big shout out to those who made things possible. Fedora 21 was a departure from past releases and gave the whole of the Fedora community a lot of new processes to create and improve. Instead of one single release product, we tested and released 3 products – Workstation, Server and Cloud. Each of these required some additional testing which QA hadn’t had to do for previous releases.

    • Debian Family
      • Debian 8.0 Jessie – GNU/Linux vs. GNU/kFreeBSD Benchmarks

        Here’s our latest benchmark results comparing the performance of Debian Jessie GNU/Linux vs. GNU/kFreeBSD — the Debian port that uses the FreeBSD kernel rather than Linux.

        The Debian GNU/kFreeBSD port is now shipping with the FreeBSD 10.1 kernel by default and aside from that has most of the standard GNU utilities and user-land supported by Debian GNU/Linux. GCC 4.9.1 is the default compiler and UFS is the default file-system for GNU/kFreeBSD.

      • Derivatives
  • Devices/Embedded
    • Phones
      • Android
        • Using encryption on Android – A rant

          Not every email client for Android out there supports encryption; and when it does, it does not work like Enigmail: you must first install the email client, set it up; then install an app that enables the use of GPG (APG or GnuPG for Android); then you have supposedly and through a reasonably secure process sent your full GPG keys to your phone (SD card or the internal memory).

Free Software/Open Source
  • How And Why The World Is Trending Towards Open Source

    So, what is the big deal with open source software? Besides the fact that it’s free, and it gives you all of the freedoms without all of the licensing restrictions. The business agility open source offers is quickly eroding the main stream. In a 2013 survey with over 800 participants from both vendor and non-vendor communities it was reported that open source software has matured to such an extent that it now influences everything from innovation to collaboration among competitors to hiring practices.

  • Business
    • Semi-Open Source
      • Open or Fauxpen? Use the OSS Watch Openness Rating tool to find out

        This is the question that OSS Watch, in partnership with Pia Waugh, developed the Openness Rating to help you find out.

        Using a series of questions covering legal issues, governance, standards, knowledge sharing and market access, the tool helps you to identify potential problem areas for users, contributors and partners.

        Unlike earlier models designed to evaluate open source projects, this model can also be applied to both open and closed source software products.

        We’ve used the Openness Rating internally at OSS Watch for several years as a key part of our consultancy work, but this is the first time we’ve made the app itself open for anyone to use. It requires a fair bit of knowledge to get the most out of it, but even at a basic level its useful for highlighting questions that a project needs to be able to answer.

  • Project Releases
  • Openness/Sharing
    • The Backed Pack: An open source platform, sensor & tablet

      Mono is an open source, programmable platform designed to test ideas out on. The tiny device comes equipped with a 2.2″ TFT touch display, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, an accelerometer, and a temperature sensor. Mono is a gadget as much as it is a development platform. As such, it can act as an interface for other custom ideas, or act on its own. By downloading tailored apps from the MonoKiosk app store, Mono can act as a one-touch light for Phillips Hue connected bulbs, or can display weather forecasts, for example.

  • Programming
    • Sharing What You Love Or Hate About PHP

      I largely agree with both aforementioned articles about the PHP. Many of those reasons are why Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org are written in PHP and those together amount to well over one hundred thousand lines of code. I’ve also written many other projects in PHP from PHXCMS that powers Phoronix.com to Reside@HOME. Other things I like about PHP is the easy deployment across platforms, PHP being widely packaged by many distributions/OSes, the built-in web server, it easily allows for sharing code for CLI programs and web processes, etc. Facebook’s HHVM also makes things even more exciting with improvements to the language itself while being delivered at faster speeds, etc.

Leftovers
  • Amazon 1p glitch: Software error sees hundreds of items sold for fractions of their value

    A software error on the Amazon website has seen hundreds of items sold for just 1p, potentially costing retailers hundreds of thousands of pounds.

    The glitch affected prices between 7pm and 8pm on Friday, and involved firms who use the tool RepricerExpress.

    On its website, the software company promises to “auto-optimise” prices on behalf of retailers, allowing them to “sell more and keep listings competitive 24/7 without constant attention”.

  • Science
    • Artificial life expert: We are in danger of losing control of our technology and our lives

      Future technology will be more intelligent and more living than most people can imagine today. We need clear guidelines on how to implement and use technology, or else citizens will lose their rights to their identity and their life. This is the prediction by Danish professor and expert in artificial life in a new international book about the future of technology.

      It is already happening every day: States, intelligence services, Facebook, Google and smartphones collect detailed data about everything in our lives: Our job situation, our sexual orientation, which movements and political views we support and what events we participate in. Governments and security services store our emails and phone calls and they know where we are and when. Authorities monitor how much we pay in taxes and have access to our medical records.

    • FACT SHEET: New Commitments to Support Computer Science Education

      Last year, to kick off Computer Science Education Week, President Obama issued a call to action to students, teachers, businesses, foundations, and non-profit organizations to join the growing grassroots campaign to support computer science education in K-12 schools.

      The President encouraged Americans from all backgrounds to get involved in mastering the technology that is changing the way we do just about everything, and he encouraged millions of students to learn the skills that are becoming increasingly relevant to our economy.

  • Security
    • Sony Was Hacked in February and Chose to Stay Silent

      Sony says the recent breach of its servers and weeklong cyber humiliation is an “unprecedented” strike and an “unparalleled crime.” If they’re shocked by these events, they’ve been shocked for almost a year: leaked emails obtained by Gawker show security troubles dating back to February.

    • Sony Planned to Flood Torrent Sites With “Promo” Torrents

      Sony Pictures’ TV network AXN developed a guerrilla marketing campaign to convert users of The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents and other torrent sites to paying customers. The company planned to flood torrent sites with promos for the premiere Hannibal disguised as pirated copies of the popular TV-show.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression
    • You fly over foreign lands, maybe kill people, then drive home for dinner

      It’s an odd quirk of modern warfare than when a bomb falls in Yemen or Iraq, the person who dropped it might be able finish her mission and be back home for dinner — in Nevada.

    • America Trades Torture for Drones
    • The Senate Is Done Investigating Torture. Will Drone Killings Be Next?
    • After Torture, Will the Senate Begin Investigating Drone Killings?
    • Will Congress Investigate Drone Killings Next?

      In the aftermath of the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report focused on Bush-era techniques, the Obama administration’s own counterterrorism practices are coming under increased scrutiny.

      Gruesome details of forced rectal feedings without medical necessity, waterboarding, and sleep deprivation were chronicled in the report’s executive summary, dredging up harsh practices employed during the George W. Bush administration. But on Capitol Hill, Republicans charge that the Central Intelligence Agency’s approach to counterterrorism has not grown more humane—it’s merely shifted.

    • How U.S. Officials and Congress Have Defended Drone Strikes in Light of the Torture Report

      Q: And finally, has the President ever sought a formal assessment from the intelligence community about whether the drone program is a net asset, either because of our moral authority, or in terms of creating more enemies than it takes off the battlefield?

      MR. EARNEST: Well, I’m not aware of any intelligence assessment like this. You can certainly check with the office of the Director of National Intelligence to see if they’re aware of anything like this that they could talk to you about.

      QUESTION: Your agency is involved in overseeing the drone program in which we know, from the government’s own statements, you know, that there have been some civilians, innocent civilians, killed alongside terrorists. I’m wondering if you feel that there’s enough control over those programs and that we’re not going to be here in a few years with another director having to answer these same questions about the loss of trust from the public, from policymakers.

      BRENNAN: I’m not going to talk about any type of operational activity that this agency is involved in currently. I’m just not going to do it. I will tell you, though, that during my tenure at the White House, as the president’s assistant for counterterrorism, that the use of these unmanned aerial vehicles that you refer to as drones in the counterterrorism effort has done tremendous work to keep this country safe. The ability to use these platforms and advanced technologies, it has advanced the counterterrorism mission and the U.S. military has done some wonderful things with these platforms. And in terms of precision of effort, accuracy and making sure that this country, this country’s military does everything possible to minimize to the great extent possible the loss of life of noncombatants, I think there’s a lot for this country and this White House and the military to be proud of.

    • Torture “Architect” Mistaken in Claim Nobody’s Punished for Drone Murders

      A psychologist who played a key role in a U.S. torture program said on a video yesterday that torture was excusable because blowing up families with a drone is worse (and nobody’s punished for that). Well, of course the existence of something worse is no excuse for torture. And he’s wrong that no one is punished for drone murders.

    • One of The Stringer’s peace activist writers sentenced to a Missouri prison

      A Missouri judge convicted and sentenced two peace activists for protesting drone warfare at Whiteman Air Force Base. In Missouri’s Jefferson City, on Human Rights Day, December 10, a federal magistrate found Georgia Walker, of Kansas City, and Kathy Kelly of Chicago guilty of criminal trespass to a military installation as a result of their June 1 effort to deliver a loaf of bread and a citizens’ indictment of drone warfare to authorities at the Whiteman Air Force Base.

    • How to Lose a War on Terror

      The good news is that, to win, we need only to be our best selves. The things that we bring to the table—respect for human rights, dignity, compassion, and the rule of law—are the things that most people want. They are the values that millions of people in the Arab world have so recently fought for and demonstrated to achieve. We cannot afford to treat as casualties of a phony war the very principles through which we might someday win the real one.

    • America Is Nigeria’s Enemy

      In any case, Prof. Akinyemi and Ambassador Keshi, by virtue of their service at senior levels of the diplomatic corps and their international contacts, are well-placed to know what sort of duplicitous game the US is playing with the Boko Haram situation.

      So, it is not just about me or my taxi driver sitting in the relative comfort of a “tokunbo” car, driving on a well-made road coming up with conspiracy theories. The facts are self-evident: when it comes to the war the Nigerian state is currently fighting with the Boko Haram terrorists, the United States of America is not our friend, but a dangerous enemy trying to achieve its prediction of Nigeria disintegrating by 2015.

      It is now left for all Nigerians to stand together and speak with one voice against our common enemy. The US will continue using groups like Amnesty International to flog its biased human rights violations stories, but Nigerians must remember if we allow the US to succeed in its plan to disintegrate Nigeria, we will no longer have a country to call our own and at that point all of us will have absolutely no rights whatsoever! As such, we must stand united against this common enemy.

    • U.S. SCUTTLED NEGOTIATIONS TO FREE AMERICAN KILLED IN YEMEN

      But according to several sources in Yemen, Somers was not in immediate danger prior to the first raid launched to free him last month. Two of those sources also claim that the United States thwarted attempts by a meditator to negotiate his release by paying a ransom.

    • Times Writers Group: America’s intervention yields hate

      Some nations and organizations negotiate release of their hostages and sometimes pay ransom. The United States does not.

      [...]

      Not negotiating with hostage takers and not paying ransom have not discouraged hostage-taking either.

    • Why are Americans such cowards?

      Drones are the ultimate manifestation of America’s newfound risk aversion. After more than 12 years of remote-controlled aerial killer robot warfare, the statistics are undeniable: Unmanned aerial vehicles are an ridiculously sloppy assassination method that kills anywhere from 28 to 49 times more innocent civilians than targeted alleged terrorists. With the myth of accuracy thoroughly debunked, drones remain popular with the public for one reason: They don’t expose American soldiers to return fire.

    • If you are the US, you can get away with anything. Even torture.

      States exist for their own well-being. They have their self-interests. Domestic and foreign policies define and dictate state acts and omissions on the world stage. In the post 9/11 order, state-to-state interaction has undergone an incredible amount of change with the entire gamut of international relations now at the mercy of a few role players. The United States of America, of course, holds the centre stage, in a global effort against the spread of religious fanaticism and waging a war on terrorism.

    • How the US provides inspiration for terrorists groups like ISIS

      “Therefore the people need to know what is being done in their name so that the people, the citizens, can maintain a certain value system in public life that reflects what is written in their Declaration of Independence,” Khouri says, “so it’s a very difficult but very important moment for the United States. This is a very American moment.”

    • Cheney on torture report: Saddam Hussein ‘had a 10-year relationship with al-Qaida’

      His statement runs counter to at least two major official inquiries.

      The 9/11 Commission, an independent, bipartisan body created by Congress and Bush, had the job of writing a complete account of the circumstances surrounding the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Among its tasks: Examine the ties between al-Qaida and Hussein’s regime.

      The commission found isolated contacts over the years between Iraq and al-Qaida terrorists but nothing more. The commission released its report in 2004.

    • Cheney: ‘I’d do it again in a minute’

      Former Vice President Dick Cheney unapologetically pressed his defense of the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation techniques Sunday, insisting that waterboarding and other such tactics did not amount to torture and that the spy agency’s actions paled in comparison to those of terrorists targeting Americans.

      “Torture, to me … is an American citizen on his cellphone making a last call to his four young daughters shortly before he burns to death in the upper levels of the Trade Center in New York on 9/11,” Cheney said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “There’s this notion that there’s moral equivalence between what the terrorists did and what we do, and that’s absolutely not true. We were very careful to stop short of torture.”

    • Dick Cheney Says Forced Rectal Feedings Were for “Medical Reasons”

      On Sunday, former Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press to variously claim that the CIA’s torture program wasn’t torture, that he’d do it again “in a minute,” and that 9/11 was the real torture.

      He also defended the forced rectal feedings detailed in this week’s shocking Senate report (and denounced by one physician as “sexual assault masquerading as medical treatment”), saying, “I believe it was done for medical reasons.”

    • Dick Cheney insists ‘rectal feeding’ was for medical reasons, not torture in defence of CIA
    • Cheney on CIA interrogations: ‘I’d do it again in a minute’

      Senior Bush administration officials Sunday slammed the Senate study on the CIA’s use of brutal interrogation tactics and defended the techniques as necessary to get information from senior Al Qaeda operatives who had stopped talking to interrogators.

  • Finance
    • Bernie Sanders unveils plan to break up Wall Street banks

      Sen. Bernie Sanders plans to introduce new legislation to break up Wall Street banks and prevent them from using the the House-passed spending bill to engage in the kind of investments that led to the 2008 financial crisis.

      The Independent senator from Vermont used Saturday’s Senate session to outline a proposal that he believes would combat spending bill provisions meant to “gut” financial reforms passed by Congress in 2010.

  • Privacy
    • How Much Will Facebook’s TOS Change Affect You?
    • UAV industry awaits FAA rulings

      The FAA is working on rules that would establish conservative regulations on commercial use of UAVs (the industry would prefer that no one call them drones any more), but those working to develop the industry in Nevada say they’re not worried.

    • Big Brother & Smartphone Driver’s Licenses

      Sure, the phone license app might be offered as a option at first, but how long until it becomes a requirement and old fashioned plastic licenses are no longer available? This would mean that anybody who wants to drive a car, at least in Iowa, would have to invest in a certified NSA ready smartphone and data plan. If this sounds far fetched, think of the amount of required government paperwork that’s now only available online and sometimes must be filled in and filed from a computer.

    • Secret surveillance of Norway’s leaders detected

      Norway’s major secrets are being administered here, right in the centre of Oslo. A number of the most important state institutions are situated within a radius of one kilometer: The Prime minister’s office, the Ministry of defence, Stortinget (parliament) and the central bank, Norges Bank. Ministers, state secretaries, members of parliament, state officials, business executives and other essential staff engaged in protecting the nation’s security, our military and our oil wealth – totalling more than 6000 billion kroner (NOK) – are working within this area.

  • Civil Rights
  • DRM
    • Former iTunes Engineer Tells Court He Worked to Block Competitors

      A former iTunes engineer testified in a federal antitrust case against Apple Friday that he worked on a project “intended to block 100% of non-iTunes clients” and “keep out third-party players” that competed with Apple’s iPod.

      Plaintiffs subpoenaed the engineer, Rod Schultz, to show that Apple tried to suppress rivals to iTunes and iPods. They argue that Apple’s anticompetitive actions drove up the prices for iPods from 2006 to 2009; they’re seeking $350 million in damages, which could be tripled under antitrust laws.

      Schultz testified in an untucked dress shirt and leather jacket, saying he was an unwilling witness. “I did not want to be talking about” his work on iTunes from 2006-2007, part of which was code-named “Candy,” he said.

      The plaintiffs sought to submit a 2012 academic paper Schultz wrote citing “a secret war” Apple fought with iTunes hackers. In the paper, he wrote, “Apple was locking the majority of music downloads to its devices.” Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers did not admit the paper as evidence in the case.

      Outside the courtroom Schultz said the early work of his former team reflected the digital-music market’s need for copyright protections of songs. Later, though, he said it created “market dominance” for the iPod. Schultz left Apple in 2008.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

Software Patents Are Dying in the US, But Patent Lawyers Refuse to Admit It

Sunday 14th of December 2014 05:15:11 PM

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” ~Upton Sinclair


Poster Advertising a Patent Attorney
Record Group 179: Records of the War Production Board, 1918 – 1947

Summary: Patent lawyers continue to distort the reality of software patents’ demise in the United States

The CAFC introduced software patents in the US, but a lot has changed since SCOTUS (the Supreme Court), which is above CAFC, ruled against a software patent and extrapolated from that to potentially invalidate a huge number of software patents. Patent lawyers are furious that even some portion of their business, software patents, is going down in flames and we have already shown them trying to deny it, curse, distort, or resort to blame shifting. Truth be damned! This post presents some more recent responses from them. These saturated the press because opposition to software patents has been inactive as of late.

“Patent lawyers are furious that even some portion of their business, software patents, is going down in flames and we have already shown them trying to deny it, curse, distort, or resort to blame shifting.”A new article titled “Federal Circuit Puts Added Squeeze on Software Patents” shows the far-reaching impact of recent developments as “The courts set a new record for rejecting software patents in 2014″, according to one opponent of software patents. It is not just about SCOTUS anymore because various lower courts, including CAFC, follow the same footsteps of the highest court. They have no choice is they want to obey the law, otherwise appeals will follow suit and be accepted on caselaw grounds.

Over at Managing Intellectual Property, a pro-patents site, is is claimed that “Business method patent issuance has plummeted since Alice”. Another new article from patents-centric media provides a summary of post-Alice rulings on patentability of software. Rosenbaum IP, a law firm, wrote on December 2nd that “drafting narrow claims to ensure software is patent-eligible presents a challenge for patent practitioners. Patent practitioners are trained to draft claims with the broadest possible scope in order to ensnare as many infringers as possible.”

To them, the problem is not software patents but those who are rejecting them. Here is another news article about the post-Alice world, noting: “The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision announcing the framework for determining patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. Section 101 has created a rabbit hole that will require a rethinking of intellectual-property protection strategies.”

No, not really. Developers already have copyrights and that is more and enough (sometimes too much, e.g. copyrights on APIs in the US, which CAFC accepts, the EU rejects, and SCOTUS will hopefully bury soon). Here is a report about a recent case which shows that not all software patents are categorically dead, at least not yet. To quote the report: “For those following the law of patent eligibility in the United States, a December 5, 2014 precedential decision by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that a patent on webpage-display technology is patent eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. A slew of recent court decisions have gone the other way, leaving arguably similar patents invalid.”

Over at patent lawyers’ sites, especially in blogs that do not pretend to be journalism, a different picture is presented to readers. Within the echo chamber of patent lawyers truth is warped. Here is WatchTroll, whom we criticised before for extreme bias, glorifying software patents and those acquiring them with help from patent lawyers. He also calls patent trolling “Patent Monetization” and does some revisionism under the banner of
“The History of Software Patents in the United States”. He mocks opposition to software patents and says: “The first software patent was granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on April 23, 1968 on an application filed on April 9, 1965, Martin A. Goetz, a pioneer in the development of the commercial software industry, was the inventor of the first software patent ever granted, U.S. Patent No. 3,380,029. Several years ago PBS Digital Studios profiled Goetz and his pursuit of the first software patent.”

Martin Goetz is extremely biased in favour of software patents, so he is convenient for what is basically a defence of such patents. It is agenda disguised as ‘history’ (not just ‘news’) and it clearly became a series whose claims we reject. It’s a selective account of history.

There are other pro-software patents ‘news’ sites and there is utterly, overly selective coverage there (any losses for software patents are ignored). We reviewed dozens of these over the past fortnight and it’s very easy to spot to one who knows the facts and keeps abreast of many cases. WatchTroll’s site acknowledges that the “Federal Circuit Finds Software Patent Claim Patent Eligible”, but most of the time he just tries to paint everyone as a supporter of software patents (the opposite is true), thereby trying to pressure judges and mislead colleagues. Totally irresponsible!

In other lawyers’ Web sites there is another type of bias that looks more professional. An article by Adam M. Breier from Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP shows us one a such example where patent lawyers are trying hard to promote software patents, sometimes by only covering what suits their agenda. They usually ignore the bad news (to them) and mislead readers by providing only coverage one half of the half-filled glass. At National Law Review there is an article titled “Section 101 and Software Patents: Abstract or Not?” (published here as well). Therein, an overview is presented by a biased author.

The Alice case is still in the headlines of legal sites (a month later) and words cannot express how disgusting the so-called “legal” press is. Patent lawyers are very much desperate to discredit court decisions which are hostile towards software patents these days. Articles continues to come which paint a deceiving picture, seeking to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. Such sites are trying to shoot down the messenger and ignore the facts. Such is the case with coverage in patent lawyers’ sites of Ultramercial, LLC v. Hulu, LLC (software patents lost). Here is Lowell D. Yoder from McDermott Will & Emery saying that Post-Alice Federal Circuit Finds Internet Advertising Method Not Patent Eligible” (true, but see the self-serving analysis) and others say in patent lawyers’ sites that “Patent Eligibility [is] Becoming Threshold Question for Litigation”. Not litigation is at stake, but the actual eligibility (including during assessment by patent examiners after issuance of new guidelines). A widely published article phrased is as a question, “Another software patent is ruled patent-ineligible – are business method and software patents at risk?” (also published here and here).

This is a rhetorical question. It hardly needs to be asked at all, except perhaps in patent lawyers’ media. Also see “California district court helps clarify when software claims are patent eligible under Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank” and “Claims that CAFC’s Ultramercial decision could prove a catastrophe for companies that license software patents” (or patent extortion like Microsoft’s). Notice how it’s framed. They make it sound like horrible news despite the fact that the vast majority of software professionals loathes software patents.

IAM, a crude patent propaganda site, is once again relaying Microsoft’s talking points, which promote software patents (see “Software patent owners have nothing to fear from the CAFC’s Ultramercial decision, says Microsoft’s former chief patent counsel”).

Also see the article “Protecting Intellectual Property Rights In Software After Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank” from the lawyers’ press. It is not unusual for a legal firm to characterise monopoly on algorithm as “protecting”. It is just the lingo of patent lawyers with euphemisms and double standards. Above is a loaded headline whose purpose it to appeal to emotion and make rulings against software patents seem like “catastrophe”.

The Ultramercial case shows that beyond copyrights there is no reason to have a government-sanctioned monopoly. That is not so hard to understand, is it?

The proponents of software patents and spinners against Ultramercial of course include WatchTroll, who wrote: “Ultramercial’s Federal Circuit luck has now run out. Gone from the original panel was Chief Judge Rader who retired and was replaced by Judge Mayer, which does not bode well for any patent owner.”

This is the corrupt software patents extremist, Mr. Rader, whom we wrote about in [1, 2, 3]. How convenient a source to lean on!

Legal-centric sites go further by also promoting software patents in Australia (see the article “Australian full court sets new test for software patents – it’s all about the substance”) and in India, which still fights lobbyists who try to legalise software patents in this software giant nation (see “Disclosure Requirements For Software Patents”).

Dr. Glyn Moody has an interesting new article about FRAND (usually about software patents, albeit not always) in hardware superpower China, citing a dispute with ZTE. To quote Moody:

How Should Standard-Essential Patents Be Licensed?

Patents are intellectual monopolies, designed to give the patent-holder control over an invention by excluding others from using it without permission. That’s a problem when standards include patented elements. Anyone who wants to implement that standard must use the invention, which gives the patent-holder the ability, in theory, to demand and obtain any licensing deal it might propose. To limit that power, holders of these standard-essential patents are often required to agree to offer licensing terms on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

[...]

However, when another Chinese company, ZTE, sought a license from Huawei, they were unable to agree on the terms, so Huawei brought an action for infringement against ZTE. According to ZTE, Huawei’s attempt to obtain an injunction against it constituted an abuse of its dominant position, since ZTE was willing to negotiate a license. Here’s the key part of the Advocate General’s opinion.

Incidentally, there is a new report showing just illegitimate the USPTO is becoming. Now it treats patents, which are supposed to be all about publication, as secrets. To quote TechDirt: “The USPTO drops the dreaded b(5) exemption all over its internal emails, withholding stuff seemingly just to be withholding stuff, which is what the b(5) exemption does best. Supposedly this exemption is limited to memos or letters that would not be available to anyone but a “party in litigation with the [responding] agency,” but in this case, seems to cover information otherwise in the public domain.

“Here’s another redacted set of search results, covering variations like MARKY or MARKEY appearing on clothing. Hopefully, the two pages of black ink are covering up images rather than words. Otherwise, it would appear that the MARKY/MARKEY market is incredibly overcrowded.”

How ridiculous is that? The US patent system sure seems like it’s facing a crisis (of patent quality or scope) and it is going to have to cut down on software patents, business method patents, etc. in order to save its credibility. Without credibility it will cease to attract clients, some of whom sooner or later realise that acquiring a patent is not enough to successfully sue a rival in court.

Links 13/12/2014: Android Wear “Lollipop”, European Commission and FOSS

Saturday 13th of December 2014 11:49:41 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
      • Marking HTTP As Non-Secure

        We, the Chrome Security Team, propose that user agents (UAs) gradually change their UX to display non-secure origins as affirmatively non-secure. We intend to devise and begin deploying a transition plan for Chrome in 2015.

  • SaaS/Big Data
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice 4.2.8 and Other Must-have Apps

      The Document Foundation today announced the release of LibreOffice 4.2.8, the final update to the 4.2 branch. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols brags on his favorite Linux applications and Chema Martin says “Fedora 21 absolutely rocks.” And finally today, Chris Hoffman said “2014 shattered the myth of Linux impenetrability.”

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Introductory tasks for new GNUnet hackers

      We sometimes get requests for easy tasks to get started and join the GNUnet hacker community. However, it is often difficult for potential new contributors which areas they might be able to contribute to, especially as not all tasks are suitable for people that are just starting to work with GNUnet.

    • GCC Has Been Ported To The Visium Architecture

      Never heard of Visium before? Neither have we, but it’s yet another platform where GCC can serve as the code compiler. Eric Botcazou of AdaCore explained Visium as “a 32-bit RISC architecture with an Extended Arithmetic Module implementing some 64-bit operations and an FPU designed for embedded systems…The Visium is a classic 32-bit RISC architecture whose branches have a delay slot and whose arithmetic and logical instructions all set the flags, and they comprise the moves between GP registers (which are inclusive ORs under the hood in the traditional RISC fashion).”

  • Public Services/Government
    • The European Commission Is Looking to Update Its Open Source Policy

      The European Commission is working to upgrade open source policy so that developers have a much easier time to contribute to upstream projects, by removing some of the current constraints.

    • European Commission Finally Engaging with Open Source?

      Earlier this year, I wrote about the European Commission’s stunning incompetence in procuring desktop software: it actually admitted that it was in a state of “effective captivity with Microsoft”, and that it wasn’t really going to try to do anything about it. Fortunately, a recent article on the Commission’s “Joinup” site, by Gijs Hillenius, paints a rather brighter picture as far as the server side is concerned:

  • Openness/Sharing
  • Standards/Consortia
    • QEMU, FFMPEG guru unleashes JPEG-slaying graphics compressor

      Bellard – who is known for creating the QEMU virtualization hypervisor and the FFMPEG multimedia libraries, among other achievements – says the new format, called Better Portable Graphics (BPG), is designed to replace JPEG “when quality or file size is an issue.”

Leftovers
  • Security
    • DDoS of unprecedented scale ‘stops Sweden working’. The target? A gaming site

      Much of Sweden’s fixed-line broadband became collateral damage as a result of a DDoS attack on a mystery gaming site this week.

      While DDoS attacks are par for the course for most online businesses these days, the vast majority of these attacks don’t go on to affect the broadband connections of an entire country. But that’s what happened to customers of Telia, Sweden’s largest ISP, for 45 minutes on Tuesday night and then again intermittently throughout Wednesday afternoon and evening.

    • Friday’s security updates
    • Now at the Sands Casino: An Iranian Hacker in Every Server

      Most gamblers were still asleep, and the gondoliers had yet to pole their way down the ersatz canal in front of the Venetian casino on the Las Vegas Strip. But early on the chilly morning of Feb. 10, just above the casino floor, the offices of the world’s largest gaming company were gripped by chaos. Computers were flatlining, e-mail was down, most phones didn’t work, and several of the technology systems that help run the $14 billion operation had sputtered to a halt.

    • Iranian hackers used Visual Basic malware to wipe Vegas casino’s network

      Stop us if this sounds familiar: a company executive does something that makes a foreign government’s leadership upset. A few months later, hackers break into the company’s network through a persistent cyber attack and plant malware that erases the contents of hard drives, shuts down e-mail servers and phone systems, and brings operations to a screeching halt.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression
    • BBC writer Thom Phipps advocates the murder of Julian Assange

      Public executions exist in Saudia Arabia, as do police death squads in Kenya. Public executions and death squads are part of this country’s past too. Most of us are happy to keep such barbaric behaviours squarely in the past and through history many have given their lives for the recognition of human rights and the improvement of the human condition. Presumption of Innocence, Rule of Law, Protection of Life and Freedom we all value and take for granted.

      You would not therefore expect the British Broadcasting Corporation to employ Mr Phipps in writing a comedy about Julian Assange when the former has publicly advocated for the public extrajudicial assassination of the latter.

    • Ben Miller to star in BBC4 Assange-inspired comedy Asylum

      Written by Thom Phipps and Peter Bowden, the comedy is part of a BBC season next year called Taking Liberties, celebrating 800 years of Magna Carta and exploring democracy in the run-up to the general election.

    • Hayden: No One Ever Warned Us Against Overreacting to 9/11

      A damning admission from a former head of the CIA and NSA

    • Anti-NSA protesters barge into Peter Thiel speech

      Protesters angry about the NSA spying programs and recent controversial police shootings interrupted a speech given by PayPal founder Peter Thiel at UC Berkeley on Wednesday.

    • Dear Peter Thiel: This is what disruption looks like

      A speech by the PayPal co-founder and billionaire investor Peter Thiel at University of California Berkeley ended abruptly Wednesday night when a crowd protesting the recent deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police entered the lecture hall and overran the stage.

    • BERKELEY PROTESTS SHUT DOWN PETER THIEL SPEECH
  • Transparency Reporting
    • John Cusack visits Assange

      Hollywood actor John Cusack is the latest supporter to visit WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in his continued stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy.

      The American star joined US activist Daniel Ellsberg and Indian-born author and activist Arundhati Roy for a meeting inside the embassy in London.

      WikiLeaks said the three were marking the fourth anniversary of Assange being in “detention” without charge, as well as commenting on the round-the-clock police presence outside the embassy.

    • John Cusack visits Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in his Ecuadorian Embassy bolthole
    • ‘Assange case – a witch-hunt by Swedish govt pressed by US’

      The US, the UK, and Sweden feel threatened by the WikiLeaks data release in 2010, so they work in tandem to keep Julian Assange locked up in London in fear of being sent to the US to face a grand jury, social campaigner Clark Stoeckley told RT.

      It is four years since WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was accused of rape and sexual assault and two years since he fled into Ecuador’s embassy in London.

    • British Journalist Launches Kickstarter Campaign To Raise Funds For Assange, Snowden, & Manning Statues
    • ‘They’ll try to shut you down’: Meeting Assange & the non-stop ‘War on RT”They’ll try to shut you down’: Meeting Assange & the non-stop ‘War on RT’

      Assange shared an enlightening story about a Kurdish TV station that had been shut down in Denmark. The story, like so many others – from diplomatic cables with undiplomatic comments to hundreds of uninvestigated war crimes in Iraq – came to his attention through a leaked cryptogram.

    • Credit Cards Sued in VA for Wikileaks Blockade
    • Visa, MasterCard sued for blocking donations to WikiLeaks

      On Monday this week, American attorneys for Icelandic hosting provider DataCell ehf filed suit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in hopes of having a federal judge award the company upwards of $5 million for what it claims was a coordinated attempt between Visa and MasterCard to restrict funding to WikiLeaks after the secret-spilling organization started publishing classified US State Department cables over four years ago.

    • Former Swiss Banker Collapses During WikiLeaks Trial

      Rudolf Elmer has been under investigation since 2011 for allegedly giving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange two compact discs during a news conference in London; although he denies the charges, the trial was disrupted when the former banker fainted.Rudolf Elmer has been under investigation since 2011 for allegedly giving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange two compact discs during a news conference in London; although he denies the charges, the trial was disrupted when the former banker fainted.

    • Former Swiss banker collapses at start of WikiLeaks trial
    • Snowden Living ‘Ordinary’ Life in Moscow

      Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden said on Wednesday that he was leading an ordinary life in Moscow, where he has lived for over a year.

      Snowden caused an international uproar in 2013 when he disclosed details of the extent of surveillance and electronic monitoring by the NSA and its British equivalent, the General Communications Headquarters.

    • WikiLeaks exposes gov’t lies, shifts on India uranium deal

      Prime Minister Tony Abbott signed an agreement in September to allow sales of Australian uranium to India for the first time. Uranium sales were initially approved by then-Coalition PM John Howard in August 2007 but Howard’s successor, Kevin Rudd, reinstated the ban.

      Rudd’s action was in accordance with long-standing Labor Party policy that uranium should only be sold to countries that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). A 2008 Lowy Institute poll found that 88% of Australians supported this policy.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife
  • Finance and Politics
    • The Speech That Could Make Elizabeth Warren the Next President of the United States

      Early Friday evening Sen. Elizabeth Warren took to the Senate floor and gave a plain-spoken, barn-burning speech that could make history and put her into serious contention to be the next President of the United States.

      There are only a handful of political speeches that have such historic impact. Barack Obama’s keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention comes readily to mind. It’s what catapulted an obscure Illinois state Senator into the national limelight and put him on the path to becoming President.

      Warren’s Senate speech was different, but just as electrifying.

    • Levin highlights bipartisanship in farewell address

      “I watched and observed — I didn’t say a whole lot at first because junior members aren’t supposed to. I watched, and I learned,” Manchin said. “And I saw the system the way I imagined it probably was twenty, thirty, forty years ago, when it did work. I saw the Senate. And I’m thinking, why can’t the rest of the Senate work the way the Armed Services Committee works? And there’s one reason — we don’t have enough Carl Levin’s.”

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying
    • Refusing to Take Sides, NPR Takes Sides With Torture Deniers

      NPR correspondent Tamara Keith went on to refer to Sen. Dianne Feinstein discussing “a CIA program that used techniques she says amounted to torture.” In her own words, Keith reports that “the CIA program of secret overseas detentions and so-called enhanced interrogation methods began shortly after the September 11 attacks.”

    • FAIR TV: US Victimology, Equal Time for Torturers and Hypocritical Factchecking Lectures

      This week: ABC World News prepared viewers for the Senate report on CIA torture…by warning that its publication could harm Americans. Plus TV news covers the torture report by giving a platform to torture advocates. And a pundit who was dead wrong about the Iraq War shares his thoughts about the need for Rolling Stone to do better factchecking.

  • Censorship
  • Privacy
    • No proof so far that NSA bugged Merkel’s phone: prosecutor
    • German investigation says the NSA probably didn’t tap Merkel’s phone after all

      Over a year after an unidentified source released a document he said proved the NSA had tapped the personal cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an investigation by Germany’s top prosecutor has found no evidence that the tapping ever occurred. He says he also believes that the document may not even be authentic.

    • No proof of Snowden allegation that NSA tapped phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel says prosecutor
    • Former NSA Guys Just Launched This Startup To Stop Hackers’ Favorite Trick

      Area 1 Security, a two-year old Valley startup not yet out of stealth, just raised $8 million for a product that is meant to stop the most impossible hacker attacks, something called “social engineering.”

    • Can three ex-NSA snoops stop the worst hacks before they start
    • Ex-NSA Agents’ Security Startup Lands $8 Million In Funding
    • Ex-NSA Agents’ Start-Up Locks in $8m in Funding
    • Verizon’s New, Encrypted Calling App Plays Nice With the NSA

      Verizon is the latest big company to enter the post-Snowden market for secure communication, and it’s doing so with an encryption standard that comes with a way for law enforcement to access ostensibly secure phone conversations.

      Verizon Voice Cypher, the product introduced on Thursday with the encryption company Cellcrypt, offers business and government customers end-to-end encryption for voice calls on iOS, Android, or BlackBerry devices equipped with a special app. The encryption software provides secure communications for people speaking on devices with the app, regardless of their wireless carrier, and it can also connect to an organization’s secure phone system.

    • Google: We don’t spy on you
    • Schmidt: NSA revelations forced Google to lock down data
    • Your telltale video camera shake can identify you

      HERE’s a way to shake off anonymity – literally. Footage from wearable cameras contains a “motion signature” unique to you. The discovery could identify police wearing body cameras, but also let authorities single out protesters uploading footage, say.

    • How Congress Secretly Just Legitimized Questionable NSA Mass Surveillance Tool

      We recently noted that, despite it passing overwhelmingly, Congress quietly deleted a key bit of NSA reform that would have blocked the agency from using backdoors for surveillance. But this week something even more nefarious happened, and it likely would have gone almost entirely unnoticed if Rep. Justin Amash’s staffers hadn’t caught the details of a new provision quietly slipped into the Intelligence Authorization Act, which effectively “legitimized” the way the NSA conducts most of its mass surveillance.

    • Congress quietly expands NSA powers for spying on Americans

      The campaign to rein in the surveillance of Americans by the National Security Agency (NSA) has become even more difficult. Instead, Congress has used a set of provisions to expand the agency’s data-gathering power.

    • Rep. Justin Amash Rips Expanded NSA Spying OK’d by Congress

      In the middle of this week’s all-consuming deadline budget negotiations, Congress quietly passed a separate bill granting the National Security Agency broad new powers to collect Americans’ phone and email communications without warrants, share the data with the FBI and foreign governments, and, in some instances, retain the records indefinitely, according to reports.

    • Spy panel chairman confident NSA programs won’t die

      Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who is retiring from Congress after more than a decade, told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor on Friday that “adults” would ensure that the bill goes through, despite opposition from the spy agency’s critics.

    • Forget North Korea – the real rogue cyber operator lies much closer to home

      A cyber-attack on Sony Pictures distracted attention from a more worrying story about a piece of malware used by GCHQ

    • RON PAUL: ABOLISH CIA & NSA, REMOVE ALL TROOPS STATIONED OVERSEAS

      In the wake of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA torture memo release, former Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) has suggested that America should get rid of its premier intelligence agencies and bring all of our troops back home.

    • “NSA-Proof” Blackphone to Get its Own Secured App Store

      Blackphone, the privacy-and-security-obsessed smartphone, will be getting its very own privacy-and-security-obsessed app store full of vetted software in an attempt to increase the phone’s protection, the firm has confirmed.

    • How The Supreme Court Could Decide The Fate Of NSA Surveillance

      An Idaho nurse is leading the latest charge against the Obama administration for the U.S. National Security Agency’s dragnet phone data surveillance program.

      With legal help from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, neonatal intensive care nurse Anna Smith contested the government’s spy programs Monday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

    • Judges hear arguments over NSA surveillance

      A federal appeals court heard arguments Monday in an Idaho woman’s challenge to the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone records — the third time in recent months that appeals courts around the country have considered the controversial counterterrorism program.

    • Appeals Judges to Hear Idaho Woman’s NSA Phone Data Case
    • NSA, CIA reform efforts doomed by GOP leadership of Senate Intel Committee

      The Republican takeover of the Senate after the midterm elections threatens to stall attempts to reform the nation’s surveillance laws and avoid transparency about the CIA’s controversial interrogation program, experts and civil liberties campaigners believe.

    • Europe: The NSA’s snooping habit is good and bad for business
    • NSA’s surveillance a ‘trade barrier’ for EU companies

      The US National Security Agency’s mass surveillance is a trade barrier for European Internet companies trying to provide services in the United States, a top EU official said yesterday (8 December).

    • EU Worried NSA Snooping Will Hurt International Trade
    • DOJ Misleads Court About Medical And Financial Records In Appeals Over NSA Surveillance

      Earlier this week, the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in a challenge to the NSA’s phone metadata program. While watching, I noticed some quite misleading legal claims by the government’s counsel. I then reviewed last month’s oral arguments in the D.C. Circuit, and I spotted a similar assertion.

      In both cases, the government attorney waved away constitutional concerns about medical and financial records. Congress, he suggested, has already stepped in to protect those files.

      With respect to ordinary law enforcement investigations, that’s only slightly true. And with respect to national security investigations, that’s really not right.

    • OffNow Gets Recognition from Major NSA Whistleblower

      On Monday, William Binney was a guest on the Alex Jones Show. Since he’s a major whistleblower and the former chief technical director of the NSA, I thought it would be good to call in to talk about the OffNow plan to deny the spying giant the water it needs to perpetually violate the 4th Amendment.

    • Caricature Friday- former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden

      Former CIA director Michael Hayden claims during a CNN interview that rectal hydration is a legitimate medical procedure. Erik Wemple has the story here.

    • This Week, Judges in Seattle Heard the NSA Surveillance Case That Could Go to the Supreme Court

      Earlier this week, a real estate attorney from Coeur d’Alene stood up in front of a three-judge panel in Seattle’s Ninth Circuit courthouse to argue Smith vs. Obama—a case challenging NSA surveillance that began back in Idaho, and could be the one that ends up before the US Supreme Court.

    • U.S. Relations with South America Slow to Heal after NSA Spying

      Last week, in the aftermath of both Brazil and Uruguay’s presidential elections, the two countries switched to handling bilateral trade in their local currencies, rather than the previous policy of utilizing the U.S. dollar in their economic relationship. The change is being hailed as a “step forward” in Latin American economic independence and Mercosur is exploring the expansion of this policy to Paraguay, Bolivia, and Venezuela as a way for the region to move beyond economic regulations that have traditionally been dictated by the United States.

    • Laura Poitras on the NSA’s Most Disturbing Practice

      Poitras explains that the most disturbing NSA practice is the bulk collection of data from people who are not suspected of any crime. By collecting so much data, the organization is saturated with information and unable to accurately track real threats.

    • Judge Posner says the NSA should have unfettered access to your data
    • Federal Judge Gives Glimpse Into Authoritarian Mindset Behind NSA
    • Judge Posner: it should be illegal to make phones the government can’t search

      Speaking at a Georgetown law cybercrime conference, 7th circuit judge Richard Posner made a series of conscience-shocking, technologically illiterate statements about privacy that baffle and infuriate, starting with: “if the NSA wants to vacuum all the trillions of bits of information that are crawling through the electronic worldwide networks, I think that’s fine.”

    • Congress just enshrined into law a Reagan-era rule that lets the NSA spy on Americans

      Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on much these days, but members of Congress recently joined hands to codify a very worrisome national-security executive order into law.

      The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill authorizing funding for the intelligence community with large bipartisan support. The vote was 325-100. All tallied, 55 Democrats and 45 Republicans voted against it. The same bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent, meaning that the only thing standing in its way is a signature from President Barack Obama.

    • “Information Sharing” Should Include the Public

      It’s hard to think of a legitimate reason to keep this information secret. Everybody knows that this malware was used to attack Sony Pictures. And it must be obvious to the attackers that the postmortem at Sony will reveal the workings of the malware to Sony, its consultants, and the U.S. government. These facts are not secrets, let alone secrets that are worth protecting at the cost of putting the public at risk.

      The secrecy is probably designed to protect somebody from embarrassment. If that somebody is Sony, it’s not working—the Sony attack is well known at this point. Perhaps the goal is to keep from embarrassing somebody in the government. One effect of the secrecy is to make it harder for citizens to hold the government accountable for the consequences of its cybersecurity policy.

    • Mark Zuckerberg’s advice to parents: Don’t ban Facebook
    • Ninth Circuit hears NSA program challenge

      On Monday, the Ninth Circuit held oral argument in Smith v. Obama, a Fourth Amendment challenge to the Section 215 telephony metadata program. You can watch a video of the argument here. The panel consisted of Judges Hawkins, McKeown, and Tallman. This was the third argument by a federal circuit involving a challenge to the telephony metadata program. The others are the Second Circuit and the DC Circuit, neither of which has handed down a ruling yet.

    • Judges hear arguments over NSA surveillance
    • NSA’s phone spying program extended 90 days
    • EX-KGB AGENT CLAIMS RUSSIA TOLD ANNA CHAPMAN TO SEDUCE EDWARD SNOWDEN IN MOSCOW
    • Report: Russian Spy Anna Chapman Tried to Seduce Edward Snowden

      NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was targeted by flame-haired former spy Anna Chapman, The Sunday People reports.

      According to the British newspaper, former KGB agent Boris Karpichkov, who has defected to the West, says the Kremlin laid out a plan for Chapman, 32, to lure Snowden, 31, into staying in the country so Russian intelligence officials could try to talk to him about American security secrets.

    • Russian Spy ‘Tried To Seduce’ NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden Into Spilling U.S. Security Secrets, Former Agent Reveals

      The flame-haired 32-year-old was reportedly hired by the Kremlin to lure 31-year-old Snowden into staying in the country so that Russian intelligence officials could continue to question him about U.S. security secrets, The Sunday People reported.

    • Edward Snowden: Russian sex bomb spy Anna Chapman ordered to seduce US whistleblower, defector reveals

      Anna, 32, even proposed marriage to Snowden, 31, on the orders of Russian ­intelligence high command.

    • Udall will be missed on critical issues such as CIA torture, NSA spying

      Coincidence? Maybe. My sites haven’t crashed for months; then all of a sudden, I post a story on CIA torture and … poof. Offline for 12-plus hours. Then a black helicopter started circling my house and … JK on that last part.

      [...]

      If you voted for Gardner, you can expect that lack of public discourse and transparency for the next six years. Congratulations. Gardner doesn’t even bother to have his people email or call reporters back, especially if they have tough questions.

      And if you’re a Democrat who didn’t bother to get out and vote for Udall, you get the government you deserve, and clearly you’re OK with the CIA and the NSA watching your every move, torturing terrorism suspects without filing charges and executing U.S. citizens anywhere they want with illegal drone strikes.

    • NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to address French public

      NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is to address the French public for the first time on Wednesday.

    • Bill to Halt NSA Warrantless Surveillance, Passed by House, Quietly Dropped before Going to Senate

      The do-nothing House of Representatives almost slipped up and did something to protect Americans’ privacy.

      The House passed a government funding bill that included an amendment that would have ended the ability of the National Security Agency to conduct “backdoor” warrantless surveillance of the content of Americans’ electronic communications under section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. The provisions also would have stopped a mandate for technology providers to give law enforcement and other agencies an easy way to tap citizens’ communications.

    • Backroom Move Strips ‘Backdoor’ NSA Spying Ban From Spending Bill

      Congressional leaders have quietly deleted a measure meant to stop the National Security Agency’s “backdoor” surveillance of American communications from a major spending bill.

      The House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted in June to ban the NSA from searching for Americans’ communications in surveillance collected while targeting foreigners. But the omnibus spending package unveiled Tuesday night — a piece of legislation that must pass to avoid a government showdown — chucks that NSA safeguard.

    • Wickr – A Top Secret Messenger App For Linux, Windows, Android, And iOS

      Wickr is free, peer-to-peer encrypted messaging application for Linux, Windows, iOS, and Android. It was founded by a group of security experts in San Francisco for private communication. They define Wicker as a top secret messenger which means that nobody can track down the wickr users activities. You can send text messages, documents, audio/video, and pictures to a single or group of users. Also, you can retain the ownership of your own messages or media you share with your group. It allows you to set the expiration time to your messages, so the messages will be completely wiped out after a particular period of time. Wickr team assures that no conversions can be tracked or monitored by anyone, even by the Wickr team themselves.

    • Drone footage of former NSA spy station in Germany

      Ruptly’s drone soared over a derelict site, once home to one of the NSA’s largest listening stations, located in the north of Berlin’s Grunewald Forest.

      The US National Security Agency (NSA) built one of its biggest listening stations on top of a hill, and began surveillance operations from there in 1961, while construction of a permanent facility, known as USM 620 Kilo, began in 1963. Giant 12-meter (39 ft) satellite dishes on the site’s two towers enabled the NSA to intercept satellite signals, radio waves, and other transmissions, before interpreting and analyzing their findings. As the hill was located in the British sector of Berlin, the British and Americans co-operated on spying progams as part of the worldwide ECHELON spy network.

    • Hidden Electronic Eavesdropping Equipment Discovered in Downtown Oslo, Norway

      Spy equipment that can be used to eavesdrop on the mobile phones of politicians and ordinary Norwegians has been discovered in several places in the Oslo area, including close to the country’s parliament, newspaper Aftenposten has revealed.

      The equipment, hidden in fake mobile base stations, can be used to monitor all mobile activity in the vicinity. The paper conducted tests close important buildings in central Oslo and discovered a number of the devices, including close to the prime minister’s residence on Parkveien and close to the government offices.

      The purpose of the equipment appears to have been to find out who was entering and passing parliament, the government offices and other buildings in the area. It could also be used to listen to phone calls and monitor data traffic of selected people in the area, the paper says.

  • Civil Rights
    • Amid Details on Torture, Data on 26 Who Were Held in Error
    • CIA torture: How do we stop the torture next time?

      After America was forced to face the CIA’s use of torture after 9/11 by the US Senate torture report, Peter Foster in Washington asks if enough has been done to prevent it ever happening again.

    • British Intelligence Agencies Come Under Scrutiny After CIA Report Released
    • UK denies ‘unlawful’ activity claims were hidden in CIA report
    • Britain convulsed by its dirty secret in wake of CIA torture report
    • CIA revelations put UK spies under scrutiny
    • CIA report: UK defends actions over interrogation claims

      None of the redactions from a CIA report on interrogation related to British involvement in the mistreatment of prisoners, Number 10 has said.

    • Jim Murphy, Torture Apologist
    • CIA Torture Report: Obama administration continues to torture Guantanamo Bay detainees, says Reprieve
    • CIA on the Couch

      Why there would have been no torture without the psychologists.

    • What happened to the CIA torture report’s cast of characters

      The report examines how agents brutally interrogated prisoners at black sites around the world in the aftermath of 9/11, and is a revealing look at the government officials who created the secret program and those who carried it out.

    • CIA torture report: Prosecute US officials, says UN chief

      Senior US officials found to have sanctioned the use of torture by the CIA should face the “gravest penalties”, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism said.

    • CIA torture report sparks renewed calls to prosecute senior US officials

      A UN expert on human rights has repeated his call for the US to live up to its international legal obligations and prosecute senior officials who authorised the use of torture.

      Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, said Eric Holder, the US attorney general, is under an international obligation to reopen inquiries into senior officials alleged to have breached human rights.

    • I interrogated the top terrorist in US custody. Then the CIA came to town

      The Senate report exposed an orchestrated campaign of deception and lies while I was an FBI agent. But here’s the worst part: the lies haven’t stopped

      [...]

      One of the hardest things we struggled to make sense of, back then, was why US officials were authorizing harsh techniques when our interrogations were working and their harsh techniques weren’t. The answer, as the long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee report now makes clear, is that the architects of the program were taking credit for our success, from the unmasking of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the mastermind of 9/11 to the uncovering of the “dirty bomber” Jose Padilla. The claims made by government officials for years about the efficacy of “enhanced interrogation”, in secret memos and in public, are false. “Enhanced interrogation” doesn’t work.

    • President George W Bush ‘knew everything’ about CIA interrogation

      Former US President George W Bush was “fully informed” about CIA interrogation techniques condemned in a Senate report, his vice-president says.

    • Cheney: George W. Bush Was Fully Aware Of The CIA Torture Program

      President George W Bush was fully aware and an “integral part” of the CIA’s torture of terror suspects, his vice-president Dick Cheney said Wednesday.

    • CIA Torture Made Latin America Safe for China

      If you want to see how the use of torture has undermined U.S. influence and power, look at Latin America. From San Salvador to Santiago, the continent’s citizens are all too familiar with the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation techniques. Some still have the mental and physical scars to prove it.

    • Rectal rehydration and waterboarding: the CIA torture report’s grisliest findings
    • CIA ‘violated human rights’ – Afghan president

      Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said the CIA’s brutal interrogation programme “violated all accepted norms of human rights in the world”.

      He is among many world leaders condemning how the agency imprisoned and questioned al-Qaeda suspects.

      A US Senate report on the programme has said the harsh methods did not lead to unique intelligence that foiled plots.

    • Why Dick Cheney and the CIA don’t need to worry about international criminal charges

      The release of portions of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s interrogation techniques added fine touches to a picture we already knew in broad strokes. The agency’s “enhanced interrogation” included physical abuse, sleep deprivation, waterboarding and something called “rectal feeding.”

      Though much of this was known, at least in the abstract, the added level of detail evoked a predictable international response. The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson, released a statement that presented the end game: criminal charges, not only for the CIA agents involved, but also for “former Bush Administration officials who have admitted their involvement in the programme.”

      [...]

      The International Criminal Court is the only international venue that could try an American for his or her actions in the CIA’s interrogation program. There are territorial and temporary courts — the tribunals dealing with Yugoslavia or Rwanda, for example — but only the ICC is poised to take action if an individual country won’t. That’s key: The ICC has “complementary” jurisdiction, meaning that it will step in only if a local or national court is unable or unwilling to do so.

    • Why won’t Barack Obama prosecute CIA torturers?

      The graphic and unsparing report released this week on the CIA’s use of torture has prompted widespread calls for criminal charges to be brought against American spies involved in the agency’s detention programme.

      But while the White House has said it condemns the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” it is steadfastly refusing to prosecute those who ordered the torture or carried it out.

    • Police union: Miami chief’s statements on Eric Garner’s death ‘do not reflect the views’ of local officers

      Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa appeared on South Florida’s ABC affiliate over the weekend for a discussion about law enforcement in America. During the WPLG show, Orosa noted that he had watched video of Eric Garner’s deadly encounter with a New York police officer.

    • Miami Police Union Slams Chief For Defending Eric Garner

      In the wake of this weekend’s boisterous protests that twice shut down 195 and clogged streets from Wynwood to Midtown, Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa sat down with Michael Putney on Channel 10 last night. Orosa was surprisingly blunt about the Eric Garner case in New York, telling Putney that he believes the NYC cops who put Garner in a chokehold before his death will be indicted for federal civil rights violations.

    • Cops use taser on woman while she recorded arrest of another man

      Video of the March 30 melee surfaced online this week. Police erased the 135-second recording from the woman’s phone, but it was recovered from her cloud account, according to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City lawsuit (PDF), which seeks $7 million.

      [...]

      Mwamba was arrested on charges of assault for allegedly trying to run over two officers. Charges were dropped, and she suffered cuts and bruises.

    • Silk Road Judge: I Won’t Reveal Witnesses Because Ulbricht Could Have Them Killed

      When alleged Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht’s trial begins in less than a month, he’ll face charges of narcotics conspiracy, money laundering, and computer fraud—not murder. But the specter of violence is creeping into Ulbricht’s trial nonetheless. The prosecution and judge in his case have now refused to let him know which witnesses will be testifying against him for fear that he might orchestrate their killing from his jail cell.

    • I Was There When an Undercover Cop Pulled a Gun on Unarmed Protesters in Oakland. Here’s How It Happened.

      Over the past 24 hours, photos showing a plainclothes police officer pulling a gun on unarmed protesters in Oakland have gone viral. Tens of thousands of people, and news outlets like Gawker, Buzzfeed, The Guardian, and NBC have shared them, often including outraged comments. But there have been few accounts of what exactly happened, and how the incident came to pass.

    • Attorney General Won’t Force New York Times Reporter to Reveal Source

      Attorney General Eric Holder has decided against forcing a reporter for the New York Times to reveal the identity of a confidential source, according to a senior Justice Department official.

      The reporter, James Risen, has been battling for years to stop prosecutors from forcing him to name his source for a book that revealed a CIA effort to sabotage Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

      The government wanted Risen’s testimony in the trial of a former CIA official, Jeffrey Sterling, accused of leaking classified information.

    • CIA’s Brennan: I Think We’ve Had Enough Transparency For The Time Being

      The CIA’s Director John Brennan spoke out about this week’s release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA Torture Report — and to say he wasn’t pleased about the report would be an understatement. Rather amazingly, in real-time as Brennan spoke, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s staffers did a real time rebuttal/fact-check to his speech via Twitter, with each statement punctuated with the hashtag #ReadTheReport. Brennan’s tap dancing concerning the report included a number of jaw dropping statements, but I wanted to focus on two specific ones.

    • CIA’s Brennan has had enough torture talk, wants to move on
  • DRM
    • Telling people how to remove DRM isn’t illegal

      We all know that it’s against the law to sell copyrighted material, but is it also illegal to tell people about software that can strip DRM off e-books without the intention to distribute? New York Judge Denise Cote has recently ruled that it’s not. The lawsuit in question, which was never cut and dry to begin with, was filed by Penguin and Simon & Schuster against Abbey House Media, a company that used to sell e-books for them. Abbey House was bound by law to protect those files with DRM, but when it was a month away from shutting down its digital bookstore in 2013, someone in the company felt compelled to help customers gain control of the e-books they already bought.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • Launching CollabMark Project to Hack Trademarks for Free Culture.

        oday, we launched CollabMark — a project to provide information about how open source and free culture communities can use trademarks.

        A project’s identity is important. Trademarks empower communities to protect their identity and build a strong reputation to recruit new members and distribute their work. But trademarks also impose some restrictions that are challenging for groups that thrive on freedom and decentralization. With CollabMark seeks to offer some strategies to collaborative communities, including a Collaborative Mark Policy that they can adopt to protect their name and logo in an open way.

    • Copyrights
      • Leak Exposes Hollywood’s Global Anti-Piracy Strategy

        Leaked documents reveal in detail how Hollywood plans to take on piracy in the years to come. One of the top priorities for the MPAA are cyberlockers and illegal streaming sites, with lawsuits planned in the UK, Germany and Canada. Torrent sites are a medium priority, which the MPAA hopes to fight with criminal prosecutions, domain seizures and site blocking.

      • Important “Innocence of Muslims” Copyright Case To Be Re-Argued Monday

        A panel of eleven Ninth Circuit federal judges will hear oral arguments Monday in a rehearing of Garcia v. Google, a copyright case arising from the notorious “Innocence of Muslims” video that was associated with violent protests around the world. The appellant, Cindy Lee Garcia, argues that she holds a copyright in her five-second performance in the video, and because she was tricked into participating, that the video uses that performance without permission. EFF and many other public interest groups have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the case, noting (among other concerns) that it is a matter of firmly established law that actors generally do not have a copyright in their performances.

      • Project Goliath: Inside Hollywood’s secret war against Google

        What is “Goliath” and why are Hollywood’s most powerful lawyers working to kill it?

        In dozens of recently leaked emails from the Sony hack, lawyers from the MPAA and six major studios talk about “Goliath” as their most powerful and politically relevant adversary in the fight against online piracy. They speak of “the problems created by Goliath,” and worry “what Goliath could do if it went on the attack.” Together they mount a multi-year effort to “respond to / rebut Goliath’s public advocacy” and “amplify negative Goliath news.” And while it’s hard to say for sure, significant evidence suggests that the studio efforts may be directed against Google.

      • Furious Google Ended MPAA Anti-Piracy Cooperation

        After delivering a major blow to torrent sites during October, Google must’ve thought the MPAA would be pleased. Instead, however, the MPAA issued a ‘snarky’ press release. According to a leaked email, the press release so infuriated Google’s top brass that the company ended cooperation with the MPAA.

        Each week Google removes millions of ‘infringing’ links from search engine results at rightsholders’ request, 9.1m during the last documented week alone. In the main Google removes these links within hours of receiving a complaint, a record few other large sites can match.

        But no matter what Google does, no matter how it tweaks its search algorithms, it’s never been enough for the MPAA. For years the movie group has been piling on the pressure and whenever Google announces a new change, the MPAA (and often RIAA) tell the press that more can be done.

      • Surprise: Spanish Newspapers Beg Government And EU To Stop Google News Shutting Down

        What makes this situation even more ridiculous is that, according to the ABC.es newspaper, German publishers are now asking Angela Merkel to change the manifestly broken German approach to using news snippets online, by copying the even more backward-looking Spanish law (original in Spanish.) Once again, it seems that an obsession with “protecting” copyright from imaginary harm causes otherwise rational people to lose the ability to think properly.

Time to Take Microsoft Out of British Aviation Before Planes Crash Into Buildings

Saturday 13th of December 2014 12:29:16 PM

Fault-intolerant systems with back doors a recipe for disaster

Summary: London’s mighty Heathrow Airport among those affected by a Microsoft-reliant air traffic control system which is not being able to properly recover from an outage, and not for the first time either

BRITS were aviation pioneers and arguably the fathers of aviation (depending on which version of history and definitions one picks). But British aviation, which is well beyond just British Airways in this globalised world, lost the confidence of much of the world yesterday. That’s for two reasons. First, an incident was reported where a drone came just 6 meters away from physical collision with a civilians-filled commercial plane (high capacity with many passengers) and simultaneously there were reports like [1, 2, 3, 4] about the computer system in of of the busiest airports in the whole world malfunctioning or altogether failing to operate while planes come (or are supposed to leave) at a pace of about one per minute. Everyone keeps asking, who is responsible for this? Curiously enough almost nobody calls out Windows. The press should know that a Windows error is not “computer error” (even The Independent, which is relatively decent British press, failed to note this). London must have been nuts to have chosen NATS, which heavily relies on Microsoft and Windows. National Air Traffic Services (NATS) is, according to a Microsoft booster, a huge Microsoft client:

Gavin Clarke writes: National Air Traffic Services (NATS) at Swanwick in Hampshire, is a major customer of Microsoft with Windows on PCs and servers, and Office 2010 under a volume Enterprise Agreement.

NATS has upgraded to Windows 7 from XP on the desktop. It also has a load of RISC boxes and IBM gear, we’re told. There’s no indication what component of the network was at fault at this time.

Air traffic services are run by a relatively small IT team with knowhow and support from Lockheed Martin. Common-or-garden tech is outsourced to Serco, Capgemini, Amore Group Attenda, BT and Vodafone.

So blame everyone except Microsoft, right? This has become an International embarrassment for London, a tourists magnet that truly helps the British economy, and it’s due to dependence on Microsoft Windows. This is the second time it happens in about a year, so how safe are tourists going to feel? There is no need for terrorists to crash planes into buildings when Microsoft Windows crashes, leaving pilots and ground control unable to properly navigate in very busy skies (many planes fly over London all day long). NATS “is a major customer of Microsoft Windows on PCs and servers,” based on a person close to Microsoft, so what can one deduce from this? NATS has no technical skills for having chosen a platform with back doors and no resilience/error recovery comparable to that of Linux (and GNU). London’s airport authorities should take a lesson from LSE (London Stock Exchange) and move to GNU/Linux. “In December 2013, a computer problem at Swanwick took 12 hours to fix,” says one of the articles above, so it’s a recurring issue, much like LSE’s issues, which used to fall offline repeatedly for long periods of time because of Microsoft (there is no news about LSE crashes since it moved to GNU/Linux). Windows is clearly not fault-resilient, just like in LSE’s case, as the Windows-based systems failed to recover from a short outage. Microsoft’s file systems are ancient and there are other factors that make Windows too immature for real-world applications. Pilots reportedly lost persistent contact with staff on the ground, for the second time in about a year. Planes may not run Windows (there is Linux in parts of them), but they depend on what is used on the ground. Each country each its own system/s, but overlap exists,.

“Do we need to see passenger planes falling down on a city with about 10 million people (daytime population is even greater) before action is demanded and change is implemented?”Do we need to see passenger planes falling down on a city with about 10 million people (daytime population is even greater) before action is demanded and change is implemented? Judging by some of the latest news about the latest build of Windows, quality control is still worse than anything. Useds [sics] of Vista 10 are now forced to go back to last month’s back doors, demonstrating that Microsoft Windows is still one of the worst operating systems one can put on a PC (never mind a server):

USERS OF THE WINDOWS 10 Technical Preview have been advised to uninstall Microsoft Office before applying this month’s Patch Tuesday security updates, then to reinstall it.

Testers have been warned since the announcement and release of the Preview to expect complications and irregularities with the operating system as it is in no way considered finished.

It is rather an opportunity for people to feed back on its development before consumer release in the second half of 2015.

Also worthy of note in the December 2014 Patch Tuesday is that none of the seven updates affects users of the Microsoft Surface tablet range.

The seven updates provide fixes for 24 vulnerabilities, four rated critical and three rated important.

Do not let aviation system become on an operation system with NSA back doors (meaning that mission-critical systems can be hijacked and manipulated for sabotage, as in the case of Stuxnet). It is worse than irresponsible and in some circumstances it can put people with suits in jail, just like that boat incident in South Korea. Ignorance is not an excuse and we needn’t wait for a disaster (actual death, not just blue screen of death) before the Trojan horse is dumped. Remember the cause of the Spanair crash and also what sank BP's platform and contaminated the Gulf of Mexico. Then too the blue screen of death meant deaths; Many deaths, not just of people, and not only short-term.

News From France and Germany: Battistelli Under Fire, But Not Fired Yet, Just Firing His Opposition

Saturday 13th of December 2014 11:39:32 AM



Benoît Battistelli with one of his bosses from the multinational corporations

Summary: The régime headed by Benoît Battistelli and his criminal deputy continues to overthrow or pressure out everyone who is not ‘loyal’ to the régime

Benoît Battistelli’s reign of terror is coming to an end. He has become a laughing stock inside the organisation he proclaims to be managing. He is being vastly outnumbered by his opposition, so claiming that his opposition is a small dissenting voice or “muck raking” won’t work. People no longer need to fear him, especially if they remain united against him (he cannot lay off or euphemistically “suspend” half of his staff).

According to various reports, like this one from Switzerland (not part of the European Union but definitely EPO-focused), says that both patent scope (or quality) and independence are under fire. The EPO is not a corporation and managing/aligning it against the interests of European people should not be tolerated. Not even EPO staff – i.e. potential short-term benefactors in case of patent maximalism (in the long term it discredits the system and repels clients) – is willing to tolerate that. IP Watch says: “While some European Patent Office (EPO) employees strike on 10 December, many are waiting to see what the Administrative Council (AC), the office’s supervisory body, will do about the growing tension between EPO President Benoît Battistelli and his staff.

“The AC, composed of representatives from EPO member states, has been confronted with claims that patent examiners will no longer be able to ensure patent quality standards if Battistelli’s proposed “New Career System” (NCS) is approved.”

Another European site covered recent events involving the Administrative Council and according to Merpel from IP Kat, Battistelli has come under fire from yet more judges, namely:

  1. Sweden: Per Carlson, President of the Market Court
  2. Switzerland: Katherine Klett, Swiss Federal Supreme Court
  3. Cyprus: Stelios Nathaniel, Judge Supreme Court of Cyprus
  4. Denmark: Henrik Rothe, Chief Justice the Maritime & Commercial High Court
  5. Romania: Octvia Spineanu-Matei, High Court of Cassation and Justice
  6. Finland: Ari Wiren, Judge

Some “muck raking”, eh? That’s what Battistelli might wish to label it, albeit this would backfire on him. Some also serve as external members of the Enlarged Board of Appeal, so basically these are in some sense colleagues not ‘loyal’ to the authoritarian and arrogant Battistelli.

There is already political action and pressure from the press against Battistelli.

“There is already political action and pressure from the press against Battistelli.”Jean-Yves Leconte, of France, was recently mentioned here for his actions on this matter. Here is more from him. A new press article from Les Echos writes about what goes on at the patent office and covers the action taken by judges after an unprecedented suspension by of Battistelli. This shows that the biggest stakeholders at EPO no longer want Battistelli. He is probably on his way out (sooner or later).

Not only the French press writes about this (because of Battistelli’s French nationality). The German press too covers it. The Frankfurter Rundschau reports about the revolt against Battistelli (at many levels) and other German media provides coverage of the protests (in German). Watch a patent maximalists’ site framing the problem as a transparency issue. Complete nonsense from patent lawyers. It’s a straw man, just like Battistelli’s (he pretends that “transparency” or lack of understanding is the problem).

German lobbyist Florian Müller published a decent analysis and roundup of the recent developments following the suspension of a judge by Battistelli’s régime:

On its website, the European Patent Office has published a “communiqué” concerning this week’s meeting of the Administrative Council (AC) of the European Patent Organisation (the international body running the EPO) that contains a sybilline sentence on the suspension of an EPO-internal judge (member of a board of appeal) for disciplinary reasons. The suspension was widely criticized, including but not limited to a letter by (internal) members of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA) to the AC, a letter by two external EBA members, Lord Justice Floyd and high-ranking Dutch court official Robert van Peursem, which was subsequently endorsed by leading patent judges from six other countries, and an email sent by a German patent litigator to his country’s AC member.

[...]

If this sentence explicitly mentioned a reprimand of President Battistelli for compromising judicial independence, its meaning and its significance would be clear. However, “an incident unique in the history of the EPO” is vague enough that this could also mean unanimous backing of the executive’s action and concern over whatever the suspended judge may have done. That interpretation is less likely to be correct than disagreement with the way the executive leadership handled the matter, but it can’t be ruled out completely in light of the unanimous endorsement of the suspension.

[...]

Coverage of this scandal in the general press will also play a key role. I heard that a Munich area center-right newspaper, Münchner Merkur, published an article in yesterday’s print edition, entitled “Die letzte Diktatur auf deutschem Boden” (“the sole remaining dictatorship on German soil”). Things can’t stay that way forever. The AC’s “communiqué” should be interpreted by the IP sector and by innovative companies depending on high-quality patents (I heard from an unofficial source that a compensation scheme with potentially disastrous implications for European patent quality was approved yesterday) as an invitation to push even harder for serious reform. It shows that all these recent efforts, by EPO staff and by others, didn’t go unnoticed, but they will one day have been in vain unless there’s even more pressure now.

The EPO is now in ‘damage control’ mode. It has published two updates in one day (yesterday) after almost 2 months of silence. Here is the first update:

Communique on decisions taken by the Administrative Council at its 142nd meeting concerning senior employees and appointments and reappointments to the Boards of Appeal

The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 142nd meeting in Munich on 10 and 11 December 2014 under the chairmanship of Jesper KONGSTAD (DK).

The Council addressed a number of points concerning senior employees and the Boards of Appeal. Specifically, the Council addressed disciplinary arrangements applicable to senior employees appointed by the Council under Article 11 (1)(2)(3) EPC and, noting its obligations under Article 11(4) EPC, agreed to set up a Council Disciplinary Committee.

The Council took this opportunity to reiterate its full endorsement of and support for the principle of independence of the members of the Boards of Appeal, as specifically set out in Article 23 EPC and generally embodied in internationally recognised principles of judicial independence.

The Council also made four re-appointments of members of the Enlarged Board of Appeal and Chairmen and legally qualified members of the of Boards of Appeal pursuant to Art 11(3) EPC, as well as a total of twelve appointments and re-appointments of legally qualified members of the Enlarged Board of Appeal pursuant to Art 11(5) EPC.

On a proposal from the President of the Office, the Council addressed and carefully considered a particular issue concerning alleged misconduct by a Council appointee under Article 11 (3) EPC. As a precautionary and conservative measure without anticipating any further steps which may ensue, the Council unanimously decided to suspend the person concerned from active duty on full salary until 31 March 2015. The Council requested the investigation to be completed as soon as possible, in order to allow it to decide on the next steps. The Council expressed its concern at an incident unique in the history of EPO.

Details of the appointments and reappointments as well as of other decisions taken by the Council at this meeting will be published separately.

Council Secretariat

Kongstad exists to protect Battistelli and his cronies, so he too is part of the problem, not the solution. Here is a later update about Kongstad’s flawed ‘regulation’/administration:

142nd meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (Munich, 10 and 11 December 2014)

The Administrative Council held its 142nd meeting in Munich on 10 and 11 December 2014
with Jesper Kongstad, Director General of the Danish Patent Office, in the chair.

After the Chairman’s report on the last meetings of the Board of the Administrative Council, the President of the European Patent Office, Benoît Battistelli, presented his activities report. The Council expressed its clear satisfaction.

The Council then exchanged information on strategic matters within the Organisation and on the social climate and addressed a particular issue concerning alleged misconduct by a Council appointee under Article 11 (3) EPC, reported separately on this website.

Further, the Council proceeded with a series of appointments and re-appointments to positions in the boards of appeal.

Later, the Council heard status reports on the Unitary patent and related developments as well as on substantive patent law harmonisation.

Lastly, the Council adopted a reform of the career system as well as the draft budget for 2015.

Council Secretariat

So basically Kongstad (one of the president’s cronies) keeps attacking the EPO’s staff. This is the sort of behaviour that even Stalin would be envious of. An activist site of EPO staff says that “EPO President Battistelli threatens the staff representatives – again!!!”

To quote the site’s framing of the latest developments: “Each Central Staff Committee (CSC) member has personally received a series of three highly threatening letters from the President, dated 4 December 2014. The members of the LSCs have also received the letter dealing with nominations to the Internal Appeals Committee (IAC). Within one week after receipt of the letters, 2 local members in Munich and 1 central member in The Hague have resigned. The staff representation has now lost 4 members 6 months only after the new elections under the “Social Democracy” framework. In this publication, the CSC responds to the threats of the President.”

Battistelli and his cronies need to be toppled before they managed to sack or drive out all of their opposition scaring the rest into silence and passivity. The crimes of Battistelli or his cronies will be the subject of future posts in Techrights. Battistelli’s tactics against his opposition are similar to how proponents of “War on Terror” handle dissent; if someone disagree, then just label that someone a threat and eliminate him/her to eradicate an uprise.

Links 12/12/2014: Linux++, KDE Frameworks 5.5.0, Calligra 2.8.7

Friday 12th of December 2014 11:27:31 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • The Best Terminal Emulators for Linux

    If you’re a fan of Linux, you know the exact reason why it’s awesome – the command line. Though many outsiders view it as only a “hacker tool,” it’s actually one of the best tools available for any operating system. The Linux shell has the ability to install software, manage your operating system and basically everything else.

    To interact with the command line, you’ll need a terminal emulator. There are many terminal emulators available – perhaps too many. There are a lot of good ones and a lot of bad ones out there. It is because of this reason we’ve decided to create a list of five great terminal emulators available on Linux.

  • Why I rarely file bug reports

    “Any chance of a bug report?” a developer asked when I mentioned a problem with an application on social media. As a free software supporter, I felt an obligation to oblige, but in practice, the chance was slim. For those of us who don’t regularly file bugs, the process is usually too demanding, and too dependent on bureaucratic whim to seem worth the effort.

  • HP’s Big Slap-In-The-Face To Microsoft Will Show Up Next Year

    The operating system is called Linux++, and is part of HP’s ambitious project to reinvent the computer, reports MIT Technology Review’s Tom Simonite.

    Ultimately, HP hopes to replace Linux++ with something even more radical and homegrown, an operating system called Carbon, though it hasn’t talked about a timeline for that yet.

  • Has The Russian Government Moved To GNU/Linux As Planned?

    There is another plan which almost certainly will involve replacing Wintel PCs with GNU/Linux PCs gradually, by a million units per annum, the move to Baikal processors, a derivative of ARM. Recently, in response to sanctions over Ukraine, Russia will officially prefer home-grown “solutions” for IT. There are signs of a digital “cold” war emerging and the world’s IT is dependent on several components originating in Russia. Such pressures will surely accelerate migration to GNU/Linux in Russia. It’s a short cut to independence.

  • Linux Continues to Grow in the Cloud Computing and Implementation of Enterprise Applications

    The operating system of most famous open source is gaining ground in business particularly in cloud computing, according to a report from the Linux Foundation and Yeoman Technology Group.

    The Linux Foundation has published a study called “2014 Enterprise End User Trends Report” that shows the steady growth of Linux in the market for large companies, especially in recent years driven by factors such as the growth of cloud computing, in addition to its known qualities in terms of safety, capacity deployment, costs or virtualization.

  • Desktop
    • Must-have Linux desktop apps (Six Clicks)

      There’s nothing I can’t do on my Linux PCs that requires Windows. It’s really that simple.

      On my Linux Mint 17.1 desktop, I can run Windows games, thanks to Crossover, and run thousands of native games including many Steam-powered games. In addition, I don’t need to worry about anti-virus software since, despite all the FUD, there still hasn’t been a successful desktop Linux virus.

      Let’s get down to business: Here are the six applications I use every day to get my work done and keep in touch with my friends. Unless you have some particular program that’s Windows only, I think you’ll find these six programs may answer for all your daily needs as well.

  • Server
    • Containers, microservices, and orchestrating the whole symphony

      The microservices architecture is far from a new trend; it’s generally accepted as a better way to build apps these days. The common way to build apps was, until a few years ago, the monolithic approach—which was, if you look at it from a functional perspective, basically one deployment unit that does everything. Monolithic apps are good for small scale teams and projects, but when you need something that has a larger scale and involves many teams, it starts to become problematic. It’s much harder to make changes, as the code base becomes bigger and more people make changes to it.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux leader: Dependency on a platform is good for the platform

      Zemlin’s statement preceded the announcement Tuesday that the Cloud Foundry Foundation, representing the financial backing for open source projects, has been successfully spun off into an agency unto itself. It will remain intertwined with the Linux Foundation, however, in that Linux will become a contracting service provider to Cloud Foundry.

    • diff -u: What’s New in Kernel Development

      Containers are very tricky to implement. Trying to isolate sets of resources from each other completely, so that they resemble a discrete system, and doing it in a secure way, has to be addressed on a feature-by-feature basis, with many caveats and uncertainties. Over time, this makes the core kernel code more secure and robust, but each individual feature may have surprising issues.

      The whole namespace idea—corralling subsets of system resources like user IDs and group IDs, and performing on-the-fly translations between the resource names within the container and the corresponding names in the outer system—is tough to manage.

      Recently, Marian Marinov noticed that process counters in the outer system counted processes as being owned by the same user if his or her UIDs (user IDs) were the same inside two separate containers. The same was true for GIDs (group IDs). He didn’t like this, because the two containers represented two logically isolated systems, and in that context, the same UIDs could refer to different users entirely. They shouldn’t be counted together.

    • Linux 3.19 To Have Full Multi-Touch For More Logitech Devices

      Jiri Kosina has lined up his HID subsystem changes for the Linux 3.19 kernel that include more multi-touch device work and other input improvements.

    • XFS Has Improvements To Look Forward To With Linux 3.19

      One of the latest pull requests for the Linux 3.19 kernel is the XFS file-system changes.

    • Benchmarks
  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE Frameworks 5.5.0 Released
      • Release of KDE Frameworks 5.5.0

        This release is part of a series of planned monthly releases making improvements available to developers in a quick and predictable manner.

      • Calligra 2.8.7 is Out

        Packages for the release of KDE’s document suite Calligra 2.8.7 are available for Kubuntu 14.10. You can get it from the Kubuntu Updates PPA. They are also in our development version Vivid.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • 4MLinux Is So Lightweight It’s Anemic

        I worked with the all-in-one version of 4MLinux for several days, and I had a very frustrating experience trying to deal with the little distro that could not. The separate mini distros had a few usability issues too. I was disappointed by the minimalistic software inventory. Unless you install them to the hard drive, very few of the included apps actually run.

    • Screenshots
    • Gentoo Family
      • Gentoo Monthly Newsletter: November 2014

        The Gentoo Council addressed a few miscellaneous matters this month.

        The first concerned tinderbox reports to bugs. There was a bit of a back-and-forth in bugzilla with a dispute over whether bugs generated from tinderbox runs that contained logs attached as URLs instead of as files could be closed as INVALID. Normally the use of URLs is discouraged to improve the long-term usability of the bugs. Since efforts were already underway to try to automatically convert linked logs into attached logs it was felt that closing bugs as INVALID was counterproductive.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 Beta is here

        Time, and operating system developments wait on no one. Only a few months ago Red Hat released Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7 and now the RHEL 7.1 beta has landed on our doorsteps.

      • Fedora
        • Fedora 21 Raves & DRM Happiness

          But the real reason behind Fedora 21’s success? It’s an odd-numbered release. Historically, the odd-numbered releases have always been better than the even-numbered ones. Don’t ask me why. There’s no documentation or detailed research to prove why it happens this way. It’s just a physical law of the universe.

        • Red Hat 7.1 Beta, Malware History, and Bug Reports

          In the Linux feeds this evening was the announcement of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 Beta. In other news, Jon Gold takes us down Linux malware memory lane and Derrik Diener looks at some terminal emulators – one that was new to me. Elsewhere Bruce Byfield discusses why he don’t file bug reports and Jack Germain says 4MLinux is so lightweight it’s anemic.

    • Debian Family
  • Devices/Embedded
    • Phones
      • Android
        • Google releases Cardboard VR viewer specs and SDKs

          The Android SDK enables applications with features including lens distortion correction, head tracking, 3D calibration, and side-by-side rendering. Other features include stereo geometry configuration and user input event handling.

        • Sharing with Qt on Android

          We just release a new version of GiraffPanic – a logic mobile game written with Qt and QML. In the new version we give the users the possibility to share unlock codes with each other to unlock new levels. So we wanted to have a nice way to share the code between devices without any need to copy paste them (codes) into another application. After trying a lot of different approaches (that did not work), we found it is possible to invoke the native Android share menu from within our application. Using this method keeps our own code quite tidy and supports all the ways of sharing provided by the host device.

        • Game of Thrones adventure released for Android

          I’m a huge fan of the and . I’ve read through the books a number of times, and watched the show even more. There’s always some little angle or juicy tidbit to find in the books, you just can’t read them once to take it all in. No matter how attentive a reader you are, you’ll definitely miss things as George R.R. Martin puts little hints and foreshadowings all over the place.

        • BlueZ 5.26 Taks Aim At Bluetooth 4.2 & Android 5.0

          BlueZ, the Linux Bluetooth stack, boasts more features with today’s release of version 5.26.

          BlueZ 5.26 most notably adds support for Android 5.0 Bluetooth features and support for Bluetooth 4.2 commands and events. BlueZ 5.26 also supports the Low-Energy Secure Connections feature of Bluetooth, HID over GATT get and set report handling, and version 1.2 of the Phonebook Access Profile. BlueZ 5.26 also packs various fixes.

Free Software/Open Source
  • HubSpot Is Now Aiming to Solve DevOps with New Tool

    The company, traditionally focused on marketing software, is to eventually aiming to make the new product open source.

  • Cisco Announces Plan to Reinvent Snort 3 IPS

    The user friendliness is being enabled in part by way of a new command line shell that leverages the open-source Lua language.

    There is also a plan to have a simpler language for Snort rules. Roesch explained that the new rules language will be more streamlined than the existing language. The goal for the new rules language is for both humans and machines to be able to more easily read and write Snort policies.

    The most current stable open-source Snort release is version 2.9.7.0, but that doesn’t imply that the new Snort 3.0 release will be coming within the next three regular Snort release update cycles. Roesch said he doesn’t mind having a Snort 2.10.0 or an even higher number, emphasizing that the development of Snort 3 will take its due and proper course.

  • Events
    • How many LibrePlanet scholarships will we give?

      We’re excited to announce our first keynote speaker for LibrePlanet 2015: Karen Sandler, executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy and co-host of the “Free as in Freedom” podcast. Ms. Sandler’s closing keynotes have been a highlight at LibrePlanet, and we’re so excited to have her back. In other words, LibrePlanet 2015 is shaping up to be a really great event.

    • AnDevCon Highlights Embedded, Open-Source

      Application performance management tools, speakers, and giant green Android mascots abounded at the Android Developer Conference San Francisco Bay Area, held November 18 through 21 in Burlingame, Calif. The event, in its eighth year, was sponsored by Intel, Google, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Twitter, Sony, Epson, and Amazon, among others.

    • Call for Papers is open for the Embedded Linux Conference 2015

      Are you involved in Embedded Linux? Well there is a Embedded Linux Conference (ELC) taking place in San Jose, CA, March 23 – 25, 2015. This is the “premier vendor-neutral technical conference for companies and developers using Linux in embedded products”.

  • Web Browsers
  • SaaS/Big Data
    • Dell Adds Midokura Open Network Virtualization Option for OpenStack

      Dell Computer is deepening its focus on the open cloud and OpenStack in particular. The company announced an expansion of its Open Networking initiative to include Midokura, a company focused on network virtualization, to complement Dell’s networking and server infrastructure. Their agreement includes a joint go-to-market program, validated reference architecture and global reseller agreement.

    • How to Easily Get Very In-Demand OpenStack Cloud Skills

      How in demand are cloud computing skills in the job market? Consider these notes from Forbes, based on a report from WANTED Analytics: “There are 3.9 million jobs in the U.S. affiliated with cloud computing today with 384,478 in IT alone. The median salary for IT professionals with cloud computing experience is $90,950 and the median salary for positions that pay over $100,000 a year is $116,950.”

    • OpenStack Is Huge In The Open-Source Cloud—But Maybe Not Huge Enough
  • Business
    • Semi-Open Source
      • IT should listen to users not just managers, says SugarCRM CEO

        Deliver the software users want and need (not just what management thinks is required), look for deployment flexibility, and beware of API charges. They are the messages from SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin.

        The proliferation of BYOA – bring your own applications – is putting pressure on IT departments to provide better tools, and to regard users as “constituents” rather than simply listening to management.

  • Public Services/Government
    • European Commission updates its open source policy

      The European Commission (EC) wants to make it easier for its software developers to submit patches and add new functionalities to open source projects. Contributing to open source communities will be made central to the EC’s new open source policy, expects Pierre Damas, Head of Sector at the Directorate General for IT (DIGIT). “We use a lot of open source components that we adapt and integrate, and it is time that we contribute back.”

  • Openness/Sharing
  • Programming
Leftovers
  • Science
  • Security
    • A brief history of Linux malware
    • The Password? You Changed It, Right?

      As my Twitter followers may be aware, I spent the first part of this week at the Passwords14 conference in Trondheim, Norway. More about that later, suffice for now to say that the conference was an excellent one, and my own refreshed Hail Mary Cloud plus more recent history talk was fairly well received.

      [...]

      By this afternoon (2014-12-11), it seems that all told a little more than 700 machines have come looking for mostly what looks like various manufacturers’ names and a few other usual suspects. The data can be found here, with roughly the same file names as in earlier episodes. Full list of attempts on both hosts here, with the rather tedious root only sequences removed here, hosts sorted by number of attempts here, users sorted by number of attempts here, a CSV file with hosts by number of attempts with first seen and last seen dates and times, and finally hosts by number of attempts with listing of each host’s attempts. Expect updates to all of these at quasi-random intervals.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression
    • ‘Excited Delirium’ and the Suspicious Death of Kenwin Garcia

      Kenwin Garcia was a 25-year-old African American man from Newark who died in 2008 on the side of a highway, after an altercation with state police. Christopher Baxter from NJ Advanced Media states that his death was claimed to be a result of “excited delirium.” The term is used to describe a lethal overdose of adrenaline that leads to heart or respiratory failure. But there is little medical evidence to support this official judgment in Garcia’s case, and there is wider controversy surrounding the interpretation of the symptoms that constitute the syndrome. In Garcia’s case specifically, an autopsy found he suffered severe internal injuries, including a broken breastbone and ribs, a torn kidney and extensive bleeding.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying
    • The New York Times Downplays The Influence Of Money In Politics

      The New York Times downplayed the impact of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and dismissed the influence of money in politics by ignoring record-breaking spending of outside groups, the role of large donor political contributions, and dark money in the 2014 midterm election.

  • Censorship
  • Privacy
    • Solidarity against online harassment

      One of our colleagues has been the target of a sustained campaign of harassment for the past several months. We have decided to publish this statement to publicly declare our support for her, for every member of our organization, and for every member of our community who experiences this harassment. She is not alone and her experience has catalyzed us to action. This statement is a start.

    • GOP rep attempted late bid to kill spy bill

      One of the biggest thorns in the side of the country’s intelligence agencies attempted to mount an eleventh hour bid to kill the spy agencies’ funding bill on Wednesday.

      Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) wrote on Facebook that the intelligence authorization bill that easily passed through the House contained “one of the most egregious sections of law I’ve encountered during my time as a representative.”

      “It grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American,” explained Amash, who has a record of skepticism toward the National Security Agency and other agencies. Last year, he nearly succeeded in an attempt to end the NSA’s controversial phone records program.

    • Police can search cellphones in arrests without warrant, Supreme Court rules

      In a crime ruling that earned it rare praise from the federal government, the Supreme Court of Canada said police may search cellphones without a warrant when they make an arrest.

      Cellphones are the bread and butter of the drug trade, the majority said in a 4-3 ruling. It said police have been given the “extraordinary power” to do warrantless searches during an arrest, under common-law rules developed by judges over centuries, because of the importance of prompt police investigations. Until now, those searches typically included purses and briefcases. Civil liberties groups had urged the court to exempt cellphones.

    • European Commissioner For Human Rights And Key EU Privacy Committee Strongly Condemn Mass Surveillance And Bulk Data Retention

      As we wrote recently, the UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruled that GCHQ surveillance doesn’t violate human rights. That’s hardly surprising, given IPT’s track record in approving pretty much everything that GCHQ does. But the global reach of the spying carried out by GCHQ and the NSA means that there are plenty of other bodies that are prepared to condemn what they have been doing. Here, for example, is an important report from the commissioner for human rights at the Council of Europe, entitled “The Rule of Law on the Internet in the Wider Digital World”. It’s an extremely thorough exploration of this complex area, touching on key issues that have often been discussed here on Techdirt: privatized law enforcement, suspicionless mass data retention, cross-border exchange of data by law enforcement agencies, and global surveillance by national security agencies.

    • the long tail of MD5

      Everybody knows that MD5 is as terribly useless as ROT13 and you should have switched to SHA3-512 like twenty years ago. But lots of usage sticks around, and will continue to stick around for a long time to come, leading to the long tail of MD5. Why not simply convert to a better hash function? Maybe it’s not so simple.

    • Edward Snowden’s lawyer calls on Europeans to prosecute US torture architects

      A leading German human rights lawyer has called on prosecutors across Europe to “get active” and prepare to seize any CIA agents and US officials involved in torture who enter their territories.

  • Civil Rights
    • Stephen Colbert Mocks Fox News’ Raucous Support Of Torture
    • Mark Udall Wants To Release CIA Internal Review Of Torture Program

      Outgoing Senator Mark Udall has been a key player in trying to hold the intelligence community’s feet to the fire concerning their unconstitutional and illegal activities — and that includes both the NSA and CIA. He was a key player in making sure that the CIA torture report was actually released — and there was pressure on him, if the report wasn’t released, to read it into the record to force it out. Even with the release on Tuesday, some were asking for Udall to at least release an unredacted version or even more sections from the full ~7,000 page report, rather than just the 500 page exec summary. In fact, in Udall’s final floor speech on Wednesday (link to a video that is about 50 minutes), the Senator instead chose to reveal more information related to the so-called “Panetta Review” on the CIA’s torture program.

      [...]

      The CIA has done everything it can to try to bury the Panetta Report. But Udall actually discussed it in depth. A big chunk of his speech is actually discussing some of the details in the Panetta Review, going beyond the CIA torture report. Following his speech, Senator Richard Burr — who is a known buddy of the intelligence community, and soon to take over the Senate Intelligence Committee — ridiculously claimed that Udall disclosed a bunch of “very classified” material. What it actually shows, however is that the CIA’s response to the torture report is simply more lies from the CIA. As Udall noted in his speech, since the Panetta Review was supposed to be internal, it was a lot more open and honest, and it agreed with the Senate staffers. He first points out that the official CIA response to the terror report, from current Director John Brennan, shows the CIA’s “flippant” attitude towards oversight and the fact that it knows the Obama administration will let the CIA get away with anything. However, the Panetta Review shows the true story.

    • Stun Guns Used by Police 13 Times Causes Death

      The policy states that officers should not stun any handcuffed suspect.

    • How The CIA Got Conservative Author Ronald Kessler To Spin For Them On Torture

      The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture reveals that conservative author Ronald Kessler was “blessed” by the CIA, receiving background information from the agency which he used to push false claims about the effectiveness of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and publishing classified information without triggering a leak investigation.

    • Scalia: Constitution silent on torture

      Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is joining the debate over the Senate’s torture report by saying it’s hard to rule out the use of extreme measures to extract information if millions of lives were threatened.

      Scalia told a Swiss broadcast network that American and European liberals who say such tactics may never be used are being self-righteous.

    • Metaphysics

      Listening to the BBC and Sky, and reading The Guardian, all on the subject of whether the UK establishment knew about CIA torture or not, the realisation dawned on me that I had imagined my entire life story and in fact I had never actually existed. For a little while it was like being in a particularly scary Japanese film.

    • Rectal feeding is rape – but don’t expect the CIA to admit it

      Of all the revelations made about the “enhanced interrogation methods” used by the CIA on detainees in the aftermath of 9/11, the use of waterboarding and rectal feeding have garnered the most attention. In the case of the latter in particular, this was the first time many people had even heard of such a thing.

      Initially used in response to prisoner hunger strikes, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence found this allegedly “necessary” and “legitimate” medical practice – also referred to as a “nutrient enema” – was also used by the CIA as a form of torture and control.

    • Guess Who Else Tortured People Like the CIA Did — Soviets and Nazis

      The Soviet Union was good at torture.

      But the Soviets excelled at torture because they understood its usefulness. “Our task is not only to destroy you physically,” a Stalinist interrogator explained to a prisoner in 1948. “But also to smash you morally before the eyes of the society.”

      History’s great agents of pain knew what the CIA pretends not to.

    • These American World War II Re-Enacters Dress Up Like Nazis for Fun

      That’s part of what drew her, as well as her friend and fellow photographer Marisha Camp, to photograph American re-enactors of Germans in World War II for her series “Targets Unknown.” Half out of necessity—those who attend the re-enactments are required to dress for the occasion—and half out of a desire to test the boundaries between subject and artist, Kranitz became an active member in the events she photographed.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • IsoHunt unofficially resurrects The Pirate Bay

        Torrent site isoHunt appears to have unofficially resurrected The Pirate Bay at oldpiratebay.org. At first glance, The Old Pirate Bay seems to be just a commemorative site for The Pirate Bay, which went down this week after police raided its data center in Sweden. Upon further inspection, however, it turns out the site is serving new content.

        Various mirror sites of The Pirate Bay have sprung up since the site’s disappearance, but this one is different. Some alternatives simply provide a copy of The Pirate Bay with no new content (many proxy sites have been doing this for years). Others, like thepiratebay.cr, go further and even provide fake content as if it was new and even attempt to charge users.

      • What chance a piracy consensus?

        The Government says rights holders and ISPs must develop an anti-piracy regimen themselves, or have one imposed on them. Early signs show this approach is working.

        The Government’s ultimatum to ISPs and content owners and distributors that they have three months to come up with a system for identifying and taking action against copyright infringers already appears to be bearing fruit.

      • MPAA Prepares to Bring Pirate Site Blocking to the U.S.

        The MPAA is in discussions with the major movie studios over ways to introduce site blocking to the United States. TorrentFreak has learned that the studios will try to achieve website blockades using principles available under existing law. Avoiding another SOPA-style backlash is high on the agenda.

      • Thanks To All Heroes Of Freedom Who Have Kept The Pirate Bay Running

        The file-sharing site The Pirate Bay is down following a raid by Swedish Police. The organization Rights Alliance, previously named the Anti-Pirate Bureau and representing the giant movie and record corporations, is behind the raid. It’s a dark day for freedoms online.

The USPTO is Broken: New Evidence Presented

Friday 12th of December 2014 12:32:08 PM

Profit conflated with innovation

Summary: The scope of patents, as evidenced by some statistical figures and individual patents, shows that the USPTO is broken and must be reformed or dismantled

Kevin Drum from Mother Jones is a very good writer who covers a broad range of topics. Several weeks ago he wrote about patents, noting that “More Patents Does Not Equal More Innovation”. Well, more patents mean more business for the USPTO and patent lawyers, but they would rather just paint their profit as “innovation”. Here is what Mr. Drum writes, citing the corporate media:

Via James Pethokoukis, here’s a chart from a new CBO report on federal policies and innovation. Needless to say, you can’t read too much into it. It shows the growth since 1963 of total factor productivity (roughly speaking, the share of productivity growth due to technology improvements), and there are lots of possible reasons that TFP hasn’t changed much over the past five decades. At a minimum, though, the fact that patent activity has skyrocketed since 1983 with no associated growth in TFP suggests, as the CBO report says dryly, “that the large increase in patenting activity since 1983 may have made little contribution to innovation.”

We recently showed that almost every application for a patent is now successful, i.e. patent granted (proving that there no quality control at all and demonstrating laziness or greed, motivated by wrong yardsticks by which to assess patent examiners). This whole system has become a sham and people should do something about it, as the problem won’t go away on its own.

“This whole system has become a sham and people should do something about it, as the problem won’t go away on its own.”Might we ever see USPTO staff demonstrating in the streets of Washington, following the example set by EPO staff? The problem and the grievances (about scope and corruption) are similar.

The other week we saw the EFF highlighting yet another “Stupid Patent of the Month”. It is a software patent which is basically something that a child can come up with, or even an observer of what has been going on for centuries. To put it in the words of Ars Technica:

November’s “Stupid Patent of the Month,” brought to you by Penn State

Three months ago, the Electronic Frontier Foundation inaugurated a monthly tradition in which they wrote about a “Stupid Patent of the Month.” The first patent they publicized was basically a description of a doctor’s “computer-secretary.” Since then, they’ve highlighted a vague software patent owned by a serial litigant, a patent on filming a yoga class, and a patent with a formula for curing cancer (a combination of “sesame seeds, green beans, coffee, meat, evening primrose seeds,” among other things.)

Here is the latest:

One of the items for sale is US Patent No. 8,442,839, entitled “Agent-based collaborative recognition-primed decision-making.” The lead inventors are PSU professors John Yen and Michael McNeese. The patent essentially describes different ways that people work together to solve a problem.

Steps include “receiving information regarding a current situation to be analyzed,” interacting to receive “assistance in the form of assumptions or expectancies about the situation,” and using “collected information to determine whether a decision about the situation is evolving in an anticipated direction.” A PSU news site describes the invention as using a framework called “Collaborative Agents for Simulating Teamwork.”

“The patent reads a little like what might result if you ate a dictionary filled with buzzwords and drank a bottle of tequila,” writes EFF lawyer Daniel Nazer. He notes the patent was originally rejected by the patent office. “Penn State responded by amending its claim to ‘include a team-oriented computer architecture that transforms subject matter.’ In other words, it took an abstract patent and said, ‘Do it on a computer.’”

A lot of software patents are like that. They merely add “over the Internet” or “on a computer” to some process that has existed for a very long time. There’s no innovation in it, except perhaps the innovation which is the Internet or the computer itself.

Anyone who still thinks that the patent system promotes innovation should take a look at a patent or two, setting aside the jargon and buzzwords. We covered other examples in the past and examined their lack of novelty. Some examples came from Nintendo and there is this new example where Nintendo patents something using the “in mobile devices” pseudo ‘novelty’. To quote AOL:

A new patent published by the USPTO yesterday details an invention by Nintendo that would allow it to emulate its mobile game consoles, including the Game Boy line of devices specifically, in other settings, including on seat-back displays in airplanes and trains, and on mobile devices including cell phones. The patent is an updated take on an older piece of IP, so it’s not an entirely new idea, but it’s still very interesting to consider that Nintendo could have renewed interest in the idea of running its own back catalogue on many different kinds of screens.

It is not an entirely new idea at all. In-flight entertainment, emulation and mobile devices are very old ideas and just combining them should not be enough to earn a patent. Then again, as USPTO eventually accepts (grants patents for) 92% of all applications, it seems to have become an illegitimate system of protectionism that puts the burden on innocence on victims, passes a lot of incentive to patent lawyers, and has small companies foot the legal bills.

US Patent Reform (on Trolls Only) More or Less Buried or Ineffective

Friday 12th of December 2014 11:55:36 AM

Not much in terms of changes except the public face


Photo from Asian Pacific Fund

Summary: An update on efforts to reform the patent system in the United States, including the possibly imminent appointment of Michelle Lee to USPTO leadership role

OUR friends over at IP Troll Tracker argue with proponents of patent trolls, including those who try to classify the world’s biggest trolls (firms like Intellectual Ventures) as something else. Apparently, trying to say who qualifies as a patent troll is a controversial issue among those who are in this business and this is why there was hardly any substantial progress on eradication of patent trolls. The de facto definition of “troll” these days is “small actor that uses patents”. It’s about scale, not scope. If you are a massive corporation like IBM and Microsoft, then you somehow can’t qualify as “troll” even when you engage in the very same tactics on a much larger scale.

“If you are a massive corporation like IBM and Microsoft, then you somehow can’t qualify as “troll” even when you engage in the very same tactics on a much larger scale.”This new article from TechDirt speaks of the fight for patent reform by the likes of Newegg, correctly noting that “the company became a leader in fighting back against ridiculous patent lawsuits, going toe-to-toe with some of the biggest trolls around. The company’s Chief Legal Officer, Lee Cheng, has vowed to never settle with a patent troll, and so far has never lost an appeal on a patent claim.”

Another older article from TechDirt cites Professor Bessen and reminds us that Free software projects are directly being harmed and even eliminated by patent trolls (we gave some examples before). To quote the article, via James Bessen, “we [now] learn of how a patent trolling operation by StreamScale has resulted in an open source project completely shutting down, despite the fact that the patent in question (US Patent 8,683,296 for an “Accelerated erasure coding system and method”) is almost certainly ineligible for patent protection as an abstract idea, following the Supreme Court’s Alice ruling and plenty of prior art. Erasure codes are used regularly today in cloud computing data storage and are considered to be rather important. Not surprisingly, companies and lawyers are starting to pop out of the woodwork to claim patents on key pieces. I won’t pretend to understand the fundamental details of erasure codes, but the link above provides all the details. It goes through the specific claims in the patents, breaking down what they actually say (basically an erasure code on a computer using SIMD instructions), and how that’s clearly an abstract idea and thus not patent-eligible.”

See this page about the patent: “The Accelerated erasure coding system and method software patent was filed by StreamScale, a patent holding company, and granted by the US patent office in march 2014 (filed july 2013). It claims to own the idea to use SIMD instructions to speed up the computation of Erasure Code. It is a patent-ineligible abstract idea and can be ignored.”

Well, it may be a patent-ineligible abstract idea, but proving in in Court can be costly, especially for a Free software project.

It is being reported right now that Michelle Lee, formerly of Google, is en route to becoming the next head of the USPTO (the pro-software patents sites exploit this to try to promote stronger policy in favour of software patents). “There were no big surprises,” writes Patent Progress, “on Michelle Lee’s nomination as head of the USPTO. The Committee went fairly easy on her with their questions, with the possible exception of Senator Durbin, who admits that he knows nothing about patents or patent law, but seems convinced by his Illinois constituents that there is no patent troll problem.”

Durbin and the likes of him seem to be talking based on (mis)information from lobbyists and funders, not facts. It’s the big corporations talking. Either way, while it’s clear that there is a patent troll problem, there is also a patent scope problem and that’s what trolls tend to exploit. It’s not a surprise that a site like Patent Progress only focuses on patent trolls; see who funds the site by proxy (certain type of big corporations). Another new post from this site states that “Commissioner Brill’s main point was that we shouldn’t wait for the study to be concluded before pursuing legislation against PAEs. There’s no question that the PAE problem exists and is getting worse; she made clear that the new Congress should act immediately after taking office.”

PAE is just a euphemism for troll or shark.

As readers may recall, the Republicans (GOP) spoke about 'reform' on patents roughly one month ago, but nothing was really going to change. Mike Masnick from TechDirt recently published this update that says: “Back in May, we wrote about how, despite pretty much everyone agreeing on a (decent, if not amazing) patent reform bill in the Senate, the whole thing got shot down at the last minute. That was when the trial lawyers called Senator Harry Reid, asking him to kill the whole thing, which he did by telling Senator Patrick Leahy that he wouldn’t allow the bill to go to the floor for a vote. This came after months of detailed negotiations, getting nearly everyone into agreement on the bill, which would have made life at least somewhat more difficult for patent trolls. About a week after that, we pointed out that it seemed likely that the patent trolls had miscalculated badly, because it was widely expected that the Republicans would take control of the Senate in the fall (as they did), and they were more gungho on real patent reform and (obviously) not concerned with what trial lawyers think (mocking trial lawyers being a hobby of Republican politicians).”

To make a long story short, there is still no sign of reform on patents and even if there’s reform some time in the near future, it won’t actually address the problem of patent scope; it only targets “small trolls”, not “big trolls” like Microsoft and Apple, which still can use software patents to imitimate or extort Free software projects, including Android and Linux.

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