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today's howtos

More in Tux Machines

How the Free Software and the IP Wars of the 1990s and 2000s Presaged Today’s Toxic, Concentrated Internet

The history of free software and the IP Wars of the 1990s and 2000s provides a good illustration of these path-dependencies around the meaning of liberty, law, and power throughout the period. In response to the rise in prominence of Unix, a proprietary system developed by Bell Labs, in the 1980s, free software advocate Richard Stallman and others began a crusade to liberate software from its proprietary ties. They created the GPL (“GNU Public License”) a free open license that requires anyone reusing, buying or redistributing the software to comply with the freedoms granted by the original license.. The free software movement later inspired a parallel movement to liberate content and creativity from copyright strictures. In an article titled “Anarchism Triumphant,” Columbia Law Professor Eben Moglen argued that free software represented the beginning of a shift towards a free-er anarchic digital political economy which would do away with most forms of private ownership. In a 1994 essay, Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Perry Barlow argued that copyright law, which protects the material expression of ideas, had become obsolete on the internet, the “Home of the Mind.” Many of these ideas grew in opposition to the powerful interests of the time: against firms like Bell Labs producing proprietary software, against firms like AT&T controlling telecommunications and broadband, against Hollywood studios and music labels who sought to enclose and profit from creative digital assets. Yet many of these views also unconsciously built the intellectual, legal, and economic case for new forms of enclosure, those that were already being adopted by open platforms such as Google which would soon thrive on the distributed sharing of content by opaquely acquiring control over and monetizing attention and data. In disputes on who should win between Hollywood and YouTube, users were the ones ultimately left behind. As Tel Aviv University Law Professor Niva Elkin-Koren put it, “[w]hat began as a controversy over the appropriateness of copyright law to accommodate … technological changes, became a political battle over the distribution of the potential gains that cyberspace offers.” These so-called “IP Wars” embodied institutional controversies on the stakes of the internet’s ecology and saliently illustrate confusions that are still with us today. For example, as Duke University Law Professor James Boyle put it, it was as if early cyberlibertarians “couldn’t agree on whether [their] motto was to be ‘Taxation is theft’ or ‘Property is theft.’” Their aversion for IP often hid faith in new forms of digital capitalism. Further, the rhetoric of freedom and anarchy underlying the IP Wars helped strengthen commercial interests and monopoly rents on the Internet. Visions of the internet as an apolitical laboratory of innovation, a frictionless space governed by individual choices took the center stage, ultimately facilitating the accumulation of digital control in the hands of a few internet gatekeepers. The move towards private and code-based governance opened the door to widespread and poorly regulated surveillance practices that remained disguised under the facial neutrality of code and cyber-economists’ efficiency-based arguments. Read more

Flatpak App of the Week: Extension Manager – Browse and Install GNOME Shell Extensions

Extension Manager is a very simple app that does one thing (and does it good), to mirror the content of the GNOME Extensions website at extensions.gnome.org. The application lets you easily manage your installed GNOME Shell extensions, similar to what the official GNOME Extensions app does, but it also lets you browse the extensions.gnome.org website straight from within the app if you want to install more extensions on your GNOME desktop. Read more

today's leftovers

  • Custom Piano Tickles the Ivories

    This electronic keyboard is completely designed and built from scratch, including the structure of the instrument and the keys themselves. [Balthasar] made each one by hand out of wood and then built an action mechanism for them to register presses. While they don’t detect velocity or pressure, the instrument is capable of defining the waveform and envelope for any note, is able to play multiple notes per key, and is able to change individual octaves. This is thanks to a custom 6×12 matrix connected to a STM32 microcontroller. Part of the reason [Balthasar] chose this microcontroller is that it can do some of the calculations needed to produce music in a single clock cycle, which is an impressive and under-reported feature for the platform.

  • Hacking A Proper Dash Into The Tesla Model 3 | Hackaday

    The build relies on a CANserver, an ESP32-based device specifically built for hooking up to the CAN bus on Tesla vehicles and sharing the data externally. The data can then be piped wirelessly to an Android phone running CANdash to display all the desired information. With the help of an aftermarket dash clip or a 3D printed custom mount, the phone can then be placed behind the steering wheel to display data in the usual location.

  • Firefox Nightly: These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 108
  • Celebrating Data Privacy Day

    Happy International Data Privacy Day! While January 28 marks a day to raise awareness and promote best practices for privacy and data protection around the world, we at Mozilla do this work year-round so our users can celebrate today — and every day — the endless joy the internet has to offer. We know that data privacy can feel daunting, and the truth is, no one is perfect when it comes to protecting their data 24/7. At Mozilla though, we want to make data protection feel a bit easier and not like something else on the never-ending life to-do list. We build products that protect people online so they can experience the best of the web without compromising on privacy, performance or convenience. The internet is too good to miss out on — we’ll take care of securing it so you can focus on exploring and enjoying it. To accomplish this, we started with square one: our Firefox browser — enhancing its privacy and tracking protections over the past year, while improving its user experience to make surfing the web less dangerous and more carefree. [...] Despite how it sounds, you don’t need to be a hacker to make use of an encrypted connection. Whether you’re online shopping or want to make sure your login credentials are safe from attackers, we’re working on ensuring your browsing experience is secure from start to finish. That’s why, when you open up a Private Browsing tab on Firefox, you can be confident that your information is safe thanks to our HTTPS by Default offering, which ensures the data you share with and receive from a website is encrypted and won’t be able to be intercepted, viewed or tampered with by a hacker. To take this one step further, we’re also working with Internet Service Providers like Comcast and other partners through our Trusted Recursive Resolver program, to begin making DNS encryption the default for Firefox users in the US and Canada.

  • Abuse & Sex Crimes at FOSDEM and Open Source tech events

    All these people have conflicts of interest. For example, Molly herself was secretly sleeping with Chris Lamb when he was leader of Debian. Imagine a woman comes to Molly's team to make an abuse complaint about Lamb or one of his close friends. [...] Women trusting women simply because they are women is not a good choice. There are numerous examples of women like Molly who have been sympathetic to or even in cahoots with male abusers.

  • What is MongoDB, and how does it work? | FOSS Linux

    MongoDB is the most common and widely used NoSQL database. It is an open-source document-oriented DB. NoSQL is used to refer to ‘non-relational’. This means that the MongoDB database is not based on tabular relations like RDBMS as it provides a distinct storage and data retrieval mechanism. The storage format employed by MongoDB is referred to as BSON. The database is maintained by MongoDB Inc. and is licensed under the Server-Side Public License (SSPL).

Programming Leftovers

  • #28 PrintScrn · This Week in GNOME

    Update on what happened across the GNOME project in the week from January 21 to January 28.

  • Implementing a MIME database in XXXX

    Recently, I have been working on implementing a parser for media types (commonly called MIME types) and a database which maps media types to file extensions and vice-versa. I thought this would be an interesting module to blog about, given that it’s only about 250 lines of code, does something useful and interesting, and demonstrates a few interesting xxxx concepts. The format for media types is more-or-less defined by RFC 2045, specifically section 5.1. The specification is not great. The grammar shown here is copied and pasted from parts of larger grammars in older RFCs, RFCs which are equally poorly defined. For example, the quoted-string nonterminal is never defined here, but instead comes from RFC 822, which defines it but also states that it can be “folded”, which technically makes the following a valid Media Type:

    text/plain;charset="hello
     world"
    
    Or so I would presume, but the qtext terminal “cannot include CR”, which is the mechanism by which folding is performed in the first place, and… bleh. Let’s just implement a “reasonable subset” of the spec instead and side-step the whole folding issue.1 This post will first cover parsing media types, then address our second goal: providing a database which maps media types to file extensions and vice versa.

  • gst-editing-services compiled in OE

    I discovered that 'gst-editing-services' is another dependency of Pitivi, added to these: https://bkhome.org/news/202201/more-dependencies-for-pitivi-video-editor.html There is no recipe in OE, so I attempted to compile it on the host system. Stuffed around for about 3 hours, unable to compile, ninja is doing something stupid.

  • More dependencies for Pitivi video editor

    This morning I posted about a complete recompile in OpenEmbedded, "revision 7": https://bkhome.org/news/202201/what-to-expect-in-the-next-release-of-easyos.html This included bumped gstreamer version, suitable to run Pitivi.

  • Wasmer 2.2 Bringing Its WebAssembly "Singlepass" Compiler To AArch64 - Phoronix

    Wasmer 2.2-rc1 is out today as the WebAssembly run-tme to "run any code on any client" with its broad platform coverage and allowing numerous programming languages from Rust to PHP to C# being able to be compiled into WebAssembly and then running on any OS or embedded into other languages for execution. Wasmer continues as one of the leading open-source WebAssembly runtimes with a diverse feature-set. Its project site at Wasmer.io talks up Wasmer for use from "supercharged blockchain infrastructure" to "portable ML/AI applications". Buzzwords aside, Wasmer has been a very interesting WebAssembly open-source project.

  • Alternatives to Visual Basic

    This is a list of free/libre open source software (FLOSS) alternatives to Visual Basic (part of Microsoft Visual Studio) computer programming platform. If your school is still teaching VB 6, or if you now use Ubuntu for programming classroom, we strongly suggest you to switch to either one of these alternatives. With these, one can create computer programs visually by drag and drop as well as coding just like what one can do with VB.