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Bassel (Safadi) Khartabil Remembered

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Bassel Khartabil, In Memoriam

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  • Report: Syrian-Palestinian Open Internet Advocate Bassel Khartabil Has Been Executed

    Bassel Khartabil, a Syrian-Palestinian open-source developer credited with helping to bring a free internet to Syria, was confirmed dead today by Creative Commons, the open internet non-profit Khartabil volunteered with. He was 36.

  • Bassel Khartabil, In Memoriam

    Bassel Khartabil, the Syrian open source developer, blogger, entrepreneur, hackerspace founder, and free culture advocate, has been executed by the Syrian authorities. Noura Ghazi Safadi, his wife, received confirmation of her husband's death by the Assad-led Syrian government yesterday. The execution took place in secret in November 2015. It has taken the Syrian government nearly two years to officially communicate that fact to his friends and family.

    Bassel had been imprisoned by the Syrian authorities since his abduction from the streets of Damascus on March 15, 2012. He was originally taken, interrogated and tortured in secret in a facility controlled by the country's General Intelligence Directorate. After a worldwide campaign by international human rights groups, together with Bassel's many colleagues in the open Internet and free culture communities, he was moved to Adra's civilian prison, from where he was able to communicate with his family and friends.

Statement on the death of CC friend and colleague Bassel Khartabil

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We are deeply saddened and completely outraged to learn today that our friend and colleague Bassel Khartabil has been executed by the Syrian regime.

Bassel was Creative Commons’ Syrian project lead, an open source software programmer, teacher, Wikipedia contributor, and free culture advocate. He was also a devoted son and husband, and a great friend to many people in the open knowledge community around the world. The projects and communities he helped to build live on across the globe, and will remain a tribute to his leadership.

In March of 2012, Bassel was taken from the street in Damascus amid a wave of military arrests. He was jailed for several years, during which time he was allowed to infrequently communicate with family members. Then, in October 2015, he was abruptly transferred to an undisclosed location. At that time, all communications between Bassel and the outside world ceased. The Creative Commons board publicly called for Bassel’s immediate release, and the MIT Media Lab offered Bassel a research position in its Center for Civic Media. His family and friends prayed for his safe return, and are heartbroken today to learn the awful and terrifying news of his execution.

Over the past several years, a variety of human rights groups called for Bassel’s release. Amnesty International launched a campaign through its Urgent Action network that encouraged the public to write letters to Syrian authorities and urge them to grant Bassel access to his family, a lawyer, and medical attention. The US State Department singled him out on International Human Rights Day in 2015 as a “prisoner of conscience.”

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Goodbye To Bob Chassell

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It's fortunately more common now in Free Software communities today to properly value contributions from non-developers. Historically, though, contributions from developers were often overvalued and contributions from others grossly undervalued. One person trailblazed as (likely) the earliest non-developer contributor to software freedom. His name was Robert J. Chassell — called Bob by his friends and colleagues. Over the weekend, our community lost Bob after a long battle with a degenerative illness.

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[The founder of Linux Malta] Ramon Casha, chairman of the humanist association, passes away

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Tributes are flowing in this evening for Ramon Casha, chairman of the Malta Humanist Society, civil rights campaigner and a frequent commenter on Times of Malta, who has passed away.

Michael Briguglio, former chairman of Alternattiva wrote in a Facebook post: Rest in peace Ramon Casha: honest, free-thinking and non-partisan civil society campaigner within Malta Humanist Association and so many causes.

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Remembering a friend: Matthew Williams

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One of the things about working in open source software communities is that you are always moving forward. It’s hard not to get a sense of momentum and progress when it seems you are constantly striving to improve and build on the work you and others have done before.

But sometimes you have to pause to reflect, because sometimes there is loss.

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Farewell to Rob Collins

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We would like to share with you the sad news, that Rob Collins has passed away earlier this month, on November 2nd, after a short but intense illness.

Many of you may know Rob from the sponsored massage sessions he regularly ran at EuroPython in recent years and which he continued to develop, taking them from a single man setup (single threaded process) to a group of people setup by giving workshops (multiprocessing) and later on by passing on his skills to more leaders (removing the GIL) to spread wellness and kindness throughout our conference series.

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Pieter Alexander Hintjens: 3 December 1962 – 4 October 2016

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After a long and painful illness, a battle with cancer over the last six years, my brother has died in Brussels, aged only 53.

My love for him has always been the adoring, muted kind that looked up to the light he shone, that basked in his enthusiasm and tried, and failed, to keep up with the thousand-and-one ideas he gave voice and form to. Many of his passions were beyond my comprehension but very real, nevertheless. As a computer programmer, writer of internet protocols and founder of on-line communities, his interests went way over my head. As an author, latterly, we connected and I was able to collaborate with him on one of his books – The Psychopath Code – an involvement for which I am profoundly grateful: Not only has this particular book helped me to navigate a few tricky moments in my own life, but the understanding we shared was like coming home.

I can’t begin to do justice to my brother’s legacy as a professional innovator, thinker, and networker. Pieter was one of these rare people totally unafraid to take chances, to think not just outside the box but into the next universe. How he maintained his enthusiasm and energy, where his inspiration came from, I shall not know in this lifetime.

His death last Tuesday has opened up a hole in my life, a tear in the fabric of my normal. Poignantly – and painfully – it is only as his legacy becomes clearer that I notice the loss of his quiet, determined contribution in my life. Always, in the background, he encouraged me, supporting my modest hopes for an ordinary life: my ambitions to study, to write, to marry and have a child. In all these attempts he was unwaveringly supportive, while seeking so little from me in return. Of course, elder brothers are looked up to, and often expected to take the lead. But lately, in these last few years, while he faced pain and uncertainty – about which he has written so candidly on his blog – while he battled fear and the shadows of disappointment with his trademark wry humour, he faced these challenges fearlessly and with a fiery determination that is frankly awe-inspiring.

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ZeroMQ founder Pieter Hintjens dies

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Pieter Hintjens, Belgian software developer and past president of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), gave much of his time and effort to the open-source community.

He did so even up until the day he planned for his own death, which was today.

Hintjens, who chose euthanasia today after dealing with terminal cancer, was a writer and a programmer who spent much of his life building large software systems and online communities, which he described as “Living Systems.”

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Debian Project mourns the loss of Kristoffer H. Rose

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Kristoffer was a Debian contributor from the very early days of the project, and the upstream author of several packages that are still in the Debian archive nowadays, such as the LaTeX package Xy-pic and FlexML. On his return to the project after several years' absence, many of us had the pleasure of meeting Kristoffer during DebConf15 in Heidelberg.

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OSS Leftovers

  • Asian telcos forging ahead with open source NFV
    Telcos in Asia Pacific are engaged in what ABI Research describes as an NFV ‘flurry’. It claims the CSPs are actively virtualizing their network architectures and to find that out ABI hints it may have been tracking developments in the way that analysts and technical journalists do in other open source-dominated sectors. By peeking into the open source communities’ repositories and information exchanges to get a feel for what’s going on. Nothing wrong with that. It’s ‘open’ after all and expect to read more of this approach in the months and years ahead as Open Source NFV really starts to take hold.
  • Open source security software on GovCloud
    Netgate, provider of open source firewalls and security gateways, has announced the availability of its pfSense firewall on Amazon’s GovCloud (US). The AWS GovCloud Marketplace enables government agencies, educational institutions, and non-profits to discover software that can support their cloud-based regulated workloads. It is an isolated AWS region designed to host sensitive data and regulated workloads in the cloud, assisting customers who have government, education, or non-profit compliance requirements.
  • Open source EHR platform tailored to treat Ebola patients
    An open-source electronic health record system developed to treat Ebola patients during the recent epidemic in West Africa is being touted as a potential solution for clinical data collection in highly infectious environments and resource-constrained healthcare settings.
  • Microsoft and Red Hat collaborate to boost enterprise container adoption [Ed: Someone should remind Red Hat about Munich and Microsoft's patent lawsuits]
  • Microsoft .NET Core 2.0 Available on Red Hat’s Linux and Cloud Offerings
  • .NET Core 2 Brings Visual Basic to Linux and macOS [Ed: A .NET 'trial version' (taster for proprietary framework with back doors and telemetry)]
  • When Good Containers Go Bad [Ed: Shame on the Linux Foundation for promoting (for money) an anti-FOSS firm Black Duck. Black Duck gives some money to the Linux Foundation, which then pays someone to write a puff piece for Black Duck.]
  • t2k17 Hackathon Report: Ian Sutton on ARM progress
  • If you’re a startup, you should not use React (reflecting on the BSD + patents license)

    Facebook is nearly alone in the industry in the use of this license. Here is the article. Judge for yourself.

  • 3Blades Launches Open-Source Data Science Platform with Tool-Agnostic Integration at Jupytercon
    Hugo Contreras-Palacios, Ph.D., a Data Scientist at Stanley Black & Decker says, "In this quickly changing environment where ongoing skill development is critical, 3Blades has become an essential learning tool that allows our staff to experience big data technologies and techniques instead of just reading about them. At the end of their course, once they develop big data skills, 3Blades provides a collaborative environment where they can quickly begin applying what they have learned. The open source code base and easy to use API made it simple to integrate 3Blades safely into our internal environment. Thank you, 3Blades!"
  • Sweden Archives assists with govt document reuse
    The National Archives proposes to publish the lists of public sector documents in the country’s national open data portal, Öppna Data.
  • Negotiations with Elsevier: The crucial issues for the FinELib consortium
     

    Unfortunately, there has been no breakthrough in the negotiations. The crucial issues for the negotiations are cost development and open access. The FinELib consortium’s view differs from Elsevier’s on both issues.  

  • Open Source Turtle Rover Robot Land Drone Launches On Kickstarter (video)
    An interesting new open source robot has been launched by a Kickstarter today which takes the form of the Turtle Rover created by Kell Ideas. The robot land drone chassis can be equipped with a wide variety of different modules including a robotic arm, HD camera and more. The remote-controlled robot rover can be used to explore those small unattainable areas and can be programmed using the revolutionary open platform and adapted to suit your very own requirements.
  • Interview with Chris Korda: 3D printing pottery, open-source software and activism
    Chris Korda is an activist, techno musician and software developer. She is credited with developing programs for the world’s first color 3D printer in 2004 during her term at Z Corporation, which was bought by 3D Systems in January 2012.
  • Foundation Java EE: The Community Reacts
    Oracle Corp. grabbed headlines last week with a post on The Aquarium blog, in which the steward of Java proposed moving Java EE to an open source foundation, such as the Eclipse Foundation or the Apache Software Foundation. The post reads: "We believe that moving Java EE technologies, including reference implementations and test compatibility kit, to an open source foundation may be the right next step, in order to adopt more agile processes, implement more flexible licensing, and change the governance process."
  • Java EE To Get Open Source Foundation
    Oracle intends to move stewardship of Java EE (Enterprise Edition) to a third party existing foundation after the official release of Java EE 8 later this year.

Fedora and Red Hat Leftovers

Security: NHS Windows Nightmare Resumes, Deep-Insert Skimmers and More

  • NHS ransomware: 'WannaCry' ransomware hits LG self-service kiosks
     

    [...] Microsoft [...]

  • Dumping Data from Deep-Insert Skimmers
  • How I Accidentally Framed Myself for a Hacking {sic} Frenzy
     

    It’s well known that some websites are vulnerable to IP address spoofing because they trust a user-supplied HTTP header like X-Forwarded-For to accurately specify the visitor’s IP address. However, until recently there was no widely known reliable way of identifying this vulnerability. During my recent Cracking the Lens research, I noticed that it was possible to identify this vulnerability by spoofing a domain name instead of a raw IP address, and observing whether the server attempts to resolve this domain to an IP address.

  • Hackers {sic} turn family robots into weapons and spying tools
     

    "The worry is that people continue to think of these devices as gimmicks and toys, not potentially dangerous devices that may be used to spy on their loved ones or even hurt them," said Lucas Apa, prinicpal security consultant at IOActive.

  • Spend until you're secure
    This is a huge problem in many organizations. If you don't know what would happen if you lowered or increased your security spending you're basically doing voodoo security. You can imagine many projects and processes as having a series of inputs that can be adjusted. Things like money, time, people, computers, the list could go on. You can control these variables and have direct outcomes on the project. More people could mean you can spend less money on contractors, more computers could mean less time spent on rendering or compiling. Ideally you have a way to find the optimal levels for each of these variables resulting in not only a high return on investment, but also happier workers as they can see the results of their efforts.

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