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GNOME Release Party Manchester

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GNOME Release Party Manchester

Summary: Today's party celebrating the release of GNOME 3.22

RIANNE AND I both attended today's GNOME release party in Manchester. It was a good opportunity to meet some geeky people, including a few from Codethink, which organised this event.

With the latest Kubuntu 15.10 (Wily)

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I love the KDE desktop—I really do. However… here are some grumbles.

Happy Easter and Remarkable Spring

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Happy Easter

Happy New Year From Roy and Rianne

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Xmas tree

2014 was a great year for Tux Machines. The site moved to a new server with much higher capacity and better caching, Rianne and I moved to a better house, and we finally set up a tree the way we wanted to. Financial contributions from readers were enough to subsidise a laptop for Rianne and she now happily submits a lot of links from there.

In 2015 we expect to improve both volume and quality of links. We are going to think of ways to improve the Web site and we openly welcome suggestions from readers. The goal is to make the site more informative more efficiently. We wish to help readers steer away from cruft and gossip and instead identify news of importance, without repetition unless new information and details arise.

Vacation Photos

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Tux and Rianne

Last week we did not post as much news as usual because we went to the south of England with Roy's sister. We did take some photos.

Fireworks! And Tux Machines Works.

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November effigies

Fireworks continue to appear all over the place, even a day after Guy Fawkes Night. Yesterday the city was full of smoke (as though it is under heavy fog all around), but that is just an annually-recurring tradition. It's very bad for the environment, but hey, lots of people enjoy it.

Over 400 Guy Fawkes tried to destroy the House of Lords, just as some gang or a person has been trying now for nearly two months to keep Tux Machines offline. Thankfully, however, the attacks are not succeeding anymore because we have refined our defenses and the offending zombie PCs are being banned left and right (all day long). Surely the plot has been foiled. All we need now is effigies.

Tux Claus

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Tux Claus

Summer is finally over, but summertime or the climate hasn't officially changed yet. I wonder if I can still do something out of the ordinary, but the weather is disrupting my planned activities outside. Sometimes there is sunlight, but the next minute the dark clouds covers the beautiful sky and it makes the day dull and cold.

Two days ago my husband and I went to stroll inside the mall and ended up buying some personal stuff in a store. While I was in a queue to pay my husband was in a hurry to add this tiny bit of stuff which I didn't recognise at first. I thought of ignoring and not buying that tiny little thing. Then my husband said "look what I found" and then I asked what is it -- it's tux! Tux Claus. Soon I saw a tiny penguin dressed in Santa clothes; the design was simple ,but it was artistically made. I know it is still early, but we're both excited to add Tux under our Christmas tree and be merry.

Life Goes On

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Manchester

TUX MACHINES HAS BEEN under attack for nearly two weeks now. We need not really comment on our technical means of defence and how we mostly overcome these attacks (we are not giving too many clues to the attackers, who are mostly deflected with blacklists and redirects for the time being), but for the most part the Web site continues to run and to serve visitors. That's what is important. We work hard to keep posting the latest news and not let distraction, aggravation or sabotage get in the way. It is hard to imagine who would want to attack a site like this. This site is not even political or controversial.

In more general news, Manchester has had a nice and warm September. It continues into October (so far). Today we started seeing some hybrid (partly electric) double-decker buses and today we also found out that the health club we always go to has been voted best in the north west and third-best in the UK for the second year in a row. We still post some news whilst out of the house (if a wireless connection becomes available) and this morning the weather was so fine that we managed to play some badminton outdoors.

Life goes on and no level of attacks on the site is going to stop it. There are many ways to combat DDOS attacks, so they are merely a nuisance. The attackers should know that they are only wasting their time; there are much better things to do in life. Those commandeering Microsoft Windows botnets would be better off targeting the KKK or something, not a GNU and Linux news site.

Logo Concepts

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More below...

Secret Back Doors in Android

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I am everything but a Google basher and I spent a lot of my life descending deep into research of Google foes, Google smear campaigns, lawsuits by proxy, and antitrust actions by proxy. I also advocate Android, but in recent years I have been increasingly concerned about the direction it is taking. I wish to share my latest concern. It relates to what the media characterises as "anti-theft" but is actually a facility to kill phones in a protest or convert them into hostile listening devices. Technology impacts human rights and those who control technology can be tempted to control humans.

Google habitually updates my tablet. It is a Nexus 7 tablet which Google invites itself to update remotely (shame on me for not installing Replicant, but this device does not support it yet). It is not a 3G tablet and it does not have two operation systems (unlike mobile phones) or even a carrier tracking its location all the time. It's a purely Android device with no network tying. It is network-agnostic. I only bought it because in order to replace my PDA (for over a decade) I wanted a device that is not a tracking device. Phones were out of the question.

Networks don't track the tablet. Google, however, is always out there, fully able to identify the connected user (latched onto a Gmail address because of Play), modifying the software without even the user's consent (the user is sometimes prompted to boot, without being able to opt out of the core update itself).

The update in itself is not a problem. What's problematic is its effect.

Following the latest Google update (which I was given no option to reject) I noticed that Google had added a remote kill switch as an opition. It was enabed by default. "Allow remote lock and erase" is what Google calls it and it is essentially working like a back door. Google and its partners in government are gaining a lot of power not over a smartphone but over a tablet.

The significance of this is that not only phones should be assumed to be remotely accessible for modification, including for example additional back doors. What's more, some devices that were sold without this functionality silently have it added. According to the corporate press, the FBI remotely turns Android devices into listening devices and it is getting simpler to see how.

NSA and PRISM destroy our computing. We definitely need to demand Free software, but we should go further by asking for audits, rejecting user-hostile 'features' like DRM, 'secure' boot, and kill switches. I gradually lose any remaining trust that I had in Google and even Free software such as Android.

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More in Tux Machines

today's leftovers

  • My Experiences Converting Users To GNU/Linux
    My wife, TLW, runs GNU/Linux with few problems. She uses a tablet, an Odroid-C2 ARMed thick client, and a big notebook all running Debian GNU/Linux or Ubuntu and her Android/Linux smartphone and her scanner and printer all deal with Beast, my GNU/Linux server. I have her file-system plugged in via NFS so she can do IT in bed, in front of the TV, on TV, or in her office and all her thousands of pictures, documents, scans etc. are all in the same place. She doesn’t even have much problem using Ubuntu or XFCE4 on Debian because she mostly uses the same applications all day long. It just works for her and memories of That Other Operating System are fading. She was locked to a single thick client with limited capabilities in those Dark Days. She had repeated crashes and malware. Today, her issues with IT are things like changing the name of a file on the FTP server or how to scan a light image or…, real problems, not problems M$ causes billions of people every day.
  • Shame on Microsoft for Leaving Surface Pro Customers in the Dark
    When Microsoft came out with its first batch of Surface tablets a few years ago, the company took a bath on them. It didn't help that they were conceived around the unpopular Windows 8 and the now-defunct Windows RT and that the prospects for the OS were in question. After Microsoft wrote off $900 million on its money-losing Surface business, the deathwatch was on. But the Intel-based Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 showed a glimmer of hope, and Microsoft finally delivered a solid hit with the Surface Pro 3. After that water­shed release, the Surface division is now an important business that brings in more than $1 billion revenue per quarter. Yet Microsoft isn't showing much appreciation toward the customers who helped put its Surface business on solid footing.
  • A quick introduction to Audacity for teachers
  • SX 2.2 RELEASE
    Skylable is proud to announce immediate availability of SX 2.2. The new release provides a significant performance boost by improving calculation, index usage and maintaining cache of frequently computed values, as well as performing background propagation of all replicas above 1 by default. Additionally, sxfs now enables caching of smaller objects for improved latency. The source code and binary packages are available for download now. SX 2.2 is backward compatible with previous 2.x releases, and all you need to do is to run sxsetup –upgrade on every node after updating it!
  • 3 Awesome Themes For Plank, The Linux Dock App
    Plenty of people use the desktop dock Plank on their Linux desktop — and for good reason. Plank is a nimble, customisable desktop dock for Linux desktops.
  • hackmud, a cyberpunk themed text-based hacking simulator is now out with Linux support
    The game is listed as Single-player and Multi-player, so it's not entirely clear what type of game it is. As it also claims it's an MMO. I think the developer needs to make it much clearer exactly what is online and what is offline.
  • Yooka-Laylee has another trailer, featuring Shovel Knight
  • ContractPatch, Step 2: Understanding the power balance
    At the point you are presented with a job offer, your prospective employer really wants to hire you. Chances are, they’ve screened and interviewed a number of candidates and put a lot of work into the process. Your manager has thought deeply about who they want in the position and has probably imagined how it will all work out with you in the role. Both you and the hiring decision-maker(s) are probably very optimistic about what you’ll accomplish in the role and how well you’ll get along working together. At this point, no one wants to go back to the drawing board and start the process over again. You will be excited to start the new job but it’s worth taking a step back to appreciate the unusual position you are in with your new employer.
  • Epiphany Icon Refresh
  • Black Lab Linux 8 Beta 3 Is Out with Full EFI Support, Based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
    Softpedia was informed today, September 26, 2016, by Black Lab Software's CEO Robert J. Dohnert about the availability of the third Beta development snapshot of the upcoming Black Lab Linux 8 GNU/Linux operating system. Black Lab Linux 8 "Onyx" Beta 3 is here approximately three weeks after the second Beta pre-release and it comes with a major change. It is no longer based on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr), as the development team decided to switch base and move to the next Ubuntu LTS version, namely Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus).
  • DevOps: All Development, No Database
    Since the last time I touched working code in a production environment, it’s no exaggeration to say that no part of the development process remains untouched. Over the last decade plus, effectively every aspect of the application development process has been scrutinized, rethought and in many cases reinvented. From version control to build systems to configuration and deployment to monitoring, modern development’s toolchain is multi-part and sophisticated. As it must be. Processes that work for code released in cycles measured in months cannot be expected to handle workflows measured in days or minutes. For all that the process of developing software has evolved, however, the database remains curiously overlooked. Consider the example of Cloud Native. Describing a modern, typically legacy-free approach to building applications appropriate for cloud environments, the term Cloud Native has gone from informal descriptor to accepted industry shorthand in short order – to the extent that it has its own technical foundation. If we look at the membership of that foundation, the CNCF, it would appear that the roster includes no database vendors at the Platinum or Gold membership levels, at least if you assume Google’s involvement is around Kubernetes and not tools such as BigQuery. Of the 41 silver members, meanwhile, two can be considered database vendors: Crunchy and Treasure Data.

Red Hat Financial News

Leftovers: OSS and Sharing

  • What does it mean to change company culture?
    Tools are specific concrete things that a culture has decided is a way to improve a process. Buckminster Fuller has a great quote about tools and thinking: "If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don't bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking." In particular, DevOps tools can provide folks new ways to look at things—like delivering code into a production environment, for example. But there's lots of examples where a new tool doesn't influence the thinking of the people who use it, so things don't change.
  • Why Open Beats Closed
  • Google Improves Image Recognition; Releases Project as Open Source Software
    Google says its algorithm can correctly caption a photograph with nearly 94 percent accuracy. The company says the improvements come in the third version of its system named Inception, with the score coming from a standardized auto-caption test named ImageNet. It reports the first version scored 89.6 percent, the second 91.8 percent and the new one 93.9 percent.
  • Contributing to Open Source Projects Not Just For the Experts
    XDA has long been a proponent of open source development, and we’ve seen it flourish over the years. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons our community has grown as fast as it has over these past 13 years, with Android’s core being the driving force. Many people desire to be part of open source and contribute but often don’t know how they can, whether because they think they lack the skills or they just don’t have the time.
  • Firefox Reader Mode is Finally Getting a Keyboard Shortcut
    Among the changes which arrived in the September release of Firefox 49 were an enhanced set of Reader Mode features, including spoken narration and line-width spacing options. All very welcome. But the improvements aren’t stopping there. Firefox 50, which is due next month, will add another sorely needed feature: a keyboard shortcut for Reader Mode. Y
  • Introduction to OpenStack by Rich Bowen
    In this talk, Rich, the OpenStack Community Liaison at Red Hat, will walk you through what OpenStack is, as a project, as a Foundation, and as a community of organizations.
  • How Microsoft Measures Open Source Success [Ed: Wim Coekaerts got a bigger salary offer from Microsoft than from Oracle so now he’s propagandist/EEE in chief]
  • Public licenses and data: So what to do instead?
    Why you still need a (permissive) license Norms aren’t enough if the underlying legal system might allow an early contributor to later wield the law as a threat. That’s why the best practice in the data space is to use something like the Creative Commons public domain grant (CC-Zero) to set a clear, reliable, permissive baseline, and then use norms to add flexible requirements on top of that. This uses law to provide reliability and predictability, and then uses norms to address concerns about fairness, free-riding, and effectiveness. CC-Zero still isn’t perfect; most notably it has to try to be both a grant and a license to deal with different international rules around grants.
  • NIST Releases New 'Family' of Standardized Genomes
    With the addition of four new reference materials (RMs) to a growing collection of “measuring sticks” for gene sequencing, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) can now provide laboratories with even more capability to accurately “map” DNA for genetic testing, medical diagnoses and future customized drug therapies. The new tools feature sequenced genes from individuals in two genetically diverse groups, Asians and Ashkenazic Jews; a father-mother-child trio set from Ashkenazic Jews; and four microbes commonly used in research. NIST issued the world’s first genome reference material (NIST RM 8398)—detailing the genetic makeup for a woman with European ancestry—in May 2015. Together, all five RMs serve as a collection of well-characterized, whole genome standards that can tell a laboratory how well its DNA sequencing processes are working by measuring the performance of the equipment, chemistry and data analysis involved.
  • ANSI Seeks Organizations Interested in Serving as U.S. TAG Administrator for ISO Technical Committee on Blockchain and Electronic Distributed Ledger
  • Industrial IoT leaders work towards interoperability and open source collaboration

LLVM News

  • Pairing LLVM JIT With PostgreSQL Can Speed Up Database Performance
    Using the LLVM JIT with PostgreSQL can vastly speed up the query execution performance and shows off much potential but it hasn't been mainlined yet. Dmitry Melnik presented at this month's LLVM Cauldron over speeding up the query execution performance of PostgreSQL by using LLVM. Particularly with complex queries, the CPU becomes the bottleneck for PostgreSQL rather than the disk. LLVM JIT is used for just-in-time compilation of queries.
  • LLVM Cauldron 2016 Videos, Slides Published
    The inaugural LLVM Cauldron conference happened earlier this month ahead of the GNU Tools Cauldron in Hebden Bridge, UK. All of the slides and videos from this latest LLVM conference are now available.