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Comment Two different things being discussed (Score 1) 226

This story and the hackaday story are confusing two different things. The U-NII rules have already been passed and adopted this summer. ' Seperately, there is a new proposal (a Notice of Proposd Rule Making) that the FCC published and is accepting comments on until October 9th. These proposed rules will effect all virtually all computers (laptops, phones, routers, etc) that have software that controls or sets certain parameters on wireless devices like wifi, bluetooth, etc. So for example, if your device could possibly modified so that it spoofs the region code information in the linux kernel so that it will cause the wifi chip to operate as though you were in Japan (and thus in ways not allowed in the US), the propsed rules by the FCC would require that the linux kernel be locked down such that the user can not install their own modifed versions of the kernel. Please join the mailing list and collaborate with us on preparing comments, doing research, and related work on the Save WiFi wiki. You can also email me (jgay AT fsf DOT org) if you don't feel like engaging publicly or if you have any questions.

Comment Re:ebola (Score 2) 140

Simple rules like not touching dead people or sick people? Simple rules, like not touching dead or sick people, and washing your hands regularly would have helped a lot more than "databases" and "global warning and response systems.

It is not reasonable to expect people to not touch dead or sick people and it is absurd to think that proper hand washing would prevent the transmission of Ebola. Ebola is primarily a caregivers disease because the people most likely to get it are those caring for someone near the end of their life. A person walking around with Ebola is unlikely to spread it to another person. And a person who is near the end of life and severely sick with Ebola is unlikely to be walking around. In most places on Earth, a person with Ebola would go to a hospital when their symptoms were very strong. When there aren't hospitals, though, then it will be family members that will help care for a person who starts to spike a fever and is becoming dehydrated due to the explosive diarrhea or projectile vomiting (or both) that they are having. And, people should care for one another, because most of the time, the symptoms of Ebola are indistinguishable from other common ailments a person might have. For some patients, at the very end of life, there might be other signs that are peculiar to Ebola, such as lesions, but this isn't always the case. But in any case, even in a hospital setting, if a person is projectile vomiting or having explosive diarrhea, then often it is not just simply a matter of properly washing ones hands to prevent infection. Lastly, if when a person dies of such conditions, they are likely covered in their own vomit and excrement and may on occassion even have open lesions on their skin. Properly cleaning the area of a sick person and preparing their body for burial is something that trained professionals with proper equipment should do. But, again, such professional services do not exist throughout much of rural West Africa, and so the job of cleaning, preparing a body, and burying a body falls on shoulders of the members of the family and household.

As Paul Farmer said: "The only formula we’ve come up with is the following: you can’t stop Ebola without staff, stuff, space and systems. And these need to reach not only cities but also the rural areas in which most people in West Africa still live."

Comment W. Africa needs: hospitals, physicans, equipment (Score 2) 140

One way to be more agile is to have more hospitals, equipment, and trained acute care physicans and nurses available to respond. It is much easier to have digital record systems if you have properly equiped hospitals and clinics that are connected to each other. Every nation should have properly equiped hospitals and on-site training programs—facilities that can emergency and critical care type situations, as well as mortuaries. Here are a couple of quotes from a recent article by Paul Farmer, one of the founders of Partners in Health that explains a little about the health systems of countries in West Africa:

Both nurses and doctors are scarce in the regions most heavily affected by Ebola. Even before the current crisis killed many of Liberia’s health professionals, there were fewer than fifty doctors working in the public health system in a country of more than four million people, most of whom live far from the capital. That’s one physician per 100,000 population, compared to 240 per 100,000 in the United States or 670 in Cuba. Properly equipped hospitals are even scarcer than staff, and this is true across the regions most affected by Ebola. Also scarce is personal protective equipment (PPE): gowns, gloves, masks, face shields etc. In Liberia there isn’t the staff, the stuff or the space to stop infections transmitted through bodily fluids, including blood, urine, breast milk, sweat, semen, vomit and diarrhoea. Ebola virus is shed during clinical illness and after death: it remains viable and infectious long after its hosts have breathed their last. Preparing the dead for burial has turned hundreds of mourners into Ebola victims.

He concludes the article stating:

Fifth, formal training programmes should be set up for Liberians, Guineans and Sierra Leoneans. Vaccines and diagnostics and treatments will not be discovered or developed without linking research to clinical care; new developments won’t be delivered across West Africa without training the next generation of researchers, clinicians and managers. West Africa needs well-designed and well-resourced medical and nursing schools as well as laboratories able to conduct surveillance and to respond earlier and more effectively. Less palaver, more action.

Comment Re:Any asteroid prospectors yet? (Score 4, Interesting) 214

I think those kinds of whimsical discussions of a post-scarcity society are the kind of thing you might expect to hear in the MIT AI lab in the 1980s, which is where RMS was working at the time he wrote the GNU Manifesto. I've been volunteering for or working with the FSF for over a decade now and I have never been part of serious convesations in which we discussed preparing for a post-scarcity society or repairing robots. I kind of wish we did. We are always focused on the short term and practical goals that matter today or this year. It is kind of grinding. So, it is refreshing to lighten up a bit and think in terms of how the work we are doing today might be helpful to the **very** long term goals of humanity, even if it is just whimiscal conjecture and for fun.

Submission + - FSF endorsed Libreboot X200 laptop comes with Intel's AMT removed

gnujoshua writes: The Free Software Foundation has announced its endorsement of the Libreboot X200, a refurbished Lenovo ThinkPad X200 sold by Gluglug. The laptop ships with 100% free software and firmware, including the FSF's endorsed Trisquel GNU/Linux and Libreboot. One of the biggest challenges overcome in achieving FSF's Respects Your Freedom certification was the complete removal of Intel's ME and AMT firmware. The AMT is a controversial proprietary backdoor technology that allows remote access to a machine even when it is powered off. Quoting from the press release:

"The ME and its extension, AMT, are serious security issues on modern Intel hardware and one of the main obstacles preventing most Intel based systems from being liberated by users. On most systems, it is extremely difficult to remove, and nearly impossible to replace. Libreboot X200 is the first system where it has actually been removed, permanently," said Gluglug Founder and CEO, Francis Rowe.

Comment Invisible Technology and things to keep in mind (Score 3, Interesting) 228

Benjamin Mako Hill has discussed invisible technology and ubiquitous computing. Hill observes that "The reason most people don't understand the power of technology is that they don't realize technology exists." Put another way, it is easy to not notice (or even forget about) matters of power, control, and autonomy that come along with any technology that is, "quite explicitly, mitigating and mediating our lives", when we aren't even noticing the technology we are interacting with and relying upon in the first place. In this talk he quotes, Marc Wiesner, who was a director of Computer Science at Xerox PARC and wrote a paper seen as the birth of "Ubiquitous Computing" that made a call for invisible computing, stating:

"A good tool is an invisible tool. By invisible, I mean that the tool does not intrude on your consciousness; you focus on the task, not the tool. Eyeglasses are a good tool -- you look at the world, not the eyeglasses. The blind man tapping the cane feels the street, not the cane. Of course, tools are not invisible in themselves, but as part of a context of use. With enough practice we can make many apparently difficult things disappear: my fingers know vi editing commands that my conscious mind has long forgotten. But good tools enhance invisibility."

Hill points out that one of the times we actually do notice technology is when it breaks. He also has a rather clever blog, Revealing Errors , in which he and other contributors "reveal errors that reveal technologies" so as to learn how they affect our lives.

Submission + - FSF publishes Email Self-Defense Guide and infographic->

gnujoshua writes: The FSF has published a (rather beautiful) infographic and guide to encrypting your email using GnuPG. In their blog post announcing the guide they write:

One year ago today, an NSA contractor named Edward Snowden went public with his history-changing revelations about the NSA's massive system of indiscriminate surveillance. Today the FSF is releasing Email Self-Defense, a guide to personal email encryption to help everyone, including beginners, make the NSA's job a little harder. We're releasing it as part of Reset the Net, a global day of action to push back against the surveillance-industrial complex.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Replicant hackers find and close Samsung Galaxy back-door

gnujoshua writes: Paul Kocialkowski (PaulK), a developer for the Replicant project, a fully free/libre version of Android, wrote a guest blog post for the Free Software Foundation announcing that whlie hacking on the Samsung Galaxy, they "discovered that the proprietary program running on the applications processor in charge of handling the communication protocol with the modem actually implements a back-door that lets the modem perform remote file I/O operations on the file system." They then replaced the proprietary program with free software.

While it may be a while before we can have a 100% free software microcode/firmware on the the cellular hardware itself, isolating that hardware from the rest of your programming and data is a seemingly important step that we can take right now. At least to the FSF anyhow. What do others think: is a 100% free software mobile device important to you?

Comment Re:Sigh (Score 1) 340

If the FSF really want to do something useful, they should start with something smaller.

Our first products to recieve Repsects Your Freedom (RYF) certification (i.e., use of the RYF certification mark on their product) was the LulzBot 3D printer made by Aleph Objects, Inc. (the latest model is the TAZ). The next products we certified were wireless chipsets sold by ThinkPenguin. The latest company we worked with, Gluglug, came forward and submitted these laptops to us for certification, so we reviewed the work they did and then awarded them use of the RYF certification mark.

The kind of approach you discuss makes sense. But, should the FSF really be building and selling hardware? From what you are saying it sounds like, perhaps, you understand hardware a lot better than I do. As such, I hope you will launch a business to do the kinds of things you discuss. If you do, and you aim to sell hardware that meets our certification criteria, I'd be happy to talk with you about what we can do to help in terms of promotion or endorsement.

Thanks for the feedback.

Joshua Gay
Licensing & Compliance Manager
Free Software Foundation

Comment Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. (Score 1) 127

In the words of Bishop Desmond Tutu: "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."

In the words of Elie Wiesel: "I swore never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. "

In the words of Dante Alighieri: "The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."

Submission + - FSF launches fundraiser for Replicant

gnujoshua writes: The FSF has launched a fundraiser for Replicant, the fully free Android distro. As of version 4.0 0004, Replicant runs on 10 different devices, but, the hopes are that with additional funds, the developers will be able to purchase more devices and grow the project so it will run on more devices. Yesterday, the FSF asked Mark Shuttleworth if the Ubuntu EDGE would commit to using only free software and be able to support Replicant. But, in an AMA on Reddit, Shuttleworth confirmed that Replicant would not be supported because the EDGE hardware will require proprietary drivers/binary-blobs.

A CONS is an object which cares. -- Bernie Greenberg.