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

by gnujoshua (#48884395) Attached to: Eric Schmidt: Our Perception of the Internet Will Fade
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.

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

Submitted by gnujoshua
gnujoshua (540710) 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

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

Submitted by gnujoshua
gnujoshua (540710) 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

by gnujoshua (#45741971) Attached to: Free Software Foundation Endorses a "Truly Free" Laptop

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."

+ - FSF launches fundraiser for Replicant

Submitted by gnujoshua
gnujoshua (540710) 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."

Comment: List of plaintiffs (Score 4, Interesting) 333

by gnujoshua (#44301937) Attached to: EFF Sues NSA, Justice Department, FBI
The plaintiffs include:
  • First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles
  • Bill of Rights Defense Committee
  • Calguns Foundation
  • California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees
  • Council on Islamic Relations
  • Franklin Armory
  • Free Press
  • Free Software Foundation
  • Greenpeace
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Media Alliance
  • National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
  • Open Technology Institute
  • People for the American Way, Public Knowledge
  • Students for Sensible Drug Policy
  • TechFreedom
  • Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

+ - Activists top 2013 class of Internet Hall of Fame inductees

Submitted by gnujoshua
gnujoshua (540710) writes "The Internet Hall of Fame inducted 32 new members, today. This years class had a number of "policy innovators" and activists including Aaron Swartz (posthumous), John Perry Barlow, Jimmy Wales, and Richard M. Stallman.

Stallman had this to say upon his induction, "Now that we have made the Internet work, the next task is to stop it from being a platform for massive surveillance, and make it work in a way that respects human rights, including privacy.""

+ - Ask Slashdot: to debug or to troubleshoot?

Submitted by gnujoshua
gnujoshua (540710) writes "Sometimes you get stuck with a word in your profession that you use all the time but it is awkward and inconvenient. One of those words in IT is "troubleshoot." You can never have troubleshot or troubleshooted your problems away! But, if you start to debug a problem, instead, it can eventually be debugged. I say we stop troubleshooting and start debugging, instead?

What do you think? Is there any other computer/IT jargon that annoys you or that you wish you could replace with a different word or phrase?"

+ - Updated for Today Is International Day Against DRM->

Submitted by gnujoshua
gnujoshua (540710) writes "This is a recommended to be added as an update to a post published earlier today.

Update:The FSF's DefectiveByDesign.org team and supporters held a glitzy and glamorous gathering, today, in order to present the W3C with an award for "Best Supporting Role in 'The Hollyweb'," accompanied by over 22,500 verified signatures from members of the public who oppose a proposal that would weave DRM into the fabric of the Web."

Link to Original Source

+ - RMS urges W3C to reject DRM in HTML5 on principle->

Submitted by gnujoshua
gnujoshua (540710) writes "In a new article, GNU Project founder, Richard M. Stallman speaks out against the proposal to include hooks for DRM in HTML5. While others have been making similar arguments, RMS strikes home the point that while companies can still push Web DRM themselves, the stance taken by the W3C is still — both practically and politically — vitally important:

[...] the W3C cannot prevent companies from grafting DRM onto HTML. They do this through nonfree plug-ins such as Flash, and with nonfree Javascript code, thus showing that we need control over the Javascript code we run and over the C code we run. However, where the W3C stands is tremendously important for the battle to eliminate DRM. On a practical level, standardizing DRM would make it more convenient, in a very shallow sense. This could influence people who think only of short-term convenience to think of DRM as acceptable, which could in turn encourage more sites to use DRM. On the political level, making room for DRM in the specifications of the World Wide Web would constitute an endorsement in principle of DRM by the W3C. Standardization by the W3C could facilitate DRM that is harder for users to break than DRM implemented in Javascript code. If the DRM is implemented in the operating system, this could result in distribution of works that can't be played at all on a free operating system such as GNU/Linux.


Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:free frimware (Score 1) 85

by gnujoshua (#43600567) Attached to: FSF Certifies Atheros-Based ThinkPenguin 802.11 N USB Adapter

Buy the way, any change you make would have to be certified by the FCC as being compliant and that can be expensive.

I'm pretty sure this is not true. I recently read a tech topic blog on the FCC site that states,

WLAN was originally designed and developed as a home networking technology for nomadic users to wirelessly extend an Ethernet equivalent local area network (LAN) using shared communications media among a group of users through a wireless connection that operates at relatively short distances. WLAN uses license-exempt spectrum bands regulated by FCC rules, 47 C.F.R. Part 15.2 The FCC originally conceived the license-exempt bands to provide a no-cost slice of public access spectrum with only two provisions. First, the transmitter could cause no harmful interference to any nearby licensed services, and secondly, any receiver in this band must be able to accept any interference that may be present. Subsequently, the first wireless LAN was developed by the IEEE 802.11 standards committee (widely known as Wireless Fidelity or 'Wi-Fi' and 'Radio LAN') in 1997. Interestingly, the Wi-Fi standards were a response on the part of industry to the relatively restriction free use of the license-exempt spectrum allocation and rules.

2: See http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_07/47cfr15_07.html for the Part 15 rules. Note that the letter versions of the standards are not chronologically consistent since version (b) actually came before (a)!

But, even if you were right, it's important to know that you don't have to hack alone. You can work with others. Let's say you are worried some change you want to make could lead to some malfunction which would boost the signal. You could file a feature request to the project and see if someone else will make the change and test it. Or, if you make the change in code and are worried about installing it yourself, submit the patch upstream and see if others can review the code and test it for you. Just because things could potentially go wrong doesn't mean we should live in fear and abstain from using, fixing, or customizing our software.

Control your hardware, don't let it control you. =]

Comment: Re:Why is it so very last-generation? (Score 1) 85

by gnujoshua (#43599963) Attached to: FSF Certifies Atheros-Based ThinkPenguin 802.11 N USB Adapter

The FSF decided to investigate this AR9271 part. I'm not sure why.

The reason is because RYF certification is not simply done on software for a given chipset. RYF certification works by us entering into a formal agreement with a company that sells hardware. The agreement states that the company can display the RYF certification mark on all products that pass our testing and certification process so long as that company agrees to meet various requirements; we agree to do a limited amount of promotion on the product (press release, listing the product on our site, etc). In this case, the agreement is with ThinkPenguin and the product we tested and certified is the TPE-N150USB.

Over time we will certify more products and enter into agreements with more companies. I hope that people will come to trust the RYF certification mark and seek it out when looking to purchase computers and other hardware products — thus making it valuable to both the buyer and seller.

If you know a company selling devices with these other chipsets that support free firmware, or really any company selling hardware that supports 100% free software, please email us to let us know, and maybe send that company a link to FSF.org/RYF and encourage them to consider applying for certification.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie