Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! ×

Comment Secret evidence & open source not just for dev (Score 1) 596

Dries Buytaert "ask[ed] Larry [Garfield] not to participate in the Drupal project" and Buytaert said his choice Buytaert said was based in part on "confidential information that I've received" about "omissions in Larry's blog post" concerning Garfield's sex life leading Buytaert to "[suffer] from varying degrees of shock and concern". Yet open source long prided itself on being a developmental methodology which eschews certain outside considerations, most notably software freedom. Software freedom is not relevant for consideration on its own merit, and a user's software freedom is an issue that needlessly drives away open source's principal audience—businesses. Therefore it was understandable, even if one disagreed, when an open source advocate would chastise the free software movement along the lines of including such foreign concerns like ethics into what makes software free and how one ought to treat others with regard to computers and software. Apparently other outside concerns are more acceptable and open source (a developmental methodology) values more than just development released under an OSI-approved license to make software which "drive[s] innovation" resulting in a promised "higher quality, greater reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in".

In an update to his blog post, Buytaert also says that Garfield will be deplatformed (as the neologism goes), "the Drupal Association made a decision not to invite Larry to speak at DrupalCon Baltimore or serve as a track chair for it" presumably for the same secret reasons that so shocked and concerned Buytaert—Buytaert "can't get past the fundamental misalignment of values" wherein "Larry has entwined his private and professional online identities". So there's no room for someone who believes in "The Gorean philosophy promoted by Larry [which] is based on the principle that women are evolutionarily predisposed to serve men and that the natural order is for men to dominate and lead.". And this decision comes from the man who is described as "the [Drupal] project's dictator for life, the CTO of a company with powerful influence on the open source project, the president of the Board of Directors".

Comment Re:Percentage doesn't matter (Score 1) 155

The only reason Microsoft changed their language on that was because they recently learned people didn't care about them for many server-side activities including web hosting and what to run in VMs (two areas where GNU/Linux is popular). Microsoft wants to frame things in terms of popularity because it can't compete on software freedom. When Microsoft failed to show high popularity in those markets they figured they'd rather have organizations include them somewhere in the system than totally exclude them. Thus, from Microsoft's perspective, better to run their VM controller running a bunch of GNU/Linux systems than not be included at all. So out with the "Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches" language (and Steve Ballmer who said that) and in with the "Microsoft loves Linux" swag. They changed their PR in the hopes people would buy this. But they can change the PR again, and none of this PR is designed to address what they're actually distributing to their users: proprietary, user-subjugating software. This is why articles like this are framed in terms of gauging in terms of popularity instead of software freedom, and "open source" instead of free software.

Much as I want to take Eben Moglen's recent LibrePlanet 2017 speech advice to heart and "destroy no coalitions at the moment" (not that I think what I say has such power to begin with), I can't help but notice that this pairing of how to evaluate the shifting language with the group that has always eschewed software freedom and conclude that this is no accident. "Fifteen years ago [...] open source was a communist virus" is right, but it can be that again so be careful not to value your software freedom in terms of popularity. The freedom will remain, continue to be hugely practical and ethical, and a value unto itself whether software proprietors consider it a proper part of what to run or not.

Comment What you are is clear, sir... (Score 1, Flamebait) 155

When Adobe writes "I just wonder who in their marketing dept thought this was a good idea." let's be clear about this—Adobe's main source of revenue is user-subjugating software (proprietary software) just like SAS. So Adobe isn't arguing that a user ought to prefer FLOSS, even reject proprietary software. Adobe's objection comes down to either quibbling over percentage points in SAS' recommendation or rejecting the recommendation altogether on the basis that any discussion of this is likely to bring to mind the very thing proprietors don't sell users and don't want users thinking about—software freedom.

Proprietors rely on FLOSS so they can't complain too much about it. Adobe's RAW camera software, for example, depends on dcraw, a FLOSS program which, as its developers put it, "has made it far easier for developers to support a wide range of digital cameras in their applications. They can call dcraw from a graphical interface, paste pieces of dcraw.c into their code, or just use dcraw.c as the documentation that camera makers refuse to provide".

Comment Re:DRM is necessary to stop piracy (Score 2) 255

Quite true; Digital Restrictions Management (contrary to what another poster said, smart people do realize and don't allow the reframing of the language away from how most people experience DRM) doesn't affect those who get their copies stripped of the restrictions as is commonplace amongst those who share. DRM chiefly adversely affects those who participate in the process (whether they spend their own money to do it or are given it gratis).

DRM is the excuse publishers use to justify the ongoing control over one's computer, spying regime modern-day DRM schemes make possible and use, and thus pose genuine risks to everyday computer users. This is not about "balancing" rights as another poster said, this is about copyright holders and their business partners using a mechanism to get more control over your devices, your privacy, and your life than they ought to have. To publishers who claim they wouldn't engage in the process without DRM, I say that's fine but I want to see proof and lots of it; please don't publish without DRM controls you couldn't have a few short years ago (remember that DRM schemes always become more onerous over time and publishers always try to convince the public they can't get by without the higher degree of control). Let your competition distribute their work at whatever price they think they can get DRM-free and do with the reduced competition. The publisher's threat is (taken on the whole) an empty threat and everyone knows it.

Comment Re:Post them on the Internet Archive (Score 2) 554

I concur; the Internet Archive is easily reachable by everyone using time-honored and well-understood protocols that ordinary computer users and highly-skilled computer users all can use (videos delivered over HTTPS). This will also seed BitTorrents (since has been doing that too).

I look forward to someone sharing the download URL from where we can get the lectures we're all free to share.

Comment Needless JS, WAPO partnership unimpressive (Score 1) 66

Meanwhile Wikipedia (and related services including Wiktionary) get a lot more views, doesn't require JS to use, and works with a lot more browsers (including textual browsers). I'm also not impressed by the Washington Post "partnership". WAPO has been a source of "fake news" Russophobic hysteria lately: the Russians reportedly attacking the US electrical grid via a Vermont electrical facility (a story they still haven't retracted), and using the PropOrNot website as a viable source when we don't know who is behind what that site claims is propaganda and the terms of being considered propaganda there are so broad many more sources could have been included.

Comment Declaring "victory" early is a tactic, not reality (Score 1) 308

Similar things were said about Snowden's revelations which continue to bear fruit for the world. Don't be fooled into believing the unexamined belief the /. headline wants you to believe—that "most people" don't care. The Democrats are sore that they lost the US presidential election, a majority of state governerships, and control over Congress. They're still pushing this undefended Russophobic idea that the Russians somehow "hacked" (to use their language) the US election. They even chummed up with the CIA to help curry favor for this notion. They're hardly interested in learning that, for instance, the CIA's "UMBRAGE" effort works to plant false evidence making it look like another party did something they actually did (one of the many interesting newsworthy items found in the WikiLeaks initial "Vault 7" leak) carries a vastly different story which challenges the Democrats' as-yet-unproven tale. Neoliberals really want to get their war with Russia on and anyone who doesn't join in that effort will find a chilly reception among the neoliberal elite right now.

Also, there's been considerable coverage of this from around the world, but if you're only paying attention to American corporate mainstream media you will not find dissenting views that challenge a corporate narrative which stood fully behind Mrs. Clinton's 2nd failed attempt at becoming US President. Americans don't make up most of the people in the world and American mainstream media is taken less seriously these days (for good reason).

Comment Champion HR676 to your Congresspeople. Now. (Score 1) 283

The first question is great, a right and proper way to respond to any entitlement program aimed at improving the healthcare outcomes of a subset of Americans. The second question gives up on the promise of the first and is all too typical of the weak US Left.

Right now those who were really unhappy that Donald Trump became US President are letting Pres. Trump set the agenda for how US healthcare ought to work while pointlessly going on about preserving ObamaCare. ObamaCare (nee RomneyCare) was a gift to the HMOs which kept the HMOs in charge. It's time for universalizing Medicare for all Americans, and HR676 is the practical means to do this.

Physicians for a National Health Program have been championing HR676 for a while and for good reason. It's well time to tell the US government how to handle this, not let them come up with another complex means of preserving HMO power (which invariably means needlessly expensive healthcare that doesn't cover everyone, preserves the idea that healthcare is not a human right, and doesn't deliver outcomes which compare well with countries that do universalize their medical care delivery).

I recommend learning more about universalizing Medicare: an interview with Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, more on HR676, and Dr. Woolhandler on the inadequacies of ObamaCare on KPFA radio starting at 20m27s.

Comment "'Secure' isn't as necessary" sounds bad. (Score 1) 456

"Perhaps accept that "secure" isn't as necessary, too."
This message brought to you by your friends at the NSA, CIA, and other organizations that are eager to learn more about you.

I think there's nothing wrong with considering what security means here. I'd certainly prefer non-technical people conversed electronically using a protocol and free software programs which used encrypted message transfer by default. I don't think it's wise to continue in the older way of doing unencrypted message transfer for everything and then being unpleasantly surprised how many parties spy on users. How much trouble one wants to go to in order to ensure a desired level of security should be a concern and part of the needs requirements. I'm also unconvinced that multimedia can't properly be a part of IM. Every message in any medium takes time to compose and read, watch, or somehow deal with. I take the "instant" in instant messaging to be a (somewhat inarticulate) description of the ease with which one can send a message of any kind to someone else. In other words, minimal setup with a simple UI, not the medium of the message. My understanding is that younger users expect to be able to make and deliver short audiovisual messages, so I'd give such messages more consideration than the parent suggests.

Comment Volkswagen apparently values fraud (Score 1) 115

I'd say things are pretty easy on VW considering what they should have had to produce for all of their customers (complete corresponding source code including build tools licensed under a free software license or, for the cars that never should have been sold in the first place, buy-back of the car at whatever price the person paid).

Management is eager to get this behind them in a way where people think it's over and done with, but there's no reason to trust any of the auto manufacturers involved in the conspiracy (not just VW used code designed to fool tests). VW's got self-driving cars to try to position (they appear to be pushing this concept now) and sell, after all. Can't have memories of how they ripped off customers lingering in the minds and 'tainting' future products, even though that's precisely what's fair and reasonable for would-be customers to do.

Comment Re:There goes anonymous browsing (Score 2) 160

Perhaps this is the latest PR initiative to try to get the public to defend "invisible" spying. Google makes considerable money and maintains relationships with powerful organizations on the basis of spying. Spying is very much a part of Google's business. Google could probably use a way to get more people to (even indirectly) defend Javascript-based spying by turning the public into ignorant supporters who say things like 'We *need* this invisible reCAPTCHA' when we could actually choose to do without it.

Without knowing what the code does (and keeping up with all the changes, changes which can happen at any time) we can't confirm this code only does the job Google claims it does.

Comment Obama tapped everyone. That's bad news. (Score 1) 519

I don't see why we should give into your definition of what's on par with Trump's claim of bugged phones, nor is it controversial that Trump was tapped before he was POTUS. This whole reaction is more about manufactured outrage and distraction from real issues.

But Obama certainly did lie (plenty of variations of "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan." despite millions of Americans seeing their plans terminated which were lies of commission), and commit extrajudicial murder (the so-called 'Terror Tuesday' meetings, as the New York Times tells us, had former President Obama personally selecting targets for assassination. Some of the people killed in these drone attacks include Americans Anwar Awlaki and his 16-year-old son. Others killed in drone attacks are overwhelmingly completely unsuspected innocents who happen to be in the vicinity of the kill zone where the bomb goes). Obama lied by omission about these drone war consequences, but he made time to crack wise about death-by-drone at one of his Correspondent's dinners wherein he quipped about threatening a boy band his daughters enjoyed with death-by-drone ("You'll never see it coming..."). Pres. Obama called the Iraq war a "dumb war" and then kept it going for his entire term (this choice helped make his the first US President to be at war his entire term in office). Oh, don't worry: Pres. Trump is down with all of these policies. Trump apparently plans to keep HMOs intact and in charge of American healthcare with his own spin away from universalizing Medicare (we're learning about the details of this now but the broad strokes are clear) despite what he told "60 Minutes" about universal healthcare. Universalizing Medicare ala HR676 would be useful, is widely approved by Americans, is something real progressives should champion (particularly now) instead of knuckling under to more HMO rule, and would (by design) make it illegal for HMOs to cover the same care covered by Medicare (America's extant single-payer system). But passing HR676 into law would also ensure these HMOs wouldn't fund Democratic and Republican Party campaigns. And on war, Pres. Trump recently had Awlaki's 8-year-old daughter killed in a drone-led campaign in which the Navy SEAL Team 6 shot her in the throat and let her bleed to death. And there's no sign the US is ever leaving Iraq. Not only are these issue far more important than someone's manufactured outrage over Trump's tweet about spying on his calls, they point out how the similarities across administrations on significant issues far outnumber and outweigh the differences between administrations. And this is no accident.

Getting back to pointing out how much manufactured outrage works to obscure more important issues: The NSA's slogan "Sniff It All, Collect It All, Know It All, Process It All, Exploit It All" covers the situation quite well. That slogan is not "Collect some of it, Process most of it, Exploit things here or there but certainly not Trump Tower-related data". So it's perfectly reasonable Trump's communications were tapped. As RT's "The Resident" pointed out (using slightly different words than the next quote) and Ted Rall astutely point out "Of course Obama tapped Trump. Snowden told us. Obama tapped everyone!". German Chancellor Angela Merkel didn't like it when it was revealed her conversations were also being spied upon. The controversy is that the US taps so much regardless of whether they're abiding by US law. That's a far more important point.

Any outrage over Trump's reaction is a pointer to how much that person wasn't paying attention during the Snowden revelations and its consequences (which are ongoing to this day).

Comment Endorse the ethics of software freedom (Score 4, Insightful) 457

"Doing so would make apps like Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp entirely insecure" is what makes running security-minded programs on non-free, user-subjugating, always-untrustworthy, proprietary OSes a joke. People get a sense that they're safer from malware then they really are and they think they get to keep their proprietary conveniences as well. Openwashing will not help you.

I know it's a lot of work to learn new things and change your views and your behavior. I understand that software freedom is differently political than what you're encouraged to adopt, and software freedom requires you to consider more than what's listed in virtually every features & money-based ad campaign from monied proprietors. And I get that coming to terms with the consequences of software freedom runs directly contrary to believing that you don't need to think any further than what proprietors and their "open source" friends tell you to think about (because no proprietor frames their offerings in terms of the freedoms to run, inspect, share, and modify the software, hence proprietors are more likely to sanction the open source movement which eschews these values and even celebrates partnering with proprietors like Red Hat's recent uncritical commentary on Microsoft's software and Microsoft's new campaign regarding "Linux"—no mention of GNU which might bring software freedom to mind). But in the real world you need to stop trusting proprietary systems to keep you safe, respect your privacy, or other practical consequences of software freedom. Proprietary software wasn't designed to do that and therefore that software never will do that job. There is no middle ground which allows you to run proprietary software while retaining the benefits of software freedom. It's time to value software freedom for its own sake.

Even if all published software were free, exploits like these are possible because all complex software has bugs. Perfect security is not the issue. The issue is who gets to control their own computer and how we treat each other. Even after these exploits are published by WikiLeaks and people have had time to consider them and protect against their adverse effects, proprietors will still have power over users who run their proprietary software. Users won't be able to tell what other exploits are out there and therefore it will be harder to protect against them. The difference between proprietary subjugation and software freedom becomes more clear: Free software users will be able to run, inspect, improve, and share improvements with others making that software more able to prevent future attacks. But proprietary software users won't be allowed to do the due diligence they need in order to help themselves no matter how technically skilled they are or how willing to repair things they are. No computer user deserves to be treated that way. It will take a lot of work to get people to understand why they too should care about software freedom even if they're non-technical (like most computer users are). So I urge you to understand software freedom for its own sake and to try to help others understand as well.

Relatedly, the Free Software Foundation's "Respects Your Freedom" campaign has some new hardware on the list. I recommend buying some and using it, even if it's not up-to-date with the latest capabilities and seemingly expensive for what's offered. We need more people to invest in free replacements for proprietary, locked-down, user-subjugating systems. We need to make investments in our own collective future by funding the free products available today so we can have modern, highly-capable, and fully user-controllable POWER8, RISC, etc. systems which will respect the owner's control.

Comment How could you know this? (Score 4, Insightful) 54

Are you making claims beyond your knowledge? The device runs on proprietary software. By default we have no idea when the device is listening (most likely all the time, otherwise how would it know when someone uttered the 'wake word'?), we have no idea if there's a recording made, and we have no idea where that recording goes (users certainly don't get to control where the recordings go somewhere or if any such recordings are made).

Perhaps this is why it's a better idea to manually bring up a website & order something, or (by extension for TVs which are now "smart") not get a TV running proprietary software with a camera and mic aimed at the user...often in their bedroom aimed at squarely at their bed.

How many unwitting porn stars are there now? Just give us a round figure, so to speak.

Slashdot Top Deals

U X e dUdX, e dX, cosine, secant, tangent, sine, 3.14159...