01.29.23

Not Tolerating Proprietary ‘Bossware’ in the Workplace (or at Home in Case of Work-From-Home)

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software at 8:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 9a90a5de7aacd9fc4b8847cf61321f6a
When Sirius Abandoned Jabber for Bossware
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: The company known as Sirius ‘Open Source’ generally rejected… Open Source. Today’s focus was the migration to Slack.

THE above video discusses the migration/transition/downgrade from Jabber to a truly terrible, centralised, proprietary and vulnerable platform known as Slack. Aside from technical problems and various glaring limitations, Slack was a risk not just to Sirius ‘Open Source’ but also to its clients.

No matter the hard evidence and how much I pointed this out (maybe a dozen times, at personal risk), that always fell on deaf ears. The company was already governed by incompetent people.

“From what we can gather, Red Hat staff was subjected to similar treatment after IBM had bought the company.”It was abundantly clear that many colleagues did not like this. Some opposed this. Some faced disciplinary action for antagonising. That would include me. So in a company called “Open Source” we’re meant to assume that adopting proprietary software — and not because some client requires it — is considered acceptable. Whereas insisting on the company’s values is considered an offense.

From what we can gather, Red Hat staff was subjected to similar treatment after IBM had bought the company. It’s hard to believe that later this year it will be 5 years since that announcement.

The ISO Delusion: A Stack of Proprietary Junk (Slack) Failing Miserably

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software at 5:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

And the management that chose this junk resorts to blaming the victims

“Giving the Linus Torvalds Award to the Free Software Foundation is a bit like giving the Han Solo Award to the Rebel Alliance.”

Richard Stallman

Summary: When the company where I worked for nearly 12 years spoke of pragmatism it was merely making excuses to adopt proprietary software at the expense of already-working and functional Free software

LAST night we covered the use of Microsoft Skype in Sirius ‘Open Source’. It only happened once, but that was enough to damage the brand and injure some workers’ morale. Why would a company called “Open Source” something be eager to abandon Free/Open Source software, opting for proprietary stuff of the most vicious rival? What message does that send to longstanding clients or existing staff? What about potential/prospective/future clients and staff?

“Why would a company called “Open Source” something be eager to abandon Free/Open Source software, opting for proprietary stuff of the most vicious rival?”Slack on GNU/Linux is a mess. Slack on Free/libre browsers is almost an impossibility. So why on Earth would Sirius move away from Jabber and force/impose the use of Slack? I’ve uploaded 2 images from several years back; they’re screenshots of what happened when I tried accessing Slack from a GNU/Linux PC using a decent Web browser that isn’t controlled by spying firms:

Slack on GNU/Linux PC

Broken Slack

That does not seem like it’s going to work, does it? This is from 2019. It has only gotten worse since.

So we’ve just belatedly used two screenshots of what Slack looks like on GNU/Linux with a proper (Free/libre) browser; “bossware” that insists on browsers which spy on their users. Using some User Agent (UA) sniffing they try to undermine or prevent access with perfectly capable browsers (if the UA is faked, there’s a way to get in).

Back then I wrote to an incompetent manager who threatened me repeatedly for not using Slack: “I tried to access my account from two computers, from two browsers, including Chrome. It’s not working. See screenshots. It only works from Rianne’s laptop.”

At one point they agrees to let me use Rianne’s laptop, but then they “changed their minds” (in other words, they had lied to me right to my face in the illegal contract-signing). I got this:

xxxx wrote on 21/07/2019 02:23:
> Hi Roy,
>
> You need to fix this problem and use Slack.
>
> You are a well qualified tech who can fix this issue and comply with
> management’s request.
>
> As I have explicitly explained to you that you need to have your log in
> for Slack and not use Rianne’s. Yet today you’re logged in via Rianne’s
> and not using yours even though you sent me details of your own log in.
>
> To refresh your memory, this is from my previous email.

I need to install a new OS or a new browser for this.

Remember that the company never even paid us for any of our hardware purchases (for our work machines). That seems unreasonable.

“Slack itself has been having issues and it was sold to Salesforce.”In hindsight, it seems clear this manager scared away almost all the technical people. The damage was irreversible.

Slack itself has been having issues and it was sold to Salesforce. The New York Times reported Salesforce layoffs earlier this month. The Wall Street Journal published this article noting that Slack just made bloated proprietary junk nobody truly wants to depend on:

When Salesforce Inc. bought the messaging application Slack for $27.7 billion almost two years ago, it said the marriage would “transform the way everyone works in the all-digital, work-from-anywhere world.” Corporate technology buyers so far aren’t impressed, analysts said.

The acquisition sought to capture the fast-growing market for communications and collaboration software during the Covid-19 pandemic, as employers sent workers home and shifted to remote systems.

Today, companies in the market for customer-relationship management software — Salesforce’s signature product — don’t appear to be swayed one way or another by the addition of messaging and collaboration features, said Liz Herbert, a vice president and principal analyst at information-technology research firm Forrester Research Inc.

“We don’t really see, when it comes to Slack, any pent up demand from Salesforce’s base for a tool like that,” Ms. Herbert said. “It really hasn’t become something compelling,” she said.

Salesforce bought itself a dud and in December of last year the CEO said that he would leave this month.

From what we can gather, the decision to adopt Slack came from the CEO, who posted Trump support tweets while encouraging staff to use pictures of superheroes in Slack. How childish and unprofessional. What a betrayal of Free software. Is this really the same person who became a patron of the Free Software Foundation? Maybe his personal life took him on a crazy ride — a subject we might revisit some other day in another month.

To be clear, Slack doesn’t do anything that Free software cannot do. It’s bloated and it is not secure. It also has security breaches.

Just two days before the above E-mail message (from a manager) I received this:

——– Forwarded Message ——–
Subject: 💥 Slack Security Incident
Date: Fri, 19 Jul 2019 16:58:59 +0000
From: Keybase <notify@keybase.io>
To: r@schestowitz.com

*schestowitz*,

We’ve been getting questions about this, so an announcement for everyone.

Today, Slack announced that a break-in from 2015 was possibly more
severe than previously announced. A lot of people have been getting
emails today. It seems 1% of Slack users still had compromised accounts
(after 4 years); but more seriously, Slack has not disclosed what
percent of Slack teams had their messages stolen. Also, if a small
fraction of users have had compromised accounts, that may still mean a
majority of teams were compromised.

We’re sending this note because people are now asking if this could
happen with Keybase teams. Simple answer: no. While Keybase now has all
the important features of Slack, it has the only protection against
server break-ins: *end-to-end encryption*.

Keybase’s CEO, Max, just wrote how this Slack incident personally
affected him *in a new blog post* .

tl;dr. Hackers who break into Keybase’s servers could not read your
company’s, family’s, friend’s, or community’s messages. Hope this simple
update answers everyone’s questions.

*https://keybase.io/app*

And Keybase is free!
❤️ the Keybase team

Slack took over Keybase and Slack itself was a vulnerable piece of garbage with habitual data breaches. The Keybase reputation was tarnished and not many people seem to be using it anymore, certainly not me.

I eventually responded to the manager as follows:

> Hi Roy,
>
> You need to fix this problem and use Slack.
>
> You are a well qualified tech who can fix this issue and comply with
> management’s request.
>
> As I have explicitly explained to you that you need to have your log in
> for Slack and not use Rianne’s. Yet today you’re logged in via Rianne’s
> and not using yours even though you sent me details of your own log in.
>
> To refresh your memory, this is from my previous email.

I’m going to try to install another browser, as Chome and other browsers
don’t work for me. They don’t show anything when I log in (I sent you
screenshots). Maybe I’ll be logged in with my username in a few hours
when it’s installed (if that works).

In the meantime, I have to raise other concerns.

The inevitable has happened to Slack. They announced it days and and
they can be held criminally accountable

To say that Slack got merely “compromised” would be an understatement
Yes, it did in fact get compromised, but it’s a lot worse. It’s far
worse than a compromise per se. I’m going to explain, starting with the
basics.

Slack accumulates all data and never deletes any of it. GDPR should be
applicable here and I suspect that EU authorities have not assessed that
aspect just yet. What Slack is to users isn’t what it is to Slack, the
company. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) issued strongly-worded
warnings about Slack and even Microsoft utright banned Slack for
security reasons. They very much foresaw the latest disaster. It’s
difficult to assess or measure because it’s almost impossible to track
the sources of rogue actors’ data.

Slack did not have a mere ‘incident’. They knew about it for quite some
time (at higher levels, too). It’s the complete doomsday scenario, an
equivalent of having one’s own Jabber server completely and totally
hijacked, and all communications in it (names, passwords) stolen. But in
the case of Slack millions of businesses are affected. In one fell
swoop. Just like that. Even the public sector. Military, hospitals, you
name it…

Slack got cracked, but they won’t admit that. They will lie about the
extent of the damage, just like Yahoo and Equifax did (each time waiting
months before revealing it was orders of magnitude worse). They game the
news cycle that way. People must assume that all data is compromised.
Businesses and their clients’ data is on Slack. Even HR stuff, which
gets passed around in internal communications. Super-sensitive things
like passwords, passports and so on.

Who was Slack data copied by? Mirrored or ‘stolen’, to put it another
way? Possibly by rogue military actors that can leverage it for
espionage and blackmail, as many do. Covertly. You rarely hear about
blackmail because that’s just the nature of the blackmail. It happens
silently. Some would say Slack got “hacked” (they typically mean
cracked). But it’s actually a lot worse than getting cracked! I’ll
explain further…

About a month ago Slack got to its IPO milestone. But it committed an
actual crime by not informing the customers of the breach. They would
change passwords etc. had they known. But Slack did not obey the law. It
did not inform customers. It announced all this after the IPO, in order
to make shareholders liable, and it did so late on a Friday (to minimise
press coverage about this likely crime). The shareholders too should sue
for concealment of critical information.

Slack knew what had happened and why it waited all this time. This
scandal can unfold for quite some time to come.

It would be wise to move to locally-hosted FOSS. However, that would not
in any way undo the damage of having uploaded piles of corporate data to
Slack and their compromised servers. In the coming days many companies
will come to realise that for years they tactlessly and irresponsibly
gave piles of personal/corporate data to Slack and now a bunch of
crackers around the world have this data.

You can expect Slack to stonewall for a while, saying that it’s the
weekend anyway. When it comes to Slack, expect what happened with
Yahoo; First they say it’s a small incident; Months pass; Then they toss
out a note to say it was actually big; A year later (when it’s “old
news”): 3 BILLION accounts affected.

Now, like Yahoo, they will downplay scope of impact. A lot of companies
can suffer for years to come (e.g. data breaches, identity theft).

I have great concern for the company where I’m working for almost a
decade, including our compliance with the law and our clients’
compliance with the law. This is why I bring this up.

I’m going to install something new and see if I can somehow logged in. I
already tried, unsuccessfully, from two of my laptops.

In summary, Slack is a pile of garbage. With Slack, Sirius too became a pile of garbage. They deserve each other.

A few weeks ago John Goerzen wrote: “I loaded up this title with buzzwords. The basic idea is that IM systems shouldn’t have to only use the Internet.”

Slack does not work when the company has downtime. It happened several times, which meant people could not speak to colleagues for hours. Why was our Jabber server shut down? Surveillance through Slack?

Remember that Sirius kept promoting fake security as if the company is a bunch of people who never used computers before. When clients ask about ISO certification (not an isolated incident) they don’t seem to understand what truly happens inside Sirus. There’s spying, outsourcing, security breaches and so on. Someone needs to talk about this.

Debian 11 on My Main Rig: So Far Mostly OK, But Missing Some Software From Debian 10

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux at 1:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 76599171df667cb220bae1c371058d11
My Life With Debian 11 on Main Laptop
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: Distributions of GNU/Linux keep urging us to move to the latest, but is the latest always the greatest? On Friday my Debian 10 drive died, so I started moving to Debian 11 on a new drive and here’s what that did to my life.

THIS household isn’t unfamiliar with Debian 11. My wife’s Raspberry Pi (400) has had it since 11 months ago and my own Pi has had it for over a year. But our main working machines were running Debian 10 for 3 years already. It worked really well. My sister recently moved from Debian 10 to 11 and complained about it; her colleagues had suffered the same and she was pressured to ‘upgrade’ regardless. Some people in IRC say that moving from 10 to 11 caused them problems, partly overcome by moving to 12 (testing).

“My move to Debian 11 wasn’t entirely voluntary.”The video above explains that some of my main problems with Debian 11 is software that’s no longer supported, causing me to make rather big changes, as happened this morning. Time will tell if any other issues may be coming up. The Debian repository is still very extensive, but any change can be disruptive. The Pis with Debian 11 aren’t used as traditional laptops, so that never bothered us (my wife uses 3 computers that are switched on all the time; I use 5). My move to Debian 11 wasn’t entirely voluntary. My hard drive died and it make no sense to stay on Debian 10 given its limited support plan (remaining time). The same is true for my Pi; after the hardware was damaged it made sense to move to the latest stable version of Debian, i.e. 11.

Over the past year I heard and read many stories about Debian upgrades, especially from 10 to 11. On our Pis it didn’t seem so disruptive and so far on my desktop/laptop I’m pleased with this latest version. In all cases — two Pis and a laptop — those were ‘clean installs’; I’ll probably report again on my experiences in weeks or months. Two days is way to little to properly assess a distro.

Stigmatising GNU/Linux for Not Withstanding Hardware Failures

Posted in Deception, FUD, GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft at 11:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 06304c0f6049081e578bb696a000a942
Making Linux Sound Culpable for Hardware Issue
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: Nowadays “the news” is polluted with a lot of GNU/Linux-hostile nonsense; like with patents, the signal-to-noise ratio is appalling and here we deal with a poor ‘report’ about “Linux servers” failing to work

THE OTHER day in IRC we discussed this article that mentions “Linux” many times when in fact mentioning a hardware incident. “Are Microsofters trying to generate bad press for Linux?” we asked. “This is a hardware problem, not at all related to GNU/Linux. Maybe some Microsofters are trying to undermine the teaching of GNU/Linux there?”

The video above discusses what’s in the article and why it’s a tad suspicious. It is reminiscent of some FUD campaigns we saw before. “Third-year Rohan Gupta reported that, in addition to the CS website, he was also unable to access his classes’ Linux servers,” it says. Well, hardware dies sometimes. My laptop died some days ago (Friday), but within 2-3 hours I replaced the physical drive and began installing the latest Debian. This can take time.

The media still loves to stigmatise GNU/Linux as not secure, not reliable etc. But for much of the time they would be better off focusing on Microsoft’s reliability and insecurity issues, including last week’s massive Clown Computing outage at Microsoft. The media barely covered it.

Microsofters Inside Sirius ‘Open Source’

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 10:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 9088e5ce7cc9eba79bde5977c20d399f
Sirius and Microsofters Inside
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: Sirius ‘Open Source’ has been employing incompetent managers for years — a sentiment shared among colleagues by the way; today we examine some glaring examples with redacted communications to prove it

LAST night we published this latest/next part about Sirius, though only about a day later than originally expected due to my most important hard drive simply dying. We’ll still try to stick to the original schedule with a closing day after exactly 2 months (since the start of the series). After that we have more to cover, but maybe not on a daily basis.

“The video moreover gives a recent example of “managers” failing to do very simple and very critical tasks.”The video above goes back to the days when a backstabbing manager had been appointed; he asked if not demanded all of us to get Microsoft Skype accounts and get the darn thing installed only for useless presentation based on invalid data.

The video moreover gives a recent example of “managers” failing to do very simple and very critical tasks. This puts clients’ businesses at great risk.

“Clients are noticing this, but some chose Sirius because of very old past reputation (and revisionist history).”Sirius hasn’t been managed by competent people for years already. Clients are noticing this, but some chose Sirius because of very old past reputation (and revisionist history).

Links 29/01/2023: GNOME 43.3 Fixes and Lots About Games

Posted in News Roundup at 9:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

  • Distributions and Operating Systems

  • Leftovers

    • HackadayToroidal Propellers Make Drones Less Annoying

      Despite being integral to aviation for more than a century, propellers have changed remarkably little since the Wright Brothers. A team at MIT’s Lincoln Lab has developed a new propeller shape that significantly reduces the noise associated with drones. [PDF via NewAtlas]

    • The NationMy Nhan, Half Moon, Pokey, Midnight Mass, Navasky
    • HackadayLED Air Vent Gauges Are A Tasteful Mod For The Mazda Miata

      Anyone in the JDM scene can tell you, round air vents are prime real estate for round analog gauges. If you want a gauge but don’t want to block your vent, you could consider building these LED vent gauges from [ktanner] instead.

    • HackadayThe Times They Are A-Chaining

      If [Bob Dylan] had seen [Pgeschwi]’s bike chain clock, it might have influenced the famous song. The clock uses a stepper motor and a bike chain to create a clock that has a decidedly steampunk vibe. Despite the low-tech look, the build uses 3D printing and, of course, a bike chain.

    • Science

      • HackadayAn Atomic Pendulum Clock Accurate Enough For CERN

        That big grandfather clock in the library might be an impressive piece of mechanical ingenuity, and an even better example of fine cabinetry, but we’d expect that the accuracy of a pendulum timepiece would be limited to a sizable fraction of a minute per day. Unless, of course, you work at CERN and built  “the most accurate pendulum clock on the planet.”

    • Education

      • Pro PublicaJudge Orders Washington State Private Special Education School to Turn Over Records

        A King County judge ruled last week that a private special education school that has been the subject of a recent Seattle Times and ProPublica investigation has to comply with public information laws and release records to the Times.

        The ruling has the potential to shed light on an obscure part of Washington’s special education system, in which school districts send students with disabilities to private programs at taxpayer expense. Few other legal rulings have defined how the state’s public records laws apply to private organizations that assume the functions of government agencies.

    • Hardware

      • HackadaySpeak To The Machine

        If you own a 3D printer, CNC router, or basically anything else that makes coordinated movements with a bunch of stepper motors, chances are good that it speaks G-code. Do you?

      • HackadayCut Your Own Gears With This DIY Machine

        You can buy gears off the shelf, of course, and get accurately machined parts exactly to your chosen specification. However, there’s something rugged and individualist about producing your own rotating components. [Maciej Nowak] demonstrates just how to produce your own gears with a homemade cutting tool.

      • HackadayHackaday Podcast 203: Flashlight Fuel Fails, Weird DMA Machines, And A 3D Printed Prosthetic Hand Flex

        This week, Editor-in-Chief Elliot Williams and Managing Editor Tom Nardi meet up virtually to talk about all the hacks that are fit to print. This week’s episode starts off with a discussion about the recently unveiled 2023 Hackaday.io Low-Power Challenge, and how hackers more often than not thrive when forced to work within these sort of narrow parameters. Discussion then continues to adding a virtual core to the RP2040, crowd-sourced device reliability information, and mechanical Soviet space computers. We’ll wrap things up by wondering what could have been had Mattel’s ill-fated ThingMaker 3D printer actually hit the market, and then engage in some wild speculation about the issues plaguing NASA’s latest Moon mission.

      • HackadayReverse-Engineering The Conditional Jump Circuitry In The 8086 Processor

        As simple as a processor’s instruction set may seem, especially in a 1978-era one like the Intel 8086, there is quite a bit going on to go from something like a conditional jump instruction to a set of operations that the processor can perform. For the CISC 8086 CPU this is detailed in a recent article by [Ken Shirriff], which covers exactly how the instructions with their parameters are broken down into micro-instructions using microcode, which allows the appropriate registers and flags to be updated.

      • HackadayA Single-Resistor Radio Transmitter, Thanks To The Power Of Noise

        One of the great things about the Hackaday community is how quickly you find out what you don’t know. That’s not a bad thing, of course; after all, everyone is here to get smarter, right? So let’s work together to get our heads around this paper (PDF) by [Zerina Kapetanovic], [Miguel Morales], and [Joshua R. Smith] from the University of Washington, which purports to construct a low-throughput RF transmitter from little more than a resistor.

      • Hackaday3D-Printed Servo Motor Has 360 Degrees Of Rotation

        Hobby servos are nifty and useful for a wide range of projects. There’s nothing stopping you from building your own servos though, and you can even give them nifty features like 360-degree rotation In fact, that’s exactly what [Aaed Musa] did!

      • HackadayIlluminate Your Benched Things With This Death Stranding Lamp

        [Pinkman] creates a smart RGB table lamp based off of the “Odradek device” robot arm from the video game “Death Stranding”.

    • Health/Nutrition/Agriculture

    • Proprietary

      • TechdirtAI Lawyer Has A Sad: Bans People From Testing Its Lawyering After Being Mocked

        Well, a lot has happened since I first started looking into the “World’s First Robot Lawyer,” from DoNotPay. First, Joshua Browder, DoNotPay’s CEO, reached out to me via direct message (DM) and told me he would get me access to my documents by 2 PM the next day – Tuesday, January 24th – saying that the delay was caused by my account being locked for “inauthentic activity,” a term he did not explain or define. Then, Josh claimed he was going to pull out of the industry entirely, canceling his courtroom stunt and saying he would disable all the legal tools on DoNotPay.com. He said he was doing it because it was a distraction, but the fact that he cited exactly the same two documents that I was waiting to receive seemed like a hell of a coincidence.

    • Security

      • Privacy/Surveillance

        • TechdirtSurveillance Tech Firm Sued By Meta For Using Thousands Of Bogus Accounts To Scrape Data

          About a half-decade ago, major social media companies finally did something to prevent their platforms from being used to engage in mass surveillance. Prompted by revelations in public records, Twitter and Facebook began cutting off API access to certain data scrapers that sold their services to government agencies. Twitter blocked both Dataminr and Geofeedia from accessing its “firehose” API. Facebook did the same thing to Geofeedia, denying it access to both its core service and Instagram.

    • Defence/Aggression

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Environment

      • Common DreamsNo False Solutions! Citizens Rise Up to Resist Dangerous Carbon Pipelines in the Midwest

        Iowa is the battle ground where the fate of world’s largest proposed carbon capture and storage pipeline is being decided. Summit Carbon Solutions intends to build a 2,000-mile pipeline to carry CO2 captured from ethanol plants across five states, to eventually inject and store it underground in North Dakota to supposedly reduce carbon emissions. But who truly stands to gain if the pipeline is built? A November 2022 report from the Oakland Institute, The Great Carbon Boondoggle, unmasked the billion-dollar financial interests and high-level political ties driving the project—despite opposition from a large and diverse coalition of Indigenous groups, farmers, and environmentalists.

    • Finance

      • Common DreamsHow Concentrated Wealth and Corporate Power Nurtures the Greed of Thieves

        What makes for a thieving culture? An overabundance of pickpockets? Tsunamis of burglary and shoplifting?

      • The NationWhy It’s Okay for Progressives to Enjoy Sam Bankman-Fried’s Downfall

        Political fortunes are always waxing and waning, but few roller-coaster rides have been as dizzying as the rapid ascent and precipitous fall of Sam Bankman-Fried, who went in a matter of weeks from being a billionaire savior clasped to the bosom of the Democratic Party establishment to a bankrupt pariah facing criminal charges. On August 4, 2022, Politico swooned over SBF (as he is commonly known) as the Democratic Party’s newest “megadonor.” Only 30 years old, he had already amassed vast personal wealth—estimated in the neighborhood of $26 billion—as a cofounder of the Bahamas-based cryptocurrency exchange FTX. Starting in 2020, with donations totaling more than $5 million to Joe Biden’s election run, SBF was quickly anointed a donor-class princeling. His stature rose even higher in the 2022 election cycle, when he gave more than $40 million to Democratic campaigns and offshoots. This lavish endowment made SBF second only to George Soros as a party benefactor. Politico breathlessly cited SBF’s promise that in the event of a Biden-Trump rematch in 2024, he would kick in upwards of $1 billion to ensure a Democratic victory.1

      • TechdirtHBO Max Jacks Up Prices After Cheapskate Executives Trash Popular Shows, Refuse To Pay Artist Residuals

        We’ve already noted how HBO and Discovery executives keep demonstrating the immense, pointless harm of media megamergers. You’ll recall AT&T’s $200 billion acquisition of Time Warner and DirecTV wound up being a hot mess, forcing AT&T to take a huge loss and run for the exits after laying off more than 50,000 employees.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Freedom of Information / Freedom of the Press

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • ScheerpostFar Right Supreme Court Ready to Gut Unions (Again) as Workers Die on the Job

        By Eve Ottenberg / CounterPunch One of the first dead giveaways for fascism is animosity toward trade unions. That’s not to say all anti-union businesspeople are fascist, but simply that that hatred is a first step on the primrose path to a polity of utterly oppressed wage slaves and strictly limited civil rights, a step […]

      • The Nation“Restore Roe” Is Not the Answer to the Abortion Access Crisis

        As abortion rights supporters commemorated the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade this month, we were inundated with calls to action from elected leaders saying that we need to “restore Roe,” “codify Roe,” and pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA).

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • TechdirtBiden Administration Declares War On The Internet, Clears Path For Offensive Hacking Efforts By Federal Agencies

        It’s impossible to be the “aggressor” of the free world. Those words just don’t make sense together. “Defender of the free world,” maybe. If you’re going on the offensive, it seems unlikely you’re there to protect anyone’s freedoms.

      • TechdirtNew Dumb Attack Against Gigi Sohn Tries To Shame Her For Being On The EFF’s Board

        We’ve explained how telecom and media giants have pulled out all the stops trying to block Gigi Sohn from being seated at the FCC. That has involved a sleazy smear campaign, seeded in the press by non-profits linked to companies like News Corporation, AT&T, and Comcast, falsely accusing Sohn of being a radical extremist who hates Hispanics, rural Americans, cops, puppies, and freedom.

      • EFFBrazil’s Telecom Operators Made Strides and Had Shortcomings in Internet Lab’s New Report on User Privacy Practices

        In this seventh annual assessment of Brazil’s providers, InternetLab evaluated six companies, and looked at both their broadband and mobile services. Operators assessed include Oi fixed and mobile broadband; Vivo (Telefónica) fixed and mobile broadband, TIM fixed and mobile broadband,Claro/NET (América Móvil), Brisanet fixed and mobile broadband, and Algar (broadband only). The operators were evaluated in six categories, including providing information about their data protection policies, disclosing guidelines for law enforcement seeking user data, defending user privacy in courts, supporting pro-privacy policies, publishing transparency reports, and notifying users when the government requests their data.

        This year, Oi broke into the top and tied with TIM in receiving the highest scores—each company garnered  full credit in four out of six categories. Every company in the report received full credit for challenging privacy-abusive legislation and government requests for user data except Algar, which received half credit. While Brisanet improved its overall standing, earning full credit in this category, it received the least amount of credit among its peers, echoing last year’s report.

        With Brazilian providers steadily improving transparency and customer data protection over the years, methodological changes were made in this edition to raise the bar for achieving credit in a few categories. Specifically, assessing companies’ compliance with data protection legislation has been expanded to include more requirements for transparency about data sharing with third parties. New criteria for measuring transparency around customers’ rights,  data handovers to authorities, and cybersecurity protocols were also added.

    • Monopolies

      • TechdirtThe Latest Antitrust Case Against Google Is, By Far, The Most Serious

        There have been a whole bunch of antitrust lawsuits filed against Google over the last few years. The DOJ filed one in October of 2020 that was pathetically weak. That one seemed like it was Attorney General Bill Barr appeasing then President Trump with what Trump hoped would be an election-boosting attack on “evil woke big tech.” Then, in December of that year, a bunch of states, lead by Texas’ Ken Paxton filed another antitrust lawsuit, which we noted got some fairly basic things completely wrong, but had some potential to be legit depending on what was behind a bunch of redactions. That case has plodded along, and the amended complaint filed last year was much stronger than the original complaint and looked pretty damning to us. Then there was another antitrust lawsuit from a bunch of other states.

  • Gemini* and Gopher

    • Personal

      • 🔤SpellBinding: ACSILOG Wordo: FREON
      • Side Effects

        I’ve been diagnosed with psoriasis about two years ago. Around the age of 25, I noticed an uncontrollable itch in the lower back, the buttocks and the gluteal fold, especially after exercise or prolonged periods of sitting. It went away after some time, and I assumed it’s just some random skin irritation. Around my 26th birthday, I noticed I have some bald spots in my beard, around the chin. My wife’s aunt, a well-regarded naturopathy practitioner with clients all over the country, said it looks like alopecia areata and must be related to stress. She gave me some custom-made homeopathic potion, which didn’t work, and I decided to finally go to a skin doctor, to solve both problems.

      • Most things are not worth it

        Most things are not worth your attention you give to them!

      • Strange High Pressure Weather 2023-01-29 (Fairbanks, AK, US)

        From what I’ve read and observed, usually when a high-pressure bubble develops in the winter, then you get clear skies and colder temperatures. But the opposite is the case: we have overcast skies and warm weather, and snow. Also, humidity is quite high: late yesterday evening, about 4pm AKST, we had frost suddenly form on all our parked vehicles. And that appears to be the NOAA forecast continuing for the next few days: warm temps, cloudy skies, and steady snow.

      • Show notes

        This week was a busy week. On monday, the plan was to have a look around St Joseph’s Church, but it was closed, so we wandered down Wangfujing and ended up outside the Theatre Museum of Beijing People’s Art Theatre. We weren’t sure exactly what it was, but it looked interesting, so we headed inside.

        It turns out that it’s not just a theatre museum, it is also a theatre. We’d headed into the box office, where the staff offered us a choice of plays to buy tickets for. After we’d established we were looking for a museum, they made some phone calls and we found our way to the museum.

      • back to the internet

        I stumble around with all these static site generators so often, but actually what i want is to be able to write. I don’t want to faff with a command line. Things don’t work. Installing jekyll breaks. This post is the post i write most often because i’m too caught up in the means to the end than in the end in itself. I think of something that i want to share with my own place on the internet and yet i cannot because my place is a shambles.

      • Trumpet, Illness and a Leap of Faith

        I’m adopting a new belief system, or joining what appears to be the winning side of a paradigm shift. I’m learning the Maggio System. For me, it’s a completely new way to play the trumpet, after 23 years.

        As a kid, my trumpet teacher taught me to smile to play higher, but keep the corners of the mouth tight. The lip is a string, he said, and you need a thin string that vibrates freely, to play high. Like many trumpet players, I also learned that I need to press harder to increase the vibration and produce louder and fuller notes, especially when I play high.

      • Hakuho’s Retirement Ceremoney
        When a rikishi retires, they will keep to the rules of being a sumo 
        wrestler until they have a retirement ceremony known as a 
        danpatsushiki. This ceremony is often many months after the rikishi 
        has announced their retirement. Well yesterday was Hakuho's, held over 
        a year after his retirement in September 2021.
        
    • Politics

      • Investment Times, Hargreaves Lansdown

        Average house price: £296,000
        Average discount on the asking price: 4%
        Average first time buyer ager 2021: 32
        Average time it takes to sell: 18 weeks
        Proportion of sellers who’ve cut the asking price: 25%
        Average gain in price since the onset of the pandemic: £69,000
        Average first time buyer deposit 2021: £53,935

      • RE: Are you ok?

        I’m not okay, no. And the world around me isn’t, either. I mean the entire reason I CAN go out and touch grass is because the snow that’s supposed to be covering it, isn’t. In January in the Midwestern US.

        My finances are shit. I’m about a week away from bankruptcy at any given moment.

    • Technical

      • Maintaining Simplicity While Acknowledging FOMO

        As people can see from the “Gemini Helpers” section on my home page, I spent quite some time figuring out the best way to layout and structure my capsule and especially the gemlog.

      • Pavlov’s dog receives e-mails

        I’m a natural zero-inboxer. So from the first e-mail box, I am acting what I read afterward as inbox zero rules. All unwanted messages are flagged as spam. All quick matters are dealt with on the spot. The rest things are marked to deal with them at the proper time (invoices, birthday reminders, etc.).

      • Science

        • Buzz Aldrin’s Race into Space

          Given the theme of Gemini, I just remembered an old DOS game I played in the early 1990s. It’s called “Buzz Aldrin’s Race into Space” and let players re-play the race into space from a US or Soviet point of view. It was released to the public domain years ago, so it’s free to play.

      • Programming

        • Validate email address using Regex in C++

          Qucik one. Something I want to write down before I forget. Validating email addresses have been a constant pain for software developers. The RFC spec for a valid email is complex. No, it’s not simply `^\S+@\S+\.\S+$`. For example. The spec prohibits email addresses on TLD. Thus `bob@example` is not valid. There’s a very helpful post on the internet that shares how to validate on using regex.

        • Tools: redo (part 6) The yacc/bison problem: one call produces two artifacts

          One of the things any build system must do for me, is the build of hoc, the “Higher Order Calculator” as presented in “Kernighan, Pike — The Unix Programming Environment” published in 1984. There is this one detail: a call to bison produces two targets from one prerequisite file. bison should not be called twice during the build — even though in the case of hoc this is an affair of seconds.

        • Tools: redo (part 7) The N artefact problem, a minimal example

          I wanted to have something to simulate a call to a code generator, which will produce a number of artefacts, which in turn are needed to build a (generated) hello world executable. And I wanted to build this thing using redo. How hard can it be?

          This was not overly complicated. The generator comes in at 71 lines of code. This comes in a bit smaller than the 73 lines of code I needed in all .do snippets together.

        • Configure syncthing to sync a single file

          Quick blog entry to remember about something that wasn’t as trivial as I thought. I needed to use syncthing to keep a single file in sync (KeePassXC database) without synchronizing the whole directory.

          You have to use mask exclusion feature to make it possible. Put it simple, you need the share to forbid every file, except the one you want to sync.

          This configuration happens in the `.stignore` file in the synchronized directory, but can also be managed from the Web interface.


* Gemini (Primer) links can be opened using Gemini software. It’s like the World Wide Web
but a lot lighter.

The Hey Hype Machine

Posted in Deception, Marketing, Microsoft at 9:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 13710c5705fc5898bd3786f45667d586
AI Hype in the Media
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: “Hey Hype” or “Hey Hi” (AI) has been dominating the press lately and a lot of that seems to boil down to paid-for marketing; we need to understand what’s truly going on and not be distracted by the substance-less hype

THE thing I’ve dubbed “Hey Hi” (about 2-3 years ago when the media was losing its mind over it) Andy has called “Hey Hype” and this morning we published his article about this phenomenon.

Almost nothing that’s presented in the media about it can be considered new. Even the chatbots are old; the only novel thing about them is the size of the set they were trained on, probably owing to Microsoft’s over-provisioned and underutilised ‘Azure’ (even Microsoft now openly admits to its shareholders there’s a “slowdown” in Clown Computing).

“Expect many more Microsoft layoffs later this year.”My thoughts in the above video are personal and Andy’s article stands on its own. We extended it a bit this morning with a paragraph he wished to add.

Due to personal ordeals (covered in passing in the video above) we’ve not produced many articles and videos lately, but that will change soon. We’re building back better (BBB) and when the Sirius ‘Open Source’ series is over we hope to produce about 10 articles/videos per day.

We’ve been reading many rumours about Microsoft layoffs (what’s to come, who’s affected etc.) and it sounds far worse than the Microsoft-connected media nonchalantly puts it. Expect many more Microsoft layoffs later this year [1, 2]. All that “Hey Hype” is the media lends to the delusion about Microsoft having a bright future based on perceived leadership in something.

01.28.23

The ISO Delusion/Sirius Corporation: A ‘Tech’ Company Run by Non-Technical People

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 7:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The time a Sirius manager demanded that all staff installs Microsoft Skype, creating an account in it

“I found what they call a whitepaper but it’s 17 pages and basically says “We’re ISO certified”…”

Mathew Duggan, blog post from yesterday

Summary: Sirius ‘Open Source’ was hiring people who brought to the company a culture of redundant tasks and unwanted, even hostile technology; today we continue to tell the story of a company run by the CEO whose friends and acquaintances did severe damage

YESTERDAY I had a major hardware incident (the hard drive of my main PC suddenly died and needed replacing), so there was no article about Sirius, but today we’re catching up fast (I’ve also upgraded the operating system).

Looking back at my time at Sirius (it’ll be 12 years in 2 weeks from now), I try to recall the better days, the early days. These times weren’t fantastic by any stretch of imagination, but they were certainly better. Free software was used at every level. The colleagues were looking after the physical infrastructure. The NOC colleagues adopted my handover format/style over a decade ago and management had better temper.

“One of them fell in love with Microsoft’s proprietary junk…”More recent managers didn’t understand Free software or “Open Source”. One of them fell in love with Microsoft’s proprietary junk, even several years before Gates Foundation money (Gates Foundation paid under some NDA, resulting in the formation of Sirius Open Source Inc.). He said in Twitter that “some things” are better entrusted to Microsoft and, as it turned out later, he allegedly worked against the company (the CEO said he was trying to liaise with one of our colleagues to “steal” our biggest client).

By contrast, his predecessors were very much involved in GNU/Linux. One of them is mentioned in an old talk: “The LiMo Foundation are building a mobile middleware stack based on Linux. With over 70% of the platform based on open source components, what are the benefits and challenges of open source adoption, and what is the LiMo approach to working with Open Source?”

“A ‘box-ticking’ ‘bullshit job’ is the only thing coming from her direction and she’s failing even at that, repeatedly, then vanishing without replies/explanations (or just some lousy excuses).”We also had highly technical managers before that; of course they use GNU/Linux. At the moment it’s safe to say that nobody, at least among the managers, uses it. The non-technical Office Manager probably uses a “phone” some of the time (instead of a “proper” computer) and probably has no clue about any of the technical details or the tasks inside the company. A ‘box-ticking’ ‘bullshit job’ is the only thing coming from her direction and she’s failing even at that, repeatedly, then vanishing without replies/explanations (or just some lousy excuses).

Below we present some redacted evidence of the issue spoken about above. Here’s the handling of “Failed PSU”. As per Handover to Shift 3, 22/07/19: “Renewed the warranty for xxxxx. Don’t tell the customer that it ran out. (xxxxx’s email address was the one listed. I’ve changed that to the support email/number.) Checking that it is plugged in before xxxxx calls in the warranty.”

So the very simple task of renewing the warranty was not done. Handover to Shift 1 10/08/2019 said: “Both xxxxx and I have attempted to claim the warranty on this, but the HP Carepack Centre say they will not send out a new power supply without seeing the logs. The warranty did not cover the time that the logs will show that the PSU failed, so unless someone can figure out a solution then we are stuck. Whilst this server only has one working PSU it is at risk, so we need an idea.”

“Clients’ server are at risk of physical damage.”Notice they keep the customer in the dark about this. Handover to shift 3 – 24/08/2019: “xxxx received the xxxxx and said he was fitting it on the 19th. Waiting for update when he returns from holiday on 4th September.” More recently a similar incident, as per Handover to shift 1 – 11/09/2022: “Looked for the warranty certificate. (She hasn’t sent it to support, so checked my own emails and slack too.) xxxxx said she would send it out before she went on maternity leave.”

So one can see what it means to have irresponsible ‘box tickers’. Clients’ server are at risk of physical damage.

Regarding the above-mentioned Skype episode, another ‘box ticker’ prepared a useless presentation based on bogus data and wanted all the staff to install Skype, even though it was proprietary and already controlled by Microsoft.

This is him:

Skype accounts

Dear All

Very soon we will be holding an Operations Staff Skype call to deal with activities, processes and customer service ethos of the team. If you need to create a Skype account, please do so by Tuesday 24th March. A camera is optional, but you will need a microphone.

Once you have a Skype account, please add me as a contact: xxxxxxxxx. I will need this information to join you to the call.

Kind regards

xxxxxxxxx

My reply:

Hi xxxxxxxxx,

Will it be possible to connect through landline/mobile/NOC phone (Cisco) or SIP? Also, what date/time is the event? It looks like it says 27/3 (Friday).

Thanks,

Roy

His:

Hi Roy

The event is Friday 27th March at 10 am. I shall be using slides on the call, hence my request a few days ago that everyone connect to my Skype account.

Regards

xxxx

After a lot of pressure I found some old (very old) Android phone from 2012 and temporarily put Skype on it.

I need to find some machine that I can afford to compromise (maybe a phone). There are passwords and stuff on this machine, so installing Skype on it is out of the question (too dangerous).

He thanked me, ran a totally useless presentation on this, and then I deleted the whole thing.

This is what he wrote to all the colleagues, promoting Microsoft’s Skype to them:

I note there are a number of team members that have not yet added me on Skype. Please do this in preparation for Friday’s meeting.

Regards

Also:

Dear All

Here’s a check list of what you’ll need to do to prepare for tomorrow’s call and some guidance for joining the call.

1. A Skype account
2. Be connected to me. Skype name: xxxxxxx
3. Audio: mic and sound. We probably won’t use individual video links as this can cause bandwidth issues
4. Reasonable screen real estate so that you’re able to view some slides
5. A quiet space — background noise will be distracting to others on the call

Notes:
1. It’s best to mute if you’re not speaking
2. At 09:55, open a Skype session. I will add you to the the call. Once everyone is added I will host the session by initiating the call
3. Folks in the office may find it easier to gather around 1 or 2 machines
4. If you haven’t connected to me you cannot be joined to the call. If you’re not on the call you will miss important information

Regards

Not so long later he left the company after (according to the CEO) it turned out he had been working against the company behind the scenes.

Dear All

It’s time to say goodbye and I wanted to say thank you to each and everyone of you for my gifts, cards and especially, for my “bag for life!” Very topical!

I have enjoyed my time at Sirius very much — you are an inspiring bunch to work with. And for sure, you collectively pack-a-punch that puts Sirius fairly and squarely amongst far larger competitors. I may no longer be inside the tent, but please be assured, I will remain a Sirius fan.

Farewell Sirians

All the best

xxxxxxxx

That said nothing about the real reason he left.

So that’s another story for these chronicles. In the next couple of days we’ll show some more stories and then conclude/summarise the series.

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