NTP: the rebirth of ailing, failing core network infrastructure

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Network Time Protocol is how the computers you depend on know what time it is (this is critical to network operations, cryptography, and many other critical functions); NTP software was, until recently, stored in a proprietary format on a computer that no one had the password for (and which had not been updated in a decade), and maintained almost entirely by one person. Read the rest

Crowdfunding powerful open hardware that is truly open and respectful of your rights

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Crowd Supply (previously) is an extremely effective platform for funding open source hardware development, boasting twice the success-rate of Kickstarter and Indiegogo; it is also the birthplace of the proclamation of user rights, an outstanding document that lays out the rights of users to explore their hardware, use it independent of any subscription, use it with any other service or hardware, use it indefinitely without fear of remote kill-switching, to transfer it to others, to freely discuss it, to use it privately, and to be informed of security issues. Read the rest

The internet's core infrastructure is dangerously unsupported and could crumble (but we can save it!)

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Nadia Eghbal's Roads and Bridges: The Unseen Labor Behind Our Digital Infrastructure is a long, detailed report on the structural impediments to maintaining key pieces of free/open software that underpin the internet -- it reveals the startling fragility of tools that protect the integrity, safety, privacy and finances of billions of people, which are often maintained by tiny numbers of people (sometimes just one person). Read the rest

An "ahem" detector that uses deep learning to auto-clean recordings of speech

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Train the Deep Learning Ahem Detector with two sets of audio files, "a negative sample with clean voice/sound" (minimum 3 minutes) and "a positive one with 'ahem' sounds concatenated" (minimum 10s) and it will detect "ahems" in any voice sample thereafter. Read the rest

One week left! Apply for a Shuttleworth Fellowship

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The Shuttleworth Fellowships hand millions directly to people starting out on a journey to radically transform the world to make it more open; this year, I'm Honourary Steward, meaning I'll help pick the grantees. Read the rest

Every Android device potentially vulnerable to "most serious" Linux escalation attack, ever

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The Dirty Cow vulnerability dates back to code included in the Linux kernel in 2007, and it can be trivially weaponized into an easy-to-run exploit that allows user-space programs to execute as root, meaning that attackers can take over the entire device by getting their targets to run apps without administrator privileges. Read the rest

Audit reveals significant vulnerabilities in Truecrypt and its successors

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Veracrypt was created to fill the vacuum left by the implosion of disk-encryption tool Truecrypt, which mysteriously vanished in 2014, along with a "suicide note" (possibly containing a hidden message) that many interpreted as a warning that an intelligence agency had inserted a backdoor into the code, or was attempting to force Truecrypt's anonymous creators to do so. Read the rest

Make: "Mad scientist test-tube rack"

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John Park, the maker's maker, explains in detail how to make this glowing mad scientist test-tube rack that you can use as a Hallowe'en decoration and/or household mood light. Read the rest

A new certification program for Open Source Hardware

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Michael Weinberg writes, "After over a year of community development, the Open Source Hardware Association has released its new certification program. Hardware with the certification logo is guaranteed to meet the community definition of open source hardware. As a bonus, any hardware registered before the end of October is eligible to receive the coveted 000001 unique ID registration number." Read the rest

Computer-mining poetry from the New York Times's obituary headlines

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The standard format for a New York Times lead obit headline goes NAME, AGE, Dies; STATEMENT OF ACCOMPLISHMENT (e.g. "Suzanne Mitchell, 73, Dies; Made Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders a Global Brand. Read the rest

Apply for a Shuttleworth Fellowship!

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I'm the "Honourary Steward" for this year's Shuttleworth Fellowship, this being a valuable and prestigious prize given to people who are undertaking to make the world a better, more open place ("social innovators who are helping to change the world for the better and could benefit from a social investment model with a difference"). Read the rest

How free software stayed free

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I did an interview with the Changelog podcast (MP3) about my upcoming talk at the O'Reilly Open Source conference in London, explaining how it is that the free and open web became so closed and unfree, but free and open software stayed so very free, and came to dominate the software landscape. Read the rest

Cryptpad: a free/open, end-to-end encrypted, zero-knowledge shared text editor

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Tools like Etherpad and Google Docs are transformative ways to collaborate on text (including code); I've used them in contexts as varied as making unofficial transcripts of statements at UN agencies to liveblogging conference presentations -- but they all share a weakness, which is that whomever owns the document server can see everything you're typing. Read the rest

California will collect public records for all police use of force, using open source software

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There are a handful of states that keep records of police force, but they are incomplete records, and they're maintained on paper; contrast that with URSUS, California's new tool that collects every single use of force, storing it in open, transparent free software maintained by Bayes Impact, a nonprofit. Read the rest

Listen: Hacker Anthropologist Biella Coleman on the free software movement and big business

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Gabriella Coleman, the anthropologist whose first book, Coding Freedom, explained hacking culture better than any book before or since; and whose second book, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy, told the inside story of Anonymous with technical and social brilliance, appeared on the Theory of Everything podcast (MP3) to discuss the ways that free software hackers and the more business-friendly open source world have fought, reconciled and fought again. Read the rest

Open licenses don't work for uncopyrightable subjects: 3D printing edition

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Michael Weinberg (who has written seminal stories on 3D printing and copyright) writes, "We are seeing widespread adoption of copyright-based open licenses in 3D printing and open source hardware. This is great in that it shows that the culture of openness has really permeated the culture. It is not so great because a significant number of the things nominally licensed in these communities aren't actually protected by copyright." Read the rest

Generate artistic, animated, color QR codes that scan

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Qrcode is a github-hosted, Chinese Python project for GNU/Linux and Windows that takes sentences and URLs and creates "artistic" colored and animated QR codes that actually scan. Read the rest

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