Boing Boing 

Two Ubuntu phones with top apps in 2014

Canonical, the company that publishers Ubuntu (a free/open operating system based on GNU/Linux) has announced that it will ship two Ubuntu OS phones this year, in partnership with two manufacturers, one in Europe and one in China. The OS runs HTML5 apps, and the company is seeking to have the top 50 apps for Android and Ios ported to its phones before they go live. A 2013 crowdfunding drive raised over $12M in pledged pre-orders, but the company fell short of its $32M goal and refunded everyone's money. However, the $12M was apparently a sufficient demonstration of interest for at least some manufacturers.

HOWTO build a robotic air-hockey opponent out of Reprap parts

Jose Julio realized that the drive-train and parts in a Reprap printer could be repurposed, along with an Arduino-controlled vision-system to create a robot air-hockey opponent. He documented the build here, and the code is on Github.

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Free curriculum for maker-kids: toy hacking, 3D printing, Arduino rovers and more!


Andy Forest from Makerkids, a Toronto makerspace for kids, writes, "Together, Kids Learning Code, MakerKids, TIFF and the Toronto Public Library have just finished developing 7 comprehensive maker curriculum modules for libraries, schools and other organizations who want to get kids started being Makers. The Mozilla Hive Network Toronto provided funding support. The modules are designed for a non-technical audience and contain all the information needed to teach these topics:"

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Build your own open source hardware Nest-style smart thermostat


Alan sez, "Spark.io provides instructions for making your own Nest-like 'smart' thermostat. Of course it's entirely open source, with files on github."

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Face-substitution in-browser with Javascript

Auduno's Face substitution webtoy uses Javascript libraries to map your face using your computer's webcam and overlay it with the faces of celebrities from Bill Murray to Justin Bieber to Rihanna to the Mona Lisa. It's an impressive example of cross-platform, in-browser application development, and suggests some pretty cool stuff on the horizon for Web-native apps. The sourcecode is on Github for your forking pleasure.

Face substitution (via Waxy)

Github seeking volunteers to translate their how-to videos with Amara


Nicholas from Amara writes, "Yesterday afternoon, the social coding platform GitHub invited their fans to collaboratively translate their how-to videos using open-source platform Amara.org. In less than 24 hours, 150 volunteers created 40 translations across 18 different languages. On their blog, Github wrote: 'We think it would be cool if people all over the world could enjoy our videos, regardless of what language they speak. So, starting today, we're inviting anyone who's interested to help us translate our videos via Amara's Volunteer Platform.'"

(Disclosure: I am a volunteer board member for the Participatory Culture Foundation, the nonprofit that produces Amara)

Ukraine government sends text to protesters: "Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance"


Ukraine's dictatorship is revelling in its new, self-appointed dictatorial powers. The million-plus participants in the latest round of protests received a text-message from the government reading Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.

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Podcast: Digital failures are inevitable, but we need them to be graceful

Here's a reading of my latest Guardian column, Digital failures are inevitable, but we need them to be graceful, about the social and political factors that make all the difference when choosing technologies.

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Random NSA program generator, with denials

The NSA-O-Matic generates eerily plausible leaked NSA programs at the click of a mouse, including non-denial denials from NSA shills and spokesjerks. For example "STUMPVIEW, a searchable database that bugs conversations within earshot of laptop microphones. Senator Dianne Feinstein assured the public that the program discards information as soon it is determined to be irrelevant." It's hosted on Github and ready for your forking and contributions.

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Building a fully open, transparent laptop


Bunnie Huang is a virtuoso in hardware engineering, and a hero of the open source hardware movement. In this Make post, he documents how he and Sean "xobs" Cross prototyped a laptop that was open and transparent to a very great degree, secure against all attacks short of dopant-level hardware trojans. The post -- and the photos of the gloriously fuggly laptop, which they dubbed "the Novena Project" -- is part requirements document, part philosophical statement, and part engineering text. I love Bunnie's reasoning for wanting an amazing, open laptop: he spends the majority of his waking hours with it, so he wants it to be as amazing as possible, and it's worth him spending the time and money to get there. I also love the requirements he sets out for genuine "openness" (I put some of these after the jump, below). Most of all, I love how this thing looks: rough-hewn, gloriously unfinished with its 3D printed panels, and as bursting with potential as the Colossus.

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Openstreetmap: why we need a free/open alternative to proprietary maps


In the Guardian, Serge Wroclawski makes the case for Openstreetmap, a free/open map tool maintained by a volunteer community. Wroclawski argues that allowing companies to own maps allows them to own places: to determine which features of our neighbourhoods are worthy of inclusion, to determine which parts of our cities should and shouldn't be considered in route planning, and to monitor our decisions about where we travel and what we do when we get there. It's a dangerous proposition, and Openstreetmap is a viable, and often superior, alternative (see, for example, the map above of the neighbourhood around my office):

The second concern is about location. Who defines where a neighbourhood is, or whether or not you should go? This issue was brought up by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) when a map provider was providing routing (driving/biking/walking instructions) and used what it determined to be "safe" or "dangerous" neighbourhoods as part of its algorithm. This raises the question of who determines what makes a neighbourhood "safe" or not – or whether safe is merely a codeword for something more sinister.

Right now, Flickr collects neighbourhood information based on photographs which it exposes through an API. It uses this information to suggest tags for your photograph. But it would be possible to use neighbourhood boundaries in a more subtle way in order to affect anything from traffic patterns to real estate prices, because when a map provider becomes large enough, it becomes the source of "truth".

Lastly, these map providers have an incentive to collect information about you in ways that you may not agree with. Both Google and Apple collect your location information when you use their services. They can use this information to improve their map accuracy, but Google has already announced that is going to use this information to track the correlation between searches and where you go. With more than 500 million Android phones in use, this is an enormous amount of information collected on the individual level about people's habits, whether they're taking a casual stroll, commuting to work, going to their doctor, or maybe attending a protest.

Why the world needs OpenStreetMap [Serge Wroclawski/Guardian]

(via /.)

Blackphone: a privacy-oriented, high-end, unlocked phone

http://vimeo.com/84167384

Blackphone is a secure, privacy-oriented mobile phone company co-founded by PGP inventor Phil Zimmerman. It integrates a lot of the privacy functionality of Zimmerman's Silent Circle, which makes Android-based privacy tools (secure calls, messaging, storage and proxies). Blackphone also runs Android, with a skin that switches on all the security stuff by default. The company is based in Switzerland, whose government privacy rules are better than most. The phone itself is a high-end, unlocked GSM handset. No info on pricing yet, but pre-orders open in late February. I'm interested in whether the sourcecode for the Blackphone stack will be free, open, auditable and transparent. If it is, I will certainly order one of these for myself and report here on its performance.

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Open source furniture


Shareable rounds up 20 Open Source Furniture Designs -- ingenious plans for home furnishings that you can make yourself, improve upon, and share. My favorite is this Never Ending Bench by Félix Lévêque, which you can keep on adding slats to in order to create a seat tailored to your needs. Like many of the pieces, this one comes from the Open Design Contest.

20 Open Source Furniture Designs (via Beyond the Beyond)

Quietnet: near-ultrasonic messaging service sends chat by chirps


Quietnet is a free/open Python program that uses your computer's speakers to encode text messages as near-ultrasonic chirps that can be received and interpreted by other, nearby computers. Its creator, Kate Murphy, notes, "Warning: May annoy some animals."

Quietnet (Thanks, Sulka!)

Filtered: free/open IMAP filter

Jeff writes, "Filtered is a new free/open source IMAP mail filtering application which provides automated routing of email based on per sender settings. You can train Filtered via its web UI or by dragging and dropping email to folders in your email account. Filtered can also learn from the contents of your existing folders."

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Ubuntu will get a torrent search-tool

Future versions of Ubuntu -- my preferred flavor of the GNU/Linux operating system -- will include a search tool for torrents that will include results from The Pirate Bay. The objective is help locate freely licensed material and to integrate "free culture into the Ubuntu user experience."

Teen's free award-winning 2009 game "Sneaky Cards" redeveloped by fans and relaunched


Back in 2009, we partnered with Institute for the Future to hold a "Digital Open" contest for teens around the world. One of the winners was Harry Lee, a 16 year old from Melbourne, Australia, who created a game called "Sneaky Cards" that "spread the seeds of sneakiness and espionage into the unsuspecting pockets, math books, binders and bags and jackets of his schoolmates."

Over 300 people in the Sneaky Cards subreddit have worked to turn Sneaky Cards into a fully realized game, with new designs, decks and bonus packs. The game is free to download under a Creative Commons license. Harry Lee has blessed the revamp, headed up by a designer named Cody Borst.

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Stross on Unix religion

Unix history: a religious perspective. (I like the idea of Linux as a Protestant Reformation: "a new, freely copyable kernel that all the faithful could read with their own eyes")

3D printer that draws pictures in jello shooters

Jeroen Domburg's friend was having a 25th birthday party at which jello shooters were to be served. Jeroen decided to liven these up by creating a 3D printer that inserted a needle into each shot and injected an ink made from banana liquor, food colouring and corn starch in 3D patterns like cubes and spirals. Even cooler: the main body of the electronics in the printer were harvested from superannuated DVD and CD drives, and the firmware for the printer is free software (TGZ) for your pleasure.

Jello 3d printer

Interactive version of EFF's NSA crossword

Here's a nice little Christmastime Creative Commons and free/open source software success story: yesterday, I posted the Electronic Frontier Foundation's NSA-themed crossword puzzle, which was CC licensed. Shortly after, TheDod posted an interactive version of the puzzle to Github, forking an interactive crossword program written by the Boston Globe's Jesse Weisbeck.

Interactive edition of EFF's Xmas 2013 NSA crossword puzzle (Thanks, Dave!)

GNU Privacy Guard crowdfunding for new infrastructure

GNU Privacy Guard (GPG) is the free/open version of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), the gold standard in secure email and other kinds of eavesdropping-proof, authenticated, private storage and communication. The GPG project relies on donations and voluntary subscriptions to keep up-to-date and support new platforms. They're running a crowdfunding campaign that's shooting for €24,000, which they'll spend on rolling out an all-new site (with Tor access!), as well as GPG 2.1, tutorials, subscription management, material for people throwing Cryptoparties (security-training events) and many other laudable goals. I rely on GPG every day, so I've put in €100. I hope you'll give, too.

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Mandatory bug-bounties from major vendors

Brian Krebs proposes that software vendors should be forced to pay a bounty on all newly discovered vulnerabilities in their products at rates that exceed those paid by spy agencies and criminal gangs. He says that the bill for this would be substantially less than one percent of gross revenues, and that it would represent a massive overall savings when you factor in the cost to all the businesses and individuals who are harmed by security vulnerabilities. He doesn't explain what to do with popular, free/open software though.

Bruce Schneier and Eben Moglen discuss a post-Snowden Internet

Joly sez, "After Glenn Greenwald first received his stash of secret documents from Edward Snowden, one of the first people he consulted was security expert, cryptographer, and writer Bruce Schneier, who helped him review and digest the documents. A few weeks back we saw Bruce give a briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, where he advised lawmakers to rein in the NSA, and the Internet community to pro-actively design countermeasures. On December 12 2013, as a follow up to his Snowden and the Future talk series Eben Moglen hosted A conversation with Bruce Schneier at Columbia Law School. They talked about what we can learn from the Snowden documents, the NSA's efforts to weaken global cryptography, and how we can keep free software tools from being subverted."

Download video

Download audio

Help transcribe on Amara

Android gives you the ability to deny your sensitive data to apps

Android privacy just got a lot better. The 4.3 version of Google's mobile operating system now has hooks that allow you to override the permissions requested by the apps you install. So if you download a flashlight app that wants to harvest your location and phone ID, you can install it, and then use an app like AppOps Launcher to tell Android to withhold the information.

Peter Ecklersley, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has written up a good explanation of how this works, and he attributes the decision to competitive pressure from Ios, which allows users to deny location data to apps, even if they "require" it during the installation process.

I think that's right, but not the whole story: Android has also always labored under competitive pressure from its free/open forks, like Cyanogenmod.

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FreeBSD won't use Intel & Via's hardware random number generators, believes NSA has compromised them

The maintainers of the security-conscious FreeBSD operating system have declared that they will no longer rely on the random number generators in Intel and Via's chips, on the grounds that the NSA likely has weakened these opaque hardware systems in order to ease surveillance. The decision is tied to the revelations of the BULLRUN/EDGEHILL programs, wherein the NSA and GCHQ spend $250M/year sabotaging security in standards, operating systems, software, and networks.

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Bruce Schneier and Eben Moglen, Dec 12, Columbia U/NYC

James writes, "Following on Eben Moglen's mind-warping series of talks about life after Snowden, the Software Freedom Law Center has invited Bruce Schneier to join Eben for a conversation informed by Bruce's own analysis of the leaked documents. Bruce is one of the smartest thinkers around when it comes to understanding how security and surveillance operate in the real world. And he is unsurpassed at presenting complicated security concepts even to people who lack his expertise. Between Moglen's sophisticated thoughts and Bruce's grounded approach, we're sure to learn a lot about where we stand and what we can do next!"

Cyanogenmod adds encrypted SMS from WhisperSystems

The latest (unstable) build of Cyanogenmod (a free/open version of Android) incorporates a secure, encrypted SMS program called TextSecure, which was created by Open WhisperSystems. Open WhisperSystems's chief engineer is the respected cryptographer and privacy advocate Moxie Marlinspike, and the source for the Cyanogenmod integration is open and available for inspection and scrutiny. The new encrypted SMS is designed to be integrated with whatever SMS app you use on your phone, and allows for extremely private, interception- and surveillance-resistant messaging over the normally insecure SMS. It requires that both parties be using TextSecure, of course -- if you send a TextSecure message to someone without secure messaging, the message will fall back to unencrypted text.

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Free Software Foundation's holiday gift guide

K sez, "Many holiday gifts are trojan horses that will spy on their recipients, prevent them from doing what they want with their device, or maybe even block access to their favorite books or music. Thankfully, the Free Software Foundation is proud to introduce a map through this minefield: the 2013 Giving Guide. The Giving Guide features gifts that will not only make your recipients jump for joy; these gifts will also protect their freedom."

Crowfunded prize for first open jailbreak of Ios 7


Elizabeth Stark writes, "We're pleased to announce the Device Freedom Prize: a crowdfunded reward for the first developer(s) who release an open source iOS 7 jailbreak. Providing users the ability to control their devices is crucial in an age where we're increasingly dependent on our mobile phones. An open source jailbreak provides users the capability to install what they want on their own devices, the ability to audit the code they're using to do so, and enables disabled users to more easily use their devices."

"We've assembled a judging panel of awesome folks that care a lot about these issues, including Boing Boing's own Cory Doctorow; Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit; Biella Coleman, Professor and Author of Coding Freedom, and Chris Maury, Accessibility Advocate. Contribute to the prize to help make an open source iOS jailbreak a reality."

Is iOS7 jailbroken yet? (Thanks, Elizabeth!)

Charity sends Amazon a cake celebrating 3d anniversary of unpaid invoice


Metabrainz is the charity that oversees Musicbrainz, a free/open music metadata service that has gained in popularity since Gracenote took all the audio metadata its users keyed in by hand and enclosed it, denying all but the top bidders access to it. Musicbrainz is free to use, but has a premium, higher-availability service for commercial operators, like Amazon.

For three years now, Metabrainz has been chasing an unpaid invoice at Amazon. Metabrainz is a tiny, charitable nonprofit that relies on grants and donations for the majority of its operating capital, but commercial operators are also key to its survival. And Musicbrainz is an integral part of the plumbing of the Internet at this point, a powerful check against one player achieving dominance through a chokehold on a key resource.

So Metabrainz sent Amazon Headquarters a birthday cake, celebrating the third birthday of good ol' invoice #144. As a volunteer board member for the charity, I'd mightily appreciate it if someone at Amazon would take the time to nudge this invoice through the system.

We just delivered this to @amazon HQ in honor of a 3 year overdue invoice. Can we please get this mess fixed? --ruaok