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Posts published in “Internet”

Android: The Glass Teat of the 21st Century

Have you been trying to put your finger on exactly what it is you don’t like about Android and iOS? Maybe this will help.

I’ve finally defined what it is I don’t like about Android — or about any mobile device for that matter. I’ve grappled with this issue for several years, boiling my dislike of Google’s operating system down to “it’s always trying to sell something.” But that wasn’t quite it, and I knew it. The selling thing is a symptom, not the disease, so to speak.

Then, one day last week I finally had my aha! moment and realized precisely what it is I don’t like about mobile devices. I was reading a pretty good article by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, his take on the death of computing as many of us know it, when I came across a line that was basically meant as an aside, and suddenly I understood why I don’t like Android or iOS and never will.

ImageMagick’s ImageTragick: Exploits Not Yet Widespread

Breaking News: Patched versions of ImageMagick now available.

FOSS Force has now learned that the ImageTragick hole has been patched in versions 7.0.1-2 and 6.9.4-0. Websites using ImageMagick are urged to upgrade.

Security researchers are reporting that cracker/hackers are currently taking advantage of ImageTragick, the easy to exploit security vulnerability in ImageMagick, a popular open source image manipulation tool used by many websites. However, so far the attacks don’t appear to be widespread.

DuckDuckGo Wants Answers to Linux Questions

The search engine that works to protect your privacy is looking for some Linux “Instant Answers” for programmers. Would they like some answers to everyday Linux questions as well?

DuckDuckGo, the search engine centered around privacy, is asking for the community’s help in improving its results for Linux related searches. On Wednesday, “Bill” with the Philidelphia based search engine company posted to the Linux subreddit asking for help from the community.

DuckDuckGo logoDuckDuckGo logo“DuckDuckGo’s focus is to become the best search engine for programmers,” Bill wrote, “and we’d love your help improving our open-source Linux Instant Answers. There’s currently a couple of cheat sheets here and here. We want to get some great feedback from the Reddit community for the developer, crashrane.”

Ethical Hackers Unethically Hacked, Keystroke IDs & More…

FOSS Week in Review

While Facebook and Google work to better identify you by your typing skills and Red Hat counts the bucks from its best ever year, Ubuntu finally makes it possible to launch from the bottom.

If you depend only on mainstream tech media’s coverage of FOSS, you might be excused for thinking that the biggest news of the week revolved either around Ubuntu’s new summer home in the world of BSD — which isn’t a Canonical project by the way — or Microsoft’s open sourcing of every scrap of code it can find that might benefit Microsoft if it were open sourced.

In my not-so-humble opinion, both of these stories were yawners. Of course somebody’s attempted to create a BSD *buntu. There are already Ubuntu flavors for every single desktop environment known to mankind, as well as a few DEs that are figments of Canonical’s imagination, so where else was there to go but to another operating system? What’s next? Given the way Ubuntu has been cozying up to Microsoft, I’m expecting Ubuntu for Windows.

As for Microsoft’s continuing open sourcing? There’s nothing new here, move on. When Redmond loves Linux and open source enough to quit suing open source projects over patents it claims it has — that will be news.

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Verizon Case Illustrates Why We Need a Linux Phone

There are plenty of reasons to be anticipating the arrival of GNU/Linux phones and tablets. Verizon Wireless has given us another.

On March 7, the FCC slapped a $1.35 million fine on Verizon in a privacy case, a move that’s being hailed as a victory by some privacy advocates. If so, it would seem to be a hollow victory. For starters, the fine is too low to be much of a deterrent against a company which last year had annual gross income of over $63 billion. But there is much more wrong with the agreement the carrier reached with the FCC than merely the price tag.

Verizon logoVerizon logoThe case revolves around Verizon’s use of a supercookie — a cookie that uses a variety of techniques to make it nearly impossible to remove or disable — which the carrier began placing on its customers’ phones in 2012. The cookie gathered information that combined a person’s Internet history — whether through browsers or apps — with their unique customer information. The company ran afoul of the law because of the way it shared the information it gleaned with third parties.

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Top Websites Hit With Malware Ads

Some of the biggest online advertising networks this weekend served malware laden ads to some of the Internet’s highest trafficked websites.

Some of the most visited sites on the Internet began delivering malware laden ads this weekend. The sites affected included The New York Times, the BBC, MSN, and AOL. Those who visited a site delivering the ads are not at risk unless they clicked on an infected ad. After clicking, users are taken to another website which attempts to infect them with either Cryptowall ransomware or a trojan that gives the attackers control of the infected computer. The good news for FOSS Force readers is that the malware seems to only work against Windows, so GNU/Linux users are considered safe.

Cyber Security MalwareCyber Security Malware

FSF Gives Nod to ThinkPenguin VPS Router

A router designed to ease the use of multiple devices through a virtual private network is the latest hardware project to receive FSF’s official blessing.

The people at the Free Software Foundation aren’t only working to keep software free and accessible, they’re also concerned with hardware freedom as well. We mention this because the FSF announced on Thursday that it’s awarded the Respects Your Freedom certification to ThinkPenguin’s Free Software Wireless-N Mini Router (TPE-R1100). On a post on the FSF website, Joshua Gay, the foundation’s licensing and compliance manager, wrote that the certification has been given to three other ThinkPenguin products, including another router. The certification signifies that the product meets FSF’s standards concerning “users’ freedom, control over the product, and privacy.”

‘Opinion Stage’ Plugin Sneaks Ads onto WordPress Sites

Publishers of WordPress sites using the ‘Poll, Quiz & List by OpinionStage’ plugin, might want to check for unexpected advertisements.

FOSS Force has learned that the popular WordPress plugin “Poll, Quiz & List by OpinionStage” has been placing advertisements within photographs included in online quizzes that have been created using the plugin. The plugin is used by over 10,000 WordPress sites to create quizzes, polls and list articles.

Publishers using the plugin are not being made aware that ads are being placed on their sites unless, perhaps, they visit the plugin developers’ website and go to the “Pricing” page, where the developers say information about the policy is available. I say “perhaps” because we have been unable to find any such notice on this page. We discovered the issue on Sunday when considering whether to manually migrate the single FOSS Force Quiz created using the plugin to another quiz app we’ve since adopted as our default.

Advertisement from "opinion stage" in graphic.Advertisement from "opinion stage" in graphic.
Screenshot of a poll question using Opinion Stage’s plugin with advertisement at bottom of the graphic associated with the question.
Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

LXer Suffering From Scattered Outages

Breaking News

Last updated Tuesday, February 16 at 12:15 a.m.

If you’ve been trying to get on LXer and having no luck, it’s not just you. Today the site is unreachable for at least much of the U.S.

The popular Linux and FOSS website LXer seems to be unreachable in many parts of the U.S. today. In the areas affected, users trying to reach the site are taken to a Network Solutions holding page instead.

We first became aware of the problem at about 7 a.m. EST when an attempt to access the site took us to a Network Solutions landing page. We had visited the site several times in the previous hour without difficulty. At about 8 a.m., access to the site returned briefly, but by 9 a.m. the site was again unreachable. We haven’t been able to access the site since.

LXer temporary landing pageLXer temporary landing page
Many of those attempting to visit the popular Linux and FOSS site “LXer” today are seeing this page instead.

Why Internet Advertising Needs to Be Regulated

The tracking policies of the major online advertising networks are threatening the future of free content on the Internet.

Back in the late 1980s, cigarette smoking was permitted in supermarkets where I live, but there was a move afoot — a ballot issue I believe — to put an end to that. At the time I was doing a four hour daily stint at the local newstalk radio station, and the proposed ban was, of course, a major topic of on-air conversation with our listeners. Pretty much, most of our audience was against the ban, as we have a sizable and vocal minority — maybe a majority — of folks here in North Carolina who think they should be able to do whatever they like, whenever they like, without much regulation. There was something of a consensus among our listeners that smoking or no should be up to the store owners.

Advertising Mad Man fallingAdvertising Mad Man fallingOfficially, the supermarket chains were against the proposal as well, probably both to placate their smoking customers and because North Carolina shares a long history with tobacco and attacking tobacco in any way was akin to attacking mom’s apple pie. Also, in these parts, upper management tends to oppose any regulation as a knee jerk reaction. The supermarket chains’ official support of “smokers’ rights” was, of course, often cited by listeners when they’d call-in to offer their two cents worth.

During that time, I was talking to an acquaintance who managed a Harris Teeter store on the west side of town — a smoker, by the way — who told me that he hoped the ban would be put in place.

“We all do,” he confided.

He told me he had friends who managed stores for Kroger, Food Lion and some of the other chains.

“We’d all like to ban smoking in our stores,” he said. “It’s dirty, it stinks, and careless smokers are always putting burns in packaging or dropping ashes onto the produce. But if one of us makes the first move and establishes a no smoking policy, we’ll make customers mad and lose them to the other chains. If they just pass a law, then we’re good. Smoking won’t be allowed anywhere, so customers who smoke won’t feel compelled to move to the competition.”

That’s exactly how it is with Internet advertising and privacy issues.

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

‘Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace’ Turns 20, Opera Fetches $1.2 Billion & More…

FOSS Week in Review Two important Internet events happened 20 years ago this week and a web browser gets an unexpected — to us —…

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