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Google's Upcoming 'Fuchsia' Smartphone OS Dumps Linux, Has a Wild New UI
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '17 at 02:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
More details have emerged about Fuchsia, the new mobile OS Google has been working on. ArsTechnica reports that Fuchsia is not based on Linux (unlike Android and Chrome OS). Instead, the OS uses a new, Google-developed microkernel called "Magenta." From the article: With Fuchsia, Google would not only be dumping the Linux kernel, but also the GPL: the OS is licensed under a mix of BSD 3 clause, MIT, and Apache 2.0. Dumping Linux might come as a bit of a shock, but the Android ecosystem seems to have no desire to keep up with upstream Linux releases. Even the Google Pixel is still stuck on Linux Kernel 3.18, which was first released at the end of 2014. [...] The interface and apps are written using Google's Flutter SDK, a project that actually produces cross-platform code that runs on Android and iOS. Flutter apps are written in Dart, Google's reboot of JavaScript which, on mobile, has a focus on high-performance, 120fps apps. It also has a Vulkan-based graphics renderer called "Escher" that lists "Volumetric soft shadows" as one of its features, which seems custom-built to run Google's shadow-heavy "Material Design" interface guidelines. The publication put the Flutter SDK to test on an Android device to get a sneak peek into the user interface of Fuchsia. "The home screen is a giant vertically scrolling list. In the center you'll see a (placeholder) profile picture, the date, a city name, and a battery icon," the author wrote. "Above the are 'Story' cards -- basically Recent Apps -- and below it is a scrolling list of suggestions, sort of like a Google Now placeholder. Leave the main screen and you'll see a Fuchsia 'home' button pop up on the bottom of the screen, which is just a single white circle."

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Ask Slashdot: What Should Be the Attributes of an Ideal Programming Language If Computers Were Infinitely Fast?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '17 at 12:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's hypothetical-questions department:
An anonymous reader writes: Earlier today, Tim Sweeney, the founder of Epic Games, asked his Twitter followers an interesting question: "What are the attributes of an ideal programming language if computers were infinitely fast, and we designed for coding productivity only?" I could think of several things, the chief of which would be getting rid of the garbage collection. I was wondering what other things you folks would suggest?

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Facebook Takes Out Full-page Newspaper Ads To Help UK Citizens Detect Fake New
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '17 at 12:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's assuming-responsibility department:
An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has today taken out full-page ads in U.K. newspapers ahead of the general election that's scheduled to take place next month. These ads are designed to educate the public about how to spot fake news online. Appearing in nationwide publications, including the Guardian and the Telegraph, Facebook's "Tips for spotting false news" ad is similar to the one it published in France last month and covers such areas as being skeptical of misleading headlines, spotting manipulated images, and checking the URL of the story. The advice offered may not always help, however -- under "Consider the photos," for example, the text reads: "You can search for the photo or image to verify where it came from." But anyone requiring advice on how to spot fake news through a newspaper ad likely isn't tech savvy enough to know how to do that or to even understand what it means. Alongside these ads, Facebook also revealed that is has deleted "tens of thousands" of accounts that it believes were deliberately spreading fake news and that it is also updating its algorithms to demote articles it suspects of carrying dubious messaging.

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EPA Dismisses Half the Scientists on Its Major Review Board
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '17 at 11:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: A few weeks after the election, pro-Trump commentator Scottie Nell Hughes heralded the dawn of a new era when she declared, "There's no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts." In the age of Trump there's little need for people who've devoted their lives to studying scientific facts, and over the weekend the administration finally got around to dismissing some of them. According to the Washington Post, about half of the 18 members on the Environmental Protection Agency's Board of Scientific Counselors have been informed that their terms will not be renewed. The academics who sit on the board advise the EPA's scientific board on whether its research is sound. The academics usually serve two three-year stints, and they were told by Obama administration officials and career EPA staffers that they would stay on for another term. But on Friday some received emails from the agency informing them that their first three-year term was up and they would not be renominated. Republican members of Congress have complained for some time that the Board of Scientific Counselors, as well as the 47-member Science Advisory Board, just rubber-stamp new EPA regulations. A spokesman for EPA administrator Scott Pruitt confirmed that he's thinking of replacing the academics with industry experts (though the EPA is supposed to be regulating those companies). Gretchen Goldman, research director at the Center for Science and Democracy, expressed her disappointment and asked, "What's the scientific reason for removing these individuals from this EPA science review board? It is rare to see such a large scale dismissal even in a presidential transition. The EPA is treating this scientific advisory board like its members are political appointees when these committees are not political positions. The individuals on these boards are appointed based on scientific expertise not politics. This move by the EPA is inserting politics into science."

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Internet Giants Like Apple and Google 'Abuse Their Privileged Position', Says Spotify CEO
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '17 at 10:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
Giant companies like Apple and Alphabet's Google "can and do abuse their privileged positions," according to a letter sent to the European Commission by music streaming service Spotify, rival firm Deezer and Rocket Internet, among others. From a report: "Our collective experience is that where online platforms have a strong incentive to turn into gatekeepers because of their dual role, instead of maximizing consumer welfare," the CEOs wrote. In one part of the letter, the CEOs said examples of platforms turning into gatekeepers include them "restricting access to data or interaction with consumers, biased ranking and search results to lack of clarity, imbalanced terms and conditions and preference of their own vertically integrated services."

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Inside Germany's Plan To Kill Online Registrations
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '17 at 10:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's one-service-to-rule-them-all department:
An anonymous reader writes: Germany's corporate giants are promising a brave new future in the form of a single account -- one that will let you do your online shopping, get a flight and rent a car, all with no more registrations or repetitive passwords. Deutsche Bank (DB), Germany's biggest bank, announced Monday it's teaming up with other big firms to create a new company that will create the service. Users would enter their ID details just once before they can make all their online purchases across multiple sites. The partners -- which include Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler, insurer Allianz and publisher Axel Springer -- hope other firms will sign up to their vision. They're calling it a "pan-industry platform for online registration, e-identity and data services." The program could eventually be expanded to include government services. For example, drivers could apply for a new license through the system before their old one expires. The partners expect the program will be running in Germany by mid-2018, and they stressed it will be "secure" and comply with all European Union data protection rules.

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IBM: Remote Working Is Great! (For Everyone Except Us)
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '17 at 08:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
An anonymous reader writes: IBM, the company that just weeks ago said it was doing away with its work-from-home policy, is now preaching the benefits of telecommuting to customers. Big Blue's Smarter Workforce Group says a recent panel it hosted at the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) conference concluded that customers who work remotely are "more engaged, have stronger trust in leadership and much stronger intention to stay. These findings mirror what an IBM Smarter Workforce Institute study found," the group wrote. "Challenging the modern myths of remote working shares employee research revealing that remote workers are highly engaged, more likely to consider their workplaces as innovative, happier about their job prospects and less stressed than their more traditional, office-bound colleagues." This is posted without any apparent sense of irony, as IBM said just weeks ago that remote workers were not part of its "recipe for success" and could no longer be permitted to work anywhere other than its six regional offices in various techie hubs around the US.

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Your Boss Is Not More Stressed Out Than You, Science Says
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '17 at 08:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-we-live department:
An anonymous reader writes: Work under capitalism is a brutal psychological gauntlet -- low pay, long hours, and little to no safety net. But bosses usually expect you to take some solace in the fact that you're not doing their (supposedly more difficult) job, even if they make more money. Some part of you might think that's bullshit, but hey, what do you know? Well, according to new work from researchers from the University of Manchester, University College London, and the University of Essex, it probably is bullshit. According to their study, published on Friday in the Journals of Gerontology, people lower on the corporate ladder are, on average, more stressed than people higher up. Worse, according to the study, the elevated stress continues into retirement for average working people. 'Workers in lower status jobs tend to have more stressful working conditions -- they have lower pay, poorer pension arrangements, less control over their work, and report more unsupportive colleagues and managers,' Tarani Chandola, a professor of medical sociology at the University of Manchester and one of the paper's authors, wrote me in an email.

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John Oliver Gets Fired Up Over Net Neutrality, Causes FCC's Site To Temporarily Crash
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '17 at 07:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's go-fcc-yourself department:
Three years ago, late night comedian John Oliver propelled an arcane telecom topic into the national debate by spurring millions of ordinary Americans to file comments with the Federal Communications Commission in favor of "net neutrality." Among other things, that effort caused the FCC website to crash, which couldn't handle the "overwhelming" traffic. Now Oliver is back at it, and he is already causing the site some troubles. From a report on Fortune: On Sunday night, Oliver devoted a chunk of his Last Week Tonight show to condemning a plan by the FCC's new Chairman, Ajit Pai, to tear up current net neutrality rules, which forbid Internet providers from delivering some websites faster than others. In the clip, Oliver urges viewers to visit a website called "GoFCCYourself," which redirects users to a section of the FCC site where people can comment on the net neutrality proceeding, known as "Restoring Internet Freedom" in Pai's parlance. Viewers took up Oliver's offer in spades -- so much so that the FCC's servers appeared to be overwhelmed by the flood of traffic. The comment page is currently loading with delays and, according to reports from several outlets, the site went down altogether for a while.

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Artificial Intelligence Closes In On the Work of Junior Lawyers
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '17 at 07:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's changing-lives department:
An anonymous reader shares a Financial Times article: After more than five years at a leading City law firm, Daniel van Binsbergen quit his job as a solicitor to found Lexoo, a digital start-up for legal services in the fledgling "lawtech" sector. Mr Van Binsbergen says he is one of many. "The number of lawyers who have been leaving to go to start-ups has skyrocketed compared to 15 years ago," he estimates. Many are abandoning traditional firms to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities or join in-house teams, as the once-unthinkable idea of routine corporate legal work as an automated task becomes reality (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source). Law firms, which tend to be owned by partners, have been slow to adopt technology. Their traditional and profitable model involves many low-paid legal staff doing most of the routine work, while a handful of equity partners earn about 1m pound ($1.30m) a year. But since the 2008 financial crisis, their business model has come under pressure as companies cut spending on legal services, and technology replicated the repetitive tasks that lower-level lawyers at the start of their careers had worked on in the past. [...] "We get AI to do a bunch of things cheaply, efficiently and accurately -- which is most important," says Wendy Miller, partner and co-head of real estate disputes at BLP. "It leaves lawyers to do the interesting stuff."

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Support For a Universal Basic Income Is Inching Up In Europe
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '17 at 06:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's buy-in department:
An anonymous reader writes: Finland and the Netherlands are running modest pilots, and others are being considered by governments in France, Switzerland, and the UK, and by a host of nonprofits. To gauge public enthusiasm for the idea, Dalia Research, a Berlin-based market research firm, has been surveying Europeans' attitudes toward basic income since 2016. They've found a warm welcome. In a March survey, 68% of Europeans said they would vote yes in a basic-income referendum, up from 64% last year. The survey was put to 11,000 citizens in 28 European Union states and has a 1.1% margin of error. But not everyone is ready to see it implemented right away -- 48% said they wanted to test the policy first, while 31% advocated for adopting it as soon as possible. The 24% of respondents who opposed a UBI in both years were most concerned about the economic impact, including the expense, the risk of reducing the motivation to work, and the possibility foreigners would take exploit it. Those in favor of a UBI were most convinced by the promise of increased security and freedom, namely a reduced financial anxiety over meeting basic needs, more equality in opportunities, and the prospect of greater financial independence and self-reliance.

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Did A Billionaire Harvest Big Data From Facebook To 'Hijack' Democracy?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '17 at 03:30 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Brexit-Trump-connection department:
Long-time Slashdot readers walterbyrd and whoever57 both submitted the same article about the mysterious data analytics company Cambridge Analytica and its activities with SCL Group, a 25-year-old military psyops company in the U.K. later bought by "secretive hedge fund billionaire" Robert Mercer. One former employee calls it "this dark, dystopian data company that gave the world Trump."
Facebook was the source of the psychological insights that enabled Cambridge Analytica to target individuals. It was also the mechanism that enabled them to be delivered on a large scale. The company also (perfectly legally) bought consumer datasets -- on everything from magazine subscriptions to airline travel -- and uniquely it appended these with the psych data to voter files... Finding "persuadable" voters is key for any campaign and with its treasure trove of data, Cambridge Analytica could target people high in neuroticism, for example, with images of immigrants "swamping" the country. The key is finding emotional triggers for each individual voter. Cambridge Analytica worked on campaigns in several key states for a Republican political action committee. Its key objective, according to a memo the Observer has seen, was "voter disengagement" and "to persuade Democrat voters to stay at home"... In the U.S., the government is bound by strict laws about what data it can collect on individuals. But, for private companies anything goes.
< article continued at Slashdot's Brexit-Trump-connection department >

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Slashdot Asks: How Do You Handle Interruptions At Work?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '17 at 12:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's problems-of-the-employed department:
This question was inspired by this anonymous submission:
Analysis of programming sessions and surveys note that programmers take 10-15 minutes to resume editing code after being interrupted. Computer scientists and researchers from University of Zurich and ABB Inc. have designed the 'FlowLight' system which automatically determines a worker's interruptibility using a combination of keyboard/mouse usage, calendar information, and login state, and makes interruptibility visible to other employees using a red/yellow/green LED indicator placed near the desk... Knowledge workers in various locations found that interruptions were significantly reduced by 46%. [PDF]
NBC reports these researchers "also tested a more advanced version that uses biometric sensors to detect heart rate variability, pupil dilation, eye blinks or even brainwave activity," and of course one of the researchers tells the New Yorker that a commercial version "is 'in the works.'" But it'd be interesting to hear from Slashdot's readers about their own solutions -- and how interruptions affect their own productivity at work. So share your best answers in the comments. How do you feel about interrupt

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Microsoft Patents Flagging Technology For 'Repeat Offenders' Of Pirated Content
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '17 at 08:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's clouds-are-just-other-people's-servers department:
An anonymous reader quotes TorrentFreak's report on Microsoft's newest patent:
Titled: "Disabling prohibited content and identifying repeat offenders in service provider storage systems," the patent describes a system where copyright infringers, and those who publish other objectionable content, are flagged so that frequent offenders can be singled out... "The incident history can be processed to identify repeat offenders and modify access privileges of those users," the patent reads. [PDF] The "repeat infringer" is a hot topic at the moment, after ISP Cox Communications was ordered to pay $25 million for its failure to disconnect repeat offenders...
As far a we know, this is the first patent that specifically deals with the repeat infringer situation in these hosting situations, but it's not uncommon for cloud hosting services to prevent users from sharing infringing content. We previously uncovered that Google Drive uses hash matching to prevent people from sharing "flagged" files in public, and Dropbox does the same.

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Oracle And Cisco Both Support The FCC's Rollback Of Net Neutrality
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '17 at 07:30 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's network-effect department:
An anonymous reader quotes The Hill:
Oracle voiced support on Friday for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's controversial plan to roll back the agency's net neutrality rules. In a letter addressed to the FCC, the company played up its "perspective as a Silicon Valley technology company," hammering the debate over the rules as a "highly political hyperbolic battle," that is "removed from technical, economic, and consumer reality"... Oracle wrote in their letter [PDF] that they believe Pai's plan to remove broadband providers from the FCC's regulatory jurisdiction "will eliminate unnecessary burdens on, and competitive imbalances for, ISPs [internet service providers] while enhancing the consumer experience and driving investment"... Other companies in support of Pai's plan, like AT&T and Verizon, have made the argument that the rules stifled investment in the telecommunications sector, specifically in broadband infrastructure.
Cisco has also argued that strict net neutrality laws on ISPs "restrict their ability to use innovative network management technology, provide appropriate levels of quality of service, and deliver new features and services to meet evolving consumer needs. Cisco believes that allowing the development of differentiated broadband products, with different service and content offerings, will enhance the broadband market for consumers."

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Court Allows Case Over Violating Open Source License
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '17 at 04:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's legality-of-licenses department:
Slashdot reader destinyland writes: The District Court for the Northern District of California recently issued an opinion that is being hailed as a victory for open source software. In this case, the court denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging violation of an open source software license, paving the way for further action enforcing the conditions of the GNU General Public License... As part of its motion to dismiss, Hancom argued that using open source code offered under open source licensing terms does not form a contract... The District Court ruled that Artifex's breach of contract claim could proceed, finding that the GPL, by its express terms, requires that third parties agree to the GPL's obligations if they distribute the open-source-licensed software [and] concluded that royalty-free licensing under open source conditions does not preclude a claim for damages...

In denying a motion to dismiss, the District Court only holds that the claims may proceed on the theories enunciated by Artifex, not necessarily that they will ultimately succeed. Still, the case represents a significant step forward for open source plaintiffs... In the past decade, while enforcement of open source licensing violations has become more common, few enforcement cases result in published law. The open source community will be watching this case carefully, and this initial decision vindicates the rights of the open source authors to enforce GPL terms on both breach of contract and copyright theories.

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WikiLeaks Reveals A CIA LAN-Attacking Tool From 'Vault 7'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '17 at 03:31 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's men-in-black-in-the-middle department:
An anonymous reader quotes BetaNews:
WikiLeaks continues to release revealing documents from its Vault 7 cache. This time around the organization introduces us to a CIA tool called Archimedes -- previously known as Fulcrum. As before, there is little to confirm whether or not the tool is still in active use -- or, indeed, if it has actually ever been used -- but the documentation shows how it can be installed on a LAN to perform a man-in-the-middle attack. The manual itself explains how Archimedes works: "Archimedes is used to redirect LAN traffic from a target's computer through an attacker controlled computer before it is passed to the gateway. This enables the tool to inject a forged web server response that will redirect the target's web browser to an arbitrary location. This technique is typically used to redirect the target to an exploitation server while providing the appearance of a normal browsing session."

HotHardware notes that WikiLeaks "also provided the full documentation for Fulcrum, which goes into much greater detail about how the man-in-the-middle operation is conducted" -- including this instruction in the guide's "Management" section. "If you are reading this then you have successfully delivered the Fulcrum packages and provided the binaries with code execution. Hoorah! At this stage, there is not much to do other than sit back and wait."

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After Almost Two Years, The Air Force's Mysterious X-37B Space Plane Lands
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '17 at 02:10 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's it-came-from-outer-space department:
An anonymous reader quotes Space.com:

The record-shattering mission of the U.S. Air Force's robotic X-37B space plane is finally over. After circling Earth for an unprecedented 718 days, the X-37B touched down Sunday at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida -- the first landing at the SLF since the final space shuttle mission came back to Earth in July 2011... The just-ended mission, known as OTV-4 (Orbital Test Vehicle-4), was the fourth for the X-37B program... The 29-foot-long (8.8 meters) X-37B looks like NASA's now-retired space shuttle orbiter, only much smaller; indeed, two X-37Bs could fit inside a space shuttle's cavernous payload bay...
Most of the X-37B's payloads and activities are classified, leading to some speculation that the space plane could be a weapon of some sort, perhaps a disabler of enemy satellites... But Air Force officials have always strongly refuted that notion, stressing that the vehicle is simply testing technologies on orbit. "Technologies being tested in the program include advanced guidance, navigation and control; thermal-protection systems; avionics; high-temperature structures and seals; conformal, reusable insulation, lightweight electromechanical flight systems; and autonomous orbital flight, re-entry and landing," Captain AnnMarie Annicelli, an Air Force spokeswoman, told Space.com via email in March.

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Intel's Remote Hijacking Flaw Was 'Worse Than Anyone Thought'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '17 at 12:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's in-the-chips department:
An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica:
A remote hijacking flaw that lurked in Intel chips for seven years was more severe than many people imagined, because it allowed hackers to remotely gain administrative control over huge fleets of computers without entering a password. This is according to technical analyses published Friday... AMT makes it possible to log into a computer and exercise the same control enjoyed by administrators with physical access [and] was set up to require a password before it could be remotely accessed over a Web browser interface. But, remarkably, that authentication mechanism can be bypassed by entering any text string -- or no text at all...

"Authentication still worked" even when the wrong hash was entered, Tenable Director of Reverse Engineering Carlos Perez wrote. "We had discovered a complete bypass of the authentication scheme." A separate technical analysis from Embedi, the security firm Intel credited with first disclosing the vulnerability, arrived at the same conclusion... Making matters worse, unauthorized accesses typically aren't logged by the PC because AMT has direct access to the computer's network hardware... The packets bypass the OS completely.
The article adds that Intel officials "said they expect PC makers to release a patch next week." And in the meantime? "Intel is urging customers to download and run this discovery tool to diagnose potentially vulnerable computers."
Saturday Ars Technica found more than 8,500 systems with an AMT interface exposed to the internet using the Shodan search engine -- over 2,000 in the United States -- adding that "many others may be accessible via organizational networks."

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How Psychology Today Sees Richard Stallman
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '17 at 12:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's come-along-and-share-the-Stallman department:
After our article about Richard Stallman's new video interview, Slashdot reader silverjacket shared this recent profile from Psychology Today that describes Richard Stallman's quest "to save us from a web of spyware -- and from ourselves."

By using proprietary software, Stallman believes, we are forfeiting control of our computers, and thus of our digital lives. In his denunciation of all nonfree software as inherently abusive and unethical, he has alienated many possible allies and followers. But he is not here to make friends. He is here to save us from a software industry he considers predatory in ways we've yet to recognize... for Stallman, moralism is the whole point. If you write or use free software only for practical reasons, you'll stop when it's inconvenient, and freedom will disappear.

Stallman collaborator Eben Moglen -- a law professor at Columbia, as well as the FSF's general counsel -- assesses Stallman's legacy by saying "the idea of copyleft and the proposition that social and political freedom can't happen in a society without technological freedom -- those are his long-term meanings. And humanity will be aware of those meanings for centuries, whatever it does about them." The article also includes quotes from Linus Torvalds and Eric S. Raymond -- along with some great artwork.

In addition to insisting the reporter refer to Linux as "GNU/Linux," Stallman also required that the article describe free software without using the term open source, a phrase he sees as "a way that people who disagree with me try to cause the ethical issues to be forgotten." And he ultimately got Psychology Today to tell its readers that "Nearly all the software on our phones and computers, as well as on other machines, is nonfree or 'proprietary' software and is riddled with spyware and back doors installed by Apple, Google, Microsoft, and the like."

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