Post Syndicated from The HiveMQ Team original https://www.hivemq.com/blog/mqtt-5-introduction-to-mqtt-5/
Introduction to MQTT 5
Welcome to our brand new blog post series MQTT 5 – Features and Hidden Gems. Without doubt, the MQTT protocol is the most popular and best received Internet of Things protocol as of today (see the Google Trends Chart below), supporting large scale use cases ranging from Connected Cars, Manufacturing Systems, Logistics, Military Use Cases to Enterprise Chat Applications, Mobile Apps and connecting constrained IoT devices. Of course, with huge amounts of production deployments, the wish list for future versions of the MQTT protocol grew bigger and bigger.
MQTT 5 is by far the most extensive and most feature-rich update to the MQTT protocol specification ever. We are going to explore all hidden gems and protocol features with use case discussion and useful background information – one blog post at a time.
Be sure to read the MQTT Essentials Blog Post series first before diving into our new MQTT 5 series. To get the most out of the new blog posts, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the MQTT 3.1.1 protocol as we are going to highlight key changes as well as all improvements.
The revival of the MQTT Monday
Some of our longtime readers will remember the MQTT Monday introduced by our older blog post series: MQTT Essentials, MQTT Security Fundamentals, MQTT Client Library Encyclopedia and the MQTT Toolbox.
If you liked the format, we have fantastic news for you: We’ll release a new MQTT 5 blog post, each one highlighting a specific feature, key change or fun trivia regarding MQTT 5, every Monday. Just subscribe to the weekly newsletter below if you want us to send the articles straight to your inbox.
Let’s have a look at the history of MQTT first: Although the MQTT protocol was invented in 1999, its triumphant march began years later, in 2010, when it was released to the public under a royalty free license as protocol version 3.1. Four years after the initial public release, MQTT 3.1.1 was released as an OASIS and ISO standard in 2014. The 3.1.1 version included predominantly clarifications and minor protocol improvements. At the time of writing (December 2017), the MQTT 5 specification closed its second public review phase at OASIS and is expected to be released in a final version in early 2018.
MQTT 5 Design Goals
The Technical Committee (TC) responsible for specifying and standardizing MQTT at OASIS mastered a balancing act: How to advance the protocol in a way that the protocol would stay as lightweight and easy to use as it was in 3.1.1 and still add features demanded by longtime users without adding unnecessary complexity and without sacrificing performance and scalability.
The goals for the MQTT 5 specification were articulated by the OASIS TC as follows:
- Enhancement for scalability and large scale systems
- Improved error reporting
- Formalize common patterns including capability discovery and request response
- Extensibility mechanisms including user properties
- Performance improvements and support for small clients
With these goals in mind, the TC managed to specify some extremely useful new features that came from requirements of MQTT 3.1.1 production deployments. The TC also added features back to the standard that sophisticated broker implementations like HiveMQ already provided for MQTT 3.1.1. Popular features like Shared Subscriptions and Time to Live for Messages and Client Sessions are now part of the standard.
An interesting goal of the new specification is the “Enhancement for scalability and large scale systems”. Some new MQTT behaviors allow simple broker implementations to enhance scalability. Enterprise MQTT Brokers like HiveMQ showed that MQTT 3.1.1 is one of the most scalable stateful IoT protocols in the world by benchmarking 10.000.000 MQTT simultaneous connections on cloud infrastructure for a single MQTT broker cluster. The new version of the protocol is designed to make it even easier to scale to immense amounts of concurrent connected clients for brokers.
Trivia: Why Protocol Version 5?
Some readers might ask: Why is the successor of MQTT 3.1.1 called “MQTT 5”?
If you would inspect the CONNECT packet on the wire, you would make an interesting observation: While MQTT 3.1 had the value ‘3’ as protocol version, MQTT 3.1.1 used the value ‘4’. In order to streamline the protocol version on the wire and the official protocol version name, both now use the number 5.
Is it time to upgrade yet?
You might wonder: Should I upgrade yet?
Next week’s blog post will provide a detailed look at this question. If you’d like to receive the next and all upcoming articles directly in your inbox, just use the newsletter subscribe form below.
We hope you enjoyed this first part of the new series. Let us know what you think and what you would like to see in future blog posts in the comment section below.
You like the MQTT 5 Series? Then sign up for our newsletter and get notified on all new posts as soon as they are available. If you prefer RSS, you can subscribe to our RSS feed here.
Have an awesome week,
The HiveMQ Team
Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/screener-piracy-season-kicks-off-with-louis-c-k-s-i-love-you-daddy-171211/
Towards the end of the year, movie screeners are sent out to industry insiders who cast their votes for the Oscars and other awards.
It’s a highly anticipated time for pirates who hope to get copies of the latest blockbusters early, which is traditionally what happens.
Today the first leak of the new screener season started to populate various pirate sites, Louis C.K.’s “I Love You, Daddy.” It was released by the infamous “Hive-CM8” group which also made headlines in previous years.
“I Love You, Daddy” was carefully chosen, according to a message posted in the release notes. Last month distributor The Orchard chose to cancel the film from its schedule after Louis C.K. was accused of sexual misconduct. With uncertainty surrounding the film’s release, “Hive-CM8” decided to get it out.
“We decided to let this one title go out this month, since it never made it to the cinema, and nobody knows if it ever will go to retail at all,” Hive-CM8 write in their NFO.
“Either way their is no perfect time to release it anyway, but we think it would be a waste to let a great Louis C.K. go unwatched and nobody can even see or buy it,” they add.
It is no surprise that the group put some thought into their decision. In 2015 they published several movies before their theatrical release, for which they later offered an apology, stating that this wasn’t acceptable.
Last year this stance was reiterated, noting that they would not leak any screeners before Christmas. Today’s release shows that this isn’t a golden rule, but it’s unlikely that they will push any big titles before they’re out in theaters.
“I Love You, Daddy” isn’t going to be seen in theaters anytime soon, but it might see an official release. This past weekend, news broke that Louis C.K. had bought back the rights from The Orchard and must pay back marketing costs, including a payment for the 12,000 screeners that were sent out.
Hive-CM8, meanwhile, suggest that they have more screeners in hand, although their collection isn’t yet complete.
“We are still missing some titles, anyone want to share for the collection? Yes we want to have them all if possible, we are collectors, we don’t want to release them all,” they write.
Finally, the group also has some disappointing news for Star Wars fans who are looking for an early copy of “The Last Jedi.” Hive-CM8 is not going to release it.
“Their will be no starwars from us, sorry wont happen,” they write.
Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/ettv-how-an-upload-bot-became-a-pirate-hero-171210/
Earlier this year, the torrent community was hit hard when another major torrent site suddenly shut its doors.
Just a few months after celebrating its tenth anniversary, ExtraTorrent’s operator threw in the towel. While an official explanation was never provided, it’s likely that he was pressed to make this decision.
The ExtraTorrent site was a safe harbor for millions of regular users, who became homeless overnight. But it was more than that. It was also the birth ground of several popular releasers and distribution groups.
ETTV and ETHD turned into well-known brands themselves. While the ET is derived from ExtraTorrent, the groups have shared TV and movie torrents on several other large torrent sites, and they still do. They even have their own site now.
With millions of people sharing their uploads every week, they’ve become icons and heroes to many. But how did this all come to be? We sat down with the team, virtually, to find out more.
“The idea for ettv/ethd was brought up by ExtraTorrent users,” the ETTV team says.
There was demand for a new group that would upload scene releases faster than the original EZTV, which was the dominant TV-torrent distribution group around 2011, when it all started.
“At the time the real EZTV was still active. They released stuff hours after it was released from the scene, leaving sites to wait very long for shows to arrive in public. In no way was ettv intended for competitive purposes. We had a lot of respect for Nova and the original EZTV operators.”
While ETTV is regularly referred to as a “group,” it was a one-person operation initially. Just a guy with a seedbox, grabbing scene releases and posting them on torrent sites.
It didn’t take long before people got wind of the new distribution ‘group,’ and interest for the torrents quickly exploded. This meant that a single seedbox was no longer sufficient, but help was not far away.
“It started off with one operator and a seedbox, but it became popular too fast. That’s when former ExtraTorrent owners stepped in to give ETTV the support and funding it needed to keep the story going.”
In addition to the available disk space and bandwidth, the team itself expanded as well. At its height, a handful of people were working on the group. However, when things became more and more automated this number reduced again.
What many people don’t realize is that ETTV and ETHD are mostly run by lines of code. The entire distribution process is automated and requires minimal intervention from the people behind it.
“Ettv/Ethd is a bot, it doesn’t require human attention. It grabs what you tell the script to,” the team tells us.
The bot is set up to grab the latest copies of predefined shows from private servers where the latest scene release are posted. These are transferred to the seedbox and the torrents are then pushed out to the public – on ETTV.tv, but also on The Pirate Bay and elsewhere. Everything is automated.
Even most of the maintenance is taken care of by the ‘bot’ itself. When disk space is running out older content is purged, allowing fresh releases to come through.
“The only persons involve with the bots are the bill payers of our new home ettv.tv. All they do check bot logs to see if it has any errors and correct them,” the team explains.
One problem that couldn’t be easily solved with some code was the shutdown of ExtraTorrent. While the bills for the seedboxes were paid in advance until the end of 2017, the groups had to find a new home.
“The shutdown of ExtraTorrent didn’t affect the bots from running, it just left ettv/ethd homeless and caused fans to lose their way trying to find us. Not many knew where else we uploaded or didn’t like the other sites we uploaded to.”
After a few months had passed it became clear that they were not going anywhere. Quite the contrary, they started their very own site, ETTV.tv, where all the latest releases are published.
In the near future, the team will focus on turning the site into a new home for its followers. Just a few weeks ago it launched a new release “tag,” ETMovies, which specializes in lower resolution films with a smaller file size, for example.
“We recently introduced ETMovies which is basically for SD Movies, other than that the only plan ettv/ethd has is to give a home to the members that suffered from the sudden shut down of ExtraTorrent.”
Just this week, the site also expanded its reach by adding new categories such as music, games, software, and Books, where approved uploaders will publish content.
While they are doing their best to keep the site up and running, it’s not a given that ETTV will be around forever. As long as there are plenty of funds and no concrete legal pressure they might. But if recent history has shown us anything, it’s that there are no guarantees.
“No one is here seeking to be a millionaire, if the traffic pays the bills we keep going, if not then all we can say is (sorry we tried) we will not be the heroes that saved the day.
“Again and again, the troublesome history of torrent sites is clear. It’s a war no site owner can win. If we are ever in danger, we will choose freedom. It’s not like followers can bail you out if the worst were to happen,” the ETTV team concludes.
For now, however, the bot keeps on running.
Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/terrarium-tv-the-best-android-movie-streaming-app-faces-uncertain-future-171210/
In early 2014, Popcorn Time turned the consumer end of the piracy world upside down. Utilizing a BitTorrent backend and a beautiful interface, Popcorn Time certainly lived up to its promise of being the Netflix for Pirates. Adopted by millions of users, it soon became a household name.
In the months and years to come, Popcorn Time grabbed hundreds of headlines. However, aside from the app’s success, much of what followed was negative in tone as the entertainment industries struggled to contain this new kid on the block.
Since then, of course, Kodi and its numerous illicit third-party addons have become massive news, stepping over Popcorn Time to become the most talked about and consumer-friendly of piracy tools. In the background, however, other applications have been making steady and indeed somewhat stealthy progress.
One of these applications is Terrarium TV. Built exclusively for the Android platform and equally at home on a phone, tablet, streaming stick or set-top box, this software has gained a cult but significant following. For those out of the loop, it will be the most important piracy app they’ve never heard of, despite its Facebook page alone attracting close to 200,000 members.
In many respects, Terrarium TV resembles Popcorn Time. It has a beautiful Netflix-style interface, pulling movie and TV show artwork and metadata from several sources to make what some consider to be the best all-in-one streaming app for Android, period. While Kodi is no doubt powerful and Popcorn Time has one hell of a reputation, Terrarium TV makes viewing simplicity itself. And it really does cater to everyone.
If people are worried about Popcorn Time due to its BitTorrent-based streaming, Terrarium TV has that covered. Every single stream offered by the app is conjured up from public sources such as file-hosting sites and even GoogleVideo. On the whole, streaming is of an extremely high-quality with dozens of sources offered for most content, whether that’s the latest Hollywood movies, blockbuster TV shows, or decades-old rarities.
The quality is impressive too. While 4K rips are best left to the BitTorrent crowd with bandwidth to spare, Terrarium TV manages to conjure up a bewildering range of content in an impressive array of qualities. HD is commonplace and barely a search goes by without a corresponding source alongside. And with multi-language subtitle and Chromecast support, the icing is placed on top of what is an extremely competent cake.
But despite all the accolades, Terrarium TV has an uncertain future.
Over a week ago TerrariumTV.com – the site from where the application has been seamlessly delivered for some time – suddenly disappeared without trace. There was no announcement on Facebook, no announcement on Twitter. Even the moderators on the fairly active Terrarium TV subreddit seemed to have few ideas as to what was going on.
Theories are numerous but most center around the developer, who’s resident in Asia, going on some kind of hiatus. Why that would require the Terrarium TV website to be taken down isn’t clear. Neither does it explain why the Terrarium TV site Github repo was taken down too.
But alongside the ‘break’ theory is one that legal trouble, either actual or simply the fear of it, is what’s underlying the apparent limbo in which the app now sits. That was confirmed this week by the developer, who told one of the app’s subreddit moderators that he’d be lying low, at least for a while.
“I’ve decided to shut down the official website and maybe soon will also shut down the Github repository hosting the apk files in order to avoid any potential legal issues,” he said.
“There has been no cease and desist letters, no lawyers at the door, no seizing of the website. Ad free is not involved. It has been purely a precautionary measure. I want to take a break for a while (maybe a few weeks) first.”
After a short exchange in the summer, Terrarium TV’s developer didn’t return our recent requests for comment but if he had, we’d have certainly asked him about the future development of the app, framed around the Popcorn Time situation.
Despite many legal attacks, the open source nature of Popcorn Time allowed the project to ‘fork’ in several different directions, with various teams continuing development. Terrarium TV, on the other hand, is closed source meaning that when it’s gone, it’s possibly gone for good.
At the moment it’s still available for download from sources listed in the sidebar of its dedicated subreddit but whether the dev will decide to revisit the project again is unclear at this point. If he does not, it seems likely that the system will degrade over time although at the moment it carries out its tasks automatically, which is impressive in itself.
In the meantime, its hundreds of thousands of users will just have to cross everything – and wait.
Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/crimestoppers-campaign-targets-pirate-set-top-boxes-their-users-171209/
CrimeStoppers is a charity that operates a service through which members of the public can report crime anonymously, either using a dedicated phone line or via a website. Callers are not required to give their name, meaning that for those concerned about reprisals or becoming involved in a case for other sensitive reasons, it’s the perfect buffer between them and the authorities.
The people at CrimeStoppers deal with all kinds of crime but perhaps a little surprisingly, they’ve just got involved in the set-top box controversy in the UK.
“Advances in technology have allowed us to enjoy on-screen entertainment in more ways than ever before, with ever increasing amounts of exciting and original content,” the CrimeStoppers campaign begins.
“However, some people are avoiding paying for this content by using modified streaming hardware devices, like a set-top box or stick, in conjunction with software such as illegal apps or add-ons, or illegal mobile apps which allow them to watch new movie releases, TV that hasn’t yet aired, and subscription sports channels for free.”
The campaign has been launched in partnership with the Intellectual Property Office and unnamed “industry partners”. Who these companies are isn’t revealed but given the standard messages being portrayed by the likes of ACE, Premier League and Federation Against Copyright Theft lately, it wouldn’t be a surprise if some or all of them were involved.
Those messages are revealed in a series of four video ads, each taking a different approach towards discouraging the public from using devices loaded with pirate software.
The first video clearly targets the consumer, dispelling the myth that watching pirate video isn’t against the law. It is, that’s not in any doubt, but from the constant tone of the video, one could be forgiven that it’s an extremely serious crime rather than something which is likely to be a civil matter, if anything at all.
It also warns people who are configuring and selling pirate devices that they are breaking the law. Again, this is absolutely true but this activity is clearly several magnitudes more serious than simply viewing. The video blurs the boundaries for what appears to be dramatic effect, however.
The second video is all about demonizing the people and groups who may offer set-top boxes to the public.
Instead of portraying the hundreds of “cottage industry” suppliers behind many set-top box sales in the UK, the CrimeStoppers video paints a picture of dark organized crime being the main driver. By buying from these people, the charity warns, criminals are being welcomed in.
“It is illegal. You could also be helping to fund organized crime and bringing it into your community,” the video warns.
The third video takes another approach, warning that set-top boxes have few if any parental controls. This could lead to children being exposed to inappropriate content, the charity warns.
“What are your children watching. Does it worry you?” the video asks.
Of course, the same can be said about the Internet, period. Web browsers don’t filter what content children have access to unless parents take pro-active steps to configure special services or software for the purpose.
There’s always the option to supervise children, of course, but Netflix is probably a safer option for those with a preference to stand off. It’s also considerably more expensive, a fact that won’t have escaped users of these devices.
Finally, video four picks up a theme that’s becoming increasingly common in anti-piracy campaigns – malware and identity theft.
“Why risk having your identity stolen or your bank account or home network hacked. If you access entertainment or sports using dodgy streaming devices or apps, or illegal addons for Kodi, you are increasing the risks,” the ad warns.
Perhaps of most interest is that this entire campaign, which almost certainly has Big Media behind the scenes in advisory and financial capacities, barely mentions the entertainment industries at all.
Indeed, the success of the whole campaign hinges on people worrying about the supposed ill effects of illicit streaming on them personally and then feeling persuaded to inform on suppliers and others involved in the chain.
“Know of someone supplying or promoting these dodgy devices or software? It is illegal. Call us now and help stop crime in your community,” the videos warn.
That CrimeStoppers has taken on this campaign at all is a bit of a head-scratcher, given the bigger crime picture. Struggling with severe budget cuts, police in the UK are already de-prioritizing a number of crimes, leading to something called “screening out”, a process through which victims are given a crime number but no investigation is carried out.
This means that in 2016, 45% of all reported crimes in Greater Manchester weren’t investigated and a staggering 57% of all recorded domestic burglaries weren’t followed up by the police. But it gets worse.
“More than 62pc of criminal damage and arson offenses were not investigated, along with one in three reported shoplifting incidents,” MEN reports.
Given this backdrop, how will police suddenly find the resources to follow up lots of leads from the public and then subsequently prosecute people who sell pirate boxes? Even if they do, will that be at the expense of yet more “screening out” of other public-focused offenses?
No one is saying that selling pirate devices isn’t a crime or at least worthy of being followed up, but is this niche likely to be important to the public when they’re being told that nothing will be done when their homes are emptied by intruders? “NO” says a comment on one of the CrimeStoppers videos on YouTube.
“This crime affects multi-million dollar corporations, I’d rather see tax payers money invested on videos raising awareness of crimes committed against the people rather than the 0.001%,” it concludes.
The Let’s Encrypt project, working
to encrypt as much web traffic as possible, looks
forward to the coming year. “First, we’re planning to introduce
an ACME v2 protocol API endpoint and support for wildcard certificates
along with it. Wildcard certificates will be free and available globally
just like our other certificates. We are planning to have a public test API
endpoint up by January 4, and we’ve set a date for the full launch:
Tuesday, February 27.”
Post Syndicated from Yev original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/operations-team-just-got-rich-er/
We’re growing at a pretty rapid clip, and as we add more customers, we need people to help keep all of our hard drive spinning. Along with support, the other department that grows linearly with the number of customers that join us is the operations team, and they’ve just added a new member to their team, Rich! He joins us as a Network Systems Administrator! Lets take a moment to learn more about Rich, shall we?
What is your Backblaze Title?
Network Systems Administrator
Where are you originally from?
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Da UP, eh!
What attracted you to Backblaze?
The fact that it is a small tech company packed with highly intelligent people and a place where I can also be friends with my peers. I am also huge on cloud storage and backing up your past!
What do you expect to learn while being at Backblaze?
I look forward to expanding my Networking skills and System Administration skills while helping build the best Cloud Storage and Backup Company there is!
Where else have you worked?
I first started working in Data Centers at Viawest. I was previously an Infrastructure Engineer at Twitter and a Production Engineer at Groupon.
Where did you go to school?
I started at Finlandia University in Norther Michigan, carried onto Northwest Florida State and graduated with my A.S. from North Lake College in Dallas, TX. I then completed my B.S. Degree online at WGU.
What’s your dream job?
Sr. Network Engineer
Favorite place you’ve traveled?
I have traveled around a bit in my life. I really liked Dublin, Ireland but I have to say favorite has to be Puerto Vallarta, Mexico! Which is actually where I am getting married in 2019!
Water is my life. I like to wakeboard and wakesurf. I also enjoy biking, hunting, fishing, camping, and anything that has to do with the great outdoors!
Of what achievement are you most proud?
I’m proud of moving up in my career as quickly as I have been. I am also very proud of being able to wakesurf behind a boat without a rope! Lol!
Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Trek! I grew up on it!
Coke or Pepsi?
Mexican Food and Pizza!
Why do you like certain things?
Hmm…. because certain things make other certain things particularly certain!
Anything else you’d like you’d like to tell us?
Who can say no to high quality H2O? Welcome to the team Rich!
Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/sean-hodgins-ornament/
Standard Christmas tree ornaments are just so boring, always hanging there doing nothing. Yawn! Lucky for us, Sean Hodgins has created an ornament that plays classic nineties Christmas adverts, because of nostalgia.
This Christmas ornament will really take you back…
Sean first 3D printed a small CRT-shaped ornament resembling the family television set in The Simpsons. He then got to work on the rest of the components.
The ornament uses a Raspberry Pi Zero W, 2.2″ TFT LCD screen, Mono Amp, LiPo battery, and speaker, plus the usual peripherals. Sean purposely assembled it with jumper wires and tape, so that he can reuse the components for another project after the festive season.
By adding header pins to a PowerBoost 1000 LiPo charger, Sean was able to connect a switch to control the Pi’s power usage. This method is handy if you want to seal your Pi in a casing that blocks access to the power leads. From there, jumper wires connect the audio amplifier, LCD screen, and PowerBoost to the Zero W.
Then, with Raspbian installed to an SD card and SSH enabled on the Zero W, Sean got the screen to work. The type of screen he used has both SPI and FBTFT enabled. And his next step was to set up the audio functionality with the help of an Adafruit tutorial.
For video playback, Sean installed mplayer before writing a program to extract video content from YouTube*. Once extracted, the video files are saved to the Raspberry Pi, allowing for seamless playback on the screen.
When fully assembled, the entire build fit snugly within the 3D-printed television set. And as a final touch, Sean added the cut-out lens of a rectangular magnifying glass to give the display the look of a curved CRT screen.
Then finally, the ornament hangs perfectly on the Christmas tree, up and running and spreading nostalgic warmth.
If you’re looking for similar projects, have a look at this tutorial by Cabe Atwell for building a Pi-powered ornament that receives and displays text messages.
Have you created Raspberry Pi tree ornaments? Maybe you’ve 3D printed some of our own? We’d love to see what you’re doing with a Raspberry Pi this festive season, so make sure to share your projects with us, either in the comments below or via our social media channels.
*At this point, I should note that we don’t support the extraction of video content from YouTube for your own use if you do not have the right permissions. However, since Sean’s device can play back any video, we think it would look great on your tree showing your own family videos from previous years. So, y’know, be good, be legal, and be festive.
Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dutch-film-distributor-wins-right-to-chase-pirates-store-data-for-5-years-171208/
For many years, Dutch Internet users were allowed to download copyrighted content without reprisals, provided it was for their own personal use.
In 2014, however, the European Court of Justice ruled that the country’s “piracy levy” to compensate rightsholders was unlawful. Almost immediately, the government announced a downloading ban.
In March 2016, anti-piracy outfit BREIN followed up by obtaining permission from the Dutch Data Protection Authority to track and store the personal data of alleged BitTorrent pirates. This year, movie distributor Dutch FilmWorks (DFW) made a similar application.
“[The letter to alleged pirates] will propose a fee. If someone does not agree [to pay], the organization can start a lawsuit,” said DFW CEO Willem Pruijsserts
“In Germany, this costs between €800 and €1,000, although we find this a bit excessive. But of course it has to be a deterrent, so it will be more than a tenner or two,” he added.
But despite the grand plans, nothing would be possible without first obtaining the necessary permission from the Data Protection Authority. This Wednesday, however, that arrived.
“DFW has given sufficient guarantees for the proper and careful processing of personal data. This means that DFW has been given a green light from the Data Protection Authority to collect personal data, such as IP addresses, from people downloading from illegal sources,” the Authority announced.
Noting that it received feedback from four entities during the six-week consultation process following the publication of its draft decision during the summer, the Data Protection Authority said that further investigations were duly carried out. All input was considered before handing down the final decision.
The Authority said it was satisfied that personal data would be handled correctly and that the information collected and stored would be encrypted and hashed to ensure integrity. Furthermore, data will not be retained for longer than is necessary.
“DFW has stated…that data from users with Dutch IP addresses who were involved in the exchange of a title owned by DFW, but in respect of which there is no intention to follow up on that within three months after receipt, will be destroyed,” the decision reads.
For any cases that are active and haven’t been discarded in the initial three-month period, DFW will be allowed to hold alleged pirates’ data for a maximum of five years, a period that matches the time a company has to file a claim under the Dutch Civil Code.
“When DFW does follow up on a file, DFW carries out further research into the identity of the users of the IP addresses. For this, it is necessary to contact the Internet service providers of the subscribers who used the IP addresses found in the BitTorrent network,” the Authority notes.
According to the decision, once DFW has a person’s details it can take any of several actions, starting with a simple warning or moving up to an amicable cash settlement. Failing that, it might choose to file a full-on court case in which the distributor seeks an injunction against the alleged pirate plus compensation and costs.
Only time will tell what strategy DFW will deploy against alleged pirates but since these schemes aren’t cheap to run, it’s likely that simple warning letters will be seriously outnumbered by demands for cash settlement.
While it seems unlikely that the Data Protection Authority will change its mind at this late stage, it’s decision remains open to appeal. Interested parties have just under six weeks to make their voices heard. Failing that, copyright trolling will hit the Netherlands in the weeks and months to come.
Post Syndicated from Blogs on Grafana Labs Blog original https://grafana.com/blog/2017/12/08/timeshiftgrafanabuzz-1w-issue-25/
Welcome to TimeShift
This week, a few of us from Grafana Labs, along with 4,000 of our closest friends, headed down to chilly Austin, TX for KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2017. We got to see a number of great talks and were thrilled to see Grafana make appearances in some of the presentations. We were also a sponsor of the conference and handed out a ton of swag (we overnighted some of our custom Grafana scarves, which came in handy for Thursday’s snow).
We also announced Grafana Labs has joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation as a Silver member! We’re excited to share our expertise in time series data visualization and open source software with the CNCF community.
Grafana 4.6.2 is available and includes some bug fixes:
- Prometheus: Fixes bug with new Prometheus alerts in Grafana. Make sure to download this version if you’re using Prometheus for alerting. More details in the issue. #9777
- Color picker: Bug after using textbox input field to change/paste color string #9769
- Cloudwatch: build using golang 1.9.2 #9667, thanks @mtanda
- Heatmap: Fixed tooltip for “time series buckets” mode #9332
- InfluxDB: Fixed query editor issue when using
<operators in WHERE clause #9871
From the Blogosphere
Grafana Labs Joins the CNCF: Grafana Labs has officially joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). We look forward to working with the CNCF community to democratize metrics and help unify traditionally disparate information.
Automating Web Performance Regression Alerts: Peter and his team needed a faster and easier way to find web performance regressions at the Wikimedia Foundation. Grafana 4’s alerting features were exactly what they needed. This post covers their journey on setting up alerts for both RUM and synthetic testing and shares the alerts they’ve set up on their dashboards.
How To Install Grafana on Ubuntu 17.10: As you probably guessed from the title, this article walks you through installing and configuring Grafana in the latest version of Ubuntu (or earlier releases). It also covers installing plugins using the Grafana CLI tool.
Prometheus: Starting the Server with Alertmanager, cAdvisor and Grafana: Learn how to monitor Docker from scratch using cAdvisor, Prometheus and Grafana in this detailed, step-by-step walkthrough.
Monitoring Java EE Servers with Prometheus and Payara: In this screencast, Adam uses firehose; a Java EE 7+ metrics gateway for Prometheus, to convert the JSON output into Prometheus statistics and visualizes the data in Grafana.
Monitoring Spark Streaming with InfluxDB and Grafana: This article focuses on how to monitor Apache Spark Streaming applications with InfluxDB and Grafana at scale.
GrafanaCon EU, March 1-2, 2018
We are currently reaching out to everyone who submitted a talk to GrafanaCon and will soon publish the final schedule at grafanacon.org.
Join us March 1-2, 2018 in Amsterdam for 2 days of talks centered around Grafana and the surrounding monitoring ecosystem including Graphite, Prometheus, InfluxData, Elasticsearch, Kubernetes, and more.
Lots of plugin updates and a new OpenNMS Helm App plugin to announce! To install or update any plugin in an on-prem Grafana instance, use the Grafana-cli tool, or install and update with 1 click on Hosted Grafana.
OpenNMS Helm App – The new OpenNMS Helm App plugin replaces the old OpenNMS data source. Helm allows users to create flexible dashboards using both fault management (FM) and performance management (PM) data from OpenNMS® Horizon™ and/or OpenNMS® Meridian™. The old data source is now deprecated.
Vonage Status Panel – The latest version of the Status Panel comes with a number of small fixes and changes. Below are a few of the enhancements:
- Threshold settings – removed Show Always option, and replaced it with 2 options:
- Display Alias – Select when to show the metric alias.
- Display Value – Select when to show the metric value.
- Text format configuration (bold / italic) for warning / critical / disabled states.
- Option to change the corner radius of the panel. Now you can change the panel’s shape to have rounded corners.
In between code pushes we like to speak at, sponsor and attend all kinds of conferences and meetups. We also like to make sure we mention other Grafana-related events happening all over the world. If you’re putting on just such an event, let us know and we’ll list it here.
Docker Meetup @ Tuenti | Madrid, Spain – Dec 12, 2017: Javier Provecho: Intro to Metrics with Swarm, Prometheus and Grafana
Learn how to gain visibility in real time for your micro services. We’ll cover how to deploy a Prometheus server with persistence and Grafana, how to enable metrics endpoints for various service types (docker daemon, traefik proxy and postgres) and how to scrape, visualize and set up alarms based on those metrics.
Grafana Lyon Meetup n ° 2 | Lyon, France – Dec 14, 2017: This meetup will cover some of the latest innovations in Grafana and discussion about automation. Also, free beer and chips, so – of course you’re going!
Tweet of the Week
We scour Twitter each week to find an interesting/beautiful dashboard and show it off! #monitoringLove
— Claire Giordano (@clairegiordano) December 7, 2017
We were thrilled to see our dashboards bigger than life at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon this week. Thanks for snapping a photo and sharing!
How are we doing?
Hard to believe this is the 25th issue of Timeshift! I have a blast writing these roundups, but Let me know what you think. Submit a comment on this article below, or post something at our community forum. Find an article I haven’t included? Send it my way. Help us make timeShift better!
Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/reinvent-recap-announcements-to-boost-enterprise-innovation-with-windows/
“I want my company to innovate, but I am not convinced we can execute successfully.” Far too many times I have heard this fear expressed by senior executives that I have met at different points in my career. In fact, a recent study published by Price Waterhouse Coopers found that while 93% of executives depend on innovation to drive growth, more than half are challenged to take innovative ideas to market quickly in a scalable way.
Many customers are struggling with how to drive enterprise innovation, so I was thrilled to share the stage at AWS re:Invent this past week with several senior executives who have successfully broken this mold to drive amazing enterprise innovation. In particular, I want to thank Parag Karnik from Johnson & Johnson, Bill Rothe from Hess Corporation, Dave Williams from Just Eat, and Olga Lagunova from Pitney Bowes for sharing their stories of innovation, creativity, and solid execution.
Among the many new announcements from AWS this past week, I am particularly excited about the following newly-launched AWS products and programs that I announced at re:Invent to drive new innovations by our enterprise customers:
AI: New Deep Learning Amazon Machine Image (AMI) on EC2 Windows
As I shared at re:Invent, customers such as Infor are already successfully leveraging artificial intelligence tools on AWS to deliver tailored, industry-specific applications to their customers. We want to facilitate more of our Windows developers to get started quickly and easily with AI, leveraging machine learning based tools with popular deep learning frameworks, such as Apache MXNet, TensorFlow, and Caffe2. In order to enable this, I announced at re:Invent that AWS now offers a new Deep Learning AMI for Microsoft Windows. The AMI is tailored to facilitate large scale training of deep-learning models, and enables quick and easy setup of Windows Server-based compute resources for machine learning applications.
IoT: Visualize and Analyze SQL and IoT Data
Forecasts show as many as 31 billion IoT devices by 2020. AWS wants every Windows customer to take advantage of the data available from their devices. Pitney Bowes, for example, now has more than 130,000 IoT devices streaming data to AWS. Using machine learning, Pitney Bowes enriches and analyzes data to enhance their customer experience, improve efficiencies, and create new data products. AWS IoT Analytics can now be leveraged to run analytics on IoT data and get insights that help you make better and more accurate decisions for IoT applications and machine learning use cases. AWS IoT Analytics can automatically enrich IoT device data with contextual metadata such as your SQL Server transactional data.
New Capabilities for .NET Developers on AWS
In addition to all of the enhancements we’ve introduced to deliver a first class experience to Windows developers on AWS, we announced that we are including .NET Core 2.0 support in AWS Lambda and AWS CodeBuild, which will be available for broader use early next year. .NET Core 2.0 packs a number of new features such as Razor pages, better compatibility with .NET framework, more than double the number of APIs compared to the previous versions, and much more. With this announcement, you will be able to take advantage of all latest .NET Core features on Lambda and CodeBuild for building modern serverless and DevOps centric solutions.
Simplified Backup for Windows Applications
We recently introduced application consistent snapshots with Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS). This enables you to take VSS snapshots with Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) for your running Windows instances without the need to create custom scripts or to shut down the instances. This removes the overhead associated with backing up your Windows applications.
License optimization for BYOL
AWS provides you a wide variety of instance types and families that best meet your workload needs. If you are using software licensed by the number of vCPUs, you want the ability to further tweak vCPU count to optimize license spend. I announced the upcoming ability to optimize CPUs for EC2, giving you greater control over your EC2 instances on two fronts:
- You can specify a custom number of vCPUs when launching new instances to save on vCPU based licensing costs. For example, SQL Server licensing spend.
- You can disable Hyper-Threading Technology for workloads that perform well with single-threaded CPUs, like some high-performance computing (HPC) applications.
Using these capabilities, customers who bring their own license (BYOL) will be able to optimize their license usage and save on the license costs.
Server Migration Service for Hyper-V Virtual Machines
As Bill Rothe from Hess Corporation shared at re:Invent, Hess has successfully migrated a wide range of workloads to the cloud, including SQL Server, SharePoint, SAP HANA, and many others. AWS Server Migration Service (SMS) now supports Hyper-V virtual machine (VM) migration, in order to further support enterprise migrations like these. AWS Server Migration Service will enable you to more easily co-ordinate large-scale server migrations from on-premise Hyper-V environments to AWS. AWS Server Migration Service allows you to automate, schedule, and track incremental replications of live server volumes. The replicated volumes are encrypted in transit and saved as a new Amazon Machine Image (AMI), which can be launched as an EC2 instance on AWS.
Microsoft Premier Support for AWS End-Customers
I was pleased to announce that Microsoft and AWS have developed new areas of support integration to help ensure a great customer experience. Microsoft Premier Support is on board to help AWS assist end customers. AWS Support engineers can escalate directly to Microsoft Support on behalf of AWS customers running Microsoft workloads.
Best Practice Tools: HIPAA Compliance and Digital Innovation Workshop
In November, we updated our HIPAA-focused white paper, outlining how you can use AWS to create HIPAA-compliant applications. In the first quarter of next year, we will publish a HIPAA Implementation Guide that expands on our HIPAA Quick Start to enable you to follow strict security, compliance, and risk management controls for common healthcare use cases. I was also pleased to award a Digital Innovation Workshop to one of our customers in my re:Invent session, and look forward to seeing more customers take advantage of this workshop.
AWS: The Continuous Innovation Cloud
A common thread we see across customers is that continuous innovation from AWS enables their ongoing reinvention. Continuous innovation means that you are always getting a newer, better offering every single day. Sometimes it is in the form of brand new services and capabilities, and sometimes it is happening invisibly, under the covers where your environment just keeps getting better. I invite you to learn more about how you can accelerate your innovation journey with recently launched AWS services and AWS best practices. If you are migrating Windows workloads, speak with your AWS sales representative or an AWS Microsoft Workloads Competency Partner to learn how you can leverage our re:Think for Windows program for credits to start your migration.
– Sandy Carter, Vice President, AWS
Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/resilient-tvaddons-plans-to-ditch-proactive-piracy-screening-171207/
After years of smooth sailing, this year TVAddons became a poster child for the entertainment industry’s war on illicit streaming devices.
The leading repository for unofficial Kodi addons was sued for copyright infringement in the US by satellite and broadcast provider Dish Network. Around the same time, a similar case was filed by Bell, TVA, Videotron, and Rogers in Canada.
The latter case has done the most damage thus far, as it caused the addon repository to lose its domain names and social media accounts. As a result, the site went dead and while many believed it would never return, it made a blazing comeback after a few weeks.
Since the original TVAddons.ag domain was seized, the site returned on TVaddons.co. And that was not the only difference. A lot of the old add-ons, for which it was unclear if they linked to licensed content, were no longer listed in the repository either.
TVAddons previously relied on the DMCA to shield it from liability but apparently, that wasn’t enough. As a result, they took the drastic decision to check all submitted add-ons carefully.
“Since complying with the law is clearly not enough to prevent frivolous legal action from being taken against you, we have been forced to implement a more drastic code vetting process,” a TVAddons representative told us previously.
Despite the absence of several of the most used add-ons, the repository has managed to regain many of its former users. Over the past month, TVAddons had over 12 million unique users. These all manually installed the new repository on their devices.
“We’re not like one of those pirate sites that are shut down and opens on a new domain the next day, getting users to actually manually install a new repo isn’t an easy feat,” a TVAddons representative informs TorrentFreak.
While it’s still far away from the 40 million unique users it had earlier this year, before the trouble began, it’s still a force to be reckoned with.
Interestingly, the vast majority of all TVAddons traffic comes from the United States. The UK is second at a respectable distance, followed by Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands.
While many former users have returned, the submission policy changes didn’t go unnoticed. The relatively small selection of add-ons is a major drawback for some, but that’s about to change as well, we are informed.
TVAddons plans to return to the old submission model where developers can upload their code more freely. Instead of proactive screening, TVAddons will rely on a standard DMCA takedown policy, relying on copyright holders to flag potentially infringing content.
“We intend on returning to a standard DMCA compliant add-on submission policy shortly, there’s no reason why we should be held to a higher standard than Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Reddit given the fact that we don’t even host any form of streaming content in the first place.
“Our interim policy isn’t pragmatic, it’s nearly impossible for us to verify the global licensing of all forms of protected content. When you visit a website, there’s no way of verifying licensing beyond trusting them based on reputation.”
The upcoming change doesn’t mean that TVAddons will ignore its legal requirements. If they receive a legitimate takedown notice, proper action will be taken, as always. As such, they would operate in the same fashion as other user-generated sites.
“Right now our interim addon submission policy is akin to North Korea. We always followed the law and will always continue to do so. Anytime we’ve received a legitimate complaint we’ve acted upon it in an expedited manner.
“Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and other online communities would have never existed if they were required to approve the contents of each user’s submissions prior to public posting.”
While some copyright holders, including those who are fighting the service in court, might not like the change, TVAddons believes that this is well within their rights. And with support from groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, they don’t stand alone in this.
Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/christmas-shopping-list-2017/
Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for a beloved maker in your life? Maybe you’d like to give a relative or friend a taste of the world of coding and Raspberry Pi? Whatever you’re looking for, the Raspberry Pi Christmas shopping list will point you in the right direction.
For those getting started
Thinking about introducing someone special to the wonders of Raspberry Pi during the holidays? Although you can set up your Pi with peripherals from around your home, such as a mobile phone charger, your PC’s keyboard, and the old mouse dwelling in an office drawer, a starter kit is a nice all-in-one package for the budding coder.
Check out the starter kits from Raspberry Pi Approved Resellers such as Pimoroni, The Pi Hut, ModMyPi, Adafruit, CanaKit…the list is pretty long. Our products page will direct you to your closest reseller, or you can head to element14 to pick up the official Raspberry Pi Starter Kit.
You can also buy the Raspberry Pi Press’s brand-new Raspberry Pi Beginners Book, which includes a Raspberry Pi Zero W, a case, a ready-made SD card, and adapter cables.
Once you’ve presented a lucky person with their first Raspberry Pi, it’s time for them to spread their maker wings and learn some new skills.
To help them along, you could pick your favourite from among the Official Projects Book volume 3, The MagPi Essentials guides, and the brand-new third edition of Carrie Anne Philbin’s Adventures in Raspberry Pi. (She is super excited about this new edition!)
And you can always add a link to our free resources on the gift tag.
For the maker in your life
If you’re looking for something for a confident digital maker, you can’t go wrong with adding to their arsenal of electric and electronic bits and bobs that are no doubt cluttering drawers and boxes throughout their house.
Components such as servomotors, displays, and sensors are staples of the maker world. And when it comes to jumper wires, buttons, and LEDs, one can never have enough.
You could also consider getting your person a soldering iron, some helpings hands, or small tools such as a Dremel or screwdriver set.
And to make their life a little less messy, pop it all inside a Really Useful Box…because they’re really useful.
For kit makers
While some people like to dive into making head-first and to build whatever comes to mind, others enjoy working with kits.
The Naturebytes kit allows you to record the animal visitors of your garden with the help of a camera and a motion sensor. Footage of your local badgers, birds, deer, and more will be saved to an SD card, or tweeted or emailed to you if it’s in range of WiFi.
Coretec’s Tiny 4WD is a kit for assembling a Pi Zero–powered remote-controlled robot at home. Not only is the robot adorable, building it also a great introduction to motors and wireless control.
Bare Conductive’s Touch Board Pro Kit offers everything you need to create interactive electronics projects using conductive paint.
Finally, why not help your favourite maker create their own gaming arcade using the Arcade Building Kit from The Pi Hut?
For the reader
For those who like to curl up with a good read, or spend too much of their day on public transport, a book or magazine subscription is the perfect treat.
For makers, hackers, and those interested in new technologies, our brand-new HackSpace magazine and the ever popular community magazine The MagPi are ideal. Both are available via a physical or digital subscription, and new subscribers to The MagPi also receive a free Raspberry Pi Zero W plus case.
You can also check out other publications from the Raspberry Pi family, including CoderDojo’s new CoderDojo Nano: Make Your Own Game, Eben Upton and Gareth Halfacree’s Raspberry Pi User Guide, and Marc Scott’s A Beginner’s Guide to Coding. And have I mentioned Carrie Anne’s Adventures in Raspberry Pi yet?
Stocking fillers for everyone
Looking for something small to keep your loved ones occupied on Christmas morning? Or do you have to buy a Secret Santa gift for the office tech? Here are some wonderful stocking fillers to fill your boots with this season.
The Pi Hut 3D Xmas Tree: available as both a pre-soldered and a DIY version, this gadget will work with any 40-pin Raspberry Pi and allows you to create your own mini light show.
Google AIY Voice kit: build your own home assistant using a Raspberry Pi, the MagPi Essentials guide, and this brand-new kit. “Google, play Mariah Carey again…”
Pimoroni’s Raspberry Pi Zero W Project Kits offer everything you need, including the Pi, to make your own time-lapse cameras, music players, and more.
STEAM gifts that everyone will love
LEGO Idea’s bought out this amazing ‘Women of NASA’ set, and I thought it would be fun to build, play and learn from these inspiring women! First up, let’s discover a little more about Sally Ride and Mae Jemison, two AWESOME ASTRONAUTS!
Treat the kids, and big kids, in your life to the newest LEGO Ideas set, the Women of NASA — starring Nancy Grace Roman, Margaret Hamilton, Sally Ride, and Mae Jemison!
Explore the world of wearables with Pimoroni’s sewable, hackable, wearable, adorable Bearables kits.
Add lights and motors to paper creations with the Activating Origami Kit, available from The Pi Hut.
We all loved Hidden Figures, and the STEAM enthusiast you know will do too. The film’s available on DVD, and you can also buy the original book, along with other fascinating non-fiction such as Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rachel Ignotofsky’s Women in Science, and Sydney Padua’s (mostly true) The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage.
Have we missed anything?
With so many amazing kits, HATs, and books available from members of the Raspberry Pi community, it’s hard to only pick a few. Have you found something splendid for the maker in your life? Maybe you’ve created your own kit that uses the Raspberry Pi? Share your favourites with us in the comments below or via our social media accounts.
Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/movie-tv-companies-tackle-pirate-iptv-in-australia-federal-court-171207/
Dealing with streaming services is now high on the agenda, with third-party Kodi addons and various Android apps posing the biggest challenge. Alongside is the much less prevalent but rapidly growing pay IPTV market, in which thousands of premium channels are delivered to homes for a relatively small fee.
In Australia, copyright holders are treating these services in much the same way as torrent sites. They feel that if they can force ISPs to block them, the problem can be mitigated. Most recently, movie and TV show giants Village Roadshow, Disney, Universal, Warner Bros, Twentieth Century Fox, and Paramount filed an application targeting HDSubs+, a pirate IPTV operation servicing thousands of Australians.
Filed in October, the application for the injunction targets Australia’s largest ISPs including Telstra, Optus, TPG, and Vocus, plus their subsidiaries. The movie and TV show companies want them to quickly block HDSubs+, to prevent it from reaching its audience.
HDSubs+ appears to be undergoing some kind of transformation, possibly to mitigate efforts to block it in Australia. ComputerWorld reports that it is now directing subscribers to update to a new version that works in a more evasive manner.
If they agree, HDSubs+ customers are being migrated over to a service called PressPlayPlus. It works in the same way as the old system but no longer uses the domain names cited in Village Roadshow’s injunction application. This means that DNS blocks, the usual weapon of choice for local ISPs, will prove futile.
Village Roadshow says that with this in mind it may be forced to seek enhanced IP address blocking, unless it is granted a speedy hearing for its application. This, in turn, may result in the normally cooperative ISPs returning to court to argue their case.
“If that’s what you want to do, then you’ll have to amend the orders and let the parties know,” Judge John Nicholas said.
“It’s only the former [DNS blocking] that carriage service providers have agreed to in the past.”
As things stand, Village Roadshow will return to court on December 15 for a case management hearing but in the meantime, the Federal Court must deal with another IPTV-related blocking request.
In common with its Australian and US-based counterparts, Hong Kong-based broadcaster Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) has launched a similar case asking local ISPs to block another IPTV service.
“Television Broadcasts Limited can confirm that we have commenced legal action in Australia to protect our copyright,” a TVB spokesperson told Computerworld.
TVB wants ISPs including Telstra, Optus, Vocus, and TPG plus their subsidiaries to block access to seven Android-based services named as A1, BlueTV, EVPAD, FunTV, MoonBox, Unblock, and hTV5.
Court documents list 21 URLs maintaining the services. They will all need to be blocked by DNS or other means, if the former proves futile. Online reports suggest that there are similarities among the IPTV products listed above. A demo for the FunTV IPTV service is shown below.
Post Syndicated from Let's Encrypt - Free SSL/TLS Certificates original https://letsencrypt.org//2017/12/07/looking-forward-to-2018.html
Let’s Encrypt had a great year in 2017. We more than doubled the number of active (unexpired) certificates we service to 46 million, we just about tripled the number of unique domains we service to 61 million, and we did it all while maintaining a stellar security and compliance track record. Most importantly though, the Web went from 46% encrypted page loads to 67% according to statistics from Mozilla – a gain of 21% in a single year – incredible. We’re proud to have contributed to that, and we’d like to thank all of the other people and organizations who also worked hard to create a more secure and privacy-respecting Web.
While we’re proud of what we accomplished in 2017, we are spending most of the final quarter of the year looking forward rather than back. As we wrap up our own planning process for 2018, I’d like to share some of our plans with you, including both the things we’re excited about and the challenges we’ll face. We’ll cover service growth, new features, infrastructure, and finances.
We are planning to double the number of active certificates and unique domains we service in 2018, to 90 million and 120 million, respectively. This anticipated growth is due to continuing high expectations for HTTPS growth in general in 2018.
Let’s Encrypt helps to drive HTTPS adoption by offering a free, easy to use, and globally available option for obtaining the certificates required to enable HTTPS. HTTPS adoption on the Web took off at an unprecedented rate from the day Let’s Encrypt launched to the public.
One of the reasons Let’s Encrypt is so easy to use is that our community has done great work making client software that works well for a wide variety of platforms. We’d like to thank everyone involved in the development of over 60 client software options for Let’s Encrypt. We’re particularly excited that support for the ACME protocol and Let’s Encrypt is being added to the Apache httpd server.
Other organizations and communities are also doing great work to promote HTTPS adoption, and thus stimulate demand for our services. For example, browsers are starting to make their users more aware of the risks associated with unencrypted HTTP (e.g. Firefox, Chrome). Many hosting providers and CDNs are making it easier than ever for all of their customers to use HTTPS. Government agencies are waking up to the need for stronger security to protect constituents. The media community is working to Secure the News.
We’ve got some exciting features planned for 2018.
First, we’re planning to introduce an ACME v2 protocol API endpoint and support for wildcard certificates along with it. Wildcard certificates will be free and available globally just like our other certificates. We are planning to have a public test API endpoint up by January 4, and we’ve set a date for the full launch: Tuesday, February 27.
Later in 2018 we plan to introduce ECDSA root and intermediate certificates. ECDSA is generally considered to be the future of digital signature algorithms on the Web due to the fact that it is more efficient than RSA. Let’s Encrypt will currently sign ECDSA keys from subscribers, but we sign with the RSA key from one of our intermediate certificates. Once we have an ECDSA root and intermediates, our subscribers will be able to deploy certificate chains which are entirely ECDSA.
Our CA infrastructure is capable of issuing millions of certificates per day with multiple redundancy for stability and a wide variety of security safeguards, both physical and logical. Our infrastructure also generates and signs nearly 20 million OCSP responses daily, and serves those responses nearly 2 billion times per day. We expect issuance and OCSP numbers to double in 2018.
Our physical CA infrastructure currently occupies approximately 70 units of rack space, split between two datacenters, consisting primarily of compute servers, storage, HSMs, switches, and firewalls.
When we issue more certificates it puts the most stress on storage for our databases. We regularly invest in more and faster storage for our database servers, and that will continue in 2018.
We’ll need to add a few additional compute servers in 2018, and we’ll also start aging out hardware in 2018 for the first time since we launched. We’ll age out about ten 2u compute servers and replace them with new 1u servers, which will save space and be more energy efficient while providing better reliability and performance.
We’ll also add another infrastructure operations staff member, bringing that team to a total of six people. This is necessary in order to make sure we can keep up with demand while maintaining a high standard for security and compliance. Infrastructure operations staff are systems administrators responsible for building and maintaining all physical and logical CA infrastructure. The team also manages a 24/7/365 on-call schedule and they are primary participants in both security and compliance audits.
We pride ourselves on being an efficient organization. In 2018 Let’s Encrypt will secure a large portion of the Web with a budget of only $3.0M. For an overall increase in our budget of only 13%, we will be able to issue and service twice as many certificates as we did in 2017. We believe this represents an incredible value and that contributing to Let’s Encrypt is one of the most effective ways to help create a more secure and privacy-respecting Web.
Our 2018 fundraising efforts are off to a strong start with Platinum sponsorships from Mozilla, Akamai, OVH, Cisco, Google Chrome and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The Ford Foundation has renewed their grant to Let’s Encrypt as well. We are seeking additional sponsorship and grant assistance to meet our full needs for 2018.
We had originally budgeted $2.91M for 2017 but we’ll likely come in under budget for the year at around $2.65M. The difference between our 2017 expenses of $2.65M and the 2018 budget of $3.0M consists primarily of the additional infrastructure operations costs previously mentioned.
Support Let’s Encrypt
We depend on contributions from our community of users and supporters in order to provide our services. If your company or organization would like to sponsor Let’s Encrypt please email us at [email protected]. We ask that you make an individual contribution if it is within your means.
We’re grateful for the industry and community support that we receive, and we look forward to continuing to create a more secure and privacy-respecting Web!
Amazon Web Services is moving the certificates for our services—including Amazon SES—to use our own certificate authority, Amazon Trust Services. We have carefully planned this change to minimize the impact it will have on your workflow. Most customers will not have to take any action during this migration.
About the Certificates
The Amazon Trust Services Certificate Authority (CA) uses the Starfield Services CA, which has been valid since 2005. The Amazon Trust Services certificates are available in most major operating systems released in the past 10 years, and are also trusted by all modern web browsers.
If you send email through the Amazon SES SMTP interface using a mail server that you operate, we recommend that you confirm that the appropriate certificates are installed. You can test whether your server trusts the Amazon Trust Services CAs by visiting the following URLs (for example, by using cURL):
If you see a message stating that the certificate issuer is not recognized, then you should install the appropriate root certificate. You can download individual certificates from https://www.amazontrust.com/repository. The process of adding a trusted certificate to your server varies depending on the operating system you use. For more information, see “Adding New Certificates,” below.
AWS SDKs and CLI
Recent versions of the AWS SDKs and the AWS CLI are not impacted by this change. If you use an AWS SDK or a version of the AWS CLI released prior to February 5, 2015, you should upgrade to the latest version.
If your system is configured to use a very restricted list of root CAs (for example, if you use certificate pinning), you may be impacted by this migration. In this situation, you must update your pinned certificates to include the Amazon Trust Services CAs.
Adding New Root Certificates
The following sections list the steps you can take to install the Amazon Root CA certificates on your systems if they are not already present.
To install a new certificate on a macOS server
- Download the .pem file for the certificate you want to install from https://www.amazontrust.com/repository.
- Change the file extension for the file you downloaded from .pem to .crt.
- At the command prompt, type the following command to install the certificate:
sudo security add-trusted-cert -d -r trustRoot -k /Library/Keychains/System.keychain /path/to/certificatename.crt, replacing
/path/to/certificatename.crtwith the full path to the certificate file.
To install a new certificate on a Windows server
- Download the .pem file for the certificate you want to install from https://www.amazontrust.com/repository.
- Change the file extension for the file you downloaded from .pem to .crt.
- At the command prompt, type the following command to install the certificate:
certutil -addstore -f "ROOT" c:\path\to\certificatename.crt, replacing
c:\path\to\certificatename.crtwith the full path to the certificate file.
To install a new certificate on an Ubuntu (or similar) server
- Download the .pem file for the certificate you want to install from https://www.amazontrust.com/repository.
- Change the file extension for the file you downloaded from .pem to .crt.
- Copy the certificate file to the directory /usr/local/share/ca-certificates/
- At the command prompt, type the following command to update the certificate authority store:
Red Hat Enterprise Linux/Fedora/CentOS
To install a new certificate on a Red Hat Enterprise Linux (or similar) server
- Change the file extension for the file you downloaded from .pem to .crt.
- Copy the certificate file to the directory /etc/pki/ca-trust/source/anchors/
- At the command line, type the following command to enable dynamic certificate authority configuration:
sudo update-ca-trust force-enable
- At the command line, type the following command to update the certificate authority store:
sudo update-ca-trust extract
To learn more about this migration, see How to Prepare for AWS’s Move to Its Own Certificate Authority on the AWS Security Blog.
Post Syndicated from Robert Graham original http://blog.erratasec.com/2017/12/libertarians-are-against-net-neutrality.html
This post claims to be by a libertarian in support of net neutrality. As a libertarian, I need to debunk this. “Net neutrality” is a case of one-hand clapping, you rarely hear the competing side, and thus, that side may sound attractive. This post is about the other side, from a libertarian point of view.
That post just repeats the common, and wrong, left-wing talking points. I mean, there might be a libertarian case for some broadband regulation, but this isn’t it.
This thing they call “net neutrality” is just left-wing politics masquerading as some sort of principle. It’s no different than how people claim to be “pro-choice”, yet demand forced vaccinations. Or, it’s no different than how people claim to believe in “traditional marriage” even while they are on their third “traditional marriage”.
Properly defined, “net neutrality” means no discrimination of network traffic. But nobody wants that. A classic example is how most internet connections have faster download speeds than uploads. This discriminates against upload traffic, harming innovation in upload-centric applications like DropBox’s cloud backup or BitTorrent’s peer-to-peer file transfer. Yet activists never mention this, or other types of network traffic discrimination, because they no more care about “net neutrality” than Trump or Gingrich care about “traditional marriage”.
Instead, when people say “net neutrality”, they mean “government regulation”. It’s the same old debate between who is the best steward of consumer interest: the free-market or government.
Specifically, in the current debate, they are referring to the Obama-era FCC “Open Internet” order and reclassification of broadband under “Title II” so they can regulate it. Trump’s FCC is putting broadband back to “Title I”, which means the FCC can’t regulate most of its “Open Internet” order.
Don’t be tricked into thinking the “Open Internet” order is anything but intensely politically. The premise behind the order is the Democrat’s firm believe that it’s government who created the Internet, and all innovation, advances, and investment ultimately come from the government. It sees ISPs as inherently deceitful entities who will only serve their own interests, at the expense of consumers, unless the FCC protects consumers.
It says so right in the order itself. It starts with the premise that broadband ISPs are evil, using illegitimate “tactics” to hurt consumers, and continues with similar language throughout the order.
A good contrast to this can be seen in Tim Wu’s non-political original paper in 2003 that coined the term “net neutrality”. Whereas the FCC sees broadband ISPs as enemies of consumers, Wu saw them as allies. His concern was not that ISPs would do evil things, but that they would do stupid things, such as favoring short-term interests over long-term innovation (such as having faster downloads than uploads).
The political depravity of the FCC’s order can be seen in this comment from one of the commissioners who voted for those rules:
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel wants to increase the minimum broadband standards far past the new 25Mbps download threshold, up to 100Mbps. “We invented the internet. We can do audacious things if we set big goals, and I think our new threshold, frankly, should be 100Mbps. I think anything short of that shortchanges our children, our future, and our new digital economy,” Commissioner Rosenworcel said.
This is indistinguishable from communist rhetoric that credits the Party for everything, as this booklet from North Korea will explain to you.
But what about monopolies? After all, while the free-market may work when there’s competition, it breaks down where there are fewer competitors, oligopolies, and monopolies.
There is some truth to this, in individual cities, there’s often only only a single credible high-speed broadband provider. But this isn’t the issue at stake here. The FCC isn’t proposing light-handed regulation to keep monopolies in check, but heavy-handed regulation that regulates every last decision.
Advocates of FCC regulation keep pointing how broadband monopolies can exploit their renting-seeking positions in order to screw the customer. They keep coming up with ever more bizarre and unlikely scenarios what monopoly power grants the ISPs.
But the never mention the most simplest: that broadband monopolies can just charge customers more money. They imagine instead that these companies will pursue a string of outrageous, evil, and less profitable behaviors to exploit their monopoly position.
The FCC’s reclassification of broadband under Title II gives it full power to regulate ISPs as utilities, including setting prices. The FCC has stepped back from this, promising it won’t go so far as to set prices, that it’s only regulating these evil conspiracy theories. This is kind of bizarre: either broadband ISPs are evilly exploiting their monopoly power or they aren’t. Why stop at regulating only half the evil?
The answer is that the claim “monopoly” power is a deception. It starts with overstating how many monopolies there are to begin with. When it issued its 2015 “Open Internet” order the FCC simultaneously redefined what they meant by “broadband”, upping the speed from 5-mbps to 25-mbps. That’s because while most consumers have multiple choices at 5-mbps, fewer consumers have multiple choices at 25-mbps. It’s a dirty political trick to convince you there is more of a problem than there is.
In any case, their rules still apply to the slower broadband providers, and equally apply to the mobile (cell phone) providers. The US has four mobile phone providers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint) and plenty of competition between them. That it’s monopolistic power that the FCC cares about here is a lie. As their Open Internet order clearly shows, the fundamental principle that animates the document is that all corporations, monopolies or not, are treacherous and must be regulated.
“But corporations are indeed evil”, people argue, “see here’s a list of evil things they have done in the past!”
No, those things weren’t evil. They were done because they benefited the customers, not as some sort of secret rent seeking behavior.
For example, one of the more common “net neutrality abuses” that people mention is AT&T’s blocking of FaceTime. I’ve debunked this elsewhere on this blog, but the summary is this: there was no network blocking involved (not a “net neutrality” issue), and the FCC analyzed it and decided it was in the best interests of the consumer. It’s disingenuous to claim it’s an evil that justifies FCC actions when the FCC itself declared it not evil and took no action. It’s disingenuous to cite the “net neutrality” principle that all network traffic must be treated when, in fact, the network did treat all the traffic equally.
Another frequently cited abuse is Comcast’s throttling of BitTorrent.Comcast did this because Netflix users were complaining. Like all streaming video, Netflix backs off to slower speed (and poorer quality) when it experiences congestion. BitTorrent, uniquely among applications, never backs off. As most applications become slower and slower, BitTorrent just speeds up, consuming all available bandwidth. This is especially problematic when there’s limited upload bandwidth available. Thus, Comcast throttled BitTorrent during prime time TV viewing hours when the network was already overloaded by Netflix and other streams. BitTorrent users wouldn’t mind this throttling, because it often took days to download a big file anyway.
When the FCC took action, Comcast stopped the throttling and imposed bandwidth caps instead. This was a worse solution for everyone. It penalized heavy Netflix viewers, and prevented BitTorrent users from large downloads. Even though BitTorrent users were seen as the victims of this throttling, they’d vastly prefer the throttling over the bandwidth caps.
In both the FaceTime and BitTorrent cases, the issue was “network management”. AT&T had no competing video calling service, Comcast had no competing download service. They were only reacting to the fact their networks were overloaded, and did appropriate things to solve the problem.
Mobile carriers still struggle with the “network management” issue. While their networks are fast, they are still of low capacity, and quickly degrade under heavy use. They are looking for tricks in order to reduce usage while giving consumers maximum utility.
The biggest concern is video. It’s problematic because it’s designed to consume as much bandwidth as it can, throttling itself only when it experiences congestion. This is what you probably want when watching Netflix at the highest possible quality, but it’s bad when confronted with mobile bandwidth caps.
With small mobile devices, you don’t want as much quality anyway. You want the video degraded to lower quality, and lower bandwidth, all the time.
That’s the reasoning behind T-Mobile’s offerings. They offer an unlimited video plan in conjunction with the biggest video providers (Netflix, YouTube, etc.). The catch is that when congestion occurs, they’ll throttle it to lower quality. In other words, they give their bandwidth to all the other phones in your area first, then give you as much of the leftover bandwidth as you want for video.
While it sounds like T-Mobile is doing something evil, “zero-rating” certain video providers and degrading video quality, the FCC allows this, because they recognize it’s in the customer interest.
Mobile providers especially have great interest in more innovation in this area, in order to conserve precious bandwidth, but they are finding it costly. They can’t just innovate, but must ask the FCC permission first. And with the new heavy handed FCC rules, they’ve become hostile to this innovation. This attitude is highlighted by the statement from the “Open Internet” order:
And consumers must be protected, for example from mobile commercial practices masquerading as “reasonable network management.”
This is a clear declaration that free-market doesn’t work and won’t correct abuses, and that that mobile companies are treacherous and will do evil things without FCC oversight.
Ignoring the rhetoric for the moment, the debate comes down to simple left-wing authoritarianism and libertarian principles. The Obama administration created a regulatory regime under clear Democrat principles, and the Trump administration is rolling it back to more free-market principles. There is no principle at stake here, certainly nothing to do with a technical definition of “net neutrality”.
The 2015 “Open Internet” order is not about “treating network traffic neutrally”, because it doesn’t do that. Instead, it’s purely a left-wing document that claims corporations cannot be trusted, must be regulated, and that innovation and prosperity comes from the regulators and not the free market.
It’s not about monopolistic power. The primary targets of regulation are the mobile broadband providers, where there is plenty of competition, and who have the most “network management” issues. Even if it were just about wired broadband (like Comcast), it’s still ignoring the primary ways monopolies profit (raising prices) and instead focuses on bizarre and unlikely ways of rent seeking.
If you are a libertarian who nonetheless believes in this “net neutrality” slogan, you’ve got to do better than mindlessly repeating the arguments of the left-wing. The term itself, “net neutrality”, is just a slogan, varying from person to person, from moment to moment. You have to be more specific. If you truly believe in the “net neutrality” technical principle that all traffic should be treated equally, then you’ll want a rewrite of the “Open Internet” order.
In the end, while libertarians may still support some form of broadband regulation, it’s impossible to reconcile libertarianism with the 2015 “Open Internet”, or the vague things people mean by the slogan “net neutrality”.
Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/retrofitted-home-assistants/
As more and more digital home assistants are appearing on the consumer market, it’s not uncommon to see the towering Amazon Echo or sleek Google Home when visiting friends or family. But we, the maker community, are rarely happy unless our tech stands out from the rest. So without further ado, here’s a roundup of some fantastic retrofitted home assistant projects you can recreate and give pride of place in your kitchen, on your bookshelf, or wherever else you’d like to talk to your virtual, disembodied PA.
Turned an 80s Tomy Mr Money into a little Google AIY / Raspberry Pi based assistant.
Matt ‘Circuitbeard’ Brailsford’s Tomy Mr Money Google AIY Assistant is just one of many home-brew home assistants makers have built since the release of APIs for Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Here are some more…
Oh Teddy, how exciting and mysterious you were when I unwrapped you back in the mideighties. With your awkwardly moving lips and twitching eyelids, you were the cream of the crop of robotic toys! How was I to know that during my thirties, you would become augmented with home assistant software and suddenly instil within me a fear unlike any I’d felt before? (Save for my lifelong horror of ET…)
Please watch: “DIY Fidget LED Display – Part 1” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAZIc82Duzk -~-~~-~~~-~~-~- There are tons of virtual assistants out on the market: Siri, Ok Google, Alexa, etc. I had this crazy idea…what if I made the virtual assistant real…kinda. I decided to take an old animatronic teddy bear and hack it so that it ran Amazon Alexa.
Several makers around the world have performed surgery on Teddy to install a Raspberry Pi within his stomach and integrate him with Amazon Alexa Voice or Google’s AIY Projects Voice kit. And because these makers are talented, they’ve also managed to hijack Teddy’s wiring to make his lips move in time with his responses to your commands. Freaky…
Speaking of freaky: check out Zack’s Furlexa — an Amazon Alexa Furby that will haunt your nightmares.
Give old tech new life
Devices that were the height of technology when you purchased them may now be languishing in your attic collecting dust. With new and improved versions of gadgets and gizmos being released almost constantly, it is likely that your household harbours a spare whosit or whatsit which you can dismantle and give a new Raspberry Pi heart and purpose.
Take, for example, Martin Mander’s Google Pi intercom. By gutting and thoroughly cleaning a vintage intercom, Martin fashioned a suitable housing the Google AIY Projects Voice kit to create a new home assistant for his house:
This is a 1986 Radio Shack Intercom that I’ve converted into a Google Home style device using a Raspberry Pi and the Google AIY (Artificial Intelligence Yourself) kit that came free with the MagPi magazine (issue 57). It uses the Google Assistant to answer questions and perform actions, using IFTTT to integrate with smart home accessories and other web services.
Not only does this build look fantastic, it’s also a great conversation starter for any visitors who had a similar device during the eighties.
Also take a look at Martin’s 1970s Amazon Alexa phone for more nostalgic splendour.
Put it in a box
…and then I’ll put that box inside of another box, and then I’ll mail that box to myself, and when it arrives…
You don’t have to be fancy when it comes to housing your home assistant. And often, especially if you’re working with the smaller people in your household, the results of a simple homespun approach are just as delightful.
Here are Hannah and her dad Tom, explaining how they built a home assistant together and fit it inside an old cigar box:
My 7 year old daughter and I decided to play around with the Raspberry Pi and build ourselves an Amazon Echo (Alexa). The video tells you about what we did and the links below will take you to all the sites we used to get this up and running.
Also see the Google AIY Projects Voice kit — the cardboard box-est of home assistant boxes.
Make your own home assistant
And now it’s your turn! I challenge you all (and also myself) to create a home assistant using the Raspberry Pi. Whether you decide to fit Amazon Alexa inside an old shoebox or Google Home inside your sister’s Barbie, I’d love to see what you create using the free home assistant software available online.
Ten virtual house points for everyone who shares their build with us online, either in the comments below or by tagging us on your social media account.
Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/new-police-anti-piracy-task-force-may-get-involved-in-site-blocking-171206/
On a regular basis, major media companies and their associates seek assistance from the authorities in order to curb copyright infringement.
In some cases, this has resulted in special police units that have piracy among their main objectives, such as The City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) in the UK.
Over in Denmark, the Government greenlighted a similar initiative last week. Justice Minister Søren Pape Poulsen approved a new task force that will operate under police wings, with an exclusive focus on intellectual property crimes.
“This is the culmination of a joint effort among Danish trade organizations’ calls for public engagement in the enforcement of IP crime in Denmark,” Maria Fredenslund, CEO of the local anti-piracy group RettighedsAlliancen (Rights Alliance) tells TorrentFreak.
“Similar to the PIPCU unit in the UK the task force will be specialized in IP crime and will handle existing cases and develop digital enforcement,” she adds.
The new unit will consist of five or six investigators, who will be assisted by prosecutors. The main goal will be to tackle organized crime on as many levels as possible.
The new police task force will first operate on a trial basis. After the first half year, the Government will evaluate its progress and decide if the project will continue. If that happens, the unit may also get involved in website blocking efforts.
Pirate site blockades are not new in Denmark, but thus far these have been the result of civil procedures initiated by copyright holders. According to new plans, which still have to be approved, legislation that’s currently used to block terrorist content may be used against pirate sites as well.
“The Government will look into the possibility to give the police authority to carry out blockades of infringing websites,” Fredenslund says.
This would be possible under a provision in the Administration of Justice Act, which the Danish Parliament recently adopted. While the blocking requests would be submitted by the police unit, instead of copyright holders, a court still has to approve them.
“The decision to block a website is made with a court order by request of the police. The court order shall list the specific circumstances that prove the conditions for the blocking of the website have been met. The court order may be revoked at any time,” the relevant provision reads.
For the time being, the new anti-piracy task force will focus on handling other copyright infringement cases, which these are plenty of.
Rights Alliance is happy with the help they are getting. The anti-piracy group has been working on their own “piracy disruption machine” in recent months and with assistance from law enforcement, they hope to achieve some good results soon.
For now, however, the private blocking requests are continuing as well.
Just yesterday the District Court in Frederiksberg issued an order (pdf) in favor of the Rights Alliance, requiring a local ISP to block dozens of Popcorn Time related domain names. As part of a voluntary agreement, this block will be implemented by other Internet providers as well.
Post Syndicated from Eevee original https://eev.ee/blog/2017/12/05/game-night-1-lisa-lisa-moop/
For the last few weeks, glip (my partner) and I have spent a couple hours most nights playing indie games together. We started out intending to play a short list of games that had been recommended to glip, but this turns out to be a nice way to wind down, so we’ve been keeping it up and clicking on whatever looks interesting in the itch app.
Most of the games are small and made by one or two people, so they tend to be pretty tightly scoped and focus on a few particular kinds of details. I’ve found myself having brain thoughts about all that, so I thought I’d write some of them down.
I also know that some people (cough) tend not to play games they’ve never heard of, even if they want something new to play. If that’s you, feel free to play some of these, now that you’ve heard of them!
Also, I’m still figuring the format out here, so let me know if this is interesting or if you hope I never do it again!
- Lisa: The Painful
- Lisa: The Joyful
These are impressions, not reviews. I try to avoid major/ending spoilers, but big plot points do tend to leave impressions.
(cw: basically everything??)
Lisa: The Painful is true to its name. I hesitate to describe it as fun, exactly, but I’m glad we played it.
Everything about the game is dark. It’s a (somewhat loose) sequel to another game called Lisa, whose titular character ultimately commits suicide; her body hanging from a noose is the title screen for this game.
Ah, but don’t worry, it gets worse. This game takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, where every female human — women, children, babies — is dead. You play as Brad (Lisa’s brother), who has discovered the lone exception: a baby girl he names Buddy and raises like a daughter. Now, Buddy has been kidnapped, and you have to go rescue her, presumably from being raped.
Ah, but don’t worry, it gets worse.
I’ve had a hard time putting my thoughts in order here, because so much of what stuck with me is the way the game entangles the plot with the mechanics.
I love that kind of thing, but it’s so hard to do well. I can’t really explain why, but I feel like most attempts to do it fall flat — they have a glimmer of an idea, but they don’t integrate it well enough, or they don’t run nearly as far as they could have. I often get the same feeling as, say, a hyped-up big moral choice that turns out to be picking “yes” or “no” from a menu. The idea is there, but the execution is so flimsy that it leaves no impact on me at all.
An obvious recent success here is Undertale, where the entire story is about violence and whether you choose to engage or avoid it (and whether you can do that). If you choose to eschew violence, not only does the game become more difficult, it arguably becomes a different game entirely. Granted, the contrast is lost if you (like me) tried to play as a pacifist from the very beginning. I do feel that you could go further with the idea than Undertale, but Undertale itself doesn’t feel incomplete.
Christ, I’m not even talking about the right game any more.
Okay, so: this game is a “classic” RPG, by which I mean, it was made with RPG Maker. (It’s kinda funny that RPG Maker was designed to emulate a very popular battle style, and now the only games that use that style are… made with RPG Maker.) The main loop, on the surface, is standard RPG fare: you walk around various places, talk to people, solve puzzles, recruit party members, and get into turn-based fights.
Now, Brad is addicted to a drug called Joy. He will regularly go into withdrawal, which manifests in the game as a status effect that cuts his stats (even his max HP!) dramatically.
It is really, really, incredibly inconvenient. And therein lies the genius here. The game could have simply told me that Brad is an addict, and I don’t think I would’ve cared too much. An addiction to a fantasy drug in a wasteland doesn’t mean anything to me, especially about this tiny sprite man I just met, so I would’ve filed this away as a sterile fact and forgotten about it. By making his addiction affect me, I’m now invested in it. I wish Brad weren’t addicted, even if only because it’s annoying. I found a party member once who turned out to have the same addiction, and I felt dread just from seeing the icon for the status effect. I’ve been looped into the events of this story through the medium I use to interact with it: the game.
It’s a really good use of games as a medium. Even before I’m invested in the characters, I’m invested in what’s happening to them, because it impacts the game!
Incidentally, you can get Joy as an item, which will temporarily cure your withdrawal… but you mostly find it by looting the corpses of grotesque mutant flesh horrors you encounter. I don’t think the game would have the player abruptly mutate out of nowhere, but I wasn’t about to find out, either. We never took any.
Virtually every staple of the RPG genre has been played with in some way to tie it into the theme/setting. I love it, and I think it works so well precisely because it plays with expectations of how RPGs usually work.
Most obviously, the game is a sidescroller, not top-down. You can’t jump freely, but you can hop onto one-tile-high boxes and climb ropes. You can also drop off off ledges… but your entire party will take fall damage, which gets rapidly more severe the further you fall.
This wouldn’t be too much of a problem, except that healing is hard to come by for most of the game. Several hub areas have campfires you can sleep next to to restore all your health and MP, but when you wake up, something will have happened to you. Maybe just a weird cutscene, or maybe one of your party members has decided to leave permanently.
Okay, so use healing items instead? Good luck; money is also hard to come by, and honestly so are shops, and many of the healing items are woefully underpowered.
Grind for money? Good luck there, too! While the game has plenty of battles, virtually every enemy is a unique overworld human who only appears once, and then is dead, because you killed him. Only a handful of places have unlimited random encounters, and grinding is not especially pleasant.
The “best” way to get a reliable heal is to savescum — save the game, sleep by the campfire, and reload if you don’t like what you wake up to.
In a similar vein, there’s a part of the game where you’re forced to play Russian Roulette. You choose a party member; he and an opponent will take turns shooting themselves in the head until someone finds a loaded chamber. If your party member loses, he is dead. And you have to keep playing until you win three times, so there’s no upper limit on how many people you might lose. I couldn’t find any way to influence who won, so I just had to savescum for a good half hour until I made it through with minimal losses.
It was maddening, but also a really good idea. Games don’t often incorporate the existence of saves into the gameplay, and when they do, they usually break the fourth wall and get all meta about it. Saves are never acknowledged in-universe here (aside from the existence of save points), but surely these parts of the game were designed knowing that the best way through them is by reloading. It’s rarely done, it can easily feel unfair, and it drove me up the wall — but it was certainly painful, as intended, and I kinda love that.
(Naturally, I’m told there’s a hard mode, where you can only use each save point once.)
The game also drives home the finality of death much better than most. It’s not hard to overlook the death of a redshirt, a character with a bit part who simply doesn’t appear any more. This game permanently kills your party members. Russian Roulette isn’t even the only way you can lose them! Multiple cutscenes force you to choose between losing a life or some other drastic consequence. (Even better, you can try to fight the person forcing this choice on you, and he will decimate you.) As the game progresses, you start to encounter enemies who can simply one-shot murder your party members.
It’s such a great angle. Just like with Brad’s withdrawal, you don’t want to avoid their deaths because it’d be emotional — there are dozens of party members you can recruit (though we only found a fraction of them), and most of them you only know a paragraph about — but because it would inconvenience you personally. Chances are, you have your strongest dudes in your party at any given time, so losing one of them sucks. And with few random encounters, you can’t just grind someone else up to an appropriate level; it feels like there’s a finite amount of XP in the game, and if someone high-level dies, you’ve lost all the XP that went into them.
The battles themselves are fairly straightforward. You can attack normally or use a special move that costs MP. SP? Some kind of points.
Two things in particular stand out. One I mentioned above: the vast majority of the encounters are one-time affairs against distinct named NPCs, who you then never see again, because they are dead, because you killed them.
The other is the somewhat unusual set of status effects. The staples like poison and sleep are here, but don’t show up all that often; more frequent are statuses like weird, drunk, stink, or cool. If you do take Joy (which also cures depression), you become joyed for a short time.
The game plays with these in a few neat ways, besides just Brad’s withdrawal. Some party members have a status like stink or cool permanently. Some battles are against people who don’t want to fight at all — and so they’ll spend most of the battle crying, purely for flavor impact. Seeing that for the first time hit me pretty hard; until then we’d only seen crying as a mechanical side effect of having sand kicked in one’s face.
The game does drag on a bit. I think we poured 10 in-game hours into it, which doesn’t count time spent reloading. It doesn’t help that you walk not super fast.
My biggest problem was with getting my bearings; I’m sure we spent a lot of that time wandering around accomplishing nothing. Most of the world is focused around one of a few hub areas, and once you’ve completed one hub, you can move onto the next one. That’s fine. Trouble is, you can go any of a dozen different directions from each hub, and most of those directions will lead you to very similar-looking hills built out of the same tiny handful of tiles. The connections between places are mostly cave entrances, which also largely look the same. Combine that with needing to backtrack for puzzle or progression reasons, and it’s incredibly difficult to keep track of where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and where you need to go next.
I don’t know that the game is wrong here; the aesthetic and world layout are fantastic at conveying a desolate wasteland. I wouldn’t even be surprised if the navigation were deliberately designed this way. (On the other hand, assuming every annoyance in a despair-ridden game is deliberate might be giving it too much credit.) But damn it’s still frustrating.
I felt a little lost in the battle system, too. Towards the end of the game, Brad in particular had over a dozen skills he could use, but I still couldn’t confidently tell you which were the strongest. New skills sometimes appear in the middle of the list or cost less than previous skills, and the game doesn’t outright tell you how much damage any of them do. I know this is the “classic RPG” style, and I don’t think it was hugely inconvenient, but it feels weird to barely know how my own skills work. I think this puts me off getting into new RPGs, just generally; there’s a whole new set of things I have to learn about, and games in this style often won’t just tell me anything, so there’s this whole separate meta-puzzle to figure out before I can play the actual game effectively.
Also, the sound could use a little bit of… mastering? Some music and sound effects are significantly louder and screechier than others. Painful, you could say.
The world is full of side characters with their own stuff going on, which is also something I love seeing in games; too often, the whole world feels like an obstacle course specifically designed for you.
Also, many of those characters are, well, not great people. Really, most of the game is kinda fucked up. Consider: the weird status effect is most commonly inflicted by the “Grope” skill. It makes you feel weird, you see. Oh, and the currency is porn magazines.
And then there are the gangs, the various spins on sex clubs, the forceful drug kingpins, and the overall violence that permeates everything (you stumble upon an alarming number of corpses). The game neither condones nor condemns any of this; it simply offers some ideas of how people might behave at the end of the world. It’s certainly the grittiest interpretation I’ve seen.
I don’t usually like post-apocalypses, because they try to have these very hopeful stories, but then at the end the world is still a blighted hellscape so what was the point of any of that? I like this game much better for being a blighted hellscape throughout. The story is worth following to see where it goes, not just because you expect everything wrapped up neatly at the end.
…I realize I’ve made this game sound monumentally depressing throughout, but it manages to pack in a lot of funny moments as well, from the subtle to the overt. In retrospect, it’s actually really good at balancing the mood so it doesn’t get too depressing. If nothing else, it’s hilarious to watch this gruff, solemn, battle-scarred, middle-aged man pedal around on a kid’s bike he found.
An obvious theme of the game is despair, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder if ambiguity is a theme as well. It certainly fits the confusing geography.
Even the premise is a little ambiguous. Is/was Olathe a city, a country, a whole planet? Did the apocalypse affect only Olathe, or the whole world? Does it matter in an RPG, where the only world that exists is the one mapped out within the game?
Towards the end of the game, you catch up with Buddy, but she rejects you, apparently resentful that you kept her hidden away for her entire life. Brad presses on anyway, insisting on protecting her.
At that point I wasn’t sure I was still on Brad’s side. But he’s not wrong, either. Is he? Maybe it depends on how old Buddy is — but the game never tells us. Her sprite is a bit smaller than the men’s, but it’s hard to gauge much from small exaggerated sprites, and she might just be shorter. In the beginning of the game, she was doing kid-like drawings, but we don’t know how much time passed after that. Everyone seems to take for granted that she’s capable of bearing children, and she talks like an adult. So is she old enough to be making this decision, or young enough for parent figure Brad to overrule her? What is the appropriate age of agency, anyway, when you’re the last girl/woman left more than a decade after the end of the world?
Can you repopulate a species with only one woman, anyway?
Well, that went on a bit longer than I intended. This game has a lot of small touches that stood out to me, and they all wove together very well.
Should you play it? I have absolutely no idea.
FINAL SCORE: 1 out of 6 chambers
Surprise! There’s a third game to round out this trilogy.
Lisa: The Joyful is much shorter, maybe three hours long — enough to be played in a night rather than over the better part of a week.
This one picks up immediately after the end of Painful, with you now playing as Buddy. It takes a drastic turn early on: Buddy decides that, rather than hide from the world, she must conquer it. She sets out to murder all the big bosses and become queen.
The battle system has been inherited from the previous game, but battles are much more straightforward this time around. You can’t recruit any party members; for much of the game, it’s just you and a sword.
There is a catch! Of course.
The catch is that you do not have enough health to survive most boss battles without healing. With no party members, you cannot heal via skills. I don’t think you could buy healing items anywhere, either. You have a few when the game begins, but once you run out, that’s it.
Except… you also have… some Joy. Which restores you to full health and also makes you crit with every hit. And drops off of several enemies.
We didn’t even recognize Joy as a healing item at first, since we never used it in Painful; it’s description simply says that it makes you feel nothing, and we’d assumed the whole point of it was to stave off withdrawal, which Buddy doesn’t experience. Luckily, the game provided a hint in the form of an NPC who offers to switch on easy mode:
What’s that? Bad guys too tough? Not enough jerky? You don’t want to take Joy!? Say no more, you’ve come to the right place!
So the game is aware that it’s unfairly difficult, and it’s deliberately forcing you to take Joy, and it is in fact entirely constructed around this concept. I guess the title is a pretty good hint, too.
I don’t feel quite as strongly about Joyful as I do about Painful. (Admittedly, I was really tired and starting to doze off towards the end of Joyful.) Once you get that the gimmick is to force you to use Joy, the game basically reduces to a moderate-difficulty boss rush. Other than that, the only thing that stood out to me mechanically was that Buddy learns a skill where she lifts her shirt to inflict flustered as a status effect — kind of a lingering echo of how outrageous the previous game could be.
You do get a healthy serving of plot, which is nice and ties a few things together. I wouldn’t say it exactly wraps up the story, but it doesn’t feel like it’s missing anything either; it’s exactly as murky as you’d expect.
I think it’s worth playing Joyful if you’ve played Painful. It just didn’t have the same impact on me. It probably doesn’t help that I don’t like Buddy as a person. She seems cold, violent, and cruel. Appropriate for the world and a product of her environment, I suppose.
FINAL SCORE: 300 Mags
Finally, as something of a palate cleanser, we have MOOP: a delightful and charming little inventory game.
I don’t think “inventory game” is a real genre, but I mean the kind of game where you go around collecting items and using them in the right place. Puzzle-driven, but with “puzzles” that can largely be solved by simply trying everything everywhere. I’d put a lot of point and click adventures in the same category, despite having a radically different interface. Is that fair? Yes, because it’s my blog.
MOOP was almost certainly also made in RPG Maker, but it breaks the mold in a very different way by not being an RPG. There are no battles whatsoever, only interactions on the overworld; you progress solely via dialogue and puzzle-solving. Examining something gives you a short menu of verbs — use, talk, get — reminiscent of interactive fiction, or perhaps the graphical “adventure” games that took inspiration from interactive fiction. (God, “adventure game” is the worst phrase. Every game is an adventure! It doesn’t mean anything!)
Everything about the game is extremely chill. I love the monochrome aesthetic combined with a large screen resolution; it feels like I’m peeking into an alternate universe where the Game Boy got bigger but never gained color. I played halfway through the game before realizing that the protagonist (Moop) doesn’t have a walk animation; they simply slide around. Somehow, it works.
The puzzles are a little clever, yet low-pressure; the world is small enough that you can examine everything again if you get stuck, and there’s no way to lose or be set back. The music is lovely, too. It just feels good to wander around in a world that manages to make sepia look very pretty.
The story manages to pack a lot into a very short time. It’s… gosh, I don’t know. It has a very distinct texture to it that I’m not sure I’ve seen before. The plot weaves through several major events that each have very different moods, and it moves very quickly — but it’s well-written and doesn’t feel rushed or disjoint. It’s lighthearted, but takes itself seriously enough for me to get invested. It’s fucking witchcraft.
I think there was even a non-binary character! Just kinda nonchalantly in there. Awesome.
What a happy, charming game. Play if you would like to be happy and charmed.
FINAL SCORE: 1 waxing moon