Tag Archives: donations

Supporting Conservancy Makes a Difference

Post Syndicated from Bradley M. Kuhn original http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2017/12/31/donate-conservancy.html

Earlier this year, in
February, I wrote a blog post encouraging people to donate
to where I
work, Software Freedom Conservancy. I’ve not otherwise blogged too much
this year. It’s been a rough year for many reasons, and while I
personally and Conservancy in general have accomplished some very
important work this year, I’m reminded as always that more resources do
make things easier.

I understand the urge, given how bad the larger political crises have
gotten, to want to give to charities other than those related to software
freedom. There are important causes out there that have become more urgent
this year. Here’s three issues which have become shockingly more acute
this year:

  • making sure the USA keeps it commitment
    to immigrants to allow them make a new life here just like my own ancestors
    did,
  • assuring that the great national nature reserves are maintained and
    left pristine for generations to come,
  • assuring that we have zero tolerance abusive behavior —
    particularly by those in power against people who come to them for help and
    job opportunities.

These are just three of the many issues this year that I’ve seen get worse,
not better. I am glad that I know and support people who work on these
issues, and I urge everyone to work on these issues, too.

Nevertheless, as I plan my primary donations this year, I’m again, as I
always do, giving to the FSF and my
own employer, Software
Freedom Conservancy
. The reason is simple: software freedom is still
an essential cause and it is frankly one that most people don’t understand
(yet). I wrote almost
two years ago about the phenomenon I dubbed Kuhn’s
Paradox
. Simply put: it keeps getting more and more difficult
to avoid proprietary software in a normal day’s tasks, even while the
number of lines of code licensed freely gets larger every day.

As long as that paradox remains true, I see software freedom as urgent. I
know that we’re losing ground on so many other causes, too. But those of
you who read my blog are some of the few people in the world that
understand that software freedom is under threat and needs the urgent work
that the very few software-freedom-related organizations,
like the FSF
and Software Freedom
Conservancy
are doing. I hope you’ll donate now to both of them. For
my part, I gave $120 myself to FSF as part of the monthly Associate
Membership program, and in a few minutes, I’m going to give $400 to
Conservancy. I’ll be frank: if you work in technology in an industrialized
country, I’m quite sure you can afford that level of money, and I suspect
those amounts are less than most of you spent on technology equipment
and/or network connectivity charges this year. Make a difference for us
and give to the cause of software freedom at least as much a you’re giving
to large technology companies.

Finally, a good reason to give to smaller charities like FSF and
Conservancy is that your donation makes a bigger difference. I do think
bigger organizations, such as (to pick an example of an organization I used
to give to) my local NPR station does important work. However, I was
listening this week to my local NPR station, and they said their goal
for that day was to raise $50,000. For Conservancy, that’s closer
to a goal we have for entire fundraising season, which for this year was
$75,000. The thing is: NPR is an important part of USA society, but it’s
one that nearly everyone understands. So few people understand the threats
looming from proprietary software, and they may not understand at all until
it’s too late — when all their devices are locked down, DRM is
fully ubiquitous, and no one is allowed to tinker with the software on
their devices and learn the wonderful art of computer programming. We are
at real risk of reaching that distopia before 90% of the world’s
population understands the threat!

Thus, giving to organizations in the area of software freedom is just
going to have a bigger and more immediate impact than more general causes
that more easily connect with people. You’re giving to prevent a future
that not everyone understands yet, and making an impact on our
work to help explain the dangers to the larger population.

Join us for an evening of League of Legends

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/league-of-legends-evening/

Last month, we shared the news that Riot Games is supporting digital literacy by matching 25% of sales of Championship Ashe and Championship Ward to create a charity fund that will benefit the Raspberry Pi Foundation and two other charities.

Raspberry Pi League of Legends Championship Ashe Riot Games

Vote for the Raspberry Pi Foundation

Riot Games is now calling for all League of Legends players to vote for their favourite charity — the winning organisation will receive 50% of the total fund.

By visiting the ‘Vote for charity’ tab in-client, you’ll be able to choose between the Raspberry Pi Foundation, BasicNeeds, and Learning Equality.

Players can vote only once, and your vote will be multiplied based on your honour level. Voting ends on 5 November 2017 at 11:59pm PT.

League of Legends with Riot Gaming

In honour of the Riot Games Charity Fund vote, and to support the work of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, KimmieRiot and M0RGZ of top female eSports organisation Riot Gaming (no relation to Riot Games) will run a four-hour League of Legends live-stream this Saturday, 21 October, from 6pm to 10pm BST.

Playing as Championship Ashe, they’ll be streaming live to Twitch, and you’re all invited to join in the fun. I’ll be making an appearance in the chat box as RaspberryPiFoundation, and we’ll be giving away some free T-shirts and stickers during the event — make sure to tune in to the conversation.

In a wonderful gesture, Riot Gaming will pass on all donations made to their channel during the live-stream to us. These funds will directly aid the ongoing charitable work of Raspberry Pi and our computing education programmes like CoderDojo.

Make sure to follow Riot Gaming, and activate notifications so you don’t miss the event!

We’re blushing

Thank you to everyone who buys Championship Ashe and Championship Ward, and to all of you who vote for us. We’re honoured to be one of the three charities selected to benefit from the Riot Games Charity Fund.

And a huge thank you to Riot Gaming for organising an evening of Raspberry Pi and League of Legends. We can’t wait!

The post Join us for an evening of League of Legends appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

AWS Hot Startups – June 2017

Post Syndicated from Tina Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/aws-hot-startups-june-2017/

Thanks for stopping by for another round of AWS Hot Startups! This month we are featuring:

  • CloudRanger – helping companies understand the cloud with visual representation.
  • quintly – providing social media analytics for brands on a single dashboard.
  • Tango Card – reinventing rewards programs for businesses and their customers worldwide.

Don’t forget to check out May’s Hot Startups in case you missed them.

CloudRanger (Letterkenny, Ireland)   

The idea for CloudRanger started where most great ideas do – at a bar in Las Vegas. During a late-night conversation with his friends at re:Invent 2014, Dave Gildea (Founder and CEO) used cocktail napkins and drink coasters to visually illustrate servers and backups, and the light on his phone to represent scheduling. By the end of the night, the idea for automated visual server management was born. With CloudRanger, companies can easily create backup and retention policies, visual scheduling, and simple restoration of snapshots and AMIs. The team behind CloudRanger believes that when servers and cloud resources are represented visually, they are easier to manage and understand. Users are able to see their servers, which turns them into a tangible and important piece of business inventory.

CloudRanger is an excellent platform for MSPs who manage many different AWS accounts, and need a quick method to display many servers and audit certain attributes. The company’s goal is to give anyone the ability to create backup policies in multiple regions, apply them using a tag-based methodology, and manage backups. Servers can be scheduled from one simple dashboard, and restoration is easy and step-by-step. With CloudRanger’s visual representation of resources, customers are encouraged to fully understand their backup policies, schedules, and servers.

As an AWS Partner, CloudRanger has built a globally redundant system after going all-in with AWS. They are using over 25 AWS services for everything including enterprise-level security, automation and 24/7 runtimes, and an emphasis on Machine Learning for efficiency in the sales process. CloudRanger continues to rely more on AWS as new services and features are released, and are replacing current services with AWS CodePipeline and AWS CodeBuild. CloudRanger was also named Startup Company of the Year at a recent Irish tech event!

To learn more about CloudRanger, visit their website.

quintly (Cologne, Germany)

In 2010, brothers Alexander Peiniger and Frederik Peiniger started a journey to help companies track their social media profiles and improve their strategies against competitors. The startup began under the name “Social.Media.Tracking” and then “AllFacebook Stats” before officially becoming quintly in 2013. With quintly, brands and agencies can analyze, benchmark, and optimize their social media activities on a global scale. The innovative dashboarding system gives clients an overview across all social media profiles on the most important networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.) and then derives an optimal social media strategy from those profiles. Today, quintly has users in over 180 countries and paying clients in over 65 countries including major agency networks and Fortune 500 companies.

Getting an overview of a brand’s social media activities can be time-consuming, and turning insights into actions is a challenge that not all brands master. Quintly offers a variety of features designed to help clients improve their social media reach. With their web-based SaaS product, brands and agencies can compare their social media performance against competitors and their best practices. Not only can clients learn from their own historic performance, but they can leverage data from any other brand around the world.

Since the company’s founding, quintly built and operates its SaaS offering on top of AWS services, leveraging Amazon EC2, Amazon ECS, Elastic Load Balancing, and Amazon Route53 to host their Docker-based environment. Large amounts of data are stored in Amazon DynamoDB and Amazon RDS, and they use Amazon CloudWatch to monitor and seamlessly scale to the current needs. In addition, quintly is using Amazon Machine Learning to add additional attributes to the data and to drive better decisions for their clients. With the help of AWS, quintly has been able to focus on their core business while having a scalable and well-performing solution to solve their technical needs.

For more on quintly, check out their Social Media Analytics blog.

Tango Card (Seattle, Washington)

Based in the heart of West Seattle, Tango Card is revolutionizing rewards programs for companies around the world. Too often customers redeem points in a loyalty or rebate program only to wait weeks for their prize to arrive. Companies generously give their employees appreciation gifts, but the gifts can be generic and impersonal. With Tango Card, companies can choose from a variety of rewards that fit the needs of their specific program, event, or business incentive. The extensive Rewards Catalog includes options for e-gift cards that are sure to excite any recipient. There are plenty of options for everyone from traditional e-gift cards to nonprofit donations to cash equivalent rewards.

Tango Card uses a combination of desired rewards, modern technology, and expert service to change the rewards and incentive experience. The Reward Delivery Platform offers solutions including Blast Rewards, Reward Link, and Rewards as a Service API (RaaS). Blast Rewards enables companies to purchase and send e-gift cards in bulk in just one business day. Reward Link lets recipients choose from an assortment of e-gift cards, prepaid cards, digital checks, and donations and is delivered instantly. Finally, Rewards as a Service is a robust digital gift card API that is built to support apps and platforms. With RaaS, Tango Card can send out e-gift cards on company-branded email templates or deliver them directly within a user interface.

The entire Tango Card Reward Delivery Platform leverages many AWS services. They use Amazon EC2 Container Service (ECS) for rapid deployment of containerized micro services, and Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) for low overhead managed databases. Tango Card is also leveraging Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), AWS Key Management Service (KMS), and AWS Identity and Access Management (IMS).

To learn more about Tango Card, check out their blog!

I would also like to thank Alexander Moss-Bolanos for helping with the Hot Startups posts this year.

Thanks for reading and we’ll see you next month!

-Tina Barr

GameTale

Post Syndicated from Григор original http://www.gatchev.info/blog/?p=2060

Are you a parent to a several years old?

Do you want to teach the little kid to like books, while all she or he wants is games?

There is now a way to have both!

Sure, there are a lot of gamebooks, but they are targeted to teenagers. I will tell now of one that was written for children between three and nine years.

It is the tale of Gremmy – the little gremlin who goes to a big adventure. Who will climb The Big Mountain, or maybe will travel down The Deep River. Will venture into The Enchanted Forest, unless you would go with it inside The Dark Cave. Who will meet magical creatures and will face ingenious choices…

It is a tale you can read to your kids. Lead them through a kingdom of magic and wonder, meet them with its inhabitants and have them make their choices and see their funny and witty results. Nurture their curiosity and imagination, while also teaching them wise and important things.

The author – Nikola Raykov – is the youngest writer ever to win the most prestigious award for children’s literature in Bulgaria. The number of copies in Bulgarian that have been sold is higher than the typical for a book by Stephen King or Paulo Coelho! Since some time, it has been published also in Russian, Italian and Latvian. And now you can have the English translation.

Most gamebooks will have few illustrations, typically black-and-white ones. GameTale is full of excellent true color ones, as a book for children must be. And it provides not only entertainment, but also value.

Don’t you believe it? Take a look yourself – the entire book is available freely on the author’s website, even before it is printed – to read and play it, to download and enjoy it. Like all of its translations and the Bulgarian original. Yes, all these sales were done while the book has been available to everybody. The ability of the readers to see what they are buying has been its best advertisement.

Here is what the writer says:

“I believe it would be cruel if children weren’t able to enjoy my books because their parents could not afford them, and children’s authors should not be cruel. They should be gentle, caring and loving. The values we write about should not be just words on paper. We should be the living and breathing examples of those values, because what we write HAS to be true. Every good author will tell you that you cannot lie to your readers (or little listeners). They will catch you in a second. When you read a book, you can actually feel if the author is being honest about his or her inner self.”

“I DO believe that people are inherently good. If you have poured your heart into something, if you have tried your best, people will feel that and give you their unconditional support. There is no need to hide your work: people are not thieves! If you share, they will care, they will follow you, they will nag you about when your next book comes out, and yes, they will gladly support you because they will know that their children’s favorite author actually believes in the values he’s writing about. The same things they believe in – friendship, love and freedom!”

Nikola started a campaign on Kickstarter. Its goal is to fund the printing of 1000 copies of the book in English. And you do get for your donations things your kid will love!

Years ago, when I read this book, I felt like a kid. And now envy you a little for the joy that you will get from it. 🙂 Do give it a try. There is nothing to lose, and a lot to win!

GnuPG funding campaign

Post Syndicated from ris original https://lwn.net/Articles/724721/rss

The GnuPG Project has announced the launch of a funding campaign to further
support and improve its mail and data encryption software, GnuPG.
The 6 person development team is currently financed from a
successful campaign in early 2015, regular donations from the Linux
Foundation, Stripe, Facebook, and a few paid development projects. To
ensure long-term stability the new campaign focuses on recurring donations
and not one-time donations.

OpenHatch: Celebrating our successes and winding down as an organization

Post Syndicated from ris original https://lwn.net/Articles/722782/rss

OpenHatch is a project that has been running education events and maintaining
free learning tools to help people get involved in collaborative software
development since 2009. Now Asheesh Laroia, President of the organization,
has announced
that the organization is winding down. “OpenHatch was one part of a
broader movement around improving diversity and inclusion in free software
and software generally. As Mike [Linksvayer], Deb [Nicholson], and I wind
down this one organization, we’re heartened by those who push the movement
forward.
” Donations have been canceled and the remaining money will
be used to gracefully shut down the organization. Anything left after that
will be donated to Outreachy. OpenHatch software
and websites will be moved to static website hosting.

Growing Code Club

Post Syndicated from Philip Colligan original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/growing-code-club/

In November 2015 we announced that the Raspberry Pi Foundation was joining forces with Code Club to give more young people the opportunity to learn how to make things with computers. In the 18 months since we made that announcement, we have more than doubled the number of Code Clubs. Over 10,000 clubs are now active, in communities all over the world.

Photo of a Code Club in a classroom: six or seven children focus intently on Scratch programs and other tasks, and adults are helping and supervising in the background

Children at a Code Club in Australia

The UK is where the movement started, and there are now an amazing 5750 Code Clubs engaging over 85,000 young people in the UK each week. The rest of the world is catching up rapidly. With the help of our regional partners, there are over 4000 clubs outside the UK, and fast-growing Code Club communities in Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, France, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Ukraine. This year we have already launched new partnerships in Spain and South Korea, with more to come.

It’s fantastic to see the movement growing so quickly, and it’s all due to the amazing community of volunteers, teachers, parents, and young people who make everything possible. Thank you all!

Today, we are announcing the next stage of Code Club’s evolution. Drum roll, please…

Starting in September, we are extending Code Club to 9- to 13-year-olds.

Three girls, all concentrating, one smiling, work together at a computer at Code Club

Students at a Code Club in Brazil

Those in the know will remember that Code Club has, until now, been focused on 9- to 11-year-olds. So why the change?

Put simply: demand. There is a huge demand from young people for more opportunities to learn about computing generally, and for Code Club specifically. The first generations of Code Club graduates have moved on to more senior schools, and they’re telling us that they just don’t have the opportunities they need to learn more about digital making. We’ve decided to take up the challenge.

For the UK, this means that schools will be supported to set up Code Clubs for Years 7 and 8. Non-school venues, like libraries, will be able to offer their clubs to a wider age group.

Growing Code Club International

Code Club is a global movement, and we will be working with our regional partners to make sure that it is available to 9- to 13-year-olds in every community in the world. That includes accelerating the work to translate club materials into even more languages.

Two boys and a woman wearing a Code Club T-shirt sit and pose for the camera in a classroom

A Code Club volunteer and students in Brazil

As part of the change, we will be expanding our curriculum and free educational resources to cater for older children and more experienced coders. Like all our educational resources, the new materials will be created by qualified and experienced educators. They will be designed to help young people build a wide range of skills and competencies, including teamwork, problem-solving, and creativity.

Our first step towards supporting a wider age range is a pilot programme, launching today, with 50 secondary schools in the UK. Over the next few months, we will be working closely with them to find out the best ways to make the programme work for older kids.

Supporting Code Club

For now, you can help us spread the word. If you know a school, youth club, library, or similar venue that could host a club for young people aged 9 to 13, then encourage them to get involved.

Lastly, I want to say a massive “thank you!” to all the organisations and individuals that support Code Club financially. We care passionately about Code Club being free for every child to attend. That’s only possible because of the generous donations and grants that we receive from so many companies, foundations, and people who share our mission to put the power of digital making into the hands of people all over the world.

The post Growing Code Club appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Thunderbird to stay with Mozilla — sort of

Post Syndicated from corbet original https://lwn.net/Articles/722217/rss

The Thunderbird email client project has announced
the results of its long deliberation on its future. The project will
remain with Mozilla administratively, but will move to its own
infrastructure. “Thus, much has changed since 2015 – we were able to
establish a financial home at the Mozilla Foundation, we are successfully
collecting donations from our users, and the first steps of migrating
infrastructure have been taken. We started questioning the usefulness of
moving elsewhere, organizationally. While Mozilla wants to be laser-focused
on the success of Firefox, in recent discussions it was clear that they
continue to have a strong desire to see Thunderbird succeed. In many ways,
there is more need for independent and secure email than ever. As long as
Thunderbird doesn’t slow down the progress of Firefox, there seems to be no
significant obstacles for continued co-existence.

Processing: making art with code

Post Syndicated from Matt Richardson original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/processing-making-art-code/

This column is from The MagPi issue 56. You can download a PDF of the full issue for free, or subscribe to receive the print edition in your mailbox or the digital edition on your tablet. All proceeds from the print and digital editions help the Raspberry Pi Foundation achieve its charitable goals.

One way we achieve our mission at the Raspberry Pi Foundation is to find an intersection between someone’s passion and computing. For example, if you’re a young person interested in space, our Astro Pi programme is all about getting your code running on the International Space Station. If you like music, you can use Sonic Pi to compose songs with code. This month, I’d like to introduce you to some interesting work happening at the intersection between computing and the visual arts.

Image of Dead Presidents by Mike Brondbjerg art made with Processing

Mike Brondbjerg’s Dead Presidents uses Processing to generate portraits.

Processing is a programming language and development environment that sits perfectly at that intersection. It enables you to use code to generate still graphics, animations, or interactive applications such as games. It’s based on the Java programming language, and it runs on multiple platforms and operating systems. Thanks to the work of the Processing Foundation, and in particular the efforts of contributor Gottfried Haider, Processing runs like a champ on the Raspberry Pi.

Screenshot of Processing environment

When I want to communicate how cool Processing is while speaking to members of the Raspberry Pi community, I usually make this analogy: with Sonic Pi, you can use one line of code to make one note; with Processing, you can use one line of code to draw one stroke. Once you’ve figured that out, you can use computational tools such as loops, conditions, and variables to make some beautiful art.

And even though Processing is intended for use in the realm of visual arts, its capabilities can go beyond that. You can make applications that interact with the user through keyboard or mouse input. Processing also has libraries for working with network connections, files, and cameras. This means that you don’t just have to create artwork with Processing. You can also use it for almost anything you need to code.

Physical process

Processing is especially cool on the Raspberry Pi because there’s a library for working with the Pi’s GPIO pins. You can therefore have on-screen graphics interacting with buttons, switches, LEDs, relays, and sensors wired up to your Pi. With Processing, you could build a game that uses a custom controller that you’ve built yourself. Or you could create a piece of artwork that interacts with the user by sensing their proximity to it.

Processing screenshot

Best of all, Processing was created with learning to code in mind. It comes with lots of built-in examples, and you can use these to learn about many different programming and drawing concepts. The documentation on Processing’s website is very thorough and – as with Raspberry Pi – there’s a very supportive community around it if you run into any trouble. Additionally, the Processing development environment is powerful but also very simplified. For these reasons, it’s perfect for someone who is just getting started.

To get going with Processing on Raspberry Pi, there’s a one-line install command. You can also go to Processing.org and download pre-built Raspbian images with Processing already installed. To help you on your journey, there’s a resource for getting started with Processing. It includes a walkthrough on how to access the GPIO pins to combine physical computing and visual arts.

When you launch Processing, you will see a blank file where you can start keying in your code. Don’t let that intimidate you! All of the world’s greatest pieces of art started off as a raw slab of marble, a blob of clay, or a blank canvas. It just takes one line of code at a time to generate your own masterpiece.

Become a supporter

After this article appeared in The MagPi, the Processing Foundation put out a call for support:

We want you to be a part of this. Our work is almost entirely supported by individual one-time donations from the community. Right now we are outspending what we earn, and we have bigger plans! We want to continue all the work we’re doing and make it more accessible, more inclusive, and more responsive to the community needs.

To create lasting support for these new directions we’re starting a Membership Program. A membership is an annual donation that supports all this work and signifies your belief in it. You can do this as an individual, a studio, an educational institution, or a corporate partner. We will list your name on our members page along with all the others that help make this mission possible.

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Skillz: editing a web page

Post Syndicated from Robert Graham original http://blog.erratasec.com/2017/02/skillz-editing-web-page.html

So one of the skillz you ought to have in cybersec is messing with web-pages client-side using Chrome’s Developer Tools. Web-servers give you a bunch of HTML and JavaScript code which, once it reaches your browser, is yours to change and play with. You can do a lot with web-sites that they don’t intend by changing that code.

Let me give you an example. It’s only an example — touching briefly on steps to give you an impression what’s going on. It’s not a ground up explanation of everything, which you may find off-putting. Click on the images to expand them so you can see fully what’s going on.

Today is the American holiday called “Presidents Day”. It’s actually not a federal holiday, but a holiday in all 50 states. Originally it was just Washington’s birthday (February 22), but some states choose to honor other presidents as well, hence “Presidents Day”.
Thus of us who donated to Donald Trump’s campaign (note: I donated to all candidates campaigns back in 2015) received an email today suggesting that to honor Presidents Day, we should “sign a card” for Trump. It’s a gross dis-honoring of the Presidents the day is supposed to commemorate, but whatever, it’s the 21st century.
Okay, let’s say we want to honor the current President with a bunch of 🖕🖕🖕🖕 in order to point out his crassness of exploiting this holiday, and clicked on the URL [*], and filled it in as such (with multiple skin tones for the middle finger, just so he knows its from all of us):
Okay, now we hit the submit button “Add My Name” in order to send this to his campaign. The only problem is, the web page rejects us, telling us “Please enter a valid name” (note, I’m changing font sizes in these screen shots so you can see the message):
This is obviously client side validation of the field. It’s at this point that we go into Developer Tools in order to turn it off. One way is to [right-click] on that button, and from the popup menu, select “Inspect”, which gets you this screen (yes, the original page is squashed to the left-hand side):
We can edit the HTML right there and add the “novalidate” flag, as shown below, then hit the “Add My Name” button again:
This doesn’t work. The scripts on the webpage aren’t honoring the HTML5 “novalidate” flag. Therefore, we’ll have to go edit those scripts. We do that by clicking on the Sources tab, then press [ctrl-shift-f] to open the ‘find’ window in the sources, and type “Please enter a valid name”, and you’ll find the JavaScript source file (validation.js) where the validation function is located:
If at this point you find all these windows bewildering, then yes, you are on the right track. We typed in the search there near the bottom next to the classic search icon 🔍. Then right below that we got the search results. We clicked on the search results, then up above popped up the source file (validation.js) among all the possible source files with the line selected that contains our search term. Remember: when you pull down a single HTML page, like the one from donaldtrump.com, it can pull in a zillion JavaScript files as well.
Unlike the HTML, we can’t change the JavaScript on the fly (at least, I don’t know how to). Instead, we have to run more JavaScript. Specifically, we need to run a script that registers a new validation function. If you look in the original source, it contains a function that validates the input by making sure it matches a regular expression:
  1. jQuery.validator.addMethod(“isname”, function(value, element) {
  2.     return this.optional(element) || (/^[a-zA-Z]+[ ]+(([‘,. -][a-zA-Z ])?[a-zA-Z]*)+.?$/.test(value.trim()));
  3. }, “Please enter a valid name”);
From the console, we are going to call the addMethod function ourselves to register a different validation function for isname, specifically a validation function that always returns true, meaning the input is valid. This will override the previously registered function. As the Founders of our country say, the solution to bad JavaScript is not to censor it, but to add more JavaScript.
  1. jQuery.validator.addMethod(“isname”, function () {
  2.     return true});
We just type that in the Console as shown below (in the bottom window where Search used to be) and hit [enter]. It gives us the response “undefined”, but that’s OK. (Note: in the screenshot I misspelled it as isName, it should instead be all lowercase isname).
Now we can close Developer Tools and press the “Add My Name” button, and we get the following response:
Darn, foiled again. But at least this time, our request went to the server. It was on the server side that the request was rejected. We successfully turned off client-side checking. Had the server accepted our Unicode emoji, we would’ve reached the next step, where it asks for donations. (By the way, the entire purpose of “sign this card” is to get users to donate, nothing else).

Conclusion

So we didn’t actually succeed at doing anything here, but I thought I’d write it up anyway. Editing the web-page client-side, or mucking around with JavaScript client-side, is a skill that every cybersec professional should have. Hopefully, this is an amusing enough example that people will follow the steps to see how this is done.

Supporting Conservancy Makes a Difference

Post Syndicated from Bradley M. Kuhn original http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2017/02/13/conservancy.html

There are a lot of problems in our society, and particularly in the USA,
right now, and plenty of charities who need our support. The reason I
continue to focus my work on software freedom is simply because there are
so few focused on the moral and ethical issues of computing. Open Source
has reached its pinnacle as an industry fad, and with it, a watered-down
message: “having some of the source code for some of your systems
some of the time is so great, why would you need anything more?”.
Universal software freedom is
however further
from reality
than it was even a few years ago. At least a few of us,
in my view, must focus on that cause.

I did not post many blog posts about this in 2016. There was a reason for
that — more than any other year, work demands at Conservancy have
been constant and unrelenting. I enjoy my work, so I don’t mind, but
blogging becomes low priority when there is a constant backlog of urgent
work to support Conservancy’s mission and our member projects. It’s not
just Conservancy’s mission, of course, it’s my personal one as well.

For our 2016 fundraiser,
I wrote last
year a blog post entitled “Do You Like What I Do For a
Living?”
. Last year, so many of you responded, that it not only
made it possible for me to continue that work for one more year, but we
were able to add our colleague Brett Smith to our staff, which brought
Conservancy to four full-time staff for the first time. We added a few
member projects (and are moving that queue to add more in 2017), and sure
enough — the new work plus the backlog of work waiting for another
staffer filled Brett’s queue just like my, Karen’s and Tony’s was already
filled.

The challenge now is sustaining this staffing level. Many of you came to
our aid last year because we were on the brink of needing to reduce our
efforts (and staffing) at Conservancy. Thanks to your overwhelming
response, we not only endured, but we were able to add one additional
person. As expected, though, needs of our projects increased throughout
the year, and we again — all four of us full-time staff — must
work to our limits to meet the needs of our projects.

Charitable donations are a voluntary activity, and as such they have a
special place in our society and culture. I’ve talked a lot about how
Conservancy’s Supporters give us a mandate to carry out our work. Those of
you that chose to renew your Supporter donations or become new Supporters
enable us to focus our full-time efforts on the work of Conservancy.

On the signup and renewal
page
, you can read about some of our accomplishments in the last year
(including my
recent keynote at FOSDEM
, an excerpt of which is included here). Our
work does not follow fads, and it’s not particularly glamorous, so only
dedicated Supporters like you understand its value. We don’t expect to
get large grants to meet the unique needs of each of our member projects,
and we certainly don’t expect large companies to provide very much
funding unless we cede control of the organization to their requests (as
trade associations do). Even our most popular program, Outreachy, is
attacked by a small group of people who don’t want to see the status quo
of privileged male domination of Open Source and Free Software
disrupted.

Supporter contributions are what make Conservancy possible. A year ago,
you helped us build Conservancy as a donor-funded organization and
stabilize our funding base. I now must ask that you make an annual
commitment to renewal — either
by renewing your contribution
now
or becoming
a monthly supporter
, or, if you’re just learning about my work at
Conservancy from this blog
post, reading up
on us
and becoming a new
Supporter
.

Years ago, when I was still only a part-time volunteer at Conservancy,
someone who disliked our work told me that I had “invented a job of
running Conservancy”. He meant it as an insult, but I take it as a
compliment with pride. In fact, between me and my colleague (and our
Executive Director) Karen Sandler, we’ve “invented” a total of
four full-time jobs and one part-time one to advance software freedom. You
helped us do that with your donations. If you donate again today, your
donation will be matched to make the funds go further.

Many have told me this year that they are driven to give to other
excellent charities that fight racism, work for civil and immigration
rights, and other causes that seem particularly urgent right now. As long
as there is racism, sexism, murder, starvation, and governmental oppression
in the world, I cannot argue that software freedom should be made a
priority above all of those issues. However, even if everyone in our
society focused on a single, solitary cause that we agreed was the top
priority, it’s unlikely we could make quicker progress. Meanwhile, if we
all single-mindedly ignore less urgent issues, they will, in time, become so
urgent they’ll be insurmountable by the time we focus on them.

Industrialized nations have moved almost fully to computer automation for
most every daily task. If you question this fact, try to do your job for a
day without using any software at all, or anyone using software on your
behalf, and you’ll probably find it impossible. Then, try to do your job
using only Free Software for a day, and you’ll find, as I have, that tasks
that should take only a few minutes take hours when you avoid proprietary
software, and some are just impossible. There are very few organizations
that are considering the long-term implications of this slowly growing
problem and making plans to build the foundations of a society that doesn’t
have that problem. Conservancy is one of those few, so I hope you’ll
realize that long-term value of our lifelong work to defend and expand
software freedom and donate.

Computer Aid Connect: taking the internet to remote areas

Post Syndicated from Lucy Hattersley original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/computer-aid-connect/

Computer Aid is aiming to bring offline access to educational websites to areas with limited internet access. Right now, it’s turning recycled Raspberry Pi boards into portable internet hotspots.

“It’s for offline students and teachers across the world,” said Nicola Gampell, E-Learning and Marketing Officer for Computer Aid International.

As a result, Connect will “bring them a local internet full of educational resources, ranging from scientific simulations to Wikipedia articles,” Nicola told us.

An internet for all, anywhere. Computer Aid Connect

Computer Aid’s ‘Connect’ device provides offline classrooms with a wealth of educational resources.

Computer Aid: recycling Raspberry Pis into remote routers

Inside the Connect is software based on RACHEL-Pi by World Possible.

“All too often we’re reminded of this reality,” wrote Jeremy Schwartz, Executive Director of World Possible. “There are places where young people aren’t given the resources they need to learn. For many, the internet has become a small equalising force, but for more, that equaliser does not exist.”

“In 2017, we’re going to test RACHEL against as many different use cases as we can,” said Jeremy. “We’ll be formalising our own testing through our social entrepreneurs, and intimately supporting a narrower group of other organisations”.

As a result, Computer Aid “currently has twenty units about to arrive at a project in Ethiopia and one in Mauritania,” said Nicola. “So hopefully we’ll be getting to see it in action soon.”

Computer Aid Connect

The Computer Aid Connect turns a Raspberry Pi into a router pre-packed with many websites

“The Raspberry Pi is a key component of the device, especially due to its low power usage and low cost,” said Nicola.

Also inside is a “UPS PIco Uninterruptible Power Supply,” said Nicola. As a result, Connect is “sustainable and stable during power outages.”

The Raspberry Pi is placed alongside a 64GB SD card and a Wireless N150 High-Power USB Adapter.

“The version of the Raspberry Pi changes between the Model 2 and the old A,” she explains. After all, “we receive donations of old Raspberry Pi devices.”

Visit the Computer Aid website if you’d like to donate a Raspberry Pi board to the project.

The post Computer Aid Connect: taking the internet to remote areas appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Another lesson in confirmation bias

Post Syndicated from Robert Graham original http://blog.erratasec.com/2016/08/another-lesson-in-confirmation-bias.html

The biggest problem with hacker attribution is the confirmation bias problem. Once you develop a theory, your mind shifts to distorting evidence trying to prove the theory. After a while, only your theory seems possible as one that can fit all your carefully selected evidence.

You can watch this happen in two recent blogposts [1] [2] by Krypt3ia attributing bitcoin payments to the Shadow Broker hackers as coming from the government (FBI, NSA, TAO). These posts are absolutely wrong. Nonetheless, the press has picked up on the story and run with it [*]. [Note: click on the pictures in this post to blow them up so you can see them better].

The Shadow Brokers published their bitcoin address (19BY2XCgbDe6WtTVbTyzM9eR3LYr6VitWK) asking for donations to release the rest of their tools. They’ve received 66 transactions so far, totally 1.78 bitcoin, or roughly $1000 at today’s exchange rate.

Bitcoin is not anonymous by pseudonymous. Bitcoin is a public ledger with all transaction visible by everyone. Sometimes we can’t tie addresses back to people, but sometimes we can. There are a lot of researchers who spent a lot of time on “taint anlysis” trying to track down the real identity of evildoers. Thus, it seems plausible that we might be able to discover the identities of those people making contributions to Shadow Brokers.

The first of Krypt3ia’s errant blogposts tries to use the Bitcoin taint analysis plugin within Maltego in order to do some analysis on the Shadow Broker address. What he found was links to the Silk Road address — the address controlled by the FBI since they took down that darknet marketplace several years ago. Therefore, he created the theory that the government (FBI? NSA? TAO?) was up to some evil tricks, such as trying to fill the account with money so that they could then track where the money went in the public blockchain.

But he misinterpreted the links. (He was wrong.) There were no payments from the Silk Road accounts to the Shadow Broker account. Instead, there were people making payments to both accounts. As a prank.

To demonstrate how this prank wors, I made my own transaction, where I pay money to the Shadow Brokers (19BY2…), to Silk Road (1F1A…), and to a few other well-known accounts controlled by the government.

The point here is that anybody can do these shenanigans. That government controlled addresses are involved means nothing. They are public, and anybody can send coin to them.

That blogpost points to yet more shenanigans, such as somebody “rick rolling”, to confirm that TAO hackers were involved. What you see in the picture below is a series of transactions using bitcoin addresses containing the phrase “never gonna give you up“, the title of Rich Astley’s song (I underlined the words in red).

Far from the government being involved, somebody else took credit for the hack, with the Twitter handle @MalwareTechBlog. In a blogpost [*], he describes what he did. He then proves his identity by signing a message at the bottom of his post, using the same key (the 1never…. key above) in his tricks. Below is a screenshot of how I verified (and how anybody can verify) the key.

Moreover, these pranks should be seen in context. Goofball shenanigans on the blockchain are really, really common. An example is the following transaction:

Notice the vanity bitcoin address transfering money to the Silk Road account. There is also a “Public Note” on this transaction, a feature unique to BlockChain.info — which recently removed the feature because it was so extensively abused.

Bitcoin also has a feature where 40 bytes of a message can be added to transactions. The first transaction sending bitcoins to both Shadow Brokers and Silk Road was this one. If you tell it to “show scripts”, you see that it contains an email address for Cryptome, the biggest and oldest Internet leaks site (albeit not as notorious as Wikileaks).

The point is this: shenanigans and pranks are common on the Internet. What we see with Shadow Brokers is normal trickery. If you are unfamiliar with Bitcoin culture, it may look like some extra special trickery just for Shadow Brokers, but it isn’t.

After much criticism why his first blogpost was wrong, Krypt3ia published a second. The point of the second was to lambaste his critics — just because he jotted down some idle thoughts in a post doesn’t make him responsible for journalists like ZDnet picking up as a story that’s now suddenly being passed around.

But his continues with the claim that there is somehow evidence of government involvement, even though his original claim of payments from Silk Road were wrong. As he says:

However, my contention still stands that there be some fuckery going on here with those wallet transactions by the looks of it and that the likely candidate would be the government

Krypt3ia goes onto then claim, about the Rick Astley trick:

So yeah, these accounts as far as I can tell so far without going and spending way to many fucking hours on bitcoin.ifo or some such site, were created to purposely rick roll and fuck with the ShadowBrokers. Now, they may be fractions of bitcoins but I ask you, who the fuck has bitcoin money to burn here? Any of you out there? I certainly don’t and the way it was done, so tongue in cheek kinda reminds me of the audacity of TAO…

Who has bitcoin money to burn? The answer is everyone. Krypt3ia obvious isn’t paying attention to the value of bitcoin here, which are pennies. Each transaction of 0.0001337 bitcoins is worth about 10 cents at current exchange rates, meaning this Rick Roll was less than $1. It takes minutes to open an account (like at Circle.com) and use your credit card (or debit card) to $1 worth of bitcoin and carry out this prank.

He goes on to say:

If you also look at the wallets that I have marked with the super cool “Invisible Man” logo, you can see how some of those were actually transfering money from wallet to wallet in sequence to then each post transactions to Shadow. Now what is that all about huh? More wallets acting together? As Velma would often say in Scooby Doo, JINKY’S! Something is going on there.

Well, no, it’s normal bitcoin transactions. (I’ve made this mistake too — learned about it, then forgot about it, then had to relearn about it). A Bitcoin transaction needs to consume all the previous transactions that it refers to. This invariably leaves some bitcoin left over, so has to be transferred back into the user’s wallet. Thus, on my hijinx at the top of this post, you see the address 1HFWw… receives most of the bitcoin. That was a newly created by my wallet back in 2014 to receive the unspent portions of transactions. While it looks strange, it’s perfectly normal.

It’s easy to point out that Krypt3ia just doesn’t understand much about bitcoin, and is getting excited by Maltego output he doesn’t understand.

But the real issue is confirmation bias. He’s developed a theory, and searches for confirmation of that theory. He says “there are connections that cannot be discounted”, when in fact all the connections can easily be discounted with more research, with more knowledge. When he gets attacked, he’s becomes even more motivated to search for reasons why he’s actually right. He’s not motivated to be proven wrong.

And this is the case of most “attribution” in the cybersec issue. We don’t have smoking guns (such as bitcoin coming from the Silk Road account), and must make do with flimsy data (like here, bitcoin going to the Silk Road account). Sometimes our intuition is right, and this flimsy data does indeed point us to the hacker. In other cases, it leads us astray, as I’ve documented before in this blog. The less we understand something, the more it confirms our theory rather than conforming we just don’t understand. That “we just don’t know” is rarely an acceptable answer.

I point this out because I’m always the skeptic when the government attributes attacks to North Korea, China, Russia, Iran, and so on. I’ve seen them be right sometimes, and I’ve seem them be absolutely wrong. And when they are wrong, it’s easy figuring out why — because of things like confirmation bias.

Maltego plugin showing my Bitcoin hijinx transaction from above

Creating vanity addresses, for rickrolling or other reasons

Second Round of systemd.conf 2015 Sponsors

Post Syndicated from Lennart Poettering original http://0pointer.net/blog/second-round-of-systemdconf-2015-sponsors.html

Second Round of systemd.conf 2015 Sponsors

We are happy to announce the second round of systemd.conf
2015
sponsors! In addition to those from
the first
announcement
, we have:

Our second Gold sponsor is Red Hat!

What began as a better way to build software—openness, transparency, collaboration—soon shifted the balance of power in an entire industry. The revolution of choice continues. Today Red Hat® is the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, using a community-powered approach to provide reliable and high-performing cloud, virtualization, storage, Linux®, and middleware technologies.

A Bronze sponsor is Samsung:

From the beginning we have established a very fast pace and are currently one of the biggest and fastest growing modern-technology R&D centers in East-Central Europe.
We have started with designing subsystems for digital satellite television, however, we have quickly expanded the scope of our interest. Currently, it includes advanced systems of digital television, platform convergence, mobile systems, smart solutions, and enterprise solutions.
Also a vital role in our activity plays the quality and certification center, which controls the conformity of Samsung Electronics products with the highest standards of quality and reliability.

A Bronze sponsor is travelping:

Travelping is passionate about networks, communications and devices. We empower our customers to deploy and operate networks using our state of the art products, solutions and services.
Our products and solutions are based on our industry proven physical and virtual appliance platforms. These purpose built platforms ensure best in class performance, scalability and reliability combined with consistent end to end management capabilities.
To build this products, Travelping has developed a own embedded, cross platform Linux distribution called CAROS.io which incorporates the systemd service manager and tools.

A Bronze sponsor is Collabora:

Collabora has over 10 years of experience working with top tier OEMs & silicon manufacturers worldwide to develop products based on Open Source software. Through the use of Open Source technologies and methodologies, Collabora helps clients in multiple market segments gain faster time to market and save millions of dollars in licensing and maintenance costs. Collabora has already brought to market several products relying on systemd extensively.

A Bronze sponsor is Endocode:

Endocode AG. An employee-owned, software engineering company from Berlin. Open Source is our heart and soul.

A Bronze sponsor is the Linux Foundation:

The Linux Foundation advances the growth of Linux and offers its collaborative principles and practices to any endeavor.

We are Cooperating with LinuxTag e.V. on the organization:

LinuxTag is Europe’s leading organizer of Linux and Open Source events. Born of the community and in business for 20 years, we organize LinuxTag, an annual conference and exhibition attracting thousands of visitors. We also participate and cooperate in organizing workshops, tutorials, seminars, and other events together with and for the Open Source community. Selected events include non-profit workshops, the German Kernel Summit at FrOSCon, participation in the Open Tech Summit, and others. We take care of the organizational framework of systemd.conf 2015. LinuxTag e.V. is a non-profit organization and welcomes donations of ideas and workforce.

A Media Partner is Golem:

Golem.de is an up to date online-publication intended for professional computer users. It provides technology insights of the IT and telecommunications industry. Golem.de offers profound and up to date information on significant and trending topics. Online- and IT-Professionals, marketing managers, purchasers, and readers inspired by technology receive substantial information on product, market and branding potentials through tests, interviews und market analysis.

We’d like to thank our sponsors for their support! Without sponsors our conference would not be possible!

The Conference s SOLD OUT since a few weeks. We no longer accept registrations, nor paper submissions.

For further details about systemd.conf consult the conference website.

See the the first round of sponsor announcements!

See you in Berlin!

A bit more on firearms in the US

Post Syndicated from Michal Zalewski original http://lcamtuf.blogspot.com/2015/06/a-bit-more-on-firearms-in-us.html

This is the fifth article in a short series about Poland, Europe, and the United States. To explore the entire series, start here.

Perhaps not surprisingly, my previous blog post sparked several interesting discussions with my Polish friends who took a more decisive view of the social costs of firearm ownership, or who saw the Second Amendment as a barbaric construct with no place in today’s world. Their opinions reminded me of my own attitude some ten years ago; in this brief follow-up, I wanted to share several data points that convinced me to take a more measured stance.

Let’s start with the basics: most estimates place the number of guns in the United States at 300 to 350 million – that’s roughly one firearm per every single resident. In Gallup polls, some 40-50% of all households report having a gun, frequently more than one. The demographics of firearm ownership are more uniform than stereotypes may imply; there is some variance across regions, political affiliations, and genders – but for most part, it tends to fall within fairly narrow bands.

An overwhelming majority of gun owners cite personal safety as the leading motive for purchasing a firearm; hunting and recreation activities come strong second. The defensive aspect of firearm ownership is of special note, because it can potentially provide a very compelling argument for protecting the right to bear arms even if it’s a socially unwelcome practice, or if it comes at an elevated cost to the nation as a whole.

The self-defense argument is sometimes dismissed as pure fantasy, with many eminent pundits citing one questionable statistic to support this view: the fairly low number of justifiable homicides in the country. Despite its strong appeal to ideologues, the metric does not stand up to scrutiny: all available data implies that most encounters where a gun is pulled by a would-be victim will not end with the assailant getting killed; it’s overwhelmingly more likely that the bad guy would hastily retreat, be detained at gunpoint, or suffer non-fatal injuries. In fact, even in the unlikely case that a firearm is actually discharged with the intent to kill or maim, somewhere around 70-80% of victims survive.

In reality, we have no single, elegant, and reliable source of data about the frequency with which firearms are used to deter threats; the results of scientific polls probably offer the most comprehensive view, but are open to interpretation and their results vary significantly depending on sampling methods and questions asked. That said, a recent meta-analysis from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided some general bounds:


“Defensive use of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence, although the exact number remains disputed (Cook and Ludwig, 1996; Kleck, 2001a). Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million.”

An earlier but probably similarly unbiased estimate from US Dept of Justice puts the number at approximately 1.5 million uses a year.

The CDC study also goes on to say:


“A different issue is whether defensive uses of guns, however numerous or rare they may be, are effective in preventing injury to the gun-wielding crime victim. Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was “used” by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.”

An argument can be made that the availability of firearms translates to higher rates of violent crime, thus elevating the likelihood of encounters where a defensive firearm would be useful – feeding into an endless cycle of escalating violence. That said, such an effect does not seem to be particularly evident. For example, the United States comes out reasonably well in statistics related to assault, rape, and robbery; on these fronts, America looks less violent than the UK or a bunch of other OECD countries with low firearm ownership rates.

But there is an exception: one area where the United States clearly falls behind other highly developed nations are homicides. The per-capita figures are almost three times as high as in much of the European Union. And indeed, the bulk of intentional homicides – some 11 thousand deaths a year – trace back to firearms.

We tend to instinctively draw a connection to guns, but the origins of this tragic situation may be more elusive than they appear. For one, non-gun-related homicides happen in the US at a higher rate than in many other countries, too; Americans just seem to be generally more keen on killing each other than people in places such as Europe, Australia, or Canada. In addition, no convincing pattern emerges when comparing overall homicide rates across states with permissive and restrictive gun ownership laws. Some of the lowest per-capita homicide figures can be found in extremely gun-friendly states such as Idaho, Utah, or Vermont; whereas highly-regulated Washington D.C., Maryland, Illinois, and California all rank pretty high. There is, however, fairly strong correlation between gun and non-gun homicide rates across the country – suggesting that common factors such as population density, urban poverty, and drug-related gang activities play a far more significant role in violent crime than the ease of legally acquiring a firearm. It’s tragic but worth noting that a strikingly disproportionate percentage of homicides involves both victims and perpetrators that belong to socially disadvantaged and impoverished minorities. Another striking pattern is that up to about a half of all gun murders are related to or committed under the influence of illicit drugs.

Now, international comparisons show general correlation between gun ownership and some types of crime, but it’s difficult to draw solid conclusions from that: there are countless other ways to explain why crime rates may be low in the wealthy European states, and high in Venezuela, Mexico, Honduras, or South Africa; compensating for these factors is theoretically possible, but requires making far-fetched assumptions that are hopelessly vulnerable to researcher bias. Comparing European countries is easier, but yields inconclusive results: gun ownership in Poland is almost twenty times lower than in neighboring Germany and ten times lower than in Czech Republic – but you certainly wouldn’t able to tell that from national crime stats.

When it comes to gun control, one CDC study on the topic concluded with:


“The Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes.”

This does not imply that such approaches are necessarily ineffective; for example, it seems pretty reasonable to assume that well-designed background checks or modest waiting periods do save lives. Similarly, safe storage requirements would likely prevent dozens of child deaths every year, at the cost of rendering firearms less available for home defense. But for the hundreds of sometimes far-fetched gun control proposals introduced every year on federal and state level, emotions often take place of real data, poisoning the debate around gun laws and ultimately bringing little or no public benefit. The heated assault weapon debate is one such red herring: although modern semi-automatic rifles look sinister, they are far more common in movies than on the streets; in reality, all kinds of rifles account only for somewhere around 4% of firearm homicides, and AR-15s are only a tiny fraction of that – likely claiming about as many lives as hammers, ladders, or swimming pools. The efforts to close the “gun show loophole” seem fairly sensible at the surface, too, but are of similarly uncertain merit; instead of gun shows, criminals depend on friends, family, and on more than 200,000 guns that stolen from their rightful owners every year. When breaking into a random home yields a 40-50% chance of scoring a firearm, it’s not hard to see why.

Another oddball example of simplistic legislative zeal are the attempts to mandate costly gun owner liability insurance, based on drawing an impassioned but flawed parallel between firearms and cars; what undermines this argument is that car accidents are commonplace, while gun handling mishaps – especially ones that injure others – are rare. We also have proposals to institute $100 ammunition purchase permits, to prohibit ammo sales over the Internet, or to impose a hefty per-bullet tax. Many critics feel that such laws seem to be geared not toward addressing any specific dangers, but toward making firearms more expensive and burdensome to own – slowly eroding the constitutional rights of the less wealthy folks. They also see hypocrisy in the common practice of making retired police officers and many high-ranking government officials exempt from said laws.

Regardless of individual merits of the regulations, it’s certainly true that with countless pieces of sometimes obtuse and poorly-written federal, state, and municipal statutes introduced every year, it’s increasingly easy for people to unintentionally run afoul of the rules. In California, the law as written today implies that any legal permanent resident in good standing can own a gun, but that only US citizens can transport it by car. Given that Californians are also generally barred from carrying firearms on foot in many populated areas, non-citizen residents are seemingly expected to teleport between the gun store, their home, and the shooting range. With many laws hastily drafted in the days after mass shootings and other tragedies, such gems are commonplace. The federal Gun-Free School Zones Act imposes special restrictions on gun ownership within 1,000 feet of a school and slaps harsh penalties for as little carrying it in an unlocked container from one’s home to a car parked in the driveway. In many urban areas, a lot of people either live within such a school zone or can’t conceivably avoid it when going about their business; GFSZA violations are almost certainly common and are policed only selectively.

Meanwhile, with sharp declines in crime continuing for the past 20 years, the public opinion is increasingly in favor of broad, reasonably policed gun ownership; for example, more than 70% respondents to one Gallup poll are against the restrictive handgun bans of the sort attempted in Chicago, San Francisco, or Washington D.C.; and in a recent Rasmussen poll, only 22% say that they would feel safer in a neighborhood where people are not allowed to keep guns. In fact, responding to the media’s undue obsession with random of acts of violence against law-abiding citizens, and worried about the historically very anti-gun views of the sitting president, Americans are buying a lot more firearms than ever before. Even the National Rifle Association – a staunchly conservative organization vilified by gun control advocates and mainstream pundits – enjoys a pretty reasonable approval rating across many demographics: 58% overall and 78% in households with a gun.

And here’s the kicker: despite its reputation for being a political arm of firearm manufacturers, the NRA is funded largely through individual memberships, small-scale donations, and purchase round-ups; organizational donations add up to about 5% of their budget – and if you throw in advertising income, the total still stays under 15%. That makes it quite unlike most of the other large-scale lobbying groups that Democrats aren’t as keen on naming-and-shaming on the campaign trail. The NRA’s financial muscle is also frequently overstated; it doesn’t even make it onto the list of top 100 lobbyists in Washington – and gun control advocacy groups, backed by activist billionaires such as Michael Bloomberg, now frequently outspend the pro-gun crowd. Of course, it would be better for the association’s socially conservative and unnecessarily polarizing rhetoric – sometimes veering onto the topics of abortion or video games – to be offset by the voice of other, more liberal groups. But ironically, organizations such as American Civil Liberties Union – well-known for fearlessly defending controversial speech – prefer to avoid the Second Amendment; they do so not because the latter concept has lesser constitutional standing, but because supporting it would not sit well with their own, progressive support base.

America’s attitude toward guns is a choice, not a necessity. It is also true that gun violence is a devastating problem; and that the emotional horror and lasting social impact of incidents such as school shootings can’t be possibly captured in any cold, dry statistic alone. But there is also nuance and reason to the gun control debate that can be hard to see for newcomers from more firearm-averse parts of the world.

For the next article in the series, click here. Alternatively, if you prefer to keep reading about firearms, go here for an overview of the gun control debate in the US.