‘Linux IP Stacks Commentary’ Book Tries Free Online Updates

Recently the authors of Elements of Publishing shared an update. “After ten years in print, our publisher decided against further printings and has reverted the rights to us. We are publishing Elements of Programming in two forms: a free PDF and a no-markup paperback.”

And that’s not the only old book that’s getting a new life on the web…

22 years ago, long-time Slashdot reader Stephen T. Satchell (satch89450) co-authored Linux IP Stacks Commentary, a book commenting the TCP/IP code in Linux kernel 2.0.34. (“Old-timers will remember the Lion’s Unix Commentary, the book published by University xerographic copies on the sly. Same sort of thing.”) But the print edition struggled to update as frequently as the Linux kernel itself, and Satchell wrote a Slashdot post exploring ways to fund a possible update.

At the time Slashdot’s editors noted that “One of the largest complaints about Linux is that there is a lack of high-profile documentation. It would be sad if this publication were not made simply because of the lack of funds (which some people would see as a lack of interest) necessary to complete it.” But that’s how things seemed to end up — until Satchell suddenly reappeared to share this update from 2022:
When I was released from my last job, I tried retirement. Wasn’t for me. I started going crazy with nothing significant to do. So, going through old hard drives (that’s another story), I found the original manuscript files, plus the page proof files, for that two-decade-old book. Aha! Maybe it’s time for an update. But how to keep it fresh, as Torvalds continues to release new updates of the Linux kernel?

Publish it on the Web. Carefully.

After four months (and three job interviews) I have the beginnings of the second edition up and available for reading. At the moment it’s an updated, corrected, and expanded version of the “gray matter”, the exposition portions of the first edition….

The URL for the alpha-beta version of this Web book is satchell.net/ipstacks for your reading pleasure. The companion e-mail address is up and running for you to provide feedback. There is no paywall.

But there’s also an ingenious solution to the problem of updating the text as the code of the kernel keeps changing:

Thanks to the work of Professor Donald Knuth (thank you!) on his WEB and CWEB programming languages, I have made modifications, to devise a method for integrating code from the GIT repository of the Linux kernel without making any modifications (let alone submissions) to said kernel code. The proposed method is described in the About section of the Web book. I have scaffolded the process and it works. But that’s not the hard part.

The hard part is to write the commentary itself, and crib some kind of Markup language to make the commentary publishing quality. The programs I write will integrate the kernel code with the commentary verbiage into a set of Web pages. Or two slightly different sets of web pages, if I want to support a mobile-friendly version of the commentary.

Another reason for making it a web book is that I can write it and publish it as it comes out of my virtual typewriter. No hard deadlines. No waiting for the printers. And while this can save trees, that’s not my intent. The back-of-the-napkin schedule calls for me to to finish the expository text in September, start the Python coding for generating commentary pages at the same time, and start the writing the commentary on the Internet Control Message Protocol in October. By then, Linus should have version 6.0.0 of the Linux kernel released.

I really, really, really don’t want to charge readers to view the web book. Especially as it’s still in the virtual typewriter. There isn’t any commentary (yet). One thing I have done is to make it as mobile-friendly as I can, because I suspect the target audience will want to read this on a smartphone or tablet, and not be forced to resort to a large-screen laptop or desktop. Also, the graphics are lightweight to minimize the cost for people who pay by the kilopacket. (Does anywhere in the world still do this? Inquiring minds want to know.)

I host this web site on a Protectli appliance in my apartment, so I don’t have that continuing expense. The power draw is around 20 watts. My network connection is AT&T fiber — and if it becomes popular I can always upgrade the upstream speed.

The thing is, the cat needs his kibble. I still want to know if there is a source of funding available.

Also, is it worthwhile to make the pages available in a zip file? Then a reader could download a snapshot of the book, and read it off-line.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Japan To Allow Visa-Free Travel After 2 1/2 Years of Mostly Closed Borders

Japan will allow visa-free, independent tourism and abolish a daily arrival cap as of Oct. 11, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Thursday, marking a major policy shift after nearly 2 1/2 years of strict COVID-19 restrictions. The government will also launch a nationwide travel discount program, which had been shelved due to the spread of COVID-19 infections. The Japan Times reports: Kishida made the long-awaited announcement during his visit to New York for the U.N. General Assembly. “I hope many people will utilize it,” Kishida said at a news conference. “I want to support the travel, entertainment and other industries that have been struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.” Japan has been allowing tourists since June, starting with people on guided tours. On Sept. 7, the government allowed those on nonguided tours who had booked their flights and hotels through registered travel agencies. But those measures have been unpopular with many foreign tourists who want greater freedom during their trips.

Tourists will need to be vaccinated three times or submit a negative COVID-19 test result ahead of their trip, Kyodo News reported, citing government sources. A nationwide domestic travel program offering discounts for travel, entry to theme parks, and for sporting events and concerts is also set to start on Oct. 11. People who have been vaccinated three times or submit a negative test result will be eligible for the discounts, according to the report. The program offers financial assistance of up to $77 per person for a one-night stay. The moves will be welcomed by the nation’s tourism sector, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. “In 2019, a record 31.88 million foreign travelers visited Japan, but the figure plummeted to about 250,000 in 2021 due to the closed borders,” notes the report. “The daily arrival cap has been raised gradually over the past six months, first to 5,000 on March 1 and eventually to the current 50,000.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

23-Year-Old ‘Crypto King’ Has Luxury Cars Seized After $35 Million of Investor Money Vanishes

Five luxury cars, including two BMWs, two McLarens, and a Lamborghini, have been seized from 23-year-old Aiden Pleterski, the self-described “crypto king” of Canada, during bankruptcy proceedings according to a new report from the CBC. But those cars are only worth a fraction of the $35 million that Pleterski allegedly took from investors who thought he’d make them rich in the cryptocurrency market, and it’s not clear whether they’ll ever see their money again. Gizmodo reports: Pleterski and his company AP Private Equity Limited are facing at least two civil lawsuits after 140 people have come forward to say they invested a combined $35 million with Pleterski. Those people believed they were investing in cryptocurrency, and Pleterski’s online presence — including photos of the 23-year-old on private jets and next to luxury cars– helped create the image that he knew what he was doing.

Pleterski’s YouTube channel and Instagram account have been deleted but it appears he purchased articles on websites like Forbes.mc (the top level domain for Monaco) and the far-right news outlet Daily Caller to get his name associated with success in crypto investment. The Daily Caller article from December 2021 includes a photo of Pleterski looking at his phone in what appears to be a private jet. Notably, December 2021 was a time when cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum were trading near all-time highs. The headline reads, “Aiden Pleterski: Meet the Young Canadian Investor Who Is Taking the World of Crypto By Storm.”

The question remains whether Pleterski actually invested any of the money in crypto to begin with, and speaks to just how strange the crypto market has been over the past year. For all anyone knows, Pleterski may have actually invested the money and lost it like so many others since the peak of November 2021. Bitcoin is down 56% since its price a year ago, while ethereum is down 57%. Pleterski insists he invested the money but that he’s just bad with record-keeping. But some investors suspect Pleterski didn’t even bother investing the money, instead pocketing it for himself, according to people who spoke with the CBC. Investors are trying to get their money back through the bankruptcy court and two civil lawsuits, but criminal charges haven’t been pursued, even though some have reported their incidents to Toronto police, according to the CBC.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Wants To Take On Dolby With New Open Media Formats

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Protocol: Google is gunning for Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision: The company is looking to introduce two new media formats to offer HDR video and 3D audio under a new consumer-recognizable brand without the licensing fees hardware manufacturers currently have to pay Dolby. Google shared plans for the media formats, which are internally known as Project Caviar, at a closed-door event with hardware manufacturers earlier this year. In a video of the presentation that was leaked to Protocol, group product manager Roshan Baliga describes the goal of the project as building “a healthier, broader ecosystem” for premium media experiences. The company’s primary focus for Project Caviar is YouTube, which does not currently support Dolby Atmos or Dolby Vision. However, Google also aims to bring other industry players on board, including device manufacturers and service providers. This makes Project Caviar one of Google’s most ambitious pushes for open media formats since the company began working on royalty-free video codecs over a decade ago.

Google’s open media efforts have until now primarily focused on the development of codecs. The company acquired video codec maker On2 in 2009 to open source some of its technology; it has also played a significant role in the foundation of the Alliance for Open Media, an industry consortium that is overseeing the royalty-free AV1 video codec. Project Caviar is different from those efforts in that it is not another codec. Instead, the project focuses on 3D audio and HDR video formats that make use of existing codecs but allow for more rich and immersive media playback experiences, much like Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision do. Baliga didn’t mention Dolby by name during his presentation, but he still made it abundantly clear that the company was looking to establish alternatives to the Atmos and Vision formats. “We realized that there are premium media experiences where there aren’t any great royalty-free solutions,” he said, adding that the licensing costs for premium HDR video and 3D audio “can hurt manufacturers and consumers.”

Dolby makes most of its money through licensing fees from hardware manufacturers. The company charges TV manufacturers $2 to $3 to license Dolby Vision, according to its Cloud Media Solutions SVP Giles Baker. Dolby hasn’t publicly disclosed licensing fees for Atmos; it charges consumers who want to add immersive audio to their Xbox consoles $15 per license, but the fee hardware manufacturers have to pay is said to be significantly lower. Still, in an industry that long has struggled with razor-thin margins, every extra dollar matters. That’s especially true because Dolby already charges virtually all device makers a licensing fee for its legacy audio codecs. A manufacturer of streaming boxes that wholesale for $50 has to pay around $2 per unit for Dolby Vision and Dolby Digital, according to a document an industry insider shared with Protocol. “For lower-cost living room devices, the cost may be prohibitive,” Baliga said during his presentation.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ask.FM Database With 350 Million User Records Allegedly Sold Online

A listing on a popular hacker forum offers 350 million Ask.FM user records for sale in what might be one of the biggest breaches of all time. Cybernews reports: The listing allegedly includes 350 million Ask.FM user records, with the threat actor also offering 607 repositories plus their Gitlab, Jira, and Confluence databases. Ask.FM is a question and answer network launched in June 2010, with over 215 million registered users. The posting also includes a list of repositories, sample git, and sample user data, as well as mentions of the fields in the database: user_id, username, mail, hash, salt, fbid, twitterid, vkid, fbuid, iguid. It appears that Ask.FM is using the weak hashing algorithm SHA1 for passwords, putting them at risk of being cracked and exposed to threat actors.

In response to DataBreaches, the user who posted the database — Data — explained that initial access was gained via a vulnerability in Safety Center. The server was first accessed in 2019, and the database was obtained on 2020-03-14. Data also suggested that Ask.FM knew about the breach as early as back in 2020. While the breach has not been confirmed, the seller called “Data” says he will “vouch all day and night for” listed user data from Ask.FM (ASKfm), the social networking site. “I’m selling the users database of Ask.fm and ask.com,” Data wrote. “For connoisseurs, you can also get 607 repositories plus their Gitlab, Jira, Confluence databases.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Mozilla: YouTube’s Dislike Button Largely Fails To Stop Unwanted Recommendations

AmiMoJo shares a report from the Mozilla Foundation: YouTube’s user controls — buttons like “Dislike ” and “Not interested” — largely fail to help users avoid unwanted recommendations like misinformation and violent content, according to new research by Mozilla. An accompanying survey also found that YouTube’s controls routinely frustrate and confuse users. Indeed, Mozilla’s research found that people who are experiencing unwanted recommendations and turn to the platform’s user controls for assistance prevent less than half of unwanted recommendations.

This is especially troubling because Mozilla’s past research shows that YouTube recommends videos that violate its very own community guidelines, like misinformation, violent content, hate speech, and spam. For example, one user in this most recent research asked YouTube to stop recommending war footage from Ukraine — but shortly after was recommended even more grisly content from the region. The study, titled “Does This Button Work? Investigating YouTube’s ineffective user controls” is the culmination of months of rigorous qualitative and quantitative research. The study was made possible by the data of more than 20,000 participants who used Mozilla’s RegretsReporter browser extension, and by data about more than 500 million YouTube videos. These are the top findings, as highlighted in the report:
People don’t trust YouTube’s user controls. More than a third (39.3%) of people surveyed felt YouTube’s user controls did not impact their recommendations at all, and 23% felt the controls had a mixed response. Said one interviewee: “Nothing changed. Sometimes I would report things as misleading and spam and the next day it was back in […] Even when you block certain sources they eventually return.”

People take matters into their own hands. Our study found that people did not always understand how YouTube’s controls affect their recommendations, and so took a jury rigged approach instead. People will log out, create new accounts, or use privacy tools just to manage their YouTube recommendations. Said one user: “When the Superbowl came around … if someone recommended a particular commercial, I used to log out of YouTube, watch the commercial, and then log back in.”

The data confirms people are right. The most “effective” user control was “Don’t recommend channel,” but compared to users who do not make use of YouTube’s user controls, only 43% of unwanted recommendations are prevented — and recommendations from the unwanted channel sometimes persist. Other controls were even less effective: The “Not Interested” tool prevented only 11% of unwanted recommendations.

YouTube can fix this problem. YouTube has the power to confront this issue and do a better job at enabling people to control their recommendations. Our research outlines several concrete suggestions to put people back into the driver’s seat, like making YouTube’s controls more proactive, allowing users to shape their own experience; and giving researchers increased access to YouTube’s API and other tools. Further reading: YouTube Targets TikTok With Revenue Sharing For Shorts, Partner Program Expansion

Read more of this story at Slashdot.