Ukrainian Fighters Take to Electric Bikes in War Against Russia

"Ukrainian fighters are using electric bikes in the battle against Russia," reports the Washington Post, "mostly in support of reconnaissance missions, demining operations and medical deliveries, according to one of the Ukrainian e-bike makers involved." "They've reportedly also been used for carrying out sniper attacks." The bikes have a top speed of 55 miles per hour and are relatively silent — helping their riders evade Russian fire. Ukrainian e-bike firm Eleek initially gave a few bikes to the military when the war began, according to manager Roman Kulchytskyi. Soon after, they began to mass-produce bikes — kitted out in military green, with a small Ukrainian flag on the rear wheel — for Ukraine's fighters.... Working from a bomb shelter, Eleek began making a power bank based on lithium-ion battery cells it had left in stock. After struggling for parts, it turned to electronic cigarettes — launching a social media campaign to get people to send in their devices.... The company added footrests for passengers, improved the charging time, installed a battery control system and included a 220V output that allows soldiers to charge gadgets and can help power Starlink satellite Internet terminals, Kulchytskyi said.... Another advantage of the bikes is that they may not be visible on thermal imaging systems, which are used to detect differences in temperature and help militaries pinpoint potential targets. That's because the electric motor doesn't heat up like an internal combustion engine, Kulchytskyi said. Daniel Tonkopi, founder of e-bike company Delfast, wrote on Facebook this month that his California-based firm has been donating electric bikes to the Ukrainian army since the war broke out. He included pictures of the bikes carrying antitank weapons and said he had received feedback from the military that they planned to use the bikes to target Russian armored vehicles. During one recent mission, they recounted to him that several vehicles came back with holes but that the riders were intact.... The company is donating 5 percent of all sales to fund humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. The article notes electric bikes are also being tested by Asutralia's military and New Zealand's Air Force.

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Remote Learning Apps Tracked Millions of US Children During Pandemic

An international investigation uncovered some disturbing results, reports the Washington Post. "Millions of children had their online behaviors and personal information tracked by the apps and websites they used for school during the pandemic..." The educational tools were recommended by school districts and offered interactive math and reading lessons to children as young as prekindergarten. But many of them also collected students' information and shared it with marketers and data brokers, who could then build data profiles used to target the children with ads that follow them around the Web. Those findings come from the most comprehensive study to date on the technology that children and parents relied on for nearly two years as basic education shifted from schools to homes. Researchers with the advocacy group Human Rights Watch analyzed 164 educational apps and websites used in 49 countries, and they shared their findings with The Washington Post and 12 other news organizations around the world.... What the researchers found was alarming: nearly 90 percent of the educational tools were designed to send the information they collected to ad-technology companies, which could use it to estimate students' interests and predict what they might want to buy. Researchers found that the tools sent information to nearly 200 ad-tech companies, but that few of the programs disclosed to parents how the companies would use it. Some apps hinted at the monitoring in technical terms in their privacy policies, the researchers said, while many others made no mention at all. The websites, the researchers said, shared users' data with online ad giants including Facebook and Google. They also requested access to students' cameras, contacts or locations, even when it seemed unnecessary to their schoolwork. Some recorded students' keystrokes, even before they hit "submit." The "dizzying scale" of the tracking, the researchers said, showed how the financial incentives of the data economy had exposed even the youngest Internet users to "inescapable" privacy risks — even as the companies benefited from a major revenue stream.

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25 Gigabit Per Second Fiber Retail Broadband Service Demoed in New Zealand

25 gigabits per second — both downloading and uploading. CRN reports broadband infrastructure wholesaler Chorus demonstrated those speeds over their existing passive optical fiber network [PON]. The demonstration in Auckland achieved 21.4 Gbps throughput, tested simultaneously on the same strand of fibre that ran an 8 Gbps symmetric HyperFibre connection, and a 900/550 Mbps UFB link.... Chorus uses Nokia's Lightspan FX and MX access nodes for multiple types of fibre service, including standard GPON, the XGS-PON behind HyperFibre, point-to-point Ethernet, and envisages the 25 GPON service to run on it as well. It is based on the Quillion chip set line cards, which Nokia says are 50 per cent more energy efficient than earlier models. Currently, Chorus has no wholesale 25 GPON product, with its fastest offering topping out at 8/8 Gbps HyperFibre. The wholesaler expects to develop a 25 GPON based services within the next two to three years, with a Nokia optical network termination unit that supports either 25/25 Gbps or 25/10 Gbps options. Kurt Rodgers, network strategy manager at Chorus, said the faster broadband service would come into its own for industrial metaverse applications, the Internet of Things, and low-latency cloud connectivity.... Chorus chief technology officer Ewen Powell said the 25 GPON service demonstrated "a future-proofed technology." Although two-wavelength 50 Gbps service is appearing as a choice for providers, with 100 GPON on the horizon, Chorus is betting that the 25 Gbps variant will offer the best cost benefit overall for providers, as it can use existing optics equipment. Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader Bismillah for submitting the article.

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Soldier’s Things: A Memorial Day mixtape

Memorial Day, like war itself, stirs up conflicting emotions. First and foremost, grief…for those who have been taken away (and for loved ones left behind). But there’s also anger…raging at the stupidity of a species that has been hell-bent on self destruction since Day 1.

And so the songs I’ve curated for this playlist run that gamut; from honoring the fallen and offering comfort to the grieving, to questioning those in power who start wars and ship off the sons and daughters of others to finish them, to righteous railing at the utter fucking madness of it all, and sentiments falling somewhere in between.

The Doors- “The Unknown Soldier” – A eulogy; then…a wish.

Pete Seeger- “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” An excellent question. You may not like the answer. When will we ever learn?

Tom Waits- “Soldier’s Things” – The reductive power of a simple inventory. Kleenex on standby.

Bob Marley- “War”– Lyrics by Haile Selassie I. But you knew that.

The Isley Brothers- “Harvest for the World”Dress me up for battle, when all I want is peace/Those of us who pay the price, come home with the least.

Buffy Sainte Marie- “Universal Soldier”– Sacrifice has no borders.

Bob Dylan- “With God On Our Side” – Amen, and pass the ammunition.

John Prine- “Sam Stone” – An ode to the walking wounded.

Joshua James- “Crash This Train” – Just make it stop. Please.

Kate Bush- “Army Dreamers”– For loved ones left behind…

Previous posts with related themes:

Bringing the war back home: A Top 10 list

All This and WW III: A Mixtape

The Kill Team

The Messenger


The Monuments Men

Inglourious Basterds

Five Graves to Cairo

King of Hearts

The Wind Rises & Generation War

City of Life and Death

Le Grande Illusion

Paths of Glory

Apocalypse Now

More reviews at Den of Cinema

Dennis Hartley

Cydia’s Antitrust Case Against Apple Can Proceed, Judge Rules

In 2018, Engadget described Cydia as the maker of an app store for jailbroken iPhones that shut down claiming it just wasn't profitable (after operating for nearly a decade). But now Cydia has filed an antitrust case against Apple, Engadget reports: On Thursday, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, the same judge that oversaw the case between Apple and Epic Games, ruled Cydia's creator, Jay "Saurik" Freeman, could present his claim against the company after rejecting a bid by Apple to dismiss the complaint. [According to a paywalled article from Reuters.] Freeman first sued Apple at the end of 2020, alleging the company had an "illegal monopoly over iOS app distribution." Judge Gonzalez Rogers dismissed Cydia's initial complaint against Apple, ruling the suit fell outside the statute of limitations. But she also granted Freeman leave to amend his case, which is what he did. In its latest complaint, Cydia argues that iOS updates Apple released between 2018 and 2021 constituted "overt" acts that harmed distributors like itself. That's a claim Judge Gonzalez Rogers found credible enough to explore.

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They called and called…

Furtively, speaking in a whisper, a fourth-grade girl dialed the police. Around her, in Room 112 at Robb Elementary School, were the motionless bodies of her classmates and scores of spent bullet casings fired by a gunman who had already been inside the school for half an hour.

She whispered to a 911 operator, just after noon, that she was in the classroom with the gunman. She called back again. And again. “Please send the police now,” she begged.

But they were already there, waiting in a school hallway just outside. And they had been there for more than an hour.

The survivors will never be the same:

Noah Orona still had not cried.

The 10-year-old’s father, Oscar, couldn’t understand it. Just hours earlier, a stranger with a rifle had walked into the boy’s fourth-grade classroom at Robb Elementary School and opened fire, slaughtering his teachers and classmates in front of him. One round struck Noah in the shoulder blade, carving a 10-inch gash through his back before popping out and spraying his right arm with shrapnel. He’d laid amid the blood and bodies of his dead friends for an hour, maybe more, waiting for help to come.

But there he was, resting in his hospital bed, his brown eyes vacant, his voice muted.

“I think my clothes are ruined,” Noah lamented.

It was okay, his dad assured him. He would get new clothes.

“I don’t think I’m going to get to go back to school,” he said.

“Don’t worry about it,” his father insisted, squeezing his son’s left hand.

“I lost my glasses,” the boy continued. “I’m sorry.”

The children and adults who die in school shootings dominate headlines and consume the public’s attention. Body counts become synonymous with each event, dictating where they rank in the catalogue of these singularly American horrors: 10 at Santa Fe High, 13 at Columbine High, 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, 26 at Sandy Hook Elementary. And now, added to the list is 21 at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Tex.

Those tallies, however, do not begin to capture the true scope of this epidemic in the United States, where hundreds of thousands of children’s lives have been profoundly changed by school shootings. There are the more than 360 kids and adults, including Noah, who have been injured on K-12 campuses since 1999, according to a Washington Post database. And then there are the children who suffer no physical wounds at all, but are still haunted for years by what they saw or heard or lost.

No one understands that better than Samantha Haviland, who for years directed counseling services for Denver Public Schools. One day in 2008, she sat on the floor of a school library’s back room, the lights off, the door locked. Crouched all around her were teenagers pretending that someone with a gun was trying to murder them.

No one there knew that Haviland, then a counselor in her mid-20s, had survived Columbine nine years earlier.

On that day, April 20, 1999, Haviland ran from gunfire and heard some of it, too, but she didn’t get shot or see a bullet strike anyone else. The shock and grief solidified her plan to become a counselor, though Haviland didn’t get counseling herself for years.

The nightmares — always of being chased — lingered for years, but she didn’t think she deserved help, not when classmates had died, been maimed or had witnessed the carnage firsthand. She would be okay.

But now there she was, a decade later, sitting in the darkness, practicing once again to escape what so many of her friends had not. Then she heard footsteps and saw the shadow of an administrator checking the locks. Her chest began to throb, and suddenly, Haviland knew she wasn’t okay.

On Tuesday, Haviland did all she could to avoid the details of what had happened in Texas. She didn’t want to know. Years of therapy had helped, but the passage of time was no cure. On Wednesday, she turned 40.

This could be prevented. America just refuses to do it.

How CentOS Stream and RHEL 9 Led to AlmaLinux 9

ZDNet writes that in late 2020 Red Hat decided "they'd no longer release CentOS Linux as a standalone distribution. Instead, CentOS Stream would work as a beta for RHEL." So where are we now? The competition immediately sprang up to replace CentOS. The two most important of these are the AlmaLinux OS Foundation's AlmaLinux and Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation's Rocky Linux. [May 16th saw the release of Rocky Linux 8.6.] Now, mere weeks after the release of RHEL 9, AlmaLinux 9 has arrived. Like RHEL itself, AlmaLinux 9 starts from CentOS Stream via RHEL. Indeed, AlmaLinux developers are CentOS Stream contributors. The bottom line is that CentOS 9 is an identical twin to RHEL 9 — except for the names and trademarks. It has all the same features, all the same advances, and, for better or worse, all the same bugs. Besides the big server architectures, AlmaLinux is also ready to run on everything from cloud and Docker images to Microsoft's Windows Subsystem for Linux and Raspberry Pi, the article points out. And Jack Aboutboul, AlmaLinux's Community Manager, tells ZDNet "We are building AlmaLinux with the specific goal of creating an independent CentOS successor that is truly community-centric and designed for everyone... We offer everyone a uniform platform that is safe, secure, easy to use, and dependable to build your tomorrow on."

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Disney+ Premiers New Star Wars Miniseries ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’

CNET reviews Obi-Wan Kenobi, the new six-episode miniseries premiering today on Disney+ It's a question that's vexed Star Wars fans for decades: How did the bad guys not find Luke Skywalker when he was literally hiding in his father's old home? New Disney Plus miniseries Obi-Wan Kenobi, streaming now, will reveal the answer. But the real question is, can a minor continuity error actually be stretched out to create an entire TV series worth your time? And is there really a compelling story to be told when you already know how it turns out? Thankfully, on the strength of the first two episodes — both available to stream on Disney Plus today, followed by further installments each Wednesday — the answer appears to be yes. Obi-Wan Kenobi (the show) is an assured, pacey and exciting new series with a great cast, from creators who know how to use familiar elements — and, crucially, how to hold some back — in a story that is, most importantly, character-driven.... With blaster battles and bounty hunter droids and sneering Imperials, it's all satisfyingly Star Wars, with some nifty worldbuilding like battered drug dealers and a poignant cameo that stops Obi-Wan in his tracks. On top of that are fun new characters — look out for Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, plus Kumail Nanjiani clearly having the time of his life — combined with compelling conflicts for the characters we know. It turns out even when you think he's a beaten man, Obi-Wan Kenobi still has a few tricks up his sleeve. CNET describes Kenobi's character — played again by Ewan McGregor — as "hugely compelling.... a broken war veteran who not only lost a surrogate son but also saw his whole civilization fall to darkness," in a series set just before the original Star Wars movie (Episode 4: A New Hope) — so, just after Revenge of the Sith. "More than any recent Star Wars shows, it's built from Star Wars at its best (the original film) and Star Wars at its worst (the overblown, computer-effects-blighted prequel trilogy)."

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The Rittenhouse Doctrine

It’s good to see the Republicans being candid for once. They want to kill protesters. And if anyone tries to take down an inanimate object like a statue, gun toting “patriots” are called upon to shoot them.

This is the dream scenario. Little Kyle Rittenhouse showed the way. And if some innocent schoolchildren have to get mowed down in the process, it’s just the price that has to be paid to own the libs.

Newest Version of Systemd Includes Experimental Feature for A/B-Style Updating

"Let's popularize image-based OSes," writes Lennart Poettering, "with modernized security properties built around immutability, SecureBoot, TPM2, adaptability, auto-updating, factory reset, uniformity — built from traditional distribution packages, but deployed via images." Or, as the Register puts it, the Systemd Linux init system "continues to grow and develop, as does Linux itself." They delve into the rationale for the new systemd-sysupdate and kernel-install features, noting "The former is still described as an experimental feature, so relax — for now." No, this does not mean that systemd is becoming a package manager. Like it or not, though, the nature of operating systems is changing. Modern ones are large, complex, and need regular updates, and as The Register has examined in depth recently, this means that the design of Linux distributions is changing radically.... ChromeOS doesn't have a package manager; neither do Fedora's Silverblue and Kinoite versions. You get a tested, known-good image of the OS. Updates are distributed as a complete image, like they are today with Android or iOS. ChromeOS has two root partitions: one live and one spare. The currently running OS updates the spare partition, then you reboot into that one. If everything works, it updates the now-idle second root partition. If it doesn't all work perfectly, then you still have the previous version available to use, and you can just reboot into that again. When a fixed image becomes available, the OS automatically tries again on the spare instance. The idea is that you always have a known-good OS partition available, which sounds like a benefit to us. Presumably the users are happy too: Chromebook sales may be down, and they only have a fixed lifespan, but there are still well over a hundred million of them out there. So, no, systemd is not going to become a package manager, because ordinary distros won't have a package manager at all, except maybe Flatpak, or Snap or something similar. The new functionality, including managing installed kernels, is to facilitate A/B type dual-live-system partitions. For some insight into this vision, Lennart Poettering, lead architect of systemd, has described this in a blog post titled "Bringing Everything Together." Other updates include "changes to systemd-networkd, such as systemd-resolved starting earlier in the boot sequence, and more cautious allocation of default routes," the article points out, adding that new releases of systemd "ppear roughly twice a year, so the chances are that this will appear in the fall releases of Ubuntu and Fedora... "If you still prefer to avoid systemd, don't despair. There are still a selection of distros that eschew it altogether, including Devuan GNU+Linux, Alpine Linux, and Void Linux.

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