Uber, Lyft returning to Austin

Uber and Lyft will relaunch services in Austin on Monday, now that Texas lawmakers have passed a bill overriding local regulations on ride-hailing companies. [...]

Uber and Lyft left Austin after the Austin City Council passed an ordinance in December 2015 requiring ride-hailing companies to perform fingerprint background checks on drivers, a stipulation that already applies to Austin taxi companies.

Uber and Lyft fiercely opposed the rules, gathering petition signatures to force a public vote and spending nearly $9 million on an unsuccessful campaign asking voters to overturn the regulations. Following the vote, both companies halted services in Austin, and the resulting ride-hailing vacuum attracted several start-up ride-hailing apps that agreed to comply with the city's rules. [...]

Following the passage of the bill in both chambers, Austin Mayor Steve Adler issued a statement saying he was "disappointed" the Legislature voted to nullify regulations the city had implemented.

"Our city should be proud of how we filled the gap created when Uber and Lyft left, and we now must hope that they return ready to compete in a way that reflects Austin's values," Adler wrote.

Previously, previously, previously.

Posted Sat May 27 01:43:14 2017 Tags:

Republicans want to build US infrastructure through "public-private partnerships", which means the public pays more and gets less control.

Posted Sat May 27 00:00:00 2017 Tags:

In January, Flynn convinced Obama's national security advisor to put off a plan to arm the Syrian Kurds to capture Raqqa. Flynn had taken pay from Turkey during 2016.

The troll has since reinstated the plan.

Democratic congresscritters wrote to Pence in November to warn him about Flynn's employment by Turkey.

Pence claimed he didn't know about this.

Posted Sat May 27 00:00:00 2017 Tags:

US journalists denounce the practice of imprisoning journalists, which was expanded under Dubya and Obama and is getting worse under the troll.

Posted Sat May 27 00:00:00 2017 Tags:

In Salafi Arabia, the troll talks about the need to defeat Islamist extremism.

As if it weren't Salafi Arabia that spends millions per year to spread Islamist extremism.

The troll also strained to equate Iran's repressive state with terrorism. However, Iran's repression happens overtly, in Iran.

Posted Sat May 27 00:00:00 2017 Tags:

The Republican governor of Maine has prohibited posting signs to lead people to the Katahdin Woods and Waters national monument, which he wants to eliminate.

He hopes to keep visitors away so he can claim people don't want to go there.

This reminds me of how New Jersey officials (surely directed by the Governor Christy) punished a Democratic mayor by closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge. (The governor says he didn't tell his aides to do this. If you believe that, maybe he will offer to sell you that bridge.)

This shows the scheming and dishonest attitude of today's Republican Party. They will degrade any institutions they get their hands on, and use it to spread lies, merely to deny their rivals a chance to point at any sort of success.

Posted Sat May 27 00:00:00 2017 Tags:

Sabotaging the 2020 US census would help Republicans get away with gerrymandering.

Posted Sat May 27 00:00:00 2017 Tags:

Canada has removed most of the requirements for supervised facilities for addicts to take opioids.

Posted Sat May 27 00:00:00 2017 Tags:

El Cenizo, Texas, is suing to overturn the Texas law that forces all local thugs to obey orders from US border thugs.

Posted Sat May 27 00:00:00 2017 Tags:

The thug that shot Terrence Crutcher lied about many aspects of the killing, and then was acquitted of charges.

Thugs assumed Crutcher was dangerous before they approached him. They didn't bother to notice that he was unarmed and had his hands up. Unconscious racism may have played a role, and surely the assumption did too. That is no excuse for what they did.

Here's an idea: put up posters showing that thug, in uniform, with the caption "Armed, Dangerous Liar." Each word can be proved.

Posted Sat May 27 00:00:00 2017 Tags:

The US government organizes the arrest of hundreds of sex workers every year, under the guise of releasing enslaved minors — except that it finds hardly any minors and none are enslaved.

Posted Sat May 27 00:00:00 2017 Tags:

I excavated a bit of hacker history from old memories today. Not dead history either, but an important beginning of some large good things.

Here’s how it happened. I got email from a person requesting me to identify a source for the following allegedly famous quote: “All operating systems eventually turn into Unix”.

I told him that I’d never heard that quote as written but that it reminded me of a line by Henry Spencer: “Those who do not understand Unix are condemned to reinvent it, poorly.” This is of course a take on a well-known aphorism by Santayana.

I googled Henry Spencer’s name and some keywords to make sure I had the quote correct. The top hit, from which I verified the quote, was Henry’s Wikipedia page. I read it and something caught my eye – the assertion that Henry wrote his well-known and widely distributed regex package around 1987. And suddenly I remembered something.

Years ago I wrote Eminent Domains: The First Time I Changed History in which I mentioned Henry Spencer’s presence at the conference where I persuaded the NWG not to drop the functional domains in favor of a strict geographic system.

What I just remembered today is something else that happened at that conference that may have been as important, though in a less obvious way. It also pins the date to 1984, because I remember now that anxiety about what AT&T’s recent commercialization of Unix meant to us was very much in the air at that conference (IIRC the big announcement had happened in January or February). We were all worried that this meant the Bell Labs source code would no longer be shared with universities and research labs…as was indeed to become the case.

To fully understand this story you need to know that Henry was already a hugely respected figure in the tiny, not yet very conscious hacker culture of the time (there were, at a guess, somewhere around 500 of us then in the U.S. and Canada – maybe 700 worldwide). I knew him from USENET; I’d seen some of his code, in the relatively small amounts we passed around back then.

It also matters that the GNU Manifesto hadn’t been written yet – wouldn’t be until the following year, though I had some idea what was coming because Richard Stallman had discussed his plans with me at Boskone in February. (That was when I suggested to him that the flagship project for the FSF ought to be Emacs. Duh!) Stallman’s concept of “Free Software” was not yet part of the hacker zeitgeist,

So in October 1984 I was in a crowd of people watching a presentation by a woman from Bell Labs describing the then-new getopt(3) library, written by AT&T as a way to regularize the processing of command-line arguments in C programs. The custom up to then had been to write ad-hoc code for each application, leading to some odd and unpredictable variations in behavior.

Everybody thought this was a fine idea, and several people asked questions probing whether AT&T was going to let anyone else use the getopt code they had written. These questions related to the general anxiety about Unix source code distributions drying up.

Frustration mounted as the woman gave evasive answers which seemed to add up to “No, we refuse to commit to allowing general access to this code.” Which seemed to confirm everyone’s worst fears about what was going to happen to Unix source code access in general.

At which point Henry Spencer stands up and says (not in these exact words) “I will write and share a conforming implementation.” – and got a cheer from the assembled.

If you’re thinking “That’s not a big deal, we do this sort of thing all the time,” my actual point is that in October 1984 this was indeed a big deal. It took an actual imaginative leap for Henry Spencer to, in effect, say “Screw AT&T and its legalisms and evasions, if they’re going to cut off source access we hackers are gonna do it for ourselves.”

Yes, we had DECUS tapes and the Unix sources newsgroups on Unix already; Henry was building on that. But he got an actual cheer exactly because he was pushing forward, exposing the possibility of doing not just small projects and demos and quirky little tools but at competing with the likes of AT&T itself at software production.

Of course RMS was, as I was then one of the very few to already know, thinking along the same lines. But RMS’s was a more personal, ideological vision. Henry didn’t have any grand plan to save the world; he was just being a hacker, seeing where the solution to the problem posed by AT&T’s source-code lockdown had to lie, pointing it out just a bit sooner than anyone else, and putting his own skin and considerable reputtion in the game.

So yeah. In retrospect I think this was a historically pivotal moment. A respected elder of our tiny tribe (so tiny that probably a substantial fraction of it was in the room listening) declared his independence from what AT&T chose to do about restricting its code. And they took that possibility home with them.

I’m put in mind of the historian Oswald Spengler’s notion that cultures are born at a moment of what Nietzsche called “transvaluation of all values”. Arguably this was one, rather like the one I semi-accidentally triggered in the late 1990s, at which the hacker culture woke up some – became aware of the possibilities implied by its existing folkways.

And there’s a more direct and personal one I had half-forgotten. I was a young, unknown programmer then – just 27, still figuring out what I wanted. I watched Henry make that promise. I heard the cheer, and felt the change in the air as culturally, we realized what the solution to AT&T fscking us over had to be.

And I thought “I want to be like that guy.”

Posted Fri May 26 20:29:42 2017 Tags:
DNA Lounge update, wherein we are winnars, and it's upholstery time.
Posted Fri May 26 19:35:04 2017 Tags:

Please enjoy jwz mixtape 183.

Posted Fri May 26 18:45:12 2017 Tags:
Pigeon caught with backpack of drugs

Customs officials in Kuwait have apprehended a pigeon carrying drugs in a miniature backpack, Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai reports. A total of 178 pills were found in the fabric pocket attached to its back.

The bird was caught near the customs building in Abdali, close to the border with Iraq.

An al-Rai journalist said the drugs were a form of ketamine, an anaesthetic also used as an illegal party drug.

Abdullah Fahmi told the BBC that customs officials already knew pigeons were being used to smuggle drugs, but this was the first time they had caught a bird in the act.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Posted Fri May 26 02:21:59 2017 Tags:
Elijah E. Cummings Ranking Member, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform:

Unfortunately, your meager response does not include the vast majority of documents we requested in our letter. Instead, you provided only a single document -- a glossy, eight-page pamphlet that contains a total of 40 sentences -- and an email forwarding this pamphlet to various Trump Organization entities. This pamphlet raises grave concerns about the President's refusal to comply with the Constitution merely because he believes it is "impractical" and could "diminish the guest experience of our brand."

Complying with the United States Constitution is not an optional exercise, but a requirement for serving as our nation's President.2 If President Trump believes that identifying all of the prohibited foreign emoluments he is currently receiving would be too challenging or would harm his business ventures, his options are to divest his ownership or submit a proposal to Congress to ask for our consent.

Even if the President's companies were willing to carefully track of all their foreign government payments, the President still would be required under the Emoluments Clause to request and obtain permission from Congress to accept those payments.


Posted Fri May 26 02:17:01 2017 Tags:
jpressler: "I feel like every article on the Koch brothers should note that as small children they had a Nazi governess who made them shit on command."

He was enamored enough of the German way of life and thinking that he employed a German governess for his first two sons, Freddie and Charles. At the time, Freddie was a small boy, and Charles still in diapers. The nanny's iron rule terrified the little boys, according to a family acquaintance. In addition to being overbearing, she was a fervent Nazi sympathizer, who frequently touted Hitler's virtues. Dressed in a starched white uniform and pointed nurse's hat, she arrived with a stash of gruesome German children's books, including the Victorian classic Der Struwwelpeter, that featured sadistic consequences for misbehavior ranging from cutting off one child's thumbs to burning another to death. The acquaintance recalled that the nurse had a commensurately harsh and dictatorial approach to child rearing. She enforced a rigid toilet-training regimen requiring the boys to produce morning bowel movements precisely on schedule or be force-fed castor oil and subjected to enemas.*

Previously, previously, previously, previously.

Posted Fri May 26 02:06:56 2017 Tags:
Dear Lazyweb, my iCal alerts have started randomly not showing up. WTF?

I use Apple Calendar on my desktop Mac and sync it through iCloud with my phone and iPad. It used to be that when an alarm went off, a notification showed up on all three devices. If you were lucky, dismissing it on one device would also dismiss it on the others.

But now the notification seems to be showing up on only one device.

For example: I was active at my desktop when the alarm should have gone off. Nothing. I looked at my phone, which had been locked for an hour: nothing there. I looked at my iPad, which had been locked for 12 hours: OH THERE IT IS. How helpful.

Is this the new normal, or am I just lucky?

Anyone know what to do to fix this shit?

Previously, previously, previously.

Posted Tue May 23 20:26:41 2017 Tags:

TLDR: If you see devices like "xwayland-pointer" show up in your xinput list output, then you are running under a Wayland compositor and debugging/configuration with xinput will not work.

For many years, the xinput tool has been a useful tool to debug configuration issues (it's not a configuration UI btw). It works by listing the various devices detected by the X server. So a typical output from xinput list under X could look like this:

:: whot@jelly:~> xinput list
⎡ Virtual core pointer id=2 [master pointer (3)]
⎜ ↳ Virtual core XTEST pointer id=4 [slave pointer (2)]
⎜ ↳ SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad id=22 [slave pointer (2)]
⎜ ↳ TPPS/2 IBM TrackPoint id=23 [slave pointer (2)]
⎜ ↳ ELAN Touchscreen id=20 [slave pointer (2)]
⎣ Virtual core keyboard id=3 [master keyboard (2)]
↳ Virtual core XTEST keyboard id=5 [slave keyboard (3)]
↳ Power Button id=6 [slave keyboard (3)]
↳ Video Bus id=7 [slave keyboard (3)]
↳ Lid Switch id=8 [slave keyboard (3)]
↳ Sleep Button id=9 [slave keyboard (3)]
↳ ThinkPad Extra Buttons id=24 [slave keyboard (3)]
Alas, xinput is scheduled to go the way of the dodo. More and more systems are running a Wayland session instead of an X session, and xinput just doesn't work there. Here's an example output from xinput list under a Wayland session:

$ xinput list
⎡ Virtual core pointer id=2 [master pointer (3)]
⎜ ↳ Virtual core XTEST pointer id=4 [slave pointer (2)]
⎜ ↳ xwayland-pointer:13 id=6 [slave pointer (2)]
⎜ ↳ xwayland-relative-pointer:13 id=7 [slave pointer (2)]
⎣ Virtual core keyboard id=3 [master keyboard (2)]
↳ Virtual core XTEST keyboard id=5 [slave keyboard (3)]
↳ xwayland-keyboard:13 id=8 [slave keyboard (3)]
As you can see, none of the physical devices are available, the only ones visible are the virtual devices created by XWayland. On a Wayland session, the X server doesn't have access to the physical devices. Instead, it talks via the Wayland protocol to the compositor. This image from the Wayland documentation shows the architecture:
In the above graphic, devices are known to the Wayland compositor (1), but not to the X server. The Wayland protocol doesn't expose physical devices, it merely provides a 'pointer' device, a 'keyboard' device and, where available, a touch and tablet tool/pad devices (2). XWayland wraps these into virtual devices and provides them via the X protocol (3), but they don't represent the physical devices.

This usually doesn't matter, but when it comes to debugging or configuring devices with xinput we run into a few issues. First, configuration via xinput usually means changing driver-specific properties but in the XWayland case there is no driver involved - it's all handled by libinput inside the compositor. Second, debugging via xinput only shows what the wayland protocol sends to XWayland and what XWayland then passes on to the client. For low-level issues with devices, this is all but useless.

The takeaway here is that if you see devices like "xwayland-pointer" show up in your xinput list output, then you are running under a Wayland compositor and debugging with xinput will not work. If you're trying to configure a device, use the compositor's configuration system (e.g. gsettings). If you are debugging a device, use libinput-debug-events. Or compare the behaviour between the Wayland session and the X session to narrow down where the failure point is.

Posted Tue May 23 00:56:00 2017 Tags:

Planet Debian upstream is hosted by Branchable.