Saturday, 15 December 2018

Advantages of open source website and publishing software on display with WordPress 5.0

Law firm website open source

WordPress launched its version 5.0, including a total overhaul of its editorial interface via Gutenberg, just ten days. 

Since then, WordPress released version 5.0.1 as a security release, as reported by WordPress Tavern’s Sarah Gooding, “with fixes for seven vulnerabilities that were privately disclosed. It includes a few breaks in backwards compatibility that plugin developers will want to review.”

First updates in a week, and the second to come six days afterwards. 

WordPress 5.0.2 will be the first planned followup release to 5.0 and is now scheduled to be released December 19, 2018. Gary Pendergast posted a summary of this week’s dev chat that includes the schedule and scope for the upcoming release. It will include Gutenberg 4.7, Twenty Nineteen bug fixes, and a few PHP 7.3 compatibility fixes.

No matter how large a company, the talent of their developers or the quality off their testing, when you put software out to a huge number of users using various operating systems and machines, you’re going to find bugs.

With open source you pick up a a huge number of developers working on the software, finding bugs and working to repair them and making improvements for performance, speed and security. Those developers are getting feedback instantaneously from users around the world. 

An example is improving the speed of Gutenberg, as shared by Gooding.

Slow performance as compared to the classic editor has been a commonly-reported issue with Gutenberg. The project has a label for it on GitHub with 26 open issues. 140 performance-related issues have already been closed so the team is making progress on speeding it up. 5.0.2 will bring major performance improvements to the editor, particularly for content that includes hundreds of blocks

For posts with a large number of blocks, a component of publishing in Gutenberg, the speed can be up to 300% faster.

Major upgrades and feature enghancements will come in WordPress 5.1, to be led by WordPress co-founder, Matt Mullenweg, in February – just 60 days after 5.0 and Gutenberg’s launch. 

Law firms using proprietary software for websites and content management (think blogs, microsites et al) do not see anywhere near this rate of improvement in their software. 

Couple that with upgrading software only happening when “doing” a new website, usually three for fears after their last website and you’re running on software three or four years old (not including when their developer/web agency last updated their software).

Software that old poses performance, security, speed and usability problems. It’ll also lack features your peers are already using. 

In time, law firms, law schools and other organizations in legal will come to see the advantages of running open source software and using a managed host for it.

That way publishing and websites will run on a near SaaS (software as a service) solution by them or for them by a web agency or a managed WordProcess host such as LexBlog’s publishing solution. Sorry to tout us. ; ) 


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Friday, 14 December 2018

A woman is suing Apple because she didn’t think the iPhone had a notch — check out Apple’s marketing and decide for yourself (AAPL)

Screen Shot 2018 12 14 at 4.27.12 PM

  • Apple's iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max have a "notch" on the top of the device to make room for the front-facing camera. 
  • However, many Apple marketing images use a black background where the notch is less visible.
  • One person said in a legal complaint filed Friday that she did not know the device had a notch when she pre-ordered the phone because of the marketing images. 
  • There's no guarantee that the class-action lawsuit will be successful.

The core design element of Apple's iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max phones is what most people call "the notch."

It's a cutout on the top of the phone's screen so that Apple can pack in the advanced cameras necessary for the FaceID facial recognition security, without adding bezels around the phone's edges. 

But in much of Apple's recent marketing, the so-called notch blends into the screen, because Apple displays a black background in many of the promotional images and on the front page of its website.

Now, someone is saying that those images are misleading — and she's suing over it. 

In a complaint filed Friday in the Northern District of California, Courtney Davis' lawyers accuse Apple of designing its advertising to obscure the notch, leading Davis to believe that the iPhone XS Max she pre-ordered wouldn't actually come with a notch. 

"Images that disguise the missing pixels on the Products’ screens are prominent on Defendant’s website, as well as in the advertisements of retailers who sell the products," reads the complaint, in part. "These images were relied on by Plaintiff DAVIS, who believed that the iPhone XS and XS Max would not have a notch at the top of the phone."

There are other matters cited in the complaint, including a claim Apple shouldn't count pixels on the corners of the device in its advertising, because they are rounded off. 

apple iphone notch image

The lawsuit is seeking class-action status, as well as damages from Apple. It may be years before there's any substantial developments one way or the other, given how long class-action lawsuits usually take to progress. Indeed, there's no guarantee that this will ever come to court at all. 

But Friday's complaint is the first time that the marketing images related to the latest premium iPhones — starting at $1000 — are being closely scrutinized in a legal sense. When the marketing images currently being used were leaked in August, many tech commentators observed that the black background effectively hid the notch from being readily apparent.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The entire complaint is embedded below: 

SEE ALSO: From the iPhone to the Essential Phone, here are the 5 best-designed smartphone notches out there

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: USB-C was supposed to be a universal connector — but it still has a lot of problems


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A German left-wing group tricked thousands of neo-Nazis into doxxing themselves with a 'honeypot' website

neo-nazi activists Chemnitz, Germany

  • Neo-Nazis in Germany were recently tricked into providing their identities and personal information to a left-wing art collective, the Washington Post reports.
  • The group used a "honeypot" website to publish the names of 1,500 neo-Nazis they initially found, and then collected further information from right-wing extremists who searched the site for their names.
  • The organization wants to identify the thousands of far right nationalists who took part in violent protests this summer in Chemnitz, Germany.

A German art collective is trying to identify thousands of neo-Nazis who took part in violent protests this summer, using information they were able to trick people into providing about themselves.

The Washington Post reports that a left-wing art collective, called the Center for Political Beauty (or "ZPS" in German), has been able to identify a majority of the estimated 7,000 people who participated in far-right protests this summer in Chemnitz, Germany.

The organization says it was able to collect all this information using an online "honeypot" trap. The group created a website with a partial list of protest participants — about 1,500 names it found through a cursory online investigation — to lure other right-wing extremists. 

The website attracted far right extremists, who searched the database for their own names, or names of people they knew. The website then collected their information, including networks and IP addresses that could be used to find where the person was searching from.

"We want to lift right-wing extremism out of anonymity in Germany," the website read, asking people to denounce people they knew to be neo-Nazis. 

Thousands of people descended on Chemnitz, Germany over the summer to participate in far-right protests. The demonstrations were first sparked by the killing of a German citizen allegedly done by two immigrants. But the protests attracted thousands of far-right extremists and neo-Nazis, who targeted immigrants with violent attacks and openly threw up Heil Hitler salutes (which are illegal in Germany). 

In light of the violence, the art group wanted to "give a face to evil," Philipp Ruch, ZPS' founder, told the Post. 

Yet ZPS' "shock and awe" strategy wasn't a traditional approach to doxxing, the tactic of finding and publishing a person's private information. Doxxing has been used to expose people in white supremacist groups to their employers, but also to make certain people vulnerable to harassment by publicizing their phone numbers and home addresses.

ZPS' use of data raises concerns that the group is in violation of GDPR, a strict policy in Europe aimed at protecting people's privacy by regulating internet companies' use of their data. The ZPS website does include a page outlining the group's compliance with GDPR, which includes explaining how the data is being used.

The group has yet to share the information it's collected, whether that's providing it to authorities or journalists. But by setting a trap, ZPS essentially tricked nationalist protesters into doxxing themselves.

Ruch told the Post that he's most interested in exposing public employees who "have a duty of loyalty to the constitution."

"Nobody who’s into these anti-democratic forces should ever have a right to work in this society," Ruch told the Post. "If you ask me, they should lose their jobs.”

The massive showing of far-right extremism in Germany drew worldwide condemnation, as well as comparisons to the white nationalist rally last year in Charlottesville, Virginia. But the rise of nationalistic sentiment hasn't been isolated to Germany. Far-right political parties and leaders across Europe have seen increased support in recent elections.

ZPS on Wednesday removed from its website the list of the first 1,500 names it obtained without using the honeypot trap, the Post says. In its place is now an explanation of what ZPS was doing and a note that reads, "Thank you, dear Nazis."

SEE ALSO: Bitcoin scammers are sending bomb threat emails to millions around the world, but authorities are confirming 'NO DEVICES have been found'

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here's why virtual reality still hasn't taken off, despite being around for nearly 2 decades


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Thursday, 13 December 2018

Bitcoin scammers are sending bomb threat emails to millions around the world, but authorities are confirming 'NO DEVICES have been found'

Facebook bomb threat

  • On Thursday, numerous reports emerged of people receiving extortion emails demanding recipients send $20,000 in Bitcoin to a particular Bitcoin address. 
  • The emails stated that failure to send the payment would result in that person's workplace being blown up by an explosive device. 
  • Police forces from cities in multiple countries have responded to the threats and have confirmed that no devices have been found in connection to the extortion emails. 
  • This story is developing, but for now, authorities say no actual threats have been discovered. 

If you've received an email saying that your office will explode if you don't forward on $20,000 in Bitcoin, stay calm. 

Law enforcement officials across the country responded on Thursday to a recent string of threats, sent to numerous people via a spam-like email campaign, and stated that no explosive devices have found in connection to the messages. 

"Please be advised - there is an email being circulated containing a bomb threat asking for bitcoin payment," the NYPD tweeted around 3pm ET on Thursday. "While this email has been sent to numerous locations, searches have been conducted and NO DEVICES have been found." 

Other police departments from across the country have provided similar updates. 

The extortion emails demand that recipients send $20,000 in Bitcoin to particular a Bitcoin address. Failure to do so by the end of the working day, the emails stated, would result in that person's workplace being blown up by an explosive device. 

Here's an example of one of the emails: 

Universities, schools, media outlets, courthouses, and private businesses across the US reported receiving the extortion emails. Some were evacuated as a result. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement on Thursday: "We are aware of recent bomb threats made in cities around the country, and we remain in touch with our law enforcement partners to provide assistance. As always, we encourage the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activities which could represent a threat to public safety.”

Threats have also been reported outside the US in Canada and New Zealand

Read more: Bitcoin slumps after bomb threats that were emailed across the US demanded it for ransom

More information about the scam should emerge in the coming days, but if there's any good news to come out of Thursday's scare, it's that no actual devices have been reported.

And, as ZDNet reports, no Bitcoin payments have been made in relation to the emails. 

SEE ALSO: The 25 worst passwords of 2018 based on 5 million leaked passwords on the internet

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Amazon wants to open 3,000 cashier-less grocery stores — and they'll have a major advantage over their competitors


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'Call of Duty' studio evacuated following bomb threat

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

  • The studio behind major "Call of Duty" games like "Modern Warfare" and "Infinite Warfare" was evacuated on Thursday, Kotaku reports.
  • Infinity Ward is based in Woodland Hills, California, and it employs hundreds of people.
  • Police reportedly arrived on Thursday morning and informed the staff of a bomb threat. 


One of the main studios behind "Call of Duty" reportedly had a bomb scare on Thursday.

Los Angeles-based Infinity Ward was evacuated on Thursday morning by local police, reports Kotaku. The threat appears to be tied to a string of bomb threats around the United States. On Tuesday, a building at Facebook's Menlo Park, Calif headquarters was evacuated after police in New York received an anonymous bomb threat. 

"We are currently monitoring multiple bomb threats that have been sent electronically to various locations throughout the city," the New York Police Department said on Twitter. "These threats are also being reported to other locations nationwide & are NOT considered credible at this time."

Infinity Ward parent company Activision has yet to confirm the evacuation; representatives didn't respond to request for comment as of publishing.

According to a person at Infinity Ward, all employees were safely evacuated. It's unclear if an explosive device was found following the evacuation.

Infinity Ward is one of several studios that creates new "Call of Duty" games for Activision, alongside Treyarch and Sledgehammer Games — all three are wholly owned by Activision. The latest game in the series, "Call of Duty: Black Ops 4," was developed by Treyarch. The three studios rotate development of the annualized "Call of Duty" series; Infinity Ward is expected to be the studio in charge of 2019's "Call of Duty" entry.

SEE ALSO: 'The building is all clear and secure': Bomb threat forces evacuations at Facebook's Menlo Park campus

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: USB-C was supposed to be a universal connector — but it still has a lot of problems


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Australia's anti-encryption law is so unpopular, there was only 1 comment in support and 342 against — and now the head of its spy agency is defending the law (AAPL, MSFT, FB)

iPhone teen

  • The Australian government has passed a law that forces tech companies to give law enforcement access to encrypted messages
  • The law is widely disliked by the technology industry, especially Apple, because security experts believe that so-called "backdoors" weaken security for everyone, not just criminals.
  • The Economist highlights that of 343 comments Australian parliament received about the law, only one was in favor.
  • An Australian spy official issued a comment to "correct the record" on Wednesday. 

Last month, Australia passed a controversial law that gives it the power to fine technology companies millions of dollars if law enforcement isn't granted access to encrypted messages. 

Tech companies use encryption technology to ensure that only the sender and recipient of a message can read its content. Services like WhatsApp and iMessage are encrypted, meaning if the police asked Facebook or Apple for message, the tech companies would not be able to provide it. 

Australia is asking for a so-called "back door," a feature that would allow a provider like Apple to decrypt specific messages for law enforcement. Most security experts believe that these kind of features weaken privacy for all users, not just criminals

Australia's law, the "Assistance and Access Bill 2018," is the world's first in recent years to threaten encryption — and a new report from the Economist highlights just how unpopular it is. 

Citing a tally of public comments about the legislation before it was passed, only one was in favor of the law, according to the Economist, with a whopping 342 comments filed arguing against the bill. 

You can read all the public comments here

Apple is speaking out against the law

Perhaps the loudest corporate voice among many against the law is Apple, which filed a comment against the bill in October calling it "vague" and "dangerous." Apple famously faced off against the FBI when it asked it to create a similar back door feature in a criminal case about a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. 

"This is no time to weaken encryption," Apple said in its published testimony. "There is profound risk of making criminals’ jobs easier, not harder. Increasingly stronger — not weaker — encryption is the best way to protect against these threats."

"For instance, the bill could allow the government to order the makers of smart home speakers to install persistent
eavesdropping capabilities into a person’s home, require a provider to monitor the health data of its customers for indications of drug use, or require the development of a tool that can unlock a particular user’s device regardless of whether such tool could be used to unlock every other user’s device as well," Apple continued. 

In response to the global clamor over the law, Mike Burgess, the director-general of the Australian Signals Directorate — a spy agency — issued a rare public statement on Wednesday

"Encryption is a good thing. It is an essential part of a safe, secure online experience. The government does not want to change that," Burgess wrote. "But if two Australians are using a messaging app to plot a terrorist attack, it is clearly crucial for the relevant authorities to find out what they are saying. But law enforcement and security agencies can only do so in very specific circumstances – with a warrant for example."

"Many of the claims about the 'dangerous' nature of the Act are hyperbolic, inaccurate and influenced by self-interest, rather than the national interest," he continued

SEE ALSO: Apple isn't just building a new campus in Austin. Here's everywhere the tech giant is expanding.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Amazon wants to open 3,000 cashier-less grocery stores — and they'll have a major advantage over their competitors


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ALM attempting to stop small UK conference from using the phrases “legal tech” and “legaltech”

ALM legal tech

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot when your legal publishing company is already struggling in the eyes of a lot of folks.

ALM is attempting to stop a couple young legal tech entrepreneurs, one a lawyer and one a technologist, in Sheffield, England from using the term or phrase “LegalTech” in the title of their small legal tech conference, LegalTech Conference North, which was held for the first time last month. 

As reported by Dan Bindman of Legal Futures, conference coordinators, Matthew Pennington and Harvey Harding received a “cease and desist” letter from ALM telling them that their use of “LegalTech” in their conference name was in violation of ALM’s trademark. 

From Bindman:

According to the Intellectual Property Office, the UK trade mark covers: “Conducting and organizing exhibitions, trade shows, conferences and workshops for public and private organizations, companies, lawyers and law firms for the purpose of exhibiting technical products and services directed to the legal profession, namely, computer hardware and software.”

The US trade mark also covers “newsletters issued periodically, directed to technical products and services for the legal profession”.

An ALM spokeswoman said it does not try to prevent ‘fair uses’ of the term outside of these areas.

It’s hard to think of what other areas could be relevant. ALM is looking to clamp down on any type of program or publication which uses the term “legal tech” or legaltech.”

Heck, there was a CLE program put on by few entrepreneurial Seattle lawyers up at Seattle University Law School this week. “Seattle Legal Tech – 3rd Annual 21st Century Lawyer CLE.”  (emphasis added)

What should they have called it? Seattle Application of Scientific Knowledge for Practical Purposes in Legal? 

I get that ALM has a publication called Legaltech News and holds a conference and show called Legaltech, rebranded as LegalWeek over the last couple years.

But really, throwing your weight around when it comes to a small conference put on by two young entrepreneurs in Northern England.  

From an ALM spokesperson:

ALM does not seek to prevent ‘fair uses’ of the legal tech term. However, as a trade mark owner, ALM’s goals are to both protect its longstanding rights and to try and prevent consumers from being confused into believing that another ‘legal tech branded show is affiliated with ALM’s long-standing event.

And if that’s not enough.

ALM and its predecessors have used the trademark ‘legal tech’ for over 30 years in connection with a leading trade show for the legal industry.

While the term legal technology, or ‘legal tech’ for short, has a descriptive meaning, by virtue of ALM’s long and successful use, the term has come to identify ALM’s leading conference and has become a trademark.

Indeed, the US and European trade mark offices recognised these rights when it permitted ALM’s registration of the marks many years ago.

I wonder if the ALM spokesperson has ventured outside, or onto the Internet for that matter, over the last decade or two. There is no way the phrase, “legal tech” has become synonymous with ALM’s conference. Even ALM, knowing their Legaltech show is struggling, changed the conferences name from “Legaltech Show.”

Ciaran Dearden, of the national law firm, Freeths, who is representing Pennington and Harding, has a different take than ALM, one founded in reality, common sense and the law.

The existence of this trade mark is really restrictive for a booming legal technology sector.

“When ‘fintech’ is in the dictionary, but ‘legal tech’ is a registered trademark, there is clearly a problem.

In our view, ‘legal tech’ should be a term open to all to use to describe what is a transformative movement in the legal sector.

The proprietor of a trade mark has to be proactive in protecting its intellectual property, and that simply hasn’t happened here.

In this instance, the proprietor has allowed ‘legal tech’ to become a generic term for the use of technology in the legal sector and, in doing so, has undermined the basis for the mark’s protection in relation to the proprietor’s services such that the trade mark should be cancelled.

Pennington told Bindman that ALM’s position is ridiculous and that he’s 99% sure the mark will be cancelled.

You look at the number of companies at Companies House that have got the words ‘legal tech’, let alone the number of conferences… There is no way [ALM have] control over it.

Now everyone is using the term, you can’t then turn round and say you’ve got to stop using it.

“’Legal tech’ should be free to use to describe any product that works in the legal sector like ‘fintech’ describes any that works in the financial services sector.”

Sadly, to be safe from ALM suing them, Pennington and Harding rebranded their legal tech conference as Legal Technology North, temporarily, knowing that they’d be challenging the trademark.

In an effort to get the word out on the conference and to give kudos to Pennington and Harding for having the gumption and desire to help lawyers and the people they serve, via tech and innovation, I’ve been tweeting word of the conference and the coverage the conference received in the Sheffield business community and beyond.

Local media in Northern UK took pride of the fact that local entrepreneurs were looking to grow the tech community in the area, something that London is better known for. 

It’s a shame when ALM, which bills itself as covering breaking news and trends in legal and bringing the leaders in the industry together, doesn’t cover or support legal technology and innovation efforts like this one. Let alone, try to impede them. 

Money doesn’t grow on trees for these two Sheffield legal entrepreneurs. In an effort to raise £5,000 for their defense of ALM’s trademark claim, they’ve launched a Gofundme campaign to raise money.


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