Recently patched Ubuntu needs another quick patch

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Sometimes when I fix things around my house I end up causing more problems. Software developers are the same way. Last week, Canonical‘s Ubuntu developers fixed over 10 security bugs in Ubuntu 18.04… But, as it turned out, it introduced at least two other bugs.

Also: Ubuntu 18.04 needs patching

The Ubuntu security team admitted: “USN-3871-1 fixed vulnerabilities in the Linux kernel for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. Unfortunately, that update introduced regressions with docking station displays and mounting ext4 file systems with the meta_bg option enabled. “

These aren’t show-stopping bugs for most of us, but if you’re one of the people they hit, you’d feel differently. So, it behooves you to patch the patch sooner rather than later.

The patch replaces the troubled linux-image 4.15.0-44.47 with the fixed linux-image 4.15.0-45.48 kernel.

Also: Inside Ubuntu’s financials

Besides Ubuntu 18.04, this bug can impact Ubuntu variants as  Kubuntu, Xubuntu, and Lubuntu. They could also pop up on Linux distros, such as Mint 19 and Mint 19.1, which are built on top of Ubuntu 18.04


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To patch an Ubuntu desktop, run Update Manager. Once up, check for new updates and press the ‘Install Updates’ button to upgrade the selected packages to their updated version on your PC. On a server without a GUI, run the following commands from the shell:

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Then, after installing the patches, reboot the system to make sure the changes are all put in place.

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Tech Companies Have a Brand Image Problem: Here's How to Solve It

Tech companies everywhere, but especially those in Silicon Valley, have a serious brand image problem. Over the past few years, major tech companies have drawn ire from the public for their lack of diversity, apathy toward privacy issues, as well as their accumulation of wealth.

This isn’t exactly stopping people from using the tech products we’ve come to rely on so heavily, but it is having an effect on share prices–and it’s attracting stricter regulations from governments all over the world. If these corporate juggernauts are going to earn back the trust of consumers, shareholders, and policymakers, they need to take serious strides to change how they’re publicly perceived. There are several ways to accomplish this, but it’s going to take a concentrated effort.

Diversity and Representation

First, Silicon Valley has a major diversity problem–and has had one for many years. The overwhelming majority of tech CEOs (and even tech employees) are white men. This is problematic both for the vision and products of the companies and for the reputation of those companies in the general public. Having a leadership team without representation from women and minority groups means your company is less likely to consider the wants, needs, and perspectives of those groups; it’s why we end up with algorithms that discriminate against women and minorities.

There is a fix, though it’s not necessarily a simple one. The most obvious solution is to hire more people from underrepresented groups, but tech companies don’t always have the luxury of having equal or proportional quantities of applicants from each of those groups; in other words, you can’t hire more women if there aren’t many qualified women applying.

So instead of simply adjusting HR practices to hire more applicants who belong to underrepresented demographics, companies need to take part in programs designed to incentivize people from minority groups to pursue careers in tech. As an example, Women in Technology (WiT) programs are becoming more popular, offering mentorship and guidance for young women looking for careers in fields like software engineering, mechanical engineering, or signal processing. Given a few years of development, enough early-stage outreach programs like these could fill the pipelines with more appliances from diverse groups, and slowly change the overall composition of these companies.

Consumer Privacy and Corporate Transparency

Tech companies have also taken a hit on the consumer privacy front, with Facebook showing up in the headlines many times in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, when it was a London-based political consulting firm was capable of harvesting the personal data of millions of Facebook users for political manipulation purposes. Apple, Amazon, Google, and other companies have also been called to testify in front of a Senate Committee on consumer privacy protections.

We use devices, software, and digital products capable of collecting and storing ridiculous quantities of data on our lives, from where we are at any given time to what we’re talking about in our homes. With opaque and hard-to-understand terms of service agreements and an increasing diversity of connected devices, consumers and policymakers are more concerned than ever that data could be used for nefarious purposes–and tech brands are getting labeled as malicious, data-hungry consumer manipulators, working in darkness to take advantage of us.

There’s no quick fix to this dilemma, but offering more transparency is a good start. Giving users more options when it comes to their privacy, giving them simpler tools so they can truly understand what’s at stake when they use a product or service, and taking accountability when breaches do occur are the only path to restore trust.

Leadership and a Company “Face”

Tech brands also suffer from being faceless, corporate conglomerates. They’re either so massive they don’t have a public face, or their public face seems too detached from reality to seem relatable. Take, for example, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg; this man serves as the “face” of Facebook, but has become generally disliked and distrusted due to his reclusiveness and seemingly robotic disposition when testifying before Congress. Or take Jeff Bezos, who is periodically caricatured as a cartoonish supervillain due to his similarly reclusive nature, his ambition for growth, and his access to practically unlimited resources.

Having a stronger, more trustworthy public face isn’t going to fix everything, but it would give the public someone more relatable to associate with the brand. And it doesn’t have to be a charismatic, charming CEO either–it can be a handful of PR reps or even customer representatives who make consumers feel like there are “real” people behind these companies, instead of just automated tech and reclusive billionaires. It would be a massive investment, to be sure, but it’s one of the only reliable ways to rebuild public trust.

Become an Armchair Quarterback With These Amazon Alexa Super Bowl Skills

Alexa, who is playing in the 2019 Super Bowl?

For those who are clueless about the big game on Sunday, Amazon’s Alexa is able to help. (In case you were wondering, it’s the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams.)

There are now more than 80,000 skills in Amazon’s Alexa store, according to CEO Jeff Bezos. And thankfully, for football rookies, these will come in handy for game day:

The Rookie’s Guide to the NFL

Go straight to the source with the NFL’s Alexa skill. After enabling this skill, Alexa will be able to help explain everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the game, including rules, penalties, scoring, plays and football lingo. The NFL skill even offers a history lesson previous Super Bowls.

Tom Brady Facts

By now, rookies may have learned that Tom Brady, widely regarded as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, will be playing to win his sixth Super Bowl championship ring. Patriots fans may want to consult the “Tom Brady Facts” skill during the big game, so they can attempt to back up any trash talk with facts.

American Football Trivia

Learn something newor test your existing gridiron smartswith the American Football Trivia skill. And then get ready for the big game.

In addition to the ads, Amazon is teasing a new, celebrity-packed commercial this year, showing what might happen when the company puts Alexa in everyday objects. Expect a hilarious cameo from Harrison Ford, who tells his rambunctious dog to stop ordering so much foot by barking at its Alexa-enabled smart collar.

Last year, Amazon had to do some behind the scenes tinkering to make sure customers’ speakers wouldn’t go haywire when the word “Alexa” was mentioned ten times in the company’s 2018 Super Bowl ad. Let’s hope this year’s game plan is equally effective.

The US Government Shutdown Tops This Week's Internet News

Last week was nice and quiet. Well, nice and quiet if you ignore President Trump’s advisor Roger Stone being arrested and indicted, Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort being ordered to appear in court to face charges of lying to federal authorities, and everything going on in Venezuela. Oh, and Facebook making money off of kids and Twitter boss Jack Dorsey blaming Twitter users for not reporting Nazis enough. OK, so maybe it wasn’t a quiet week. It was so noisy, in fact, you may have missed a few things. Catch up here.

They Don’t Really Care About Us

What Happened: Despite all the hand-wringing, there’s a good chance many in power in the US government aren’t too sensitive to those affected by the government shutdown. Or, at least, that’s how it seemed based on some comments out of the Trump administration last week.

What Really Happened: The US spent most of last week still in the throes of a governmental shutdown fueled by an administration headed by people often considered too wealthy to understand the cost of living for most Americans. (Remember the time President Trump seemed to suggest that ID was required to buy groceries?) Last week, that out-of-touch-ness truly hit home.

Take Lara Trump’s comments early in the week, in which the wife of Eric Trump responded to the suggestion that the shutdown hurts federal workers by saying, “this so much bigger than any one person. It is a little bit of pain, but it’s going to be for the future of our country and their children and their grandchildren and generations after that will thank them for their sacrifice right now.”

To say that her comments weren’t wellreceived would be an understatement.

Later, Lara Trump would blame the media for misreporting her words. Still, surely this is a one-off thing and wouldn’t be repeated by another person connected to the administration this week or anything.

Ah yes, commerce secretary Wilbur Ross. Wonder what he had to say about the whole thing?

The comments were widely shared by the media. Democrats had some words for Ross, as well.

All told, things weren’t looking good for the administration on the messaging thing, with more and more people noticing just how unable those in charge seem to be with regards to understanding what most people have to deal with.

But wait, President Trump had something to add. Surely this could turn the whole thing around.

Oh. Never mind.

The Takeaway: Remember when President Obama was called elitist for talking about arugula? (No really, that was an actual thing.) Doesn’t old politics seem so quaint now?

The State of Disunity

What Happened: If President Trump learned anything this past week, it is surely not to call the bluff of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. If the president hasn’t learned that this week, then he really hasn’t been paying attention.

What Really Happened: One byproduct of the government shutdown was the State of the Union skirmish, which pitted Trump against Democrats in Congress. For those who might not have been paying attention, two weeks ago Pelosi told the president to reschedule the State of the Union address because of the shutdown, citing the costs of managing it. Trump responded by withdrawing use of military aircraft for a trip to a war zone that Pelosi had scheduled, and in the process made said trip public knowledge for the first time. Sure, it wasn’t a great response, but it was something.

Last week, the drama … intensified? Sure, let’s go with that.

Ohhhhh … snap?

There was one obvious flaw in the White House’s logic here. Namely, the possibility that Nancy Pelosi isn’t playing around.

OK, that’s pretty embarrassing for the president (and pretty great for Pelosi, let’s be honest), all things considered.

After having had his bluff called so publicly, there was some discussion over whether or not the president would have some further trick up his sleeve, and if there was a move that no one could see coming on the way. Alas.

Indeed, Trump officially postponed the State of the Union not long after Pelosi’s … is it rude to call it a shutdown of Trump’s gambit? Maybe just a little. Still, the same public address that the video above came from also featured President Trump’s new nickname for Speaker Pelosi. If it could really be called a nickname.

The Takeaway: So, is Nancy Pelosi actually Donald Trump’s kryptonite? Because it’s sure beginning to look like that.

Rhyme Time

What Happened: When it comes to expressing complex messages, is there any better form to do so than a rhyming couplet? Well, sure, perhaps a limerick, but we’re definitely not there just yet. Give it a week.

What Really Happened: It’s fair to say that the shutdown, which Trump said on Friday would end for three weeks, had almost the exact opposite outcome President Trump hoped for, considering that went on for more than a month with no border wall funding and the majority of Americans blaming him, which has driven his disapproval ratings to an all-time high. In the face of such troublesome reality, something had to be done. And this president is the man to do those things, as long as “those things” consist entirely of tweets.

As if to emphasize it was “the new theme,” Trump then repeated the phrase on a number of occasions over the next 24 hours.

Who could fail to be convinced by such a compelling rhyme? Especially considering how hard President Trump apparently worked on the slogan, as he (somewhat staggeringly) boasted in public comments.

There are, of course, some people who were less enthused about, say, the fact that it’s not actually a true statement. Something that the president himself has kind of talked about in a very roundabout way.

Actually, while we’re talking about statements that are technically untrue, it should be noted that the president’s tweet announcing the slogan was not exactly correct, either.

There was also this take:

Still, at least some people got into the spirit of things. Admittedly, not the spirit the president was wanting them to get into.

Such treatment did get people talking about “the new theme,” but mostly in the context of how stupid and easily parodied it was. Still, all publicity is good publicity, right?

The Takeaway: Perhaps thoughts of how truthful the slogan is might be looking at things the wrong way.

National Emergency

What Happened: When all else fails, go back to the Discarded Strategies pile.

What Really Happened: On Thursday, two bills to reopen the government finally made it to the Senate floor; one from the Republicans that would offer the president full funding for a wall at US southern border, and one from Democrats that wouldn’t. Both failed to pass, but—as many noted—the Democratic solution came closer to success than the president’s plan, with six Republicans voting to approve it. Whether it was that embarrassment, the fact that the shutdown was seemingly dragging on with no end in sight while provoking federal workers to protest, or the fact that even Trump’s base was increasingly blaming him for this mess, Thursday night saw the revival of a discarded plan to bring the longest government shutdown in American history to a close.

Even though Trump relented to a three-week reprieve on Friday, the situation is still one in which the president might declare a national emergency, which would allow him to redirect funds already earmarked for use elsewhere by the federal government to build the wall. With the wall technically “funded,” Trump would then re-open the federal government for good, having “won.” There you have it.

It was not a particularly well-liked move outside of the White House.

If all of this is sounding a little familiar, it should; this was a route anticipated weeks ago that Trump ended up backing away from. That he’s returned to the idea two weeks later demonstrates two things: Firstly, that he’s run out of all other options. Secondly, that it’s really not a national emergency after all, considering. That said, maybe the wall isn’t the point here at all.

The Takeaway: You have to wonder what folks in Mexico, which was originally supposed to be paying for the wall, are wondering about all of this right now, don’t you?

Shhhhh…

What Happened: President Trump temporarily convinced his former lawyer Michael Cohen to shut up. Probably.

What Really Happened: The shutdown and related matters weren’t the only issues plaguing Trump last week, of course. There are also the ongoing legal worries he has over the Russia investigation. At the beginning of last week, there were two weeks to go before Trump’s former attorney was slated to appear before Congress. Many expected Cohen’s appearance to be filled with interesting information, especially in light of a (admittedly disputed) report that Cohen had previously been directed to lie to Congress by the president. But then, this happened:

Admittedly, that sounds pretty serious. But it’s not as if it’s a legal ma—what’s that?

Maybe that’s making a mountain out of a molehill. After all, what kind of threats are we talking about?

OK, so that sounds very serious indeed, and sure enough, the delay made plenty of headlines, as should be expected considering the context. After all, this is directly accusing the President of the United States of witness intimidation—and also noting that it’s working. For those wondering, Congress wasn’t particularly happy about this turn of events.

In fact, it issued a subpoena to ensure that Cohen couldn’t back out of testifying. That worked; he’s back on the schedule for late February. In addition, Cohen’s lawyer asked Congress to censure the president for his behavior to date.

But what does Trump have to say about all this, anyway?

But, you know, it’s not about him. Maybe the threats are really coming from other people who aren’t the person at the center of this investigation who has already been told to cool it with the threats.

Somewhere, Sean Hannity is either terrified that he’s going to be at the center of this story as it continues to unfold, or he’s delighted to be relevant again. It’s hard to know which just yet.

The Takeaway: Actually, there’s one thing particularly interesting about this whole ordeal. Maybe there’s a specific reason Trump keeps talking about Michael Cohen’s father-in-law beyond simply trying to get people to stop talking about him….


More Great WIRED Stories

Uber Wants Self-Driving Scooters and More Car News This Week

Yeah, WIRED Transportation loves new car tech. But this week, we were all about alternatives to driving around on four wheels. We thought about what might make public transit more comfortable for more than half of the population—you know, women. We pondered the feasibility of self-riding bikes and scooters. (Uber is really working on them!) We wondered what might happen to the nation’s aviation system now that the federal government is open again—and came away depressed. And we took a close look at Amazon’s delivery robots. Why leave your house at all?

It’s been a week—let’s get you caught up.

Headlines

Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week

Out-of-Left-Field Hero of the Week

When was the last time New York’s LaGuardia Airport did something nice for you? The airport, which is consistently ranked among the worst in the country and was famously likened by former Vice President Joe Biden to a “third world country”, may have played an instrumental role in the conclusion of the nation’s longer federal shutdown. On Friday, the airport had to halt all traffic due to “staffing issues” at a nearby air traffic control center. Just hours later, President Donald Trump said he and congressional leaders had reached an agreement to open the government for three weeks. Thanks, LaGuardia? (Also, the air traffic controllers.)

Stat of the Week

30.5%

According to a new study by UCLA medical researchers, nearly a third of the 249 electric-scooter-related injuries that brought people to two LA-area hospitals in between September 2017 and September 2018 were fractures—mostly arm, shoulder, and leg fractures. Other top injuries included head injuries (40.2 percent) and contusions and sprains (26.9 percent). Five patients were admitted to emergency hospitals with intracranial hemorrhaging.

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In the Rearview

Essential stories from WIRED’s canon
From last year: Why use a car when you can ride a bike at 184 mph?

China's Fujian Jinhua to file complaint to be taken off U.S. export control list

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese chipmaker Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co Ltd said on Friday it has notified the Unites States that it plans to file a complaint to be taken off the export control list, according to a statement on social media.

The firm added that it does not pose any security risk to the United States.

Earlier this month, the company said it had pleaded not guilty to U.S government charges that it stole trade secrets.

The U.S Justice Department had last year launched an indictment against Fujian Jinhua and United Microelectronics Corp (2303.TW), alleging they attempted to steal trade secrets from memory chip maker Micron Technology Inc (MU.O).

The U.S. Commerce Department had put Fujian Jinhua on a list of entities that cannot buy components, software and technology goods from U.S. firms.

Reporting by Josh Horwitz; Editing by Himani Sarkar

China's Huawei books record sales in its smartphone business

BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd said on Thursday its consumer business sales exceeded a record $52 billion in 2018, on strong demand for its premium smartphones, even as it continued to face heightened global scrutiny of its activities.

The head of Huawei’s consumer business group, Richard Yu, speaks during a presentation in Beijing, China, January 24, 2019.REUTERS/Thomas Peter

The jump of around 50 percent in the technology giant’s consumer business revenue saw that unit replace its carrier business as its largest segment by sales, Richard Yu, the head of the consumer division, said in Beijing.

Huawei last month flagged that total revenue in 2018 rose 21 percent to $109 billion without providing a breakdown of segment performance.

Huawei on Thursday also unveiled its first 5G base station chipset called Tiangang as well as its 5G modem Balong 5000, which it described as the most powerful 5G modem in the world.

Yu said it was the world’s first 5G modem that fully supports both Non-Standalone (NSA) and Standalone (SA) 5G network architecture.

The firm has been using its chipsets in its high-end phones and server products, though it has said it has no intention to become a standalone semiconductor vendor that competes against the likes of Intel Corp and Qualcomm Inc.

Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecommunications equipment, has been facing intense scrutiny in the past year over its relationship with China’s government and U.S.-led allegations that its devices could be used by Beijing for spying. The firm has repeatedly denied the accusations.

Some countries such as the United States and its allies, including Australia and New Zealand, have restricted Huawei’s access to their markets.

The firm’s finance chief Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, also daughter of its founder, was arrested in Canada last month at the behest of the United States.

She has been released on bail but is still in Canada as the United States pursues her extradition on allegations she defrauded banks with Iran-related sanctions. Huawei has denied wrongdoing.

Reporting by Sijia Jiang in HONG KONG and Cate Cadell in BEIJING; Editing by Christopher Cushing

Google, Facebook spend big on U.S. lobbying amid policy battles

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google disclosed in a quarterly filing on Tuesday that it spent a company-record $21.2 million on lobbying the U.S. government in 2018, topping its previous high of $18.22 million in 2012, as the search engine operator fights wide-ranging scrutiny into its practices.

FILE PHOTO – The outside of the Google offices is seen in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

In its filing to Congress on Tuesday, Facebook Inc disclosed that it also spent more on government lobbying in 2018 than it ever had before at $12.62 million. That was up from $11.51 million a year ago, according to tracking by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Google’s spent $18.04 million on lobbying in 2017, according to the center’s data.

Google and Facebook declined to comment beyond their filings.

U.S. lawmakers and regulators have weighed new privacy and antitrust rules to rein in the power of large internet service providers such as Google, Facebook and Amazon.com Inc. Regulatory backlash in the United States, as well as Europe and Asia, is near the top of the list of concerns for technology investors, according to financial analysts.

Microsoft Corp spent $9.52 million on lobbying in 2018, according to its disclosure on Tuesday, up from $8.5 million in 2017 but below its $10.5 million tab in 2013.

Apple Inc spent $6.62 million last year, compared to its record of $7.15 million in 2017, according to center data going back to 1998.

Apple and Microsoft did not respond to requests to comment. A filing from Amazon was expected later on Tuesday.

Google disclosed that new discussion topics with regulators in the fourth quarter included its search technology, criminal justice reform and international tax reform. The company is perennially among the top spenders on lobbying in Washington along with a few cable operators, defense contractors and healthcare firms.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai, who testified in December before a U.S. House of Representatives panel for the first time, has said the company backs the idea of national privacy legislation. But he has contested accusations of the company having a political bias in its search results and of stifling competition.

Susan Molinari, Google’s top U.S. public policy official, stepped down to take on an advisory role this month.

Facebook said discussing “election integrity” with national security officials was among its new lobbying areas in the fourth quarter. The filing said the company continued to lobby the Federal Trade Commission, which is investigating its data security practices.

Reporting by Paresh Dave; Additional reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Sonya Hepinstall