Starlink Beta Begins, youtube-dl Takedown, Ubuntu on RPi4, Zoom E2EE, NASA Touches Down on Asteroid

  • From Category5 Technology TV S14E03
  • October 28, 2020
The weekly tech news from Category5 TV is provided free of charge. If you enjoy what we do, please consider becoming a Patron so we can continue offering more great content.
Support This Free Content

Here are the stories we're following for the week of Wednesday October 28, 2020

The public beta of SpaceX Starlink Internet service has begun

The public beta of SpaceX Starlink Internet service has begun

SpaceX has begun sending email invitations to Starlink's public beta and will charge beta users $99 per month plus a one-time fee of $499 for the user terminal, mounting tripod, and router. The emails are being sent to people who previously registered interest in the service on the Starlink website.

SpaceX is calling it the "Better Than Nothing" beta, perhaps partly because the Starlink satellite service will be most useful to people who can't get cable or fibre broadband. But the email also says, "As you can tell from the title, we are trying to lower your initial expectations."

The email reads, "Expect to see data speeds vary from 50-150Mbps and latency from 20-40ms over the next several months as we enhance the Starlink system. There will also be brief periods of no connectivity at all. As we launch more satellites, install more ground stations, and improve our networking software, data speed, latency, and uptime will improve dramatically. For latency, we expect to achieve 16-19ms by summer 2021."

There is apparently no data cap. A Starlink mobile app to help beta users set up and manage the service also just went live on Apple's App Store and Google Play.

Elon Musk recently said that the public beta will be for the Northern US and "hopefully" Southern Canada. SpaceX plans to provide Starlink to a school district in Texas in early 2021, but that doesn't mean the public beta is available to anyone in the South. The wait may not be too long, though, as SpaceX has said it will reach "near global coverage of the populated world by 2021."


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash

youtube-dl has been hit with a DMCA Takedown by the RIAA

youtube-dl has been hit with a DMCA Takedown by the Recording Industry Association of America

The RIAA have issued a DMCA Takedown on the open source project, youtube-dl, on their GitHub repository. This is done under the guise of protecting content creators from having their ad revenue stolen.

youtube-dl however is often used by archivists, and users who suffer from a slow internet connection in order to allow them to watch the content. There are, of course, those that use it to circumvent ads, but we can't pretend ad-blockers don’t exist, which accomplish the same goal with less effort. So, are ad blockers next on the list?

Here at Category5, we're content creators. We post our videos on YouTube, and we depend on the revenue it generates. But like the Electronic Frontier Foundation points out, we believe "youtube-dl is a legitimate tool with a world of lawful uses."

See, we know we have viewers who are watching in areas where Internet just isn't very good. We've heard from troops who watch our show in their tents while at war. We have fans who live in areas where high speed Internet just doesn't exist yet. So we make sure they have access to our content for free, with the hope that they will support us through Patreon if they are able.

We received an email from a viewer this week asking us how they can watch our show while circumventing YouTube. Is it surprising that we, the very content creators who rely on the revenue YouTube provides, responded by providing BitTorrent files of all 13 past seasons, plus recommended the "Download" button found on the page of every episode we publish on our web site?

As content creators, we understand the need for revenue. It costs a lot of money to do what we do. But for the RIAA to demand youtube-dl be shutdown seems shady.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation fights these types of battles on behalf of open source projects. You can help protect projects like youtube-dl by donating at


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash

Ubuntu Groovy Gorilla adds Raspberry Pi as a “first class citizen”

Last week, Canonical released the latest intermediate version of Ubuntu, 20.10 "Groovy Gorilla"—which, for the first time, adds first-class platform support for the Raspberry Pi 4.

Groovy Gorilla itself is a pretty typical interim release, offering an updated GNOME version with lots of bugfixes and small feature additions. Support has also been added for Windows Active Directory in the Ubiquity OS installer itself.

And while it has been possible for some time to install Ubuntu on Raspberry Pi hardware, up until now that has been strictly a community effort. The Pi itself ships with Raspberry Pi OS, a Debian-based distribution whose origins began with the Pi community, but which has since been officially adopted and supported by the Raspberry Pi Foundation itself. While Canonical added the Pi as a supported platform in 20.04 earlier this year, that support was only for the Ubuntu Server distribution—not Desktop.

With 20.10 Groovy Gorilla, Canonical has added full desktop support for the Pi 4. Martin Wimpress, Canonical's director of engineering for the Ubuntu Desktop, says this means the Pi is now a "first-class citizen." Canonical guarantees the same level of integration, QA, and support from kernel to userspace that it does for a standard PC. The entire Ubuntu software repository is available and supported on the Pi. Of course, that's other than architecture-specific packages that start with names like i386 and are therefore not compatible with the Raspberry Pi's ARM processor.

If you'd like to install Ubuntu 20.10 Desktop on the Pi, you'll need a 4GiB or 8GiB Pi 4. As long as you meet the hardware requirements, the install is a breeze—Ubuntu 20.10 Desktop is an option in the standard Raspberry Pi Imager now; the Imager itself is available for Linux, Windows, or Mac platforms.

To get up and running, insert a 4GB+ MicroSD card, open the imager, choose Ubuntu 20.10, and click "write." A few minutes later, you'll be able to boot the official Ubuntu 20.10 for Raspberry Pi 4.


Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson

Zoom has added end-to-end encryption for all, for free – though there are caveats, and we'll tell you what they are.

Zoom has added end-to-end encryption to its video conferencing service at no additional cost for all users, whether they are paying subscribers or not.

The feature has been long awaited given the service’s massive adoption as a result of pandemic lockdowns: something that swung a spotlight on its patchy security.

The company announced on Tuesday that the new feature is available now as a “technical preview” for the next 30 days, and it's looking for user feedback before rolling it out en masse.

Zoom CISO Jason Lee gives kudos to Keybase, who joined the company in May to develop the security feature, taking just six months to do so.

Zoom says its end-to-end encryption will use 256-bit AES-GCM, and a secure key exchange is performed before hand to ensure only the participants on the call can decrypt each others' part of the conversations – and no eavesdroppers, not even Zoom itself, can listen in.

Zoom already encrypted some of its communications, though it wasn't truly end to end until now.

In order to use the end-to-end encryption, an account admin has to enable the feature.

Zoom's end-to-end encryption is limited to 200 participants, so for larger meetings where encryption may not be a needed feature, such as a public forum or digital Comic-Con, it can be disabled to allow more people to join.

Other restrictions of the service are a lack of cloud recording and live transcription. Breakout rooms, polling, and one-to-one private chats are also unavailable when end-to-end encryption are off, as are live emojis.

Perhaps the biggest caveat of all though is that each user must have the official Zoom client installed in order to participate. So browser-based participation will not be available for encrypted meetings. Third-party Zoom clients will also not work when end-to-end encryption is enabled.

The feature is available on new releases of the Zoom software for macOS, Windows, Android, Linux, and iOS.


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash

A NASA spacecraft successfully touched down on an asteroid to collect a sample.

After orbiting the near-Earth asteroid Bennu for nearly two years, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully touched down and reached out its robotic arm to collect a sample from the asteroid's surface last week.

The sample will be returned to Earth in 2023.

To achieve this historic first for NASA, a van-size spacecraft had to briefly touch down its arm in a landing site called Nightingale. The site is the width of a few parking spaces.

The arm reached out to collect a sample, which could be between 2 ounces and 2 kilograms. Then, the spacecraft backed away to safety.

Everything went perfectly based on the data returned by the spacecraft, according to Dante Lauretta, the mission's principal investigator and a professor at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. He said he feels "transcendent" and the team is "exuberant" based on the current data.

Lauretta said in a statement, "After over a decade of planning, the team is overjoyed at the success of today's sampling attempt. I look forward to analyzing the data to determine the mass of sample collected."

Preliminary data show the sampling head touched Bennu’s surface for approximately 6 seconds, after which the spacecraft performed a back-away burn.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate said in a statement, "A piece of primordial rock that has witnessed our solar system's entire history may now be ready to come home for generations of scientific discovery, and we can't wait to see what comes next."

The mission -- which stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer -- launched in September 2016.

Since arriving at Bennu, the spacecraft and its cameras have been collecting and sending back data and images to help the team learn more about the asteroid's composition and map the best potential landing sites to collect samples.

The main event of the mission is the Touch-and-Go sample collection event, or TAG, that occurred last week.

The event took about 4 1/2 hours total to unfold and the spacecraft executed three maneuvers to collect the sample from Bennu, which could help scientists understand not only more about asteroids that could impact Earth but also about how planets formed and life began.


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


Twitter Posts

Login to Category5

Error message here!

Hide Error message here!

Forgot your password?

Register on Category5

Error message here!

Error message here!

Hide Error message here!

Lost your password? Please enter your email address. You will receive a link to create a new password.

Error message here!

Back to log-in