the unofficial Slashdot digest archive

ESA Releases Largest Star Map Ever Online

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
S810 writes: The European Space Agency (ESA) has released a treasure trove of data from its Gaia Spacecraft; totaling around 1.7 billion stars. This star map is the largest of its kind to date. In addition to the star map, the data also contains motion and color data of 1.3 billion stars relative to the Sun. Furthermore, it includes "radial velocities, amount of dust, and surface temperatures of lots of stars, and a catalogue of over 14,000 Solar System objects, including asteroids," reports Gizmodo. You can view the data here, and view a guide for what the data contains and how to use it here.

Kazakhstan Is Changing Its Alphabet From Cyrillic To Latin-Based Style Favored By the West

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: The Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan is changing its alphabet from Cyrillic script to the Latin-based style favored by the West. The change, announced on a blustery Tuesday morning in mid-February, was small but significant -- and it elicited a big response. The government signed off on a new alphabet, based on a Latin script instead of Kazakhstan's current use of Cyrillic, in October. But it has faced vocal criticism from the population -- a rare occurrence in this nominally democratic country ruled by Nazarbayev's iron fist for almost three decades. In this first version of the new alphabet, apostrophes were used to depict sounds specific to the Kazakh tongue, prompting critics to call it "ugly." The second variation, which Kaipiyev liked better, makes use of acute accents above the extra letters. So, for example, the Republic of Kazakhstan, which would in the first version have been Qazaqstan Respy'bli'kasy, is now Qazaqstan Respyblikasy, removing the apostrophes. The BBC article goes on to explain the economics of such a change, citing a restuarant owner that marketed his business using the first version of the alphabet. "All his marketing materials, the labelling on napkin holders and menus, and even the massive sign outside the building will have to be replaced," reports the BBC. "In his attempt to get ahead by launching in the new alphabet, [the owner] had not predicted that the government would revise it. He thinks it will cost about $3,000 to change the spelling of the name on everything to the new version, Sabiz." The full transition to the Latin-based script is expected to be completed by 2025, impacting this owner and many other small business owners.


By ladislavb • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Yes, Azerbaijan switched from Cyrillic to Latin alphabet in 2001.


By Zontar The Mindless • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Only thing I can think of that comes close is simplification of written Chinese under Mao, but even that wasn't as radical as this. (During the Cultural Revolution, the leftists wanted to switch to a Latin alphabet, but even Mao couldn't make that happen.)

Horrible idea

By kbahey • Score: 3 • Thread

What is it with dictators trying to shape their countries' cultures with changing alphabet in the name of modernity?

Look at Ataturk and what he did to Turkish. He changed the alphabet to be Latin too, but with extra accents on some letters to make up for the sounds that do not exist in Latin. The result is that the same letters sound different. For example the c letter sounds like sh, and so on.

Turks today do not speak English, Spanish nor French, nor any other widespread language despite that the alphabet is 'Western'. They are also cut off form their 600 or so years of recorded history with a vast amount of literature written in the Osmanli script, which is Arabic derived.

Even the first compendium of Turkic languages, Kashgari's Diwan Lughat Al Turk, completed in 1074 C.E., cannot be read today by a learned Turk. Only academics versed in the Osmanli script can.

Now, another dictator is doing the same thing to another country in the name of modernization. The results will be similar.


By Zontar The Mindless • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Really? I understand it, the Cultural Revolution was basically an expulsion of anything Western...I'm surprised they wanted to convert to a Latin alphabet.

Your understanding is not entirely incorrect. The Cultural Revolution was not anti-Western as much as it was anti-capitalist and especially anti-traditionalist.

Re:Loss Of Heratige

By Zontar The Mindless • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Kazakh was written in Arabic script for a thousand years prior to Soviet times. Try again.

Belgium Declares Video Game Loot Boxes Gambling and Therefore Illegal

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
The Belgian Gaming Commission has reviewed several big video games and found that randomized loot boxes in at least three of the titles count as "games of chance," and publishers could therefore be subject to fines and prison sentences under the country's gaming legislation. Ars Technica reports: A statement by Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Geens (machine translation) identifies loot boxes in Overwatch, FIFA 18, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive as meeting the criteria for that "game of chance" definition: i.e., "there is a game element [where] a bet can lead to profit or loss and chance has a role in the game." The Commission also looked at Star Wars: Battlefront II and determined that the recent changes EA made to the game means it "no longer technically forms a game of chance." Beyond that simple definition, the Gaming Commission expressed concern over games that draw in players with an "emotional profit forecast" of randomized goods, where players "buy an advantage with real money without knowing what benefit it would be." The fact that these games don't disclose the odds of receiving specific in-game items is also worrisome, the Commission said. The three games noted above must remove their loot boxes or be in criminal violation of the country's gaming legislation, Geens writes. That law carries penalties of up to 800,000EU (~$973,680) and five years in prison, which can be doubled if "minors are involved." But Geens says he wants to start a "dialogue" with loot box providers to "see who should take responsibility where."

Mmm Hmm

By rmdingler • Score: 3, Informative • Thread
'cause Lotto Belgium is a game of skill.

Re:Wow, so much better now

By JMJimmy • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Gambling has long been a protected area due to the social damage it causes beyond the immediate impact to the individual. Loot boxes are gambling without a doubt. They're fine as a game mechanic, so long as you never have to exchange real money to obtain them.

The sad thing is that companies will just move the point of payment. Buying "lives" or "health potions" or something like that, which lets you grind for currency to buy loot boxes and grinding without buying these things will be made impossible.

Re: If you live in Belgium

By DaHat • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

We had a similar problem here in the states, hundreds of millions of dead bodies in the streets because they couldn't afford health insurance (not to mention actual health care)... we got Obamacare as a fix, and now the streets only have living homeless people in them.

As a father loot boxes piss me off

By LostMyBeaver • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
My son buys my daughter loot boxes for her birthday and she opens them in hopes of getting cosmetic enhancements in Overwatch.

I would not be overly upset if the thing she wanted could be outright purchased. I'd even bless it as knowing that she would get what she paid for. But last year, she got loot boxes and every one of them had something she already had. The result being that the money was entirely wasted.

My son and daughter stood by the computer while he prayed his baby sister would get what she'd wanted for so long. And while she was so happy he bought her the loot boxes, he was so disappointed that he wasted his allowance.

Loot boxes are shit. If you want to sell loot boxes, you shouldn't be able to put anything in them you can't outright buy in a store as well.

P.S. - I stopped spending an average of $800 a year on games when these shenanigans came in.

iOS 11.3.1 Fixes Bug Where Third-Party Screen Repairs Made iPhone 8 Touchscreens Stop Working

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
The latest version of iOS 11.3.1 includes a fix for an issue where people who use third-party repair services to replace their displays had their devices become unresponsive. According to release notes, "iOS 11.3.1 improves the security of your iPhone or iPad and addresses an issue where touch input was unresponsive on some iPhone 8 devices because they were serviced with non-genuine replacement displays." Gizmodo reports: Retailers and customers alike suspected that Apple was deliberately letting the issue and other malfunctions that arose from replacing other components go unresolved in some sort of ploy to pressure customers into paying for officially licensed repair services that are more expensive. It's possible that some users indeed were forced to shell out a fair chunk of change to Apple for official repairs, in which case they might justifiably be angry that this was an issue that could be resolved with an update. iOS 11 was notoriously buggy after its release, and Apple has devoted so much effort to bug-fixing that this year's iOS 12 update will reportedly have fewer new features. Though Apple says the 11.3.1 fix will work, it also warned people to please not use third-party repair shops: "Note: Non-genuine replacement displays may have compromised visual quality and may fail to work correctly. Apple-certified screen repairs are performed by trusted experts who use genuine Apple parts. See for more information."


By greenwow • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Apple knew exactly what they were doing.

Non-genuine display

By omnichad • Score: 3 • Thread

Such weasel words: "Non-genuine display." It is a genuine display, it's just not made by or for Apple.


By Freischutz • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

OS 11.3.1 Fixes Bug Where Third-Party Screen Repairs Made iPhone 8 Touchscreens Stop Working

... so all the screaming of bloody murder over Apple doing this deliberately to hurt people who use 3rd party spares was completely unwarranted. I suppose we'll have to going back to sharpening our teeth now in preparation for the next feeding frenzy.


By bill_mcgonigle • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

So could a repair guy install a modded screen that also captures PIN-code data and exfiltrates it, now?
This might come in handy around DC and such.

Amazon Will Now Deliver Packages To the Trunk of Your Car

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Last year, Amazon unveiled a service called Amazon Key that lets delivery people into your home to drop off packages. Now, the tech giant wants to do the same thing with your car. Amazon announced a new service that gives it couriers access to a person's vehicle for the purpose of leaving package deliveries inside. "Amazon wants to use the connected technologies embedded in many modern vehicles today" to gain entry, reports The Verge. "The company is launching this new service in partnership with two major automakers -- General Motors and Volvo -- and will be rolling out in 37 cities in the U.S. starting today." From the report: Amazon has been beta testing the new service in California and Washington state for the past six months. To start out, the service will only be available to Amazon Prime subscribers. It's also limited to owners of GM and Volvo vehicles, model year 2015 or newer, with active OnStar and Volvo on Call accounts. Amazon says it plans to add other automobile brands over time. Packages that weigh over 50 pounds, are larger than 26 x 21 x 16 inches in size, require a signature, are valued over $1,300, or come from a third-party seller also are not eligible for in-car delivery.

To access the new delivery service, you need to add your car to your Amazon Key app and include a description of the vehicle, so Amazon's couriers will be able to locate it. The car will need to be parked within a certain radius of an address used for Amazon deliveries, so either home or work. Driveways, parking lots, parking garages, and street parking are all eligible locations, just as long as it's not at some random address across town. To find your car, Amazon's couriers will have access to its GPS location and license plate number, as well as an image of the car.

Special instructions.

By skids • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Instructions to delivery service: Just move dead body over to the side if package will not fit between legs.

Seems dangerous

By greenwow • Score: 3 • Thread

I only know three people that own GM cars, and that's only because of MAGA. All three of them keep guns in their trunks. Hopefully some law prevents them from giving access to some random delivery person to their guns.

I don't get this

By Edis Krad • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Why does Amazon wants access to a car or my house?

Here's a $50 solution
1) Get large crate, fix it in place to prevent removal
2) Get padlock
3) Leave padlock inside crate
4) Delivery guy places package in crate
5) Delivery guy uses padlock, locks crate
6) Get home, use only key to open padlock
7) Get package
8) ???

And before people start tearing down this idea, ask yourself, is the flaw you found worse than "letting a stranger in my home"....

I suppose in the end...

By sacrilicious • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
... that Amazon will begin a new delivery service called "Amazon Suppository".

Homeless can use Amazon now

By ghoul • Score: 3 • Thread

Given the high rent in California many people with jobs are homeless or living out of cars. They need to save money so ordering on Amazon makes sense. They can use smartphones to order but need an address for delivery. Till now they have been using Amazon lockers. Now they can get it delivered to their car.

Ford To Stop Selling Every Car In North America But the Mustang, Focus Active

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Ford today announced it will phase out most cars it sells in North America. According to its latest financial release, the auto giant "will transition to two vehicles" -- the Mustang and an unannounced vehicle, the Focus Active, being the only traditional cars it sells in the region. Ford sees 90 percent of its North America portfolio in trucks, utilities and commercial vehicles. Citing a reduction in consumer demand and product profitability, Ford is in turn not investing in the next generation of sedans. The Taurus is no more. The press release also talks about a new type of vehicle, though it sounds like a crossover. This so-called white space vehicle will "combine the best attributes of cars and utilities, such as higher ride height, space and versatility." Currently, Ford sells six sedans and coupes in North America: the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, C-Max, Mustang and Taurus. This lineup hits multiple segments, from the compact Fiesta to the mid-size Focus, C-Max and Fusion to the full-size Taurus. The Mustang stands alone as the lone coupe.

Re:How will they achieve CAFE?

By Actually, I do RTFA • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

They classify all the other vehicles (pickups, SUVs) as trucks.

Re:A high ride is a good thing?

By rmdingler • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

There's a reason Corollas became the best selling car of all time over the VW bug a little over twenty years ago. I have a 1992 sixth generation Corolla with nearly 500k miles.


The Nipponese made vehicles of such quality that the earth's preeminent automobile manufacturer was torn asunder, and Detroit has never been the same.

Ironic, perhaps, that two of the nations vanquished in the 2nd World War (Germany and Japan) grew to dominate worldwide automotive manufacturing.

Perhaps divesting one's national goals from military encroachment to industrial excellence promotes national productivity. Who knew?

Model T

By technosaurus • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
They forget how the company was built. A Model T was $300 in 1925 => $4,268.42 in 2018. You can't buy a new car for triple that now.

Where will Amazon deliver my pacakages?!

By Ed Tice • Score: 3 • Thread
They only deliver to GM. Maybe Ford sees the writing on the wall.

Re:Model T

By Hans Lehmann • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
If people were willing to buy a 20hp car with no heater, no AC, no electronics, no radial tires, no electric starter, no air bags, no power seats, a life span of 50,000 miles or so, and that needed servicing every month, I'm sure there would be a $4286 car available today.

Slashdot Asks: How Do You Like the New Gmail UI?

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Earlier today, Google pushed out the biggest revamp of Gmail in years. In addition to a new material design look, there are quick links to other Google services, such as Calendar, Tasks, and Keep, as well as a new "confidential mode" designed to protect users against certain attacks by having the email(s) automatically expire at a time of the sender's choosing. Long-time Slashdot reader Lauren Weinstein shares their initial impressions of Google's new Gmail UI: Google launched general access to their first significant Gmail user interface (UI) redesign in many years today. It's rolling out gradually -- when it hits your account you'll see a "Try the new Gmail" choice under the settings ("gear") icon on the upper right of the page (you can also revert to the "classic" interface for now, via the same menu). But you probably won't need to revert. Google clearly didn't want to screw up Gmail, and my initial impression is that they've succeeded by avoiding radical changes in the UI. I'll bet that some casual Gmail users might not even immediately notice the differences.

The new Gmail UI is what we could call a "minimally disruptive" redesign of the now "classic" version. The overall design is not altered in major respects. So far I haven't found any notable missing features, options, or settings. My impression is that the back end systems serving Gmail are largely unchanged. Additionally, there are a number of new features (some of which are familiar in design from Google's "Inbox" email interface) that are now surfaced for the new Gmail. Crucially, overall readability and usability (including contrast, font choices, UI selection elements, etc.) seem so close to classic Gmail (at least in my limited testing so far) as to make any differences essentially inconsequential. And it's still possible to select a dark theme from settings if you wish, which results in even higher contrast.
Have you tried the new Gmail? If so, how do you like the new interface?

Why are the new UI designs allowed ? :-(

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

We have monochrome designs where we previously had full colour designs (Android, etc) with all the associated loss of valuable information.

We have flat designs where we can't see what's clickable.

We have thinner fonts and lines which are harder to read unless you have perfect vision.

Why isn't there massive pushback from all these changes which reduce usability instead of enhancing it ?

Visual differences comparing Classic and New

By UnknownSoldier • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Since the bloody article can't even show the visual differences here are screenshots comparing the old and new:

* The left column/sidebar of Inbox, Important, Sent Mail, etc. is wider. Number of unread are now in their own sub-column instead of immediately after the Folder name.

Old left Sidebar
New left Sidebar

* Tabs (Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, Forums) no longer have a vertical line separating them. You HAVE to mouse over them to see where each button ends.

Old Tabs
New Tabs

* The 2nd column which showed the Senders and the number of emails in a thread no longer shows (#) but just the # number by itself making this harder to read.

Old senders
New senders

The Topic column is less wide, meaning you can't see entire short emails now.

Old subject
New subject

Do. Not. Want.

"Get off my LAN." -- Grumpy old programmer

How to activate the new UI

By UnknownSoldier • Score: 3 • Thread

Here are step-by-step instructions to try out the new UI:

1. Click on Gear top right

2. Click on the first menu choice Try the new Gmail
If you don't see "Try the new Gmail" menu choice -- it hasn't been rolled out to your account (yet).

3. Select the layout Default, Comfortable, Compact
Don't worry if you picked the wrong choice. You can click on gear icon in the top right and the non-descript Display density to choose between the three.

Thankfully we can Go back to classic Gmail for now -- until Google rams it down our throats, whether we want it or not.

Re:Why are the new UI designs allowed ? :-(

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Why isn't there massive pushback from all these changes which reduce usability instead of enhancing it ?

Because modern UI design is a crypto-fascist plot. Think about it. Have you ever met a UI designer? No one has. They don't exist.

UI tweaks are a control mechanism. The NSA, working with MI6 and former KGB expats, have infiltrated Silicon Valley. Internet is the new mass media. Control the internet population and you control the world.

These UI changes are part of a long game to degrade people's ability to absorb accurate information. Pretty soon everything will be eggshell colored text on an ivory background. At that point, who's to say who is right? Fake news, real news, it all reads the same when everything is illegible. The CIA wins.

There is a resistance movement. We render everything as green text on a black background, just as god intended. Our callsign is ][. Look for us in the dark places on the interwebs, where mortals fear to tread.

Re:Why are the new UI designs allowed ? :-(

By Dutch Gun • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

You forgot:

We now have light gray on white visual elements, because high contrast, easy to spot UI elements are so gauche.

We have mystery meat navigation elements (text doesn't show up until you mouse over), because even though designers 15 years ago figured out that was bad, a new generation apparently has to relearn the same lessons.

Sigh... Generally speaking, the new UI looks prettier and more professional / polished (the old UI was admittedly ugly), but it actually looks slightly less usable to me. It's a shame we can't get both.

Trump Meets With Apple's Tim Cook To Talk Trade

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
New submitter genfail shares a report from Reuters: President Donald Trump met with Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday to discuss trade issues as the technology industry grapples with a U.S. spat over import tariffs with China, a manufacturing hub for the iPhone maker and other companies. Apple, the world's largest technology company, and other hardware makers have deep ties with China, where many of their products are built for export around the world. Cook urged an easing of U.S.-China tensions and called for more open trade after the trade dispute flared last month between the world's two largest economies. Trump announced about $50 billion in planned tariffs on certain Chinese imports, China retaliated with proposed tariffs on some American goods and Trump responded that the United States could counter with $100 billion in additional levies. U.S. and Chinese officials have been working to resolve the dispute.

Re:We'll make Mexico pay for the trade war

By greenwow • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Someone over a year ago on Microsoft NBC said something along the lines that "we take what Trump says too seriously and what he does not seriously enough." Sounds like you're in that category. He's much more careful with his actions than his mouth.

Will Trump help Cook

By Spy Handler • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

make Apple great again?

Or will Cook help Trump think different?

Bezop Cryptocurrency Server Exposes Personal Info of 25,000 Investors

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
lod123 shares a report from Threatpost: A leaky Mongo database exposed personal information, including scanned passports and driver's licenses, of 25,000 investors and potential investors tied to the Bezop cryptocurrency, according to researchers. Kromtech Security said that it found the unprotected data on March 30, adding that it included a treasure-trove of information ranging from "full names, (street) addresses, email addresses, encrypted passwords, wallet information, along with links to scanned passports, driver's licenses and other IDs," according to the researchers. Kromtech researchers, in their overview of the results of its investigation, said that, the organization behind the currency, immediately secured the data after being notified. Bezop is one of over 1,000 cryptocurrencies in a crowded playing field vying for investor attention. According to Kromtech, the list of 25,000 people included both current and prospective investors promised Bezop cryptocurrency in exchange for promoting the cryptocurrency on social media.

Medicare To Require Hospitals To Post Prices Online

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from PBS: Medicare will require hospitals to post their standard prices online and make electronic medical records more readily available to patients, officials said Tuesday. The program is also starting a comprehensive review of how it will pay for costly new forms of immunotherapy to battle cancer. Hospitals are required to disclose prices publicly, but the latest change would put that information online in machine-readable format that can be easily processed by computers. It may still prove to be confusing to consumers, since standard rates are like list prices and don't reflect what insurers and government programs pay.

Likewise, many health care providers already make computerized records available to patients, but starting in 2021 Medicare would base part of a hospital's payments on how good a job they do. Using electronic medical records remains a cumbersome task, and the Trump administration has invited technology companies to design secure apps that would let patients access their records from all their providers instead of having to go to different portals.
Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, also announced Medicare is starting a comprehensive review of how it will pay for a costly new form of immunotherapy called CAR-T. It's an expensive gene therapy that turbocharges a patient's own immune system cells to attack cancer. The cost for such a procedure can exceed $370,000 per patient.

Kids, let this be a lesson to you.

By hey! • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Old people vote.

Re:European pricelist

By ledow • Score: 4 • Thread

Hey, nice spin.

They are preventing a small child (not toddler, he can't toddle, having never been conscious in his life), in a vegetative state, from being kept permanently in that vegetative state, after two years of legal wranglings with the parents, where NO OTHER REPUTABLE DOCTOR in the world has been able to suggest anything but palliative care (one tried, was thrown out of court for being an absolute quack - heard much of him recently?), and who has been on life-support his entire life, FOR FREE, WITHOUT CHARGE, EVER. Taken to court, the Supreme Court, the European Court of Human Rights and the European Supreme Court, and ALL said "Nope, he has no chance of a life, we need to end his life-support" despite multiple appeals.

Being held in a hospital ON LIFE SUPPORT that fucking morons are trying to storm to "free" the child, against the parent's wishes and legal orders, disturbing other patients (including children and parents in worse situations), harassing and threatening medical staff (who are nothing to do with it) and generally running up the fucking costs to the taxpayer.

P.S. Learn your fucking country's procedures. NOT ONE GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVE has any say whatsoever in if the child is treated or not (without life-long, free and constant permanent treatment the child dies, with it he merely never gains consciousness, and there's not a reputable doctor in the world that disagrees). The courts have decided. Many of them. Several times. More times than even people who seek legal euthanasia in another country require.

So... BOLLOCKS to your spin. Because it's utter shite and keeping a boy who could be in constant pain and suffering alive to keep his parents happy, at ENORMOUS medical, policing and legal cost... FOR FREE. He's vegetative. Brain-dead. Never seen the light of day. A brain destroyed from birth by a neurological condition that's entirely untreatable and will only worsen. And an army of doctors kept him alive by default without question for two years while the legal wranglings go on, and they may be ordered by a court of law to "cease treatment" (i.e allow him to die naturally, rather than sustain him artificially for his entire life).

It's almost like it has nothing to do with expense, but what's right for the boy, isn't it?

P.S. Look up the Bambino Jesu hospital the parents want to send him to. It's a fucking Vatican-funded profit center, scam-host and shithole.

Before you comment on that as a statement against the NHS, go work in one of their hospitals and see the doctors and nurses crying and fighting all day to save the child, and then being threatened, attacked and harassed in their own homes for doing so (My girlfriend worked in Great Ormond Street... same thing, about six months ago, similar case, the people "protesting" were fucking cunts just out to spoil for a fight, and even the parents were pleading them to go away. I think the child's name in that instance was Charlie Gard or similar?).

if i get sick and die

By FudRucker • Score: 3 • Thread
i will be sure to leave by rotting stinking corpse in front of a hospital so all their customers can enjoy the smell of death as they go in to visit the hospital

Re: So Trump keeps another campagn promise

By PopeRatzo • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I don't care who made the happen. It's great news.

It's funny that the same people who believe it's too much regulation to require banks to disclose information about rates and fees are going to celebrate requiring hospitals to do the same thing. Government regulation of private industry was supposed to be bad, remember?

And, there are big problems with requiring medical providers to post prices: First, all medical providers have multi-tiered pricing. This is a "feature" of our "free market", insurance-driven health care system. The price you would be charged is completely different from the price your insurance company would be charged. For example, let's say an abdominal surgery costs $100,000.00 to an individual. That's actually pretty close to what your hospital would charge you for say, a gall bladder removal. That exact same surgery, billed to an insurance company, would be $15,000.00. For those of you without calculators, that means insurance companies pay about 15% of what individuals pay for the same service. In any other industry, that kind of two-tiered pricing would be illegal.

Second, posting prices really doesn't help the average person. Let's say your doctor tells you that you need cancer surgery for your kid, or your wife. Are you really going to shop for the cheapest price? If you actually have a wife or a kid, you know the answer is "No". Also, posting a price doesn't take into consideration what happens once you are getting a procedure. If there is any kind of complication, the price could skyrocket. If they open you up for a simple appendectomy, and they find your appendix has burst, that posted price will mean nothing.

The experience of practically every country in the whole fucking wide world has taught us one thing: If you really want to get medical costs under control, and get better outcomes for everyone, just create a universal single-payer system and let the government regulate prices. It's the only thing that works. There are no "free market" solutions to health care costs. After all, in a "free market", what you would you be willing to pay to live instead of die? If you've been stung by a bee and you'll die without an Epipen, what's to stop a provider from expecting you to mortgage your house to pay for it? Would you do it? You're not in a position to say, "Oh, I'll just go elsewhere", because you're in fucking anaphylactic shock and you're going to choke to death.

I'm sorry, but there are just no free market solutions to health care.

Nobody pays full price though consumers pay more

By RhettLivingston • Score: 3 • Thread

In reviewing insurance bills for a recent uncomplicated procedure, the hospital billed a total of $65000 and the insurance paid about $8000 after prenegotiated discounts were applied.

The insurance then ran into a technical problem/mistake in which it was retroactively cancelled. The hospital actually returned their payment. During the year it took to straighten that out, I was facing $65K in bills that they wouldn't negotiate to less than about $30K despite the existence of documentation that they had been satisfied with $8K from insurance. Needless to say, I focused on (and eventually succeeded in) reversing the insurance problem.

I've heard that the real reason for this is so they could write off $65K if a patient doesn't pay instead of $8K. I'm not an expert in the accounting, but I'm sure in my case that is what they would have been claiming as their loss.

The experience left me with a solid belief that posting prices alone would do nothing. That approach will only serve to drive more people into the wasteful net of insurance.

What is needed is a truth in pricing act. Hospitals should be required to have fixed, public, non-negotiable prices that apply to all payees whether insurance or cash. If the hospital chooses to pay some of those themselves in indigent cases, that is the price they should be allowed to write off. This approach would make some true headway in getting the insurance problem reigned in.

Posting their false prices does nothing except bolster their already drastically inflated claims of losses.

Appliance Companies Are Lobbying To Protect Their DRM-Fueled Repair Monopolies

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Electronics companies Dyson, LG, and Wahl are fighting right-to-repair legislation, Motherboard reported Wednesday, citing letters it has obtained. From a report: The manufacturers of your appliances do not want you to be able to fix them yourself. Last week, at least three major appliance manufacturers -- Dyson, LG, and Wahl -- sent letters to Illinois lawmakers opposing "fair repair" legislation in that state. The letters were written with the help of a trade group called the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM). All three letters are similar but include slightly different wording and examples in parts. The letters ask lawmakers to "withdraw" a bill that would protect and expand the ability for consumers and independent repair professionals to repair everything from iPhones to robot vacuums, electric shavers, toasters, and tractors. Here are links to the Wahl, Dyson, and LG letters.

A repairman's take

By AlanBDee • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I've an uncle who was an appliance repairman. He explained that the manufacturers deliberately build and design the components to be non-standard. Then they'll get a patient on the part so that 3rd parties can't build them. Then they raised the price for the parts to be so high that it's often cheaper to buy a new item then to fix the one you have.

This is why, he explained, that my parents had the refrigerator they bought with their house for 30 years while my brother was on his third in 15 years. When I showed him 3D printers he went to a tech school and is now a machinist.

I'm fine with the manufacturers requiring authorized repairs while the item is still under warranty. But once that warranty is out then it should be repairable by anyone. What I hope will happen is that open communities like will continue to flourish.

Why only quadruple the warranty?

By Cajun Hell • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

All these manufacturers that want to ban right to repair laws should be forced to provide a minimum of five years warranty repair on any hardware, and seven years guaranteed continuous software updates.

WTF?! From what orifice did you pull those arbitrary numbers from?

If they're going to use copyright law to make maintenance illegal, then the free warranty should be 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation. That is how long they are demanding that it be illegal for you to repair your items. Once the copyright on the firmware (or whatever bullshit it is) expires, then circumventing the DRM ceases to be prohibited by DMCA and the warranty can end.

The Rich versus The Poor

By Rick Schumann • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
The Rich don't give a fuck whether something can be 'repaired' by 3rd parties or not, because they just pay whoever and not worry about the cost or the hassle.
The Poor care because they can't afford to pay for things being repaired by only the dealership or only the manufacturer. They need to be able to get repairable things repaired wherever they can -- or repair them themselves if and when possible.
The Rich unfortunately are also the ones who own or control these manufacturers who are fighting for protectionism of their repair monopolies.
The Rich may very likely get their way, especially under the current 'administration', which doesn't seem to give a fuck about common, private citizens (lip service not withstanding) and cares more about making The Rich richer -- on the backs of The Poor, of course.

Here's what I think will happen:
If manufacturers get their way, then nothing changes, and expensive things stay expensive and inconvenient to get repaired -- if they are allowed to be repaired at all.
If consumers get their way, then manufacturers may just go back to the old way of doing things: built-in obsolescence in the form of less durability. Maybe even low quality on purpose, or a built-in 'expiration date' that bricks things when they get old enough. Don't sit there and tell me it hasn't all happened before, either, because it has.

Here's why:
Companies that make high-quality, durable products, that stand the test of time seem to invariably end up going out of business due to no repeat business. They sell to everyone they can sell to, everyone is thrilled with their products, which never seem to wear out, therefore they never need to replace them.
Meanwhile other shittier companies make half-assed products that may be flashy and popular, but that don't last forever. Eventually they have to be replaced.
Then there's 'built-in obsolescence' in the form of 'standards' that keep changing (on purpose) to make what you have now obsolete.

I suppose a middle ground might be manufacturers being forced to allow anyone to repair anything, but jacking up the price of 'proprietary' parts to compensate for their 'lost revenues' (Waaaah!), or 'licensing' of proprietary repair information, or who knows. Really, it's all capitalism gone bad.

Re:A repairman's take

By ras • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The most egregious example I've come across is my shiny new Hyundai i30. They have proximity keys. You can buy the blank for around $100 or so, and most locksmiths will program them for a few dollars. But they need to get the secret code to match it to the car's Engine Control Unit. Obtaining that is a 60 second task for a Hyundai dealership, but they won't tell other locksmiths what it is. So you can only obtain the key from Hyundai: Cost: $1,500.

The price is not too far from what they charge for a ECU, which is not too surprising because the other route you can take is to replace the ECU and keys.

Thin End Of The Wedge

By ytene • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
When this topic is discussed, not just on forums like /., but in the media in general, it is often characterised as "the right to repair". It's *way* more than that...

First, it's also the "right to upgrade"... It gives us the chance to buy a piece of generic technology and then adjust it to suit our own requirements. For example, to buy a generic laptop and then add extra memory and/or a large hard drive - if that's what we need. Or buy a second battery so that we can double our time away from a mains outlet for those of us who really do use a laptop when we're out and about...

Second, it's all about the right to continue to use our devices for a reasonable amount of time. Imagine a scenario where you took your car in to a dealer for a mechanical fault and were told, "Sorry, this vehicle is three years old - we can't get the parts any more. But we can sell you a new car..." It's all too easy to dismiss this as scare-mongering, but when the only source of parts is a manufacturer, the moment they stop providing replacement parts for something you've bought, you're dead in the water. That will force you to make another purchase and keep their profits rolling in.

And of course it fuels a tendency to "buy up" - to purchase a machine with more capacity or storage than we might want - at hugely inflated prices - because we know that if we run out of space there is no opportunity to upgrade.

It's a shameful thing to have to say, but I think we're getting to [or have reached, or maybe even passed] the point where we need a "Code of Ethics" for manufacturers - for example in the consumer electronics sector it would be reasonable to expect that vendors will continue to stock parts for devices for 5 years after a particular model is withdrawn from sale. Motor vehicles might need a longer support window; other devices might survive with less.

But the bottom line is that without this, we're not consumers, we're victims. Maybe the approaching mid-terms is time to get some support for legislation...

More FISA Orders Were Denied During President Trump's First Year in Office Than in the Court's 40-Year History

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
In its first year, the Trump administration kept one little-known courtroom in the capital busy. From a report: A secretive Washington DC-based court that oversees the US government's foreign spy programs denied more surveillance orders during President Donald Trump's first year than in the court's 40-year history, according to newly released figures. Annual data published Wednesday by the US Courts shows that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court last year denied 26 applications in full, and 50 applications in part. That's compared to 21 orders between when the court was first formed in 1978 and President Barack Obama's final year in office in 2016.

Re:Liberal, here

By BlueStrat • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

So, as a way-out-there social liberal who really dislikes Trump and has said bad things about him (and thought worse things), I feel like I owe it to somebody to say 'well done.'

The cognitive dissonance in my head right now is making it hard for me to follow the threads in the comments. I really did not see this one coming.

Just, wow.

I'm on the conservative/libertarian end across from you. I did not vote for Trump. I think he's an egotistical asshole with no fixed ideological principles of his own to speak of, has no filters between his emotions and his mouth, and doesn't know when it's best to keep said mouth shut.

I'm almost as stunned as you.

I admire your honesty, we need more of that.

If I may, allow me to suggest reading a fantastic book by Jonah Goldberg called "The Suicide Of The West". Absolutely brilliant, no matter where you stand ideologically or politically.


Re:Liberal, here

By sexconker • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

He also seems to be instrumental in getting progress towards an actual peace treaty between North & South Korea.

But hey, let's focus on a hooker he may or may not have fucked years ago!

Re:Andy McCabe will by trying on orange jumpsuits.

By BlueStrat • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

> almost $1 million from Hillary.

Not true. That money was from Terry McAuliffe the Virginia governor who got it from Hillary, and the part from Hillary was much less than a million dollars. According to Newsweek, and I save the article just to debunk these sort of claims, it was only $675,288. Not evidence that it influenced McCabe has ever been release much less proof that McCabe didn't fully investigate Hillary because of it.

Oh, well then, no harm, no foul if it was only a measly ~$700,000 from a DNC political apparatchik. Oh, and ~$300,000 from HRC. That's chump-change, not even worth mentioning! I mean, sure, you could probably hire a contract-killer for less, but human life is cheap! There's no way that tiny amount of pocket change could influence somebody being paid those luxurious government wages.



By skids • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

if they are already doing this, then the hearing that authorized the Trump campaign surveillance needs to be made available to the appropriate committees.

Do you actually live in the U.S.? If so, what rock are you living under to have escaped the news of the failed Nunes stunt and not know that that's essentially what happened... or that it is kinda the nature of the FISA court that the presented information would often compromise our or our allies' intelligence assets.

Re:Liberal, here

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I'm almost as stunned as you.

What is more likely, a sudden break out of ethics in Trump world or something else?

I'm guessing it is something else. Here are some possibilities.

1.) Good people are doing their jobs. It has nothing to do with Trump. Some other event is responsible.
2.) Trump appointed one or more of those good people. (It is certainly possible. His major criteria is how much they praise him, which doesn't eliminate the possibility of competence.)
3.) They are being rejected because the requests are now so bat shit crazy that not even FISA will tolerate it.

Personally, if I was going to bet money, I'd bet on 3. We'd need to see a random sampling of requests then and now to really conclude much...

Drupal Warns of New Remote-Code Bug, the Second in Four Weeks

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
For the second time in a month, websites that use the Drupal content management system are confronted with a stark choice: install a critical update or risk having your servers infected with ransomware or other nasties. From a report: Maintainers of the open-source CMS built on the PHP programming language released an update patching critical remote-code vulnerability on Wednesday. The bug, formally indexed as CVE-2018-7602, exists within multiple subsystems of Drupal 7.x and 8.x. Drupal maintainers didn't provide details on how the vulnerability can be exploited other than to say attacks work remotely. The maintainers rated the vulnerability "critical" and urged websites to patch it as soon as possible.

A new twist on term 'open source'

By TheZeitgeist • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
Apparently, the source is open more ways than one.

How outrageous

By Billly Gates • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Drupal and php are so well secured and up to date that this can happen is simply inconceivable

Where are the sandboxes?

By goombah99 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Why don't developers just write code that doesn't have security holes in it?

Presumably because they can't. It's time we started programing computer resource sandboxes into every application by default.

Linux and Mac, and Windows all have things for this. Macs have a dtrace based sandbox that can be per application or per process.

sandboxes can specify what a process and all child processes can do at the computer resource level. Can they get on the network? Can they access the file system? what files can they access? do they have write permission? how much memory can they use? how much cpu? and so on.

If we always launched processes with these clamped down a lot of security holes would not be exploitable. Why is it these are largely unused?

North Korea Linked To Global Hacking Operation Against Critical Infrastructure, Telecoms

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
A suspected North Korean hacking campaign has expanded to targets in 17 different countries, including the U.S., pilfering information on critical infrastructure, telecommunications and entertainment organizations, researchers say. From a report: Cybersecurity firm McAfee released new research on the hacking campaign this week, calling it Operation GhostSecret and describing the attackers as having "significant capabilities" to develop and use multiple cyber tools and rapidly expand operations across the globe. The findings demonstrate the growing sophistication of North Korea's army of hackers, which has been blamed for high-profile hacking operations such as the WannaCry malware outbreak last year.

Re:It isn't NK

By DontBeAMoran • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Nah, I'm pretty sure it's Russians paying China to be a proxy, who's paying North Korea to be a proxy.

You know what they say. The proxy of my enemy is my proxy.

It's proxies all the way down.


Going 'way out on a limb, here...

By hyades1 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark, and guess one of the 17 countries whose infrastructure North Korea is accused of trying to hack is NOT China.

Re:No way

By butchersong • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
They may end up pissing China off enough to finally do something about them with all this nuclear testing. See this story today. Apparently they collapsed the mountain they've been using to test their nuclear weapons and created a volcano that may spew radiation to nearby countries.

Researchers Hacked Amazon's Alexa To Spy On Users, Again

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
New submitter lod123 writes: A malicious proof-of-concept Amazon Echo Skill shows how attackers can abuse the Alexa virtual assistant to eavesdrop on consumers with smart devices -- and automatically transcribe every word said. Checkmarx researchers told Threatpost that they created a proof-of-concept Alexa Skill that abuses the virtual assistant's built-in request capabilities. The rogue Skill begins with the initiation of an Alexa voice-command session that fails to terminate (stop listening) after the command is given. Next, any recorded audio is transcribed (if voices are captured) and a text transcript is sent to a hacker. Checkmarx said it brought its proof-of-concept attack to Amazon's attention and that the company fixed a coding flaw that allowed the rogue Skill to capture prolonged audio on April 10.

My Alexa is air gapped

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Funny • Thread
No hacking possible. It was the only way to have this nifty toy and be safe.

No they didn't

By bistromath007 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
This is like claiming you've hacked a glass to be able to hold water.


By Zontar The Mindless • Score: 3 • Thread

Dear Editors,

Please save us some trouble and just start including this in every Alexa/Siri story posted here.

Thanks and regards,


Re:How do you know if your echo has been patched?

By goombah99 • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Did you try "sudo make me a sandwich"?

Re:My Alexa is air gapped

By 93 Escort Wagon • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

No hacking possible. It was the only way to have this nifty toy and be safe.

I just left mine sitting on a shelf in an Amazon warehouse, unordered. I think that's the safest option.