Alterslash

the unofficial Slashdot digest
 

Contents

  1. EPA Will Make Polluters Pay To Clean Up Two ‘Forever Chemicals’
  2. Linus Torvalds on ‘Hilarious’ AI Hype
  3. Microsoft’s VASA-1 Can Deepfake a Person With One Photo and One Audio Track
  4. Indian IT Outsourcing Firms Cut 60,000 Jobs in First Layoffs in 20 Years
  5. Porn Sites Face Strict EU Rules, Commission Says
  6. Meta’s Not Telling Where It Got Its AI Training Data
  7. Microsoft Does Not Want You To Use iPerf3 To Measure Network Performance on Windows
  8. Google To Employees: ‘We Are a Workplace’
  9. Samsung Shifts To Emergency Mode With 6-day Work Week for Executives
  10. Windows 10 Will Start Pushing Users To Use Microsoft Accounts
  11. Apple Removes WhatsApp, Threads and Telegram From China App Store
  12. Chinese Cities Are Sinking Rapidly
  13. FBI Says Chinese Hackers Preparing To Attack US Infrastructure
  14. Northrop Grumman Working With SpaceX On US Spy Satellite System
  15. Reddit Is Taking Over Google

Alterslash picks up to the best 5 comments from each of the day’s Slashdot stories, and presents them on a single page for easy reading.

EPA Will Make Polluters Pay To Clean Up Two ‘Forever Chemicals’

Posted by msmash View on SlashDot Skip
An anonymous reader shares a report:
The Biden administration is designating two “forever chemicals,” man-made compounds that are linked to serious health risks, as hazardous substances under the Superfund law, shifting responsibility for their cleanup to polluters from taxpayers. The new rule announced on Friday empowers the government to force the many companies that manufacture or use perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as PFOA, and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, known as PFOS, to monitor any releases into the environment and be responsible for cleaning them up. Those companies could face billions of dollars in liabilities.

[…] The announcement follows an extraordinary move last week from the E.P.A. mandating that water utilities reduce the PFAS in drinking water to near-zero levels. The agency has also proposed to designate seven additional PFAS chemicals as hazardous waste. “President Biden understands the threat that forever chemicals pose to the health of families across the country,” Michael S. Regan, the administrator of the E.P.A., said. “Designating these chemicals under our Superfund authority will allow E.P.A. to address more contaminated sites, take earlier action, and expedite cleanups, all while ensuring polluters pay for the costs to clean up pollution threatening the health of communities.”

Linus Torvalds on ‘Hilarious’ AI Hype

Posted by msmash View on SlashDot Skip
Linus Torvalds, discussing the AI hype, in a conversation with Dirk Hohndel, Verizon’s Head of the Open Source Program Office:
Torvalds snarked, “It’s hilarious to watch. Maybe I’ll be replaced by an AI model!” As for Hohndel, he thinks most AI today is “autocorrect on steroids.” Torvalds summed up his attitude as, “Let’s wait 10 years and see where it actually goes before we make all these crazy announcements.”

That’s not to say the two men don’t think AI will be helpful in the future. Indeed, Torvalds noted one good side effect already: “NVIDIA has gotten better at talking to Linux kernel developers and working with Linux memory management,” because of its need for Linux to run AI’s large language models (LLMs) efficiently.

Torvalds is also “looking forward to the tools actually to find bugs. We have a lot of tools, and we use them religiously, but making the tools smarter is not a bad thing. Using smarter tools is just the next inevitable step. We have tools that do kernel rewriting, with very complicated scripts, and pattern recognition. AI can be a huge help here because some of these tools are very hard to use because you have to specify things at a low enough level.” Just be careful, Torvalds warns of “AI BS.” Hohndel quickly quipped, “He meant beautiful science. You know, “Beautiful science in, beautiful science out.”

Pretty on point…

By Junta • Score: 4, Insightful Thread

It’s certainly categorically new and will have some applications, but there have been some rather persistent “oddities” that seem to limit the potential. Meanwhile some impossibly large amounts of money are being thrown as if the age of the artificial super intelligence is now a few months away.

Fully expect one of a few ways the scenario ends poorly for the big spenders:
-Turns out that our current approaches with any vaguely possible amount of resources will not provide qualitative experience significantly better than Copilot/ChatGPT today. It suddenly became an amazing demo from humble hilarious beginnings, but has kind of plateaued despite the massive spend, so this scenario wouldn’t surprise me.
-A breakthrough will happen that gets to “magic” but with a totally different sort of compute resource than folks have been pouring money into, making all the spending to date pointless.
-The “ASI” breakthrough happens and completely upends the way the economy works and renders all the big spending moot.

Microsoft’s VASA-1 Can Deepfake a Person With One Photo and One Audio Track

Posted by msmash View on SlashDot Skip
Microsoft Research Asia earlier this week unveiled VASA-1, an AI model that can create a synchronized animated video of a person talking or singing from a single photo and an existing audio track. ArsTechnica:
In the future, it could power virtual avatars that render locally and don’t require video feeds — or allow anyone with similar tools to take a photo of a person found online and make them appear to say whatever they want. “It paves the way for real-time engagements with lifelike avatars that emulate human conversational behaviors,” reads the abstract of the accompanying research paper titled, “VASA-1: Lifelike Audio-Driven Talking Faces Generated in Real Time.” It’s the work of Sicheng Xu, Guojun Chen, Yu-Xiao Guo, Jiaolong Yang, Chong Li, Zhenyu Zang, Yizhong Zhang, Xin Tong, and Baining Guo.

The VASA framework (short for “Visual Affective Skills Animator”) uses machine learning to analyze a static image along with a speech audio clip. It is then able to generate a realistic video with precise facial expressions, head movements, and lip-syncing to the audio. It does not clone or simulate voices (like other Microsoft research) but relies on an existing audio input that could be specially recorded or spoken for a particular purpose.

Opportunities

By Randseed • Score: 3 Thread
Surely this will not be abused.

Indian IT Outsourcing Firms Cut 60,000 Jobs in First Layoffs in 20 Years

Posted by msmash View on SlashDot Skip
An anonymous reader shares a report:
TCS, Infosys, and Wipro, India’s top three IT outsourcing firms, have collectively seen their workforce shrink for the first time in at least 20 years. The trio reported a combined reduction of more than 63,750 employees in the financial year ending March 31, 2024.

Customers fed up with crappy quality?

By gweihir • Score: 4, Interesting Thread

Say it aint so.

My best friend’s company has done that for years

By Zontar_Thing_From_Ve • Score: 5, Interesting Thread
My best friend works in IT for a privately held company in a major US metropolitan area. I have forgotten the name of his company. Almost none of you would have heard of it anyway. Their business segment is so specialized that probably almost none of you who read this comment would even work for a company that might use his company for what they provide. Anyway, he’s been there roughly 10 years. About 5 years ago, they started laying off some US based staff and replacing them with offshore people who live and work in India. They even replaced one of my friend’s US based colleagues who was an Indian guy with a Green Card. About 2-3 years ago the company decided that the offshore India staff “cost too much” so they made 100% of them go on contracts that they can cancel at any time. They have started slowly but surely replacing the India based staff with people in Nepal. Now the based in India staff are seriously worried about losing their jobs to people in Nepal. All I can say is that the race to the bottom to cut salaries on IT workers can’t end in anything good. I have no idea who this company would go to next if people in Nepal get “too expensive”.

Porn Sites Face Strict EU Rules, Commission Says

Posted by msmash View on SlashDot Skip
Adult content companies Pornhub, Stripchat and XVideos will have to do risk assessment reports and take measures to address systemic risks linked to their services to comply with new EU online content rules, the European Commission said on Friday. From a report:
The three companies were designated as very large online platforms last December under the Digital Services Act (DSA) which requires them to do more to remove illegal and harmful content on their platforms. Pornhub and Stripchat will have to comply with these DSA obligations, among the strictest, on April 21 and XVideos on April 23, the EU executive said. “These specific obligations include submitting risk assessment reports to the Commission, putting in place mitigation measures to address systemic risks linked to the provision of their services,” it said in a statement.

Re:Pr0n Risks…? WTF?

By Calydor • Score: 4, Insightful Thread

Abuse, human trafficking, underage ‘actors’, exposed credentials for users, potential leaks of credit card info, leaks of download history …

Suck it!

By registrations_suck • Score: 3 Thread

If any company was well positioned to tell the EU to “suck it”, it seems like a porn company would be at the top of that list.

Except they’re not “very large online platforms”

By Pizza • Score: 3 Thread

…under the DSA’s own definition, these companies don’t have the EU userbase to qualify as VLOPs. So why are they getting singled out for special reacharound treatment?

Meta’s Not Telling Where It Got Its AI Training Data

Posted by msmash View on SlashDot Skip
An anonymous reader shares a report:
Today Meta unleashed its ChatGPT competitor, Meta AI, across its apps and as a standalone. The company boasts that it is running on its latest, greatest AI model, Llama 3, which was trained on “data of the highest quality”! A dataset seven times larger than Llama2! And includes 4 times more code! What is that training data? There the company is less loquacious.

Meta said the 15 trillion tokens on which its trained came from “publicly available sources.” Which sources? Meta told The Verge that it didn’t include Meta user data, but didn’t give much more in the way of specifics. It did mention that it includes AI-generated data, or synthetic data: “we used Llama 2 to generate the training data for the text-quality classifiers that are powering Llama 3.” There are plenty of known issues with synthetic or AI-created data, foremost of which is that it can exacerbate existing issues with AI, because it’s liable to spit out a more concentrated version of any garbage it is ingesting.

Soylent green

By backslashdot • Score: 3 Thread

is we don’t wanna say.

cat /dev/internet llm.data ; cat llm.data | llm

By Seven Spirals • Score: 3 Thread
Something about like the title maybe?

Microsoft Does Not Want You To Use iPerf3 To Measure Network Performance on Windows

Posted by msmash View on SlashDot Skip
An anonymous reader shares a report:
iPerf is a fairly popular cross-platform tool that is used by many to measure network performance and diagnose any potential issues in this area. The open-source utility is maintained by an organization called Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) and officially supports Linux, Unix, and Windows. However, Microsoft has now published a detailed blog post explaining why you should not use the latest version, iPerf3, on Windows installations.

Microsoft has highlighted three key reasons to discourage the use of iPerf3 on Windows. The first is that ESnet does not support this version on Windows, and recommends iPerf2 instead. On its website, ESnet has emphasized that CentOS 7 Linux, FreeBSD 11, and macOS 10.12 are the only supported platforms. Another very important reason not to use iPerf3 on Windows is that it does not make native OS calls. Instead, it leverages Cygwin as an emulation layer, which obviously comes with a performance penalty. This alone means that iPerf3 on Windows isn’t really an ideal candidate for benchmarking your network. While Microsoft has praised the maintainers who are trying to get iPerf3 to run on Windows via emulation, another flaw with this approach is that some advanced networking options simply aren’t available on Windows or may behave in unexpected ways.

People still use Windows?

By kevin lyda • Score: 5, Insightful Thread

It’s 2024 - people still use Windows? Why?

A non-story story

By ratbag • Score: 4, Insightful Thread

In a not-very-shocking turn of events, Microsoft seem to make several reasonable points about a piece of software in a measured way. There’s almost nothing to see here, move along (after registering the mildest of surprise).

Re:People still use Windows?

By SuiteSisterMary • Score: 5, Insightful Thread
For a lot of people, and a lot of use cases, it’s the right tool for the right job.

What a clickbait title

By UnknowingFool • Score: 5, Informative Thread
First of all, it is not just Microsoft saying not to use iPerf3. The developers of iPerf3 says it is not fully supported on Windows. They recommend using the previous version iPerf2. Second, both companies “recommend” that you do not use it as it is unsupported. You might get it to work but the results might be suspect. Neither company is stopping you from using it.

Re:People still use Windows?

By markdavis • Score: 4, Informative Thread

>“It’s 2024 - people still use Windows? Why?”

1) Because it “comes with the computer”
2) Because people don’t know any better
3) Because it is what many know
4) Because some businesses force it on everyone
5) Because, sometimes, it is needed for certain applications

That said, all my computers run only Linux, have for decades, and will likely continue to do so (plus hundreds of machines I am responsible for). And probably way more than half of MS-Windows machines out there could run Linux and do what the users need, just fine. The SNAFU’s with MS-WIn 11 artificial hardware “requirements” will likely open more opportunity for Linux on millions of otherwise perfectly suitable machines that will, otherwise, end up in landfills.

Better questions is to ask are: Why do certain popular commercial software vendors not support Linux? Why do we allow a near-monopoly (MS) to essentially force manufacturers to include their OS on most, if not all, of their computers? How much more abuse will MS-Windows customers tolerate before jumping ship?

Google To Employees: ‘We Are a Workplace’

Posted by msmash View on SlashDot Skip
Google, once known for its unconventional approach to business, has taken a decisive step towards becoming a more traditional company by firing 28 employees who participated in protests against a $1.2 billion contract with the Israeli government. The move comes after sit-in demonstrations on Tuesday at Google offices in Silicon Valley and New York City, where employees opposed the company’s support for Project Nimbus, a cloud computing contract they argue harms Palestinians in Gaza. Nine employees were arrested during the protests.

In a note to employees, CEO Sundar Pichai said, “We have a culture of vibrant, open discussion… But ultimately we are a workplace and our policies and expectations are clear: this is a business, and not a place to act in a way that disrupts coworkers or makes them feel unsafe, to attempt to use the company as a personal platform, or to fight over disruptive issues or debate politics.”

Google also says that the Project Nimbus contract is “not directed at highly sensitive, classified, or military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services.”

Axios adds:
Google prided itself from its early days on creating a university-like atmosphere for the elite engineers it hired. Dissent was encouraged in the belief that open discourse fostered innovation. “A lot of Google is organized around the fact that people still think they’re in college when they work here,” then-CEO Eric Schmidt told “In the Plex” author Steven Levy in the 2000s.

What worked for an organization with a few thousand employees is harder to maintain among nearly 200,000 workers. Generational shifts in political and social expectations also mean that Google’s leadership and its rank-and-file aren’t always aligned.

Re:Welcome to the machine

By UnknowingFool • Score: 5, Insightful Thread
Er what? Staging a political protest at a workplace should be a common sense thing NOT to do as an employee. I do not know why that should be considered “soul destroying”. If the employees wanted to express themselves outside the workplace, they are free to do so.

Re:Welcome to the machine

By Seven Spirals • Score: 5, Insightful Thread
“The problem with Socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” -Margaret Thatcher

IT IS ABOUT DAMN TIME!

By Subgenius • Score: 5, Insightful Thread

It is about time that Google stopped coddling its workers. You have a job, so do it. If your job includes protesting, then do THAT. It is doesn’t, then STFU and GBTW.

Sorry ‘whatever generation’ this pisses off, but A:recognize how lucky you are to get those jobs and B: there are lots of people behind you that would snap them up in an instant if you keep playing games.

Re:Welcome to the machine

By alvinrod • Score: 5, Insightful Thread
China hasn’t been fully socialist since Nixon went to China. You can actually look at their GDP over time and spot where on the graph they started to implement market results policies. They aren’t a fully free market society, but if they were they’d easily be the world’s largest economy today. The CCP being unwilling to give up control of the country is holding the Chinese citizens back more than anything outside of the country might be doing.

Same story with other former communist countries like Vietnam which also instituted market reforms. Meanwhile countries that remained centrally planned (such as North Korea) have remained poor. Others such as Venezuela that went further down the path of Marxism have destroyed much of the wealth they previously had.

Re:Welcome to the machine

By serviscope_minor • Score: 5, Insightful Thread

Pithy quotes prove nothing and often hide deception.

Margaret Thatcher said that while more or less giving away a ton of publicly owned stuff to indirectly buy votes. We now have a massive housing and water quality crisis (among other things) thanks to the conservatives running out of other people’s money.

Samsung Shifts To Emergency Mode With 6-day Work Week for Executives

Posted by msmash View on SlashDot Skip
Korean newspaper KED Global:
Executives at all Samsung Group units will work six days a week from as early as this week in a shift to emergency mode. The move comes as the won’s sharp depreciation, rising oil prices and high borrowing costs aggravate business uncertainties after some of the group’s mainstay businesses delivered poorer-than-expected results in 2023. The executives of Samsung Electronics Co., including those in the manufacturing and sales divisions, will work either on Saturday or Sunday following the regular five-day work week, according to Samsung Group officials.

They will review their business strategies and may modify them to adapt to the changing business environment amid mounting gepolitical risks from the prolonged war between Russia and Ukraine and escalating tensions in the Middle East. “Considering that performance of our major units, including Samsung Electronics Co., fell short of expectations in 2023, we are introducing the six-day work week for executives to inject a sense of crisis and make all-out efforts to overcome it,” said a Samsung Group company executive.

Top management at Samsing Display Co., Samsung Electro-Mechanics Co. and Samsung SDS Co. will adopt the six-day work week as early as this week. Samsung Life Insurance Co. and other financial services firms under the Samsung Group will likely join them soon. Executives of Samsung C&T Corp., Samsung Heavy Industries Co. and Samsung E&A Co. have already been voluntarily working six days a week since the start of this year.

Yeah I’m gonna need you to come in on Saturd

By Joe_Dragon • Score: 5, Funny Thread

Yeah I’m gonna need you to come in on Saturday

  “Oh, oh, and I almost forgot. Ahh, I’m also going to need you to come in on Sunday too.”

meetings everyday

By awwshit • Score: 5, Funny Thread

We are going to have meetings everyday until we figure out why no work is getting done!

I would immediately resign.

By MikeDataLink • Score: 5, Insightful Thread

That kind of action means the CEO is incompetent.

Re:So they want to make things worse?

By HBI • Score: 4, Insightful Thread

No, I was clear about that. I meant what I said. Useless drones. Apparently you don’t share my view of corporate leadership.

Re:Is there ANY precedent for this?

By fropenn • Score: 5, Interesting Thread

Someone in management needs to read “From Good to Great”

Many of the companies featured on “From Good to Great” went bankrupt (Circuit City!, Fannie Mae) or faced legal problems (Wells Fargo), or have not fared well (Walgreens stock is down 76% since 2015). A few others he profiled in the book have done much better, but if I threw darts at a wall with a list of companies, I probably could have done just as well in making picks.

He then wrote a second book - after facing much criticism from the failure of the supposedly good companies - called “Built to Last” where he tried to excuse the issues of the companies he profiled in Good to Great that didn’t continue success by claiming those that failed let their guard down or did something else wrong. So I guess it is a win-win for Collins, either way he gets to write more books?

He does get one thing right, though: most business leaders are idiots and are terrible at managing their businesses.

Windows 10 Will Start Pushing Users To Use Microsoft Accounts

Posted by msmash View on SlashDot Skip
Microsoft is getting ready to annoy its faithful Windows 10 user base with yet another prompt. From a report:
This time, Microsoft wants Windows 10 users to switch from using a local account to their online Microsoft account. As first noticed by the outlet Windows Latest, the most recent Windows 10 update Release Preview includes some information about new notifications added to the operating system intended to make users switch from their local account to their Microsoft account. “New! This update starts the [roll out] of account-related notifications for Microsoft accounts in Settings > Home,” reads the update, originally from the official Windows blog, which then lays out its case for using a Microsoft account.

Sure, let someone else be the gatekeeper

By 0xG • Score: 5, Informative Thread

to you own computer.

My wife - who tends to always forget her password - has a windows 11 laptop.
Microsnot wanted her to fill in a multi-page application form, mail it to microsnot, and wait two weeks(!) for them to provide a reset. I was dumbfounded. To access your own computer!

Fortunately, i had created local accounts when it was new, because i knew that would happen.

At what point can this be a choice?

By nightflameauto • Score: 5, Insightful Thread

Microsoft’s push for using their account rather than a local account is a bit aggressive. Good lord, the hoops you have to jump through on a new load to get a local account set up. Can’t they just make it an up-front choice on first boot / on setup, and be done with it? I know they want, desperately, to have all user data sent to their mothership, but some of us just want to use our god damned computer for our own work and don’t need all data sent to Microsoft. I have my home backup. I have Backblaze. I don’t need Microsoft for backups. I don’t need Microsoft monitoring my every keystroke. While I understand that there can be advantages for some use cases, this mostly feels like a data-grab, and an attempt to lock you in to the Microsoft cloud. Having started to extricate myself from the Apple ecosystem, the last thing I want to do is lock myself into another one.

If not for a couple use-cases that still aren’t as nice as they could be in Linux (Digital Audio Workstation / Particular writing software), I’d stick with it 100% of the time, rather than only 50-60% of the time. This type of anti-user policy is a constant headache if you don’t want to use the system in precisely the way THEY want you to use it. While most may not care, some of us do actually want to use our computers for our own work, and see little to no value in having that work automagically shared with some corporate behemoth just so they can train their shitty AI on it and keep me locked into their structure when it comes time to upgrade again.

The Good News

By The Cat • Score: 5, Interesting Thread

I escaped. I no longer need Windows for anything. Including:

1. Adobe Creative Cloud (I use free equivalents)
2. Quicken (I wrote my own equivalent).
3. Games, including Microsoft’s OWN games (they run smooth with all the graphics options turned on with Wine, Proton, Lutris, Steam, etc.)
4. Development (nobody develops anything on Windows anyway)
5. Writing (Emacs for an author is incredibly powerful)
6. Video creation (faster and more stable on Linux)

All those billions spent on lock-in

I suppose I could keep a potato around with the billywindows installed on it, but it can’t disrupt my work or interfere with my schedule any more. It can’t destroy my work either. I also don’t have to endure six progress bars every time I try to do something.

As far as this little gray duck is concerned the OS wars are over, and Microsoft lost huge. Good riddance.

Re:Microsoft already know you as a user

By The Cat • Score: 5, Interesting Thread

I’ve been using Linux as my daily driver for 30 years. Oh sure, I had to dual boot from time to time to use the very last of the straggling applications, until I finally found quality equivalents for all of them.

Intuit, Adobe and all the incumbents spent billions upon untold BILLIONS to keep users like me trapped. And they lost.

Games run like a Swiss clock factory on Linux.

And as an added bonus: no progress bars, obscure meaningless error messages or popups.

They’ll wring the last few cents out of their accidental deal with IBM, and then Linux and its equivalents will sweep DOS aside for good. The world will be a much better and happier place.

Re:The Good News

By UnknownSoldier • Score: 5, Informative Thread

That’s awesome you escaped “Microshaft’s” tyranny. I mostly agree with you.

1. Affinity Photo is good if you still need to live on Windows. The Affinity suite offers a one-time fee opposed to Adobe nickel and diming. For open source GIMP is OK, Krita is awesome, Blender is awesome. Is there a good alternative to Substance Painter?
2. I don’t use Quicken so I’m not locked in.
3. Not all work under Wine / Proton but more and more do which is fantastic.
4. Except us game devs who, you know, have to ship Windows or Console games. =P
5. I’m more a Vim person but Emacs is great too. OpenOffice / LibreOffice is great.
6. Curious what you use? OpenShot, Kdenlive, DaVinci Resolve, something else?

But yeah, Win10 is probably the last MS OS for me. Games are really the only thing holding me from switching my daily driver over to Linux and frankly with the way MTX greed has infected most new games I’m perfectly happy playing older games.

Apple Removes WhatsApp, Threads and Telegram From China App Store

Posted by msmash View on SlashDot Skip
China ordered Apple to remove some of the world’s most popular chat messaging apps from its app store in the country, the latest example of censorship demands on the iPhone seller in the company’s second-biggest market. WSJ:
Meta’s WhatsApp and Threads as well as messaging platforms Signal, Telegram and Line were taken off the Chinese App Store Friday [non-paywalled link]. Apple said it was told to remove certain apps because of national security concerns, without specifying which. “We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement.

These messaging apps, which allow users to exchange messages and share files individually and in big groups, combined have more than three billion users globally. They can only be accessed in China through virtual private networks that take users outside China’s Great Firewall, but are still commonly used. Beijing has often viewed such platforms with caution, concerned that these apps could be used by its citizens to spread negative content and organize demonstrations or social movements. Much of the news China censors at home often makes it beyond the Great Firewall through such channels.

spokesweasel

By drinkypoo • Score: 4, Interesting Thread

“We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement.

You’re not obligated to operate in China, Apple spokesdroid. You chose to do so. Google chose to exit when China wanted them to help put the screws to the populace. Apple didn’t. Apple is a willful contributor to public oppression in China and nothing any PR flack says will change that fact.

Re:Sounds like the current censoring of TikTok

By Ed Avis • Score: 4, Insightful Thread

Well, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Apple has spent years building a tightly controlled walled garden and blocking any way for users to choose for themselves what software to run on their device. Only very recently (in the EU) have regulators started to push for greater openness. But of course, if Apple creates a locked-down device with total control, authoritarian governments will want to take that control for themselves — and Apple, “obeying local laws” has no way to refuse those demands.

If your iPhone allowed you to download and install your own software, and not just as some special concession in certain markets but as the normal way it works, then it would be much harder for China or other countries to block particular apps.

And yes, there are certainly arguments in favour of a walled garden, for banking apps or for movie playback with DRM or for corporate paranoia about employee devices. And arguments against it too. It’s not my intention to open a big discussion on those right now, just to note that Apple is getting a taste of its own medicine.

Sinking cities

By Dan East • Score: 3 Thread

The PRC must not want citizens spreading the word that their cities are sinking.

Chinese Cities Are Sinking Rapidly

Posted by BeauHD View on SlashDot Skip
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR:
Major cities across China are sinking, putting a substantial portion of the country’s rapidly urbanizing population in harm’s way in the coming decades, according to a sweeping new analysis by Chinese scientists. Subsidence is the technical term for when land sinks relative to its surroundings, and it’s a major threat for cities around the world. It accelerates local sea level rise from climate change, because the land is getting lower as the ocean gets higher. Urban subsidence can also affect inland cities by damaging buildings and roads, and causing drainage issues when water is trapped in sinking areas.

Out of 82 major Chinese cities, nearly half are measurably subsiding, according to the new study, which was published in the journal Science and conducted by more than 50 scientists at Chinese research institutes. The areas that are sinking are home to nearly one third of China’s urban population. And the authors estimate that about a quarter of China’s coastal land will be below sea level in the next hundred years, largely due to subsidence. That means tens of millions of people are already at risk, and that could grow to hundreds of millions if China’s cities continue to both grow in population and subside at their current rate, and seas continue to rise. Oceans are rising steadily due to greenhouse gas emissions from burning oil, gas and coal.

This is the first time scientists have used satellite data to systematically measure how much cities are sinking across China. The study measured how much cities subsided between 2015 and 2022. Similar recent studies in Europe and the United States have also found significant subsidence in some cities, but didn’t show the same widespread sinking that is present across China. “The places that really have high levels of subsidence are Asia,” says Nicholls, who was one of the authors of a recent study that analyzed sinking cities across the U.S. Asia is at higher risk, he says, because many Asian cities are built on river deltas that are prone to sinking when you put heavy buildings on top and pump groundwater out from below. The places that are sinking most rapidly in the U.S., such as New Orleans, share that geology.

How fast are they sinking?

By Ed Tice • Score: 5, Interesting Thread
I read this article in the news yesterday. Much of the world is sinking. It’s often measured in millimeters. Tokyo sank 15 inches (just short of half a meter) one decade. That’s orders of magnitude different. A few millimeters per decade is manageable. A meter per decade is not.

Population growth, or crash?

By fruviad • Score: 5, Insightful Thread

FTA: “That means tens of millions of people are already at risk, and that could grow to hundreds of millions if China’s cities continue to both grow in population and subside at their current rate, and seas continue to rise.”

Uhhh…China’s about to enter a population collapse the likes of which the world has NEVER SEEN. The cities may be sinking, but I don’t think that population growth is a problem they need to worry about.

Re:Population growth, or crash?

By gtall • Score: 5, Insightful Thread

The pop. of China can decrease while the pop. of their cities can increase. People move and with the desertifcation going on in China, this will likely continue.

How big is the ocean?

By Okian Warrior • Score: 3 Thread

It accelerates local sea level rise from climate change, because the land is getting lower as the ocean gets higher.

Isn’t the ocean, like… big?

I thought the pacific ocean was like, half the planet? And a couple of miles deep?

How far down are these cities sinking?

Re:How big is the ocean?

By smooth wombat • Score: 4, Informative Thread
Let’s say in the next 100 years the Pacific Ocean rises 1 inch. At the same time Shanghai, which is on the coast, sinks 1 foot. That is 13 inches of change. If the city is only a few feet above sea level, that one foot makes a huge difference when it comes to drain water runoff, sewage dispersion, tunnels, etc.

For reference, Shanghai has sunk 3 meters in the past 100 years.

China has a long history of dealing with subsiding land, with both Shanghai and Tianjin showing evidence of sinking back in the 1920s. Shanghai has sunk more than 3m over the past century.

FBI Says Chinese Hackers Preparing To Attack US Infrastructure

Posted by BeauHD View on SlashDot Skip
schwit1 shares a report from Reuters:
Chinese government-linked hackers have burrowed into U.S. critical infrastructure and are waiting “for just the right moment to deal a devastating blow,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Thursday. An ongoing Chinese hacking campaign known as Volt Typhoon has successfully gained access to numerous American companies in telecommunications, energy, water and other critical sectors, with 23 pipeline operators targeted, Wray said in a speech at Vanderbilt University.

China is developing the “ability to physically wreak havoc on our critical infrastructure at a time of its choosing,” Wray said at the 2024 Vanderbilt Summit on Modern Conflict and Emerging Threats. “Its plan is to land low blows against civilian infrastructure to try to induce panic.” Wray said it was difficult to determine the intent of this cyber pre-positioning which was aligned with China’s broader intent to deter the U.S. from defending Taiwan. […] Wray said China’s hackers operated a series of botnets - constellations of compromised personal computers and servers around the globe - to conceal their malicious cyber activities. Private sector American technology and cybersecurity companies previously attributed Volt Typhoon to China, including reports by security researchers with Microsoft and Google.
China’s Embassy in Washington said in a statement: “Some in the US have been using origin-tracing of cyberattacks as a tool to hit and frame China, claiming the US to be the victim while it’s the other way round, and politicizing cybersecurity issues.”

The greedy never change

By FudRucker • Score: 5, Interesting Thread
Instead ofcinvesting in the upkeep in the infrastructure to keep it all in good condition they pocket the profits, Andrew Jackson knew it back in his day too
Gentleman, I have had men watching you for a long time, and I am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the bread-stuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter, I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I intend to route you out

Re:Duh

By Ritz_Just_Ritz • Score: 5, Insightful Thread

I think it’s because greed trumps their desire to attack their nemesis. Without the US economy end point for their production, their own economic house of cards will quickly collapse.

Re:Not sure this make sense

By gtall • Score: 5, Insightful Thread

What is it that you want them to do? Barge into company offices and demand they “fix” their infrastructure? Bring court cases against companies under what law precisely?

Any “fix”, seeing as companies and industries won’t do it themselves, requires Congress acting. With this lot in Congress, there’s no chance of that happening and even if they did, it would necessarily be high level. Even if they outlawed naughty company behavior of not securing their infrastructure, we do not have CyberCorps, able ferret out company infrastructure naughyness. We would have to wait until a company got nailed first before bringing them to court, and then spend the next 5 years litigating if it was a large company.

Assume hostile nation-states do this to each other

By davidwr • Score: 4, Insightful Thread

If you are a nation-state, it’s prudent to assume any unfriendly nation-state is doing whatever it can to prepare for conflict, including laying the groundwork for a future attack that may or may not ever happen.

Re:Narratives & alternative facts from all sid

By cusco • Score: 4, Interesting Thread

As a Soviet general told writer Farley Mowat, “The difference between Soviet propaganda and American propaganda is that no no one believes ours.”

Northrop Grumman Working With SpaceX On US Spy Satellite System

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Longtime Slashdot reader SonicSpike shares a report from Reuters:
Aerospace and defense company Northrop Grumman is working with SpaceX […] on a classified spy satellite project already capturing high-resolution imagery of the Earth, according to people familiar with the program. The program, details of which were first reported by Reuters last month, is meant to enhance the U.S. government’s ability to track military and intelligence targets from low-Earth orbits, providing high-resolution imagery of a kind that had traditionally been captured mostly by drones and reconnaissance aircraft. The inclusion of Northrop Grumman, which has not been previously reported, reflects a desire among government officials to avoid putting too much control of a highly-sensitive intelligence program in the hands of one contractor, four people familiar with the project told Reuters. ‘It is in the government’s interest to not be totally invested in one company run by one person,’ one of the people said.

It’s unclear whether other contractors are involved at present or could join the project as it develops. Northrop Grumman is providing sensors for some of the SpaceX satellites, the people familiar with the project told Reuters. Northrop Grumman, two of the people added, will test those satellites at its own facilities before they are launched. At least 50 of the SpaceX satellites are expected at Northrop Grumman facilities for procedures including testing and the installation of sensors in coming years, one of the people said. In March, Reuters reported that the National Reconnaissance Office, or NRO, in 2021 awarded a $1.8 billion contract to SpaceX for the classified project, a planned network of hundreds of satellites. So far, the people familiar with the project said, SpaceX has launched roughly a dozen prototypes and is already providing test imagery to the NRO, an intelligence agency that oversees development of U.S. spy satellites.

Re:Starlink

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Informative Thread

It’s a no-brainer to attach down-facing high-resolution cameras to Starlink satellites.

It’s a lot more difficult than that, I think. The outdated Keyhole spy satellites that were donated to NASA were about Hubble-sized, with a ~2.4m primary mirror, if I’m not mistaken, and higher resolution would require larger mirrors, so it’s not just a tiny DSLR glued on the bottom of a starlink satellite. On top of that, imaging and communications (especially with the laser links) may have opposing requirements where the satellite is pointing. I’d assume that those are entirely separate satellites, possibly using Starlink for downlink.

Re:Starlink

By necro81 • Score: 5, Interesting Thread

With 50 gigapixels you can image the 20,000 square mile Starlink satellite footrprint with 1 meter resolution

Without quality optics, you’ll just end up with 50 gigapixels of blur. More pixels doesn’t necessarily mean you can resolve finer features.

For comparison, Planet Labs is deploying its Pelican telescope constellation. These are the size of a small refrigerator (0.6 x 0.6 x 1.0 m), and roughly half of that is devoted to the optics. Planet Labs advertise 30-cm resolution with that platform, but the first prototypes only went up a few months ago - I don’t know if real data is available yet.

Another comparison is "What If You Pointed Hubble at Earth"? (Since Hubble is more or less a spy satellite, modestly redesigned for astronomy.) The diffraction limit puts the resolution at 0.2 m - not quite enough for license plates. But atmospheric effects alone would worsen that significantly. Then there’s motion blur - the telescope has to slew to keep the object centered in the field of view. Even if it did so perfectly, you’re still viewing the object from different angles during the camera exposure. A telescope in Pelican’s form factor (0.5 m, cubed) doesn’t jibe well with the flat-pack configuration of Starlink (about 0.2 m thick), let alone a Hubble.

But that’s not to say that NRO hasn’t asked SpaceX (and contractors) for their own design. There’s a reason why the SpaceX camera feed cuts out before fairing separation.

Reddit Is Taking Over Google

Posted by BeauHD View on SlashDot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Business Insider:
If you think you’ve been seeing an awful lot more Reddit results lately when you search on Google, you’re not imagining things. The internet is in upheaval, and for website owners the rules of “winning” Google Search have never been murkier. Google’s generative AI search engine is coming from one direction. It’s creeping closer to mainstream deployment and bringing an existential crisis for SEOs and website makers everywhere. Coming from the other direction is an influx of posts from Reddit, Quora, and other internet forums that have climbed up through the traditional set of Google links. Data analysis from Semrush, which predicts traffic based on search ranking, shows that traffic to Reddit has climbed at an impressive clip since August. Semrush estimated that Reddit had over 132 million visitors in August 2023. At the time of publishing, it was projected to have over 346 million visitors in April 2024.

None of this is accidental. For years, Google has been watching users tack on “Reddit” to the end of search queries and finally decided to do something about it. Google started dropping hints in 2022 when it promised to do a better job of promoting sites that weren’t just chasing the top of search but were more helpful and human. Last August, Google rolled out a big update to Search that seemed to kick this into action. Reddit, Quora, and other forum sites started getting more visibility in Google, both within the traditional links and within a new “discussions and forums” section, which you may have spotted if you’re US-based. The timing of this Reddit bump has led to some conspiracy theories. In February, Google and Reddit announced a blockbuster deal that would let Google train its AI models on Reddit content. Google said the deal, reportedly worth $60 million, would “facilitate more content-forward displays of Reddit information,” leading to some speculation that Google promised Reddit better visibility in exchange for the valuable training data. A few weeks later, Reddit also went public.

Steve Paine, marketing manager at Sistrix, called the rise of Reddit “unprecedented.” “There hasn’t been a website that’s grown so much search visibility so quickly in the US in at least the last five years,” he told Business Insider. Right now, Reddit ranks high for product searches. Reddit’s main competitors are Wikipedia, YouTube, and Fandom, Paine said, and it also competes in “high-value commercial searches,” putting it up against Amazon. The “real competitors,” he said, are the subreddits that compete with brands on the web.
A Google spokesperson told Business Insider that the company is essentially just giving users what they want: “Our research has shown that people often want to learn from others’ experiences with a topic, so we’ve continued to make it easier to find helpful perspectives on Search when it’s relevant to a query. Our systems surface content from hundreds of forums and other communities across the web, and we conduct rigorous testing to ensure results are helpful and high quality.”

Makes sense

By penguinoid • Score: 5, Informative Thread

However shitty reddit may be, at least it’s real humans talking about things humans care about. Way better than the spammers that have bamboozled google with SEO, which is about to be worsened by AI.

Re: Makes sense

By ArmoredDragon • Score: 5, Informative Thread

Spammers are all over Reddit, have been for years, Reddit doesn’t really do anything about it. Just as an example, you’ll see aff spam littered throughout any subs related to dating, injected somewhat casually into discussions despite the site being well known to be a ripoff.

Can’t access Reddit

By u19925 • Score: 5, Interesting Thread

Since I am always on VPN, Reddit blocks me unless I log in. I don’t have Reddit account, so I can’t access. Effectively, I have to skip top results from Google and go down the page. This is what Reddit page shows me:
“Can we see some ID please?
You’ve been blocked by network security. To continue, log in to your Reddit account or use your developer token”

Quora

By Gabest • Score: 5, Informative Thread

It always comes first in Google, but essentially useless because it needs you to login to read the answers, which I won’t.

Re:Makes sense

By arglebargle_xiv • Score: 5, Insightful Thread
Quora OTOH is the creeping fungus that’s overrunning search results like Steven King’s “Weeds”, just like Pinterest used to do for images. Search for any kind of tech info on anything and you get a bunch of Quora crap poisoning your first half-dozen results. And since Google knows better than you, you can no longer exclude Quora results like you used to be able to when Pinterest was the big problem.