the unofficial Slashdot digest archive

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.

Leaked Document Shows How Big Companies Buy Credit Card Data On Millions of Americans

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Yodlee, the largest financial data broker in the U.S., sells data pulled from the bank and credit card transactions of tens of millions of Americans to investment and research firms, detailing where and when people shopped and how much they spent. The company claims that the data is anonymous, but a confidential Yodlee document obtained by Motherboard indicates individual users could be unmasked. The findings come as multiple Senators have urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Envestnet, which owns Yodlee, for selling Americans' transaction information without their knowledge or consent, potentially violating the law.

The Yodlee document describes in detail what type of data its clients gain access to, how the company manages that data across its infrastructure, and the specific measures Yodlee takes to try and anonymize its dataset. The transaction data itself comes from banks, credit card companies, and apps that Yodlee works with, including Bank of America, Citigroup, and HSBC, according to previous reporting from The Wall Street Journal. According to the 2019 document Motherboard obtained, the data includes a unique identifier given to the bank or credit card holder who made the purchase; the amount spent for the transaction; the date of the sale; the city, state, and zip code of the business the person bought from, and other pieces of metadata. Once logged into Yodlee's server, clients download the data as a large text file, rather than interacting with the data in a dashboard or interface that stays solely within Yodlee's control, according to the document.
Yodlee does remove personal identifiable information (PII), such as names, email addresses, account numbers, SSNs, and phone numbers, but it "does not remove spatio-temporal traces of people that can be used to connect back the data to them," says Vivek Singh, assistant professor at Rutgers University. As Motherboard notes, "spatio-temporal traces are the various pieces of metadata that the document shows are included with the transaction -- the date, the merchant, the physical location of the sale, and more."

"If an attacker can get hold of the spatio-temporal coordinates for just three to four randomly picked transactions in the dataset, then the attacker can unmask the person with a very high probability. With this unmasking, the attacker would have access to all the other transactions made by that individual," Singh said.

Google Users In UK To Lose EU Data Protection: Reuters

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Sources told Reuters that Google is planning to move its British users' accounts out of the control of European Union privacy regulators, placing them under U.S. jurisdiction instead. From the report: The shift, prompted by Britain's exit from the EU, will leave the sensitive personal information of tens of millions with less protection and within easier reach of British law enforcement. The change was described to Reuters by three people familiar with its plans. Google intends to require its British users to acknowledge new terms of service including the new jurisdiction.

Ireland, where Google and other U.S. tech companies have their European headquarters, is staying in the EU, which has one of the world's most aggressive data protection rules, the General Data Protection Regulation. Google has decided to move its British users out of Irish jurisdiction because it is unclear whether Britain will follow GDPR or adopt other rules that could affect the handling of user data, the people said. If British Google users have their data kept in Ireland, it would be more difficult for British authorities to recover it in criminal investigations.

Coinbase Becomes a Visa Principal Member To Double Down On Debit Card

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Coinbase has become the only cryptocurrency company with a Visa Principal Member certification. TechCrunch reports: Cryptocurrency company Coinbase has been working with Paysafe to issue the Coinbase Card, a Visa debit card that works with your Coinbase account balance. The company is now a Visa Principal Member, which should help Coinbase rely less on Paysafe and control a bigger chunk of the card payment stack.

The company will offer the Coinbase Card in more markets in the future. The new status could open up more possibilities and features as well. While Coinbase originally launched the Coinbase Card in the U.K., it is now available in 29 European countries. It works with any Visa-compatible payment terminal and ATM. Users can decide in the app which wallet they want to use for upcoming transactions. This way, you can spend money in 10 cryptocurrencies. There are some conversion fees just like on Coinbase. In addition to those fees, there can be some additional fees if you withdraw a lot of money or make a purchase abroad.

IRS Sues Facebook For $9 Billion, Says Company Offshored Profits To Ireland

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fox Business: Facebook is slated to begin a tax trial in a San Francisco court on Tuesday, as the Internal Revenue Service tries to convince a judge the world's largest social media company owes more than $9 billion linked to its decision to shift profits to Ireland. The trial, which Facebook expects will take three to four weeks, could see top executives including hardware chief Andrew Bosworth and Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer called to testify, according to a document the company filed in January. The witness list also includes Naomi Gleit and Javier Olivan, veterans of Facebook's aggressive growth team, and Chief Revenue Officer David Fischer.

The IRS argues that Facebook understated the value of the intellectual property it sold to an Irish subsidiary in 2010 while building out global operations, a move common among U.S. multinationals. Ireland has lower corporate tax rates than the United States, so the move reduced the company's tax bill. Under the arrangement, Facebook's subsidiaries pay royalties to the U.S.-based parent for access to its trademark, users and platform technologies. From 2010 to 2016, Facebook Ireland paid Facebook U.S. more than $14 billion in royalties and cost-sharing payments, according to the court filing. The company said the low valuation reflected the risks associated with Facebook's international expansion, which took place in 2010 before its IPO and the development of its most lucrative digital advertising products.

Confusing title

By AK Marc • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
They aren't being sued for offshoring profits to Ireland. Everyone does it. It's 100% legal, and well defended by politicians in Washington to help the 1% kill the economy.

They are being sued for fraud when setting up the 100% legal offshoring scheme. They understated the value of the IP when shipping it over, and that's fraud.

The "fix" is that when something owned by a public corporation is valued for tax purposes, they should be required to put it up for sale for that number. So if they value the trademark "facebook" at $1 and ship it to Ireland, then Bob the Internet Troll should be allowed to send $1 to [formerly Facebook] and become the new owner of Facebook.

When something is valued on books but not "real" there will always be these frauds. Facebook was just more blatant and obvious than most. But everyone else does it too.

Re:Oh damn!

By awwshit • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Our government might get to a point where we don't need deficit spending, and the 50% of us that actually pays taxes don't have to shoulder the entire burden. FB and every other company needs to pay its share. And that 9B includes penalties that could have been avoided.

Re:Oh damn!

By whoever57 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

That is the most dumb statement ever.

Think of this: Without taxes, there is no effective government. Without government there would be no Internet. Without the Internet, there would be no Facebook.

Re:Oh damn!

By Fly Swatter • Score: 4 • Thread
The taxes were known prior to them starting the company. It's not like the tax code was changed with a surprise tax rate hike. I side with the IRS, that company is avoiding their share of the taxes, which makes all earners have to cough up more to cover facebook's share. Make them pay, and add a big penalty to teach others a lesson.

Obviously facebuck will get out of paying with not even a slap on the wrist.

Microsoft Has a Subdomain Hijacking Problem

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
A security researcher has pointed out that Microsoft has a problem in managing its thousands of subdomains, many of which can be hijacked and used for attacks against users, its employees, or for showing spammy content. From a report: The issue has been brought up this week by Michel Gaschet, a security researcher and a developer for In an interview with ZDNet, Gaschet said that during the past three years, he's been reporting subdomains with misconfigured DNS records to Microsoft, but the company has either ignored those reports or silently secured some subdomains, but not all. Gaschet says he reported 21 subdomains that were vulnerable to hijacks to Microsoft in 2017, and then another 142 misconfigured subdomains in 2019. Further, the researcher also privately shared with ZDNet another list of 117 subdomains that he also reported to Microsoft last year.

DNS misconfigurations

By TheDarkener • Score: 3 • Thread

So I don't get it, are the hijackers actually getting access to the internal DNS servers/configurations under Microsoft control or are they just taking over DNS servers of others and re-pointing to $badsites ?

Re: DNS misconfigurations

By darkain • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Not quite. There are other reports of this in the past I've seen. People are using Azure to do the domain/IP jacking. Quite often, the subdomains pointed to services built on Azure, but then taken offline. Those IP addresses then release back into an Azure pool that ANYONE with an Azure account can possibly obtain.

Larry Tesler, Computer Scientist Who Created Cut, Copy, and Paste, Dies At 74

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Larry Tesler, a computer scientist who created the terms "cut," "copy," and "paste," has passed away at the age of 74. Gizmodo reports: Born in 1945 in New York, Tesler went on to study computer science at Stanford University, and after graduation he dabbled in artificial intelligence research (long before it became a deeply concerning tool) and became involved in the anti-war and anti-corporate monopoly movements, with companies like IBM as one of his deserving targets. In 1973 Tesler took a job at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) where he worked until 1980. Xerox PARC is famously known for developing the mouse-driven graphical user interface we now all take for granted, and during his time at the lab Tesler worked with Tim Mott to create a word processor called Gypsy that is best known for coining the terms "cut," "copy," and "paste" when it comes to commands for removing, duplicating, or repositioning chunks of text.

Xerox PARC is also well known for not capitalizing on the groundbreaking research it did in terms of personal computing, so in 1980 Tesler transitioned to Apple Computer where he worked until 1997. Over the years he held countless positions at the company including Vice President of AppleNet (Apple's in-house local area networking system that was eventually canceled), and even served as Apple's Chief Scientist, a position that at one time was held by Steve Wozniak, before eventually leaving the company.

In addition to his contributions to some of Apple's most famous hardware, Tesler was also known for his efforts to make software and user interfaces more accessible. In addition to the now ubiquitous "cut," "copy," and "paste" terminologies, Tesler was also an advocate for an approach to UI design known as modeless computing, which is reflected in his personal website. In essence, it ensures that user actions remain consistent throughout an operating system's various functions and apps. When they've opened a word processor, for instance, users now just automatically assume that hitting any of the alphanumeric keys on their keyboard will result in that character showing up on-screen at the cursor's insertion point. But there was a time when word processors could be switched between multiple modes where typing on the keyboard would either add characters to a document or alternately allow functional commands to be entered.

Rest in Paste

By MillionthMonkey • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
This guy helped me write all the code I ever stole from Stackoverflow.

A world changer

By JustAnotherOldGuy • Score: 3 • Thread

This guy literally changed the way the world works and was an unsung hero.

Imagine your day-to-day life without the utility of cut/copy/paste. Computers would be nearly unusable.

Rest in peace, sir, and thank you.

Re:Deeply concerning

By Roger W Moore • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

What? AI is a "deeply concerning tool"? What is concerning about it?

In today's world, natural stupidity is far more dangerous than artificial intelligence.

Google Launches Android 11 Developer Preview 1

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: Google today launched the first Android 11 developer preview, available for download now at The preview includes a preview SDK for developers with system images for the Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, and the official Android Emulator. While it's the fifth year running that Google has released the first developer preview of the next Android version in Q1, this is the earliest developer preview yet. Android N (later named Android Nougat), Android O (Android Oreo), Android P (Android Pie), and Android Q (Android 10) were all first shown off in the month of March. Last year, Google used the Android Beta Program, which lets you get early Android builds via over-the-air updates on select devices. This year, however, Google is not making the first preview available as a beta (you'll need to manually flash your device). In other words, Android 11 is not ready for early adopters to try, just developers.

Lambda School's Misleading Promises

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Lambda School claims 86% of grads get jobs paying over $50,000 a year. In a new report, Lambda's founder admits the real number is much lower. Additionally, internal documents show Lambda can be profitable if even 1 in 4 grads get a job. Lambda plans to enroll 10,000 students in 2020. From the report: The point of a coding boot camp, obviously, is to help you get a better job. Lambda's claim, reproduced on its website, that "86% of Lambda School graduates are hired within 6 months and make over $50k a year" is an understandably attractive proposition for students -- and a key pillar of Lambda's marketing. Students I talked to confirmed that the feeling that it was likely that they would be able to land high-paying jobs was a key part of deciding to attend. However, a May 2019 Lambda School investment memo -- entitled "Human Capital: The Last Unoptimized Asset Class" -- written for Y Combinator and obtained by Intelligencer, tells a very different story. In a section warning that student-debt collections may prove too low, it matter-of-factly states that, "We're at roughly 50% placement for cohorts that are 6 months graduated." A recent interviewee for work at Lambda School also confirmed to me that the company's own internal numbers, which the interviewee was provided as part of their interview process, seem to indicate a roughly 50 percent or lower placement rate.

So where does that 86 percent figure come from? Lambda has reported graduate-outcome statistics at the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR), a voluntary trade organization of coding boot camps whose purpose is to ensure that participating schools publish truthful information about student outcomes. Lambda School founder Austen Allred has often used this report to defend his company online. But where other boot camps have multiple reports spanning many student cohorts, Lambda has only reported statistics for its first 71 graduates -- 86 percent of who, the school claims, found jobs. Sheree Speakman, the CEO of CIRR, told me that Lambda has not undergone the standard independent auditing for the sole report it has submitted, and that her communications to Lambda School regarding further reporting and auditing have gone unanswered. Lambda's former director of career readiness, Sabrina Baez, told me that placing Lambda's first batch of students was extremely difficult, largely owing to how underdeveloped the curriculum was at the time. When asked about Lambda's claim that 86 percent of its first graduates were placed within six months, she told me, "I would say out of that 71 students, within six months of them graduating it was probably a 50-60 percent placement rate," and added that Allred sometimes exaggerated student-placement progress on Twitter -- recalling, as an example, an instance in which she told Allred that a student might receive an offer soon, only to find out later that he had tweeted that the student had already received an offer.
Further reading: The High Cost of a Free Coding Bootcamp.

At least its income share and not up front payment

By wyattstorch516 • Score: 3 • Thread
If the students go through the program and can't get a job then they have only lost the time they have invested. They should have at least learned some useful information so it's not a total loss.

Graduates from all boot camps struggle to fine work, this model ensures that those that can't make a career of it don't wind up with a lot of debt dragging them down.

Really? This is the third time for this...

By sconeu • Score: 4 • Thread

Feb 15

Feb 11

"Human Capital: The Last Unoptimized Asset Class"

By shplopt • Score: 3 • Thread
Were they purposely going for a dystopian cyberpunk vibe? That's some sinister sounding shit.

The problem is what happens after that 1st gig

By rsilvergun • Score: 3 • Thread
companies don't care how much experience you have. Their automated HR bots will look at your credentials, see that you don't have a 4 year degree from a major university, and send you packing.

It no longer does any good to "get your food in the door". Without a proper degree as soon as you lose that first job Lambda helped to land you're right back where you started.

Other half of the problem with easy student loans

By Solandri • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
This is the other half of the problem with easy student loans. The first half most of you know by now - easy loans drive rampant tuition inflation in desirable schools. The second half disproportionately affects poorer people. A bunch of shady schools get set up solely to extract loan money from students.
  1. Set up some school (doesn't have to be coding, could be cosmetology or real estate licensing or any other variety of career education choices which qualify for a student loan).
  2. Advertise to people promising huge improvements to their job opportunities once they graduate, and how they don't have to pay a dime up front if they qualify for a loan.
  3. Students sign up, take out a loan to pay the tuition.
  4. Hire the cheapest instructors you can, barely qualified, or even unqualified if you think you can get away with it.
  5. Award degrees to students for "completing" the coursework.
  6. Graduates realize their degree isn't really helping them get new or better jobs. Attempt to sue the school for their worthless degree.
  7. The school has already shut down, declared bankruptcy, and no longer exists.
  8. The school's owner soaked up most of the cash (in the form of their paycheck for running the school), and has fled (probably to start another school somewhere else). The students are stuck with the bill (in the form of non-dischargeable loans).

If you were tasked with designing a money laundering scheme, you couldn't have done it better. Responsibility for the tainted loan money remains with the students, while the school owner runs away with laundered cash. There have been attempts to audit and accredit schools accepting students paying with loans. But it's nowhere near enough to offset the amount of fraud going on. Remember that next time you hear about the $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. A good chunk of that is money which ended up in the pockets of scam artists, perfectly laundered so there's no way to claw it back or to file criminal charges against them.

Indian Police Open Case Against Hundreds in Kashmir For Using VPN

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Local authorities in India-controlled Kashmir have opened a case against hundreds of people who used virtual private networks (VPNs) to circumvent a social media ban in the disputed Himalayan region in a move that has been denounced by human rights and privacy activists. From a report: Tahir Ashraf, who heads the police cyber division in Srinagar, said on Tuesday that the authority had identified and was probing hundreds of suspected users who he alleged misused social media to promote "unlawful activities and secessionist ideology." On Monday, the police said they had also seized "a lot of incriminating material" under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the nation's principal counter-terrorism law. Those found guilty could be jailed up to seven years. "Taking a serious note of misuse of social media, there have been continuous reports of misuse of social media sites by the miscreants to propagate the secessionist ideology and to promote unlawful activities," the region's police said in a statement. The move comes weeks after the Indian government restored access to several hundred websites, including some shopping websites such as Amazon India and Flipkart and select news outlets in the disputed region. Facebook, Twitter and other social media services remain blocked, and mobile data speeds remain capped at 2G speeds.


By backslashdot • Score: 3 • Thread

This is why we need Starlink. This is why we should never use anything other than end to end encrypted communications â"- even if you have nothing to hide. Because there are people that need to use it and if it isnâ(TM)t standard they can be prosecuted. That means staying away from RCS. Use Telegram, use Signal. Even WhatsApp is OK for now.

Oh the irony

By DNS-and-BIND • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

So, what have we here? People who are (1) spreading misinformation on social media, (2) promoting separatism (I smell Russia here), (3) behavior that is clearly illegal, by (4) literal terrorists.

How many times have I heard that when there is a clear and present danger like this, we don't just need censorship, but it is a moral failing if we don't censor.

Why do I get the distinct feeling that there will shortly be a "we have always been at war with Eurasia" moment where these same people will suddenly discover the virtues of free speech? The same "freeze peach" that they routinely mock and denigrate?

Mozilla's Standalone Firefox VPN is Now Available in Beta

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Mozilla has a new virtual private network service and if you have a Chromebook, a Windows 10 computer or an Android device in the US, you can start using a beta version now. From a report: Called Firefox Private Network, the new service is designed to function as a full-device VPN and give better protection when surfing the web or when using public Wi-Fi networks. The company offers two options: a free browser-extension version, which it launched in beta last year, that provides 12 one-hour VPN passes when using the Firefox browser and a Firefox account; and a second, $4.99-a-month option that provides a more complete VPN service across your whole device. The new paid option, which runs off of servers provided by Swedish open-source VPN company Mullvad, can protect up to five devices with one account. It allows for faster browsing and streaming, and gives you the ability to tap into servers located in "30-plus countries" for masking your location data.

Can You Use this for Torrenting?

By PastTense • Score: 3 • Thread

Can you use this for torrenting?

Codename "kiddiepron"

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Funny • Thread
Not sure what type of person / terrorsist/ perv would require such a software, but rest assured the evil amonst us are digging out their stolen credit card #'s to sign up for this. I don't understand why the government doesn't regulate this and shut it down because it should.

Donald Trump 'Offered Julian Assange a Pardon if He Denied Russia Link To Hack'

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Donald Trump offered Julian Assange a pardon if he would say Russia was not involved in leaking Democratic party emails, a court in London has been told. From a report: The extraordinary claim was made at Westminster magistrates court before the opening next week of Assange's legal battle to block attempts to extradite him to the US. Assange's barrister, Edward Fitzgerald QC, referred to evidence alleging that the former US Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher had been to see Assange, now 48, while he was still in the Ecuadorian embassy in August 2017. A statement from Assange's lawyer Jennifer Robinson shows "Mr Rohrabacher going to see Mr Assange and saying, on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr Assange ... said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks," Fitzgerald told Westminster magistrates court.

A series of emails that were highly embarrassing for the Democrats and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign were hacked before being published by WikiLeaks in 2016. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser, who is hearing the case at Westminster, said the evidence is admissible. Assange is wanted in America to face 18 charges, including conspiring to commit computer intrusion, over the publication of US cables a decade ago. He could face up to 175 years in jail if found guilty. He is accused of working with the former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak hundreds of thousands of classified documents.

Re:Had enough yet?

By spun • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

By ruling elites I mean both. Republican insiders are the Harlem Globetrotters, Democratic insiders are the Washington Generals. Bad cop, good cop strategy, played on the American people. The only winners are the rich.

Re:And voting is anonymous

By fahrbot-bot • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I was listening to The Thomas Jefferson Hour on PBS the other day and Clay Jenkinson, the first-person interpreter, speculated that the Founding Fathers never foresaw that our political system would become a hyper-partisan, two-party system and that if they had they would have designed the Impeachment process much differently to ensure a fair(er) non-partisan process. Members of Congress swear to uphold and defend the Constitution while representing all the people of their districts. They're not suppose to put Party over everything first.

Re:Pardons [Re:Had enough yet?]

By Vegan Cyclist • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

But the more relevant question is: of the people Obama pardoned, how many were tied to his (sometimes illegal) behaviour?


By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Biden announced publicly that he forced Ukraine to do his bidding by withholding aid, exactly what the Dems accused Trump of.

This is called motherfucking... D - I - P - L - O - M - A - C - Y. Every president has a right to use carrots and sticks to get their way. Every goddamn one.

Nobody is crying foul because they think Trump does not have the right to use diplomacy to get his way. Nobody is crying foul because they think Trump does not have the right to fire people.

Actual issue at hand is substantial evidence suggesting Trump used power of his office to corruptly advantage himself personally in the next presidential election. There is no evidence Biden acted for any reason other than furthering US policy objectives when he made his threat.

What is publically known is a timeline showing active investigation into Biden's sons employer at the time Biden made his threat of withholding loan guarantees. Even if you assume the worst about Biden's motives there is not even a known credible pretext to explain what his motive could have been.

Now if the above turns out to be wrong and Biden did act explicitly to help out his son rather than further US policy interests then fucking impeach that motherfucker too because then it would be exactly what the Dems accused Trump of.

Re:Had enough yet?

By stabiesoft • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Trump pardons are to instill faith in future pardons for those people who do illegal things for him. If you watch, people who praise him, lie and most importantly, key allies like Stone need assurance they will get a pardon if they keep the faith. The Senate acquitting him has taught him he can (and will) do whatever he wants and no one is going to hold him accountable. We could have a dictatorship by fall. See also Turkey, a very recent convert to authoritarianism.

Intel and QuTech Unveil Horse Ridge Cryogenic Control Chip For Quantum Computing

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
At the International Solid State Circuits Conference, which runs through this week in San Francisco, Intel and QuTech -- a partnership between Delft University of Technology and TNO (Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research) -- are unveiling the technical designs for a first-of-its-kind cryogenic control chip for quantum computing, which they call Horse Ridge. From a report: Intel Labs and QuTech researchers outlined the technical features of the new cryogenic quantum control chip in a research paper. They designed the scalable system-on-chip (SOC) to operate at cryogenic temperatures, simplifying the control electronics and interconnects required to elegantly scale and operate large quantum computing systems. Horse Ridge addresses fundamental challenges in building a quantum system powerful enough to demonstrate quantum practicality -- scalability, flexibility, and fidelity.

The challenge of quantum computing is that right now, it only really works at near-freezing temperatures. Intel is trying to change that, but the control chip is a step toward enabling control at very low temperatures, as it eliminates hundreds of wires going into a refrigerated case that houses the quantum computer. Currently, quantum researchers are working with just a small number of qubits, or quantum bits, using smaller, custom-designed systems surrounded by complex control and interconnect mechanisms. Intel's Horse Ridge greatly minimizes this complexity.

Can You Solve the 'Hanging Cable' Problem, Used as an Amazon Interview Question?

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a problem that Amazon asks in its interviews: A cable of 80 meters is hanging from the top of two poles that are both 50 meters off the ground. What is the distance between the two poles (to one decimal point) if the center cable is (a) 20 meters off the ground and (b) 10 meters off the ground?

testing the approach and struggle

By e**(i pi)-1 • Score: 3 • Thread
As has been pointed out, the second problem (10 meter off the ground) is a good problem as it gives 0 as then half of the rope length is just the distance to the bottom. The question with the 20 meter off the ground probably did not expect an exact solution in the first case but tested how the candidate would approach a difficult problem. The exact solution using the graph of f(x) = cosh(ax) is hard: there are two unknowns, the parameter a and the end point which is half of the pole distance. It leads to two equations ,where one involves elliptic integrals. the arc length of the catenary is only elementary if a=1. Also approximating as a parabola (as Kepler did) gives a difficult arc length integral. I suspect that one expected the candidate to come up with an approximation. A simple approximation replaces the rope with a straight line so that one has a triangle with hypotenuse 40 and where one side 30. One can then give a rough estimate 2 sqrt(700) for the distance between the two poles which is the situation if the rope is piecewise linear (which is the case if a heavy weight is at the bottom). The actual solution is smaller.

Solution to A without a caternary

By goombah99 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

you can also solve A without hard math, just geometry.

first drop the factors of 10 so it's 5 tall and 2 off the ground and 8 long

find upper bound:
Imagine the rope taught in two triangles. Then one of those triangles has a base of 2.64 = sqrt(16-9)

find lower bound:
replace the rope with 4 sticks each 2 long.
pin the left and right sticks to their flagpoles. this leaves two triangles for the remaining sticks to form.
    length of base of one triangle 1.76 = sqrt( 4 -1)

So the full witdth is twice those bounds: 5.2 > X >3.5

pick a value in the middle 4.35

that's got 1 digit accuracy on the right answer.

Required for their hiring audience

By ErichTheRed • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Amazon, Microsoft and similar are looking to hire mostly new graduates without a whole lot of work experience. The brain-teaser interview questions are basically an extension of school, and you'll select for people who are good problem-solvers and test-answerers but not necessarily good real-world workers. If you don't have a lot of experience to go on, your fallback is evaluating a candidate's academic record. When most people applying have an almost perfect GPA (grade inflation, especially in private colleges) you have to come up with some other weed-out tool.

I've read a couple of books written by sociologists, psychologists and the like that put forth the theory that the people who did the best in school aren't necessarily the best workers for the modern world. Someone who crams for standardized tests from birth and never gets anything besides an A has been conditioned that if they just jump through the hoops and hurdles put in front of them, they'll succeed. And in the old world that was true...if you got into an Ivy League school, you'd be at least guaranteed a management consulting job or investment banker position, both of which pay extremely well. But now that we have automation taking a lot of the work here, people are finding that the more rigidly you're programmed to find the answer they want you to find, the less innovative you are. Amazon/Microsoft/whatever would probably do better not looking for grade-getting robots and expanding their search to people who may not have done the best in school, but have some other kind of differentiating spark.

You don't even need to know what a catenary is...

By balaam's ass • Score: 3 • Thread
You only need to posit that the shape of the cable will minimize the potential energy. Then use the Calculus of Variations to get Euler-Lagrange equations, solve those, and boom: catenary! ;-) Then plug in your boundary conditions. (2nd year undergrad physics curriculum.)

Re:you fail

By Nite_Hawk • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Likewise, what is this supposed to demonstrate?

The "intelligence" of the interviewer and whether or not the interviewee fits within the same social clique that enjoys gotcha-style whiteboard debates over actually getting anything done.

Microsoft's Office App That Replaces Word, Excel, and PowerPoint Hits General Availability

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Microsoft today launched Office for Android and iOS in general availability. The unified app means you no longer need to download, install, and switch between the individual Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps. From a report: The company today also announced new features coming to the app this spring: Word Dictation, Excel Cards View, and Outline to PowerPoint. You can use Office for free, and if you sign in with a Microsoft Account or connect a third-party storage service you can access and store documents in the cloud. Microsoft has over 200 million monthly active Office 365 business users and over 37 million Office 365 consumer subscribers. When the company launched the new Office mobile app as a public preview in November, "tens of thousands of people" rushed to try it. Microsoft has found that most users and businesses want to use the Office app as a hub or starting point for all their document work.

Nice for casual use

By twocows • Score: 3 • Thread
I can see this being very useful to, say, a college student who needs to use Office format for his assignments because that's what one of his professors uses despite the school standardizing on GSuite, or someone submitting a resume to a site that for some ridiculous reason demands it in .doc or .docx despite PDF or, failing that, RTF making a lot more sense. This is doubly true in a world where casual users are starting to trade out their laptops and desktops for just having a smartphone.

Third party support for Office file formats gets better every year, but there's always that one time it gets it wrong and you look like an idiot for it. Having some kind of gratis option for casual use is actually pretty nice.


By cellocgw • Score: 3 • Thread

Explain why I would want to load and boot up 3 or 4 apps' worth of RAM just to run one of them. What is the point here, other than requiring more clicks to get to where I want to be?

Now: click on the Word icon. Start typing.

This New Thing: click on something. Get some dumbass menu or splash page. Figure out what is the word processor. Click on that.

Malaysian Firm Offers AI-Based Profiling of Chinese Visitors for Virus

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Malaysia's MYEG Services said on Wednesday it had developed a coronavirus risk-profiling system for visitors from China and was offering the artificial intelligence-based service to the governments of Malaysia and the Philippines. From a report: Malaysia has imposed a temporary ban on visitors from Chinese provinces placed on lockdown by the China's government, in a bid to stem the spread of the virus. Malaysia has reported 22 infections, and the Philippines has reported three confirmed cases including one death. MYEG Services Bhd said its system creates a health-risk profile using a person's historical geolocation information and other parameters. MYEG has partnered with Beijing-based travel agency Phoenix Travel Worldwide for the project. The fully-automated system analyses a "vast number of available data points, including visitors' previous known whereabouts as well as heart rate and blood pressure readings crossed-referenced against public transportation ridership and exposure to locations with incidences of infections," MYEG said in a statement to the stock exchange.