Alterslash

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.

How OneWeb, SpaceX Satellites Dodged a Potential Collision in Orbit

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Two satellites from the fast-growing constellations of OneWeb and SpaceX's Starlink dodged a dangerously close approach with one another in orbit," reports The Verge, citing representatives from both OneWeb and the U.S. Space Force. On March 30th, five days after OneWeb launched its latest batch of 36 satellites from Russia, the company received several "red alerts" from the US Space Force's 18th Space Control Squadron warning of a possible collision with a Starlink satellite. Because OneWeb's constellation operates in higher orbits around Earth, the company's satellites must pass through SpaceX's mesh of Starlink satellites, which orbit at an altitude of roughly 550 km.

One Space Force alert indicated a collision probability of 1.3 percent, with the two satellites coming as close as 190 feet — a dangerously close proximity for satellites in orbit. If satellites collide in orbit, it could cause a cascading disaster that could generate hundreds of pieces of debris and send them on crash courses with other satellites nearby...

Space Force's urgent alerts sent OneWeb engineers scrambling to email SpaceX's Starlink team to coordinate maneuvers that would put the two satellites at safer distances from one another. While coordinating with OneWeb, SpaceX disabled its automated AI-powered collision avoidance system to allow OneWeb to steer its satellite out of the way, according to OneWeb's government affairs chief Chris McLaughlin... SpaceX's automated system for avoiding satellite collisions has sparked controversy, raising concerns from other satellite operators who say they have no way of knowing which way the system will move a Starlink satellite in the event of a close approach.

Student's First Academic Paper Solves Decades-Old Quantum Computing Problem

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Sydney university student Pablo Bonilla, 21, had his first academic paper published overnight and it might just change the shape of computing forever," writes Australia's national public broadcaster ABC: As a second-year physics student at the University of Sydney, Mr Bonilla was given some coding exercises as extra homework and what he returned with has helped to solve one of the most common problems in quantum computing. His code spiked the interest of researchers at Yale and Duke in the United States and the multi-billion-dollar tech giant Amazon plans to use it in the quantum computer it is trying to build for its cloud platform Amazon Web Services....

Assistant professor Shruti Puri of Yale's quantum research program said the new code solved a problem that had persisted for 20 years. "What amazes me about this new code is its sheer elegance," she said. "Its remarkable error-correcting properties are coming from a simple modification to a code that has been studied extensively for almost two decades...."

Co-author of the paper, the University of Sydney's Ben Brown, said the brilliance of Pablo Bonilla's code was in its simplicity... "We just made the smallest of changes to a chip that everybody is building, and all of a sudden it started doing a lot better. It's quite amazing to me that nobody spotted it in the 20-or-so years that people have been working on that model."

Fresh Eyes

By I75BJC • Score: 3 • Thread
At times, the first "swipe" at a problem is the best.
At times, a personal unskilled/untrained in the "official dogma" of the parent group can see the problem.
At times, Professors will read and credit under-grad students with person hood, intelligence, and respect.
All times, all of us are needed -- maybe not for the same thing.

"Kudos!", kid.

Useless Article

By fennec • Score: 3 • Thread
Does not show the code obviously, does not explain what it's supposed to do, nor the fix or how it improves what... Just comments about how wonderful this guy is.

Problem?

By enriquevagu • Score: 3 • Thread

If a new, better solution is found for a given problem, I believe that the summary should at least explain what is the problem. And the improvement in the solution, by the way.

What is more relevant, the advance obtained with the new solution, or the fact that it was obtained by a second-year undergraduate student?

Linus Torvalds Says Rust Closer for Linux Kernel Development, Calls C++ 'A Crap Language'

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Google's Android team supports Rust for developing the Android operating system. Now they're also helping evaluate Rust for Linux kernel development. Their hopes, among other things, are that "New code written in Rust has a reduced risk of memory safety bugs, data races and logic bugs overall," that "abstractions that are easier to reason about," and "More people get involved overall in developing the kernel, thanks to the usage of a modern language."

Linus Torvalds responded in a new interview with IT Wire (shared by Slashdot reader juul_advocate): The first patches for Rust support in the Linux kernel have been posted and the man behind the kernel says the fact that these are being discussed is much more important than a long post by Google about the language. Linus Torvalds told iTWire in response to queries that Rust support was "not there yet", adding that things were "getting to the point where maybe it might be mergeable for 5.14 or something like that..." Torvalds said that it was still early days for Rust support, "but at least it's in a 'this kind of works, there's an example, we can build on it'."

Asked about a suggestion by a commenter on the Linux Weekly News website, who said, during a discussion on the Google post, "The solution here is simple: just use C++ instead of Rust", Torvalds could not restrain himself from chortling. "LOL," was his response. "C++ solves _none_ of the C issues, and only makes things worse. It really is a crap language.

"For people who don't like C, go to a language that actually offers you something worthwhile. Like languages with memory safety and [which] can avoid some of the dangers of C, or languages that have internal GC [garbage collection] support and make memory management easier. C++ solves all the wrong problems, and anybody who says 'rewrite the kernel in C++' is too ignorant to even know that."

He said that when one spoke of the dangers of C, one was also speaking about part of what made C so powerful, "and allows you to implement all those low-level things efficiently".

Torvalds added that, while garbage collection is "a very good thing in most other situations," it's "generally not necessarily something you can do in a low-level system programming."

Re:Spot on...

By Dutch Gun • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I'm a long-time C++ programmer, but I don't exactly get "triggered" by whatever Linux says about C++. We've all long known he has a bug up his ass about C++, after all. I disagree that it's a "crap" language, but anyone who has worked with it can easily see it has a huge number of flaws. Ironically, many of those flaws are there because C++ strives to remain mostly compatible with C and legacy C++ code, which makes it easy to do the wrong thing even if there are more modern ways of solving common problems. But that long-term stability and backwards compatibility are both a strength and a weakness, of course.

It's easy to forget how ridiculously old the language is. Why replace one ancient language with another not-quite-as-ancient language? Sure, in C++ if you only use modern features and techniques, you can get much closer to memory safety (certainly much better than C), but never all the way there. It's essentially opt-in memory safety.

Rust, in contrast, forces you to specifically opt-out of memory safety, which ensures you only do it when absolutely necessary, ensuring a smaller footprint of unsafe code to review. It makes more sense, if you're going to switch languages, to use a more modern language that definitely solves memory safety, which some surveys have shown accounts for roughly 70% of security bugs.

The argument of "just don't make mistakes" or "use better libraries" are just not realistic. All humans make mistakes, and C has serious limitations as a language that still force the onus of safety on the programmer instead of the compiler.

C++ has its place

By stikves • Score: 3 • Thread

Well, he might be right about C++ not being a good fit for the Linux kernel. Yes, the language... but he is known to have strong opinions.

Then again, C++ works well for other operating systems, like Windows, Mac OS, and even Android (core).

So this is all dependent on the project.

Re:Is Linus up to date?

By GuB-42 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Linus has strong opinions, some of them debatable, but I think it helped get Linux where it is now.
I disagree with that statement in general. I think that C++ is perfectly fine for writing a kernel, but it is not fine for Linux. Linus designed Linux to be C++-less and it should stay C++-less. Rust is simply more in line with Linus ideas that drove the development of the Linux kernel.

And about the other post calling Linus an asshole. Linus fully assumes his role an asshole. After all, when asked why he called his version control system "git", he answered that like with Linux, he named the software after himself.

C++ not crap

By Chuck Messenger • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Which C++ is "crap"? 98? 03? 11? 14? 17? 20?

The great beauty of C++ is that it "is C". Can you do, in C, something you can't do in C++? Not that I'm aware of.

With each new iteration, C++ provides improved support for abstraction, and thereby, reduction of redundancy and preemption of bugs. All this, without sacrificing the fact that it still "is C" when you want it to be.

I'm intrigued by Rust, and see myself potentially migrating to it. However, C++ is, in no sense, "crap".

More people because of using a modern lang?

By iampiti • Score: 3 • Thread
I find this statement funny: "More people get involved overall in developing the kernel, thanks to the usage of a modern language."
I've barely touched kernel-level development (not even developing a kernel, just a driver) but I assume the highest barrier to entry is not the language that was used up to now to write it (C) but the fact that developing a kernel is HARD and certainly something that requires quite a bit of knowledge.
I'm not saying Rust is not adequate for developing a kernel if saying that you need to know much more than it to be able to do it. Or maybe there're some parts that are not that hard and that a medium-level dev can do.

US Advocacy Group Launches Online Petition Demanding Protections for 'Right to Repair'

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
A U.S. advocacy group called The Repair Association is urging Americans to demand protections for their right to repair from the country's consumer protection agency.

"Tell the FTC: People just want to fix their stuff!" argues a page urging concerned U.S. citizens to sign an online petition (shared by long-time Slashdot reader Z00L00K).

The petition asks the FTC to...
  • Enforce the law against companies who use illegal tying arrangements to force consumers to purchase connected repair services.
  • Enforce the law against companies who violate the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act by voiding warranties when a consumer fixes something themselves or uses third-party parts or repair services.
  • Enforce the law against companies who refuse to sell replacement parts, diagnostic and repair tools, or service information to independent repair providers.
  • Publish new guidance on unfair, deceptive, and abusive terms in end user license agreements (EULAs) that: restrict independent or self repair; restrict access to parts and software; prohibit the transfer of user licenses; that and that purport to void warranties for independent or self repair.
  • Issue new rules prohibiting exclusivity arrangements with suppliers, customers, and repair providers that exclude independent repair providers and suppress competition in the market for repair services.
  • Issue new rules prohibiting companies from deceiving customers by selling products which cannot be repaired without destroying the device or cannot be repaired outside of the company's own service network, without disclosing that fact at the point of sale.

Re:No can do on right to repair...

By Z00L00K • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Above is a nice piece of FUD and all the points above are what the anti-repair lobbyists are trying to push, but reality is that:
1. There will always be a market for new phones, much like new cars.
2. That's just FUD - a physical repair doesn't require access to the data and it's not at all related to IP or the DMCA. The phone makers uses this hollow solution to force people to buy a new one.
3. Not every kind of damage is that hard to fix - and the most common cases are broken displays and dead batteries.
4. Not sure how any court would even take up a case where someone has hurt themselves unless it's proven that the phone is designed to injure anyone opening it - in which case the phone maker would have fun with the FAA and other agencies because if the phone is a potential bomb just because you accidentally jammed it or dropped it then we would have a really fun legal proceeding.

Not sure how the constitution even comes into play here.

add an laws saying that the DMCA can't be used to

By Joe_Dragon • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

add an laws saying that the DMCA can't be used to stop repair as well.

'Addams Family,' 'Buck Rogers' Actor Felix Silla dies at 84

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
EW reports: Felix Silla's friend and former Buck Rogers in the 25th Century costar Gil Gerard reported on Twitter that Silla died Friday after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Coming in at just under 4 feet tall and only 70 pounds, Silla was the perfect choice for the mumbling Cousin Itt on The Addams Family. For years, audiences didn't see his face, the character covered in a full-length hairpiece, sporting sunglasses and a bowler hat... Silla did not provide the distinct mumbling voice of Cousin Itt. That was added by sound engineer Tony Magro in production...

He first came to the United States in 1955 and began his career touring with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for seven years. He worked as a trapeze artist, tumbler, and bareback horse rider. Eventually, he settled in Hollywood in 1962, where he became a stuntman. He went on to work in movies like A Ticklish Fair, TV shows like Bonanza, and appeared in the first pilot for Star Trek, "The Cage." His small stature often helped him find work, including as Cousin Itt, robot sidekick Twiki on the NBC series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and even as a hang-gliding Ewok in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi...

He also excelled as a stand in, double, and stuntman working on projects such as Planet of the Apes, Demon Seed, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Towering Inferno, The Hindenburg, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Poltergeist, The Golden Child, Howard the Duck, and Batman Returns.

In 2018 one Las Vegas blog spotted Silla with Gil Gerard, posting a picture of the two side by side -- just as they'd posed decades earlier on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

While for that show Mel Blanc had provided the voice for Twiki the robot, the blog notes that Silla himself supplied the voice of Mortimer Goth in the Sims 2 videogame.

Poor guy

By Viol8 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Cancer is a horrible way to die but pancreatic cancer is arguable the worst of the lot. Apparently the pain can be utterly unbearable without being doped up so much on painkillers that the patient barely knows where or who they are.

Condolenses to his family.

Re: Poor guy

By backslashdot • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Reminds me of the following line attributed to either Bob Monkhouse or Will Rogers:

Lord allow me to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like the passengers in the bus he was driving.

Re:Poor guy

By jwhyche • Score: 4 • Thread

Indeed, but is there really a "good way" to die?

You can go peacefully in your sleep like my grandfather, instead of screaming in terror like his passengers.

The FBI Accessed and Repaired 'Hundreds' of Hacked Microsoft Exchange Servers

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
America's top law enforcement agency "obtained a court order that allowed it to remove a backdoor program from hundreds of private Microsoft Exchange servers that were hacked through zero-day vulnerabilities earlier this year," reports CSO. (Thanks to detritus. (Slashdot reader #46,421) for sharing the news...) Earlier this week, the Department of Justice announced that the FBI was granted a search and seizure warrant by a Texas court that allows the agency to copy and remove web shells from hundreds of on-premise Microsoft Exchange servers owned by private organizations. A web shell is a type of program that hackers install on hacked web servers to grant them backdoor access and remote command execution capabilities on those servers through a web-based interface.

In this case, the warrant targeted web shells installed by a cyberespionage group dubbed Hafnium that is believed to have ties to the Chinese government. In early March, Microsoft reported that Hafnium has been exploiting previously unpatched vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange to compromise servers. At the same time, the company released patches for those vulnerabilities, as well as indicators of compromise and other detection tools, but this didn't prevent other groups of attackers from exploiting the vulnerabilities after they became public. In its warrant application, dated April 13, the FBI argues that despite the public awareness campaigns by Microsoft, CISA and the FBI itself, many servers remained infected with the web shell deployed by Hafnium. While the exact number has been redacted from the unsealed warrant, the DOJ said in a press release that it was "hundreds."

The FBI asked for, and received court approval, to access the malicious web shells through the passwords set by the original attackers and then use that access against the malware itself by executing a command that will delete the web shell, which is essentially an .aspx script deployed on the server. The FBI was also allowed to make a copy of the web shells first because they could constitute evidence.

The warrant states that it "does not authorize the seizure of any tangible property" or the copying or alteration of any content from the servers aside from the web shell themselves, which are identified in the warrant by their unique file paths. This means the FBI was not granted permission to patch the vulnerabilities to protect the servers from future exploitation or to remove any additional malware or tools that hackers might have already deployed...

The FBI sent an email message from an official email account, including a copy of the warrant, to the email addresses associated with the domain names of the infected servers.

An official statement from the Department of Justice is already using the past tense, announcing that U.S. authorities "have executed a court-authorized operation to copy and remove malicious web shells from hundreds of vulnerable computers in the United States. They were running on-premises versions of Microsoft Exchange Server software used to provide enterprise-level email service."

Great initiative, hoping it will be enough

By youn • Score: 3, Informative • Thread

When hackers get access, they tend to move laterally to consolidate their presence, ie increase their access with multiple backdoors, spread to other hosts, etc.

In my experience, many times, simply removing a single backdoor is not enough to secure the host. It's difficult to trust a host once it has been compromised once

I hope they were doing more than just removing that piece of malware or the hackers might be able to get right back in

Given the quality of Exchange CUs

By martynhare • Score: 4 • Thread
I can't blame any server operators for failing to patch Microsoft Exchange. I've encountered cumulative updates where I've had to stop/start services manually during the install cycle to stop the setup from bombing out and leaving me with a "broken" server which misses key files. Microsoft are squarely to blame here for not making "zero downtime" patching easy and convenient on standalone servers and small-scale unclustered environments, especially when FOSS equivalents make this relatively easy.

Given Windows has HTTP.SYS with userland support through IIS to allow port-sharing, it should be trivial to provide side-by-side installs with seamless handover to make patching an easy, automatic, zero-downtime affair.... what am I saying? This is Microsoft we're talking about!

Hang On... Legal Precedent...

By ytene • Score: 3 • Thread
As an agency within the Department of Justice, the FBI is bound by all the same US laws that every other individual and corporation is required to observe.

The relevant law in this case would most probably be the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, for which the criminal offences under the act begin as follows:-

"(a) Whoever—

(1) having knowingly accessed a computer without authorization...


So now the question becomes, did the order issued to the FBI by a Texas court convey sufficient authority to supersede the provisions of the CFAA? Which has the greater authority and jurisdiction, a Texas Court or a Federal Law?

Reading through the paper trail and documents linked to the articles, it sort-of looks as though the authorization was granted by the Southern District of Texas. Does the Southern District of Texas have the authority to make a ruling with national impact? Does it have the authority to make a ruling that is binding on other states?

Whilst the Department of Justice clearly thinks it does, I'd have to say that it certainly shouldn't.

Even more interestingly, if you read the PDF of the partially un-sealed warrant, it is clearly and unambiguously written as a search warrant and not as a blanket approval to make changes to the impacted servers.

The now-granted request includes the following specific language,

"Therefore, I make this affidavit in support of an application for a warrant under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41(b)(6)(B) to use remote access techniques to search certain Microsoft Exchange Servers located in the United States, further identified in Attachment A, and to seize or copy electronically stored information that constitutes evidence and/or instrumentalities of unauthorized access and damage to protected computers, further described in Attachment B."

See anything in there which says that the FBI are seeking the authority to modify the machines they want to search? No. Me neither.

This is Fourth Amendment territory. Let them show that Texas has the authority to grant the right to search nationally. Let them show that the granted motion included an approved request to modify systems so searched. Let them show that the Texas Court has the authority to over-rule standing legislation.

As the old but important saying goes, "The law may upset reason, but reason may not upset the law."

Whether the motives in this case were honorable or not, this stinks.

Re:FBI shouldn't do that.

By truedfx • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
You answered your own question: it was legal for the FBI to do this because they obtained permission from a court to do so. There is no sense in charging the FBI for doing something that a court explicitly allowed them to do.

FBI should take over Windows patching.

By xack • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
Especially since Microsoft has failed to do it themselves. With the internet drowning in malware and full of people who won’t upgrade their old Windows 7/XP systems we need someone to do something about it.

PS5 Breaks Another Huge US Sales Record

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from IGN: In its first five months on the market, The PlayStation 5 has become the fastest-selling console in U.S. history in both unit and dollar sales. As revealed by The NPD Group's Mat Piscatella, this news arrives one month after the PS5 became the fastest-selling console in U.S. history in dollar sales. Despite that new record, the Nintendo Switch has continued its reign as the best selling hardware platform in both units and dollars during March 2021. However, the PS5 did rank first in hardware dollar sales in Q1 2021.

PSP3 please

By lessSockMorePuppet • Score: 3 • Thread

Sony, please remove head from ass and develop the PSP3. You killed the PS Vita (PSP2 internally, initially) because... you didn't bother to advertise the fact that you could stream PS4 games to it.

Get a PS Vita, jailbreak it, and then tell me it isn't still a great system. So much potential, and per usual, the pirates are providing better service.

Ex IBM Sales Manager, Fired After Battling Discrimination Against Subordinates, Wins $11 Million Lawsuit

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
On Thursday, a federal jury in Seattle, Washington, found that former IBM sales manager Scott Kingston had been unlawfully fired by the company and denied sales commission after challenging the treatment of subordinates as racially biased. And it awarded him $11.1 million. The Register reports: The case dates back to 2017 when two IBM sales people within months of each other closed similarly large software sales deals that led to vastly different commission payments. Nick Donato, who is White, received more than $1m for a SAS Institute deal, while Jerome Beard, who is Black, was paid about $230,000 for closing a sale to HCL Technologies. Beard was paid about 15 per cent of what he should have received under his agreement with IBM, despite a company policy not to cap sales commissions.

Kingston, who managed the two salespeople through two lower-level managers, raised his concerns about racial discrimination with his superiors toward the end of 2017. Recalling his jury testimony, he said of his conversation with his managers, "They were telling me it wasn't about money; it was some other reason. I flat out said, 'You are leaving no possibility for anybody to conclude another reason than racial discrimination. You are foreclosing any other possible conclusion. You are going to get us sued.'" And that's what happened. Beard sued IBM in 2018. After a failed motion by IBM to dismiss the case in April, 2020, the company settled for an undisclosed sum several months later.

Kingston sued in 2019 [PDF], after IBM fired him in April, 2018, claiming he had erred in approving Donato's seven-figure commission. The company also fired two other IBM managers, Andre Temidis and Michael Lee, who raised similar objections to the allegedly discriminatory capping of commission due to an Arab-American salesperson. The Seattle jury found [PDF] IBM violated Washington State law against discrimination and policies against race discrimination and withholding wages.
"We are disappointed by the jury's verdict," IBM said in a statement emailed to The Register. "IBM does not condone retaliation, race discrimination, or any other form of discrimination. The company will consider all of its options on appeal."

Scapegoats, form a line to the right

By Miles_O'Toole • Score: 3 • Thread

"IBM does not condone getting caught engaging in retaliation, race discrimination, or any other form of discrimination. The company will consider all of its options on appeal."

Hey, IBM...fixed that for you. You're welcome.

Re:IBM does condone.

By PolygamousRanchKid • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Ya, and simply whacking the CEO and other suits pay packages would easily pay for their bias in this case.

The current CEO of IBM is named Arvind Krishna and is Indian. He has spoken publicly about IBM's policy of no racism. However, the events described here were before his watch at the helm, which started in 2020.

Now, this is pure speculation, but I could only fathom one reason for the difference in compensation.

In my company, we have customer accounts that are considered "easy", which all sales folks want . . . and ones that are considered "difficult", which nobody wants. For "easy" accounts you just need to show up one time at the customer and the deal is signed. For "difficult" accounts, you need to have days of meetings and fight to win over the customer.

Our greener sales folks are assigned to "easy" accounts to help build their confidence. Our more experienced sales folks get assigned the "difficult" accounts.

If you look at the IBM customers in this case, they are SAS Institute and HCL. Maybe IBM considered SAS Institute a "difficult" account but HCL an "easy" account. The sales managers might have adjusted the compensation to reflect the difficulty in closing the deals?

Like I said, pure speculation. And if this was so . . . why didn't IBM mention this in the court case . . . ? Maybe they didn't want to reveal to HCL that they are an "easy" account . . . ?

If I was HCL, I would push for a better deal with IBM on my next contract with them.

Re:Big Blue made a big boo-boo

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

In this case though it seems pretty indefensible what happened, so most likely they were just denying it because they knew that they had done a racism and rather than admit it and fix it were just hoping that it would go away. Unfortunately for them the guy decided to sue, but a lot of people wouldn't be willing to take that risk so they probably thought they could get away with it.

Re:Big Blue made a big boo-boo

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Cases like this are really simple. Black person was paid 15% of what a white person got for doing the same work. IBM had an opportunity to explain how that disparity was unrelated to race, showing the other factors that influenced their decision. The jury was then able to decide if those other factors were believable (i.e. not made up to justify the racism) and if they did in fact merit the reward only being 15% of what the other guy got.

In this case they decided that IBM could not justify the disparity, and that the most likely reason for it was racism of some form.

Re: Big Blue made a big boo-boo

By mrclevesque • Score: 4 • Thread

From your link:

"Lawyers for the men contend IBM reduced the payments not for its stated reasons, but because upper-level managers had set up and were enforcing an informal, hidden budget for commission payouts. Under it, the salesmen faced cuts simply because they otherwise stood to make too much money."

That doesn't stop them from being racists and making much deeper cuts to darker skinned sales people.

"Also it seems cheaper to me to not hire black guys in the first place if I was racist. But what do I know?"

Seems obvious to me it's not the same people doing the hiring. Why would that not be the case?

AI-Driven Audio Cloning Startup Gives Voice To Einstein Chatbot

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Aflorithmic, an AI-driven audio cloning startup, has created a digital version of Albert Einstein using AI voice cloning technology drawing on audio records of the famous scientist's actual voice. TechCrunch reports: Alforithmic says the "digital Einstein" is intended as a showcase for what will soon be possible with conversational social commerce. Which is a fancy way of saying deepfakes that make like historical figures will probably be trying to sell you pizza soon enough, as industry watchers have presciently warned. The startup also says it sees educational potential in bringing famous, long-deceased figures to interactive "life." Or, well, an artificial approximation of it -- the "life" being purely virtual and Digital Einstein's voice not being a pure tech-powered clone either; Alforithmic says it also worked with an actor to do voice modelling for the chatbot (because how else was it going to get Digital Einstein to be able to say words the real-deal would never even have dreamt of saying -- like, er, "blockchain"?). So there's a bit more than AI artifice going on here too.

In a blog post discussing how it recreated Einstein's voice the startup writes about progress it made on one challenging element associated with the chatbot version -- saying it was able to shrink the response time between turning around input text from the computational knowledge engine to its API being able to render a voiced response, down from an initial 12 seconds to less than three (which it dubs "near-real-time"). But it's still enough of a lag to ensure the bot can't escape from being a bit tedious.
The report notes that the video engine powering the 3D character rendering components of this "digital human" version of Einstein is the work of another synthesized media company, UneeQ, which is hosting the interactive chatbot version on its website.

Still waiting on Majel Barrett-Roddenberry

By Guspaz • Score: 3 • Thread

She specifically did a full professional phonetic recording for voice synthesis purposes before she passed so that her voice could live on, and yet as far as I know it's not available in any form more than a decade later.

Dogecoin Has Risen 400 Percent In the Last Week Because Why Not

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Dogecoin has seen its price rise by a factor of five over the last week. Yesterday, it was trading at $0.13. Today, it's one of the world's 10 most valuable cryptocurrencies, with a market capitalization of $45 billion. Ars Technica's Timothy B. Lee writes: Dogecoin's price tripled over the next 36 hours. My editor suggested that I write about whether Dogecoin's rise is a sign of an overheated crypto market, but for a coin like Dogecoin, I'm not sure that's even a meaningful concept. Dogecoin isn't a company that has revenues or profits. And unlike bitcoin and ether, no one seriously thinks it's going to be the foundation of a new financial system. People are trading Dogecoin because it's fun to trade and because they think they might make money from it. The rising price is a sign that a lot of people have decided it would be fun to speculate in Dogecoin.

Of course, the fact that lots of people have money to spend on joke investments might itself be a result of larger macroeconomic forces. The combination of stimulus spending, low interest rates, and pandemic-related saving means that a lot of people have more money than usual sitting in their bank accounts. And restrictions on travel and nightlife mean that many of those same people have a lot of time on their hands.

Re:No supply limit - what could possibly go wrong?

By Arethan • Score: 4 • Thread

and worse still, has no theoretical supply limit

Sort of like any modern inflationary economy. Weird.

equal craziness for all

By RhettLivingston • Score: 3 • Thread

In my area, there is a massive real estate boom - both commercial and residential. I've been scratching my head about the commercial since it started at the start of the pandemic. Huge warehouses, luxurious office buildings, new restaurants, massive strip mall renovations, etc. are being built everywhere I go. When they are completed, most put up space for lease signs and just sit empty. That of course makes sense when you see all of the old buildings that are now vacant due to businesses going bankrupt. There is zero demand for commercial real estate.

The only explanation I can imagine is that construction types are setting up shell businesses to get easy loans, sucking up on the construction money, and then bankrupting the shell businesses while the construction companies make bank. Everybody has game.

So, what is wrong with those who can't afford the big games having their own?

Tweets

By phalse phace • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

People are trading Dogecoin because it's fun to trade and because they think they might make money from it. The rising price is a sign that a lot of people have decided it would be fun to speculate in Dogecoin.

I have a feeling a tweet by a certain Twitter user that a lot of people follow contributed to its rise too.

The more people pump it the more people will buy it for fear of missing out.

Re: Bitcoin Maximalist

By Pinky's Brain • Score: 4 • Thread

I'm more of a minimalist, they're all shitcoins.

Except the full reserve currency/gold backed ones, those are simply an end run around financial regulations.

Re:No supply limit - what could possibly go wrong?

By thegarbz • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Sort of like any modern inflationary economy. Weird.

You're missing something when comparing the two. Modern inflationary economies absolutely have a limit, and that limit is determined by policy through central banking systems and manipulated to adjust inflation rates to keep markets stable. ... Except for say the few markets where the central banks are run by idiots such as Zimbabwe.

That is very different from the uncontrolled inflation that is possible in decentralised system which has no limits in place.

Car analogy: Just because it's good to drive a pickup truck on a farm doesn't mean it's good to drive a pickup truck in a European inner city.

Whitest-Ever Paint Could Help Cool Heating Earth, Study Shows

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
AmiMoJo shares a report from The Guardian: The whitest-ever paint has been produced by academic researchers, with the aim of boosting the cooling of buildings and tackling the climate crisis. The new paint reflects 98% of sunlight as well as radiating infrared heat through the atmosphere into space. In tests, it cooled surfaces by 4.5C below the ambient temperature, even in strong sunlight. The researchers said the paint could be on the market in one or two years. Currently available reflective white paints are far better than dark roofing materials, but only reflect 80-90% of sunlight and absorb UV light. This means they cannot cool surfaces below ambient temperatures. The new paint does this, leading to less need for air conditioning and the carbon emissions they produce, which are rising rapidly.

The new paint was revealed in a report in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. Three factors are responsible for the paint's cooling performance. First, barium sulphate was used as the pigment which, unlike conventional titanium dioxide pigment, does not absorb UV light. Second, a high concentration of pigment was used -- 60%. Third, the pigment particles were of varied size. The amount of light scattered by a particle depends on its size, so using a range scatters more of the light spectrum from the sun. The researchers said the ultra-white paint uses a standard acrylic solvent and could be manufactured like conventional paint. They claim the paint would be similar in price to current paints, with barium sulphate actually cheaper than titanium dioxide. They have also tested the paint's resistance to abrasion, but said longer-term weathering tests were needed to assess its long-term durability.

Re:it..cools?

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

So can you explain the process by which the white paint is able to cool below ambient? Is this Maxwell's demon then ;-)?

Thermodynamically, any surface that is poor at absorbing light will also be poor at emitting it. But that can still vary by wavelength.

The paint is highly reflective in visible and UV light. But not IR. It will absorb IR and also emit IR.

Sunlight is mostly visible light, which is reflected. Ambient heat is mostly IR, which is emitted. So the net result is cooling below the ambient temperature of other surfaces.

Re: Bill Clinton tried to promote reflective roofs

By RightwingNutjob • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The correct method to reduce heat from travelling from your roof shingles down into your house is to 1) vent the attic and 2) insulate your attic floor. Which also saves you on heating costs in the winter. And doesn't look ass-ugly or run the risk of the Russians mistaking your house for an ICBM launch.

Re:white paint does nothing for climate

By fazig • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Not necessarily.

Simplistically speaking the difference between a perfect mirror and a perfect white surface (perfect in the sense that they work over the entire spectrum) is that the white surface scatters the light into all directions, while a mirror maintains the angles of the waves or rays if you will (angle of reflection equals angle of incidence).


Which one is 'better' in an engineering and economic sense would be the one that's easier and cheaper to construct, operate, and maintain.

Insulation

By Going_Digital • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Just insulate the building, it doesn't matter how hot the outer skin of a building gets if it is well insulated. The reason we spend so much on heating and cooling is because traditionally homes and offices have been built down to a cost. Low construction costs but high running cost suit the developers because they are not responsible for the running costs.

This paint thing is a the case of an invention looking for a problem, unlike proper insulation this paint only helps reduce heat, not keep the building warm during a cold day. It may have some uses in specialist applications but it really isn't something that has any place in general construction.

Re:Cars etc

By drinkypoo • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The thing it makes sense to build over parking lots is solar power.

Putting buildings above them requires extensive and thus expensive support structures. Solar panels don't require quite so much structure.

Codecov Bash Uploader Compromised In Supply Chain Hack

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
wiredmikey shares a report from SecurityWeek: Security response professionals are scrambling to measure the fallout from a software supply chain compromise of Codecov Bash Uploader that went undetected since January and exposed sensitive secrets like tokens, keys and credentials from organizations around the world. The hack occurred four months ago but was only discovered in the wild by a Codecov customer on the morning of April 1, 2021, the company said. Codecov is considered the vendor of choice for measuring code coverage in the tech industry. The company's tools help developers understand and measure lines of codes executed by a test suite and is widely deployed in big tech development pipelines. The company claims that more than 29,000 enterprises use its code coverage insights to check code quality and maintain code coverage. Codecov did not say how many customers were impacted or had data stolen in the incident.

According to Codecov, the altered version of the Bash Uploader script could potentially affect:
- Any credentials, tokens, or keys that our customers were passing through their CI runner that would be accessible when the Bash Uploader script was executed.
- Any services, datastores, and application code that could be accessed with these credentials, tokens, or keys.
- The git remote information (URL of the origin repository) of repositories using the Bash Uploaders to upload coverage to Codecov in CI.

Verification

By dskoll • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Geez. They do, apparently, publish SHA sums for the script, but I guess nobody bothers using them.

Piping a URL you don't control directly into bash... what could possibly go wrong?

Mercedes-Benz Unveils New Flagship EQS Electric Sedan To Take On Tesla

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Mercedes-Benz's parent company Daimler AG unveiled Thursday its newest battery-powered sedan that challenges Tesla in the high-end electric car space. CNBC reports: The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS, unveiled Thursday, marks a new era for the German automaker as it pivots to EVs. The car will be part of its large S-Class car family when it arrives in U.S. showrooms in the fall. Most notably, the interior of the vehicle looks like a cockpit out of a futuristic spacecraft more than a car. It has screens across nearly the entire dashboard of the vehicle. In total, it features three screens under a single 56-inch curved glass surface, including a passenger screen that will not be visible to the driver.

The automaker did not release pricing for the EQS, however industry experts expect it to easily top $100,000. The starting price on the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class ranges between $94,000 and $160,000. Its Mercedes-Maybach S models can top $200,000. The price range for Tesla's Model S large sedan ranges from around $79,990 to $149,990, including a new high-end performance model, Model S Plaid.

Re: Autopilot

By AlexHilbertRyan • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Honesty q, how many years has tesla promised autonomous driving ?

Re: Autopilot

By AlexHilbertRyan • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
> They do drive themselves. If you do not think so, a YouTube search will fix that
Many cars from many companies drive themselves, but thats not really driving. A drunk also drives themselves, again that doesnt make it safe or adaquate.

Who cares.

By AlexHilbertRyan • Score: 3 • Thread
If you drive that much you need autonomy then you are a loser and are already spending too much time in a car.

Mercedes made a car. Click baiting added Tesla

By 140Mandak262Jamuna • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Mercedes made an electric car. Looks like a honest attempt, not a mere compliance car. 1 more year, 100K+ ... probably they will actually make it.

They might be hoping to at least hold their own against Telsa, but they know it is not going to be a cake walk after seeing the difficulties of VW with ID4 and other brands like BMW.

But if you write a EV story without mentioning Tesla it does not get the clicks. So every damned EV story must rope in Tesla. They have over used Tesla-killer so much even they feel the need to avoid it.

Re: Autopilot

By Tough Love • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Yeah, I'm not seeing it like that. Rather, Daimler-Benz seems more reluctant than Tesla to put the safety of their customers and the general public at risk.

US House Committee Approves Blueprint For Big Tech Crackdown

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Associated Press: The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee formally approved a report accusing Big Tech companies of buying or crushing smaller firms, Representative David Cicilline's office said in a statement on Thursday. With the approval during a marathon, partisan hearing, the more than 400-page staff report will become an official committee report, and the blueprint for legislation to rein in the market power of the likes of Alphabet's Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook. The report was approved by a 24-17 vote that split along party lines. The companies have denied any wrongdoing.

Suggested legislation in the report ranged from the aggressive, such as potentially barring companies like Amazon.com from operating the markets in which they also compete, to the less controversial, like increasing the budgets of the agencies that enforce antitrust law -- the Justice Department's Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission. The report also urged Congress to allow antitrust enforcers more leeway in stopping companies from purchasing potential rivals, something that is now difficult.

Neglecting...

By HotNeedleOfInquiry • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
The fact hat the business plan of most startups is to be bought out by a large company so that the founders and vulture capitalists can cash out.

Anticompetitive pracrices, OK. How about speech?

By biggaijin • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The guys behave like gangsters with their competitors, especially small ones. Microsoft commonly used to suck up to these people, then steal their technology and release it as a free Microsoft feature iside something larger, destroying the smaller company. It would be good to stop this. But, the elephant in the room now is these companies' current practice of censoring speech and causing people with whom they disagree to simply disappear. This is intolerable, and it is the thing that the Congress should deal with first.

Re:Yep

By Anubis IV • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

duplicate the product and sell it for less.

Seems like a win for consumers.

Amazon couldn't sell for less if the originals were reasonably priced.

That’s some incredibly shortsighted thinking that misses the obvious.

At best, it’s a short-term win for consumers, but it’s a long-term loss because you’re driving innovators out of the market. The reason Amazon can price it less is generally not because the original price was unreasonable, as you suggest, but rather because they’re externalizing the costs for R&D, market research, product design, tooling, product iteration, etc. by letting independent shops do all of that hard work, then internalizing profits by undercutting the original creators with a product that benefits from all of that hard work and learning without any need to recoup the costs of those efforts.

In most of these cases, they’re taking advantage of vulnerable people and companies who have no recourse. They can’t lower prices, they oftentimes lack patents and other legal protection, and even if they do have those, Amazon will drown them in years of legal fees before they ever see a dime. They’d be betting the company on getting a win against Amazon in court instead of being able to focus on designing their next product, which is what they’d much rather be doing.

That’s a loss for us all.

Apple's App Store Hosted Kiddie Games With Secret Gambling Dens Inside

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
According to app developer Kosta Eleftheriou, Apple's App Store hosted a kid's game that's actually a front for gambling websites. "The secret password isn't one you'd be likely to guess: you have to be in the right country -- or pretend to be in the right country using a VPN," writes Sean Hollister via The Verge. "But then, instead of launching an ugly monkey-flipping endless runner game filled with typos and bugs, the very same app launches a casino experience." From the report: The app, "Jungle Runner 2k21," has already disappeared from the App Store, presumably thanks to publicity from Gizmodo and Daring Fireball, who each wrote about Eleftheriou's finding earlier today. It's not the only one, though: the same developer, "Colin Malachi," had another incredibly basic game on the App Store called "Magical Forest - Puzzle" that was also a front for gambling. [...] I accessed them from a VPN server in Turkey; While Daring Fireball notes that users in other non-US countries like Italy also seem to have been able to access the gambling sites, I tried them with a number of other locations including Italy without success.

Unlike the multi-million dollar App Store scams that Eleftheriou uncovered earlier this year, it's not hard to see why Apple's App Store review program might have missed these -- they largely look like your typical shovelware if you don't know the trick, with only a handful of tells... like the fact that Jungle Runner uses a Pastebin for its privacy policies. It's not necessarily clear to me that they'd be violating very many of Apple's App Store policies, either. Gambling apps are permitted by Apple, as long as they're geo-restricted to regions where that gambling is permitted by law, and you could maybe argue that's exactly what this developer did by checking your IP address.

What about Disney?

By LostMyBeaver • Score: 3 • Thread
When my kids were young... 4-7 years old, they were addicted to some game... I think it was called Panfu and it was made by Disney.

Well, a core requirement of the game was to gamble in a casino....

And you received a few free rolls or free spins with your monthly subscription to Disney's premier game service... but you could also buy more spins... which kids did... using mommy and daddy's credit cards.

The good news is, the game had parental controls turned on by default, so a child couldn't just start spinning.

The bad news is that it was common for kids to give other kids game vouchers for more spins as birthday gifts which lacked this limitation.

When I learned about this, I told my kids that I was very sorry, but they couldn't play that game anymore. They were disappointed, but they moved on.

I unfortunately had to have some uncomfortable discussions with parents who tried to convince me that there was nothing wrong with children being trained from birth to gamble in casinos so they can get things they can use to dress up pretty and show off. After all... it's Disney and you can't tell us that Disney would do something bad to children.