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.

Bill Gates Prefers 'More Open Nature' of Android, Regrets Microsoft's Missing Phone Market

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Bill Gates " prefers the more open nature of the Android ecosystem, as it's more 'flexible' about how software interfaces with the OS," reports PC Magazine, citing remarks Gates made on Clubhouse to CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin: "I actually use an Android phone," Gates told Sorkin. "Because I want to keep track of everything, I'll often play around with iPhones, but the one I carry around happens to be Android. Some of the Android manufacturers pre-install Microsoft software in a way that makes it easy for me. They're more flexible about how the software connects up with the operating system. So that's what I ended up getting used to. You know, a lot of my friends have iPhone so there's no purity."

In 2019, Gates admitted the way he handled Microsoft's own mobile phone division was his "greatest mistake." Microsoft ended up letting Google transform Android into the only true rival for iPhone. Microsoft missed out on a $400 billion market at the time, something Gates deeply regrets. In 2017, however, he went ahead and adopted an Android phone.

During the interview, Davidson indicated that an Android version of Clubhouse could be on its way. He called it a "top feature," which could mean the iPhone Clubhouse could soon dissipate.

Credit Card Payment Systems Crashed Friday at Stores and Restaurants Across America

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
On Friday credit-card payment systems went down for major businesses scattered across the U.S. Business Insider reports: Fiserv, one of the leading payments providers in the US, told Insider, "A widespread internet service provider outage has impacted multiple businesses today." Ann Cave, a company spokesperson, added in an email: "Some Fiserv services that rely on internet connectivity were interrupted. The majority have been restored and we are fully focused on restoring the remainder...."

Customers on Twitter reported outages at Ikea, Forever 21, McDonald's, and Popeyes, as well as at local places like a car wash and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. Representatives from the businesses weren't immediately available for comment on Friday.

A Chick-fil-A representative confirmed to the site that their systems were unable to process payments for about one hour. "But for some customers, there was a silver lining. Many Chick-fil-A restaurants started handing out free meals during the outage." Miami International Airport also announced warned customers on Twitter about a county-wide outage with credit-card machines "in all taxis."

Long-time Slashdot reader phalse phace sees a lesson. "You know that cashless society that payment network operators, banks and businesses want? It doesn't work when your payment processor can't process those digital payments."

Cue ominous music

By Provocateur • Score: 3 • Thread

This is only the beginning...

Something Missing Here

By ytene • Score: 3 • Thread
The OP talks about a widespread break in service for credit card transactions and then lists multiple businesses being hit, including major franchises.

Does it seem more likely that all these companies happen to use the same ISP for their corporate internet connectivity - and that we hear about a major ISP outage as a break in card processing capabilities... or does it seem more likely that any fault that happened occurred between the card processing provider and their ISP?

OK, let’s go with the idea that the problem is with the processor. Surely any major corporate customer, with a business that depends entirely on network connectivity, is going to have a fully redundant network, with their ISP connectivity provided by multiple ISPs, with some degree of intelligent routing built in to their card processing terminals?

Because it would surely be a bit embarrassing if that company had put all their network connectivity eggs in the basket of a single ISP... even if that ISP had offered them ‘divergent routing’ or ‘full network redundancy’ or whatever?

Can other readers think of a different reason for a single technical outage impacting multiple clients like that, yet with what seems to be zero additional reported impact? The evidence kinda sounds like a fault on the card processor side, but also seems to suggest that we don’t have the whole story...

Which, if they really do have an embarrassing network fault tolerance issue, might explain the silence.

Why are slashdot editors pushing the pyramid?

By Xylantiel • Score: 3 • Thread

That is the question that should be asked, since they seem to really be pushing the bitcoin pyramid hard recently. Or maybe this is an infantile attempt to "balance" the earlier story about bitcoin consuming an obscene amount of electricity. I mean this is like the second "obscure and not-really-that-bad glitch in payment or transfer processing system" stories we've had in a few days.

And the entire theme depends upon a misunderstanding of bitcoin. It currently costs around $25 to complete a single bitcoin transaction. So comparing visa & mc to bitcoin today is comparing a payment processing system that had a minor, unusual glitch, to one that is basically totally unusable for everyday purchases and by design will get more so. Fleecing the ignorant.

"wow looks like your car isn't getting very good gas mileage, want to trade it in for this car that doesn't work at all and will explode and injure you and your family a week from now?"

Did 'Tens of Thousands' of Bot Accounts Hype GameStop's Stock and Dogecoin?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Reuters reports: Bots on major social media platforms have been hyping up GameStop Corp and other "meme" stocks, according to an analysis by Massachusetts-based cyber security company PiiQ Media, suggesting organized economic or foreign actors may have played a role in the Reddit-driven trading frenzy... it is unclear how influential they were in the overall saga...

PiiQ said it identified very similar daily "start and stop patterns" in the GameStop-related posts, with activity starting at the beginning of the trading day, followed by a large spike at the end of the trading day. Such patterns are indicative of bots, said Aaron Barr, co-founder and chief technology officer of PiiQ. "We saw clear patterns of artificial behavior across the other four social media platforms. When you think of organic content, it's variable in the day, variable day-to-day. It doesn't have the exact same pattern every day for a month," he said... The company did not analyze Reddit data, but Barr said he would expect to see a similar pattern of activity on Reddit, indicating bot-like or coordinated management of conversations...

Based on its authenticity scoring system, PiiQ estimates there are tens of thousands of bot accounts hyping GameStop, the meme stocks, and Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency swept up in the frenzy. Thousands of fake accounts can be purchased for as little as $200, it said.

Reuters also reports that Friday America's Securities and Exchange Commission "suspended trading in 15 companies due to unusual trading activity and apparent attempts on social media to artificially inflate their stock prices. That is in addition to six stocks it recently suspended due to suspicious social media activity."

Real people still had to pay real money

By iamhassi • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Hype doesn’t explain the price actually going up. Everything online is hyped, doesn’t mean every crypto or stock goes up like those did.

Aaron Barr from HB Gary?

By technoid_ • Score: 3 • Thread

Is this the same Aaron Barr from HB Gary that got hacked by Anonymous?

Seems like he is still chasing the spotlight.

He might be right on, but his reputation makes what he says worth zero.

Shilling a position in the market is not new

By Ritz_Just_Ritz • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Boiler rooms have been replaced by an increasingly sophisticated group of outsiders using automated tools that previously had only been affordable by well-heeled investment banks and hedge funds.

What you're seeing is the incumbents pushing back on the unwashed masses using strategies that had previously been their domain and it's now confusing their efforts to use automation and sophisticated models to front-run the market. Only "they" are allowed to do that.

They are quickly circling the wagons to get the interlopers off their lawn. Look for significant lobbying dollars to induce fines and criminal punishment for unapproved participants. Cheaper for the big players to do that than it is to code their way out of this.

Welcome to Rivendell, Mr. Anderson. Eat the red'll be to your liking.

AMC, Probably

By bill_mcgonigle • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Gamestop had a good story. It's not hard to see the WallStreetBets angle.

AMC, a Chinese-owned movie theatre chain, was $600M in debt and "somehow" the Gamestop parade got diverted to AMC. Magically it's out of debt. Brilliant use of bots.

Doge seems to have been a hedge-fund ploy to distract Redditors from Gamestop.

Exploring the Open Source That Really Goes Into a RISC-V Chip

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Maker Andreas Spiess talks about the Open Source that really goes into a RISC-V chip and the ESP32-C3," writes Slashdot reader nickwinlund77 — sharing a link to this article from Hackaday: It's an exciting time in the world of microprocessors, as the long-held promise of devices with open-source RISC-V cores is coming to fruition. Finally we might be about to see open-source from the silicon to the user interface, or so goes the optimistic promise. In fact the real story is considerably more complex than that, and it's a topic [Andreas Speiss] explores in a video that looks at the issue with a wide lens...
nickwinlund77 writes: The YouTube video starts out with a good general history of competition between large businesses over architectures and embracing the standards for tech which many of us have depended on throughout the years. The video then gets into the technical specifics of the ESP32-C3.
Hackaday adds: His conclusion is that while a truly open-source RISC-V chip is entirely possible (as demonstrated with a cameo Superconference badge appearance), the importance of the RISC-V ISA is in its likely emergence as a heavyweight counterbalance to ARM's dominance in the sector.

RISC-V allows edu & small business to design C

By Lady Galadriel • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
The real power of RISC-V is that it allows businesses to design, have manufactured and use their own processors for application specific purposes. Instead of having to depend on other companies to sell products that only come close to meeting their needs.

We are seeing a bit of variety in micro-controllers, and small SoCs that many small businesses use in their products. However, almost all these products have extra hardware that is not always needed. In some cases taking a little power. Image a SoC designed with zero extra hardware, tuned for a specific application and targeted for a certain battery life. Apple, Samsung and many other HUGE & Large business can afford to make their own targeted SoCs. But soon, even medium businesses would be able to do so. Eventually, even small businesses that produce misc. home, play, vehicle and office products that use processors can take advantage of open source hardware.

In addition, having an open CPU arch. allows educators to show design elements without violating copyrights, patents, and getting sued because of those violations. It would have been nice if ARM, AMD or Intel had an education program in CPU design.

But, seeing how badly Intel implemented certain design elements, (speculative execution comes directly to mind), I suspect those in education would have called out Intel security flaws within 1 year. Publicly. We, on the outside, would have eventually gotten a more secure product out of that process. But, in the mean time, Intel would have chosen to sue the living *ell out of the education institute that brought that security nightmare to light. Even if Intel did not have a chance at winning, they would not have simply bent over, and took it.

Will RISC-V change to the world?

Can RISC-V improve the status quo?

Could we see more open hardware over the next few years?
Of course, (but who listens to me?).

A Processor is only part of the equation

By williamyf • Score: 3 • Thread

You need also a memory controller, a GPU, various bus controllers and various differnt kinds of networks.

Do not missunderstand me, RISC-V is a giant leap in the right direction, but we are far from the finish line.

The First AI-written Play Isn't Shakespeare - but It Has Its Moments

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Science magazine describes what happens when a robot writes a play: The 60-minute productionAI: When a Robot Writes a Play — tells the journey of a character (this time a robot), who goes out into the world to learn about society, human emotions, and even death.

The script was created by a widely available artificial intelligence (AI) system called GPT-2. Created by Elon Musk's company OpenAI, this "robot" is a computer model designed to generate text by drawing from the enormous repository of information available on the internet. (You can test it here.) So far, the technology has been used to write fake news, short stories, and poems. The play is GPT-2's first theater production, the team behind it claims...

First, a human feeds the program with a prompt. In this case, the researchers — at Charles University in Prague — began with two sentences of dialogue, where one or two characters chat about human feelings and experiences... The software then takes things from there, generating up to 1000 words of additional text.

The result is far from William Shakespeare. After a few sentences, the program starts to write things that sometimes don't follow a logical storyline, or statements that contradict other passages of the text. For example, the AI sometimes forgot the main character was a robot, not a human. "Sometimes it would change a male to female in the middle of a dialogue," says Charles University computational linguist Rudolf Rosa, who started to work on the project 2 years ago... As it keeps going, there is more room for nonsense. To prevent that, the team didn't let GPT-2 write the entire play at once. Instead, the researchers broke the show down into eight scenes, each less than 5 minutes; each scene also only contained a dialogue between two characters at the same time. In addition, the scientists sometimes changed the text, for example altering the passages where the AI changed the character's gender from line to line or repeating their initial text prompt until the program spat out sensible prose.

Rosa estimates that 90% of the final script was left untouched, whereas 10% had human intervention.

It's a thought-provoking experience. (You can watch the whole play online -- with English subtitles.) The play's first lines?

"We both know that I'm dying."
"How do you know that you're dying?"
"I will die very soon."

And within seconds, the protagonist has asked the question: "How can you love someone who dies?"


By PeeAitchPee • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

"Sometimes it would change a male to female in the middle of a dialogue"

That's not a bug, it's just a program that is "non-binary." :-/

It would be surprising if it didn't have moments.

By hey! • Score: 3 • Thread

Human find significance in purely random things -- Faces in gnarled tree trunks, Jesus on an unevenly toasted slice of bread. Human brains are significance recognizing machines with a strong tendency to find false positives -- apohenia. The evolutionary cost of false positives is less than false negatives.

An AI should produce significance recognition hits in the human brain far more frequently than random processes, because it's been designed and/or trained to ape human communication. But it's not communication between the AI and the audience unless the AI has some kind of internal experience to represent. When one human communicates with another, he transmits information in his brain to another brain by use of shared communication systems and referring to shared experiences. When an AI fabricates valid communication strings based purely on an analysis of some corpus of real communications, there is no internal idea or experience to relate; that's imagined by the recipient.

I don't think this necessarily invalidates the Turing test; it just means short tests constrained to limited subject matter are too easy. A play or a novel is going to be tough, because eventually you are going to violate unspoken constraints that are part of humans shared experience.


By Gravis Zero • Score: 3 • Thread

If it's learning about death then the play definitely better have someone who uses their dying breath to say, "delete my browser history."


By fleeped • Score: 3 • Thread

10% editing to make it appear organic, as it's a pile of shit. Incredibly stupid introduction and continuation. Wake us up when the AI is aware of what it's writing about, rather than plastering things together based on frequency and using human editors to fix it up and make the nonsense appear artsy.

The Dream of Sending a Submarine Through the Methane Seas of Saturn's Moon Titan

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Mars, Shmars; this voyager is looking forward to a submarine ride under the icebergs on Saturn's strange moon," says the New York Times, introducing a piece by cosmic affairs correspondent Dennis Overbye: What could be more exciting than flying a helicopter over the deserts of Mars? How about playing Captain Nemo on Saturn's large, foggy moon Titan — plumbing the depths of a methane ocean, dodging hydrocarbon icebergs and exploring an ancient, frigid shoreline of organic goo a billion miles from the sun? Those are the visions that danced through my head recently...diverted to the farther reaches of the solar system by the news that Kraken Mare, an ocean of methane on Titan, had recently been gauged for depth and probably went at least 1,000 feet down. That is as deep as nuclear submarines will admit to going. The news rekindled my dreams of what I think would be the most romantic of space missions: a voyage on, and ultimately even under, the oceans of Titan...

NASA recently announced that it would launch a drone called Dragonfly to the Saturnian moon in 2026. Proposals have also circulated for an orbiter, a floating probe that could splash down in a lake, even a robotic submarine. "The Titan submarine is still going," said Dr. Valerio Poggiali, research associate at the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, in an email — although it is unlikely to happen before Titan's next summer, around 2047. By then, he said, there will be more ambient light and the submarine conceivably could communicate on a direct line to Earth with no need of an orbiting radio relay.

Titan is the weirdest place in the solar system, in some regards, and also the world most like our own. Like Earth, it has a thick atmosphere of mostly nitrogen (the only moon that has much of an atmosphere at all), and like Earth, it has weather, rain, rivers and seas. But on this world, when it rains, it rains gasoline. Hydrocarbon material drifts down like snow and is shaped into dunes by nitrogen winds. Rivers have carved canyons through mountains of frozen soot, and layers of ice float on subsurface oceans of ammonia. The prevailing surface temperature is minus 290 degrees Fahrenheit. A chemical sludge that optimistic astronomers call "prebiotic" creeps along under an oppressive brown sky. Besides Earth, Titan is the only world in the universe that is known to harbor liquid on its surface — with everything that could imply.

Kraken Mare

By taylorius • Score: 3 • Thread

"Kraken Mare" is an album title-in-waiting, if I ever saw one.

Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey

By flyingfsck • Score: 3 • Thread
It is really, really, really cold there and it is really, really, really far away. I'm afraid the whole idea is rather far fetched.

Send a Blimp instead

By dmay34 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

A sub and even a helicopter are the wrong choices for Titan. We should send a blimp. We could have it self inflate from liquid hydrogen. With the methane atmosphere, hydrogen gas isn't flammable. Then we could just float it above the surface and let ambient wind currents carry it around mapping the surface, and touching down on occasion to take a closer look at lakes and sediments.

Vast Energy Use of Bitcoin Criticized

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
The University of Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance has calculated that Bitcoin's total energy consumption is somewhere between 40 and 445 terawatt hours (TWh) a year, with a central estimate of about 130 terawatt hours, reports the BBC: The UK's electricity consumption is a little over 300 TWh a year, while Argentina uses around the same amount of power as the CCAF's best guess for Bitcoin. And the electricity the Bitcoin miners use overwhelmingly comes from polluting sources. The CCAF team surveys the people who manage the Bitcoin network around the world on their energy use and found that about two-thirds of it is from fossil fuels....

We can track how much effort miners are making to create the currency. They are currently reckoned to be making 160 quintillion calculations every second — that's 160,000,000,000,000,000,000, in case you were wondering. And this vast computational effort is the cryptocurrency's Achilles heel, says Alex de Vries, the founder of the Digiconomist website and an expert on Bitcoin. All the millions of trillions of calculations it takes to keep the system running aren't really doing any useful work. "They're computations that serve no other purpose," says de Vries, "they're just immediately discarded again. Right now we're using a whole lot of energy to produce those calculations, but also the majority of that is sourced from fossil energy."

The vast effort it requires also makes Bitcoin inherently difficult to scale, he argues. "If Bitcoin were to be adopted as a global reserve currency," he speculates, "the Bitcoin price will probably be in the millions, and those miners will have more money than the entire [U.S.] Federal budget to spend on electricity."

"We'd have to double our global energy production," he says with a laugh. "For Bitcoin."

Ken Rogoff, a professor of economics at Harvard and a former chief economist at the IMF, tells the BBC that Bitcoin exists almost solely as a vehicle for speculation, rather than as a stable store of value that can be easily exchanged.

When asked if the Bitcoin bubble is about to burst, he answers, "That's my guess." Then pauses and adds, "But I really couldn't tell you when."

The solution is simple.

By Gravis Zero • Score: 3 • Thread

All you need to do is place a "carbon" tax on energy produced using fossil fuels that will grow annually until it's too costly to produce pollution for energy. Will this decrease computations for Bitcoin? Yes but only temporarily until the price of electricity subsides again as everything will become renewable fuels.

Politicians are fully aware they have the power to do this but are willing the sacrifice the future to save their own hides.

Re:I'll probably regret asking...

By rsilvergun • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
See here.

And these figures are likely under estimates, as the billionaires are using their money to go on buying sprees while the economic downturn is making assets cheap, just like they did in 2008, but those assets will regain their value once the pandemic is under control.

Buy low, sell high sounds good unless you're the one being forced to buy high... Did you know Bill Gates is now the biggest farmer in the America?.

I'm singling out Gates because he's a bit of a boogeyman right now but the same is true for any of the top billionaires. All of them can effortlessly take control of Bitcoin's value by themselves, let alone if they collude at their country clubs and conferences.


By Computershack • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

My country (Canada) has a carbon tax, so I do pay for the externalities.

Not yet you don't. Canada has yet to start getting the big bills caused from climate change.


By ytene • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
But if they did that, you wouldn't be back to buy more LED bulbs on a regular basis, would you?

The longevity of an LED should mean that an LED bulb would last years and years [potentially decades] and cost cents per day to run. But that sort of performance would mean that once the manufacturers had saturated the marketplace, they would not get many repeat customers.

So they designed-in obsolescence; or, rather, they designed in an artificially limited lifespan.

Welcome to the free market.


By narcc • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

It's foolish to stick with incandescents for that reason.

You can run a simple resistive heater continuously in combination with an LED bulb and still save energy over the old incandescent. Coupled with a thermostat to only run it if the temperature dips below freezing, you can save even more energy. Municipalities that have made the change have saved millions in energy costs.

Flaws In Zoom's Keybase App Kept Chat Images From Being Deleted

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
chicksdaddy writes: The Security Ledger reports that a flaw in Zoom's Keybase secure chat application left copies of images contained in secure communications on Keybase users' computers after they were supposedly deleted, according to researchers from the security research group Sakura Samurai.

The flaw in the encrypted messaging application, CVE-2021-23827 does not expose Keybase users to remote compromise. However, it could put their security, privacy and safety at risk, especially for users living under authoritarian regimes in which apps like Keybase and Signal are increasingly relied on as a way to conduct conversations out of earshot of law enforcement or security services. It comes as millions of users have flocked to apps like Keybase, Signal and Telegram in recent months.

Sakura Samurai researchers Aubrey Cottle, Robert Willis, and Jackson Henry discovered an unencrypted directory, /Cache, associated with the Keybase client that contained a comprehensive record of images from encrypted chat sessions. The application used a custom extension to name the files, but they were easily viewable directly or simply by changing the custom file extension to the PNG image format, researcher John Jackson told Security Ledger.

In a statement, a Zoom spokesman said that the company appreciates the work of the researchers and takes privacy and security "very seriously."

"We addressed the issue identified by the Sakura Samurai researchers on our Keybase platform in version 5.6.0 for Windows and macOS and version 5.6.1 for Linux. Users can help keep themselves secure by applying current updates or downloading the latest Keybase software with all current security updates," the spokesman said.

In most cases, the failure to remove files from cache after they were deleted would count as a "low priority" security flaw. However, in the context of an end-to-end encrypted communications application like Keybase, the failure takes on added weight, Jackson wrote.

Introducing Crowdsec: a Modernized, Collaborative Massively Multiplayer Firewall

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Slashdot reader b-dayyy writes: CrowdSec is a massively multiplayer firewall designed to protect Linux servers, services, containers, or virtual machines exposed on the Internet with a server-side agent. It was inspired by Fail2Ban and aims to be a modernized, collaborative version of that intrusion-prevention tool.

CrowdSec is free and open-source (under an MIT License), with the source code available on GitHub. It uses a behavior analysis system to qualify whether someone is trying to hack you, based on your logs. If your agent detects such aggression, the offending IP is then dealt with and sent for curation. If this signal passes the curation process, the IP is then redistributed to all users sharing a similar technological profile to 'immunize' them against this IP.

The goal is to leverage the power of the crowd to create a real-time IP reputation database. As for the IP that aggressed your machine, you can choose to remedy the threat in any manner you feel appropriate. Ultimately, CrowdSec leverages the power of the community to create an extremely accurate IP reputation system that benefits all its users.

It was clear to the founders that Open Source was going to be one of the main pillars of CrowdSec. The project's founders have been working on open-source projects for decades — they didn't just jump on the train. Rather, they are strong Open Source believers. They believe that the crowd is key to the mass hacking plague we are experiencing, and that Open Source is the best lever to create a community and have people contribute their knowledge to the project, ultimately make it better and more secure.

The solution recently turned 1.x, introducing a major architectural change: the introduction of a local REST API.

Problem #1

By nagora • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Why do I trust the other people contributing?

not going to go well

By greggman • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

this will end up blocking all VPNs and TOR. I suspect a few trolls will work to get them banned

America Authorizes Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 Vaccine For Emergency Use

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
America's Food and Drug Administration just authorized Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, according to CBS News. "The vaccine is the third to be approved for use in the United States, and the first that requires only one shot..." Among people who got the vaccine in clinical trials, there were no COVID-related deaths. Phase 3 clinical trials also showed protection against multiple emerging virus variants, including a more contagious strain that was first discovered in South Africa and has since been detected in the U.S.

The vaccine can be stored at standard refrigerator temperatures for up to three months.

More from the BBC: The company has agreed to provide the U.S. with 100 million doses by the end of June. The first doses could be available to the US public as early as next week. The U.K., EU and Canada have also ordered doses, and 500 million doses have also been ordered through the Covax scheme to supply poorer nations.


By Dan East • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Worldwide, testing found the J&J vaccine to be 66% effective, compared to 95% for the mRNA vaccines. But for testing done in the US, the results were closer.

To be more specific, those efficacy numbers represent preventing a negative follow-up test if symptoms warrant. So after getting vaccinated, if a person gets sick enough to warrant a COVID test, and it tests positive, that is considered a failure of the vaccine. It isn't clear how many people still contract (and thus can spread) COVID after getting the various vaccines, because they do not do follow up tests by course, but only based on symptoms.

The more important stats, IMO, are how many hospitalizations and deaths occur after being vaccinated. It appears that all of these vaccines are significantly reducing both those numbers. If 100% of the population still gets COVID, yet no one gets sick enough to even require hospitalization, then the vaccination was a complete success in its primary goal. As stated in the summary, not a single person died after taking this vaccine (meaning that for those that still contracted COVID, it was not bad enough to kill some people that otherwise would have died).

I think that COVID may have revealed some interesting viral / immune system behaviors that were unknown previously. I think there is a good chance that with many other viruses (especially of the coronavirus family), we've had asymptomatic infections far more than realized. Especially within the public we have this all-or-nothing mentality about sickness, where a person is very sick with the flu, and someone else in the household has just a runny nose or no symptoms at all, and thus they didn't also have the flu. The tremendous amount of studies done on COVID has shown extremely surprising results, such as 100% asymptomatic individuals with a higher viral load and shedding than people with bad symptoms. Interesting, if not a little scary.


By Applehu Akbar • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

mRNA is a much newer technology than the J&J platform is built upon. I feel like having an alternative to the mRNA may sit well with some people that otherwise would not take the mRNA based products from Pfizer or Moderna.

All too many folks who read conspiracy sites have not made their reservations for Pfizer/Moderna because of fear of getting the Bill Gates nanochips. What they didn't realize is that in most states you have the option of Apple nanochips as an alternative. You have to specify the choice when you make your reservation, and if you choose Apple you may have to wait a little longer, but in my experience it's worth taking the trouble.

When people report bad reactions to the vaccine, what's really happening is that they are getting Windows updates which have to be applied immediately and which can fail to install. On the way home from my second Moderna dose last week, Siri spoke in my head to say that I had a system update ready to install. But because I had taken the Apple option, all I had to do was think back "Install later" and all was good.

Re:America is not the US

By Gravis Zero • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

There are 650+ millions of Americans that live in countries different than the US.

Kindly note that "US" and "U.S." shouldn't be used to refer to the U.S.A. I mean, we're being pedant, right?

People refer to the United States of America as U.S., U.S.A., US, USA, or simply "America". There are continents called North America and South America but no location known as America. As such, the people of the world refer to the United States of America simply as America. You may not like these facts but this is the truth.


By dgatwood • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread


In fact, that may be why the J&J vaccine effectiveness is so low in Africa, rather than because of the strain differences. The probability of having been exposed to that chimpanzee adenovirus vector or a close cousin thereof is probably almost zero in countries that have triple-digit chimpanzees in zoos, but decidedly nonzero in parts of the world where chimpanzees roam freely and the virus has the opportunity to jump species.

(Yes, I realize that chimpanzees are in central Africa, not South Africa, but Africa's borders are pretty porous, and other non-human primate species that could potentially be susceptible to that virus or a similar virus *do* live in South Africa, and the extent to which this virus can jump species is not known, but it has been documented to occur in some adenovirus strains.)

Re:Ineffective - about 10%

By fafalone • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
That's the AstraZeneca/Oxford viral vector vaccine. It's a completely different platform than the mRNA vaccines, which are the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech ones.

How Facebook Silenced an Enemy of Turkey To Prevent a Hit To the Company's Business

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Long-time Slashdot reader schwit1 shares this report from ProPublica: As Turkey launched a military offensive against Kurdish minorities in neighboring Syria in early 2018, Facebook's top executives faced a political dilemma. Turkey was demanding the social media giant block Facebook posts from the People's Protection Units, a mostly Kurdish militia group the Turkish government had targeted.

Should Facebook ignore the request, as it has done elsewhere, and risk losing access to tens of millions of users in Turkey? Or should it silence the group, known as the YPG, even if doing so added to the perception that the company too often bends to the wishes of authoritarian governments?

It wasn't a particularly close call for the company's leadership, newly disclosed emails show. "I am fine with this," wrote Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's No. 2 executive, in a one-sentence message to a team that reviewed the page. Three years later, YPG's photos and updates about the Turkish military's brutal attacks on the Kurdish minority in Syria still can't be viewed by Facebook users inside Turkey. The conversations, among other internal emails obtained by ProPublica, provide an unusually direct look into how tech giants like Facebook handle censorship requests made by governments that routinely limit what can be said publicly...

Publicly, Facebook has underscored that it cherishes free speech: "We believe freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, and we work hard to protect and defend these values around the world," the company wrote in a blog post last month about a new Turkish law requiring that social media firms have a legal presence in the country. "More than half of the people in Turkey rely on Facebook to stay in touch with their friends and family, to express their opinions and grow their businesses." But behind the scenes in 2018, amid Turkey's military campaign, Facebook ultimately sided with the government's demands. Deliberations, the emails show, were centered on keeping the platform operational, not on human rights. "The page caused us a few PR fires in the past," one Facebook manager warned of the YPG material...

"Facebook confirmed to ProPublica that it made the decision to restrict the page in Turkey following a legal order from the Turkish government — and after it became clear that failing to do so would have led to its services in the country being completely shut down."

Not as bad as what Twitter did to "protect NATO"

By DeplorableCodeMonkey • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Twitter just wiped out a bunch of foreign government accounts for "manipulation" with the stated end goal to prevent them from undermining support for NATO.

This is why the spergs who always come in to cite that XKCD free speech comic, remind us the first amendment doesn't apply to corporations, etc. need to be told to just fuck right off a cliff and die.

You see, these actions are precisely how you end up with a censorship-riddled system where the authorities can give you a big goofy grin and tell you you're not being censored because the government isn't doing it. It's just their college roommates who run the big corporations that control all of the platforms where speech happens and that actively use tactics like denying access to banking and payment services to competing platforms that don't toe the party line.

No, this isn't authoritarianism. This is "free men and women using their property rights and not letting you use their soapbox." It's also "free men and women ensuring you can't build your own soapbox," but then you're just an asshole so you don't deserve one. I used to see that argument a lot particularly at the allegedly pro-free speech site TechDirt.

and of course

By superwiz • Score: 3 • Thread
If they received a national security letter, it would be illegal for them to make the same admission in the US. They would have to silence people without any reasonable cause and stay quite about it or break the law.

Re:History rhymes

By sg_oneill • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

No. Trump backstabbed and abandoned the Kurds. I have not heard anything about Biden reversing the betrayal.

At the end of the day, Powerful people run th show. The Kurds where never "terrorists", as much as the Turkish,Syrian or fucking ISIS govt might try and claim, you cant categorize an entire race that way. But the patronage of Turkey is more. important to the maintainance of the Hegemony of America, and the Syrian Govts pattronage too important to Russias, to allow decency or reason to inform the discord on this. So the Kurds cop it in the neck. And if there was one group in that entire clusterfuck that was the Syrian civil war that actually had a demonstrable commitment to democracy, equality and civil rights, it was the Kurds.

Everything about that whole situation sucks. But heres the thing. Us mere citizens in this worl don't count for nothing.

Re: History rhymes

By ytene • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
The UK's Guardian Newspaper found that the 2018 election took place in a "climate of fear". That might have had something to do with the opposition leader being imprisoned and unable to campaign.

Transparency International found in 2019 that democracy has been systematically eroded for the last 15 years.

The European Commission found in 2020 that an "emergency" ruling in 2018, that has been in place for more than 2 years now, continue to significantly impact on democracy and fundamental rights.

A democratic nation doesn't kill the free press.

A democratic nation doesn't just lock up 20 members of the opposition party.

A democratic nation doesn't crack down on dozens of mayors the president doesn't like.

I am not sure why you would claim that Turkey remains a democracy when all available evidence suggests that the exact opposite is true.

Quote: "You and I may believe Ergodan is a terrible president. Turks see him differently."

On this we might agree. You and I might think that Ergodan is a terrible president. The Turkish people are absolutely frakkin' terrified of him.

Funny, that

By cascadingstylesheet • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Turns out that such decisions are always going to be political, by their very nature.

You like their political decisions when they, say, ban Trump. But it turns out they are going to make some political decisions that you don't like too.

It's almost as though there should be some sort of neutral principle operating here ...

Apple's Powerful M1 MacBooks are Lowering The Resale Value of Older MacBooks

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"The impressive performance and battery life gains of the new M1 MacBooks have created a historic discontinuity in the normally placid resale market," reports ZDNet: Should you spend $800 for a one year old MacBook Air when for $200 more you could get a MacBook Air with several times the performance and 50 percent better battery life? That's a question savvy buyers are asking themselves. Not surprisingly, the most common answer seems to be "Nope...!"

Unless buyers check out a site like Everymac they won't know what they're missing. The bottom-of-the-line M1 MacBook Air has a Geekbench 5 multiprocessor score that is almost 2.5x that of the early 2020, top-of-the-line quad-core I7. For 80 percent of the price. And most users won't need to spend the extra cash for the 16GB version since the memory management and page swapping is so efficient. The contrast is even more striking when comparing MacBook Pros. Not only is the 13" MacBook Pro faster on the Geekbench 5 single and multiprocessor benchmarks than the top-of-the-line 16" MacBook Pro Intel I9, it's less than half the price. And it isn't just a single benchmark. Search on "M1 MacBook Pro vs 16 MacBook Pro" on YouTube to see multiple videos testing real world workloads on both machines.

The article also makes a prediction: "The best deals on Intel 'Books are yet to come, assuming Apple offers retailers price protection.

"There seems to be a large inventory of Intel based MacBooks, and they have to clear them out before the end of 2021."

Re:It's the instruction set, not perf/battery, sil

By magusxxx • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I agree with you in theory, but there's a subgroup which also needs to be considered.

The Intel machines before M1 can run Mac OS Mojave (10.14).This is the last OS which will run 32 bit programs. If a user does buy a M1 machine they may need to upgrade many of their older programs.

Which could be an issue for some if they don't want to deal with subscription models like the ones Photoshop offers. In 1990 Version CS6 was released and was the last version you could buy outright. Adobe stopped selling this version in 2017. Is it worth buying a new Mac knowing you also may have to spend at least $20/month extra? How many other programs could suddenly go the subscription route?

This is the position I'm currently in. I'm right now typing this on a 2012 Mac Mini which is still working fine. But I worry about how much extra expense would go into updating my software. (Side note: Currently looking at Krita, an open source Photoshop alternative.)

My experience with VMs is not like yours

By fyngyrz • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Then, for a VM to work, you have to have a host OS in the first place - MacOS. When support for that ceases, your VM is a thing of the past.

I have a 2010 Mac Pro. 12/24 core, 64 GB RAM, several TB class HDs, One large 4k and several smaller 2k-ish displays. Apple's OS upgrade support for the machine (unfortunately, and let me just pause to say, "fuck you in the heart, Apple") stopped at OSX 10.12.6; the VMs (several versions of Windows, one of OSX, and two of Linux) continue to work perfectly well. I have no idea what you're trying to say here. Would you elaborate, please?

So putting a VM on a MacOS X on an intel platform is pretty much an exercise in futility.

Actually, that's where one would expect it to work best, presuming the VM is of an Intel OS (common Windows, Linux versions...) Certainly I haven't had any trouble with them. I haven't heard anything yet about anyone's adventures trying to run an Intel OS VM on the new Apple hardware, though I've been anticipating something about it with interest. Seems like it'd be... a significant technical challenge.

Then the VM software itself - on Macs, typically it's Parallels

Huh. VMWare here. I own Parallels, but the VMWare stuff consistently works better for me. [shrugs] YMMV.

Or you can pay a Parallels tax every 1-2 years or so just to be able to boot the same Linux as you did yesterday.

Um... no. No reason to lose a VM unless you change something else. No imperative to change something else unless something is broken, either. Though again, it'd be nice if Apple supported their hardware longer than just a few years. Win10 installed on my very early laptop without a single complaint and works fine. Microsoft shows Apple up pretty harshly in that regard. I could install the latest OSX if I cared to work around Apple's artificial "your machine is too old" fuckery... many others have done so. I have yet to see a real need, but I suppose someday I might get around to it.

Then philosophy: one of the main reasons to run Linux is to run a free (as in speech) software stack.

Most things build and run fine under OSX, sometimes given the usual hoop jumping (IOW, the same hoop jumping one often has to do to build under Linux. Dependency hell, etc.) Some of my daily driver software is Bash, Midnight Commander, various command line stuff, Python, all native under OSX, but I've got quite a few libraries and so on that I've built native. Then there are the various compatibility efforts; Macports, Homebrew, etc. I don't use them, but they're out there and plenty of people do use them with considerable success.

But failing that, presuming OSX presents some kind of unsurmountable or highly inconvenient barrier, or if you just want a straight-up Linux environment, yeah, you can just build in a VM for most things.

Also, I develop large, popular desktop applications ([1],[2]) for Windows in a Windows VM on my Mac. No problems whatsoever. I also build the same apps in an old version of OSX in a VM so as to have the largest range of OS compatibility. This has also proven to be a solid development paradigm, and completely avoids Apple's OS bitrot that locks out older OSX versions.

it just feels wrong 6 ways from Sunday.

Nope. Definitely nope. :)

Re: Efficient page swapping

By JonnyCalcutta • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I don't think its been true for 20 years or more. I can't speak for graphic design, but 25 years ago I worked in 3d animation and visual effects and it was all PCs - mostly Windows and some BSD. I do see creatives using Macs, but equally I see them using PCs and getting on just fine. The only exception is where Apple own the product (Logic Pro), and therefore the lack of choice is not technical.

I'm actually amazed there are still people pretending that Macs have any advantage in media production.

Re: Efficient page swapping

By gTsiros • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

getting windows to do any sort of low latency audio-related work is testing my patience.

one would think that a 16 core, 4.7GHz device could handle a 192 kHz signal with grace

but nope.

Love'em or hate'em,

By jpellino • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

This is impressive engineering on Apple's part. Looking at Geekbench, the M1 Air, Pro and Mini are within error bars of each other on multi-core performance. The amazing thing is that there are only three Macs that beat it - a maxed-out iMac, the iMac Pro Xeon and the Mac Pro Xeon.

Dropping Nearly 20%, Bitcoin Suffers Worst Weekly Drop in a Year

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Bitcoin's rally this year has hit a speed bump, putting it on track for the worst weekly slide in almost a year amid wider losses in risk assets," reports Fortune: The largest cryptocurrency slumped as much as 20% this week, the most since March, and was holding at about $46,925 as of 10:22 a.m. in Hong Kong. The wider Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index, tracking Bitcoin, Ether and three other cryptocurrencies, is down 22% this week...

Bitcoin's weakness in the face of market gyrations raises questions about its efficacy as a store of value and hedge against inflation, a key argument among proponents of its stunning fivefold rally over the past year. Detractors have maintained the digital asset's surge is a speculative bubble and it's destined for a repeat of the 2017 boom and bust.

While Bitcoin is often touted as the new "digital gold," the yellow metal is winning out at the moment with spot gold holding at $1,768 per ounce, down less than 1% for the week.

Happy times

By ladislavb • Score: 3, Funny • Thread
It looks like many Slashdot readers are happy today. Congratulations!


By 93 Escort Wagon • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Commodities (like Gold), Bitcoin, stocks, all of it pretty much fell.

It says, right there in the summary, that gold was down less than 1%.

Re:The problem is it moved 20% in 1 week

By ceoyoyo • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Yay, 20% off sale on Teslas!

Re:"worth it"

By istartedi • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Back in say the 80's people worried about spending way more on electricity than the resulting Bitcoin was worth

Say what now?

Well, yes

By OneHundredAndTen • Score: 3 • Thread

Cryptocurrencies remain good for three things, and three things alone:

1. Speculation.

2. Money laundering.

3. Consuming vast a mounts of electrical power.

That's it. Maybe one day they will be useful for something else. As of today, they are not.

Can 'Ready' Crowdfund a Raspberry Pi Cyberdeck Enclosure for Cyberpunk Enthusiasts?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
There's 29 hours left in a Kickstarter campaign to fund "an open source, Linux-based, highly modular, customizable portable computer kit that accommodates anything from a Raspberry Pi to a Ryzen x86 4x4 single-board computer and more," writes READY!100: Reminiscent of 1980s executive portable computers, the READY! 100 is fully modern with 12 input output ports and 4 antenna ports. Perfect for hackers, ham radio operators, and audio/video folks, it can even be used with external graphics cards.
Engadget hailed it as "a Raspberry Pi enclosure for cyberpunk enthusiasts." Thanks to their diminutive size and low-power consumption, single-board computers like the Raspberry Pi can come in all shapes and sizes. We've seen DIY enthusiasts like Guy Dupont put a $10 Raspberry Pi Zero W into the shell of a 2004 iPod Classic to create a device that can access Spotify. But few are as cool as this recent Kickstarter project we spotted from a Toronto-based company called Ready! Computer Corporation.

The company's Ready! Model 100 is essentially a case for your single-board computer that includes a mechanical keyboard, stereo speakers, a touchscreen display and enough I/O ports to connect almost anything you need. The enclosure allows you to fit an SBC that's about the size of a 4x4 Intel NUC board. Oh, and you can carry it around with a guitar strap.

Basically, it allows you to build the cyberdeck of your dreams.

Re:Looks like fun

By Teckla • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I think you mean Commander X16. Closer to Commodore 64 than Commodore VIC-20.

Re:Looks like fun

By Penguinoflight • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

IIRC, cyberdeck was coined by Gibson in Neuromancer while Shadowrun was a video game set in the Neruomancer universe (roughly).

Re:Ready! Model 100

By hey! • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Ranch dressing?

Nice advert

By wakeboarder • Score: 3 • Thread

Next time I do a Kickstarter project I'll get it on slashdot

Brave Privacy Bug Exposed Tor Onion URLs To Your DNS Provider

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Brave Browser had a privacy issue that leaked the Tor onion URL addresses you visited to your locally configured DNS server, "exposing the dark web websites you visit...", writes Bleeping Computer.

Long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo quotes their report: To access Tor onion URLs, Brave added a "Private Window with Tor" mode that acts as a proxy to the Tor network. When you attempt to connect to an onion URL, your request is proxied through volunteer-run Tor nodes who make the request for you and send back the returned HTML. Due to this proxy implementation, Brave's Tor mode does not directly provide the same level of privacy as using the Tor Browser.

When using Brave's Tor mode, it should forward all requests to the Tor proxies and not send any information to any non-Tor Internet devices to increase privacy. However, a bug in Brave's "Private window with Tor" mode is causing the onion URL for any Tor address you visit to also be sent as a standard DNS query to your machine's configured DNS server. This bug was first reported in a Reddit post and later confirmed by James Kettle, the Director of Research at PortSwigger. BleepingComputer has also verified the claims by using Wireshark to view DNS traffic while using Brave's Tor mode.

Brave has since released an update which fixes the bug.

Re: Brave

By bill_mcgonigle • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

> The what community?

Assuming he has his parity bits set correctly, I am told the 'B' represents the Conservative belief in only two genders.

But no matter - he's better off using a browser from a military contractor anyway. Clean ethics right there.

Failure of testing

By RelativeKny • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
If you are implementing a privacy mode, shouldn't you at least do a wireshark dump and inspect it? Before releasing it? This is really not rocket science...