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.

Decades of Research: the Story of How mRNA Vaccines Were Developed

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Long-time Slashdot reader fahrbot-bot wanted to share this New York Times article which makes the point that "The stunning Covid vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna drew upon long-buried discoveries made in the hopes of ending past epidemics..." They remain a marvel: Even as the Omicron variant fuels a new wave of the pandemic, the vaccines have proved remarkably resilient at defending against severe illness and death. And the manufacturers, Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna, say that mRNA technology will allow them to adapt the vaccines quickly, to fend off whatever dangerous new version of the virus that evolution brings next.

Skeptics have seized on the rapid development of the vaccines — among the most impressive feats of medical science in the modern era — to undermine the public's trust in them. But the breakthroughs behind the vaccines unfolded over decades, little by little, as scientists across the world pursued research in disparate areas, never imagining their work would one day come together to tame the pandemic of the century. The pharmaceutical companies harnessed these findings and engineered a consistent product that could be made at scale, partly with the help of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration's multibillion-dollar program to hasten the development and manufacture of vaccines, drugs and diagnostic tests to fight the new virus.

For years, though, the scientists who made the vaccines possible scrounged for money and battled public indifference. Their experiments often failed. When the work got too crushing, some of them left it behind. And yet on this unpredictable, zigzagging path, the science slowly built upon itself, squeezing knowledge from failure.

The vaccines were possible only because of efforts in three areas. The first began more than 60 years ago with the discovery of mRNA, the genetic molecule that helps cells make proteins. A few decades later, two scientists in Pennsylvania decided to pursue what seemed like a pipe dream: using the molecule to command cells to make tiny pieces of viruses that would strengthen the immune system. The second effort took place in the private sector, as biotechnology companies in Canada in the budding field of gene therapy — the modification or repair of genes to treat diseases — searched for a way to protect fragile genetic molecules so they could be safely delivered to human cells. The third crucial line of inquiry began in the 1990s, when the U.S. government embarked on a multibillion-dollar quest to find a vaccine to prevent AIDS. That effort funded a group of scientists who tried to target the all-important "spikes" on H.I.V. viruses that allow them to invade cells. The work has not resulted in a successful H.I.V. vaccine. But some of these researchers, including Dr. Graham, veered from the mission and eventually unlocked secrets that allowed the spikes on coronaviruses to be mapped instead.

In early 2020, these different strands of research came together. The spike of the Covid virus was encoded in mRNA molecules. Those molecules were wrapped in a protective layer of fat and poured into small glass vials. When the shots went in arms less than a year later, recipients' cells responded by producing proteins that resembled the spikes — and that trained the body to attack the coronavirus.

The extraordinary tale proved the promise of basic scientific research: that once in a great while, old discoveries can be plucked from obscurity to make history.


By backslashdot • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

I read the article and saw that they actually did not mention how mRNA vaccines were developed. Probably because they did not want to mention that scoundrel Robert Malone. While I agree he is a prick, he the origin should mention the 1989 and 1990 papers for which he is first author. They could also mention that he should not hog all the credit though because his name is not first on the mRNA vaccine patent.
Here is a better history of the mRNA vaccine:

Malone is bitter about not getting licensing royalties for the mRNA vaccine and has become a strong anti-vaxxer as I suppose he has had to double down on his position (despite admitting to getting the vaccine himself but with side effects.)

Do CS Teachers Need To Know CS?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"I'll say it over and over until I retire — CS teachers really do need to know CS," says Mike Zamansky, a coordinator of CS teacher certifications. He was criticizing groups that instead provide teachers with scripted content and short-form "training".

Long-term Slashdot reader theodp summarizes the issue: A problem with out-of-the-box scripted solutions, Zamansky explains, is that "teachers are less and less expected as much to know their subjects, their students, and how to teach but rather to follow the script. This approach might get those students past the standardized exam but in the long run it's not giving students what they need nor deserve.

"I've seen this every year in my undergraduate CS classes. Since APCS Principles was launched many of my students have come in having taken the classes and 'passed' the exam. Truth be told, the majority of them come in basically knowing nothing. This wouldn't be a problem if they didn't come in thinking they knew quite a bit. [...] School supervisors don't know any better so they see that they can check off the computer science box. Many teachers probably don't know better because their short term training is focusing on how easy CS is and how you don't have to learn anything to teach it rather than the truth — it's just like anything else, it takes time and effort to really master."

A Rousounding Yes!

By zenlessyank • Score: 4 • Thread

This is one of the dumber questions asked on Slashdot lately.

Scripting an education from a bunch know nothings should be a felony.

Welcome to school

By holophrastic • Score: 3 • Thread

There's a reason that we call it "school" and not "education".

My 46-year old beloved wants to get one of those kits to make a volcano, because she doesn't remember a) how they work; b) what she learned in school; nor c) that we have a fully-stocked laboratory called a kitchen, and therefore don't need a $50 kit for children.

Of course, as a "perfect student", she aced all of her classes, science included, from kindergarten right through law-school.

You can be told anything by anybody -- teachers included. But if you can't ask a question, then it might as well be any outsourced tech-support call centre.

The caption of my education? "That's outside the scope of this course.

Go ahead, ask me what I do for a living. I dare you.

My thoughts as a high school CS teacher

By reiscw • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I have a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, and a master's in computing (that was an interdisciplinary program which in my case focused mostly on graduate work in analytics and databases). Generally in education in the United States, the presumption is that teachers in a discipline are one-level-above their students. High school teachers typically have an undergraduate degree in the subject they teach; sometimes, if a teacher has multiple licenses, one of they may only have a minor in the subject. Undergraduate instructors have a master's degree in the subject they teach; and (ideally) graduate instructors have a PhD (this one is often violated, I've had lots of graduate courses taught by people with just master's degrees).

Speaking as a department head, it's hard to find people with undergraduate degrees in CS who are willing to teach. That's why there's so much non-degree professional development aimed at creating CS teachers (many of these programs try to recruit math teachers because math teachers are generally analytical thinkers and many have had one programming course). Some of this PD is good, some of it is too dumbed-down, in my opinion.

Based on the limited availability of candidates, my criteria for someone who wants to teach high school computer science is that they should at least have a course in object-oriented programming and a course in data structures. If they want to teach something above AP CS A (some schools teach data structures to their students as a follow-up to AP CS A) they should have an undergraduate degree in CS. This ensures that intelligent students who ask deeper questions about the material can be served appropriately. Last week I taught recursion to my students, and I was able to talk about some topics (like memoization) that many books omit. Having been to many training sessions with AP CS A teachers, I doubt even the ones who have a lot of industry experience (which doesn't mean they have a degree in CS, incidentally) can give a good explanation of those topics.

More importantly, though, the teacher should like to write code; he or she should be passionate about the subject. I do a lot of recreational programming, like Advent of Code and Project Euler (I'm also a math teacher), and I enjoy solving problems.


By Dutch Gun • Score: 3 • Thread

Should a math teacher know math?
Should a physics teacher know physics?
Should an English teacher be literate?

Sound pretty ridiculous when you substitute any other subject.. I think this article is just trying to disprove Betteridge's Law of Headlines.

wtf kind of question is this?

By sonoronos • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

"Do CS teachers need to know CS?"

How did we get to the point where we are asking these sorts of questions? Am I the only one who thinks the very nature of this question is non-sensical?

Law Enforcement Agencies Recruit Rare People Who are 'Super-Recognizers' of Faces

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shared this report on "Super-Recognizers" from a series of articles in the Guardian called "Meet the Superhumans." As a child, Yenny Seo often surprised her mother by pointing out a stranger in the grocery store, remarking it was the same person they passed on the street a few weeks earlier. Likewise, when they watched a movie together, Seo would often recognise "extras" who'd appeared fleetingly in other films... A cohort of just 1-2% of the population are "super-recognisers" — people who can memorise and recall unfamiliar faces, even after the briefest glimpse.

The underlying cause is still not entirely clear — it's a new field, with only around 20 scientific papers studying super-recognisers. However, it is suspected genetics plays a role because identical twins show similar performance, and it has been shown that cortical thickness — the amount of neurons — in the part of the brain that supports face recognition is a predictor of superior ability. Because it's such a rare phenomenon, in 2017 Dr. David White, now a lead investigator at the Face Research Lab at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and his colleagues designed a publicly available online screening tool to try to unearth the world's best super-recognisers. Seo, then in her mid-twenties, gave it a go — and her score was so high, White invited her to come to Sydney for more testing.

With more than 100,000 people now tested, Seo still ranks in the top 50....

Over the past decade, security and law enforcement agencies around the world have started recruiting people with superior facial recognition capabilities. London's metropolitan police has a special team who examine CCTV footage from crime scenes — they were used in the investigation into the poisoning of a former Russian spy with the nerve agent Novichok in Salisbury — and several years ago Queensland police started identifying super-recognisers in its ranks. A proliferation of private agencies has also sprung up, offering the services of super-recognisers.

Seo has no interest....

Pine64's 'PineNote' E-Ink Tablet Now Available for $399 for Developers

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"The PineNote is a tablet with a 10.1 inch grayscale E Ink display and pen support," reports Liliputing.

"It's designed to be a hackable, Linux-friendly device and it's one of the latest products from the makers of the PinePhone and PineBook line of devices." First introduced last summer, the PineNote began shipping to developers in limited quantities in December. Now it's available for anyone to purchase for $399 — no invitation required. But it's probably only a good idea to buy one if you're a developer or very early adopter because there's very little software available for the PineNote so far. At this point, Pine64 is shipping the PineNote without an operating system installed. It will have only a bootloader, allowing developers and enthusiasts to load their own software... [D]evelopers have already made some progress in getting builds Alpine and Debian Linux to run on the E Ink slate, and according to Pine64, there are ports for NixOS and other operating systems on the way.

There's already a partially working display driver, but it's still a work in progress. The goal is to allow developers to port mainline Linux operating systems and applications to play well with a monochrome display with a slow refresh rate. Developers have also figured out how to enable support PineNote's touchscreen, audio playback, and USB port, making it possible to use USB keyboards, storage devices, and other peripherals.

Pine64's Newest Linux Smartphone 'PinePhone Pro Explorer Edition' Now Available for Pre-Order

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Linux fans rejoice!" writes Hot Hardware. " Pine64's newest smartphone is officially available for pre-order." PinePhone Pro Explorer Edition pre-orders opened up Tuesday. Devices that are pre-ordered before January 18th will be shipped from Pine64's Hong Kong warehouse by January 24th and should arrive by early February.... According to Pine64, the PinePhone Pro Explorer Edition is the "fastest mainline Linux smartphone on the market." It uses a Rockchip RK3399S SoC that is composed of two ARM A72 cores (1.5GHz) and four A53 efficiency cores (1.5GHz)....

Consumers will also likely be pleased with the price of the device. The PinePhone Pro Explorer Edition currently rings in at $399 USD. The production run is purportedly "large" and interested consumers should therefore be able to easily purchase the device at this price.

Liliputing adds: While the PinePhone Pro has better hardware than the original PinePhone, Pine64 plans to continue selling both phones indefinitely. The first-gen phone will continue to sell for $150 to $200, offering an entry-level option for folks that want to experiment with mobile Linux, while the higher-priced PinePhone Pro should offer a hardware experience closer to what folks would expect from a modern mid-range phone....

In addition to the PinePhone Keyboard, the recently launched PinePhone wireless charging case, fingerprint reader case, and LoRa cases should all work with either phone.

But the new phone has a faster processor, more memory and storage, higher-resolution cameras, a higher-speed USB-C port and support for WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 4.1. And those features should make it a little more viable as a replacement for an iPhone or Android device... if you're comfortable running work-in-progress software.

They also add that "Thanks to the recent launch of the $50 PinePhone Keyboard, you can also think of the PinePhone Pro as a $400 phone that can be used as a $449 mini-laptop...."

And the Pine64 site's January update also points out that "Pico 8 Raspberry Pi port works on the PinePhone," adding "yes, it does run DOOM."

The fastest Linux Phone?

By Qbertino • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

What about the Volla Phone X?

At a similar pricepoint the Volla X seems way more refined. And it's been available for some time now. Or am I missing something?

Re:The fastest Linux Phone?

By storkus • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I for one have never heard of it. Also come confusion from other replies about GNU / Linux versus Android / Linux: they're both Linux kernel based.

However, the BIGGEST problem is that Pine is actually using a world-wide cellular radio in its phone with most LTE bands while the Volla only supports the GSM and a couple Chinese bands.

Oh, and the marketeers at Volla appararently are not aware that "X" typically means "bigger" in a product, I believe even in non-English, but its the opposite for them.

Angry Gamers Have Scared Some Game Companies Away From NFTs

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"In recent months, at least half a dozen game studios have revealed plans to add NFTs to their games or said they were considering doing so," reports the New York Times.

Then they were confronted by gamers like 18-year-old Christian Lantz, who for years has played GSC Game World's first-person shooter game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Mr. Lantz was incensed. He joined thousands of fans on Twitter and Reddit who raged against NFTs in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s sequel. The game maker, they said, was simply looking to squeeze more money out of its players. The backlash was so intense that GSC quickly reversed itself and abandoned its NFT plan.

"The studio was abusing its popularity," Mr. Lantz, who lives in Ontario, said. "It's so obviously being done for profit instead of just creating a beautiful game...."

[C]lashes over crypto have increasingly erupted between users and major game studios like Ubisoft, Square Enix and Zynga. In many of the encounters, the gamers have prevailed — at least for now.... Players said they see the moves as a blatant cash grab. "I just hate that they keep finding ways to nickel-and-dime us in whatever way they can," said Matt Kee, 22, a gamer who took to Twitter in anger this month after Square Enix, which produces one of his favorite games, Kingdom Hearts, said it was pushing into NFTs. "I don't see anywhere mentioning how that benefits the gamer, how that improves gameplay. It's always about, 'How can I make money off this?'"

Much of their resentment is rooted in the encroachment of micro transactions in video games. Over the years, game makers have found more ways to profit from users by making them pay to upgrade characters or enhance their level of play inside the games. Even if people had already paid $60 or more for a game upfront, they were asked to fork over more money for digital items like clothing or weapons for characters.... Merritt K, a game streamer and editor at Fanbyte, a games industry site, said gamers' antagonism toward the companies has built up over the last decade partly because of the growing number of micro transactions. So when game makers introduced NFTs as an additional element to buy and sell, she said, players were "primed to call this stuff out. We've been here before."

That has led to bursts of gamer outrage, which have rattled the game companies. In December, Sega Sammy, the maker of the Sonic the Hedgehog game, expressed reservations about its NFT and crypto plans after "negative reactions" from users. Ubisoft, which makes titles like Assassin's Creed, said that it had misjudged how unhappy its customers would be after announcing an NFT program last month. A YouTube video about the move was disliked by more than 90 percent of viewers. "Maybe we under-evaluated how strong the backlash could have been," said Nicolas Pouard, a Ubisoft vice president who heads the French company's new blockchain initiative.

Game companies said their NFT plans were not motivated by profit. Instead, they said, NFTs give fans something fun to collect and a new way for them to make money by selling the assets. "It really is all about community," said Matt Wolf, an executive at the mobile game maker Zynga, who is leading a foray into blockchain games. "We believe in giving people the opportunity to play to earn."

The article also rounds up examples of game companies it says have "come out against crypto."
  • "Phil Spencer, the head of Microsoft's Xbox, told Axios in November that some games centered on earning money through NFTs appeared 'exploitative' and he would avoid putting them in the Xbox store."
  • "Valve, which owns the online game store Steam, also updated its rules last fall to prohibit blockchain games that allow cryptocurrencies or NFTs to be exchanged...."
  • "Tim Sweeney, the chief executive of Epic Games, the maker of the game Fortnite, said his company would steer clear of NFTs in its own games because the industry is riddled with 'an intractable mix of scams.' (Epic will still allow developers to sell blockchain games in its online store.)"
  • The blowback has affected more than just game studios. Discord, the messaging platform popular with gamers, backtracked in November after users threatened to cancel their paid subscriptions over a crypto initiative."


By N1AK • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
NFTs are just a way of authenticating ownership of something on a publically auditable ledger. That's the main reason why gaming NFTs don't make any real sense from a user perspective (it doesn't add anything that can't be done without NFTs) but also means acting like NFTs are some great evil just demonstrates you can't differentiate between the technology and a couple of stupid uses of the technology. It's literally like someone raging against encryption because they don't understand that encryption isn't just about letting terrorists/drug dealers communicate without the police being able to intercept it easily.


By JaredOfEuropa • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
NFTs have their uses, so does artificial scarcity. It's not a new concept either, we have had limited editions long before NFTs or even computers existed. An original painting ("naturally" scarce) might go for $50,000, good quality prints for $10... but limited edition prints, numbered and hand-signed by the artist, might go for $1000. An NFT is similar to the artist's signature on the print. Is that a bad thing? Not according to collectors or to the artists who can use it to make a bit more off their work.

NFTs can make it more attractive for artists to release stuff in the virtual world, and make their works more attractive for prospective buyers. A famous couturier can make a bespoke outfit for someone in Second Life (or whatever we got going these days); the outfit could be copied by others, but the virtual environment will label the original as genuine (using the NFT as proof), and perhaps even label the others as knock-offs. And if the NFT lives independently of the virtual environment, the person can take the outfit into other environments and show that it's genuine. Does all of that really matter in the grand scheme of things? It matters enough to a lot of people who are willing to pay for a specially commissioned work of art, with a guarantee that there are no copies (or at least the copies being recognizable as such). People pay a lot for branded apparel, and even more for limited edition items. Personally I don't care much for brands; if something looks good and if the quality is good, then it's good enough for me. But I'm not going to defraud anyone by buying a knock-off. In the virtual world, NFTs can help with that.

They don't have to be resource-hungry, as long as you park them on a blockchain with a small environmental footprint. Though I fully agree that 99% of all current NFT transactions out there are quick money grabs or money laundering schemes, or at best stupid rich people trying to flex.


By drinkypoo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

They don't have to be resource-hungry, as long as you park them on a blockchain with a small environmental footprint.

Show us such a blockchain likely to be around long enough for meaningful persistence of those NFTs.

Young men, growing up.

By kackle • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

... 18-year-old Christian Lantz ... said ... "It's so obviously being done for profit instead of just creating a beautiful game...."

Matt Kee, 22 ... "It's always about, 'How can I make money off this?'"

Welcome to adulthood. Now you might understand why the older set is sometimes cranky.

NFTs explained.

By splutty • Score: 3 • Thread

Host of Youtube-dl Web Site Sued by Major Record Labels

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"As part of their growing battle against popular open source software tool youtube-dl, three major music labels are now suing Uberspace, the company that currently hosts the official youtube-dl homepage," reports TorrentFreak: According to plaintiffs Sony, Universal and Warner, youtube-dl circumvents YouTube's "rolling cipher" technology, something a German court found to be illegal in 2017.... While the RIAA's effort to take down youtube-dl from GitHub grabbed all the headlines, moves had already been underway weeks before that in Germany. Law firm Rasch works with several major music industry players and it was on their behalf that cease-and-desist orders were sent to local hosting service Uberspace. The RIAA complained that the company was hosting the official youtube-dl website although the tool itself was hosted elsewhere.

"The software itself wasn't hosted on our systems anyway so, to be honest, I felt it to be quite ridiculous to involve us in this issue anyway — a lawyer specializing in IT laws should know better," Jonas Pasche from Uberspace said at the time.

In emailed correspondence today Uberspace informed TorrentFreak that, following the cease-and-desist in October 2020, three major music labels are now suing the company in Germany... According to the labels, youtube-dl poses a risk to their business and enables users to download their artists' copyrighted works by circumventing YouTube's technical measures. As a result, Uberspace should not be playing a part in the tool's operations by hosting its website if it does not wish to find itself liable too....

The alleged illegality of youtube-dl is indeed controversial. While YouTube's terms of service generally disallow downloading, in Germany there is the right to make a private copy, with local rights group GEMA collecting fees to compensate for just that. Equally, when users upload content to YouTube under a Creative Commons license, for example, they agree to others in the community making use of that content. "Even if YouTube doesn't provide video download functionality right out of the box, the videos are not provided with copy protection," says former EU MP Julia Reda from the Society for Freedom Rights (GFF) to NetzPolitik. "Not only does YouTube pay license fees for music, we all pay fees for the right to private copying in the form of the device fee, which is levied with every purchase of smartphones or storage media," says Reda.

"Despite this double payment, Sony, Universal and Warner Music want to prevent us from exercising our right to private copying by saving YouTube videos locally on the hard drive."

How does this go, again?

By Entropius • Score: 3 • Thread

1. Put a video on YouTube, whose computers will provide a copy to anyone who asks
2. Get mad when people ask for copies
3. ???
4. Lawsuit?

Re:How does this go, again?

By apoc.famine • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Worse. Did you catch the last line of the summary?

"Despite this double payment, Sony, Universal and Warner Music want to prevent us from exercising our right to private copying by saving YouTube videos locally on the hard drive."

Does nobody know how computers actually work? Unless something has changed, I don't think youtube videos are exclusively stored in ram and are never cached.

This is akin to them saying that I'm not allowed to copy files from one part of my hard drive to another. Sorry, when they land on my disk, they are mine. If you don't want them there, don't offer them on the internet.

Re:Why does Youtube cooperate?

By tysonedwards • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Except buffering offers legitimate improvements to user experience. For example, audio tracks and subtitles are often embedded into the same file.

If there is no subtitle present, one can perform live transcription of the audio data to make the contents of the video searchable or accessible to those with hearing loss.

Those same transcription features also allow for metadata extraction such as speaker identification, letting the viewer enable subtitles for individual speakers or their non-native language.

That is in addition to enabling functionality like “what did she just say?” Which will look for the start of the last line said before the assistant button activation.

Further, not all videos are expected to be watched completely. Sometimes you legitimately want to skip ahead, to re-play a previous segment, or to speed up or slow down playback. Enforcing linear, start to finish play in it’s entirety harms user engagement.

Re: How does this go, again?

By viperidaenz • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I believe the last line in the summary is referring to the legal right to make private copies of copyrighted material in Germany, because devices and storage media has been levied and that money they have paid has been given to the studios.

They should have sued in a different country.

Re:Why aren't they suing YouTube??

By JBeretta • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

YouTube dropped the ball here and has a surface/tech that is allowing downloads.

Uh... If you can stream it, you can download it. There's nothing that YouTube can do to stop that. I can't watch the video unless YouTube sends me the frames.

The World Was Cooler In 2021 Than 2020. That's Not Good News.

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
2021 was actually cooler than 2020, points out Wired science journalist Matt Simon. So is that good news?

No. One reason for cooler temperatures in 2021 was likely La Niña, a band of cold water in the Pacific. It's the product of strong trade winds that scour the ocean, pushing the top layer of water toward Asia, causing deeper, colder waters to rush to the surface to fill the void. This in turn influences the atmosphere, for instance changing the jet stream above the United States and leading to more hurricanes in the Atlantic. The sea itself cools things off by absorbing heat from the atmosphere.

The Covid-19 pandemic may have had an additional influence, but not in the way you might think. As the world locked down in 2020, fewer emissions went into the sky, including aerosols that typically reflect some of the sun's energy back into space. "If you take them away, you make the air cleaner, then that's a slight warming impact on the climate," said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, during a Thursday press conference announcing the findings. But as economic activity ramped back up in 2021, so did aerosol pollution, contributing again to that cooling effect. The 2021 temperature drop "may be possibly due to a resumption of activity that produces aerosols in the atmosphere," Schmidt said...

Today's findings are all the more alarming precisely because 2021 managed to overcome these cooling effects and still tally the sixth-highest temperature. And while global temperatures were cooler in 2021 than the year before, last year 1.8 billion people lived in places that experienced their hottest temperatures ever recorded, according to a report released today by Berkeley Earth. This includes Asian countries like China and North and South Korea, African nations like Nigeria and Liberia, and in the Middle East places like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. "We talk a lot about global average temperatures, but no one lives in the global average," says Zeke Hausfather, a research scientist at Berkeley Earth. "In fact most of the globe, two-thirds of it, is ocean, and no one lives in the ocean — or very few people at least. And land areas, on average, are warming much faster than the rest of the world...."

Last summer in western Canada and the US Pacific Northwest, absurd temperatures of over 120 degrees Fahrenheit killed hundreds of people. According to Hausfather, the heat wave in Portland, Oregon, would have been effectively impossible without climate change, something like a once-every-150,000-year event.

It's a fascinating article, that looks at trouble spots like Antarctica's sea level-threatening " Doomsday Glacier" and a warming Gulf of Mexico, mapping the intensity of 2021's temperature anomalies along with trend graphs for both global temperatures and land-vs-ocean averages. It touches on how climate change is impacting weather — everything from rain and floods to wildfires and locusts — as Bridget Seegers, an oceanographer at NASA, points out that "Extremes are getting worse. People are losing their homes and their lives and air quality, because the wildfires are bad."

But Seegers somehow arrives at a positive thought. "There's just a lot going on, and I want people to also feel empowered that we understand the problem. It's just this other issue of deciding to take collective action....

"There's a lot of reasons for optimism. We're in charge. This would be a lot worse if we're like, 'Oh, it's warming because we're heading toward the sun, and we can't stop it.'"

(Thanks to Slashdot reader Sanja Pantic for sharing the article!)

Thermal expansion of water.

By willy_me • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
If we have a colder year it just means that more heat went into the ocean. And as the ocean warms, it expands. People have been told that melting glaciers are the main cause of the rising sea level. They are wrong, it is actually the thermal expansion of the ocean. So when scientists say that we want to limit the temperature rise of the ocean to 1.5 deg C, they are really saying they want to limit the rise of the ocean to ~ 0.6m. And that is ignoring glaciers and ice in Antarctica.


By awwshit • Score: 3 • Thread

I'm skeptical of this conclusion.


Mt. Pinatubo released a large amount of aerosols high in the atmosphere and it still took 15 months to create 1F of cooling.

"There's a lot of reasons for optimism"

By bb_matt • Score: 3 • Thread

I'm not seeing any reasons, to be honest.

If the global pandemic only shaved off around 4%-7% of emissions, with the economic impact it had - and as soon as we saw lifting of lockdowns etc. in various regions, the output ramped back up and again - how do we globally, make these reductions willingly?

We don't, because it quite simply isn't going to happen.
In case those who are so optimistic hadn't noticed, many third world countries have no options but to continue burning fossil fuel.
These are the same regions where just 10-15 percent of people have been vaccinated, whilst 60-70 percent have been in wealthier nations.
Do the math - do you really think wealthier nations are going to foot the bill for the sheer scale of a transition away from fossil fuels, when they couldn't even foot the bill for global vaccination programmes?

Hell, no.

We're absolutely going over 1.5c and will probably see 2c before the century is out or higher, depending on tipping points.
It's going to be a case of "last chance saloon", as humanity rushes into some sort of grand scale terraforming project to reduce CO2 or find another way of cooling the planet.

If we were to stop ALL CO2 emissions tomorrow, we're looking at 20 to 30 years before we even notice a global temperature decline - and in fact, there would be an increase, as the effect of global dimming is no longer prevalent.

It is going to require engineering at an unprecedented scale to solve this problem, so, it's more likely humanity is going to have to live with the consequences for centuries to come - and it's a potential civilisation end scenario - if we can no longer grown grain at scale, game over.

Erruption of Hunga Tonga will cool the earth

By takochan • Score: 3 • Thread

The erruption of Hunga Tonga volcano this morning was absolutely massive, and on the scale of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. Like in 1991, so much ash has been blown into the air all the way up to the stratosphere.

This will likely result (like in 1991), cooler temperatures around the world for the next few years (folks in northern climates probably remember the year without a summer in 1993).

Also look to much more rain in California over the next few years (ending the drought) due to colder temperatures, like happened last time as well.

You'll also get airplane windows that are hard to see out of as they will all get scratched up again, like they did in 1992-1994 flying through all the ash in the upper atmosphere.

Re:Simpler Explanation: Statistics

By kot-begemot-uk • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Pity a comment cannot be +1-ed beyond 5.

In fact, in terms of climate even 10 or 20 years are nowhere near the scale on which you can make conclusions. Yes, we had an anomalously warm decade in 2010-2020. Yes, 2021 has dropped out of sequence. Is there a reason to beat drums in either direction? No. You do not extrapolate on the basis of one datapoint. Let's see how 2022 turns out. If normal weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere apply, it should be cold. Why - it operates on a 10-11 year cycle. The previous minimum was 2011-2012. The years in between were supposed to be warm. Not as warm as they ended up, but warm none the less.

Going back to climate - can you make conclusions based on extrapolating data from 10 years in a system with a known 10 year cycle? Only if you are a clueless technoreligious idiot. By the way, there are a couple of more cycles ahoy. The big one is 90 years and its cold minimum was in the 50-es. It can be traced in the historical record all the way back to the late Roman empire. We are supposed to be passing the hot maximum of that one about now and going towards cold. Will we see it? Feck knows. Too early to say - by ~ 30 years. However, once again - extrapolating out of 50 years of data which is SUPPOSED to be "getting hotter" is not in any way scientific.

Are We Getting Closer to the Year of the Linux Desktop?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Earlier this year TechRepublic argued that while 2021 wasn't the year of the Linux desktop, "there was no denying the continued dominance of Linux in the enterprise space and the very slow (and subtle) growth of Linux on the desktop. And in just about every space (minus the smartphone arena), Linux made some serious gains."

So would 2022 be the year of the Linux desktop? "Probably not."

But developer Tim Wells honestly believes we're getting closer: The idea of the year of the Linux desktop is that there would come a year that the free and open source operating system would reach a stage that the average user could install and use it on their pc without running into problems. Linus Sebastian from Linus Tech Tips recently did an experiment where he installed Linux on his home PC for one month to see if he could use it not only for everyday tasks, but for gaming and also streaming. Ultimately he concluded (in a video just released) that this year will not be the year of the Linux desktop and that while doing everyday stuff was reasonably okay, the state of gaming on Linux (despite Valves lofty goals) is to put it simply, a shit-show. (That's my word, not his)... The experiment done by Linus seems to show that while some games do indeed run well using [Valve's Windows compatibility layer] Proton, there are just as many that run with issues. Some of those issues can be game breaking. Such as the game running, but its multiplayer functionality not working at all. Some games just plain don't work at all due to dependencies on services such as Easy Anti Cheat...

In his video Linus mentions that the main problem preventing the "year of the Linux desktop" is the fragmentation. By fragmentation, he means the range of available distributions and the fact that each distribution has (potentially) different versions of libraries and drivers and software that makes the behind the scenes operate.... Flatpak and Snap as well as AppImage are making progress towards fixing this fragmentation issue, but those are not yet perfect either. Flatpak works by ensuring that the expected versions of libraries required for that software are installed along side it and independent of the existing library the distro may provide...

Valve have said that the Steamdeck will also use an immutable core operating system for the same reasons.

So while Linus is sure that 2022 isn't yet the year of the Linux desktop and that fragmentation is the biggest problem. I think maybe, just maybe, we're closer to solving those problems and closer perhaps to the year of the Linux desktop that some might realise.


By Calydor • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Well of course; the end goal is to not have windows anywhere, isn't it?

Closest it's ever been

By _0x0nyadesu • Score: 3 • Thread

I run Gentoo and I game on it. I use Ubuntu on AWS for work servers. My laptop is a MacBook Pro running MacOS. My phone is an Android 11 Sony. My TV is a Sony with Android TV. My NAS box / media center is Windows.

Those of us that game on Linux do it for the challenge but also for control. I never have to worry about windows update, malware, or performance degrading background services that Microsoft tends to inject into Windows whenever they so choose.

I've played a lot of games on Linux. Civ 5 and 6 work natively. So do many Total War series games. Most Valve titles as well. Do I care that League of Legends is broken when my game works fine? Not really. At this point the perspective changes. Now I have many games and the studios need to win me over with Linux support. When a game like Skyrim works perfectly fine and I bet 1000 hours of game play out of it why would I care about some other game that doesn't work on my machine?

Linux support is really not that difficult. You support certain minimum versions that were out even 3-4 years ago. Some base Ubuntu for example is perfectly fine. Most distros match that basic compatibility. I choose Gentoo because I can have the most recent version of anything hours after the code is committed. Or I can choose to lock a version and stay on it. I know I am an edge case but there are dozens of us.

It's important to also note that I regularly wrestled with game issues in Windows too so the idea that Windows is a hassle free environment is plainly untrue.

I think folks on /. should try to consider the perspective change that can occur once an open source platform becomes the new normal.

At work all our non technical staff is now using ChromeOS except for sales/marketing (cause they want native Excel). If that domino falls it would really be interesting.

Maybe stop trying to "disrupt" the desktop model

By kriston • Score: 3 • Thread

Maybe stop trying to "disrupt" the desktop model. I'm looking at you, GNOME 3.

Nobody wanted that to happen outside of the GNOME team and the Linux Desktop movement was damaged beyond repair because of that attitude.

In other words

By Teun • Score: 3 • Thread
In other words, Windows is a gaming platform.
In the discussion about usable computers wouldn't call that a positive distinction...

I installed a Linux Desktop OS yesterday

By thegarbz • Score: 3 • Thread

I followed some simple instructions including how to update it after it was booted up. End result: multiple error messages about something something dependency unresolvable, vlc needing a new package incompatible with another package, and this media player suddenly prevented everything on the OS from updating. 10min later bashing around in the console and doing a few Googles I had a functioning system running through its update process.

I have other Linux instances, one recently said something about python major version upgrades causing dependency issues and some packages stopped working. A bit of Googling and some console work later...

I have a Linux server here which between a dist-upgrade changed flags in a way which made virtual servers unreachable on boot. More Googling (won't blame the console though, there's no UI on this one).

I have a Linux laptop here which refuses to wake from sleep properly and when it does the wifi interface is normally gone. No amount of Google fixed this.

Linux has a major usability problem. Not for us, but for the 99.5% of us who are not computer nerds who can fix problems. A quadruple amputee can count on their fingers how many times my father has opened the command line on a windows machine.

People use Linux. People don't use Windows, they ignore Windows and use the software running on Windows instead which is precisely how a desktop OS should work.

GitHub Restores Account of Developer Who Intentionally Corrupted His Libraries

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
What happened after a developer intentionally corrupted two of their libraries which collectively had more than 20 million weekly downloads and thousands of dependent projects?

Mike Melanson's "This Week in Programming" column reports: In response to the corrupted libraries, Microsoft quickly suspended his GitHub access and reverted the projects on npm.... While this might seem like an open and shut case to some — the developer committed malicious code and GitHub and npm did what it had to do to protect its users — a debate broke out around a developer's rights to do what they wish with their code, no matter how many projects and dependencies it may have.

"GitHub suspending someone's account for modifying their own code in a project they own however they want spooks me a lot more than NPM reverting a package," [tweeted one company's Director of Engineering & Technology]. "I kind of love what Marak did to make a point and protest to be honest."

An article on iProgrammer further outlines the dilemma present in what might otherwise seem like a clear-cut case.... "Yes, it is open source in that you can fork it and can contribute to it but does this mean that GitHub is justified in denying you the right to change or even destroy your own code?"

As of last night, however, it would appear that the entire affair is merely one for intellectual debate, as GitHub has indeed lived up to what some might view as its end of the bargain: the developer's account is active, he has been allowed to remove his faker.js library on GitHub (depended upon as it might be), and has since offered an update that he does "not have Donkey Brains".

Re:The Elephant in the Room...

By gweihir • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I applaud his epic level of trolling. He just killed the many eyes argument.

That he actually did not. There is a delay to the eyes working and they did work nicely within that delay.

Re: Nope

By sjames • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

OTOH, if someone is giving away elevator friction brakes and disclaiming all certification, guarantee, fitness for purpose or that any sort of formal testing has taken place, what does it say if some company installs them without testing and QC of their own?

Main problem

By gweihir • Score: 3 • Thread

The main problem is not that he changed his code. The main problem is that he pointed out to many, many would-be emperors that they are naked, that their development practices are insane and that they are building houses of cards (or worse). Look at all the but-hurt comments here that want to place the blame solely in this guy, when shoddy, insecure and unprofessional practices made this possible in the first place. The people complaining about what he did are really the ones responsible for the problem in the first place because _they_ screwed up massively and continue to do so.

As to Github, they likely looked at the legal angle, found that this was entirely legal (came even with a major version increase) and that unless they want to police all software on their platform on this level, they better give him access back pronto.

By law, duty of reasonable care. Throwing rocks

By raymorris • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

In common law jurisdictions, the developer has either a duty of "reasonable care" or "slight care", depending on the jurisdiction.

Their legal obligation is to exercise either slight care or reasonable care to avoid actions that bring harm to others. In California, for example, it's "reasonable care". Some jurisdictions apply the lesser standard. Let's look at the definition of the lesser standard:

Slight care - The care a reasonable person exercises in unimportant matters, or the care used by a careless person in a similar situation.

Throwing rocks off an overpass would violate the duty of slight care.

The developer's legal duty is to be at least a little bit careful not to do things that cause harm. Instead, they actively, intentionally, caused harm. That's an actionable tort anywhere.

One might think "it's his code, he can change it in the wants to". That's true, the dev is allowed to change their code. In a similar way, if it's your rock you can throw it.

If I throw a rock as my way if trying to hurt you, your complaint isn't that I'm not allowed to throw that particular rock. You'd sue me for INTENTIONALLY HURTING YOU. My rock is just the tool I used to hurt you with.

Note, btw, you can sue me for throwing my rock off an overpass without looking to see if anyone was below. Even if I wasn't TRYING to hit anyone, I'd be liable for recklessly creating a situation that's likely to bring harm.

Same here. He intentionally took actions that he knew (and even intended) to cause harm. It makes no difference whether he used his rock or his code to try to bring harm. He or she is liable for intentional harm.

One might then ask "what about situations where you have a legitimate reason to harm, like business competition?" The law recognizes specific situations in which there is a sufficient public policy interest in allowing the harm. These specific instances are exceptions to the general duty of reasonable care.

One class of exceptions is that certain relationships have a higher standard of care. For example doctor-patient, parent-child. In a few jurisdictions, a lower standard is applied for trespassers vs invitees and licensees, so the dev would have an argument (though not a very good one) if the people were stealing the code.

If you're still thinking "but it's their code!"
Remember, it's my rock!

Because the rock is mine, I can throw it. I still have to be somewhat careful not to hurt others when I throw my rock.

Can't Complain About The Licensce You Choose

By logicnazi • Score: 3 • Thread

Look, I get that people have different views about the role of corporations in software development. Personally, I believe that in many cases it's beneficial to society to offer software under the MIT license because society benefits if software is cheaper to use and we adopt common standards while in other cases the GPL carrot/stick approach offers more benefit.

If this developer feels so strongly about corporations not benefiting from his work without paying he had a choice. He could have shared his code under a license that was a restrictive as he wanted. It could have been free for individual developers and small shops to use but require a paid license if a large corporation wanted to ship or even run.

But, what's not cool, is to share his code under a license that clearly gives corporations the right to use his code and then turn around and break it because, now that his code is popular, he regrets not cashing in on it. If he'd insisted on some weird restrictive license then people would have just shrugged and written an alternative.

This is the coding equivalent of quoting some cheap price to connect the big mansion on the hill to the new sewer system and then, once you've disconnected their septic system so they can't shower or shit until you finish, turning around and walking away on the grounds that rich people like that should pay plumbers more. Well, no one was forcing you to be their plumber.

To Study Navigation, Researchers Taught Six Goldfish How to Drive

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Long-time Slashdot reader cusco shares a fish story from the Guardian.

Apparently Israeli researchers created a robotic car and taught six fish to navigate it on land... First, the team, led by Prof Ronen Segev, created a watery tank on wheels that moved in response to the movements and orientation of the fish. Then they set about teaching the goldfish (Carassius auratus) how to drive it — much like humans learn to ride a bike or drive a car.

The fish first had to connect their own swimming movements to the movements of the vehicle so they could navigate it. Then they were given a destination: a pink target board in a foreign room that elicited a food reward when the vehicle touched it. A computerised camera system attached to this "fish operated vehicle" recorded and translated the fish's swimming directions.

After several days of training, the fish successfully navigated the vehicle to the target from different starting positions in the room — even if they faced obstacles like false targets or hitting a wall.

What about humans?

By quonset • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

After several days of training, the fish successfully navigated the vehicle to the target from different starting positions in the room

Considering the abysmal driving of the vast majority of people on the road, can we train them for several days instead of goldfish?

Researchers Taught Six Goldfish How to Drive

By NFN_NLN • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

> Researchers Taught Six Goldfish How to Drive

The real question is, can they teach them to parallel park. And if so, what is the secret. Asking for a friend.

Been ther, done that.

By fahrbot-bot • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Researchers Taught Six Goldfish How to Drive

Pepperidge Farm did that a while ago ...

Were the goldfish sober . . . ?

By PolygamousRanchKid • Score: 3 • Thread

The next research step would be to get the goldfish drunk:

Drunken Goldfish and Other Irrelevant Scientific Research

Then the researchers would definitely win an IgNobel.

$1.7 Billion in Student Loan Debt Cancelled for 66,000 Borrowers

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Quartz reports: For years, the student loan servicing company Navient allegedly encouraged student loan borrowers to enter costly long-term forbearance programs that pushed them further into debt, as well as take on private loans they couldn't pay back, according to lawsuits filed by several states, and joined by 39 attorneys general.

Those claims were resolved through a settlement announced Thursday (January 13) affecting some 400,000 borrowers. Navient says it will cancel $1.7 billion in private student loan debt for 66,000 borrowers, as well as pay an additional $95 million in restitution to 350,000 people with federal loans. The former deal mostly focuses on students who took out loans to attend for-profit colleges between 2002 and 2014....

While Thursday's settlement is significant for private student loan borrowers in debt, it extends to just a fraction of the estimated 12 million student loan borrowers Navient has served since 2014. Borrowers eligible for debt cancellation include those who took out private subprime student loans between 2002 and 2014 through the company's predecessor, Sallie Mae.

Borrowers who were behind on payments for seven consecutive months prior to June 30, 2021 qualify to have their loans canceled, but those who are current on their loans do not.

Navient "expressly denies violating any law", according to a statement from the company, in which their chief legal officer insists "these matters" were "based on unfounded claims," but that settling them for $1.85 billion "allows us to avoid the additional burden, expense, time and distraction to prevail in court."

But Mike Pierce, executive director of the Student Borrower Protection Center, tells Quartz that "This is a really big day for people with student debt."

"Borrowers that are still struggling more than a decade later with loans, with the worst terms, after going to the worst schools, are finally debt free."

Did not break any law?

By 140Mandak262Jamuna • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
These vultures are parting with 1.7 billion they must fear they will lose in trial even bigger amount.

And they forgive loans only to those who were more than 7 months behind. All those who actually paid are out of luck. Courts should not allow this provision. In fact all lenders can file amicus briefs asking the court to disallow such a deal. If it goes through all the borrowers of all the loans will make the rational decision to be at least 7 months behind.

Re: Sadâ¦

By BytePusher • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Actually, if you correlate it with the passing of BPACPA(thanks Biden!) you see a hockey stick elbow there. Removing the possibility of students defaulting on their loans made the banks and universities more eager to increase the cost of education. Banks get a bigger piece of the interest pie, universities got a bigger piece of the principle. The issue wasn't regulations, it was the banking industry buying legislation that benefited them at the expense of their customers.

Re: Sadâ¦

By BytePusher • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
The BPACPA massively increased the monetary supply for education by removing the default risk. Demand for education alone wouldn't increase the price as there is more than sufficient supply of people willing to work as teachers and more than enough buildings to teach kids. Tuition went up because the demand is inelastic for most Americans. They're going to go to college no matter the cost, because not going to college generally is a life sentence of poverty. So as the monetary supply increased schools just raised prices at will, only limited by the political cost of raising tuition too fast. The pharma/healthcare industry has done the same. Martin Skrelli is only being punished, because he shined a spotlight on standard industry practice by doing the same thing too fast.

The bubble is bursting before your very eyes

By RogueWarrior65 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

It won't be long now. Much of student loans out there are exactly the same as sub-prime mortgages 15 years ago. Loans were given willy nilly to people who could never possibly pay them off in order to affect the oxymoron that is social engineering. Somebody gets stuck with the bill for the bailout. That would be the people who pay the most in taxes who are smart enough and successful enough to earn that kind of money.

So, what you're going to see going forward is inflation of hiring standards where having a degree is not enough and having a useless degree is worthless.


By ravenshrike • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

More people are going to college because when the government underwrote the loan system and also made school loans non-dischargable so more kids went to college because they could secure loans even though in the previous environment the banks and loan companies would never ever issue loans to prospects who under normal conditions couldn't pay them back and would be able to discharge them in bankruptcy. This dumped a shitpot more money and bodies into the mix for colleges to access, and they had to upgrade facilities to meet increased demand. Since they were upgrading facilities, and the primary reason many kids were going to college was not for a career after they finished their education but to get a higher education in whatever they felt like which would magically provide a career, the available facilities became the primary draw for many prospective students instead of a quaternary draw behind cost and school performance and program availability. Which means it became a rate race not for quality of education vs price, but who could boast the neatest facilities and college "culture". And it goes without saying the effectively free government money increased the graft in school administration exponentially.

After Gates Allegations, Microsoft Opens a Review of Its Sexual Harassment Policies

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Microsoft announced a review of its sexual harassment and gender discrimination policies "after shareholders raised alarms about how Microsoft and Bill Gates, one of its founders, had treated employees, especially women," reports the New York Times: Shareholders passed a resolution during the company's 2021 annual meeting to review the policies Microsoft has in place for its employees to protect them against abuse and unwanted sexual advances. The resolution passed with support from almost 78 percent of Microsoft's shareholders. It was the only of five proposals on ethical issues put forth by shareholders to succeed. Others, like a call for a report on race- and gender-based pay gaps at the company and a pledge to prohibit sales of facial recognition to government entities, failed.

"Microsoft is under intense public scrutiny due to numerous claims of sexual harassment and an alleged failure to address them adequately and transparently," the text of the resolution said. "Reports of Bill Gates's inappropriate relationships and sexual advances toward Microsoft employees have only exacerbated concerns, putting in question the culture set by top leadership and the board's role holding those culpable accountable."

Mr. Gates solicited at least two employees while he was running Microsoft, according to reports in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. In one incident, in 2007, Mr. Gates sat through a presentation by a Microsoft employee, then immediately emailed her to ask for a date. Microsoft leaders later warned Mr. Gates not to do things like that. In 2019, Microsoft's board received a letter from an engineer claiming to have had a sexual relationship with Mr. Gates in 2000. A spokeswoman for Mr. Gates confirmed that the two had had an affair that "ended amicably."

More on the story from CNBC...

Easy to solve...

By cayenne8 • Score: 3 • Thread
..everyone works from home, and no more problems with harassment...

Unless someone pulls a Toobin, on a video conference.

Gates convinced a real woman to marry him

By Rosco P. Coltrane • Score: 3 • Thread

If that's not psychological abuse, I don't know what is.

Sad times

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

Microsoft's board received a letter from an engineer claiming to have had a sexual relationship with Mr. Gates in 2000. A spokeswoman for Mr. Gates confirmed that the two had had an affair that "ended amicably."

It is now "harassment" for two adults to consensually engage in a relationship, one that both adults agree was amicable.

Mr. Gates solicited at least two employees while he was running Microsoft, according to reports in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. In one incident, in 2007, Mr. Gates sat through a presentation by a Microsoft employee, then immediately emailed her to ask for a date. Microsoft leaders later warned Mr. Gates not to do things like that.

It is now "harassment" to ask someone out on a date, when the asker has no reason to assume the other person is or isn't interested. You can't know if they aren't interested without asking.

Q1) Is there actually a claim this woman said she wasn't interested BEFORE being asked?
That could be a problem, and if this was the case, the summary really should have included that important and critical detail.

Q2) Gates was told to not do that again. So... did he? Or was that the final time he asked?
If he didn't quit, that could be a problem. Yet once again that critical detail isn't mentioned.

If the entire issue is some random dummy mistakenly assuming *everyone* should be fully aware about all the different potential ways other people might interpret their "clout", then that dummy can fuck right off.
That is identical to claiming Gates is a perfect model of a human being.
That's so untrue that being called a dummy is being far too kind.
Gates like many of us have no clue built-in to our brains of how other people think of us.

So again, Gates was told that requests by him specifically may be seen as pressuring someone into it.
All that matters is from that moment forward. Because most of us only need told once to learn.
Did he learn? Did he stop? Nothing was mentioned of him trying the same thing after 2007 so it looks like the issue was solved.
If that's incorrect... again, critical missing details people!

You aren't going to gain sympathy when framing your complaint in a way that the complainer is clearly and solidly the unreasonable one.


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

Mr. Gates solicited at least two employees while he was running Microsoft, ... emailed her to ask for a date.

While technically correct -- "solicited" means "asked" -- it's generally a loaded word implying something illegal. And while it's generally considered inappropriate for a superior to date a (usually direct) subordinate at work, it's also how Bill and Melinda Gates met (after she started working a Microsoft) -- and they were together for 34 years (married for 27 years) ... I think using "solicited" instead of "asked" shows some bias on the part of the author(s).


By ShooterNeo • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

So one woman at the office had an affair with him and he emailed another and asked for a date? This is the big ethical outrage here?

Giant Lasers Simulate Exoplanet Cores, Prove They're More Likely to Have Life

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Slashdot reader vikingo9 writes, "By smashing a piece of iron to insanely high pressures, using a laser the size of a football stadium, a team of scientists led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have discovered that exoplanets 4-6 times larger than Earth have an increase chance of harboring biological life."

The thinking goes that a molten core " is probably required for life to develop on a planet," Popular Science points out — and this experiment suggests that molten cores of larger rocky exoplanets "should stay hot longer than those within small worlds." "We're finding so many planets, and [one of] the big questions people have are: are these planets potentially habitable?" says Rick Kraus, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who led the study... Kraus and his team wanted to find other ways to discern whether a planet is habitable. They explored a planet's ability to form a magnetosphere — a magnetic field that protects it from solar radiation, like the one around Earth does for us — as a window into habitability, Kraus says. Life as we know it wouldn't be possible without the Earth's magnetic field.

Magnetic fields are a result of molten planetary cores. Earth has a core composed mostly of iron, split into a solid inner core and a liquid outer core. Earth's magnetic field is caused by the convection of the liquid iron, meaning how it swirls: The cooler, denser liquid areas sink to the bottom, while the hotter ones rise like wax in a lava lamp. Studying an exoplanet's core in a laboratory is difficult because there are few ways to recreate such intense pressures and temperatures.

This is the first experiment to use iron under pressures that exceed those in Earth's core, Kraus says...

The team estimates that it will take a total of 6 billion years for Earth's core to solidify, whereas cores in large exoplanets of similar composition to Earth should take up to 30 percent longer.

Of course, the article ends with a few caveats: One issue with extrapolating these results to exoplanets is that those super-Earths can contain elements other than iron in their core, which would change their melting temperature by an unknown amount, Driscoll says. It will also be hard to predict how exoplanets cool because the mantle, the layer of hot rock surrounding the core, plays a huge role in how quickly the core can cool. And those exoplanet mantles could be made of "pretty much anything," he says.

California Judge Rules Google's Confidentiality Agreements Break the State's Labor Laws

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"A California judge ruled this week that the confidentiality agreements Google requires its employees to sign are too broad and break the state's labor laws," reports the Washington Post, calling it "a decision that could make it easier for workers at famously secret Big Tech firms to speak openly about their companies." A Google employee identified as John Doe argued that the broad nondisclosure agreement the company asked him to sign barred him from speaking about his job to other potential employers, amounting to a non-compete clause, which are illegal in California. In a Thursday ruling in California Superior Court, a judge agreed with the employee, while declining to make a judgment on other allegations that Google's agreements blocked whistleblowing and sharing information about wages with other workers.

The ruling marks the latest victory for labor advocates who have sought to force Big Tech companies to relax the stringent confidentiality policies that compel employees to stay quiet about every aspect of their jobs, even after they quit....

The decision isn't final and could still be appealed by Google.... If Google doesn't appeal, or loses the appeal, it could have a real impact on how much power companies hold over employees, said Ramsey Hanafi, a partner with QH Law in San Francisco. "It would mean most of these Big Tech companies would have to rewrite their agreements," Hanafi said. "They all have this broad language that employees can't say anything about anything about their old companies...."

In its opinion, the California Courts of Appeal affirmed the importance of the state's labor laws that go further than federal laws in protecting employees' rights to free speech. Those laws give workers in California the right to "speak as they choose about their work lives," the court wrote. "In sum, these statutes establish as a minimum employment standard an employee anti-gag rule...."

The lawsuit was originally filed in 2016, the article points out, and has been responsible for exposing several internal Google documents (including one detailing a program where employees can report suspected leakers of Google information).

confidentiality agreements try to block unions

By Joe_Dragon • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

confidentiality agreements try to block unions as well