the unofficial Slashdot digest archive

US Heat Waves To Skyrocket As Globe Warms, Study Suggests

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: As the globe warms in the years ahead, days with extreme heat are forecasted to skyrocket across hundreds of U.S. cities, a new study suggests, perhaps even breaking the "heat index." By 2050, hundreds of U.S. cities could see an entire month each year with heat index temperatures above 100 degrees if nothing is done to rein in global warming. The heat index, also known as the apparent temperature, is what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature. This is the first study to take the heat index -- instead of just temperature -- into account when determining the impacts of global warming. The number of days per year when the heat index exceeds 100 degrees will more than double nationally, according to the study, which was published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Research Communications. On some days, conditions would be so extreme that they'd exceed the upper limit of the heat index, rendering it "incalculable," the study predicts. What is there to be done about this? "Rapidly reduce global warming emissions and help communities prepare for the extreme heat that is already inevitable," report co-author Astrid Caldas said. "Extreme heat is one of the climate change impacts most responsive to emissions reductions, making it possible to limit how extreme our hotter future becomes for today's children."

Earth warms...

By ArhcAngel • Score: 3 • Thread
Earth cools

heard this over a decade ago

By iggymanz • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

heard this alarmist stuff over a decade ago, that it would be happening now... but it didn't

meanwhile we have "near record" heat waves....that were surpassed decades ago.

Scientists Close In On Blood Test For Alzheimer's

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
pgmrdlm shares a report from CBS News: Scientists are closing in on a long-sought goal -- a blood test to screen people for possible signs of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. On Monday at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference, half a dozen research groups gave new results on various experimental tests, including one that seems 88% accurate at indicating Alzheimer's risk. Doctors are hoping for something to use during routine exams, where most dementia symptoms are evaluated, to gauge who needs more extensive testing. Current tools such as brain scans and spinal fluid tests are too expensive or impractical for regular check-ups. Dr. Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, called the new results "very promising" and said blood tests soon will be used to choose and monitor people for federally funded studies, though it will take a little longer to establish their value in routine medical care. "In the past year we've seen a dramatic acceleration in progress" on these tests, he said. "This has happened at a pace that is far faster than any of us would have expected."

Nokia 2.2 Brings Back the Removable Battery

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
HMD is bringing the latest version of the Nokia 2, called the "Nokia 2.2," to the U.S. For $139, it features a notched camera design, a plastic body, and a removable battery. Ars Technica reports: HMD is delivering a good package for the price, with a fairly modern design, the latest version of Android, and a killer update package with two years of major OS updates and three years of security updates. On the front, you have a 5.71-inch, 1520x720 IPS LCD with a flagship-emulating notch design and rounded corners. There's a sizable bezel on the bottom with a big "Nokia" logo on it, but it's hard to complain about that for $140.

This is a cheap phone, so don't expect a ton in the specs department. Powering the Nokia 2.2 is a MediaTek Helio A22 SoC, which is just four Cortex A53 cores at 2GHz. The U.S. version gets 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage version with an option to add a MicroSD card. The back and sides are plastic, and on the side you'll find an extra physical button, which will summon the Google Assistant. The back actually comes off, and -- get this -- you can remove the 3000mAh battery! Speaking of unnecessarily removed smartphone features from the past, there's also a headphone jack.
Unfortunately, it's missing some key features to keep the price down. There's a microUSB port instead of a USB-C port, no fingerprint reader, and cameras that have low expectations.

Since it is a GSM phone, it will be supported by T-Mobile and AT&T networks, along with all their MVNOs.

Good. Now somebody make a flagship phone like that

By slaker • Score: 3 • Thread

I have an LG V20 that I'm apparently never going to let go because it's the last phone to have both SD card and replaceable battery. It has a respectable set of cameras and I often use it to take video, an area where it excels while my both my DSLR and Micro 4/3rds camera are less capable.

i know the state of the industry suggests that consumers would rather have waterproofing and of course removable storage leads to uneven user experiences because cards fail or people buy slow cards, but surely somebody has to realize that removable batteries make a lot more sense that tethering to an external battery, and swapping storage cards makes a lot more sense than buying phones with a half-terabyte or more of internal storage.

I can't be the only one who wants those things, especially not both at the same time.


By 110010001000 • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Four cores running at 2Ghz? Is this what kids are calling underpowered these days?

CES 2020 Will Allow Sex Toys But Crack Down On 'Sexually Revealing' Clothing

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
The Consumer Electronics Show will allow sex toys to win awards and be presented on the show floor next year under the show's health and wellness section. "The Consumer Technology Association, which runs the show, says they're being included on a 'one-year trial basis,' meant to assess how they fit into the category," reports The Verge. The group is also cracking down on "sexually revealing" clothing. From the report: The CTA is also updating the dress code policy for CES in an attempt to further crack down on companies hiring models to wear revealing clothing as a way to bring visitors to their booths. This kind of behavior has generally been banned already, but the CTA is now adding a punishment for violators: they risk losing rank in a tenure system that helps them attain a good position on the show floor. The new rules say that companies can get in trouble for outfits that are "sexually revealing or that could be interpreted as undergarments." If clothing reveals "an excess of bare skin" or "hugs genitalia," it will be banned as well. The guidelines apply to all staff. Pornography will remain banned on the show floor. The CTA says the ban will now be "strictly enforced with no exceptions," whereas some has slipped through in previous years.

CES has maintained confusing policies around sex tech for years, and those rules have never seemed to be evenly enforced. Some companies, like the sex toy company OhMiBod, have been able to find a place on the show floor for years; others, like the porn studio Naughty America, have been able to show VR demoes in private booths. But the show's policies have seemingly prohibited all of this, and it's meant that other companies interested in showing their sex-related products have been unable to present at the enormous annual convention.

"Health and Wellness"

By bobthesungeek76036 • Score: 3 • Thread
yea that sounds just about right... :P

Apple Plans To Bankroll Original Podcasts To Fend Off Rivals

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Apple plans to fund original podcasts that would be exclusive to its audio service, according to people familiar with the matter, increasing its investment in the industry to keep competitors Spotify and Stitcher at bay. Executives at the company have reached out to media companies and their representatives to discuss buying exclusive rights to podcasts, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the conversations are preliminary. Apple has yet to outline a clear strategy, but has said it plans to pursue the kind of deals it didn't make before. While Apple doesn't charge for the Podcast app or run its own advertising on the platform, adding exclusives and growing the Podcasts app could give some consumers another reason to stick to their iPhone or subscribe to complementary paid services like Apple Music. "Apple also has an advertising division focused on ads in the App Store, which theoretically could eventually be applied to Podcasts if it continues to increase its user base," the report notes.

Here’s an idea, Apple

By 93 Escort Wagon • Score: 3 • Thread

Perhaps making your app suck less might bring it more users.

I with the standard iOS podcast app for a long time after it launched - I didn’t need a lot of flashy features, and it did the basics reasonably well. But with each iOS iteration it seemed to actually got worse (sorta like Siri, actually). Then, with iOS 11, they're removed a basic feature - the default ability to easily play a bunch of the same podcasts in order. This meant you’d have to manually add individual podcasts to a playlist, which is really annoying for a bunch of 1-2 minute episodes of something like Stardate. So, I dropped that app and moved on.

“Exclusive content” isn’t gonna save your sucky podcast app, Apple. Not to mention that podcast exclusives are pretty much the antithesis of what podcasts are all about anyway.

Open Podcasts

By coastwalker • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

If it is not on an RSS feed then they can go screw themselves. Walled gardens are for slaves.

Glitch Causes Smart Meter Displays In England To Appear In Welsh Language

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
AmiMoJo shares a report from the BBC: Bulb smart energy users have reported their meter displays appearing in Welsh -- even though they are not in Wales. Some of the energy firm's customers said their displays were showing the text "defnydd heddiw," meaning "usage today." Fixing the problem involves navigating the menu, which also appears in Welsh. Bulb said the problem occurred with one in every 200 of its smart meters and could be resolved in five steps. One customer, James Tombs, who lives more than 100 miles from the Welsh border in West Sussex, said: "I don't live in Wales and don't know Welsh... I went on to the Bulb forums, found others with the same problem and followed directions to change [the] language." You can find instructions on how to change the display via Bulb.

How can we trust the meters

By jrumney • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
If the meter software is so buggy it toggles basic settings at random, how can we trust it to be providing accurate readings to the electricity company?

needs more Hz

By marcle • Score: 3 • Thread

Probably have a cheap chip in that meter. Welsh has been known to fry processors, due to the extreme consonant/vowel ratio.

Welsh? Are they sure?

By ngc5194 • Score: 3 • Thread

Are they sure it's actually in Welsh? Seems to me just as likely that it's English rot13.

how is this

By etash • Score: 3 • Thread
news for nerds exactly?

Are there really that many Welsh-speakers?

By Miamicanes • Score: 3 • Thread

Not to belittle Welsh, but if the meters in the UK all defaulted to English and switching the language from English to Welsh required reading the instruction manual and/or spending 5-20 minutes of time, how many people in Wales would genuinely care enough to spend the time and change the language from the default English to Welsh?

I mean, seriously. Most people in countries like Germany don't bother to change the language if it defaults to English & changing it would take more than ~30 seconds of effort. And people in Wales are LITERALLY surrounded by English everywhere.

Cause of SpaceX Crew Dragon Explosion Revealed

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
On April 20, a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, designed to take humans to the ISS, exploded during a routine test fire at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The cause has now been identified as a leaky valve in a propellant pressurization system. Thelasko shares a report from CBS News: Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX vice president of build and reliability said: "We believe that we had a liquid slug of the (NTO) in the pressurization system. When we opened the valves and pressurized the propellant system, we think that this slug was driven back into the check valve. That basically destroyed the check valve and caused an explosion."

He said no one expected that "NTO driven into a titanium component would cause such a violent reaction. We then performed tests ... with the help of NASA, and we found out when the pressure is high, the temperature is high and you drive a slug with a lot of energy into a titanium component that you can have these rather violent reactions." Additional work is needed to rule out other less likely culprits but SpaceX is pressing ahead with plans to replace the valves in question with pressure-activated "burst discs" that have no moving parts and cannot leak.

The SpaceX press release

By mangastudent • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Update: In-flight Abort Static Fire Test Anomaly Investigation.

Re:Space X seems to have a solid testing plan

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

They absolutely do, but titanium.. man.

Titanium has a long record of failures in the rocket business. It's a particularly reactive metal, and also sucks to try and machine or weld. You have an extremely small temperature and time window to work in. Go read Ignition! and check out some of the stories of disasters with Ti.

interim solution

By marcle • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Apparently, the burst discs that will replace the faulty valves aren't reusable. There's time pressure to maintain their schedule, but hopefully a more elegant fix will be forthcoming.

lack of foresight?

By mschaffer • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

This one line says it all: no one expected that "NTO driven into a titanium component would cause such a violent reaction".

I used to do a lot of work with various metals at high temperatures in oxidizing environments. The self-ignition of many alloys (such as titanium) is well known and should be respected under conditions of high temperature, pressure, and exposure to oxidants. Since NTO is an excellent oxidizer, they should have investigated this. Alas.

Re:interim solution

By Kjella • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Apparently, the burst discs that will replace the faulty valves aren't reusable. There's time pressure to maintain their schedule, but hopefully a more elegant fix will be forthcoming.

After NASA nixed the idea of propulsive landing the SuperDracos are there just for the abort system so on missions that go according to plan they wouldn't be used at all. So they'll be looking into whether just going to space means they need to be replaced between missions or not, obviously if the abort system fires they're not reusable but then nobody's going to reuse anything anyway. So it might very well become the permanent solution.

FCC Gives ISPs Another $563 Million To Build Rural-Broadband Networks

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: More than 220,000 unserved rural homes and businesses in 24 states will get broadband access because of funding authorized yesterday by the Federal Communications Commission, the agency said. In all, the FCC authorized more than $563 million for distribution to ISPs over the next decade. It's the latest payout from the commission's Connect America Fund, which was created in 2011. Under program rules, ISPs that receive funding must build out to 40 percent of the required homes and businesses within three years and an additional 20 percent each year until completing the buildout at the end of the sixth year.

The money is being distributed primarily to smaller ISPs in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia. Verizon, which is getting $18.5 million to serve 7,767 homes and businesses in New York, is the biggest home Internet provider on the list. All the ISPs committed to provide speeds of at least 25Mbps downstream and 3Mbps upstream, but many of the funded projects are for higher speeds of 100Mbps/20Mbps or 1Gbps/500Mbps. Speeds promised by each ISP are detailed in the two announcements.

Fool me once, shame on you

By rsilvergun • Score: 3 • Thread
fool me twice, you, you can't, you can't fool me again.

Re: Connect America Fund?

By yeshuawatso • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

So, Verizon only has to reach 40% of the rural population to make $18.5 million, or roughly $6k per customer, plus another $4.5-5mil per year from that 40% while the remaining 60% still can't get access or develop their own networks. Let's not kid ourselves, that 60% wont see a connection. We've seen this game being played before, they'll bring service to a couple of outskirt subdivisions while ignoring those poor schmucks that happen to live 1/2 or more miles between each other, call it coverage, and walk away with the money. It's like the American people who are in the worst positions keep voting against themselves and paying for it 10x over. If the FCC wanted to really get people covered, they'd open the funds up to any contractor willing to lay the groundwork for 100% coverage with payments happening incrementally based on actual completion obligations, but then those FCC board members likely would be unemployed at the next administration change instead of taking jobs back at the same people they were supposed to be regulating.

Didn't we learn the last fucking time?

By Chas • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

All this money does is go into some exec's bonus.
The major ISPs pound their pud a bit until the money's gone.
And NOTHING is ever done.

Okay, but ...

By fahrbot-bot • Score: 3 • Thread
While increased broadband coverage is probably a "good thing" isn't this corporate socialism? And... aren't Republicans against socialism? Or are they for it when it helps companies (like ISPs) and against it when it hurts companies (like health insurance)?

Money going to smaller ISPs?

By Trogre • Score: 3 • Thread

I haven't been keeping up, but is this a rare case of Pai doing something that isn't completely moustache-twiddling evil?

Wall Street Finds Blockchain Hard To Tame After Early Euphoria

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Two years ago Nasdaq and Citigroup announced a new blockchain system they said would make payments of private securities transactions more efficient. Nasdaq Chief Executive Adena Friedman called it "a milestone in the global financial sector." But the companies did not move forward with the project, Reuters reported Tuesday, because while it worked in testing, the cost to fully adopt it outweighed the benefits. From a report: Blockchain, the person added, "is a shiny mirage" and its wide-scale adoption may still "take a while." In a joint statement, the companies said the pilot was successful and they were "happy to partner" on other initiatives. Both companies are also working on other projects. Companies, including banks, large retailers and technology vendors, are investing billions of dollars to find uses for blockchain, a digital ledger used by cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Just last month, Facebook revealed plans for a virtual currency and a blockchain-based payment system. But a review of 33 projects involving large companies announced over the past four years and interviews with more than a dozen executives involved with them show the technology has yet to deliver on its promise.

Surely you're not saying it was all hype

By grasshoppa • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

You can't be seriously suggesting that all the buzz around block chain was merely hype with no substance.

I'm shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you.

Blockchain is a marketing gimmick

By argStyopa • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread

As someone "asked" by management to review how blockchain could be used to improve our supply chain (it was a mercifully brief fad a year or two ago), I quickly came to the conclusion that blockchain is basically nothing more than an answer in search, desperately, of a problem it can solve (with the generous application of $300/ hour consultants, of course.

It's because blockchain isn't a technology

By Rob Cebollero • Score: 3 • Thread

It's an ideology based on the premise that some ill-defined notion called "decentralization" is both inherently superior to "centralization", and more fantastically, can be made perpetually self-sustaining merely by applying layer upon layer of mechanical incentive judo. The technology itself is an implementation detail that attempts to reiffy this simplistic belief system, but never quite succeeds because the problem it attempts to solve (the tendency for the complex feedback loops that form value settlement systems to converge on centralized solutions over time) is not inherently a problem in and of itself, and is ultimately a phenomenon that emerges from instincts that are deeply rooted in human nature.

Blockchainism amounts to a modern-day hermetic belief that competition can be transmuted into cooperation, and like the alchemists and epicyclists before them, the proponents mistakenly believe that success is only a matter of constructing the right apparatus to perform this magnum opus. And likewise again, failures are blamed on insufficiently refined formulas, rather than on insufficiently examined premises.

Western Tech Brands Are Recognized in China, But Their Products Are Rarely Used

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Despite having insignificant market shares and being marginal players in mainland China, western tech giants have a very high brand awareness among Chinese consumers, a market survey published last week revealed. From a report: The survey, which factored in answers from more than 2,000 respondents, showed that for the most part, top western tech companies have established themselves in the consciousness of the Chinese public. The survey, carried out by market research firm Statista, found that Apple had a 91% brand awareness among Chinese users, one percent behind the brand awareness leaders -- local tech firms Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent. However, less than half (48%) of the respondents said they used Apple products, while daily usage for the three top Chinese firms was 74%, 82%, and 82%, respectively. Similar stats were also recorded for four other western tech giants, with consumers being aware of their business, but rarely using their products -- Google (87% brand awareness, 45% consumer usage), Microsoft (86% and 62%), Amazon (82% and 32%), and Facebook (66% and 17%).

48% is "rare"???

By SuperKendall • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

"Western Tech Brands Are Recognized in China, But Their Products Are Rarely Used"...However, less than half (48%) of the respondents said they used Apple products

Wait a second, how is 48% "rare"???

I actually thought the percent of Apple users in China was lower than that, 48% is pretty amazing considering the range of more native options they have in China.

Really interesting that Facebook use is so low there (17%) though that's a lot more expected as they have hyper-advanced social networks there. But that was the lowest one, the others (Google/Amazon) had percentages that didn't seem all that rare either (and again with Amazon, 32% usage is higher than I would have thought).

I thought Google was banned in China.

By AlanObject • Score: 3 • Thread

I can't keep up.

Anyway the article says that Google has a mere 45% "usage rate" whatever that means.

45% of China is more than twice of 100% in the USA. How can they fail so badly?

Microsoft Word Hits 1 Billion Installs on Google Play

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Microsoft Word reached over 1 billion installations on Android over the weekend. Microsoft's flagship document editor is arguably Microsoft's greatest success story on Android. With over 1 billion downloads, Microsoft Word is one of the most used productivity apps on the platform. From a report: Microsoft has continued to push Office on Android along with other apps like Your Phone, Microsoft Edge, and Microsoft Teams. The shift has helped Microsoft stay relevant in the mobile space despite the death of Windows 10 Mobile. Microsoft has similar efforts on iOS in an effort to have its services available to as many users as possible. Some around the web have pointed out that Microsoft Office comes preinstalled on many Android phones in an effort to discount Word's milestone of 1 billion installations. While it is true that Microsoft's Office applications come preinstalled on many devices, the fact that Word recently hit 1 billion installations and other Office apps like Excel have "only" hit 500 million shows that quite a few users have downloaded Word from the Google Play Store.

Beginning of the End for Microsoft?

By mykepredko • Score: 3 • Thread

Microsoft is touting the success of giving away a/the flagship Office Product on another OS (without a competing OS of their own)?

What's the upside for this for Microsoft, other than bragging rights, here? Word compatible text processors have been available from other vendors for years but I always thought that Office was something that Microsoft saw as a revenue stream.

Now that they're giving it away, what is Microsoft's business case?

Re:Beginning of the End for Microsoft?

By Dutch Gun • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I'd presume because the vast majority of Word and other Office documents are created on a PC (which still dominates business), where you still have to pay for MS Office. This is just helping to ensure that it stays dominant by ensuring that those documents can be accessed on mobile devices. They don't want their customers having to look elsewhere for better cross-platform solutions.

I think it's a smart move by Microsoft. I kind of doubt it would have been a big revenue generator on mobile, but if it's free, a lot of people will just install it for the convenience of being able to look at work documents on the go.

Re:Beginning of the End for Microsoft?

By jellomizer • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

By Giving away their flagship Office Product which will only work for 30 days until you pay MS monthly fee, is hardly a bad business move.
While MS has lost the Mobile OS market. Having Android and iOS versions of Office, still really keeps them in the game.

Re:Beginning of the End for Microsoft?

By squiggleslash • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

They're not giving it away.

Word for Android is only free if you use it on a small screen device, I forget the cut-off, but it's so small you wouldn't use it for actually composing Word documents, maybe - at a pinch - making a last minute modification, but mostly you'd use it to preview or access something from your Office 365 account.

For larger screen devices, Word for Android requires an Office 365 subscription.

Also Word for Android sucks. It can't even show embedded fonts, or use fonts outside of a limited list of supported fonts. It doesn't support all the features of Desktop Word. It's literally just a stripped down "good enough" viewer for Word for when you're away from a real computer.

Swiss Group That's Supposed To Oversee Privacy For Libra Says It Hasn't Heard From Facebook At All

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Facebook said on Tuesday that authorities in Switzerland will oversee data and privacy protections of its new cryptocurrency Libra. But the Swiss regulator has yet to be contacted by Facebook, according to a spokesperson. From a report: In his testimony in front of the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday, David Marcus, the head of Facebook's digital currency project Libra, said, "For the purposes of data and privacy protections, the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) will be the Libra Association's privacy regulator." Asked about the agency's role regulating Libra, Hugo Wyler, head of communication at the FDPIC, said in a statement to CNBC: "We have taken note of the statements made by David Marcus, Chief of Calibra, on our potential role as data protection supervisory authority in the Libra context. Until today we have not been contacted by the promoters of Libra," Wyler said. "We expect Facebook or its promoters to provide us with concrete information when the time comes. Only then will we be able to examine the extent to which our legal advisory and supervisory competence is given. In any case, we are following the development of the project in the public debate."

Re:Swiss guy's word choice very un-PC in crypto

By sexconker • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

And for those wondering, "developers" are "programmers", and "programmers" are "that one unemployed kid we hired to fork the other coin we're copying".

Waaaait a second

By rogoshen1 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Reading this it seems to imply that Facebook is not taking privacy seriously? I don't think a company with such a sterling reputation would simply pay lip service to privacy -- would they?

Why does /. keep posting articles with such obvious negative bias towards one of the most innovative companies IN THE WORLD?

House Orders Pentagon To Say if it Weaponized Ticks and Released Them

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The House quietly voted last week to require the Pentagon inspector general to tell Congress whether the department experimented with weaponizing disease-carrying insects and whether they were released into the public realm -- either accidentally or on purpose. From a report: The unusual proposal took the form of an amendment that was adopted by voice vote July 11 during House debate on the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill, which lawmakers passed the following day. The amendment, by New Jersey Republican Christopher H. Smith, says the inspector general "shall conduct a review of whether the Department of Defense experimented with ticks and other insects regarding use as a biological weapon between the years of 1950 and 1975." If the answer is yes, then the IG must provide the House and Senate Armed Services committees with a report on the experiments' scope and "whether any ticks or insects used in such experiments were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design."

Re:So you're back to worrying about deficits, debt

By Archtech • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

You Americans - I just can't decide whether to laugh, cry, or try to forget all about you.

Long ago your "government" was hijacked by corporate criminals.

Yet year after year you persist in arguing which of the two masks the same criminals wear is responsible for your troubles.

Listen: they are all in it together! This is not news. Decades ago, Gore Vidal - sent to you by God as a great prophet, and like all great prophets ignored in his own land - explained it in simple words.

"There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt – until recently and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties".

Nothing important has changed since he wrote that. For anyone who cares, here is a little more detail.

"By directly pitting the predictions of ideal-type theories against each other within a single statistical model (using a unique data set that includes imperfect but useful measures of the key independent variables for nearly two thousand policy issues), we have been able to produce some striking findings. One is the nearly total failure of “median voter” and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy...

"Nor do organized interest groups substitute for direct citizen influence, by embodying citizens’ will and ensuring that their wishes prevail in the fashion postulated by theories of Majoritarian Pluralism. Interest groups do have substantial independent impacts on policy, and a few groups (particularly labor unions) represent average citizens’ views reasonably well. But the interest-group system as a whole does not. Overall, net interest-group alignments are not significantly related to the preferences of average citizens. The net alignments of the most influential, business-oriented groups are negatively related to the average citizen’s wishes...

"What do our findings say about democracy in America? They certainly constitute troubling news for advocates of “populistic” democracy, who want governments to respond primarily or exclusively to the policy preferences of their citizens. In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule—at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it".

- Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens”

We have an Ticknado!

By Joe_Dragon • Score: 3 • Thread

We have an Ticknado!

Re:Illegal Under BWC

By eth1 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

This type of work is illegal under the Biological Weapons Convention ratified by the US.

BWC was signed in 1972, and TFS says they're interested in happenings between 1950 and 1975, so most of what they're looking for wouldn't be covered by it.

Why the date limits ?

By Big Bipper • Score: 3 • Thread
OK can see a rationale for not looking before 1950, but why stop looking after 1975 ? Surely they are more likely to have experimented more recently than 1975 due to the more advanced technology they have available to them today.

They're missing out

By smooth wombat • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Who cares about ticks being weaponized? The real question is, did they cross ebola with the common cold virus? That would be a terrible, terrible thing.

What Caused the 2019 New York Blackout? Infrastructure.

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
On Saturday night in New York City a power outage struck Midtown Manhattan, hitting Hell's Kitchen north to Lincoln Center and from Fifth Avenue west to the Hudson River. The blackout darkened the huge, electric billboards of Times Square, forced Broadway shows to cancel performances, and even disabled some subway lines. But what caused it? From a report: According to reports, the outage was caused by a transformer fire within the affected region. Power was fully restored by early the following morning. [...] Saturday's blackout was most likely caused by a disabled transformer at an area substation. There are at least 50 of those in New York City, which are fed in turn by at least 24, higher-voltage transmission substations. When it comes to power, New York is unusual because of the city's age and the density of its population, both residential and commercial. That produces different risks and consequences. In Atlanta, where I live, storms often down trees, which take out aboveground power lines. In the West, where wildfires are becoming more common, flames frequently dismantle power infrastructure (sometimes the power lines themselves cause the fires). But across the whole of New York City -- not just Manhattan -- more than 80 percent of both customers and the electrical load are serviced by underground distribution from area substations. That makes smaller problems less frequent, but bigger issues more severe.

When a transformer goes down in a populous place like Manhattan, it has a greater impact than it would on Long Island, say, or in Westchester County, where density is lower. The amount of power that central Manhattan uses on a regular basis also contributes to that impact. Times Square, the theater district, hundreds of skyscrapers -- it's a substantial load. In New York's case, supplying that load is not usually the problem. Generating facilities can be located near or far away from where their power is used, and New York City draws power from a couple dozen plants. Some of it is imported from upstate. But much of New York's power is still generated locally, in large part at plants along the waterfront of Queens. Those plants are older, and more susceptible to disruption from local calamities, especially severe weather. When peak demand surges -- most common during heat waves, such as the ones that struck the region in 2006 and 2011 -- the older, less efficient generating stations have a harder time keeping up, and brownouts or blackouts become more likely.

[...] But new risks associated with climate change, cyberwarfare, and other factors haven't necessarily been accounted for in the design and operation of utility infrastructure. The perils build on one another. Climate change amplifies the frequency of heat waves, which increases electrical load, which puts greater pressure on infrastructure. At the same time, it increases the likelihood of superstorms that can cause flooding, fire, and other disasters that might disrupt nodes in the network. When utility operators designed their equipment years or decades ago, they made assumptions about load, storm surge, and other factors. Those estimates might no longer apply.

What a dumb headline.

By Known Nutter • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Of course it was infrastructure. What else would it be? Unicorns? Whether it was physical externally derived damage like conductor damage, vermin in some switchgear, or system derived failure, like protective relay failures resulting in a transformer overload going unprotected resulting in spectacular fire, or human intervention either intentional or accidental, it will always be the in infrastructure that has failed in some manner.

There was a WSJ article yesterday that indicated that the protective relays on the circuit failed to function which probably led to the transformer fire. But I'm sure glad the article throws in the climate change tripe for good measure. The subject is totally irrelevant in this incident.

A power outage struck Hell's Kitchen?

By DontBeAMoran • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

On Saturday night in New York City a power outage struck Midtown Manhattan, hitting Hell's Kitchen.

I bet Gordon Ramsay was pissed.

Re:A power outage struck Hell's Kitchen?

By Patent Lover • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

I bet Gordon Ramsay was pissed.

Has he ever not been pissed?

Re: But what caused it?

By bobbied • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

That transformer fire may have been the first problem. But what caused the widespread aspect of the blackout were overly-sensitive protection circuits that, ironically, are supposed to prevent the spread of the problem to other areas. At least, that is what ConEd said last night.

And this is correct. Blackouts are not usually caused by a lack of generation capacity in the system, but by an imbalance in how the power is moving around in the system. The problem with the control systems is that this is NOT something you can monitor and decide (in real time) how to manage, especially when the system has transmission resources which are heavily loaded start going offline. It's not usually the initial failure, but the cascading series of events caused by the flow of power overloading transmission resources around the original failure that causes the outages to spread. More and more transmission resources overload and snap offline, putting more and more customers in the dark.

The solution is expensive, but simple. You build out extra capacity in all your transmission and generating resources. You design a system where the failure of any one resource cannot lead to a cascading failure, by adding margin to everything and never operating above that margin on a regular basis. This is easy to describe, but hard to do. We expect our electric utilities to deliver power at low cost and high reliability. We complain about our electric bills, but don't bat an eye when cranking up the HVAC equipment, drying our clothes and cooking on electric stoves or taking hot showers heated by electricity. We squeeze profits out of the system by our political views and competition all the while forcing transmission companies to be more efficient, push their design margins lower until something bad happens like this.

A VERY High Standard

By Thelasko • Score: 3 • Thread
What's the uptime of the NYC electrical grid? I bet it's greater than 99.9%? It's so good, people take it for granted. Frankly, it's amazing that a system that old and complex can achieve that level of reliability.

By all means, figure out what went wrong and make improvements. But this falls into the category of commercial airline fatalities. So rare, it's a big deal when it happens.

More States Are Hiding 911 Recordings From Families, Lawyers and the General Public

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Rhode Island is one of about a dozen states that prohibit the release of 911 recordings or transcripts without the written consent of the caller or by court order. The goal generally is to protect the privacy of callers in what may be one of the most stressful moments of their lives. From a report: But Rhode Island's restrictive law also keeps families in the dark about how the state's 911 system has responded to calls involving their loved ones, and it has left the public oblivious to troubling gaps in how the system is performing, according to an investigation by The Public's Radio and ProPublica. In March, the news organizations reported on the 2018 death of a 6-month-old baby in Warwick after a Rhode Island 911 call taker failed to give CPR instructions to the family. The lapse came to light after a family member who took part in the 911 call requested a copy of the recording.

In June, the news organizations reported on the death of Rena Fleury, a 45-year-old woman who collapsed while watching her son's high school football game in Cumberland last year. Four unidentified bystanders called 911. But none of the 911 call takers recognized that Fleury was in cardiac arrest. And none of them instructed the callers to perform CPR. The 911 recordings for Fleury were never made public. An emergency physician who treated Fleury testified about what happened during a state House committee hearing in March. Across the country, recordings of 911 calls for accidents, medical emergencies, mass shootings and natural disasters have provided insight into the workings of public safety systems and, in some cases, revealed critical failings.

Not sure why they would

By Shaitan • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

As a rule 911 shouldn't be instructing people who aren't trained to perform CPR to do so. Most of the time it is more likely to result in injury even if done correctly and shouldn't be attempted by someone who isn't properly trained. Also, it opens the individual up to liability for that injury in many states. Of course the liability issue is worse for trained medical professionals, in many cases a doctor is both obligated to help by ethics rules AND liable for anything that goes wrong. People attempting to save someone's life or help in an emergency should be immune to liability for their efforts imho but not every state legislature agrees.

Maybe a 911 calling app

By Rockoon • Score: 3 • Thread
If you had an "emergency app" that called 911 but also recorded the calls locally... then your family members would have less of a problem discovering what went down during your 911 call before you died.

911 Calls Shoudln't be Public

By jwhyche • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Outside of evidence in court I can't see any reason for a 911 calls to ever be made public. Most of them are pretty routine calls, and the others can be pretty significant. The live recording of someone being murdered or something of the like. Other than in court I don't see any reason this information needs to be public where some fucktard can post it to youtube for the family of the victims to come across over and over.

Note to self, add fucktard to user dictionary. You have been using it a lot.