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.

Earth's Crust Is Shaking Less After Coronavirus Lockdowns

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
CNN reports: Around the world, seismologists are observing a lot less ambient seismic noise -- meaning, the vibrations generated by cars, trains, buses and people going about their daily lives. And in the absence of that noise, Earth's upper crust is moving just a little less.

Thomas Lecocq, a geologist and seismologist at the Royal Observatory in Belgium, first pointed out this phenomenon in Brussels. Brussels is seeing about a 30% to 50% reduction in ambient seismic noise since mid-March, around the time the country started implementing school and business closures and other social distancing measures, according to Lecocq. That noise level is on par with what seismologists would see on Christmas Day, he said. The reduction in noise has had a particularly interesting effect in Brussels: Lecocq and other seismologists are able to detect smaller earthquakes and other seismic events that certain seismic stations wouldn't have registered....

Paula Koelemeijer posted a graph on Twitter showing how noise in West London has been affected, with drops in the period after schools and social venues in the United Kingdom closed and again after a government lockdown was announced. Celeste Labedz, a PhD student at the California Institute of Technology, posted a graph showing an especially stark drop in Los Angeles.

The Belgian seismologist told CNN that the results suggested an inspiring message for humankind. "You feel like you're alone at home, but we can tell you that everyone is home. Everyone is doing the same. Everyone is respecting the rules."

Edge Overtakes Firefox To Become the Second-Most Popular Browser

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo quotes Softpedia: It was probably just a matter of time, but the thing so many people, including everyone at Microsoft, expected finally happened: Microsoft Edge surpassed Mozilla Firefox to become the world's second most-used desktop browser. Data provided by market analysis firm NetMarketShare reveals that the whole thing happened in March, when the adoption of the Chromium-powered Microsoft Edge improved to a level that allowed it to overtake Mozilla's own browser.

So right now, Microsoft Edge is the second most-used desktop browser on the planet with a share of 7.59%, while Mozilla Firefox is now third with 7.19%.

As for who's leading the pack, Google Chrome continues to be number one with a share of 68.50%.

I still use FF

By goose-incarnated • Score: 3 • Thread

I remember when FF was king, with 75%+ marketshare.

Of course that was well before they decided to sacrifice themselves on the alter of social justice. People can be such slow learners.

No context

By laffer1 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Without comparing it to previous data, this isn't very useful. Did Mozilla lose market share? Did Google? Where did the users come from?

At the end of the day, half the browsers on that list are all Chromium based. Google owns the web.

Edge improved to a level that allowed it...

By QuietLagoon • Score: 3 • Thread
I'm not convinced it was the "improvement" of Edge, as much as it might be the increasing user-base of Windows 10 and Microsoft's heavy-handed promotion (yes, let's call it "promotion") of Edge. That said, hopefully at some point in the near future, Mozilla developers will once again find their compass for Firefox (and Thunderbird) and, among other things, stop changing the plug-in API so frequently.

Stanford Begins America's First Large-Scale Test For Coronavirus Antibodies

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Crowds flock to Santa Clara County test sites to learn if they have antibodies to COVID-19," reports the Bay Area Newsgroup, citing long lines of cars forming at three Stanford research sites for the drive-through tests: The 2,500 test slots on Friday and Saturday filled up within hours, as news of the project -- the first large scale study of its type in the U.S. -- spread quickly through the county. The test detects protective antibodies to the virus rather than the virus itself. This gives scientists a snapshot of how many people in the county have already been infected, but weren't seriously sick and didn't realize it. And it tells residents whether they carry potentially protective antibodies -- so may be immune to future infection. "This is critical information," said principal investigator Dr. Eran Bendavid, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine with Stanford Health Policy.

"We will show the country what to do and how to do it," he said... It can guide public health measures and policies -- showing where the epidemic is heading, when it is safe to lift shelter-in-place restrictions and how far away we are from "herd immunity," when it becomes harder for a virus to spread...

This approach, called a "serological test," remains a research tool and is not yet widely available in the United States. Stanford is working on a second test that will be deployed for more widespread use. U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval is imminent -- "within hours, not days," [California governor] Newsom said.... Meanwhile, a global effort to study antibodies is being coordinated by the World Health Organization. Called Solidarity II, more than a half dozen countries will pool their findings from large-scale testing...

It is not yet proven that these antibodies actually provide protection... But there are promising clues that COVID-19 might act like it's closest cousin, the SARS virus, which triggers an immune response that persists for at least three years. In a Chinese study of rhesus monkeys, COVID-19 antibodies protected the animals from a second infection.

If protected, people could potentially return to work. There is also the prospect that the antibodies could be used as therapy against the disease. Dozens of companies are working to develop antibody tests, as are researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The article notes that United Biomedical Inc will "soon" also provide free antibody testing to all 8,000 residents in Telluride, Colorado, and in some countries in Asia.

finally some better news

By e**(i pi)-1 • Score: 3 • Thread
Very good. It should be clear by now, that science is the best hope will save us from this mess. Large scale testing for anti-bodies will help to bring back some normality. There are still too many unknowns and knowing how many actually have been exposed will help. Would be nice if one could use this immediately also in other parts of the country and the world.

Re:So this is not a random sample?

By backslashdot • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

You statement is mostly false. It was advertised in different areas using multiple methods. While there should be some bias inevitably its wrong to say it's meaningless -- especially when you can account for those biases (you must answer a survey before you show up). Actually much of the WHO population seroprevalence survey protocols/guidelines were followed.

Other results

By alvinrod • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
There was some testing done in Iceland that found about half of people who had the virus were asymptomatic. This was based on a decent sized sample of their population as well. I wouldn't be surprised if we have a significantly higher number of people with this than we've anticipated.

The more interesting question is what factors are resulting in some people having almost no symptoms and not becoming ill at all and those who seem to be heavily affected. Although it's mainly the elderly that are dying or becoming seriously ill, there have been several cases where young, seemingly healthy individuals have died.

What It's Like To Attend a Conference -- in Person -- in the Age of Covid-19?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
What happens when no one shows up for a tech conference?

Fast Company's technology editor harrymcc writes: From Apple to Microsoft to Google, major tech companies have responded to the coronavirus crisis by either canceling their 2020 conference or making them purely virtual. But one well-established event — Vancouver's CanSecWest — went ahead earlier this month, with streaming as an option but not mandatory. Only three attendees showed up in the flesh. But so did security reporter Seth Rosenblatt, who wrote about the eerie experience for Fast Company.
They were outnumbed by the six staffers at the event -- "there to run the online component" -- but the article notes that the conference's organizer and founder promised all attendees "infrared body temperature checks, on-site coronavirus testing, ample supplies of disposable face masks and hand sanitizer, and restrictions on physical contact and interaction..."

"Empty hallways and escalators echoed with every footstep, and it smelled empty, the ventilation system circulating unused air. At the conference registration desk, I was offered a disposable surgical face mask and gloves."

Could Radioactivity Make Otherwise Frozen Planets Habitable?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
sciencehabit writes: Not too close, but not too far. That's long been the rule describing how distant a planet should be from its star in order to sustain life. But a new study challenges that adage: A planet can maintain water and other liquids on its surface if it's heated, not by starlight, but by radioactive decay, researchers calculate. That opens up the possibility for many planets — even free-floating worlds untethered to stars — to host life, they speculate.

Yes, Friend Giskard.

By Mr. Dollar Ton • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

It very well could. Old Earth is hot on the inside mostly because of radioactive decay.

How To Get To Net Zero Carbon Emissions: Cut Short-Lived Superpollutants

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Dan Drollette writes: We absolutely, positively, must tackle climate change speedily. Or as the authors of this article put it: 'By 'speed,' we mean measures — including regulatory ones — that can begin within two-to-three years, be substantially implemented in five-to-10 years, and produce a climate response within the next decade or two.' (Quick aside: one of the authors, Mario Molina, won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1995, for his work on holes in the ozone layer.)
From the article: Rapid warming over the near term threatens to accelerate self-reinforcing feedbacks in which the planet starts to warm itself in a Hothouse Earth scenario — vicious cycles which could lead to uncontrollable warming as these feedback mechanisms become the dominant force regulating the climate system. These feedbacks would then set off a domino-like cascade that triggers tipping points in the Arctic and elsewhere, many of them irreversible and potentially catastrophic.


By JeffOwl • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
While I am not a boomer, I work with plenty of them who have no issue with work from home and in fact do work from home at every opportunity. How about we stop grouping people and putting labels on them based on attributes that have zero or only loose correlation to the topic at hand? Or you can continue to wallow in your ignorance and closed mindedness. Boomers don't all share the same views, just like not all young people eat Tide Pods, Do the Skull Cracker challenge, and go to crowded parties during the outbreak.

Positive Feedback

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

It will just get hotter and hotter like a perpetual motion machine. That's how things work, right?

Because climate isn't a system that tends toward equilibrium. It's some sort of wacky positive feedback system that's always at extreme cold or extreme hot and swings wildly between the two in short time periods. That's an accurate description, right?

Why do you guys believe this stuff?

Re:We're not going to do anything about it

By alvinrod • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Centrally planned economies have such a great track record. I suppose they do limit climate change in that they're so terribly ineffective that don't produce as much. If the types of jobs that Bernie were proposing were viable, the private sector would already be rushing to provide them. But every job that gets created by some make-work federal program is one job that can't be filled elsewhere and no doubt needs to be supported by all of the other productive jobs that people are willing to pay to support without coercion.

If you really want to fight climate change create economic incentive to do so. Give companies tax breaks for lowering energy use or for any inventions which result in less pollution or fewer emissions. Implement a market-based system for pollutants so that inefficient industries and processes are replaced faster, just like we did with sulfur dioxide to reduce acid rain.

I think it really says something about how bad Bernie's policies are when the Democrats would rather get behind someone with dementia or some other form of severe cognitive decline. I'll gladly take the trashy neo-liberals pissing into the wind over the Marxists huffing their own farts.


By rsilvergun • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
who said anything about centrally planed economies? FDR did a jobs program. Did that turn the US into a dictatorship?

And no, these would _not_ be make work jobs. Do you have any bloody idea how much work it's going to take in order to get America off fossil fuels as our primary source of energy and onto renewables? It's not just building out wind and solar + batteries. We've got to transform our buildings to be more energy efficient. Same for our cars. And we're gonna screw it up because it's complicated. Meaning yes, a lot of money is going to be wasted and we're going to have to change gears a lot. This is bigger than WWI & II combined for God's sake. It's _hard_.

Tax breaks do nothing for the reasons I gave above. Voters won't push to have them actually enforced out of fear of losing their jobs if they are. The phrase "Job Killing Regulations" is powerful to somebody with $400 in the bank.

As for why the DNC is fighting Bernie they're corrupt. They've been bought out by billionaires. Go look into the election. 7 hour waits at the polls. Biden won every district in Texas where there isn't a paper trail. And the exit polls were off 8-11%. They cheated.

Bernie let them cheat because he will do anything to prevent Trump from being re-elected. Trump's DOJ is going to bring a challenge to the ACA that will strike it down and it is clear Trump has no plan to replace it. Hope you or your family don't have any pre-existing conditions....


By sbjornda • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Exactly this:

bosses who think we won't do any work if not constantly under the threat of them happening to walk by

Too many bosses are ignorant of "Theory X" vs "Theory Y" management styles. Either they never learned it, or it was one of those things they learned in the classroom that they decided to forget after the final exam because "when will I ever need to know that in real life?"

Douglas McGregor articulated this in the 1960s as a binary approach to managing staff: Under "Theory X" one assumes that all employees will tend to be like Wally in the Dilbert comics, trying to avoid real work as much as possible. Under "Theory Y" one assumes that the majority of employees care about their work and, unless their manager is a jerk, are glad to be part of a team that is producing something useful. Managers that adhere to "Theory X" are almost impossible to shift out of their framework. Some of them are undoubtedly projecting their own inner attitude onto their staff and will not entertain the idea that their sourness isn't universal. To shift someone to "Theory Y" requires that they change a fundamental philosophy about people, and that's hard to do (it's one of those situations where evidence alone is not enough to convince a person to change).

In all of my years of trying to convince senior managers to allow my staff to work from home, even in carefully structured settings, most of the senior managers I encountered simply did not trust staff to do their best work unless there was a risk of a manager physically dropping by to check up on them. Paternalism at its worst, and deflating to morale amongst a team of well educated professionals with a proven track record.

I hope the next few months will bring some re-evaluation, but I think those who are stuck in "Theory X" will not be moved even by whatever data we can capture during this time.


Why Taiwan's Coronavirus Response Is Among The Best Globally

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Why does Taiwan have less than 400 confirmed cases of Covid-19? Taiwan's experience with the 2003 SARS outbreak "helped many parts of the region react faster to the current coronavirus outbreak and take the danger more seriously than in other parts of the world," reports CNN, "both at a governmental and societal level, with border controls and the wearing of face masks quickly becoming routine as early as January in many areas."

Their article also notes that Taiwan "has a world-class health care system, with universal coverage," which drew praise in new report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: "Taiwan rapidly produced and implemented a list of at least 124 action items in the past five weeks to protect public health," report co-author Jason Wang, a Taiwanese doctor and associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford Medicine, said in a statement. "The policies and actions go beyond border control because they recognized that that wasn't enough." This was while other countries were still debating whether to take action. In a study conducted in January, Johns Hopkins University said Taiwan was one of the most at-risk areas outside of mainland China -- owing to its close proximity, ties and transport links.

Among those early decisive measures was the decision to ban travel from many parts of China, stop cruise ships docking at the island's ports, and introduce strict punishments for anyone found breaching home quarantine orders. In addition, Taiwanese officials also moved to ramp up domestic face-mask production to ensure the local supply, rolled out island-wide testing for coronavirus -- including re-testing people who had previously unexplained pneumonia -- and announced new punishments for spreading disinformation about the virus.

"Given the continual spread of Covid-19 around the world, understanding the action items that were implemented quickly in Taiwan, and the effectiveness of these actions in preventing a large-scale epidemic, may be instructive for other countries," Wang and his co-authors wrote.... Taiwan is in such a strong position now that, after weeks of banning the export of face masks in order to ensure the domestic supply, the government said Wednesday that it would donate 10 million masks to the United States, Italy, Spain and nine other European countries, as well as smaller nations who have diplomatic ties with the island.


By Rei • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

It's not curious at all. We have an insanely high testing rate here. Highest in the world unless you count the Faroes as separate from Denmark. The more you test, the more mild or asymptomatic cases you find. Hence a lower CFR.

We also - unlikely the vast majority of countries - test people with no symptoms, to in effect random sample the population. The conclusion that even with our extensive testing regime, about 3x as many people have the disease as are caught through normal testing approaches. So the actual fatality rate is several times lower than that. In other countries, you can expect it to be 1-2 orders of magnitude more people infected than are formally diagnosed.

The disease is played out in Italy's red zone (other parts of Italy, however, likely still have more to go). The first antibody study was concluded in the red-zone town of Castiglione d'Adda, and found that 70% of people in the city now have antibodies to the disease (60% had thought they had never been infected). The reason Iceland doesn't have the mortality rate of Italy is simply that we're nowhere near as infected. Of course, how effectively we've flattened the curve means that there's still plenty more ahead. We haven't completed antibody studies yet, so we don't know what percentage of the population has ever been infected, but the random sampling studies show that we're holding steady at about 0,5% of the population having an active infection at any point in time.


By Rei • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The main thing, BTW, that helped us quickly develop testing capacity was deCODE Genetics / Íslenska Erfðagreining. They exist to do whole-population genetic studies of Iceland, to help identify genetic risk factors for diseases, drug interactions, etc. They were repurposed for the fight against COVID-19.

Funnily enough, for a while, the main limitation to how many tests we could run had nothing to do with trained personnel, hardware, reagents, etc. It was, of all things, a shortage of swabs. Another company turned out to have 100k of a different type of swab in storage, but they failed in testing. The hospital's engineering department was working to find a way to repurpose them when they found a big box of proper swabs in storage that had been mislabeled, which allowed them to continue full-steam until the next shipment arrived. They're now opening new testing centres out in the smaller towns in the countryside.

seen this before

By acdc_rules • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
just read an interesting workshop article... here's a nugget: "China’s capacity to effectively prevent and contain future infectious disease outbreaks remains uncertain. Prevention and control programs are still troubled by problems in agenda-setting, policy making, and implementation which, in turn, can be attributed to its political system. A healthier China therefore demands some fundamental changes in the political system." BTW, this is about the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic. So essentially, no change in 20 years. How they have been dealing with this might even be worse than before. Taiwan must have learned something from their experiences in the past unlike the rest of the globe. i don't think it is any coincidence that Taiwan is not exactly friendly with China, and they have a best case outcome.


By Rei • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Another neat thing we learned from the random sampling study: half of all new infections at present are now occurring in people who were already in preemptive quarantine. So we know that our case tracking and quarantine policy is having a big impact on the disease. That right there is halving of the disease's R0 - not counting all other anti-transmission measures we're taking.

It IMHO seems to be almost epidemiological malpractice that other countries aren't random sampling their population for the disease. I mean, I know that tests are in short supply most places, but at least allocate some fraction. If only for the reason that it also prevents you from getting undetected pockets that fester and grow for weeks or months until they become huge problems.

It's good that they were well prepared

By rsilvergun • Score: 3 • Thread
but I'm wary of this becoming the 'new normal'. e.g. every couple years we all have to go out in masks and an extra 1-3% die while the economy nose dives from folks avoiding crowds.

Epidemiologists know what needs to be done to stop this. They've been shouting it to anyone who'd listen, which sadly was only other epidemiologists.

Spend several billion on general purpose vaccine research. Regulate human and animal interaction more (no, bat soup didn't cause the virus, but the poor sanitary conditions of the web markets might have, and China isn't the only country with Wet Markets). Universal Healthcare so folks can go to the doctor when they're sick before they get everybody else sick. More national stock piles, even if medical supply companies don't like it. And stop using "Just in Time" business models with hospitals. They need more capacity.

Doing the above would require a sea change in national and perhaps global politics. It would mean pulling back from decades of Austerity and raising taxes on the wealthy. That means changing who we vote for and how we vote.

Coronavirus: Could Etsy Help Save the World?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Long-time Slashdot reader theodp writes: With the CDC now recommending wearing cloth face coverings in public settings, Etsy has called in the cavalry, encouraging additional sellers on its platform to start creating and offering face masks to help meet an already significant demand for fabric face masks. "We believe that the Etsy community is uniquely positioned to address this crucial need during a global health crisis," Etsy CEO Josh Silverman said in a statement. "We hope that increasing the availability of fabric, non-medical grade face masks from Etsy sellers will allow more medical and surgical masks to reach the people who need them most: front-line health care workers."

Many, many people working for free on this

By SuperKendall • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

While there may be an army of Etsy people selling masks, there is also a huge army of people with sewing machines and fabric that are producing masks for free and donating them to healthcare workers.

My wife is a quilter normally and has, as do all quilters, a massive stockpile of fabric. Quilting fabric is cotton, but is even better than normal fabric as higher quality quilting fabric has a tighter weave (especially batik fabrics) - plus people who sew a lot do not have issues following somewhat more complex instructions involving pleats (folds) and producing better masks.

It was kind of funny in early days seeing absurd requirements from some health care orgs around masks - one wanted masks to be made out of denim, which almost no people have as loose fabric, and furthermore almost no-one has machinery to sew (you can maybe sew through one layer of denim OK on most home sewing machines, but any designs with pleats will tear up anything not industrial).

Now, they are saying to send whatever masks people can make as they realize the utility and quality of what home sewers can provide... all without buying anything. You can find groups online for a local area that re-distribute collected masks to whoever needs them.

Why not?

By h33t l4x0r • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
According to Dr. Bonespurs, all we need is a scarf. Thanks, Etsy!


By nospam007 • Score: 3 • Thread

Hermes-Scarfs claim the same thing.

Attack Campaign Hits Thousands of MS-SQL Servers For Two Years

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"In December, security researchers noticed an uptick in brute-force attacks against publicly exposed Microsoft SQL servers," reports CSOnline.

"It turns out the attacks go as far back as May 2018 and infect on average a couple thousand database servers every day with remote access Trojans and cryptominers."

Slashdot reader itwbennett writes: While the primary goal of the attack seems to be cryptocurrency mining, "what makes these database servers appealing for attackers apart from their valuable CPU power is the huge amount of data they hold," say researchers from Guardicore who investigated the attacks. The researchers also note that most machines (60%) stay infected only briefly, but "almost 20% of all breached servers remained infected for more than a week and even longer than two weeks," and 10% become reinfected...

[T]he attackers aggressively remove malware from competitors from targeted machines.

Many of the infected machines are located in America, India, South Korea, and Turkey, according to the article, which adds that the researchers traced the campaign back to China.

"The scans and attacks originate from Chinese IP addresses -- likely associated with infected and hijacked machines -- and the command-and-control servers are also hosted in China and use Chinese language for their web-based management interfaces."

IBM is Deploying Its Watson AI to Help Governments Answer People's Covid-19 Questions

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Digital Trends reports: IBM's question-answering Watson A.I. is most famous for whooping the butt of human champions on quiz show Jeopardy. Now, IBM has repurposed its famous creation to help government agencies, health care organizations, and academic institutions around the world cope with the massive overload of questions that citizens have about the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the first time that Watson has been used to help in a pandemic scenario.

A coronavirus-focused version of the Watson A.I. has been called into service as a virtual agent in places including Arkansas, California, Georgia, New York, and Texas in the United States, as well as the Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Spain and U.K. It is capable of answering locally relevant questions, ranging from those about coronavirus symptoms and testing specifics to queries on things like social distancing. These consistent and accurate responses can be provided to citizens via voice calls or text chat...

Watson Assistant for Citizens pulls data from a range of external sources — local, national, and international.

Digital Trends got an interesting response from one consultant at IBM Watson Health who's an expert on digital health for the World Health Organization. "Our team is currently adding responses to psychological questions, by which a virtual nurse can help people to deal with their fears and emotional problems and provide comfort to them in these times."

ah yes, finally.

By nimbius • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
The company whos last major achievement was a game show robot, and whos existence is widely speculated to be quietly folding into Redhat, deploys its advanced mainframe based AI supercomputer not to fold Covid proteins, not to develop a vaccine, not to run economic models for things like UBI or a permanent increase in unemployment, but to help the US government explain simple things like hand washing. A few other questions its probably going to run into along the way include:
-Why is US healthcare despite costing more than any other global healthcare consistently ranked no better than a third-world country
-What did the president do for a month instead of responding to this issue in february
- Why do congress members get away with insider trading but cooking show hosts dont?
- Why did we bail out airlines and not nationalize them or ask them to make any real concessions for customers whatsoever?
- Is Jared Kushners sum total of meaningful knowledge related to the outbreak limited to the space on a post it note passed to him by a presidents aid?

The Story of The Doctor Who Ordered America's First Covid-19 Lockdown

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Long-time Slashdot reader bsharma shared the story of doctor/public health officer who "went first," ordering America's very first coronavirus lockdown in six counties on March 16th after the identification of only the 7th known case of Covid-19 in the United States.

The Bay Area Newsgroup reports that on January 31st, Cody's cellphone rang at 6:49 a.m. "You've got your first positive," the voice said. Right then, Cody — Santa Clara County's Public Health Officer since 2013 — was positive that even by Silicon Valley standards, life as we know it here was about to change....

Back in the early 2000s, with the country on edge after 9/11, Cody, Karen Smith and Marty Fenstersheib led the health department's effort to build Santa Clara County's model for a massive, coordinated emergency response to a bioterrorism attack or pandemic that included social distancing, shutting schools and the most extreme, mandating that people stay home. It's the one they would turn to this month to slow the untraceable path of this new disease known as COVID-19. "None of us really believed we would do it," Smith, 63, said in a recent interview. "I was slightly terrified to think we were putting in place stay-at-home orders, tools that we think work but don't really know...."

Through the years, Cody has learned that public health officers never have all the information they need and are always operating with uncertainty. But the stakes are so much higher now. The second confirmed case of coronavirus in the county came 48 hours after the first; both were travelers from China. But the criteria for sending swabs for testing to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta was so stringent and the bottleneck for test results so long, that the county was left hamstrung trying to figure out how big of a problem it really had. Not until nearly a month later, on Feb. 28, two days after the county was finally given authorization to use its own lab and judgment for testing, was the third "positive" confirmed.

It would be a "sentinel case" — a turning point for the virus' spread across the Bay Area — a woman in her 60s with other health conditions. Unlike the first two, this was a clear case of "community transmission," meaning the woman had become infected somewhere in our community, with no clear connection to a traveler. "In very short order," Cody said, "it became apparent we needed to start scaling up fast...." By March 9, the sick woman in her 60s — the sentinel case — had died, and 43 cases had been confirmed, the highest of any county in California. Santa Clara County would now be branded across the country as a coronavirus "hot zone...."

"It was clear to me already how quickly it was moving, and that's what gave me a sense of urgency," Cody said. "We just needed to embrace the risk and do it."

"I recognize that this is unprecedented," Cody said in announcing the lockdown. "But we must come together to do this and we know we need a regional response... We must all do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19."

A professor of epidemiology at the University of California San Francisco has told the same newspaper "That's going to turn out to be — if all goes well and I'm reading the tea leaves right — one of the major public health triumphs of modern times." That article reports that while California had roughly the same number of cases as New York in the first week of March, "by the end of the month, New York had 75,795 cases while California had a tenth of that — 7,482."

An infectious disease doctor (and associate executive director with Permanente Medical Group) also told Politico Tuesday that at Kaiser Permanente hospitals across Northern California, they're "seeing a leveling off of Covid-19 cases in our hospitals." And one writer even quoted an emergency room doctor at the UCSF hospital who said last weekend they'd seen less than half the normal number of emergency room patients, and "My colleagues at Stanford, as well as at other facilities in San Francisco report much of the same conditions in their hospitals...

"It seems very likely, that the 'shelter in place' policy has had a significant, positive effect on containing the spread of COVID-19 in the Bay Area."


By AHuxley • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore. Nations that got ready really and tried to tell the world.
Nations that got testing early and who actually tested their tests.
Nations with stockpiles of civilian use masks.
Part of the world who kept their stockpiles ready rather than not buying new, not knowing how to read an expiry date.
Nations that did not just remove their medial stockpile for political resins and never replace the masks and other personal protective equipment.
The news is of "March 16th"... nations had been in the news weeks before that getting ready....

Ohio's Republican Governor

By kbahey • Score: 3 • Thread

Ohio's governor also acted early. He listened to expert advice from specialists, and too action.

Refreshing to see, specially from a Republican.

Re:Ohio's Republican Governor

By UnknowingFool • Score: 4 • Thread
As opposed to other governors: "What we've been telling people from directives from the CDC for weeks now that if you start feeling bad stay home, those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad. But we didn't know that until the last 24 hours," said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican. This was on April 1. Not Feb 1 or March 1. April 1. And it wasn't an April Fool's joke.

Re:Impossible Numbers

By SnowZero • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I don't think most countries are at the optimal place in the tradeoff, but to pretend there is no tradeoff whatsoever (as many in the media are doing) is exceedingly naive.

One of the researchers in that article estimated that 20% unemployment could cause 48 million years of life lost. The US life expectancy is ~80 and the mean Covid-19 death is ~60, so each covid death is ~20 years of life lost. So the 48 million years would correspond to 2.4 million Covid-19 deaths. Now of course these are all projections from models and you can question that researcher's assumptions and methods. There's a real discussion to be had though.

Re:Death numbers.

By khchung • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

I want to know where you are getting your numbers for South Korea.

You quote early March figures for discussion in April? Look at the up to date numbers.

As of writing, 10,237 cases, 183 deaths, 6,463 recovered.

Low estimate: deaths / cases = ~1.79%
High estimate: deaths / recovered = ~2.83%, I rounded up to 3.

In any case, there is no way 1% was overstated.

U.S. Government: Update Chrome 80 Now, Multiple Security Concerns Confirmed

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Part of America's Department of Homeland Security, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) "has advised users to update Google Chrome as new high-rated security vulnerabilities have been found," reports Forbes: In an April 1 posting, CISA confirmed that Google Chrome version 80.0.3987.162 "addresses vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit to take control of an affected system," be that Windows, Mac or Linux. It went on to state that it "encourages" users and administrators to apply the update. It's not just CISA that is warning about the need to update Google Chrome. The Center for Internet Security (CIS) is a non-profit entity that works to safeguard both private and public organizations against cyber threats. In a multi-state information sharing and analysis center (MS-ISAC) advisory, it has also warned of multiple vulnerabilities in Google Chrome.

The most severe of these could allow an attacker to achieve arbitrary code execution within the context of the browser... All it would take for an attacker to exploit the vulnerabilities is to get the user to visit, by way of a phishing attack or even redirection from a compromised site, a maliciously crafted web page.

Beside three high-rated vulnerabilities, Forbes reports that "a further five security vulnerabilities were discovered by the Google internal security team using a combination of internal audits and fuzzing."

Chrome? Who uses that?

By NewtonsLaw • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread

I started with Netscape Navigator 1.0 (way back in the day) and I've stuck with it all the way through to the latest version of Firefox.

Yeah, it got really bad for a while but I dodged all the Internet Explorer crap and now I'm dodging the Chrome crap.

Firefox is far from perfect but it works for me.

Re:Chrome? Who uses that?

By williamyf • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Lucky you, but a big percentage of users, both PC (desktop/lptop) and mobile (celphone/tablet) use chrome. Meanwhile, firefox (ESR, which is what I use both in my mac and in my phone) is used by a rather minuscule % of the users.

So, is quite important for chrome to fix those security vulnerabilities. And is not like firefox is hack-proof. It has had its fair share of security vulnerabilities... so....


By funky_vibes • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

The glaring concern is that javascript is still active by default.

Which cripling bugs introduced in the new version?

By WoodstockJeff • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The problem with updating nowadays is that it really doesn't reduce the number of dangerous bugs, since none of the vendors can manage to avoid introducing new, under-tested "features" with each bug fix release.

When were this particular vulnerabilities put in the code base? Why was the code they were in introduced into Chrome? Was that code to fix something, or to add something?

Re:Chrome? Who uses that?

By markdavis • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

>"Lucky you, but a big percentage of users, both PC (desktop/lptop) and mobile (celphone/tablet) use chrome. Meanwhile, firefox (ESR, which is what I use both in my mac and in my phone) is used by a rather minuscule % of the users."

And thus, the extreme danger of a browser monoculture; one of many, actually. It is up to geeks like us to encourage existence and use of alternatives. And since many bugs could be in the core, and almost all browsers now are actually just Chrome-in-disguise, Firefox is about the only alternative left.

What's New in Linux 5.6? WireGuard VPN and USB4

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Linux 5.6 "has a bit more changes than I'd like," Linus Torvalds posted on the kernel mailing list, "but they are mostly from davem's networking fixes pulls, and David feels comfy with them. And I looked over the diff, and none of it looks scary..." TechRadar reports that the new changes include support for USB4 and GeForce RTX 2000 series graphics cards with the Nouveau driver: Yes, Turing GPU support has arrived with the open source Nouveau driver, along with the proprietary firmware images, as reports. However, don't get too excited, as re-clocking doesn't work yet (getting the GPU to operate at stock clocks), and other important pieces of the puzzle are missing (like no Vulkan support with Nouveau). For the unfamiliar, Nouveau is an alternative to Nvidia's proprietary drivers on Linux, and although it remains in a relatively rough state in comparison, it's still good to see things progressing for Linux gamers with one of Nvidia's latest cards in their PC.

Linux 5.6 also introduces fresh elements on the AMD front, with better reset support for Navi and Renoir graphics cards (which helps the GPU recover if it hits a problem)... Another notable move is the introduction of WireGuard support, a newcomer VPN protocol which makes a potentially nifty alternative to OpenVPN.

Linux 5.6 also supports the Amazon Echo speaker, and naturally comes with a raft of other minor improvements...

Linus's post also notes that for the next release's timing they'll "play it by ear... It's not like the merge window is more important than your health, or the health of people around you." But he says he hasn't seen signs that the pandemic could affect its development (other than the possibility of distraction by the news).

"I suspect a lot of us work from home even normally, and my daughter laughed at me and called me a 'social distancing champ' the other day..."


By bsolar • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

It *seems* unprofessional because it connotes some degree of uncertainty in the decision.

It *is* professional because there *is* some degree of uncertainty in the decision, which is perfectly understandable and which a true professional ought to transparently communicate.


By Kjella • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The LKML is their working tool for project communication, so all the casual talk you'd normally never see is in the open. This isn't a press release write-up of what's new in Linux 5.6 it's a short write-up of the patches between the last RC and the final release for those into the very fine details. We're not the intended audience, you just get to peek into their daily work. If you're looking for the sales pitch, well they don't really write those. They let Red Hat/Canonical/SUSE and all the other Linux distributions make the sales pitches. The kernel isn't actually very useful without a userspace, it's like a car engine with no car. They've built a new revision of the engine, but to most people it's not usable until there's either a new car model or a retrofit to their old one. And that's not anything the kernel project provides.

No thanks

By 93 Escort Wagon • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Nice try, Linus, but I have it on good authority that GNU Hurd 1.0 GM is going to be released any day now!

USB4 == Thunderbolt 3 (Re:USB4)

By blindseer • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

What cables will it use? Will there be another plague of out-of-spec cables killing devices? Will USB hubs continue to be utterly flakey pieces of shit?

USB4 is simply rolling Thunderbolt 3 into the USB spec. Perhaps there will be some small features removed, some added, but for the most part USB4 is ThunderBolt 3.

What this means is that a USB4 port will use the USB-C connector and all cables made for Thunderbolt 3 or USB 3.x will work. Thunderbolt 3 already specified that all ports on a host would have to support USB 3.x when using the USB-C connector, there's no reason to expect this to change with USB4. A Thunderbolt 3 device was not required to fallback to USB in cases where the host did not support Thunderbolt 3 but this was largely the case when appropriate. An appropriate fallback might be for a portable storage device where it might be expected the device might be moved from computer to computer. Where this expectation of falling back to USB 3.x speeds might not exist is with devices such as a 20Gbps network interface adapter, a RAID, or eGPU.

The cables USB4 uses are the same ones used by USB 3.x and Thunderbolt 3, and at the same or higher speed. Higher USB speeds would be available with these same cables since USB4 and USB 3.2 can use of all four high speed channels on the wire instead of just two. There's no reason to expect USB4 will bring another round of device killing cables. When it comes to "flaky" USB hubs my guess is you should stop buying cheap pieces of shit.

One thing that baffled me on USB hubs was the lack of hubs with multiple USB-C ports. I could find a hub quite easily that could plug in to a USB-C port and provide a number of USB-A ports. There were also numerous options for "mini-docks" that would have multiple USB-A ports, along with such options like Ethernet, flash card readers, video output, and perhaps a single USB-C port which might only support power input. At first I thought this was merely a lack of demand, that manufacturers thought few people would buy them. There's likely some truth to that. What I found out later was that the USB spec left out details on how a hub with multiple USB-C ports should act. It's quite possible that the USB4 spec clarified this and we will see USB hubs with multiple USB-C ports.

The docks I've seen with multiple USB-C ports have been specified as requiring Thunderbolt hosts to work. This implies to me that the docks contain a USB 3.x controller as opposed to a hub. This is confirmed with Thunderbolt docks that specify support for Thunderbolt 2 hosts as Thunderbolt 2 has no means of supporting the USB protocol on the wire natively.

Really all you need to know is that USB4 is just Thunderbolt 3 added to the USB 3.2 spec.


By Zontar The Mindless • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Lazais is a village in the middle of France. What has that to do with what Linus said?

Snopes Disputes 'Shakiness' of COVID-19 Origin Story Claimed By Washington Post OpEd

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Thursday an Opinion piece in the Washington Post touted what the paper's own health policy reporter has described as " a conspiracy theory that has been repeatedly debunked by experts." That conspiracy theory argues that instead of originating in the wild, the COVID-19 virus somehow escaped from a research lab.

Now the fact-checking web site Snopes has also weighed in this week, pointing out that the lab nearest the Wuhan market hadn't even published any coronavirus-related research prior to the outbreak. Instead the nearest coronavirus-researching lab was about 7 miles away, a maximum security " biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory certified to handle the world's most deadly pathogens." A February 2020 document erroneously described by several media outlets as a "scientific study" provides the supposedly science-based evidence of a virus escaping from a lab. This paper, such as it is, merely highlights the close distance between the seafood market and the labs and falsely claimed to have identified instances in which viral agents had escaped from Wuhan biological laboratories in the past... While SARS viruses have escaped from a Beijing lab on at least four occasions, no such event has been documented in Wuhan.

The purported instances of pathogens leaking from Wuhan laboratories, according to this "study," came from a Chinese news report (that we believe, based on the similarity of the research described and people involved, to be reproduced here) that profiled a Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention researcher named Tian Junhua. In 2012 and 2013, he captured and sampled nearly 10,000 bats in an effort to decode the evolutionary history of the hantavirus. In two instances, this researcher properly self-quarantined either after being bitten or urinated on by a potentially infected bat, he told reporters. These events, according to the 2013 study his research produced, occurred in the field and have nothing to do with either lab's ability to contain infective agents...

In sum, this paper -- which was first posted on and later deleted from the academic social networking website ResearchGate -- adds nothing but misinformation to the debate regarding the origins of the novel coronavirus and is not a real scientific study.

In February the Washington Post had quoted Vipin Narang, an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as saying that it's "highly unlikely" the general population was exposed to a virus through an accident at a lab. " We don't have any evidence for that," said Narang, a political science professor with a background in chemical engineering.


By waspleg • Score: 3 • Thread

They knew about it. Was it developed as a weapon? No. But it was an attempted cover up and they tried to keep it dark as long as possible costing LOTS OF LIVES both foreign an domestic.

Watch the video. Take it from someone who speaks Chinese and found the derelict job postings.

Since when are newspaper articles definitive?

By marcle • Score: 3 • Thread

You can find some kind of published prose to support any conspiracy theory you choose.
However, actual virologists and epidemiologists who have studied the genome of the coronavirus, say that the genetic makeup of the virus makes it highly unlikely, if not impossible, that it was somehow manufactured in a lab.
Of course, that makes it even scarier. If this was a natural mutation/transmission, then it means that even if the "authorities" successfully control the lab experiments, Mother Nature will continue on her own merry way.

Snopes is a Joke

By ABigDeal • Score: 3 • Thread
Snopes is not a reliable source because they have agendas they need to fill. In this case that agenda is to defend communist China since it aligns with their ideals. Oh it was not in was 7 miles away. Lol what a joke.

Follow your own links

By raymorris • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The citation for the Wikipedia statement is a video interview with David, in a page that says "David Mikkelson is the founder of". In the interview, David says that after several months of him doing everything for the site, Barbara started doing some writing.

So according to the trail of links you are citing, both links say David started it.

Re:Accidents at labs unlikely? Unlikely.

By Xenographic • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

> I don't have an opinion either way because I'm uninformed, but why would we presume any such thing?

This is a country where fake *eggs* have been sold. Or there was the poisonous Sanlu baby forumula. Or that warehouse that exploded and took out half a city. Sorry, but China has a combination of sufficient technical skill to do big things and sufficient carelessness/hubris/whatever to make those big things fail in shocking ways. Suffice it to say, their culture of hiding things under the rug has burnt a lot of people over the years.

Read some ChinaSMACK if you want to get more of a sense about what's actually trending on the Chinese side of things. That site is not political and mostly covers random trendy things on the Chinese internet, so it's a pretty good window into daily life.

Eclipse Foundation Unveils Open Source Alternative to Microsoft's 'Visual Studio Code' IDE

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"The Eclipse Foundation just released version 1.0 of an open-source alternative to Visual Studio Code called Eclipse Theia," reports SD Times: Theia is an extensible platform that allows developers to create multi-language cloud and desktop IDEs, allowing them to create entirely new developer experiences.

According to the Eclipse Foundation, the differences between Theia and Visual Studio Code are that Theia has a more modular architecture, Theia was designed from the ground to run on desktop and cloud, and Theia was developed under community-driven and vendor-neutral governance of the Eclipse Foundation. The Theia project was started by Ericsson and TypeFox in 2016, and since then it has become an integral part of cloud solutions globally. The project approached the Eclipse Foundation about becoming a potential host in 2019.

Early contributors to the project include ARM, Arduino, EclipseSource, Ericsson, Google Cloud, IBM, Red Hat, SAP, and TypeFox.

"We are thrilled to see Eclipse Theia deliver on its promise of providing a production-ready, vendor-neutral, and open source framework for creating custom and white-labeled developer products," announced Mike Milinkovich, the Eclipse Foundation's executive director. "Visual Studio Code is one of the world's most popular development environments. Not only does Theia allow developers to install and reuse VS Code extensions, it provides an extensible and adaptable platform that can be tailored to specific use cases, which is a huge benefit for any organization that wants to deliver a modern and professional development experience. Congratulations to all the Theia committers and contributors on achieving this milestone."

InfoWorld points out that "thus far Theia is intended to be fitted into third-party products. An end-user version is on the roadmap for release later this year."

But programming columnist Mike Melanson notes that "Chances are, you've already run into Theia without even realizing it, as it already serves as the basis for Red Hat's CodeReady Workspaces, the Eclipse Foundation's own Eclipse Che, and Google Cloud Shell."


By K. S. Kyosuke • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
It has a memory footprint of 13.7 Emacsen and a run time of 4.31 Emacsen.

Re:VisualStudio Code is already open source

By Guspaz • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

The MIT license applies to the entire repository. The C++ support extension is in a different repository that is also under the MIT license.

If you can actually point to a specific part of Visual Studio Code that is not open source, go ahead. I'm not saying there isn't anything, but all the core components certainly appear to be open source.

So this is Eclipse without the bloat?

By MichaelSmith • Score: 3 • Thread

Can't be much left. Eclipse wasn't much of an editor to start with.

Re: VisualStudio Code is already open source

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

It's not the same as Chrome because Chrome includes features that Chromium does not. VS Code doesn't have any additional features, just telemetry and Microsoft trademarks.

Re: VisualStudio Code is already open source

By Kjella • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Also, isn't VS Code the introduction to more advance IDEs like VS?

That is a bit of an open question. At least for .NET Core and ASP.NET Core Microsoft is now deprecating their closed source counterparts and uniting it under one open source .NET 5. If you still call them M$ take a read, I didn't see any pigs flying by outside but I hear Satan issued a blizzard warning. The only fully cross platform IDE to go with that is VS Code.

So I'm thinking it's on the same path to eventually become the new unified Visual Studio, not a hook to get you upgraded. They've already ditched their own version control tools for git. What they want developers hooked on is Azure. They're not going to stop using MS Office, Outlook, Sharepoint etc. to keep office drones hooked on Windows, but for developers they got bigger fish to fry.