the unofficial Slashdot digest archive

Alterslash picks up to the best 5 comments from each of the day’s Slashdot stories, and presents them on a single page for easy reading.

How Blue Apron Became a Massive $2 Billion Disaster

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Observer: If you like to cook but not to shop or plan your own meals, and if you weren't too hungry, and if you didn't like cooking for too many friends, then Blue Apron -- the startup delivering precisely measured, prepackaged amounts of just enough salmon, green beans, butter and lemon for one meal, no leftovers -- was for you. Exactly who it was that was both upwardly mobile to pay for this service while also having a barren kitchen, nobody really knew -- but by the divine math of Silicon Valley gamblers, your existence made this an idea worth several billion dollars and potent enough to "disrupt" the grocery business. People actually believed this. Or they did until Jeff Bezos and Amazon went shopping and bought out Whole Foods. Or until HelloFresh launched. Or until Blue Apron spent millions on packaging and shipping, as well as marketing, literally gifting away boxes of neatly assorted ingredients to millennials who never ordered another box. All this conspired to, one-by-one, wreck Blue Apron's IPO, crater stock prices to all-time list lows, kick founders out of company leadership and now, at last, the seemingly undeniable, ultimate doom of the company.

After losing another $23.7 million in the last three months of 2019, Blue Apron is laying off 240 workers and shutting down the shop at its Arlington, Texas warehouse location. Blue Apron will keep, for now, its California and New York assembly-and-distribution shops, while leaders ponder peddling what's left at a paltry $50 million price tag. Meanwhile, customers continue to desert Blue Apron, down to 351,000 in the last quarter of 2019, from 557,000 the year before. Selling off Blue Apron that low would mean a loss in the neighborhood of $143 million for Blue Apron's capital investors, including Fidelity and Goldman Sachs. That hurts, but as usual, retail investors took the worst hit. Stock-market playing rubes, who bought in when Blue Apron went public at $11 a share, have lost more than 80% on their investment -- and that represents a recovery. Shares were trading for $3.60 at the close on Wednesday, up from 2018 when Blue Apron was worth less than a dollar. There's no other analysis than this: Blue Apron was one of the biggest-ever Silicon Valley catastrophes, a mix of hubris, unrealistic expectations, a misunderstanding of how people exist in the world -- and, Amazon.

Well at least we still have Soylent

By drnb • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
Well at least we still have Soylent for that complete nutrition online. ;-)

Cult of the IPO

By sphealey • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

A public offering used to be something a firm would do after getting itself well-established and earning a solid profit for 10, 15, 30 years. Or when it used a stock incentive plan and became so successful the SEC told it it no longer met the definition of a private company (e.g. Microsoft). The idea that a firm should be targeting an "IPO" 1-3 years after being founded (not even after first profitable year, or even first sale to a customer) is pernicious and corrosive. Not to mention ridiculous. And it is doing serious damage to our economy.

Re:How Picard Became a Frelling Disaster

By Tim Hamilton • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I'd post AC, but I have karma to spare. Unfortunately, BeauHD is too young to get the Trekkie generations, and Ms. Mash is off in her own world when it comes to what's posted here. We're unlikely to get the occasional Star Trek story Rob Malda would post...

Yeah, agreed on Maddox. The stories are so predictable you know what's going to happen well before it does. I knew Maddox was going to die when Picard was trying to get some info out of him and he just mumbled vague nonsense. The writers are predictable enough that you know they're giving a few clues and are about to kill the guy off to everyone's annoyance. I didn't think the fat chick was going to kill him, but she has been annoying since before she started the hitchhike. Were they trying to create suspense when they show the holo re-livestream play of him being silly and regurgitating cookies into her mouth and half an hour later she kills him? That 30 second holo livestream thing was not *nearly* enough to build up a backstory, and that tension that they were trying to create fell flat on its face. I also don't see why they picked this particular actress--she's not a fit at all. Was she someone's daughter or did she win a prize to get to be in some eps or something?

'Project Magnum': Flywheel's Alleged Plot To Steal Peloton's Technology

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
em1ly writes: Spin bike maker Flywheel lost a patent lawsuit to rival company Peloton, announcing yesterday that it's shutting down. Motherboard uncovered some wild corporate espionage in the court documents: "At some point before the launch of FLY Anywhere, according to Peloton's lawyers, Flywheel launched 'Project Magnum,' an attempt to 'obtain as MUCH secret intel on Peloton as we can,' according to an improperly redacted document Peloton filed in court. 'Project Magnum was not some extemporaneous side-project [...] but rather a concerted, widespread effort,' one of Peloton's filings adds.

But Project Magnum was, apparently, more haphazard than spy operation. Flywheel created a Google Doc to 'create tabs with the functional areas of info so that the team know[s] to keep adding to it,' one of the documents reads. Much of the conspiracy seems to have taken place over email, judging by discovery that Peloton obtained. Someone at Flywheel named the project after the Magnum PI television series, one of the court documents adds, although the filing does not include the individual's name. The filings do not go into detail on how Flywheel apparently tried to obtain Peloton's secrets, but they do include contours of the project. In a message seemingly written by a former Flywheel CTO who now works at Facebook, he wrote 'Villency could be useful in providing insight related to Project Magnum.' Eric Villency, and his company Villency Design Group, designed the Peloton and SoulCycle stationary bikes..."

Re:What technology?

By Rick Schumann • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
It's stationary, there is no 'handling', if you use something like this (and don't have a real bike too) then you're not a 'cyclist', you're a hamster.

Windows 10 Icons Are Getting An Overdue Redesign

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Microsoft is rolling out updates to the icons for Windows 10's core apps over the months ahead, starting with the Calendar and Mail apps in a new Release Preview for Windows Insiders in the Fast ring. Engadget reports: The company's design team explained that it wanted to break away from the flat, colorless icons you see today in favor of ones that are at once more consistent with newer branding (including apps available beyond Windows) and different enough that you'll have an easier time finding the one you want. This is arguably an overdue move. Microsoft hadn't really touched Windows 10's main icons since its debut in 2015, so they risked feeling old. There were also inconsistencies creeping in, especially once Office got its new look. This update drags Windows 10's appearance into the modern era, and might just give you a more colorful OS in the bargain. "Flat, monochrome icons look great in context of colorful tiles, but as more icon styles enter the ecosystem, this approach needs to evolve," reveals Christina Koehn, a design leader for Windows and Devices at Microsoft. "When icons in the taskbar and Start menu are different styles, it creates more cognitive load to scan and find applications. We needed to incorporate more visual cues into the icon design language using our modernized Fluent Design Language."

You can read more about Microsoft's approach to updating the icons in Windows 10 in this Medium post.

Ho, hum.

By pz • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The company's design team explained that it wanted to break away from the flat, colorless icons you see today in favor of ones that are at once more consistent with newer branding (including apps available beyond Windows) and different enough that you'll have an easier time finding the one you want.

I seem to recall almost exactly the same words when the previous icon redesign was announced. And the previous one. And the previous one.

From the marketing speak you would have thought that the previous generation was horrid, misguided, and an embarrassment. And yet, the ones being replaced were lauded when they were new as the next great thing. As were the previous generation. And the previous.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

So, Finally Moving Away from Win 8?

By kenwd0elq • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

"Flat, monochrome icons look great in context of colorful tiles" -- you mean, the "tiles" that everybody was going to use with our Windoze Phones and Windoze Tablets? THOSE tiles?

Yeah, high time and PAST time to go back to treating computers like computers, and not pretending that everything is a phone.

Full circle

By The Evil Atheist • Score: 3 • Thread
So. They went with flat. Now they realize flat doesn't work. Can these graphics designers learn to not fucking change things due to fads and actually conduct real usability studies? Graphics designers need to fuck off out of the software industry, and graphics design courses need to fuck off too. They seem to only teach things for the sole purpose of winning awards for designers. It's a circle jerk of self-important hipsters who only care about impressions and not reality.

They always looked old

By roc97007 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Windows 10 icons, and it's structure in general, started out feeling old. Flat icons and window frames, square corners, lack of transparency, it looked very Windows 3.11 - ish from the beginning. Not the good kind of retro.

I know transparency in window frames had its detractors, but I found it useful. When I had a lot of windows up, finding something under something else was easier when I didn't have to contend with opaque frames.

Aero may have been a resource hog for common hardware available at the time, but to modern computers it's a tiny part of the whole, and makes the interface look less 1990s. Besides, you can always turn it off if you feel like turning back the clock a couple decades.

Icons seem to go back and forth between textured and flat with Microsoft and Apple making the change at the same time. I'd expect Apple to do a wholesale icon change in their next release. We've been flat for awhile. We'll go back to textured for awhile, and then flat again. I'm sure that each time this happens, the director that takes credit for it gets a big raise and his name in Forbes.

I've wanted to turn Metro off since day one. It's one of those extreme ironies that we still have to fight with it on Windows servers, which never have a touch screen interface, for which Metro was originally designed.

Look and Feel

By DougReed • Score: 3 • Thread

I have always found it amusing that as graphics cards got more sophisticated, Computer icons became flat ugly boring colorless super simplified things. All 3D was deemed old fashioned, shadows were eliminated. Icons that looked like what they represented were discarded, and replaced with flat simplified square things. Office Icons don't look like anything at all. The Word Icon and the Excel Icon look identical except for color (which probably looks identical to a color blind person) and is distinguished only by a 'W' and an 'X' (I could point out that 'Excel' starts with 'E', but that would be picky).

Now two days ago, I saw some article from some graphics 'guru' arguing that icons that looked like physical things were somehow in bad taste... not sure why a calendar that looks like a calendar is bad, but ... he's a 'guru'. So now he says we went too far and the answer is in the middle somewhere. The middle? We want a calendar icon that looks kind-of like a calendar, but not quite?

At least Apple got rid of Jony Ive before he successfully eliminated the 'Contacts' icon that looks like an address book, which he rallied against for years.

Facebook Will Now Pay You For Your Voice Recordings

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
After being caught listening to and transcribing voice recordings without informing customers, Facebook announced it will now offer to pay some users for voice recordings to help improve its speech recognition technology. The Verge reports: Facebook will let you make voice recordings as part of a new program called "Pronunciations" in its Viewpoints market research app. If you qualify to be part of the program, Facebook says you'll be able to record the phrase "Hey Portal" followed by the first name of a friend from your friends list. You'll be able to do this with the names of up to 10 friends, and you have to record each statement twice. Facebook won't be paying much for your recordings, though. If you complete one set of recordings, you get 200 points in the Viewpoints app -- and you can't cash out in the Viewpoints app until you earn at least 1,000 points. That only translates to a $5 reward via PayPal. However, Facebook says users may be offered the opportunity to make up to five sets of recordings, so there is the potential to meet that 1,000-point goal and get paid.

Should Facebook, Google Be Liable For User Posts?

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday questioned whether Facebook, Google and other major online platforms still need the immunity from legal liability that has prevented them from being sued over material their users post. "No longer are tech companies the underdog upstarts. They have become titans," Barr said at a public meeting held by the Justice Department to examine the future of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. "Given this changing technological landscape, valid questions have been raised about whether Section 230's broad immunity is necessary at least in its current form," he said.

Section 230 says online companies such as Facebook, Alphabet's Google and Twitter cannot be treated as the publisher or speaker of information they provide. This largely exempts them from liability involving content posted by users, although they can be held liable for content that violates criminal or intellectual property law. The increased size and power of online platforms has also left consumers with fewer options, and the lack of feasible alternatives is a relevant discussion, Barr said, adding that the Section 230 review came out of the Justice Department's broader look at potential anticompetitive practices at tech companies. Lawmakers from both major political parties have called for Congress to change Section 230 in ways that could expose tech companies to more lawsuits or significantly increase their costs. Barr said the department would not advocate a position at the meeting. But he hinted at the idea of allowing the U.S. government to take action against recalcitrant platforms, saying it was "questionable" whether Section 230 should prevent the American government from suing platforms when it is "acting to protect American citizens."
The attorney general of Nebraska, Doug Peterson, noted that the law does not shield platforms from federal criminal prosecution; the immunity helps protect against civil claims or a state-level prosecution. Peterson said the exception should be widened to allow state-level action as well. Addressing the tech industry, he called it a "pretty simple solution" that would allow local officials "to clean up your industry instead of waiting for your industry to clean up itself."

Matt Schruers, president of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, which counts Google and Facebook among its members, said such a solution would result in tech giants having to obey 50 separate sets of laws governing user content. He suggested law enforcement's energies might be better spent pursuing the millions of tips that the tech industry sent over every year, only a small fraction of which, he noted, resulted in investigations.

Re:Censorship is the test

By RazorSharp • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The problem is that for most websites, especially social network sites, it doesn't make sense to classify them as either a telco or a publisher. Insisting that those are the only possible classifications is a false dichotomy and fails to appreciate the clear differences between an internet forum, a book, and telephone network.

All internet forums cease to be useful once moderation is banned (even /.'s user-moderation is moderation, when the trolls come people just move that slider to hide -1 comments). Likewise, making websites liable for content posted on their forums because they don't want to have giant swastikas trolling every other post will create an absurd amount of lawsuits that will require websites and ISPs to turn over tons of user-information over to the government when people get subpoenaed. Insisting on the telco/publisher either/or is completely impractical and undesirable.

You don't curate, you're not responsible

By Strill • Score: 3 • Thread

Facebook and Google should not be liable for user posts, as long as they don't curate and editorialize those posts. If they choose to censor users, or to selectively promote some posts over others, they should lose those protections.

Re:Censorship is the test

By Kjella • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Have you actually seen what happens if you don't filter at all? Where's that dude posting endless pages of Nazi crosses when you need him. People who argue that any human touching the content should mean they lose all legal protection are either blissfully naive or trying to kill free speech. Because what you get then is a trash heap spammed to hell by bots that's not usable by anyone. If you want to see what the Internet would really look like, get a job moderating Facebook or something like that. It's so ugly they get PTSD but you know what? The rest of the world doesn't have to see that shit.

If you take away section 230 it's not like Facebook and YouTube will go away, but what will happen is that the law is broken constantly and enforcement will be almost none. But at any time the government can yank any website's chain and say unless you start playing by our fiddle we'll prosecute every little violation. You got a president in office that's screaming about fake news, well get on his bad side and your website is suddenly on the shit list for prosecution. I could just start copy-pasting in books here and make slashdot liable for $750-150000 per infraction. How long would they last?

Re:Censorship is the test

By cpt kangarooski • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Yet big tech finds the staff and experts to do just that.

No they don't. They barely scratch the surface, and they don't do so with the perfect accuracy that would be required without the safe harbor. There is too much stuff and it's too hard to automate. Fixing that would probably require a very strong AI that we're nowhere near able to create.

The "USENET" worked fine for many years.

And then it died. Sites like /. took up the slack, and providing a better alternative just accelerated the demise as people stopped bothering with the cesspool USENET had become. (Also, wtf with the quotes around the name)

Censorship is not some effort to "recognized that the old laws". Thats not the gov granted and very protected role of a telco, network.
Thats the ability to stay as a protected telco and still get to enjoy the political role as publisher of a users comments, links,, math, code.. faith, songs, cartoons.

You're not even making sense now. Want to try again?

Maybe - Depends on transparency and real identity

By peterofoz • Score: 3 • Thread
Generally, the social media platforms are carriers and should be immune from prosecution for what their users post. Having said that, to earn that they would also need to provide real verified identities much as speakers in a town hall do for public comments. The forums have it in their best interest to maintain a somewhat civil environment for discourse. Bad actors espousing violence, extremist views and such would shy away from the real id aspect of the platform in favor of anonymous platforms. Further, a self regulating platform much like Slashdot has with crowd sourced +/- post ratings should normalize the conversation over time to to acceptable social norms within post publishing visibility domains. What one group finds acceptable, another group far away may find offensive - one size does not fit all.

A Group of Ex-NSA and Amazon Engineers Are Building a 'GitHub For Data'

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
A group of engineers and developers with backgrounds from the National Security Agency, Google, and Amazon Web Services are working on Gretel, an early-stage startup that aims to help developers safely share and collaborate with sensitive data in real time. TechCrunch reports: It's not as niche of a problem as you might think, said Alex Watson, one of the co-founders. Developers can face this problem at any company, he said. Often, developers don't need full access to a bank of user data -- they just need a portion or a sample to work with. In many cases, developers could suffice with data that looks like real user data. "It starts with making data safe to share," Watson said. "There's all these really cool use cases that people have been able to do with data." He said companies like GitHub, a widely used source code sharing platform, helped to make source code accessible and collaboration easy. "But there's no GitHub equivalent for data," he said.

And that's how Watson and his co-founders, John Myers, Ali Golshan and Laszlo Bock came up with Gretel. "We're building right now software that enables developers to automatically check out an anonymized version of the data set," said Watson. This so-called "synthetic data" is essentially artificial data that looks and works just like regular sensitive user data. Gretel uses machine learning to categorize the data -- like names, addresses and other customer identifiers -- and classify as many labels to the data as possible. Once that data is labeled, it can be applied access policies. Then, the platform applies differential privacy -- a technique used to anonymize vast amounts of data -- so that it's no longer tied to customer information. "It's an entirely fake data set that was generated by machine learning," said Watson.
The startup has already raised $3.5 million in seed funding. "Gretel said it will charge customers based on consumption -- a similar structure to how Amazon prices access to its cloud computing services," adds TechCrunch.

Morgan Stanley Buys E-Trade For $13 Billion

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Morgan Stanley is buying E-Trade in a $13 billion deal that "will give a powerful Wall Street firm control of a major presence in the world of online brokerages," reports The New York Times. The deal highlights the tech-driven change felt in many markets, from the fixed-income market to the institutional market. Matthew Leising writes via Bloomberg: A report released Thursday by Greenwich Associates found an appetite for "new and better digital products and tools" among fixed-income investors is fueling competition at banks. Kevin McPartland, head of market structure and technology research at Greenwich, said the elimination of trading commissions by many firms including Charles Schwab Corp. has freed investors to choose a brokerage based on services alone. "A lot of it is based on the tools you provide to the end-user, and I'm not sure the institutional market is much different any more," he said in an interview. "Compute power is effectively limitless at this point."

In earlier research, Greenwich asked investors how they choose a top-tier bank, and 18% of respondents said technology services like execution algorithms and analytics were a factor. Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, machine learning and the ability to mine huge pools of data have radically changed investing, McPartland said. The E*Trade deal, announced Thursday, helps Morgan Stanley add clients who are less wealthy than its traditional customers, but a state-of-the-art platform for investors was another draw. Morgan Stanley Chief Executive Officer James Gorman cited E*Trade's "innovation in technology" as a reason for the acquisition, according to a statement.

Is this purchase subject to FTC approval?

By bobstreo • Score: 3 • Thread

because it probably should be very closely examined.

France Shuts Down Oldest Reactors, But Nuclear Power Still Reigns

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a report from Agence France-Presse (AFP): France will start closing its oldest atomic power plant on Saturday after 43 years in operation, the first in a series of reactor shutdowns but hardly a signal the country will reduce its reliance on nuclear energy anytime soon. Unplugging the two reactors at Fessenheim, along the Rhine near France's eastern border with Germany and Switzerland, became a key goal of anti-nuclear campaigners after the catastrophic meltdown at Fukushima in Japan in 2011. Experts have noted that construction and safety standards at Fessenheim, brought online in 1977, fall far short of those at Fukushima, with some warning that seismic and flooding risks in the Alsace region had been underestimated. Despite a pledge by ex-president Francois Hollande just months after Fukushima to close the plant, it was not until 2018 that President Emmanuel Macron's government gave the final green light.

The first reactor will start being shut down on Saturday and the second on June 30, though it will be several months before they go cold and the used fuel can start to be removed. France will still be left with 56 pressurized water reactors at 18 nuclear power plants -- only the United States has more reactors, at 98 -- generating an unmatched 70 percent of its electricity needs. The government confirmed in January that it aims to shut down 12 more reactors nearing or exceeding their original 40-year age limit by 2035, when nuclear power should represent just 50 percent of its energy mix. But at the same time, state-owned energy giant EDF is racing to get its first next-generation reactor running at the Flamanville plant in 2022 -- 10 years behind schedule -- and more may be in the pipeline.

Ah La Belle France

By Dantoo • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

France will be the one shining light in Europe at the end of all this.


By hey! • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The one thing we should do is improve our electric grids. Other than that, any "eggs in one basket" approach is not a great idea.

Nuclear power plants are gawdawfully expensive to decommission; just imagine what happens fifty years after we undertake a crash program to solve all our energy problems with nuclear power. Imagine what happens if we discover a serious problem with design we choose -- it might be politically impossible to even admit that a flaw might exist, for fear of having a basket with *no* eggs.

You want to spread your bets, and the one thing all those bets will have in common is a better grid. The same grid that will allow you to site a nuclear power plant far from its users will also wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, OTEC, and maybe even a few advanced fossil fuel plants far from users.

Vote accordingly.

By Gravis Zero • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

If you believe in this issue then you should be voting for people willing to tax pollutants like CO2 emissions. This will force the hand of energy companies (and people alike) to embrace nuclear technology or pay out the nose to avoid it.

Re:Sad to think about it.

By bobbied • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

You are mostly correct.. Natural Gas is what is killing nuclear, the wind and solar sources are not. It's economics, pure and simple.

With the advent of fracking, we are literally awash in proven domestic natural gas supplies. Natural gas is going to be cheap for the foreseeable future too, there is no way we can use all we can produce.

So it always amazes me that the environmentalists are all alarmed about Nuclear power, often cheer it's demise, but don't seem to care one whit about what is replacing it.

Oh, one more thing... I think Nuclear *could* be cheaper to operate, but the current regulatory environment is just not allowing it. Right now there is zero investment in Nuclear because the regulations and the uncertainty of their likely getting changed multiple times before a plant could rise off the drawing board and produce power. A new plant would likely take more than a decade to plan and build bring into operation and would draw a lot of political attention in the process. Such attention would cause every decision to be nit picked to the Nth degree, involve multiple court cases and risk a billion or more dollars. This is way too much risk for most companies who are already straining to make profits in the face of price controls imposed by state and local authorities.

So, the easy way to make money is build that Natural Gas plant instead.. It's a sure thing because very few environmentalist care and they know the useful idiots in the public are not easily scared by a natural gas powered plan. The FUD around nuclear is huge, folks fear what they don't understand and that "radiation" exposure thing sure sounds scary.

Re: Sad to think about it.

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

What is the biggest cost facing Vogtle?

The biggest cost is interest.

Nuclear plants are expensive to build but cheap to run. So the costs are incurred up-front and then those costs are paid down over the life of the plant. But if the project is delayed, interest accrues while the plant sits half constructed.

The delays are for many reasons. Most big projects are approved with unrealistic schedules and prices to streamline the approval process, but with a contract that allows the schedule to slip and the price to be jacked up later. But the delay and cost overrun were even worse than expected, leading to litigation between the power company and primary contractor. So the primary contractor quit, and Westinghouse took over the job. Then Westinghouse went bankrupt. The long and painful saga continues.

Coronavirus Has Temporarily Reduced China's CO2 Emissions By a Quarter

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
As China battles one of the most serious virus epidemics of the century, the impacts on the country's energy demand and emissions are only beginning to be felt. From a report: Electricity demand and industrial output remain far below their usual levels across a range of indicators, many of which are at their lowest two-week average in several years. These include:
Coal use at power stations reporting daily data at a four-year low.
Oil refinery operating rates in Shandong province at the lowest level since 2015.
Output of key steel product lines at the lowest level for five years.
Levels of NO2 air pollution over China down 36% on the same period last year.
Domestic flights are down up to 70% compared to last month.

All told, the measures to contain coronavirus have resulted in reductions of 15% to 40% in output across key industrial sectors. This is likely to have wiped out a quarter or more of the country's CO2 emissions over the past two weeks, the period when activity would normally have resumed after the Chinese new-year holiday. Over the same period in 2019, China released around 400m tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2), meaning the virus could have cut global emissions by 100MtCO2 to date. The key question is whether the impacts are sustained, or if they will be offset -- or even reversed -- by the government response to the crisis.

Strange Days

By aeropage • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
So, the "Save the Environment, Kill Yourself" position is gaining more traction.

Covid-19 renamed Greta Flu

By ArhcAngel • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
Film at 11ish.

So people could actually breathe now

By nospam007 • Score: 3 • Thread

...if they didn't have to cough from the virus?

4383 people per day

By presidenteloco • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
apparently die prematurely from air pollution in China on an average (pre-Coronavirus) day.

So about 130,000 pollution fatalties per month.
Since a month ago, 2130 people have died of the coronavirus disease, almost all in China.

I wonder if the air pollution deaths have declined by more than 2130 people ( = about a 1.6% decline in air pollution deaths).


May also reduce US Canadian emissions too

By WillAffleckUW • Score: 3 • Thread

In related news, the shutdown of China has dropped demand for exported coal, LNG, and dilbit oil that was supposed to have pipelines built for export, and made it uneconomical, even with massive fossil fuel subsidies, to export overseas.

This may reduce both Canadian and US emissions as well, while renewables continue to quickly replace the far more expensive fossil fuels as energy sources.

Microsoft To Bring Its Defender Antivirus Software To iOS and Android

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Microsoft said today it plans to bring its antivirus software, Defender Advanced Threat Protection, to phones and other devices running Apple's iOS and Google's Android. From a report: The software, also called Defender ATP, is already available on Windows and MacOS. It offers features like preventive protection, post-breach detection and automated investigation and response, according to Microsoft. When it comes to mobile devices, Microsoft's Rob Lefferts said that the Defender software could help companies protect employees from things like malware and phishing attacks. Apple's and Google's app stores are "pretty safe," Lefferts said, but "malware does happen on those platforms."

Re:Wrong issue

By RightSaidFred99 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Nobody said anything about viruses, it's not 1983 anymore and they aren't the primary concern. This is about malware - noticing early patterns of malware, alerting, easily getting the word out to mitigate and uninstall sooner, etc...

For all the tin-foil hattedness of the "OMG my data!!" brigade, it has very little impact on your actual life. Nobody gives a shit. People do give a shit about e.g. some dude controlling their phone camera at will, stealing their credit card numbers, or encrypting their data and extorting them for the key.

Google AI No Longer Uses Gender Binary Tags on Images of People

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Google's image-labeling AI tool will no longer label pictures with gender tags like "man" and "woman." From a report: In the email, Google cites its ethical rules on AI as the basis for the change. This is a progressive move by Google -- and one that will hopefully set a precedent for the rest of the AI industry. Ethics aside, Google also says it's made this change because it isn't possible to infer gender from someone's appearance. Google is correct on that count. AI's tendency toward a gender binary might be helpful in blunt categorization, but there are also many gender identities that fall on the spectrum outside of "man" and "woman." Though Google doesn't go as far as saying so in its policies, removing the gender binary from its AI actively makes the software more inclusive of transgender and non-binary people. It's a move that the rest of the tech industry would do well to emulate.


By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Coward indeed.

What is truly cowardly and damaging, is failing to identify gender dysphoria as the mental disorder that it is. With a suicide rate of 40% pre or post-op, we're certainly not doing them any favors by giving them awards instead of treating them. I don't support forcing all of society to bend over backwards for 0.5% of the human race either. Perhaps you can explain how that make sense when we certainly don't do that for any other mental disorder.


By Strill • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

That definition of "gender" was made up by researcher John Money (, who believed that behavior associated with sex was purely learned, and not inherent. His hypothesis was proven false, and and his research was a spectacular failure that ruined the life of a boy named David Reimer, and led to his suicide. In other words, your concept of "gender" is pure quackery.


By WaffleMonster • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Do you think MOST of the Germans were Nazi

YES I absolutely believe that. Anyone who has spent any time studying the history of Nazi Germany knows plurality of Germans absolutely loved Hitler with all of their hearts.

The infamous 1934 referendum to make Hitler "fuhrer" was not even close and keep in mind it occurred **after** Hitler publically admitted to murder of several dozens of political rivals something like a month earlier.

Most people are not actually willing to cause a mass of destruction.

Yes they absolutely are.

Many go along to avoid being signaled out by that vocal minority. All wars... caused by minority, all great issues... caused by minority numbers, almost every major problem is sourced to a small minority group that often paints the offending group as being bigger than it really is.

This is delusional. 3/4's of the U.S. population supported the Iraq war. There are no shortage of people who want to believe it was all Hitler all just these outliers rather than face up to reality.

The silent majority is...

A figment of your imagination.


By SirAstral • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

lol, yes, yes there are people saying that.

There is even a law recently created in Canada for just exactly this for example. Sure something like it will be much harder to pass in the USA but may Colleges and States are looking at doing the same in some form or fashion. It's no secret either.

There are actual people wanting criminal prosecution against people that will not "literally" talk and dance however the gender bigots demand.

That's right... the people calling themselves "gender rights advocates" are actually "gender bigots". They want all their demands to be fulfilled under the literal threat of law.

Sadly, I also warned all the people that bullied and abused people with gender dysphoria or gender identity issues that there was going to be a backlash. That pendulum comes swinging back and people just never seem to understand that. If the "gender bigots" on both sides keep this up, it going to create a much bigger problem that will last for a long time.

There will be no peace for anyone.


By Shaitan • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

^ This. The condition is actually a very serious mental illness. These people need professional care not for the entire world to pretend you can change a birth statistic with pills and cosmetic surgery.

I actually talked a dear friend down from this cliff that his psychologist had talked him into. While offering assurance I'd support him whatever he did I made him understand that gender was nothing than a stat and that you couldn't really change it. And that the person he was on the inside was a perfectly valid kind of man to be and not a kind of woman simply because he had a lot more interests in common with most women than men. There are WASPs who love native, hispanic, french, or japanese cultures that doesn't magically transform them into someone who is native, hispanic, french, or japanese. Changing their clothes, skin coloring, facial features, etc also would not effect that change. It is also perfectly okay that elements of those cultures better reflect who that person is. Cultures, preferences, clothes, hobbies, interests, etc are all actually just superficial window dressing anyway.

Trump Backs Supporter Larry Ellison in Court Fight With Google

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
kimanaw shares a report: The Trump administration urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reject an appeal by Alphabet's Google, boosting Oracle's bid to collect more than $8 billion in royalties for Google's use of copyrighted programming code in the Android operating system. The administration weighed in on the high-stakes case on the same day that President Donald Trump attended a re-election campaign fundraiser in California hosted by Oracle's co-founder, billionaire Larry Ellison. Ellison hosted a golf outing and photos with Trump. The event cost a minimum of $100,000 per couple to attend, with a higher ticket price of $250,000 for those who wanted to participate in a policy roundtable with the president, the Palm Springs Desert Sun reported. Google is challenging an appeals court ruling that it violated Oracle copyrights when it included some Oracle-owned Java programming code in Android. The dispute has split Silicon Valley, pitting developers of software code against companies that use the code to create programs. Google's "verbatim copying" of Oracle's code into a competing product wasn't necessary to foster innovation, the U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco said Wednesday in a filing with the court.

Re:Should be pretty straight forward

By cpt kangarooski • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

You can copy the contents of the phone book verbatim so long as you don't copy the presentation. That is, you can OCR it, but you can't photocopy it (and sell the copies.)

If it's a white pages you can probably copy it directly. The entries are not protected, nor is the selection and organization of the entries, for lack of creativity. What's left to claim as copyrightable that satisfies the requirements for copyright? Presenting it as columns isn't really going to fly. The leading case is Feist v. Rural, 499 US 340.

It's also worth pointing out in the Oracle case that it is long established that rules, systems, methods, and processes are not copyrightable. (Patentable but not copyrightable). Descriptions can be protected but are themselves not necessarily protected. Further the protection is thin, because everyone else is entitled to describe the system too, and this may result in a lot of similarity. The leading case on this is Baker v. Selden, 101 US 99 (the copyright on a book describing a system of accounting was not infringed by another author who wrote a book describing the same system)

Re:Should be pretty straight forward

By UnknowingFool • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
No they did not. That is factually untrue. They copied the APIs call. They did not copy the underlying code. Therefore they did not copy “Everything”

Re:Should be pretty straight forward

By tlhIngan • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Similarly, documentation for an API is entirely copyrightable, but the API itself, being nothing more than statements of fact, cannot be. The ruling that implies that the Java API is somehow copyrightable obviously conflated the API itself with the documentation for the API.

Which brings up a lot of interesting questions, some of which are uncomfortable.

If an API cannot be copyrighted, does that make GPL libraries impossible? After all, the program is calling some APIs. It just happens that the library that implements those APIs is GPL. But right now, if I link to such a library, the whole thing is GPL. (That's why we have the LGPL - it lets you use the LGPL library without having to make the entire program GPL).

But if an API is just an API, then I could write a proprietary program, link it against GPL libraries freely because since they just implement the API, they are now effectively just - my proprietary program is just calling an API, and I just happened to pick a GPL library that implements it. But that doesn't mean the whole thing is GPL since I could've picked a non-GPL library instead implementing the same API.

At the same time, several kernel developers decided to make some APIs "GPL Only" to keep things like the nVidia kernel blob from linking against them. But if APIs cannot be copyrighted, then the GPL requirement is useless. Granted the kernel is a weaker case since the kernel devs officially do not maintain an API, but they maintain what is effectively an interface by exporting a symbol table of APIs.

Whichever way the court rules, it has implications on open-source or free software.

Re:Should be pretty straight forward

By Darinbob • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Tump isn't worried about the truth, the lies, the logic, or illogic. The only thing existing here in his calculus is: rich white billionaire donating money to Trump. Nothing else about this case even remotely entered his radar, and anyone who believes that Trump has applied some legal sense after studying the issues involved would be delusional.

Re:Google will lose the appeal

By Howitzer86 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
It should remain legal. There's no guarantee that it will. It'll be bad news for the industry if it doesn't. But if coders lose their employment over this, at least they'll find work mining beautiful clean coal.

Twitter is Testing New Ways To Fight Misinformation

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Twitter is experimenting with adding brightly colored labels directly beneath lies and misinformation posted by politicians and public figures, according to a leaked demo of new features sent to NBC News. From the report: Twitter confirmed that the leaked demo, which was accessible on a publicly available site, is one possible iteration of a new policy to target misinformation it plans to roll out March 5. In this version, disinformation or misleading information posted by public figures will be corrected directly beneath the tweet by fact-checkers and journalists who are verified on the platform, and possibly other users who will participate in a new "community reports" feature, which the demo claims is "like Wikipedia." "We're exploring a number of ways to address misinformation and provide more context for tweets on Twitter," a Twitter spokesperson said. "Misinformation is a critical issue and we will be testing many different ways to address it." The demo features bright red and orange badges for tweets that have been deemed "harmfully misleading," in nearly the same size as the tweet itself and prominently displayed directly below the tweet that contains the harmful misinformation.

Mike Bloomberg is not a Democrat

By rsilvergun • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I mean, maybe it says that on his Voter Registration card, but that doesn't make him a Democrat. FDR set out a clear vision for the party, JFK continued it, Clinton & Company shit all over it and Bloomberg is trying to set that excrement on fire.

Labels aren't what matter, policy is.

I get that trolling is fun

By rsilvergun • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
but dying of a treatable illness isn't, and 68,000 will do that this year. 500,000 will file for a medical bankruptcy. 41% have medical debt, 31% have significant amounts of medical debt.

It's likely you have been paid by Bloomberg to post this. He's openly hired 500 "Social Media Influencers". But if not remember this, you will no go untouched by the damage he has done and will continue to do.

You can't fight lazy.

By Atrox Canis • Score: 3 • Thread

The only way to reduce misinformation on social media is to force users to do their own fact checking.

That's not gonna happen.

For years I've been telling my kids and grandkids the following: If you see something startling or outrageous on social media, don't believe it until you deliberately research the opposing view. If something gets posted on Twitter that reports that California just fell into the Pacific, search for information that would prove it didn't happen. If none exists, then MAYBE it happened.


By AK Marc • Score: 3 • Thread
Twitter is fighting for relevance. They don't want to lose their number one advertisment for Twitter, DJ Drumpf. But every one of his tweets is a violation of their ToS, so they are trying to look like they are fighting something, while also actively supporting it. Nothing will happen, and poor people will be punished for the actions of someone else.

The whole point of a democracy

By Solandri • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
The whole point of a democracy - the very reason for its strength - is that multiple opinions are allowed to exist simultaneously. Those multiple opinions make democracy quicker to arrive at the best solution to problems. You're less likely to get the groupthink or lack of vision which prevents consideration of better solutions.

e.g. The EU created GSM to be the one mobile phone standard, and mandated that all phone companies comply with it. The U.S. allowed it, but opted not to mandate it. A couple companies in the U.S. decided to try CDMA instead. GSM seemed superior at first. But when data services became ubiquitous, it became obvious that CDMA was better. GSM used TDMA - each phone takes turns talking to the tower. If the phone doesn't have much or anything to say during its timeslice, that bandwidth is wasted. CDMA uses orthogonal signaling. You can think of it as writing two paragraphs on the same sheet of paper - one normally, the other at 90 degrees. The uniqueness (orthogonality) to how letters are written allow you to distinguish the vertical writing from the horizontal writing. In CDMA, all phones transmit simultaneously. They see each others' broadcasts as noise. The more phones are transmitting, the higher the noise floor, and thus the lower the bandwidth each individual phone gets. If a phone doesn't need to transmit, it doesn't contribute noise, the noise floor drops, and the bandwidth available to that phone is automatically reallocated to all other phones which currently need it.

CDMA proved so superior to TDMA that within a year, GSM threw in the towel, licensed it, and incorporated it into the GSM spec. That's why GSM phones could talk and use data at the same time - they had a TDMA radio for voice, and a separate CDMA radio for data. While CDMA phones only had a single CDMA radio, so couldn't do voice and data simultaneously. CDMA eventually gave way to OFDMA (used in LTE), another orthogonal signaling technique (using orthogonal frequency allocation, instead of orthogonal code allocation). It was only possible because CDMA served as the proof of concept that this crazy "everyone talks at the same time and we sort it out later" idea actually worked when scaled up nationwide. If the entire world had gone along with GSM, none of this would've happened, and we would probably be stuck with cellular data speeds around 1-5 Mbps today. Allowing the system championed by the minority to exist, and giving it a fair chance, allowed the minority to demonstrate that its method was superior, which eventually lead to its widespread adoption so that it became the majority.

That's what makes democracy stronger than other forms of government. That diversity of opinions is what allows it to out-perform mono-culture styles of government like monarchies and authoritarianism. The catch is, any system you create to reduce misinformation, can also be abused to squelch valid minority opinions. That is, misguided opinions like those espoused by anti-vaxxers aren't a problem which needs to be silenced. They're a side-effect of a flourishing democracy, where any and all ideas are allowed to spread based on how each individual person judges its merits. Some people inevitably make bad judgements, so some of these misguided ideas will always be present in a fluorishing democracy.

That right there is the core of democracy. People are allowed to say anything, and each individual listener, on their own, decides the merits of the idea. The final validation is up to every individual, not some group appointed to keep things "truthful". Fact checkers can certainly add their voice, but each individual listener should also gauge the veracity of the fact-checking on their own. If you mandate fact-checking, and especially if you give fact-checkers the power to silence other people's speech, you are taking the power to judge the worthiness of what was said away from individuals, and giving it to the

UCLA Abandons Plans To Use Facial Recognition After Backlash

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Ahead of a national day of action led by digital rights group Fight for the Future, UCLA has abandoned its plans to become the first university in the United States to adopt facial recognition technology. From a report: In a statement shared with Fight for the Future's Deputy Director Evan Greer, UCLA's Administrative Vice Chancellor Michael Beck said the university "determined that the potential benefits are limited and are vastly outweighed by the concerns of the campus community." Since last year, UCLA has been considering using the university's security cameras to implement a facial recognition surveillance system.

These plans have been dogged by student criticism, culminating in an editorial in the Daily Bruin, UCLA's student newspaper, that argued the system would "present a major breach of students' privacy" while creating "a more hostile campus environment" by "collecting invasive amounts of data on [UCLA's] population of over 45,000 students and 50,000 employees." In an attempt to highlight the risks of using facial recognition on UCLA's campus, Fight for the Future used Amazon's facial recognition software, Rekognition, to scan public photos of UCLA's athletes and faculty, then compare the photos to a mugshot database. Over 400 photos were scanned, 58 of which were false positives for mugshot images -- the software often gave back matches with "100% confidence" for individuals "who had almost nothing in common beyond their race"

Facial recognition?

By Thud457 • Score: 3 • Thread
Do you want Juggaloos? Because that's how you get Juggaloos.

JPEG Committee is Banking on AI To Build Its Next Image Codec

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG), a committee that maintains various JPEG image-related standards, has started exploring a way to involve AI to build a new compression standard. From a report: In a recent meeting held in Sydney, the group released a call for evidence to explore AI-based methods to find a new image compression codec. The program, aptly named JPEG AI, was launched last year; with a special group to study neural-network-based image codecs. Under the program, it aims to find possible solutions towards finding a new standard. To do that, it has partnered with IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) to call for papers under the Learning-based Image Coding Challenge. These papers will be presented at the International Conference of Image Processing (ICIP) scheduled to be held at Abu Dhabi in October.


By 110010001000 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

They are running it against images gathered on the Internet. The result is the new codec will be able to compress images of cats and naked women by 99%.

Yet another image format

By xack • Score: 4 • Thread
Most new image and media formats are an excuse to keep patented technology in use as the old formats patents expire. Plus we have enough image formats and it always is a struggle to get web browsers to support new ones especially Safari and Internet Explorer. Transparent PNGs were a decade long nightmare and WebP is even worse.

Re:Do we need a new codec?

By un1nsp1red • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
More people are accessing the internet via phones than computers on a home ISP connection. And many of those people are still paying by the GB of data transferred. More compression, less data sent.


By CubicleZombie • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

They should definitely use blockchain in the new format. AI just isn't enough.

So their new standard will be the ...

By BAReFO0t • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Joint Pussy Expert Graphics compression standard. :)