the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2017-Aug-11 today archive


  1. FBI Says Islamic State Used eBay, PayPal To Channel Money To the US
  2. Vitamin B3 Supplement Can Prevent Miscarriages and Birth Defects, Says Study
  3. Silicon Valley Billionaire Fails To Prevent Access To Public Beach
  4. Netflix Discussing Keeping Streaming Rights To Disney's Marvel, Star Wars Films
  5. SoundCloud Saved By $170 Million Emergency Funding As CEO Steps Aside
  6. Military Tech Could Be Amazon's Secret To Cheap, Non-Refrigerated Food
  7. Hollywood's Bad Summer Movies Are Driving a Decline in Movie Ticket Sales
  8. FCC Extends Net Neutrality Comment Period By Two Weeks
  9. Former Bitcoin Developer Shares Early Satoshi Nakamoto Emails
  10. James Damore Explains Why He Was Fired By Google
  11. MIT Team's School-Bus Algorithm Could Save $5M and 1M Bus Miles
  12. The Ghostly Radio Station That No One Claims To Run
  13. Uber Shareholder Group Wants Benchmark Off Board
  14. Startup To Put Cellphone Tower on the Moon
  15. Almost All of FCC's New Advisory Panel Works For Telecoms
  16. Blizzard Starts Drive To Recruit More Women and Ethnic Minorities
  17. Microsoft Dismisses Consumer Reports' Surface Complaints, But Doesn't Offer Much Evidence
  18. Oracle Fiddles With Major Database Release Cycle Numbers
  19. Developers File Antitrust Complaint Against Apple in China
  20. HBO Hacker Leaks Message From HBO Offering $250,000 'Bounty Payment'
  21. Safari Should Display Favicons in Its Tabs
  22. Hearing Loss of US Diplomats In Cuba Is Blamed On Covert Device
  23. Why Amazon's UK Tax Bill Has Dropped 50%
  24. Astronomers Detect Four Earth-Sized Planets Orbiting The Nearest Sun-Like Star

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

FBI Says Islamic State Used eBay, PayPal To Channel Money To the US

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Islamic State allegedly used PayPal and fake eBay transactions to channel money to an operative in the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reports. The man who allegedly received the money was American citizen Mohamed Elshinawy, who was arrested last year in Maryland. The FBI claims that Elshinawy, in his early 30s, sold computer printers on eBay as a front in order to receive the payments through PayPal. The details have come to light because of a recently unsealed FBI affidavit, which alleges Elshinawy was part of a worldwide network that used such channels to fund ISIS. Elshinawy received $8,700 from ISIS, including five PayPal payments from senior ISIS official Siful Sujan through his technology company. Those funds were used to buy a laptop, a cellphone, and a VPN to communicate with IS, according to the affidavit. Sujan was killed in a drone strike in 2015. eBay told The Wall Street Journal it "has zero tolerance for criminal activities taking place on our marketplace." Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for PayPal said it "invests significant time and resources in working to prevent terrorist activity on our platform. We proactively report suspicious activities and respond quickly to lawful requests to support law enforcement agencies in their investigations."

The evidence?

By nanoflower • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I hope the FBI has more evidence than the summary or the article has. All that they state is that he sold a cellphone, laptop and a VPN service to a company. That company happened to be owned by a guy associate with ISIS.

Then they make the leap that the money paid was going to be used to plan an attack in the US. All of which may be true but unless they have the guy on record as planning an attack or captured his plans it's going to be hard to prove that case. So either the FBI has a weak case or this is a really weak article.

Less than $1000 at a time

By chromaexcursion • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
I've bought things internationally. Less than $1000 it's not a big deal. Probably an easy way to spoof the payment system. But it takes a lot of payments. Just sell as many Xbox3's as you need. If they're over priced, no one else will buy them. And, hey, no complaints.

on a different note
I needed to make a cash payment over $1000, for travel arrangements (in Italy). It took 3 trips to the bank, I had to be in person to sign, and multiple forms filled out. As an individual, international transactions are fantastically difficult. They're solving the wrong problem.

His crime was selling stuff?

By jandrese • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
So they funded him by buying goods and services with money? Motherfucker, that's a JOB!


By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

But activity like this gets by???

Uhh, it was $8700 over several months. The guy could have made more money if he just got a job at McDonalds. Maybe ISIS's "vast worldwide network" isn't such a big threat after all.

Re:His crime was selling stuff?

By richy freeway • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Many times I've stumbled on ridiculously overpriced items on ebay.
Like clearly overpriced... well... plastic junk.

I remember finding a silicone cover for my sister's phone - priced at over a 1000 dollars. The phone was about 170$ at the time

I believe they jack the price when they run out of stock so they can keep the same listing active and not pay extra fees.

Vitamin B3 Supplement Can Prevent Miscarriages and Birth Defects, Says Study

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
brindafella writes: The landmark finding about vitamin B3, made by the Victor Chang Institute in Sydney, Australia, has been described as "the most important discovery for pregnant women since folate." The study has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine. From "The historic discovery, believed to be among Australia's greatest ever medical achievements, is expected to forever change the way pregnant women are cared for around the globe. Every year 7.9 million babies are born with a birth defect worldwide and one in four pregnant women suffer a miscarriage in Australia. In the vast majority of cases the cause of these problems has remained a mystery. Until now. Professor Sally Dunwoodie from the Victor Chang Institute has identified a major cause of miscarriages as well as heart, spinal, kidney and cleft palate problems in newborn babies. The landmark study found that a deficiency in a vital molecule, known as NAD, prevents a baby's organs from developing correctly in the womb. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is one of the most important molecules in all living cells. NAD synthesis is essential for energy production, DNA repair and cell communication. Disrupting its production causes a NAD deficiency. The Victor Chang researchers have found this deficiency is particularly harmful during a pregnancy as it cripples an embryo when it is forming. At the heart of the paramount discovery is the dietary supplement vitamin B3, also known as niacin. Scientists at the Victor Chang Institute have discovered how to prevent miscarriages and birth defects by simply boosting levels of the nutrient during pregnancy."

In Mice

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

This is massive overstatement and we need to wait for some human evidence.

Silicon Valley Billionaire Fails To Prevent Access To Public Beach

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Robotron23 writes: Vinod Khosla, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, has lost his appeal to privatize Martins Beach -- a publicly-owned strip of coastline in California. Having previously fenced off the land in a bid to render the area private, Khosla has been ordered to restore access by a California court. Khosla had previously demanded the government pay him $30 million to reopen the gate to the beachfront. The law of California states that all beaches should be open to the public up to the "mean high tide line." "The decision this week, affirming a lower court ruling, stems from a lawsuit filed by the Surfrider Foundation, a not-for-profit group that says the case could have broader implications for beach access across the U.S.," reports The Guardian.

Re:They're liberal when it suits them

By dryeo • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Since when do judges create laws? I think your history has a few issues.

Assuming you live in the USA or a Commonwealth (including most exCommonwealth) country, for close to the last millennium. We're all common law countries, which means that, to quote wiki

Common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law or case law) is the body of law developed by judges, courts, and similar tribunals.

Though over the last few hundred years, much law has been legislated, still the courts interpret those laws, some of which are very vague, often on purpose as the legislature expects the courts to sort things out.

Re: They're liberal when it suits them

By Reverend Green • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Since 1803

Re:They're liberal when it suits them

By Solandri • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Honestly, I think rich people just throw their money at it to keep it tied up in court for as long as they can. Malibu has the exact same problem - the beach is public, but the houses in front of it block access. The few public access gates are frequently locked (illegally) or vandalized by property owners to prevent the public from accessing the beach.

The basic idea is that you can't own the beach. You can own the land adjacent to it, but the beach (in California, up to the point where it's submerged during high tide) belongs to the public. Rich people have tried to get around this by buying up all the land in front of a beach to make it difficult or annoyingly distant for the public to access it. But the CCC responds by requiring a public accessway be installed if that happens.

You need some background to understand this

By istartedi • Score: 3 • Thread

Before saying anything you should familiarize yourselves with the history of that beach. I was somewhat familiar with the area before the controversy. I never visited that beach, even when it was "open" because you had to pay a parking fee. I guess I could have parked on Hwy 1 and walked down without paying, but there are other beaches where you can get a lot closer without paying a parking fee.

The state itself may or may not charge a fee for lots or roads close to beaches. For example, Pigeon Point--no fee in the lot, and plenty of road parking right by the beach. OTOH, Francis Beach in Half Moon Bay charges.

So. It seems well established that they can charge for parking convenient to the beach, and for many years that's what the prior owners did.

I think this dude shut off walk-in access. If he did, that's plainly over the line. AFAIK, walk-in has been restored. What's interesting is the dispute about parking.

IIRC, the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay doesn't charge for beach access parking. You just tell the lot attendant what you're up to, and he directs you to a spot in the parking garage if they're available. I think they do that to spread good will in the community though--maybe it was a condition of the development permit.

In other words, when it comes to parking at convenient lots, it's all over the map. IMHO, the real question is "what's a reasonable parking fee?" and/or "Does access to the beach imply parking?" Followed by... if it turns out that *free* parking is a requirement for public access, then all the government agencies that charge could be sued too... but I don't think it'll go in that direction. A sane ruling seems like something that would bring us back to the status quo: free walk-in, reasonable parking fees comparable to what state parks charge.

I don't see a problem

By stabiesoft • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Fine him 1 billion dollars and see if he wants to keep it restricted. Still no, fine him another billion for each and every week he fails to comply with the law. I forget which country, but one in europe adjusts fines based on worth. Super rich are not bothered by laws unless you make it hurt like it does for the rest of us. Isn't that really the point of a fine anyway?

Netflix Discussing Keeping Streaming Rights To Disney's Marvel, Star Wars Films

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Netflix is in "active discussions" with Disney about keeping Marvel and "Star Wars" films after 2019, when new Disney and Pixar movies will stop appearing on the streaming service, a senior executive said late on Thursday. Disney announced on Tuesday that it was pulling new Disney and Pixar films from Netflix, starting with new releases in 2019. It will start putting the movies on a new Disney-branded online service that year. Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger told analysts the company had not yet decided where it would distribute superhero films from Marvel Studios and movies from "Star Wars" producer Lucasfilm, which the company owns, at that time. Netflix is still in discussions with Disney about retaining rights to stream Marvel and Lucasfilm releases after 2019, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told Reuters.

No thanks Disney

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Disney makes great movies but there's no way I'm going to buy another subscription and install another app just to watch a couple Disney movies. I guess that means I'll just have to pirate Disney movies again.

Disney or no Disney

By rtb61 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

You know what is skulking in the back of this, net neutrality. Disney will continue to supply content to Netflix if net neutrality remains in place and Disney will stop supplying Netflix if net neutrality goes. Disney and the other 5 corporations, will collude with the telecoms to use cabal powers to cut off Netflix, raise it's internet costs to bankruptcy rates and divide the business amongst themselves using anti-competitive collusion to inflate prices and reduce access. This same model to be used to target and eliminate self publishers, either pay corporations a 30% content tax or be finnacially excluded from the internet. Hmm, look at who owns the the 6 US mains stream media corporations and who owns the incumbent telecoms. They know exactly what they are doing in order to force a 30% corporate tax on anyone who tries to distribute content. Corporate taxes are from God and government taxes are from the Devil (just ask any Republican or Corporate Democrat).

Disney is shit now anyway

By elrous0 • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

Just put up some videos with no white male heroes. No one will know the difference.

Re:No thanks Disney

By mjwx • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Disney makes great movies but there's no way I'm going to buy another subscription and install another app just to watch a couple Disney movies. I guess that means I'll just have to pirate Disney movies again.

The sad thing is, I think we may be heading back into the same situation that Amazon and Netflix are trying to free us from... Cable/Pay TV companies.

There are now so many different streaming services that its starting to make sense to combine them and sell them as a package. The problem is that this will bring back the old rot of trying to force people to buy packages they dont want just to get one damn show.

Re:No thanks Disney

By swb • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

What the fuck ever happened to "universal rental", where the entire back catalogs of the studios were available for digital rental?

I mean, you still can't do that now and many of the movies have been available on DVD, so it's not like they haven't had them telecined to a digital format.

Is the black hole of back catalogs just to keep crotchety old men like me from watching old movies and force me to buy into newer content?

Is it *really* "licensing disputes" on 40-some year old movies because the soundtrack or some actor didn't have a clause for digital distribution? I mean, a movie made in 1970, many of the principals are probably *dead* by now. They're not cruising iTunes or Amazon and calling up Sidney Bloomenberg on the phone and bitching they're not getting a cut. Their ancestors are merely happy that a check still shows up once in a while.

SoundCloud Saved By $170 Million Emergency Funding As CEO Steps Aside

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Last month, SoundCloud announced it was cutting about 40 percent of its staff in a cost-cutting move to help it compete against larger rivals like Spotify and Apple. One week after that announcement, TechCrunch published a report claiming "the layoffs only saved the company enough money to have runway 'until Q4' -- which begins in just 80 days." It now appears the company has closed the necessary funding round to keep itself afloat. TechCrunch reports: CEO Alex Ljung will step aside though remain chairman as former Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor replaces him. Mike Weissman will become COO as SoundCloud co-founder and CTO Eric Wahlforss stays as chief product officer. New York investment bank Raine Group and Singapore's sovereign wealth fund Temasek have stepped in to lead the new Series F funding round of $169.5 million. SoundCloud declined to share the valuation or quantity of the new funding round. Yesterday, Axios reported the company was raising $169.5 million at a $150 million pre-money valuation. That's a steep decline in value from the $700 million it was valued at in previous funding rounds. The new Series F round supposedly gives Raine and Temasek liquidation preferences that override all previous investors, and the Series E investors are getting their preferences reduced by 40 percent. They're surely happy about that, but it's better than their investment vaporizing. Raine will get two board seats for bailing out SoundCloud, with partner and former music industry attorney Fred Davis, and the vice president who leads music investments, Joe Puthenveetil, taking those seats.

I hope they figure it out.

By PhrostyMcByte • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

SoundCloud is one of the few social platforms that just stays out of your way and lets you enjoy the thing you're there for. It's just so functional and clean and focused on the music.

I hope they figure out how to save things. And I hope they don't destroy the platform to do it.

Web 2.0 bubble about to pop...

By LynnwoodRooster • Score: 3 • Thread
Saw this back in 1999, when more and more VCs kept throwing good money after bad. Not making a profit, no plan how to make a profit, but hey - we can get lots of ephemeral users who will immediately flock to the next shiny thing!

Military Tech Could Be Amazon's Secret To Cheap, Non-Refrigerated Food

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
According to CNBC, Amazon is exploring a technology first developed for the U.S. military to produce tasty prepared meals that do not need refrigeration, as it looks for new ways to muscle into the $700 billion U.S. grocery business. From the report: The world's biggest online retailer has discussed selling ready-to-eat dishes such as beef stew and a vegetable frittata as soon as next year, officials at the startup firm marketing the technology told Reuters. The dishes would be easy to stockpile and ship because they do not require refrigeration and could be offered quite cheaply compared with take-out from a restaurant. Delivering meals would build on the company's AmazonFresh service, which has been delivering groceries to customers' homes for a decade. It could also complement Amazon's planned $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods Market and Amazon's checkout-free convenience store, which is in the test stage.

The pioneering food-prep tech, known as microwave assisted thermal sterilization, or MATS, was developed by researchers at Washington State University, and is being brought to market by a venture-backed startup called 915 Labs, based in Denver. The method involves placing sealed packages of food in pressurized water and heating them with microwaves for several minutes, according to 915 Labs. Unlike traditional processing methods, where packages are in pressure cookers for up to an hour until both bacteria and nutrients are largely gone, the dishes retain their natural flavor and texture, the company said. They also can sit on a shelf for a year, which would make them suitable for Amazon's storage and delivery business model.

Irradiated food

By PPH • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Some years ago, a processor was test marketing prepackaged irradiated food. They went to great lengths to produce some high quality meals. A few of us went on a week long hike and I was responsible for buying the food for myself and my brother. Everyone else suffered with macaroni and cheese or some freeze-dried hiking meals. My bro and I had beef bourguignon and similar dishes. We were not well liked by the end of the hike.

MREs have improved tremendously over time

By jfdavis668 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
MREs today are so much better than the original dehydrated pork patty and dehydrated fruit cocktail. Not to mention the original 4 hot dogs or meatballs in barbecue sauce. The biggest problem with the providing tasty food is having to smash it flat in those little packets. They have found ways of including far more enjoyable fare. If they packed it in a more appeasing manor they may be able to turn out decent meals.

Re:The same tech that produces MREs?

By K. S. Kyosuke • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
So...Meals Rejected by EBay?

Wrong market.

By will_die • Score: 3 • Thread
This is not for the Whole Food food delivery market or for the already prepared ingredients delivered with a recipe, such as blue apron. They are doing other things for that and the people that are paying a huge premium for those services are not going to purchase something like this.
This however works great to try to grab the business lunch menu and even the emergency preparation segment.
Just getting a few percent of the business people to purchase a few meals to store at the desk and get them to eat one a week would be a worth while market.

Wait, what happened to cans?

By Mal-2 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I thought this technology had existed for many decades already. It's called a "can". Easy-to-open and lightweight plastic packaging makes things more convenient and cheaper to ship, but it's not a fundamental game changer.

Hollywood's Bad Summer Movies Are Driving a Decline in Movie Ticket Sales

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a report: While some people may point at The Emoji Movie as the root of all that is wrong with Hollywood, The Wall Street Journal reports that the problem goes much deeper than a single misfire featuring Patrick Stewart as a poop emoji. WSJ reports that movie attendance has dropped by 5%, compared with the same period in 2016, and revenues are down, too, dipping just 2.9%, thanks to higher ticket prices making up for the lack of ticket sales. On Aug. 2, AMC shares dropped 27% in one day, the WSJ reports. While films like Beauty and the Beast, Wonder Woman, and Get Out fared well at the box office, they were the anomalies in a year full of box office disappointments. Instead of giving moviegoers more badass female leads and genre-bending horror films, Hollywood keeps throwing gobs of money at an unwanted fifth installment of Pirates of the Caribbean, more Transformers movies, and putting $175 million into King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and then clutching their pearls in shock that no one wanted to see them.

TV Screen Size and Quality

By DumbSwede • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

This seems no surprise to me. Movie experience is essentially a constant. TVs keep getting better and bigger. I find little difference these days watching movies at home. In fact until we've had a 10 foot projection screen in our media room since 2008. I had a tri-beam data-grade projector back in 2000 that I powered with a myHD card. I haven't cared that much about seeing things in the theater since the introduction of Blu-Ray. With shows like Game of Thrones you essentially get a movie fix once a week minimum anyway. Here is the main thing. Learn to delay gratification. Once your watching everything 6 months delayed, your watching the same amount of content and basically the same amount of enjoyment for a lot lower cost point (which helps pay for your kick-ass media room).

Re:Leftist Agenda or $$$ - Choose One

By l0n3s0m3phr34k • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Funny, I didn't realize a 45-year old Japanese engineer working for NTT DoCoMo is considered a millennial...

Re:Speaking just for me

By mjwx • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I simply can't divorce Hollywood from it's politics. I can't just go and enjoy a movie anymore. They insist on injecting their dogmas on to me

That's your problem, I suggest seeing a therapist about these kinds of paranoid delusions. Your white privilege is as safe as it ever was. Hollywood only has one dogma, that is to make money. The problem Hollywood has is that movies are no longer the only game in town. I'm not just talking about TV and Netflix, video games are now a significant form of entertainment amongst most people. Hollywood for so many decades never had any competition, they were able to keep a stranglehold on the production and distribution of the majority of entertainment, the internet has largely ruined this for them with games and streaming services taking over the production and piracy dealing with the distribution. Hollywood has simply not changed with new technologies. They're still stuck in the 80's when we had no other choice but to buy their crap (and I remember the 80's... they made some shit movies).

I jokingly said to my wife the other night that there wasn't even anything I wanted to pirate anymore, it's just gotten that bad.

Could she hear you from the kitchen, or was this when you put her shoes back in the drawer.

Your problem isn't the imaginary "dogmas", your problem is they aren't pandering to you, ironically its because you're even further behind the times than Hollywood.

Re:Speaking just for me

By quantaman • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Let's be honest, the only reason of Carry Fisher's success was the bikini scene RofJ, not the depth of the Princess Leia.

So was Mark Hamill's success a result of his brilliant acting or did he have a shirtless scene I forgot about?

Let's be honest, Carry Fisher and Mark Hamill were both decent performers who achieved fame beyond their talent because they were well cast in a massively successful movie.

To insist that Carry Fisher's success was only because of her bikini scene is the definition of sexism.


By roc97007 • Score: 3 • Thread

> The Wall Street Journal reports that the problem goes much deeper than a single misfire

Please allow me to interrupt here -- Ya think??

It couldn't possibly be that Hollywood is substituting eye candy and big set pieces for an actual story that works? That they've completely underestimated how much the public, yea, even that unwashed billy-bob public that is supposed to only be interested in naked breasts and explosions, might want a compelling story that makes sense? (And maybe, since you brought it up, that nobody really thought a poop emoji voiced by Patrick Stewart was funny?)

Nah. It must be them damned downloaders.

FCC Extends Net Neutrality Comment Period By Two Weeks

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: You'll have two extra weeks to file your thoughts with the FCC on its plan to get rid of net neutrality. The proposal's comment period was originally scheduled to end next week, on August 16th, but the commission just pushed the date out to August 30th. The extension was granted in response to 10 groups asking for more time to respond. They had been looking for an additional eight weeks, but the commission said an additional two weeks would be more in line with the type of extensions granted in the past. The commission didn't signal that disruptions to its filing system, caused by an apparent DDOS attack, factored into the decision at all. Granting a two week extension gives people more time to file "reply comments," which are meant to respond to what people filed during the first phase of the comment period, which closed in July. That comment period had been much longer than usual, because the commission released the proposal a month before it was voted on.

Former Bitcoin Developer Shares Early Satoshi Nakamoto Emails

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Jordan Pearson, writing for Motherboard: Satoshi Nakamoto is Bitcoin's anonymous creator and absentee head of state. In the years since she (or he, or they) disappeared into the ether and left the technology in the hands of a few high-profile developers, Nakamoto's words have become nigh-gospel for some in the Bitcoin world. On Friday, a user going by "CipherionX" on the Bitcointalk forum published five emails allegedly between Satoshi Nakamoto and former Bitcoin developer Mike Hearn. In an email to Motherboard, Hearn confirmed that he shared the emails with the user. While Hearn himself, who was one of the earliest Bitcoin developers, has previously quoted most of the juicy bits from his correspondence with Nakamoto, it appears to be the first time much of the material has been shared in full. None of the emails are included on a popular database of Nakamoto's writings collected from old emails and forum posts.


By rogoshen1 • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Plotline from "The Usual Suspects 2: Fedora Island"

James Damore Explains Why He Was Fired By Google

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
In an exclusive Wall Street Journal post, the engineer responsible for the anti-diversity "Google manifesto," James Damore, explains why he was fired by the company: I was fired by Google this past Monday for a document that I wrote and circulated internally raising questions about cultural taboos and how they cloud our thinking about gender diversity at the company and in the wider tech sector. I suggested that at least some of the male-female disparity in tech could be attributed to biological differences (and, yes, I said that bias against women was a factor too). Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai declared that portions of my statement violated the company's code of conduct and "cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace." My 10-page document set out what I considered a reasoned, well-researched, good-faith argument, but as I wrote, the viewpoint I was putting forward is generally suppressed at Google because of the company's "ideological echo chamber." My firing neatly confirms that point. How did Google, the company that hires the smartest people in the world, become so ideologically driven and intolerant of scientific debate and reasoned argument? [...]

In my document, I committed heresy against the Google creed by stating that not all disparities between men and women that we see in the world are the result of discriminatory treatment. When I first circulated the document about a month ago to our diversity groups and individuals at Google, there was no outcry or charge of misogyny. I engaged in reasoned discussion with some of my peers on these issues, but mostly I was ignored. Everything changed when the document went viral within the company and the wider tech world. Those most zealously committed to the diversity creed -- that all differences in outcome are due to differential treatment and all people are inherently the same -- could not let this public offense go unpunished. They sent angry emails to Google's human-resources department and everyone up my management chain, demanding censorship, retaliation and atonement. Upper management tried to placate this surge of outrage by shaming me and misrepresenting my document, but they couldn't really do otherwise: The mob would have set upon anyone who openly agreed with me or even tolerated my views. When the whole episode finally became a giant media controversy, thanks to external leaks, Google had to solve the problem caused by my supposedly sexist, anti-diversity manifesto, and the whole company came under heated and sometimes threatening scrutiny.

Re:You got fired...

By ArmoredDragon • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Bullshit. He was lecturing. And really, even if he's right, what message is he sending to his female colleagues, that somehow his male brain gives him at least a statistical edge over them?

Yes and no. Neuroscientists no longer even debate the issue of whether men and women are hardwired differently prenatally, as the evidence supporting this has been very strong for a very long time now. This means that the social liberal position of men and women (and indeed other races) being a blank slate that would otherwise develop identical behaviors, preferences, and mannerisms if raised identically can not be true. Or put another way, the tabula rasa theory is false.

Because they are different, therefore, they can not be equal. However, this does not conclude or even suggest that one is inherently superior to the other. What it does conclude is that, inevitably, different people will excel in different things more than others, with phenotypes and genotypes absolutely playing a role somewhere.

So on one side yes, women can overall be one or both of:
1. Less likely to be interested in tech work to begin with than males
2. Less likely to be as adept at tech as males
But on another side no, in that it does NOT mean that women can not be as interested and adept or more interested and adept than a typical male.

This is also why you'll never be able to meet diversity/affirmative-action quotas that are pegged to match the general population (i.e. 49% male, 51% female, 14% black, etc) without sacrificing something else. Furthermore, equality and diversity are in fact mutually exclusive of one another (there is no tabula rasa.) In order for any two people to be equal, you'd have to create a perfect clone of somebody, and even then they would diverge over time as their experiences change. So you have to pick either equality or diversity, but you can't have both.

Re:You got fired...

By mjwx • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

No, he does not have a PhD in biology. He apparently abandoned that before completion.

Maybe Mr. Damore isn't quite the champion of the victimized male that people want to believe. But way to go with trying to make him into an expert in cognitive studies, because he went part way through a biology PhD. In my part of the world that's called a fallacious appeal to authority. So tell me, are you genetically predisposed to such faulty logic, or was that a cultural artifact?

This. Something else went on that he's deliberately not telling us. His own memo opens with "Reply to public response and misrepresentation". Reply to what I have to ask?

CEO's don't get called back from holiday to deal with a politely worded memo that goes against the groupthink. That's what HR deals with no matter how "Lib-rle" the alt-right thinks the organisation is, as others have said Google is a Fortune 100 company, this means HR is done properly. Given that the memo is dated July 2017 and he was not fired until the 7th of August... What happened between that time?

Meanwhile, Damore has been crying foul all over alt-right media but ignoring major publications without an obvious bias. What was he saying about Google's ideological echo chamber? Even the WSJ only counts as semi-legitimate having become yet another Murdoch mouthpiece.

Reading between the lines, his actual philosophies are much harsher than the memo eludes to and likely got into an argument with other employees. Something was said or done that was harsh enough for a lot of employees to make a complaint about, harsh enough that a CEO had to be called back from holiday. If this is true, trying to create a media circus will eventually backfire, especially the way he's currently doing it. The only thing saving him would be that it is illegal for Google to release the actual details on why he was fired, if he sues, this comes out.

We've heard Damore's side of it, I'd like to hear Google's, which is probably being parsed by some very high priced IR lawyers as we speak. As always there's three sides to the argument, your side, their side and the truth.

Re:You got fired...

By TimothyHollins • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Quite the opposite, it supports those claims rigorously.

You see, programming is an economically sound choice in China, and the economically sound choice far overrides any personal preference in countries where being poor equals being abused to death or getting sold off into marriage (this also includes Iran, another country with a close to 50% parity). Hence, you would expect to see 50% parity in students assuming that male and female students are equally likely to pass the admission tests.

In order for this thesis to hold, we would also need to look at countries where the economical motivation is close to 0. A good choice for this would be the Nordic countries, well-known for having the strongest social security nets around. What does the distribution look like there?
Let's have a look. These are the number of applicants to the various CS programs in Sweden ("datavetenskap") for the second semester of 2016. They are split into three columns: University, Number of female applicants, number of male applicants, (I think, please correct me if I'm wrong since my Swedish isn't that good)

Univ/högskola Kvinnor totalt Män totalt
Göteborgs universitet 60 345
Högskolan i Skövde 38 339
Karlstads universitet 3 9
Linköpings universitet 5 50
Linnéuniversitetet 29 65
Linnéuniversitetet 1 18
Malmö högskola 111 571
Mälardalens högskola 59 408
Stockholms universitet 192 848
Stockholms universitet 40 116
Umeå universitet 28 278
Umeå universitet 33 285
Umeå universitet 4 18
Uppsala universitet 91 604
Uppsala universitet 9 52
Uppsala universitet 1 7
Uppsala universitet 5 22

A quick normalization on these two lines will tell you that in Sweden about 15% of applicants to CS programs are female. And this is from Sweden, the equality capital of the world.

So, when there is no strong economic incentive and no social norms to push women away from CS (assuming there ever was), you can expect around 15% of CS majors to be female. Unless you think the women are more free and equal in Iran and China of course.

Re:You got fired...

By swillden • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Is Google being harmed by its gender policies?

If they're passing up talented hires due to a quota system, then yes they are. Also, from what some other posters have said in previous /. stories related to this, affirmative action is illegal in California, so they may be running afoul of the law.

I was at Google for 14 years, and over that time I interviewed hundreds of candidates and worked with many groups, and if there is some sort of diversity quota system in place there, it is VERY well hidden. So I think the OP's point still stands.

I still work for Google, interview candidates virtually every week and work with many groups... and if there is some sort of diversity quota system in place here, it is VERY well hidden.

FWIW, Damore never claimed there was a quota system. He just said that Google had affirmative action programs in place designed to reduce the probability of false negatives for diversity candidates.

That is actually true. I know of three specific programs, personally, two of which I know I'm allowed to talk about in public. The first takes freshmen and sophomores who are of underrepresented classes (which aren't necessarily gender or racial classes; anyone from a small university like my alma mater qualifies, regardless of race or gender), who couldn't normally pass the interview for a Google internship and gives them a 12-week internship that includes CS courses as well as work with product teams.

The second does something similar for new grads who are on the edge of being able to pass the Google interview process, but aren't quite there. They're brought in on a one-year contract which includes mentoring and training as well as work. At the end they're run through the regular Google interview process and if they pass they get converted to full-time.

I don't know if I can talk about the third, so I won't. But it also does not involve any lowering of the bar. Diversity candidates are offered some extra opportunities but at the end of the day either they can pass the interviews and hiring committee, or they can't. And if they can't, no job offer.

Re:I find your writing

By RightwingNutjob • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I'm not a coward. I assume slashdot won't let it through unfiltered since I don't think I've ever seen it unfiltered in here. Blocks stuff with too many all-caps words, too.

Oh, I'm not surprised he was fired, and truthfully, I might have fired him too if I was in those shoes. But I wouldn't have made a point of lying about reasons why and confirming every accusation in the memo with the snowflake coddling nonsense that he sent out company-wide after he canned the guy. That's an actual insult, as opposed to one perceived only by people of a certain political bent. In my younger and stupider days, I also said things out loud at work that I shouldn't have. And the boss didn't insult my intelligence about it either, he didn't put words in my mouth and he didn't make shit up. He sat me down, told me what exactly it was that I did wrong, told me to go to HR and explain it to them in my own words so it would sink in, and made it clear to not fuck up again or I was outta there.

MIT Team's School-Bus Algorithm Could Save $5M and 1M Bus Miles

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a report: A trio of MIT researchers recently tackled a tricky vehicle-routing problem when they set out to improve the efficiency of the Boston Public Schools bus system. Last year, more than 30,000 students rode 650 buses to 230 schools at a cost of $120 million. In hopes of spending less this year, the school system offered $15,000 in prize money in a contest that challenged competitors to reduce the number of buses. The winners -- Dimitris Bertsimas, co-director of MIT's Operations Research Center and doctoral students Arthur Delarue and Sebastien Martin -- devised an algorithm that drops as many as 75 bus routes. The school system says the plan, which will eliminate some bus-driver jobs, could save up to $5 million, 20,000 pounds of carbon emissions and 1 million bus miles (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source). The computerized algorithm runs in about 30 minutes and replaces a manual system that in the past has taken transportation staff several weeks to complete. "They have been doing it manually many years," Dr. Bertsimas said. "Our whole running time is in minutes. If things change, we can re-optimize." The task of plotting school-bus routes resembles the classic math exercise known as the Traveling Salesman Problem, where the goal is to find the shortest path through a series of cities, visiting each only once, before returning home.

Re:Traveling salesman problem

By crow • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Right. There are even polynomial-time approximation algorithms that guarantee to be within a fixed percentage of optimal. And don't forget that NP-complete doesn't mean it's impossible, only that it takes a long time as the problem size increases. For smaller problem sizes, solving the problem outright isn't impractical. In this case, they have a variation on the classic problem where there's a limit to the number of kids on each bus and a limit to how long (in time) each bus route can be. But if the stops are fixed and the school to which they have to deliver the kids is fixed, then it breaks down the problem to separate problems for each school, and solving each small NP-complete problem is entirely practical. If the destination school isn't fixed, then run an approximation algorithm on the whole thing, then use the school assignments from that algorithm and re-run using the full solution.

There's something seriously wrong

By Solandri • Score: 3 • Thread

Last year, more than 30,000 students rode 650 buses to 230 schools at a cost of $120 million

That doesn't sound right. $120 million over 30,000 students is $4000 per student-year. If there are 200 school days in a year, that's $20 per student per day, or $10 per student per trip. A savings of $5 million only reduces this to $9.58 per student per trip.

A monthly MBTA bus pass is $55/mo, which at 21 school days per month would work out to $1.31 per student per trip. So the school buses are 7.6x more expensive.

A little of the price difference I can understand due to school buses running fewer trips (a school bus usually services 2-4 schools on staggered schedules, with a few hours lull around lunch). So the purchase cost of the bus is amortized over fewer trips. Utilization of public buses is also higher. 392,413 riders on a weekday over 7200 round trips = 54.5 riders per circuit, which is close to or over 100% capacity per circuit (obviously not everyone is on the bus at the same time, but we're looking at fares per circuit). School buses OTOH run at about 51% capacity per circuit.

But if you figure these are both 2:1 factors, then that would bring up the MBTA bus cost to just $5.24 per student per trip. Still about half that of operating the school buses. Maybe that's the solution. In other countries I've visited, schoolkids ride the public bus and subway.

Public Transportation

By denbesten • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Spend ....
  • $22 Million to purchase city bus passes (30,000 kids * 2 per day * 180 school days * $2).
  • $65 Million to hire 650 security officers to ride the public busses ($100,000 each, working 8 hours per day, 330 days per year).
  • $33 Million on raises for teachers.

We would then have zero busses, teachers that are being paid closer to their value, safer public transportation and more full-time employment.

Re:FedEX, UPSand others MONEY!!

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

I wonder if the school district ever thought about talking to UPS and/or FedEx ...

They did, but the companies would only guarantee student delivery by 5pm w/o and extra charge and for FexEX if no one was outside to sign for them they'd leave a note and try again the next day -- UPS would just drop the student off behind a bush Also UPS wouldn't deliver anyone over 150 pounds.


By Ichijo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

$120M / 650 buses = $185k per bus+driver per year.

Those buses sit idle most of the day. They need fuel, maintenance, insurance, and registration; and they depreciate. The analysts may also have calculated in the cost of parking (including the amortized cost of the land which is expensive in Boston), loan servicing (interest), and the opportunity cost of capital (the money tied up in the buses).

The Ghostly Radio Station That No One Claims To Run

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Zaria Gorvett, writing for BBC: In the middle of a Russian swampland, not far from the city of St Petersburg, is a rectangular iron gate. Beyond its rusted bars is a collection of radio towers, abandoned buildings and power lines bordered by a dry-stone wall. This sinister location is the focus of a mystery which stretches back to the height of the Cold War. It is thought to be the headquarters of a radio station, "MDZhB", that no-one has ever claimed to run. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for the last three-and-a-half decades, it's been broadcasting a dull, monotonous tone. Every few seconds it's joined by a second sound, like some ghostly ship sounding its foghorn. Then the drone continues. Once or twice a week, a man or woman will read out some words in Russian, such as "dinghy" or "farming specialist". And that's it. Anyone, anywhere in the world can listen in, simply by tuning a radio to the frequency 4625 kHz. It's so enigmatic, it's as if it was designed with conspiracy theorists in mind. Today the station has an online following numbering in the tens of thousands, who know it affectionately as "the Buzzer." It joins two similar mystery stations, "the Pip" and the "Squeaky Wheel." As their fans readily admit themselves, they have absolutely no idea what they are listening to.

Re:No Real Mystery

By penandpaper • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Welcome, to the scary door.

Re:Could be worse...

By msauve • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
That's nothing. A radio station around here plays Justin Bieber and Kanye West, DURING THE DAY.

Re:Follow the money

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

The most obvious explanation is it is part of a military strategy to facilitate an insurgency should Russia be invaded.

Basilcy the station broadcasts nonsense on regular intervals so that at any time in the future it can be used by remnants of the Russian military to broadcast coded information without giving away the fact that they started communicating. It also broadcasts a solid tone and heartbeat so they can reduce the likelihood of somone else using the channel and so they can tell if the station is destroyed or deactivated without waiting for the next broadcast. It is also possible but IMO less likely that it is in active use for espionage.

It probably isn't a nuclear deadman switch as those would have been shut down as part of post soviet disarmament. It might have been a decoy deadman switch that no one has the guts to turn off because they can't find the documentation saying where the missiles it controls are and are (because they don't exist) but no one is entirely certain the documents weren't just lost.

It also probably isn't just a random troll as it's continued operation implies that someone with some kind of pull set it up not just a random citizen (they had to make arrangements with the power company at the very least, and likely ongoing matinance given it's age)

Re:No Real Mystery

By Mike Van Pelt • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

As anyone who's watched Dr. Strangelove knows, the DH only works if the other side knows about it.

So, either the Ruskies have told the Americans (who thus know, and are keeping quiet), or the Ruskies are -- as in the movie -- doing it horribly, horribly wrong.

(thick fake Rooskie accent) It was to be announced at the Party Congress on Monday. As you know, Putin loves surprises.

Re:No Real Mystery

By tlhIngan • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I'd think that jamming the frequency would be difficult since the transmitters are most likely many kW in power and if it is a component of the Dead Hand then the receiver is in Russia. I would also assume that the frequency is closely monitored and if you try to jam it, you get a visit from the FSB. It is also probably not the only trigger (random faults also happen, you wouldn't want to have nuclear war if the transmitter fails at the wrong time), but part of it.

Well, kW isn't that h ard to generate, since most radio stations are in the MW range or hundreds of kW. Though for shortwave, you don't need more than a few kW to reach around the world.

The thing is, the modulation is probably AM, which means attempts to jam it are easily discovered because AM modulation squeals when there are multiple transmitters on the same frequency and you can never completely jam it - if one is broadcasting a tone and someone else is broadcasting modulated speech, you can make out the speech. This property of AM radio is why aircraft still use AM for communications - it's easy to tell when multiple stations transmit, and it's possible to make out what someone is saying over the squeal.

Uber Shareholder Group Wants Benchmark Off Board

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Dan Primack, reporting for Axios: A group of Uber investors has asked that venture capital firm Benchmark step down from the company's board of directors, Axios has learned. It also wants Benchmark to divest enough shares so as to no longer have board appointment rights. The move comes one day after Benchmark sued former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick for fraud, in an attempt to have him removed from the board. From the letter: Mr. Kalanick's resignation, along with other concessions, on a few hours' notice and within weeks of a personal tragedy, under threat of public scandal. Even less so your escalation of this fratricidal course -- notwithstanding Mr. Kalanick's resignation -- through your recent lawsuit, which we fear will cost the company public goodwill, interfere with fundraising and impede the critical search for a new, world-class Chief Executive Officer. Benchmark has used false allegations from lawsuits like Waymo as a matter of fact and this and many actions has crossed the fiduciary line. Benchmark's investment of $27M is worth $8.4 billion today and you are suing the founder, the company and the employees who worked so hard to create such unprecedented value. We ask you to please consider the lives of these employees and allow them to continue to grow this company in peace and make it thrive. These actions do the opposite.

Thanks Slashdot

By Kohath • Score: 3 • Thread

Please keep us apprised of which investors want what management changes at all the non-public startup companies. News with this level of relevance really clears the mind in an almost zen-like way.

Pay them the $8.4 billion for their shares

By BLToday • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

If you think they're causing problems and you feel their shares are worth $8.4 billion then pay them the $8.4 billion. Because by your logic Uber will be worth so much more once Benchmark is gone. I'm sure Benchmark will be very happy to dump their shares for $8.4 billion.

It's about control of the Board of Directors

By Fencepost • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
"The suit revolves around the June 2016 decision to expand the size of Uber's board of voting directors from eight to 11, with Kalanick having the sole right to designate those seats. Kalanick would later name himself to one of those seats following his resignation, since his prior board seat was reserved for the company's CEO. The other two seats remain unfilled." and "Benchmark alleges that Kalanick pledged in writing -- as part of his resignation agreement -- that the two empty board seats would be independent and subject to approval by the entire board (something Benchmark says was the reason it didn't sue for fraud at the time). But, according to the complaint, Kalanick has not been willing to codify those changes via an amended voting agreement."

Basically Kalanick PERSONALLY (not as Chairman, CEO or anything else) has the potential to control 3/11ths of the board, and if he can convince 3 more board members to go along then he can control the board even if the remaining 5 original board seats disagree. Benchmark regards this as way too risky considering all the other crap he's pulled in the past.

Startup To Put Cellphone Tower on the Moon

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An astronaut wandering the moon next year could use a smartphone to call home. If everything goes according to a plan, that is. A German startup is preparing to set up the first telecommunication infrastructure on the lunar surface. From a report: The German company Part Time Scientists, which originally competed for the Google Lunar X Prize race to the moon, plans to send a lander with a rover in late 2018 to visit the landing site of Apollo 17. (Launched in 1972, this was NASA's final Apollo mission to the moon.) Instead of using a complex dedicated telecommunication system to relay data from the rover to the Earth, the company will rely on LTE technology -- the same system used on Earth for mobile phone communications. "We are cooperating with Vodafone in order to provide LTE base stations on the moon," Karsten Becker, who heads embedded electronics development and integration for the startup, told "What we are aiming to do is to provide commercial service to bring goods to the moon and also to provide services on the surface of the moon," Becker added.

The moon will have better coverage than here

By MikeDataLink • Score: 3 • Thread

Fantastic! The moon will have better coverage than the town where I live! Wait. That sucks.

Will not be easy ...

By eneville • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

... using a smart phone with those gloves on.

Startup will put 'X' on moon

By onyxruby • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

We seem to get a story like this at least every other month. Just to keep some perspective on how ludicrous this is, here's a list of nation states that have landed something on the moon without crashing it:


A few more have deliberately crashed something on the moon:

Don't feed the marketing trolls by posting stories like this please. It wastes time and electrons that could be put to far better use....

Re:Dark Side

By thechemic • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
The spectrum on that side is reserved for Pink Floyd.

almost as dumb as fake news

By supernova87a • Score: 3 • Thread
That is the stupidest, least coherent article I've read in a long time. Does even have any editors or is it a direct channel from company press releases to puke onto the internet? (and do the content masters here on /. even read the articles?)

From what I can gather, the story is that they plan to use a relay box to send data from their rover to Earth (if they ever get there) rather than having a higher powered transmitted on the rover.

Aside from the "we think LTE means a cellphone on the moon" part, is this at all interesting?

Almost All of FCC's New Advisory Panel Works For Telecoms

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
New submitter simkel writes: When the Federal Communications Commission went looking this year for experts to sit on an advisory committee regarding deployment of high-speed internet, Gary Carter thought he would be a logical choice. Carter works for the city of Santa Monica, California, where he oversees City Net, one of the oldest municipal-run networks in the nation. The network sells high-speed internet to local businesses, and uses the revenue in part to connect low-income neighborhoods. That experience seemed to be a good match for the proposed Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC), which FCC Chairman Ajit Pai created this year. One of the panel's stated goals is to streamline city and state rules that might accelerate installation of high-speed internet. But one of the unstated goals, members say, is to make it easier for companies to build networks for the next generation wireless technology, called 5G. The advanced network, which promises faster speeds, will require that millions of small cells and towers be erected nationwide on city- and state-owned public property. The assignment seemed to call out for participation from city officials like Carter, since municipal officials approve where and what equipment telecommunications companies can place on public rights of way, poles and buildings. But the FCC didn't choose Carter -- or almost any of the other city or state government officials who applied. Sixty-four city and state officials were nominated for the panel, but the agency initially chose only two: Sam Liccardo, mayor of San Jose, California, and Kelleigh Cole from the Utah Governor's Office, according to documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity through a Freedom of Information Act request. Pai later appointed another city official, Andy Huckaba, a member of the Lenexa, Kansas, city council. Instead the FCC loaded the 30-member panel with corporate executives, trade groups and free-market scholars. More than three out of four seats on the BDAC are filled by business-friendly representatives from the biggest wireless and cable companies such as AT&T, Comcast, Sprint, and TDS Telecom. Crown Castle International Corp., the nation's largest wireless infrastructure company, and Southern, the nation's second-largest utility firm, have representatives on the panel.

Re:I got karma to burn

By parallel_prankster • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Trump was elected by folks who have no idea of how government runs. They were scared of extinction of their way of life, their religious beliefs and they compromised other things for the preservation of their choices. The entire business over bureaucracy stuff was just fluffy excuses.

Re:I got karma to burn

By El Cubano • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

In my mind, the real lesson to draw from this is that every time you think to yourself "the government should [fill-in-the-blank]," you need to stop right there and perform a thought experiment. The procedure is:

  1. Imagine that you got your way and that all the power you wish to grant to the government on the issue at hand gets granted
  2. Now, imagine that after the power is firmly entrenched that those who hold opposing views to yours are put in power (win the election, get appointed, etc.)
  3. Now, imagine that those who have an opposing view to yours twist and use the power granted to them (legally) in the most damaging way possible
  4. Now, imagine that both those who have views congruent with yours and opposed to yours will abuse the law and the power that they have been granted
  5. Now, imagine yourself saying, "maybe the government shouldn't..."

I am not trying to say that we should strive for anarchy, rather that we should very carefully consider the sorts of things that we rope the government into at the federal, state, and local level. Matters in which the government gets involved frequently turn out differently than we expect.

I'd actually take Trump over Romney

By rsilvergun • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
it's all the same Goldman Sach's people running the show and we'd still be gearing up for war with North Korea. The difference is Romney would have gotten the Obamacare repeal through and we'd all be losing pre-existing coverage. Trump is like any other Republican but not as good at it. Lots and lots of cronyism, Low taxes, no regulation/EPA and no social programs. Romney's the same but he's better at it. As for McCain, he's got about a year left in him so a vote for him was really a vote for his VP. And that probably woulda still been Pence.

You don't hand government power

By rsilvergun • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
you hand it tasks. Then you use Democracy to make sure those tasks don't turn into power. Now, here's another thought experiement:

Every time you think to yourself "the government should [fill-in-the-blank],"

then say "maybe they government shouldnt..."

Now remind yourself of the power vacuum you just created and how the mega corporations just rushed in to fill it. Stop to realized you're going to have a government whether you like it or not, and that the only real question is are you going to take part in it...

Re:Regulatory Capture

By Jason Levine • Score: 4 • Thread

The telecoms have been for a "Network Neutrality" law passed by Congress. The catch was that the law was written by the telecoms and would be so full of loopholes that it would be useless. This way, the telecoms could claim to be observing Net Neutrality, Congress could say they voted for Net Neutrality, and people who didn't know better would think Net Neutrality won. It's like when they get legislators to count a town as "wired for high speed Internet" when one house in the town is wired. Then, they just wire the bare minimum (perhaps a rich section of town), call the job done, and pocket the rest of the funds they were given to wire the town.

Blizzard Starts Drive To Recruit More Women and Ethnic Minorities

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a report: The company behind games like World of Warcraft and Overwatch has started a drive to recruit more women and ethnic minorities. The information is in a leaked internal email from Blizzard's CEO, seen by the website Kotako. It claims 21 percent of Blizzard's employees are women, and although that's similar to the rest of the gaming industry, it says it wants to do better. The company claims the initiative will focus on finding more female employees and getting them to stay on longer. At the moment women are leaving at a higher rate than men but it says it'll fall short of setting "quotas."

Once again, PC destroys

By p51d007 • Score: 3 • Thread
Instead of getting the BEST for anything, they will end up watering down their hiring process more likely, just to "look good" in the eyes of the public (and at their meetings). They can say see...see...see...we have minorities working here! Look at us! We are good because we have hired minorities! Just one example of what happens when you water down something, just to be politically correct. In the 70's...Miami-Metro Dade watered down the hiring process for police officers. They wanted to be politically correct, and hire more minorities, in response to the "cuban boat lift" garbage thanks to Jimmy Carter. Ole Castro dumped a bunch of losers, criminals on the Florida coast. Minorities said it wasn't fair to have an all white police force. So, they LOWERED THE STANDARDS, allowed more unqualified people to be an officer. In the 80's the Metro-Dade was one of the more corrupt police departments around. Drugs, murders, extortion, prostitution and on and on. Instead of what most likely will happen, they hire people who are not qualified, or, are not the best & brightest in their field, they should look for qualified people. You watch their business suffer, because of this. Happens every time you water things down.

Re:"more women and ethnic minorities"

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

It is also possible Blizzard concluded their customers would boycott the products unless there are more women and ethnic minorities among the employees

It's not their customers. It's gaming "journalists". They're some of the most hardcore SJWs around and they run campaign after campaign against anyone who doesn't pledge allegiance to their cause. Are you not diverse enough? Well, here's a bad review! Does your game make me feel icky? Bad reviews! Did you not hire my friend? Bad review!

They've got a great protection racket going.


By HanzoSpam • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Can anyone name a benefit to diversity that's anything close to compensation for all the bullshit we've had to endure achieving it?

Re:"more women and ethnic minorities"

By iMadeGhostzilla • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

You're quite possibly right. In which case the announcement, for what it's worth, is still a business decision, which was my point.

Btw I usually don't reply to ACs but the fact that you chose to post that way is another sign of how we as the society have burdened ourselves with fear, all in the name of "progress".

Re:"more women and ethnic minorities"

By Hylandr • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Or quests for dinner in some far away region only to be told she's no longer in the mood for that and wants to go to the other end of the map for the thing that's a thousand times more expensive and might cause your balls to erupt in flames.

Microsoft Dismisses Consumer Reports' Surface Complaints, But Doesn't Offer Much Evidence

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Microsoft has publicly responded to Consumer Reports, saying that it disagrees with the publication's Surface reliability findings. But the company hasn't offered much in the way of evidence. In a blog post, Surface chief Panos Panay writes: In the Surface team we track quality constantly, using metrics that include failure and return rates -- both our predicted 1-2-year failure and actual return rates for Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book are significantly lower than 25%. Additionally, we track other indicators of quality such as incidents per unit (IPU), which have improved from generation to generation and are now at record lows of well below 1%. Surface also ranks highly in customer satisfaction. 98% of Surface Pro 4 users and Surface Book users say they are satisfied with their device, and our Surface Laptop and new Surface Pro continue to get rave reviews. Long-time watcher Paul Thurrott writes: Does changing the time frame from "by the end of the second year of ownership" to "1-2 year failure rate" skew the results because more failures happen later in a product's lifetime? Also, he introduces the notion of "return rates" here. By definition, the feedback that Consumer Reports receives is from product owners, not those who have returned products. If someone is almost two years into device ownership, they are not returning the product. They're just using it. And dealing with it. So consider the issue muddled, in just one carefully-constructed sentence. Which I believe was crafted to confuse the issue. But there is more. "Additionally, we track other indicators of quality such as incidents per unit (IPU), which have improved from generation to generation and are now at record lows of well below 1 percent," Panay offers. It's not possible to understand how an "incident" relates to a "failure." Mostly because he doesn't explain the term. Likely because doing so would betray that this is an apples to oranges comparison. [...] I will point the reader to Welcome to Surfacegate, my description of Microsoft's feeble attempts to ignore and then slowly fix endemic issues with those exact two Surface models. And anecdotally, I'll point to the fact that the three Surface Book models I've used have all had reliability problems. But the biggest issue I have with "customer satisfaction" is that it's kind of a bullshit measurement when it comes to premium products.

Stuff that they don't track

By postmortem • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

Is why 3 generations of this device can't properly go to sleep mode. Every other wake is either: device dead or wifi dead.

But of course, you can blame it to testing methodology...

Re:Stuff that they don't track

By the_skywise • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Hear hear - Although I don't have as much problems with sleep mode as I do with dead wifi or dead camera coming out of sleep mode.
I've been trained to expect that from windows PC manufacturers as MS and the hardware vendors go back and forth. But here, MS produces both the hardware AND the software and you'd think they could at least resolve the problems after 2 years (SP4 user here).

We began to switch our laptop pool over to Surface

By pecosdave • Score: 3 • Thread

We started with about eight Surface Pro 3's and being that I like to experiment with cost savings we got two of the Surface Non-Pro's with Atom processors inside to test for intern/assistant level stuff.

We have two of those Pro's still functioning and I think we have one of the Atom's still in use but I'm not sure where it is, I may have to dig up inventory records.

That being said we have MacBook Pro's that are four to five times the age of these oldest Surface in use still being used as well as Lenovo T400's, some Dell's that are just about as old and a couple of other clunkers hanging on in lesser roles. You have to see a Surface as a disposable system.

I have a 64GB Surface Pro 1 at home that's still works like a champ and with the I5 processor it still functions as a champion coffee shop cruiser. That being said I care about my equipment. My daughter has a Surface Pro 4 that having received it at Christmas time has already outlasted a lot of the 3's in hours of use we've had around here many times over.

I'm to say that a Surface is a good unit for people who give a shit about their equipment, but not in a company environment where replacement is someone else's problem. It's like buying a used rental car - which I have done. You just sort of expect to have to replace the tires and brakes even if it only has 20,000 miles on it. Buy a new Surface for yourself they're pretty awesome and the software problems that plagued them on Windows 8 seem to have gone away with WIndows 10, just don't waste your money in a corporate environment. *

*I have not tested the Surface laptops (attached keyboard types) or the all-in-one desktops

Just given one of these at work..

By xtal • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I have been looking at the Surface for awhile. It looked OK.

Then I got one at work to replace my aging Dell Latitude. (Surface Pro 4)

The keyboard is junk. It's flimsy and moves when you type on it; the trackpad, which is required if you're using it as a computer (which I have to) is very narrow in depth and is difficult to use when compounded by the fact everything flexes when you use it.

Using this device on anything but a flat table or desk is right out.

Also, it's covered in Microfiber. WTF. This stuff attracts lint, dust, and pet hair like nobody's business and I shudder to think how grimy it's going to be in a year or so.

In short, Microsoft turned what looked like an OK tablet into a horrible computer.

That I'm stuck with.

Maybe for years.


This is why many in the NFL are frustrated

By smooth wombat • Score: 3 • Thread
The NFL has a contract with Microsoft to use their Surface tablets on the sidelines. They tout it as a way for the team to get almost real time information on play calling, whether offense or defense. Unfortunately, and directly related to this article, there are those, particularly coaches and quarterbacks, who bemoan the unpredictability of the Surface and its many malfunctions.

Even worse, people were initially calling them iPads or iPad-like which certainly didn't sit well with the marketing crew at Microsoft.

Microsoft can claim all they want their Surface is doing well, but from real world experiences, where timely information is invaluable, or in the case of Consumer Reports where Surface owners report the numerous problems they have, there is only so much spin which can be done to try and spackle over these poorly performing devices.

Oracle Fiddles With Major Database Release Cycle Numbers

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a report: Big Red has changed its database release cycle, scrapping names that see decimal points and numbers added on for an indeterminate amount of time, instead plumping for annual releases numbered by the year. So what would have been Oracle Database will now be Oracle Database 18; will come out a year later, and be Oracle Database 19. The approach puts Oracle only about 20 years behind Microsoft in adopting a year-based naming convention (Microsoft still uses years to number Windows Server, even though it stopped for desktop versions when it released XP). [...] Well, Big Red will surely be using the revamp as a way to boost sales of database licences -- a crucial part of its business -- which have been in decline for two years running. In fiscal 2016, Oracle reported a 12 per cent drop in annual sales of new software licences, and its most recent results for fiscal 2017 revealed a further 5 per cent drop. And, for all that Oracle has shouted about its cloudy success of late, it isn't yet a major money-maker for the biz. New software license sales make up a quarter of overall revenue, while support for that software makes up a further 45 per cent. In part, the new numbering will be a handy marketing ploy. Rather than playing with the decimal points, a release with a new whole number could be an attempt to give the impression of agility in the face of younger, fresher competitors. Meanwhile, fewer patches and releases on each system also allows Oracle to know more quickly, and more accurately, what security features each customer has. The annual numbering system is also a very simple way of telling you your system is old.

shun Oracle DBMS

By iggymanz • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

For quite a while minor point releases have had major API and behavior changes.

Technical matters aside, their auditors swarm into a company like Yakuza thugs making up fallacious reasons why the customer must pay more money or must use Oracle hardware. One of their lies is for virtualized customers, saying that every connected physical system where Oracle *might* run must be paid for as if the product really was running there. Of course, with careful legal work taking many months there nonsense can be refuted, and they'll leave....but that's after a large amount of man-hours of effort expended.

You've been warned. If you use their products, migrate. If you are considering using their products, don't.

Re:shun Oracle DBMS

By NoNonAlphaCharsHere • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
So you're saying that Oracle is a bunch of thieving assholes, their products are a gigantic pain in the ass to run, and their licensing is a mind-boggingly huge rip-off?



By frank_adrian314159 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Friends don't let friends use Oracle.

Microsoft is weirder

By jrq • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Microsoft Windows initially adopted a pretty sane version numbering scheme. Everything was fine up to Windows 3.11, then suddenly we were at Windows 95, followed by Windows 98, a bewildering Windows 98 SE (Second Edition), Windows Millennium Edition (designed to conflict with Windows 2000, its NT cousin?).

What a mess! What was so great about 1995?

But under the hood, the major version numbers were still ticking over. Windows 95/98/Me = Version 4, Windows XP = Version 5, Windows Vista = Version 6, and then back to numbers again with Windows 7, and the list is soon to supplemented by Windows 8. But wait! Under the covers Windows 7 is actually Windows version 6.1. That makes no sense. I mean it really doesnâ(TM)t. Apparently the reason for this is to allow software that checks for compatibility to run correctly. Specifically, software written to run in Vista will run in Windows 7. This is stupid. Windows 8 is version 6.2! Windows 9 was skipped altogether because it would interfere with version checks that already looked for Windows 95 and Windows 98.

I don't know what Windows 10 is under the hood.

Postgres overtaking like Tesla in ludicrous mode

By rbrander • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I was an Oracle user for 25 years, took my first course on Oracle 6 in 1991. That was the introduction of it into my employer (City of Calgary) which was locked in IBM mainframery at the time; they had to accept Oracle as needed for GIS mapping, the ESRI and other GIS products all practically demanded Oracle.

Now, I was not up at the sysadmin end, where Oracle's tools for moving whole databases about, and spreading them across disks and servers and all that, are greatly appreciated. But just as a user, all the needs I had for a GIS database had been replicated in Free Software by the time I retired.

I think Postgres stacks up fairly well against Oracle, even for the sysadmins fussing over partitions and multiple servers, these days; but for my needs, now considered humble, a mere 10GB database of every pipe, every house, every lot and street, every bit of water infrastructure in a large city and all the work-orders done on those pipes in 10 years - was handled by PostGIS (Postgres with a GIS plug-in) with ease. On a laptop. I started doing real work on my PostGIS copy (and no, transfer from Oracle to Postgres was not remotely difficult) because I had more control over it, was the DBA. Convenient sometimes.

I guess some Oracle admins will always have a situation where they can say "the free software alternatives just don't let me manage my petabytes easily for 365x24 service", fair enough.

But so many work needs can be handled well by a reliable database product that can manage a mere few hundred gigabytes quickly and well, that I think if everybody who *could* switch to Postgres *did* switch to Postgres, Oracle would be trying to fund itself on a small fraction of their current customer base, though they would all be huge customers.

I wouldn't have written that in 2012 when I first looked at Postgres, but their developments since 8.5 have been especially impressive. I recall a debate in their committees a few years back where they worried not enough developers were handling the routine bug-fixes and minor upgrades with each version: too many people were excitedly putting in major new features like 'big database support' and UPSERT (9.5), "parallel query and synchronous replication" (9.6) and so on, to take care of basics. They've had a very impressive five years. As to the predictions for Postgres 10, I can't even understand them: ... but they are apparently awesome from the fan reviews.

I tried to get IT at work to have a look at Postgres, but it was a non-starter: our PeopleSoft application is married to Oracle and there's no way they'd have two DB products. Indeed, Oracle may be safe for decades yet unless somebody like EnterpriseDB comes up with a really popular Oracle-to-PG migration for both SAP and PeopleSoft. Those things could not be removed from most large corporations with a nuclear-powered crowbar, so they're Oracle's best lock-in partners right now.

Developers File Antitrust Complaint Against Apple in China

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
A Chinese law firm has filed a complaint against Apple on behalf of 28 local developers alleging the firm breached antitrust regulations. From a report: The complaint, lodged by Beijing-based Dare & Sure Law Firm, accuses Apple of charging excessive fees and removing apps from its local store without proper explanation, Lin Wei, an attorney at the firm told Reuters on Thursday. "During its localization process Apple has run into several antitrust issues ... after an initial investigation we consulted a number of enterprises and got a very strong response," said Lin. The law firm invited developers to join the complaint in April and on Tuesday filed it to China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce and the National Development and Reform Commission, which oversees antitrust matters in the country.

Re:Sour Grapes

By John.Banister • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
You'd also think that they'd have to admit that Apple has enough market share for anti-trust matters to be relevant, but I think what it'll actually come own to is how well connected the law firm is to the Chinese government, and whether any equally well-connected law firm is willing to represent Apple.

HBO Hacker Leaks Message From HBO Offering $250,000 'Bounty Payment'

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The HBO hacker has struck yet again. From a report: Variety has obtained a copy of another message released Thursday by the anonymous hacker to select journalists in which HBO is apparently responding to the initial video letter that was sent informing the Time Warner-owned company of the massive data breach. The message from HBO, dated July 27, features the network's offer to make a "bounty payment" of $250,000 as part of a program in which "white hat IT professionals" are rewarded for "bringing these types of things to our attention." While the message takes a curiously non-confrontational tone in response to a hacker out to damage HBO, a source close to the investigation who confirmed the veracity of the email explained it was worded that way to stall for time while the company attempted to assess the serious situation.

Re:Lesson for HBO: Pay for good IT people

By Baron_Yam • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

>I've been working in IT for over 20 years, and the thing I've seen over and over again is

Let's generalize a bit. You've seen that corporations collect knowledge but not wisdom, so they keep repeating the fundamental mistakes while avoiding repeating the exact circumstances of them.

Outsourcing vs. in-house. Cubical farms vs. offices. Part time vs. full time. Exploiting vs. 'partnering' with employees. It all goes in cycles of about half a career-span, as new people take over and experience is lost.

Unfortunately, you do need to import new knowledge and youthful enthusiasm from time to time, and people do tend to calcify as they age and eventually they go and die on you.

I simply find it very frustrating that I can see these loops and I'm not a genius, I'm simply in my 40s. Which leaves me wondering what kind of idiots are running the show, given that most of the people above me in the org structure are older.

dont bullshit the hangman.

By nimbius • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
When someone has proof theyve penetrated your network security and is holding your bread and butter hostage you have two choices: 1. pay the bounty and reassess the network. 2. dont pay, eat the loss, and still reassess the network.

There isnt a CISSP section on stalling for time by bullshitting people who are clearly far more intelligent than you. If anything, you've just hardened their resolve to leak more out of sheer animosity.

Re:Lesson for HBO: Pay for good IT people

By Pascoea • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
$250k will buy you two mid-level security engineers for a year. ( source) That doesn't seem like that would cut it for an organization as large as HBO.

Re:Lesson for HBO: Pay for good IT people

By CodeHog • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
"Everything is running fine, why are we paying IT so much?" "Everything is broken, what are we paying IT for?"

Re: Hacker is Anarchist or Small Child

By Opportunist • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I don't feel denigrated by being likened to a small child. Small children are at least curious and eager to learn (at least before this gets driven out of them when they get confronted by the school system).

Most adults are lazy fucks that couldn't be bothered to learn something if their life depended on it.

Safari Should Display Favicons in Its Tabs

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Favicon -- or its lack thereof, to be precise -- has remained one of the longest running issues Safari users have complained about. For those of you who don't use Safari, just have a look at this mess I had earlier today when I was using Safari on a MacBook. There's no way I can just have a look at the tabs and make any sense of them. John Gruber, writing for DaringFireball: The gist of it is two-fold: (1) there are some people who strongly prefer to see favicons in tabs even when they don't have a ton of tabs open, simply because they prefer identifying tabs graphically rather than by the text of the page title; and (2) for people who do have a ton of tabs open, favicons are the only way to identify tabs. With many tabs open, there's really nothing subjective about it: Chrome's tabs are more usable because they show favicons. [...] Once Safari gets to a dozen or so tabs in a window, the left-most tabs are literally unidentifiable because they don't even show a single character of the tab title. They're just blank. I, as a decade-plus-long dedicated Safari user, am jealous of the usability and visual clarity of Chrome with a dozen or more tabs open. And I can see why dedicated Chrome users would consider Safari's tab design a non-starter to switching. I don't know what the argument is against showing favicons in Safari's tabs, but I can only presume that it's because some contingent within Apple thinks it would spoil the monochromatic aesthetic of Safari's toolbar area. [...] And it's highly debatable whether Safari's existing no-favicon tabs actually do look better. The feedback I've heard from Chrome users who won't even try Safari because it doesn't show favicons isn't just from developers -- it's from designers too. To me, the argument that Safari's tab bar should remain text-only is like arguing that MacOS should change its Command-Tab switcher and Dock from showing icons to showing only the names of applications. The Mac has been famous ever since 1984 for placing more visual significance on icons than on names. The Mac attracts visual thinkers and its design encourages visual thinking. So I think Safari's text-only tab bar isn't just wrong in general, it's particularly wrong on the Mac.

Re:Tree Style Tab

By ComputerInsultant • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Tree Style Tab is planning on full functionality in FF57. You can track their progress here

Check your facts before yelling that the sky is falling.


By Shotgun • Score: 3 • Thread

I've heard of First World Problems before, but for the love of all that is holy, would you people please go outside occasionally?


By hackel • Score: 3 • Thread

So, let me get this straight. A user of a proprietary browser is unhappy about a basic feature that has been missing for the past 15 years, yet he CONTINUES to use said piece of shit proprietary browser all this time? Really? If you're not happy with the product, STOP using it. It couldn't get any simpler. The fact that their is not one, but TWO vastly superior, open-source browsers out there should be a clue that you're on the losing team. John Gruber is an idiot.

Never noticed ...

By angel'o'sphere • Score: 3 • Thread

I actually hate this icon mania, especially in IDEs.
Most icons are random coloured bollocks which I don't care to memorize.
OTOH I'm a 'whole word / half sentence' reader. Scanning a bunch of tabs takes no time.
Then again I also use AppleScript(s), just google for FindTab AppleScript.

And finally, stop implying that your usage of a computer is in any way professional when you can not adapt to its features. Hint: more windows (e.g. one per search) and less tabs, e.g. one per search result.

What really is anoying in all browsers that the windows menu display the title of the window with the URL added to the right. I want At least the domain first. It takes ages to find the single window that is displaying (but well that is why I got a FindTab-script :P )

Re:Illusion of usablility

By Chriscypher • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

At some point late in Steve Job's reign, Apple seemed to have purged all the UX expertise, instead allowing graphic designers and developers to do what thy will. In the past, actual usability testing had been used to defined documented user interface standards, and Apple's user interface group was top notch. I've been a Mac user since 1984, an UX designer in the '90-'00's , and have disappointedly watched this roller coaster going from "insanely great" to the "one sheet of glass" designer bullshit of late.

Safari started going downhill as iOS became dominant. Favicons are just part of the problem. In Safari, the Window tab, which lists all open browser windows, used to be sorted spatially. Frontmost browser windows were listed first. This placed windows you were currently using at the top of the list. Several years ago, some idiot decided to change this list to sort order to alphabetical, probably without realizing the original utility. How the %#$@ am I supposed to know what some web page is titled? Page title often changes within a site as the user navigates between pages, so with alpha title sort, the site position on the windows list arbitrarily changes.

Without spatial organization finding one of the dozen pages open in Safari is as difficult as finding an app somewhere on the many app pages in iOS, or trying to find an app to launch on the Watch cluster of similar round icons. It's a cognitive disaster, which reduces usefulness and place form far above function.

This is the decline which has brought us a "professional" laptop whose primary design criteria seem to have been "thinner" and "lighter", instead of the dozen other criteria which actual heavy-daily-users desire.

Ugh. Bring back "insanely great".
Now get off my lawn. Argh.

Hearing Loss of US Diplomats In Cuba Is Blamed On Covert Device

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
bsharma shares a report from The Boston Globe: The two-year-old U.S. diplomatic relationship with Cuba was roiled Wednesday by what U.S. officials say was a string of bizarre incidents that left a group of American diplomats in Havana with severe hearing loss attributed to a covert sonic device. In the fall of 2016, a series of U.S. diplomats began suffering unexplained losses of hearing, according to officials with knowledge of the investigation into the case. Several of the diplomats were recent arrivals at the embassy, which reopened in 2015 as part of former President Barack Obama's reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. Some of the diplomats' symptoms were so severe that they were forced to cancel their tours early and return to the United States, officials said. After months of investigation, U.S. officials concluded that the diplomats had been exposed to an advanced device that operated outside the range of audible sound and had been deployed either inside or outside their residences. It was not immediately clear if the device was a weapon used in a deliberate attack, or had some other purpose.

Maybe something like The Thing?

By Lothsahn • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
I wonder if it had any similarities to The Thing, a Soviet listening device that required no power...

Re:Well, that's done then

By Strider- • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

using a focused sound/energy device to make someone deaf is totally the same-thing as listening to voice mails lol

There is no indication that this was a deliberate attack. Spying on diplomats and missions is always part of the game of international relations, especially between nation-states that do not have the best relations. Whatever caused this could easily have been a side effect of a covert listening device or technique and an unintended consequence.

During the cold war, the US Embassy in Moscow was given a wooden version of the Great Seal of the United States by local school children. What they didn't know is that it contained a covert listening device, which consisted of a passive resonant cavity. It worked by having the KGB transmit microwave energy from across the street, which would resonate in the bit of metal, and re-radiated. (more info here.

A Canadian diplomat and family were also affected by the same thing, the chances of it being a deliberate attack is relatively low as Canada has had good relations with Cuba for pretty much all of its modern history.

Re:Same thing happened at the Canadian Embassy.

By Dan East • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

In a comment earlier I threw out the idea that the hearing damage was caused by a countersurveillance device (such as one to disrupt laser microphones) that was employed incorrectly (used continuously when only meant for use for a few minutes at a time, wrong settings for the size of the room, etc). The fact that it happened to Canadians too might lend credence to that theory, as it is likely the US and Canada shares some degree of technology or services to protect diplomats in foreign countries. Still, this seems the kind of thing that the CIA would try and sweep under the rug if it was US tech that caused it, instead of playing dumb and letting it become mysterious international news.

There's also the possibility that the Cubans employed such a device to protect the privacy of foreign diplomats, as a nice gesture, and it the technology was misused in some way to cause hearing damage.

Re:Remind me...

By Kjella • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

LOL, where do you guys get this stuff?

For most of us there's a clear barrier between imagination and reality, dreams and being awake, fact and fiction. For some, that barrier is broken. You can see that there's "fashions" in lunacy, like after Roswell lots of people claimed to have been abducted by aliens. People read about being abducted by little grey men, then they get abducted by little grey men. A lot of the seed stories aren't created by loons though, like for example there's good indication that Roswell was about making money. And it worked extremely well, maybe they weren't exactly your average tourist but a lot of people came and spent a lot of money they'd never have otherwise.

Which is why I'm pretty sure most of the political conspiracy theories are plants, because even if they're nuts at some point Obama had to spend time and resources disputing the lunacy. And once the ball is rolling everyone can add their own flavor. Father born in Kenya? Let's start a birther theory. Middle name Hussain? Let's start some theories that he's a Muslim... and a terrorist. Black man? Let's start some "Malcom X" theories for white people, some "Uncle Tom" theories for black people. Probably some Illuminati/NWO too, that works for all people in power. The conspiracy theorists tend to love it when you pile it on. And once you get a big enough ball rolling, you start setting off the "no smoke without fire" alarms even in more reasonable people.

The Internet has been a great boon for conspiracy theorists, because even though it's made people with very narrow interests make contact with like-minded all over the world it's also enabled echo-chambers with their entirely own alt-reality. And a lot of people think doing "research" on say #pizzagate is reading all the drivel and watching all the YouTube videos about it. Then you have the semi-reputable sites like Breitbart feeding the fire by keeping an arm's length distance from the actual conspiracies while driving people to them. So plants are the spark, conspiracy nuts the kindling and alt-sites bring the firewood. And the rest of the world wonders why the fires are so hard to put out...

Re:Remind me...

By MightyMartian • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I don't know at this stage how anyone could think the Russians didn't try to meddle with the election. The Russians have also attempted to muck about with recent European elections as well. The Russians are not the West's friends, and seeking division and chaos among the Western powers is critical, seeing as economically they are a midget, and even militarily they could not hope to meet the power of NATO. They have nukes, cheap oil and hackers.

Why Amazon's UK Tax Bill Has Dropped 50%

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: Amazon has seen a 50% fall in the amount of UK corporation tax it paid last year, while recording a 54% increase in turnover for the same period. This snippet of news raised eyebrows this morning when it was revealed. So what's going on? Taxes are paid on profit not turnover. It paid lower taxes because it made lower profits. Last year it made 48 million British Pounds (BP) or ~$62 million U.S. dollars (USD) in profit -- this year it made only 24 million BP or ~$31 million USD so it paid 7 million BP (~$9 million USD) tax compared to 15 million BP (~$19 million USD). What is more interesting is WHY its profits were lower. Part of the reason is the way it pays its staff. Amazon UK Services is the division which runs the fulfillment centers which process, package and post deliveries to UK customers. It employs about 16,000 of the 24,000 people Amazon have in the UK. Each full-time employee gets given at least 1,000 BP (~$1,297 USD) worth of shares every year. They can't cash them in immediately -- they have to hold them for a period of between one and three years.

If Amazon's share price goes up in that time, those shares are worth more. Amazon's share price has indeed gone up over the past couple of years -- a lot. In fact, in the past two years the share price has nearly doubled, so 1,000 BP (~$1,297 USD) in shares granted in August 2015 are now worth nearly 2,000 BP (~$2,595 USD). Staff compensation goes up, compensation is an expense, expenses can be deducted from revenue -- so profits are lower and so are the taxes on those profits.

That's not right...

By Arbitary5664 • Score: 3, Informative • Thread
Firstly, any stock awarded to an employee in the UK is immediately given a "Fair Market Value" evaluation -- again that's ***on award***. So, if you get given 1,000 GBP worth of stock tomorrow, and you pay nothing for it, the UK will tax you at whatever your income rate is for that 1000 GBP. Secondly, if the stock goes up, you get taxed _again_ when you sell it. The company isn't paying shit in taxes for this, mind you, they're passing it on to the employer -- and the company has it's asset liabilities frozen from the time of award. The only exception is occasionally on something called 'Held Shares', which generally the plebs of a business do not fucking get access to and _still_ require that initial up-front on-award payment.

So, whatever Amazon is doing, it's still just fleecing the UK out of tax revenue. Meanwhile, the lower classes of British people are all applauding a minor adjustment of their shitty flattax that favours the wealthy, entirely forgetting that the ultra rich (which this supposed tax change is aimed at) get paid in _assets_ not via a monthly paycheque. Pay is billed at 15%, 25%, 40%, and 45% from ~15k, 25k, 40k, and then 150-fucking-k. Basically anyone over 40k loses half their wage to taxes, and has to pay 20% VAT. Meanwhile, assets if held are taxed at. ~15%. :)

People in the UK are surprisingly fucking retarded about tax.


By stealth_finger • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Seriously? Use the very standard GBP if your keyboard doesn't have a £. Maybe if it doesn't you can go on amazon and spend some AD on a new one.

Re:Simple explanation for this

By stealth_finger • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
What the fuck are you talking about? Hard work doesn't matter in the UK, we're getting shafted hard and it's only going get harder once they trigger the inevitable nuclear brexit, the harder working the job the harder the shaft. What are these ridiculous and harmful social programs you resent? Do you mean the NHS? Some taxes are worth paying you know. Well, they are if they go to what they're supposed to instead of corporate welfare and massive billion quid bungs to hold on to power.

Very ironic, very satirical

By Archtech • Score: 3 • Thread

The employees are rewarded with shares that keep increasing in value. Why are the shares increasing in value? Because Amazon's expenses are so low. Why are Amazon's expenses so low? Because it skimps on employee salaries. How does it manage that? By giving the employees shares.

Ponzi scheme
n noun a form of fraud in which belief in the success of a non-existent enterprise is fostered by the payment of quick returns to the first investors from money invested by later investors.

        named after Charles Ponzi, who carried out such a fraud (1919–20).

In other words

By GrumpySteen • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

"Hey, let's give corporations tax deductions for the cost of stocks they give to their CEOs!"
"Jolly good idea! CEOs can barely afford a third vacation house and a private jet. They need more shares of stock!"

...time passes...

"WTF? Why are we giving corporations tax deductions for the cost of stocks given to the peasants? This is an outrage!"

Astronomers Detect Four Earth-Sized Planets Orbiting The Nearest Sun-Like Star

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Tim Stephens reports via The University of California in Santa Cruz: A new study by an international team of astronomers reveals that four Earth-sized planets orbit the nearest sun-like star, tau Ceti, which is about 12 light years away and visible to the naked eye. These planets have masses as low as 1.7 Earth mass, making them among the smallest planets ever detected around nearby sun-like stars. Two of them are super-Earths located in the habitable zone of the star, meaning they could support liquid surface water. The planets were detected by observing the wobbles in the movement of tau Ceti. This required techniques sensitive enough to detect variations in the movement of the star as small as 30 centimeters per second. The outer two planets around tau Ceti are likely to be candidate habitable worlds, although a massive debris disc around the star probably reduces their habitability due to intensive bombardment by asteroids and comets.

Sun gravitational lens

By Katatsumuri • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Our best bet to get a closer look any sooner is to use our Sun as a gravitational lens. It is still a challenge, because we would need to put a telescope at the correct side of the Sun at about 550 AU, far beyond the orbit of Pluto, but it is much closer to our technological reach than actual interstellar probes. NASA is thinking about this project: https://www.technologyreview.c...

Getting close to answering a BIG question!

By wisebabo • Score: 3 • Thread

Wow, it appears like we are really getting close to being able to answer the question: are we alone in the Universe?

I'm amazed that they were able to detect the "wobbles" using (relatively) inexpensive ground-based telescopes. Just a little bit of improvement and they'll be able to detect earth sized planets (although maybe 1.7x mass isn't too bad; I think the surface gravity might be just a little higher depending on the density).

Soon, a space based telescope (the James Web ST?) may, with these super-sensitive instruments, be able to take the next crucial step and determine the composition of their atmospheres. If they detect free oxygen or other products of biological (or even industrial!) by-products, we'll know that there's life elsewhere in the universe! Maybe we'll find out sooner this way than a similar positive result coming from a probe we send to Mars, Europa, Enceladus or Titan.

Of course, although I'm hoping that we'll see a biological signal, I really really doubt we'll see something that is the product of a technological civilization. Unfortunately, we still don't know the answer to Fermi's paradox. (I really wish the Chinese would take their new giant radio telescope and dedicate it to looking for signals). Until we hear from someone; we'll have to assume that maybe (intelligent) life in the Universe is rare.

I hope it's not because intelligent life usually kills itself off (like we seem to be doing:

Full disclosure: in my partially misspent youth I worked on S.E.T.I. :)

Re:Getting close to answering a BIG question!

By Baron_Yam • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

>we still don't know the answer to Fermi's paradox.

"Space is big. Really big. You just wonâ(TM)t believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is. I mean you may think itâ(TM)s a long way down the road to the chemistâ(TM)s, but thatâ(TM)s just peanuts to space." - The Hitchhikerâ(TM)s Guide To The Galaxy

I know some space enthusiasts talk about even a single civilization sending out a Von Neumann probe resulting in the whole galaxy being blanketed in a few hundred million years... but space is big, hostile, slow to traverse, and resources are really tough to get access to.

It's very much possible that there's no single answer to the Fermi Paradox, but it's a little bit of all the factors. The base raw materials for life are likely extremely common (similar clouds of gas collapsing into similar systems), but life may be rare and I would expect complex life building technologically advanced space-faring (or even communicating) civilizations to be a fraction of those.

Combine the likely rarity of intelligent life with the massive distances (involving massive time delays)... and you can get a lot of lonely species all thinking there's nobody else out there simply because they can't communicate with each other in any practical way.