the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2017-Oct-12 today archive


  1. FDA Advisers Endorse Gene Therapy To Treat Form of Blindness
  2. Google Is Really Good At Design
  3. Driverless Cars Are Giving Engineers a Fuel Economy Headache
  4. Alphabet's Waymo Demanded $1 Billion In Settlement Talks With Uber
  5. Google Permanently Disables Touch Function On All Home Minis Due To Privacy Concerns
  6. DJI Unveils Technology To Identify and Track Airborne Drones
  7. Hyatt Hotels Discovers Card Data Breach At 41 Properties Across 11 Countries
  8. US Weapons Data Stolen During Raid of Australian Defense Contractor's Computers
  9. Google Announces $1 Billion Job Training and Education Program
  10. Learn To Code, It's More Important Than English as a Second Language, Says Apple CEO
  11. 'Maybe Wikipedia Readers Shouldn't Need Science Degrees To Digest Articles About Basic Topics'
  12. We're Too Wise For Robots To Take Our Jobs, Alibaba's Jack Ma Says
  13. Hollywood Studios Join Disney To Launch Movies Anywhere Digital Locker Service
  14. Comcast Pressures Local Cable Firms to Curb Low-Cost TV Packages
  15. Down the Rabbit Hole With a BLU Phone Infection
  16. Equifax Takes Web Page Offline After Reports of New Cyber Attack
  17. Legal Online Gambling Could Return To the US
  18. Equifax Website Hacked Again, this Time To Redirect To Fake Flash Update
  19. How Facebook Outs Sex Workers
  20. Richard Branson's Virgin Group Invests in Super-fast Hyperloop One Transport System
  21. Evidence Suggests Updated Timeline Towards Yellowstone's Supervolcano Eruption
  22. Scientists Discover Ring Around Dwarf Planet Haumea Beyond Neptune
  23. SpaceX Successfully Landed the 12th Falcon 9 Rocket of 2017

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

FDA Advisers Endorse Gene Therapy To Treat Form of Blindness

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBS News: A panel of U.S. health advisers has endorsed an experimental approach to treating inherited blindness, setting the stage for the likely approval of an innovative new genetic medicine. A panel of experts to the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously in favor of Spark Therapeutics' injectable therapy, which aims to improve vision in patients with a rare mutation that gradually destroys normal vision. The vote amounts to a recommendation to approve the therapy. According to Spark Therapeutics' website, inherited retinal diseases are a group of rare blinding conditions caused by one of more than 220 genes. Some living with these diseases experience a gradual loss of vision, while others may be born without the ability to see or lose their vision in infancy or early childhood. Genetic testing is the only way to verify the exact gene mutation that is the underlying cause of the disease.

This is HUGE

By virtualXTC • Score: 3 • Thread
Considering that what this drug is treating isn't a life-threatening condition, the vote to approve this drug shows just how confident regulators are that this form of direct gene modification is likely to prove to be safe in the long-term. Because of this, we can expect a flood of applications for new gene therapies in the next few years.

Advisory Committee Materials & Presentations

By drunken_boxer777 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The FDA Advisory Committee materials and presentations are here, for those interested.

Note that this is for a very specific genetic cause of blindness, where a mutation in a gene for an enzyme results in effective loss of that specific enzyme. The drug is a retroviral vector encoding only the missing gene. Other causes of blindness, genetic or otherwise, wouldn't benefit from this treatment.

Pretty amazing, and a long time coming for gene therapy, since Jesse Gelsinger's death prompted a long close look at using adenoviral vectors for gene therapy.

Google Is Really Good At Design

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Joshua Topolsky, writing for The Outline: The stuff Google showed off on October 4 was brazenly designed and strangely, invitingly touchable. These gadgets were soft, colorful... delightful? They looked human, but like something future humans had made; people who'd gotten righteously drunk with aliens. You could imagine them in your living room, your den, your bedroom. Your teleportation chamber. A fuzzy little donut you can have a conversation with. A VR headset in stunning pink. A phone with playful pops of color and an interface that seems to presage what you want, when you want it. It's weird. It's subtle. It's... good. It's Google? It's Google.

It was only a few years ago that Google was actually something of a laughing stock when it came to design. As an aggressively engineer-led company, the Mountain View behemoth's early efforts, particularly with its mobile software and devices, focused not on beauty, elegance, or simplicity, but rather concentrated on flexibility, iteration, and scale. These are useful priorities for a utilitarian search engine, but didn't translate well to many of the company's other products. Design -- the mysterious intersection of art and communication -- was a second-class citizen at Google, subordinate to The Data. That much was clear from the top down.

Enter Matias Duarte, the design impresario who was responsible for the Sidekick's UI (a wacky, yet strangely prescient mobile-everything concept) and later, the revolutionary (though ill-fated) webOS -- the striking mobile operating system and design language that would be Palm's final, valiant attempt at reclaiming the mobile market. Duarte was hired by Google in 2013 (initially as Android's User Experience Director, though he is now VP of design at the company), and spearheaded a complete reset of the company's visual and functional instincts. But even Duarte was aware of the design challenges his new role presented. "I never thought I'd work for Google," he told Surface Magazine in August. "I had zero ambition to work for Google. Everybody knew Google was a terrible place for design." Duarte went to work on a system that would ultimately be dubbed Material Design -- a set of principles that not only began to dictate how Android should look and work as a mobile operating system, but also triggered the march toward a unified system of design that slowly but surely pulled Google's disparate network of services into something that much more closely resembled a singular vision. A school of thought. A family.

Re:Is this a joke?

By DNS-and-BIND • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
The MBA-types didn't take over Google Maps. Google hired designers from Apple to redesign it. The story was on Slashdot at the time, and everyone groaned because we all knew what was coming. Sure enough, the first update from the new designers removed tons of options. I kept the last version as long as I could, and then one fateful day decided Google Maps was a waste of space on my phone. Haven't looked back since. Don't miss it at all, either.

Re:Same bullshit as other modern companies UIs...

By AbRASiON • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I've been chanting what this guy has been saying for YEARS.

Every point of his post is correct, FLAT colour, NO borders, NO defining lines, NO text labels, not even colour coded icons anymore, all one colour, it's a god damn sloppy disgusting joke that's HUGELY DIS-intuitive to me, I STILL double check what I'm clicking because I don't know what it is, BECAUSE IT'S NOT LABELLED!

Colour coded, labelled, borders make a massive difference.
Modern design is awful. but hey, some moron gets to call it 'clean'

Re:Can't find the button

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Guidelines for Material buttons here:

As you can see, when there is any confusion about things being buttons you use a box to make it clear. If apps fail to do that and you are confused, they are doing Material design wrong.

Unfortunately, there are some poor imitations out there.

Re:Same bullshit as other modern companies UIs...

By Hognoxious • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

They use a left triangle for back, the same as your web browser and your VCR and your tape deck.

No such button. A *right* pointing triangle means play. *Two* left triangles means rewind. Is that the same as "back"? Not really.

Stop making things up.

Ok, this is pretty funny

By Cajun Hell • Score: 3 • Thread

I followed the link and skimmed quickly, just to look at pictures. After the initial image of the upcoming products, there is a sweet ass picture of a phone that looks like it wipes the floor with all competitors. Unlike a lot of crap out there, it appears they left enough space in the case to fit in a real battery, and it has physical buttons too! Win/win. Finally, there's going to be be good phone hardware on the market! I was getting excited.

Then the caption explains that it's the G1, the first Android phone. The best-looking product on the page is the one the author hates the most, and apparently Google too since you can't buy anything like that anymore.


(To be clear, I was just judging the book by its cover. I'm not saying the G1 has a great processor or enough storage or anything like that. I'm just saying that it looks like an outstanding case compared to anything you can get from Google, Apple, Samsung, etc.)

Driverless Cars Are Giving Engineers a Fuel Economy Headache

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
schwit1 shares a report from Bloomberg: Judging from General Motors' test cars and Elon Musk's predictions, the world is headed toward a future that's both driverless and all-electric. In reality, autonomy and battery power could end up being at odds. That's because self-driving technology is a huge power drain. Some of today's prototypes for fully autonomous systems consume two to four kilowatts of electricity -- the equivalent of having 50 to 100 laptops continuously running in the trunk, according to BorgWarner Inc. The supplier of vehicle propulsion systems expects the first autonomous cars -- likely robotaxis that are constantly on the road -- will be too energy-hungry to run on battery power alone. A fully autonomous subcompact car like a Honda Fit, for example, will get 54.6 miles to the gallon in 2025 in the best-case scenario, more than 5 miles below the U.S. emissions target, according to BorgWarner. A small pickup or SUV would be at 45.8 mpg, versus a target of 50. Engineers don't have much time to resolve this, as companies are planning to deploy their first fully self-driving cars in the next couple of years. One way for automakers to meet the power-hungry needs of self-driving systems will be to use gasoline-electric hybrid models rather than purely electric cars, said Mary Gustanski, chief technology officer of supplier Delphi Automotive Plc's powertrain business.


By crow • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

This is calculations based on wild assumptions about what is actually required for self-driving. If Tesla is right, then they can do it with the hardware that is already shipping, so power is not an issue--they just need to finish the software. You can also look at what Nvidia just released that they're billing as being designed for self-driving cars. AMD is apparently working on a similar product.

This sounds like a typical naysayer making stuff up to get attention (and advertising hits).

This is due to using barely altered GPUs

By RhettLivingston • Score: 3 • Thread

The NVidia or other GPU approach to AI is too flexible for this application. It needs a more purpose-built chip. Perhaps something like IBM's TrueNorth or even a mixed analog/digital NN approach.

NNs in general have potential to be much more power efficient than traditional computing with vectors makes it appear, but not when we use traditional computing techniques to simulate the NN.

We will see this evolve quickly as the market appears. It's still quick and dirty time right now.

They didn't do the math

By locater16 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
A Tesla Model S has a 90 kilowatt hour battery life for it's 275 mile range. A kilowatt hour is a thousand watts, and let's assume you're going 60mph. For argument, and maths, sake we'll assume you're going above efficiency and say you'll get 240 miles out of that. That's 4 hours, so 22.5 kilowatts an hour. That's a powerdraw of 22 thousand watts in 1 hour. The new self driving chip announced by Nvidia only draws 500 watts, that's 500 watts in an hour. Or better yet, here's the empirical evidence of Tesla owners discussing their average watts/min usage:

Even there with more efficiency, the new Nvidia chip uses in an hour less energy than the car itself uses in 2 minutes. This article is absolute bullshit, they had 1 damned thing their job required and they didn't do it. Self driving electric cars are perfectly mathematically sounds.

Re: 2-4KW my ass

By Dog-Cow • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Have you tried?

Re:Not Another Story About Driverless Cars

By kamapuaa • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The sort of person who lives at point A, and works at point B, and has to get up in the morning to drive the same route from A to B and then later in the day drives from B to A every day. Driving is an hour and a half a day (mostly) wasted. If I could sleep or work or jerk it for an extra hour and a half every single workday, I feel like my quality of life would be improved. Just that alone would be an extra 400 hours/year.

Alphabet's Waymo Demanded $1 Billion In Settlement Talks With Uber

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Alphabet's Waymo sought at least $1 billion in damages and a public apology from Uber as conditions for settling its high-profile trade secret lawsuit against the ride-services company, sources familiar with the proposal told Reuters. The Waymo self-driving car unit also asked that an independent monitor be appointed to ensure Uber does not use Waymo technology in the future, the sources said. Uber rejected those terms as non-starters, said the sources, who were not authorized to publicly discuss settlement talks. The precise dollar amount requested by Waymo and the exact time the offer was made could not be learned.

Waymo's tough negotiating stance, which has not been previously reported, reflects the company's confidence in its legal position after months of pretrial victories in a case which may help to determine who emerges in the forefront of the fast-growing field of self-driving cars. The aggressive settlement demands also suggest that Waymo is not in a hurry to resolve the lawsuit, in part because of its value as a distraction for Uber leadership, said Elizabeth Rowe, a trade secret expert at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

Google Permanently Disables Touch Function On All Home Minis Due To Privacy Concerns

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Big Hairy Ian shares a report from BBC: Google has stopped its Home Mini speakers responding when users touch them. It permanently turned off the touch activation feature after it found that sensors primed to spot a finger tap were too sensitive. Early users found that the touch sensors were registering "phantom" touches that turned them on. This meant the speakers were recording everything around them thousands of times a day. Google said it disabled the feature to give users "peace of mind." Google's Home Mini gadgets were unveiled on October 4th as part of a revamp of its line of smart speakers. The intelligent assistant feature on it could be activated two ways -- by either saying "OK, Google" or by tapping the surface. About 4,000 Google Home Mini units were distributed to early reviewers and those who attended Google's most recent launch event. Artem Russakovskii from Android Police first discovered the issue with his unit, ultimately causing Google to "permanently [nerf] all Home Minis" because his spied on everything he said 24/7.

Why not make it configurable?

By dwywit • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

A double-tap, or a tap followed by verbal, or something that the user finds satisfactory.


By jwhyche • Score: 3 • Thread

So google disables a feature on a product someone pays for because they have found it defective. Sounds to me like google should be providing a replacement instead of just disabling it and calling it a day.

working as expected.

By zlives • Score: 3 • Thread

its not spyware, its a feature. new speak fixes all.

the remaining flaw

By slashmydots • Score: 3 • Thread
How are they going to patch the fact that anyone with a device like this in their house is an idiot? Or that the NSA knows damn well that nobody of interest to them would talk about their top secret plans in front of a voice to text-capable, internet-connect device?

Let me get this straight..

By GrBear • Score: 3 • Thread

So they removed the feature that would randomly trigger recording.. and instead implemented a feature that listens all the time?

DJI Unveils Technology To Identify and Track Airborne Drones

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
garymortimer shares a report from sUAS News: DJI, the world's leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, has unveiled AeroScope, its new solution to identify and monitor airborne drones with existing technology that can address safety, security and privacy concerns. AeroScope uses the existing communications link between a drone and its remote controller to broadcast identification information such as a registration or serial number, as well as basic telemetry, including location, altitude, speed and direction. Police, security agencies, aviation authorities and other authorized parties can use an AeroScope receiver to monitor, analyze and act on that information. AeroScope has been installed at two international airports since April, and is continuing to test and evaluate its performance in other operational environments. AeroScope works with all current models of DJI drones, which analysts estimate comprise over two-thirds of the global civilian drone market. Since AeroScope transmits on a DJI drone's existing communications link, it does not require new on-board equipment or modifications, or require extra steps or costs to be incurred by drone operators. Other drone manufacturers can easily configure their existing and future drones to transmit identification information in the same way.

This is absolute bullshit

By GoRK • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

So DJI is selling a backdoor device to "authorized parties" which can intercept the private telemetry of any of their aircraft. That is some bullshit right there.

So right now it's limited to telemetry downlink packets. How long until they allow these parties to see the video downlink? How long until they let them take over the command and control uplink?

Requiring hobby aircraft to beacon their telemetry in the clear (similar to ADS-B in commercial aviation or APRS in amateur radio) would be a whole other matter.

Hyatt Hotels Discovers Card Data Breach At 41 Properties Across 11 Countries

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Hyatt Hotels has suffered a second card data breach in two years. In the first breach, hackers had gained access to credit card systems at 250 properties in 50 different countries. This time, the breach appears to have impacted 41 properties across 11 countries. Krebs on Security reports: Hyatt said its cyber security team discovered signs of unauthorized access to payment card information from cards manually entered or swiped at the front desk of certain Hyatt-managed locations between March 18, 2017 and July 2, 2017. "Upon discovery, we launched a comprehensive investigation to understand what happened and how this occurred, which included engaging leading third-party experts, payment card networks and authorities," the company said in a statement. "Hyatt's layers of defense and other cybersecurity measures helped to identify and resolve the issue. While this incident affects a small percentage of total payment cards used at the affected hotels during the at-risk dates." The hotel chain said the incident affected payment card information -- cardholder name, card number, expiration date and internal verification code -- from cards manually entered or swiped at the front desk of certain Hyatt-managed locations. It added there is no indication that any other information was involved.

Re: We really need to start using Rust.

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Agreed. Just a week ago I used rust to reprogram my moms pacemaker. The stupid programmers used this old outdated technique known as assembly and C. I called the company and told them that Rust would fix all the holes, even the one in my moms heart.

Rust is such a great language, it has over 20 years in the business. No other language is as safe as rust is. Rust stops holes before they even start. If everyone programmed in rust there would be 0 exploits in the world. Why can't people see rust is the best? I mean it's so good that if you downplay it or talk negative about it, hacker news and stack exchange will down vote you. That's a testament to how great rust and the community is. Always diligent.

The community is top notch. What other community has a code of conduct? How can people program without codes of conduct? A CoC allows rust to be the best language there is, hands down. How else am I supposed to know how to conduct myself without the rust team of professionals telling me? That's why C/C++ suck so bad. No one knows how to conduct themselves. ;)

US Weapons Data Stolen During Raid of Australian Defense Contractor's Computers

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
phalse phace writes: Another day, another report of a major breach of sensitive U.S. military and intelligence data. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source), "A cyberattacker nicknamed 'Alf' gained access to an Australian defense contractor's computers and began a four-month raid that snared data on sophisticated U.S. weapons systems. Using the simple combinations of login names and passwords 'admin; admin' and 'guest; guest' and exploiting a vulnerability in the company's help-desk portal, the attacker roved the firm's network for four months. The identity and affiliation of the hackers in the Australian attack weren't disclosed, but officials with knowledge of the intrusion said the attack was thought to have originated in China."

The article goes on to state that "Alf obtained around 30 gigabytes of data on Australia's planned purchase of up to 100 F-35 fighters made by Lockheed Martin, as well as information on new warships and Boeing-built P-8 Poseidon maritime-surveillance aircraft, in the July 2016 breach." The stolen data also included details of the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft and guided bombs used by the U.S. and Australian militaries as well as design information "down to the captain's chair" on new warships for Australia's navy.

Re:No problemo

By godel_56 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

That's kind of what happens when the Australian Signals Directorate wants brilliant hackers to work for them, but only offers to pay them entry-level Help Desk wages.

It wasn't the Australian Signals Directorate but some dickhead project sub-contractor. According to someone on TV last night it's a 50 person company and they only have one man doing IT functions, which includes things like fixing printers. I wonder what happens if this person goes on holidays?

While this company deserves to burn in hell, we also need to look at the idiots which gave them the job. Was no due diligence done to see if the sub-contractors were capable, and why did they need this kind of information in the first place? Balls should roll.

'admin; admin' and 'guest; guest'

By Rick Schumann • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
'facepalm; facepalm'


By PPH • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

sit on their couches in their PJs watching soap operas

Why? Is Pornhub down?

Re:'admin; admin' and 'guest; guest'

By RightwingNutjob • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
You know, back before I switched over my ssh servers to nonstandard ports, I'd see daily attempts to log in as 'guest' or 'admin' as well as a dictionary of common usernames. People wouldn't try if it didn't work occasionally.

Google Announces $1 Billion Job Training and Education Program

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Google CEO Sundar Pichai was in Pittsburgh Wednesday to announce a new five-year, $1 billion program to help close the global education gap. From a report: Part of the program was a new "Grow with Google" program to work with U.S. cities as well as a $10 million grant to Goodwill that will see Google employees working with the nonprofit to train people in digital skills. Why it matters: Google, along with Apple, Microsoft and other big tech companies, have all launched significant efforts in recent months to demonstrate their commitment to education and U.S. jobs.

I think Google's efforts are misplaced!

By bogaboga • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

They (Google), should try putting their efforts into being a company that actually strives not to do evil by at least paying their fair share of taxes around the world.

That way, governments can [more] easily spare funds to educate.

Learn To Code, It's More Important Than English as a Second Language, Says Apple CEO

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Apple CEO Tim Cook says it is more important to learn how to code than it is to learn English as a second language. From a report: The tech executive made the remarks to French outlet Konbini while in the country for a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, who has called for tech companies to pay higher taxes in Europe. "If I were a French student and I were 10 years old, I think it would be more important for me to learn coding than English. I'm not telling people not to learn English in some form -- but I think you understand what I am saying is that this is a language that you can [use to] express yourself to 7 billion people in the world," Cook tells Konbini. "I think that coding should be required in every public school in the world. [...] It's the language that everyone needs, and not just for the computer scientists. It's for all of us."


By ChrisMaple • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Try avoiding buried power lines, phone and cable lines, and pipes with a backhoe. Try getting a backhoe through a gate barely wide enough to walk through.

Does Tim Cook even code?

By King_TJ • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Seriously ... I've never heard a reference to any software he developed before?

Bill Gates, by contrast, actually DID write some code, including part of the BASIC operating system that was used in some of the old Radio Shack TRS-80 computers.

It seems to me like if you haven't learned to code yourself, it's pretty hypocritical to declare that all students need to learn it now.

Coding not about language but logic and creativity

By Fly Swatter • Score: 3 • Thread

Comparing coding to language is an exercise in shortsightedness.


By sexconker • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

You just go out and "hire a backhoe"?

Do you mean rent one? Because if so, bullshit. You've got to transport it, you've got to deal with 611, you've got permits if you're in a residential area, you've got a whole lot of fucking shit.

If you mean "hire someone to use a backhoe to dig for me", you ARE hiring a team of people. There's the person in the office you spoke with, the manager, the person who buys the equipment, the guy who deals with the permits, the guy who handles the insurance, the guys who run the backhoes, the guys who drive the trucks, etc. etc. You're just ignorant and you don't think beyond what's right in front of your face.

Re: Fully agree

By Tranzistors • Score: 4 • Thread

the majority of people are totally unfit to code.

I'm sure this view is based on rigorous scientific studies and you have submitted a meta-analysis paper in Nature. Perhaps you would share with us the scientific articles that have studied the programming abilities of wide range of populations?

If there is no scientific backing of what you said, what you said is hardly credible. You use weasel words all over the place: “unfit to code”, “peculiar genetic mind set”, “really smart people”, “crap at coding”, “code productively”. History is littered with dubious attempts to claim that certain groups of people “just can't do a particular thing”, like “Women are not capable of logical reasoning” or “Negroes are mentally handicapped”. To me, your reasoning looks somewhat like this:

I have been in USA and Canada, and from my experience, Canadians are just better at speaking French. Sure, some Canadians are just hopless at French, but I have hardly met any American who could make a coherent statement in French. Therefore there is no point in teaching French to Americans, since they are just not good at it.

Sure, it makes sense to discuss if programming languages are useful to learn, like any other foreign language, but you should not outright dismiss most of people, especially without evidence.

'Maybe Wikipedia Readers Shouldn't Need Science Degrees To Digest Articles About Basic Topics'

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Wikipedia articles about "hard science" (physics, biology, chemistry) topics are really mostly written for other scientists, writes Michael Byrne, a reporter on Science beat at Vice's Motherboard news outlet. From the article: This particular class of Wikipedia article tends to take the high-level form of a scientific paper. There's a brief intro (an abstract) that is kinda-sorta comprehensible, but then the article immediately degenerates into jargon and equations. Take, for example, the page for the electroweak interaction in particle physics. This is a topic of potentially broad interest; its formulation won a trio of physicists the Nobel Prize in 1979. Generally, it has to do with a fundamental linkage between two of the four fundamental forces of the universe, electromagnetism and the weak force. The Wikipedia article for the electroweak force consists of a two-paragraph introduction that basically just says what I said above plus some fairly intimidating technical context. The rest of the article is almost entirely gnarly math equations. I have no idea who the article exists for because I'm not sure that person actually exists: someone with enough knowledge to comprehend dense physics formulations that doesn't also already understand the electroweak interaction or that doesn't already have, like, access to a textbook about it. For another, somewhat different example, look at the article for graphene. Graphene is, of course, an endlessly hyped superstrong supermaterial. It's in the news constantly. The article isn't just a bunch of math equations, but it's also not much more penetrable for a reader without at least some chemistry/materials science background.

Re:Wikipedia for Dummies

By javaman235 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

That's not the problem. I learned a long time ago if you need to look up a math concept you go to Wolfram's site. The explanations there are clear and concise, but simpler than Wikipedia. It's not "dumbed down" on Wolfram's site, its that they're not using the article on general idea as an introduction to their pet theory, which is what seems to happen on Wikipedia. If you look up 1+1 it shouldn't be explained in terms of homomorphisms of k--star-modules or whatever the particular author is into, it should be explained as simply as possible.

Re:Wikipedia for Dummies

By sjames • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Writing for someone not a specialist in the field is not at all the same thing as dumbing down. It's also not an exclusive relationship. Writing a section for the layman does not preclude writing another for the domain specialist.

I'll just leave this here:

“If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.” Albert Einstein

Re:Science is hard

By Baloroth • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

As an example, today I looked at the Higgs boson [] article and the talk about the rest mass in GeV/c^2. This is a bull shit unit.

No, it's not, not even a little bit. It is, in fact, the standard unit in the field (all particle physics and related fields, like particle astrophysics or cosmology). If I read a scientific paper in those areas that didn't use eV or eV/c^2 for particle masses I'd be not only a bit confused, but actually question the competency of the authors. "Not SI" is the bullshit: SI as a universal standard is all fine and good, but it's not natural to a lot of fields, and those fields can (and should) use whatever system of units is natural to them (preferably metric, but even that is not necessary). Also, the units on the info box on the top right do link to an explanation page, so you know, I'm not sure what you're talking about.

Re:Wikipedia for Dummies

By epine • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The explanations there are clear and concise, but simpler than Wikipedia.

Wolfram doesn't have the OR problem (original research).

I've added intermediate-level "translation" text to a few Wikipedia articles, and every time I do this I know I'm at risk of being reverted for OR.

QED for the Layman is a masterpiece of original explanation—and forbidden territory for Wikipedia contributors.

Second, it's very hard to avoid saying something false when interpolating between the basic and the advanced material.

When I've tried this myself, I've estimated that I was hitting around a 90% truthfulness, with the other 10% ranging from vaguely correct to outright howlers (and me not being able to discern the difference).

I consider myself a fairly severe fussbudget in matters of accuracy, which means I trust my estimate that I'm falling short. Except for the experts who wrote the expert material—some of whom are no good at any other level—I'd rate myself fairly high. And I still don't think my intermediate contributions are quite up to encyclopedic standards (and so I mostly only dive in when the article starts out in a pretty bad place).

Unlike the simple level, the intermediate level is precise enough to get yourself into real trouble, here and there, if you're not a subject expert.

The editors who contributed the advanced material, so far as I've noticed, tended to be the 2005-2007 heyday crowd making highly substantive main edits, and not necessarily sticking around for editorial maintenance, or even to assist a less expert author trying to step in and fill the expository gaps.

First and foremost, Wikipedia is process driven, not outcome driven. People need to bear that in mind, and be happy it's as good as it is.

My least favourite articles are the mathematics-heavy articles where 90% of the text is derivational, to the degree where the main points are encoded in lemmas. What I've noticed on these pages is that it's very hard to dive in in any kind of small way. You almost have to first break the existing page's back to steer the page in a different direction.

The final class of pages I've noticed are pages that were basically abandoned 75% finished in the first place. These can often be improved with a quick effort. But if you try to add too much text, you'll fail to provide enough cites (that requires real research). In my experience, one cite attached to a few added sentences usually survives.

And then if you get reverted, the page goes back to the same state, with no warning for the next fool who comes along and tries to make the same edit.

That's what I hate most. Many editors revert a contribution aimed at fixing a problem where they view the fix as problematic, with little concern that the original state was also problematic, while taking no ownership whatsoever of the pre-existing problem.

Now I don't care if 10% of my edits get reverted (be bold), but above that level it begins to feel like a giant waste of time, so I'm careful not to be so bold as to ruin my will to participate in the first place. (One sees many bitter former editors show up in these threads who didn't figure this out soon enough.)

By gumbi west • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

so, there is information and there is communication. I've had text books that have no errors but are incomprehensible and others that also have no errors but are crystal clear. Same thing. Wikipedia is, often (and especially in physics) the crap textbook.

We're Too Wise For Robots To Take Our Jobs, Alibaba's Jack Ma Says

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Have confidence in yourself -- technology will never replace human beings, insisted self-made billionaire Jack Ma in a keynote speech at Alibaba Cloud's Computing Conference in Hangzhou. From a report: There's one simple reason for that, the Alibaba founder said - we possess wisdom. "People are getting more worried about the future, about technology replacing humans, eliminating jobs and widening the gap between the rich and the poor," said Ma. "But I think these are empty worries. Technology exists for people. We worry about technology because we lack confidence in ourselves, and imagination for the future." Ma explained that humans are the only things on Earth that are wise. "People will always surpass machines because people possess wisdom," he said. Referencing AlphaGo, the Google artificial intelligence program that beat the world's top Go player at his own game, Ma said that there was no reason humanity should be saddened by the defeat. "AlphaGo? So what? AlphaGo should compete against AlphaGo 2.0, not us. There's no need to be upset that we lost. It shows that we're smart, because we created it."


By nospam007 • Score: 3 • Thread

"There's one simple reason for that, the Alibaba founder said - we possess wisdom."

Has he met us?

Yeah sure

By eaglesrule • Score: 3 • Thread

“People are getting more worried about the future, about technology replacing humans, eliminating jobs and widening the gap between the rich and the poor,” said Ma. “But I think these are empty worries."

"Rest assured," Ma continues, "that after the majority of the world's GDP is managed by just a few mega corporations, who also dominate the funding for political elections and the media, that they will only have the welfare of all people in mind. After all, even greed has its limits.

"Remember... corporations are people, and as such can be held accountable too."

“Technology exists for people. We worry about technology because we lack confidence in ourselves, and imagination for the future.”

"Trust us," Ma says with the utmost sincerity, "there really is nothing to worry about. Have faith that the Free Market, holy be thy name, along with unshackled Capitalism, will ensure that technology will never leave large swathes of people unemployable or underemployed, fighting for scraps and having to suffer abusive jobs and crippling debt for a lack of better alternatives."

"Just use your imagination! Imagine a blissful future for everyone!"

Tell that to the 3.5 million truck drivers...

By sbaker • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The OP is crazy. Let's look at some hard realities: There are 3.5 million truck drivers in the USA...maybe half of those are long-distance. We already have cars that can auto-drive on the freeway adequately. How long will it be between the day the first viable self-driving truck arrives on the scene until about 1.75 million people wind up being unemployed?

With AI trucks being able to drive 24/7 without having to take mandatory breaks - goods will get where they're going about twice as fast...that's a HUGE win. You'll only need half the number of trucks to get the same amount of goods transported because half of them are not sitting idle in truck-stops like they are now. Without driver salaries (health care coverage, taxes, management) - and probably with lower insurance premiums - and likely with lower fuel bills (I'm betting the AI drives at the perfect speed/gear for the conditions 100% of the time)...road transport will probably be HALF the cost without human drivers.

About 10% of those truckers are self-employed - so they'll be in work until they can't work cheaply enough to beat the AI's - but the big fleets will be anxious to switch over as fast as they can. An average 18 wheeler truck is scrapped after 5 to 6 years in service. And that's probably the maximum amount of time it'll be until the last long distant truck driver is unemployed.

If existing truck vendors provide add-on kits for current generation trucks, the adoption rate could be much faster. If Elon Musk's upcoming all-electric truck works out as claimed - then with states like California having aggressive "zero emissions" policies - it could happen much faster even than that.

If only half the number of trucks are needed - then the truck manufacturers will have to down-size too. When you cut out the ancillary jobs such as fast-food cooks and truck-stop owners - you could easily be looking at 2 million job losses.

Sure, there will be gains in electronics to manufacture these AI units - but I think a lot of that stuff will go to China...only the R&D will stay in the USA.

Even if AI trucks are only smart enough to reliably do freeway driving - there would STILL be massive incentives to putting a human driver at the offramp to drive the truck from freeway to destination then drop it back onto the on-ramp for it's next trip. All he needs is a motorbike to get him on to the next freeway exit/entrance after each truck is on it's way. One human driver could handle a dozen trucks quite easily.

Re:Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

By sbaker • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Very true - but the point of the OP was about jobs.

It doesn't take a general AI to take jobs. A self-driving truck (which isn't really "AI" at all) can quite easily take 2 million US jobs away within about 5 years from it's introduction. Repeat for fast-food cooks, taxi drivers, tax preparers, medical name it.

A General AI - a true intelligence - may just decide that it's bored with driving trucks or playing Go and just decide to spend the next million years meditating on the properties of the number '42'. Since we'd have zero understanding of how it works (nobody really understands the weighting numbers that are the "program" in a neural network) - there would likely be no way to fix it.

So between the risk that a general AI might end our civilisation within a matter of days - and the risk that we'd spend a fortune developing one only to discover that it has ADHD or is obsessed in ridiculous and self-defeating ways...I'm not sure what to think about that possibility.

Only to say that we're not one tiny step closer to having a general AI than we were 40 years ago.

Complete bollocks.

By edgedmurasame • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
They don't have to take every job, they just have to take enough of them. That's bad enough.

Hollywood Studios Join Disney To Launch Movies Anywhere Digital Locker Service

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
There may be a grand unifying service to make accumulating a large digital cinematic library feasible, or so is the hope anyway. From a report: For several years now, Disney has been the only Hollywood studio with a digital movie locker worth using, but a host of other industry heavyweights have now jumped on board to launch an expanded version of the service called Movies Anywhere. It's both a cloud-based digital locker and a one-stop-shop app: customers connect Movies Anywhere to their iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, or Vudu accounts, and all of the eligible movies they've purchased through those retailers appear as part of their Movies Anywhere library. Given that the Movies Anywhere app works across a number of platforms, it basically allows them to take their digital film library with them no matter what device or operating system they're using. [...] The launch of Movies Anywhere should be the merciful, final blow that puts an end to UltraViolet, one of the entertainment industry's first attempts at putting together a comprehensive digital locker service. That service flailed due to a poor customer experience and lack of adoption on the part of big digital retailers like Apple. The team behind Movies Anywhere seems to have learned from UltraViolet's mistakes, however, as well as Disney's previous successes.

Re:I'm not sure...

By vanyel • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Even if it's in my possession, if it requires someone else to approve my watching it every time I want to, or it's not playable by standard software so I can be sure that as platforms are updated I'll still be able to watch it, then it's just a rental, not a purchase. No thanks.

also we harvest ur viewing habits

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Our system does not respond to Do Not Track requests or headers from some or all browsers. We may use cookies or other technologies to deliver more relevant advertising and to link data collected across other computers or devices that you may use. To understand your choices for receiving more relevant advertising or to manage your online tracking or advertising preferences, please review the information below:

Movies Anywhere adheres to the DAA's Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising. You may choose not to receive targeted advertising from many ad networks, data exchanges, marketing analytics and other service providers, by visiting the Digital Advertising Alliance's (DAA) opt-out page at, or the DAA's AppChoices tool at

On your mobile device, you may also adjust your privacy and advertising settings to control whether you want to receive more relevant advertising.

this is just the beginning of the lol and i suggest u read the whole page


By Utgard-xyz • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

Another change to re-buy your collection (and pay a storage fee) so you can get hammered by your cable company for excessive bandwidth fees (provided you in a spot that has enough bandwidth to stream a movie) until they close up shop and you have to re-buy your collection again when you move to the next service.

got one already

By nospam007 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

It's called a seedbox.

Theatre tickets?

By RhettLivingston • Score: 3 • Thread
If this service allowed one to "own" a movie after having paid to see it at the theater, I might actually start visiting theaters again.

Comcast Pressures Local Cable Firms to Curb Low-Cost TV Packages

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Gerry Smith, reporting for Bloomberg: Comcast is trying to restrict cable operators' sales of low-cost TV service to ensure its regional sports networks don't lose too many subscribers, according to a trade group of about 750 smaller companies that have taken their complaint to regulators. Comcast has tried to limit the availability of sports-free offerings in contract talks with pay-TV operators, according to the American Cable Association, whose members have about 7 million subscribers. In addition to being the largest U.S. cable provider, Comcast owns regional sports channels in markets such as Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia. The claim shows programmers are fighting back as more consumers seek TV options that don't include sports. Cable operators are trying to stem subscriber losses by offering a "basic" service with just a few channels and internet access for fans of Netflix or Amazon.

Such dissonance...

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

If a person is online, they don't pay for anything. Always try to get around the ads with blockers etc. The biggest web services don't directly charge their customers (Facebook, Google) because they would lose 99% of their customer base in a month trying such a thing.

But as soon as that same person turns the TV on, they find it totally normal somehow that they are paying $70 or so a watch ads they can't block, in order to see content that half the time is beamed over the air for free. Just bizarre dissonance that will crumble sooner or later.


By xxxJonBoyxxx • Score: 3 • Thread
Don't feed the "basic" troll: man up and just cut the cord completely to starve the cable beast.

Re:One of the reasons

By JohnFen • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

There are such taxes, yes, and they're all objectionable. However, the sport fee is the only one that is significantly large. Paying an extra $0.60 because of religious channels? Not enough to get worked up about. Paying an extra $5 because of sports? Screw that.

But, truly, cable isn't worth it to me even if it's free -- which it is! I get basic cable with my internet because my total bill is lower that way than with internet alone. I'm effectively being paid to have basic cable. But watching it is painful, so I don't do it. Instead, I returned the cable box to save that rental fee.

Re:One of the reasons

By bluefoxlucid • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

You should see the politics sphere in the US now. Everyone is being loud about dropping the NFL for this whole kneeling thing, yet we've been hearing the NFL and ESPN were dying for a decade now.

Sports channels are overbought. CableTV providers bundle ESPN with everything, so everyone pays for NFL and MLB and MASN. Now we've found a way out, and they're crying that Kapernick has sabotaged their empire--instead of admitting that nobody wanted their damned tyranny in the first place.

It's hard to tell if they're protesting the wave of police brutality in the media and the states or mourning the death of the sports bubble.

Problem solved

By fahrbot-bot • Score: 3 • Thread

Local cable providers. When Comcast calls you, just route the call back through Comcast customer support.

Down the Rabbit Hole With a BLU Phone Infection

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
msm1267 writes: BLU phones, marketed as affordable Android devices, have recently been pulled from Amazon and other retailers after allegations the devices were infected with spyware and posed a privacy threat to users. This is the tale of one such victim who purchased 11 devices that instantaneously began serving pop-up ads and downloading unwanted applications. The phones were analyzed and the root of the issue in this case was uncovered.

The problem is ADUPS

By Zombie Ryushu • Score: 3 • Thread

BLU Needs to stop locking their boot loaders, and start letting people LineageOS their devices. ADUPS is turning into a Meanace!

Equifax Takes Web Page Offline After Reports of New Cyber Attack

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Equifax said on Thursday it was taking one of its web pages offline as its security team looks into reports of another potential cyber breach. From a report: The move came after an independent security analyst on Wednesday found Equifax's website was under the control of attackers trying to trick visitors into installing fraudulent Adobe Flash updates that could infected computers with malware, the technology news website Ars Technica reported.

At this point, Equifax needs to suspend operations

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread
Or, the government needs to order it. Until they can demonstrate beyond a doubt that they have made significant changes and can be good stewards of the private information they have collected, they should be 100% offline. Oh yeah - prosecution for C-suite leeches too.

Oh for fuck's sake

By sremick • Score: 3 • Thread

...we JUST had an article 40 mins prior to this one. Just add to that one.

Is Slashdot suffering so bad to find news that they need reposts in less than an hour? Get off your fucking ass and use your own system to check for dupes.

We apologize.

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Funny • Thread

"The person responsible for installing the patches, has been sacked.
The person responsible for sacking the person responsible for installing the patches has also been sacked.
The rest of the patches have been completed in an entirely different style and at great expense.
Incidentally, a møøse once bit my sister..."

Legal Online Gambling Could Return To the US

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
A new report says legal online gambling may be coming back to the U.S., not from an casino magnate such as Steve Wynn or Sheldon Adelson, but rather a headphone industry executive. From a report: Now Monster, the same company that turned the headphone industry upside down with Dr. Dre, plans to revive online gambling in America by enlisting someone with a different kind of notoriety: Fred Khalilian. He's a former telemarketing kingpin, wannabe reality TV personality, two-time FTC loser -- and now, the new COO of Monster. He plans to open the company's gambling site,, on or before December 15. And he might just make the company billions. So he might also be a genius. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Gambling is illegal, right? Sort of. How will a headphone maker succeed in online gambling where Trump, Branson, and others have failed? "The roadmap is unbelievable, fraught with laws, certifications, international law, gaming commissions, all that stuff. Very, very complex," Monster CEO Noel Lee exclusively told Digital Trends. "But [Fred] has overcome. He's found his niche, he's worked his way through the government, through the Federal Trade Commission, through all of that, with a strategy that's built around the American Indians."

other monster the one with over priced cables

By Joe_Dragon • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

other monster the one with over priced cables

Re:Tell me, what side am I on here?

By H3lldr0p • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I think it's safe to be against the pro-gambling this time around. Not only because it's gambling we're talking about and we all know how bad humans are at figuring odds, but they're also hinting in the blurb that it involves further exploiting the already exploited.

Apache called themselves Indians before Euros came

By tepples • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The Apache word for "people" is Ndee, sounding roughly like "in-day". It resembles Diné in closely related Navajo and similar words in other Athabaskan languages. It's not a big leap from there to "Indian".

Former telemarketing kingpin, reality TV star

By rsilvergun • Score: 3 • Thread
_and_ two-time FTC loser with a history in gambling? I think we just found our next president.

No Credit Cards, no online gambling

By Ghostworks • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Even if they try to do a legal run around based on tribal sovereignty, the simple fact remains that it's against Federal law for credit card companies to do business with casinos. This is what originally killed the American online gambling industry. (And while I think that basic goal was short sighted, it is what it is.)

Credit card companies care a lot more about pissing off the Feds than they do about doing business with what they admit is a shady, untested casino scheme. The money is good, I'm sure, but the legal theory would have to be rock-solid to convince them that they're not going to just burn through it all in legal fees and penalties.

It would actually be easier to go to President Trump -- literally the most sympathetic possible person for this cause -- and bitch about how all those casino dollars are going off-shore to, and get him to put a pet bill through a Republican-controlled Congress.

Equifax Website Hacked Again, this Time To Redirect To Fake Flash Update

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
For several hours on Wednesday Equifax's website was compromised again, this time to deliver fraudulent Adobe Flash updates, which when clicked, infected visitors' computers with adware that was detected by only three of 65 antivirus providers, reports Dan Goodin at Ars Technica. From the report: Randy Abrams, an independent security analyst by day, happened to visit the site Wednesday evening to contest what he said was false information he had just found on his credit report. Eventually, his browser opened up a page on the domain He was understandably incredulous. The site that previously gave up personal data for virtually every US person with a credit history was once again under the control of attackers, this time trying to trick Equifax visitors into installing crapware Symantec calls Adware.Eorezo. Knowing a thing or two about drive-by campaigns, Abrams figured the chances were slim he'd see the download on follow-on visits. To fly under the radar, attackers frequently serve the downloads to only a select number of visitors, and then only once. Abrams tried anyway, and to his amazement, he encountered the bogus Flash download links on at least three subsequent visits. Update: Equifax said on Thursday it was taking one of its web pages offline as its security team looks into reports of another potential cyber breach.

Completely and totally INCOMPETENT!

By Rick Schumann • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
My opinion? This is what happens when you have BEAN COUNTERS and PAPER SHUFFLERS making engineering decisions, instead of engineers and other educated, qualified personnel!

So, what do we do now? The management at Equifax has now proven beyond any reasonable doubt that they are completely incompetent, totally incapable of being responsible for the data they collect. Who takes over? Can the government come in and take control? Or would that be worse? Who needs to be in charge at Equifax to stop the bleeding and secure their systems?

Furthermore: The incompetence now evident should, in my opinion, be considered criminal negligence, considering how many people are affected, and by 'affected' I mean 'potentially or in fact having their lives RUINED'. Round up the management at Equifax, everyone who was responsible for the decisions that led us to this point, put them under arrest, and bring criminal indictments against them. I'd much rather prefer severed heads on poles lining Wall Street, but we don't do that sort of thing in this country so I'll settle for mandatory jail time, megafines, seizing of assets, and court orders prohibiting these idiots from ever working in the finance industry ever again -- or anywhere else that can affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people. I'm sure Walmart would just love to have them as greeters, or maybe the Jiffy Lube down the street will hire them.


By TheRaven64 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
The one good thing that might happen is consumers wake up to the problems of allowing large-scale data collection and push for tighter regulations on companies that engage in this kind of behaviour.

Re:This may not have been Equifax

By Walking The Walk • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

This sounds suspiciously like a DNS poisoning attack, which could have been impacting his ISP, but targeting a domain used by Equifax. Such attacks are completely outside of the control of the target.

That's a possibility, but the story is subtitled "Malware researcher encounters bogus download links during multiple visits.", and one would hope a malware researcher would have considered it. The article says it could be due to an ad the site was displaying:

It's not yet clear precisely how the Flash download page got displayed. The group-sourced analysis here and this independent assessment from researcher Kevin Beaumont—both submitted in the hours after this post went live—make a strong case that Equifax was working with a third-party ad network or analytics provider that's responsible for the redirects. In that case, the breach, technically speaking, isn't on the Equifax website.


By jellomizer • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The problem is IT security is so complex, that most regulations would either be ineffective: because the nature on how the hacks happen will change, overly punitive: where hacks could be used to kill a company, or a company would be afraid to use computers to expand their business. Also it could send a wrong chilling effect, where now most companies are trying really hard to secure their systems from many different methods, to just doing what is legally stated, thus creating more problems.

Incompetence is not a valid excuse

By sjbe • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The problem is IT security is so complex, that most regulations would either be ineffective: because the nature on how the hacks happen will change, overly punitive: where hacks could be used to kill a company, or a company would be afraid to use computers to expand their business.

Claiming that a problem is complex is not a valid excuse for doing the job incompetently such that it results in harm to others. If you cannot manage sensitive data safely then you either need to exit the business or step your game up. They do not get a free pass just because it's a hard problem. If the security problem is that hard that they need government indemnification then they DEFINITELY need to be regulated. Medicine is easily as if not more complex than IT security and yet doctors are held liable for malpractice and are highly regulated. I see no reason why ITprofessionals should be held to a lesser standard of care if they want to manage sensitive data like credit histories or medical records.

Regulations don't have to specify specific technology or tactics. They just have to specify that they have to keep the data secure, what secure means, and outline punishments for failure to do so. If they cannot handle the risk then don't get into the business.

How Facebook Outs Sex Workers

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a Gizmodo report: Leila has two identities, but Facebook is only supposed to know about one of them. Leila is a sex worker. She goes to great lengths to keep separate identities for ordinary life and for sex work, to avoid stigma, arrest, professional blowback, or clients who might be stalkers (or worse). Her "real identity" -- the public one, who lives in California, uses an academic email address, and posts about politics -- joined Facebook in 2011. Her sex-work identity is not on the social network at all; for it, she uses a different email address, a different phone number, and a different name. Yet earlier this year, looking at Facebook's "People You May Know" recommendations, Leila (a name I'm using in place of either of the names she uses) was shocked to see some of her regular sex-work clients. Despite the fact that she'd only given Facebook information from her vanilla identity, the company had somehow discerned her real-world connection to these people -- and, even more horrifyingly, her account was potentially being presented to them as a friend suggestion too, outing her regular identity to them. Because Facebook insists on concealing the methods and data it uses to link one user to another, Leila is not able to find out how the network exposed her or take steps to prevent it from happening again. "We're living in an age where you can weaponize personal information against people"Kashmir Hill, the reporter who wrote the above story, a few weeks ago shared another similar incident.

Re:And now skype

By rpresser • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

John has exchanged email with leila_sexworker
John's emails contain headers which include leila's IP address
John lets Facebook see his emails
There are several, perhaps many Johns
Facebook sees that all these Johns have leila_sexworker in common
Facebook sees leila's IP address and matches it with its own records
Facebook sees leila_clean logging in to Facebook from the same IP address, repeatedly
Facebook makes the connection

Re: The real problem is

By vux984 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Hmm... as a self-identified left-winger; I'd say you nailed my position more or less perfectly as well. So I'm not sure the split her is left vs right at all.

I do generally favor legalization; for practical reasons. It is going to happen whether its legal or not, and they are already in a highly vulnerable occupation at the best of times... explicitly making them criminals too just makes them more vulnerable.

Re:Their app reads your contacts...

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

All you need to do is visit one site in common with both laptops and they can link the two accounts.

Facebook tracks your MAC addresses as well...

By denzacar • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Probably snoops your browser history and tracks to which cell towers your phone connects to as well.

A while back, son of a distant cousin (distant in relation, close geographically) had some issues with his PC so he called me for help.
It sounded like the issue was power related but he assured me that his PSU had enough power to run it all.
It was the PSU. He read the wrong numbers on the box.

BUT... After I downloaded a GPU test to check my suspicions about his computer, which naturally required an internet connection, and he took his computer home with an advice what to buy so his games would no longer crash the system - he starts appearing as "people you may know" on my Facebook profile.
Despite the fact that we have no direct connection on Facebook. His dad is not on any social network. Same for his mom.
And he's too young to be in social circles of our mutual cousins.
But once his computer connected to the internet through my router... there he is.

On another note... got a new phone which (naturally) has cell tower broadcast notifications turned on by default.
Which I notice only as it starts pinging me with notifications as I go around town and move between different cell towers.
Coincidentally, during that same walk I notice a former colleague on the other side of the street, going home from work.
He doesn't even notice me, he's on the other side of the street, there's traffic between us, and I'm not about to shout and wave or jump around for him to notice me.
We never were that close anyway... which is the reason why I don't have him in my Facebook contacts.
But we do both have some of the same former colleagues in our friend lists... and I was just in his neighborhood.

And there he is the next day on top of the "people you may know" list. He was probably on it the whole time... but now he's on top of it.
As soon as his phone and my phone were near the same cell tower at the same time and as my phone connected to my wireless router once back home.

Facebook has shadow profiles on everyone already.
All it needs is for some of the gathered data to start matching to geographical and time coordinates one's technology, friends or even interests leave all over the place - and it can start making some pretty educated guesses.

Re:The real problem is

By gweihir • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

And there you have swallowed the "Big Lie" whole. The thing is that almost no sex worker is ever "trafficked". That is just a story vomited out by the anti-sex-work propaganda. No matter how often repeated, it is simply not true. It does however fit nicely into the deranged fantasies of many religious fundamentalists. The most extreme perversion committed by the police here is that they do charge sex-workers with having trafficked themselves. They also charge drivers (usually in the employ of an escort, i.e. a subordinate) with trafficking and just plain people that have helped sex-workers in anything remotely connected to their work.

Sure, very rarely somebody is forced via threat of violence into sex work, but the thing is that usually the first or second client is the one to call the police on this, because customers of sex-workers are not complete scum.

Richard Branson's Virgin Group Invests in Super-fast Hyperloop One Transport System

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a report: Richard Branson's Virgin Group is investing in Hyperloop One, a company developing the super-fast transport system originally conceptualized up by Elon Musk. Hypleroop One is re-branding itself as Virgin Hyperloop One, and Branson is joining the board, the billionaire British investor and entrepreneur announced Thursday on CNBC from London. Virgin Hyperloop One will focus on a passenger and mixed-use cargo service. Last month, Hypleroop One raised $85 million in new funding, and that includes the investment from Virgin. Branson refused to breakout the numbers. Breaking ground on a commercial hyperloop in two to four years is possible if "governments move quickly," Branson said in a "Squawk Box" interview. So far, no government has approved a plan for a hyperloop system. The Virgin founder also said that building a hyperloop tube above or below ground is "cheaper" and "faster" than a traditional rail network. The idea of the transport system -- conceived in 2013 by Musk, the head of both electric automaker Tesla and SpaceX -- works by propelling pods through tubes using magnets reaching speeds akin to those of airplanes.

Well, then just maybe.

By wjcofkc • Score: 3 • Thread
The extreme engineering challenges this technology needs to overcome are many. Extreme challenges cannot be understated. This has left me skeptical just due to the amount of financial backing something like this needs. But I have held that this is the type of situation where if you throw enough money at R&D it just might work out, this is of course not always true. So, the plot thickens. Time will tell.

Re:Musk "conceived in 2013?"

By Rei • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

The system Musk conceived (Hyperloop Alpha) is not a vactrain, and more to the point, would not work in a vacuum. Hyperloop One is based on air bearings for suspension to avoid the need for (expensive) maglev and to avoid the need to maintain a hard vacuum (which requires significant pumping) - simultaneously overcoming two of the largest problems with vactrains. The drag problem for non-hard-vacuum tubes is overcome in Hyperloop Alpha via battery powered compressors, which boost the air bearings.

"Hyperloop" One, however, is a standard maglev vactrain, and an old concept. So are most of the student competitors on the "Hyperloop pod design contest" (otherwise known as "Cleverly disguised talent scouting for SpaceX" ;) )

Re:Musk "conceived in 2013?"

By Rei • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

If you're talking about "so little air that the vehicle - without a compressor - only slowly drifts down in velocity", then you're talking about a hard vacuum, and incompatible with Hyperloop Alpha. If you are talking about a mild vacuum, with a compressor shunting the built-up air ahead of the vehicle into air bearings, cite an example of that from before Musk.

And FYI, Hyperloop Alpha only drifts down between accelerator segments; faster deceleration is by deceleration segments and (at lower speeds) physical / magnetic braking.

Re:So far, no government has approved...

By Rei • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The tweet was followed shortly thereafter by:

Still a lot of work needed to receive formal approval, but am optimistic that will occur rapidly

But while the former tweet was shared by 75k people, the latter was only shared by 1,5k. Even worse was how so many people still insist on pretending he was talking about the city level rather than the DOT, which has confirmed their discussions, adding "We have had promising conversations to date, are committed to transformative infrastructure projects, and believe our greatest solutions have often come from the ingenuity and drive of the private sector." You don't start seeking approval on an interstate project at the city level. But hey, any chance to bash Musk, so go for it.

The Hyperloop: BUSTED!

By sproketboy • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread

Evidence Suggests Updated Timeline Towards Yellowstone's Supervolcano Eruption

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Camel Pilot writes: Geologist have been aware of fresh magma moving in the Yellowstone's super volcano system. Previously this was thought to precede an eruption by thousands of years. Recent evidence by Hannah Shamloo, a graduate student at Arizona State University, demonstrates that perhaps the timeline from the underground basin filling to eruption is more on the scale of decades. A super volcano eruption has the power to alter life's story on this earth and even destroy all life on a continent. In light of this, it seems like a good time to invest some effort and resources into finding ways to prepare, delay or deflect the potential threat. The research was presented at the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior ( IAVCEI) 2017 conference in Portland, Oregon.

Cue the next disaster movie

By boudie2 • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread
What would happen if "some nutjob" like in North Korea had one good missile and one good nuclear bomb attached to it and lobbed it right into the middle of the Yellowstone caldera? Would that possibly set it off or just make a mess? Or they could just throw a bomb in the back of a cube van and drive right in there. Precarious times we live in.

Re: a pattern lately

By Dutch Gun • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

The geologic timescale is exactly why the odds are against an eruption in the next few decades. And with an eruption that massive, there are likely to be years of very clear and indisputable warning signs all over the region. I highly doubt a supervolcano eruption will catch civilization by surprise.

As a recent (by geologic scales) example, no one was surprised by Mt St Helens actually erupting. Everyone knew it was coming. Only the precise timing was unknown. And the way it erupted was surprising, of course. But at this point, scientists are pretty good at predicting impending eruptions. I just don't think predicting one decades out is anything more than speculation, considering that this is a pretty radical departure from conventional wisdom.

For extra-ordinary claims like this, you'll need fairly extraordinary evidence. And not to impune Ms. Shamloo, but this is a grad student we're talking about, not a professional volcanologist with decades of actual experience. As such, it's wise to consider the source of this theory in regards to its feasibility.

Re: a pattern lately

By Anne Thwacks • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
NO. That is the British strategy. The American way involves sheriffs and posses.

Re: a pattern lately

By hey! • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I remember Mt St. Helens very well, because I was working as a technician in the lab which sent seismometers there. It's an irrelevant example, because the Mt. St. Helens event is something that could be prepared for with a few weeks warning.

The larger scale the event, the longer you need to plan for it. A supervolcano can eject several thousand cubic kilometers of material. Mt St. Helens ejected 0.21 km^3. The last Yellowstone super-eruption was roughly twelve thousand time larger. If it happened today it would bury everything from California to Chicago in 10 feet of ash. It would effectively halt agriculture worldwide for several years. Given that the world's global food reserve is only adequate (if perfectly distributed) for 73 days, how many decades of planning do you think we'd need to be ready? How much of that time would be spent debating whether this was real, then debating on who was going to pay?

Also, I'm not sure you understand what "geologic timescale" means. The usual unit of time used is the Ma or Mega annum. Decades don't enter into it.

Re: Shit...

By LynnwoodRooster • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
Hey, leave Sarah out of this! I know you want to plow her, but there is another story on /. front page about Facebook and sex workers, go plow one of them...

Scientists Discover Ring Around Dwarf Planet Haumea Beyond Neptune

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
A ring has been discovered around one of the dwarf planets that orbits the outer reaches of the solar system. Until now, ring-like structures had only been found around the four outer planets -- Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The Guardian reports: "In 2014 we discovered that a very small body in the Centaurs region [an area of small celestial bodies between the asteroid belt and Neptune] had a ring and at that time it seemed to be a very weird thing," explained Dr Jose Ortiz, whose group at the Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia in Granada made the discovery described in the journal Nature. "We didn't expect to find a ring around Haumea, but we were not too surprised either." Haumea was recognized by the International Astronomical Union in 2008 and is one of five dwarf planets, alongside Pluto, Ceres, Eris and Makemake. They are located beyond Neptune -- 50 times farther away from the sun than Earth. Haumea, named after the Hawaiian goddess of childbirth, is unusual because of its elongated shape, comparable to a rugby ball, and its rapid rotation, spinning around once every 3.9 hours. Its diameter is approximately a third of the size of Earth's moon.

First line of TFS and Guardian article are wrong

By hackertourist • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Ring systems had already been found around asteroid Chariklo and Chiron. So Haumea is the 7th object in the solar system known to have rings.

Dwarf planet location correct, Ceres

By JeffSh • Score: 3 • Thread

article has fact errors about location of dwarf planets.

Article states that all dwarf planets are beyond neptune but that's not true. Ceres is in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. the rest of the dwarf planets are indeed in the kuiper belt beyond neptune.

Re:Nasty impact I would say

By Hal_Porter • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Oh I dunno.

You can make a case for Trek being very racist. All Vulcans are logical and inscrutable and a bit uptight. All Klingons are aggressive and warlike.

Ferengi look and act like a Nazi caricature of Jews.

I.e. in each case races have a well defined trait and all examples of that race seem to share. So I could see why someone who thinks that racial traits dominate over individual ones would like Trek even if Roddenberry would have been appalled by this.

SpaceX Successfully Landed the 12th Falcon 9 Rocket of 2017

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Shortly after launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket successfully landed on one of the company's drone ships in the ocean. "It marks the 12th time SpaceX has successfully landed the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket this year, the 18th overall, and the second this week," reports The Verge. "It was also the third time that the company has successfully launched and landed a rocket that had already flown." From the report: The vehicle for this mission has flown before: once back in February, when it lofted cargo to the International Space Station and then landed at SpaceX's ground-based Landing Zone 1. Going up on this flight is a hybrid satellite that will be used by two companies, SES and EchoStar. Called EchoStar 105/SES-11, the satellite will sit in a high orbit 22,000 miles above Earth, providing high-definition broadcasts to the U.S. and other parts of North America. While this is the first time EchoStar is flying a payload on a used Falcon 9, this is familiar territory for SES. The company's SES-10 satellite went up on the first "re-flight" in March. And SES has made it very clear that it is eager to fly its satellites on previously flown boosters.

Are Space-X launches now getting cheaper?

By swb • Score: 3 • Thread

Now that they are starting to re-use rockets and are successfully landing them, have they crossed some magic threshold where their launches are now much cheaper than their competitors using disposable rockets?

Or are they still having to charge a premium due to R&D investments into their system?

If they aren't starting to reap cheaper launch costs, when will they? I would think that while the reusable rockets is an interesting design goal, it would need to cut launch cost meaningfully to be really beneficial.

Re:Are Space-X launches now getting cheaper?

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

There is R&D to recoup, but there has already been a cost reduction for launch customers, on top of what was already the cheapest launch system in its payload class. Since it was already highly price competitive, SpaceX's incentive to lower costs to customers even further is small - there is no competitive need. The details are private, but estimated that the cost to SpaceX is about 35% less than a fully expendable rocket, and they pass about 10-15% cost reduction on to customers.The difference they pocket to recoup R&D costs and continue with more R&D for further cost reductions. The internal cost will fall more once stages are reused more times.

So it is already worth while, but this is not the whole picture. For one thing, the early re-launches are involving more inspection time and expense than they plan on once it gets into full swing. Second, they have made a newer rev of the F9 to minimize turnaround refurb over the past revisions. Lastly, some of their self funded R&D is going into a fully reusable launch system to drive costs even lower.


By geekmux • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Well, both only deliver thanks to millions in tax rebates, adding millions more in direct payments for milestones during development, and direct payments for cargo with more limitations than not due to the weak rocket power.

Speaking of rebates, let's remember the government had to deliver a fucking bailout for the competition not long ago.

And when viable rocket alternatives deliver a powerful solution but take twice as long at 3x the cost, what ends up being "weak" here is your argument.

Re:Age of Miracles...

By bigpat • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

That's how engineering is supposed to work. Incremental changes leading to improvements in reliability and capability, and hopefully reduction in cost.

It takes a disciplined approach and good systems engineering to make that happen. And I would say it is also quite a bit more than just engineering, it is about putting together the right resources, the right timing, the right amount of money, the right amount of competition or incentive to make something better and ultimately a product that people are willing to invest their money into.

And sometimes a really great idea is delayed for years and years or decades even while the enabling technology that could make it happen is developed.

I think that is where Elon Musk is really great at putting together all the great ideas, some of which have previously failed time and time again (electric cars, solar panels, reusable rockets, trains in tubes have been ideas decades in the making) and rethinking them to see how they might actually be made more viable using today's tools, resources and technology.

Other investors and CEOs would look at the failures of the past and see those failures as lessons learned to stay away from those dead end products and technologies... Elon Musk sees some of those failures from the past as opportunities to build on and get them right.

Re:Age of Miracles...

By Solandri • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
The Space Shuttle was designed under very different assumptions than it ended up operating under. Yes the support infrastructure was ungodly expensive, but the idea was that if you could get the frequency of flights up to about 1 a week, that would amortize those costs to where on a per flight basis it was cheaper than disposable spacecraft. There were two major problems which developed.

First, the Shuttle's design grew tremendously complicated. The tiles, which weren't supposed to pop off, did, and each one of them was unique and replacements had to be custom fabricated. Turnaround time grew from an estimated week to months.

Second, the Shuttle's biggest customer bailed out on it. You have to remember that the Shuttle was conceived in the 1960s and designed in the 1970s. At the time, spy satellites would eject a roll of film, which would be captured in mid-air, developed, and analyzed. Once a spy satellite ran out of film, it was useless. The NRO envisioned the Shuttle as a way to refuel its spy satellites and reload them with new film. That's why the Hubble Space Telescope fit in the Shuttle's cargo bay - HST was about the sale size as a spy satellite, and the Shuttle was designed to hold a spy satellite.

But once the CCD was developed and the spy satellites could simply radio images back down to earth, film became obsolete. Without the ability to turn around shuttles in a week, and without a customer to pay for more frequent Shuttle flights, its operations slowed down to about 5 launches per year - 1/10th the frequency the bean counters assumed when OKing it. The costs which were supposed to be amortized never were, and turned it into one of the most expensive launch systems in history.