the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2017-Nov-13 today archive


  1. All Major Browsers Now Support WebAssembly
  2. Bitcoin Gold, the Latest Bitcoin Fork, Explained
  3. Uber Drivers In Lagos Are Using a Fake GPS App To Inflate Rider Fares
  4. Ask Slashdot: Which Software/Devices Are Unusable Without Connecting to the Internet?
  5. China Overtakes US In Latest Top 500 Supercomputer List
  6. Google To Kill a Bunch of Useful Android Apps That Rely On Accessibility Services
  7. Solar Companies Are Scrambling to Find a Critical Raw Material
  8. Amazon Is Making a 'Lord of the Rings' Prequel Series
  9. More Than 15,000 Scientists From 184 Countries Issue 'Warning To Humanity'
  10. Google Subpoenaed Over Data Privacy, Antitrust in Missouri
  11. Firefox 57 Brings Better Sandboxing on Linux
  12. Not Every Article Needs a Picture
  13. Verizon, AT&T Announce Plans To Build and Share Hundreds of New Cell Towers
  14. Payphones Still Make Millions of Dollars
  15. Munich Council: To Hell With Linux, We're Going Full Windows in 2020
  16. Huddle's 'Highly Secure' Work Tool Exposed KPMG And BBC Files
  17. Amazon Developing a Free, Ad-Supported Version of Prime Video: Report
  18. Bill Gates Pledges $100 Million To Find an Alzheimer's Cure, His First Commitment To a Non-communicable Disease
  19. Qualcomm Board of Directors Unanimously Rejects Broadcom's Unsolicited Proposal
  20. Hackers Say They've Broken Face ID a Week After iPhone X Release
  21. New Study Suggests We Don't Understand Supervolcanoes
  22. Asgardia Becomes the First Nation Deployed in Space
  23. Ask Slashdot: Which Laptop Has The Best Keyboard?

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

All Major Browsers Now Support WebAssembly

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: "It took only two years for all browser vendors to get on the same page regarding the new WebAssembly standard, and as of October 2017, all major browsers support it," reports Bleeping Computer. Project spearheads Firefox and Chrome were the first major browsers to graduate WebAssembly from preview versions to their respective stable branches over the summer. The second wave followed in the following weeks when Chromium-based browsers like Opera and Vivaldi also rolled out the feature as soon as it was added to the Chromium stable version. The last ones to ship WebAssembly in the stable branches were Apple in Safari 11.0 and Microsoft in Microsoft Edge (EdgeHTML 16), which is the version that shipped with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Both were released last month. WebAssembly, or wasm, is a bytecode format for the web, allowing developers to send JavaScript code to browsers in smaller sizes, but also to compile from C/C++/Rust to wasm directly.

Re:Tremendous mistake

By nateman1352 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

No doubt about it, wasm has all the problems that all other prior attempts at sand-boxing binary blobs of code in the web browser have had. You hit the major ones.

Here's the thing though, the web circa 10 years ago had 3 competing mechanisms to implement sand-boxed binary blobs:

1. Adobe Flash
2. Java
3. Silverlight
Prototypes for Google NaCl were starting to show up around this time too.

All of these had their own sand-box implementation, and they were not sand-boxed themselves, so the surface area for attack was much higher. So HTML 5 tried to do away with that, but then PNaCl and asm.js show us that no matter how hard we try to get rid of binary blobs of code on the web, someone implements it anyway. So, given that there have been persistent attempts by the various large web players for the past 20 years to build binary code blobs in to web pages, and that there is no sign of it slowing down, the most sensible compromise to me is basically what wasm has become... a standardized mechanism for building those binary blobs that can be directly integrated in to the browser.

It does have its problems like you note, but its better that we only have 1 standardized sand-box implementation, and that sand-box implementation is bundled in with a bunch of other high risk code as part of the browser package, which is easy to keep vigilantly updated. Even before wasm, gone were the days of the web browser being a simple document layout renderer. The web browser is basically a visualized operating system... Google has taken this to IHMO a very dangerous extreme, see the Javascript USB API for example. The web browser is basically a run time for USB device drivers at this point. To me wasm seems like the inevitable end result of the path that HTML 5 started us down.

Re:Tremendous mistake

By garethjrowlands • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

... Web Assembly is just a more compact serialization (binary instead of text) of a subset of EcmaScript/JavaScript.....

Much of what you say is morally true. But it's not technically true.

It's true that wasm is a binary serialisation of an abstract syntax tree (AST) but that AST is defined _without reference to JavaScript_, see . In contrast, the asm.js spec is genuinely a subset of JavaScript.

You're right that wasm doesn't introduce new capabilities to the browser as such. In the current 'MVP' version of wasm, the only way to invoke web assembly is via JavaScript, and the only way for wasm code to interact with the browser is via JavaScript.

But it does make certain scenarios, such as running large compiled C programs, much more practical. It is, by design, a far more efficient compilation target than JavaScript or asm.js, see . For example, we can expect Unity running on wasm to become commonplace, see .

...if there are security issues with WAsm, they're also present in plain JS,...

You can't be sure of that. The wasm codepaths will reuse much of the existing JavaScript execution engine but there will be new code and that new code could - and probably will - have security vulnerabilities. But probably no more than any other major browser feature.

Great. Another crappy standard...

By Brane2 • Score: 3 • Thread

And they started so well.
Initial idea of their parent project was to replace interpreted stuff with native code where possible and low-level intermediate code where it isn't ( that could be trenslated without much CPU effort).
This means that browser would host basically just a VM machine, where it would run the code, natively in most cases.

What it evolved into was just another mix of java/script...

Who needs that ?

Re:Well that's unfortunate.

By TheRaven64 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I have a colleague working on formal verification of WebAssembly. Part of this has involved fuzzing various WebAssembly implementations. There are a lot of bugs in all of them, though Edge is by far the worst (reproduceable crashes are hard, because it crashes randomly on most of his test inputs, but at different points).

It's also a pretty horrible design. It's replaced HSAIL as my go-to example for how not to design a good IR.

Re:Well that's unfortunate.

By TheRaven64 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

If you send a lot of random shit at something, of course it's going to crash.

If your thread model for something that is expected to accept random crap from the Internet is 'it's fine as long as input is well formed', then you are going to have a lot of fun dealing with security vulnerabilities. Contrary to your assertion, well-written code does not crash when you send it a lot of random shit, it gracefully handles errors.

Bitcoin Gold, the Latest Bitcoin Fork, Explained

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Timothy B. Lee via Ars Technica explains Bitcoin Gold: A new cryptocurrency called Bitcoin Gold is now live on the Internet. It aims to correct what its backers see as a serious flaw in the design of the original Bitcoin. There are hundreds of cryptocurrencies on the Internet, and many of them are derived from Bitcoin in one way or another. But Bitcoin Gold -- like Bitcoin Cash, another Bitcoin spinoff that was created in August -- is different in two important ways. Bitcoin Gold is branding itself as a version of Bitcoin rather than merely new platforms derived from Bitcoin's source code. It has also chosen to retain Bitcoin's transaction history, which means that, if you owned bitcoins before the fork, you now own an equal amount of "gold" bitcoins. While Bitcoin Cash was designed to resolve Bitcoin's capacity crunch with larger blocks, Bitcoin Gold aims to tackle another of Bitcoin's perceived flaws: the increasing centralization of the mining industry that verifies and secures Bitcoin transactions.

The original vision for Bitcoin was that anyone would be able to participate in Bitcoin mining with their personal PCs, earning a bit of extra cash as they helped to support the network. But as Bitcoin became more valuable, people discovered that Bitcoin mining could be done much more efficiently with custom-built application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). As a result, Bitcoin mining became a specialized and highly concentrated industry. The leading companies in this new industry wield a disproportionate amount of power over the Bitcoin network. Bitcoin Gold aims to dethrone these mining companies by introducing an alternative mining algorithm that's much less susceptible to ASIC-based optimization. In theory, that will allow ordinary Bitcoin Gold users to earn extra cash with their spare computing cycles, just as people could do in the early days of Bitcoin.

Re:This is not the crypto you're looking for.

By war4peace • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Any line of code is "hidden" between other thousands of lines of code. Does this mean all lines of code are hidden?
You could argue it's "hidden" if it's obfuscated in any way. Doesn't look like the case though.
At most you could define it as an undocumented feature - and the fact that it was found very quickly shows there wasn't an effort to hide it.

But I guess it wouldn't be so dramatic to name it "an undocumented developer fee feature", and it would have been even less dramatic to mention that most other mining clients do have a developer fee and some of them are closed source, and even more, some of them enforce it. For example Claymore has a dev fee set to 1% and if you disable it (which you can) it changes to an enforced "1% idle time" during which your PC doesn't mine for the developer but doesn't mine for you either.

PC mining was always going to become unprofitable

By Kiuas • Score: 3 • Thread

Not commenting on Bitcoin gold, but this line in the summary is incorrect:

The original vision for Bitcoin was that anyone would be able to participate in Bitcoin mining with their personal PCs, earning a bit of extra cash as they helped to support the network. But as Bitcoin became more valuable, people discovered that Bitcoin mining could be done much more efficiently with custom-built application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). As a result, Bitcoin mining became a specialized and highly concentrated industry.

It's true that: BC mining has become a highly concentrated industry, but this was always bound to happen. The way BC is setup and the way the algorithm is build is such that the complexity of calculation and thus the resources needed to perform it are increasing as time goes by. It was predictable from day 1 that as the complexity grows, home PCs (and even custom home built clusters using stuff like playstations that people were for a moment rigging and using for mining) were going to become unprofitable, as the electricity consumption and hence the operating cost would soar past the yielded profit. It's not about efficiency, it's about profitability. People would still be running mining software on their home machines if it was profitable even if the profit made was small compared to large scale dedicated operations, but right now anyone using anything other than a custom mining machine will actually be losing money.

BC is this way by design (and if you ask me, that's one of the major problems of its design), so claiming that the original plan was to keep users running mining software on their own computers is to be ignorant.

This is something that in the long term endangers the whole of BC infrastructure: right now the large scale miners in Asia (mostly China) have kept on doing what they do because the price of the coin has kept going up, meaning that even though electricity and hardware costs have kept increasing, the increasing costs have been offset by the increasing price of the coin. However the fundamental issue is that the market price of BC fluctuates heavily, whereas the complexity only goes one way and that's up. If the market price of BC crashes, the mining will stop being profitable even for the dedicated operators, which will destroy the mining industry and essentially render BC unusable (and hence, worthless).

Re: This is not the crypto you're looking for.

By LordKronos • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Yes, its still hidden even if its in open source. By your thinking, the idea of a "hidden fee" wouldn't exist anywhere in the world. After all, for the fee to be enforceable, it has to be clearly spelled out in English between other English words in the contract (please substitute "English" with your language of choice). Since its clearly spelled out in the contract, it can't be hidden.
No, the term "hidden fee" is generally used to refer to any fee which, while clearly spelled out in the contract", is not clearly advertised on the package, in the marketing, or pretty much anywhere other than the "fine print"

Re:Crypto-currency - new tech bubble?

By Applehu Akbar • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

How long before that bursts and there are hundreds if not thousands worthless crypto-currencies, like dot-coms after 2001?

This is a list of actively traded cyptocurrencies:
Remember, the hoardable value of each of them is based on the idea of limited supply. Your question should be, How long before the market realizes that this has already happened?

What's not to like?

By thegarbz • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

It's just like Bitcoin except with all these additional features:
- No traction
- No recognition in the industry
- Large pre-mined scam from the inventors

and it addressed one of the biggest shortcomings of bitcoin: Power usage ... by making it unoptimisable and worse,

Uber Drivers In Lagos Are Using a Fake GPS App To Inflate Rider Fares

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
According to Quartz, some Uber drivers in Lagos have been using a fake GPS itinerary app called Lockito to illicitly bump up fares for local drivers. The app was initially created for developers to "test geofencing-based apps," but has been used by Uber drivers to inflate the cost of their trips. From the report: In some cases, inflated trips can cost riders more than double the rate they should be paying. "It's more like a parasite," says Mohammed, a driver for both Uber and Taxify in Lagos. "It sets the false GPS movement while allowing the phone also to keep track of its actual movement. The Uber app can't tell the difference between both so it just calculates both." When a driver uses Lockito for an Uber trip he or she can have the fake GPS running (and calculating a fake fare) from the pickup point to the drop off location, before the passenger has even got into the car. When the real trip starts, the real GPS starts running and calculating the actual fare. But at the end of the journey the fares from both trips (real and fake) are tallied up as one fare which the unsuspecting rider pays. Some drivers use Lockito to inflate fares by adding 1000 naira to 2000 naira extra (roughly $3 to $6) but some drivers are believed to inflate fares to exorbitant levels.

like that never happened with Taxis

By kiviQr • Score: 3 • Thread
In most countries like Lagos normal Taxi rate depends if you are local, know language, foreigner, or from USA. I recall a a case where Taxi driver took me for a ride in my home town (in US). Going from an airport, he assumed I was a tourist, so he got of the highway drove a mile, made 4 right turns to get back on the same highway. At least Uber can adjust app and control drives better.

Easy to detect...

By bobbied • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Just make sure the rider and the driver's GPS show the same route. If the routes differ, somebody (one or both) is scamming the system. Keep tracking enough fares, and it will become apparent who's scamming and who you can trust. Couple that with a bit of post processing the reported route being charged verses the total time and known traffic conditions, it's going to be really clear what's going on and then Uber can correct the charges.

Eventually, armed with a zero tolerance policy that prescribes an ever increasing level of punishment for those who attempt to scam and reimbursement for ill gotten gains, you will weed out the bad apples. You won't get away with doing this very long before Uber gives you the boot and the problem corrects itself.

Re:Easy to detect...

By lucm • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

You assume that Uber cares

Re:Translate from monkey to human plz

By 110010001000 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Exactly. Who writes these summaries? It makes no sense. There are two routes and the they get summed and the rider pays for both? I guess they are using a fake GPS app to fool the Uber app, but who the hell knows.

Ask Slashdot: Which Software/Devices Are Unusable Without Connecting to the Internet?

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
New submitter AlejandroTejadaC writes: Currently, most commercial software and hardware manufactures rely on an internet connection for registering or activating their products and providing additional functionality. In an ideal world this works fine, but in our real world the buyer could lose access to internet for months -- such as in emergency situations like the aftermath of hurricane Maria -- and their products will refuse to work because they need an internet connection. Which companies are using their internet servers as replacements for hardware dongles? I want to see a complete list of software and devices that become completely unusable without a live internet connection. Just remember the infamous case of the Razer Synapse.

Re:Adobe, et al

By TheRealHocusLocus • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

it is good practice to keep a known working cracked copy of any "online required" software lying around just in case the vendor cuts you off for some reason.

Congratulations AC, you have offered the only useful and practical idea I've seen so far in this thread. Virtue signalling self-policing comments like, I tolerate Internet reliance because I'm a good person and I know there are bad people out there... people (laughably) listing things that are pointless without the Internet... uggh.

It is good to have cracked [frozen,current,standalone installable] versions even if the software is not strictly 'online required' today, but you have committed to follow an automatic patch-in update path where your operating version begins to diverge seriously from your purchased installable media past a major version. And especially if any step renders your oldest files to become un-usable (or even worse!) subject to some possibly-buggy "conversion step". The gist of it is, I have typically found software to be adept at converting from the previous major versions, but as I discovered on the long and tortuous Aldus Pagemaker 2 (came bundled with 'new' Microsoft Windows version 1.0.3!) thru Pagemaker 3,4,5 Adobe Indesign now Creative Suite path, converting your documents from versions beyond previous can be a shitshow.

I cite Pagemaker only to illustrate, for it was firmly grounded on the principle that you purchase software for life and are entitled to a functional offline installer. Since Adobe arrived on the scene that idea has been challenged somewhat, and because of that I never fully committed to the Indesign path. When you have stuff that works you should start to ignore new features, especially if they are Internet-bound and just work anyhow.

But I've been caught at times, and my reaction would seem direct and 'extreme' to the silly anti-pirates that hang out here. THE FIRST TIME I'm sent a document that triggers the message "It looks like this document was saved using a previous version of [x]. Would you like to download a [special lens,filter pack,wonder-tool] so we can convert/open the document?" I sound the general bullshit alarm. This alarm triggers the following actions,
1. acquire cracked 'previous' version that installs without Internet.
2. acquire cracked current version that installs without Internet.

Every week someone at Microsoft asks someone else, "Why are so many people still using XP?" and they receive a direct honest answer. Which they forget because it is uncomfortable. Then they ask again next week, as those people continue to run XP.

If your hardware or software does not work with Windows 7 you'll never sell any to me. Life gets boring around here sometimes but hey, I own books too. And IF (some say WHEN) the Internet becomes strictly a local affair and the connected world dissolves into enclaves, bunkers and redoubts, I'll be able to assemble working systems off the shelf. What will some of you be doing?

Reading books, that's what! HA HA HA HA HA...! I'll rent them to you.

Calling home

By The Cynical Critic • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
One of the professors at my old university once went to a conference and tried to demo an application he had recently written only to find that it would hang immediately upon launch. It had worked flawlessly when he had been debugging it a few days earlier and run the exact same build the day before. Turns out one of the APIs the application used would "call home" as part of the setup function even when none of the network functions in the API were used.

Needless to say he ended up with some proverbial egg on his face on top of what you usually get when you're called "Jerker" (Swedish male surname) and try to present something in an English speaking country.

Re: Outside of my Roku?

By CSMoran • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Those small furry creatures, did they groove with a Pict by any chance?

Re:PC games

By mjwx • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

DRM servers have killed the used games market on PCs.
There are lots and lots of games out there that are over a decade old even that you can't buy used because they have been "activated" on an old DRM server and can't be reactivated on another machine.

In several cases, legitimate copies of a game can't be played at all on any PC because the game had demanded to contact a now discontinued DRM server even to start.

Actually sales killed the used game market on the PC, not that it had a huge one to begin with. When I can buy a year old game on Steam for £10 or 2 year old game on Steam or GOG for £5 new, why would I pay £15 for it used?

The reason Consoles have a used game market is that Console owners have less money and fewer sales, 12+ months after release you're still paying near release prices for old games.

As for DRM... there's yet to be one that has remained uncracked. Also I don't reward companies that pull this kind of bollocks, hence EA and Ubisoft has not seen a single one of my currency units (I have cards in multiple countries) since they tried to force me into their own platforms.

Re:Outside of my Roku?

By TheRaven64 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
For BT within the UK, at least, it's over separate fibre or separate circuit-switched partitions within fibres that may also carry Internet traffic, but the majority of the phone network, in spite of running IP, is not addressable from the Internet. This is done to guarantee QoS for the voice traffic.

China Overtakes US In Latest Top 500 Supercomputer List

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Enterprise Cloud News: The release of the semiannual Top 500 Supercomputer List is a chance to gauge the who's who of countries that are pushing the boundaries of high-performance computing. The most recent list, released Monday, shows that China is now in a class by itself. China now claims 202 systems within the Top 500, while the United States -- once the dominant player -- tumbles to second place with 143 systems represented on the list. Only a few months ago, the U.S. had 169 systems within the Top 500 compared to China's 160. The growth of China and the decline of the United States within the Top 500 has prompted the U.S. Department of Energy to doll out $258 million in grants to several tech companies to develop exascale systems, the next great leap in HPC. These systems can handle a billion billion calculations a second, or 1 exaflop. However, even as these physical machines grow more and more powerful, a good portion of supercomputing power is moving to the cloud, where it can be accessed by more researchers and scientists, making the technology more democratic.

Not just super computing...

By l0n3s0m3phr34k • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
They are also planning on becoming #1 in quantum computing, radio astronomy, and plans in the work to build the next huge super collider. Meanwhile, in the USA, we are planning on giving rich trust-fund babies even more money they didn't earn, cutting back on our education, and appointing people who hate science to run science-based federal departments.

Re:Not just super computing...

By Tablizer • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

They are also planning on becoming #1 [in many fields] Meanwhile, in the USA, we are planning on giving rich trust-fund babies even more money they didn't earn

The rich spend boat-loads of money convincing the population that trickle-down either works, or would work if we reach a sufficient level of tax breaks and deregulation. So far this bribery, I mean investment, appears to be paying off because at least half the country accepts it.

I do fear a slippery slope: the richer the rich get the more they spend on convincing the population that their own well-being depends on fat cats staying fat, given them even more power to get more power. The ever growing inequality since around 1980 is evidence of a slippery slope, or at least a trend somehow "stuck" going up.

The idea of "corporate personhood" is not in the Constitution, but has slowly worked its way into common law by judges placed there by the rich. Some aspects of corporate personhood do have legal value in terms of deciding how to apply existing laws to corporations, but it's been way overdone.

What are we trying to accomplish?

By istartedi • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Should we really be worried about this? Maybe it's heresy here; but what are they doing with these systems? Are the Chinese using them to solve problems that are more interesting and important, or are they just using them to build prestige? Does it really say anything about the country, or are these systems just the computing equivalent of Dubai skyscrapers? Dubai is blowing us away in the skyscraper dept., but I don't want to live there. China might blow us away in flops on these computers, but if they're not doing any interesting science or other applications on them, so what?

Re:You will bankrupt yourselves trying to keep up.

By boudie2 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
USA have secret weapon. Donald J. Trump. Your MIPS supercomputer will be no help.

Google To Kill a Bunch of Useful Android Apps That Rely On Accessibility Services

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Slashdot reader Lauren Weinstein writes from a blog: My inbox has been filling today with questions regarding Google's new warning to Android application developers that they will no longer be able to access Android accessibility service functions in their apps, unless they can demonstrate that those functions are specifically being used to help users with "disabilities" (a term not defined by Google in the warning). Beyond the overall vagueness when it comes to what is meant by disabilities, this entire approach by Google seems utterly wrongheaded and misguided. "While the intended purpose is for developers to create apps for users with disabilities, the API is often used for other functionality (to overlay content, fill in text fields, etc.)," reports Android Police. "LastPass, Universal Copy, Clipboard Actions, Cerberus, Signal Spy, Tasker, and Network Monitor Mini are just a few examples of applications heavily using this API." It's likely Google is cracking down on apps that use Accessibility Services due to the security risks they pose. "Once granted the right permissions, the API can be used to read data from other apps," reports Android Police.

It's unfortunate truth about accessibility feature

By layabout • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

As someone who is disabled and depending on speech recognition, I've often wondered how to reconcile the need for security with accessibility systems need for deep access into applications. I think the industry is taking the approach of telling disabled people "sucks to be you, go make a living selling pencils on the street corner".

Deep access is needed because the information present in a GUI is insufficient for building grammars speech recognition environments. But even if we could live with the GUI, accessibility needs are wide open holes in system security. When you're disabled, you need to automate common tasks and you need to make decisions about state of the application in order to do the right thing. For example, if I want to download bank statements from the bank, I should be able to automate and automate naming the given PDF the right name but I can't. However giving me that capability would transfer enormous power not just to me but to any attacker.

It's time to start spending all of those tech billions to sending disabled people to that happy farm in the country where your parents sent your dog when it got old. I'm all for this cause I'm tired of arguing with developers about why accessibility is a needed and important part of giving a disabled person independent and satisfying life.

Re:What they're really doing...

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

No, what they're really doing is making Android more secure.

After your emotions settle and your knee-jerk rant that seems equivalent to "Bwaaaaa they're taking away my favorite app! QQ", you might eventually realize that removing gaping security holes is a good thing.

Re:It's unfortunate truth about accessibility feat

By AvitarX • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Google seems to be saying "tell us how your app helps access" not sucks to be you.

They're making a small hurdle to have apps distributed in the official store, they don't seem to be eliminating the API or blocking apps that actually are for access.

Re:What they're really doing...

By Dutch Gun • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I don't WANT a random app to be able to skirt around not having root access by claiming to need permissions for "Accessibiliy". Google is doing the right thing here, even if the approach may be a bit clumsy or ham-fisted. They were rightly panned a while back (right here on Slashdot) when shown how the Accessibility API could lead to security issues and they dismissed it as "not a bug / working as intended".

Android developers were using an API for purposes it was clearly never intended for. Only now it's understood that those APIs have security implications, so those "clever" hacks may no longer be viable. Google is now working to close those loopholes a bit by making sure app developers justify the use of those APIs, and the response is "Google Evil!" Perfect proof that you can twist *anything* to make it sound nefarious.

Google's concern seems a bit hollow

By hyades1 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Perhaps I'd find this sudden concern about security a bit more believable if Google hadn't allowed every app that's come down the pipe since the Stone Age basically to rape whatever device it's installed on. Why does just about every game in the app store "need" access to my contacts, or permission to read my browser history?

I have only one Android device, a tablet. The first thing I did after getting it home was to root it and install CyanogenMod.

I wish I could believe this move by Google meant they intended to reexamine a corporate mindset apparently dedicated to the utter destruction of any vestige of privacy among those using its ubiquitous services.

Sadly, I can harbour no such illusions. That's unfortunate, because this admittedly security-related measure will hurt many people who don't regard themselves as "disabled", but who need easy access to the services affected.

Solar Companies Are Scrambling to Find a Critical Raw Material

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Solar manufacturers are being battered by higher costs and smaller margins, after an unexpected shortage of a critical raw material. From a report, shared by an anonymous reader: Prices of polysilicon, the main component of photovoltaic cells, spiked as much as 35 percent in the past four months after environmental regulators in China shut down several factories. That's driving up production costs as panel prices continue to decline, and dragging down earnings for manufacturers in China, the world's biggest supplier. "There's just not enough polysilicon in China," said Carter Driscoll, an analyst who covers solar companies for FBR & Co. "If prices don't come down, it will crush margins."

California Virtue Signaling

By Zorro • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

No reason it couldn't be done in Silicon Valley.

Only problem is California likes to shift its pollution to other countries and states so they can maintain the illusion of being green.

We just ignore the fact that it REALLY runs on coal powered electricity from Utah and solar cells from China.

Re:The market corrects

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Are you sure the processing can be done in a clean, let alone profitable, way?

It can and is done cleanly. Polycrystalline silicon is manufactured worldwide, including in the US. Outside China it is mostly higher quality "electronics grade" rather than lower priced "solar grade", but it is routinely done with more stringent pollution controls than was previously acceptable in China.

Collecting the volatiles, and cleaning up and recycling the wastewater has a cost, but if everyone is required to do it, the cost can be pushed downstream to the panel manufacturers, and they will pass it on to their customers. This is not a solar showstopper, but it will make panels a bit more expensive.

Does anyone else think it is silly that something made in factories is called a "raw material"?

59% tariff on US polysilicon

By Mspangler • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

RECSilicon, Wacker, and Hemlock would be very pleased to sell the Chinese polysilicon. All the Chinese need to do is drop the 59% tariff they put on it.

REC can make polysilicon for less than $11/kg. Take the tariff off and they could restart the other half the plant in 3 or4 months. Currently itâ(TM)s shut down due to oversupply outside of China, which is caused by the Chinese tariffs. 80% of the demand is in China, but less than 80% of the polysilicon production is in China.

By the way, this particular trade war trade war was started by Obama.

P.S. RECâ(TM)s quarterly report has more information on the trade war. You can browse the old ones to see how it developed over the years.

Re:The market corrects

By Solandri • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Power companies are reluctant to allow you to sell power back to the grid because then you aren't paying the distribution costs (construction and maintenance of the wires, transformers, infrastructure like switching and monitoring equipment, etc. which lets you sell back power to the grid). In the areas where these costs are taken into account, the sell-back price is usually around half the retail price, which dramatically lowers the economic viability of solar. Ignorant solar proponents cry foul at this, demanding they be paid full retail price as if all that wiring, maintenance, and power regulation is free.

If you can use all the power generated by your PV solar installation, or store the excess in batteries for use during night or bad weather, and you can get the economics of solar to work, then good for you. But if you're trying to use the power grid as your battery, then you can't run your cost/benefit analysis using retail electricity prices. Also note that the maintenance costs per house are fixed. Whether you need to draw power from the grid just one day out of the year, or every day out of the year, you still need the same wiring to your house. So we're not talking about a discount per kWh here. We're talking about a fixed cost per household. (Actually the electrical utilities should just separate out their bill into generation and transportation costs like water and gas companies do.) We're running into the same problem with EVs - they wear out the roads just like ICE cars, but they don't pay the fuel taxes to maintain the roads. California just enacted a tax on EVs to help pay for this road maintenance.

All that said, FWIW, in the cost analyses I've done, the local price of electricity is a much bigger factor than utilization. In places with high electricity prices (e.g. Hawaii) and good weather, the payback time for a PV solar installation can be as low as 5-7 years with subsidies, about 10-12 years without. (I should mention that the most cost-efficient energy system I found was geothermal heating and cooling. Where you run your heating and air conditioning with a heat pump using the ground as a heat sink instead of the air. For the desert region of Southern California, the payback time I calculated for that was as short as 3 years, and that's without subsidies.)

Re:The market corrects

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Fossil fuels are only cheaper if you keep the waste products off the books. Put all the emissions in there, the costs of smog, PM5 pollution, carbon, increased medical spending of people living downwind from coal plants, increased asthma rates, etc. and solar starts to look pretty god damn good.

Talk about subsidy - the coal industry gets a pretty damn good subsidy in the form of medicare payments paying for the damage they cause through normal operation, which doesn't even touch on the effects of carbon / climate change (if you're into that kind of thing).

Amazon Is Making a 'Lord of the Rings' Prequel Series

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Amazon is making a Lord of the Rings prequel TV series for its Amazon Instant streaming service. The show, which already carries a multi-season commitment, will "explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring." TechCrunch reports: It's possible the new series will mine the ponderous but rich Silmarillion for material, as fan fiction writers and lore aficionados have done for decades. The exploits of the Elf-Lords of old would make for a stirring epic, while many would thrill at the possibility of seeing Moria at the height of its grandeur. So much depends on the quality of the adaptation, though. Amazon has been pretty good about its Originals, but this will be an undertaking far beyond the scope of anything its studios and partners have yet attempted. Amazon is partnering with New Line Cinema, which of course was the film company behind the much-loved trilogy that began in 2001, and the Tolkien Estate, as well as HarperCollins for some reason. The deal also "includes a potential additional spin-off series," presumably if it's popular enough.

Re:Peter Jackson

By xevioso • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I'm sure Perter Jackson's ears perked up at this announcement. He loves to put a lot of bloat into his movies, which translates well to TV. A lot of the stuff in NZ is probably still intact and would make for great sets I'm sure. The problem is that if they were to work with him he would probably demand a lot of benefits for NZ; the Hobbit movies were *expensive* but they made a ton, so...

Guilermo Del Toro was supposed to do the Hobbit before PJ took over, so they might be able to get him involved...

One does not simply

By cyber-vandal • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Never mind...

Isnt it...

By meglon • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
And i always thought the name of the prequel to the Lord of the Rings was: The Hobbit.

Re:Peter Jackson

By wisnoskij • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

After the travesty of the Hobbit. I would not wish for this.

Re:Just more Piling On

By MightyMartian • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

If they're actually going to the Silmarillion, then that could be something. It would be quite something to see Tuor's journey to Nevrast and meeting with Ulmo, Lord of the Waters, or Ungoliant's poisoning of the Two Trees, and Nírnaeth Arnoediad, the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, would make any other filmed fantasy battle look like a game of Stratego in comparison. Go to the Second Age, a full recounting of the Fall of Numenor would make for an extraordinary sequence.

But probably it will just be about young Thorin traipsing about Middle Earth, or Bullroarer's licentious joinings with busty Hobbit lasses.

More Than 15,000 Scientists From 184 Countries Issue 'Warning To Humanity'

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from More than 15,000 scientists around the world have issued a global warning: there needs to be change in order to save Earth. It comes 25 years after the first notice in 1992 when a mere 1,500 scientists issued a similar warning. This new cautioning -- which gained popularity on Twitter with #ScientistsWarningToHumanity -- garnered more than 15,000 signatures. William Ripple of Oregon State University's College of Forestry, who started the campaign, said that he came across the 1992 warning last February, and noticed that this year happened to mark the 25th anniversary. Together with his graduate student, Christopher Wolf, he decided to revisit the concerns raised then, and collect global data for different variables to show trends over the past 25 years. Ripple found: A decline in freshwater availability; Unsustainable marine fisheries; Ocean dead zones; Forest losses; Dwindling biodiversity; Climate change; Population growth. There was one positive outcome, however: a rapid decline in ozone depletion. One of the potential solutions is to stabilize the population. If we reduce family size, consumption patterns don't rise as much. And that can be done by empowering girls and women, providing sexual education and education on family planning.

The Limits to Growth: 1972

By SysEngineer • Score: 3, Informative • Thread
The Club of Rome published this book in 1972. It is based on a computer simulation of using resources and population to evaluate how long humanity can exist in this system. At that time the tipping point was about 2030. The model used has been re-evaluated many time since. The latest study has added social stability and things are not looking good.

Corporation and the rish have not done anything for the last 45 years, do you really think thay would do anything now "to reduce their profits"?

Re:So... what can the average prole do?

By Applehu Akbar • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Rather than shouting anyone down, do what China does, ignore the yammerheads and Just Fucking Build It. This applies to carbon-free energy sources and it also applies to projects that cut energy demand, like regional high speed rail.

If we really intend to phase out fossil fuel usage by some reasonable year like 2050, there is no other way.

Population, unity

By myid • Score: 3 • Thread

Isaac Asimov said that the biggest threats to humanity were 1) overpopulation and 2) humanity's habit of splitting itself into groups, and deciding that you are or are not a part of their group. I agree with him.

Here are an Asimov interview and speech on overpopulation and human unity.

Re:15000 Scientists

By SlaveToTheGrind • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

This would carry more weight if:
You weren't AC
You cited your source, because I searched and can't find the official list of names to verify

Well, here I am and here's the source -- amazingly enough, one click on a link from TFA. You didn't search very hard at all, did you?

There are tons more fun ones, like:

Thalmayer, Isaiah: Restoration Project Manager, Point Blue Conservation Science
Swanson, Diana: medicine
Swanson, John: Social Sciences - Psychology, Retired
Swanson, Patrick: Professor, Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Creighton University

It's crystal-clear this is just 15k+ random people signing a feel-good petition. Any claim that these signatories are "scientists" in general, much less ones in appropriate fields to make authoritative comments about the subject matter, is unadulterated horseshit.

Re:Obviously, back when it was only 1,500 scientis

By blindseer • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Once you explain that theory then try a stab at explaining this. I saw a YouTube video of a young woman that claims she's a gay man. So she's a woman that cuts her hair short and wears baggy clothes, likes to fuck dudes, and demands to want to use the men's restroom to pee. Preventing this women from using the men's room so she can try to get a peek at some guy's dick is now some outrage. If that's what we should be outraged about then I'm thinking we're doing pretty good.

We've been so well fed, clothed, and healthy now that the outrage is not that this lady has to shit in the street, it's that she has to shit in the women's restroom. We've run out of things to be outraged about that we have to go to new extremes to invent them.

Am I saying that global warming is an invented problem? I'm saying that thought has crossed my mind. It's real easy to get a bunch of signatures that something must be done. It's real hard to actually do something about it. When these people start doing something about global warming instead of just get more signatures then I'd find the problem more convincing.

Do we really need more convincing of the problem? I think we got it already. This outrage has got so bad now I'm wondering if they "protest too much".

Google Subpoenaed Over Data Privacy, Antitrust in Missouri

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Google is facing a new front in its regulatory battles after Missouri's attorney general on Monday launched a broad investigation into whether the company's business practices violate the state's consumer-protection and antitrust laws. From a report: Attorney General Josh Hawley's office said on Monday that it issued a subpoena to investigate if Google's use of information that it collects about consumers is appropriate and if the company stifles competing websites in search results. Google has largely steered clear of antitrust problems in the U.S. That's not the case in Europe, where the company faces a fine of about $2.7 billion over the display of its shopping ads.

Firefox 57 Brings Better Sandboxing on Linux

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Catalin Cimpanu, writing for BleepingComputer: Firefox 57, set to be released tomorrow, will ship with improvements to the browser's sandbox security feature for Linux users. The Firefox sandboxing feature isolates the browser from the operating system in a way to prevent web attacks from using a vulnerability in the browser engine and its legitimate functions to attack the underlying operating system, place malware on the filesystem, or steal local files. Chrome has always run inside a sandbox. Initially, Firefox ran only a few plugins inside a sandbox -- such as Flash, DRM, and other multimedia encoding plugins.


By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I've heard this so many times it seems like Chrome/Edge propaganda now. Why so negative on the visuals of the browser? WHO GIVES A FLIPPITY DO DAH what the browser looks like? Is that REALLY the criteria you judge software on? The shape of the buttons and tabs?

Fine, quit Firefox, but they are adding more and more support for privacy while all the other browsers are removing it or don't give to diddly flips about it. Hand over your data to GOOGLE using a chrome WHICH LOOKS LIKE AUSTRALIS ANYWAYS!

*Caps for emphasis on the total idiocy of these kinds of remarks.

Repeat after me, ditching software A because it's ugly for software B that is also ugly is stupid logic.

Re:How about giving users a choice?

By theweatherelectric • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

including some used for security

Like what? uBlock Origin works in Firefox 57, so does Adblock Plus, so does Ghostery, so does Privacy Badger, so does HTTPS Everywhere, etc. The only one missing from AMO at the moment is NoScript but that will be released soon.

Re: Firefoxalypse

By KiloByte • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Out of 37 extensions I use, there are WebExt equivalents for, *drumroll* 11. That much only because I spent some time looking for replacements.

APIs that would be required to reimplement those extensions aren't even coded yet, and any code that gets merged (which usually takes months) needs additional 18 weeks to percolate into an unstable ("non-ESR") release. With Firefox 52 EOL in June, the chances enough of extensions required for sane use will be ready by then are about nil. And the default, with nothing for privacy but tons of junk like Pocket or Telemetry, is almost as far from sanity as Chromium.

I guess it's time to look into packaging Waterfox or another fork.


By theweatherelectric • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

There's an Adblock Plus XUL-based fork for Pale Moon

Adblock Plus works in Firefox 57. Personally, I use uBlock Origin.

Re: Firefoxalypse

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

That's great, except for the part where some plugins CANNOT be implemented under the new API.

And the part where a whole ecosystem of perfectly good extensions created by volunteers for free is being discarded without a viable replacement for many of them.

Not Every Article Needs a Picture

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares an article: Pictures and text often pair nicely together. You have an article about a thing, and the picture illustrates that thing, which in many cases helps you understand the thing better. But on the web, this logic no longer holds, because at some point it was decided that all texts demand a picture. It may be of a tangentially related celeb. It may be a stock photo of a person making a face. It may be a Sony logo, which is just the word SONY. I have been thinking about this for a long time and I think it is stupid. I understand that images -- clicks is industry gospel, but it seems like many publishers have forgotten their sense of pride. If a picture is worth a thousand words, it's hard for me to imagine there'll be much value in the text of an article illustrated by a generic stock image. As with so many problems, social media seems to deserve much of the blame for this. Until the mid-to-late '00s, a publication's homepage played a dominant role in driving people to individual articles. Homepages mostly mimicked the front pages of newspapers, where major stories -- things that warranted investment in original art -- had images. Other stories just got a headline. Over time, the endless space of the internet lowered the standard for which articles needed art, but still, not everything got an image. [...] Even the unflinching belief that people won't read articles if there aren't pictures doesn't hold up to logic. Sure, interesting pictures can attract readers, but most of these images are not interesting. And even if it were slightly better for business, is that really a compromise worth making?

Re:Video is the real devil

By Stormwatch • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Firefox has an option to disable media autoplay.

Re: Not every article need scrolling effects eithe

By Chris Mattern • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

How good a monetization strategy? Every time a search pulls up a video when I just wanted text telling me what I needed to know, it gets ignored. I'm not going to waste time looking at the pretty moving pictures. They haven't achieved anything but irritating me immensely.

Re:Not every article need scrolling effects either

By Jarik C-Bol • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Worse, a video for every article, generally with auto-play. And usually all the video consists of is some talking head reciting the article more or less verbatim, with no added information, just a waste of bandwidth.

CNN and Video

By ripvlan • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Sometime ago CNN decided that every article required a Video to go with it. Yes - sometimes the video is the TV broadcast recording of the article.

But **many** times the video has little to do with the article itself. For example if Boeing is having an off year the accompanying video might have to do with the launch of the 787 Dreamliner from a few years ago. And then when the video is finished playing it just moves onto whatever video is next available. Somebody was tasked with "find a video" and they do. One cannot watch the selected video and be informed about the actual Text of the article.

Think of all the used bandwidth due to this. Not that I've looked hard - but I haven't found an easy way to block their new video platform. Used to be I could block Flash until clicked.

Re:Not every article need scrolling effects either

By thomst • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

cayenne8 opined:

I think it is just another symptom of the dumbing down of the general population....

You're talking now about a significant number of the populace that can't read a book, even if it has pictures....and people you can ask "who won the civil war", and will either not know the answer, or answer "America?".

It's just been a steady downhill spiral with the common least denominator dropping at an alarming rate.

What you say is true, but I think root causes bear examination (because just bellyaching about societial problems doesn't really accomplish much):

a. The problem of functional illiteracy in the U.S. is, I think, directly traceable to the policy of teaching reading skills via the "whole word" approach. This method severs each word from the language as a whole, and it actively discourages generalized thinking in new readers. The result of generations of this misguided educational philosophy - which is omnipresent in public school education in this country - is that the vast majority of the population regards reading as a chore, rather than a pleasure. So most Americans avoid it whenever possible. A phonics-centered approach, by contrast, introduces beginning readers to the structural components of language that all English words share: the individual sounds that make up the spoken language, and the syllables that represent them in the written one. It enables the reader to "sound out" unfamiliar words, and to easily grasp that many words are related to a core meaning via prefixes and suffixes. Instead of a laborious process of memorizing vocabulary lists, it encourages the reader to approach discovering new words as an exercise in problem-solving. A puzzle, if you will. Were the public education establishment to discard the disasterous policy of "whole word" memorization - and the incredibly dull, mindlessly repetitive primer texts it has generated - in favor of phonics, students could easily progress from simple, introductory material to much more complex, subtle, and interesting stuff quite rapidly. And thereby learn to love reading, rather than seeing it as a boring chore to be avoided whenever possible.

b. The abandonment of teaching history and context in favor of "teaching the (standardized educational accomplishment) tests" has robbed millenials, in particular, of an understanding of how we got here. Anything that happened before they entered school is history - and history doesn't interest them. Nor are they alone. We would not have gotten enmired in Iraq (thereby generating legions of extremists bent on jihad against "the crusaders"), had more Americans remembered the cruel lessons of the Vietnam War. But we don't teach that - and students don't read history on their own, because "whole word" methods have actively discouraged them from reading anything.

c. The omnipresent use of TV as an electronic babysitter - especially given how mind-numbing so much of children's programming is - encourages passivity, and the belief that all problems, no matter how complex or recondite, are handily solvable inside of no more than an hour, including commercial breaks. The current explosion of programming sources, particularly premium-channel cable/satellite and online streaming services, that increasingly are adopting long-form storytelling is encouraging - but it's a trend that programming aimed at children has not adopted.

d. The millenial generation's reliance on "just in time" knowledge, mostly via Wikipedia, has entirely robbed them of context. They don't study things. They simply look them up on Wikipedia, whenever they have a question about a particular subject. What they don't get is the historical, cultural, literary, or mythological context in which that individual datum exists. Instead, it's a naked factoid, isolated from its antecedants and effects on the fabric of knowledge itself. They get the "what", but not the "

Verizon, AT&T Announce Plans To Build and Share Hundreds of New Cell Towers

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a report: Verizon and AT&T announced a joint venture with Tillman Infrastructure to build and share hundreds of cell towers in more in a move that is sure to be seen as a threat to more established tower companies. The companies said the new structures "will add to the overall communications infrastructure in the United States," filling gaps in current tower footprints, but will also enable the nation's two largest network operators to relocate equipment from towers they're currently using. Construction plans on the first towers will begin early next year and will come online "quickly" as they are completed.

Perhaps I'm the only one

By 93 Escort Wagon • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

But it seems like this summary - and the article itself - would be more useful if it supplied additional information.

I certainly know very little about how cellular towers are managed - until a few minutes ago, I assumed the carriers themselves owned them. Apparently that is wrong...

What a difference two years makes?

By jonatha • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

In March 2015 Verizon essentially sold off over 11000 cell towers to American Tower....

Re:We definitely need them here.

By HornWumpus • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

You live in Utah...I'm sorry.

Payphones Still Make Millions of Dollars

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
From a report on Motherboard: Disruption-y tech companies like Uber and Twitter are a big part of "the discourse" and our daily lives, but neither of them make any profit. You know what once-groundbreaking technology doesn't have any problems making bank year after year? That's right, it's payphones. Most people now have a cell phone, so you may have wondered who still uses those rusted, quarter-eating boxes. As it turns out, a lot of people do. According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's 2017 monitoring report, payphones in Canada made $22 million CAD in 2016 (this figure may not account for the cost of upkeep, but the CRTC has stated in the past that payphones are "financially viable at current rates.") That's spread out among nearly 60,000 payphones in the country, which made roughly $300 per phone over the course of the year. That's at least a few calls per day, each. The US numbers are similar: The FCC reports that in 2015 payphones made $286 million, which is comparable for a population ten times the size of Canada's.

They're still useful...

By bill.pev • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
To avoid certain roaming charges [abroad]
And, for contact with my clients wanting a dime bag or two.
feel me?

Does this include prisons?

By javakah • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

My understanding is that there is some really questionable pricing/gouging for phone calls from prisons.

I'm really wondering if calls from prisons are included as part of their numbers here.

Obvious question...

By geekmux • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

What are the numbers for pagers/beepers like?


By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

How else are you supposed to get out of The Matrix?

They are still around.

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Southeastern US here, and people are saying payphones are almost extinct.

It's not true though. Why, just the other day I heard a great whooping commotion in the back 40 late one night. Looked outside and there's a blue phone box. Wasn't there yesterday, so I suppose the phone company installed it. Strangely, as I looked, a good half dozen people came piling out of the thing. I have no idea how they all fit in there, unless they were maybe practicing for a world record or something. They all rushed off somewhere seeming to be in a huge hurry.

Well, last night again there were a lot of odd whooping sounds and the phone box is gone now. I suppose the phone company must have installed it in the wrong location by accident and gone to move it wherever it should have been to begin with. Go figure. Not the most competent of folks.

Point is: public phones are still around.

Munich Council: To Hell With Linux, We're Going Full Windows in 2020

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The German city of Munich, which received much popularity back in the day when it first ditched Microsoft's services in favor of open-source software, has now agreed to stop using Linux and switch back to Windows. If the decision is ratified by the full council in two weeks, Windows 10 will start rolling out across the city in 2020. From a report: A coalition of Social Democrats and Conservatives on the committee voted for the Windows migration last week, Social Democrat councillor Anne Hubner told The Register. Munich rose to fame in the open-source world for deciding to use Linux and LibreOffice to make the city independent from the claws of Microsoft. But the plan was never fully realised -- mail servers, for instance, eventually wound up migrating to Microsoft Exchange -- and in February the city council formally voted to end Linux migration and go back to Microsoft. Hubner said the city has struggled with LiMux adoption. "Users were unhappy and software essential for the public sector is mostly only available for Windows," she said. She estimated about half of the 800 or so total programs needed don't run on Linux and "many others need a lot of effort and workarounds." Hubner added, "in the past 15 years, much of our efforts were put into becoming independent from Microsoft," including spending "a lot of money looking for workarounds" but "those efforts eventually failed." A full council vote on Windows 10 2020 migration is set for November 23, Hubner said. However, the Social Democrats and Conservatives have a majority in the council, and the outcome is expected to be the same as in committee.

So, let's talk about what really happened.

By xrobertcmx • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
First they went there own way with out of date software. They didn't contract this to some outfit like SuSE or Canonical. That would have been the smart thing. Second, Microsoft opened a massive office in Munich. That means jobs, money, taxes. Not too hard to figure out why they went the way they did. Microsoft has spent years throwing money at them to move.

Re:Microsoft hegemony

By gfxguy • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

See, here's the thing (and I'm not the AC you're responding to, nor do I think the Linux desktop "sucks ass"); I have no problem with the Linux desktop. I have no problem using Libreoffice, although I think web applications (like Google Docs) cover the vast majority of the needs of most people. I use a web interface for email. So the thing is, if you're talking about a user where the vast majority of what they're doing is online - surfing, email, banking, facebook, whatever, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with the "Linux Desktop," or let's say the "Ubuntu" desktop, or "Cinnamon," or whatever people want to use.

In fact, there's nothing wrong with LibreOffice, or any of the other myriads of programs available for Linux at all... except when everyone else is using something that only runs on Windows. I get documents in Word that go crazy in LibreOffice. Yes, the idiot that wrote it formatted it like only a complete moron would, doing completely unnecessary formatting, undoing it, redoing a different way... nevertheless, I need to get those documents, read them, edit them and return them sometimes. I can't do that when using LibreOffice "breaks" the idiot formatting that was used.

I also have to write programs for Windows users. Period. That's what they're using - if I write something for them, I can't tell them they need to switch to Linux to use my software (as a result, I started doing a lot of web development for most programs that I thankfully don't need to do anymore). I can't tell photoshop users to use GIMP, I can't tell 3DS users to use Blender, I can't tell AfterEffects users to use... whatever the Linux equivalent is. Even if those tools were better than the Windows version, I can't tell a department of 30 people they need to switch so that I can write my software on Linux.

Munich could have, should have, been different - I can't imagine what they are using that requires Windows, let alone 800 programs, but I can understand when they say they have to jump through some hoops to get things running on Linux that otherwise would just run on Windows.

Re:Just a racist stereotyping American

By Jerry • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Excellent observation.

I retired from a state dept of revenue. We had been in the process of switching our 30 servers from NetWare to Linux. We used Lotus Notes and its groupware. We had developed over two hundred databases in that app, along with its email and calendar components. All tightly integrated. LN made getting work done easy. Then an election brought in a new Tax Commissioner and assistant TC. The assistant never had any experience with LN or Linux. Only Microsoft products. She immediately order the entire 13,000 state employees to switch to Windows and its apps. That meant that over 10,000 LN licenses were scraped, along with licenses for other non-Microsoft apps. At the same time, 10,000+ licenses had to be purchased for SharePoint, Access, Word and other new Windows apps.

Running under Windows servers access time to files and directories more than doubled. There was no effective or practical way to import LN databases and data into SharePoint, Access and other MS applications, so access to lots of data was lost. Crashes and lost data, which required rebooting and data re-entry, were common.

At about the same time a search for a database and dev tools to replace FoxPro took place. PostgreSQL was suggested but discounted because "there was no PAID support". Yes, it's true. When its taxpayer money at risk expense is no impediment. Since then the state has paid millions for Oracle's database products. The "paid" support? It's so poor and slow a website was formed by Oracle users so they could support each other.

All-in-all, the conversion cost state taxpayers millions, and renewal of license fees continued to add millions to the overall cost.

Re: Microsoft hegemony

By F.Ultra • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
There is no 800 programs. The real story is currently paywalled at but the geist of it is that Microsoft just moved their German HQ to Munich and the current mayor of Munich has been pro Microsoft for years.

According to TFS/TFA, they're doing it wrong

By raymorris • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

> their workers deserve a stable, robust work environment.


> half their applications won't run on Linux

A common, and fatal, mistake. They're trying to keep using Microsoft Exchange and 300 other Windows programs, on Linux. That's certainly the wrong way to do it. It works about as well as trying to run all software made on and for Linux, but run it on Windows.

If you're going to run on Windows, run software developed for and on Windows - IIS, Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server, Edge, etc.
If you're going to run on Linux, run software developed for and on Linux - Apache httpd, Cyrus imapd, MySQL, Chrome or Firefox, etc.

You wouldn't say "I'm switching from Ford to Chevy" and then try to run a Ford alternator, water, headlights, etc in your Chevy truck. Yet that's what so many people try to do when they "switch" from Windows to Linux. They switch out the bare OS, not the whole thing.

My companies have been running purely on Linux since shortly after Windows 95 came out and it works beautifully, because we use Linux software in a Linux way, we don't try to run a Microsoft-centric network, doing things the Microsoft way, on a Linux kernel.

Huddle's 'Highly Secure' Work Tool Exposed KPMG And BBC Files

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Chris Foxx, reporting for BBC: The BBC has discovered a security flaw in the office collaboration tool Huddle that led to private documents being exposed to unauthorised parties. A BBC journalist was inadvertently signed in to a KPMG account, with full access to private financial documents. Huddle is an online tool that lets work colleagues share content and describes itself as "the global leader in secure content collaboration." The company said it had fixed the flaw. Its software is used by the Home Office, Cabinet Office, Revenue & Customs, and several branches of the NHS to share documents, diaries and messages. "If somebody is putting themselves out there as a world-class service to look after information for you, it just shouldn't happen," said Prof Alan Woodward, from the University of Surrey. "Huddles contain some very sensitive information."

Re:Why is this even possible?

By 110010001000 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
+1 Insightful. They "sprinted" right off the cliff and fell through the Clouds.

Amazon Developing a Free, Ad-Supported Version of Prime Video: Report

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Amazon is developing a free, ad-supported complement to its Prime streaming video service, AdAge reported on Monday, citing people familiar with Amazon's plans. From the report: The company is talking with TV networks, movie studios and other media companies about providing programming to the service, they say. Amazon Prime subscribers pay $99 per year for free shipping but also access to a mix of ad-free TV shows, movies and original series such as "Transparent" and "The Man in the High Castle." It has dabbled in commercials on Prime to a very limited degree, putting ads inside National Football League games this season and offering smaller opportunities for brand integrations. A version paid for by advertisers instead of subscribers could provide a new foothold in streaming video for marketers, whose opportunities to run commercials are eroding as audiences drift away from traditional TV and toward ad-free services like Netflix and Prime.

so long as its optional

By anthony_greer • Score: 3 • Thread

i don't want ads. I pay what Prime costs for fast shipping, the music service and ad free video. if video gets ads on the paid tier, Ill go elsewhere.

Re:so long as its optional

By crow • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Exactly. The fear is that this will go the way of cable TV and eventually they'll migrate from the nice paid ad-free service to an obnoxious paid ad-full service.

In Amazon's case in particular, I could see them moving the ad-free version to a added subscription on top of Prime, just like the Music Unlimited subscription. I really hope that doesn't happen.

Re:Bad Idea

By tepples • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Cable television used to be ad-free. Eventually most basic cable networks in the United States introduced ads, on ostensible grounds that neither ads alone nor the retransmission royalty alone could fully fund the production of video works with the quality that subscribers expect. I suspect that NicknameUnavailable's fear is that if the ads on free Prime Video become acceptable, paid Prime Video will end up with ads as well.

So, basically CABLE TV?

By Rick Schumann • Score: 3 • Thread
That's what this is: basically cable TV. You may be getting the content for 'free', but there are commercials, so it's not really 'free', and you have to pay monthly for your broadband internet access (which comes in over a CABLE of some kind, one way or the other) -- so it's essentially cable TV. Gotcha. Is Comcast behind this?

I'll stick with the antenna on my roof, DVR, and DVDs.

Bill Gates Pledges $100 Million To Find an Alzheimer's Cure, His First Commitment To a Non-communicable Disease

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At present, there is no treatment to stop the Alzheimer's. Bill Gates wants to make a sizeable attempt to change that. From a report: He is to invest $50 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund, a venture capital fund that brings together industry and government to seek treatments for the brain-wasting disease. The investment -- a personal one and not part of Gates' philanthropic Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation -- will be followed by another $50 million in start-up ventures working in Alzheimer's research, Gates said. "It's a huge problem, a growing problem, and the scale of the tragedy -- even for the people who stay alive -- is very high," he said. Despite decades of scientific research, there is no treatment that can slow the progression of Alzheimer's. Current drugs can do no more than ease some of the symptoms.

Venture capital fund - Is this another investment?

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

A lot of Bill's philanthropy is actually for-profit investments. A treatment for preventing Alzheimer's could be very profitable, so this may turn out to be a lucrative investment if it pays off.

That's not to say there's anything wrong with Bill's approach. Giving people money with no strings attached generally results in that money being wasted (see: the government). I think Bill's more commercial approach to philanthropy has a far better chance of delivering results.

Re:Venture capital fund - Is this another investme

By Geoffrey.landis • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Giving people money with no strings attached generally results in that money being wasted (see: the government). I think Bill's more commercial approach to philanthropy has a far better chance of delivering results.

That's a very libertarian sentiment, but it's sometimes true and sometimes not.

I am happy to live in the twenty-first century, and one of the things about our time that I am most proud of is that I live in a world in which smallpox does not exist as a disease. It was wiped out. It was wiped out by a deliberate, concerted campaign by the World Health Organization, by doctors who really had nothing personal to gain by eliminating smallpox from villages in the third world that they would never visit.

(On television, the planet has been saved by the actions of Doctor Who. For much of the planet, however, the real work in saving the planet was actions of the WHO doctors.)

Re:There will never be a complete brain.

By Opportunist • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Yes, but that solution doesn't really scale well, we only need one president.

In other news...

By Matheus • Score: 3 • Thread

Unrelated: Billionaire Bill Gates diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer's...

Re:Venture capital fund - Is this another investme

By Solandri • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Smallpox was eradicated because (1) it only infects humans, (2) the symptoms are highly visible, and (3) people who've had the disease are immune but no longer carriers. Once enough humans were vaccinated and infected persons were isolated, the disease was unable to find new hosts and was eradicated.

Unfortunately this is not the case for other diseases. We attempted to eradicate Yellow Fever in the early 1900s, but it failed because the disease can infect other species. Polio has been difficult because an infected person is often asymptomatic, and can unwittingly spread the disease. Likewise, measles has a long period between when an infected person can spread the disease, and when the symptoms first appear. Malaria is probably the disease we'd most like to eradicate, but you can get malaria multiple times. So vaccination only confers a low level of immunity.

The only other disease we're getting close to eradicating is Guinea worm. This is a parasitic disease, not a virus, but by educating people about drinking clean water or boiling or filtering before drinking, it was nearly eradicated. Unfortunately it ran into (1) above - it was thought that the worms could only infect people, and thus a global halt to infection for a short period of time would be enough to drive the worm into extinction. Then we discovered that dogs can also carry the form of worm which infects humans.

When faced with a myriad of different problem conditions like this, the best approach is usually a shotgun approach. You throw all sorts of different things against the wall in hopes of randomly finding something that sticks. That is the libertarian philosophy. Your insinuation that libertarians require personal profit as motivation is incorrect. Libertarians are free to donate their money to whatever causes they feel are worthy, and do so all the time. What libertarians are against is being forced to donate their money to causes they personally don't feel are worthy, or being prevented from donating their money to causes they feel are worthy.

What the GP is advocating is a market-based approach to combating diseases. A libertarian, being in favor of the shotgun approach, would approve of both for-profit and charitable means of fighting diseases. The anti-market folks (mostly liberal) would try to prevent for-profit approaches without even seeing if they would work. And likewise the pro-market folks (mostly conservative) would try to phase out charitable approaches in favor of for-profit approaches. To the libertarian, the anti-market folks can donate to the charities fighting diseases, the pro-market folks can donate to for-profit organizations fighting diseases, and everyone is happy (well, everyone except those who think they are "right" and feel they should be able to control how the "wrong" people spend their money).

Qualcomm Board of Directors Unanimously Rejects Broadcom's Unsolicited Proposal

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm on Monday rejected rival Broadcom's $103 billion bid to purchase the company, stating that Broadcom's proposal "dramatically undervalues" Qualcomm and comes with "significant regulatory uncertainty.".

You can say that again

By goombah99 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Anyone noticed that AVGO (broadcom stock symbol) has a PE ratio of 225-275 while Qualcom is near 20-30.

It's not that the offer isn't right, and based on qualcoms stock history it's about right, its that if they pay in stock instead of cash it's trading bad shares for good.

Hackers Say They've Broken Face ID a Week After iPhone X Release

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Andy Greenberg, writing for Wired: When Apple released the iPhone X on November 3, it touched off an immediate race among hackers around the world to be the first to fool the company's futuristic new form of authentication. On Friday, Vietnamese security firm Bkav released a blog post and video showing that -- by all appearances -- they'd cracked Face ID with a composite mask of 3-D-printed plastic, silicone, makeup, and simple paper cutouts, which in combination tricked an iPhone X into unlocking. That demonstration, which has yet to be confirmed publicly by other security researchers, could poke a hole in the expensive security of the iPhone X, particularly given that the researchers say their mask cost just $150 to make. But it's also a hacking proof-of-concept that, for now, shouldn't alarm the average iPhone owner, given the time, effort, and access to someone's face required to recreate it. Bkav, meanwhile, didn't mince words in its blog post and FAQ on the research. "Apple has done this not so well," writes the company. "Face ID can be fooled by mask, which means it is not an effective security measure."

Re:Noit a secret

By religionofpeas • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

you'll see that this required a far more detailed scan of the face than could be recovered from stereoscopy alone. They had to use FLIR to get an accurate enough scan.

There's a suitable camera in every iPhone X. Someone will figure out a hack to use that to scan someone else's face.

Face ID is great for people that don't matter

By ilsaloving • Score: 3 • Thread

Assuming that it's sufficiently accurate, Face ID is a great authentication system for inconsequential people. IE: People who don't have a lot of money nor power, which is a very large portion of the population.

For those that do have some kind of responsibility, ie: managers, IT staff, etc, it's bad.

If said individuals work for a major corporation and/or deal with sensitive information, it's downright idiotic. A biometric authentication system that doesn't even require you to be near the individual to unlock a device with sensitive data is foolish, especially today when people have access to 3D cameras and printers, and can do a targeted attack relatively inexpensively.

It's not Mission Impossible type stuff, but it's not far off.

Total non-story....

By Arkham • Score: 3 • Thread

The researchers concede, however, that their technique would require a detailed measurement or digital scan of a the face of the target iPhone's owner. The researchers say they used a handheld scanner that required about five minutes of manually scanning their test subject's face.

So they haven't really broken anything. It turns out if you sit there and let them scan your face for 5 minutes they can make a model that can bypass a scanner in a consumer device. I'm surprised that it isn't possible to make a perfectly matched face that could fool a human with that kind of scanning.



By Brannon • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
If it is no worse than a thumbprint, then why is it news? We've had fingerprint based unlocking for years--did you just now find out about it?.

Also, FaceID doesn't work if you're unconscious.

Also, if somebody is willing to beat you to death to get into your locked phone, then what form of security is going to stop that?

It seriously took 10 seconds to completely destroy your argument, maybe try harder next time.

Emulating the IR structured light pattern?

By schweini • Score: 3 • Thread
Out of curiosity: IIRC, the iPhone projects some IR dots on the face, and reconstructs a 3D model based on the distortion of the projected pattern using a rather regular 2D camera.

Is that pattern fixed?
If so, would it be possible to block the projection, and "simply" show the sensor the pattern that should appear?
I bet it's not that easy, but i'd like to know why?

New Study Suggests We Don't Understand Supervolcanoes

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Better microsampling (and analysis) are revealing "previously obscured" clues about how super-hot molten lava behaves, according to a Science Alert article shared by schwit1: "The older view is that there's a long period with a big tank of molten rock in the crust," says geoscientist Nathan Andersen from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "A new view is that magma is stored for a long period in a state that is locked, cool, crystalline, and unable to produce an eruption. That dormant system would need a huge infusion of heat to erupt." Such a huge infusion of heat is what's thought to have unleashed a violent supereruption in California some 765,000 years ago... [A]s awesomely destructive as the supereruption was, lingering evidence from the aftermath can tell us about the magma conditions deep underground before the top blew so spectacularly.

Specifically, an analysis of argon isotopes contained in crystals from the Bishop Tuff -- the large rocky outcrop produced when the Long Valley Caldera was created -- shows the magma from the supereruption was heated rapidly, not slowly simmered. Geologically speaking, that is -- meaning the heating forces that produced the supereruption occurred over decades, or perhaps a couple of centuries. (A long time for people, sure, but a blink of an eye in the life-time of a supervolcano.) The reasoning is that argon quickly escapes from hot crystals, so it wouldn't have a chance to accumulate in the rock if the rock were super-heated for a long time... Unfortunately, while scientists are doing everything they can to read the signs of volcanic supereruptions -- something NASA views as more dangerous than asteroid strikes -- the reality is, the new findings don't bring us any closer to seeing the future.

"This does not point to prediction in any concrete way," warns geologist Brad Singer, "but it does point to the fact that we don't understand what is going on in these systems, in the period of 10 to 1,000 years that precedes a large eruption."

A little large picture analysis

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread

Any process which has a form of relaxation oscillations, such as mounting mechanical tension resulting in catastrophic release in an earthquake, or supernova blast in a binary star system, or an supervolcano eruption caused by a sudden event, has to have three underlying processes: first, of slow rise to criticality, second, of constant dissipation which pushes system away from criticality, and the third: of sudden relaxation when level of criticality is crossed.

Looking at the Earth geology, we first must understand at what rate it produces (and accumulates) heat internally, and at what rate it releases its internal heat. It may as well be that Earth is cooling faster then it heats itself, in which case, there as well could never be another supervolcano eruption. Or, it heats itself at rate slower than the rate it had 700k years ago, which would mean that another supervolcano eruption would be postponed much further into the future than simple linear interpolation would suggest. Or, perhaps greenhouse effect affects not only heat our planet receives by Sun's irradiation, but also the total rate of natural cooling of Earth as a whole, in which case we stand to lose much more than just ice caps and bad weather.

Good news, everyone!

By Gravis Zero • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

It turns out a massive eruption at Yellowstone would only wipe out the part of the country that us coastal elitist don't care about! #WhoNeedsFoodAnyway ;)


By DaMattster • Score: 3 • Thread
Science is an ever-evolving field. I've noticed that a lot of scientists display a lot of hubris so it's always refreshing to hear when a group admits that they were wrong or that they really do not know it all. The expert complex is really dangerous because there is nothing more harmful than advice given by people who claim expertise but do not have anything other than their own experience to go on.

Re:So you wrote an article about Supervolcanoes

By jellomizer • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Well in a world of so called experts, who amass all their knowledge from a Discovery Chanel Documentary. We need people to say, "Dude, you really don't know what your talking about, and you are unnecessarily scaring yourself and other people"

While we shouldn't celibate our ignorance, we need to recognize it, and decide if learning more in the area is worth the time and effort, or it should go to something else.

While at the Pharmacist (Chemist) someone was complaining how long they had to wait to get their drugs, "I don't know why it takes so long!", Neither do I, however because I don't know what all the steps are (Because I am not a Pharmacist) I shouldn't be so judgmental, because I am just getting angry about something I know little about. If I really wanted too I can do the studying and see why it takes so long, but I assume they were some other people tacking the problem, and we still cannot make it much quicker. So I will be patient and wait for the services. My ignorance in the process that I am not willing to expand on, shouldn't outrage me, because I need to recognize my ignorance in what is going on, and I need to default to they are doing the best they can.

Re:Yeah, but it's actually all about global warmin

By riverat1 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

That's the problem with people like the previous two AC's (dare I say climate science deniers). They don't have a unified coherent idea about what's going on. It's all scattershot like a shotgun. So one person says it's volcanic activity causing global warming, another says it's the sun and others say the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics proves the greenhouse effect is impossible but provide no reason for the warming, etc, etc. They throw out a bunch of thoughts with the hope that some of the shot will hit the target. They seldom do.

On the other hand climate scientists do have a unified coherent idea about what's going on. The message hasn't changed much in over 50 years, they've just filled in more and more details and improved their understanding of them.

Regarding the first AC they need to show that it's not something that's been going on for more than 10,000 years and that there's been a significant change in the volcanic activity in Antarctica in the last few hundred years. There is no evidence that is the case. Also not much evidence that isn't the case but if it had changed significantly in the past 50 years or so I think we would have noticed.

Regarding the second AC the sun since around 2006 has shown its lowest activity level in the past 100 years. Yet there is no indication of cooling as a result of it.

Asgardia Becomes the First Nation Deployed in Space

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes CNET: An Orbital ATK Antares rocket carrying a cubesat named Asgardia-1 launched from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia early Sunday. The milk carton-sized satellite makes up the entirety of territory of the self-proclaimed "Space Kingdom" of Asgardia... Over 300,000 people signed up online to become "citizens" of the nation over the last year. The main privilege of citizenship so far involves the right to upload data to Asgardia-1 for safekeeping in orbit, seemingly far away from the pesky governments and laws of Earth-bound countries...

As of now, Asgardia's statehood isn't acknowledged by any other actual countries or the United Nations, and it doesn't really even fit the definition of a nation since it's not possible for a human to physically live in Asgardia. Not yet, at least. The long-term vision for Asgardia includes human settlements in space, on the moon and perhaps even more distant colonies.

On Tuesday Orbital ATK's spacecraft will dock with the International Space Station for a one-month re-supply mission -- then blast higher into orbit to deploy the space kingdom's satellite. "Asgardia space kingdom has now established its sovereign territory in space," read an online statement.

Next the space kingdom plans to hold elections for 150 Members of Parliament.

Re:Still playing their game

By bradley13 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

You are overly cynical; governments do solve a problem. Or, at least, they are supposed to solve a problem. The primary purpose of a government is to promulgate and enforce rules on personal interactions; these are the laws. The secondary purpose is to provide the citizens a means of acting collectively, for example, to hire police to enforce those laws.

In a free-wheeling anarchy (which is the libertarian utopia), there is no state, there is only private power. The dream is that the good folk will outnumber the bad folk, and be able to dominate the society. Nice dream, but human nature will ensure that this does not happen. Power will tend to accumulate in the hands of violent sociopaths. They may initially sell themselves as the hired protectors, but it won't be long before they demand protection money. Eventually, they will abuse the libertarian utopia to establish themselves as tyrants. By all reports, many people living under effective Mafia rule in Sicily are quite happy - as long as you are in the inner circle, it's great. It's less great for everyone else, especially those people who want to opt out of the protection racket, and get their kneecaps broken.

Government is an attempt by the "good guys" to solve these problems. We haven't got it quite right yet - our governments take on lives of their own, and get out of control. The current batch is going to have to be replaced at some point (and the politicians losing power are not going to like this). But first, we need better ideas, and we don't have them:

- The progressives yearning for communism, socialist or fascism (which is just socialism under another name) want to go backwards to stuff that worked even worse than what we have now.

- The conservatives basically want to "conserve" what we have now, which has mutated into crony-capitalism.

- The few libertarian idealists effectively want anarchy, which is the short road to tyranny.

What we need is an incremental improvement on democracy and capitalism, because those systems are - so far - the best we have managed. Some iteration that limits the accumulation of money and power into the hands of the 1%, while at the same time avoiding "bread and circuses" for the populist masses. The development of this incremental improvement is left as an exercise for the reader :-)

Re:Perhaps a different name would’ve been be

By mjwx • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Asgard is not a place, it's a people.

Actually it is a place in Norse Mythology. Its the world where the Norse gods lived, hence Stargate used it for the Asgardians (note they were mostly named after gods in Norse mythology). Midgard was the term for Earth if you were interested.

Re:Sovereign-territory-in-space my ass

By DontBeAMoran • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Got the feeling that the person who posted this comment is unfamiliar with a concept known as a woosh.

Hmm, fascinating

By Sqreater • Score: 3 • Thread
Could I upload one of my Second Life avatars to live there as a citizen?

Re:I nominate....

By Rakarra • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

It takes a snowflake to to know one, eh?

We had to listen you you Nazis and your KKK brethren for eight years; we're just returning the favor. Paybacks are a bitch eh?

Can't wait for the midterms. If your side loses are you going to be the gracious losers you seem to think we should be? No? I thought not.

fuckin' crybaby winners are the worst.

The wonderful thing about this post is it's vague enough that I can't tell which side he's on.

Ask Slashdot: Which Laptop Has The Best Keyboard?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Slashdot reader Rock21k is thinking of replacing an old laptop. But... All newer laptops seem to have wide spacing between the keyboard keys, which I hate... At one time, this used to be for consumer laptops but most major companies have done it for business laptops as well... Probably over time I might get used to it, but definitely not the first choice. I understand I can use an external keyboard but that defeats the purpose of a laptop! Do you also hate wide spacing between keyboard keys? Which brand do you find least annoying? Leave your best answers in the comments. Which laptop has the best keyboard?

Re:Spacing is good

By AmiMoJo • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The curved surfaces help your fingers auto-centre. As you type your fingers can feel how far off centre they are and your brain makes corrections, resulting in fewer errors. With flat keys there is less tactile feedback on finger positioning.

My suggestions: Current Apple or classic ThinkPad.

By Qbertino • Score: 3 • Thread

For current day computers I'd give the current MacBooks a try. I've had good experiences with the new Apple keyboards, but some people don't like them at all so YMMV.

If you can get your hands on an older refurbished ThinkPad with the classic keyboard, that might be an option aswell. I just bought one of the last with the classic keyboard and don't regret it the slightest.

Thinkpads in general

By Lisandro • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

I have a rugged Thinkpad 12" around that's still one of the most comfortable laptop keyboards i've ever used.

Dell XPS

By Annirak • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Of all the keyboards I've used in recent times, The Dell XPS series has the most comfortable keyboard and the most positive key engagement. As to the key spacing, it is a chicklet keyboard, in keeping with the current fashion. But that's where the similarities with most other brands end. Dell seems to have gone through quite a bit of effort to make the keyboard nice. It's the closest thing I've felt to typing on a proper keyboard.

Lenovo Thinkpad 25 aniversay edition

By williamyf • Score: 3 • Thread

It was released a couple of months ago.

That is, if you want a somewhat MODERN system, with a good keyboard. Is a tad expensive, but that's life for you...

Otherwise, go for one of those second hand old computers of yore. Your best bet for a good keyboard is an old laptop.

The quest to make thinner/lighter/smaller laptops has taken it's toll on the keyboards...

Less bessel on the screen means less surface area for the Keyboard (although the move from 4:3 to 16:9 helped a lot in this department), meaning less space and misisng keys.

Thinner and lighter means smaller keys with less travel, and smaller key mechanisms with worse tactile feel.

Me? I use the laptop docked most of the time, which means I use a nice HP Keyboard salvaged from a workstation (PA-RISK ultra 5000). Which has a windows key with a diferent logo, ideal for my mac ;-)
When on the go, I try to survive with the crappy laptop chiclet keyboard.