Alterslash

the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2018-Jan-14 today archive

California Will Close Its Last Nuclear Power Plant

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes the San Francisco Chronicle: California's last nuclear power plant -- Diablo Canyon, whose contentious birth helped shape the modern environmental movement -- will close in 2025, state utility regulators decided Thursday. The unanimous vote by the California Public Utilities Commission will likely bring an end to nuclear energy's long history in the state. State law forbids building more nuclear plants in California until the federal government creates a long-term solution for dealing with their waste, a goal that remains elusive despite decades of effort.

The decision comes even as California expands its fight against global warming. Owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Diablo Canyon is the state's largest power plant, supplying 9 percent of California's electricity while producing no greenhouse gases. "With this decision, we chart a new energy future by phasing out nuclear power here in California," said commission President Michael Picker. "We've looked hard at all the arguments, and we agree the time has come."

Re:Red states demand the most federal aid

By davide marney • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The red state vs. blue state comparison is flawed because there are no purely red or blue states. What there is instead are urban and rural parts of the country. Urban areas are deeply blue and rural is deeply red.

To see the truth of this, just look at an election map by precinct for your state. Compare it to a map of urban vs. rural.

To truly compare, you need to cut across geographical boundaries. The Pew Research Center did that by correlating political party to food stamp usage. Democrats are TWICE as likely as Republicans to have taken food stamps.

Source: http://www.pewresearch.org/fac...

This makes good common sense, too. Democrats in the urban core are obviously much more supportive of a large, active government, and Republicans in rural areas want smaller government.

Re:YAY for coal?

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

No new coal plants are under construction or planned anywhere in America.

California energy will come from gas, wind, and solar, with a tiny contribution from geothermal.

Ah, so they have seven short years to figure out how they're going to generate 9% of California's electrical demand from gas, wind, and solar, while also dealing with growth and more demand between now and 2025?

Yeah, good luck with that shit. This touchy-feely story is about as realistic as California balancing their budget. That power plant will get shut down alright; when it melts down.

Re:YAY for coal?

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Yeah, they get a lot power from the US's largest nuclear plant in AZ.

Re:YAY for coal?

By Ol Olsoc • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

And CA doesn't get the power it needs.

I don't think you get the dynamics here of supply and demand here. CA needs the power, the other states have the power.

A similar situation exists for cars. California sets standards for itself, and tells the manufacturers that it will not allow them to sell them in Cali if they don't meet those standards. So whenever possible, the automakers produce vehicles to the Cali standards because they don't want to have to make two versions.

So if California gives purchase preference to NatGas produced electricity, it serves as an incentive to switch to NatGas.

Nothing is stopping an outfit from sticking to their guns and remaining on coal. But the goal isn't coal, the goal is selling electrical power. About the only way to work that system in favor of coal is to radically reduce the selling price.

In other words, lowering the supply price to increase the demand for it.

Re:YAY for coal?

By dwillden • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
And those surrounding states (or more specifically the power plants built in them to service the CA demand) need the power they produce to be purchased by CA or the plants shut down and people lose their jobs. It's not just a matter of oh let's sell it to someone else. Usually they can't just send the power elsewhere.

Utah has one Large power plant I'm familiar with that produces exclusively for the CA markets, the Intermountain Power Plant (IPP). The high voltage transmission lines from the plant run to CA and nowhere else. They were flat out told to convert it or else and the conversion is on schedule to be completed by 2025. The plant currently has two coal fired units, the plan over time is to eventually bring on two additional units, the third one was supposed to be running by now but that was halted when LA, (the planned destination for the power from the unit) voted to go coal free in 2012.

So yes CA the buyer is able to pressure the producers because more and more of their utilities are refusing to buy power produced by coal. When the plants are built and focused on supplying the CA markets, the Transmissions lines lead to the CA markets and other power plants already meet the needs of the state where they reside, then yes CA is able to dictate to the suppliers.

Utah gets no power from the IPP.

Meanwhile Utah's coal industry has been forced to go looking overseas for buyers of our very clean anthracite coal.

Hackers Hijack DNS For Lumens Cryptocurrency Site 'BlackWallet', Steal $400,000

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes BleepingComputer: Unknown hackers (or hacker) have hijacked the DNS server for BlackWallet.co, a web-based wallet application for the Stellar Lumen cryptocurrency (XLM), and have stolen over $400,000 from users' accounts. The attack happened late Saturday afternoon (UTC timezone), January 13, when the attackers hijacked the DNS entry of the BlackWallet.co domain and redirected it to their own server. "The DNS hijack of Blackwallet injected code," said Kevin Beaumont, a security researcher who analyzed the code before the BlackWallet team regained access over their domain and took down the site. "If you had over 20 Lumens it pushes them to a different wallet," Beaumont added...

According to Bleeping Computer's calculations, as of writing, the attacker collected 669,920 Lumens, which is about $400,192 at the current XML/USD exchange rate. The BlackWallet team and other XLM owners have tried to warn users via alerts on Reddit, Twitter, GitHub, the Stellar Community and GalacticTalk forums, but to no avail, as users continued to log into the rogue BlackWallet.co domain, enter their credentials, and then see funds mysteriously vanish from their wallets.

No worries...

By supremebob • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

You can just call their bank and ask them to refund the fraudulent transfer... no?

Ok, how about filing an FDIC insurance cla... nope?

Ok, how about calling the police and having them start an invest... wait, they laughed at you over the phone? Well, that's just mean.

Maybe they can contact their local attorney and... they don't want to take the case because they can't even find the correct plantiff? Damn.

Well. fuck. Maybe this cryptocurrency fad isn't as great as they made it sound on Reddit.

20 Years Later, Has Open Source Changed the World?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Most code remains closed and proprietary, even though open source now dominates enterprise platforms," notes Matt Asay, former COO at Canonical (and an emeritus board member of the Open Source Initiative). "How can that be?" he asks, in an essay noting it's been almost 20 years since the launch of the Open Source Initiative, arguing that so far open source "hasn't changed the world as promised." [T]he reason most software remains locked up within the four walls of enterprise firewalls is that it's too costly with too small of an ROI to justify open-sourcing it. At least, that's the perception. Such a perception is impossible to break without walking the open source path, which companies are unwilling to walk without upfront proof. See the problem? This chicken-and-egg conundrum is starting to resolve itself, thanks to the forward-looking efforts of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other web giants that are demonstrating the value of open-sourcing code.

Although it's unlikely that a State Farm or Chevron will ever participate in the same way as a Microsoft, we are starting to see companies like Bloomberg and Capital One get involved in open source in ways they never would have considered back when the term "open source" was coined in 1997, much less in 2007. It's a start. Let's also not forget that although we have seen companies use more open source code over the past 20 years, the biggest win for open source since its inception is how it has changed the narrative of how innovation happens in software. We're starting to believe, and for good reason, that the best, most innovative software is open source.

The article strikes a hopeful note. "We're now comfortable with the idea that software can, and maybe should, be open source without the world ending. The actual opening of that source, however, is something to tackle in the next 20 years.

Re:Open source has changed the world

By im_thatoneguy • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The internet would have come along just fine over the last 20 years if it were running on IIS and .NET.

Open source performs best on well established designs. Web hosting, databases, file systems etc are all well understood problems. There isn't a lot of room for innovation in any of these areas so it's perfect for Open Source where tiny incremental changes and maintenance is all you really need. Has Apache substantially changed since 1997? I would argue no and that's fine. IIS hasn't really changed since 1997 either so why spend money on it?

Where closed source seems to shine though is through projects with leadership and vision. It's easy to implement a new db engine on a broadly understood concept like a database. A concept taught in every CS101 class. It's a lot harder to stay organized and communicate when you're treading new ground and creating things that only 5 people on earth really understand.

The hard future I see for open source is entering the areas that only serve a handful of people. Niche markets are hard for open source because if there are only 1,000 customers in the world you won't find very many volunteers among those 1,000. And you need a way to ensure one of those 1,000 customers doesn't pay for all of the dev work and then get driven out of business by competitors using the tool for free and charging less. We've stopped helping some closed source products that we license where we've given a lot of time and testing to the company and then not been given a discount on licensing prices when maintenance comes up.

I feel like there is space for a new quasi-open license where you have to pay for a license, but substantial commits give you a discount. That way companies with no interest in contributing can pay cash and companies with more interest in contributing can pay in code. You could even then have developers who only contribute in code and get paid out in cash in lieu of a license at all. That I feel is the model that could expand open source beyond its current use: Bounty Source software.

Good topic, wrong discussion, thus wrong answer

By dsgrntlxmply • Score: 3 • Thread

Of what functional relevance is a 20 year anniversary celebration of a piece of marketing nomenclature? If you want an excuse to have a cocktail party to celebrate a two-word branding phrase that is lamented as failing to meet someone's ambition, go ahead.

My realm is embedded systems: high reliability systems with 10-20 year designed service life, using a variety of CPU architectures, and evolving into very high complexity System On Chip designs. These systems would not be feasible across this timescale without a stabilized and evolving GPL'd tools base: gcc, binutils, and glibc, and Linux as a long-lived build platform.

20 years might be accurate for "open source" as nomenclature. It is not accurate for the underlying phenomena. My choice of monument is a GNU Emacs 16.56 source tape dated 1985, at the point where RMS had replaced the disputed display code from Gosling Emacs.

By around 1992, gcc had evolved to be usable (with a lot of configuration work for gcc and the runtime library) as a cross compiler. At the time I was working on a 68000 based embedded system, using a commercial cross compiler. The commercial product was expensive, slow, had some arcane proprietary extensions, and was abandoned by its supplier (their principal business was defense contracting) from further development, and even if I recall correctly, re-hosting beyond Sun 3.

Gcc became the clear choice to carry the project forward. I put it into place, and it supported the product for the remaining 12 years or so of active development (some new capabilities, mostly keeping up with replacements for obsolete components).

For the past 9 years much of my work has been centered around a body of proprietary software that supports certain high function System On Chip products from a vendor. This software has a history of at least 10 years, three major chip family architectures, and several steps of evolution within each architecture. It has grown to around 30M lines of C code. This is not bloatware with elaborate frameworks and libraries: these devices are sufficiently complex to require that much software to even construct a usable API (around 2800 pages for a sketchy API document, 5800 pages for a very incomplete chip hardware reference).

None of this would be feasible without a long term stable cross-compiler (gcc) and a place to run it (Linux) on large bodies of code.

Meanwhile in the un-free software world, a defense contractor friend pointed me to a recent U.S. Navy RFP for translation or other porting technology, seeking to make 1970s software written in a proprietary 1969 language (CMS-2), runnable on ordinary modern commercial machines. Today it runs on fossilized power-hungry refrigerator-sized Univac AN/UYK-somethings, built from components that went out of production years ago. Yes, our national defense depends upon stuff like this that has outlived essentially all of the original authors. The situation is similar for other long life cycle embedded products, in realms apart from weaponry.

Note that IBM mainframe OS and compiler software were freely available until the early 1970s, when compilers and some other larger products went from a $25 tape copy charge for source, to expensive licenses and restricted source code access. Some of us learned quite a lot by reading e.g. the $25 Fortran H compiler source code.

The history from my perspective, looks more like open (1970), closed (1972), opening back up (1985), usably open (1992), then "open source" as nomenclature (1997), then whatever you want to call today's maelstrom of bloated frameworks. GPL's origin in MIT / Symbolics / LMI controversies is a crucial component of the 1972-1985 evolution; that story must be mentioned, and is told elsewhere from disparate perspectives.

It's the economics

By eddeye • Score: 3 • Thread

The decision is dictated by economics. Depends entirely on the software's purpose. Is it infrastructure or is it a source of competitive advantage?

Common infrastructure code begs to be open source. Having 20 subtly incompatible flavors of Unix does the world no good - hence linux and bsd's success. Likewise Android gives all mobile phones a common base, taking away the burden of 20 vendors each creating a mobile OS poorly. Same thing with web browsers, few benefit anymore from making a closed proprietary platform. Better to share the burden.

Software that gives companies a competitive advantage is completely different. Open sourcing that would be killing the golden goose. Yes companies can build their business model around services and support instead of proprietary code - but that decision is made very early on and hard to reverse later.

You don't see Microsoft open sourcing the windows kernel and API, or Apple open sourcing their GUI libraries, or Google releasing their web search or data center code, or Amazon open sourcing their cloud server platform (it's built on open source but the custom parts stay proprietary). These things will stay closed because that's how these companies make money. Putting this code in competitor's hands makes no sense.

As long as these companies derive competitive advantage from a piece of software, they'd be foolish to open source it. In other areas where the software is just a cost to the company, it makes sense to open source and share the burden.

GCC

By johannesg • Score: 3 • Thread

Yes, Open Source has changed the world. And I'm going to argue that the most important thing that ever came out of the Open Source community was not Linux, nor GNU (the whole of it), but specifically GCC.

GCC is what enables you to sit down and write software without having to pay a massive sum to a compiler vendor. GCC is what lets young people interested in programming experiment, learn, and ultimately become professionals. GCC is why we have the rest of GNU and the Linux kernel. GCC is the reason we have free versions of Visual Studio. And GCC is the reason C++ is the most important programming language today. In many ways, GCC changed the direction the software world has taken, allowing software to be written that would otherwise never have existed, and planting the seeds of the value of Open Source software in people's minds.

Re:public domain

By TheRaven64 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Am I free to compile, without modification, a copy of the code that I receive and give it to a less-technical friend? (GPLv2: Only if I give him either a copy of the source code or a written offer good for 3 [I think] years to provide him with the source code on demand. GPLv3: yes, if I also give him a link to where he can download the source).

Am I free to link against it in a proprietary program and call a single function that consumes a string and produces a string as output? (No).

Am I free to write an BSD-licensed wrapper around the library that runs in a separate process and receives a string from stdin and writes the result to stdout, publish that, and use it from my program? (Not 100% sure, but the FSF lawyers believe that the answer is yes)

Am I free to create some well-defined interfaces, ship a proprietary program that uses them and can load another module, wrap the GPL'd library in some BSDL code that exposes these interfaces, and have my program load it at run time (Yes, probably, though not tested in court - lots of lawyers agree that this one is fine though).

Am I free to ship a proprietary program that can optionally load a GPL'd library and use its functionality directly, as long as I don't distribute the GPL'd code? (Maybe, depending on the copyright status of the interfaces that I use, which Oracle vs Google has now made a lot more murky. Probably 50:50 which way a court would go on this one.)

Yup, the GPL is very simple.

VMware Bug Allowed Root Access

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
c4231 quotes Ars Technica: While everyone was screaming about Meltdown and Spectre, another urgent security fix was already in progress for many corporate data centers and cloud providers who use products from Dell's EMC and VMware units. A trio of critical, newly reported vulnerabilities in EMC and VMware backup and recovery tools -- EMC Avamar, EMC NetWorker, EMC Integrated Data Protection Appliance, and vSphere Data Protection -- could allow an attacker to gain root access to the systems or to specific files, or inject malicious files into the server's file system. These problems can only be fixed with upgrades. While the EMC vulnerabilities were announced late last year, VMware only became aware of its vulnerability last week.

I used to work at vmware. Criminal engineering.

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I used to work at vmware. They have criminals in china doing most of the code. The code is "lost" now. The smart people who made it are all gone and they have very young engineers from china doing all the code. Its riddled with bugs and likely back doors. They also destroyed the Nicira team. Smart, talented SDN guys who are all gone. Now Nicira is more or less dead and the crap china code, NSX-V and the new crap china code, NSX-T is there. Its crap. And they cant make a single installer for all their crap. each of their products is totally disjointed. You cant find a SINGLE PERSON at vmware capable of installing all of their products. Try finding someone who can install FOUR. Lets alone all of them. Its a alot of chinese and desi engineers who are way too young to understand what they are building. the product managers are young bucks who sling marketing slides but never automation and code. Its a shame. I really think all the engineering talent is locked up with that psycho asshole bezos / scamazon, microsoft, google and alibaba and tencent. the rest of the IT shops are full of young obedient small minded desi and chinese slaves who "do whatever". the really smart engineers at google, fakebook, scamazon, microsoft and google might be smarter but they willfully implement horrible evil plans for the love of money. the NSX+ESXi+vpshere on scamazon truly sucks, its double locking, lockin to scamazon and then locking to the horrible NSX apis for doing networking crap. if you can call them APIs. In reality NSX forces most configuration to do CLICK OPS, not really automated. Disgusting. vmware is a burnt out husk of what it used to be. tsarkon reports

How Millions of Iranians Are Evading Internet Censors

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
schwit1 quotes the Wall Street Journal: Authorities in Tehran have ratcheted up their policing of the internet in the past week and a half, part of an attempt to stamp out the most far-reaching protests in Iran since 2009. But the crackdown is driving millions of Iranians to tech tools that can help them evade censors, according to activists and developers of the tools. Some of the tools were attracting three or four times more unique users a day than they were before the internet crackdown, potentially weakening government efforts to control access to information online. "By the time they wake up, the government will have lost control of the internet," said Mehdi Yahyanejad, executive director of NetFreedom Pioneers, a California-based technology nonprofit that largely focuses on Iran and develops educational and freedom of information tools.
Wired calls it "the biggest protest movement in Iran since the 2009 Green Movement uprising," criticing tech companies which " continue to deny services to Iranians that could be crucial to free and open communications."

Kids

By dohzer • Score: 3 • Thread

How can they protect the Iranian children if they keep challenging attempts to do so?

The reason for success is...

By mapkinase • Score: 3 • Thread

... technological backwardness of government, not excellence of tools or technological awareness of "progressive" masses.

Russia and China have successfully censored their Internet portions. That's a fact. There is near-to-zero opposition in information sphere within Russia and all the activists I have been reading are confined to their Western audiences from their Western blogs.

Japan's Latest Sensation is a Cryptocurrency Pop Group

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes Engadget: If you're starting a pop group in Japan, where giant rosters and virtual superstars are par for the course, how do you stand out? By tying yourself to something trendy -- and in 2018, that means cryptocurrency. Meet Kasotsuka Shojo (Virtual Currency Girls), a J-pop group where each of the eight girls represents one of the larger digital monetary formats. Yes, you're supposed to cheer for bitcoin or swoon over ethereum (what, no litecoin?). The group played its first concert on January 12th, and naturally you had to pay in cryptocurrency to be one of the few members of the general public to get in. The group's first single, "The Moon and Virtual Currencies and Me," warns listeners about the perils of fraud and extols the virtues of good online security.
"It isn't clear how French maid outfits symbolize cryptocurrency or blockchain technology," notes Quartz, "but they're popular costumes in Japan's anime and cosplay circles."

Peak stupid money reached...

By denzacar • Score: 3 • Thread

Or is this actually the other side, peak being the cryptocurrency milk.

I presume that a crypto-cheese derivative is also in the works.

Bitcoin girl = slut

By LordKronos • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

I think that Bitcoin girl is a total slut. It seems like every other day I hear someone new has forked her.

Still a better investment than cryptocoins

By gman003 • Score: 3 • Thread

Still a better business proposition than investing in cryptocoins, at this point. Nobody has yet made a *useful* cryptocoin - Bitcoin is proving to be an absolutely horrid transaction processor, Ethereum is trying to be something else, and nobody I have seen will accept anything else. Without the utility value of a currency enabling transactions, cryptocoins have only speculation value - and things with only speculation value trend towards zero.

Meanwhile, J-Pop idol groups are pretty bog-standard entertainment, from an economics standpoint at least. "Entertainment" does have intrinsic value, after all. I don't know if they'll be successful, but it's at least *possible* for them to succeed. And when cryptocoins crash, they can switch to some other gimmick.

In other words, I would much rather invest by buying shares in whatever music label owns this band, than in any cryptocoin company.

Calls to Action on the Fifth Anniversary of the Death of Aaron Swartz

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
On the fifth anniversary of the death of Aaron Swartz, EFF activist Elliot Harmon posted a remembrance: When you look around the digital rights community, it's easy to find Aaron's fingerprints all over it. He and his organization Demand Progress worked closely with EFF to stop SOPA. Long before that, he played key roles in the development of RSS, RDF, and Creative Commons. He railed hard against the idea of government-funded scientific research being unavailable to the public, and his passion continues to motivate the open access community. Aaron inspired Lawrence Lessig to fight corruption in politics, eventually fueling Lessig's White House run... It's tempting to become pessimistic in the face of countless threats to free speech and privacy. But the story of the SOPA protests demonstrates that we can win in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
He shares a link to a video of Aaron's most inspiring talk, " How We Stopped SOPA," writing that "Aaron warned that SOPA wouldn't be the last time Hollywood attempted to use copyright law as an excuse to censor the Internet... 'The enemies of the freedom to connect have not disappeared... We won this fight because everyone made themselves the hero of their own story. Everyone took it as their job to save this crucial freedom. They threw themselves into it. They did whatever they could think of to do.'"

On the anniversary of Aaron's death, his brother Ben Swartz, an engineer at Twitch, wrote about his own efforts to effect change in ways that would've made Aaron proud, while Aaron's mother urged calls to Congress to continue pushing for reform to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

And there were countless other remembrances on Twitter, including one fro Cory Doctorow, who tweeted a link to Lawrence Lessig's analysis of the prosecution. And Lessig himself marked the anniversary with several posts on Twitter. "None should rest," reads one, "for still, there is no peace."

What matters is now, not then

By SuperKendall • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

It doesn't matter to me what the origins may have been; it matters what things are.

I find it pretty stupid to judge the starting point of organizations that were founded decades ago against the more recent Fox News, which was formed when outlets were already turning partisan and was just a bit ahead of the curve.

I'm not dealing in whataboutism; I deal in simple hard truths. And that is that Fox News is no more partisan now than any major news outlet (except possibly the Wall St Journal).

I also find it telling that you hide behind the AC mask to critique others... obviously that makes your opinion on the subject worth quite a bit less than mine.

Re: 2018 and swartz

By c6gunner • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Your life is not your own but a gift from God whether you choose to believe that or not.

How would that make it not mine? When someone gives me a gift for Christmas, or my birthday, that gift is mine. If I want to pitch it into the fireplace, I'm free to do so. Nobody who gives a gift would insist that they still own it.

If your "god" thinks he still owns the things he gifts, he's a friggin sociopath.

Re:Remember this lack of due process

By pots • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
The parent should have said, "accusing people of sex assault ruins their careers without trial." The point behind Aaron's story is that he was ruined financially before he ever got to court, and the most lenient of the plea bargains that you mention required him to plead guilty to thirteen felonies and spend six months in jail. This is a terribly harsh penalty for a minor offense, which he refused to accept.

His refusal additionally makes sense in light of the fact that this was purposeful civil disobedience - all about making a point in the first place. Really, accepting any plea bargain would undermine that point, though his lawyer does say that they offered to accept a less severe bargain.

Again, the fact that all of this happened before trial is what the parent was talking about. "Due process" is perhaps a little nebulous, so you could say that he received some measure of that, but he never got his day in court and was never convicted.

Re: 2018 and swartz

By Demena • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
There are no gods. And if they were they would owe explanations as to why they are such terrible beings.

Re: 2018 and swartz

By aussie_a • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Euthanasia is nothing more than state sponsored suicide. To try to cloak it in anytbing else is to say suicide is ok.

Text Message Scammer Gets Five Years in Prison

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
36-year-old Fraser Thompson is going to prison, according to Reuters, after receiving a five-year sentence for "defrauding" cellphone customers out of millions of dollars. An anonymous reader quotes Reuters: Prosecutors said Thompson engaged in a scheme to sign up hundreds of thousands of cellphone customers for paid text messaging services without their consent. The customers were subsequently forced to pay more than $100 million for unsolicited text messages that included trivia, horoscopes and celebrity gossip, according to the prosecutors. They said the scheme was headed by Darcy Wedd, Mobile Messenger's former chief executive, who was found guilty by a jury in December but has not yet been sentenced. "They ripped off everyday cellphone users, $10 a month, netting over $100 million in illegal profits, of which Thompson personally received over $1.5 million," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement.
Thompson was ordered to forfeit $1.5 million in "fraud proceeds," according to the article, and was convicted of conspiracy, wire fraud, identity theft and money laundering.

Seven other people also pleaded guilty to participating in the scam -- and one has already been sentenced to 33 months in prison.

Very interesting.

By Gravis Zero • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

What I find so very interesting is that the judicial system doesn't seem to equate the overall amount of economic damage as being the same as if done to a single individual. Basically, you give everyone on the planet a paper cut and get a slap on the wrist but if you give one person 7 million paper cuts then it's somehow worse despite being far less damaging by three orders of magnitude.

So, um, how did he get paid?

By rsilvergun • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Did these people had over CC number? Or of it more likely he had help from the carriers? The last time I heard about these scams they were only possible because companies like AT&T allowed them to tack on charges to your cell phone bill. I don't suppose that practice has ended. I know I still get warnings if I respond to a companies text messages.

Re:100 million vs 1.5 million?

By gravewax • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
perhaps you might want to read the whole thing. His cut was 1.5 million therefore he got fined what he stole (should have been at least double what he stole in my opinion, only losing what you gain is not sufficient penalty), the overall companies profits was 100 million for which many other people are also being prosecuted and I imagine the company will also face heavy penalties.

Same thing for spam

By Solandri • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
If it takes you 5 seconds to determine a single email is spam and delete it, then a spammer who sends out 500 million emails has basically cost a cumulative 1 lifetime (79 years) in wasted time.

We also do the same thing for financial (white collar) crime. The lifetime earnings for an average American is about $1.5 million. So by that metric, any white collar criminal who causes more than $1.5 million in damage should automatically get a life sentence. But we have this tendency to spread that cost over everyone, so $1.5 million becomes half a cent per American, and we sweep it under the rug. (To be fair, the same standard is used for non-white collar financial crimes like bank robbery. The harsher sentence is for threatening people working at or customers of the bank, not for stealing the money.)

Re:Very interesting.

By Zalbik • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

history has only one very dubious record of a man recovering after being stabbed to death.

Jesus Christ, who was that?!?!

It sounds like the plot of a terrible book.

Russian Military Base Attacked By Drones

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
A Russian military base in Syria was recently attacked -- 20 miles from the frontline. The only video of the attack is from a Facebook group for a nearby town, which identifies the noises as an "anti-aircraft response to a remote-controlled aircraft," while the Russian Ministry of Defence claims at least 13 drones were involved in the attack, displaying pictures of drones with a wingspan around 13 feet (four meters).

Long-time Slashdot reader 0x2A shares a report from a former British Army officer who calls drones "the poor man's Air Force," who writes that the attack shows "a strategic grasp of the use of drones, as well as a high level of planning." The lack of cameras on the drones suggest that they are likely pre-loaded with a flight plan and then flown autonomously to their target, where they dropped their payload en masse on a given GPS coordinate... The lack of any kind of claim, or even rumours from the rebels, indicates that whoever is producing these drone and launching these attacks has a high level of discipline and an understanding of operational and personal security...

Although some regard the threat from commerical off-the-shelf and improvised drones as negligible, they have the power to inflict losses at both a tactical and strategic level... Although the plastic sheeting, tape and simple design may belie the illusion of sophistication, it seems that the use of drones, whether military, commerical off-the-shelf or improvised, is taking another step to becoming the future of conflict.

The article notes there's already been four weaponized drone attacks in Syria over the last two weeks, which according to CNBC may be part of a growing trend. "Experts said swarm-like attacks using weaponized drones is a growing threat and likely to only get worse. They also said the possibility exists of terrorists using these drones in urban areas against civilians."

Followed a mortar attack

By quonset • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

These drone attacks came not long after a mortar barrage at the same base in Hmeimim, Syria. In that attack, two Russian soldiers were killed and seven Russian jets were either damaged or destroyed, with another report saying up to ten planes were hit. Of those confirmed damaged, only two returned to operational service.

Whoever is behind these attacks has a high level of sophistication and operational awareness. With the ease of making and using drones, expect to see more such attacks and in even greater numbers.

Re: 4 meter wing spans?

By Hal_Porter • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I've always wondered what would happen if you dropped a bunch of tank seeking drones with a shaped charge warhead. Shaped charge warheads are small and light and you could imagine building a drone which is just large enough to carry one which could knock out an MBT.

Something like a B-52 could carry hundreds of them. A dedicated launch platform could carry thousands. And each one could be told which GPS coordinates to head to and use image recognition like the sensor fuzed weapon to find military targets - tanks, anti aircraft systems, APCs etc.

And they could fly low enough to hard to track with radar. And fast and erratic enough that they'd be hard to knock out with ZSU type guns.

So you'd unload them outside the country's airspace and they'd fly to their targets and nail anything which was on the target list.

Some would get shot down of course but if you kept unloading B-52 loads of them programmed to destroy anti aircraft systems they'd eventually destroy the air defence systems of a country. And a lot of other stuff too - all the tanks and fuel dumps for example.

And then of course more valuable aircraft could be sent in to destroy everything else.

If an air defence system is an immune system, these things would be like HIV viruses. You could probably make them really cheap too - somewhere between the price of a civilian drones and a JDAM.

Re: 4 meter wing spans?

By Rei • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Indeed, an ammo dump at Slinfah was hit by one of them as well - it was first assumed to be an Israeli airstrike, and only later determined to be a drone attack. The drones are perfectly designed for hitting soft targets - rather than single powerful charges, they use 8-20 PETN bomblets, packed full of ball bearings.

Concerning tracking them... these are not that large, and made of wood. I imagine they're pretty hard to track and home in on. Plus, having to waste an antiaircraft missile on someone people glued together with bargain basement parts is asymmetric to the benefit of the rebels. Russia's Hmeimim base is packed full of their most advanced antiaircraft systems, yet they still lost planes (ironically, as usual, they spent the next several days both simultaneously confirming and denying that they got hit ;) ). Locals described the sky as lit up by antiaircraft fire.

The US should take a lesson from this and seriously up their efforts toward anti-drone defenses. For now, I expect Russian/Iranian/Assad/Hezbollah/etc forces to put more effort toward hardening depots, airfields, etc against attacks from the air. The drones have a 100km range, which lets them reach from well behind the frontlines.

I would expect GPS to have been jammed at Hmeimim. If not, Russia is incompetent. If so, the drones would appear to be prepared to deal with the loss of GPS signal. Russia was apparently caught off guard with the sophistication of the drones and is now trying to claim that they couldn't have figured out how to make them on their own. I don't buy this at all; both anti-ISIS rebels and ISIS have long been working on drone technology, as well as other "advanced" technology (such as remote-controlled robotic guns).

Re: 4 meter wing spans?

By Rei • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Oh, and another thing: this article says that there was no claim of responsibility. Nonsense. FSA Free Alawite Movement claimed responsibility for it, and promised more attacks.

Re: 4 meter wing spans?

By SlovakWakko • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
"Russia's Hmeimim base is packed full of their most advanced antiaircraft systems, yet they still lost planes (ironically, as usual, they spent the next several days both simultaneously confirming and denying that they got hit ;) ). Locals described the sky as lit up by antiaircraft fire."
It's pretty comical that despite all the facts already being shared by RuMoD like 5 days ago, many people still don't know them. There was a mortar attack on December 31, when several planes were *damaged* by shrapnel and 2 servicemen were killed. In the recent drone attack nothing was damaged and nobody got hurt, as all 13 of them were intercepted before getting to the bases (3 went for Tartus, 10 for Khmeimim). Of these 7 were shot down by Pantsirs and 6 were intercepted by EW hardware, most likely directed microwave emitters which fried their electronics. They fell down, 3 were destroyed by explosions of their bomblets, 3 remained largely intact. There's ton of material about it out there already...

"Plus, having to waste an antiaircraft missile on someone people glued together with bargain basement parts is asymmetric to the benefit of the rebels."
Nobody knows whether any missiles were fired, it's only that some western reports added the missiles to the original Russian report, which does not mention them. From other signs it's more likely that the Pantsirs' IR tracking and 30mm cannons were used to destroy the drones.

Following Other Credit Cards, Visa Will Also Stop Requiring Signatures

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes SiliconBeat: Visa, the largest U.S. credit card issuer, became the last of the major credit card companies to announce its plan to make signatures optional... Visa joined American Express, Discover, and Mastercard in the phase-out. Mastercard was the first one to announce the move in October, and American Express and Discover followed suit in December... However, this change does not apply to every credit card in circulation; older credit cards without EMV chips will still require signatures for authentication... Since 2011, Visa has deployed more than 460 million EMV chip cards and EMV chip-enabled readers at more than 2.5 million locations.
"Businesses that accepted EMV cards reported a 66 percent decline in fraud in the first two years of EMV deployment," the article notes -- suggesting a future where fewer shoppers are signing their receipts.

"In Canada, Australia and most of Europe, credit cards have long abandoned the signature for the EMV chip and a PIN to authenticate the transaction, like one does with a debit card."

PIN no need for chip

By markdavis • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

>"In Canada, Australia and most of Europe, credit cards have long abandoned the signature for the EMV chip and a PIN to authenticate the transaction, like one does with a debit card."

We never needed a "chip" in the first place. Many millions of dollars wasted to overhaul everything- replacing readers, putting in chips, replacing all cards, updating interfaces and software- and still no PIN! A PIN code is a password. If required, without it, a card would be useless (at least in physical transactions, which is all we are really talking about anyway, since on-line can't use "chip readers"). Doesn't matter if it is a valid card, a stolen card, or a "made up" (cloned) card- put in the wrong PIN too many times and POOF, the account is frozen.

A password/PIN is required for my phone, my Email, my work account, Slashdot, my bank card, voicemail, calling to discuss my cable TV account, just about everything.... except credit cards??? Do they REALLY think people can't handle at least a freaking 4 digit number password in 2018?

>"Businesses that accepted EMV cards reported a 66 percent decline in fraud in the first two years of EMV deployment,"

Add a PIN, and then get a 99% decline in in-person fraud. Again, chip security does NOTHING for online security. Develop a PIN for use online and watch fraud drop tremendously there, too.

Re:PIN no need for chip

By ledow • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Your PIN is your signing key. It encrypts the data to the bank such that only they can read it, think of it like that.

Just transmitting card number + PIN is no more secure than just card number + expiry date, really.

But transmitting card number + nonce generated a secure chip on the card, signed with the user PIN and an internal incrementing number from the chip itself and presented to the bank? Now replay attacks are useless and even knowing card number + the PIN itself doesn't help.

You now have to physically have THAT card itself to make it work (worst you could do is a "cardholder not present" transaction otherwise, which doesn't need the PIN anyway). In the same way, your example of card number + postcode (also used in other countries) shouldn't be enough on its own either.

Though I hate Chip And PIN for many reasons, yours aren't any of them, and it's undeniable that nobody bothers or is even capable of verifying signatures at all. And it has significantly reduced fraud.

Until, that is, we went stupid and put NFC payments on the same card so any kind of temporary physical proximity is enough to charge, even without the user knowing. But that's another matter entirely.

And I don't know about you, but my card provider has online challenges at online stores if I don't use the card very often there or if it's an unusual transaction - by way of asking for a password that I NEVER use at a cash machine or anywhere else - only online. Verified By Visa and/or Master SecureCode.

Your problem is that you don't understand what the PIN is actually doing. Asking for a PIN doesn't work how you think - you use the PIN to unlock the chip on the card which is than able to sign a transaction and give a signature (AuthCode) that you then give to the vendor from where the bank can confirm the transaction came from your card itself.

Because unless you want to give everyone on the planet a way to present data to the secure chip and read responses (probably not good for customer ease of use) by way of some kind of chip reader that plugs into every possible smartphone and every computer, then it's not useful to have every online transaction require a PIN any more than an expiry date or postcode. And, in fact, is why those online system exist with an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT code that only works online. Hell, they even present a custom challenge so you know you're not being tricked into entering your code online on a fake site (i.e. only Verified By Visa and I know what text it should be putting in the box that asks me to verify my code).

Rather than complain about something you don't understand, use it and test it and investigate it. The reason Chip & PIN is there and works is because someone sat down, thought of all the use cases, thought of the attacks, and designed a single cheap chip that could solve most of them effectively enough for pennies-per-card (I've never been charged for a replacement credit card in my life, and chip-bearing smart-cards are so cheap as to be throwaway items if you have any dealings with them in access control / banking / code-signing / etc. applications).

I haven't even signed my last four / five cards (all of which reached their expiry dates), because NOBODY uses the signature and nobody even queries it any more. That's how long other countries have been using Chip & PIN.

Plus... you DO NOT want some cheap random bit of hardware interfacing with your card and just needing to send it a PIN that you type in plaintext onto it to unlock. You'd hope that such devices would at least have to have some kind of bank / merchant secure certificate to sign their part of the transaction to help you a) stop people just playing with credit cards using hobbyist electronics, b) require some form of device certification to be able to talk to your card, c) provide some security over the interface, d) provide some accountability should someone just start cloning a particular card reader that you issue out.

Chip & PIN has many holes. But you don't see that because you don't even understand the purpose of the PIN in the first place.

Chip and pin is STILL more secure than signing

By aepervius • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Signing means only somebody need to know your signature and imitate it, and as far as I can tell it isn't for fraud and signature comparison, as yourself can fake a signature, no this is about accepting the sale as a contract. The CC company does not care at all about comparing signature for fraud as it is utterly stupid (Not difficult for most people to imitate it, especially that you are supposed to sign your card in the back, therefore signature CANNOT be a security device , as it is known by the card holder). Stealing pins and the attack mentioned OTOH ask for a big sophistication. So for your "way too insecure" I think I will trust chip and pin any time of the day over signature.

Re: Turn on your damn chip reader

By stephanruby • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The chip readers work differently in the US. Before the transaction is authorized, the amount is verified through a centralized database. Plus all the handshake protocols are done synchronously and no information is allowed to be cached.

This is why the chip readers in the US at times seem to be taking forever to process transactions and the chip readers in Europe are actually quicker than their European magnetic strip reader counterparts.

So in the US, I really doubt that it's the chip readers are even broken. It is more likely that a store owner decided not to use that feature until the business could switch to a more reliable and blazing fast internet connection, or until the business could get more cashier staff to deal with the extra wait time and queue time this created during peak business rush hours.

Re:Signing is for your protection, not the bank's

By Solandri • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
You've got it backwards. If the customer initiates a chargeback, the credit card company assumes the customer is telling the truth. It's not up to the customer to prove the charge was fraudulent. It's up to the merchant to prove the charge was legit. And the easiest way for a merchant to do that is to send the credit card processor a copy of the signature on the receipt. If the receipt matches the customer's signature on file, case closed - it's not fraud. (If the signature doesn't match or there is no signature, the credit card company may or may not decline the chargeback. Merchants can submit other info - address, phone number, etc. - that are not on the card but which the card issuer has on file. That's why gas station pumps ask you to type in your zip code when you use a credit card. But in my experience as a retail business, any customer chargeback where we weren't able to produce a signed receipt or if the signature was faint or illegible, we automatically lost.)

Merchants want to get rid of signatures because it's what the credit card companies use to shift the cost of fraud onto the merchants. Think about it. There are two possible ways for credit card fraud to happen. Either you gave away/lost your card, or the credit card processor allowed a charge that it shouldn't have. The merchant has no way of knowing if a card is fraudulent. All they see is a card, stick it into the reader, and the machine tells them the transaction was approved or declined. The credit card companies got laws passed which prohibit merchants even from requiring ID before they have to accept a card. They can ask for ID, but it's illegal to refuse a credit card transaction just because the customer doesn't have or doesn't want to show ID. But somehow the credit card companies have managed to make the party which has no control over fraud (merchants) pay for fraud. (The exorbitant interest fees you pay credit card companies pay for delinquent customers, not fraud.)

This is why the state of credit card security is so deplorable. Online banking is very secure. Online bill pay is very secure. Wire transfers are very secure. But credit cards security sucks because the parties which can do something about security (the credit card companies and processors) aren't the ones paying for fraud. So they've had little to no incentive to improve credit card security for decades because it hasn't cost them a dime. The merchants have been paying for all the fraud. And whatever the merchant pays for, you pay for via higher prices.

Chip & PIN has its problems, but it's still much more secure than Chip & Sign. And problems with the current Chip & PIN implementation can easily be fixed without altering the process (just need to modify the algorithm the chip uses).

Is There a Warning in 'Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams'?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes io9: That signature feeling feeling of queasy, slow-burning tumult comes through in Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, which originally aired in the UK last September, but is making its American premiere on Amazon Prime this Friday, January 12. The breadth of interpretations across the show's 10 episodes is the real draw for Electric Dreams. One episode will be set in something meant to recognizably stand in for the real world while others are trippy explorations into realities that could never exist. Unfortunately, Electric Dreams' episodes don't just vary in aesthetics; they vary wildly in quality, too...

When Electric Dreams fires on all cylinders, it energizes these short story adaptations by drilling down into the minutiae of how science fiction concepts would alter our everyday existences in real life. The series' common theme is how scientific and technological advancement shears the soul away from our bodies...Electric Dreams' most important task is to show both new viewers and conversant fans why Dick's oeuvre matters, which is hard in a world where we're eerily close to some of his fictional realities...

We're so busy trying to ground ourselves amid constant change that it can be hard to pull out and see society's sweeping shifts. In the '50s and beyond, Dick's science fiction writing mapped out the darker corners of where hi-speed techno-fetishes could take us. For all its unevenness, Electric Dreams adapts his work to show us where we are, relative to his prognostications. If you feel weirded out while watching, that just means the show is doing its job.

I've got a feeling feeling...

By SuperKendall • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

... that someone realized Black Mirror was popular and wanted to get on the gravy train.

What's it like in the last days of Rome 2.0?

By alternative_right • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Well, you see, there's this queasy feeling that somehow life has gone off the rails, that our civilization is not a source of goodness, and that our future is in the hands of incompetents or sadists or maybe both. We have no expectation that we are part of something that makes us feel good to be alive, and are merely corporate stooges waiting out our days so that we can briefly entertain ourselves before passing into oblivion. PKD noticed this -- along with the other writers of his generation and the few before -- but by now, our society is so deeply in denial that we cannot even articulate what he saw. Instead, we just say that it makes us feel unsettled, as if we ate one too many Big Macs during our Soviet-style mandated 52-minute lunch at our mandatory jobs doing unimportant things so that we can all claim we are good workers contributing to the future, tovarisch.

Re:What's it like in the last days of Rome 2.0?

By JaredOfEuropa • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

We have no expectation that we are part of something that makes us feel good to be alive

That's been the case for most of humaity throughout the ages. Most people do not derive a sense of meaning to their lives from the grand sweeping events of the day, instead they derive pleasure from the small things in life: seeing a good movie, enjoying a nice meal with friends, that trip to the Bahamas, an enjoyable hobby or your amateur soccer team's last match where you scored a nice goal. All pretty meaningless stuff. Which is fine as long as you don't let that bother you too much. If it does, you'll have to get off your arseL society is not going to provide your life with meaning, you have to do that yourself.

Re:Here's your warning...

By Blue Stone • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I love Black Mirror and can tolerate the varying styles and 'quality' of episodes, even the ones I think are less successful I can appreciate because something different is being tried and I value the intention behind it all. Also I love the black humour.

I watched the first three episodes of Electric Dreams and tapped out. It did just seem like an uninspired 'me too' cash-in on what BM is doing which is a damn shame. PKD's work can serve as great inspiration, but they need inspired work to translate them into a movie/TV show and the people behind this offering don't seem to have bothered.

Re:I've got a feeling feeling...

By HornWumpus • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

PKD was just ripping off 'GroundHog Day'...wait, it was the other way around.

Phil's plots are constantly ripped off, unattributed.

The Linux Kernel Mailing List is Down

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Every page on LKML.org is currently displaying this error message along with a picture of Flits the cat. What started out as a power outage while I was on vacation (leading to the computer hosting the backend of this site being unable to boot) became a larger issue as the mainboard in that computer appears to be broken.

Not wanting to let you wait for a spare part to arrive, I'm currently (while being assisted by our cat Flits) busy copying over all data to a VPS, and getting things working from there. The rsync is progressing slowly, having copied over the first 50% in three hours (at 14:30 CET). Please check back later for status updates.

Cloud

By 110010001000 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
Why isn't this hosted on the Cloud or made into a Facebook Group?

Re:Nothing of value was lost

By NoNonAlphaCharsHere • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
No. This is serious. I understand that as a work-around, Linus had to go to the park and yell at strangers.

LKML.org is not the actual list

By pjbass • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The lists are mostly hosted on vger.kernel.org. LKML is just fine. LKML.org is just a web archive.

Re:Come on guys.

By Chris Mattern • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

As others have pointed out, this isn't actually the mailing list, which is run in a much more resilient fashion. It's just a web archive of the list run by a guy as a hobby. Not nearly so critical.

RIP Linux

By guacamole • Score: 3 • Thread

It was great while it lasted. I am very proud to have used it all these decades, but now it is time to move on.

Scientists Think They've Discovered Lava Tubes Leading To the Moon's Polar Ice

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
schwit1 quotes ScienceAlert: Small pits in a large crater on the Moon's North Pole could be "skylights" leading down to an underground network of lava tubes -- tubes holding hidden water on Earth's nearest neighbour, according to new research. There's no lava in them now of course, though that's originally how the tubes formed in the Moon's fiery past. But they could indicate easy access to a water source if we ever decide to develop a Moon base sometime in the future.

Despite the Moon's dry and dusty appearance, scientists think it contains a lot of water trapped as frozen ice. What these new observations carried out by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) show is that it might be much more accessible than we thought... Scientists have long been thinking about how to extract the ice reserves we think are up there -- solar power was originally out of the question, as it's the freezing shadowed areas of the Moon that have preserved the ice in the first place. Not only would natural skylights like these provide easier access to the underground ice, it would also mean solar power would be back on the table as an idea.

Re: Probes

By K. S. Kyosuke • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

With no atmosphere, obviously they would have to be propelled by thrusters

Well, there's also this ancient thing called "a rope"...

Re:Simple question

By hey! • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Well, it makes lunar habitation feasible in the relatively nearer future.

Consider this analogous question: did the discovery of the cancer gene BRCA1 affect anyone at all? To your way of thinking, no, because it didn't immediately cure anyone's cancer. It only affected the lives of a very small number of cancer scientists by pointing them down promising avenues of research.

There's *Ice* In Them Thar..

By BlueStrat • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Lunar ice-miner twenty-forty-niner!

In space and/or on an airless rock, water is far more valuable than gold.

This lunar ice deep in lava tubes on the moon was predicted back in 1966 in the science fiction novel "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" by Robert A. Heinlein.

Of course in Heinlein's story, the Moon was a penal colony. Considering the authoritarian direction most nations seem to be drifting towards, maybe this is another Heinlein "prediction" that will come to pass.

"This Court sentences you to life in the Alcatraz-II lunar penal colony."

Strat

Tintin was right!

By AJWM • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
So Tintin (or rather Hergé) got it right in Explorers on the Moon when Tintin discovers ice in a lunar cave. ;)

http://en.tintin.com/images/ti...

Chelsea Manning Files to Run for U.S. Senate in Maryland

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes the Washington Post: Chelsea E. Manning, the transgender former Army private who was convicted of passing sensitive government documents to WikiLeaks, is seeking to run for the U.S. Senate in Maryland, according to federal election filings. Manning would be challenging Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin, who is in his second term in the Senate and is up for reelection in November. Cardin is Maryland's senior senator and is considered an overwhelming favorite to win a third term... However, a candidate with national name recognition, such as Manning, who comes in from the outside could tap a network of donors interested in elevating a progressive agenda...

Evan Greer, campaign director of the nonprofit organization Fight for the Future and a close supporter of Manning's while she was imprisoned, said the news is exciting. "Chelsea Manning has fought for freedom and sacrificed for it in ways that few others have," Greer wrote in an email. "The world is a better place with her as a free woman, and this latest news makes it clear she is only beginning to make her mark on it."

Re:listen fuckers

By Gravis Zero • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

and yet you shitpost from CNN,

which part of "An anonymous reader quotes the Washington Post:" makes you think this is from CNN? was it the "(washingtonpost.com)" link?

why is this news for nerds?

i feel like you have discounted the slogan: "Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff that matters"

People file to run for public office all the time.

People that have been charged with literal treason for doing what they felt was right. This is a high profile individual.

Fuck you Chinese Slashdot

Fuck you, Slashdot doesn't even have basic UTF8 support much less any support of any Chinese character sets!

Good for herm!

By kaizendojo • Score: 3 • Thread
So sick of this little shit. Can't believe Manning is running for office and Snowden is still living in fear of his life.

Re:Criminal?

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

That's a wise rule of Maryland, because it is a standard tactic of fascist regimes and dictators to make sure that political opponents get convicted as felons. It's a good safeguard, take a look at Russia to see what happens if you don't have it.

Re:Mixed feelings

By Baron_Yam • Score: 4 • Thread

>Well, consider that some trans activists (who are not really helping actual trans people's situation at all) say that hetero males not wanting to have sex with trans women are homophobic/hateful/bad people, etc.

Some? It's the only opinion I've come across so far. Guess I'm transphobic then, because I just believe they're people who shouldn't be subject to discrimination or abuse.

I even buy (unless and until a better medical explanation is presented) that they may have brains that are cross-sex due to developmental or genetic abnormalities. I'm never going to accept that they are the same as their identified sex, though... because reality is that they aren't. I like Caucasian women. I like redheads, I like women of a similar cultural background and of a similar age to my own. All these things are OK, but if I prefer natural-born women who grew up female, suddenly I'm evil?

I get it, it sucks to be in an extreme minority and be socially isolated. That doesn't mean you can make me desire an intimate bond with you.

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but...

By bkmoore • Score: 3 • Thread
Why does Manning get so much public attention, and why do we allow Manning to personally profit from this stupid war? IMHO, what Manning did, did not shorten the war in Iraq by one single day, nor did he save one single Iraqi life. All that Manning did do was to disobey a lawful order that he personally disagreed with.

Why do we continue to elevate Manning above other Iraq- Vets who in many cases were wounded or died actually trying to help the Iraqi people or save Iraqi lives? Why is Manning any better than all the wounded or KIA American service men and women who never will be able to come home or lead a normal life? Or why is Manning better than all the Iraq- Veterans who followed orders, did not commit any war crimes, and did their duty in that place?

If Manning wants to make a positive difference, maybe rather than running for office, he should volunteer to help wounded veterans in a hospice or a rehab clinic. Maybe he should anonymously donate all the money he receives from his undeserved fame to helping wounded and homeless veterans get the help they need.

Ask Slashdot: Is There a Useful Voice-Activated PC?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: My elderly monther-in-law misses her computer. Her mind is okay, but she cannot use a computer because of her Parkinson's disease.

I am not all that impressed with Amazon Echo. Seems you can ask the Echo for the time of day, or the weather outside, but it will not do anything useful -- like send an email. A voice controlled PC would be great, even if it only did a few simple tasks.

The original submission ends with a question: "Is there such a thing?" So leave your best thoughts and suggestions in the comments. Is there a useful voice-activated PC?

Would need to use command words more accurately.

By deviated_prevert • Score: 3 • Thread
The problem with voice activated commands to effectively use web sites like facebook, is that there is no web specific way of selecting functions on standard web page even with HTML5. However I am sure that they are working on it at facebook. If they do release a facebook specific browser with a function audio command structure for a front end that remains static then it may become entirely possible to surf the site. Google chrome does surf by audio and is operating system agnostic unlike Siri which is apples pie in the sky attempt at market dominance or Cortana which is Microsoft's answer to Google chrome and Siri.

The overwhelming problem with all of these speech recognition interfaces is that web sites are not coded for key word searches and every website on the planet would most likely screw up the idea of using a keyword search structure. Again it all comes down to language and the fact that the complexity involved in obtaining fine grained results from key words in combinations interpolated by a computer is an enormous task that is fraught with the possibility of error.

Re:Dragon NaturallySpeaking

By Richard Kirk • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
I used to sit next to someone who had RSI so used to Dragon Dictate (as it was then) to do a lot of his keyboard work, which included writing code. On bad dates he could use it to control the mouse too. This is not easy, so it depends on how determined your mother-in-law is. If she has computer skills but has just lost the manual control, then a Dragon product may do the job. If she hasn't handled a computer in some time, so she will be getting used to a new computer, a new OS, and everything else being in the wrong place as well as this new tool, all at once; then it is a big ask.

Dragon/dragonfly

By arnott • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
You can train your PC to do that. I use dragon naturally speaking with dragonfly python scripting. There are many python libraries which are built on dragonfly, which do the job.

Caster is a good one. Check these tutorials.

You will need to spend some time to understand how things work and train your mother-in-law to use the customized voice commands.

Search for "dragon naturally speaking demo" on YouTube to see what others do.

Yes. Try Nuance products (e.g. Dragon, etc.)

By aussersterne • Score: 3 • Thread

I have a friend who is a quadriplegic and lives in an electric chair. He is also a software engineer and very active on Facebook. Last time I knew the details of his setup he was using Dragon, I believe. As I understand it, it's fully customizable, i.e. you get to tie particular voice commands that you choose to particular actions, widgets, keystrokes, etc.

It took him a year or three to get it all customized to his liking for everything, but at this point he basically rolls around and uses the laptop attached to the deck on his chair in front of him nonstop. He's got a bunch of IoT/smart home stuff set up at home and in his office as well, he provided directions and his wife set it all up under his supervision.

The result is that he basically has a workable voice interface to the Internet, his IDE, Windows, and also most of his immediate physical surroundings, so that he lives a fairly normal life, apart from bodily functions and eating, which he obviously needs help with. But most everything else, from rolling around/chair control to lights and blinds and doors and windows and locks to television and computer and work he does by himself, without any movement in his limbs, using voice.

All off-the-shelf stuff as far as I know, they're very middle class and bog standard insurance, no huge budget, just a lot of his expertise and his wife's hands to set it all up over the years.

Re:iPad, Siri and accessibility features

By Brulath • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

My dad is in aged care with fairly advanced Parkinson's disease and finds Siri to be entirely unusable due to the tremor in his voice (a common symptom). He uses an iPad to check emails and facebook, send messages, and call people on Skype. I've tried turning Siri off, as he tends to hold the home button long enough to activate it frequently, but pressing the home button just asks you to turn Siri on again (which is not helpful at all). I recently activated the accessibility settings which require him to press longer to "tap" and ignore secondary taps (from shaking hands), which appears to have helped.

She may be able to use her computer with some modifications to the peripherals. There are large keyboards, like this one, which have a perspex shield above them to rest your hands on. To press a key you have to put your finger through the holes in the thick plastic cover, which prevents a shaking arm from accidentally pressing the wrong keys. A trackball mouse is another improvement, as it doesn't require the arm to move precisely and, at least in my dad's case, the fingers are a bit more stable. I was planning to get both for dad, but he doesn't currently have space for them.

Either way, I'd recommend trying to see if Siri or similar can actually understand her consistently before investing in voice technology. You can get a fair way with disability-accessible computer peripherals instead.

Kansas 'Swat' Perpetrator Charged; Faces 11 More Years in Prison

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Jail time looms for 25-year-old Tyler Barriss, whose fake call to Kansas police led to a fatal shooting:
  • Barriss was charged with involuntary manslaughter, and if convicted "could face up to 11 years and three months in prison." He was also charged with making a false alarm, which is considered a felony. The District Attorney adds that others have also been identified as "potential suspects" in the case, but they're still deciding whether to charge them.
  • Friday Barriss gave his first interview to a local news outlet -- from jail. "Of course, you know, I feel a little of remorse for what happened," he tells KWCH. "I never intended for anyone to get shot and killed. I don't think during any attempted swatting anyone's intentions are for someone to get shot and killed..."

    Asked about the call, Barriss acknowledged that "It hasn't just affected my life, it's affected someone's family too. Someone lost their life. I understand the magnitude of what happened. It's not just affecting me because I'm sitting in jail. I know who it has affected. I understand all of that."
  • Barriss has also been charged in Calgary with public mischief, fraud and mischief for another false phone call, police said, though it's unlikely he'll ever be arrested unless he enters the country. Just six days before the fatal shooting, Barriss had made a nearly identical call to police officers in Canada, this time supplying the address of a well-known video gamer who livestreams on Twitch, and according to one eyewitness more than 20 police cars surrounded her apartment building for at least half an hour.

Re:What did you THINK would happen?

By drinkypoo • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

OK, enough with the ignorance already. Every US military leader would not take kindly to being labeled a mass murderer,

...but most of them absolutely are, because they were not fighting a war to protect people, but to protect profits . Who gives a fuck how they feel about being called what they are? Ignorance is no excuse, either. It's your responsibility to do your homework before killing people.

Also intent matters, which is exactly why he's being charged with involuntary manslaughter and not murder.

That's wrong, though. His intent was to get someone killed. He should be charged with first-degree murder, since it was "willful and premeditated with malice aforethought." Or with being an accessory or accomplice to same, as I have argued, although I am fast coming around to the idea that the cop is the accomplice (and guilty of voluntary manslaughter) and the SWATter is the murderer in the first degree. He planned the murder (via SWAT team) and then carried it out. The only reason anyone SWATs anyone is because they know that it is dangerous, and that the danger goes up to and includes the death of the victim (and possibly innocent bystanders, maybe even babies.)

Re: What did you THINK would happen?

By bryanp • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

No, this is not a good analogy. Swatting was recognized as a prank before this incident. And intent matters.

Anyone who has ever thought of swatting as a prank is an idiot who should be removed from the gene pool.

Intent matters you say? The intent of swatting is to send an armed force to someone's house, believing they may have to kill someone. Swatting needs to be stomped down on hard. Ruin some lives. Make an example of them. Make others think "Hmm, maybe I should just stick to posting shit on 4chan."

Re:What did you THINK would happen?

By mysidia • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

It's called proximate cause

Only in a Civil case.

The responsibility for this man's death lies solely with the criminal who made the call.

Obviously not..... there's something wrong here, that a random person anywhere in the world can make a caller-id spoofed VoIP call to a police department anywhere in the US: impersonate the addressee/target, conjure up a pretend emergency, and incite sufficient panic that the police go on a shooting spree and kill people.

How about: The simplified proximate CAUSE of the death is unreasonable actions by the police, which the SWATter could not have entirely anticipated, But the police in this situation Violated their Duty to serve and protect the public and killed innocent people. What about that? Where are the consequences for that, for the officers' gross misconduct?

Re: What did you THINK would happen?

By starblazer • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Well, if you point a gun at someone, then pull the trigger, that is premeditation.

Unless the SWAT officer left the station "OH BOY I GET TO KILL SOMEONE TODAY!!!!" it's not premeditation. They are trained to be quick with the trigger because if they aren't, they may be the ones dead. Add adrenaline and stress to the mix and the trigger finger may get a little too quick, which is what happened here.

... But, at the same time, there has to be the issue of the gun obsessed violent society.

That and the fact that the local police are becoming more militarized. I get it, Chicago may need a SWAT team or two, but podunkville police with a town population of 10k doesn't need an armored assault vehicle.

Re: What did you THINK would happen?

By arth1 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

They are trained to be quick with the trigger because if they aren't, they may be the ones dead.

And that would not be a worse outcome than a dead innocent non-police.

Police, firemen and emergency medical personnel used to be expected to put themselves in harm's way to protect people. Protecting themselves was secondary to protecting innocents. They took oaths on doing so, and people were proud of them for it.
When did this change?