Alterslash

the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2018-Nov-07 today archive

Contents

  1. Georgia's Secretary of State Brian Kemp Doxes Thousands of Absentee Voters
  2. China's Brightest Children Are Being Recruited To Develop AI 'Killer Bots'
  3. Free Music Archive Is Shutting Down
  4. Gates Foundation Spent $200 Million Funding Toilet Research
  5. A Robot Scientist Will Dream Up New Materials To Advance Computing
  6. EU Court Rules Hungary's State Monopoly Over Mobile Payments Is Illegal
  7. Samsung Will Put Notches On Its Future Phones
  8. Police Decrypt 258,000 Messages After Breaking Pricey IronChat Crypto App
  9. NASA is Showering One City With Sonic Booms and Hoping No One Notices
  10. Chinese 'Gait Recognition' Tech IDs People By How They Walk; Police Have Started Using It on Streets of Beijing and Shanghai
  11. California Voters Embrace Year-Round Daylight-Saving Time
  12. Samsung Shows Off a Foldable Prototype That Merges Phone and Tablet
  13. Samsung Opens Its Voice Assistant Bixby To Developers as It Pursues Alexa and Siri
  14. Corneas Could Be the First Mainstream Application of Bioprinting
  15. As PUBG For PS4 Looms, Xbox Unofficially Responds: Have the Game For Free
  16. Apple Not in Settlement Talks 'at Any Level' With Qualcomm, Report Says
  17. In a First, Amazon Begins Mailing 70-page Printed Holiday Toy Catalog To US Homes
  18. WLinux, the First Paid-for Linux Distro for Windows 10, Goes On Sale on Microsoft Store
  19. San Francisco Passes a First-of-its-Kind Tax on Big Businesses To Help the Homeless
  20. Zuckerberg Rebuffs Request To Appear Before UK Parliament
  21. A New Method To Produce Steel Could Cut 5 Percent of CO2 Emissions
  22. Chinese President Vows To Boost Intellectual Property Protection
  23. Google Sends Final Software Update To Legacy Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P Phones

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

Georgia's Secretary of State Brian Kemp Doxes Thousands of Absentee Voters

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Georgia's secretary of state and candidate for state governor in the midterm election, Brian Kemp, has taken the unusual, if not unprecedented step of posting the personal details of 291,164 absentee voters online for anyone to download. Kemp's office posted an Excel file on its website within hours of the results of the general election, exposing the names and addresses of state residents who mailed in an absentee ballot -- including their reason why, such as if a person is "disabled" or "elderly."

The file, according to the web page, allows Georgia residents to "check the status of your mail-in absentee ballot." Millions of Americans across the country mail in their completed ballots ahead of election day, particularly if getting to a polling place is difficult -- such as if a person is disabled, elderly or traveling. When reached, Georgia secretary of state's press secretary Candice Broce told TechCrunch that all of the data "is clearly designated as public information under state law," and denied that the data was "confidential or sensitive." "State law requires the public availability of voter lists, including names and address of registered voters," she said in an email.
"While the data may already be public, it is not publicly available in aggregate like this," said security expert Jake Williams, founder of Rendition Infosec, who lives in Georgia. Williams took issue with the reasons that the state gave for each absentee ballot, saying it "could be used by criminals to target currently unoccupied properties." "Releasing this data in aggregate could be seen as suppressing future absentee voters in Georgia who do not want their information released in this manner," he said.

Re: Kemp

By LynnwoodRooster • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Ballots found after the election, breaking heavily for Franken.

Felons casting illegal votes in MN

Ballots "found" 5 weeks after the election change the results by being just enough in favor of the loser, the Democrat, who by virtue of the found ballots, won the election.

Re:Why did they remove it then?

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

ACCEPT, CANCEL, REJECT, SUPPRESS

And this is exactly why the list was published. The Democrats of Georgia have been running around for weeks claiming there was voter suppression happening and using as example situations they themselves setup. In one of the most diverse counties around metro Atlanta, dozens of people reported they had received voter registration ballots in the mail already filled out with "Democrat" pre-marked next to party affiliation. A number of people who reported it did so because they were actually not eligible to vote and were confused. Others pointed out that there were slight mistakes on many of the registration ballots, a misspelled name, address off by a street number, etc. The registrations were all traced back to the Abrams campaign. Under Georgia law the registration information must be an "exact match" to the persons State registration such as on their drivers license. Any variation and the voter registration is rejected. This is a law that was passed by the State legislature during the time Abrams was a member but it is the responsibility of the office of Secretary of State to enforce.

So the Abrams campaign sends out known bad registrations then spreads false stories that Kemp, as Secretary of State, is denying all of the bad ones and suppressing the vote. The whole thing was a ginned up ploy with the local lapdog media.

When reached, Georgia secretary of state’s press secretary Candice Broce told TechCrunch that all of the data “is clearly designated as public information under state law,” and denied that the data was “confidential or sensitive.”

“State law requires the public availability of voter lists, including names and address of registered voters,” she said in an email.

That might be technically true.

Love how the report says technically true when it is state law. Kemp didn't pass the law, he wasn't in the legislature, Abrams was though.

So you have the above situation where Abrams is running around screaming racism, voter suppression because her campaign setup the false conditions to make that claim. She is mathematically so far behind Kemp even with absentee ballots she can't get enough votes to even flip this into a run off (Georgia requires over 50% win or it is an automatic run off), but she goes out claiming that absentee ballots are also being suppressed, so the SoS office publishes the list and now you have a compliant leftist media outlet reporting it as "doxxing the voters".

She lost because her campaign was based predominately on being another historic election, first black woman to run Georgia, same type of historic crap that stuck us with Obama and the Hillary tried to play up. Fact is her policies are too radical for Georgia and she lost.

But oh no, she couldn't have lost because of her policies, where she talked about confiscating guns or how no one should have to work in agriculture to a group of farmers, or who paid the no-talent Will Ferrell $250k to stump for her, no no no, her loss could only have happened because of voter suppression don't you know.

Re:Kemp

By kenai_alpenglow • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
You do know that Veritas puts out the unedited videos? Unlike CNN/MSNBC/etc

But, let me guess, it's okay if Dems do it?

By Trailer Trash • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I mean, this came out a couple of days ago:

https://politics.slashdot.org/...

Interestingly, few people thought they were evil. The left-leaning folks here who are getting the vapors didn't seem to show up for that one, presumably because it was also made by left-leaning folks.

Re:Kemp

By mcvos • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

You're right, the Democrats aren't really all that progressive. Most prominent Democrats (Obama definitely, but also many others) are moderately conservative. I think you could make a good case that in many ways the Democrats are closer to classical conservatism than the Republicans, who seem to have embraced dramatic change without consideration for consequences, though in a direction that's regressive rather than progressive.

And putting everyone at each other's throats is indeed not progressive. It's sadly working very well for regressives.

China's Brightest Children Are Being Recruited To Develop AI 'Killer Bots'

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
According to The South China Morning Post, "some of China's smartest students have been recruited straight from high school to begin training as the world's youngest AI weapons scientists." A total of 27 boys and four girls all under the age of 18 were chosen for the four-year "experimental program for intelligent weapons systems" at the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) from more than 5,000 candidates. From the report: The BIT is one of the country's top weapons research institutes, and the launch of the new program is evidence of the weight it places on the development of AI technology for military use. "These kids are all exceptionally bright, but being bright is not enough," said a BIT professor who was involved in the screening process but asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject. "We are looking for other qualities such as creative thinking, willingness to fight, a persistence when facing challenges," he said. "A passion for developing new weapons is a must ... and they must also be patriots."

Each student will be mentored by two senior weapons scientists, one from an academic background and the other from the defense industry, according to the program's brochure. After completing a short program of course work in the first semester, the students will be asked to choose a speciality field, such as mechanical engineering, electronics or overall weapon design. They will then be assigned to a relevant defense laboratory where they will be able to develop their skills through hands-on experience.

If I was a member of the ruling class

By rsilvergun • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
automated kill bots would be my #1 priority. Throughout history the one thing that has consistently challenged my rule has been the military I use to keep power. Specifically charismatic leaders I needed to whip the troops into the kind of frenzy they need to die for me.

Kill bots let me do away that problem. Now all I need is a couple of geeky engineers to run my military and oppress everybody else. Mix in automated factories for making my stuff and I don't even need consumers. I can just own everything and use the ownership to decide who lives and who dies, giving me ultimate power.

And as a member of the ruling class, what else is there for me?

Re:sounds a little like the hitler youth is war co

By Nutria • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Selective abortion.

I hope they feel more secure... ???

By wolfheart111 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I love China,I wish we could cooperate better. :(

Small step

By religionofpeas • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Once you have AI killer bots to defend the homeland, it's only a small step to use them to keep your own population in check.

Re:If I was a member of the ruling class

By SqueakyMouse • Score: 4 • Thread
That doesn't sound like ultimate power to me. That sounds like a scenario in which the geeky engineers can overthrow you. They do run the military after all.

Free Music Archive Is Shutting Down

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
WFMU's Free Music Archive -- a digital library of high-quality and legal downloads that users could listen to, remix, and share -- is shutting down due to funding shortages. The Verge reports: "The future is uncertain, has been my mantra lately," says Cheyenne Hohman, who's been the director of the Free Music Archive since 2014. The shutdown date was initially the 9th, but has since been pushed back to November 16th because the FMA is in early talks with four different organizations that are interested in taking the project over. "The site may stay up a little bit longer to ensure, at the very least, that our collections are backed up on archive.org and the Wayback Machine." Even so, it's not a perfect solution. "If it just goes into archive.org, it's going to be there in perpetuity, but it's not going to be changing at all," Hohman says. "It's not going to be the same thing, that sort of community and project that it was for ... almost 10 years."

Re: Woah

By Bobrick • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Pirating? You realize this is essentially a Creative Commons database?

Re:You cheap bastards

By CanadianMacFan • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Hard to donate when you haven't heard of the site before. In other discussions on here about the music industry people have suggested sites that they get their music from and I haven't seen this before.

Re:You cheap bastards

By PopeRatzo • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

This is true. They could have promoted the site better. With luck, someone will buy it and do a better job. I remember it being a lot of chiptune and 8-bit music, but over time it's gotten to be a really nice little collection.

Some alternatives

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Here's some alternatives:
archive.org
Bensound
cctrax
musopen
bumpfoot
incompetech
audionautix
audeeyah

Re:How to guarantee originality?

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Even if a musical composition and a recording thereof are under one of the Creative Commons licenses, that doesn't guarantee that the composition was in fact original.

Just because a musical composition and a recording are commercially licensed doesn't guarantee it was original and not stolen from others either.

Why bother to specify creative commons as if that makes any sort of difference here?

All music for thousands of years is based on some one else, and a shockingly large amount of music in the last hundred or so years is flat out copied from someone else without permission, credit, or dues.

Gates Foundation Spent $200 Million Funding Toilet Research

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
According to Bloomberg, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation " spent $200 million over seven years funding sanitation research, showcased some 20 novel toilet and sludge-processing designs that eliminate harmful pathogens and convert bodily waste into clean water and fertilizer." Gates told the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing on Tuesday that these technologies at the event "are the most significant advances in sanitation in nearly 200 years." From the report: Holding a beaker of human excreta that, Gates said, contained as many as 200 trillion rotavirus cells, 20 billion Shigella bacteria, and 100,000 parasitic worm eggs, the Microsoft Corp. co-founder explained to a 400-strong crowd that new approaches for sterilizing human waste may help end almost 500,000 infant deaths and save $233 billion annually in costs linked to diarrhea, cholera and other diseases caused by poor water, sanitation and hygiene. One approach from the California Institute of Technology that Gates said he finds "super interesting" integrates an electrochemical reactor to break down water and human waste into fertilizer and hydrogen, which can be stored in hydrogen fuel cells as energy.

The reinvented toilet market, which has attracted companies including Japan's LIXIL Group, could generate $6 billion a year worldwide by 2030, according to Gates. The initial demand for the reinvented toilet will be in places like schools, apartment buildings, and community bathroom facilities. As adoption of these multi-unit toilets increases, and costs decline, a new category of reinvented household toilets will become available, the Gates Foundation said.

Shit is a real problem

By mveloso • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

It's interesting to see this sort of research. Getting rid of people's shit is actually quite difficult to do in an efficient and sanitary way. It's also a difficult UX problem, because levels of care in excreting are substantially different across cultures.

For example, in poor areas the idea of sitting on a toilet seat is a completely alien idea. People either squat over holes in the ground or stand on the toilet bowl and squat. People will occasionally shit or pee all over the toilet, causing problems. Getting the shit/pee out of the bowl along with toilet paper etc is difficult. Then there's the odors/smell/leftover shit problem.

Plus toilets need cleaning...lots of cleaning. In fact, they're cleaned more often than any other area, generally speaking. And they're still filthy.

We haven't even gotten to the "moving the shit out of the toilet" part at that point.

Then of course there's the "what do you do with the combined shit and piss of 50,000 people."

So kudos for the Gates Foundation for doing something creative with their money. These sort of structural problems get worse as time goes on. People don't understand the sheer amounts of infrastructure it takes to deal with shit like this. Here's an example:

In NYC, there are about 3 million households. Each household has 2 toilets. Each toilet requires a holding tank of 6 or 13 gallons. So at any given time there are about 18-39 million gallons of water hanging around that had to be delivered to every household. Water pressure is generally 80psi, which means you need 80psi to 3m point locations across 302 square miles (784 sq km). That pressure doesn't just fill toilets, it supplies showers, sinks, washing machines, etc.

And that's just one municipal water supply. The sewer system is completely independent

It's surprising, to be honest, that universities or governments aren't looking at these sort of issues. I mean, there are all kinds of efficiencies that are possible. For example, why not use the water pipes for AC heat transfer?

Re:Shit is a real problem

By Strider- • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Having been peripherally associated with some foreign development projects, it’s astounding how many people here completely don’t get that the real problem in many places isn’t getting clean water (though that’s a sexy and easy(er) problem to solve, but rather what to do with the waste at the other end of the problem.

I’ve supported a couple of charities that do their hardest to build safe, culturally appropriate latrines/privies. These are just as, if not more, critical than drilling wells etc...

Re: Advances???

By hey! • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Rural Americans have no concept of the real world.

City dwellers have no concept about the real world.

It turns out, you're both right.

Re:My US city could use some help downtown...

By AHuxley • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Look to the states that enforce laws and rules about tent cities, RV parking and trash in the street.
They don't have such problems. Their cities stay clean and attract investment.
Its a city police politics problem. Find out why the city police do not to enforce laws. Parking laws. Trash laws. Camping laws. Waste laws.

Re:Respect it because the alternative is bad

By geekmux • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Yeah, so it turns out pretty much every noncommercial toilet in America is a joke. The seals fail. They just fail. The huge amount of waste that arises from *having toilets with sucky designs in almost every home in the country* is insane.

The fix is pretty simple: whenever a toilet shows up in a landfill or dumpster, bill the manufacturer.

We don't do that, so every producer has an incentive to make toilets crappy enough that they fail within a few years.

Uh, where exactly are you getting your data that confirms we're throwing away toilets every few years? My last house still had the avocado green and harvest gold toilets installed from the 70's (no, I'm not joking), and my current house still has the original hardware that's almost 20 years old. Yes, internal hardware like the flapper breaks down over time (more likely due to the chlorinated water attacking the rubber material), but you don't rip a toilet out of a house because the guts fail. Every toilet I've replaced has been due to something other than breakage (color, height, shape, water capacity, etc.)

Much like consumer electronics, fashion has put more hardware into landfills than function has.

A Robot Scientist Will Dream Up New Materials To Advance Computing

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: In a laboratory that overlooks a busy shopping street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a robot is attempting to create new materials. A robot arm dips a pipette into a dish and transfers a tiny amount of bright liquid into one of many receptacles sitting in front of another machine. When all the samples are ready, the second machine tests their optical properties, and the results are fed to a computer that controls the arm. Software analyzes the results of these experiments, formulates a few hypotheses, and then starts the process over again. Humans are barely required.

The setup, developed by a startup called Kebotix, hints at how machine learning and robotic automation may be poised to revolutionize materials science in coming years. The company believes it may find new compounds that could, among other things, absorb pollution, combat drug-resistant fungal infections, and serve as more efficient optoelectronic components. The company's software learns from 3-D models of molecules with known properties. Kebotix uses several machine-learning methods to design novel chemical compounds. The company feeds molecular models of compounds with desirable properties into a type of neural network that learns a statistical representation of those properties. This algorithm can then come up with new examples that fit the same model.
To strain out potentially useless materials, Kebotix uses another neural network and "then the company's robotic system tests the remaining chemical structures," reports MIT Technology Review. "The results of those experiments can be fed back into the machine-learning pipeline, helping it get closer to the desired chemical properties. The company dubs the overall system a 'self-driving lab.'"

Won't work, I've already tried this.

By FilmedInNoir • Score: 3 • Thread
All I can come up with is showing up to an exam late in my underwear.

EU Court Rules Hungary's State Monopoly Over Mobile Payments Is Illegal

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Hungarian state's monopoly over national mobile payment services has been ruled illegal by the European Court of Justice. "The ruling would require the end of exclusive control over Hungarian mobile payments exercised since July 2014 by state-owned firm Nemzeti Mobilfizetesi Zrt," reports Reuters. "This exclusive operation 'is contrary to EU law,' the bloc's top court said in a statement."

"Even if the services provided under that system constitute services of general economic interest, their supply cannot be reserved to a state monopoly," the court added.

Really?

By niftydude • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
So the EU is now dictating which services it's member governments are allowed to run? I wonder which telcos lobbied EU officials for that little gem. Brexit was the right move.

Re:Really?

By Péter Szabó • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
No. Hungary is allowed to run a mobile payment service, but Hungary is not allowed to forbid private companies from doing the same. It is not allowed to require by law that all mobile payments go through the state operated mobile payment processor.

Re:Next up: Corporations printing their own cash

By ffkom • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Actually, yes, because such payment systems are one of those things where "market mechanisms" do not cause healthy competition in the long run. And a state-owned monopoly, which is at least indirectly controllable (via elections) is a lot better than some arbitrary mega-corporation skimming money off every transaction.

I actually still prefer the mobile payment system "cash", which is state owned, and does not make me the product of data krakens.

Government of judges

By manu0601 • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

Here again the EU court of justice pushes its agenda about free market obsession. And since EU institutions do not have a real legislator, this landmark ruling will be law unless all member states agree to overturn it.

Re:Really?

By shilly • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

You people are all so fucking stupid, it's depressing.

The EU is a club. It costs money to join, there are rules to follow, and there are benefits of membership, like frictionless access to a market of several hundred million people. With the exception of the money, this is no different from every international agreement between two or more countries. If Hungary wants to have airlines flying into its airports and through its airspace, then it must agree to be bound by the various treaties that govern international aviation, which also impose onerous requirements on what it can and cannot do.

You people getting your knickers in a twist over sovereignty are the epitome of Randian stupidity. And like the Randians, what's particularly galling is that you actually think you're bright.

Samsung Will Put Notches On Its Future Phones

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Samsung is one of the biggest smartphone makers to hold off on releasing smartphones with display notches. But at the company's developer conference today, Samsung confirmed that it's soon going to join in on the trend. "A slide during the keynote showed several notch designs that are almost certainly coming to Samsung-branded devices in 2019 and beyond," reports The Verge. From the report: Hassan Anjum, a director of product marketing at Samsung, took the stage to highlight Samsung's previous breakthroughs in reducing bezels and maximizing display size year after year. "We're going to keep going. The bezels are going to shrink even further," Anjum said. "We're going to push the limits with our new lineup: the Infinity U, V, and O displays. These are new concepts that are just around the corner, and I can't wait to tell you more about them."

Infinity U: This basically looks identical to the Essential Phone's notch design. It's a small half oval that cuts down into the top middle of the display.
Infinity V: Similar to Infinity U, but with four edges instead of a curved half-oval.
Infinity O: This is a full circular cutout of the display and not so much a "notch" the top edge of the screen. Still, it seems like an eyesore and it's hard to imagine reaction to this being very positive. What's gained by that little area of display above it? Asus seems to be exploring a similar idea for its ZenFone 6, and feedback has been overwhelmingly bad.
New Infinity: This looks to be a completely notchless display. Anjum didn't discuss this one onstage, and the technology isn't quite there to allow for this design just yet. That said, Samsung could be exploring the idea of a slider phone that would house the selfie camera and other components somewhere outside their usual location.

Their phones today have fixed batteries...

By ffkom • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
therefore I would not consider buying one, anyway. My old Samsung Note 2 still runs like on its first day, thanks to it now using the 3rd set of cheap, 3rd-party, user replaceable battery and a fine installation of Lineage OS.

Are we there now?

By AndyKron • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
There was a time when cup holders in cars was the best innovation car makers could come up with. I think cell phones are there now.

Why must they constantly annoy us?

By WaffleMonster • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Not really sure why smartphone vendors feel they need to take it upon themselves to dream up innovative new ways to poke, annoy and piss off their customers while at the same time raising prices to ridiculous new heights and failing in spectacular manner to deliver compelling new value.

Not really surprising nobody's upgrading anymore given industry behavior.

I'll upgrade tomorrow if any vendor can deliver the following.

1. Removable battery
2. Physical keyboard (e.g. BB KEY2)
3. Not ridiculously thin
4. Not ridiculously large
5. No infinity edge
6. No notches
7. No headphone "courage"
8. No AMOLED (IPS please)
9. No (front) cameras
10. No biometric unlock
11. No locked bootloaders
12. SD Card
13. Configurable RGB indicator light for notification
14. IR transmitter
15. Real GPS
16. SDR AM/FM ... LF-UHF preferred

Re:Cup Holders Are Way Better!

By jezwel • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
On my phone that 'dead space' has LED indicators on one side that tell me if I need to bother looking at / turning on my screen to follow up on something. To me that's much more valuable than a little bit of extra notched real estate when I am using the phone.

Re:Cup Holders Are Way Better!

By LordKronos • Score: 4 • Thread

That's a pretty big LED indicator. It seems to me that even with an LED indicator there would still have to be some dead space that could be used

But more importantly, and I don't really keep up on the specs of all phones, but don't all phones with notches have OLED screens too? With OLEDs there is no backlight, so there is no huge battery penalty for just lighting up a couple of pixels 24x7, which is why some phones now have the ambient display option. So it seems that if it was really a big deal and enough people cared about the status indicator, they could just as well have any part of the screen act as a status indicator.

And, oh look at that....part of the ambient display is that you DO see status indicators. Except instead of having to remember that a green light is email and a pink light is instant message (and alternating green and pink lights mean you have both an email and an instant message), you can now just see an icon for an email and an icon for an instant message. The little blinking LED light was really just a hacky workaround for the proper implementation, but you seem a little stuck on keeping the hacky workaround.

Police Decrypt 258,000 Messages After Breaking Pricey IronChat Crypto App

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Police in the Netherlands said they decrypted more than 258,000 messages sent using IronChat, an app billed as providing end-to-end encryption that was endorsed by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. In a statement published Tuesday, Dutch police said officers achieved a "breakthrough in the interception and decryption of encrypted communication" in an investigation into money laundering. The encrypted messages, according to the statement, were sent by IronChat, an app that runs on a device that cost thousands of dollars and could send only text messages.

"Criminals thought they could safely communicate with so-called crypto phones which used the application IronChat," Tuesday's statement said. "Police experts in the east of the Netherlands have succeeded in gaining access to this communication. As a result, the police have been able to watch live the communication between criminals for some time." Blackbox-security.com, the site selling IronChat and IronPhone, quoted Snowden as saying: "I use PGP to say hi and hello, i use IronChat (OTR) to have a serious conversation," according to Web archives. Whether the endorsement was authentic or not wasn't immediately known. The site has been seized by Dutch police.

Re:They siezed the site

By darronb • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

A trojaned version of the app is also a good possibility. They could have quietly taken control of the site, changed the app to push the keys back to them, etc. Sure that's beyond a typical police department but with any agency help it's totally doable.

You don't have to be incompetent to get a gag order and have your stuff compromised like that.

The police did not break anything

By ffkom • Score: 3 • Thread
They just fetched keys from the central service provider, and given that this crappy app never implemented actual end-to-end encryption, that was enough to decrypt the messages.

Seriously, criminals stupid enough to rely on proprietary, centralized messenger services deserve to get jailed for that alone.

Re:Brilliant

By Highdude702 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

You apparently don't understand the underworld.. They would have been killed, not beaten up.. I'm no longer a criminal but I still despise rats. If you do a crime and get caught for it shut the fuck up and do your time don't rat someone else out that was smart enough to not get caught because you're a fuck up. The rats deserve to die. I've seen police let violent offenders who have ratted go free and lock up the drug dealer(weed) for years because the violent person turned state.

Re:Extremely thin on useful detail

By Zaelath • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Rather succinctly explained in the release from the Police:

We stopped the operation because we became aware that criminals were starting to suspect each other of leaking information to the police. This was causing safety risks. That’s why now we make clear that it was us acting upon information from the chats.

Re: Paid Product Endorsement?

By reanjr • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I think what probably happened is Snowden was talking about the OTR protocol, and not a particular product and the marketurds twisted his words with their ignorant/malicious misquotation.

NASA is Showering One City With Sonic Booms and Hoping No One Notices

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Eric Mack, reporting for CNET: NASA has been deliberately creating sonic booms off the coast of Galveston, Texas, since Monday in the hope that residents on the barrier island community won't be too bothered by the sound of an F/A-18 aircraft briefly going supersonic. That's because the research jet is performing a dive maneuver designed to reduce the normally thunderous sonic boom to what NASA calls a "quiet thump," more like the sound of a car door slamming. The test flights are aimed at measuring the community response to the new, quieter booms and are part of NASA's larger effort to develop a new, more muted supersonic plane that might be able to fly over land. Current regulations prohibit flights over land that generate sonic booms.

Please no, Hell no...

By mysidia • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

"quiet thump," more like the sound of a car door slamming

Please no.... Just because you want to fly your plane a little bit faster.
It's totally unjustifiable forcing me to be exposed to noise equivalent to a car door slamming at random: that's still an unfair violation of my right to seclusion and peaceful enjoyment of my property that is well aways from any city or other place subject to routine manmade noises, and also, especially if i'm trying to record audio of nature, etc --- An unwanted intrusion is an unwanted intrusion --- fly your crap around my land only if you can guarantee no unnatural noise, noise pollution, or other interference or trespass, at all.

Re:Nothing new

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
That all sounds fucking cool except the Arizona part.

I for one welcome the research

By dcooper_db9 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
After 911 the Air Force sent jets into DC. Then the Feds implemented no-fly zones around the city. Every time a plane came into the Airpark from the wrong direction they sent jets to intercept. The sonic booms they produced weren't just loud, they caused drywall and roofing tiles to crack.

Re:Please no, Hell no...

By MobyDisk • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

I recommend that you train animals to make the sound of car doors slamming, so that in your recordings you will never know if it was a natural sound or a man-made one.

Sonic Booms

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Informative • Thread

Galveston Resident here, and I'm part of the test as I'm reporting on the noise levels. The sound is still audible, but not anything like the booms normally sound.
I've heard several already and I'd liken the sound to a demo blast going off many miles away. A low rumble, or thump (several actually), not quite thunder.

Chinese 'Gait Recognition' Tech IDs People By How They Walk; Police Have Started Using It on Streets of Beijing and Shanghai

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Chinese authorities have begun deploying a new surveillance tool: "gait recognition" software that uses people's body shapes and how they walk to identify them, even when their faces are hidden from cameras. From a report: Already used by police on the streets of Beijing and Shanghai, "gait recognition" is part of a push across China to develop artificial-intelligence and data-driven surveillance that is raising concern about how far the technology will go. Huang Yongzhen, the CEO of Watrix, said that its system can identify people from up to 50 meters (165 feet) away, even with their back turned or face covered. This can fill a gap in facial recognition, which needs close-up, high-resolution images of a person's face to work. "You don't need people's cooperation for us to be able to recognize their identity," Huang said in an interview in his Beijing office. "Gait analysis can't be fooled by simply limping, walking with splayed feet or hunching over, because we're analyzing all the features of an entire body."

"To catch criminals"...

By gweihir • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

What people do not realize (because they ignore or do not know human history), "criminals" described Jews in Nazi Germany, "politically unreliable people" under Stalin, etc. The next Hitler will get all his victims served on a plate, no way to hide. The only way to prevent that is to ban these technologies outright and very clearly label them as what they are: A tool for oppression that is a severe threat to anybody.

Oh, and actual criminals are either not important enough or get caught just fine without technology like this.

Re:what else do you expect from commies

By losfromla • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
It very absolutely can. We have for-profit prisons and the for-profit bail industry. 3M and other agricultural industrial companies can put you in jail for their corn and other grains contaminating your crops with their GMOs. What fantasy world are you living in sycophant that you don't see this?

US has had this for more than a decade

By RhettLivingston • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) is an XML-based information exchange framework used by the US government to grease the sharing of information between departments. It was started in the Bush administration in 2005. I first noticed it around 2008 and it contained fields to define PersonGait at that time (version 2 I think).

They have deleted some of these fields since then. I suspect they did so because it gave out too much information about what they are doing though it is also possible the new administration rolled back the push into some of these areas.

The rules for getting data components added to the model include a requirement that the data components must already be in use by at least 2 different departments. So, in 2008, at least 2 departments of the government were using a person's gait as an identifying characteristic.

I have included a list of the fields in the "PersonAugmentationType" data type for the V2.0 version of the spec from a decade ago below. Many are interesting including: body odor, ear shape, finger geometry, gait, hand geometry, keystroke dynamics, lip movement, urine, vein pattern, etc.

The NIEM is publicly available and published on Github. I highly recommend downloading one of the older versions before they sanitized it, like V2.0 or so, and spending some time looking at the spreadsheets that describe it. The insight to be gained in what the government has reason to store about us is extensive.

  • j:PersonAFISIdentification
  • j:PersonBirthPlaceCode
  • j:PersonBodyOdor
  • j:PersonBodyPartsText
  • j:PersonCharge
  • j:PersonConcealedFirearmPermitHolderIndicator
  • j:PersonDentalCharacteristicGeneral
  • j:PersonDentalCharacteristicRemovableAppliances
  • j:PersonDentalPhotoModelAvailableIndicator
  • j:PersonDentalXRayAvailableIndicator
  • j:PersonDrivingIncident
  • j:PersonDrivingInsuranceCoverageCategoryText
  • j:PersonDrivingInsuranceStatusText
  • j:PersonEarShape
  • j:PersonEmancipationDate
  • j:PersonFBIIdentification
  • j:PersonFacialFeatures
  • j:PersonFingerGeometry
  • j:PersonFirearmPermitHolderIndicator
  • j:PersonFirearmSalesDisqualifiedCode
  • j:PersonFootPrint
  • j:PersonFootPrintAvailableIndicator
  • j:PersonGait
  • j:PersonGeneralLedgerIdentification
  • j:PersonHandGeometry
  • j:PersonHitResultsCode
  • j:PersonIrisFeatures
  • j:PersonIssuedPropertyTitleAbstract
  • j:PersonJewelryCategoryText
  • j:PersonKeystrokeDynamics
  • j:PersonLipMovement
  • j:PersonNCICIdentification
  • j:PersonPalmPrint
  • j:PersonPasswordText
  • j:PersonPrimaryWorker
  • j:PersonReferralWorker
  • j:PersonRegisteredOffenderIndicator
  • j:PersonRetina
  • j:PersonSaliva
  • j:PersonSemen
  • j:PersonSightedIndicator
  • j:PersonSpeechPattern
  • j:PersonStateFingerprintIdentification
  • j:PersonTemporaryAssignmentUnit
  • j:PersonThermalFaceImage
  • j:PersonThermalHandImage
  • j:PersonThermalImage
  • j:PersonUrine
  • j:PersonVeinPattern
  • j:PersonVendorIdentification
  • nc:DriverLicense
  • nc:DriverLicensePermit
  • nc:PersonWorkPlace

Rock in Shoe

By holophrastic • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I very very long time ago -- twenty, thirty years ago -- I read a book on the human art of spying. There was a lengthy discussion about evading capture when spying in enemy territory.

A few pages discussed the concept that when someone is following you, on-foot, through a busy shopping mall, you ought to alter your gait, since that's a very easy way that human eyes track human prey.

The chapter ended with a simple, and straight-forward comment to the effect of: nothing is better than simply placing a small pebble in one of your shoes.

May as well just implant chips in everyone

By Rick Schumann • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I don't know why the Chinese government bothers to preserve this paper-thin pretense that they give a shit about how their citizens feel about anything and just get it over with: implant tracking chips in everyone from birth so they can be wirelessly tracked 24/7/365 for as long as they live. That's about where they're going with this. It's not like the average Chinese citizen, by now, doesn't already realize that they have zero privacy and zero rights of any kind anyway.

California Voters Embrace Year-Round Daylight-Saving Time

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Californians warmed to the idea of year-round daylight-saving time, approving an initiative that would urge state lawmakers to junk the annual springing forward and falling back. From a report: With 43 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday night, Proposition 7 was leading 61 percent to 39 percent. It's a long way from here to year-round daylight-saving time. First, the Legislature would have to approve it by a two-thirds vote. Then Congress would have to allow California to deviate from standard time when most of the rest of the nation shifts to it.

Re:What the hell?

By hey! • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I like to have dinner around 6:30 PM. I could wait until each member of my family happened to be hungry and then feed them individually, but I don't. Because we all know dinner is coming at 6:30, everyone times their earlier meals they're ready to eat at 6:30. This is not natural behavior, but neither is it somehow underhanded. It's simply a logistical convenience made possible by the invention of the clock.

That's pretty much how all non-agrarian work is coordinated: we agree on when we'll show up for work and when we get home.

The purpose of daylight savings was to give people working industrial jobs more daylight leisure time in the summer. Remember, when it was first adopted electric lighting wasn't something those people would have. They could have got the same effect by telling everyone in your society to adjust their schedule twice a year, but the government doesn't regulate the start and end time of work shifts. It *does* regulate the time standard, making that the simplest mechanism for accomplishing this.

Daylight savings never made sense in near-tropical or near-arctic regions. Nor is the case for shifting back and forth between standard and daylight savings compelling in a world of ubiquitous electric lighting. You can either stick with standard time, and lose summer daylight leisure time, or stick with savings time year round, getting ready for work in the winter with the aid of light bulbs.

Re:OR and WA to follow suit

By dgatwood • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

It is to maximize sunlight hours when people aren't at work or school. Yes morning commutes will become more hazardous but you'll have more nature light for whatever outdoor activities after work.

And evening commutes will become much, much less hazardous. People can easily use artificial lighting to wake themselves up in the morning for their morning drives. But at the end of a long day, when they get in the car for their evening drives, they're tired, so darkness has a much bigger impact. Thus, I would expect a significantly larger reduction in traffic deaths from moving to year-round DST when compared with moving to year-round ST.

Of course either approach is better than the two days of carnage that we get under the current scheme.

Re:OR and WA to follow suit

By bobmorning • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Great comment, never thought about that angle. Wish I had mod point today. Come on, somebody give him a +Insightful.

Re:What the hell?

By Nutria • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Just get up and hour earlier and go to work an hour earlier

Unless you need to work with people who work 8AM-5PM, not 6AM-3PM.

Re:OR and WA to follow suit

By fibonacci8 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Except that it's not, including according to the video you linked.
https://www.businessinsider.co...

Granted, carnage is a bit of an exaggeration to describe it...

There is a measurable change in health related deaths near one solstice. There's is a roughly equivalent and opposite health benefit near the following solstice. A non-trivial number of people die as the result of the one, and aren't there to enjoy the benefit that follows.
Perhaps calling it government mandated human sacrifice would be more appropriate. It's certainly more accurate.


It's like Shirley Jackson's The Lottery, but a little more subtle.

Samsung Shows Off a Foldable Prototype That Merges Phone and Tablet

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
At its developer conference Wednesday, Samsung introduced its new Infinity Flex Display, a foldable OLED screen that can allow manufacturers like Samsung to create new, unique devices such as a phone that folds out to become a tablet-like device with a larger display. From a report: "The foldable display lays the foundation for a new kind of mobile experience," said DJ Koh, president and CEO of Samsung IT and mobile communications division, in a statement. "We are excited to work with developers on this new platform to create new value for our customers." Although the product shown Wednesday was just a prototype, the company plans to release a consumer product that features the technology in the coming months. In addition to creating the hardware, Samsung has partnered with Google to work on the software to make sure apps work seamlessly regardless of whether the display is folded in a "smartphone-like" mode or opened fully as akin to a tablet.

Game-changing... maybe

By 93 Escort Wagon • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

This could make for an awesome device. I currently own both a phone and a tablet simply because there are so many things which work better with a tablet - but a tablet has obvious, significant portability issues.

Whether this is truly game-changing, though, will come down to the mundane details regarding just how reliable and durable the tech turns out to be.

Re:Game-changing... maybe

By 110010001000 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
I already have one. It is called FlexPei. https://www.royole.com/flexpai

Video

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Here's the important bit

What horrible detail did they need to hide?

By ffkom • Score: 3 • Thread
Usually, if you are proud to show something, you do not deliberately switch off the lights to make it barely visible. But Samsung did exactly that. So something must be very, very wrong with the prototype. (Maybe like with the Flexpai, where the display surface looks like a shriveled lamination?)

Samsung Opens Its Voice Assistant Bixby To Developers as It Pursues Alexa and Siri

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Samsung said Wednesday it was rolling out new voice-assistant features to challenge its U.S. rivals' dominance in AI. At its developer conference, where the company is also expected to unveil its first foldable smartphone, the company said it was fully opening its virtual assistant, called Bixby, to third-party developers and businesses for the first time. The move may help the company challenge incumbent players Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, and Google's Assistant.

Much of the assistant market is yet to be tapped, and it is the right time for developers to embrace Bixby, an executive said. The company said it is offering a no-trade off set of tools (what it calls Bixby Developer Studio) to developers to make use of Bixby. It's the first time any company is offering the full suite of tools that it uses to make its assistant to developers, the company said.

Further reading: VentureBeat.

Please open up the off switch

By Nkwe • Score: 3 • Thread
The biggest feature of Bixby (and all mobile phone assistants for that matter) that I want is an "off switch" and an uninstall option. I don't want a virtual assistant on my phone.

About No Link

By msmash • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Hi, The developer event, where this announcement was made, is still underway. Bixby being made open to developers was announced about five minutes ago and there is no news article that has covered it yet. So I wrote it myself and that is why there is no link in the summary. When a good source becomes available, we will add the link and any additional details. Thanks!

How many use Bixby?

By Only Time Will Tell • Score: 3 • Thread
I'm curious how many really use Bixby on a semi-regular basis. The only time it sees any action on my phone is when I accidentally hit the Bixby button instead of volume and it pops up. I've used Google Assistant whenever I'm too lazy to type in what I'm trying to search for. I've never found any of the AI assistants all that helpful other than making you look like a maniac as you scream into your phone trying to make it understand what you're saying.

Re:Please open up the off switch

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

My wife bought a Samsung "smart refrigerator" with Bixby built-in. I can assure you that Bixby is no where near the privacy threat that Alexa and Siri are, because IT DOESN'T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING YOU SAY.

Bixby is way behind where Siri and Alexa were even back in 2015. The interface is clunky: You say "Hello Bixby" and then wait for it to acknowledge (which it often fails to do), and then you make your request, which it then either ignores or misunderstands.

Using the Bixby voice interface to, say, show the contents of the refrigerator on the touchscreen, is going to take ten times as long as just opening the door and looking.

It is not all bad. The speakers on the Samsung smart fridge are actually very good, with a deep base and full range. So if nice sound quality is something you look for in a refrigerator, it might be a good choice.

Corneas Could Be the First Mainstream Application of Bioprinting

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
A startup says it can replace donated eyes with 3D-printed corneas. From a report: Here's a futuristic problem that may not have occurred to you: If self-driving cars really catch on and the number of traffic fatalities plunges, so will the number of organs available for transplant. Currently, about 20 percent of donated organs come from people who die in car accidents. Luckily, there's a futuristic solution: 3D-printed organs.

This technology is far from ready for the clinic, as researchers are still trying to figure out how to print out complex tissue structures with blood vessels and nerves. But for one early indicator of progress in this field, look to the eye. Precise Bio, a North Carolina-based startup founded by several professors at the renowned Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, is working on bioprinting tissues for a variety of medical applications. The company just announced that its first products will be for the eye -- starting with a human cornea suitable for transplantation. "We plan to put our printers in eye banks," says Precise Bio CEO Aryeh Batt.

Don't worry about a shortage of body parts

By mnemotronic • Score: 3 • Thread
The assumption is that there will be a shortage of traffic fatality-induced body parts. I propose that we'll make up for that as we Americans slaughter each other over trivial opinions and political differences. Obviously I have more faith in the power of the Iranians, N. Koreans, Russians and Chinese to push hot buttons via social media than I do in the ability of Americans to tell when they're being manipulated. sigh.

in Production on a smaller scale

By DrYak • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

while it is far from something that you can actually implant into a patient in need of organ transplant, current state of the art is already able to build "organoid":
small structered 3D cell cultures that more or less mimic on a tiny scale some of the structures found in real life natural organs.

These are already useful at this stage for research (mostly pharma as they help investigate better the effects of potential drugs on interacting functional tissues, rather than cells floating freely in a test tube).

i.e.: we're already halfway there, and this halfway is already useful (though it's more "a few percent down the right direction" rather than litteraly *half*way)

Organ farms

By sixsixtysix • Score: 3 • Thread
The most ethical thing to do is grow human[oid]s minus the frontal cortex to serve as organ farms. Anything less is a waste of time and money.

As PUBG For PS4 Looms, Xbox Unofficially Responds: Have the Game For Free

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Unannounced, unadvertised freebie lands ahead of Microsoft's X018 conference. PUBG, the game that kicked off an international "battle royale" gaming sensation, is currently free for all Xbox One owners. From a report: Even if you do not have a paid Xbox Live Gold subscription, you can head to this link and claim what appears to be a permanent copy of the game for your Microsoft Account. Timed trials of Xbox One games tend to be exclusive treats for XBLG subscribers. Bizarrely, the Konami soccer game PES 2019, which launched at a standard $60 retail price point in August, is also free to claim as of today. (Here's that link.) Of course, there is the caveat that these games' giveaways could be yanked from accounts by Microsoft at any moment. In the meantime, we suggest clicking first, asking questions later.

Re:so...

By Rockoon • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
Might I suggest Diablo Immortal. This one is sure to totally not be monetized at all with micro-payments of any kind. Honest.

Cheater mess

By gweihir • Score: 3 • Thread

I played PUBG for a few hours and in that time I got killed 3 times definitely by cheaters and 2 more times probably (out of 10). I really do not know why anybody (except the cheaters) would want to play this. Git a STEAM refund with this complaint without any problem.

From the numbers of actually banned cheaters I saw recently, things have not gotten any better.

It's for Free Play Days

By sirpwn4g3 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
It looks like this is not free, but a free trial: https://majornelson.com/2018/1...

Re:Cheater mess

By TechyImmigrant • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Were these cheaters? On Counterstrike high skill players were routinely accused of cheating (even myself). Although if there's a speed hack or something else silly then it is very obvious.

I never moved beyond CS 1.6, read about CS:GO was some kind of social media and my PC was too slow for it, so I didn't bought it and have not played a game online since..

It doesn't matter.

Starting a PvP game as a new player and being in competition with high skill players or cheaters has the same result. You die early and often, give up and move on to a more enjoyable game. There needs to be a ban on good players, so people who want to enjoy the game can do so. Maybe give them an overachieving_bastard_server option so they can play in a different box.

   

Speaking of which

By rsilvergun • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Destiny 2's base game is free until 11/18/18.

Apple Not in Settlement Talks 'at Any Level' With Qualcomm, Report Says

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Apple is not in talks "at any level" to settle its wide-ranging legal dispute with mobile chip maker Qualcomm, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing a source familiar with the matter. From the report: In the past, Apple used Qualcomm's modem chips in its flagship iPhone models to help them connect to wireless data networks. But early last year, Apple sued Qualcomm in federal court in San Diego, alleging that the chip company's practice of taking a cut of the selling price of phones as a patent license fee was illegal. The case is to go to trial early next year and has spawned related legal actions in other courts around the world. In July, Qualcomm's chief executive, Steve Mollenkopf, told investors on the company's quarterly earnings call that the two companies were in talks to resolve the litigation.

You reap what you sow

By Solandri • Score: 3 • Thread
Apple sued Samsung with its design patents, requesting a percentage of each Samsung device's selling price as a royalty for licensing their patents. Meanwhile most of Samsung's patents were FRAND - included in a standard so licensed at just a few cents per device. Apple refused to do a patent cross-licensing deal with Samsung for this reason, claiming their patents were much more valuable. Apple also exploited the inability of Samsung to get an injunction based on its FRAND patents (an injunction forces a patent violator to stop selling). Apple basically sold devices containing Samsung's patented tech without paying Samsung any royalties during the negotiations and litigation, claiming they were FRAND and the royalty rate just hadn't been negotiated yet.

The natural response to this type of caustic approach to patent negotiations is to dilute the value of FRAND patents. Companies won't want to license their patents under FRAND anymore because of how limited they are when it comes to cross-license negotiations. Which is exactly what Qualcomm is trying to do. You piss on patent holders licensing under FRAND, you everyone from licensing under FRAND. They'll request a percentage of your device's selling price instead.

I'm actually on Apple's side on this one - patents like Qualcomm's which are required to implement an industry-standard tech should be licensed as FRAND. But this is a bed Apple themselves made, and I'm not crying over them being made to lie in it.

In a First, Amazon Begins Mailing 70-page Printed Holiday Toy Catalog To US Homes

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Amazon is shipping its first-ever printed holiday toy catalog, titled "A Holiday of Play," to millions of customers in the U.S. starting this month, the company said. From a report: "Amazon is excited to offer a new way for customers to shop for toys this holiday season," Amazon said in a statement. The catalog comes with a distinct retro look, invoking memories of old Toys "R" Us catalogs that made the now-defunct toy retailer so successful. Some of the featured toys come with a QR code, allowing readers to instantly scan and shop for more products. Readers can also scan the product images in the catalog with their Amazon App to get more information and add them to their shopping cart. The move is Amazon's latest in following the playbook of traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.

Hope they don't use glossy paper...

By Kenja • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
glossy paper makes for a poor fire starter.

So Amazon is the new Sears?

By b0s0z0ku • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Amazon is the new Sears.

Re:just the toys ?

By EvilSS • Score: 4 • Thread
Man I hated flipping through those as a kid to get to the toy section. Until one day I didn't.

not a cue barcode?

By williamyf • Score: 3 • Thread

What is this barcode abomination I Hear about? Cues is the way to go for the full retro feeling.

That would have been a wonderfull excuse to get my 5 :cuecats out of storage and party like it is 2000 all over again!

Re:Coulda Been Sears

By magarity • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

I STILL think Sears could eat Amazon's lunch, but I know it won't happen; they will continue to evaporate to nothing.

Sorry but you're a little behind on current events. Sears could have eaten Amazon's lunch 15 years ago but they're in bankruptcy proceedings. And not the reorganization kind but the 'sell everything off and liquidate because we give up' kind.

WLinux, the First Paid-for Linux Distro for Windows 10, Goes On Sale on Microsoft Store

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
puddingebola shares a report: WLinux is a $20 open-source, Debian-based distribution, designed to run on Windows 10's Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). The WSL allows Windows 10 to run various GNU/Linux distros inside Windows as Microsoft Store apps, providing access to Ubuntu, openSUSE, Debian, Fedora, Kali Linux, and others. The WSL has disadvantages over a running a dedicated GNU/Linux system. For example, there's no official support for desktop environments or graphical applications, and I/O performance bottlenecks, but it is being improved over time. The developers of WLinux describe it as a "fast Linux terminal environment for developers", saying it is the first distribution to be "pre-configured and optimized to run specifically on Windows Subsystem for Linux". Announcing WLinux's availability, Microsoft program manager Tara Raj, called out the wlinux-setup tool, "which allows users to easily set up common developer toolchains, and removes unsupported features like systemd."

Re:Hell just froze over

By caseih • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

No, they certainly did not.

Others may be confused over what WSL is, so it's worth repeating. No init system of any kind (sysv or systemd) make any sense in the WSL as it's currently designed. Windows itself is the init system for WSL. The Window kernel and the WSL is process 1 (calls itself init in the emulated Linux process list) and spawns linux binaries directly.

Why not call it "Winux"

By fredrated • Score: 3 • Thread

At least that's pronounceable.

Re:Hell just froze over

By BringsApples • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Actually, I use 'links' for that....

No, no. The OTHER stupid router :p

But seriously, Lynx is better for security because it doesn't support graphics and it can white/black list cookies, or totally disable cookies altogether. Lynx is still being developed, so don't forget about it.

Linux on windows

By rtkluttz • Score: 3 • Thread

Is the same as doing heart surgery in the hospital toilet. It can work in theory, but you end up swimming in shit.

Re:I wonder who will buy it

By tlhIngan • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

I haven't tried it yet, but my understanding is that it's relatively lightweight compared to running a VM, and it has direct access to your Windows filesystem. I used to use Cygwin to run a script to resize my photos, I could see this being used in a similar way.

I use Cygwin, but not on Windows 10 because I use WSL for that. Cygwin and WSL are very similar - the difference is the level they interface at. Cygwin is a translation layer between POSIX (or really SUS) APIs and the Win32 API. As far as Windows is concerned, every Cygwin application is just a console Win32 application.

WSL is lower level, and basically implements the Linux syscall interface on the Windows kernel. So applications talk to Linux based libraries which make system calls as Linux would expect, except they're being trapped by the Windows kernel and executed there. They are not technically Win32 applications and don't really have the interactions with Win32 that Cygwin applications would have. This would be the closest to "GNU/kWindows" you can get

Note that the Windows kernel is still enforcing security and other things, so WSL cannot be used to bypass permissions since the kernel is still involved with regular enforcements.

WSL is actually more like the BSD Linux personality - where the base kernel pretends to be Linux to run Linux binaries.

San Francisco Passes a First-of-its-Kind Tax on Big Businesses To Help the Homeless

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
San Francisco voters passed a measure that has divided the tech community and sparked a national debate about the industry's responsibility to fix the city's homelessness crisis. From a report: The San Francisco Chronicle called the race at 60 percent in favor with 99 percent of the vote counted. Proposition C will raise the city's gross receipts tax by an average of .5 percent on annual gross receipts over $50 million that companies like Square, Lyft and Salesforce generate. The new funds will bring in an estimated $250 million to $300 million a year -- twice what the city currently spends on an annual basis to help the homeless in tech's de facto capital. The thousands of people living on San Francisco's streets serve as a daily reminder of economic inequality in a city that has one of the highest concentrations of billionaires in the nation. Earlier this year, a United Nations expert on housing called the living conditions of the homeless in the Bay Area "cruel" and "unacceptable." The decision to increase funding for the city's most needy is a victory for the local nonprofits behind the measure and their tech fairy godfather, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who, along with his company, has poured more than $7 million into the campaign in the month leading up to the election.

From A Bay Area Slashdotter - Soon Homeless

By BrendaEM • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
In the SF Bay area, the cost of homes are artificially high because the properties have changed hands so many times in the last decade--each time the price goes up from the agent and the banker. Now, we have large investment firms flipping houses, also driving up the costs. Here, we aren't making communities, we are making a collection of houses that few people own, which is exactly what the banks want.

On my street in Campbell, I've seen the same houses go $750,000 to over a $1,000,000 in less than 5 years. Even with two tech workers, it's not easy to pay that off.

The thing you won't be able to understand: a lot of the homeless in the SF Bay area, are blue-collar working people. People work to maintain the cities they often cannot afford to live in. This is also what happened in Orange County. The people who clean Irvine and Tustin Ranch live in Costa Mesa. What is also being built here seems a little like the old Science Fiction movie Metropolis.

Most of the traffic problems here are caused by single drivers going to work from where they can afford to work where they cannot afford to live.

There is also an attitude here that people don't believe how rich they are, which is caused by the high property. If you make $40,000 year, you might not be able to afford a 2-bedroom apartment here.

There are a few simple solutions:
1.) If you buy a house, you must keep it and live in for 5 years--unless you get divorced or show bankruptcy. This makes property homes and communities and not investment tokens.
2.) Zone more areas for apartments.
3.) Stop outlawing poverty and homelessness. Homelessness is an equal-opportunity affliction. This means no more police harassment.
4.) Give people a place to shower and go to the bathroom. It's not only the homeless people who need to use bathrooms. Pregnant women and men with prostate problems have to go more, too.
6.) Let people sleep in their cars.
7.) Make sure that homeless people can vote.
8.) Make social workers live as homeless people for 1 month before giving them jobs--on the lowest benefit afforded to the homeless people.
9.) Build small pod-hotels for the homeless people, like they have in Japan.
10.) Offer wash-machines for homeless people. If people can was their clothes, then they don't need to carry as much with them.
11.) Require that the "Salvation Army" either give homeless people clothes--or give up their non-profit status.
12.) Give more money to help the homeless, and get that money from reduced administration. It takes a lot of money in administration costs to deny people help.
13.) Consider giving 1/4th of the tax money to help a homeless person that might otherwise be spent to keep someone in jail.
14.) Give homeless people carts and storage solutions but expect them to organize their stuff. Riding along the Los Gatos Creek trail, I've seen homeless camps that where a shambles, but I also saw a well organized one, with signs of cottage industry.
15.) Few if any social programs have any kind of meaningful feedback. All social interviews should have a program in social worker performance review sheet. Are the programs working? Was the interviewer fair?

The problems surrounding homelessness won't get fixed unless the people involved run. As far as I know, the only politician around here gives a damn about the homeless--was himself homeless as a child when his families home burned down.

some homeless are veterans and we need to do bette

By Joe_Dragon • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

some homeless are veterans and we need to do better for them.

Re:Downpayment assistance

By djinn6 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

There were plenty of $0 down mortgages back in 2008. Do you know what happened afterwards?

If they got downpayment assistance and could move into homes then a job loss would mean they could still live in those homes while they go through a restructuring of their loans with the banks.

No, they would be foreclosed. This is much worse than if they rented an apartment and could move out of the area.

Re:HAHAH

By Jhon • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

"For your second point; homeless people don't tend to travel far from where they live."

California is different. We are one state -- with 25% of the entire countries homeless population. Yes, we're a large population state -- but still at 10% of the entire country, our homeless numbers are 2.5x what they should be per capita.

We have many MANY "homeless" on our streets from all over the country. They're shipped out here for crappy "sober homes" that drain whatever insurance they might have then they are out on the streets here.

The biggest part of the problem is that all solutions try to tackle the issue as an economic problem. Most of the homeless literally living on the streets are addicts or mentally ill. Los Angeles, for example, plays "whack-a-mole" on encampment cleanup with LAPD and HOPE who go out there and try to offer services. They are generally refused. Why? Because shelters dont allow drug use.

And here's the thing about drug use -- drug dealers don't work pro-bono. They want to be paid. And by the time an addict has run through every social safety net (moving back in with mom/dad, sleeping in sisters spare room, a friends sofa) they have no where to go. Services that the get like EBT cards are drained and the money used for drugs. Locally, heroin can run about $4-$8 a dose -- but a modestly far along addict would need so many doeses that the cost would be around $80+ per day. that's $30k per year. Where do you think they get the money? The "smack" faerie?

Addition had a direct link to local crime.

You are spot on about addicts not moving away from either drugs or resources to get drugs.

We were stupid to effectively decriminalize drugs and petty theft (which killed off drug court as an option for addicts to avoid jail/prison time and the conviction record). It was far more effective than the "free range" approach we've taken to addicts over the last 5 years. What we SHOULD have done is put more funds in to post release follow up and support and support while incarcerated for those who couldn't stay clean on drug court programs. Would have slowly drained the prisons of drug users, too.

It's no kindness to leave them on the streets to slowly kill themselves, spread disease and victimize their communities.

This is why homelessness isn't a city issue

By Solandri • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
The problem stems from the Reagan-era budget cuts closing down mental health institutions aka insane asylums. (Reagan-era because although Reagan spearheaded it, control of Congress was split at the time so it couldn't have been done without the cooperation of both parties.) The hope was to divest the Federal government from mental health care (it's not listed in the Constitution as a responsibility of the Federal government) and put it back in the hands of the states (the downside of the 10th Amendment for the states). But the states never picked up the ball.

Consequently, about 25% of the homeless are people with severe mental health issues (vs about 4% for the general population). Add to that about 30%-40% who are addicted to drugs or alcohol (vs 10% for the general population). The large prevalence of mentally ill and substance abusers among the homeless prejudices people against the homeless in general, making recovery harder for the about 50% who are homeless simply because they've hit a rough patch in their lives.

At a city or county level, it's usually cheaper to simply boot the homeless out than to really tackle the issue. But that doesn't reduce the rate of homelessness, it merely hides it from view (in those cities). Just like a burglar alarm may reduce the chances of your house being robbed, but doesn't reduce the overall burglary rate (the burglar flees your home and robs another house instead). The problem really needs to be addressed at the state or national level for an effective solution - geographic areas large enough that simply booting them out doesn't appear to be a solution to legislators.

Zuckerberg Rebuffs Request To Appear Before UK Parliament

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has rejected a request to appear before an international parliamentary delving into the questions around fake news. From a report: The rebuff came after Damian Collins, the head of the U.K. parliament's media committee, joined forces with his Canadian counterpart in hopes of pressuring Zuckerberg to testify, as he did before the U.S Congress. Facebook rejected the invitation to appear before the so-called "international grand committee" session Nov. 27, arguing it wasn't possible for Zuckerberg to appear before all parliaments.

Re:I wouldn't either

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Considering his company is at the heart of various data and democracy interference scandals that are under active criminal investigation in the UK, he might want to defend it. By not doing so he risks the outcome being worse for Facebook, as Parliament will correctly assume that it's unaccountable to them and an existential threat.

Funny

By argStyopa • Score: 3 • Thread

"it wasn't possible for Zuckerberg to appear before all parliaments"

Funny, he seems to have the time to court nearly every country's MARKETS, but not to speak to their government. What, he's got a lot of paperwork to do?

He had the time to basically wander across America on his apologia tour https://www.nytimes.com/2017/0... (that was turned into an hilarious meme https://mashable.com/2017/09/2...). But not for, say, the democratically elected representatives of a major western government to speak with him?

Re:I wouldn't either

By thegarbz • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

criminal investigation in the UK, he might want to defend it.

But doing so would do no such thing. Defending a legal challenge is done in a different place in front of a different group of people.

Re:WTF were they thinking?

By thegarbz • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

and before going nuclear with penalties, fines, and extraditions they wanted to give the CEO opportunity to defend his company's actions.

And defend he would. To the courts, and to the legal challenges against him. On the other hand this is a shitty parliamentary inquiry without legal binding what so ever. There is literally no benefit to him given the allegations against him to talk to these people.

Re:Facebook UK Ltd

By serviscope_minor • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Why should Zuckerberg testify before a UK governmental body? Facebook is for the record, Facebook UK LTD, a corporate entity in the UK. He is not one of the officers of that entity. The nearest person of interest in that UK entity is Sheryl Sandberg (Director).

Because despite trying their hardest to appear so, Parliament is not in fact a total bunch of muppets and do in fact know who is in charge of facebook.

A New Method To Produce Steel Could Cut 5 Percent of CO2 Emissions

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via MIT Technology Review: A lumpy disc of dark-gray steel covers a bench in the lab space of Boston Metal, an MIT spinout located a half-hour north of its namesake city. It's the company's first batch of the high-strength alloy, created using a novel approach to metal processing. Instead of the blast furnace employed in steelmaking for centuries, Boston Metal has developed something closer to a battery. Specifically, it's what's known as an electrolytic cell, which uses electricity -- rather than carbon -- to process raw iron ore.

If the technology works at scale as cheaply as the founders hope, it could offer a clear path to cutting greenhouse-gas emissions from one of the hardest-to-clean sectors of the global economy, and the single biggest industrial source of climate pollution. After working on the idea for the last six years, the nine-person company is shifting into its next phase. If it closes a pending funding round, the startup plans to build a large demonstration facility and develop an industrial-scale cell for steel production.
The process to produce steel results in around 1.7 gigatons of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere annually, "adding up to around 5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, according to a recent paper in Science," MIT Technology Review reports.

The electrolytic cell that Boston Metal developed was realized after it was proposed to be used to extract oxygen from the moon's surface. "The by-product was molten metal," the report says. "But producing something like steel would require an anode made from cheap materials that wouldn't corrode under high temperatures or readily react with iron oxide. In 2013, [MIT chemist] Sadoway and MIT metallurgy researcher Antoine Allanore published a paper in Nature concluding that anodes made from chromium-based alloys might check all those boxes."

Sounds like aluminum refining

By necro81 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
The process sounds a lot like how aluminum gets refined. Aluminum doesn't exist in nature as a pure metal - the ores (primarily bauxite) are mostly aluminum oxides. To break apart (reduce) the oxides, huge electric currents are used: a battery in reverse. (This is why a lot of aluminum refining happens in places with lots of cheap electricity - Canada, Iceland, etc.)

In traditional iron smelting, the oxides are reduced by the addition of carbon in a blast furnace, producing CO and CO2 as a waste product. Replacing the chemical, carbon-based process with an electrical process would indeed be beneficial.

Next: Cement

By stereoroid • Score: 3, Informative • Thread

Another huge contributor of CO2 is the production of Portland cement for concrete: the current method produces about 10% of global CO2 emissions.

Re:The carbon in steel is CO2 neutral??

By Maury Markowitz • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

> I thought that the carbon in steel making was charcoal deriving from trees?

Yikes, dude, they stopped doing that 200 years ago.

They used to use charcoal because it contains very few contaminates. The process of making it, which is lengthy and energy intensive, burns off many of the remaining nasties. However, the cost of making it, and the amount of wood it required, was astonishing, and was the primary reason steel was so expensive.

Everyone knew that coal was cheap and plentiful, but when you tried to use it for steel production the results were useless. Today we know that the problem is the sulphur content, which at the time was simply it's "offensive odour". The solution was found, IIRC, the beer breweries, who were going out of business because they couldn't afford wood to burn because the steel makers were using it all up (one of the reasons lager/pilsner became so popular). They found that if you heated the coal it would off-gas, and when that stopped the result is "coke" and burns clean. This had been known since the 1500s, but never became popular until there was a need for it.

Adopting coke for steel production was one of the great advances of the 18th century.

Re:Next: Cement

By GameboyRMH • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Indeed the correct number is about 4%, which is still huge but is less than half of 10%.

https://www.earth-syst-sci-dat...

Chinese President Vows To Boost Intellectual Property Protection

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
hackingbear writes: In the opening of China's first import-themed trade fair, President Xi Jinping promised tougher penalties for intellectual property theft, a key concern of the Trump administration, in front of leaders and executives from 3,600 companies from more than 170 countries. China has been steadily advancing intellectual property protection over the years. In addition to filing twice as many patents as the U.S. in 2017, up nearly 14 folds from 2001, it is also increasingly being selected as a key venue for patent litigation by non-Chinese companies, as litigants feel they are treated fairly as foreign plaintiffs won the majority of their patent cases in 2015 (though that likely attracts patent trolls). China's journey from piracy to protection models the journeys of the U.S. which had blatantly violated intellectual properties in building its modern industry.

Re:#1 thing they need to do

By Zocalo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Clearly not even LEGO thinks this since there are several other systems of building block toys out there and readily available. The clue was the use of the term "bootleg product"; that basically implies a knock-off that either pretends to be the official product or is an obvious clone of it. In this specific case it's a rip-off of LEGO's product, right down to replacing the LEGO logo with their own "Lepin" version and replication of the Mini-Fig form, as can be seen in this article. You can quibble over "IP" in the context of imaginary property, but LEGO's case was on the grounds of registered trademark infringment which isn't doesn't get much more black and white than that.

Words are cheap.

By Gravis Zero • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I'll believe it when I see them actually enforcing this. Besides, the Chinese government doesn't consider it theft when they take it because they have laws that compel you to comply. Got a factory in China? Yeah, it's at least 51% owned by the Chinese so that (surprise!) they can insist that all IP be handed over.

Nothing is changing here, it's just words. The idea here is to fool Xi's US counterpart.

Re:But..

By Errol backfiring • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
There is copyright, patent law, etc. But "intellectual property" is just a term coined by people who want it to be a general system to forbid unpaid thoughts. The more people repeat it, the more people think it actually exists. It does not.

hypocrisy much?

By shentino • Score: 3 • Thread

China?

Boost intellectual property protection?

*inhales deeply*

BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

basically means the war is lost

By gweihir • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

For the US mostly. China now thinks they benefit more from IP protections than from not having them and that simply means they produce more value now from their own IP than from things they copy.

Google Sends Final Software Update To Legacy Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P Phones

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Google has pushed out the final "guaranteed" official software update for Nexus devices. According to Hot Hardware, the November update for both the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P " carries the final build number of OPM7.181105.004, running Android 8.1 Oreo." From the report: The last Nexus smartphones to launch from Google were the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, which debuted in late 2015. Under Google's three-year update policy, both smartphones have received two major Android releases (Android 7.0 Nougat in 2016 and Android 8.0 Oreo in 2017) along with three years of monthly security updates. The monthly security updates should have ended in September, but Google out of nowhere provided a two-month reprieve through November 2018.

That's bad

By Artem Tashkinov • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

This three years guaranteed updates policy is a complete and utter BS, Google. Modern smartphones are more than capable of serving the user not just for three years, they may work for up to a decade and this support window just doesn't cut it. It's bad for the environment, it's bad for people (since Google basically forces them to replace their perfectly working devices just to feel safe), it's bad for Android's popularity in general because when you e.g. buy into the Apple ecosystem you can expect more than five years of support and that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth since a lot of Android phones cost as much as or even more than the most expensive iPhones (Samsung Note9 512GB, Huawei Mate 20 Pro 256GB, etc).

This must change.

Re: Three years, pathetic...

By bradley13 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Wrong. My phone lives in my pocket and sees heavy use. It has been repaired once, and has a couple of chips in the bezel, where it was dropped (good reason to avoid phones with no bezel).

If you take decent care of your stuff, and don't have to have the new shiny, three years is no problem.

Re:"out of nowhere provided a two-month reprieve"

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Android 9 market share of 0.1%

According to Google 21.5% of Android devices are on Oreo.

https://developer.android.com/...

50% are on Oreo or Nougat, the two latest versions. Where did you get your number from?

Re:That's bad

By EvilSS • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Speaking of Apple, one big difference here is that iOS doesn't tie security updates to hardware the way Google is doing here (unless, of course, the particular issue is model specific). So if you have an old iPhone with a currently supported OS on it, it will get security updates for as long as Apple is releasing them for that version. I seems crazy that a Google branded Android device with a modern version of Android OS isn't going to get security updates for that OS now because the hardware and not the OS is out of support.

These can be flashed to LineageOS

By The_Dougster • Score: 3 • Thread

https://wiki.lineageos.org/dev...

I installed that on my 6p. Its extremely nice if I do say so myself. Had to flash the modem and vendor partitions so heads up.