the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2019-Jan-11 today archive


  1. Man Says CES Lidar's Laser Was So Powerful It Wrecked His Camera
  2. Improbable, Epic Games Establish $25 Million Fund To Help Devs Move To 'More Open Engines' After Unity Debacle
  3. 'We're Working On Rollable Phones,' Says LG CTO
  4. Amazon Dash Buttons Ruled Illegal In Germany
  5. University of California Tells Students Not To Use WeChat, WhatsApp In China
  6. Iranian Hackers Suspected in Worldwide DNS Hijacking Campaign
  7. Google Discontinues Chromecast Audio
  8. Federal Shutdown May Send Millennial Workers To Exits
  9. Netflix Sued By 'Choose Your Own Adventure' Publishers Over Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
  10. Apple Might Debut 3 New iPhones in 2019
  11. Polish Police Arrest Huawei Executive On Suspicion Of Spying For China
  12. Electric Scooter Rental Service Bird Sent a 'Notice of Claimed Infringement' To a News Site For Reporting On Lawful Re-use of Scooters
  13. Americans Want To Regulate AI But Don't Trust Anyone To Do It
  14. It's Getting Hard To Know What is Automated and What Isn't
  15. Developer Bungie Splits With Publisher Activision, Will Keep World Shooter Series Destiny
  16. Universal Internet Access Unlikely Until at Least 2050, Experts Say
  17. Google Demanded T-Mobile, Sprint To Not Sell Google Fi Customers' Location Data
  18. Lenovo And Dell Seeing PC Growth in US, But CPU Shortage Takes A Toll On Overall Market
  19. Mondelez, the US Food Company That Owns Oreo and Cadbury Brands, Sues Zurich in Test For Cyber Hack Insurance
  20. Yellow Vests Knock Out 60 Percent of All Speed Cameras In France
  21. IMDb Launches Ad-Supported Movie Streaming Service
  22. Software-Defined Satellite Will Be Launched Soon
  23. VLC Passes 3 Billion Downloads

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

Man Says CES Lidar's Laser Was So Powerful It Wrecked His Camera

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A man attending this week's CES show in Las Vegas says that a lidar sensor from startup AEye has permanently damaged the sensor on his $1,998 Sony camera. Earlier this week, roboticist and entrepreneur Jit Ray Chowdhury snapped photos of a car at CES with AEye's lidar units on top. He discovered that every subsequent picture he took was marred by two bright purple spots, with horizontal and vertical lines emanating from them. "I noticed that all my pictures were having that spot," he told Ars by phone on Thursday evening. "I covered up the camera with the lens cap and the spots are there -- it's burned into the sensor." In an email to Ars Technica, AEye CEO Luis Dussan confirmed that AEye's lidars can cause damage to camera sensors -- though he stressed that they pose no danger to human eyes. "Cameras are up to 1000x more sensitive to lasers than eyeballs," Dussan wrote. "Occasionally, this can cause thermal damage to a camera's focal plane array." Chowdhury says that AEye has offered to buy him a new camera. The potential issue is that self-driving cars also rely on conventional cameras. "So if those lidars are not camera-safe, it won't just create a headache for people snapping pictures with handheld camera," reports Ars. "Lidar sensors could also damage the cameras on other self-driving cars."

"It's worth noting that companies like Alphabet's Waymo and GM's Cruise have been testing dozens of vehicles with lidar on public streets for more than a year," adds Ars. "People have taken many pictures of these cars, and as far as we know none of them have suffered camera damage. So most lidars being tested in public today do not seem to pose a significant risk to cameras."

Re:Not just cameras

By Solandri • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Radar and sonar overcome this problem by constantly varying the frequency in a series of chirps. It's highly unlikely that there's another radar/sonar transmitting at the same frequency at near the same time. And even if there is, it's unlikely to be varying the frequency at the same rate/range.

Another advantage of this is that you don't need as strong a sweep signal. With a single frequency, you're emitting a pulse, then waiting for the reflections of the pulse. In order to avoid the possibility of spurious noise from another source being interpreted as a reflection, your pulse has to be high-power (basically make the reflected signal stronger in strength than any noise). 1000 to 5000 Watts was typical for boat radars using pulse beams. But when you use a varying frequency, you can compare reflections at one frequency with subsequent reflections at a different frequency (there's no need to wait for return reflections - subsequent pulses will not interfere with previous pulses, so can be sent before reflections from previous pulses arrive). Noise will show up at just one frequency, making it easy to spot and trivial to filter out. Consequently newer frequency sweeping boat radars only need to emit at a few tens of Watts.

That said, the parking sensors in your car use this frequency varying sonar. And I've noticed other cars' parking sensors trigger mine about once a day. So some more work needs to be done on standardizing frequency sweeps and noise filtering to reduce signal collisions. But the problem is not as insurmountable as you'd think from your LIDAR experience.

Re:1550 nm wavelength is (relatively) eye-safe

By Vadim Makarov • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Maximum permitted exposure (MPE) in 1500-1800 nm band is the same for the eye and the skin. For continuous-wave light it is 0.1 W/cm2, for pulsed light it is 1 J/cm2. Reference: ANSI Z136.1, see Tables 5a and 7.

In other words, if the 1550 nm laser beam is not burning your skin, it is safe for your eye.

This is remarkably untrue at other wavelengths, where light is dramatically more dangerous to the eye than it is to the skin.

There go the police ticketing cameras

By Flexagon • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
So, how long will the various municipalities' automatic red light ticketing cameras last with this?

Shutter speed doesn't matter for mirrorless camera

By JoeyRox • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
The camera in question is a Sony A7rII, which is a mirrorless camera. Such cameras constantly expose the sensor to light in the scene [while not taking photos], which is necessary to provide the video-like image stream used for the electronic viewfinder and LCD display.

Sony and security...

By zmooc • Score: 3 • Thread

Sony does not have a good security track record so this does not come as a surprise to me.

OWASP Secure Coding Practices Checklist section 1 about input validation was clearly not applied at all. Specifically, they failed to implement "Validate data range" :p

Improbable, Epic Games Establish $25 Million Fund To Help Devs Move To 'More Open Engines' After Unity Debacle

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Lucas Matney writes via TechCrunch: Improbable is taking a daring step after announcing earlier today that Unity had revoked its license to operate on the popular game development engine. The U.K.-based cloud gaming startup has inked a late-night press release with Unity rival Epic Games, which operates the Unreal Engine and is the creator of Fortnite, establishing a $25 million fund designed to help game developers move to "more open engines." This is pretty bold on Improbable's part and seems to suggest that Unity didn't give them a call after Improbable published a blog post that signed off with, "You [Unity] are an incredibly important company and one bad day doesn't take away from all you've given us. Let's fix this for our community, you know our number."

Unity, for its part, claims that they gave Improbable ample notice that they were in violation of their Terms of Service and that the two had been deep in a "partnership" agreement that obviously fell short. The termination of Improbable's Unity license essentially cut them off from a huge portion of indie developers who build their stuff on Unity. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney was quick to jump on the news earlier today, rebuking Unity's actions. "Epic Games' partnership with Improbable, and the integration of Improbable's cloud-based development platform SpatialOS, is based on shared values, and a shared belief in how companies should work together to support mutual customers in a straightforward, no-surprises way," the blog post reads.

Oh, the irony

By macraig • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Any executive from Epic games trying to convince gamers or other developers that such an unrepentantly selfish corporation has "shared values" in common with them is a fool who doesn't recognize his own irony even as he creates it.

Re:Oh damn!

By Xenx • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
TFS was very one-sided and doesn't really cover anything but Improbable's side. I'm not saying you should definitely side with Unity, but if you haven't already read their side of things I recommend you do.

The short of it is that Unity's terms state Improbable needed to be an approved Unity platform partner to host servers for games developed by someone else. The EULA basically only allows for you to host your own servers, or your own instanced servers from a cloud provider, unless you're a platform partner. After a year of failed negotiations with Improbable, they cut them off.

Re:Oh damn!

By Xenx • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Again, to be clear for people, I'm advocating people inform themselves and make decisions from that. I'm not trying to tell you which side to pick or who is right/wrong. I just wanted to bring in some additional information from the other side as a starting point for that.

Why did Unity sign a partnership with a company that was supposedly violating the ToS? It didn't. TFS left out the part where Unity changed their ToS in order to create the situation.

From Unity's response, they were in discussions with Improbable 2 years ago. Improbable went ahead with their plans without coming to an agreement with Unity. Unity has been trying to get them to reach an agreement, or stop, for the last year. Unity also says the recent change to the terms was only to provide clarification.

'We're Working On Rollable Phones,' Says LG CTO

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
In a wide-ranging interview with Mark Spoonauer from Tom's Guide, CTO and president of LG Electronics, IP Park, said his company is working on both rollable and foldable smartphones, regardless of whether there's demand for them or not. Here's an excerpt from the report: Are you looking into rollable and foldable phones as well? We are exploring many different form factors for phones, including foldable and rollable. Because display technology has grown so much that it can make it into very flexible form factors. And with 5G, if the market requires much bigger screens, we'll need to fold it or roll it. So we'll explore.

A lot of people are saying the whole smartphone market has stagnated and there are even some who argue that LG should exit the business altogether. What's your reaction to that? The smartphone business is very tough because of the competition. Also because of the penetration. Everyone has a phone now, right? Everybody has a big screen, and everybody has many features that others have. I think this year could be the year of the upgrade in the smartphone industry because of 5G. 5G is going to be available this year, and people will come out with 5G phones. And 5G is different from LTE, not only because of bandwidth, but also latency. You may want to have even bigger screens on 5G phones because of the more content you can get. That could trigger different killer applications that you run on phones.

I want a Cell Display like on "The Expanse"

By mykepredko • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Rather than concentrate on making displays that are bigger/collapsible, what is the state of the art for getting displays that cause icons/information to appear in the air around the phone?

Is that complete pie in the sky or is there some way to get molecules of oxygen/nitrogen in the air to fluoresce and provide information outside the area of the phone and its physical display?

Completely missing the market

By fred6666 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I think this year could be the year of the upgrade in the smartphone industry because of 5G. 5G is going to be available this year, and people will come out with 5G phones. And 5G is different from LTE, not only because of bandwidth, but also latency. You may want to have even bigger screens on 5G phones because of the more content you can get. That could trigger different killer applications that you run on phones.

I know this is BS speak (marketing) but still, almost everything is wrong in that statement.
First of all, most people won't care about 5G and won't upgrade until forced to (new phones will be 5G, and old phones will break or become too slow at some point). Just like when going from 3G to 4G, except that it is going to be even worse since the added bandwith isn't as useful.
5G definately won't require or even benefit from bigger screens. Altough he's right that phone screens keep getting bigger every year, but this has nothing to do with 5G. And finally, there won't be any killer 5G application, especially not this year.
The first 5G phones are probably going to suck (expensive, poor battery life, non-existing networks) anyways.


By burtosis • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Thank god someone finally realized the problem with today's phones is they are all still to thick! Who needs a reasonable replaceable battery, a headphone jack, or even a functional antenna? I'm not sure I can handle 5g as my doctor told me people with my conditions should avoid anything over 2g. Please, please, please tell me they cost at least 1500 USD and I'm sold anyway. /s

Same pie in the sky bullcrap

By OYAHHH • Score: 3 • Thread

that has been being pushed for as long as I have been alive, which has been a while.

What's the point? I don't want a roll-up phone. I want a phone that is rigid and goes into my shirt pocket without significant effort.

Anything else and I will not buy it. That means too big, too small, and too flippy floppy.

Re:Completely missing the market

By JaredOfEuropa • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
I tend to agree with all that: 5G could turn out like 4k televisions: the tech is there, prices are dropping and people are buying it... but the vast majority of people still do not have a compelling reason to select devices that support the tech, other than bragging rights.

That idea is supported by the statement that the smartphone market has stagnated. People do not upgrade as often as they used to. And I suspect rollable phones and 5G are not going to change that. But it’s silly to think that’s a reason to exit the smartphone market. It is however a reason to rethink your value proposition: instead of thinking about what features you can keep adding that will make customers upgrade their phones every 2-3 years, think about what you can do to make consumers select your phone to use for the next 5-7 years.

Amazon Dash Buttons Ruled Illegal In Germany

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Amazon Dash buttons have been ruled illegal in Germany for making it too easy to buy Amazon products. Germany consumer advocacy group, Verbraucherzentrale NRW, "complained that Amazon's terms enable the company to switch out an ordered product with something else, and the buttons break laws protecting shoppers from buying things they are not fully informed about," reports Gizmodo. From the report: At first the wifi-connected buttons enabled users to quickly buy basic home goods and groceries -- like detergent, paper towels, macaroni and cheese, and bottled water. But Amazon has since added dozens more, from Slim Jims to Red Bull to Calvin Kline underwear. "We are always open to innovation. But if innovation means that the consumer is put at a disadvantage and price comparisons are made difficult then we fight that," Wolfgang Schuldzinski, leader of Verbraucherzentrale NRW, said to in a public statement.

The Munich court has sided with the organization, and ruled that the Dash buttons break consumer protection rules. The Verbraucherzentrale NRW statement suggests Amazon can't appeal the decision. But an Amazon spokesperson told Gizmodo that the company believes the button and its app don't violate German law, and Amazon is going to appeal. "The decision is not only against innovation, it also prevents customers from making an informed choice for themselves about whether a service like Dash Button is a convenient way for them to shop," the spokesperson said.

Key difference

By enriquevagu • Score: 3 • Thread

Pushing a button in a screenless device does not show the current price of the item you pretend to buy, which may differ from the price it used to be when you acquired the button. And if you do not have elephant memory, you do not even remember the original price.

Seems like a fair ruling to me.

Get out and shop

By AndyKron • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
If you need a dash button there's something seriously wrong with you.


By serviscope_minor • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

There is no power an government can't take over citizens that fluffernutter won't defend.

Yeah enfocing consumer potection laws == govpocalypse

personally, I prefer to live in a civilised wold where there are rules and regulations that keep it civilised. If I ever get tired of pesk laws, I'll up sticks and move to the Libertarian Paradise of the Congo where there's no government to interfere with, well, anything really.

What's interesting is you're not objecting to the massive amount of power amazon has been granted by the government with its limited liability protection. It seems your libertarianism only really swings one way and is really more corpratism.

Re:LOL Protecting adults from themselves again

By moronoxyd • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

If I buy a button to buy X and they ship me Y, they're committing fraud

Sure and if pigs had wheels they would be a wagon. WTF does that have to do with a button for X makes them ship you X?

Maybe you should educate yourself about the things you're commenting about before doing that.
If I have a Dash button for a specific product, and the product is out, Amazon reserves the right to send me a similar product instead.
If the proce for the product rose between the time when I bought the Dash button and the time I press it to order the product, Amazon will charge me the new (potentially higher) price.

Both of these things break German consumer protection laws.

Re:LOL Protecting adults from themselves again

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

What you missed is that Europe has strong laws for "distance selling", i.e. buying stuff on the internet.

In a physical shop you can see and examine the goods. On the internet all you get is a stock photo of the item and a promise that it will match the description. If it doesn't you can return it. I'm not sure about Germany but in the UK you have 2 weeks to change your mind and Amazon pays the return postage. You only need return the item, self-destructing packaging etc doesn't get them off the hook.

It goes further than that though. In this case the problem is that by pressing the Dash button you indicate you want a particular item at a particular price you were offered once. Amazon can substitute whatever it likes for that item and charge you whatever price it has today. Amazon abuses that by slowly ramping up prices and substituting inferior stuff.

The ruling is basically saying that Amazon needs to stop altering the deal after the customer has accepted it. They could probably fix it just by emailing the customer with price changes and subs ahead of time, with a 24 hour grace period for people who pushed the button before seeing the mail.

University of California Tells Students Not To Use WeChat, WhatsApp In China

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: Students and faculty at the University of California (UC) have been warned not to use messaging apps and social media while visiting China, for fear their communications could be used against them by the country's law enforcement agencies. The guidance from one of the biggest school networks in the U.S. is the latest concern to be raised over Western travel to China following the December 1 arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of U.S. authorities.

The UC guidance also appeared to reference the case of Paul Whelan, a U.S. citizen arrested in Russia last month on suspicion of espionage. "While the use of WhatsApp, WeChat and like messaging apps are legal in China, we have seen in the latest espionage charge of a U.S. citizen in Russia where the use of WhatsApp has been cited in his espionage charges," read an email seen by CNN. "Our concern here is the possibility China could use this condition similarly against western travelers to levy charges or as an excuse to deny departure. We recommend not using these messaging apps in China at this time."

Re:Socialist School...

By PPH • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

North Korea calls itself the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Does that make them Democrat?


By hawguy • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

But feel free to use the apps in the USA, the land of the free, where the NSA has either hacked or forced their way into the apps via secret national security letters.

Re:Learn to be careful

By vik • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Absolutely agree. Going to China made me realise how dependent we'd become on a very few communications service providers, all of which have government hooks deeply embedded. Worse, the West has an open season on corporate information gathering and trading schemes using said services.

In China, I used WeChat because it is used for every damn thing over there. However, on my return I became very keen on promoting Open Whisper Systems' Signal, using instead of Google, abandoning Facebook except for communication with uneducated family members, and not physically taking my data through borders in any recognisable form.

No China for me

By AndyKron • Score: 3 • Thread
Why would someone even want to go to China? They can arrest you just because they feel like it and you don't have any recourse. Not my idea of fun.

Re:True Everywhere?

By larryjoe • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Isn't that true everywhere? In fact, doesn't the US currently have a policy where agents are allowed to access everything on any device that you bring into or out of the US without even any reason for suspicion?

Yes, but only at the border. Elsewhere, there are more restrictions on government access.

The problem is not that the Chinese police may access your device it is that they are looking extremely hard for any, even trivial, violation of their laws so they can arrest you to try and get leverage against the US just like they have been doing with Canada.

Yes, privacy is part of the problem, in that the Chinese are looking for more details. However, the real problem is what they are willing to do with that data. Even seemingly innocent statements that might be viewed by the Chinese need to be self-censored, whereas in the US, people are free to openly, loudly, and repeatedly criticize the President and call for his removal or to directly call for the overthrow of the US government.

Iranian Hackers Suspected in Worldwide DNS Hijacking Campaign

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
US cybersecurity firm FireEye has uncovered an extremely sophisticated hacking campaign during which a suspected Iranian group redirected traffic from companies all over their globe through their own malicious servers, recording company credentials for future attacks. From a news report: Affected organizations include telecoms, ISPs, internet infrastructure providers, government, and sensitive commercial entities across the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and North America. FireEye analysts believe an Iranian-based group is behind the attacks, although there is no definitive proof for exact attribution just yet. Researchers said the entities targeted by the group have no financial value, but they would be of interest to the Iranian government.

Isn't this ironic, due to the shutdown and certs..

By ctilsie242 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

This is timely. Right now, because of the shutdown, there are a lot of government domains whose certs are not being renewed, because there are no sysadmins able to renew them. So, with an expired cert, all it takes is a DNS attack to redirect someone from to, as the user is almost certainly not going to examine the cert and manually check its pedigree and dates.

This is going to cause grave security concerns going forward.

FireEye suspects Iranian group?

By najajomo • Score: 3 • Thread
FireEye, is this the same shower that provided security to Equifax:

Equifax back FireEye for hacker defence:

“We have this category that Equifax calls unhandled malware, [with] which traditional security approaches haven’t been very helpful. Putting in FireEye has really helped us detect this unhandled malware, then gives us the capability to take action to stay secure.” link

Google Discontinues Chromecast Audio

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Google has discontinued the Chromecast Audio dongle that allowed you to stream music via Wi-Fi to any dumb speaker with a 3.5mm headphone jack. If you're saddened by the news and would like to pick one up before they're completely gone, Google is now selling its remaining inventory for $15 instead of $35. TechCrunch reports: "Our product portfolio continues to evolve, and now we have a variety of products for users to enjoy audio," Google told us in a statement. "We have therefore stopped manufacturing our Chromecast Audio products. We will continue to offer assistance for Chromecast Audio devices, so users can continue to enjoy their music, podcasts and more."

Google is clearly more interested in getting people to buy its Google Home products and Assistant- or Cast-enabled speakers from its partners. It's also worth noting that all Google Home devices can connect to Bluetooth enabled speakers, though plenty of people surely have a nice speaker setup at home that doesn't have built-in Bluetooth support. "Bluetooth adapters suck," Google told us at the time, though at this point, it seems a Bluetooth adapter may just be the way to go.


By eclectro • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

You know that a product has left Google beta and works perfectly, when Google decides to kill it outright


By dmt0 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
The real problem with this thing is that it doesn't have an always-on microphone that listens to you all the time. And it eats into the market of the devices that do.

Re:Already out of stock

By jakedata • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Don't normally reply to AC but here you go...

1. Bluetooth audio is TERRIBLE
2. BT range is ~10M at best, Chromecast uses WiFI/Ethernet
3. CC supports synchronous multiple endpoint streaming
4. CC supports guest streaming without pairing
5. CC lets you control playback from multiple devices

There's an alternative that's still in production.

By b0s0z0ku • Score: 3 • Thread

YunListen adapter with a 3.5mm jack -- supports DLNA as well as direct music streaming from a NAS.

Federal Shutdown May Send Millennial Workers To Exits

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
dcblogs writes: The federal government measures the "engagement" of its federal workforce once a year with a massive survey of 1.5 million employees. And what it has found is that most federal workers are very dedicated to their work. Its most recent survey -- the 2018 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey -- asked employees if they are "willing to put in extra effort to get their job done," 96% of the survey takers responded affirmatively. Moreover, 91% agreed with the statement that they "look for ways to do their jobs better," and 90% "believe their work is important." But this job dedication is being tested by the U.S. government shutdown, and most at risk of leaving are Millennial-age workers. Less than 6% of federal employees are under the age of 30 and represent half of all people who leave an agency within the first two years. The best employees have options, and "a major concern is that the brightest, hardest-working, and most capable, dedicated government employees may opt out of government service and take jobs in the private sector," Talya Bauer, professor of management at Portland State University in Oregon and president of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, said. The shutdown could hurt the reputation of the government as a good place to work, she said.

This affects intel agents and data security

By WillAffleckUW • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

A large quantity of patriotic native born Americans, who are millenials, are impacted by this. I personally know of quite a few that had been considering work in data security and in intelligence or law enforcement services for the US who are affected.

How can you trust people when they throw you under the bus because they don't want to look foolish?

Re:In the long run i'm not too worried

By guruevi • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I was about to say the same thing. Job dedication at any company would be 90%+ too if they paid 135% of industry wages nearly guaranteed for the rest of your life with limitless mobility within the company and some of the best benefits.

The government seems to "work" fine, everything essential is self-funding or exempt from shutdowns including many national and state parks. The bean counters and middle managers and a few millennial hipsters - things would function a lot better without all of them there.

Historical survey results

By Solandri • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Normally you want to compare stats like these against the general population as a basis for comparison, to figure out if an organization (the government in this case) deviates substantially from the average for the population. Failing that, you can compare a subset of the population (government workers) against itself in past years. That won't tell you where that subset stands relative to the general population, but it will tell you changes (first derivative).

The 2018 report has historical results for the same survey questions from 2014-2018, and 2013 report show results from 2010-2013 (it appears the questions in the summary were introduced in 2010).

"willing to put in extra effort" has remained consistent at 96%. "look for ways to do job better" consistently between 90%-91%. "work is important" consistently between 90%-91%. Basically, government employees' attitudes about these factors has not changed in 8 years (which takes us through one change in President's party, control of the House, and control of the Senate). And there is no evidence to indicate they are changing.

The survey questions whose results did change are:
  • "I am given a real opportunity to improve my skills in my organization." Dipped from 66% in 2010 to 59% in 2014, back up to 66% by 2018.
  • "I feel encouraged to come up with new and better ways of doing things." Same trend as above. 60% to 55% to 61% in 2010, 2014, and 2018
  • "My training needs are assessed." 54% in 2010, dropping to 50% in 2014, rising to 55% by 2018.
  • "I can disclose a suspected violation of any law, rule or regulation without fear of reprisal." 61% from 2010-2014, but rising to 66% by 2018
  • " In my most recent performance appraisal, I understood what I had to do to be rated at different performance levels (for example, Fully Successful, Outstanding)." 67% from 2010-2014, but rising to 71% by 2018.

These are the survey questions which indicate changes in government employee attitude (apparently there was more doom and gloom around 2014). That TFA focuses instead on three survey questions whose results have not changed, and discussed them with respect to a current event which could not yet have influenced the survey results, suggests the authors of TFA were just looking for an excuse to write an opinion piece, not report the news.

Re:Pension, job security, 30 days leave, yeah

By dgatwood • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

I think that may be the best reason I've ever heard for "losing" your official cell phone.

You: Whoops. Sorry, I didn't get your voice mail. My phone went crazy in Paris.
Boss: Crazy?
You: In Seine.

Re:Well.. So?

By kiminator • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

What I find interesting is that it seems the worst impacts of the shutdown are being felt by demographics that tend to vote Republican. That makes the political fallout for this shutdown potentially disastrous for Republicans.

Maybe they'll forget come 2020. But we'll see. The Republican party's behavior has been pretty uniformly reprehensible, and there's a chance that these events will cause a few Republican voters to open their eyes and see the party for what it is: a party for the rich, by the rich, who only panders to non-rich voters by promising to harm "those people". When they find that they're often in the crosshairs, maybe they'll start expanding their news sources beyond the conservative bubble and actually learn something.

Not many, of course. It's rare for people to change their minds like this. But it does happen. And it could be the beginning of the end for the Republican party (aside: if the Republican party ends, it will be replaced by another party: our system is only stable with two parties in power; hopefully that other party will be less terrible so that we can actually have a reasonable national political discussion for once).

Netflix Sued By 'Choose Your Own Adventure' Publishers Over Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Polygon: Netflix's first interactive movie, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch makes no bones about its Choose Your Own Adventure inspiration, and that's reportedly caught the eye of the series' original publisher. Chooseco, a publishing company specializing in children's books, is suing Netflix for infringing on the company's "Choose Your Own Adventure" trademark. According to the official complaint, Netflix has been in negotiations with Chooseco over a license for the series since 2016, but Chooseco says Netflix never actually gained permission to use it. After the release of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch late last month, Chooseco has filed a complaint against Netflix for $25 million in damages, as the company says that Netflix's new movie benefits from association with the Choose Your Own Adventure series, without the company ever receiving the trademark. Chooseco says it sent a cease-and-desist request to Netflix at least once over the Choose Your Own Adventure trademark in the past. Netflix has declined to comment on the complaint.

Re:*Judge reading filing*

By Scarletdown • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Oops. You were going to turn to page 134 to side with the defendant, but you accidentally looked at page 135. You have fallen into a pit, impaled yourself on a spike trap, and got your corpse butt raped by the super horny dragon that set the trap.

Your adventure has ended. Best to go with cremation or closed casket, laddie. It is not a pretty sight.

IP law is complicated

By swell • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Anyone can claim a trademark. After using it a while, they can apply for registration. They will learn that some things qualify and some don't and some are indeterminate. A name like Xerox was easy to qualify because it was an invented word and nobody else had claimed it.

Even if you can register a TM, it may be challenged in court on various grounds. Suppose you claimed Lunch Time as a TM. It is far more likely than Xerox to have been used already and it is a risky choice. Someone might argue that Lunch Time is a common phrase undeserving of a trademark.

Failure to continuously use your TM can forfeit your rights. Failure to defend it in the face of others' using the same mark can forfeit your rights. IP law is complicated and not always rational and may have changed since I glanced at it in 1975.


By hey! • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

You can trademark bags of plain, ordinary sand if you wanted to. Let's say you called it "WackySand". That wouldn't stop anyone else from selling bags of sand, but it sure would stop them from selling bags of sand labelled "WackySand" or even "WackeeSand". Anything that might make people think the "WackySand" company endorses a bag of sand is off-limits.

The sand itself you're selling can be completely generic. It doesn't have to be special to be trademarked.

Now if people start calling all bags of sand "WackySand", then yes, you lose your exclusive right to that name. But if you're a sand vendor who *thinks* that "WackySand" has gone generic, but it hasn't been tested in court, guess who gets to be the guinea pig in the first test?

Judge with a sense of humor needed

By nehumanuscrede • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Maybe the judge will have some fun with this.

If the plaintiff wishes to proceed with the facepalm of the year lawsuit, turn to page 47.

If the anything-to-make-a-quick-buck plaintiff wishes to wisely drop this complete waste of my time, turn to page 93.


By F.Ultra • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

If you read the actual lawsuit filing that is linked from TFS one can see that Chooseco isn't claiming that Netflix said that they where inspired, they claim that people will believe that the Bandersnatch book from the movie is an actual CYOA book from Chooseco and that will scare people away from their brand since the book in the movie is dark and disturbing.

Extra hilarious are these two claims:

35. Netflix has benefitted from its association with Chooseco's iconic brand. Bandersnatch has been discussed widely in the press and many reviews of the movie include the phrase or even reference the book series.
36. The association between Bandersnatch and Choose Your Own Adventure has been widely discussed on social media. That discussion demonstrates the dilution of the brand.

So basically, Netflix didn't say that their movie is a CYOA movie but reviewers and people on social media does and therefore we want money from Netflix...

Apple Might Debut 3 New iPhones in 2019

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Apple is planning to release three new iPhone models this year, including a device to succeed the newly-created XR model, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. From a report: Apple will unveil direct successors to last year's iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR, The Wall Street Journal is reporting. The iPhone XR, which is believed to have been the least popular of the three, will be updated with a model that comes with the same LCD display and similar design, according to the report. Apple is also considering adding a triple-lens camera system to one of the 2019 models in a bid to compete with Samsung and others that are readying similar camera systems, the Journal's sources said.

So what have we learned from this?

By alvinrod • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The iPhone XR, which is believed to have been the least popular of the three, will be updated with a model that comes with the same LCD display and similar design.

It doesn't appear as though Apple has learned anything.

Maybe another year of decreased sales will help them get the message.

Re:Each more boring

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

and expensive than the last.

I overheard a reporter interviewing Tim Cook about that.

Reporter: "Why are iPhones so expensive?"

Cook: "Well, consider all the devices your iPhone replaces. Your phone, your camera, your watch, your appointment book, your music player, your video player, your GPS, your flashlight, your calculator, your handheld gaming device, your exercise tracker... surely it reasonable, when you consider how many other expensive devices you no longer need to own."

Reporter: "Then why are Android devices so much cheaper?"

Cook: "Ah! The inexpensive Android replaces just one device! The iPhone."

Release the iPhone "SEX"

By xack • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
The SE form factors, but with X features. It will sell billions.

The Inevitable Slowing Down of Apple

By alaskana98 • Score: 3 • Thread
Although you can arguably say that Apple invented the smartphone as we know it, they are now mired in an endless game of tug-of-war with their rivals Samsung and the rest of the Android clan. This is unfortunate because I feel they are pumping the lions share of their considerable resources into simply keeping up with the competitors that originally copied their ground breaking concept of what a phone could be.
I feel Apple needs to somehow break free of this endless 'boring' update cycle and release their newest earth shattering product. The only problem is I doubt the current leadership at Apple has what it takes to do this. Although nice, Bluetooth earbuds, smart speakers, and smart watchers and endless iterations of iPhones, iPads and laptops ain't going to cut it. They are going to need another device that is as paradigm shifting as the original iPhone was. I think if they still had Jobs this may have happened by now, but really who knows. I feel within the next 5 years or so Apple WILL need this type of product or they will again become increasingly irrelevant as they were in the mid to late 90's before the advent of the iPod rescued them from certain death. (Full disclosure - I own Apple products).

Re:The Inevitable Slowing Down of Apple

By Solandri • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Although you can arguably say that Apple invented the smartphone as we know it, they are now mired in an endless game of tug-of-war with their rivals Samsung and the rest of the Android clan. This is unfortunate because I feel they are pumping the lions share of their considerable resources into simply keeping up with the competitors that originally copied their ground breaking concept of what a phone could be.
I feel Apple needs to somehow break free of this endless 'boring' update cycle and release their newest earth shattering product.

The thing is, Apple didn't actually invent the smartphone-as-we-know-it. It was an evolutionary development that other phone manufacturers had slowly been migrating towards. LG was actually the first out the door with a smartphone with a capacitive touch display as its primary interface. And the Samsung evidence which was disallowed in the iPhone case (because they missed a filing deadline) showed that they had been working on similar iPhone-like phones before the introduction of the iPhone.

What Apple did (very successfully) was guess where this evolutionary development would lead in the future, and bet the house on a phone design further along this development path than any other phone manufacturer's at the time. And that bet rightly led to a massive financial windfall for them.

Since then, they have missed pretty much every other major evolutionary change to smartphone design. They openly ridiculed the trend towards larger phones (a phone with a 3.5" screen looks like a toy today). They missed the trend towards a wider aspect ratio. They've been hostile to a universal phone charging connector. They were late to follow the trend towards capacitive control buttons (instead of physical buttons). They were slower than the rest of the industry in adding LTE capability. They were late to incorporate NFC. They missed the trend towards OLED displays on flagship devices. They missed the trend towards bezel-less displays. They've played catch-up on all of these features.

They did get the trend to high-resultion displays right (though I'd argue that was obvious, and they just did it quicker than anyone else due to a design flaw in iOS). They helped make fingerprint sensors (which first showed up on a Motorola phone but was a niche product) standard. And I applaud their approach to security and privacy. But pretty much all their other "innovations" have been hostile to customers (glass back, non-swappable battery, removing the headphone jack, lack of expandable memory, lack of a way to directly transfer files between devices, walled garden for apps).

Polish Police Arrest Huawei Executive On Suspicion Of Spying For China

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
A Huawei executive has been arrested in Poland on charges of spying for China, Poland's counterintelligence service said Friday. NPR reports: A government spokesman identified the suspect as Weijing W.; media reports in Poland and China say he also is known as Stanislaw Wang, Huawei's sales director in Poland. In a coordinated arrest Tuesday, authorities also detained and charged a Polish citizen named Piotr D. who works for the telecom company Orange Polska. He is a former Internal Security Agency official, according to Poland's TVP Info, which first reported the story. Police searched both of the suspects' homes Tuesday. In addition, TVP Info says, Internal Security Agency officers searched Huawei's headquarters in Poland and an Orange office where Piotr D. worked. The government has evidence that the two suspects "cooperated with the Chinese services" as they conducted espionage against Poland, according to Stanislaw Zaryn, spokesman for the special services branch, in a tweet about the case.


By rmdingler • Score: 3 • Thread
Mostl reasonably advanced nations use (and misuse) cozy relationships with domestic corporations to advance the agendas of their homegrown information gathering services.

Still, those with totalitarian powers are much more ripe for pervasive abuse.

Another vassal; anything to slow HUAWEI...

By bogaboga • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

Polish Police Arrest Huawei Executive On Suspicion Of Spying For China

They are trying everything to slow down Huawei. They will fail in my opinion as Huawei is a major 5G patent holder.

Electric Scooter Rental Service Bird Sent a 'Notice of Claimed Infringement' To a News Site For Reporting On Lawful Re-use of Scooters

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Bird, an electric scooter rental company, sent a " Notice of Claimed Infringement" to news blog Boing Boing for reporting about people doing legal things that Bird does not like. EFF reports: Electric scooters have swamped a number of cities across the US, many of the scooters carelessly discarded in public spaces. Bird, though, has pioneered a new way to pollute the commons by sending a meritless takedown letter to a journalist covering the issue. The company cites the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and implies that even writing about the issue could be illegal. It's not.

Bird sent a "Notice of Claimed Infringement" over this article on Boing Boing, one of the Internet's leading sources of news and commentary. The article reports on the fact that large numbers of Bird scooters are winding up in impound lots, and that it's possible to lawfully purchase these scooters when cities auction them off, and then to lawfully modify those scooters so they work without the Bird app. The letter is necessarily vague about exactly how the post infringed any of Bird's rights, and with good reason: the post does no such thing, as we explain in a letter on behalf of Happy Mutants LLC, which owns and operates Boing Boing.

The post reports on lawful activity, nothing more. In fact, the First Amendment would have protected it even if reported on illegal conduct or advocated for people to break the law. (For instance, a person might lawfully advocate that an electric scooter startup should violate local parking ordinances. Hypothetically.) So, in a sense, it doesn't matter whether Bird is right or wrong when it claims that it's illegal to convert a Bird scooter to a personal scooter. Either way, Boing Boing was free to report on it.

remember what free speech is for

By supernova87a • Score: 3 • Thread
“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”

George Orwell


By kenh • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

news blog Boing Boing



By Sir Holo • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

In my City, these scooters littering public spaces are legally "abandoned property". That means anyone can take a scooter or two off of the sidewalk and scrap it out. Legally.

Check your local City Code.

Re:What is lawful about this "re-use"

By b0s0z0ku • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
If the neighbor's car got impounded and sold at city auction, it's perfectly legal to buy it and change the ignition keys.


By dissy • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Now the tricky thing here, to me, is that company have successfully argued that even if someone buys stuff, that certain parts of the machine is not under the control of the person who purchased the thing

It isn't tricky at all. US copyright law simply doesn't work that way.

Title 17, chapter 1, section 109:

"Limitations on exclusive rights: Effect of transfer of particular copy or phonorecord"

And I quote:
the owner of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title, or any person authorized by such owner, is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy or phonorecord.

So long as an instance of a copy is obtained legally, aka via government auction of impounded property, then the buyer can resell or dispose of that one instance of the copy.
They are only prohibited from making further copies of it.

So you are legally entitled to resell your purchase bird scooter, copyrighted software and all.
You are legally entitled to rip the copyrighted software out of the device, as in to replace it with your own software such as described here.
You are always entitled to the right to modify your instance of a copy, so long as it isn't distributed, which is perfectly in line with what is happening here.

No authorization from the copyright holder is needed for any of those things outside of redistribution (and public performance, which doesn't apply here to software)

Americans Want To Regulate AI But Don't Trust Anyone To Do It

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a report: In 2018, several high-profile controversies involving AI served as a wake-up call for technologists, policymakers, and the public. The technology may have brought us welcome advances in many fields, but it can also fail catastrophically when built shoddily or applied carelessly. It's hardly a surprise, then, that Americans have mixed support for the continued development of AI and overwhelmingly agree that it should be regulated, according to a new study from the Center for the Governance of AI and Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute. These are important lessons for policymakers and technologists to consider in the discussion on how best to advance and regulate AI, says Allan Dafoe, director of the center and coauthor of the report. "There isn't currently a consensus in favor of developing advanced AI, or that it's going to be good for humanity," he says. "That kind of perception could lead to the development of AI being perceived as illegitimate or cause political backlashes against the development of AI."

Simple Solution

By AdamStarks • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Create an AI to regulator!

I know the perfect person!

By zippo01 • Score: 3 • Thread
My vote goes to John Connor!

How do you even "regulate" AI?

By the_skywise • Score: 3 • Thread
There's not even standardized definitions of AI internals yet so I'm not sure how you write regulations that could easily be understood by those implementing the AI to begin with.
Sure there's the old "don't be evil" (we see how that turned out) and non-military AI shouldn't kill but beyond that? So long as they're still subject to the laws and regulations of what a normal human would be doing that the AI replaces I'm not sure there's much else that can be done currently
AIs should not cold call people after 8pm in their timezone.
AIs should always say please and thank you
I'm flashing back to that scene in Robocop 2 after the civics board got done adding 100 "prime" directives to his software.


By Visarga • Score: 3 • Thread
The term AI is confusing. They should have asked individually about: face recognition, self driving cars, automated shops, machine translation, voice assistants, ML based genetic research, content recommendation/filtering systems and so on. Then people would have given more precise answers. But if you frame it with the term AI, people think Terminator and Skynet.

It's Getting Hard To Know What is Automated and What Isn't

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
It's increasingly becoming a challenge to know when -- and if -- AI is at play in things we come across in our daily lives. From a report: Applicants usually don't know when a startup has used artificial intelligence to triage their resume. When Big Tech deploys AI to tweak a social feed and maximize scrolling time, users often can't tell, either. The same goes when the government relies on AI to dole out benefits -- citizens have little say in the matter. What's happening: As companies and the government take up AI at a delirious pace, it's increasingly difficult to know what they're automating -- or hold them accountable when they make mistakes. If something goes wrong, those harmed have had no chance to vet their own fate. Why it matters: AI tasked with critical choices can be deployed rapidly, with little supervision -- and it can fall dangerously short. The big picture: Researchers and companies are subject to no fixed rules or even specific professional guidelines regarding AI. Hence, companies have tripped up but suffered little more than a short-lived PR fuss.


By religionofpeas • Score: 3 • Thread

So when you're being disadvantaged by another human in a similar situation, is there a way to hold them accountable ?

Age discrimination

By rsilvergun • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I know folks over 40 who hide their age because they won't get interviews if the company realizes they're over 40.

AI and big data have the potential to break that. There's still markers left over from the places you worked, how long, the types of apps you've worked on ,etc.

You used to see this with black neighborhoods unable to get mortgages because of their zip code. When you put numbers into a database without regard to what comes out you can end up with crap like this.

Developer Bungie Splits With Publisher Activision, Will Keep World Shooter Series Destiny

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Developer Bungie and publisher Activision are splitting up in an industry-shaking divorce that will see the shared world shooter series Destiny enter fully into Bungie's control. From a report: This development comes after years of tension between the two companies -- tension that has existed since before the first Destiny even shipped. Bungie, the studio that created and has led development on the franchise, told employees during a team meeting this afternoon, framing it as fantastic news for a studio that has long grown sick of dealing with its publisher. Employees cheered and popped champagne, according to one person who was there.

[...] One of the most significant tensions between Bungie and Activision had long been the annualized schedule, which mandated the release of a new Destiny game or expansion every fall. Now, separated from Activision, Bungie will no longer be constrained to that schedule. "We'll continue to deliver on the existing Destiny roadmap, and we're looking forward to releasing more seasonal experiences in the coming months," the company said, "as well as surprising our community with some exciting announcements about what lies beyond."


By McFortner • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Can we get Blizzard split off next, please? Activision is too worried about new characters to fix the problems they have with the game as it is.

Finally free?

By Pfhorrest • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I thought that when Bungie finally broke away from Microsoft, we might see a return to the old Bungie, from the days of Marathon and Myth.

But then Destiny was... not that... and some people say that that's more Activision's fault than Bungie's.

Maybe now that they're finally free and back to self-publishing like they always used to, before the dark times, before the acquisition, maybe now we'll finally see a return of the old Bungie?

I'm not counting on it. The only person still around from the olden days is Jason. Even Robnar is gone now, and I can't even find where to.

Re:Finally free?

By dostert • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I thought that when Bungie finally broke away from Microsoft, we might see a return to the old Bungie, from the days of Marathon and Myth.

But then Destiny was... not that... and some people say that that's more Activision's fault than Bungie's.

Maybe now that they're finally free and back to self-publishing like they always used to, before the dark times, before the acquisition, maybe now we'll finally see a return of the old Bungie?

I'm not counting on it. The only person still around from the olden days is Jason. Even Robnar is gone now, and I can't even find where to.

Marathon and Myth days were great. Things I remember most were the Letters to the Webmaster and the annual April Fools update to Pimps at Sea

Re:Finally free?

By Snufu • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The people who created Marathon, Myth, and Halo are long gone. Expect more of the same, just less often.

Universal Internet Access Unlikely Until at Least 2050, Experts Say

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Parts of the world will be excluded from the internet for decades to come without major efforts to boost education, online literacy and broadband infrastructure, experts have warned. From a report: While half the world's population now uses the internet, a desperate lack of skills and stagnant investment mean the UN's goal of universal access, defined as 90% of people being online, may not be reached until 2050 or later, they said. The bleak assessment highlights the dramatic digital divide that has opened up between those who take the internet and its benefits for granted and those who are sidelined because they either lack the skills to be online, cannot afford access or live in a region with no connection. "If there is any kind of faltering in the rate of people coming online, which it appears that there is, then we'll have a real challenge in getting 70%, 80% or 90% connected," said Adrian Lovett, CEO of the World Wide Web Foundation, an organisation set up by the inventor of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.


By Tomahawk • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

What about SpaceX's Starlink? Surely that will be online long before 2050...

'Putting the cart before the horse'

By Rick Schumann • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
I think perhaps we should work more on 'universal access' to clean water, enough food to eat, and safe countries to live in for everyone, before we worry about 'universal internet access'. It's kinda hard to enjoy watching the box-centric antics of Maru on YouTube when you're dying of dehydration, malnutrition, or the local Warlord or Druglord is kicking in the door of your shack to steal your children, kill you, or both. Google, Facebook, and whoever else, can just wait their turn to monetize the rest of the 7,000,000,000 on this planet whose personal information they haven't been able to monetize yet.

Re:Lack of leadership - is right.

By Rick Schumann • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
AC or not, you don't deserve to be modded -1 for this. However let's review for a moment some examples of what should constitute a 'national emergency':
o Massive natural disaster, like an asteroid hitting the U.S.
o Nation-wide pandemic
o Military forces invading the continental U.S.
o Total collapse of the U.S. economy, worse than the 2008 recession
Now, for contrast, let's review some examples of what should not constitute a 'national emergency':
o Massive wildfires in any given state (state emergency, not national)
o Weather event causing widespread flooding (again, state emergency)
o Magnitude 9 earthquake (scary, but again, state emergency)
o POTUS' favorite baseball team not winning the World Series
o Brown people emigrating from South American countries massing on our southern border
Throwing a hissy-fit because you can't get your gods-be-damned useless-ass billions-of-dollars FENCE built is not a 'national emergency'
Declaring a 'national emergency' so you can STEAL money allocated to legitimate DISASTER RELIEF within the country you were sworn to govern, protect, and defend should be considered a CRIMINAL ACT and Congress should step in and give a resounding "HELL, NO!" to it if tried.

Hope that clears up any ambiguity on the issue.

Wrong word

By rossdee • Score: 3 • Thread

Universal means not just this planet, or just this star system or even just this galaxy .

First we need to develop a means of FTL communication

Will anyone care?

By rnturn • Score: 3 • Thread

In a few years, governments and their corporate overlords may very well have turned the Internet into something that you may not even want to connect to if it's available in your locale.

Google Demanded T-Mobile, Sprint To Not Sell Google Fi Customers' Location Data

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a report: On Thursday, AT&T announced it was stopping the sale of its customers' real-time location data to all third parties, in response to a Motherboard investigation showing how data from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint trickled down through a complex network of companies until eventually landing the hands of bounty hunters and people unauthorized to handle it. To verify the existence of this trade, Motherboard paid $300 on the black market to successfully locate a phone.

Google, whose Google Fi program offers phone, text, and data services that use T-Mobile and Sprint network infrastructure in the United States, told Motherboard that it asked those companies to not share its customers' location data with third parties. "We have never sold Fi subscribers' location information," a Google spokesperson told Motherboard in a statement late on Thursday. "Google Fi is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) and not a carrier, but as soon as we heard about this practice, we required our network partners to shut it down as soon as possible." Google did not say when it made this a requirement.

If it isn't illegal it should be

By sjbe • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Maybe I would be ok with specific reputable ad companies using this data for specific advertising services, but not so ok if anyone can pay $300 and track my location.

Why should ad companies get special privileges? I'm not ok with them using this data without my consent and frankly I think the term "reputable ad company" is something of an oxymoron. I certainly do not trust ANY of them including Google and especially Facebook. At minimum there should be a firewall so that third parties have no means of learning specific details about the individual being tracked without explicit consent from that individual. It should absolutely be illegal to sell identifiable tracking data to third parties without explicit written (and revocable) consent.

Isn't it a bit early for April Fools Day?

By TuballoyThunder • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
At first I thought I accidentally went to The Onion when I saw the headline, but it really is Slashdot.

As other have pointed out, I guess Google doesn't like the competition.

"Don't sell our customer's data...

By Aspasia13 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
... that's our job!"

Why collect it then?

By Murdoch5 • Score: 3 • Thread
They intentionally collected mass amounts of data, for the sole purpose of tracking and distributing that data to other companies. If they didn't want the data shared they would of either not collected it, or made the data functionally useless to the other parties, through encryption, hashing or other means of obfuscation.


By beanpoppa • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
No, Google does not sell customer data. Google sells access to eyeballs. They will deliver ads to eyeballs that fit the metrics that an advertiser specifies, but the advertiser isn't provided with the details of who is behind that eyeball.

Lenovo And Dell Seeing PC Growth in US, But CPU Shortage Takes A Toll On Overall Market

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Lenovo's resurgence in the U.S. PC market continued during the final quarter of 2018 with gains in both shipments and market share, while Dell also saw growth in the fourth quarter in spite of supply chain and market challenges, according to research firm Gartner. From a report: It marked the third quarter in a row that Lenovo enjoyed strong growth in the U.S. PC market, solidifying the company's position as the No. 3 player in the market ahead of Apple and Microsoft--but still trailing well behind HP and Dell. However, overall PC shipments in the U.S. slid 4.5 percent during the fourth quarter compared to the same period a year earlier, Gartner reported. In a news release, Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa blamed the decline in part on market uncertainties -- given that the quarter is "typically a buying season" for businesses looking to use up budget money by the end of the year.

important clarification from TFA

By nimbius • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

this CPU shortage is only for Intel CPUs. AMD's Ryzen platform is not experiencing supply chain problems at all, but the likelyhood anyone at Lenovo or Dell has the muscle to steer the ship away from Intel is pretty slim.

Mondelez, the US Food Company That Owns Oreo and Cadbury Brands, Sues Zurich in Test For Cyber Hack Insurance

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Mondelez, the US food company that owns the Oreo and Cadbury brands, is suing its insurance company, Zurich, for refusing to pay out on a $100m claim for damage caused by the NotPetya cyber attack. From a report: The case will be the first serious legal dispute over how companies can recover the costs of a cyber attack [Editor's note: the article may be paywalled; alternative source], as insurance groups seek to tightly define their liabilities. "It's a pretty big deal. I've never seen an insurance company take this position," said Robert Stines, a cyber law specialist at the US law firm Freeborn. "It's going to send ripples through the insurance industry. Major companies are going to rethink what's in their policies." The NotPetya attack in the summer of 2017 crippled the computer systems of companies around the world, including Merck, the pharmaceuticals company, Reckitt Benckiser, the consumer group, and Maersk, the world's largest shipping group. It caused billions of dollars of damage and has been blamed by the US and the UK on Russian hackers attacking the Ukrainian government.

[...] According to the Mondelez court documents, Zurich initially worked to adjust the claim in the usual way and at one point even promised to make a $10m interim payment. But it later refused to pay, relying on an exclusion in the policy for "a hostile or warlike action" by a government or sovereign power or people acting for them. Mondelez described Zurich's refusal as "unprecedented" and is seeking $100m in damages. Both companies declined to comment on the case.

no subject

By fluffernutter • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
If I left my front door open with a sign that said 'come take my stuff' I expect the insurance company would fight me too.

Great summary

By bistromath007 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Definitely don't need to know Zurich's position on the matter, thanks for omitting it

Client failed to keep systems patched

By Mortimer82 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
NotPetya largely used EternalBlue to exploit unpatched Windows computers.

If Mondelez had simply kept reasonably upto date with Windows Updates, the damage would have been highly limited, or possibly non-existent. The fact that they claimed damages of $100M means that countless computers were not upto allowing the malware to infect them over their network.
I hope Zurich wins, because in the same way that insurance companies are not expected to pay out for accidents as a result of a clearly unroadworthy automobile, insurance companies should not be expected to pay out for damages due to grossly negligent IT practices.

The 100M$ question is: Was it Cyberwar?

By Confused • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Many comments didn't seem to pick up why Zurich is refusing:

Zurich asserts the attack was done by some foreign government in a hostile or warlike manner, which is excluded from coverage.
The prime suspect in this case would be Russia.

It's very common to exclude damages from war in insurance contracts. With foreign nations doing state sanctioned or organised hacking, this becomes very favourable for Zurich. They basically say, we cover only damage from script kiddies, not from foreign secret services waging a cyberwar against the USA.

Whether Mondelez' are incapable buffoons or they left their doors open with a writte invitiation to plunder them isn't really what this is all about.

Yellow Vests Knock Out 60 Percent of All Speed Cameras In France

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Thelasko shares a report from the BBC: Members of the "yellow vests" protest movement have vandalized almost 60% of France's entire speed camera network, the interior minister has said. Christophe Castaner said the willful damage was a threat to road safety and put lives in danger. The protest movement began over fuel tax increases, and saw motorists block roads and motorway toll booths. Some protesters feel speed cameras are solely a revenue-generating measure which takes money from the poor. The BBC's Hugh Schofield, in Paris, said evidence of the vandalism is visible to anyone driving around France, with radar cameras covered in paint or black tape to stop them working.

Re:Speed cameras = dishonest taxation

By Pascoea • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I know how fast I can drive safely. If I'm in error, charge me when I do so.

Did you really just make the "I should be allowed to drive as fast as I deem safe until I cause an incident." argument?

That's all speed limits are. People who think they know better.

Are you under the impression that speed limits are just made up at random? Or are you actually aware that there are scientific methods, formulas, and guidelines used by engineers to determine what the proper speed for a particular stretch of road should be?

Re:And as a result drivers are speeding up

By dfghjk • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

"30% more french drivers are breaking the law and putting others life in danger"

If you set the limit to 0 then 100% of drivers will break the law, yet that doesn't put "others life in danger". This is nothing but rhetoric.

The percentage of drivers speeding is an indicator of the reasonableness of the limits, not of the behavior of the drivers. This has been known since at least the 70's, likely much longer.


By b0s0z0ku • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
They were counterproductive because they weren't violent enough. Clearly, the American Revolution was violent enough to be productive. :)

Re:Hit them in the pocket

By thegarbz • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Such a large-scale action is not done without some central organization.

You'd be surprised how like minded people will copy good ideas from each other. Central organisation would be proven if it all happened at once. The yellow vests however have been best described as copycats at every stage of their protest.

Oooh look 10 people in Paris occupied a toll booth! A day later you hear about gilets jaunes occupying toll booths over the country. It's very much a monkey see monkey do kind of a movement.

Re:Speed cameras

By thegarbz • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

You mean like this study which says they reduce accidents and fatalities?

Or maybe the one that specifically looked at Arizona and found no difference in number of collisions (though didn't look at injuries) and certainly didn't find a negative impact?

Maybe you want a wide spread study of some 550 speed cameras which showed a reduction in accidents and fatalities and at the same time directly looked at the very speed cameras that the Daily Mail and some other worthless rags claimed (incorrectly) increased accidents?

Or this one from America that said also accidents are reduced and overall driver behaviour in the area improves:

I would give you result number 5 from my Google search but it's the same study as result number 2 and I don't want to waste your time.

IMDb Launches Ad-Supported Movie Streaming Service

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: IMDb is known as the place to go to look up details for any film under the sun, and now it's entering the streaming video arena. The company has launched Freedive, a free streaming platform that's supported by periodic ad breaks. The service's films and TV shows are available to registered IMDb or Amazon users and Amazon Fire TV owners. (The list of compatible devices is the same as the list for Prime Video.) Fire owners can navigate the service by way of a new icon in the "Your Apps & Channels" section or by telling their Amazon smart device, "Alexa, go to Freedive." The site says it will continually add new offerings to the site. The site will also indicate on a film's page if it's available on Freedive.

A movie that can stream movies!

By Rockoon • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
Title currently is "MDb Launches Ad-Supported Movie Streaming Movie"

They put streaming in your streaming!! Incredible.

US only, of course...

By Tomahawk • Score: 3 • Thread

"IMDb Freedive is only available to customers in the U.S. at this time."

I don't see any mention on the website as to when it may be available outside of the US.

Also, it doesn't support chromecast or apple tv, so that'll make it useless to a lot of people. Chances are most of them won't want an Amazon stick. Yes you can cast the screen of your phone to the TV, but that never works out well.


By Artem S. Tashkinov • Score: 3 • Thread

Available only for US citizens (to be precise to US IP addresses). A full list of movies/series is here:

Lastly, IMDB is an Amazon company.

Why do I care about this?

By sjbe • Score: 4 • Thread

Frankly, I don't see why it took so long for this to be a thing. It's basically like viewing a movie on TV except the ads are more targeted.

I'm confused. Are you somehow implying that is a good thing? Personally I prefer to watch movies without any ads at all much less targeted ones that still somehow manage to have no relevance to me.

Software-Defined Satellite Will Be Launched Soon

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
kbahey writes: Traditionally, large satellites are configured on the ground for specific tasks that cannot be changed after launch, even if market demands evolve. The new "Quantum" satellite scheduled to be launched soon, will change all that: its coverage, bandwidth, power and frequency can all be altered in orbit. The 3.5-ton spacecraft will be operated by Paris-based telecom operator Eutelsat, in a R&D partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA), with manufacturer Airbus acting as the prime contractor. A company official stated that the satellite "will bring unprecedented flexibility to our customers, allowing for in-orbit payload re-configuration and taking customization to a new level, while also opening the way to a paradigm shift in the manufacture of telecommunications satellites." The BBC says "being able to totally reconfigure an in-orbit platform would allow an operator to adapt to any shifts in the business landscape -- without the need to build and launch another bespoke platform." All the operator would have to do is simply reprogram the existing satellite.

General purpose communications satellite

By Mostly a lurker • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Yes, the satellite can be reprogrammed within certain limits, but it cannot be changed into a weather data collection or a mapping satellite just by doing some reprogramming. That will need to wait for a satellite with general purpose 3D printing and robot manufacturing built in, as well as uploadable software. I suspect that is not on the immediate horizon.

Re:LEO and SDR.

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

It is not uncommon to have something like an SDR in a satellite. Some are dumb frequency translating relays, but the ones with in-orbit functionality typically have updateable radio hardware.


By Harold Halloway • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Hackable satellites!

Well, as long as it's a paradigm shift and all ...

By recrudescence • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
Sounds like someone is thinking outside the box, leveraging some core competencies and hitting the ground running. An amazing display of synergy and proactivity if you ask me. I bet it runs on a blockchain on the cloud.

sounds like a bad idea

By sad_ • Score: 3 • Thread

is this modelled after 'modern' software development?
you know, like in games and certain other software, where after the first install (on release day) you get to install immense patches fixing stuff.
so after launch and deployment in space, the first thing it will have to do is get a software update, and another one and another and...

and let's not talk about the risk that the update mechanism will get hacked and then anything is possible.

VLC Passes 3 Billion Downloads

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
VLC has reached a rare milestone: It has been downloaded more than 3 billion times across various platforms, up from 1 billion downloads in May 2012. VentureBeat reports of the milestone and the new features coming to the media player: VLC today rolled out a minor update -- v3.0.6 -- that adds support for HDR videos in AV1, an emerging video format. But in the coming months, VLC has bigger things planned. First up is a major update to VLC's Android app in about a month, which will introduce support for AirPlay. This will enable Android users to beam video files from their Android phones to the Apple TV. [Jean-Baptiste Kempf, the president and lead developer of VLC's parent company VideoLan] then plans to update the VR app, which will enable native support for VR videos. He said his team reverse-engineered popular VR headsets so that developers no longer need to rely on the SDKs offered by vendors. The app will also receive support for 3D interactions and stereo sound, and add a virtual theater feature.

After that, a major update will be pushed to VLC across all popular platforms. The update, dubbed version 4.0, will offer playback improvements in scaling and video quality of HDR video files. But that's not all. Kempf says he plans to bring VLC to more platforms. He said he is thinking about bringing the media player to Sony's PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Roku devices.
Kempf participated in Slashdot's interview a couple of years ago, offering some insight into how he's able to keep VLC sustainable (since VideoLan is a nonprofit that runs entirely on donations) and the various projects that were in the works at the time, among other things.

Typical slashdot article

By bobstreo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

no actual link to download vlc in the summary. I didn't see one in the linked article either.

There's way more in vlc than just playing videos.

Frame by frame?

By Stoutlimb • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I wonder when VLC will add support for stepping through videos frame by frame?

Re:Ever hear of KEYFRAMES?

By kbg • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I don't understand why can't you just re-encode only from a previous keyframe to your seek point on the fly? There is no need to reencode the entire file. Just re-encode one keyframe to the next keyframe.

Re:Ever hear of KEYFRAMES?

By kbg • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I understand encoding video is time consuming but we only need to decode here really, which is always faster. You really don't need to re-encode anything you just need to decode a keyframe to keyframe and store the results temporarly. I just checked online for example on H.264 and it seems to have keyframe every 2 to 10 seconds on average, so in reality you only need to decode at max 10 seconds. Now if you don't have the computing power to do this for example on a mobile then obviously you use only key frame seeking but on a PC powerhouse there is no excuse.