the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2019-Apr-14 today archive

Dragons, Nuclear Weapons, and Game of Thrones

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Slashdot reader Dan Drollette shared this article from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists where a specialist in nuclear security analyzes Game of Thones, citing dragons "as living, fire-breathing metaphors for nuclear weapons." Despite the fantasy setting, the story teaches a great deal about the inherent dangers that come with managing these game-changing agents, their propensity for accidents, the relative benefits they grant their masters, and the strain these weapons impose upon those wielding them. "Dragons are the nuclear deterrent, and only [Daenerys Targaryen, one of the series' heroines] has them, which in some ways makes her the most powerful person in the world," George R. R. Martin said in 2011. "But is that sufficient? These are the kind of issues I'm trying to explore.

"The United States right now has the ability to destroy the world with our nuclear arsenal, but that doesn't mean we can achieve specific geopolitical goals. Power is more subtle than that. You can have the power to destroy, but it doesn't give you the power to reform, or improve, or build."

It makes for a bleak outlook. Or, as a character repeatedly warns in the first episode: "Winter is coming."

What's a lost dragon called?

By viperidaenz • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

If dragons are nuclear weapons, does that make the white walker's dragon a broken arrow?

Also explores security issues

By SuperKendall • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

A major spoiler here if you've not watched the previous seasons, but taking your dragons deep into the heart of the undead kingdom was exceedingly stupid, basically like having a cavalier attitude to nuclear weapon security and handing over a Fat Man to a rogue nation.

Now the undead have one and they are blazing a path south (though to give them credit, they are not unthinking monsters, they stoped along the way to hang some artwork). Without the dragon the wall guards could have just spent years dropping flaming pitch on the things.

This same tired tripe was tried on LOTR:

By Hartree • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

At one time someone tried to imply that Tolkien's books were about the Cold War and that the rings were nuclear weapons. Tolkien was having none of it and pointed out how the story would have to be different to mirror that.

This is even more of a stretch.

Re:This same tired tripe was tried on LOTR:

By Leuf • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
You understand this is directly from a quote from the author of the books that Game of Thrones is based on, right?

Re:What's a lost dragon called?

By Leuf • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I really hate that White Walker dragon. Dragons are somewhat magical, but they are real physical animals. To breathe fire they must have some organ that produces flammable liquid/gas. Does the White Walker dragon eat in order to make this substance? It doesn't just appear out of nowhere. And why is it blue instead of red? Blue is a hotter flame than red. Nuclear explosions don't change colors just because the bad guy gets them.

And the dragon doesn't need to breathe fire in order to be the most devastating weapon the Night King could ever have. Instead of moving at the shambling pace of his undead army, he can fly right around the armies of Westeros coming to fight him and make a new army wherever he goes. There's been a raging war all over the country so there's corpses everywhere, but any graveyard will do (including the one inside Winterfell). He can fly anywhere, drop off a White Walker and seed a new army that will grow larger than any force available to fight it before they can find out where it is and march there to fight. And he'll be off somewhere else doing the same thing again long before you find out where he was. Only another dragon can catch him, but the White Walkers are seemingly immune to fire (unlike the wights) so the living dragons can't hurt him but he can hurt them. Even if the living dragons can hurt him and his dragon, very risky going after him since you can't bring reinforcements with you but he can raise support wherever he goes.

China's 'Game of Thrones' Fans Try Torrents, VPNs For Uncensored Episodes

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Winter is coming for fans of the hit television series Game of Thrones, with the final season set to hit screens around the world after a near two-year hiatus," reports the South China Morning Post. There were 96 million views for a discussion about the show on China's Twitter-like platform Weibo.

"But those watching inside China are also bracing for the chill of censorship." In recent years, Chinese authorities have ramped up the pressure on the television and film industries to clean up content they deem vulgar or politically incorrect. This has led to some serious censorship of foreign productions. Recent examples include the removal of scenes of smashed heads and bare flesh from the American superhero film Logan, and the apparent manipulation of a scene in Oscar-winner The Shape of Water so that a naked woman is made to appear to be wearing clothes...

In a bid to get around the censorship, many Chinese Game of Thrones fans have turned to virtual private networks and torrent download websites to access unexpurgated versions of their favourite episodes.

Tencent Video holds the exclusive distribution rights for the show in China, leaving one Weibo user to post "I'm begging Father Tencent not to censor too much, thank you."

Another added "This censored version is not interesting. I would pay money to watch the uncut version."


By rmdingler • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

We finally have conclusive evidence why Democracy is worth fighting for: The Shape of Water character is available to us uncensored, and more importantly, unclothed.

Are Silicon Valley Workers Abandoning Libertarianism For Socialism?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Salon writes that Silicon Valley tech workers are "defying their overlords," arguing that recent unionization attempts by Kickstarter employees may be only the beginning: The workers' Kickstarter campaign is not the first attempt, though, or even the first time rumblings of unionization, have circulated among programmers. In 2018, software engineers at the startup Lanetix announced their intent to unionize -- and were promptly fired by management (It is illegal to fire employees for trying to unionize). The National Labor Relations Board intervened, and ultimately forced Lanetix to pay the 15 fired engineers a total of $775,000. The show of worker power at Lanetix may have paved the way for Kickstarter's workers. Similarly, workers across the video game industry -- generally among the most overworked, underpaid workers within the tech industry -- have been making steps towards unionization. Game Workers Unite, profiled by Salon last year, is building a grassroots movement to organize the ranks of video game makers.

Together, this suggests that a small but visible movement for white-collar software engineers unionizing has been gaining steam in the Valley over the past few years -- suggesting that the people who make up the tech industry, once a bastion of libertarianism, are starting to understand the often subtle ways that their employers exploit them... For decades, libertarianism was part and parcel to the tech industry. Despite a grueling work culture and a high-profile collusion scandal among major tech corporations to suppress software engineers' wages, tech workers were more likely to see themselves as future founders than an exploited underclass -- a point of view encouraged by employers through high wages and generous, often absurd office perks. Recent developments suggest such endearing tactics are no longer working.

Re:GOP marketing

By Immerman • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

So what? You think that would change in an employee-owned company? Employees still get paid normally - they just *also* are the shareholders with ultimate control over company policy, they collect the dividends, etc., rather than that being the domain of a separate capitalist class.

Re: Libertarian here

By c6gunner • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

It's insane that you believe the right to self defense is dystopian.

Perhaps .... but if so, sad.....

By King_TJ • Score: 3 • Thread

I first learned about libertarian ideals from some of the early Internet users/frequent message posters. IMO, the computer-savvy have always been a bastion of libertarian thought.

I think you have an awful lot of younger people entering the tech workforce, now, who really haven't even given politics that much consideration. For them, it's about "hating Orange man Trump" because that's an easy bandwagon to get on.... and after that? You hear a lot from our "Democratic Socialists" about promises they'll solve their anxiety over money and how they'll pay for things like big student loans or health insurance costs. So they latch on to that platform.

Really though? I think the libertarian aspects of the Internet stemmed more from the vision early users had of it being this empowering form of communication. All of a sudden, you could talk to someone on the other side of the planet, just as easily (and inexpensively!) as talking to your neighbor next door who got online. Once you're no longer tethered to a long distance phone provider who billed you by the minute for a voice call, based on which country you dialed -- you have a new type of freedom. And that ALSO enabled the ability for anyone to become their own online publisher -- producing content that was in reach of any Internet user, the world over.

The fact that some of the tech businesses out there exploit their workforce doesn't mean technology ITSELF helped prove libertarian ideas a failure!

I think at least in America, we need to remember that our government is not and has never been libertarian in nature. The closest it's ever come were a couple of Republican presidents (like Ronald Reagan) who made some very libertarian quotes -- but didn't really do a lot of very libertarian things, politically, to change the system in place.

Re:From one extreme to the other?

By drinkypoo • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

We've spent so much time and energy in this industry catering to the residents of, and solving problems that basically only exist in, the Bay Area.

That's really nonsense. The big problems faced by the expensive parts of California are high cost of living, and high numbers of homeless people. Every place with a high cost of living has a homelessness problem, because the high cost of living causes people to become homeless. There are multiple strategies for solving it, including shipping people out to other places. That's how a lot of the homeless people in California got to be homeless people in California. They either came here of their own accord, or were literally sent here because they were homeless. I also hear a lot of complaints about fecal matter, but from what I've heard from people who have done more world travel than I have, that's also a problem in much of Europe. A FOAF was so struck by this that she did a photo series of turds in famous places, with landmarks in the background. You know, turd and The Louvre, turd and the Eiffel Tower, that kind of thing.

The problem with inadequate housing for workers exists everywhere that's expensive. San Francisco has a particularly serious problem because of mismanagement of its light rail system, which should have something like twice as many trains on it in order to gracefully handle demand. It's there, and it's capable of doing the job (in spite of having an odd design, it's not a bad one) if only it were used correctly. The bus system is also fairly deplorable; when I lived there it took as long to walk from Bernal Heights (where I lived) to Potrero Hill (where I worked) as to get there via MUNI, in the best case.

The homelessness problem has to be addressed at the national level, it cannot simply be pushed off on California. We can pay our bills, but we can't pay everyone else's as well. If Trump is going to take away our rail funding, we can't really afford to be sending so much money to the federal government, either. We need that HSR. The whole country does, in fact. It would go a long way to solving the worker housing problem.

The annoying thing about cities, for those who dislike them, is that they can be amazingly efficient if done correctly. With good public transportation that people want to use, the roads can be free to transport goods in and out of them, and the population density provides improved efficiency. High density housing in particular can reduce resource consumption from construction, heating and cooling, and transportation. Obviously, San Francisco has some way to go in these regards, but most other large cities have problems with these issues as well. Traffic and homelessness are problems in New York, Chicago, Houston, Seattle... You name a major city in the USA, and it's either decaying or choking, or it's choking on decay.

"The Fascism"

By Evtim • Score: 3 • Thread

I see, again, hot discussion about the similarities, or not, between socialism/communism and the nazis.

Here is something to think about.

The first democratically elected president of my country after the fall of the wall was a philosopher and a dissident. Why was he a dissident?

Well, back in the 60-ies he wrote a book. Called “The Fascism”. The communists were very vocal about the fact that we were with the germans during the war and claimed that all those people they killed, tortured and send to camps (all the way until the 80-ies, mind you) were fascist, helping the fascist government. So, I guess at the beginning they liked the subject of the book.
However, when the author characterizes the fascist state, listing all those features (economic, social, religious, racial ect.) that we discuss in this tread it turned out that our society, the one we knew so well, the one we lived in every day checks all the boxes that the fascist checked!!! Without saying one direct word against the communist regime, the author exposed them fully, for anyone with more than 2 brain cells to see. It was poetic, truly poetic!

Well, the communists did not miss this. The book was banned and taken away from shops and libraries. Of course, they never stated a reason, just in case they don’t point the obvious to those with less than 2 brain cells. And they did not really prosecute the author; did not kill him or threw him in a Gulag. Just quietly kept him under wraps. After all, that book was elucidating what horrible criminals the fascists were; how inhuman their doctrine was. Oh, the delicious irony!

Look chaps, it does not matter that nominally both ideologies begin from supposedly the opposite ends of the political spectrum. They both end up in the SAME PLACE! And both have been tried all over the globe, so we can’t pin it on a particular person (Stalin was bad, but Brezhnev was good!) or particular culture (all continents participated).

I am still not sure why this is, although when it comes to the communism I think it is the equality of outcome doctrine that fucks up everything. After all, nothing in nature has equal outcome, not even the stupidly named “spectrum” of human sexuality. Every spectrum expresses different frequencies with different intensities. If they are all expressed equally that is called “noise” and it is not very helpful. The other state with equal outcome is the heat dead of the Universe (maximum entropy). In short, if there is no difference, there is no potential. No potential, no driving force. No driving force, no nothingoh, and just to make matters more perverse, the commies encourage us to perform. Yes, they did! I got numerous awards in front of the whole school for excellent marks. However, they used the doctrine to remove inconvenient people. If I became inconvenient, all of a sudden, all my successes would be due to my “privileges”, for instance my “bourgeois family”, which I did not have but that does not really matter, they’d find something to hang me for. Isn’t that funny! Doesn’t it remind you of what is happening every day in our society? Where people, like those techies, who got there by being better than others, working harder than others, competing with other, all of sudden find all kind of “privileges” in others who are successful, forgetting they are also in the 1%. I mean 90% of the conversations between my parents about their work had to do with yet another incompetent ass who rose to prominence due to loyalty to the party line and uses the system to remove the competent, the conscientious and the knowledgeable.

When it comes to the fascist it seems that racial superiority is the alarm word, after which we should stop listening to whoever is advocating italso, since that doctrine does not try mimicking itself behind “universal brotherhood” or any number of seemingly good ideas, it is easier to identify and dismiss.

Just my 20 cents (wrote a bit too much for 2)

Internet Explorer Exploit Steals Data From Windows Users-- Even If They Never Use Internet Explorer

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Security researcher John Page has revealed a new zero-day exploit that allows remote attackers to exfiltrate Local files using Internet Explorer. "The craziest part: Windows users don't ever even have to open the now-obsolete web browser for malicious actors to use the exploit," reports Mashable. "It just needs to exist on their computer..." [H]ackers are taking advantage of a vulnerability using .MHT files, which is the file format used by Internet Explorer for its web archives. Current web browsers do not use the .MHT format, so when a PC user attempts to access this file Windows opens IE by default. To initiate the exploit, a user simply needs to open an attachment received by email, messenger, or other file transfer service...

Most worrisome, according to Page, is that Microsoft told him that it would just "consider" a fix in a future update. The security researcher says he contacted Microsoft in March before now going public with the issue. As ZDNet points out, while Internet Explorer usage makes up less than 10 percent of the web browser market, it doesn't particularly matter in this case as the exploit just requires a user to have the browser on their PC.


By jargonburn • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
Oh, wait, you mean I have to open a malicious attachment to be exposed to this risk? Your shocking headline had me concerned, for a moment.


By alexo • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Chrome can open MHTML files, Firefox used to (with an add-on) but not anymore, and there are free viewers available. All one has to do is to set the association of .MHT files to another program.

You cannot escape IE

By xack • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Over 20 years since IE started coming bundled with Windows in a deeply integrated manner. There will be outbreaks of IE malware for years due to the fact so many buisnesnesses only supported IE as their web browser. The same thing will happen with the widespread adoption of chromium instead of developing multiple independant browsers to ensure web diversity. Now Mo$Illa had been bribed to downgrade their browser we are now in the era of adverbrowsers and will contain more ways to attack your browser due to the constant bloat being added to them. Prepare for the Wannacry decade powered by ChromIE.

To Disable The Association in Windows...

By Keramos • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Find Command Prompt in whatever start menu you have (it's probably under Accessories), and right-click on it, then select Run as administrator.
You should get a User Account Control prompt, select yes.
To see what the current association is, enter

assoc .mht

and press Enter/Return. It'll likely return


and if you wish to check if IE is the handler for that file type enter

ftype mhtmlfile

and press Enter. If the result mentions iexplore.exe, that's IE.
Enter the following two lines (pressing Enter after each) to break the association for IE archives (there are two extensions associated):

assoc .mht=

assoc .mhmtl=

Close the prompt (type exit and press Enter, or click the "X" close window control).
A somewhat safer way (in terms of other possible exploits, not in mucking up your PC) is to use ftype to list any file types opened by IE ( ftype | find "iexplore" ) and then delete those filetypes ( ftype filetype= ), but if you're not confident with what you're doing, skip that.

Privately-Funded Moon Mission Will Try Again. 'Lunar Library' May Be On The Moon

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has congratulated the team which sent the first privately-funded mission into lunar orbit -- even though it crashed into the surface of the moon. Its final photo was taken Thursday just 7.5 kilometers above the surface of the moon.

But reports that's not the end of the story: On Saturday Morris Kahn, the billionaire businessman, pilanthropist and SpaceIL president, confirmed that the SpaceIL team is meeting this weekend to begin planning the Beresheet 2.0 mission. "In light of all the support I've got from all over the world, and the wonderful messages of support and encouragement and excitement, I've decided that we're going to actually build a new halalit -- a new spacecraft," Kahn said in a video statement posted on Twitter by SpaceIL. "We're going to put it on the moon, and we're going to complete the mission."

The team behind Beresheet knew all along that the mission's design included risks. In order to keep the spacecraft small enough to piggyback with another spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket, the engineering team had to design the craft without any backup systems. Nevertheless, before its ultimate failure, the spacecraft withstood multiple glitches while in Earth orbit and during the early stages of landing.... NASA knows as well as anyone just how difficult spaceflight can be. The moon's surface is littered with dozens of expired spacecraft, and although many ended their missions smoothly, several made unplanned crash landings, including NASA's own Surveyor 2 and 4 missions during the 1960s.

Somewhere in the spacecraft's wreckage are 25 data disks backing up crucial human knowledge that were meant to last one billion years. The group behind the disk notes that " airplane black boxes survive stronger impacts, and our disc is less breakable... It was probably thrown a few kilometers away -- a 30 million page frisbee on the moon."

They're now assembling a team of crash experts, engineers, "and even a treasure hunter or two... to figure out what might remain, and then track it down." Their preliminary response from several experts: their Lunar Library "is definitely on the Moon, and it is also likely to be intact...."

"We have either installed the first library on the moon, or we installed the first archaeological ruins of early human attempts to build a library on the moon..."

Danger of taking selfie while driving

By jordan314 • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
Spacecraft takes selfie while driving, crashes into moon

So far the moon has...

By h33t l4x0r • Score: 3 • Thread
A flag, 4 robots, a frisbee/library and 20 bags of poo. Am I missing anything?

Fake Mouse On Twitter Mocks Overgeneralized Scientific Research

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
DevNull127 writes: Research scientist James Heathers is a postdoctoral research associate working on bio-signals and meta-science research at Northeastern University, with a PhD from the University of Sydney. He's also pretending to be a mouse on Twitter. And every tweet consists of the exact same two words...

Heathers retweets articles about scientific studies — usually articles with glossy photos and enticing headlines like "Exercise during pregnancy protects children from obesity, study finds." His tweets add the two crucial missing words. "In mice."

In this case a doctoral student at Washington State University measured a specific protein's level in the offspring of mice that performed 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every morning during pregnancy — and in regular mice. On the basis of that he recommended "that women — whether or not they are obese or have diabetes — exercise regularly during pregnancy because it benefits their children's metabolic health."

The name of the Twitter feed: JustSaysInMice.

Other mouse-based studies turning up on the Twitter feed:
  • How Fatty Diets Stop the Brain From Saying 'No' To Food
  • Reused Cooking Oil Ups Risk of Metastases In Breast Cancer Patients
  • Keto Diet Not Effective, Causes Blood Sugar Problems In Women
  • Growth Hormone Acts To Foil Weight Loss: Study

When you read those headlines, just remember to add those two words...

"In mice."

Re:7 tweets!

By alvinrod • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
Here's a much better article involving lab mice. Here's another good one.

Re:Nicely sums up the problems with science-report

By ilsaloving • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

It also desensitizes people to truly important things. I feel that there would be a lot less backlash to things like climate change if they weren't force fed bullshit nonstop. Thanks in large part to useless science reporting, people believe that science is indecisive and incompetent. I still remembering wtf'ing about the back and forth "eggs are good" "eggs are bad" a couple decades ago.

IMO a reporter needs to have taken courses in stats and spend time doing actual research before being allowed to report it.

Applied to Slashdot today

By jabberw0k • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
Silicon Valley Is Replacing Libertarianism With Socialism, In Mice.

Genetic distance

By religionofpeas • Score: 3 • Thread

The last common ancestor between humans and mice lived 75 million years ago. As a comparison, the last common ancestor between cows and orcas lived 50 million years ago, but nobody would think it would be a good idea to use cow studies to determine what's best for an orca.

Re:Nicely sums up the problems with science-report

By r2kordmaa • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
You don't need to be a researcher in order to read the effing paper beyond headline before you write a news article about it. And you don't have to be a researcher in order to not make shit up that the original paper doesn't actually include.

Sunday-Morning Outage Strikes Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"We were all free of Facebook's iron grip on the internet for a few hours," writes Gizmodo.

An anonymous reader quotes their report. Facebook and its subsidiaries Instagram and WhatsApp experienced widespread outages on Sunday for the second time in the past month (and the third time this year), with issues reported starting at around 6:30 a.m. ET and extending until around 9:00 a.m. ET. Per Bloomberg, Facebook and Instagram domains ceased to be accessible by users during that time period, while Messenger and WhatsApp were also non-functional... Users worldwide appeared to be impacted, with Bloomberg noting that Twitter users everywhere from the U.S. to Israel and Thailand were complaining about the outage.

They fixed it?

By ilsaloving • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Damn... Oh well. Maybe next time.

Thought of the day

By nehumanuscrede • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Considering nothing of value was lost during the outage, that should tell you just how valuable the service actually is.

Oh that’s why

By ruddk • Score: 3 • Thread

I was wondering why there were so many people on in the forest. On the trail, I met other people on bikes, people on horses and even some were even walking. 2/3 around the trail however, people seemed to had vanished. I guess they got reconnected to the mothership. :)


By bill_mcgonigle • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

As soon as I saw Facebook/Instagram/WhatsApp I was primed to read 'outrage' rather than 'outage'.

So glad I quit that bad habit.

Scammers Are Buying Thousands Of Fake 5-Star Amazon Reviews -- on Facebook

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Why are there so many five-star reviews for an iPhone charger on Amazon with a voltage irregularity that can cause permanent damage? "It's sad to imagine how many shoppers spotted this $13.99 charger pack on Amazon's first-page results and fell for the thousands of positive reviews and the algorithmically-generated endorsement from a platform that people trust more than religion," reports The Hustle.

A spot-check confirmed that "10 of the 22 first-page results on Amazon for 'iPhone charger' were products with thousands of 5-star reviews, all unverified and posted within a few days of each other," and they've now investigated "the underbelly of Amazon's fake-review economy" and "how such a product, peddled by a ragtag troupe of e-commerce scammers, managed to game one of the world's premier technology companies." The fake Amazon review economy is a thriving market, ripe with underground forums, "How To Game The Rankings!" tutorials, and websites with names like (now-defunct) "" But the favored hunting grounds for sellers on the prowl is Amazon's fellow tech behemoth, Facebook. In a recent two-week period, I identified more than 150 private Facebook groups where sellers openly exchange free products (and, in many cases, commissions) for 5-star reviews, sans disclosures. A sampling of 20 groups I analyzed collectively have more than 200,000 members. These groups seem to be in the midst of an online Gold Rush: Most are less than a year old, and in the past 30 days have attracted more than 50,000 new users... One stay-at-home mom from Kentucky told me she makes $200-300 per month leaving positive reviews for things like sleep masks, light bulbs, and AV cables...

Fake reviews have been an issue for Amazon since its inception, but the problem appears to have intensified in 2015, when began to court Chinese sellers. The decision has led to a flood of new products -- a 33% increase, by some accounts -- sold by hundreds of thousands of new sellers. Rooted in manufacturing hubs like Guangzhou and Shenzhen, they use Amazon's fulfillment program, FBA, to send large shipments of electronic goods directly to Amazon warehouses in the US. This rapid influx has spawned thousands of indistinguishable goods (chargers, cables, batteries, etc.). And it has prompted sellers to game the system. "It's a lot harder to sell on Amazon than it was 2 or 3 years ago," says Fahim Naim, an ex-Amazon manager who now runs an e-commerce consulting firm. "So a lot of sellers are trying to find shortcuts." Steve Lee, a Los Angeles-based vendor, is among them: "You have to play the game to sell now," he says. "And that game is cheating and breaking the law...."

The article points out that this is illegal. "Endorsements are required to be truthful," Mary Engel, Associate Director of the Federal Trade Commission's Division of Advertising Practices, tells the site. "If a reviewer has received something of value in exchange for their opinion, they need to clearly disclose that in the review." But instead, the review-watching site " ReviewMeta" analyzed 203 million Amazon reviews and found 11.3% (22.8 million) were untrustworthy -- while another site estimates the fake-review percentage is 30%. (Amazon's own estimate? " Less than 1%") ReviewMeta also spotted more than 2 million "unverified" reviews just in March of 2019 -- 99.6% of which were five-star. "They're almost all for these off-brand, cheap electronic products: Phone chargers, headphones, cables. Generic things that are super cheap to manufacture, have good margins, and get a ton of searches."

Though Amazon has sued over 1,000 fake-review sites to date, "Their way of handling it is reactive, not proactive," says the founder of ReviewMeta. "Amazon is a $900B company with thousands of brilliant engineers. I majored in construction management. It seems like they should be able to figure this one out."

Seller told me to take review down

By QuietLagoon • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
I bought an item from a Chinese seller on Amazon last year. The item was defective. Amazon quickly issued a refund. Then a few days later I got a email from the seller offering me another refund. I told him I already got a refund from Amazon. Then the seller curtly told me to take down the bad review.

Re:Not unexpected

By Darinbob • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I am surprised at how many reviews there are for "just got the product, it looks great!" They've taken no time to try out the product, see if it works, see how durable it is, they're just in a big hurry to post a review and boost their ego, social media score, etc.

If it sounds to be good to be true

By rainer_d • Score: 3 • Thread

it usually is!

a 14 USD charger from a no-name Chinese company being better than the original Apple charger?
Sounds totally plausible, sign me up!

I'm always surprised at the number of people who buy an Apple product and are then too cheap to buy the "supplies" (mainly chargers and cables and adapters).

Almost like people who buy cars with horrible MPG ratings who then turn around and complain about the thing consuming too much gas.

I have no time and no stomach to deal with a Chinese seller out of Shenzen! If I wanted to get into that business, I'd be doing it for a living already.

That's why I pay Apple and other brand-name companies large amounts of money so I have a local person to sort out warranty-claims.

I had sellers gang up on me in the past

By Ecuador • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

How I miss the good ol' days when most products were from Amazon so reviews were genuine and you could just trust them...
Anyway, I was a top-500 reviewer on the UK site, mainly focusing on products I know a lot about, e.g. telescopes, as reviews on technical items by people who are clueless are dangerous (the worse telescope can get a 5* review if the user manages to sort of get a glimpse of the moon with it). At some point (a couple of years ago) I noticed there were some really suspicious looking binoculars as top sellers, including multiple listings of the same tiny "30x60 night vision" binoculars that were obviously neither 30x60 nor night vision, so I took it upon myself to get and review the 3 top ones - for one of them I even signed up to a "review club" that gave them to you for free in exchange of a review. They were actually worse than I expected (e.g. one 10x50 had the body of a 50mm binocular, but just 19mm effective aperture prisms!) - you can see a blog writeup here if you are curious - so I had to leave very detailed, technical, with picture proof, but scathing reviews. Since I was a top-500 user the reviews started from the first page, but then the disappeared. I was getting mass downvoted, so I dropped in reviewer rank and the reviews themselves were not visible in the first pages. A person contacted me through my blog and send me screenshots of facebook discussions with a seller who had a big FB group with people getting stuff for reviews, who was asking for all their groupies to downvote my reviews, calling me various names. A seller (the same or not, I don't remember) also wrote me and told me I was reported to Amazon for malicious slander and they wrote comments under my reviews that I was an unscrupulous competitor, owner of "Agena Astro". That last one is sort of funny, as Agena Astro is a huge and very respected US astronomical retailer which I, sadly, do not own :) (or have any relation to).
Anyway, I contacted Amazon, sent them all that stuff including images of the whistleblower, they did jack. Not even restore my reviews or reviewer ranking, never mind punishing those organized sellers & reviewers. I mean Amazon has GREAT support if you are a customer in general (they have helped me even with badly behaving manufacturers - call me Samsung), but I was kind of appalled at how they did not care about this thing going on.

Not as easy as it sounds

By AlejandroTejadaC • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread
After reading this article, I visited Amazon, signed in with my own account and tried to left a review for an article that I bought in a local store. SURPRISE! Amazon do not let me write a review for an article that I own and use everyday. How it's possible that thousands of people could left fake reviews without being spotted and stopped by Amazon, in the same way that they stopped me today from writing a review?

'BlackHoles@Home' Will Use Your PC For DIY Gravitational Wave Analysis

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
West Virginia University assistant professor Zachariah Etienne is launching "a global volunteer computing effort" analyzing gravitational waves from colliding black holes, reports "As our gravitational wave detectors become more sensitive, we're going to need to greatly expand our efforts to understand all of the information encoded in gravitational waves from colliding binary black holes," Etienne said. "We are turning to the general public to help with these efforts, which involve generating unprecedented numbers of self-consistent simulations of these extremely energetic collisions. This will truly be an inclusive effort, and we especially hope to inspire the next generation of scientists in this growing field of gravitational wave astrophysics."

His team -- and the scientific community in general -- needs computing capacity to run the simulations required to cover all possibilities related to the properties and other information contained in gravitational waves. "Each desktop computer will be able to perform a single simulation of colliding black holes," said Etienne. By seeking public involvement through use of vast numbers of personal desktop computers, Etienne and others hope to dramatically increase the throughput of the theoretical gravitational wave predictions needed to extract information from observations of the collisions.

Etienne and his team are building a website with downloadable software based on the same Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, or BOINC, system used for the SETI@Home project and other scientific applications. The free middleware system is designed to help harness the processing power of thousands of personal computers across the globe. The West Virginia team has named their project BlackHoles@Home and expects to have it up and running later this year.

They have already established a website where the public can begin learning more about the effort.

their website

By albeit unknown • Score: 3 • Thread
Sorry, my attention span's just too short for that random link-vomit of a page.

Fifty 'Connected Cows' Already Have 5G

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
A herd of dairy cows in the U.K. "are enjoying the benefits of 5G connectivity before you," reports Reuters: For the cows, among the 5G-connected gadgets they are wearing is a collar that controls a robotic milking system. When the cow feels ready to be milked it will approach machine gates that will automatically open. The device recognizes the individual to precisely latch on to its teats for milking, while the cow munches on a food reward. At the government-funded Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre (Agri-EPI Centre) in Shepton Mallet, in southwest England, around 50 of the 180-strong herd is fitted with the 5G smart collars and health-monitoring ear tags.
But -- why?! The Verge explains: According to Reuters, Cisco is testing infrastructure for the eventual global rollout of 5G that could be used by various industries that are not traditionally in the tech bubble but are still dependent on increasingly sophisticated hardware and software. That includes farming. In this case, Cisco is trying out 5G in three rural locations...

It makes a whole lot of sense when you think about it: farms are large and spread-out spaces, and cows are often shuffled between grazing grounds and areas of the farm where they can be more easily milked and checked on. With the 5G collars, Cisco says farmers can keep tabs on the animals at all times of the day without having to physically trek out to observe the cows up close... The future is wonderful and weird, and farmers have access to it before you and I because without them, we all starve.

"We can connect every cow, we can connect every animal on this farm," Cisco's Nick Chrissos told Reuters, in what may be the strangest boast a Cisco executive has ever uttered in public. "That's what 5G can do for farming -- really unleash the power that we have within this farm, everywhere around the UK and everywhere around the world."

Is 5G really relevant here?

By az-saguaro • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

I am no expert on anything related to wireless and broadband services, but something about this report seems a bit over-hyped, or am I missing something?

5G promises higher bandwidth and speed, but it does it also extend range? Does this a allow rancher's or farmer's cow's to communicate over a 50 mile ranch because 4G didn't do it? And if it's just a 50 acre spread with cell towers nearby, how does 5G help? It sounds like the applications, "Bessie phone home" to report that she hooked up to Mr. Milky is a rather low bandwidth need. Your old 2400 baud modem would probably suffice. If the intent is to download live video from a 500 head herd at once, maybe, or if you plan to download video so Bessie can watch the latest Star Wars movies and sour the milk, okay. But otherwise I do not understand how 5G is any better for this than any other telemetry technology of the past 15 years?

Or is this just a slow news day or marketing cow manure?
Can someone please enlighten me.

Bring back the old strap line.

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Slashdot, Moos for herds.

fit explosives

By Cederic • Score: 3 • Thread

If they add explosives to the 5G collar they can also remotely deal with the next Foot & Mouth outbreak.

I like that it's humane

By fieldstone • Score: 3 • Thread
This approach might dramatically reduce animals' stress, if they can get milked immediately when needed. Relatedly, less stress means less cortisol, which means more nutritious, better-tasting meat.

Re: Why does this need 5G?

By Miamicanes • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

2G specifically would have severe scalability problems. AFAIK, each 2G data link is basically a circuit-switched voice call that skips the modem part and goes straight to the bitstream. In landline terms... kind of like ISDN. The point is, if a given tower is provisioned to handle ~24 simultaneous voice calls, each 2G data connection eats up one of those slots for its duration.

So... 2G might work if the collars connected only infrequently, for a few seconds, and had the ability to wait random delays before attempting the next connection... but even a single herd with a few thousand cattle attempting to "phone home" daily would probably have a noticeable impact on at least a single tower's capacity.

3G could handle daily uploads without breaking a sweat, but would run into problems if collars tried to treat it like an "always on" connection. AFAIK, no single tower in a 3g network can handle more than a single subnet, and IP leases are (usually) for an hour, so after the first {n} radios connect and establish a session, nothing else can connect until users from the first {n} go away and stay away for the remaining duration of their lease.

I'm not sure how much of 3G's limit is hard-baked in to the standard itself, vs the de-facto limits imposed by off the shelf hardware, software, and configurations used by carriers out of habit, but I know 3G doesn't deal well with situations that involve HUGE numbers of transient users over a short window of time... the crowd blows through the tower site's DHCP pool, and for a while nobody else can connect at all.

I think 3G's max tower-users-per-time-interval can be tweaked upwards (by allocating more IP addresses per tower, reducing DHCP lease times, etc), but the point is that an "average" 3g tower with typical urban-suburban configuration would probably have issues if a farmer suddenly lit up tens of thousands of 3G radio collars over the span of a few days without at least coordinating it with the cellular network (to give it a few months to re-provision the affected tower site with a more appropriate configuration).

The point is, it goes beyond merely "total bits per second". There are also limits on the total number of user sessions per time-interval, and those limits can become significant if an area suddenly experiences an unanticipated surge in total connections, even if they aren't transmitting more than a few bytes of payload data apiece.

4G mainly gives enough headroom to make "lots of ephemeral connections from lots of users within a short interval of time" less of a problem. It HAD to, because the rapid emergence of Android & Iphone (all continuously making network requests in the background) pushed existing 3G networks to the breaking point. A 3G tower next to a 14-lane freeway that might have once served a few thousand users who "went online" deliberately suddenly had tens of thousands of users per hour driving by & establishing data sessions so they could ping Facebook or Twitter in the background. 4G had other benefits, but the increase in the default connection limit per tower site between middle-stage 3G and early 4G was a big one. It's also why it's legit to call HSPA "4G"... a tower configured for HSPA can basically handle as many connections per hour as a LTE tower of the same era, and WAY more than the same tower could back when it first went online in early-3G UMTS form. It's not as efficient as LTE, but most of the hard limits users associate with "3G" are gone.

Ditto, for 4G vs 5G. If you only care about ping times & speedtest benchmarks, a pimped-out LTE tower with lots of low AND high-frequency spectrum doesn't look all that different to end users than a "5G" tower with the same spectrum and users. 5G's benefits are mostly in the "efficiency" realm, plus features like enhanced location-positioning (basically, every 5G tower broadcasts a periodic beacon with GPS-like timestamp that can be combined with a database of known tower locations and acts like a terrestrial GPS satellite). I'm pretty sure 4G d

Overtime Complaints? China's Boss Criticizes 'Slackers'

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes Reuters: Richard Liu, the founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Inc, has weighed in on an ongoing debate about the Chinese tech industry's grueling overtime work culture, lamenting that years of growth had increased the number of "slackers" in his firm who are not his "brothers...." Liu, who started the company that would become in 1998, in the note spoke about how in the firm's earliest days he would set his alarm clock to wake him up every two hours to ensure he could offer his customers 24-hour service -- a step he said was crucial to JD's success...

The '996' work schedule, which refers to a 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. workday, six days a week, has in particular become the target of online debate and protests on some coding platforms, where workers have swapped examples of excessive overtime demands at some firms. Liu said JD did not force its staff to work the "996" or even a "995" overtime schedule. "But every person must have the desire to push oneself to the limit!" he said.

JD disputed reports that the company would be cutting up to 8% of its workforce, but did say "We're getting back to those roots as we seek, develop and reward staff who share the same hunger and values... is a competitive workplace that rewards initiative and hard work, which is consistent with our entrepreneurial roots."

JD's investors include Walmart and Google.


By Spazmania • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I couldn't disagree more. Contracts are about what happens when someone fails. You. Your boss. Someone.

Success means you never had a discussion about what the contract requires because it was never necessary. You were paid what you expected and more in bonuses and benefits. You were assigned work within your abilities you could reasonably complete. You did the work well, focused on the quality of your work product and how it met the companies needs. You were done when the work was done, not when the clock hit five.

That's success. Clock-watching is failure. No different than non-trivial amounts of overtime is failure.


By Spazmania • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Are you a boss? Do you supervise other employees? If you don't then you don't know. You underestimate the difficulty of work you haven't performed.

Me, I tried being the boss a couple of times. It's hard! You can't get qualified people when you need them. You're lucky if you can get qualified people before you need them when it's hard to justify the expense. And you can't keep them. They move on when they're ready.

Hiring a bunch of juniors is a disaster, especially smart juniors. They don't know what they don't know but enough of them together convince themselves that they do. Easy way to lose your seniors is to hire more juniors than the seniors can ride herd on.

Meanwhile the big boss never wants to hear that he can't do what he wants to do because you can't hire enough staff to make it happen... not even if you pay more because there just aren't enough competent people in the field looking.

So here's a lesson: don't tell the other guy how easy his job is. You don't know, he knows you don't know and to him you just look like a fool.

Re:Yeah, no. Only true for small businesses.

By St.Creed • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

My old boss used to say "if you work overtime, your planning was bad and it's your own damn fault. I never asked you to work overtime, I just asked for a realistic planning." It certainly taught me to plan better.


By Spazmania • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Work smarter not harder applies to managers too. If you lead by staying late all the time, you're doing it wrong.


By cerberusss • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

That's success. Clock-watching is failure. No different than non-trivial amounts of overtime is failure.

That's success in a business sense, perhaps. However, I value success in a family sense. When I leave on time, I get to sit down a bit, then cook for my family. They value this greatly. I've had discussions with a manager, where he would say I'm not a team player. When in actuality, I'm a teamplayer just not for the company profit.

Amazon Helps Cops Set Up Package Theft Sting Operations

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes Motherboard: In response to Amazon packages being stolen from people's doorsteps, police departments around the country have set up sting operations that use fake packages bugged with GPS trackers to find and arrest people who steal packages. Internal emails and documents obtained by Motherboard via a public records request show how Amazon and one police department partnered to set up one of these operations.

The documents obtained by Motherboard -- which include an operations plan and internal emails between Amazon and the Hayward, California Police Department -- show that Amazon's "national package theft team" made several calls to the Hayward Police Department and sent the department packages, tape, and stickers that allowed the department to set up a "porch pirate" operation in November and December of 2018... Several other cities around the country -- including Aurora, Colorado; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Jersey City, New Jersey; and Hayward, California -- have also conducted porch pirate sting operations aided by Amazon. Jersey City, New Jersey -- like Hayward, California -- put GPS-tracking devices inside the dummy packages. Aurora and Albuquerque, meanwhile, used doorbell cameras from Ring -- which is owned by Amazon -- to capture video footage and surveil for theft.

Re:Better plan

By KiloByte • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

In Poland, we have a dense network of "packomates" -- lock boxes that you receive a pick up code for. There's a packomate within 2-3 street segments of every place I needed a package delivered to.

Then, a competing carrier instead signed a contract with a widespread chain of convenience stores. This was spurred by the govt banning shops from being open on Sundays -- except for churches, gas stations, post offices, etc. The way the law was written, a convenience store that you can send packages to/from does count as a post office -- which, after a series of lawsuits, stuck. Other carriers followed suit and now you can pick up packages at several store chains -- as the contracts are not exclusive, effectively every of those stores serves each of the carriers, providing a very dense network.

To-door deliveries not only are ~3 times as expensive and tend to take longer, but suffer from the porch pirate issue you mention. No wonder hardly anyone uses them anymore. Problem solved.

Because they are Amazon?

By RhettLivingston • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

We've recently seen stories in which a Tesla had video of a man breaking the window that included his face and license plate and where video doorbells were filming those that stole them. In both of those stories, the police had little to no interest in pursuing the case.

In both cases there was also a high probability that the individuals had committed strings of those crimes. Catching the individuals could prevent a lot of theft and damage. It is very possible they have priors and could get very significant time. If not, given that they know who is doing things, they should be able to do a bit of police work and prove the pattern. Who knows, perhaps they'll have a pile of doorbells in their home ready to sell on E-Bay or a little surveillance on the car could catch them doing other drive-by Tesla break-ins.

In both of those cases, I saw many responses on comment sites with worse things that police didn't care to pursue including grand theft auto and night-time residential B&Es.

I've personally had night-time B&Es twice. In both cases I knew who did them. One was an officer and another was someone who had a restraining order against them. Both managed to leave blood evidence. In both cases, the police didn't feel the case worth the time and cost of pursuit. My interpretation was that I was not in upper class neighborhoods where these things matter.

Yet, Amazon is able to get them to spend time on package theft? Why? Are they also paying them or giving a kickback perhaps? Just because they are Amazon? Citizens don't matter but companies do? What's the deal?

Re:Better plan

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Of course if hub pickup became commonplace there would be nice long lines for extra fun.

There is no line. You get a locker # and code by text or email. You enter the code on the keypad and your locker pops open. It is a parallel process, so no queueing is needed.

Cops don't care

By WolfgangVL • Score: 3 • Thread

The magic words are "DRUGS" and "GUNS" That's what motivates our for profit police, things they can seize. Anything else is just incidental.


By stikves • Score: 3 • Thread

I had my packages stolen, and then started having them delivered to my work location and/or amazon lockers when available. It is inconvenient, however safer.

The main driver of the issue is that police will not have the resources to look at small crimes. In fact, it seems like they will not be able to prosecute if the item costs less than $1000 or so:

The thieves know this, and they would not care even if they get caught. This is not a good thing for our society. If we do not have resources to prosecute them we should at least put some method of discouragement. Community service, or financial penalties, or some another method to prevent future thefts.

Otherwise we would essentially give up the sanctuary of homes, and hence civilized society.

We're All Being Judged By a Secret 'Trustworthiness' Score

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
schwit1 writes: Nearly everything we buy, how we buy, and where we're buying from is secretly fed into AI-powered verification services that help companies guard against credit-card and other forms of fraud, according to the Wall Street Journal.

More than 16,000 signals are analyzed by a service called Sift, which generates a "Sift score" ranging from 1 to 100. The score is used to flag devices, credit cards and accounts that a vendor may want to block based on a person or entity's overall "trustworthiness" score, according to a company spokeswoman.

From the Sift website: "Each time we get an event be it a page view or an API event we extract features related to those events and compute the Sift Score. These features are then weighed based on fraud we've seen both on your site and within our global network, and determine a user's Score. There are features that can negatively impact a Score as well as ones which have a positive impact."

The system is similar to a credit score except there's no way to find out your own Sift score.

Factors which contribute to one's Sift score (per the WSJ):
  • Is the account new?
  • Are there are a lot of digits at the end of an email address?
  • Is the transaction coming from an IP address that's unusual for your account?
  • Is the transaction coming from a region where there are a lot of hackers, such as China, Russia or Eastern Europe?
  • Is the transaction coming from an anonymization network?
  • Is the transaction happening at an odd time of day?
  • Has the credit card being used had chargebacks associated with it?
  • Is the browser different from what you typically use?
  • Is the device different from what you typically use?
  • Is the cadence of the way you typed out your password typical for you? (tracked by some advanced systems)

ATMs have had this idea for decades...

By west • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Banks have used fraud-detection methods exactly like this for over a decade. The ones I dealt with used over a hundred factors including 'did you ask for a receipt', geographic location, and 'is this for amounts you regularly withdraw', etc.

With the adoption of EMV (chip cards), a lot of this has effort is no longer as necessary and been transferred to Card-Not-Present transactions where fraud migrated when chip killed card-present fraud.

And of course the reason you can't get your score is that it's not YOUR score, it the score of this particular transaction. Most of the parameters used to come up with a score change with every transaction.

password cadence

By humankind • Score: 3 • Thread

Is the cadence of the way you typed out your password typical for you? (tracked by some advanced systems)


Does anybody know who's measuring this metric? Does Amazon do this? Also it seems if you use a password aggregator it could trigger this.

Yes except score not about you, about transaction

By raymorris • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

My gut feeling is the same as yours - consumers should have the right to see information stored about them.

Understand, though, the score is not about you, in way. It's 100% per-transaction - does this attempt to use your credentials seem risky. I've computed these scores. The system I designed may have been the very first one to use typing cadence in a broadly deployed system.

Here are three of examples of a dozen data points, three location computations. Is this attempt coming from the same geographic area that the legitimate user is normally in? Is it humanly possible for them to have traveled from where they were last time to this location? (For example if you log in Miami at 10:00 AM, then at noon someone in China claims to be you, that's suspect.) Is the attempt coming from a high-fraud area, such as Russia or China?

I can show you your typing cadence data; it will be meaningless to you. An attempted TRANSACTION is more trustworthy is the typing matches your normal typing. there nothing about how trustworthy YOU are, it's whether the attempted transaction is suspect based on how well it matches whatever number of criteria.

If you've you've always used the latest Firefox from Linux and from Android (in Florida), then suddenly someone tries to use your card from and old version of IE on Windows 7 in Nigeria, that's suspect. Not because Linux is more trustworthy, but because it doesn't match how you, the legitimate user, normally does things.

Some systems even track types of things purchased - if you only ever use your card at Walmart and Chevron, with no purchases over $200, and never use it online, then a $1,500 TV purchase from is out of the ordinary.

We combine all of the criteria to compute a score for the transaction. The purchase may be approved if it's made from Firefox on Linux on Florida - perhaps only if you enter the CVV2 code (the four digits on the back of the card).


By Applehu Akbar • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

YOU DON'T WANT OR NEED THIS. Your bank is the one on the hook for fraud.

Ultimately, every banking customer pays for fraud. Businesses don't 'absorb' ongoing costs; they always show up in the fees you pay for service.


By Aighearach • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

This is the part people are missing; this is a score of the trustworthiness of the transaction, not the trustworthiness of the person.

The trustworthiness of the person is already tracked more closely by the banking industry in your Credit Score. The only thing that makes this a story is the word "trustworthiness" and the existence of China's new social credit system, which also features a word that translates to "trustworthiness." That's it, that's the whole thing.

When I had bogus charges on my CC a few years back, they looked at these same records and determined that it was most likely that I was a victim of fraud, and they removed the charges. I've never had a transaction denied. And I use all the ad blockers, JS blockers, etc. etc. That said, I do not make my traffic appear to come from a different legal jurisdiction; I want to do my banking here, where I am, where I am protected by local laws.

Using a CC is a little bit creepy, but not because of fraud protection; because of transaction history generally.

Microsoft Says Some Webmail Accounts Were Compromised

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
A "limited" number of users of Microsoft's webmail services -- which include Hotmail,, and MSN -- "had their accounts compromised, TechCrunch reports. "We addressed this scheme, which affected a limited subset of consumer accounts, by disabling the compromised credentials and blocking the perpetrators' access," said a Microsoft spokesperson in an email. According to an email Microsoft has sent out to affected users, malicious hackers were potentially able to access an affected user's e-mail address, folder names, the subject lines of e-mails, and the names of other e-mail addresses the user communicates with -- "but not the content of any e-mails or attachments," nor -- it seems -- login credentials like passwords. Microsoft is still recommending that affected users change their passwords regardless.

The breach occurred between January 1 and March 28, Microsoft's letter to users said. The hackers got into the system by compromising a customer support agent's credentials, according to the letter. Once identified, those credentials were disabled. Microsoft told users that it didn't know what data was viewed by the hackers or why, but cautioned that users might as a result see more phishing or spam emails as a result.

Based on the phishing emails sent...

By WoodstockJeff • Score: 3 • Thread

... there are likely to be thousands of O365 accounts affected. It is rare that I don't see a half-dozen different organizations represented in "please look at this invoice" or "please review your payment" emails sent to our system accounts, each personalized for the company whose O365 accounts have been hijacked.

If one of our corporate clients had not switched over to O365 for their email services last year, I'd block anything coming from an server, because it is rare that it is NOT a phishing email.

Facebook Shareholders Force A Vote On Ousting Mark Zuckerberg

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
On May 30th, Facebook's shareholder's will vote on whether to remove Mark Zuckerberg as chairman of the board, reports Business Insider: Business Insider broke the news of the proposal in July last year after revealing the plans of activist shareholder Trillium Asset Management, which had grown tired of the "mishandling" of scandals including the Cambridge Analytica data breach. Responding to the proposal in the SEC filing, Facebook called on investors to vote it down. "We believe our board of directors is functioning effectively under its current structure, and that the current structure provides appropriate oversight protections," Facebook said...

The chance of it becoming a reality is extremely slim, despite it being backed by investors that control around $3 billion of Facebook stock. A similar proposal in 2017 was popular among independent investors but was crushed because of Zuckerberg's voting power. This is because of Facebook's dual-class share structure. Class B shares have 10 times the voting power of class A shares, and it just so happens that Zuckerberg owns more than 75% of class B stock. It means he has more than half of the voting power at Facebook....

Facebook will almost certainly get its way. But the two investor proposals mark continued dissatisfaction among shareholders about the way Facebook is run following a year from hell for the company. It also shows that investors continue to believe that Zuckerberg has too much power.

Investor-centric FB will be much, much worse

By sinij • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Imagine what investor-centric FB would look like. Maximum ads, maximum data selling, maximum profiling. As much as I dislike Zuck and everything he stands for, I think opening floodgates to predatory capitalism on this isn't going to improve things.

Data Breach ?

By Pop69 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Cambridge Analytica wasn't a data breach.

Every piece of data they gathered was allowed by the site rules


By tomhath • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Trillium is an activist investor, in this case "activist" meaning they want to push their social agenda on corporations.


By wisnoskij • Score: 3 • Thread

Why would the shareholders hold any votes if a single person has over half the votes?

Re:Activist shareholders

By dk20 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

"It's his company, "

clearly you dont understand the equity marketsl. Rember when facebook did its IPO (Initial public offering)? The second word there is key.

I would never invest in facebook, and it is time for a reform program to avoid all this restricted voting, superclass share nonsense.. but fundamentally, it isnt his company anymore... he took public funds, and kept all the voting rights too.

Police Are Using Google's Location Data From 'Hundreds of Millions' of Phones

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"When law enforcement investigations get cold, there's a source authorities can turn to for location data that could produce new leads: Google."

An anonymous reader quotes CNET: Police have used information from the search giant's Sensorvault database to aid in criminal cases across the country, according to a report Saturday by The New York Times. The database has detailed location records from hundreds of millions of phones around the world, the report said. It's meant to collect information on the users of Google's products so the company can better target them with ads, and see how effective those ads are. But police have been tapping into the database to help find missing pieces in investigations.

Law enforcement can get "geofence" warrants seeking location data. Those kinds of requests have spiked in the last six months, and the company has received as many as 180 requests in one week, according to the report.... For geofence warrants, police carve out a specific area and time period, and Google can gather information from Sensorvault about the devices that were present during that window, according to the report. The information is anonymous, but police can analyze it and narrow it down to a few devices they think might be relevant to the investigation. Then Google reveals those users' names and other data, according to the Times...

[T]he AP reported last year that Google tracked people's location even after they'd turned off location-sharing on their phones.

Google's data dates back "nearly a decade," the Times reports -- though in a statement, Google's director of law enforcement and information security insisted "We vigorously protect the privacy of our users while supporting the important work of law enforcement." (The Times also interviewed a man who was arrested and jailed for a week last year based partly on Google's data -- before eventually being released after the police found a more likely suspect.)

"According to the Times, Google is the primary company that appears to be fulfilling the warrants," reports Gizmodo, adding that Apple "says it can't provide this information to authorities..."

"A thriving black market in location data has persisted despite promises from carriers to stop selling it to middlemen, who divert it from intended uses in marketing and other services."

targeted ads

By religionofpeas • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

It's meant to collect information on the users of Google's products so the company can better target them with ads

After all those billions spent, I am still waiting for my first relevant ad. I either see ads for products I have no interest in at all, or ads for products I have already looked at.


By Antique Geekmeister • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I think not. Much of the stored data is on the server side, for applications like "google Maps" and "Uber" and "Lyft" and "Weather" that have legitimate reasons to know where you are. Your cell phone's identifying information, such as its connection in the cell phone data networks, its GPS, and the detected nearby wifi access points is part of how it determines the current location, and all of that can be stored on the server side, associated with any unique characteristics of your phone. Even if the attributes are not unique, such as MAC address from cheap NIC cheapsets, the data can be correlated with other data from nearby or from the same time period to help identify a target.

I am curious how the data is stored, and what it is optimized to provide answers for. Individual device tracking, and a record of all other MAC addresses seen during their use, is certainly a desirable goal for intelligence agencies.

Re:targeted ads

By JaredOfEuropa • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Targeted ads are not about sending specific ads to interested individuals (even though they try and sell them to us as such, with words like "improved experience" and "more relevant"). Data like this is merely used to place a bunch of demographic tags on us: age, interests, income, job, political leaning, sexual orientation etc. Advertisers then target specific demographic groups that might be interested in their products. If your product appeals to republican lesbians who haven't had a haircut in the last 4 weeks, then you can target them, pay for 1,000 impressions rather than 10,000,000, and still be likely to hit the 2 prospects who are actually interested in your stuff. The odds that you are one of those 2 are decidedly poor in both cases, that's why the ads don't seem any more relevant to you even though they are "targeted"

Is the data reliable?

By AxeTheMax • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
I look at my location history sometimes, especially after long trips. Two years ago on reviewing a trip to India it said I had been in Patna, a city I've never been within several hundred miles of. So I knew it was not dependable. I've just looked up the location history for that period in detail. It is still there. It says that I was in Domino's Pizza in Ashok Rajpath Rd, Chowk, Patna, it also says that I then travelled a distance of 1100 miles to a place in southern India where I had actually been, in 13 minutes, by car. It was probably caused by someone identifying a business address wrongly, but it is absolutely not reliable. Lawyers should question its accuracy.

Re: Good

By Creepy • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Oh? By posting here without identifying credentials or using an alias violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984. I have you on a class I felony. Speaking of, I need to report myself to termination bay 2 for posting using an alias.

Kidding aside, the law literally says that. It was designed mostly to protect ATMs but due to loose wording is often used to prosecute almost any computer "crime." You literally can't visit a website legally without giving them identifying credentials first under that law. Even a subscribe to a website page is illegal under that law (you need to provide that information before visiting). The law was partially written for modems, but the writers didn't understand how modems worked - they just saw the 1984 movie War Games and panicked.