Alterslash

the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2019-May-15 today archive

Contents

  1. Scientists Create World's First Living Organism With Fully Redesigned DNA
  2. Tesla's Solar Factory Is Exporting Most of Its Cells
  3. Epic Plans More Exclusives For Its Games Store
  4. Trump Signs Executive Order Barring US Companies From Using Huawei Gear
  5. Internet Meme Pioneer YTMND Shuts Down
  6. Division 2 Multiplayer and Single-Player Campaign Broken By Latest Update
  7. Close To 735K Fraudulently Obtained IP Addresses Have Been Uncovered and Revoked
  8. White House Launches Tool To Report Political Bias On Social Media Sites
  9. Microsoft Open-Sources a Crucial Algorithm Behind Its Bing Search Services
  10. LED Light Can Damage Eyes, Health Authority Warns
  11. Japan Prepares To Ban Flying Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Under the Influence of Alcohol
  12. A Bizarre Form of Water May Exist All Over the Universe
  13. Firms That Promised High-Tech Ransomware Solutions Almost Always Just Pay the Hackers
  14. So Long Dual-Booting Windows on a Chromebook: Project Campfire is deprecated
  15. Google Recalls Its Bluetooth Titan Security Keys Because of a Security Bug
  16. US Will Not Sign Christchurch Call Against Online Extremism
  17. UK Hacking Powers Can Be Challenged in Court, Judge Rules
  18. Why Linux On Desktop 'Failed': A Discussion With Mark Shuttleworth
  19. FCC Announces Action and Legal Framework To Fight Robocalls
  20. Japan Plans To Create 10 Billion 14-Digit Phone Numbers as 5G Era Nears
  21. Twitter Opens Developers Labs Program To Test New API Products
  22. Ralph Nader: Engineers Often the First To Notice Waste, Fraud and Safety Issues
  23. Researchers Solve Scientific Puzzle That Could Improve Solar Panel Efficiency

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

Scientists Create World's First Living Organism With Fully Redesigned DNA

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Scientists have created the world's first living organism that has a fully synthetic and radically altered DNA code. In a two-year effort, researchers at the laboratory of molecular biology, at Cambridge University, read and redesigned the DNA of the bacterium Escherichia coli (E coli), before creating cells with a synthetic version of the altered genome. The artificial genome holds 4m base pairs, the units of the genetic code spelled out by the letters G, A, T and C. Printed in full on A4 sheets, it runs to 970 pages, making the genome the largest by far that scientists have ever built. The DNA coiled up inside a cell holds the instructions it needs to function. When the cell needs more protein to grow, for example, it reads the DNA that encodes the right protein. The DNA letters are read in trios called codons, such as TCG and TCA.

The Cambridge team set out to redesign the E coli genome by removing some of its superfluous codons. Working on a computer, the scientists went through the bug's DNA. Whenever they came across TCG, a codon that makes an amino acid called serine, they rewrote it as AGC, which does the same job. They replaced two more codons in a similar way. More than 18,000 edits later, the scientists had removed every occurrence of the three codons from the bug's genome. The redesigned genetic code was then chemically synthesized and, piece by piece, added to E coli where it replaced the organism's natural genome. The result, reported in Nature, is a microbe with a completely synthetic and radically altered DNA code. Known as Syn61, the bug is a little longer than normal, and grows more slowly, but survives nonetheless.

refactor

By phantomfive • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

. More than 18,000 edits later, the scientists had removed every occurrence of the three codons from the bug's genome.

Sounds like the most miserable refactor ever. Sometimes it's better to write that shit from scratch.

Fully redesigned?

By Guillermito • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Whenever they came across TCG, a codon that makes an amino acid called serine, they rewrote it as AGC, which does the same job

So they basically performed the equivalent of searching for tabs and replacing with spaces in source code. I'm pretty sure this is a great feat, but I wouldn't call that a "Fully Redesigned" organism.

Re:What font size?

By Mr. Dollar Ton • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

More importantly, why do the TFA and TFS say "fully redesigned", when it is nothing of the sort - they've replaced some and removed some sequences, but most of it is still the DNA molecule they started with. That is a far cry from "fully redesigned", which would have been figuring out all its "features" and then creating a new DNA molecule from scratch in a "clean room" way that would deliver them.

Soon, maybe, but not quite there yet.

Re: Fully redesigned?

By ljw1004 • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

*narrows eyes* can't tell if you're a tab-lover or a TCG-lover...

Re:What font size?

By sheramil • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Skript kiddies. They're still looking for the original coder's comments so they can find-replace them with shoutouts to their friends.

Tesla's Solar Factory Is Exporting Most of Its Cells

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Most of the solar cells Tesla is producing at its Gigafactory in upstate New York " are being sold overseas instead of being used in the company's trademark 'Solar Roof' as originally intended," reports Reuters. "The exporting underscores the depth of Tesla's troubles in the U.S. solar business, which the electric car maker entered in 2016 with its controversial $2.6 billion purchase of SolarCity." From the report: Tesla has only sporadically purchased solar cells produced by its partner in the factory, Panasonic Corp, according to a Buffalo solar factory employee speaking on condition of anonymity. The rest are going largely to foreign buyers, according to a Panasonic letter to U.S. Customs officials reviewed by Reuters. When the two firms announced the partnership in 2016, the companies said they would collaborate on cell and module production and Tesla would make a long-term commitment to buy the cells from Panasonic. Cells are components that convert the sun's light into electricity; they are combined to make solar panels.

The situation raises new questions about the viability of cash-strapped Tesla's solar business. Musk once called the deal a "no brainer" - but some investors panned it as a bailout of an affiliated firm at the expense of Tesla shareholders. Before the merger, Musk had served as chairman of SolarCity's board of directors, and his cousin, Lyndon Rive, was the company's CEO. [...] Panasonic also produces traditional solar panels at the Buffalo plant for Tesla, but has been selling many of them to other buyers since at least last year due to low demand from the California car company, Reuters reported in August 2018. Tesla last month reported a 36 percent slide in its overall solar sales in the first quarter, adding to previous big drops since the SolarCity acquisition.

Re:Dumspter Fire

By rtb61 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Can I have a cheap coal plant, NO. I can have a tax free solar power and battery plant though, hmm, the choices. Tesla simply is marketing poorly in the solar power market place and is not properly marketing set recognisable power systems, that the public can recognise and appreciate as a capital investment. Also they have not set up a business to buy excess solar electricity and as a group bargain better prices for that energy output.

Also it is quite slow in the energy park market. Think of an energy park as a combined electric car carpark and battery station, every second level of the multi-storey carpark being a battery array. The sound business method in there, buy off peak energy at night and store it and the sell it during the day at peak energy prices to the electric cars parked in the building and as back up energy to surrounding structures. Would it make money today, absolutely, just needs to be invested in, double income energy parks right in major metropolitan centres and not out in the country and they can sell nothing, back up energy in an emergency for surrounding commercials entities who need that guarantee (when there is no power failure, they get money for nothing).

Re: Who would have thought it possible?

By divide overflow • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Not sure why that is, as the weather shouldn't affect them as much since they have that extra layer on top, but apparently that doesn't account for runoff, which is actually as bad as it is if the rain and elements hit the roof directly.

In the southwest US, PV panels make a lot of sense as there is plenty of sunshine with little rain and frequently no snow exposure. Here, panels protect roofing shingles from solar exposure and extend their life significantly.

Re:Availability?

By jabuzz • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I think you need to appreciate that most europeans would consider your average american roof only fit for a shed. That is our houses have roof's that are designed to last many decades. My house has a slate roof. It is already over 70 years old, and I expect it to last at least another 70 (aka long after I am dead and buried). Consequently the price premium is perceived to be much lower in Europe when you are doing a roof replacement.

Then you have to consider the aesthetics. Put simply a roof and panels look really ugly, and in many places would not be allowed. A Tesla solar roof just looks like an ordinary roof and should be no issue in a conservation area. Hell you might even be in with a shot of putting one on a listed building.

Re: Dumspter Fire

By Freischutz • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

They were selling a lot of panels to China? Really?

Yes, so it would seem:

A polysilicon factory in Moses Lake, Washington, is in danger of closing because of the nation's on-going trade dispute with China. REC Silicon says it plans to close down production at its plant on Wednesday, and the remaining 150 employees will be laid off at the end of June. The Columbia Basin Herald reports that REC is struggling because of China's 57% tariff on U.S.-made polysilicon.

Trump slapped tariffs on the Chinese to save an unprofitable steel and aluminium sector in the US operating obsolete factories, and the Chinese struck back by strangling a US high tech industry trying to gain a foothold in an emerging, and highly profitable, energy technology market:

https://www.usnews.com/news/be...

Quite clever really, in a Machiavellian kind of way. Your opponent is a dumbass being advised by a bunch of conspiracy theory mongering dumbasses that oil and coal are the future, why interrupt them while they are making a mistake?

Complaining about exports?

By Headw1nd • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Wait, so a US company is exporting a manufactured good,and this is a bad thing? Aren't we continually trying to find export markets to balance our trade deficit? Even if the cells are being assembled into panels and shipped back to the US as the article suggests, that is still a net win when the alternative is importing a panel made from cells manufactured elsewhere. I really fail to see the issue here.

Epic Plans More Exclusives For Its Games Store

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
DarkRookie2 shares a report from Ars Technica: If you thought Epic was done adding to the growing pile of PC games exclusively available on its own Games Store, well... I'd like to know where you got that impression. In any case, you should think again, because Epic has announced it will "reveal brand-new material for several games, including some exclusives, coming to the Epic Games store" at next month's Electronic Entertainment Expo. Epic also confirmed the platform's first storewide sale will be announced in the coming days. "That confirmation came after a few eagle-eyed Fortnite players noticed a news-feed ad for the 'Epic Games Store Mega Sale' when launching the game," reports Ars Technica.

The message promised that users could "Sign up for 2FA in order to get $10 to spend in the store."

That's nice.

By Kargan • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I terminated my Epic account with extreme prejudice as a result of the whole Borderlands 3 kerfuffle.

It was honestly overdue, I really didn't see any reason to patronize Epic and their Tencent overlords anyway.

Re:That's nice.

By gweihir • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Same here. I will either wait for things to appear on Steam or just do without.

Screw EPIC

By thegarbz • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

It's one thing to open a competing store and win on merits. It's quite another to buy your way into the industry through limiting consumer choice and thus forcing consumers to switch you your shitty store (no EPIC does not have a platform, it has a store, Steam has a platform).

I don't want to run multiple launchers on my PC.
I don't want to have to look through multiple platforms to find friends available for a gaming session.
I do not want my choice to be reduced and will happily hand over the difference between 30% and 12% take from both stores if it means I get the game on a single store instead.
I do not want games to be released in a subpar store which offers a small fraction of the features of a competing platform.

EPIC is doing more to ruin the gaming industry than anyone else. The first game I pirated in 8 years was an EPIC exclusive, and is still sitting on my Steam wishlist. You hear that publishers? There's a small pile of cash just waiting here on my desk for you to stop screwing gamers.

Trump Signs Executive Order Barring US Companies From Using Huawei Gear

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
schwit1 shares a report from Reuters: President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order declaring a national emergency and barring U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by firms posing a national security risk, paving the way for a ban on doing business with China's Huawei. The executive order invokes the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which gives the president the authority to regulate commerce in response to a national emergency that threatens the United States. The order directs the Commerce Department, working with other government agencies, to draw up a plan for enforcement within 150 days. The order, which has been under review for more than a year, is aimed at protecting the supply chain from "foreign adversaries to the nation's information and communications technology and services supply chain," said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Re:Nobody is allowed to spy on US citizens

By Freischutz • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The American left wing is also just potty with regulatory barriers and tariffs. The U.S. got where it was by being middle of the road. Now we have two groups tugging on it like a wish bone each expecting to win if they get the big bit in the middle. They are like the dog chasing the car, when one of them gets it, they won't know what to do with it except drag the U.S. further down the rat hole.

Yes, the left can be protectionist. However, I never thought that I'd see the so called US 'left-wing' being outdone by the Republican party on protectionism and tariffs. For all their protectionism, corruption andpork, when it came to their own electoral heartland, and their complete and utter inability to be fiscally conservative and achieve small government where it really matters, the Republicans used to be fierce proponents of free trade. Now they are outdoing the left in protectionism and setting up tariff barriers. Irony abounds.

Open source and reproducible builds are a way out

By mtaht • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
To me, the only long term way to even start to get out of this nightmare (as we cannot trust anyone else's gear either, and we have other reminders of corruption like the volkswagon scandal) is to mandate the release of source code, with reproducible builds , for just about everything connected to the internet or used in safety critical applications, like cars. Even that's not good enough, but it would be a start. Even back when we took on the FCC on this issue, I never imagined it would get this bad.

'round bufferbloat.net we did produce one really trustable router in the cerowrt project, which was 100% open source top to bottom, which serves as an existence proof - and certainly any piece of gear reflashed with openwrt is vastly better and more secure than what we get from the manufacturer - but even then, I always worried that my build infrastructure for cerowrt was or could be compromised and took as many steps as I could to make sure it wasn't - cross checking builds, attacking it with various attack tools, using vms, etc.

"Friends don't let friends run factory firmware", we used to say. Being able to build from sources yourself is a huge improvement in potential trustability - (but even then the famous paper on reflections on trusting trust applies). And so far, neither the open source or reproducible builds concepts have entered the public debate.

Every piece of hardware nowadays is rife with binary blobs and there are all sorts of insecurities in all the core cpus and co-processors designed today.

And it isn't of course, just security in huawei's case - intel just exited the business - they are way ahead of the US firms in general in so many areas.

I have no idea where networked computing can go anymore, particularly in the light of the latest MDS vulns revealed over the past few days, I long ago turned off hyperthreading on everything I cared about, moved my most critical resources out of the cloud, but I doubt others can do that. I know people that run a vm inside a vm. I keep hoping someone will invest something major into the mill computing's cpu architecture - which does no speculation and has some really robust memory and stack smashing protection features, and certainly there's hope that risc-v chips could be built with a higher layer of trust than any arm or intel cpu today. (but needs substantial investment into open on-chip peripherals)

/me goes back to bed

Re:Nobody is allowed to spy on US citizens

By Oswald McWeany • Score: 4 • Thread

The American left wing is also just potty with regulatory barriers and tariffs.

Traditionally, yes... and that's one of the reasons I don't think Trump is a real conservative. Yes, he taxes the poor to pay for the rich, but thats just self-interest. And yes, he plays to fears on race and religion, which is just his personal biases... but when you get down to it- he's an old fashioned leftist when it comes to his economics- high spending vanity projects, protectionism and very not laissez faire. He takes some of the extremes of both parties.

Re: Nobody is allowed to spy on US citizens

By AmiMoJo • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Well in this case Huawei did develop 5G tech themselves, doing their own R&D and engineering. Nothing stolen, US companies don't hold the patents, Huawei do.

Re:Land of the free...ish

By guruevi • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The news stories are very poorly written and as usual embellish the truth. Trump can't ban any US company from doing business with any other US company such as a Huawei subsidiary. The executive order states that the Huawei equipment can't be used for things that may be "deemed a national security risk".

Basically you can't use it for critical equipment (eg. a 911 call center or water supply etc) because it may have backdoors that the Chinese government may use in a war.

You can still buy Huawei and ZTE equipment of Newegg and Amazon, you just won't win any government contracts with it. The Chinese State was subsidizing government contracts for 5G deployment but also 10G and beyond network equipment.

I was bidding a small contract for a 10G deployment that HP, Cisco and other US companies were bidding at $100-250k. Huawei quoted $25k including flying a Chinese engineer on-site and a 3 year support contract. It was simply impossible, even if I did it all myself to just buy the hardware for that price, but the Chinese government subsidizes these contracts to get a foot hold into critical research and government infrastructure.

Internet Meme Pioneer YTMND Shuts Down

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from PC Magazine: You're the Man Now Dog, a pioneer in the internet meme space, has shut down. The online community at YTMND.com allowed users to upload an image or a GIF and pair it with audio for hilarious results. Traffic to the website, however, dried up years ago with the rise of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. In 2016, site creator Max Goldberg said YTMND would likely shut down soon due to declining ad revenue and his ill health. "It seems like the internet has moved on," Goldberg told Gizmodo at the time. The dates back to 2001 when Goldberg paired a looping audio clip of Sean Connery uttering the line "You're the man now, dog!" with some text and placed it all on a webpage, Yourethemannowdog.com.

We're totally screwed

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

That site was goofy, but it was one of the last remaining relics from the early pre-capture internet.

The internet has now been 100% captured by corporations.
This literally always happens. Publishing, radio, telephone, cable TV, and now the internet all passed though an open and idealistic phase, before being captured. (Tim Wu - The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires).

Problem is, there's no guarantee they'll even be a NEXT technology as we already have arbitrary data being exchanged at near speed of light.
For example, if you can't establish a successful over-lay network on the existing internet, a mesh radio network won't do jack shit, even if it wasn't regulated out of existence before it got off the ground.

Worst of all, most people don't even know the internet is "supposed" to be free. They don't have enough context to understand. Internet freedom is a concept in our heads, and soon it won't even be that. The official history will not record this epoch because it's inconvenient that people know there was a golden age before they were dominated by corporations.

We might have blown it forever.

Context

By skam240 • Score: 3, Informative • Thread

For those who need context, the line is from the Michael Bay film The Rock. Sean Connery sounded very silly saying it in the movie, hence the meme. I remember being entertained well beyond how I really should have been in regards to this but I think that's true of most memes. Anyways, sorry to see it go.

In regards to the movie itself, I regard it as the least offensive (in the context of entertainment of course) Michael Bay movie that I've seen. It actually has some redeeming qualities!

Um, it says "temporary maintenance"...?

By ToTheStars • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
YTMND itself says it's down for "temporary maintenance". Hopefully it comes back -- it's not so highly-trafficked these days, but it was the origin or amplifier of many beloved memes, such as the Picard Song, Sparta remixes, and Eurobeats (especially Running In The '90s).

Meanwhile...

By Smidge204 • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Meanwhile, zombo.com is still going strong and relevant as ever.

=Smidge=

Finding Forrester

By JBMcB • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The movie was Finding Forrester. It's also where the bizzaro version of YTMD get's it's name from - Punch The Keys For God's Sake.

It comes from a scene where Connery's character is yelling at a kid to write something on a typewriter.

It got good reviews, but the reviewers were wrong. It's not a good movie.

Division 2 Multiplayer and Single-Player Campaign Broken By Latest Update

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Longtime Slashdot reader Andy Smith writes: Gamers enjoying the single-player campaign in The Division 2 have been bitten by a bug in the latest update that spawned a range of server connection issues. While you might expect this to affect only multiplayer games, The Division 2 controversially requires a continuous server connection for the single-player campaign to work. Since Tuesday, campaign players have reported being kicked out of the game and losing their items, skills, and mission progress. Not surprisingly, developer Massive has been inundated with complaints . The company said: "We are aware of the connectivity issues some players are experiencing. We are investigating and working on a solution."

Gran Turismo Sport does this shit as well

By UnknownSoldier • Score: 3 • Thread

GTS requires online connectivity or else none of your progress is saved.

Thankfully God of War shows that single player games aren't dead.

Dark Souls did something innovate. Other players appear as ghosts in your world.

Sadly most AAA have bought into the bullshit of "Games as a Service".

Ubisoft's UPlay was so bad at launch we started calling it "Udon't".

A Great Example

By Stolovaya • Score: 3 • Thread

This is a perfect example of making sure single-player games can be played in offline mode. But hey, I guess it's nice to know that when the servers are no longer maintained, the game will be completely unplayable.

Close To 735K Fraudulently Obtained IP Addresses Have Been Uncovered and Revoked

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The American Registry for Internet Numbers, Ltd. (ARIN) has won a legal case against an elaborate multi-year scheme to defraud the Internet community of approximately 735,000 IPv4 addresses, the organization has revealed. An anonymous reader writes: While the specifics of the findings are not released, John Curran, ARIN President and CEO said the fraud was detected as a result of an internal due diligence process. ARIN is a nonprofit member-based organization responsible for distributing Internet number resources in the US, Canada, and parts of the Caribbean. The emerging IPv4 address transfer market and increasing demand have resulted in more attempts to obtain IPv4 addresses fraudulently. This is the first arbitration ever brought under an ARIN Registration Services Agreement, and related proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. ARIN was able to prove an intricate scheme to fraudulently obtained resources that included many falsely notarized officer attestations sent to ARIN.

White House Launches Tool To Report Political Bias On Social Media Sites

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
On Wednesday, the White House launched a new tool for people to use if they feel they've been wrongly censored, banned, or suspended on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. "No matter your views, if you suspect political bias caused such an action to be taken against you, share your story with President Trump," the site reads. The Verge reports: The tool asks users for screenshots and links regarding specific enforcement actions, specifying Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube as platforms of interest. (None of the companies immediately responded to a request for comment.) The tool also collects significant personal information from the user, and near the end invites users to opt into email newsletters from President Trump, "so we can update you without relying on platforms like Facebook and Twitter." A separate question points users to an extensive user agreement, and makes clear that "you understand this form is for information gathering only."

Re:How cute!

By serviscope_minor • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

then only give a sentence or two to an opposing viewpoint

One of the most pernicious things to happen recently is the supposed "balanced reporting" where "opposing viewpoints" are reported on some sort of even vaguely even footing. Not every side has two reasonable viewpoints.

Re: How cute!

By argStyopa • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Agreed. Even on NPR, yesterday I heard a piece about export controls; rather than explaining what they are, what they are intended for, how they have been used historically, and the for/against about applying them now, it was a 3-4 minute screed about how terrible they are for everyone and why they shouldn't be used the way this ignorant president was talking about applying them.

Curiously, the one media stream that still separates news/opinion to some degree is "infamously conservative" fox. The left is (I believe disingenuously) apparently unable to distinguish the difference between the divisions.

Re:How cute!

By AmiMoJo • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Trump does say and do a lot of exceptionally stupid stuff, so it would require bias to skew the range of views towards a 50/50 balance of for and against. Maybe NPR just accurately reflects the proportion of views on either side.

It's not secret that even a lot of Republicans don't like Trump. And most experts on any subject tend to disagree with him. Accurately representing that is not bias.

Re:The Autocracy is already here.

By religionofpeas • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Most people don't want to share a social network with Nazis

Where "Nazi" is defined in a suitably flexible way.

Re: How cute!

By greythax • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I listen to their podcasts, chiefly up first and npr politics. I find they do a fantastic job of trying to present both sides without blatantly spreading misinformation just because a politician said it. Sometimes you can hear them forcing their own bile down while playing devil's advocate for some stupid crap Sarah Huckabee Sanders decided to throw out there.

I also listen to planet money, and I would say they definitely advance a conservative fiscal viewpoint more often than a liberal one. But people are going to see bias where they have been primed to see bias.

Microsoft Open-Sources a Crucial Algorithm Behind Its Bing Search Services

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Microsoft today announced that it has open-sourced a key piece of what makes its Bing search services able to quickly return search results to its users. By making this technology open, the company hopes that developers will be able to build similar experiences for their users in other domains where users search through vast data troves, including in retail, though in this age of abundant data, chances are developers will find plenty of other enterprise and consumer use cases, too. The piece of software the company open-sourced today is a library Microsoft developed to make better use of all the data it collected and AI models it built for Bing .

With the Space Partition Tree and Graph (SPTAG) algorithm that is at the core of the open-sourced Python library, Microsoft is able to search through billions of pieces of information in milliseconds. Vector search itself isn't a new idea, of course. What Microsoft has done, though, is apply this concept to working with deep learning models. First, the team takes a pre-trained model and encodes that data into vectors, where every vector represents a word or pixel. Using the new SPTAG library, it then generates a vector index. As queries come in, the deep learning model translates that text or image into a vector and the library finds the most related vectors in that index. The library is now available under the MIT license and provides all of the tools to build and search these distributed vector indexes. You can find more details about how to get started with using this library -- as well as application samples -- here.

Re:I don't believe it.

By vlad30 • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
Only thing cheaper than a H1B visa worker is an open source developer coder.

LED Light Can Damage Eyes, Health Authority Warns

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The "blue light" in LED lighting can damage the eye's retina and disturb natural sleep rhythms, France's government-run health watchdog said this week. From a report: New findings confirm earlier concerns that "exposure to an intense and powerful [LED] light is 'photo-toxic' and can lead to irreversible loss of retinal cells and diminished sharpness of vision," the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) warned in a statement. The agency recommended in a 400-page report that the maximum limit for acute exposure be revised, even if such levels are rarely met in home or work environments.

The report distinguished between acute exposure of high-intensity LED light, and "chronic exposure" to lower intensity sources. While less dangerous, even chronic exposure can "accelerate the ageing of retinal tissue, contributing to a decline in visual acuity and certain degenerative diseases such as age-related macular degeneration," the agency concluded. Long-lasting, energy efficient and inexpensive, light-emitting diode (LED) technology has gobbled up half of the general lighting market in a decade, and will top 60 percent by the end of next year, according to industry projections.

Re:Is this news?

By skids • Score: 4 • Thread

Add this to the "no shit, sherlock" pile:

ANSES also said that manufacturers should "limit the luminous intensity of vehicle headlights," some of which are too bright.

I drive a lot and at first I thought it was "just" my eyes going as I got older, but the friggin arms race is ridiculous "Oh I can't see the road because the oncoming lights are too bright... I know... I'll get brighter lights!" Sofa king wii todd ed.

Computer Monitors

By GodWasAnAlien • Score: 3 • Thread

What about this computer monitor that I stare at all day long.

I know it is LED backlit or something similar.

But I should be fine, right?

I turned off all blue in the color pallet just in case.

Should I wear a welders helmet?

It was a good idea for a while

By AndyKron • Score: 3 • Thread
And they worked for so many decades to invent blue LEDs. Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura even won the 2014 Nobel prize in physics for it.

Re:Wish the above summary included safe levels.

By Bigjeff5 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

They didn't mention safe levels because 'safe levels' is pretty much anything you'd find in a home or office setting, and that's not scary. About the level of high-intensity headlamps for automobiles is where you start to get into unsafe territory.

This is the light bulb equivalent of "strawberries cause cancer". Yes, if you ate 1,000+ pounds of strawberries a day, you would ingest enough of a cancer-causing compound to increase your risk of cancer by a statistically significant amount.

Likewise, if you stare at high-intensity LED lights for extended periods of time, it can damage your eyes.

Imagine my shock.

Re:Wish the above summary included safe levels.

By Immerman • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

But they're also saying chronic exposure to low levels is a problem. If that's true, then "safe levels" might be much lower

Japan Prepares To Ban Flying Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Under the Influence of Alcohol

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Drinking and droning? It could soon cost you up to a year in jail in Japan, where an amendment to the country's civil aeronautics law being debated in the Diet would make it illegal to operate unmanned aerial vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. From a report: According to the transport ministry, there were 79 incidents involving drones in the last financial year. None of them involved a drunk operator but tighter restrictions were nonetheless regarded as a necessary pre-emptive move. "There are lots of different types of accidents that are reported each year but the majority are relatively minor and involve, for example, a drone operating on a predetermined route making an accidental landing," a ministry official said, adding that there were 63 reports of accidents in 2017 and 55 the previous year.

"We have no records of someone causing an accident with a drone while drinking, but we do know that in the US about three years ago, a drunk person landed a drone in the grounds of the White House," the official said. "We obviously want to avoid that sort of situation, so these new laws are designed to stop something before it happens." Under the new rules, a drone operator will be legally required to carry out preflight checks of the vehicle and authorities will carry out on-the-spot inspections when an accident occurs.

Good call

By AlanObject • Score: 3 • Thread

The last thing anyone needs is to get dived on by a drone because its operator is bombed. They take drunk driving over there pretty seriously.

In Japan you can actually get charged for just being in a car with a drunk driver. You don't even have to be driving yourself.

So what?

By PPH • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

a drunk person landed a drone in the grounds of the White House

Far stranger things have made it into the White House.

A Bizarre Form of Water May Exist All Over the Universe

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
New submitter jimminy_cricket writes: Recently at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics in Brighton, New York, one of the world's most powerful lasers blasted a droplet of water, creating a shock wave that raised the water's pressure to millions of atmospheres and its temperature to thousands of degrees. X-rays that beamed through the droplet in the same fraction of a second offered humanity's first glimpse of water under those extreme conditions. The x-rays revealed that the water inside the shock wave didn't become a superheated liquid or gas. Paradoxically -- but just as physicists squinting at screens in an adjacent room had expected -- the atoms froze solid, forming crystalline ice.

"You hear the shot," said Marius Millot of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, and "right away you see that something interesting was happening." Millot co-led the experiment with Federica Coppari, also of Lawrence Livermore. The findings, published this week in Nature, confirm the existence of "superionic ice," a new phase of water with bizarre properties. Unlike the familiar ice found in your freezer or at the north pole, superionic ice is black and hot. A cube of it would weigh four times as much as a normal one. It was first theoretically predicted more than 30 years ago, and although it has never been seen until now, scientists think it might be among the most abundant forms of water in the universe.

But...

By zoefff • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Does it melt? (and if yes, when and how? by cooling?)

Re:But...

By chuckugly • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Numerical simulations suggest that the characteristic diffusion of the protons through the empty sites of the oxygen solid lattice (1) gives rise to a surprisingly high ionic conductivity above 100 Siemens per centimetre, that is, almost as high as typical metallic (electronic) conductivity, (2) greatly increases the ice melting temperature to several thousand kelvin, and (3) favours new ice structures with a close-packed oxygen lattice.

Apparently only very reluctantly if I'm reading this right.

Re:But...

By Baloroth • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

It melts at fairly high temperatures (2-3,000 Kelvin) but it only exists in the first place at very high pressures (100GPa+). It wouldn't be stable on your countertop. There's actually lots of different forms of water ice depending on temperature and pressure (this is tentatively Ice XVIII, because there are 17 other already known forms of water ice). This stuff might be interesting in certain ways (like having high electric conductivity and maybe being very common), but the fact a new form of water ice exists is in and of itself not all that interesting.

Re:But...

By sconeu • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

For a description of the various forms of ice...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice

Oh, that stuff

By Tablizer • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

superionic ice is black and hot. A cube of it would weigh four times as much as a normal one.

We have the same thing here in Flint, Michigan.

Firms That Promised High-Tech Ransomware Solutions Almost Always Just Pay the Hackers

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
As ransomware attacks crippled businesses and law enforcement agencies, two U.S. data recovery firms claimed to offer an ethical way out. Instead, they typically paid the ransom and charged victims extra. From a report: Proven Data promised to help ransomware victims by unlocking their data with the "latest technology," according to company emails and former clients. Instead, it obtained decryption tools from cyberattackers by paying ransoms, according to Storfer and an FBI affidavit obtained by ProPublica. Another U.S. company, Florida-based MonsterCloud, also professes to use its own data recovery methods but instead pays ransoms, sometimes without informing victims such as local law enforcement agencies, ProPublica has found. The firms are alike in other ways. Both charge victims substantial fees on top of the ransom amounts. They also offer other services, such as sealing breaches to protect against future attacks. Both firms have used aliases for their workers, rather than real names, in communicating with victims.

The payments underscore the lack of other options for individuals and businesses devastated by ransomware, the failure of law enforcement to catch or deter the hackers, and the moral quandary of whether paying ransoms encourages extortion. Since some victims are public agencies or receive government funding, taxpayer money may end up in the hands of cybercriminals in countries hostile to the U.S. such as Russia and Iran.

It's a cime but easily defended against

By Excelcia • Score: 3 • Thread

I have to say, I have mixed feelings about ransomware "victims". I feel like it's akin to leaving my wallet somewhere, with PINs written in sharpie on all my cards, not reporting the cards stolen, then being upset that someone cleaned out my account. If you are making proper, weekly backups then you're just not really vulnerable to ransomware. If you're not making proper, weekly backups then you're already dumb and I almost think that getting hit by ransomware is akin to stupid tax. Maybe it'll prompt you to be a little smarter about your online practices and more disciplined about your backups.

That being said, the ransomware payments do benefit criminals and terrorists, hence the mixed feelings. Maybe I should get into ransomware attacks and then donate the proceeds to a good charity. Best of both worlds.

So, anyone check...

By CrimsonAvenger • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

...as to whether any of these aliased employees are the guys doing the ransomware?

Be funny if it turned out they're getting the ransoms they demanded, plus a little extra by pretending to "fix" the problem....

What I've said about bitcoin

By slack_justyb • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

For those who rode/ride the BitCoin train thinking "Oh yea, anonymous payments". You might be interested in this quip from the story.

Although bitcoin transactions are intended to be anonymous and difficult to track, ProPublica was able to trace four of the payments. Sent in 2017 and 2018, from an online wallet controlled by Proven Data to ones specified by the hackers, the money was then laundered through as many as 12 bitcoin addresses before reaching a wallet maintained by the Iranians, according to an analysis by bitcoin tracing firm Chainalysis at our request. Payments to that digital currency destination and another linked to the attackers were later banned by the U.S. Treasury Department, which cited sanctions targeting the Iranian regime.

And this is something I've pointed out time and time again about BitCoin. You're anonymous to simple scans, but someone with enough fire power and time can absolutely track you down in BitCoin. The anonymous argument with the qualifier of "completely" is just a bunch of bull.

Re:What I've said about bitcoin

By gweihir • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Bitcoin is not even designed to be anonymous. I mean, every transaction is out there in the open, forever. The only "anonymity" you have is that your wallet is not immediately identifiable as yours, but that is it. Make one use of the wallet that can be traced to you and any anonymity you ever had is gone, retroactively.

So Long Dual-Booting Windows on a Chromebook: Project Campfire is deprecated

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a report: Project Campfire turned up in the Chromium world this past August. The intent was to let a Chromebook boot not just into Chrome OS but directly into another operating system such as Linux or Windows. I thought the latter was a positive outcome since it would allow Chromebooks to natively run Windows desktop apps on a Chromebook, and add value to devices. Unfortunately, the project is shutting down. Spotted in code, there are comments and code removals that make it clear Project Campfire is being deprecated.

Deprecated means Obsolete

By Roger W Moore • Score: 3 • Thread
Usually deprecated implies the code is obsolete which usually means it has been superseded by something else. So has the idea of dual-booting really gone away or is it just being implemented differently?

Re:Never thought I'd see the day...

By DRJlaw • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Never thought I'd see that day that laptops are sold with Linux pre-installed and then hoodwinked so that Windows can't be installed/booted. Still, not so sure I think this, even though it's Microsoft that is finally losing.

Well the fact that it's Chrome OS pre-installed and the hoodwinking makes it so that Linux can't be installed/booted means that you should lose your damn mind like everyone who was railing against Secure Boot, unless of course, it had nothing to do with Linux and everything to do with hating on Microsoft only. Because,after all, Google is smaller (not) and less of a dominating force (also not, at least in search, video, mobile phone OS, and a half dozen other areas).

Ugh

By PCM2 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I am in no way anti-Windows ... sure there's stuff that sucks about Windows/Microsoft, but it's really my desktop operating system of choice.

That said, I have no idea why you'd want to install Windows on a Chromebook. Putting up with everything that comes along with Windows would seem to almost completely negate the value proposition of a Chromebook.

Re:Deprecated means Obsolete

By markus • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

ChromeOS has done an amazing job of offering a reliable consistent user experience across a broad number of rather divergent hardware. On top of it, this is the only consumer operating system designed for security. The only way this has been possible was by using the Linux kernel as a hardware-abstraction-layer. The downside is that it is almost impossible to upgrade the kernel unless the OEM manufacturer does a lot of work.

This is not going to happen for any AltOS scenario. So, Chromebooks would now be subject to the usual driver hell that Windows machines have to deal with. Google almost certainly doesn't want to deal with the customer service pain, nor do they want to sully the good reputation of ChromeOS with the poor experience of installing buggy third-party Windows drivers.

On the other hand, Google has successfully demonstrated how a virtualized Linux kernel can seamlessly be integrated in a way that most users couldn't even tell they aren't running natively. Crostini support is slowly getting rolled out to all new Chromebooks and several older ones. There are still a few limitations, but it has been quite functional for about a year now. In fact, Crostini on a Pixelbook has fully replaced all of my other computing devices.

Given the success of this effort, I'd expect Google to put more resources into virtualization. It's the best way to leverage the hardware abstraction that is already key to Chromebooks' success. There currently is no way to run nested virtual machines nor is it possible to virtualize anything other than Linux. But it would seem an obvious evolution path for this to change.

Even Microsoft realized that this is where the future has to be, and they recently copied ChromeOS by putting their Linux subsystem into a virtual machine.

Google Recalls Its Bluetooth Titan Security Keys Because of a Security Bug

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Google today disclosed a security bug in its Bluetooth Titan Security Key that could allow an attacker in close physical proximity to circumvent the security the key is supposed to provide. From a report: The company says that the bug is due to a "misconfiguration in the Titan Security Keys' Bluetooth pairing protocols" and that even the faulty keys still protect against phishing attacks. Still, the company is providing a free replacement key to all existing users. The bug affects all Titan Bluetooth keys, which sell for $50 in a package that also includes a standard USB/NFC key, that have a "T1" or "T2" on the back.

Guess Yubico was right

By EvilSS • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Google used to use Yubikeys but went their own way to get a bluetooth key. Yubico said they disagreed over security concerns and would not follow up with their own. Guess they were one to something.

Let's do it better than ubikey

By tronicum • Score: 3 • Thread
They needed to recall their ubikey 1 keys. We can do it better.... Well looks like hardware fobs are not that easy. And bad Bluetooth protocol implementation happen only to other vendors....not!

Re:Guess Yubico was right

By bluefoxlucid • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I have a USB-C Yubikey 5. No wireless.

I suggested no electronic voting machine can possibly provide security if it has a wireless networking capability of any kind--the hardware needs to not be there. Controlling the state of the machine and proving it to the public at the time of polling is doable...but hackers can invisibly bypass that if you plug it into networks. Wireless is always plugged in.

Before this flaw was known, it existed. Hackers could have exploited this flaw. We don't know.

Wireless communication is an inappropriate feature for the type of security these devices are supposed to provide.

T1 or T2?

By DontBeAMoran • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

The bug affects all Titan Bluetooth keys, which sell for $50 in a package that also includes a standard USB/NFC key, that have a "T1" or "T2" on the back.

Upon shoving my Titan Bluetooth key in a padded enveloppe to send it back to Google, I swear I heard it say "I'll be back".

US Will Not Sign Christchurch Call Against Online Extremism

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The U.S. will not sign onto the "Christchurch call to action" against online extremism expected to be released Wednesday, citing concerns that the pact would violate free speech protections in the First Amendment, the Washington Post reports. From a report: The document, negotiated by New Zealand and French officials as a commitment to study and stop the spread of online extremism that motivated the Christchurch mosque shootings earlier this year, is expected to be signed by Australia, Canada and the U.K., among others. It also has the support of major U.S. tech companies, including Facebook and Google, whose platforms were used to livestream and host videos of the attack.

Re:Who is the decision maker ?

By orlanz • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I think the person made quite a strong argument; tone was bad, and took quite a bit away, but the underlying logic is sound. It really doesn't get stronger than points in the UN Constitution. On the 4th, the US government can't actually take the pamphlets & sign boards of someone on a street corner protesting & asking for the overthrow of the government. Posting on the interwebs is no different.

The _government_ should NOT be doing any of that, nor should they be setting a precedent nor hint a leaning toward such ideologies by signing onto "resolutions". This is NOT the US Government's space. They are restricted from banning ideas & discussions, however bad, unless actual harm has already happened for that specific instance (ie: fire in a theater; no judge will jail you if no one got hurt, unlike jaywalking where you can still be in trouble even if no one got hurt).

Whether the government is currently doing some of that right now is irrelevant.

On the flip side, there is no problem with various private entities determining what is "extreme" & "violent" and curtailing or taking measures to suppress such ideologies. I understand that other governments and social systems think differently, but for the US, it is very "unAmerican".

Re:Who is the decision maker ?

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The OK hand signal is used unironically by white supremacists. That means two things:

- If someone uses that symbol in a context where it would seem to suggest support for white supremacy, they are probably a white supremacist. Or, at the very least, a 4chan edgelord.

- If there is any danger of you being mistaken for a white supremacist, maybe because you are hanging around other white supremacists for some reason or because of the things you say, it's probably best to avoid making that gesture.

Nothing to do with freedom of speech, everything to do with idiots and actual white supremacists.

Re:Who is the decision maker ?

By LynnwoodRooster • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

It even goes beyond just what is spoken. For example, David Webb is a nationally syndicated conservative radio commentator. He was called out by CNN's Areva Martin about his white privilege, because he was taking the conservative stance. Never mind that Webb is black.

Now what a person says automatically creates a biased image in their mind. Only "white men" can be conservative... And thus, to shut down "white supremacy" you just need to shut down conservative discussion and opinions. Because - white privilege, even if you're black.

Re:Who is the decision maker ?

By NewtonsLaw • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The sponsor of this has been jailing people for simply viewing the video of the tragedy in their country.

The ultimate irony/hypocrisy being that the PM of NZ has herself admitted watching at least part of that video.

One set of rules for those who make the rules, another set for those who must simply obey. :-(

Re:Who is the decision maker ?

By Pseudonym • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I'm not American, but even I know that the First Amendment has never meant that (with the exception of establishment of religion) it has never been interpreted as saying that the government can't have an opinion on any topic, or that it can't counter misinformation through means such as education and awareness raising.

UK Hacking Powers Can Be Challenged in Court, Judge Rules

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
A five-year court battle in the United Kingdom has come to an end with the UK Supreme Court ruling that the UK's spy agencies and their hacking activities can be made subject to court challenges. From a report: On Wednesday, the court ruled that the GCHQ's Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) is subject to judicial review in the High Court, which in turn means that the intelligence tribunal's decisions can be exposed, and challenged, based on the law of the land. The IPT is a closed-door and secretive tribunal involved in making decisions relating to the security activities and surveillance performed by UK intelligence and spy agencies, including the GCHQ, MI5, and MI6. The case in question is based on the GCHQ's powers to hack thousands or millions of devices in the quest for intelligence, previously challenged on the basis of human rights. Privacy International launched a legal case in 2014 questioning these powers. A subsequent ruling in 2016 by the IPT determined that the UK government held the right to launch sweeping "thematic" warrants which validated the hacking of devices en masse in the UK and abroad.

Why Linux On Desktop 'Failed': A Discussion With Mark Shuttleworth

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
sfcrazy writes: Mark Shuttleworth, founder and CEO of Canonical, summed it in a few words: "I think the bigger challenge has been that we haven't invented anything in the Linux that was like deeply, powerfully ahead of its time." He also said that "if in the free software community we only allow ourselves to talk about things that look like something that already exists, then we're sort of defining ourselves as a series of forks and fragmentations." He added that it seems the desktop Linux people want to be angry at something. We wanted to do amazing things with Unity but the community won't let us do it, so here we are. He also commended Google folks for what they have built for Chrome OS.

It's very easy..

By idji • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
If it doesn't have Microsoft Excel then business people will never touch it. The end.

Re:A bit of a cop-out

By AvitarX • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I hated it because the early ones really sucked (no idea where it ended up).

They moved the window control buttons to the left to implement "windicators" that never came.

This meant that a maximized window had the close button right next to the "start" button of Unity.

Making things worse, the "start" button in Unity didn't extend to the very top left pixel. This meant you had to go to the corner and then pull back to hit "start", and if you pulled too far you'd close a window you had maximized.

It made it maddening to use for me, and was a simple, very basic UI thing. The fact that they'd release it with the UI so against decades old common sense practices says a lot about how much they cared about making it excellent.

We had Linux on the desktop at work... until Unity

By kingbilly • Score: 3 • Thread
We used to have Linux at work. We really only need a web browser, which means we aren't in the same situation other companies are with software compatibility or equivalent software.

Then Unity came. We were find with Gnome 2.
I moved us to Windows after that. We were starting to grow (now 30 employees) and I didn't have time to be a test dummy for Unity. Also we can't have personal connections to Amazon here, so the fact that Ubuntu was by default sending your local pc searches through Amazon was... not cool.


So while the summary says Mark blames this on not inventing anything ahead of the times, my experience has been the opposite. Things were relatively stable for us, until they weren't. If they kept going with Gnome 2, we might still be using Ubuntu. Not everyone needs groundbreaking features, especially as software moves to the web. Less is more, sometimes.

Re:A bit of a cop-out

By Anne Thwacks • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
The community wouldn't let him impose something that sucked.

No wonder there is a problem? - 99% of PC users WANT something that sucks - that is why they choose Windows!

Re:GNOME 3 and Unity

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

better hardware compatibility than Windows

That's not true and was one of the major reasons why Linux never took off.

Sure, maybe it supported older hardware very well, but if you went to the local electrical shop and bought whatever printer took your fancy it was a toss up if it would work or not. Even if it did work the advanced drivers that enabled photo quality output and the bundled photo editing software definitely wouldn't work.

Same with scanners, webcams, and even stuff like digital cameras because although they had a standard MTP interface it wasn't tested on Linux, only Windows, and was probably buggy as hell.

Even now people complain about laptops not being properly supported, which is why companies can make money selling laptops with full compatibility at a higher price than an equivalent Dell or Lenovo.

FCC Announces Action and Legal Framework To Fight Robocalls

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed a ruling Wednesday that would combat robocalls that spoof legitimate, in-service numbers and provide legal framework for phone carriers to carry out the action. From a report: The declaratory ruling will be voted on and, assuming it passes, be adopted by June 6, per the FCC. If enacted: Phone companies would be allowed to block calls for consumers by default. Consumers could "white list" their contacts and opt-in to only receive calls based on that list. Emergency and other vital calls would not be blocked. Through the notice of proposed rulemaking, the FCC will also seek comment on additional measures aimed at curbing robocalls.

Re:Not a solution

By Doke • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
When we first got a PRI for testing some voip gear, I played with trying to spoof my caller-id number. I never robocalled anyone, I just tried calling myself with fake caller-id. Our carrier, Verizon, would let me spoof any number that was routed down our PRI, but nothing outside that range. This seemed very reasonable to me. I could send outbound calls, and make it look like they came from a "main" number, but I couldn't pretend to be anyone else.

Since Verizon did this by default, I believe any carrier can do it. I think the unscrupulous carriers must be accepting money (bribes) to allow the spoofing. That is what should be made illegal.

Re:Not a solution

By rsmith-mac • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

So instead of holding the people who are making the calls and breaking the law accountable,

They have never not been accountable. Fraud, harassment, etc have all been on the books for ages. And the legislation establishing the Do Not Call list all but put otherwise legitimate telemarketing operations out of business.

What's left are illegitimate operations. And the problem with them hasn't changed: you can't really go after someone in India who's using a bank account in Nigeria to buy VoIP service in Canada. These people are behind layers of obfuscation, don't want to be found, and ultimately aren't in the US's jurisdiction anyhow. So even though they're well aware that they're breaking laws, it's very difficult to hold them accountable. The law only puts fear into people who have something to lose.

The compounding factor in all of this is that POTS is not a secure system. Full stop. Each exchange implicitly trusts the exchange that routes calls onto it, and when it in turn routes calls out to yet another exchange, that exchange trusts it in turn. A technical solution would require a complete rearchitecting of POTS, and because that would have to happen on a global scale all at once, poor countries are not going to do it. And no one is going to seriously suggest balkanizing that the global phone system.

I do get the frustration. But saying that the solution is merely to "hold people accountable" vastly underestimates the problem. Just like spam, the underlying causes are far more complex. We can find ways to solve them, but they aren't going to be easy and they are going to involve monitoring, so we're going to have to make sure we don't turn POTS into a panopticon in the process.

Re:Whitelist wouldn't work

By ljw1004 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

A whitelist solution wouldn't work... Suppose I drop my car off at the shop for an annual inspection. I leave and they'll call me when it's done. Do I need to add them into my contacts to be sure I get the call?

Exactly. Or I drop off my child at daycare or kindergarten. What if there's a medical emergency and I might get a call from any one of the thirty responsible adults at the place? or from whichever hospital they've taken my child to? Heck, I don't even know if all of the responsible adults will have local phone numbers -- one might have recently come from an adjacent state, say, and still have their old number.

Then there are all the people I hire to do work - plumbers, electricians, garden people, drywall installers, ... I might have their company number, but they or their mate often call while en route from their personal cellphones. No way I'm going to have those numbers in my contacts.

Or I buy a house. I'll get unexpected calls from many different people at different agencies - realtors, bank, escrow, and so on. I'm not going to have all those numbers.

I simply don't see how any kind of "truth in customer-facing caller-id" legislation is even a step towards solving the problem.

My preferred solution would be to mandate that whenever a customer presses *123 then (1) the carrier logs the exact originator of the call including billing, (2) the carrier starts recording the message, (3) it is considered a complaint. Plus (and I'm hazy on the next bit) an auditable burden on companies that whenever an originator gets >1000 such complaints then they the originator is retrospectively billed $0.01 per complaint, half of which goes to the complainer and half of which goes to the carrier.

Re:Not a solution

By Doke • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
This isn't as important as your business, but perhaps affects more of us: I sometimes need to get calls from food delivery drivers, who need help finding my house. If they can't reach me, I don't get my pizza.

That wouldn't stop any robocalls at all, zero

By raymorris • Score: 4 • Thread

You may notice that even if you *could* somehow validate caller ID info (you can't in the general case), that would not stop any robocalls whatsoever. You'd only have the phone number that the robocaller was using that day.

Which isn't to say it's useless, but it doesn't stop any calls from being made. That's one reason CID validation isn't a "better solution", but is only one of several layers the FCC is implementing.

Both the technical protocols of the phone network and the basic logic - stations, services and DIDs (phones, people/companies, and phone numbers) mean there is NOT a 1-to-1 mapping between people and phones, or companies and phones, or DIDs and phones, or DIDs and people, or ... Caller ID checks can only ever say that the caller ID info *could* be correct, or could not be. There are three different phone numbers that ring my mobile phone. Which one is the "correct" one to use for outgoing calls? None of them is more correct than any other. The strongest thing caller ID validation can logically say about CID data is if the White House had registered 202-456-1414 as being used only with particular pair of transit providers they use for their PBX, and I'm not using either of those carriers, and I claim to be 202-456-1414, it can determine that can't be right. If I set a random PTSN DID (phone number) in my caller ID, there's generally nothing that can be validated about that.

Checking that caller ID data is possibly accurate helps a bit, but is absolutely nowhere near fool proof or complete. It doesn't prevent robocalls, at very best it means robocallers can't spoof certain numbers. It doesn't in any way reduce the number of calls they can make. That's why the FCC is using three different layers, three different strategies, which together make the robocaller's life harder.

Japan Plans To Create 10 Billion 14-Digit Phone Numbers as 5G Era Nears

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Japan's communications ministry plans to create for assignment some 10 billion 14-digit phone numbers starting with the code "020." From a report: With the commercialization of fifth-generation, or 5G, superfast mobile communications fast approaching, 11-digit numbers are expected to run out as early as fiscal 2022. The plan to introduce the new numbers, by the end of 2021 at the latest, was proposed at a recent meeting of a panel of experts. It was accepted by the three major mobile phone operators -- NTT Docomo Inc., KDDI Corp. and SoftBank.

Re:Why do we use phone numbers?

By fred6666 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Seriously, why the heck do we still need phone numbers?

Legacy. How are you supposed to dial an email address from a landline?

Just 14 ?

By psergiu • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

If the phone numbers are limited to just 14 digits how is one is supposed to call 0118 999 881 999 119 725 3 ?

What year is it?

By drinkypoo • Score: 3 • Thread

It's really sad to see Japan, home of widespread multi-gigabit fiber internet and people who can figure out how to clean and sort their recyclables wed themselves so irrevocably to a dying technology. Simply adding a country code would be enough to double the number of phone numbers, which surely should be enough to hold them until they convert all telephony to IP.

I'd have thought Japan of all countries would have managed it already, but alas.

Let the free market sort it out

By OrangeTide • Score: 3 • Thread

They should reduce the 11 digit system, and offer 10 digit numbers only. The highest bidder gets to have a phone number, and everyone else gets an IPv6 address.

Re:and how much software that works on the 11 numb

By Kjella • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Probably very few. I mean if they designed it for exactly 11 digits it'd only work in Japan, and even then probably not for everything. Here in Norway we have 3 digits (emergency services, it's not 911 tho), 5 digit "short" numbers that most large companies use for customer service, 8 digit ordinary numbers and 12 digit device numbers. Even if they did have some anal verification of local numbers you could probably/hopefully get around it by writing it in the international form so +81<14 digits>. It's going to get half-assed anyway, like validating email addresses. I've found you get 99.9% of the benefit just checking for an @ sign, it's like one technically illegal address to a thousand misspelled ones.

Twitter Opens Developers Labs Program To Test New API Products

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Twitter is upgrading its API to be more standards-compliant and more modern," writes longtime Slashdot reader andyp. "They also want to collaborate with developers as they create the new API platform." VentureBeat provides more details: Twitter today announced plans to build "the next generation of the Twitter API" that will provide more flexibility and better serve developers. As a first step, the company is launching the Twitter Developer Labs program to let developers preview new features and test new API products before they are finalized. Participating developers will be asked to provide feedback on what they like and don't like ahead of the broad rollout. Twitter announced Twitter API version 1.1 in August 2012. The social network and what developers use it for have changed a lot since then. Twitter has added enterprise data APIs and the Ads API, but the main API has largely stagnated. At the same time, Twitter has burned developers again and again. The first new features that will be released in Labs are GET /tweets and GET /users. After that, Twitter will release new versions of functionality to filter and search tweets, and to get tweet engagement and impression metrics.

If you'd like to participate in Labs, Twitter says you must follow these steps:
1. Visit the Labs page and sign up to receive updates.
2.Create a developer account (if you haven't yet). Access to Labs will require a developer account, even if you have an active app created through the former apps.twitter.com website.
3.Review the Labs documentation to learn more about what's coming (and follow @TwitterDev).
4. Share feedback.

Wouldn't Trust Them

By Jason Levine • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I had a web application I wrote once using the Twitter API. (I allowed you to more easily manage your followers.) Shortly after I wrote it, Twitter began imposing harsh usage limits on their APIs. You could only do so many calls per day and it was set so low that even my little web application was affected. Basically, they wanted to keep saying they had an open API, but wanted users to flock to them instead of the third party tools. I've given up coding for Twitter's API. There was a lesson there that coding on a platform that someone else owns means that your code can be rendered useless at any given moment.

Ralph Nader: Engineers Often the First To Notice Waste, Fraud and Safety Issues

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
McGruber writes: In Scientific American, Ralph Nader writes about the decades of struggles by conscientious engineers -- whether employees or consultants -- who strive to balance professional ethics with occupational survival. Nader writes: "[T]oday's engineers are working in an improved environment for taking their conscience to work. Yet much more remains to be done to safeguard the ability of engineers to speak truth to the powers-that-be. For starters, the word whistle-blower -- once popularly meant to describe a snitch or a disgruntled employee -- now describes an ethical person willing to put his or her job on the line in order to expose corrupt, illegal, fraudulent and harmful activities. Indeed, in the aftermath of recent Boeing 737 MAX crashes, the media routinely and positively refers to disclosures by 'Boeing whistle-blowers.' Congressional investigating committees and federal agencies have called for whistle-blowers to come forward and shed light on corporate misdeeds and governmental agency lapses. To put it mildly, this was not always the case." "We need more public interest engineering advocacy groups and initiatives to open up new frontiers of excellence and service as well as to support engineers inside the corporate framework," adds Nader. "We need more engineers who embody the three principles of any profession -- independence, scholarly pursuits, and commitment to public service. Those are the vital ethical pillars to helping engineers withstand the great pressures to place commercial priorities over their engineering integrity and limit harm to the public."

Re:It was ever thus - and getting worse.

By e3m4n • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I saw this first hand. As a child growing up in the 70s and 80s my dad worked for IBM during a time where they were top dog on most office machines. He worked in a division of failure analysis. He ran two electron microscopes, as well as a full chemistry lab. When there was a rash of failing parts, it was his job to determine the cause. Sometimes it was materials based lending itself to brittle fracture, fatigue failure, or plastic deformation. Sometimes it was a chemical reaction from a step in the production process causing corrosion of conductors. The weirdest was when his company had transitioned to Lexmark and were trying to root out the cause of print heads of inkjet printers getting clogged prematurely. Turned out to be a bacteria feeding on the ink clogging the cartridge printhead.

Now that everything is coming out of china super cheap, noone wants to spend R&D on failure analysis. Its cheaper to just fill massive landfills with parts that failed prematurely than it is to identify the cause. So the companies just replace them under warranty.

Re:No shit

By Errol backfiring • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Well, sort of. Engineers can also save you a lot of money, but yes, management will be accountable because they already are. In many cases, engineers can save a lot of money by just pointing out that management does not know what they are talking about. The main problem is often that management does not want to admit that.

Re:Wow, that's some fluffy word-salad.

By JaredOfEuropa • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
It’s Ralph Nader trying to be relevant once more. That’s all you need to know.

Re: FAIL: ignoring Maslow's pyramid

By lgw • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Isn't capitalism wonderful?

Yes, it is. In capitalism, you only lose your job for pointing out the flaws in your boss's ideas, and you can just get another job. In communism, they just have you shot, and maybe your family too if they're really annoyed. Communism is better - just publicly ask anyone living in a communist country!

Re: FAIL: ignoring Maslow's pyramid

By Opportunist • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Every time someone cites the times of Stalin as the prime example of Communism, I feel compelled to cite the early industrial times as a prime example of Capitalism, with labor days of 16 hours and children working in coal mines. Was it a reality? Yes. Was it representative? No.

Researchers Solve Scientific Puzzle That Could Improve Solar Panel Efficiency

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
New solar panels created from a semiconducting material called cadmium telluride (CdTe) "have been found to produce electricity at lower costs than silicon panels and there has been a dramatic gain in efficiency brought about by adding an element called selenium to the cadmium telluride," reports Phys.Org. "Until now, it was not well understood why selenium increases efficiency but thanks to Tom Fiducia, a Ph.D. Research Student in the Center for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST), and an international team of researchers, the puzzle has been solved." From the report: Their paper, titled "Understanding the role of selenium in defect passivation for highly efficient selenium-alloyed cadmium telluride solar cells," has revealed that selenium works by overcoming the effect of harmful, atomic-scale defects in CdTe panels. This explains the increase of efficiency as electrons (subatomic particles that carry electricity), which are generated when sunlight hits the solar panel, are less likely to be trapped and lost at the defects. This increases the amount of power extracted.

Tom, who is the lead author of the paper, says the team discovered this "unexpected" behavior by measuring how much light is emitted from selenium-containing panels. As selenium is not evenly distributed across the panels, they compared the 'luminescence' emitted from areas where there was little-to-no selenium present and areas where the selenium was very concentrated. Tom explained: "While it seems counter intuitive, good solar cell material that is defect-free is very efficient at emitting light, and so luminesces strongly. We mapped the luminescence emitted from a selenium-containing solar cell at a resolution of around 1/10,000th of a millimeter and compared it to a similarly high-resolution map of the selenium concentration taken on the exact same area of the cell. It is strikingly obvious when you see the data that selenium-rich regions luminesce much more brightly than the pure cadmium telluride, and the effect is remarkably strong."
The new-found knowledge could be used to increase the efficiency of cadmium telluride solar panels even further, says Tom. "For instance, this could be by simply increasing the amount of selenium in the devices or altering its distributions within the cell."

Re:Selenium fills the gaps

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Selenium and Tellurium are chemically similar. Both are chalcogens that sit just below sulfur on the periodic table. Selenium is a bit smaller, and bonds a bit tighter, so it makes sense that it could fill in the defects. Both are relatively cheap. Selenium is about $120/kg and tellurium is about $30/kg, but that goes a long way in the thin layers used in solar cells.

Tellurium is a byproduct of lead and copper mining, and cadmium is a byproduct of zinc mining. So it is unclear if either can be economically scaled up to AGW-mitigating levels.

Re:Selenium fills the gaps

By Kokuyo • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The abundance or lack of raw material is one thing. The problem currently is not just whether we can make the solar cells to replace fossil fuels (not to mention storage), the biggest problem in my ees is do we even have the space?

If you want to replace all power production deemed harmful with PV, the average European country is probably looking at plastering a third to half its area with cells. The undertaking is immense and that's not even accounting for whether this many cells can even be produced and what impact production has on the environment.

It also takes a long time even if we decided it was doable and. went at it with all the zeal of crusading knight.

I love the idea of every building being more or less autark through "free" solar energy but even my admittedly limited knowledge in this area allows me to judge the idea unrealistic.

Now if we got those things to 60%, we might actually be looking at a real game changer but as things stand, with the minuscule improvements done lately I think we've only reached like 28% efficiency under lab conditions. somewhere around 21% in the real world. Correct me if I'm wrong. And I believe these numbers have been like that for a decade or so.... Without some major breakthrough (which is a gamble) I don't see PV saving our asses.

Re:Selenium fills the gaps

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

If you want to replace all power production deemed harmful with PV, the average European country is probably looking at plastering a third to half its area with cells.

Nonsense. The average EU citizen needs about 150 m^2 of solar panels to provide their power needs, and roof area alone could provide half of that.

In America, all our power needs could be met with with an area about 200 miles square: About one sixth of Arizona. Again, roofs, could provide about half of that.

The problem is transmission and storage, not "land area". People don't live in the sunniest areas, and it gets dark at night.

Toxicity of cadmium is an environmental concern

By thesjaakspoiler • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
we have to deal later with. =/

Re:Follow the resources...

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The quantities needed are fairly negligible compared to the amount of Cd, Te and Se ending up in copper, zinc and lead slags. So I don't think we have to worry too much about that. The recent studies running scare campaigns about this have used very flawed methods and don't understand primary metal supply chains very well (how could we possibly produce 3 times current production ?!?!?!? actually relatively easily, as for by-product metals it's largely a matter of increasing recovery from existing industrial waste streams rather than a lack of geologic availability).