the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2019-Jun-09 today archive

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

Boeing Wanted To Wait Three Years To Fix Safety Alert on 737 Max

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes the Associated Press: Boeing Co. planned to wait three years to fix a non-working safety alert on its 737 Max aircraft and sped up the process only after the first of two deadly crashes involving the planes. The company acknowledged that it originally planned to fix a cockpit warning light in 2020 after two key U.S. lawmakers disclosed the company's timetable Friday...

The feature, called an angle of attack or AoA alert, warns pilots when sensors measuring the up-or-down pitch of the plane's nose relative to oncoming air might be wrong. The sensors malfunctioned during a Lion Air flight in Indonesia in October and an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa in March, causing anti-stall software to push the planes' noses down. Pilots were unable to regain control, and both planes crashed, killing everyone aboard -- 346 people in all. It is not clear whether either crash could have been prevented if the cockpit alert had been working... Boeing and the head of the FAA both say the alert is not critical for safety. Boeing says all its planes, including the Max, give pilots all the flight information -- including speed, altitude and engine performance -- that they need to fly safely.

The pilots' union at American Airlines expressed unhappiness about the matter, however, and said Boeing's assurance about the cockpit alert was a factor in the union standing behind Boeing after the first Max crash, in October. Jason Goldberg, an American Airlines pilot and union spokesman, said Boeing told pilots that the alert could pinpoint a faulty sensor even on the ground, before takeoff. "That is one of the things that made us confident initially to make the statement that we were happy to continue to fly the aircraft," he said. "It turned out later that that wasn't true."

Re:The people who certified the design are murdere

By AmiMoJo • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Japan has corporate responsibility laws to handle this. The company can be ordered to shut down for a period of time, doing no more than the minimum amount of maintenance necessary to keep facilities from falling into disrepair.

There was some financial company that was ordered to shut down for a month last year. All the staff had to be paid during that time.

Alternatively a massive fine works. % of global turnover scales nicely.

Re:I'll avoid Boeing jets after this

By Zontar_Thing_From_Ve • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

. I dont think this would happen @ Airbus

It probably would, that's the nature of capitalism.

Yep. How quickly folks forget, like the top poster in my quote. Airbus has had other truly horrible "it's a feature NOT a bug" issues that have led to crashes and made many of us wonder just what they were thinking to do things that way. Look up the crash about a decade ago of Air France flight 447 and if you can, try to find the article about what the cockpit voice recorded told in Scientific American. Airbus design decisions played a big role in that crash, especially how the co-pilot and pilot could both move what I guess they call the joystick independently of each other and the plane would take the average. Boeing planes at the time didn't work that way and still may not for all I know. Only one stick gets control. This decision to allow both sticks to give inputs was a large factor of the crash, with the co-pilot left in charge basically making irrational decisions and the plane happily accepting them because it was flying in alternate law mode. The other co-pilot didn't realize what the co-pilot in charge (the captain had left the flight deck on break and put the junior co-pilot in charge) was doing with his controls, which was that he was putting the plane into a stall due to a training failure that failed to adequately cover the unusual situation the plane was in. There are other crashes caused by other Airbus design issues. About 20 years ago an Aeroflot plane crashed and the sensational version is that a pilot let his kid fly and the kid crashed the plane. That's not exactly what happened, but a strange Airbus "feature" seemed to be unknown to the pilots and when the pilot's kid very briefly took controls (yes, that really happened) the kid accidentally caused the plane's ailerons to switch to manual control. The only indicator that this happened was a silent light on the panel. The plane crashed because the pilots failed to understand that this had happened and did not take the correct action to recover from it. I'm not anti-Boeing or anti-Airbus, but Airbus has had its issues too.

Re:The people who certified the design are murdere

By Nidi62 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

They killed 346 people. When will charges be brought?

Plus, technically speaking, Boeing was aware of the problem and tried to fix it. The fact that the fix may have led to the crashes is interesting, but unless there is hard proof that Boeing knew crashes were likely, they aren't technically at fault for trying to fix something and finding out later the fix was bad.

Except they knew their fix was bad, and their response was "eh, we'll fix it later". It wasn't until a second plane fell out of the sky and their planes started getting grounded that Boeing decided to put a rush on the fix.

Re: No longer an engineering-run company

By DingerX • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
"Children of the Magenta" is an aviation-specific reference to the generation of pilots trained to rely on automation beyond its point of utility. It was coined in 1997 by American Airlines captain Warren Van Der Bergh, and he was referring to American pilots. For an example of how you get "Children of the Magenta", some airlines require pilots to use autoland whenever available, and never hand-fly while on the line. Thus pilots get trained to follow the magenta guiding lines of the automation. This leads to situations where, confronted with an automation failure, the reaction of the pilots is to try to restore automation. Now, automation fails for a variety of reasons, but chiefly because the aircraft is in a situation where automation can no longer do the pilot's job, for example, a sensor failure or something broke.

The fact of the matter is, while we all want a pilot like Sullenberger or Liu Chuanjian up front, aircraft have to be flyable by even the worst pilots. The Lion Air MCAS problem should have been resolved when the first flight crew to encounter it turned around and landed at their point of departure. Instead, probably due to commercial pressures, they continued their flight with manual trim and the stickshaker going continuously until touchdown. The next crew fought for a bit, then one of the two people up front did the worst thing possible, repeatedly: tap the trim button just enough to reset the MCAS for another cycle of nose-down trim. The Ethiopian crew apparently knew what the problem was, but disabled electric trim before neutralizing loads. Then they found themselves unable to mechanically trim the aircraft and unaware of the procedure to unload the plane.

One of Boeing's responses, especially to Congress, has been to blame the pilots. Yes, the pilots didn't perform outstandingly in these cases. And maybe they were "Children of the Magenta". Yet the core problem is one of bad design, a bandaid on a jury-rigged solution to keep a 50-year-old design in the air so that airlines following the Southwest model don't have to train their crew on two different types.

Compare to "Children of the Magenta" cases like the Colgan flight outside of Buffalo, where the pilot reacted to the stick shaker by pulling back, even overriding the stick pusher (training to the FAA test emphasized minimizing loss of altitude in a stall), or the recent Superjet crash, which at this point looks like a pilot was unfamiliar with flying the aircraft in a degraded FBW state ("Direct Law") and, on approach in a perfectly flyable airplane with plenty of fuel, promptly ignored seven predictive windshear alerts ("Windshear. Go Around" -- the record shows that he did not go around), and killed a lot of people. In those two cases, the part of the automation that actually flies the plane dropped out, putting control in the hands of the pilot and, at some point, providing strong instructions one what the pilot should be doing. In both cases, the flight crew proved so unable to fly the plane that they even ignored the sage advice of the machine that was trying not to get them killed.

Yes, racism plays a role here, especially as to how Boeing's spun the issue. Asia and Africa are huge growth areas for aviation, and that's where Boeing is selling a lot of planes, especially ones like the MAX that are designed to cram a lot of passengers into a small space and carry them at a fraction of the cost. But the Chinese were right to ground the plane immediately regardless of GP's explanation. "Children of the Magenta" refers to a training culture more than a national or ethnic one.

"Off with their heads!"

By sjbe • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

If corporations are people, then Boeing should get the death penalty.

Really? Please find me a single example of a company that makes transportation related products (cars, planes, trains, boats, roads, bridges, rails, etc) that does not have a body count due to their products.

Maybe you shouldn't be so quick to execute people and/or companies without thinking through what you are doing. Consequences are one thing but you've pretty much lost the plot if you think terminating Boeing as an organization will solve any real world problems relating to this fiasco. Yes it seems to have been some stupid decisions, probably with a profit motive kicker. If we killed companies every time that happened we would have no cars, no trains, no aircraft and no boats.

Police Use of DNA Leads To Backlash, Policy Change For GEDmatch

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Police investigators have used popular online DNA databases to solve at least 50 open murder and rape cases, reports the Associated Press. But now, "complaints about invasion of privacy have produced a backlash, leading the Florida-based database known as GEDmatch to change its policies." The nonprofit website's previous practice was to permit police to use its database only to solve homicides and sexual assaults. But its operators granted a Utah police department an exception to find the assailant who choked unconscious a 71-year-old woman practicing the organ alone in church. The assailant's DNA profile led detectives to the great-uncle of a 17-year-old boy. The teen's DNA matched the attacker's, and he was arrested. GEDmatch soon updated its policy to establish that law enforcement only gets matches from the DNA profiles of users who have given permission.

That closed off more than a million profiles. More than 50,000 users agreed to share their information -- a figure that the company says is growing. The 95% reduction in GEDmatch profiles available to police will dramatically reduce the number of hits detectives get and make it more difficult to solve crimes, said David Foran, a forensics biology professor at Michigan State University...

The American Civil Liberties Union and other critics say granting law enforcement exceptions that violate a website's policies is a slippery slope. They also believe broad genetic searches violate suspects' constitutional rights. While many people instinctively support the technique if used to catch serial killers or rapists, they might feel differently about their DNA profiles being analyzed to pursue burglars and shoplifters.

The site's co-founder tells the AP they've now sent an email to users encouraging them to opt-in to police searches.


By fafalone • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Rape and murder is the wedge to set precedent. Remember the PATRIOT Act powers? Passed under the idea they're exceptional measures for time sensitive terrorism cases? Those powers have been used nearly exclusively for routine drug cases. Same deal. Rape and murder now, drugs, prostitution, and other less serious shit tomorrow. Police have NEVER limited a power to only serious crimes, and should never be trusted to, no matter how serious the crime in question.


By AmiMoJo • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

It doesn't have to get as far as the Nazis to be abused. It's happened many time with fingerprint evidence, and DNA is portrayed as even more reliable.

A poor match can be very convincing for a jury, backed up by an expert who claims it's nearly infallible. Unless the defendant has a good team and their own expert to point out how the amplification methods used are flawed, or how the DNA could have got there any number of innocent ways, they are probably screwed.

Juries assume it's like CSI, the computer scans through a database and the two DNA samples slide together to form a perfect match.

Combined with the Reid Technique to extract false confessions DNA is a very powerful tool for solving crimes, assuming you just want them cleared and don't care if the right person goes to jail.

Re:Why not use it to catch burglars and shoplifter

By Cederic • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

You can be sure that if the Germans had access to DNA records, the French Resistance would have been eliminated quickly.

Ah, of course. I was wondering how the US had managed to subdue the populations of Afghanistan and Iraq so quickly.

Fuck burglars

By Pinky's Brain • Score: 3 • Thread

A single burglary causes a massive amount of monetary and emotional damage.

Fuck em all.

Re:Why not use it to catch burglars and shoplifter

By ceoyoyo • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Bullshit. Bill C-16 added gender identity to the enumerated list of personal attributes you're not allowed to discriminate against. That's it. If you're an intelligent human being, read the bill instead of the media hype. It's short, and very simple:

Since you could call a woman "he" or a man "she" before without going to jail, you can continue to use the wrong pronouns without danger. You'll be an asshole, not a criminal. If you refuse to hire people who's gender doesn't agree with what you think it should be, you might be sued though. And if you advocate violence against such people *then* you can go to jail.

'Swift Finally Matches Objective-C in One Major Way'

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
The editor of Dice's "Insights" blog argues that Apple's Swift language "has begun to eclipse Objective-C in a key way." Apple was never shy about prioritizing Swift. As one developer on Twitter pointed out, once Swift dropped, Objective-C documentation and tutorials quickly started vanishing. Since then, the company has iterated on Swift and continued to shy away from Objective-C (except when necessary, such as supporting libraries and frameworks). Swift 5 made an important step forward with ABI stability, which means Swift code worked directly with a binary interface. Before ABI stability, the only safeguard was code was compiled on the same compiler, a fingers-crossed approach Apple really had no option for avoiding...

Swift's performance has also improved. For some time, when compared to Objective-C, Swift compiled slower. Because of ABI stability, performance has improved, and compile-time differences have vanished... Apps written in version 5 are also roughly 10-15 percent smaller than Objective-C apps. Bridging performance also improved.

A lot has gone into Swift 5 to make it more stable, and those improvements have resulted in performance parity with Objective-C... It's time to seriously consider the move to Swift.

In 2017 the creator of Swift (and a self-described "long-time reader/fan of Slashdot") began a five-month stint running Tesla's Autopilot team -- and stopped by to answer questions from Slashdot readers.

Re:Apple should have adopted Rust

By Dutch Gun • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Nobody uses rust.

Trolls do, apparently. Just not for programming.

Ha Ha Ha Ha no

By SuperKendall • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I see Swift as a very late response to C#

Why you would think Swift was a late response to a language that was a late response to Java, I find very much confusing because there was no need for Apple to respond to Java at that point.

Swift was a response to the rise in functional languages of all sorts, and the realization that long term the Apple platforms would have to have a language switch to maintain developer interest and availability.

As such Apple did a pretty amazing job with Swift in terms of launching, then letting the community define how it grew even as Apple added some broad strokes to help define useful direction (See: SwiftUI and Combine). Swift is at a point now where it's a really good language with a lot of nice features, and generally I enjoy programming in it more than most other languages...

Those who think Swift should have been Rust (or Apple should have used Rust), I just find strange - Rust isn't really used for any kind of large UI apps, the most complex kind of programming you can get. Swift is proving itself over time in a trial by fire while Rust just kind of sits there slowly pecking away at the boundaries of the much smaller box it is used within, even as the use of server side Swift expands as well...

That is not the case

By SuperKendall • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Objective-C cannot theoretically be beaten as its coding is closer to the metal

Thing is, it's really not.

In any modern compiler the language that can best be transformed into machine language wins - and over time that is more and more true of Swift, because it was designed to make many compiler optimizations easier for a compiler to realize it can apply.

Swift produces cleaner IL than C/Obj-C and so can be transformed into better/faster machine language.

Endgame, you could theoretically beat Swift with assembler but not with C / Objective-C / C++.

Re:Why not to learn Swift

By angel'o'sphere • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I already know C++.

And learning it as a "first" or "early" language is imho a waste of time. Not enough demand. Much to deep/steep learning curve. Arcane syntax.

My suggestion always is: learn something that either is fun or is useful, preferable both.

Re:Objective-C for me...

By DrXym • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Rust might require you to encapsulate your unsafe stuff but you can still do it. Enclose stuff in unsafe blocks and most of the safety checks disappear. It can even wrap/call into C if need be. Obviously unsafe code should be the exception to the rule, so typically its done in a low-level crate while the things that call it stay safe.

And there are already low level bindings for Vulkan and Metal. Since I haven't used them I can't say what they're like to use.

Whether Rust is a good idea in a proprietary environment like iOS is another matter though. I expect using it is always going to be an uphill struggle compared to using Swift.

New Game Based On 'The Blair Witch Project' Demoed at Microsoft Xbox Event

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"So that Blair Witch reboot wasn't very good. But maybe a video game could change things up?" writes Engadget. Mashable has more details: Remember The Blair Witch Project, that viral horror sensation that made waves before social media was even a thing? Well, it's back. And it's an Xbox game.

Microsoft debuted a first look trailer for Blair Witch during its annual E3 press conference, and it's coming from Layers of Fear developer Bloober. We don't know much. It returns you to the Black Hills Forest, the site of the movie. There's a camcorder. Also, a dog.

I fear for that dog.

Kotaku writes that "According to the description the game will be a 'first-person, story-driven psychological horror game based on the cinematic lore of Blair Witch.'"

Camera Work

By MrKaos • Score: 3 • Thread

I think that most people ran from the cinema in that movie because the camera work gave them motion sickness.

'Cyberpunk 2077' Game Starring Keanu Reeves Demoed at Microsoft Xbox Event

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes VentureBeat: CD Projekt Red showed off a new demo of Cyberpunk 2077 at Microsoft's Xbox press event at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the big game trade show in Los Angeles. And actor Keanu Reeves surprised everyone by coming out on stage to say that he would be in it. The trailer reveals one of the key characters of Cyberpunk 2077, Johnny Silverhand. The legendary rockerboy is played by Reeves (The Matrix trilogy, John Wick series, Johnny Mnemonic). In addition to his appearance and voice, Reeves is also providing full-body motion capture for the character. The game debuts on April 16, 2020...

We all know that CD Projekt Red has a hell of a game in Cyberpunk 2077, which the company revealed in a 48-minute gameplay video last year. The video showed an amazingly detailed open world, as the narrator said the ambition was to create "the most believable city in any open world to date." I interpreted that as a shot across the bow of Rockstar Games and the Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption teams, as Cyberpunk 2077 was as incredibly hyper detailed as any Rockstar game I've ever seen. It's the only game I've seen with such density of interaction and the realism integrity of Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2....

Last year's demo of the upcoming game promised deeper the details of the open world, with fascinating futuristic touches such as cranial chip implants, robotic body modifications, hyperfast video communications, and surveillance drones. The dystopic city seemed like a living thing, and the choices for getting things done seemed like they had no limits. You could be as peaceful or violent as you wished... It's a mature game, aimed at adults who can deal with subjects like nudity, drugs, and murder.

Re:DRM free?

By Falos • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

It's on GOG. It's by CDPR themselves. It's guaranteed.

Witcher3 proved you can triple-A without all the bullshit. All the junk that only the brainwashed defend, that apologists say is necessary yet CDPR topped charts without.

No always-online. No advertising "launcher" required. No DRM, bugging things out (won't launch till you auth, boy) or stuttering in-game performance. No on-disc DLC, or even pre-cut material set aside for it. Full game, and you don't ask permission to use it. The only role performed by the cancer is pacifying shareholders, who demand explanations when they don't see 9000% growth. "Uh, because pirates."

Preordering is an industry practice that we indulged into a parasite of its own, but I'm still tempted to do it as a show of faith.


By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread


A Wave of SIM Swapping Attacks Targets Cryptocurrency Users

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Numerous members of the cryptocurrency community have been hit by SIM swapping attacks over the past week," ZDNet reported Monday, "in what appears to be a coordinated wave of attacks."

SIM swapping, also known as SIM jacking, is a type of ATO (account take over) attack during which a malicious threat actor uses various techniques (usually social engineering) to transfers a victim's phone number to their own SIM card. The purpose of this attack is so that hackers can reset passwords or receive 2FA verification codes and access protected accounts....

[D]espite a period of calm in the first half of the year, a rash of SIM swapping attacks have been reported in the second half of May, and especially over the past week... Some candidly admitted to losing funds, while others said the SIM swapping attacks were unsuccessful because they switched to using hardware security tokens to protect accounts, instead of the classic SMS-based 2FA system.

Phone based 2FA is retarded.

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

As this shows, phone based 2FA is totally retarded and full of flaws. It probably makes authentication less secure, as it's another attack vector. Any site or service forcing phone based 2FA is dumb, I think.

Re:Phone based 2FA is retarded.

By Hylandr • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

It really is retarded. In addition to conditioning people to accepting important alerts from their phones I have lost access to my Amazon AWS account because my phone died with 2FA enabled.

I find it's safer and easier to NOT use it.

Use Google Voice

By TheNarrator • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

You can prevent porting by moving your phone to Google Voice. Unlike the telcos, Google has good security and good 2fa to prevent porting hacks. Google famously has no customer service, so there is no possible social engineering attack.

Why Some Businesses Really Hate Yelp

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes Slate: The overall argument of Billion Dollar Bully, the new documentary about Yelp released on Amazon and iTunes in May, is that Yelp extorts small business owners for advertising fees in return for helping to manage and improve reviews on their platform... Yelp has fought back against the allegations made in the film, arguing that "There has never been a connection between ratings and reviews on Yelp and buying advertising...." But the issue for small business owners has always been broader than advertising: Local businesses feel that Yelp offers no due process to resolve disputes and misunderstandings. That's because the company's standard position is to absolve itself of any responsibility to get involved....

Yelp is combating the claims made in the film by purchasing the domain and redirecting it to a Yelp page that explains that the company does not extort local businesses to manipulate ratings.

The Hustle argues that despite "legions" of anecdotal evidence from business owners, "the linkage between these two things ultimately can't be proven without transparency around Yelp's filtering algorithm." This is apparently leaving some restauranteurs feeling powerless and angry: In isolated bids to circumvent the "oppression" of online reviews, business owners have plunked "NO YELPERS" signs in their windows, shamed rude reviewers on Instagram, and launched anti-Yelp websites. Dan Neves, a waiter at a fine dining establishment in Austin, Texas, created YELP BULLIES EXPOSED, a private Facebook group that tracks down rude Yelpers and sends them a one-pound bag of animal feces... "I've had friends get fired over bad Yelp reviews, even if the review was untrue," says Neves. investigated the people interviewed for the documentary, and suggested that in some cases the real victims may be Yelp's unsuspecting reviewers. "A few negative reviewers claimed that the owner harassed them or contacted their employer to have them fired." Billion Dollar Bully raised money on Kickstarter. I was excited to see this film see the light of day. Sadly, I was disappointed... not all businesses are good, not all business owners are reputable, and not all pieces of investigative "journalism" are credible. Had the filmmakers taken a closer look at these business and other review platforms, I doubt that this movie would have been made. I've made that clear by looking at the reviews of those claiming extortion. For me, this was a massive failure and should be titled A Billion Dollar Scapegoat.

I Have Some Sympathy For This

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread

A few months ago a (local) news story hit the airwaves.

The setup was this. A customer went into a restaurant, wasn't happy, and left a negative review at one of these review sites. What was the issue?

Apparently, they had several concerns, but the one that got all the attention was that the restaurant charged them $5 (roughly) for a pop. Seems like a lot, right? And the other issues all seemed to come back to cost too.

Now here is where the business had a beef. The customer raised their concerns with staff at the time of service and they got their issues addressed. The high cost drink was entirely removed from their bill. And still the customer posted a bad review. Nor did the restaurant avoid the issue afterwards, they went and were interviewed to get their side of the story out there.

Also, that high cost drink? Who goes in to a sit-down restaurant and orders one pop? No one, that's who. The restaurant rightly viewed (and views) the entire meal as the customer interaction and they aren't in the business of selling cheap drinks like a soda pop machine. If you want that experience, go to a fast food joint or better yet, a soda pop machine.

Now, the theory of review sites is that for a thriving business, good reviews will swamp bad reviews and so the unjustified bad reviews will not matter. And let's be honest, even a good business won't always succeed in delivering a good experience to all customers. Sometimes the business will really let a customer down.

However in this case it seemed like the customer had totally unrealistic expectations of what this restaurant could do for them, and what the price of service should be. And having been heard by the restaurant and having their bill adjusted, they turned around and rewarded the business by stabbing them in the proverbial back. Not cool! Not cool at all.

The cool thing about this

By rsilvergun • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
is that Yelp can have the Sales Rep do the extortion and keep their hands clean for the whole thing.


By HiThere • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

If Yelp's business model involves monetizing those reviewers, then there's no reason they should get a pass. They're the ones that set up the incentives within which the reviewers operate.

Never odd or even

By rmdingler • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The posting of reviews online merely exacerbates the age old problem of small business. Folks who have a negative experience with your company will be many times more likely to share a review than customers who had a good to great experience.

Re:The problem with Yelp is ...

By apoc.famine • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Eh, I like Yelp. Lets the dumb people avoid the great local spots that tell Yelp to fuck off, allowing the rest of us to dine there in peace.

I travel a bit for work, and my strategy goes like this:

1) Find a bar with a great beer selection and good food offerings.
2) Chat up the bartender about their great beer and food.
3) Inquire where else I might find good food and beer.
4) Go there, repeat.

Want to find great food in a city? Ask someone in the food service industry. They know. But you need to get a little on their good side before they'll tell you.

I'm happy to let everyone else use Yelp.

Are Amazon's 'Ring' Doorbells Creating A Massive Police Surveillance Network?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Police departments are piggybacking on Ring's network to build out their surveillance networks..." reports CNET, adding that Ring "helps police avoid roadblocks for surveillance technology, whether a lack of funding or the public's concerns about privacy." While residential neighborhoods aren't usually lined with security cameras, the smart doorbell's popularity has essentially created private surveillance networks powered by Amazon and promoted by police departments. Police departments across the country, from major cities like Houston to towns with fewer than 30,000 people, have offered free or discounted Ring doorbells to citizens, sometimes using taxpayer funds to pay for Amazon's products.

While Ring owners are supposed to have a choice on providing police footage, in some giveaways, police require recipients to turn over footage when requested. Ring said Tuesday that it would start cracking down on those strings attached...

While more surveillance footage in neighborhoods could help police investigate crimes, the sheer number of cameras run by Amazon's Ring business raises questions about privacy involving both law enforcement and tech giants... More than 50 local police departments across the US have partnered with Ring over the last two years, lauding how the Amazon-owned product allows them to access security footage in areas that typically don't have cameras -- on suburban doorsteps. But privacy advocates argue this partnership gives law enforcement an unprecedented amount of surveillance. "What we have here is a perfect marriage between law enforcement and one of the world's biggest companies creating conditions for a society that few people would want to be a part of," said Mohammad Tajsar, staff attorney at the ACLU of Southern California...

Despite its benefits, the relationship between police departments and Ring raises concerns about surveillance and privacy, as Amazon is working with law enforcement to blanket communities with cameras.... "Essentially, we're creating a culture where everybody is the nosy neighbor looking out the window with their binoculars," said Dave Maass, a senior investigative researcher at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "It is creating this giant pool of data that allows the government to analyze our every move, whether or not a crime is being committed." On a heat map of Bloomfield, there are hardly any spots in the New Jersey township out of sight of a Ring camera.

Tajsar says in some scenarios "they're basically commandeering people's homes as surveillance outposts for law enforcement," and the articles notes that when police departments partner with Ring, "they have access to a law enforcement dashboard, where they can geofence areas and request footage filmed at specific times."

While law enforcement "can only get footage from the app if residents choose to send it," if the residents refuse, police can still try to obtain the footage with a subpoena to Amazon's Ring.

Residents are paying for those "free" Rings

By Sir Holo • Score: 3 • Thread

FTA: In April, the city of Hammond, Indiana, announced it had $37,500 in funds to subsidize Ring devices -- half of which came from Ring. The other $18,750 came from the city, said Steve Kellogg, Hammond police's public information officer.

So 2/3 of the money came from "the city." This money is also known as "taxpayers' money."

Re:Why do people buy these things?

By gtall • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Iraq is a well-armed society. Gee, see how polite they are to each other?
America's gangs are well-armed societies on their turf. And yet, turf battles continue. Now why would that be?

Blowing away the neighbor's kid because he did something stupid, as many teenagers do, isn't something to be proud of...except in your twisted notion of society.

Re:Why do people buy these things?

By apoc.famine • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Because they're cheaper than a property crime, and unfortunately, there's a lot of property crime that the police aren't interested/don't have the resources to deal with. It's a choice made out of desperation, since choosing not to install cameras means any property crime that happens to you won't get solved or prosecuted.

In my neighborhood there was recently a rash of garage thefts, where some kids who had jacked a car would roll through the suburban neighborhood, stop in front of an open garage, dash in, grab anything of value, dash out, and keep on rolling. The police response was to shrug and say, "You should keep your garage closed and locked at all times."

Yeah, fuck you guys. We deserve to be able to be secure in our homes and on our properties. If I want to leave my garage open while I mow the back yard, I should be able to do that without being worried that someone will run in and steal my shit. And this isn't a bad neighborhood - it's an upper-middle-class suburb filled with families where most everyone has at least a bachelors degree, and a lot have masters and PhDs. While these dash and grab robberies are happening, there are kids biking and using kick scooters on the same block.

The response, since the police say, "we've got no evidence and no leads, case closed" is to drop a couple hundred bucks and set up your own cameras. And by and large they work. Now when shit happens, 20% of the time the victim provides the police with a video of who did it, and often the vehicle they used is in the shot somewhere as well. That's lead to a couple of convictions, and property crime is dropping.

I never, ever wanted to have cameras around my house. That's fucking crazy. But when the neighbor down the street is out a couple of grand after a broken car window gave access to a garage door opener, and that gave access to bikes and power tools, $500 of wireless cameras doesn't seem like a bad investment. If it prevents a couple of grand of damage because a criminal sees the camera and moves on, that's great insurance. And if it doesn't but leads to a conviction, at least there's the peace of mind that the asshole didn't get away with his crime.

No camera, and the asshole gets away with it every time. Unfortunately that's true in a surprisingly large number of neighborhoods. Cops are busy with real crime, and a quick smash and grab doesn't rise to the level of something worth their time. Pretty much nobody puts up cameras because they want to. It's done out of necessity.

Democracy is no protection

By gweihir • Score: 3 • Thread

People will stupidly vote themselves police-states and full-blown fascism (remember that Hitler was voted into office), and at the same time claim they are for personal freedoms and limited government power.

Artificial Intelligence to analyse the video

By aberglas • Score: 3 • Thread

This will create billions of hours of mostly boring video. In its current manifestation it could only really be used to solve a specific crime. Someone disappears in a neighbourhood, so search video in a specific place and time.

But soon AI will be good enough to interpret much of the video. Specifically who went where when. Then that information can be fed into a huge database. Where it can be proactively mined, and combined with other information such as web surfing, purchases, emails. Google or Amazon will probably provide that database free to the government.

That is where we are going. Difficult to stop it. We need much stronger democratic institutions to guard against it.

When, in 100 years or so, AI can really think, we will already put ourselves in the straight jacket required for our control and probably elimination.

Does it matter? Does anything really matter? Probably not.

Bizarre New Theories Emerge About Bitcoin Creator Satoshi Nakamoto

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"I am not saying that Neal Stephenson is Satoshi Nakamoto," writes the features editor at Reason. "What I am saying is: Would it really be surprising if he were?"

This prompted a strong rebuke from CCN Markets: The article starts, "Consider the possibility that Neal Stephenson is Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous inventor of Bitcoin."

Let's not do that. That's like saying let's consider the possibility that anyone at all is Satoshi Nakamoto. In one respect, it doesn't matter. In another, it's exhausting the lengths people will go with this... if someone doesn't advance the idea that they are Satoshi Nakamoto themselves, there's no reason to put that sort of grief upon them. If someone is just brilliant, you can tell them that without insinuating that they invented the blockchain and Bitcoin.... You don't just off-handedly claim someone might be Satoshi Nakamoto. There needs to be a reason.

Reason had written that "For nearly three decades, Stephenson's novels have displayed an obsessive, technically astute fascination with cryptography, digital currency, the social and technological infrastructure of a post-government world, and Asian culture," and that the science fiction author "described the core concepts of cryptocurrency years before Bitcoin became a technical reality."

They also note later that "Satoshi Nakamoto's initials are SN; Neal Stephenson's are NS."

Coin Telegraph writes that the question "has seemingly come to a head over the last couple of months, as a number of people have gone a step further" -- not only publicly claiming to be the creator of bitcoin, but even filing copyright and trademark claims. Their list of "Satoshi posers" includes Craig Wright, Wei Liu, and the brother of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. (And another new theory also suggests "global criminal kingpin" Paul Le Roux, the creator of encryption software E4M and TrueCrypt.

My take

By Artem S. Tashkinov • Score: 3 • Thread

Bitcoin doesn't need Satoshi Nakamoto. The project has long overgrown him and it's not likely Satoshi alone will be able to change the direction of the project and it's not even clear if that's required. Bitcoin surely could use some substantial changes in order to become an alternative to Visa/Mastercard/whatever but that might require a Bitcoin hard fork which the crowds behind it want the least. We now have companies with a valuation in billions of dollars who are content with Bitcoins transactions being relatively slow and expensive. The Lightning Network IMO is not the solution.

What's more, if he's to reemerge, it might be a disaster for Bitcoin valuation since Satoshi owns over a million bitcoins.

I'm inclined to believe Satoshi Nakamoto isn't/wasn't a single person behind the project though a single person could represent it publicly. Anyone could devise it in order to have a financial system independent from governments, e.g. mafia, billionaires, anarchy groups, etc. etc. etc. Some believe three letter agencies could stand behind it.


By JBMcB • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The Reason article was about Neal Stephenson. The allusion to Nakamoto was commenting on how the ideas behind Bitcoin line up with some of Stephenson's work. They weren't making a serious claim that Stephenson *is* Nakamoto.

Given this, CNN complaining about this comparison is pretty stupid.

Re:Neal's education

By quantaman • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

couldn't remember his educational background, BA from Boston U with major in geography and minor in physics, he switched from physics major when he found out geography would give him more time on campus mainframe

well, now, how about that

My buddy is pretty good at fixing cars. I wonder if he can build a DYI satellite.

I respect Neal Stephens' technical abilities as a writer, he clearly understands tech well enough to write and speculate about it convincingly. Heck, he probably could have even come up with the concept of Bitcoin, it's not the first time someone came up with a scheme for secure digital currency and I'm sure a few people even came up with something very similar to Blockchain but didn't do anything other than chat about it with friends. But there's a huge gap between that and what Nakamoto did.

But Satoshi Nakamoto did a lot more than speculate. He wrote a white paper, the original reference implementation, and did a lot of the early development. That's not a technically competent writer, that's either a professional software developer (probably a pretty good one), or someone like a mathematician/cryptographer/physicist who's really comfortable with the math but also spends a lot of time coding.

Neal Stephenson is a great writer, but it's ridiculous to assume he created Bitcoin based on the fact he's a famous person who can write about tech and has kinda similar initials.

Re:Missing a vowel at the end there ...

By phantomfive • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Interesting idea, but bitcoin miners don't find the full reverse hash, the find the first N bits of the reverse hash. If the number of miners increases, N increases, if the number of miners decreases, N decreases.

Re:Neal's education

By ceoyoyo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Hash trees have been around for a long time (more or less since the 80s, I think). They're great whenever you need an updatable data structure that's easy to verify integrity. Git is the obvious example, where commits are tracked using one. The defining characteristics are (1) that a hash is computed for each node of the tree and (2) each node contains the hash(es) of the parent node(s).

I suspect most of the "blockchain" applications that sound stupid are actually hash trees, without all the other crypto-currency style infrastructure.

Why Pfizer Ignored Data Suggesting Their Drug Could Affect Alzheimer's

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
In a controversial pharmaceutical story, this week the Washington Post reported "that Pfizer had evidence that [their drug] Enbrel could be useful in Alzheimer's disease, and didn't do anything with it," according to a blog post from Science magazine: This came from an analysis of insurance claim data: a set of about 127,000 patients with an Alzheimer's diagnosis and a set of 127,000 without. It turns out that more people in the second group had been treated with Enbrel (302 patients) versus the first (110 patients). The Post obtained internal Pfizer documents discussing this and whether it was worth further investigation, and the company had concluded it wasn't.

Why wouldn't they? Several reasons. The biggest, though, is that no one undertakes an Alzheimer's trial lightly. The clinical success rate for Alzheimer's trials is arguably zero per cent... The article does note that Pfizer was getting out of Alzheimer's in general at the time (2015), but it also explicitly makes clear that Enbrel was nearing the end of its patent lifetime and brings up the idea that Pfizer deliberately took a pass because they weren't going to reap as much profit. Well, you'll have to trust me on this, it's a little out there, but drug companies don't generally walk away from big profits if they can help it. I've had my problems with Pfizer over the years, but I have never called into question their ability to make money. If Pfizer really thought that this was a promising lead into an Alzheimer's therapy, they would have found a way to turn a profit off of it.

The blogger also argues that Pfizer's data represented "a noticeable-but-small signal, and by itself (I cannot state this strongly enough), it would not be enough for anyone to launch an Alzheimer's trial."

What about you??

By backslashdot • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

You didnâ(TM)t bother to even go to college and study the necessary stuff to make a cure either. If you didn't feel compelled to find a cure, why should anyone else, including Pfizer?

Re:Informal trials

By Solandri • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Nobody is stopping you from doing a study on Enbrel to see if it's effective against Alzheimer's. The only reason you're not doing it is the exact same reason Pfizer isn't - you don't want to pay for the study when there will be no payoff for you. Just because they're the patent holder on it does not obligate them to investigate any and all possible alternative uses. And in this case because the patent will be expiring soon, an independent third party doing the study does not have to fear enriching Pfizer if by surprise they find it to be effective.

I'm all for lambasting pharmaceutical companies for behaving badly (like when they're the sole supplier of a medication and they raise the price 10000%, although I'd argue that suggests we need to loosen up FDA regulations so companies don't end up with regulatory monopolies so frequently). But in this case they're acting exactly the same as you or I would. If you really believe there may be something to this (and that it's not merely a coincidental correlation), put your money where your mouth is - start or fund a kickstarter to help pay for an informal trial. If you don't think you should be the one to have to pay for it when you yourself will not benefit from it if by a long shot it happens to work, well then you're in complete agreement with Pfizer.

barely a signal

By RhettLivingston • Score: 3 • Thread
That's a tiny difference over such a large number. It could have many meanings. Perhaps fewer people with Rheumatoid Arthritis or one of the other problems that Enbril is used for have Alzheimer's.

'Java Web Start Is Dead. Long Live Java Web Start!'

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader reminded us about the open source reimplementation of Java Web Start, a framework originally developed by Sun Microsystems that allowed users to more easily run Java applications in an applet-like sandbox using a web browser.

From Java Web Start (JWS) was deprecated in Java 9, and starting with Java 11, Oracle removed JWS from their JDK distributions. This means that clients that have the latest version of Java installed can no longer use JWS-based applications. And since public support of Java 8 has ended in Q2/2019, companies no longer get any updates and security fixes for Java Web Start.

This is why we decided to create OpenWebStart, an open source reimplementation of the Java Web Start technology. Our replacement will provide the most commonly used features of Java Web Start and the JNLP standard, so that your customers can continue using applications based on Java Web Start and JNLP without any change.

Red Hat is apparently involved in its parent project, IcedTea-Web, which it distributes as part of their Windows OpenJDK distribution.

Re:The sooner Java dies the better

By DeBaas • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

hmm, people/companies should move to openjdk and let Oracle's influence on Java die

Why, if there already is IcedTea...

By demon driver • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

... which already includes an open source version of Java Web Start named NetX? In my vicinity, the tests some people have already run for replacing Web Start with IcedTea/NetX do look good, or so I hear.

JWS is good technology

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Good news that there will be open source support. This is an important technology that has no replacement for things that can't "just run" in a browser. The only alternative is to go back to manually distributing and installing applications which is idiotic.

For now, we'll just go without updates.

Re:JWS is good technology

By demon driver • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

There's always WebASM.

Don't mistake Web Start for Java Applets – Web Start has nothing to do with the browser, except that you can get Web Start links on a web page, too. It's for starting and, if it is the first time or if there are updates, downloading an application beforehand over the web, with a secure protocol by name of JNLP. The application itself usually is a full-fledged desktop app.

Next Month Uber Will Start Offering Helicopter Rides in New York City

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes Fortune: Uber Technologies Inc. is testing a helicopter service in New York City, according to documents outlining the program obtained by Bloomberg. Passengers will be able to use the Uber app to book a flight through the service, called Uber Copter, the documents show. Tests flights took off from a Manhattan heliport near Wall Street to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

After Bloomberg asked Uber for comment Wednesday, the New York Times published a story about the program. It says customers will be able to book flights starting July 9 in New York City and that the average ride will cost $200 to $225 a person. Eric Allison, the head of Uber's flight business, told the Times that the company plans to eventually offer helicopter rides in other cities... Each helicopter can accommodate five passengers, and like Uber car rides, prices will fluctuate based on demand and other factors.


By dicobalt • Score: 3 • Thread
till Uber skimps on maintenance and people die.

Shared rides, no doubt.

By Mr. Dollar Ton • Score: 3 • Thread

I own one, and I can land on your roof and pick you up if you're going in the same direction, right?

Totally not a taxi company.

I see the business model

By nospam007 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Work hard.
Become millionaire.
Get a helicopter license.
Buy helicopter.
Fly people around for spare cash.

The Lost History of Sodium Wiring

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Long-time Slashddot reader Rei writes: On the face of it, sodium seems like about the worst thing you could make a wire out of — it oxidizes rapidly in air, releases hot hydrogen gas in water, melts at 97.8 degrees Centigrade, and has virtually no tensile strength. Yet, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Nacon Corporation did just that — producing thousands of kilometers of high-gauge sodium wiring for electrical utilities — and it worked surprisingly well.

While sodium has three times the (volumetric) resistivity of copper and nearly double that of alumium, its incredibly low density gives it a gravimetric resistivity less than a third of copper and half of alumium. Priced similar to alumium per unit resistivity (and much cheaper than copper), limitless, and with almost no environmental impact apart from its production energy consumption, sodium wiring proved to be much more flexible without the fatigue or installation damage risks of alumium. The polyethylene insulation proved to offer sufficient tensile strength on its own to safely pull the wire through conduits, while matching its thermal expansion coefficient. The wiring proved to have tamer responses to both over-current (no insulation burnoff) and over-voltage (high corona inception voltage) scenarios than alumium as well. Meanwhile, "accidental cutting" tests, such as with a backhoe, showed that such events posed no greater danger than cutting copper or alumium cabling. Reliability results in operation were mixed — while few reliability problems were reported with the cables themselves, the low-voltage variety of Nacon cables appeared to have unreliable end connectors, causing some of the cabling to need to be repaired during 13 years of utility-scale testing.

Ultimately, it was economics, not technical factors, that doomed sodium wiring. Lifecycle costs, at 1970s pricing, showed that using sodium wiring was similar to or slightly more expensive for utilities than using alumium. Without an unambiguous and significant economic case to justify taking on the risks of going larger scale, there was a lack of utility interest, and Nacon ceased production.

Re: Alumium?

By twms2h • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

"British chemist Humphry Davy, who performed a number of experiments aimed to synthesize the metal, is credited as the person who named the element. In 1808, he suggested the metal be named alumium."

News for nerds!

By serviscope_minor • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

This is a fascinating topic, I'd never have thought it was remotely feasible, nevermind practical enough to actually test.

Re:Explosive wiring

By careysub • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Well I said it in the title. Worst thing Aluminium oxides can cause a slight case of weakness in the memory, maybe Alzheimer if you are seriously unlucky. Sodium oxidation is a much more "entertaining" process.

Less entertaining than you might expect. A small pellet just sizzles (releasing hydrogen) when thrown into water, you need to get a fairly thick chunk (a centimeter or more) to get ignition. It is the least reactive of the alkali metals.

Sodium wiring sounds crazy on first hearing, but it you think about it a bit, its really isn't. This stuff was not produced for building wiring, but instead for power distribution. The stuff is manufactured with a thick continuous plastic insulation sheathe that water cannot penetrate, unless you cut it. If you cut it you expose just the cross-section of the wire, and if it comes into contact with liquid water immediately, it will might generate a bit of flame until the bulky hydroxide layer smothers it. If it does not common into immediate contact with liquid water it will just rapidly corrode to sodium hydroxide, which will fill the cut end of the cable for some short distance, blocking further oxidation.

But here's the thing -- that wire is a distribution power line and is carrying megawatts of power at 25,000 volts or so. It you cut, then whether the conductor metal might flame a bit of liquid water is poured on is not going to be an issue since the electrical arc will make an explosion many orders of magnitudes larger. You won't be able to detect any contribution from sodium oxidation in the brilliant arc flash.

Re:Rei, Tesla, Musk

By Rei • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Rei! You are back! What do you think of the Wall Street analyst who put the low end for Tesla stock at $10/share target?

Adam Jonas, the guy who A) can't do math (if you lower your worst case, but keep your expected case, that means that you think that either the upside has grown, or B) the negative possibilities aren't as likely anymore), and B) since then has been talking up Tesla, saying that it's oversold, that the "demand fears" appear to be ungrounded, and noting that in May the company sold far more more than all its competitors combined?

Meh, think whatever you want about him. His Tipranks score is no better than a coin toss. Meanwhile, the company appears to be on track for record deliveries this quarter.

Not sure what any of this has to do with sodium wiring, but since you brought it up...

Kids today don't know squat about sodium.

By Chris Mattern • Score: 3 • Thread

Why, the shocking lack of sodium taught at schools today is shocking.

Why Doesn't the U.S. Build More Earthquake-Proof Buildings?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
schwit1 shares a report from the New York Times flagging America's surprising low usage of an engineering technique protecting buildings from earthquakes: Chile, China, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Turkey and other countries vulnerable to earthquakes have adopted the technologies to varying degrees. But with notable exceptions, including Apple's new headquarters in Silicon Valley, the innovations have been used only sparingly in the United States. Seismic safety advocates describe this as a missed opportunity to save billions of dollars in reconstruction costs after the inevitable Big One strikes....

The debate over whether to build more resilient buildings in the United States has been held largely out of public view, among engineers and other specialists. But at stake is whether places like Silicon Valley, Seattle, Salt Lake City, San Francisco or Los Angeles might be forced to shut down after a direct hit -- and for how long. A federal study last year found that a quarter of the buildings in the Bay Area would be significantly damaged after a magnitude-7 earthquake, a disaster that would be compounded by the fact that 9 out of every 10 commercial buildings and 8 out of 10 homes in California are not insured for earthquakes. "Cities won't be usable for many months, if not years," said H. Kit Miyamoto, a member of the California Seismic Safety Commission, a government body that advises the state Legislature and the governor on earthquake issues. "Throwaway buildings equal a throwaway city."

In a severe earthquake, most American buildings are designed to crumple like a car in a head-on collision, dissipating the energy of the earthquake through damage. The goal is to preserve lives, but the building -- like a car after an accident -- may be useless. Ron Hamburger, an American structural engineer who is perhaps the leading authority on the building code, estimates that half of all buildings in San Francisco could be deemed unoccupiable immediately after a major earthquake.... Evan Reis, a co-founder of the U.S. Resiliency Council, a nonprofit organization, says the biggest impediment is that unlike in Japan, buildings change hands frequently in America and the developers who build them do not see the incentive in making them more robust. "Short-term thinking is absolutely the biggest villain," Reis said.

The article also points out that California's governor vetoed a bill last year that would've required buidings to be functional after an earthquake.

Re:maybe it's more about actual lifespan

By Applehu Akbar • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The first time I visited Seattle, circa 1974, I passed a construction site that apparently was destined to be the Kingdome. It lasted until 2000 and was destroyed not by an earthquake, but because the team threw the usual tantrum, threatening to leave town unless the city built them a new one.

Much later I visited the Odeon of Ephesus, a concert theater which although located on a quake-riddled coast, is still in use for its original purpose after 3000 years.

Cultural and political differences

By pegdhcp • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Looking from outside, specifically from Turkey that was mentioned in the TFA, I can point out some items those seem to be fundamentally different in US than other countries mentioned
  • For some reason US public has a fascination with natural disasters. If nothing else disaster movie culture in US is a sample case for that. I do not remember seeing any disaster movie that is not American made, maybe with the exception of one or two European movies that has Black Death in the background. I guess that fascination lead to a sensory overload and people in US does not take the issue as seriously as it should be taken (see any Sharknado movie that you choose and can stand...)
  • Politicians in US do not see any potential negative consequence to their career from the disasters. In the rest of the world the situation is not so. One of the reasons that in Turkey we do not have a government change for some years is that the Prime Minister and his coalition partners who were in power during the 1999 Earthquake, have not been able to recover from the political impact. Only one of the parties survived barely, rest and their political descendants are still trying to gain back public trust. In US I do not remember any such case.
  • While anywhere in the world economical factors are important, it seems that in US neither population not government does not need to seek for "clever" ways to improve infrastructure in a economically feasible way, probably because big companies already have very strong profit sources in the currant economical structure. For example in Turkey something close to 7% of GDP is generated by construction sector, for a short period more than half of that was from renovations and rebuilding investments. I guess still around, probably more than, 2% of our GDP is based on earthquake preparations.

In summary, if government fear that they would pay the political price of burying 50.000, 100.000 people into a landfill, things will improve. In order to generate that fear population must take the possibility of lying next to a garbage dump instead of consecrated ground more seriously.

Earthquake proofing may not make sense for US.

By west • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

If, as the summary suggests, US building code means the humans will survive, even if the building doesn't, then it becomes a simple tale of economics.

Essentially, do you buy insurance?

And for the Californian economy, according to the article, it makes little economic sense to do so. It's like adding a swimming pool. You might do it because *you* want a swimming pool, but don't expect anyone else to pay you the cost when you expect to sell.

Hell, given how tech revolutionizes building design, there's a pretty good case to be made that not tearing your buildings down every 50 years (and making the design decisions that accommodate that decision) is a sort of elitism, choosing personal culture "I want my building to last forever" over the needs of the future inhabitants of the space.

Re:They do

By FudRucker • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
i live in the middle of tornado alley and they dont build houses to any code that makes them tornado-proof, these houses around here fly apart when tornadoes just get too close, they dont even need direct contact just come within 50 yards


By mamba-mamba • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Overall, I think this article is pretty misleading. Building codes in California have evolved over time and most recent construction is in fact pretty resistant to earthquakes. We have learned from every earthquake and made changes accordingly.

It is mainly old buildings (built before isolation was a thing) that are the problem. Look at the 1989 earthquake in Santa Cruz (the Loma Prieta earthquake). It destroyed downtown Santa Cruz but only around 7 people died there. Hundreds died in San Francisco and Oakland due to the collapse of the double-decker freeway (the Cypress structure). But the entire SF skyline survived. The bay bridge mostly survived. The golden gate bridge survived.

It is not like planners in California are ignoring the risk of earthquake. Maybe the cost benefit analysis is just a bit different here in California.

The Case Against Breaking Up Big Tech Companies

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
This week The Street ran a new article arguing that "Breaking Up Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook Is Not the Solution": The Microsoft anti-trust case twenty years ago showed that judges are reluctant to break up companies even when there are definite signs of market abuse... Technology is a better solution to create competition. Things such as open-source software have made a difference in breaking through technology monopolies. And the third reason is that there are perverse incentives on Wall Street that will always reward winner-take-all scenarios such as that of Amazon, even if they mean massive financial losses for years. An attempt to break up companies or unwind mergers won't cure that impulse on Wall Street that pushes companies to "go big or go home."
Meanwhile, the associate technology editor at Barron's argues that breaking up companies like Google and Facebook "wonâ(TM)t solve the real issues facing tech," arguing that surveillance capitalism "is not an antitrust issue" and that "bigness alone is not a sin." Microsoft is the reigning market-cap champ, and it has been left out of the discussion this time. By revenues, all four [Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon] pale next to Walmart , but no one wants to break it up. Exxon Mobil has more revenue than the tech giants -- should we break it up? Some of the big-is-bad sentiment reflects societal resistance to change (ah, the good old days) -- and a "revenge of the losers" response from those getting disrupted by digitization.

What a load of shit.

By Gravis Zero • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Elizabeth Warren's call for a break-up of tech is a courageous move but unlikely to go anywhere. Technology is the better solution for competition,

That's the problem, dumbasses, they are being investigated for anti-competitive behavior. How can they so easily engage in such acts? Oh, it's almost as if they are so massive that taking losses to destroy competitors isn't even problematic.

Whoever wrote this is either an imbecile or paid to behave like an imbecile.

Microsoft wasn't broken up

By rsilvergun • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
because our legal system is slow and they held out until an extreme corporate Republican (as opposed to the centrist corporate Democrat we had) got in office and more or less dropped the case after giving millions in donations to both sides.

The judges were ready to go until the DOJ just up and settled.

Stop the mergers first

By illiac_1962 • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread
Why don't we just stop the un-American, anti-free market practice of mergers and acquisitions? Big tech would not be big tech if they weren't buying every possible competitor before it gets off the ground. We have an industry of startups whose sole business model is to burn cash until they can sell themselves to the first evil tech company. Jesus fucking witless christ. Wake the fuck up you dumb fucking shits. Disallow mergers of any kind. They kill competition and reduce choice.

Re:Author missed the point

By postbigbang • Score: 4 • Thread

No one in politics has the guts, stamina, or willpower to make the tough decisions about breaking up companies. Social media is one big machine, while software developer control is still another.

Business start to dictate the state. Their tax breaks and sheer financial power then becomes dominate, changing the form of government in areas into plutocracy and kleptocracy. As the rich get richer, you get the early symptoms of madness, viz San Francisco and the Bay Area. It's now a fiefdom, whose financial power and data assets pile into infecting other parts of the economy targeted locally and world-wide.

As we become the product, it proves the enormous power of ad networks, developer control, and the value of personal privacy assets. The art of war has transcended its motive to asset capture as the art of war of business. But the bribed congresses, parliaments, diets, and even hungry majors can be seduced, are seduced, and democracy becomes a sham in the midst of inaction against the war of business. The fulcrum of control has been ceded with Citizens United, and the pernicious influence of the art of the legal bribe.

Size does matter

By BlackSwan • Score: 3 • Thread

The original post and articles make interesting points about the changing nature of the economy and technology, but they don't address wider-ranging impacts:

- monopolistic manipulation of markets and rent-seeking,
- unaccountability, except maybe to those precious (few) "shareholders".
- Influence on public policy, either through powerful lobbying, propaganda outlets (i.e., think-tanks, "foundations") and financial support of sympathetic political candidates.

Moreover, the articles authors question the need for breakup, but yet offer only a few hazy bromide such as "new corporate governance rules", "new tax policy" or "decentralized transactions based on the blockchain technology" (yeah, right ...).

Breaking up large corporations is still a blunt and messy option, but I still it's the best one to address the problems discussed here.

Will Car-Sharing Apps Revolutionize Transportation?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
We're now living in a wrold where customers "can download smartphone apps and rent privately owned cars, usually parked a short walk away in urban areas or residential neighborhoods," reports the Orlando Sentinel, noting that the rates can be as cheap as $5 an hour -- or $400 a day if you want to spend a day driving a Ferrari, Aston Martin or Bentley: Car-sharing companies say they offer benefits that young users find particularly appealing: Shared cars reduce congestion and parking shortages in cities. They reduce carbon emissions by making fewer cars necessary. They make it easier to live without owning cars. Car-sharing platforms are also easy to use: Your smartphone's GPS will navigate you to where the car is located, then you use the app to activate a remote entry system to get access to the key, or wait for the owner to bring it to you, and you're on the road.

Using a car-sharing app eliminates trips to the airport or in-town car rental agency office. "Skip the Rental Car Counter," beckons the website for Turo, the nation's largest car-sharing platform... Just as Airbnb allows private home owners to generate extra income from short-term rentals, the car-sharing platforms say their apps help car owners cover ownership costs by making their vehicles available for rent when they would otherwise be sitting in a driveway or parking spot.

The article cites two 10-year-old companies, Turo and Getaround, noting both companies "have raised hundreds of millions of dollars from venture capitalists in recent years to finance aggressive expansion efforts."

Car sharing = taxi service by another name

By Viol8 • Score: 3 • Thread

Share with friends and family, sure. Share with a complete stranger? No thanks. My car is my personal space and I'm not interested in being a part time taxi driver on the way to work. And apart from that why would I want to get up much earlier so I can pick up and drop off these strangers?

Its a stupid idea only ivory tower non car owning hipsters would come up with.

Let me rephrase

By johannesg • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

"Will people give up on their holy cow, that they invest time and money in, and keep spotlessly clean, and replace it by a dodgy vehicle that may or may not have been used by some drug user or pimp in its previous ride, and that is never available during rush hour, and where they cannot leave any personal items?"

I think the answer to that question is "no".

Oh, and they do not reduce carbon emissions: they improve utilisation per vehicle, but certainly not the number of rides that will be taken. Quite the contrary in fact: partial car ownership, at low cost, and with a low barrier to entry, will vastly increase the number of rides.

"Just as airbnb lets home owners benefit from short term rentals" That's wrong too: airbnb has created an industry of unofficial (and frequently illegal) hotels that operate at very low cost, and displaces regular use of housing with the sole purpose of housing tourists instead of locals. Soon our city centers will only have tourists living there; for normal people, a house far away in the suburbs is the best they can aspire to.

Great for smuggling

By bagofbeans • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Is every renter responsible for whatever the car has inside it at the time if searched by authorities?

Still a problem of demand

By fluffernutter • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
The problem with 'car sharing' is that everyone wants them in rush hour and on sunny weekends.
Car sharing will need to figure out how to deal with those peaks, otherwise everyone using the cars will have to pay for them anyway because the cars required at the peaks will sit idle most of the time otherwise.