the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2019-Aug-13 today archive


  1. Microscopic Fibers Are Falling From the Sky In Rocky Mountains
  2. FAA Bans Recalled MacBook Pros From Flights
  3. Domino's Launches E-Bike Delivery To Compete With UberEats, DoorDash
  4. Researcher Makes Legit-Looking iPhone Lightning Cables That Will Hijack Your Computer
  5. Russia Orders Evacuation of Village Near Site of Nuclear Accident, Then Cancels It
  6. Websites Can Discriminate Against You Even If You Don't Use Them, California Supreme Court Rules
  7. CenturyLink, FCC Reach Settlement Over 'Cramming' Fees On Phone Bills
  8. Amazon's Facial Recognition Misidentified 1 in 5 California Lawmakers as Criminals
  9. $3 Million Fortnite Winner Becomes Latest Swatting Target
  10. Vulnerability in Microsoft CTF Protocol Goes Back To Windows XP
  11. Facebook Paid Contractors To Transcribe Users' Audio Chats
  12. Bedbugs Are Giving Airbnb Users Headaches
  13. CBS, Viacom Strike Deal To Recombine
  14. US To Delay China Tariffs on Some Products, Including Laptops, Cell Phones
  15. YouTube Tests Bigger Thumbnails
  16. Insect 'Apocalypse' in US Driven by 50x Increase in Toxic Pesticides
  17. Americans Would Rather Get Food Poisoning on Vacation Than Not Have Internet Access, Study Finds
  18. AI Used To Narrate E-books in Authors' Voices
  19. How One City Saved $5 Million by Routing School Buses with an Algorithm
  20. Google's Jobs Search Draws Antitrust Complaints From Rivals
  21. The Banana Is One Step Closer To Disappearing
  22. How Netflix Is Using Its Muscle To Push Filmmaking Technology Boundaries
  23. Nuclear Reactor For Mars Outpost Could Be Ready To Fly By 2022

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

Microscopic Fibers Are Falling From the Sky In Rocky Mountains

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Plastic was the furthest thing from Gregory Wetherbee's mind when he began analyzing rainwater samples collected from the Rocky Mountains. "I guess I expected to see mostly soil and mineral particles," said the U.S. Geological Survey researcher. Instead, he found multicolored microscopic plastic fibers. The discovery, published in a recent study (pdf) titled "It is raining plastic", raises new questions about the amount of plastic waste permeating the air, water, and soil virtually everywhere on Earth. Rainwater samples collected across Colorado and analyzed under a microscope contained a rainbow of plastic fibers, as well as beads and shards. The findings shocked Wetherbee, who had been collecting the samples in order to study nitrogen pollution. "My results are purely accidental," he said, though they are consistent with another recent study that found microplastics in the Pyrenees, suggesting plastic particles could travel with the wind for hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometers. Other studies have turned up microplastics in the deepest reaches of the ocean, in UK lakes and rivers and in U.S. groundwater.

How science is meant to work

By circamoore • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

In the course of another study they incidentally made an interesting observation, so they reported it in a brief note alongside (as you noticed) a statement of the limitations of the observation, and the suggestion that further study is needed (with better techniques). That way people with the resources/expertise to follow up the observation actually get to hear about it.

This is EXACTLY how science is meant to work. It is a process of collaborative refinement of understanding, not of paranoid loners working in absolute secrecy until they have some perfect irrefutable gem of wisdom to unleash fully formed on the supplicant masses.

Now if you were talking about mainstream media reporting on preliminary observations that would be a different story.

Re:It all points to

By N1AK • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Which to it's credit seems to be more willing at a political level to accept climate change than the biggest actual polluter: The United States.

Even if everyone could agree that China was somehow the key in this issue, what's your solution to it? Generally the people who have a reflex reaction of "China" haven't got any further than effectively expecting them to "know their place and stay poor" rather than do exactly what we in the West did which is get rich by exploiting nature and polluting. If those same people were willing to consider using some kind of financial assistance to help other countries develop in an ecologically sound way I'd have more time for their finger pointing, but they won't because they baulk at even giving a small sum to other countries when there are full on famines.

And this is a surprise because....

By keithdowsett • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Every time we wash our clothes we generate a soup of microscopic fiber particles and dump them into the drainage system.

The fibers originating from natural materials will mostly be degraded by bacteria & fungi in the waste water processing plant.. Those from man made fibers aren't degraded because there are no organisms which digest these polymers. The particles are less dense than water so they aren't trapped in settlement tanks and instead they are released with the 'clean' water into rivers and seas.

Once in the sea it's easy to see how droplets containing these microscopic fibers will enter the atmosphere and be carried around the planet.

So I'm not in the least surprised to find that microscopic fiber particles are found in rainwater, and would expect similar results pretty much anywhere.

To resolve this either a) stop washing our clothes or b) wear cotton, linen, and wool


By Viol8 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

"Plastics have been in wide use since the 50s, and the apocalyptic harm has been ... uh ... well .."

Compare the usage of plastics in the 50s compared to now and the tonnage produced and hence dumped later. Also compare the types of plastics and the chemicals they contain. Plastic is not a single substance, its a term for a broad range of substances a lot of which were only invented recently.

Plastic eating bacteria

By Dan East • Score: 3 • Thread

There will be an absolutely massive explosion in bacteria if and when they adapt to eat plastics.

FAA Bans Recalled MacBook Pros From Flights

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has banned select MacBook Pro laptops on flights after Apple recently said that some units had batteries that posed a fire risk. In a statement, the FAA said it was "aware of the recalled batteries that are used in some Apple MacBook Pro laptops" and stated that it alerted major U.S. airlines about the recall. Bloomberg reports: The watchdog also reminded airlines to follow 2016 safety instructions for goods with recalled batteries, which means that the affected Apple laptops should not be taken on flights as cargo or in carry-on baggage by passengers. The Apple laptops in question are some 15-inch MacBook Pros sold between September 2015 and February 2017. Apple issued the recall in June, saying it had "determined that, in a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro units, the battery may overheat and pose a fire safety risk."

This week, four airlines with cargo operations managed by Total Cargo Expertise -- TUI Group Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines, Air Italy, and Air Transat -- implemented a ban, barring the laptops from being brought onto the carriers' planes as cargo, according to an internal notice obtained by Bloomberg News. A spokesperson for TUI Group Airlines said airport staff and flight attendants will start making announcements about these MacBook Pros at the gate and before takeoff. Laptops that have replaced batteries won't be impacted, the spokesperson said. The company also posted a notice on its website banning the recalled computers on board, in both cargo and passenger areas of its planes. It's unclear what efforts will, if any, be made at U.S. airports.

Thomas Cook Airlines [Tim's Jealous Brother?]

By Tablizer • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

3-way coincidence: "cook" is also what the laptops do.

Website to check your model number

By goombah99 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

it's all the mid 2015 series mac pros. so you can check it that way too.

Here's my worry-- sure apple will replace my battery but.... how does the FAA know to let me on the plane? do I get a badge screwed on the outside to let them know the battery got replaced?

And while they are at it maybe they could remove my touch bar? god I hate the touch bar. Love the mac, hate the touch bar.

Where's Nader?

By PopeRatzo • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Macbook Pro: unsafe at any speed. (or altitude)

Re:Website to check your model number

By q4Fry • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Here's my worry-- sure apple will replace my battery but.... how does the FAA know to let me on the plane? do I get a badge screwed on the outside to let them know the battery got replaced?

That site doesn't check the model number; it checks the serial number. Apple records when a laptop has been serviced. The bag scanners don't even have to turn on your laptop. They can just flip it over and copy the number into the site's input field to see if your specific computer is still listed as dangerous.

Related: last time Slashdot talked about this recall, they mentioned that "only" 46 laptops had spontaneously combusted. One of them was a guy I worked with in 2016. The laptop was just sitting, unused, on his kitchen island when it caught fire. He threw it out onto the stoop and sent us pictures. That is not an experience I'd like to have myself, especially not on an aeroplane.

If you have (or think you might have) an affected laptop, I highly encourage you to check your serial number.

How do you prove it?

By Stonent1 • Score: 3 • Thread
How are they going to prove if the battery has been replaced or not? Is apple going to issue some kind of certificate or put a sticker on the computer?

Domino's Launches E-Bike Delivery To Compete With UberEats, DoorDash

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Domino's is planning to become more competitive with on-demand apps like DoorDash, GrubHub and UberEats by delivering pizzas with custom electric bikes. According to TechCrunch, the pizza company has partnered with Rad Power Bikes to deploy hundreds of e-bikes across corporate-owned stores later this year in Baltimore, Houston, Miami and Salt Lake City. From the report: The e-bikes supplied by Rad Power Bikes are equipped with small integrated motors to assist with pedaling, and can run for 25 to 40 miles, depending on the user, before needing a recharge, according to the company. The bikes are equipped with lights in the front and back, reflective materials for driver safety and have a top assisted speed of 20 miles per hour. Importantly, the e-bikes have been customized to hold pizza, drinks and sides. One e-bike can hold up to 12 large pizzas. The company tested the e-bikes and discovered that service and delivery times improved, Tom Curtis, Domino's executive vice president of corporate operations, said in the announcement. The e-bikes also opened up the labor pool for the company, allowing it to tap into candidates who might not have a car or driver's license. Some franchisee owners were already using e-bikes and found they are essential in hilly urban areas.

Researcher Makes Legit-Looking iPhone Lightning Cables That Will Hijack Your Computer

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
A researcher known as MG has modified Lightning cables with extra components to let him remotely connect to the computers that the cables are connected to. "It looks like a legitimate cable and works just like one. Not even your computer will notice a difference. Until I, as an attacker, wirelessly take control of the cable," MG said. Motherboard reports: One idea is to take this malicious tool, dubbed O.MG Cable, and swap it for a target's legitimate one. MG suggested you may even give the malicious version as a gift to the target -- the cables even come with some of the correct little pieces of packaging holding them together. MG typed in the IP address of the fake cable on his own phone's browser, and was presented with a list of options, such as opening a terminal on my Mac. From here, a hacker can run all sorts of tools on the victim's computer.

The cable comes with various payloads, or scripts and commands that an attacker can run on the victim's machine. A hacker can also remotely "kill" the USB implant, hopefully hiding some evidence of its use or existence. MG made the cables by hand, painstakingly modifying real Apple cables to include the implant. "In the end, I was able to create 100 percent of the implant in my kitchen and then integrate it into a cable. And these prototypes at Def con were mostly done the same way," he said. MG did point to other researchers who worked on the implant and graphical user interface. He is selling the cables for $200 each.

Re:New Rule: Security over Speed

By bug_hunter • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I'm not sure it was a lack of common sense that caused this.
If I designed the USB spec in 1996, I would not have thought that a complicated chip could be embedded into a charging cable with no noticeable visual indicator that could pretend to be a keyboard - that could then send input to run pre-defined malicious commands.
It's pretty clever hack, even if not totally original, though the packages might be.

I'm not sure what the cure is, I guess a pairing step similar to Bluetooth where the device also has to identify what kind of device it is. Even then half the people would just click yes to everything.

Russia Orders Evacuation of Village Near Site of Nuclear Accident, Then Cancels It

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: The Russian authorities on Tuesday announced the evacuation of the village nearest to the site of a nuclear accident in northern Russia, suggesting dangers more grave than initially reported. The still-mysterious episode last week killed seven people and released radiation, apparently when a small nuclear reactor malfunctioned during a test of a novel type of missile near a naval weapons testing site. Russian officials have released a flurry of misleading or incomplete statements playing down the severity of the accident, which the military first reported on Thursday as a fire involving a liquid-fueled rocket engine. It was not until Sunday that Russian scientists conceded that a reactor had released radiation during a test on an offshore platform in the White Sea. That pattern of murkiness continued on Tuesday, as news reports and official statements offered only the vaguest explanation for the evacuation, and hours later seemed to indicate that it had been called off.

Never doubted it

By rmdingler • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Russian officials have released a flurry of misleading or incomplete statements playing down the severity of the accident...

While some, many, or even most current nation-states would at least be tempted to downplay the significance of a domestic disaster, totalitarian-style governments knee-jerk to this reaction... the generational lack of oversight corrupts such regimes.

Re: chernobyl all over again!

By Nostalgia4Infinity • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Interesting. You make the exact same post over and over. How exactly do you know what the numbers really are?

There are risks to evacuations

By blindseer • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Russia, and the Soviet Union, certainly does not have a history of treating treating radiation risks to the public with the proper care it deserves. That is putting it mildly. They certainly have not treated the public well when radiation releases have occurred. Perhaps they gained some respect for public safety over the decades. If I were to assume that they did in fact learn a few lessons then I can see the logic in not ordering an evacuation.

What we saw in Japan after they had a nuclear reactor melt down and release radiation is that there is a risk to the public in ordering an evacuation. People can get in traffic accidents. Patients in need of care in hospitals in the evacuation zone might be put at risk of infection, stress, injury, etc. that can make their condition worse. People moving out in an evacuation can be stressed through having to exert themselves more than necessary and die from heart attacks, heat stroke, accidental falls, and so on. These are all examples of how people died in evacuating from the radiation leaked from Fukushima. There's calculations that show the risks from the radiation was far less than in the risks in evacuating. Some calculations show that those the fled the country to the USA likely got more radiation in the plane ride than if they had stayed put.

Is the government looking out for the best course of action for the public in the area by not evacuating? I consider this unlikely. I'm guessing that by moving people the powers that be see this as a hassle and expense they could avoid by having the people stay put than have to find places for these people to go.

I was simply reminded of the unnecessary evacuations in Japan and have to wonder if Russia is taking a prudent stance by weighing the risks properly on evacuation vs. allowing people to stay, or if they have so little concern for human life that they will again keep people in the dark on the risks they face in staying and allow people to put their lives and health at risk just so the government can attempt to keep a lid on just how badly they screwed up.

Re:Fukushima FUD?

By rmdingler • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Well, so far as accountability goes, Japan actually prosecuted three TEP executives. If Comrade Putin purges anyone with his extra leverage over the narrative, it'll likely be without judge or jury.

Re: chernobyl all over again!

By war4peace • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

I think the GP alluded to the way incidents were (and are) managed by USSR/Russian government.
Misleading, contradictory information; attempts to hide, then reveal incompletely or incorrectly. From this point of view, the similarity is striking.

Websites Can Discriminate Against You Even If You Don't Use Them, California Supreme Court Rules

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Nearly four years ago, a lone bankruptcy lawyer sued Square, the payment processor run by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, challenging the app's terms of use -- despite never signing up. As of yesterday, the case will proceed, thanks to an opinion issued by the California Supreme Court that could have wide-reaching implications for online businesses. Gizmodo reports: The first thing you need to know is that, for whatever reason, Square's Prohibited Goods and Services policies include "bankruptcy attorneys or collection agencies," which you'll recall is plaintiff Robert White's line of work. California, where this case was tried and where a plurality of online services are headquartered, is also home to a state law -- the Unruh Civil Rights Act -- which provides broad protections against discrimination of many kinds, including occupation. But the question remained as to whether White needed to have entered into an agreement with Square (by agreeing to the terms of service) in order to have experienced said discrimination barring his "full and equal access" to the service. For the time being at least: no.

"In general, a person suffers discrimination under the Act when the person presents himself or herself to a business with an intent to use its services but encounters an exclusionary policy or practice that prevents him or her from using those services," Justice Goodwin Liu wrote in court's unanimous opinion. "We conclude that this rule applies to online businesses and that visiting a website with intent to use its services is, for purposes of standing, equivalent to presenting oneself for services at a brick-and-mortar store." The Supreme Court noted that the merits of White's case -- beyond his having standing -- were outside its purview, and that "mere awareness of a business's discriminatory policy or practice is not enough for standing under the Act," but that "entering into an agreement with the business is not required."

Re:Very misleading headline

By rgmoore • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

The full article also points out that many web sites have mandatory arbitration clauses in their terms of service, so he would have been barred from suing them if he had agreed. It would completely undermine the purpose of the law if potential customers first had to agree to terms that prevented them from suing order to get standing to sue.

Re:Off course it's California

By DRJlaw • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Freedom of speech and freedom of association means I don't have to associate myself with anyone unless I'm the government. Don't like it, take your business elsewhere and let the market figure it out.

Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is going to come as a complete surprise you, isn't it?

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 too, I bet.

The Federal and State governments are treading on your freedom. Go tilt at that windmill, young Quixote.

Re:Very misleading headline

By smoot123 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

What I find odd is Square wasn't discriminating against White as a person. He's free to sign up and use the service. He just can't sell bankruptcy services. If he wants to run a taco cart on the weekend, that would be just fine. So the discrimination is against the product, not the individual.

I hope the jury decides Square is free to not associate itself with products and services it finds offensive or problematic for some reason. If not, I'm going to immediately set up an account for my assassination-for-hire side gig.

Re:Off course it's California

By DRJlaw • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Disabilities Act is still technically unconstitutional but no one cares anyways so what is the big deal?

14th Amendment states that all laws must give equal protection, which means any law that only protects one class, then it is unconstitutional.

Wrong. The 14th Amendment states that "[n]o state shall make or enforce any law which shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Beyond the fact that the able-bodied benefit equally from accommodations made to the disabled -- they have the same or superior access to facilities -- you run straight into issues analogous to those in affirmative action, the government has a compelling interest in remedying historic discrimination against the disabled.

But good luck tilting at that windmill, young Panza.


By slashmydots • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
They consider discrimination excluding who a private company does business with based on occupation? A 100% choice on the part of a person? REALLY?! So I can't say I don't do business with exotic dancers on moral grounds. Or gender studies professors? That's ridiculous. That's not discrimination. It's discrimination to take undesirable customers and force a private business to do business with them.

CenturyLink, FCC Reach Settlement Over 'Cramming' Fees On Phone Bills

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
The FCC said on Tuesday that CenturyLink will pay $550,000 to settle an investigation into a practice known as "cramming": when phone companies add unauthorized third-party charges to customer bills. "CenturyLink will also stop billing for most third parties, start refunding affected customer accounts and let customers block future third-party charges," adds CNET. From the report: "Over the years, the FCC has done yeoman's work in fighting cramming and getting major phone companies to stop this practice," Rosemary Harold, chief of the FCC's enforcement bureau, said in a release. "With today's action, another major phone company will stop cramming and prevent unscrupulous third parties from adding fees to bills without prior express consent." CenturyLink has previously said its own internal investigation found no wrongdoing. The company has faced repeated complaints over issues related to alleged billing fraud, including an ongoing $12 billion class action lawsuit.

FCC Doing yeoman's work? $500K ??!!

By iggymanz • Score: 3 • Thread

CenturyLink revenue is $23 billion (voice of Carl Sagan)

$500K is what I estimate company with 45K employees spent on office supplies, for two weeks.

What the hell? FCC didn't do anything to them.

Why I ditched CenturyLink

By Rick Zeman • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

CenturyLink is my ILEC here in PA and I had a landline with them.
Come the 2016 Presidential elections and I started getting robocalled by the Trump campaign incessantly since PA is a critical swing state.
I didn't have CallerID because the more they raised their prices the more I'd cut their additional $$ features, so I'd invariably answer the calls and hearing that hideous voice saying "This is Donald Trump" in my ear made me want to stab my eardrum out with a pencil.
After a few weeks of that abuseI say "Eff it, who needs a landline any more in 2016?" so I call CL to cancel my line.
Me: Cancel!
Retention Department: What can we do to keep you as a customer?
Me: Can you stop Donald Trump from calling me?
RD: Errr, no, but you're not the first one to ask that.

Amazon's Facial Recognition Misidentified 1 in 5 California Lawmakers as Criminals

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The ACLU tested Rekognition, Amazon's facial recognition technology, on photographs of California lawmakers. It matched 26 of them to mugshots. From a report: In a recent test of Amazon's facial recognition software, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California revealed that it mistook 26 California lawmakers as people arrested for crimes. The ACLU used Rekognition, Amazon's facial recognition software, to evaluate 120 photos of lawmakers against a database of 25,000 arrest photos, ACLU attorney Matt Cagle said at a press conference on Tuesday. One in five lawmaker photographs were falsely matched to mugshots, exposing the frailties of an emerging technology widely adopted by law enforcement. The ACLU used the default Rekognition settings, which match identity at 80 percent confidence, Cagle said. Assembly member Phil Ting was among those whose picture was falsely matched to an arrest photo. He's also an active advocate for limiting facial recognition technology: in February, he introduced a bill, co-sponsored by the ACLU, that bans the use of facial recognition and other biometric surveillance on police-worn body cameras.

That seems low

By ITRambo • Score: 3 • Thread
I suspect just about all of them have abused the law at some time, not necessarily in an evil way. But, every corrupt politician needs to start somewhere. How many have helped out friends? How many have gotten out of a ticket? The list of questions is very, very long.


By cdsparrow • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Yeah, I'm not sure misidentified is the right word unless they are talking about the 4/5 it got wrong.


By billybob2001 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Misidentified 1 in 5 California Lawmakers as Criminals

Does that mean it Correctly identified the other 4 as criminals?

How it really works

By MikeWhoIsTall • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Background: I do not work for Amazon and I have no knowledge of the internal workings of their specific system I've worked in the biometrics industry for quite some time. The headline and implications sound all very scintillating unless you know how real systems work and are used. With most algorithms, when you match two faces you get a "score". This score basically means "likelihood of the two faces being a match". When you run these through a system, you typically set a score threshold. Let's say the match confidence score is on a 1-100 scale - 1 being very unlikely to be a match, 100 being highly likely to be a match. You might configure the system to say "Give me all results where the score is 75 or above". Now, you are probably going to look similar to a fair number of people in the rest of the population, at least according to the algorithms. So they don't take the person with the highest score and put him or her in prison immediately. There are human operators and law-enforcement agents that would take the matches with the highest scores and 1) Visually inspect them to see if they really are that close or not 2) Do a quick background check to see if this person has been charged with related crimes previously 2) at the next level, do some research to see if the person that is a match could even be reasonably said to be in the area of a suspected crime at the time it occurred. Only then would the matched person even be brought in for questioning, much less charged with anything. So the fact that some subset of politicians have a 25% match rate using some threshold score value in a database of gosh-knows how many known criminals is not that far-fetched, and does not indicate that a suspect that might match the database at the same rate would be cuffed and brought immediately to prison. Now I'm not a fan of scanning entire crowds of people at an event or populated area hoping that you catch someone with an outstanding warrant, etc, which is a different issue. But the headlines and implications thereof grossly overestimate the role of a raw match in the larger process of investigating a crime.

On the plus side...

By h33t l4x0r • Score: 3 • Thread
It correctly identified Mitch McConnell as a turtle.

$3 Million Fortnite Winner Becomes Latest Swatting Target

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Kotaku reports that Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf was streaming a Fortnite game late Sunday when he abruptly left his desk and abandoned the game with the livestream still running. The cause? His father coming to tell him that armed police were at the front door. Fortunately, Bugha returned unharmed to the stream several minutes later. "That was definitely a new one," he can be heard saying on a recording of the stream. "I got swatted." The comparatively quick and peaceful resolution of the issue was in part due to sheer good luck. "I was lucky because the one officer, yeah, he lives in our neighborhood," Bugha explained on the stream.

Bugha won $3 million for his first-place finish in the first-ever Fortnite World Cup in July and even appeared on The Tonight Show to talk about his win with host Jimmy Fallon. He is also all of 16 years old, and so a threat against him also involved his parents, whose personal information may have been easy to find. "Swatting" occurs when someone places a hoax emergency call to a police department, hoping to mobilize an emergency response (i.e., a SWAT team) to the victim's home. Bugha was lucky in that the officers who responded to his address were of a mood to ask questions first.
Not all swatting victims are so lucky. In 2017, a Kansas man named Andrew Finch was killed during a swatting event even though he was not the intended target. The man behind the hoax call was sentenced to 20 years in prison earlier this year for his role in Finch's death.


By sit1963nz • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
World freedom of the press rankings

USA 48th
UK 33rd
Canada 18th

The USA talks a big game, but the facts say something very very different.

Only poor Americans Die

By aberglas • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I'm sure the statistics for middle class Americans are about the same as elsewhere in the western world.

Re:Only poor Americans Die

By sit1963nz • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Other countries have poor people too, cherry picking data is not legitimate statistics.


By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

black males between the ages of 17 and 39 carry out far more murders than any other group

Except that's not what your source actually says. But when people try to tell you that, you accuse them of being PC.

The stats say that more black men between 17 and 39 are *convicted* of murder than any other group. And as we know, black people are convicted at a much higher rate than other groups. The data doesn't adjust for that.

It also doesn't adjust for economic status. It isn't comparing black people of similar economic status to other groups of similar economic status. Again, we know that poverty breeds crime.

There is really no evidence that this is anything to do with "black culture", and a mountain of evidence that suggests it is to do with poverty and bias. But point that out and someone will brand you an SJW. I get the impression that they mainly do that to avoid anything being done about the problem.

Treated like calling in fake pizza order. Wrong.

By DutchUncle • Score: 3 • Thread
We don't need new laws - we already have laws about "filing a false police report" and "endangerment". We need for everybody in the news and the government to stop treating it as a "prank" like calling in a fake pizza order. Of course, we can argue about whether the civil police should really be showing up in military gear with continental-siege-level weaponry, but even an old-fashioned marshal with a handgun is dangerous if primed with a sufficiently horrific story to investigate.

Vulnerability in Microsoft CTF Protocol Goes Back To Windows XP

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
CTF, a little-known Microsoft protocol used by all Windows operating system versions since Windows XP, is insecure and can be exploited with ease. From a report: According to Tavis Ormandy, a security researcher with Google's Project Zero elite security team and the one who discovered the buggy protocol, hackers or malware that already have a foothold on a user's computer can use the protocol to take over any app, high-privileged applications, or the entire OS, as a whole. Currently, there are no patches for these bugs, and a quick fix isn't expected, as the vulnerabilities are deeply ingrained in the protocol and its design.

What CTF stands is currently unknown. Even Ormandy, a well-known security researcher, wasn't able to find what it means in all of Microsoft documentation. What Ormandy found out was that CTF is part of of the Windows Text Services Framework (TSF), the system that manages the text shown inside Windows and Windows applications. When users start an app, Windows also starts a CTF client for that app. The CTF client receives instructions from a CTF server about the OS system language and the keyboard input methods.
It is unclear how Microsoft will patch the CTF problem.

Re:Define "exploited with ease"

By holophrastic • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Imagine going to a store in the mall, being greeted at the second set of shelves, and being told to go back out into the mall, walk down the hall, and look at the poster in the window of another store, then come back and continue shopping.

Why oh why would any web-site visitor ever want to load an ad from another domain? I don't get it.

I don't "block" ads. I simply don't leave the domain that I'm on to go and get ads. It's an instruction, not a demand. I can ignore instructions. I can ignore demands too.

If a site wants to show me an ad, they can serve it themselves, with their own bandwidth and their own hardware. I'm fine with that.

Let Me Google That For You

By scdeimos • Score: 3 • Thread


Collaborative Translation Framework (CTF)

There. Now how hard was that?

Re:Let Me Google That For You

By thegreatbob • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Googling for this turned out to be surprisingly difficult; these two MS patents reference it as "Common Text Framework":

Re:That's very considerate

By xQx • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

What is the world coming to when the average slashdot user doesn't understand the seriousness of privilege escalation?

This exploit makes any interactive user (or any process run by any interactive user) an administrator.

So, of course it's not much of a problem for home PC's where everybody is an administrator anyway;

But, That's a REALLY big problem for anybody who manages a windows computer in a corporate or educational environment.

Re:That's very considerate

By xQx • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Getting admin rights on a windows box is trivial if you have physical access to a machine and can boot your own operating system image beside windows.

Getting Administrator rights on a properly patched Windows machine from a regular user login is not trivial, and every time there is a bug that allows users to escalate their privileges it's a big deal.

Almost every organisation with more than about 30 employees worldwide relies on the fact that users do not have administrative privileges.

Facebook Paid Contractors To Transcribe Users' Audio Chats

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Facebook has been paying hundreds of outside contractors to transcribe clips of audio from users of its services, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing people with knowledge of the work. From the report: The work has rattled the contract employees, who are not told where the audio was recorded or how it was obtained -- only to transcribe it, said the people, who requested anonymity for fear of losing their jobs. They're hearing Facebook users' conversations, sometimes with vulgar content, but do not know why Facebook needs them transcribed, the people said. Facebook confirmed that it had been transcribing users' audio and said it will no longer do so, following scrutiny into other companies.

"Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago," the company said Tuesday. The company said the users who were affected chose the option in Facebook's Messenger app to have their voice chats transcribed. The contractors were checking whether Facebook's artificial intelligence correctly interpreted the messages, which were anonymized. [...] The social networking giant, which just completed a $5 billion settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission after a probe of its privacy practices, has long denied that it collects audio from users to inform ads or help determine what people see in their news feeds.

MZ for prison

By WaffleMonster • Score: 3 • Thread

Enough with the fines just start putting people in jail.

Re:MZ for prison

By Archangel Michael • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

What are you going to jail them for? What crime?

And if you say "There ought to be a law" ... I'm gonna scream.

Here's a thought, don't fucking use FACEBOOK if you don't like how they monetize you for using their "service" for free

Mincing words, again.

By Atrox Canis • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

"Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago," So, just this one quoted sentence is enough to make me glad I stopped using Social Media some years ago...

"Much like Apple and Google" (You're seriously comparing yourself to the personification of evil organizations here, and you are attempting to make it sound like a virtue.

"We paused." So, they could start it again?

"Human review." But we might still be recording, for future review.

"More than a week ago." After we got caught.

And as others have said, if this was a default setting that a user must take deliberate action to opt out of, it speaks volumes to the absence of morality and common sense on the part of the developers and the company they work for.

If you work for a social media company after all of the almost weekly revelations for the past year that have exposed the many, many violations of privacy and rights perpetuated by these companies, then you no longer can innocently claim that you are not part of the problem. Now, if you are some sort of indentured servant that can't physically reclaim your visa or legally work for another company, you might have some ground to stand on when you protest that I'm being too harsh. But then, you are contributing to other problems here so perhaps that should bug you just a little bit.

Re:Opt in or opt out?

By sexconker • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

You're clueless.

Facebook comes preinstalled on many, many phones. On Android phones, it cannot be uninstalled because it's baked into the system partition. You'll need to hack your phone to get root access to truly remove it, and then any application which checks the "integrity" of your device will throw red flags because you're not using an approved Android system image. No Google pay for you. No logging in to Snapchat (though if you log once in with a clean image, then mess with it, you stay logged in and Snapshat doesn't care to check again). No Pokemon GO.

The best your typical user can do in Android is "disable" the Facebook app and delete its data and cache. Because of the way Android works, and the way Facebook is baked in as a "system" application, it can and will be updated with OTA updates. It can be reactivated without your knowledge or consent. You can and will have a ton of vague, unidentifiable services running in the background that are spying on you 24/7, with no real way to determine which are tied to which "app", which can be safely stopped, etc.

The Facebook app will spy on you whether or not you log in. It will surreptitiously try to get you to log in, or try to spy on you and find out who you are to "help" you log in.

When we were caught we stopped, for a bit

By WillAffleckUW • Score: 3 • Thread

After we were found out, and knowing it was going to be reported on, we stopped doing it for a little while, then we'll go back to doing it.

By the way, this is illegal in Washington State and Canada.

Bedbugs Are Giving Airbnb Users Headaches

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Waking up with bedbug bites can be a nightmare. It's also a costly and traumatic problem for Airbnb guests and hosts. CNET: CNET spoke to eight people who dealt with bedbugs in Airbnb rentals within the last three years. All of them said Airbnb, which was founded in 2008, doesn't seem to have a systematic procedure in place for handling outbreaks. And most said that while they eventually received some form of compensation from Airbnb, the company failed to provide adequate support. "This is my first real issue with Airbnb," says Dariele Blain, whose weekend away with friends went awry after she says the critters emerged at her Airbnb rental in Philadelphia. "But it's such an egregious one that I don't know if I'll book with them again." Like other Silicon Valley unicorns -- private companies with a high valuation -- Airbnb is known for "disruption," the idea of changing a service or product with technology to make it better. It's turned the lodging industry on its head by getting regular people to use its platform to rent out rooms or entire homes to travelers. Airbnb's service is now operating in almost every country on Earth and it has over 6 million listings for rent. That's more rooms than the top five hotel chains combined.

For each rental, Airbnb typically gets a cut of between 14% and 20%. The company, which may go public this year, is currently valued at $31 billion. Airbnb proponents say these short-term rentals help hosts make ends meet, while also bringing more visitors to cities where people can't afford high-cost hotels. But its business model has also triggered unintended consequences. The company has been blamed for rising rent and reduced rental stock in many cities, including its hometown of San Francisco. And in the case of bedbugs, Airbnb's use of millions of independent hosts means that trying to keep a lid on the pest epidemic can be hard to do, experts say.

Re:Air Bed & Bug

By b0s0z0ku • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Actually, it's happening -- the last few hotels we stayed at had veneer or tile floors. Hotel carpeting is gross anyway. Bedbugs or not, you can't ever clean it 100%.

It goes both ways

By rsilvergun • Score: 3 • Thread
if you're renting out be prepared to get bed bugs in your house. Figure at least a grand to get rid of them too.

Re:Bedbugs in apartments

By DigiShaman • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Bedbugs love airplanes; especially international flights. It's perfect for them. A constant supply of food, never the same person, and they can always hitch a ride off and make a permanent home on Earth.

Short-term rentals are an absolute plague

By kalpol • Score: 3 • Thread
Short term rentals are like Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease for neighborhoods, eating huge holes into the fabric of the community, and impossible to control. If someone wants to rent out their extra room for a weekend, that is a noble use of private property. However that's not what is happening, in spite of regulations to control it. Investors are buying up properties and building houses strictly to rent short-term, with no recourse for the neighbors (or renters) when things go awry. Parties, noise, littering, utter disruption of neighbors' lives and exploitation of every angle to rake in profits (and it's probably only a short while before the hotels themselves get in on the game).

Re:you want cheap, you get cheap

By Luthair • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
To be fair, bed bugs have been a growing problem at hotels even very fancy ones.

CBS, Viacom Strike Deal To Recombine

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Viacom and CBS have struck a deal for a merger on Tuesday with an agreement to recombine in the latest entertainment industry mega-deal. From a report: As expected, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish will lead the combined company as CEO, while CBS acting CEO Joe Ianniello will also remain in a top executive position that will have him oversee CBS-branded assets. CBS CFO Christina Spade will serve as CFO of the merged firm. Shari Redstone, vice chair of both companies, will serve as chair of the combined company. The companies had previously agreed on the management setup and the composition of the board of the merged company, with the stock exchange ratio for the deal being the final haggling point that was finally resolved early in the week. The boards of both companies have approved the deal.

Consolidation to gain more scale amid competition from streaming video and technology giants has been a key focus for the entertainment sector in recent years. The CBS-Viacom deal agreement comes after Walt Disney's $71.3 billion acquisition of large parts of 21st Century Fox and AT&T's $85 billion takeover of Time Warner. CBS is also understood to have offered Lionsgate $5 billion to buy its premium TV unit Starz.

Star Trek Unified

By alexgieg • Score: 3 • Thread

This mean Star Trek is now back into a single corporate roof, which hopefully will end the "25% difference" rule that has caused so much of the newer series to look and feel odd compared to the older ones.

Star Trek may

By imperious_rex • Score: 3 • Thread
Ever since the CBS-Viacom split, the Star Trek property has suffered under multiple owners. I won't get into explaining the sordid mess about Trek rights issues, but this very interesting yet lengthy video explains it nicely. With CBS and Viacom coming together again, it will be interesting to see what happens with the Star Trek franchise now under a single owner. Hopefully, the Kelvin timeline and Discovery series will no longer be canon and fans will see Trek given better treatment.

Star Trek: Discovery on TV?

By TomR teh Pirate • Score: 3 • Thread
I'm pretty sure there are a lot of people who are pretty unhappy with the fact that Star Trek: Discovery is available only via streaming. My hope is that the new CEO sees the folly of this given that some of us don't want to buy CBS streaming for just 1 TV show.

Star Trek Rights Problem Explained

By Kunedog • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

This mean Star Trek is now back into a single corporate roof, which hopefully will end the "25% difference" rule that has caused so much of the newer series to look and feel odd compared to the older ones.

For whoever needs this explained in detail:

or in greater detail (including how STD has hidden and lied about it in marketing):

US To Delay China Tariffs on Some Products, Including Laptops, Cell Phones

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The Trump administration on Tuesday delayed imposing a 10% import tariff on laptops, cell phones, video game consoles and a wide range of other products made in China, in an abrupt pull-back from a hardline stance on Chinese trade. From a report: The U.S. Trade Representative's Office action was published just minutes after China's Ministry of Commerce said Vice Premier Liu He conducted a phone call with U.S. trade officials. The delay in the tariffs that had been scheduled to start next month provides some relief to retailers. Although most stores would have stocked their holiday merchandise before the earlier September deadline, some might have faced the tariffs for fill-in orders late in the holiday shopping season. "We're doing this for the Christmas season, just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. customers," President Donald Trump told reporters as he prepared to depart from New Jersey for an event in Pittsburgh.

Re:Hong Kong

By Penguinisto • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Incidentally are there any slashdot substitutes which still allow anonymous posting?.

...wait - when did this happen?

Just tested - "Post Anonymously" is indeed broken as an option. WTF, Slashdot? a decade of GNAA crap, decades (plural now) of weak goatse-traps and stupid skinhead garbage, all of which was easily ignored and filtered out... but some weak-ass like APK was what tricked-off the AC option? Really?

Re:The pattern is showing

By MitchDev • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Was there ever a question of his dishonesty and self-serving nature?

Re:Hong Kong

By MightyMartian • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Something like 60% of the cash flowing in and out of China goes through Hong Kong. If the HKEX crashes, there are likely hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions, at stake. Beijing can't afford to let Hong Kong sink. It's the single most important piece of turf, finance-wise, in China.

Why do you think protesters are targeting the airport? They know the police won't open fire there, because to do so would pretty much lead to investors running for the exits. There'd be runs on Hong Kong banks. Heck, in the leadup to China's takeover, billions flowed out of Hong Kong out of fear that the takeover could lead to significant political changes. Beijing only placated those investors by a good deal of reassurance that Hong Kong, by and large, would continue much as it had under the British.

Re:The pattern is showing

By Cajun Hell • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

We need to make this a condition of taking office, period

It informally was, but then 62 million people changed their minds about this issue and decided it should not be a condition of taking office. I think we should allow those people to explain their decision before we leap to any conclusions. Trump supporters, what would you say is the most compelling reason (the one that persuaded you) why presidents should not have to put their assets into a blind trust?

Re:The pattern is showing

By Cajun Hell • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Where in the Constitution does it dictate that action?

Nowhere. It had been an informal requirement imposed upon candidates by the voters, whereby if you don't do that, then you get zero votes, because people have strong incentive to prevent government power from being abused. We know that lots of people in government have abused their power to rip us all off. It was through learning from our experiences, that in the 1970s it became the norm for candidates to show they had (and would continue to have, as long as they held office) no obvious conflict of interest. The ones who wouldn't do that, were rejected by voters.

Until recently.

Bu it had been a requirement. I am asking the kind of people who disagree with this informal requirement, why they see it as so unimportant. (And yes, just as you say, supplying tax records is pretty much the same issue.)

If you want to make it a standing requirement, there's a method for that (Constitutional amendment)

Ok, I must have failed to communicate my question. I am not saying that Trump voters need to learn from America's experiences with corruption. I am not proposing a law (though others are), where we give more power to the government to use on us. I am asking why Trump voters feel (or felt, at the time they placed their 2016 vote) what was learned from earlier corruption scandals isn't of value anymore. Trump voters once had the power to impose a certain level of transparency on candidates, but they gave it up. Why?

And of course the follow up to that: now that we've seen how a presidency goes without that requirement, does that change peoples' mind about enforcing it? i.e. would people vote for Trump again, even if he continues to maintain the appearance of corruption?

YouTube Tests Bigger Thumbnails

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
YouTube is experimenting with making video thumbnails much larger on its homepage, according to several screenshots that appeared on Twitter and Reddit this morning. From a report: The new homepage design changes quite a bit about the current setup. Videos are no longer grouped by categories, fewer videos appear in a line for people to scroll through, and, yes, the thumbnails are noticeably larger. It's unclear just how many people have been served the new layout. So far, it's not going over well with users. People are complaining that the bigger thumbnails make the homepage more difficult to scroll through.


By That YouTube Guy • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
YouTube tends to fix things that don't need fixing.

Google's Motto

By DickBreath • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
If it ain't broke . . .

. . . then fix it 'till it is!

Re:Just why?

By Falos • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Users aren't supposed to see more options, they're supposed to click what the algorithms want them to click. Consume as you're told, we'll do the thinking for you, and you get to still enjoy the illusion of being someone who chose.

what is the problem

By renegade600 • Score: 3 • Thread

if users want different sizes, just use the ctrl - or the ctrl + keys and adjust it for themselves. the change is really no big deal as long as the shortcut keys work.

Might explain uBlock Origin issues lately

By ArghBlarg • Score: 3 • Thread

A few days ago suddenly Youtube stopped showing any preview images above the titles of vids. They come back if I check "Disable cosmetic filters for this site" in uBlock.. but that also brings back the HUGE ad videos at the top. I guess uBlock noticed the bigger thumbnails for me.

Sucks, but hell if I'm going to unblock their top ad videos, they take ~50% of the window real estate! .. Can someone automate mirroring Youtube channels to or something? The sooner we ditch Youtube the better.

And in even bigger news. WTF Slashdot just blocked me from posting as Anonymous Coward w/o logging in! We're required to log in now??

This might just be my last /. post... farewell! It was good while it lasted.

Insect 'Apocalypse' in US Driven by 50x Increase in Toxic Pesticides

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
America's agricultural landscape is now 48 times more toxic to honeybees, and likely other insects, than it was 25 years ago, almost entirely due to widespread use of so-called neonicotinoid pesticides, according to a new study published this month in the journal PLOS One. From a report: This enormous rise in toxicity matches the sharp declines in bees, butterflies, and other pollinators as well as birds, says co-author Kendra Klein, senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth US. "This is the second Silent Spring. Neonics are like a new DDT, except they are a thousand times more toxic to bees than DDT was," Klein says in an interview. Using a new tool that measures toxicity to honey bees, the length of time a pesticide remains toxic, and the amount used in a year, Klein and researchers from three other institutions determined that the new generation of pesticides has made agriculture far more toxic to insects. Honey bees are used as a proxy for all insects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does the same thing when requiring toxicity data for pesticide registration purposes, she explained.

The study found that neonics accounted for 92 percent of this increased toxicity. Neonics are not only incredibly toxic to honeybees, they can remain toxic for more than 1,000 days in the environment, said Klein. "The good news is that we don't need neonics," she says. "We have four decades of research and evidence that agroecological farming methods can grow our food without decimating pollinators." "It's stunning. This study reveals the buildup of toxic neonics in the environment, which can explain why insect populations have declined," says Steve Holmer of American Bird Conservancy. As insects have declined, the numbers of insect-eating birds have plummeted in recent decades. There's also been a widespread decline in nearly all bird species, Holmer said. "Every bird needs to eat insects at some point in their life cycle."

Re:Bees = Parasite

By penandpaper • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Honey Bees are being trucked around making it easier for those parasites and fungi to spread in stressed colonies. Basically, mass transport of apiaries help spread disease.

You say "bees" but generally when people are talking about this topic they mean "honey bees". The native bees are not succumbing to those kind of problems. They have problems mainly loss of habitat (partly from honey bees... Honey bees are jerks of the bee world). From what I understand, native bees are doing fine for the most part.

Re:I need to get some of that

By cyberchondriac • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

The insects, wasps, hornets et al are major negative contributors to my enjoyment of my backyard.

Now if I could only have something to fight the kids on my front yard lawn . . .

That's what the wasps and hornets are good for. You just needed to relocate them.


By PPH • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

... was going door to door in my neighborhood. Offering to do inspections and sign me up for pest control services.

"But I don't have ants, termites, cockroaches or other bugs in my house."
"I can see you have quite a few spiders from the webs in your bushes."
"But those are all outside. And I like spiders outside. They eat bugs."
"Err, um. Well, have a nice day."

I suspect that a lot of the over treatment with pesticides is marketing pressure for people to 'get rid of all those icky bugs in your garden'. And it's not difficult to 'creep out' a bunch of housewives over the sight of an errant spider or whatever.

Re:Umm, guys?

By penandpaper • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

>Monsanto has the purpose of making money

If making money also means advances in agriculture (like genetic engineering) to feed billions of people, why is making money bad?

>FoE worries about the environment

It means they are biased toward that end and that any publication by them should be scrutinized as if it were Monsanto trying to make money off a study or claim. Bad science doesn't stop being bad science because you agree with the goals of the people paying for the study.


By Gilgaron • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
They've been pretty confused at my reaction to their offer to have poison sprayed all over my house to eliminate spiders. They offered to spray the whole lawn to eliminate ticks, and even as bad as those can be it just isn't a good idea.

Americans Would Rather Get Food Poisoning on Vacation Than Not Have Internet Access, Study Finds

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Americans would rather endure such vacation travesties as lost luggage or food poisoning, rather than go without internet while on vacation. Almost half of respondents (49 percent) in a study commissioned by Roku said that no internet access would qualify as a vacation disaster.


By Oswald McWeany • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Seems to me people have forgotten the point of a vacation.

Since living in America "Vacation Time" is used up when I'm sick, the kids are sick and I need to watch them, visiting relatives to help them out with things and other "obligations".

There isn't any time left over to take "proper vacations" - certainly can't take the standard 2-3 week summer holiday that most people in Europe get to take. Easy to "forget the point of a vacation" when you haven't had one in years.

Re:Vacay in NoPacketLand

By nine-times • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I have two types of vacations: One is to go to some other city to explore, and the other is to get away from it all.

In the first type, having Internet access is great. If you get lost or want to find a particular place, you have maps. If you want to find something to do, you have resources to look it up. You can share your experiences on social media and let friends tell you where to go next. If you're stuck on a bus or a train for a while, you have distractions.

However, if I'm intentionally trying to get away from it all, not having Internet is the way to go. It's extremely relaxing to know that there's no point in worrying about work, because you couldn't check in or help out even if you wanted to. You are simply unable to receive messages or respond, and no one can think you're irresponsible for not checking in.

Re:Vacay in NoPacketLand

By nnet • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
It's not a vacation if you couldn't post a thought/photo/video of every sleeping/waking moment of it on social media. Among other social media addictions.


By stephanruby • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Don't take that survey too seriously. It was commissioned by Roku.

They have a vested an interest in making the survey results as clickbaity as possible and as pro-streaming-during-a-vacation as possible.

Re:That's fucked up

By TWX • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The problem is, once one has access to information whenever one wants it, it's very hard to give that up. It doesn't even have to be about posting things to the Internet, it can be simple information retrieval. "What is this interesting plant?" "Where's the nearest kayak rental place and what are their hours?" "What's the fire danger today and can I make a campfire?" "What time of night will allow for the best viewing of the meteor shower?" "Traffic on this Interstate is backed up. Is there a traffic problem ahead, and are there alternate routes that I can take to get around this traffic problem?"

While there are undoubtedly a lot of people that can't get away because of narcissism, there are plenty that are so used to having whatever information they desire immediately available to them that giving that up would be like giving up a sense.

AI Used To Narrate E-books in Authors' Voices

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Chinese search engine Sogou is creating artificial-intelligence lookalikes to read popular novels in authors' voices. From a report: It announced "lifelike" avatars of Chinese authors Yue Guan and Bu Xin Tian Shang Diao Xian Bing -- created from video recordings -- at the China Online Literature+ conference. Last year, Sogou launched two AI newsreaders, which are still used by the government's Xinhua news agency. Appetite for audiobooks in China is on the rise, mirroring trends in the West. Chinese think tank iiMedia expects the market to more than double between 2016 and 2020, to 7.8bn Chinese yuan ($1.1billion) a year. It is now a simple process to use text-to-speech technology to quickly generate an audio version of a book, using digitised, synthetic voices. But most people prefer audiobooks that are "professionally narrated" by authors, actors or famous public figures.

Other uses?

By thereitis • Score: 3 • Thread

Your boss's voice describing all the way your are an amazing employee.

Your ex explaining how stupid they were to leave you.

Someone you never got closure with saying they are sorry.

Authors are usually the worst readers

By LordNimon • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Every audiobook that I've listened to, when read by the author, has been terrible. There's a lot of nuance and context in a professional reader's voice. No AI will be able to reproduce that.

How One City Saved $5 Million by Routing School Buses with an Algorithm

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The Boston Public School District held a contest to determine the best solution for busing around 25,000 students to school every day. The winning algorithm improved the efficiency of the routes in 30 minutes. From a report: In 2017, the district was facing serious challenges. On a per-pupil basis, Boston Public Schools had the highest transportation costs in the country, around $2,000 per student per year, representing 10% of the district's budget. The schools dealt with rising costs each year, despite declining ridership. The on-time performance rate of their buses was also well below that of other large districts. With no clear vendor to turn to with this problem, BPS instead sought out experts, hosting a competition where researchers could experiment with anonymized BPS data sets to create efficient routes and optimal start times for each school.

"To put it simply, we wanted a solution that worked," said Will Eger, the BPS senior strategic projects manager. "There are lots of quirks in this transportation situation, and we wanted something that could address the vast majority of those issues while also being highly efficient, something that could run overnight at least." Those quirks represent millions of decision variables that affect any solution, including varying road widths, differing bus infrastructures (for example, the presence of wheelchair lifts or child safety restraint seats), students who require the same bus driver every year, students who have monitors, and students who have been in fights and, therefore, need to be on different buses. It also includes the roughly 5,000 students who have a special need that requires door-to-door pick up and drop off (sometimes to non-BPS schools, as the city provides yellow bus service to students who attend charter and private schools within Boston, and to special education facilities outside the city).

Considering all those possibilities creates a "number of solutions so large that you can't even enumerate it," said Arthur Delarue, a PhD candidate who worked with the team from the MIT Operations Research Center whose algorithm won the competition. The team spent hundreds of hours devising a solution to what Delarue called a "bold and unusual" challenge. Their solution replaced what had before been an incredibly laborious process, one that took ten school system routers thousands of hours to create custom routes for each child and school. Those employees still work with BPS, tracking routes that struggle with on-time performance, and managing route guidance for drivers (Google Maps isn't sufficient since it's built for cars, and 70-passenger buses can't, for example, easily make u-turns). But now, the MIT algorithm routes the entire system at once, providing a base for the human routers to tweak.

Old news?

By schwit1 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

NIMBY caused a Racist Implementation

By gurps_npc • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The school figured out a way to drop the number of kids going to school before 8 AM from over 70% to 6%. But the wealthier schools objected to later times, (as late as 8:45, the horror) so they rejected that plan, forcing poor kids (mostly darker skin colors) to be at school before 8 AM (which correlates to lower performance in school - mainly due to lack of sleep)

Re:Is it a super rough town or full of snowflakes?

By Higaran • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
It's not about a scuffle, it's about kids from one gang can't be on the bus as kids from the other gang. You can't endanger the other 50+ kids on the bus because of some gang fight. If it was 2 random kids getting in a fight that's different, they do it that way so the whole bus doesn't end up dead.

Re:Thanks for using the right term

By laie_techie • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

But seriously, why would any student "need" the same driver each year??

I see this more of an issue with students with special needs. I have a nephew with severe autism. It takes him a long time to learn to trust new people. He had a dedicated bus driver for the duration of each year.

Boston's Poor Training of Human Schedulers

By jonhainer • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread

I have a friend who was a principle for a BPS school. She explained to me the problems that she was having with busing. She was seeing three primary issues.

1 - Buses were consistently late getting kids to the school.

2 - Buses would arrive at stops way too early, leaving kids behind.

3 - Buses would arrive at stops way too late, causing the parents who were waiting with their kids to be late to work.

When she looked into it, she discovered the issue that was causing all of the problems. Fully one third of the buses had their routes reversed. The first pick-ups on the inbound routes were the stops closest to the school, and the last pick-ups were the stops farthest away.

Some buses ran according to the published schedule. After the last stop which was farthest away from the school, the bus would have to turn around and drive all the way back to the school. Those buses were consistently late. (Issue #1 above.) Other bus drivers took it upon themselves to reverse the route to make it more efficient. For the kids who were supposed to be picked up at 7:00, the bus arrived at 7:30. For the kids who were supposed to be picked up at 7:30, the bus arrived at 7:00. (Issues # 2 & 3 above.)

My principal friend rerouted all of the buses herself making sure that all of the buses started far away from the school and worked their way closer to the school as they went. All of the issues were resolved.

I don't know if the human schedulers were temps or if they were full time workers who only worked on the bus schedules during the summer, but clearly some of them were not trained properly on how to schedule a school bus. Allowing a computer to do it couldn't help but make it better.

Google's Jobs Search Draws Antitrust Complaints From Rivals

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Google's fast-growing tool for searching job listings has been a boon for employers and job boards starving for candidates, but several rival job-finding services contend anti-competitive behavior has fueled its rise and cost them users and profits. From a report: In a letter to be sent to European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Tuesday and seen by Reuters, 23 job search websites in Europe called on her to temporarily order Google to stop playing unfairly while she investigates. Similar to worldwide leader Indeed and other search services familiar to job seekers, Google's tool links to postings aggregated from many employers. It lets candidates filter, save and get alerts about openings, though they must go elsewhere to apply.

Alphabet's Google places a large widget for the 2-year-old tool at the top of results for searches such as "call center jobs" in most of the world. Some rivals allege that positioning is illegal because Google is using its dominance to attract users to its specialized search offering without the traditional marketing investments they have to make. Other job technology firms say Google has restored industry innovation and competition.

Sour grapes

By nwaack • Score: 3 • Thread
I hate Google's business practices as much as the next person, and maybe I'm missing something, but this just sounds like sour grapes to me. What's illegal about this practice?

Re:Sour grapes

By dwarfking • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I've been looking at this jobs capability for the past few weeks and I've noticed something interesting.

Google is indexing all job sites and corporate career web sites. So what you'll often see in the listings it provides is the same job posting over and over but from different websites. In some cases the name of the company is left on the posting, in others the wording is nearly identical but the site the posting comes from has removed the company name and replaces it with words like "confidential client".

So what I wonder is how many of these complaining job sites were really hired by the company to post their openings and how many of them are themselves simply scraping company sites or other posting sites looking for postings, then presenting them through their own site where they can intercept the links to apply and claim they found the client?

The Banana Is One Step Closer To Disappearing

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from National Geographic: A fungus that has wreaked havoc on banana plantations in the Eastern Hemisphere has, despite years of preventative efforts, arrived in the Americas. ICA, the Colombian agriculture and livestock authority, confirmed on Thursday that laboratory tests have positively identified the presence of so-called Panama disease Tropical Race 4 on banana farms in the Caribbean coastal region. The announcement was accompanied by a declaration of a national state of emergency. The discovery of the fungus represents a potential impending disaster for bananas as both a food source and an export commodity. Panama disease Tropical Race 4 -- or TR4 -- is an infection of the banana plant by a fungus of the genus Fusarium. Although bananas produced in infected soil are not unsafe for humans, infected plants eventually stop bearing fruit. First identified in Taiwanese soil samples in the early 1990s, the destructive fungus remained long confined to Southeast Asia and Australia, until its presence was confirmed in both the Middle East and Africa in 2013. Experts feared an eventual appearance in Latin America, the epicenter of the global banana export industry. No known fungicide or biocontrol measure has proven effective against TR4.

"The Banana Is One Step Closer To Disappearing"

By nwaack • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
That's what she said.

Re:Increased by 14%

By uncqual • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The Cavendish is, from an end consumer standpoint, substantially inferior to what it replaced. To take another significant step down in flavor and texture would probably result in my consumption of bananas to drop by at least 95% (99.9% of my "whole fruit" consumption would probably go away - but I would probably still some consume some banana based products in packaged/prepared foods).

Time for a New Business Venture

By gachunt • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
Apparently, there's no more money in the banana stand...

Re:Oh well

By Aighearach • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

You don't actually need a graft, they regrow from the roots every year, and the plant produces more starts than are needed. You can just break off a start and plant it. No modern techniques required.

Today, Gros Michel is one of the main varieties sold in Japan, grown in SE Asia. It is mostly the commercial production in the Americas that failed.

Re:Increased by 14%

By dpille • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
this breed, the Gros Michel, pretty much ceased to exist Due to exactly the same fungus, albeit a different strain of the fungus. Given that there are literally thousands of local cultivars on the planet happily consumed by humans, there's little doubt we can make the adjustment. Perhaps this time we should consider *not* supplying the vast majority of the world's market with a single cultivar?

How Netflix Is Using Its Muscle To Push Filmmaking Technology Boundaries

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Carolyn Giardina from The Hollywood Reporter writes about the growing influence Netflix has from hardware and software development to industry display standards. For example, as recently as six months ago, Netflix forbid Hollywood cinematographers from using a highly-popular camera because the standard model employed a 3.2K resolution sensor instead of a 4K sensor required for the streamer's original programming.

Netflix also pressured TV manufacturers like Sony and Panasonic to feature a "Netflix calibrated mode" and "Netflix Recommended TV" logo in their consumer TVs. From the report: To make sure its content is being produced how it wants, the streamer in September launched a Netflix Post Technology Alliance with MTI, Adobe, Sony and others. It shares its roadmap with these companies, and if these firms develop tools -- from cameras to editing systems -- that meet its requirements, they are permitted to use the "Netflix Post Technology Alliance" logo. The logo has been visible in the past year at industry trade shows -- a literal sign of growing influence. Netflix also is involved in industry standardization and development efforts. For instance, it recently joined the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Academy Software Foundation, a forum for open source software developers.

While Netflix is involved in collaborations, the company also maintains robust engineering efforts in-house -- beyond the teams working on its secret distribution algorithms. It is pioneering new interactive content, such as Bandersnatch, which was made incorporating Branch Manager, a software system developed in-house. Other homegrown advances include Netflix's scheduling software and its work to bring more automation to audio dubbing through artificial intelligence. There's likely much more in the works that Netflix does not share with the public. But one thing is certain: The company is having a penetrating impact not only on which content is made and how it is distributed and consumed, but also on the very tech that creates it.

Re:Normal business

By houghi • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I wonder what percentage notices the differnce between Bluray and 4k.

I am not saying there are no people who notice it. I wonder what the percentage is that notices it in a blind test so to speak. Not side by side.

I personally do not notice if something is on 720 or 4K to be honest. I have tried it with Tears of Steelthat I downloaded in various forms. when I play them next to each other, I will see a difference. When I play a random one, I am unable to tell what version it is.

When watching Netflix, from 720 on, I was unable to see any serious improvement. I noticed the diffrence, but more because it said it was a higher resulution than anything else.

I watch on a 65" screen that is at the end of my bed, so say 2m away. I understand that my eyes are not the best, that is why I wionder what percentage also does not really notice the difference. I can't be the only one.

So anything above fullHD is absolute overkill and tv shows I watch in 720 as it is faster download anyway.

Re:Who actually watches netflix?

By tsqr • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Am I unusual in this?

Not really; just over half of all people alive aren't women.

Re:Normal business

By tripleevenfall • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I think for most people their internet service is going to be more of a limiting factor than their display hardware is.

Re:Normal business

By AmiMoJo • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I watch on a fairly cheap 40" LCD screen from 3-4m away and can tell the difference between 720p, 1080p and 4k. My sight isn't great either. Maybe I'm just hyper sensitive to it.

One other reason might be that 4k uses different encoding, which fixes a lot of the issues with the older ones used for 1080p.

Normal reading

By Ostracus • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

*reads post using 4K monitor*

Nuclear Reactor For Mars Outpost Could Be Ready To Fly By 2022

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
A nuclear power system that could one day provide juice to colonies on Mars is closer to being ready than previously expected. According to project team members, the Kilopower experiment fission reactor could be ready for its first in-space trial by 2022. reports: A flight test is the next big step for the Kilopower experimental fission reactor, which aced a series of critical ground tests from November 2017 through March 2018. No off-Earth demonstration is on the books yet, but Kilopower should be ready to go by 2022 or so if need be, said Patrick McClure, Kilopower project lead at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

"I think we could do this in three years and be ready for flight," McClure said late last month during a presentation with NASA's Future In-Space Operations working group. "I think three years is a very doable time frame," he added, stressing that this is his opinion, not necessarily that of NASA, which is developing the Kilopower project along with the DOE. As its name suggests, the Kilopower reactor is designed to generate at least 1 kilowatt of electrical power (1 kWe). Its output is scalable up to about 10 kWe, and it can operate for about 15 years, McClure said. So, four scaled-up Kilopower reactors could meet the energy needs of NASA explorers, with a fifth reactor likely landed to provide a spare.

Re:Delivering power

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

A more relevant question is how much energy can be supplied for a given weight and size?

TFA says 2000kg for a 1kWe reactor.

Residential solar panels come in at about at about 18kg for a 360W panel, although commercial panels are larger and more efficient for the weight. Anyway, let's go with that. On Mars they will get about 25% of the rated energy compared to earth, so 90W. Say you need 60 of them to generate an average of 1kW over a full day, that's 1080kg of panels.

Now you need some battery storage. 300Wh/kg is available for commercial lithium cells, which is only 80kg for 24kWh.

So solar+battery, even using somewhat pessimistic numbers that are available today, is nearly half the weight of a nuclear reactor.

Re:Nuclear Reactor Could Be Ready To Fly By 2022

By mobby_6kl • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Don't worry, Quaid will start the reactor.

Re:I see two core problems

By pz • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

We have launched many, many fission-based systems into space to power various unmanned probes. This one would not be the first.

Re:Delivering power

By K. S. Kyosuke • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

TFA says 2000kg for a 1kWe reactor.

1800 kg is a mass of the 10 kWe version.

Residential solar panels come in at about at about 18kg for a 360W panel, although commercial panels are larger and more efficient for the weight. Anyway, let's go with that.

Why? A space-grade solar array will need around 2.5 kg for this level of output.

On Mars they will get about 25% of the rated energy compared to earth

No, they won't. Someone figured out the mean insolation at one of the prospective landing sites. Apparently it comes out as having roughly the insolation of Germany. So while there is some decrease from Mars' greater distance - at the top of the atmosphere, Mars receives 590 W/m^2 compared to Earth's 1360 W/m^2 - the lack of frequent clouds and the choice of prospective landing sites seem to make up for it a bit.

Now you need some battery storage. 300Wh/kg is available for commercial lithium cells, which is only 80kg for 24kWh.

If you need chemical energy storage for Mars, you'll most likely go with fuel cells. That way your storage capacity is much less limited by the weight of your hardware. You mostly need to bring large tanks. Fortunately, your descent vehicle will already have some, ready for use. That's what for example SpaceX apparently plans to do. Their vehicle's tanks, assuming 50 mt mass of the vehicle's tanks, the tanks basically work as a 1800 MWh battery. That's two orders of magnitude better than your lithium battery.

Just don't let Putin put it on a rocket

By The Snazster • Score: 3 • Thread
You've been warned.