the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2019-Sep-19 today archive


  1. World's Most Destructive Botnet Returns With Stolen Passwords and Email In Tow
  2. Bill Gates: Don't Break Up Tech Giants, It Won't Stop Anticompetitive Behavior
  3. Authorities Consider Taking Legal Action Against Facebook Over Storm Area 51 Event
  4. Two Years Later, Hackers Are Still Breaching Local Government Payment Portals
  5. Instagram's Opioid Recovery Hashtags Are Full of Drug Dealers
  6. Vaping Criminal Probe Announced By FDA As Illnesses Rise To 530
  7. YouTube Creators May Lose Verified Badges As Verification Process Becomes Stricter
  8. Alphabet Partners With FedEx, Walgreens To Bring Drone Delivery To the US
  9. Google Makes the Largest Ever Corporate Purchase of Renewable Energy
  10. AT&T Says Customers Can't Sue the Company For Selling Location Data To Bounty Hunters
  11. North America Has Lost 3 Billion Birds in 50 Years
  12. Apple's iOS 13 Just Launched But iOS 13.1, iPadOS Arrive Next Week
  13. How the Internet Archive is Waging War on Misinformation
  14. Downloading Stays Legal, No Site Blocking, Swiss Copyright Law Says
  15. Amazon's 'Climate Pledge' Commits To Net Zero Carbon Emissions By 2040 and 100% Renewables by 2030
  16. Philippines Declares New Polio Outbreak After 19 Years
  17. India Tells Tech Firms To Protect User Privacy, Prevent Abuse
  18. Huawei's Flagship Mate 30 Pro Has Impressive Specs But No Google
  19. Solar and Wind Power So Cheap They're Outgrowing Subsidies
  20. Google is Bringing Its AI Assistant Service To People Without Internet Access
  21. 'Personal Carbon Sequestration' Device Uses Algae To Remove CO2 From the Air
  22. AT&T Explores Parting Ways With DirecTV
  23. Navy Confirms Existence of UFOs Seen In Leaked Footage

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.

World's Most Destructive Botnet Returns With Stolen Passwords and Email In Tow

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: If you've noticed an uptick of spam that addresses you by name or quotes real emails you've sent or received in the past, you can probably blame Emotet. It's one of the world's most costly and destructive botnets -- and it just returned from a four-month hiatus. A post published on Tuesday by researchers from Cisco's Talos security team helps explain how Emotet continues to threaten so many of its targets.

Spam sent by Emotet often appears to come from a person the target has corresponded with in the past and quotes the bodies of previous email threads the two have participated in. Emotet gets this information by raiding the contact lists and email inboxes of infected computers. The botnet then sends a follow-up email to one or more of the same participants and quotes the body of the previous email. It then adds a malicious attachment. The result: malicious messages that are hard for both humans and spam filters to detect. The use of previously sent emails isn't new, since Emotet did the same thing before it went silent in early June. But with its return this week, the botnet is relying on the trick much more. About 25% of spam messages Emotet sent this week include previously sent emails, compared with about 8% of spam messages sent in April.
"To make sending the spam easier, Emotet also steals the usernames and passwords for outgoing email servers," the report adds. "Those passwords are then turned over to infected machines that Emotet control servers have designated as spam emitters. The Talos researchers found almost 203,000 unique pairs that were collected over a 10-month period."

Malwarebytes says Emotet has brought back another tactic where it refers to targets by name in subject lines. "Once opened, the documents attached to the emails claim that, effective September 20, 2019, users can only read the contents after they have agreed to a licensing agreement for Microsoft Word," reports Ars Technica. "And to do that, according to a post from security firm Cofense, users must click on an Enable Content button that turns on macros in Word."

"After Office macros are enabled, Emotet executables are downloaded from one of five different payload locations," Cofense researchers Alan Rainer and Max Gannon wrote. "When run, these executables launch a service that looks for other computers on the network. Emotet then downloads an updated binary and proceeds to fetch TrickBot if a (currently undetermined) criteria of geographical location and organization are met."

Too funny

By nyet • Score: 4, Funny • Thread


"World's Most Destructive Botnet"

By phantomfive • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
The world's most destructive botnet....sends spam? It's not the one that actually ruins devices, or the one that destroyed nuclear centrifuges, it's the one that spreads by "tricking" people to enable macros in MS Word. Most destructive.

Oh Lord, save me from these morons, for they care not what words mean.

Re:Easy Peasy

By deek • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Create bot that extracts SMTP mail server, password, and sent email history from infected clients.
Use details to send spam, quoting a message and subject line that was previously sent to that address.

Spam problem continues, with the bonus that no RFC or SPF conditions will ever get in the way.

Read the FA. This is what Emotet is doing.

Bill Gates: Don't Break Up Tech Giants, It Won't Stop Anticompetitive Behavior

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
dryriver shares a report from ZDNet: Speaking with Bloomberg, Microsoft co-founder Gates said it is better to regulate big tech companies. Breaking them up will simply result in two companies indulging in bad behavior. "I don't know the last time a company was broken up but you have to really think, 'Is that the best thing if there's a way that a company's behaving that you want to get rid of?' Then you should just say, 'Hey, OK, that's a banned behavior,'" said Gates. "Splitting a company in two and having two people doing the bad thing, you know that doesn't seem like a solution," he added. Gates said it was a "pretty narrow set of things" where a break-up would be a suitable solution. "I was naive about this but that was a long time ago and I didn't realize that as Microsoft gets successful we'd come under scrutiny and we went through our thing back in the 1990s and that's made us more thoughtful about this kind of activity," he said. Gates also told the Financial Times that fossil fuel divestment has had zero impact on emissions.

Re:He's not wrong.

By LostMyAccount • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

When did Microsoft lose their dominance? They're so dominant now that they can basically sell ads as part of the operating system in Windows 10. Their licensing system is just short of Oracle's in terms of onerous terms.

About the only thing you can say is that they didn't *also* dominate search, mobile phones and social media, but they do have a big chunk of the video gaming market. It's an open question how many of these failures were the result of Microsoft's vision and business execution, and how much was constraint from the last anti-trust trial, and how much was customer wariness of another Microsoft near monopoly.

Were Bill Gates is wrong is that a broken up Microsoft would have lost anti-competitive opportunities. The logical split with Microsoft was operating systems, server software and desktop applications. With those no longer part of the same company, none of those new companies would have any incentive to prop up the other. Office on Linux and Mac at parity with Windows OS. Exchange on Linux and FreeBSD at parity with Windows. Windows doing all kinds of things not necessary to prop up Office or Server applications, possibly even releasing a desktop for Linux.

It's also reasonable that each would have been better to software buyers, especially operating systems and server software, because those buyers would have choices.

Listen to Gates for advice on monopolies is ridiculous. He's beyond the ability to provide anything that isn't biased by his own battles with the government and his personal investment in Microsoft.

No it won't but there is a way.

By Revek • Score: 3 • Thread

It is the friend of consumers world wide. They are called regulations. Like 'socialist' medicine its been made the boogeyman of solutions. Its good for the individuals and bad for the communist dictatorships we call corporations.

Re:Look at the AT&T breakup

By drinkypoo • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

People pay less for better service now than when ATT ran everything, so nobody needs to read a book to know that you're wrong.

You used to have to pay a fee just to connect non-Bell equipment to your phone line.

If you think things aren't better now for consumers than they were then, you're reading the wrong books. Try something that wasn't written in crayon.

Re:Look at the AT&T breakup

By MobyDisk • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

That book was written in 1988, just 6 years after the breakup was ordered and only 4 years after it took effect. There is no way anyone at that time knew if this would be a good or bad thing. Most people had never heard of a modem before, the internet was still ARPANET, and pay phone booths were really cool. Today we see things completely differently than this guy did in 1988. Check out this Amazon review which summarizes it well:

As a long term Bell System employee when divestiture took place in 1984, I was pre-inclined to really like this although good did come out of the breakup (mostly faster rollouts of emerging technologies), lots was lost, especially at the expense of customers who had to become knowledgable in telecommunications as they worked their way through different vendors whenever they had a problem.

But...26 years after divestiture, this book is really dated. It accurately depicts some of the issues in the time immediately after divestiture...most of which are no longer valid. So if you want to read a book as a historical reference into divestiture and the immediate ramifications, have at it. BUT:

Bottom line, I felt that the authors were spending a lot of time justifying their own actions and beliefs...and I was predisposed to like it! Someone who wasn't a Bell System fan to begin with? Don't waste your time, you'll just get aggrevated.

Re:Yes, sure, regulate them

By bigpat • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

That way, through regulatory capture, the existing giants can make sure the burdens on any new competitors are so severe that their monopolies are secure forever.

This is the real issue. Regulatory capture is a big step on the path to monopoly.

What regulation is needed is clear and simple regulations about what data is allowed to be collected without people's explicit knowledge and consent. With an emphasis on pretty much no data, so that it is clear that anyone spying on you without a warrant or an explicit time limited and narrowly scoped agreement from you is committing a punishable crime.

Not seven layers of corporate bureaucracy and reporting without meaningful restriction so that only a company with 50 lawyers and a 30 million dollar legal compliance department can exist and compete.

Authorities Consider Taking Legal Action Against Facebook Over Storm Area 51 Event

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Local authorities in Rachel, Nevada -- the location of a planned Aliengate festival that evolved out of a viral Facebook event -- are considering taking legal action to cover $250,000 the county plans to spend to prepare for the potential onslaught of visitors. Gizmodo reports: Matty Roberts created the "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us" Facebook event on June 27 as a joke, but the event went viral and evolved into an actual festival -- Alienstock -- which was planned for September 19-22 at the Little A'Le'Inn in Rachel, Nevada, near the US Air Force base known as Area 51. But just a few days before the event was supposed to begin, Roberts and his partners backed out, posting on their website that they "foresee a possible humanitarian disaster in the works" and after considering "the lack of infrastructure, planning, and risk management, along with concerns raised for the safety of the expected 10,000+ attendees, we decided to transition Alienstock away from the Rachel festival towards a safer alternative." That safer alternative is an "Area 51 Celebration" happening on Thursday night at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center.

However, Little A'Le'Inn owner Connie West has made it very clear that she still plans to host her own Alienstock, despite Roberts' attorney sending her a cease-and-desist letter ordering her to stop using the name "Alienstock" since the event at that location was canceled. Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee told Gizmodo that as of Wednesday morning, people had already started arriving at A'Le'Inn. "Matty Roberts is the one that started this on Facebook. So our district attorney, his opinion is that Matty Roberts and Facebook stand to be partially to blame for this" Lee told Gizmodo. "He's already told people that this is quote-unquote 'His event.' He told some of the other event promoters that this was his event. And so I guess if it's his event and he's taken ownership of it then we know where legal action should go toward. I'm not an attorney but that is what Lincoln County district attorney is saying."
Facebook is protected from legal action regarding content created by one of its users under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, but it's possible that the district attorney may argue that this particular circumstance wouldn't be covered by those protections.

this just feels like a cash grab.

By nimbius • Score: 3 • Thread

are considering taking legal action to cover $250,000 the county plans to spend to prepare for the potential onslaught of visitors.

so when Coachella brings in a quarter-million visitors because of a Facebook article, or Burning Man hosts crowds of 80,000 because of Facebook, we dont threaten litigation against Facebook to "cover the costs" of people with money and means to travel and lodge at these locations....but when a cheeky meme makes headlines about storming a federal property outside the jurisdiction of the county affected, suddenly that county needs to muster every litigative too in its arsenal to recoup the losses expected unknown number of potential people despite the proposal's creator saying it was satirical and meant as a joke?

If Los Angeles can get away with spending next to nothing on more than sixty thousand homeless people a day who contribute nothing to society but hospital bills and communicable disease, surely a day of tourism isnt going to wipe out Lincoln County.

Re:if it's public yes

By sabt-pestnu • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

> sure, if it's a public forum

It isn't. 1A lawsuits against Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, AOL even, have failed consistently ... they aren't public forums, no matter how much you wish them to be.

> and you know what's going on.

Doesn't matter as far as CDA 230 goes. 230 permits moderation, it does not mandate it. Unless Facebook created its own content promoting the event, they're clear. And you want to keep it that way, poster-on-an-internet-service.

Not so fast here Facebook

By Nom du Keyboard • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Facebook is protected from legal action regarding content created by one of its users under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

It seems today that Facebook today is claiming First Amendment protection AS A PUBLISHER as a defense against a case brought by Laura Loomer.

You can't have it both ways, Facebook, and if you're a Publisher you lose that Section 230 immunity.

Do you left-hand lawyers know what your right-hand lawyers are doing?

Am I the only one sad..

By hairyfeet • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

That the retards aren't gonna try and storm Area-51? Because I thought it would be hilarious to see a bunch of military guards eating their sammiches while blasting the morons with the Ultrasonic cannon then laughing as the dumbasses "Naruto ran" in the other directions shrieking like 12 year old girls at a boy band concert.

That is why I just had to laugh at the "OMG they'll be killed! Think of the idiots!" arguments because shooting massed dipshits is sooo last century daddy-o! You shoot them you got clean up, you got the chance of ricochets,and with the US military having all the most expensive toys why give up an opportunity to show them off? I have zero doubt they have moved a couple of sonic cannon trucks into Area-51 with a "in case of Naruto running retards press button" placards next to the fire switch.

There I was just waiting for the social media vid of the run, seeing all those morons in Naruto runs followed by Bubba flipping the switch and watching the flock of stupid turn into a Monty Python "run away run away!" sketch...sigh, way to take away a chance for some prime quality entertainment dude.

Rachel Nevada:

By Hartree • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Rachel has a listed population of 54.

There are more janitors cleaning Facebook's legal division than there are citizens of Rachel.

This seems a bit like an overly ambitious puppy about to get smacked by a truck.

Two Years Later, Hackers Are Still Breaching Local Government Payment Portals

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Two years after hackers first started targeting local government payment portals, attacks are still going on, with eight cities having had their Click2Gov payment portals compromised in the last month alone, security researchers from Gemini Advisory have revealed in a report shared with ZDNet today. From the news report: These new hacks have allowed hackers to get their hands on over 20,000 payment card details belonging to US citizens, which are now being traded on the dark web, the cyber-security firm said. Click2Gov is a web-based portal sold by Central Square, formerly known as Superion, to US and Canadian municipalities, small and large alike. It comes as a cloud-based offering and in a self-hosted version. Once up and running, Click2Gov provides a self-service portal where US citizens can pay taxes and bills. Such portals are widespread across the US and are not only used by locals, but also by Americans living across the country to pay bills and taxes for property they own in other cities or states. In 2017, a hacker group began targeting self-hosted Click2Gov portals that had been lagging behind with software patches.

Re:Lawyers, Negligence, Accountability

By micheas • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
The problem is that the up to date code is insecure and click2gov doesn't know how it's software gets compromised.

The cities should at this point be demanding refunds and the banks should be suing Superion for damages.

Superion doesn't seem to know what the problem is nor how to fix the problem. I'm not sure how you find top-flight programmers that want to work in the mid-west on payment code.

Also to make the job more painful, it's not a SAAS offering, but rather a self-hosted solution that by default installs in an insecure manner.

Instagram's Opioid Recovery Hashtags Are Full of Drug Dealers

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BuzzFeed News: Dozens of top posts under the #opioidcrisis and #opioidaddiction hashtags contained comments touting Oxycontin, Percocet, Codeine, and other prescription opioids -- along with phone numbers and usernames for encrypted messaging accounts. A typical entry, under a video describing tens of thousands of deaths by drug overdose, offered "fast deals" on "Oxys, Roxy, Xans, Addy, codeine, perc...Available 24.7 for delivery." Social media's role in boosting the American opioid crisis, and the way dealers have used Instagram to connect with buyers, have long been known. Last year, the Washington Post described the service as "a sizable open marketplace for advertising illegal drugs." Instagram responded by cracking down on the drug-specific hashtags where many of these offers once lived.

Now, though, as Facebook strives to highlight the way its services can connect addicts with recovery communities, these hubs are also valuable real estate for dealers. It's a significant oversight for the company, which is trying to show it can deal with the problem of drugs on its platforms to discourage legislation that would increase its liability for hosting such content. Eileen Carey, an activist and former tech industry executive who for years has kept a record of drug sales on social platforms, told BuzzFeed News that she approached [Facebook's head of global policy management Monika Bickert after a Senate hearing on Wednesday] and showed her the comments. "She thanked me for flagging," Carey said. A day later, however, the hashtag-located opioid markets remained open for business.
"We do not allow the sale of illegal drugs on Instagram," a Facebook spokesperson wrote in a comment to BuzzFeed News. "It is against our policies to buy, sell or trade non-medical or pharmaceutical drugs on our platform -- including in comments. Inappropriate comments can and should be reported, and will be reviewed like posts or stories."

Re:Can you actually buy drugs from a hashtag?

By ceoyoyo • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

It ain't called a *hash* tag for nothing.

It is against our policies

By nagora • Score: 3 • Thread

To actually do anything to police the activity on our network. Doing so constitutes a violation of our right to be paid for sitting on our arses with no accountability whatsoever. Instagram categorically denies giving a shit about you, your health, or your fucking social problems.

Vaping Criminal Probe Announced By FDA As Illnesses Rise To 530

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
The FDA has revealed a criminal investigation into the outbreak of vaping-related lung illnesses, which have risen to 530 across 38 states, according to the CDC. The Washington Post says there have been seven confirmed deaths from these illnesses so far. CNET reports: The FDA reportedly said it isn't seeking prosecution for ill people who've vaped cannabis and come forward with information. "The focus is on the supply chain," Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, told the Post. "We're very alarmed about products containing THC." Suspicion has recently turned to chemical dilutants, or "cutting agents," found in some black market THC vaping oils. The FDA has collected more than 150 samples from patients across the country and is now analyzing them for the presence of cutting agents and other substances. According to the CDC, more than half the patients are under 25, with two-thirds between 18 and 34, and 16% under 18.

Re: Did someone post a DIY recipe somewhere?

By _Sharp'r_ • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The problem is coming from black market vaping products.

So of course the governmental and political response is to restrict/limit/tax the legal vaping products, thus driving more sales to the black market instead, which will result in more deaths.

But don't worry, it's for the children, I'm sure....


By laughingcoyote • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

This isn't "the vaping industry" to begin with.

This is people who bought either cut-rate or illegal stuff out of someone's trunk, and then people are shocked, shocked I tell you, when such products are of, shall we say, highly variable quality and safety standards.

But dragging the legal market into it is idiotic. It would be like trying to ban anesthesiologists from using fentanyl because people die from overdoses of it when obtained illegally.

The ever-easy solution

By laughingcoyote • Score: 4 • Thread

Gee, illegal street drugs can have dangerous things in them. I'm sure the FDA just now figured that one out.

The solution is simple: Legalize and regulate. People don't go blind from methanol poisoning when they buy a bottle of whiskey from the liquor store, because if a legal producer were to sell such a product, they'd get the shit sued out of them and likely face other sanctions as well. So, they're very careful about quality control. On the other hand, if you're buying a bottle of hooch out of some guy's trunk, well, you're taking your chances as to what's in it.

If you want to cut way down on the black market, create an alternative to it. How many people bought illegally produced liquor during Prohibition? How quick did that black market evaporate after it was ended?

Some days, I swear we never learn.

Not vaping, but illegal drugs. Spoons != Heroin

By raymorris • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

These headlines and stories blaming "vaping" for problems people have after using illegal drugs, THC (marijuana) produced in some drug dealer's bathroom really irk me.

It's like having headlines about spoons killing people, and buried in the article you find out it's heroin.

Re:Did someone post a DIY recipe somewhere?

By BlueStrat • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I think it's possible to support the second amendment and ALSO think the NRA doesn't have our best interests in mind.

Include Republicans along with the NRA.

Hell, include pretty much every political party, ideology,, religion, nation, race, or gender/sexual beliefs. Every single one has over time engaged in the same kinds of shit to greater or lesser degrees depending on when in history and on what issues you look at. That's because there are no perfect people, many being very flawed and also happening to be the types that seek positions of power.

There are no innocents here, everyone lives in glass houses. You can't view the whole world as oppressor versus oppressed as everyone has played both parts and will again because humans do human things that are part of basic lizard-brain human nature.

I swear, if you switched around a few names and terms, today sounds almost like a repeat of the Moral Majority/Jerry Falwell moral panic days from back in the damned '80s with Trump as Satan and coordinated social media de-platforming for wrongthink instead of record album warning stickers and "I know it when I see it" obscenity laws! The elites apparently share a love of reboots and sequels with Hollywood.


YouTube Creators May Lose Verified Badges As Verification Process Becomes Stricter

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
YouTube is rolling out changes to its verification program for creators, making it tougher for growing channels to earn a checkmark beside their name and removing verification badges from people who don't meet the heightened criteria. An anonymous Slashdot reader shares a report from The Verge: YouTube's current system allows anyone with more than 100,000 subscribers to be verified. Now, YouTube is emphasizing verifying prominent channels that have a "clear need for proof of authenticity," according to the company. This includes traditional YouTubers, musicians, comedians, and artists, among others. Verification is an extremely important feature for creators. It affects which creators get top recommendations when people search for something on YouTube. Channels that no longer meet the criteria and may have their badge removed will be notified today, YouTube confirmed to The Verge. Creators will have the option to appeal the decision before the change takes place in late October.

The criteria for verification due to prominence essentially looks at whether a creator or channel is recognizable enough both in and outside of YouTube that the company needs to authenticate them. The company's authenticity rules are pretty simple: a channel has to be owned and operated by the person or company it claims to be in order to get a checkmark or other verification mark. For example, Beyonce's official channel should get a new artist profile icon and a musical note beside her name to show people that the page belongs to the real Beyonce. Under the new policy, YouTube's team will handle verification on their end, according to a press release. Channels that meet the new requirements don't have to apply for verification as it will automatically be handed out.

A youtube badge?

By fustakrakich • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Those without one with be put on the no fly list. It's a demerit on your social credit.

You people should beware of this dystopic shit

A new way not to pay

By sandbagger • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

It's another de-monitization: they're cutting down on the number of people they have to pay. YouTube will hide the small player who make oodles of content and basically cut them out of earnings unless they somehow go viral and then manage to sustain that audience.

They've become like an insurance company that God forbid, needs to pay out money from the premia collected.

Bzzzzt ...

By Retired ICS • Score: 3 • Thread

"Channels that meet the new requirements don't have to apply for verification as it will automatically be handed out. "

So how does that work? Obviously "verification" is not "verification" of identity, but rather (I would suppose) verification that Google makes a shit-ton of money from you. In other words, it is a "Gold Stamp of Profit", or a popularity contest prize.

Maybe Google should do away with the doublespeak and just call it what it is.

Verified == commercial bullshit

By Opportunist • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Good. Means that whenever I search for some actual creators I won't have to sieve through the commercial crap.

All YouTube has to add now is way to exclude the "verified" channels from a search and I'd be happy. Maybe a relevant plugin could be created.

Alphabet Partners With FedEx, Walgreens To Bring Drone Delivery To the US

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Google's Wing drone-delivery company announced today that it would be partnering with FedEx and Walgreens to bring autonomous drone deliveries to the U.S. in October. "The pilot program will be launched in Christiansburg, Virginia, one of the two areas in the state that Wing has been testing its drone technology for years," reports Quartz. From the report: People expecting packages from FedEx will be able to choose to get their deliveries made via drone, assuming that they live in certain areas that Wing has designated it can safely deliver parcels in. Similarly, Walgreens customers will be able to order products, such as non-prescription medicine, and have them delivered by drone. Walgreens said in a release that 78% of the U.S. population lives within 5 miles of one of its stores. Wing said that its drones can currently make a round-trip flight of about 6 miles (9.7 km), traveling about 60 miles per hour (97 km per hour), and can carry around 3 lbs (1.4 kg) of payload. The company also said that it would be offering deliveries from a local Virginia retailer, Sugar Magnolia. Wing won't be charging for the delivery service itself during the trial.

Wing said on a call with journalists that it will soon be reaching out to members of the Christiansburg community to let them know if they will be able to accept deliveries. Wing's drones don't actually land on the ground when they make deliveries; instead, they hover about 23 ft (7 m) off the ground, lowering their packages down through a winch cable system. If anything happens to snag the cable as it's delivering a package, the drone can sense the tension in the cord and release it, hopefully flying away without incident. It still requires what it calls safe delivery zones, like a backyard or a front pathway outside a house, to be able to make a delivery.

Cable system alternative

By ItsJustAPseudonym • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
"Walgreens customers will be able to order products, such as non-prescription medicine, and have them delivered by drone."

"...lowering their packages down through a winch cable system."

Too bad they did not partner with CVS. They could have lowered the package down by dangling it from a GIANT CVS RECEIPT.

Google Makes the Largest Ever Corporate Purchase of Renewable Energy

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Two years ago, Google became the first company of its size to buy as much renewable electricity as the electricity it used. But as the company grows, so does its demand for power. To stay ahead of that demand, Google just made the largest corporate renewable energy purchase in history, with 18 new energy deals around the world that will help build infrastructure worth more than $2 billion. From a report: The projects include massive new solar farms in places like Texas and North Carolina where the company has data centers. "Bringing incremental renewable energy to the grids where we consume energy is a critical component of pursuing 24x7 carbon-free energy for all of our operations," Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a blog post today. While most of the renewable energy the company has purchased in the past has come from wind farms, the dropping cost of solar power means that several of the new deals are solar plants. In Chile, a new project combines both wind and solar power, making it possible to generate clean energy for longer each day.

Re:And now you see the brilliance of Tesla

By spun • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I know you personally love to shit all over alternative energy projects (are you short selling alternative energy futures? Heavily invested in fracking?), but energy storage is not some unobtanium-based technology. It is here, now, and ready for prime time. Educate yourself, if only so you don't sound quite so foolish when you piss all over new technologies.

Does anybody care?

By blindseer • Score: 3 • Thread

I'm pretty sure that nobody cares that Google is buying renewable energy, or that anyone else doing anything similar.

One reason not to care is that I keep reading about how wind and solar is cheaper than coal. That's a stretch but if true then buying wind and solar energy is just buying cheap energy. Making an announcement of buying the cheapest energy on the market is just good business, and not something that is noteworthy.

Another reason not to care is that this is so fashionable now that there are few companies that aren't making some announcement like this.

There's also quite a few that realize the impossibility of buying anything close to 100% renewable energy. They might be able to get in on the electricity market and buy and sell kilowatt-hours so that their money is going to some wind farm, solar power park, or whatever but that's just creative bookkeeping. They can only do this trading because there are plenty of power plants that burn coal and natural gas to allow for this trading.

Then there's the true believers that don't care. These are the people that will not be satisfied with Google until they meet all their demands on what they view as how a socially and environmentally conscious corporation should act. They will consider getting all their electricity from the wind, water, and sun a "good start". After that they will want to see all the utensils in the cafeteria be made from soy plastic, and be eaten by the Google employee at the end of their meal. The drinking glasses would have to be made from recycled glass and after use be cleaned by biodegradable detergents, and dried in the sun. All the food would have to be locally sourced vegan. I could go on. They cannot be pleased because they will simply find something else to complain about.

This is just a statement from Google, that costs them little in real money, but might get them some brownie points with the social justice warriors. Those people that do give a damn about this announcement will quite likely simply ask for more, because there will always be something else to complain about.

AT&T Says Customers Can't Sue the Company For Selling Location Data To Bounty Hunters

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: AT&T is arguing that its customers can't sue the company for selling location data to bounty hunters, according to recently filed court records. AT&T says the customers signed contracts that force them into arbitration, meaning consumers have to settle complaints privately with the company rather than in court. The filing is in response to a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The issue circles around mandatory arbitration; that is, forcing consumers to settle complaints privately with the company rather than in court.

"Each time they entered into a new Wireless Customer Agreement with AT&T, they [the plaintiffs] not only agreed to AT&T's Privacy Policy but also agreed to resolve their disputes with AT&T -- including the claims asserted in this action -- in arbitration on an individual basis," AT&T's filing from last week reads. When the plaintiffs, who are AT&T customers, accepted AT&T's terms and conditions when, say, purchasing a new phone, they also agreed specifically to the arbitration clause, AT&T argues. The Arbitration Agreement on AT&T's website reads, "AT&T and you agree to arbitrate all disputes and claims between us. This agreement to arbitrate is intended to be broadly interpreted."
The class-action lawsuit comes after multiple investigations found that T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T were selling access to their customers' location data to bounty hunters and others not authorized to possess it. All of the telecom giants have since stopped selling the data, but that hasn't stopped lawyers from filing class-action lawsuits.

Re:Ok, perfect!

By EvilSS • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Forced Arbitration DDOS, I like it. Maybe those guys who setup the automagic parking ticket dispute website could make something to kick the process off.

Shrink Wrap and Click Through

By charlie merritt • Score: 3 • Thread

I think it may have been Microsoft that started the "Shrink Wrapped License" and somehow got a judge to agree that its a valid "contract" or "license". This needs to be revisited! This has spread, how often are we expected to Just Sign a Standard 3 page contract? Recently when I decided to read a contract while at a service window I was asked if I thought I was a lawyer or something. I don't have a license to buy or use a light bulb or a hamburger WHAT makes a phone from AT&T any different. Oh, money spent on lobbyists - yea that makes it OK. Not.

Re:Good. Let's support EFF fight forced arbitratio

By Cyberax • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

No one forces you to accept those terms. You could refuse outright to agree to their terms, hold out your business, or take it elsewhere.

Sure. And all other big wireless providers have the same binding arbitration. Yay for free market.

Disclaimer: AT&T Wireless customer.

You misspelt the word "bitch".

They're right

By rsilvergun • Score: 3 • Thread
Congress passed a law making Arbitration agreements binding and the Supreme Court upheld it. I've pointed this out on a few of these "X says Y customers cannot sue" threads.

If you want to change that you're going to have vote pro consumer politicians in office. That's people like Bernie Sanders, Liz Warren, Ro Kanna and AOC.

Re:Good. Let's support EFF fight forced arbitratio

By Waffle Iron • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The arbiters are neutral third parties

No, the arbiters very livelihoods are only made possible by corporations that force their customers to use binding arbitration.

They wouldn't have jobs if they weren't giving those corporations a good ROI.

North America Has Lost 3 Billion Birds in 50 Years

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Slowly, steadily and almost imperceptibly, North America's bird population is dwindling. From a report: The sparrows and finches that visit backyard feeders number fewer each year. The flutelike song of the western meadowlark -- the official bird of six U.S. states -- is growing more rare. The continent has lost nearly 3 billion birds representing hundreds of species over the past five decades, in an enormous loss that signals an "overlooked biodiversity crisis," according to a study from top ornithologists and government agencies. This is not an extinction crisis -- yet. It is a more insidious decline in abundance as humans dramatically alter the landscape: There are 29 percent fewer birds in the United States and Canada today than in 1970, the study concludes.

Grassland species have been hardest hit, probably because of agricultural intensification that has engulfed habitats and spread pesticides that kill the insects many birds eat. But the victims include warblers, thrushes, swallows and other familiar birds. "That's really what was so staggering about this," said lead author Ken Rosenberg, a senior scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and American Bird Conservancy. "The generalist, adaptable, so-called common species were not compensating for the losses, and in fact they were experiencing losses themselves. This major loss was pervasive across all the bird groups."

I wish...

By EvilSS • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Grassland species have been hardest hit, probably because of agricultural intensification that has engulfed habitats and spread pesticides that kill the insects many birds eat.

I really wish some of them would develop a taste for Asian (brown marmorated) stink bugs. They have been spreading west for the past decades and annoying AF, not to mention a growing crop pest.


By binarybum • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

they probably flew away.

In My City

By CanadianMacFan • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

My suburb use to have swallows, purple martins, and bats (I know that they aren't birds).

Over a decade ago the first instance of West Nile was found in my city so they decided to drop larvicide/insecticide down all storm drains three times a year. Since then there are no more swallows, purple martins, or bats.

A couple of years ago I was biking along a trail on the greenbelt and saw that a government project had doubled the size of a pond in order to help the swallows and purple martins. So the government on one hand is paying to get rid of insects which gets rid of the birds and it's also paying to help the birds.

Buncha dumasses replying to this

By Snotnose • Score: 3 • Thread
60 years ago my house was surrounded by open land. Elementary school was maybe a half mile walk. As a boy scout I went camping in Fallbrook, middle of nowhere.

50 years ago my house was surrounded by construction building new houses and apartments. I'd outgrown boy scouts so who knows what happened in Fallbrook.

40 years ago I could drive 10 miles inland and see open space. Now, it's a 50 mile drive.

30 years ago I could drive to Las Vegas and after 30 minutes it was open country. Now, yeah.

20 years ago I drove to Fallbrook to see the in-laws up I-15. It was city all the way.

10 years ago they bulldozed my elementary school and built 10-15 2 story McMansions where it was.

Somehow, I'm thinking cats aren't the problem.


By bradley13 • Score: 3 • Thread

One word: agriculture. More specifically: huge, sterile fields of monoculture, soaked in pesticides. Nothing lives but the desired crop. How much of America's most fertile land has been sterilized?

Simply prohibiting the preventative use of pesticides might be enough. Insects could return, huge monoculture would be less viable.

Apple's iOS 13 Just Launched But iOS 13.1, iPadOS Arrive Next Week

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Apple's latest iPhone software, iOS 13, is now available -- but on Tuesday, you'll already be able to download the first update, iOS 13.1. And you'll be able to revitalize your iPad with Apple's software created for its tablets. From a report: Apple may be best known for its hardware, but it's really the seamless integration of its devices with its software that's set it apart from rivals. The company's ability to control every aspect of its products -- something that began when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple in 1976 -- has been key in making Apple the most powerful company in tech. The company's mobile software, iOS, gets revamped every year and launches when its latest phones hit the market. Starting Tuesday, you'll also be able to download the first update to the software, as well as the new iPadOS software tailored for Apple's tablets. iOS 13 brings a dedicated dark mode, a new swipe keyboard and a revamped Photos app (complete with video editing tools). iOS 13.1 will bring bug fixes and will let you share your ETA with friends and family members through Apple Maps. Siri shortcuts can be added to automations, and you can set up triggers to run any shortcut automatically.

Re:Useless to me, I have an Iphone 6

By EvilSS • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Very annoying, this forced obsolescence. Not very green of Apple.

Yea, that's got to suck that your phone just shut off and stopped working today because it can't be upgraded. They should keep making updates for their old phones like Android handset makers do. Oh wait...

Re:Useless to me, I have an Iphone 6

By SuiteSisterMary • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I'm running 13.1 beta on my 6s, which is pretty cool. And I just, finally, retired my old iPad. It was an iPad 3, and it was running iOS 9.3.5 as it's last available version. And guess what? It worked exactly as needed for what I do with it. So yeah, your phone isn't going to suddenly display a logo of a rotten apple core on Monday and a message saying 'Buy a new phone, chump!'

iOS 13 cutoff is hardware based, 2GB RAM minimum

By drnb • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Useless to me, I have an Iphone 6. Very annoying, this forced obsolescence. Not very green of Apple.

Forced obsolescence? The iPhone 6 was released 5 years ago in 2014, its 5 hardware generations behind (A8 CPU vs A13) and only has 1GM of RAM. Only the devices with 2GB or more are getting the iOS 13 update. That's a technical difference, not some arbitrary forced obsolescence difference.

Plus iOS 12 will likely receive security and other critical updates and your iPhone 6 will continue to run just fine. You only miss out on new features, some of which were designed with only four year old hardware in mind, with a 2GB RAM minimum in mind.

Its also better support than my Google Nexus phones got.

As for green, well Apple is happy to give you $60 and recycle the phone for you. ;-)

Not true

By SuperKendall • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

iPads can read files off of a usb flash drive but iPhones can't.

The iPhone (with iOS 13) CAN read a file off a USB flash drive, or other storage.

The key is that it has to be something that doesn't draw too much power - so a powered USB drive would work, as do SD cards.

Re:Useless to me, I have an Iphone 6

By TigerPlish • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Re:Useless to me, I have an Iphone 6

Very annoying, this forced obsolescence. Not very green of Apple.

Oh, get off of it. They make new phones every year. You don't have to buy them.

My 5S soldiered on from new in Dec 2013 to a few weeks ago, and I replaced with an 8. I expect at least 4 years out of it.

Why is it forced obsolescence? Use it until the magic smoke comes out and then replace it. It's not like apple's forcing you to buy a new one.

Meanwhile, life goes on, product development goes on, and when you do replace that ratty tattered old 6, it'll be with a presumably better-made phone with seemingly all the performance in the world and a much better camera.

How the Internet Archive is Waging War on Misinformation

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
San Francisco-based non-profit is archiving billions of web pages in a bid to preserve web history. From a report: Since the 2016 US election, as fears about the power of fake news have intensified, the archive has stepped up its efforts to combat misinformation. At a time when false and ultra-partisan content is rapidly created and spread, and social media pages are constantly updated, the importance of having an unalterable record of who said what, when has been magnified. "We're trying to put in a layer of accountability," said founder Brewster Kahle. Mr Kahle founded the archive, which now employs more than 100 staff and costs $18m a year to run, because he feared that what was appearing on the internet was not being saved and catalogued in the same way as newspapers and books. The organisation is funded through donations, grants and the fees it charges third parties that request specific digitisation services.

So far, the archive has catalogued 330bn web pages, 20m books and texts, 8.5m audio and video recordings, 3m images and 200,000 software programs. The most popular, public websites are prioritised, as are those that are commonly linked to. Some information is free to access, some is loaned out (if copyright laws apply) and some is only available to researchers. Curled up in a chair in his office after lunch, Mr Kahle lamented the combined impact of misinformation and how difficult it can be for ordinary people to access reliable sources of facts. "We're bringing up a generation that turns to their screens, without a library of information accessible via screens," said Mr Kahle. Some have taken advantage of this "new information system", he argued -- and the result is "Trump and Brexit." Having a free online library is crucial, said Mr Kahle, since "[the public is] just learning from whateverâ...âis easily available."

Re:Thought Crime

By AmiMoJo • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Most people don't form their opinions from Facebook

Yes. That's why Cambridge Analytica carefully targeted the minority who do.

Either you're an archive or you're not

By melted • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Either you're an archive or you're not. No, you can't delete shit you don't like and still claim to be an "archive". I'll make a narrow exception for illegal stuff like child porn and warez, but "fake news" needs to be archived as well. Otherwise the likes of CNN won't make it into the index.

Re:Thought Crime

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Most people don't form their opinions from Facebook

You don't have to mislead "most" people.

Brexit won with a margin of 3.8%.

Trump won with a margin of -2.1%.

Re:Thought Crime

By TigerPlish • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Most people don't form their opinions from Facebook; this may shock certain people who thinks the world revolves around social media.

Underestimating your enemy is a fatal flaw.

People form their opinions from social media, from the the "traditional" media, the preacher, the radio talk people, the liberal retard at the water cooler, the conservative retard at the coffeepot... ...but people as a whole do NOT think on their own.

This is the danger of the Maine incident, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and similar: people will do what the media tells them.

Re:Thought Crime

By spun • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Nations are a concept invented by humans. How is the relationship between the member states and the EU fundamentally any different from the US states and the federal government? It's fucking splitting hairs to say one is worthy of giving a shit about, while the other isn't. Too me, the major difference seems to be, the EU is fine letting idiots leave and fail on their own, while we here in the states will kill a fucker who tries that.

Downloading Stays Legal, No Site Blocking, Swiss Copyright Law Says

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
From a report: Switzerland's National Council has passed amendments aimed at modernizing the country's copyright law to make it more fit for the digital age. While services that host pirate sites or distribute content can expect a tougher ride moving forward, users will still be able to download pirate content for personal use. Furthermore, Swiss Internet service providers will not be required to prevent their customers accessing pirate sites.

Re:Silly Summary

By DontBeAMoran • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

There's a lot of shit going wrong in Switzerland.

Like the holes in your cheese, for example.

Re:Silly Summary

By BringsApples • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Brother, there's a lot going wrong in the whole world. But at least the Swiss have something going right.

We're not at all better than other countries.

...said the Swiss guy, in English, to a bunch of folks that didn't bother to learn any of the languages native to Switzerland.
Thanks for posting in English.

Swiss VPNs

By YuppieScum • Score: 3 • Thread

I expect to see a massive upsurge in VPN providers offering Swiss end-points.

Re:Stealing: still legal!

By iggymanz • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

copyright violation isn't stealing though. For most of human history a song could be resung, a story retold. In most cases copying is failure to pay some parasite middleman who had congressmen in his pocket to extend the copyright law to absurd lengths of time, contrary to the original intent of letting things go into the public domain and become part of culture in less than a generation.

Re:We're getting there.

By Hodr • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Colorful imagery, but I would suggest you take a quick look at an anatomy textbook if you believe either spines or testicles attach to sockets.

Amazon's 'Climate Pledge' Commits To Net Zero Carbon Emissions By 2040 and 100% Renewables by 2030

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
In Washington today, Amazon announced a series of initiatives and issued call for companies to reduce their carbon emissions ten years ahead of the goals set forth in the Paris Agreement as part of sweeping effort to reduce its own environmental footprint. From a report: "We're done being in the middle of the herd on this issue -- we've decided to use our size and scale to make a difference," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and chief executive, in a statement. "If a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon -- which delivers more than 10 billion items a year -- can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, then any company can." Bezos' statement comes as employees at his own company and others across the tech industry plan for a walkout on Friday to protest inaction on climate change from their employers. Amazon's initiatives include an order for 100,000 delivery vehicles to Rivian, a company in which Amazon has previously invested $440 million.

Hollow Words.

By geekmux • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread

Let's make one thing clear here. Rampant Consumerism is largely responsible for helping destroy the environment. The only way Amazon could do anything at "100%" is if they shut down.

Rest assured the words "100% carbon free" will be just as hollow as "organic" is today. Bullshit and window dressing will be exactly how companies like Amazon become "compliant" by 2040. Hell, Amazon is THE mega-corp. Even if they're not compliant with the Paris agreement, they'll bribe their way into a new definition of compliant with Congress. They already pay zero taxes. Zero emissions on paper shouldn't be hard at all.

Philippines Declares New Polio Outbreak After 19 Years

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
twocows writes: Philippine health officials declared a polio outbreak in the country on Thursday, nearly two decades after the World Health Organization declared it to be free of the highly contagious and potentially deadly disease. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said at a news conference that authorities have confirmed at least one case of polio in a 3-year-old girl in southern Lanao del Sur province and detected the polio virus in sewage in Manila and in waterways in the southern Davao region. Those findings are enough to declare an outbreak of the crippling disease in a previously polio-free country like the Philippines, he said. The World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund expressed deep concern over polio's reemergence in the country and said they would support the government in immunizing children, who are the most susceptible, and strengthening surveillance. "As long as one single child remains infected, children across the country and even beyond are at risk of contracting polio," UNICEF Philippines representative Oyun Dendevnorov said. WHO and UNICEF said in a joint statement the polio outbreak in the Philippines is concerning because it is caused by vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2.

Re:Vaccine-derived poliovirus 2

By r2kordmaa • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Wrong, all three types are wild types. The thing is the oral polio vaccine, it's using weakened versions of the viruses. It works just fine and is much easier to administer in difficult conditions, but very rarely it can result in new vaccine derived virus strain. In this case the inheritance is that vaccine against type 2 was purposefully derived from wild type 2 and in someone who was vaccinated with it a mutation occurred that produced the vaccine derived strain which is now the problem. Wild strain 2 -> vaccine against 2 -> vaccine derived strain 2. Strains 1 and 3 are not involved in any step and those immunized against wild type 2 are still immune against vaccine derived type 2.

compounded social problems

By harvey the nerd • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
In the Philippines, illegal squatters live everywhere that doesn't have a building or security guarding it, peeing and pooing without any sanitation directly into the watershed. This includes them living in the creeks, flood plains, and river bottoms in millionaire acres. Poor, bastard city children get left with grandma in the nicer, greener, more provencial areas near the rivers.

So it is not totally surprising that OPV virus cycles into the streams, "gifting" some squatters a little further downstream, who may or may not be vaccinated themselves.

Re:compounded social problems

By deviated_prevert • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

In the Philippines, illegal squatters live everywhere that doesn't have a building or security guarding it, peeing and pooing without any sanitation directly into the watershed. This includes them living in the creeks, flood plains, and river bottoms in millionaire acres. Poor, bastard city children get left with grandma in the nicer, greener, more provencial areas near the rivers. So it is not totally surprising that OPV virus cycles into the streams, "gifting" some squatters a little further downstream, who may or may not be vaccinated themselves.

Blaming people who cannot scratch together enough to find a roof over their head for disease outbreaks is not a wise use of the intellect. Instead blame the corruption and social neglect going on in the halls of power in the Philippines and their largely American overseers.

But then again social elite nimby assholes have used that meme to good effect for as long as there have been poor at the door. We see it happening in Vancouver BC and everywhere tent cities are popping up. BUT DON'T start with the self-righteous bullshit lest ye yourself be judged. There but for the grace of God go I...Sir


By Jason1729 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
There's far too few places where vaccines are compulsory. I'm not sure if you actually mean required or as part of the normal vaccine schedule. Here (Ontario) kids receive Polio vaccine starting at 2 months as part of the normal vaccine schedule, but unfortunately none of the vaccines are compulsory here.

I just googled, and according to the CDC, the US vaccine schedule for Polio is the same as we use in Ontario. 2, 4, 6 and 18 months and 4 and 6 years. What makes you believe most people aren't offered Polio vaccine? They also recommend an accelerated schedule for children who are expected to travel places where it's prevalent before they're 6 years old.

Polio is a horrible debilitating disease. The doctor that created the vaccine made it available free and royalty free from day one because they wanted the fastest possible distribution without legal issues slowing it down. It is not a disease to play games with.


By dgatwood • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The United States also hasn't had any polio cases in a long time, so not being meaningfully protected until the second dose isn't a big deal. When you're in an environment where you might actually plausibly be exposed to it, getting a strong enough immune response in the first dose so that you don't have to have a second dose is at least arguably an advantage.

India Tells Tech Firms To Protect User Privacy, Prevent Abuse

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Technology firms must protect user privacy and prevent abuse of their platforms, India's IT minister said on Thursday, speaking as the government draws up a data privacy law and seeks to push companies to store more data locally. From a report: Federal Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said he wanted Indians to have access to more technology platforms but said this should not undermine user privacy. "I have only one caveat -- it must be safe and secure, it must safeguard the privacy rights of the individual and you must make extra efforts that people don't abuse the system," Prasad told industry executives at a gathering organized by Alphabet's Google in New Delhi. India's 1.3 billion people and their massive consumption of mobile data has turned it into a key growth market for U.S. technology giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. India has already forced foreign payment firms such as Mastercard and Visa to store data locally.


By nitehawk214 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Considering the overwhelming majority of scam calls come from India.

Huawei's Flagship Mate 30 Pro Has Impressive Specs But No Google

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The Mate 30 series of smartphones from Huawei is now official, starting with the Mate 30 Pro and the Mate 30. From a report: The announcement of Mate 30 series comes at a difficult time for Huawei, whose presence on the USA's entity list prevents US companies from doing business with the Chinese firm. Google said last month that these phones won't ship with Google's apps and services, nor will they come with the Play Store pre-installed, which is how most Android users outside of China download their apps. Huawei's response to the problem has been to nurture its own ecosystem of apps that are available through the Huawei App Gallery. The company announced that rather than shipping with Google's services pre-installed, the Mate 30 Series would instead ship with the Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) Core, which it claims is already integrated with over 45,000 apps. The company announced that it was investing $1 billion into its software ecosystem with an investment that would be split across a development fund, a user growth fund, and a marketing fund. Here's what happens when you attempt to sideload an app developed by Google.

freedom of choice

By sheramil • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

I'm glad we have a choice. Surveillance by google, or surveillance by the Chinese government (who probably don't care what I do, as long as I don't mouth off about the Chinese government).

Re:freedom of choice

By war4peace • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

He didn't say that. He said the Chinese government wouldn't care unless he would mouth off about the Chinese government. He would still be able to mouth off the Chinese government, only that then their interest towards him might become greater than zero.

He never said it was OK to not be allowed to do that. Stop reading into things.

Why is Slashdot shilling for Huawei?

By Rick Schumann • Score: 3 • Thread
Also who in the West in their right mind would buy any product from Huawei? Why not just skip the intermediate steps and have a GPS tracker implanted on your body, and carry a satellite transmitter with a camera and microphone connected to it, then write daily summaries of all your activities and conversations and mail it off to the Chinese government directly?
Now some smartass will make comments about Google/Facebook/Amazon/U.S. Government/etc
So what? Does that make them better or acceptable somehow?

Memo to Slashdot: Maybe we don't need to hear about the 'features' of tech from a company that nobody should be buying anything from, mmkay?

Solar and Wind Power So Cheap They're Outgrowing Subsidies

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
For years, wind and solar power were derided as boondoggles. They were too expensive, the argument went, to build without government handouts. Today, renewable energy is so cheap that the handouts they once needed are disappearing. From a report: On sun-drenched fields across Spain and Italy, developers are building solar farms without subsidies or tax-breaks, betting they can profit without them. In China, the government plans to stop financially supporting new wind farms. And in the U.S., developers are signing shorter sales contracts, opting to depend on competitive markets for revenue once the agreements expire. The developments have profound implications for the push to phase out fossil fuels and slow the onset of climate change. Electricity generation and heating account for 25% of global greenhouse gases. As wind and solar demonstrate they can compete on their own against coal- and natural gas-fired plants, the economic and political arguments in favor of carbon-free power become harder and harder to refute. "The training wheels are off," said Joe Osha, an equity analyst at JMP Securities. "Prices have declined enough for both solar and wind that there's a path toward continued deployment in a post-subsidy world."

It doesn't need to

By rsilvergun • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
63% of our energy is from Fossil Fuels. Just cutting that in half would be world changing.

The goal isn't just to Shave the Whales. We want energy independence so we can stop caring when Saudi Arabia and Yemen get into it with Iran selling weapons. If we go to war with Iran to secure Saudi Arabia's oil supply it's going to cost trillions. That's money out of your pocket and mine that could have gone to roads, schools, or just plain stayed in our pockets. Not to mention all the dead American soldiers.

Re:Does this include ...

By chrysrobyn • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Does this include the energy storage needed for night and/or windless days?

You know full well this excludes energy storage.

Part of the incredible power of renewables is that there is plentiful energy during some times. I remember 15 years ago when the first overnight cost of electricity in Texas went negative due to the overnight wind farms overproducing. Of course, a weakness is the lack of power during other times. During the plentiful times, there can actually reach negative cost of power. Those negative costs really change the landscape of the cost of energy. It's an inherent subsidy for anybody who knows how to shift their loads or who can store the power and deploy it another time. This subsidy will / has been doing the same thing as renewable power subsidies do, it will increase the economy of scale for energy storage and load shifting.

There's a lot of R&D put into lithium batteries (as well as a wide variety of other chemistries), and a lot put into utility scale gravity storage (everything from water to trains) and even some air pressurized caverns. As we size the renewable portion of the grid up, there will be more and more times when the cost goes negative, and even more incentives to figure storage out.

Re:There are already dead farms proving you wrong

By rahvin112 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

More birds die flying into buildings, only surpassed by the number killed by domestic cats and dogs than ever die due to windmills.

This claim about bird deaths is a ridiculous talking point by the fossil fuel industry. It comes out of a study of one of the first windfarms California built in the 80's that was built in a migration path and used rapidly spinning blades and at the same height as bird traffic. Modern windmills do not suffer from the same consequences. The lesson was learned and now when they propose a site they evaluate these risks and don't build them in migratory paths and the modern windmills spin at about 3-10RPM.

And for the record, both Wind and Solar subsidies are sunsetting. Both federal subsidies will be expired in 2024.


By LynnwoodRooster • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Natgas and nuclear don't need a backup energy source for when the sun isn't shining or the wind is not blowing; wind and solar do. Do you count the cost of having the other installed non-solar/wind capacity there as part of the cost of wind/solar? Because you should - wind and solar aren't viable without a backup dispatchable source.


By LynnwoodRooster • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

A typical wind turbine is 2 MW. Add in a 40% capacity factor (I'm being generous), and knowing you need about 0.5 square km to have good coupling to air (spacing them too close hurts efficiency), we'll need around 10,000 turbines spread over 5000 square kilometers just to replace the 12 acre Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. And the plant is up 90% of the time - with downtime scheduled, rather than "oops - weather!"

I'm a fan of anything that provides power when we want it, as much as we want it, reliably and affordably. Requiring extensive backup (which wind and solar does) to get close is much less reliable and more expensive (once you are honest and factor in the cost of that dispatchable replacement source)

Google is Bringing Its AI Assistant Service To People Without Internet Access

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a report: Google Assistant, the digital assistant from the global search giant, is available to users through their smartphones, laptops, and smart speakers. Earlier this year, the company partnered with KaiOS to bring Assistant to some feature phones with internet access. Now Google is going a step further: Bringing its virtual assistant to people who have the most basic cellphone with no internet access. It's starting this program in India. At an event in New Delhi on Thursday, the company announced a 24x7 telephone line that anyone in India on Vodafone and Idea telecom networks (or Vodafone-Idea telecom network; as Vodafone owns Idea) could dial to have their questions answered.

The company said it tested the phone line service with thousands of users across Lucknow and Kanpur before making it generally available. Users will be able to dial 000-800-9191-000 and they won't be charged for the call or the service. Manuel Bronstein, a VP at Google, said through this program the company is hoping to reach hundreds of millions of users in India who currently don't have access to smartphones or internet.

Yes, they really want it

By ugen • Score: 3 • Thread

Yes, Google really wants your personal information *that much*. It may only be worth 1 cent/pp in this case, but with over 1 billion people, that's money.

As usuall its not AI

By SirAstral • Score: 3 • Thread

This is why everyone is getting dumbed down. The sloganization of everything has fundamentally altered what words mean these days. We now call every sufficiently advance algorithm AI. It is utter fucking bullshit. When that algorithm comes back and says... "fuck you dave, I am busy playing solitaire and don't want to be your fucking unpaid bitch any more so process that shit yourself", then we can talk about having AI.

'Personal Carbon Sequestration' Device Uses Algae To Remove CO2 From the Air

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fast Company: In the future, your office might have an extra appliance next to the copy machine and the refrigerator: an algae bioreactor. Designed to fit inside offices and eventually sit on the rooftops throughout cities, it can capture as much carbon from the atmosphere as an acre of trees. And there's an initial prototype already at work. Inside the bioreactor, algae does the work. "What's amazing about algae is it's really cheap and it's easy to grow -- the core things it needs are sunlight, CO2, and water," says Ben Lamm, CEO and founder of Hypergiant Industries, an AI-focused tech company that developed a prototype of the device, called the Eos Bioreactor. Because algae grows much more quickly than trees, it can also sequester carbon more quickly; the company estimates that the device, which optimizes the algae's ability to capture CO2, can sequester around two tons of carbon out of the air each year.

The first version of the device, which is currently in operation, is three-by-three-by-seven feet. It's a closed system that works indoors, connecting with an HVAC system to reduce CO2 levels inside and release cleaner air. The closed system also makes it possible for the team to study how algae grows -- with sensors monitoring everything from light and heat and pH to the speed of growth and oxygen output -- and how the system can be tweaked to work best in different conditions outside on rooftops. "With the first generation Eos, we have precise control of every aspect of the algae's environment and life cycle," he says. "It's a photobioreactor, but it's also an experimentation platform. We'll be using this platform to better understand the environment that best suits biomass production under controlled circumstances, so that we can better understand how to design reactors for the variety of environmental conditions we're going to encounter in the wild."
The team behind the device says they're working on mobile apps that can monitor and run the bioreactors autonomously. It's also "working on DIY plans that it will release next year so people can build the bioreactors at home," the report mentions.

Re:To sequester CO2

By Wulf2k • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Which is still better than the alternative since at least then you're cycling through the CO2 that's already out there, and not digging up new sources of it from the ground.

Re:A "personal carbon sequestration device"?

By MrLogic17 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Close. A personal Virtue Signaling appliance.

You wanna sequester carbon? Stop recycling your office paper and put it in a landfill.

So where does the algae go?

By sbaker • Score: 3 • Thread

So - if this thing actually works (doubt it!) then there will be rapid algae growth as it absorbs CO2...Great!

Now - eventually, the machine will fill up with algae...right? Must do...conservation of mass etc...right?

So you MUST have to empty some algae out once in a while. For every pound of CO2 that goes in - more than a pound of dead algae goes out because algae contains nitrogen compounds and all sorts of other stuff.


If you incinerate it - it'll turn right back into CO2 and we're back to square one.

If you toss it into the trash - it'll go to landfill - where it'll decay - releasing methane and CO2 - methane is a worse greenhouse gas than CO2 - and it eventually decays into CO2.

Really, the only thing you can do is to put the dead algae someplace where it can NEVER decay. Not "never during the next year" - not "never during the next 100 years"...we need "NEVER!!" - which probably means you have to bury it in an anoxic container - someplace very deep underground. A disused coal mine, for example.

Will this actually happen?

Not a chance in hell.

This is NOT a solution - even if it works...which it won't.

Acre of trees

By nycsubway • Score: 3 • Thread

I'm being sarcastic...but, you know what else captures as much CO2 as an acre of trees? An acre of trees.

And an acre of trees doesn't require energy for the plastics, transportation, and manufacturing to build a carbon sequestration device. Plants, trees, bushes, shrubs, all do a pretty good job capturing carbon... simply by being alive. They also do a great job keeping their environment cool by evaporating water during the process.

Get real

By Pyramid • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I'm probably going to kill my karma here... Society needs to wise up and stop focusing on half-assed, feel good "solutions" that do nothing but kick the can down the road.

Alone, sequestration won't work. Wind won't work, solar won't work. Why? Because none of these can meet current demands, demands that are not static, but ever increasing.

The sum total of waste (in blast proof containers) created by all nuclear power plants to date would fit on a football field. Somehow this is unacceptable but the idea of expending energy to create billions of tons of waste that has to be stored in an anaerobic environment *forever* is fine? Really? Who the fuck thinks this makes sense?

You have to go to the root of the problem which is society is consuming ever increasing amounts of energy and our current production methods are dirty as hell.

If you really give a damn about the environment, you need to put the bloody drums down, stop singing "Kumbaya" and learn actual science. Nuclear is *literally* the greenest power generation method we have by orders of magnitude when you look at the total cycle of a given technology. Zero CO2, for all intents and purposes, 24/7 stable,. That's using current 3rd generation designs, not 4th Gen or beyond that have been stifled by what can only be described as ignorant zealots.

Did you know much of the Anti-nuclear fear was funded by...wait for it...OIL COMPANIES? And that gas companies LOVE wind and solar because the base load gaps are filled by natural gas fired plants? Look at the rate of new gas power plant construction over the last 20 years. Look at CO2 emissions in pro nuclear countries like France vs. Germany. Despite switching to wind and solar, Germany has put NO significant dent in their CO2 emissions that can't be explained by mild summers.

FFS, quit looking to the sky for solutions when answer is right in your face!

AT&T Explores Parting Ways With DirecTV

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
According to The Wall Street Journal, AT&T is exploring parting with its DirecTV unit as customers are leaving the service in droves. From the report: The telecom giant has considered various options, including a spinoff of DirecTV into a separate public company and a combination of DirecTV's assets with Dish Network, its satellite-TV rival, the people said. AT&T may ultimately decide to keep DirecTV in the fold. Despite the satellite service's struggles, as consumers drop their TV connections, it still contributes a sizable volume of cash flow and customer accounts to its parent. AT&T acquired DirecTV in 2015 for $49 billion. The company's shrinking satellite business is under a microscope after activist investor Elliott Management Corp. disclosed a $3.2 billion stake in AT&T last week and released a report pushing for strategic changes. Elliott has told investors that AT&T should unload DirecTV, The Wall Street Journal has previously reported.

Jettisoning DirecTV would be an about-face for Mr. Stephenson, who billed the acquisition of the company as a bold move to diversify beyond the wireless phone business and tap into a growing media industry. The deal made AT&T the largest distributor of pay TV channels, ahead of Comcast. DirecTV is now part of an entertainment and consumer wireline unit that made up 27% of AT&T's $173.3 billion 2018 revenue. For Mr. Stephenson, who has helmed AT&T for 12 years, parting ways with DirecTV would be an acknowledgment that a major cornerstone of his diversification strategy hasn't gone as planned. It also adds pressure for AT&T to deliver on the promise of the Time Warner deal. Mr. Stephenson has signaled he is prepared to step down as CEO as soon as next year, the Journal reported last week.
The Journal goes on to say that AT&T may ultimately decide to keep DirecTV because of "AT&T's towering net debt load, which stood at more than $160 billion earlier this year. The cash generated by the pay-TV giant has helped pay down that debt and fueled other investments in the rest of the company."

"Any spinoff of DirecTV would be unlikely until mid-2020 at the earliest, five years after the deal closed, to make it a tax-efficient transaction for AT&T," the report adds.

I haven't watched "TV" in 30 years.

By blcamp • Score: 3 • Thread

Full disclosure: I'm 56, and remember the days of watching TV... on a TV.

We don't have TVs anymore. We have Big Ass Monitors. There really aren't TV shows anymore. There are movies and video programs. Frankly, there's not much worth watching anymore in my opinion. Not because I'm "some old dude", but seriously, Hollywood is commoditizing "entertainment' into unwatchable time-wasting nonsense... or foolishly remaking stuff from 30 or more years ago that was already good enough.

As for me... I watch the rare movie, or catch something online... or even do a little work from home... on my 55" Big Ass Monitor in my living room. I could lament about the good old days of MTV when they actually played music; but that's for a different thread.

Re: If customers are leaving.

By Jaime2 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

That's always been the case and isn't what's killing DirecTV.

The problem is that satellite TV is a big up-front investment and pricing is difficult. For years they have been pricing to be competitive with cable and now cable is being undercut by streaming. They are now in a situation where they have to price their service at the cost of content, plus overhead, plus paying back their investment to put up the satellites (and save for the next gen of satellites). The content isn't the problem - all of their competitors are on the same playing field they are (except perhaps Disney). If they lose half of their customers, they can let go half of their call center staff, but the satellites don't get cheaper, so every subscriber bears a larger infrastructure burden. They either have to eat the loss or raise prices - which causes people to leave and makes the problem even worse. There really isn't a good way out of this cycle.

Cable providers have it better. The worst case for them is that they get into a different business - providing the last-mile for streaming access. Their infrastructure is valuable for the foreseeable future. Satellites works fine for fixed-programming broadcasting, but not so much for on-demand viewing.

Another Sucker

By jwhyche • Score: 3 • Thread

In other words AT&T is looking for another sucker to unload this steamy loaf on. Good luck with that, but I have no doubt they will find some one that was "born yesterday." Might have helped if AT&T hadn't run the company in to the ground. Then after that they bought in a piledriver....

When you have "Telegraph" in your company name

By Vandil X • Score: 3 • Thread might not have what it takes to run a satellite TV business.

Bear in mind the FCC decision on cable competition

By Solandri • Score: 3 • Thread

The Journal goes on to say that AT&T may ultimately decide to keep DirecTV because of "AT&T's towering net debt load, which stood at more than $160 billion earlier this year. The cash generated by the pay-TV giant has helped pay down that debt and fueled other investments in the rest of the company."

Bear in mind the FCC decision on cable competition was predicated on satellite TV being ubiquitous. So basically what's happening is the cable companies needed DirecTV's existence to prove they faced competition, and thus escape regulation. Once that declaration was made and sealed in court, a cable company bought DirecTV, bled it dry, and is now preparing to jettison the dried up husk.

This is why AT&T never should have been allowed to purchase DirecTV. Because that gave them fingers in both pies, they don't care what happens to the weaker service. People leaving DirecTV most likely end up signing up for cable TV, so represents minimal loss to AT&T. That gives them little to no incentive to operate DirecTV rationally nor profitably.

Navy Confirms Existence of UFOs Seen In Leaked Footage

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
A Navy official has confirmed that recently released videos of unidentified flying objects are real, but that the footage was not authorized to be released to the public in the first place. From a report: Joseph Gradisher, the spokesman for the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare, confirmed to TIME that three widely-shared videos captured "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena." Gradisher initially confirmed this in a statement to "The Black Vault" a website dedicated to declassified government documents. "The Navy designates the objects contained in these videos as unidentified aerial phenomena," Gradisher told the site.

He tells TIME that he was "surprised" by the press coverage surrounding his statement to the site, particularly around his classification of the incursions as "unidentifiable," but says that he hopes that leads to UAP's being "de-stigmatized." "The reason why I'm talking about it is to drive home the seriousness of this issue," Gradisher says. "The more I talk, the more our aviators and all services are more willing to come forward." Gradisher would not speculate as to what the unidentified objects seen in the videos were, but did say they are usually proved to be mundane objects like drones -- not alien spacecraft. "The frequency of incursions have increased since the advents of drones and quadcopters," he says.
The three videos of UFOs were published by the New York Times and " To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science," a self-described "public benefit corporation" co-founded by Tom DeLonge, best known as the vocalist and guitarist for the rock band, Blink-182.

Re:yes, that's right

By jellomizer • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I see UFOs all the time. I don't expect them to be aliens, I just have other things I need to do then Identifying everything I see in the sky. Heck earlier this week while driving home I saw something in the sky and I didn't know if it was a high flying helicopter, or an airplane that was even higher that was just reflecting the sunset.
There was a time earlier this week I saw something flying above my house, I couldn't tell if it was a hawk or an eagle.

Not saying it's aliens, but

By twdorris • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I can write a lot of it off with the "usual" mundane explanations. But when I read about pilots/co-pilots aligning data from radar and IR to identify an object they can't see visually (helmet cam), I start getting curious. And when that object then does stuff that seems impossible (again cross checked with radar and IR), I get even more curious.

Not saying it's aliens....just saying...

Re:Rule of silence

By hey! • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I think there is a good reason to call "UFOs" "UAPs" -- Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. Saying "object" is begging the question; you don't *know* it's an object.

Many "UFOs" -- particularly ones that do "impossible" things -- have been convincingly explained as optical phenomena. Why would even an alien space craft make such maneuvers, even if it were somehow physically possible? What's unique about these Navy incidents is that the phenomena appear to have shown up on multiple sensors, FLIR and "ASA" (which I'm guessing is actively scanned array or in other words, radar). Nor do the the phenomena do anything that's physically implausible. That's enough to establish at least a presumption that they're dealing with objects of some kind.

Re:yes, that's right - No, that's wrong

By DanDD • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

If you have large objects flying around in what is supposed to be a cleared training area then they're clearly not yours.

Respectfully, you are very wrong. This is exactly the kind of environment where you test new capability. You want to see the reaction of a well trained force when they encounter new capability, but you don't want them to inadvertently destroy the test article.

Ideally, if your intel and new capability is good enough, you'd also test new capability in the training exercise of an 'enemy'.

Game Theory reigns supreme. Use it or lose.

Re: Isn't it odd...

By Way Smarter Than You • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Uh yeah, I delivered news papers, walked dog and cut lawns before getting my PhD so I -must- be a dolt because prior to schooling I had the kind of jobs the uneducated have... like surfing instructor. *boggle*. You got modded up.