the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2020-Jan-12 today archive

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

'Music Copyright Lawsuits Are Scaring Away New Hits', Argues Rolling Stone

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
A new article in Rolling Stone argues that the forgotten 2013 hit song " Blurred Lines", which a court later ruled infringed on a 1977 song by Marvin Gaye, turned copyright law into "a minefield" -- for the music industry.
While copyright laws used to protect only lyrics and melodies (a prime example is the Chiffons' successful suit against George Harrison in 1976 for the strong compositional similarities between his "My Sweet Lord" and their "He's So Fine"), the "Blurred Lines" case raised the stakes by suggesting that the far more abstract qualities of rhythm, tempo, and even the general feel of a song are also eligible for protection -- and thus that a song can be sued for feeling like an earlier one. Sure enough, a jury in 2019 ruled that Katy Perry owed millions for ostensibly copying the beat of her hit "Dark Horse" from a little-known song by Christian rapper Flame, stunning both the music business and the legal community. "They're trying to own basic building blocks of music, the alphabet of music that should be available to everyone," Perry's lawyer Christine Lepera warned in the case's closing arguments.

That case, which Perry's team is currently in the process of appealing, suggests a second point: Plaintiffs in copycat cases are largely targeting megahit songs because they've seen where the money is, and the increasing frequency of those court battles in headlines is causing an avalanche effect of further infringement lawsuits.... While some record labels may have the budget to hire on-call musicologists who vet new releases for potential copyright claims, smaller players who can't afford that luxury are turning toward a tried-and-true form of protection: insurance. Lucas Keller -- the founder of music management company Milk and Honey, which represents writers and producers who've worked with everyone from Alessia Cara and Carrie Underwood to 5 Seconds of Summer and Muse -- recently began encouraging all his songwriter clients to purchase errors-and-omissions insurance, which protects creative professionals from legal challenges to their intellectual property. "We all feel like the system has failed us," Keller says. "There are a lot of aggressive lawyers filing lawsuits and going ham on people." (He's particularly critical of publishers whose rosters are heavier on older catalogs than new acts: "Heritage publishers who aren't making a lot of money are coming out of the woodwork and saying, âWe're going to take a piece of your contemporary hit....'â") Artists are understandably reluctant to publicly disclose that they have copyright insurance, which could open them up to an increase in lawsuits. But music attorney Bob Celestin, who's helped represent acts like Pusha T and Missy Elliott, says it is safe to assume that the majority of artists who show up in Top 10 chart positions are covered in this way...

The popularity of cheap music-production software, which offers the same features to every user, has added another layer of risk. "Music is now more similar than it is different, for the first time," says Ross Golan, a producer and songwriter who has released songs with stars like Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber. "People are using the same sample packs, the same plug-ins, because it's efficient."

Then there's the issue of the finite number of notes, chord progressions, and melodies available...

Copyright has to die

By nospam007 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

It has gone too far.
I watched Youtube videos this weekend and several of them (some in-car videos and living-rooms) and when visitors wanted to turn on the radio, the voice-over said they couldn't do that, because otherwise the video would be removed by the content mafia.


By The1stImmortal • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

As I understand copyright, independent creation isn't a copyright violation. In theory, your story's similarity to Asimov's is a mere coincidence. Same with music.
If there's any kind of traceable link from one to the other though, then you can be held for copyright violation. The sheer mass-media prevalence of popular music leads to a defacto presumption of prior exposure. That is, because corporate music is absolutely everywhere, the burden to prove a composer had heard the track they're accused of infringing before is really quite low.

Plus ...

By chris-chittleborough • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Plus most artists are happy to have Weird Al parody one of their songs.

Singer Songwriter here

By MrKaos • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I've got 18 songs with my band and they're all originals.

Between trademarks, massive contracts and people in the music industry it's hard to look at it and not think the whole thing is self destructing. When I read the contracts they want you to sign I can't help thinking how fucked musicians usually are if they don't understand how to read them. Consider that, contractually, when a musician records on a music industry advance they don't own the recordings they produce, yet they have to pay back all of the money. Now I can understand paying back the money, but not owning the rights to something you end up paying to produce, how is that fair? Imagine having to pay back someone for the computer you wrote some game on and then they own your source code. It looks like a lot of musicians didn't defend their rights by negotiation seeing how bad things are getting.

A few years ago the record industry wanted a cut on that artist's merchandise sold at shows, which was traditionally the way musicians made some money. If you bought a Tee Shirt, you really were supporting the band but not any more, the label wants a cut. Musicians are still being contractually ripped off for a label *NOT* printing *CD* inserts and all sorts of craziness I saw in these contracts. There is a huge amount of legal contracts you have to get your head around if you don't want to get ripped off.

The music industry is again muscling in on Artist revenue, this time they're going directly for royalties, the money the artists get paid - if they get the success they were working for all along, that is. No word on if the music industry will refund all the punters for a copy right infringing song they made a wad of cash on. No wonder they evoke despise, that's how they reward people that created the music they build their careers on.

So musicians have to become experts in copyright law as well as music if they want to be successful. It would seem that the music industry has a problem with bringing original music to be enculturated, so what is their purpose now? Culture squatting banal legal and insurance fees out of every original thought an artist has?

I hope this is the thing that makes them all collapse.

Symptom of a bigger issue

By VeryFluffyBunny • Score: 3 • Thread

This is a symptom of a bigger issue, i.e. new intellectual property laws, biased interpretation of old laws, & governments promoting the idea that ideas can be owned in perpetuity by an elite "rentier class":,

This is being coordinated & forced upon us on a global scale by WIPO:

If you're a critical thinker, this signals the beginning of the end of creativity &, according to Nietzche, when we kill off creativity, we kill off our futures.

If you like a good read, I recommend this book. "The Corruption of Capitalism: Why rentiers thrive and work does not pay": https://www.bitebackpublishing...

If you're one of those Looney Christian Capitalist(TM) types, perhaps this will persuade you:

"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." -- Ecclesiastes 1:9

i.e. It's impossible to be truly original. All creativity is born out of what has come before. If we don't allow people to be influenced by prior ideas & use them, then no new ideas can be created.

More specifically to music, in the UK they have a saying in the music business, "Where there's a hit, there's a writ." i.e. As soon as you put out a successful song, you'll get legal claims against it. It's much easier to sue musicians than to write popular music.

The End of Windows 7 'Marks the End of the PC Era Too'

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
ZDNet's UK editor-in-chief Steve Ranger argues the end of Windows 7 "marks the end of the PC era, too." When Windows 7 launched, the iPhone and its app store were around but were still novelties, while the iPad hadn't arrived yet. If you wanted to get work -- or pretty much anything -- done on a computer, you needed a PC. Just over a decade later, the picture is much more complicated.

PC sales have been in decline for the last seven years; a slide which only ended with a small increase last year, largely because businesses needed to buy new PCs to run Windows 10, after bowing to the inevitable and upgrading. In many scenarios and use cases the PC has been superseded by the smartphone, the tablet or digital assistants embodied in various other devices. And it's not just the PC -- Windows is no longer the defining product for Microsoft that it once was.

That's not to say the PC is dead, of course: I'm typing on one now, and it will remain the primary device I use to do my job for the foreseeable future. Many office and knowledge workers will feel the same. But there are now plenty of other options: I could be using a tablet or dictating to my phone... And outside of work I barely touch a PC at all.

And even the definition of the PCs is getting blurry. PC makers have come up with a late burst of creativity that has delivered all manner of weird and occasionally wonderful new shapes and sizes. Microsoft's Surface is a PC that looks a lot like a tablet; Lenovo's X1 Fold is a folding screen that can be a tablet, or a mini laptop or a desktop. Folding and detachable PCs are now mainstream.

Re:Have you seen a smart phone lately? (Re:Um, no)

By Krakadoom • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

"I've seen advertisements for smartphone docks that can add a display, keyboard, perhaps a mouse, Ethernet, storage, and most anything else people might think of for a desktop computer or laptop dock."

So basically converting the mobile device to a PC. I fail to see how that changes the initial statement that most meaningful work is still carried out using a PC.

Re:Um, no

By DThorne • Score: 4 • Thread

Man, this site. I realise everyone here knows more than everyone else (and each other, of course), but why in hell do you feel the need to snidely negate something as fundamental as an observance that over the lifespan of this OS the computing world has seen fundamental change? *Obviously* it has. Clearly desktop is in decline, the numbers show it, and those that *needed* one in order to use a computing device now have numerous other options. Yes, desktop will continue for professionals in various fields, and for game aficionados for the foreseeable future, but the economics of it are radically changing.

It's OK, you can let one day pass without reminding the world that it lacks your insight.

Do you buy a PC?

By Opportunist • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I don't. I buy a mainboard, a CPU, a graphics card, ram, a power supply, a case...

But I rarely buy them all at the same time. I have had the same case for about a decade now. Same with the monitors (which might get replaced somewhere in the foreseeable future). I rarely swap mainboard and graphics card at the same time, and haven't for a long time. How long? Well, pretty much since the advent of PCI-E. And this is also what I'd think is the main reason for the "decline" in PC sales. There is no reason to throw out your whole PC and buy a new one because connectors are still compatible and have been downwards compatible with their predecessors for a while now. You'd buy a new mainboard (and CPU, possibly ram, too) with the new version of connectors but you can still use your old cards for a while. A year later, when your graphics card either croaks or can't run the latest games anymore, you upgrade that.

The only people who buy "whole" PCs anymore are people who don't know too much about their computers and don't want to be bothered with it. And yes, they don't buy them too often anymore because for them, the "good enough" level has been reached ages ago. They throw out their PC and buy a new one when the old one blows up, not any second earlier. They didn't replace it with a cellphone, though. If anything, they might have replaced it with an iThing. But they have no reason to upgrade any earlier than absolutely necessary anymore.

Re: Um, no

By sound+vision • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

A motorcycle is a truck... Just add 2 wheels, a bed, and a cab.

Damn, this will save truckers a lot of money.

Variety of reasons

By twocows • Score: 3 • Thread
In the past, everyone used a PC or laptop for their computing needs because that's all there was. Now, minimal users (which is the bulk of them) can use their smartphone for a lot of their needs or a tablet for slightly more advanced needs (or maybe something like a Chromebook, which is technically a laptop but I kind of put it more in the "tablet" bucket mentally since it's mostly locked down like an iPad). So you have lots of people who aren't even in the market for a PC or laptop at all.

There are still plenty of substantial markets for PCs and laptops, though. The other end of the equation, then, is that people are waiting longer to upgrade. Their current device fills their needs adequately (or maybe just upgrading a single part will get them there) and they know the longer they wait, the better their options will be. That's why I'm still running my "gaming machine" that I built in 2010 out of budget parts. Once I got my RAM and drive space/drive speed to adequate speeds, most of the bottleneck would be the GPU, which I could just upgrade. It's only now, ten years later, that even the dinky little 2nd gen i3 is starting to become a noticeable bottleneck (in certain games or with certain configs in those games), and that's with a pretty reasonable modern midrange GPU (1060). If I've been able to squeeze that much out of my decade-old piece of crap with just incremental upgrades, then most business users who are just using their laptop for Office (or now maybe G Suite) will probably be fine for at least that long with only minor exceptions.

So between fewer people using PCs/laptops and these devices requiring less frequent upgrades, yeah, of course PC sales are in the bin. But the fact that the major PC and laptop manufacturers are still doing just fine indicates that the market is healthy enough to survive. We've had people saying the PC is dead for the past ten years but Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc. are still putting out products and people are still buying them, if a bit more slowly.

Internet Pioneers Fight For Control of .Org Registry By Forming a Nonprofit Alternative

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Reuters reports that a group of "prominent internet pioneers" now has a plan to block the $1.1 billion sale of the .org internet domain registry to Ethos Capital.

The group has created their own nonprofit cooperative to offer an alternative: "There needs to be a place on the internet that represents the public interest, where educational sites, humanitarian sites, and organizations like Wikipedia can provide a broader public benefit," said Katherine Maher, the CEO of Wikipedia parent Wikimedia Foundation, who signed on to be a director of the new nonprofit.

The crowd-sourced research tool Wikipedia is the most visited of the 10 million .org sites registered worldwide...

Hundreds of nonprofits have already objected to the transaction, worried that Ethos will raise registration and renewal prices, cut back on infrastructure and security spending, or make deals to sell sensitive data or allow censorship or surveillance... "What offended me about the Ethos Capital deal and the way it unfolded is that it seems to have completely betrayed this concept of stewardship," said Andrew McLaughlin, who oversaw the transfer of internet governance from the U.S. Commerce Department to ICANN, completed in 2016.

Maher and others said the idea of the new cooperative is not to offer a competing financial bid for .org, which brings in roughly $100 million in revenue from domain sales. Instead, they hope that the unusual new entity, formally a California Consumer Cooperative Corporation, can manage the domain for security and stability and make sure it does not become a tool for censorship. The advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which previously organized a protest over the .org sale that drew in organizations including the YMCA of the United States, Greenpeace, and Consumer Reports, is also supporting the cooperative.

"It's highly inappropriate for it to be turned over to a commercial venture at all, much less one that's going to need to recover $1 billion," said EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn.

ORG domain is part of the peoples common!

By SysEngineer • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
I registered in the early 1990's and for the first few years it was free.. I disapprove of selling the ORG domain to Ethos Capital! Since then, I have been running my own email and web servers because I believe in digital privacy! Making money is the only thing Ethos Capital plans for. To me ORG domain is part of the peoples common.
In this digital world, there has to be some place that belongs to the people.
In fact the first web presence had was a gopher site at Oregon State University., The Hemp Club

ORG domain is part of the peoples common!

Hate to be cynical

By 93 Escort Wagon • Score: 3 • Thread

But I can think of 1.1 billion reasons this will almost certainly not happen.

Oh, who am I kidding... I love to be cynical, because experience has taught be it's most often the correct way to interpret things.

People deciding forget/get changed too often.

By gl4ss • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

They were not given the .org as a financial asset to sell. because they want to sell it, it should just be taken away from them. Pretty simple really. It is not some startup that created something of their own in that way.

Also they are stupid as F as an organization to just sell it out, even for a billion dollars. Not stupid as individuals who can profit from it through the organization mind you, but the organization is acting in a stupid way as if it was a private business that deemed that this is a good time to cash out. It would be stupid to cash out even as a private business though. This really leads to thinking that they have some plan to extract the money (that is not theirs) out from the organization.

Apple's Stock Rose 86% in 2019 -- Partly Because Of AirPods

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Shares of Apple gained 86.2% in 2019, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence," reports the Motley Fool: The tech stock's share price tracked relatively closely with momentum for the broader market for much of the year and then dramatically outperformed from September through December thanks to strong performance for its wearables products.

iPhone Sales were down from 2018, but they still came in ahead of expectations, and the company's business was lifted by strong performance for its wearables segment... Growth for Apple's services segment (which includes revenue generated from the company's mobile app store and subscription-based offerings like Apple Music) also slowed in the year. However, explosive growth for AirPods, promising momentum for the Apple Watch, and the promise of a bigger tech and feature leap for the iPhone line in 2020 powered a great year for Apple stock. Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Bernstein Research, estimates that AirPod sales came in at roughly $6 billion in 2019 and nearly doubled compared to 2018.

The Bernstein analyst projects that AirPod revenue will hit $15 billion in 2020.


By fluffernutter • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Relax, Bluetooth does everything! </sarcasm>

Also because interest rates are super low

By rsilvergun • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
there isn't a lot else to invest in and the rich are flush with cash thanks to a massive tax cut and all of the gains since 2008 going to the top 1%.

The crash is on it's way and it's gonna suuuuuuuck.

Apple actually cares abut China unlike you

By SuperKendall • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Apple stock rose 86% because the slave wages they pay their sweatshops in China

Apple pays more than any other tech company (including yearly raises) manufacturing in China and is one of the few monitoring conditions.

Find a report like that from ANY other company.

Peddle your lies somewhere people are not smart.

I wonder what company you brought your slave-labor computer from? Cast not the first stone...

My taxes went up

By rsilvergun • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Trump changed how medical expenses get deducted and I have a dependent with a ton of medical expenses. So I got a nice big fat tax raise. There's several other changes that can cause your taxes to go up, so be careful.

Also in 6 years all the tax cuts for you and me expire (right when a Democrat is likely to be in office, go figure). And that's before we talk about how 83% of the tax cuts went to the top and how they used the money for risky investments, stock buy backs, automation & outsourcing.

The last round of tax cuts was a disaster. Supply side economics don't work. Companies don't hire because they have more money, they hire to meet demand.

The simple reason has zero to do with AirPods

By saunderscc • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Nor does it have anything to do with anemic earnings growth. You can chalk up $AAPL appreciation due to the fact that they bought back ~$100 billion of their own stock.

After Mishap with Boeing Spacecraft, NASA Faces a Dilemma

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes the Washington Post: As it probes why Boeing's Starliner spacecraft suffered a serious setback during a flight test last month that forced the cancellation of its planned docking with the International Space Station, NASA faces a high-stakes dilemma: Should the space agency require the company to repeat the uncrewed test flight, or allow the next flight to proceed, as originally planned, with astronauts on board?

The answer could have significant ramifications for the agency, and put astronauts' lives on the line, at a time when NASA is struggling to restore human spaceflight from the United States since the Space Shuttle fleet was retired in 2011.

Forcing Boeing to redo the test flight without anyone on board would be costly, possibly requiring the embattled company, already struggling from the consequences of two deadly crashes of its 737 Max airplane, to spend tens of millions of dollars to demonstrate that its new spacecraft is capable of meeting the space station in orbit. But if NASA moves ahead with the crewed flight, and something goes wrong that puts the astronauts in danger, the agency would come under withering criticism that could plague it for years to come...

For now, NASA is moving cautiously. It has formed an independent team with Boeing to examine what went wrong with the Starliner during last month's test flight. NASA also is reviewing data to help it determine if the capsule achieved enough objectives during its truncated flight to assure NASA that its astronauts will be safe....

If NASA does force Boeing to perform another test flight, it's not clear who would have to pay the tens of millions of dollars such a mission would cost.

Re:Contractual Obligations require an unmanned fli

By TomR teh Pirate • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
This is exactly right. It's also the case that SpaceX failed one of its parachute tests, so it did the test with the revised system several times at its own expense. There's no reason why the lives of astronauts should be measured against a private corporation's bottom line. If the corporation doesn't like the terms of the contract, it can get out of the business.

Re:Are you kidding me

By kenh • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The odds of dying in air and space transport incidents, which include private flights and air taxis, are 1 in 9,821.

How non-sensical - the odds are much, much higher for astronauts - you need simply take the number of people that got into a rocket planning to go into space, and then divide it by the number of space travelers that died after the countdown ended.

If we focus on US astronauts, we've lost what - two space shuttle crews in the last 60 years? That's what, 10-12 astronauts lost, compared to the 324 Americans that have been in space.

Re:Contractual Obligations require an unmanned fli

By johannesg • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The only failure of the last mission was that the clock was off - does that really require another multi-million dollar test

That's not the problem. The problem is that the spacecraft hasn't demonstrated that it's capable of safely approaching the station, docking, and all the other stuff it needs to do. Would you fly on a plane that hasn't actually ever flown, but only rolled to the end of the runway and back? No - you'd rightfully say "demonstrate that it can fly before I risk my life in it."

Re:Contractual Obligations require an unmanned fli

By phayes • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Boeing _CLAIMS_ that the clock issue is the only one that stopped them from having a successful automated flight. Boeing has not _DEMONSTRATED_ that this is the case, thus they have not achieved this milestone - which is a prerequisite for manned flight. Boeing has yet to demonstrate that astronauts have the means to reset the flight clock to the precise value needed to save the mission - oh, they once again claim that they could have but after the “forgotten” pin in the chute test no one not on Boeing payroll (present and future) trusts their unsubstantiated claims anymore.

Re:What would EM do?

By phayes • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Nope. Automated approach and docking to ISS is a required milestone that needs to be demonstrated before any manned mission. No demonstration = no milestone = no manned mission, unless you rewrite the commercial crew contract to give Boeing a special pass now that Space-X has already demonstrated that they don’t need one.

Equifax's Stock Rose More Than 50% In 2019

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"There's still time to file a claim for a share of the $425 million that Equifax agreed to cough up after hosing almost half of the country in its massive data breach a few years ago," writes a Pennyslvania newspaper columnist, pointing victims to

"But unless you can prove you were an identity theft victim who lost money, or had to waste time cleaning up the mess, don't expect much of a payout. Victims are being hosed again." The breach affected an estimated 147 million Americans. Hackers exploited a known but unpatched website vulnerability and gained access to names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver's license numbers and credit card numbers. Facing lawsuits from federal and state consumer protection agencies, Equifax agreed to a settlement. It offered several ways for people to file claims, with a deadline of Jan. 22.

The option that applies to most people is 10 years of free credit monitoring, or a cash payout of up to $125 for those who already have monitoring. But you aren't going to get anywhere near $125. The settlement called for a pot of only $31 million for those payouts. And based on the number of people who have applied, that's not enough to cover the maximum payment. You may not even get enough to buy a decent sandwich, according to Ted Frank, director of litigation for Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute, which includes the Center for Class Action Fairness. "That's down to $6 or $7 now," Frank told CNBC in December. "Maybe even less than that."

Frank spoke after the federal judge overseeing the settlement awarded $77.5 million of the $425 million settlement fund to the attorneys who represented consumers against Equifax. His organization had opposed that award as being too much.

Meanwhile, the Motley Fool notes that in 2019 Equifax's stock rose 50.5% -- after dropping 21% in 2018 and remaining "relatively flat" in 2017.

"The credit-reporting company's stock rose thanks to a series of earnings beats and with the shadow of the big 2017 data breach receding further into the rear view...."

Don't just focus on Equifax

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Take it from an ex-industry insider that's worked with all of them, it's not just Equifax you want to worry about, Experian is at least as bad, and in my experience TransUnion is the worst out the lot.

In fact, I'll even go as far as to give Equifax some credit - they have at least learnt their lesson from getting caught out and have started listening to IT staff and properly funding their operations. The other two haven't yet had to learn the lesson the hard way and so continue to penny pinch on IT in the way that created the conditions for the Equifax breach in the first place.

I'm aware for example of some SQL injection attacks in software that TransUnion sells to it's customers that despite me having raised multiple times in the last decade and having provided fixes for still wasn't addressed last I checked around 18 months ago, and is still unlikely addressed to this very day. The injection attack in question allows for an attacker to inject admin user credentials into the system and subsequently acquire all stored personal data and credit information giving much the same type, if not even more detailed data than was acquired from Equifax.

Freeze your credit, people!

By timholman • Score: 3 • Thread

If this story doesn't convince you to put a freeze on your credit, I don't know what will.

If you want to hit Equifax where it hurts, that's the only way to do it. They can't monetize a frozen credit report.


By NicknameUnavailable • Score: 3 • Thread
US population of 327.2 million, settlement of 425 million, they only burned half the US population so that comes to ~2.6 million per person. How precisely is this "less than the cost of a sandwich" as the payout and why isn't half the population literally rioting in the streets over being screwed out of 2.6 million dollars?

Security implications

By OneHundredAndTen • Score: 3 • Thread

Equifax sustained the huge breach that they did because they did what most companies do: they paid lip service to security. This just proves that it was the right thing to do - it is a good policy to pretend to take security seriously, while making sure to not spend more than strictly necessary to maintain the aura of credibility. When the inevitable breach happens, just do damage control and move on.

Equifax ought to have been brought down to is knees and sued out of existence for criminal negligence. Instead, its stock has risen more than 50%. Not investing in security pays off.

All it proves

By jmccue • Score: 3 • Thread

All this proves is this country (US) is bought and paid for, does not matter who is elected, large companies run the US. Why even bother voting.

Would love to see how this would have turned out if it happened in Europe

Microsoft's Azure Cloud Service Is Becoming More Popular Than Amazon's AWS At Big Companies

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has been focusing the company on cloud services -- and CNBC reports on the results:

A Goldman Sachs survey of technology executives at large companies last month showed that Microsoft remained the most popular supplier of public cloud services, even as Amazon leads the market overall in terms of revenue.

Goldman Sachs based its latest findings on an information-technology spending survey of 100 IT executives at Global 2000 companies. It performs the survey each June and December. The latest survey showed that 56 executives are using Azure for cloud infrastructure, versus 48 using AWS. Across cloud infrastructure and platform as a service put together, Microsoft's lead has been increasing since December 2017, according to the analysts. Additionally, more respondents expect their companies to be using Azure than any other cloud in three years, the analysts wrote...

The results lead the analysts to conclude that about 23% of IT workloads are now on public clouds, up from 19% in June, and they expect the percentage to reach 43% in three years. That leaves plenty of room for growth for other contenders, like Google, for example...

About 91% of analysts surveyed by FactSet have the equivalent of buy ratings on Microsoft stock, including Goldman Sachs.

In the original submission Slashdot reader soldersold wonders if it's pre-existing business relationships with Microsoft (plus a workforce that's already been trained and certified in their technologies).

Another caveat: The survey only included large companies. It'd be interesting to hear from Slashdot readers working in the cloud about whether they're using AWS or Azure?

Only two examples for me...

By SvnLyrBrto • Score: 3 • Thread

Since 2012 or so, much of my work has consisted of moving applications from rank-and-stack datacenter environments into "the cloud". This has been pretty much entirely in small to medium sized companies, or small to medium sized business units after said companies got bought by larger outfits. I've only seen the decision NOT be AWS twice; and only one of those at the company I worked for.

The first was when my employer was pursuing Walmart as a potential customer. For internal ego and political reasons that had exactly zero to do with the merits of the platform, Walmart at the time had an "AWS is verboten! Thou shalt not imbalance our humors by tainting our apps or data with thy essence of AWS in any respect." policy. We eventually rolled a pilot environment for them that was a hybrid of old physical VMware infra in one of our legacy datacenters, plus GCP stats and analytics services secondary to the app. We didn't land the contract anyway, and all that got torn down and binned.

The second was a colleague, who'd left one of my companies (AWS shop) to go work for a game studio. They WERE in the process of moving their online systems into AWS when he moved. But the House of Gates rolled in with a bunch of gigantic rebates that made Azure nearly free for them for a couple of years. This was in exchange for cross-promotional marketing. And if you saw their ads, "Powered by Azure" was prominent. So they dropped AWS, and re-did everything to launch into Azure; making my friend, an AWS & Linux guy, miserable and eventually leave the company. The joke was on them though, MS eventually expired the Azure discounts. The additional cost gutted their profits, and the studio eventually went under and the IP was acquired by EA... which was probably MS's ultimate and ulterior motive in the first place.

Then there are the occasional Heroku (Which is really just AWS on the backend.) shops; and the occasional outfit that has so much in-house VMware expertise that they just will... not... migrate. But what I've *NOT* seen; is anyone consciously look at Azure vs AWS, from a POV of purely evaluating the technical merits and without political meddling by the suits, and willingly choose Azure over AWS on those grounds. Even going GCP is generally a result of non-technical corporate shenanigans; Azure doubly so.

Re:Azure preferred because it is not Amazon

By kschendel • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

This is what we've heard a fair amount, as well. Any customer even remotely related to retailing or distribution sees Amazon as the enemy, or at least as a potential competitor, and they don't want to give them the business. It's not pro-Azure as much as it is anti-Amazon from what I can see.

Re:Last time it was in the news,

By thegarbz • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Well... "Linux" ... in the EEE sense, I'm sure.

Why would MS try to EEE half their market share? That makes no sense what so ever. Linux is not at all a threat to them, anywhere. Linux has no complete end to end enterprise suite (Exchange, Windows Servers, O365 and the 100s of apps that make it up). Linux has despite everything no market share on the desktop. And where Linux has marketshare that is relevant, MS turned it into an actual profit centre for them (Azure).

Re: AWS EC2 wins over Azure (WTF?)

By jtara • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

| AWS EC2 wins over AZURE for now

What does that even mean?

You are comparing apples and... apple crates....

AWS and Azure are brands of cloud service offerings from Amazon (AWS) and Microsoft (Azure).

EC2 is a particular kind of service offering (virtual servers) offered under the AWS brand. One that is billed according to hours of use for a particular size (memory, compute capacity) at some hourly rate.

There is much more to cloud computing that virtual servers. If you think of AWS as "EC2", then you are living in the past.

- Container hosting - Kubernetes, etc. usually billed similarly to virtual servers.

- bare-metal hosting - again billed in a similar manner.

- PaaS (Platform as a Service) relieves the developer/operator from the burden of provisioning real or virtual servers, or creating containers. Still a similar billing model though - you are paying by the hour for instances whether they are needed or not. Think Heroku as the OG.

- SaaS (software as a service) which typically has a completely different billing model. For example, Amazon Aurora, or IBM "Databases for..." (e.g. Databases for PostgreSQL) offerings, which are typically billed according to metrics appropriate for the particular service. e.g. for databases, according to storage capacity, memory, and compute capacity, but without any per-hour component. Lots of ancillary services, such as e.g. unified logging across services.

- PaaS (Platform as a Service) relieves the developer/operator from the burden of provisioning real or virtual servers, or creating containers. Still a similar billing model though - you are paying by the hour for instances whether they are needed or not. Think Heroku as the OG.

- FaaS (functions as a service also AKA "serverless") - one-shot functions that "pop up" as needed, e.g. AWS Lambda, Google Cloud Functions, Azure Functions, OpenWhisk. Yet another completely different billing model, you typically pay per millisecond of actual execution time. Unlike virtual server, container, bare metal, you are not paying for availability when not needed. Instead of playing scaling games increasing/decreasing number of server according to load, scaling is managed for you. In reality, some number of servers are in reality kept "hot", but you are not paying for that. In many/most of these offerings, the function instance locations are also managed transparently.

Personally, I THINK Different, and have cast my lot with the insanely unpopular (with the tech press) IBM Cloud. IMO, the press and securities analysts mis-categorize IBM cloud revenues, consistently placing ranking them well below actual use. IBM is heavily into "hybrid cloud" (both on and off premises). Azure is making inroads into that same mindset, and AWS has done little.

FWIW, if you are heavily depending on relational databases (which do not scale out - at least not well or easily, so generally must be scaled up) IBM currently gives you the widest range of possibilities for managed DB. They've recently introduced HyperProtect DBaaS, which runs on highly secure IBM hardware (Z-series running Linux One).

This hardware is not susceptible to the kinds of side-channel attacks that have plagued Intel hardware, has "pervasive encryption" (instructions are encrypted both at rest and in use, decrypted only at the point of use) has an insane MTBF, etc. etc. Sure, it's at a higher price point. But you can start with Databases for... running on Intel hardware, and later transition to HyperProtect DBaaS.

IBM has also started offering virtual servers on Z-series hardware running LinuxOne.

Let's see when/if Amazon and Microsoft starts installing some IBM hardware on their clouds. I'd bet Microsoft jumps first. They've demonstrated they are not afraid of Linux - e.g. they are unconcerned about cannibalizing their own OS business. I see no good reason why they would not take the leap from the security-burdened Intel processors that have turned out to be a nightmare.

Re:Only two examples for me...

By StormReaver • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Companies moving their essential services to someone else's server is the most shocking example of willing mass suicide the world has ever seen. Eventually, the cloud providers will own the business of all of their customers, and the press will be full of stories about how unforeseeable that was.

Thoughts on Our Possible Future Without Work

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
There's a new book called A World Without Work by economics scholar/former government policy adviser Daniel Susskind. The Guardian succinctly summarizes its prognostications for the future:
It used to be argued that workers who lost their low-skilled jobs should retrain for more challenging roles, but what happens when the robots, or drones, or driverless cars, come for those as well? Predictions vary but up to half of jobs are at least partially vulnerable to AI, from truck-driving, retail and warehouse work to medicine, law and accountancy. That's why the former US treasury secretary Larry Summers confessed in 2013 that he used to think "the Luddites were wrong, and the believers in technology and technological progress were right. I'm not so completely certain now." That same year, the economist and Keynes biographer Robert Skidelsky wrote that fears of technological unemployment were not so much wrong as premature: "Sooner or later, we will run out of jobs." Yet Skidelsky, like Keynes, saw this as an opportunity. If the doomsayers are to be finally proven right, then why not the utopians, too...?

The work ethic, [Susskind] says, is a modern religion that purports to be the only source of meaning and purpose. "What do you do for a living?" is for many people the first question they ask when meeting a stranger, and there is no entity more beloved of politicians than the "hard-working family". Yet faced with precarious, unfulfilling jobs and stagnant wages, many are losing faith in the gospel of work. In a 2015 YouGov survey, 37% of UK workers said their jobs made no meaningful contribution. Susskind wonders in the final pages "whether the academics and commentators who write fearfully about a world with less work are just mistakenly projecting the personal enjoyment they take from their jobs on to the experience of everyone else".

That deserves to be more than an afterthought. The challenge of a world without work isn't just economic but political and psychological... [I]s relying on work to provide self-worth and social status an inevitable human truth or the relatively recent product of a puritan work ethic? Keynes regretted that the possibility of an "age of leisure and abundance" was freighted with dread: "For we have been trained too long to strive and not to enjoy." The state, Susskind concedes with ambivalence, will need to smooth the transition. Moving beyond the "Age of Labour" will require something like a universal basic income (he prefers a more selective conditional basic income), funded by taxes on capital to share the proceeds of technological prosperity. The available work will also need to be more evenly distributed. After decades of a 40-hour week, the recent Labour manifesto, influenced by Skidelsky, promised 32 hours by 2030. And that's the relatively easy part.

Moving society's centre of gravity away from waged labour will require visionary "leisure policies" on every level, from urban planning to education, and a revolution in thinking. "We will be forced to consider what it really means to live a meaningful life," Susskind writes, implying that this is above his pay grade.

The review concludes that "if AI really does to employment what previous technologies did not, radical change can't be postponed indefinitely.

"It may well be utopia or bust."

Re:There is a point of diminishing returns

By cascadingstylesheet • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Then what will they do? They won't be able to go to the government for "relief" as the government will also loose it's source of revenue.

Perhaps they can go into proofreading ... but I'm just playing fast and loose with an idea there ...

How to fairly distribute purchasing power?

By Beeftopia • Score: 3 • Thread

Who decides how to distribute purchasing power?

* Historically, the feudal lords took from their peasants under, essentially, the threat of force.
* For a while, in Britain and the US at least, the value you created for society determined the amount of purchasing power - currency - you received.
* Today, that still exists, but then a significant amount of money comes from milking the government and/or central bank teat.

The phenomenon we're seeing is the "consolidation of the production of value". It happened with the industrial revolution, when one farmer with a tractor could create 10 bushels of wheat instead of one. The marginal farmers were forced into something different while the successful ones became larger. Today, instead of 100 people required to operate a department store, it only requires 10, due to technology. As this phenomenon continues, what happens to surplus workers?

The organizations holding the service-providing machinery will naturally accrue a lot of currency, as they will provide the services that everyone still wants. They are the capital owners. Government will collect taxes from them, which they will distribute to those who service the government. Deficits can be made up by printing money until some unknown-as-yet limit is reached.

Purchasing power will be distributed by those who excel at supplicating/intimidating politicians. The scarcity of money will still need to be maintained. So I'm guessing some sort of combination capitalist-socialist model. Government contractors will get bigger and bigger. Financial sector companies (which receive currency directly from central banks) will get bigger and bigger. Their power will rival that of politicians.

This is I think is the unforeseen piece - hugely powerful companies rivaling the GDP of countries and their ability to influence politicians. Eisenhower talked about one of those sectors - the military industrial complex. Today however, healthcare + pharma is a huge sector; the FIRE sector is a huge sector. Seeing how they contribute can be found here. The system we are morphing into will only amplify that power.

The economy is a competition for resources. I want to charge the most I can for my goods and services and the customer wants to pay the least he can. In a post-work world, access to currency will still be restricted. People will still want to obtain as much as possible.

I'm guessing something like social security, well before retirement age, will be used. People will still need currency - a mutually valued, divisible "thing". Everyone has a need for food, clothes, shelter, and stimulation (mental and/or physical) or some sort. With machinery doing much of the menial work, unless you excel at providing goods and services to the government or the central bank or a company which services those entities, you can expect to survive, probably comfortably - the power structure doesn't want populism - but will not be able to accrue excess purchasing power.

Post-scarcity society

By PuddleBoy • Score: 3 • Thread

I like to contemplate the post-scarcity society that Ian Banks wrote about with his Culture books.

All your basics were provided; a roof over your head (nothing fancy), nutritious food, basic clothing, free medical care. The impression I got from the books was not that you were given a UBI, but rather that, if you needed an apartment, one would be found for you. You wouldn't have much choice, but it would be clean and functional.

What activities are you motivated to engage in in a society like that? Would everyone just become couch potatoes? The gist I got was that you engage in a job/occupation/profession because the alternative is mindless boredom. In other words, it's not money you seek but the potential opportunities of new experiences, new ideas, new people. Mental/emotional stimulation. Some people just like the satisfaction of a job well done. Or the boost of feeling needed.

Which is kinda like the question of: what are you going to do when you retire? What do you do when you don't *have* to do anything? And why?

You ultimately have to sit down and have a good talk with yourself to lay bear what you *really* want.

Re:We will need universal basic income

By SuricouRaven • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Would you rather an underclass existing in near-poverty and wasting their lives watching TV for lack of anything better to do, or an underclass existing in abject poverty forced to turn to crime to survive?

Re:Lol easy guess

By Opportunist • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

If you ask me, the bum collecting littered cans and bottles in the park contributes more to society than Mark Zuckerberg could even if he croaked right now.

The value of a person to society is hardly expressed by what price tag we attach to them.

Are We Teaching Engineers the Wrong Way to Think?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Tech columnist Chris Matyszczyk summarizes the argument of four researchers who are warning about the perils of pure engineer thought: They write, politely: "Engineers enter the workforce with important analysis skills, but may struggle to 'think outside the box' when it comes to creative problem-solving." The academics blame the way engineers are educated.

They explain there are two sorts of thinking -- convergent and divergent. The former is the one with which engineers are most familiar. You make a list of steps to be taken to solve a problem and you take those steps. You expect a definite answer. Divergent thinking, however, requires many different ways of thinking about a problem and leads to many potential solutions. These academics declare emphatically: "Divergent thinking skills are largely ignored in engineering courses, which tend to focus on a linear progression of narrow, discipline-focused technical information."

Ah, that explains a lot, doesn't it? Indeed, these researchers insist that engineering students "become experts at working individually and applying a series of formulas and rules to structured problems with a 'right' answer."

Oddly, I know several people at Google just like that.

Fortunately, the researchers are also proposing this solution:

"While engineers need skills in analysis and judgment, they also need to cultivate an open, curious, and kind attitude, so they don't fixate on one particular approach and are able to consider new data."


By RotateLeftByte • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I was taught one lesson that stood me in good stead for 45 years.

"There are many solutions to most problem. The most obvious one is not always the best. The easiest one is not always the best. Analise the problem and pick the best solution."

The supplemental is.
"What worked last time may well not be the most appropriate for this time."

This was lesson was not taught in some high faluting University or somewhere like MIT.
It was in the Toolroom of the factory where I did my apprenticeship as an Engineer.

Difference between Science and Engineering

By goombah99 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Scientist may invent, say, an airplane. But you would not want to ride in it if it wasn't designed by an engineer. Both are skills, not one less than the other. But Engineering a careful approach to certain outcomes. Science is a reduction of something new to understanding its principles.

Predictability is diff between architecture &

By raymorris • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread


Programming and software engineering are two different things.
Architecture and engineering are two different things.

An architect of a building can come up with creative new designs. The engineer then makes sure that the building actually stays standing during heavy winds, by applying well-known, time-tested formulas and other concepts. The job of the *engineer* isn't to come up with cool new ideas that just might work. The special job of the engineer is to say "this structure is rated for 100,000 pound load. I've analyzed the components of the design and it is safe at that loading".

Sure some people with engineering degrees are employed in roles that use out-of-box thinking. Some people with psychology degrees are employed as coders. The professional association for engineering defines the word "engineering" as ensuring that a system will meet the defined requirements, based on known properties and established methods. I can't be troubled to look up the exact wording the use at the moment, but those ideas are in there. :)

Nope, the engineers did.

By BAReFO0t • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

They controlled the plane. Via a very long and convoluted lever, called a "computer". The pilot, at this point, was merely giving suggestions to the engineers.
(Look up how this plane was special. It was essentially trying to simulate the behavior of a traditional plane, to save retraining pilots, but wasn't behaving traditionally at all. Rather more like a deliberately unstable fighter jet or B2 bomber. Shit hit the fan, whenever the illusion broke.)

It's not their fault.

By BAReFO0t • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

They are expected "learn" 5000 pages of dense medical textbooksy just casually over the weelkend. Every nth weekend. For years!

That that cannot possibly ever work, and would be better suited to a USB drive, is brutally obvious to everyone but the "That's just how it is. How.we always did it." crowd that runs the show.

And I haven't even talked about *understanding* it!

It is no surprise that so many doctors use cocaine or drugs with similar effects.

They only have their huge egos and Got complexes due to the Apple effect: If I invested so much, it cannot possibly such, or I'd be an idiot, and we can't have that!
(They are not idiots. They just lived in an illusion. And nobody else would have known any better beforehand either. Still, it hurts to accept it anyway.)

So don't hate. Help fix the system. It's your job too, if you want good healthcare.

'Top Programming Skills' List Shows Employers Want SQL

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Former Slashdot contributor Nick Kolakowski is now a senior editor at Dice Insights, where he's just published a list of the top programming skills employers were looking for during the last 30 days.
If you're a software developer on the hunt for a new gig (or you're merely curious about what programming skills employers are looking for these days), one thing is clear: employers really, really, really want technologists who know how to build, maintain, and scale everything database- (and data-) related.

We've come to that conclusion after analyzing data about programming skills from Burning Glass, which collects and organizes millions of job postings from across the country.

The biggest takeaway? "When it comes to programming skills, employers are hungriest for SQL." Here's their ranking of the top most in-demand skills:
  1. SQL
  2. Java
  3. "Software development"
  4. "Software engineering"
  5. Python
  6. JavaScript
  7. Linux
  8. Oracle
  9. C#
  10. Git

The list actually includes the top 18 programming skills, but besides languages like C++ and .NET, it also includes more generalized skills like "Agile development," "debugging," and "Unix."

But Nick concludes that "As a developer, if you've mastered database and data-analytics skills, that makes you insanely valuable to a whole range of companies out there."

what the query

By tamarik • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Don't be like my old boss! He made a query that spent 15 SECONDS in the query engine figuring out what to do before the query which took 3 seconds to perform. Don't try to do everything in one query. I broke it into 4 parts and wrote an aggregater in about 20 lines of php for a total runtime of 6 seconds with much prettier results. Sheesh, kids these days...

Re:what the query

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

He made a query that spent 15 SECONDS in the query engine figuring out what to do before the query which took 3 seconds to perform.

Yeah, that's why smarter RDBMS' need to do the first part only once.

for a total runtime of 6 seconds

So you've made it worse?

SQL will be my COBOL

By reanjr • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

I look forward to retiring to a nice cushy job writing SQL queries. Right now, it's not interesting enough, but when I get tired and all the juniors who grew up on NoSQL have no idea how to work in the old systems, I can step in for stupid amounts of money.

Re:what the query

By K. S. Kyosuke • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
But we already know that a pre-compiled query would have taken three seconds, so it's far from clear that this was an improvement. For all you know, the rewrite may have well made the execution worse, assuming that query analysis of relational expressions one quarter the size was significantly faster (which owing to the combinatorial nature of such problems it very often is).

Re:Attitudes toward SQL

By ClickOnThis • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

My (admittedly biased) summary of your post. Avoid writing SQL if you can. But sometimes you can't.

Pure SQL is a query language, not a programming language. Some flavors may be Turing-complete, but if you're doing general programming entirely in SQL, you're doing it wrong.

NASA's SLS Heavy-Lift Moon Rocket Core Leaves For Testing

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"The first core stage for the Space Launch System, intended to get us back to the moon by 2024, has left Boeing's manufacturing center in New Orleans for launch readiness test," writes long-time Slashdot reader Excelcia: This is very good news for the troubled project which has been plagued by delays and cost overruns. Back when it was thought the system would launch in 2017, the cost estimate was $19-$22 billion for the program. But now the race is on in earnest to see who can get super-heavy lift into orbit, and it looks like NASA is finally out of the starting gate. The next step is a full-power burn of the four Space Shuttle RS-25 engines.
"Some in the space community believe it would be better to launch deep space missions on commercial rockets," reports the BBC. "But supporters of the programme say that NASA needs its own heavy-lift launch capability... The SLS was designed to re-use technology originally developed for the space shuttle programme, which ran from 1981-2011."

All I know is that's an amazing photo of the enormous core stage -- the largest one ever built in NASA's Louisiana factory -- heading down a Louisiana highway.

Re:Waste of time

By TWX • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

That's not why it's a waste of time though.

It's a waste of time because despite being a spinoff-project from the Space Shuttle, it's taken nearly decade since the end of the Shuttle Program to even get this far despite everything still having been available at the conclusion of the Shuttle Program.

This thing should have been in-development while we were still flying Shuttles. When the various other rocket families have new versions developed, they didn't stop flying old ones and take a ten year hiatus before launching the next iteration. In many cases, the previous and next versions, sometimes up to three generations, would have overlapping service lifes, especially if there were still mission profiles that the earlier iterations would be suitable for.

This isn't a rocket program so much as a corporate welfare program masquerading as a rocket program.


By Immerman • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

> "But supporters of the programme say that NASA needs its own heavy-lift launch capability...

One might be tempted to ask just how many of those supporters either work for Boeing, or live in regions where Boeing is doing the work. The argument that NASA needs their own heavy-launch capability is ridiculous. They're not going to have it either way - either they buy a disposable rocket from Boeing and operate the launch themselves, or they buy launch services from SpaceX or eventually one of their up-and-coming competitors. No matter what they choose, NASA isn't going to have any heavy launch capability themselves.

Honestly, at this point I'm tentatively in favor of continuing work on SLS until Starship is proven, just because they're so close to the finish line that it's relatively cheap insurance against any major problems SpaceX might encounter. But once there's a proven, far cheaper alternative? Axe that waste-of-money boondoggle.

Re: Waste of time

By KixWooder • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I don't want one company/organization controlling or building our space launch systems.

Will it go where it's pointed?

By Spinlock_1977 • Score: 3 • Thread

I sure hope they didn't install MCAS on that bad boy - it might end up on Venus or Mercury ;-)

Re:Waste of time

By drinkypoo • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

That's why the send-stuff-ahead model is the only reasonable way to conduct a long term manned Mars mission. There should be a habitat waiting before they even get there.

Charter's Spectrum Kills Home Security Business, Refuses Refunds on Now-Worthless Equipment

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Charter Comunications' Spectrum cable service includes a home security service, and -- whoops. No it doesn't.

"Spectrum customers who are also users of the company's home security service are about a month away from being left with a pile of useless equipment that in many cases cost them hundreds of dollars," reports Gizmodo: On February 5, Spectrum will no longer support customers who've purchased its Spectrum Home Security equipment. None of the devices -- the cameras, motion sensors, smart thermostats, and in-home touchscreens -- can be paired with other existing services. In a few weeks, it'll all be worthless junk.

While some of the devices may continue to function on their own, customers will soon no longer be able to access them using their mobile devices, which is sort of the whole point of owning a smart device... Spectrum is hoping to smooth things over with "exclusive offers" from other home security companies, including Ring, which is owned by Amazon...

Spectrum apparently believes it can afford to aggravate these customers, some if not most of whom will have no choice but to continue paying Spectrum for internet service.

Spectrum "inherited" the business after acquiring Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in 2016, Gizmodo reports.

" It's not offering refunds, though... The firmware on the devices doesn't allow switching to other services, either."

Re: Always look for local control

By Junta • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I'm in the same situation and what I have done/am thinking about doing:

First off, I anchor most everything with home assistant. Completely untethered from cloud and when I remote access, it goes straight to my house without a cloud intermediary. My biggest complaint is they also have an optional cloud service and they could do more to indicate what devices may still require cloud services. If someone needs more convenient remote access, then get duckdns name, let's encrypt certificate, and you are good to go.

From there I added a z wave stick and prefer z wave devices. Zwave or zigbee devices cannot connect to internet even in theory, which is a huge selling point to me.

My thermostats are Trane XR524, which are zwave and have no clue what a cloud service is. I still have remote control and automation like auto adjusting when a family phone leaves home or work or school (admittedly the phone location is life360 because the options for solid phone tracking with efficient battery use is tricky)

Similar for my dimmer switches, jasco zwave dimmers, branded as ge embrighten.

I came across for my garage door. It is WiFi but runs open firmware and I have total local control. It has been fantastic. Again, an automation rule to automatically close the garage if a phone leaves the neighborhood and the door was left open.

I plan on adding a zwave deadbolt (mainly just to auto lock the door if forgotten) and some tasmota compatible power relays added to extension cords.

Two things that have been tricky have been voice commands and cameras.

In the first case, admittedly I don't care that much which is part of why I know very little. However it is clear that the big players have kept their trained models close to the vest and it takes a lot of data to create viable models). My local hardware is very capable, but the models just aren't available.

Cameras I haven't investigated as much either, but again a lot of the automatic events depends on machine vision and again everyone keeps their models private.

It's a shame that so many of these companies are doing everything to force subscription services when household devices could easily fulfill all the requirements to provide the features. It is an unfortunate reversal of computing history. Personal computers bright computing to the home, the internet superseded walled garden online services like prodigy and AOL. Now we got companies working feverishly to return to the bad old days with a whole lot more experience and funding behind that agenda.

Re:Open standards are important

By magarity • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

This is exactly why i'm waiting for security equipment that operate on open standards and can be used with any service.

You should have stopped waiting years ago. Install ZoneMinder and get some IP cameras.

Re:Not too surprising

By JustAnotherOldGuy • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

It's not hard to connect a generic, off-the-shelf (e.g. non-Arlo) camera to the cloud.

I won't buy cameras or other gear that require some company's continued existence just to operate. The company dies and suddenly my security system is not just offline, but dead? That's ridiculous.

If Ford or Chevy or Toyota suddenly go out of business, my cars will still work. Why should my electronics be any different?

Re:I decided I liked the benefit of cloud-connecte

By CaptainDork • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

>> I decided I liked the benefit of cloud-connected cameras
>> more than I feared the cameras becoming bricked

I fear the accessibility (to others) of those cameras more than bricking. I bought an Arlo from Costco and returned it when I discovered that using it as a "video doorbell" was useless because of the delay in sending everything thru a server somewhere on the planet (probably).
Why did we fall for Cloud Connected Home in place of Smart Home? My home now has video with alarm zones, I can view from anywhere, all point to point, no cloud. The wireless video control box is in a neighbor's house so thieves can't take the evidence. Why cloud?

That delay is not cloud-based.

It's the internal motion detection and analog relay lag. I'm an electronics technician and retired IT and I've played with Arlo a lot.

Re:zwave is better

By JaredOfEuropa • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Depends. Interoperability between devices in Z-Wave is a lot better, especially for stuff that isn't lights and switches. In my experience, the reliability of the radio layer is about the same. Z-Wave (newer devices) offer better security. Zigbee devices tend to be cheaper though, and Zigbee allows way more devices into the net than Z-Wave does. Then again, you'll be hard pressed to hit Z-Wave's limit of 232 devices in a regular home. And Zigbee is an open protocol, though apparently there are plans to open Z-Wave up as well, no longer have to buy a $10k developer kit (For the tinkerers, already offer the Zuno, a small Arduino board with integrated Z-Wave and an easy to use library). For some reason, new manufacturers entering the market tend to favour Zigbee.

All in all, I would say both are good choices. I'd recommend to think about what you want to do with this stuff first, then select equipment to meet your needs (esp. paying attention to equipment that needs to look good, like wall switches), and use whatever protocol is best supported by those devices. Or go with both: most HA hubs these days support both protocols.

What Happens When a Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist Retracts A Paper?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An American scientist who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry just retracted their latest paper on Monday. Professor Arnold had shared the prize with George P Smith and Gregory Winter for their 2018 research on enzymes, reports the BBC (in an article shared by omfglearntoplay): It has been retracted because the results were not reproducible, and the authors found data missing from a lab notebook... "It is painful to admit, but important to do so. I apologize to all. I was a bit busy when this was submitted, and did not do my job well."

That same day, Science published a note outlining why it would be retracting the paper, which Professor Arnold co-authored with Inha Cho and Zhi-Jun Jia. "Efforts to reproduce the work showed that the enzymes do not catalyze the reactions with the activities and selectivities claimed. Careful examination of the first author's lab notebook then revealed missing contemporaneous entries and raw data for key experiments. The authors are therefore retracting the paper."

Professor Arnold is being applauded for acknowledging the mistake -- and has argued that science suffers when there's pressures not to:

"It should not be so difficult to retract a paper, and it should not be considered an act of courage to publicly admit it... We should just be able to do it and set the record straight... The very quick and widespread response to my tweets shows how strong the fear of doing the right thing is (especially among junior scientists). However, the response also shows that taking responsibility is still appreciated by most people."
Those remarks come from a Forbes article by the Professor of Health Policy and Management at the City University of New York. His own thoughts? What the heck happened with scientific research? Exploring, making and admitting mistakes should be part of the scientific process. Yet, Arnold's retraction and admission garnered such attention because it is a rare thing to do these days...

If you need courage to do what should be a routine part of science, then Houston and every other part of the country, we've got a problem. And this is a big, big problem for science and eventually our society... [T]ruly advancing science requires knowing about the things that didn't work out and all the mistakes that happened. These shouldn't stay hidden deep within the recesses of laboratories and someone's notebook.


By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Informative • Thread


There's not a man I meet but doth salute me
As if I were their well-acquainted friend;
And every one doth call me by my name.
Some tender money to me; some invite me;
Some other give me thanks for kindnesses;
Some offer me commodities to buy:
Even now a tailor call'd me in his shop
And show'd me silks that he had bought for me,
And therewithal took measure of my body.
Sure, these are but imaginary wiles
And Lapland sorcerers inhabit here.

Re:It's part of the scientific method

By Immerman • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

>.and what of the peer review process?

Umm... it's working great? Publishing is the first step in the peer review process. How can your peers review your work unless they know it exists?

Reputable journals typically have a few other scientists in your field review your *paper* before publishing - but they're volunteers, and it's mostly just to catch the most obvious and egregious flaws in your writing or research procedure. Then the paper is published, and hopefully some of your peers start learning of your results and get interested enough to try to replicate them. *That's* when peer review of your research starts.

If peer review then exposes flaws in your work sufficient to convince you that you shouldn't have published, then retraction is the responsible thing for you to do, as it tells future researchers that they probably shouldn't waste their time reading your paper.

This should be routine

By swillden • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Scientists admitting their own mistakes should be routine, so common it's not even worth mentioning. The whole point of science is that it's a fact-based error correction process which repeatedly identifies and corrects its own mistakes, to asymptotically converge on truth. Einstein showed how to correct Newton's errors, so we updated our view, for example. Various issues in cosmology and our inability to unify relativity and QC demonstrate that physics is currently wrong, so we're looking for how to fix it. These are grand-scale errors, but small-scale errors obviously exist as well. Humans are fallible, and everyone screws up. We all need to have the humility to admit our mistakes, and nowhere is this more critical than in science.

The problem is that this runs counter to deep-seated social norms, which are themselves probably baked deeply by evolutionary processes into the structure of our brains. Social and political power derives primarily from being seen to be right about important things, which means that we naturally tend to trumpet our successes and bury our mistakes. And science, like every other human endeavor, is a social and a political process. To the extent that we can overcome this, in every field, not just science, we'll progress faster.

By all rights, no one should be better at admitting error than software engineers. Our professional lives are dominated by finding and fixing our own mistakes. We build elaborate test and integration systems (themselves at least as buggy as the software they're testing), for the purpose of finding mistakes as early as possible. We accept that there's a non-trivial probability that any given line of code contains an error. Yet that expectation of fallibility not only doesn't seem to extend to other areas, in many ways it seems like software engineers compensate by being more deeply convinced of their own infallibility.

In recent decades humanity, or at least academic humanity, has begun to learn a lot about the cognitive biases baked deeply into our brains, biases which make it hard for us to be objective and analytical in the ways that we can logically see that we should be, and wish to be. I don't know how we fix this, but it should be a major focus. I'd guess that it starts with education, with teaching the next generation about the ways their own thinking fails them, and how to compensate.

Re:Oh the irony

By K. S. Kyosuke • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Except the pronoun refers to an antecedent, and there was a single antecedent before the pronoun, so any further persons mentioned can't affect the pronoun and the pronoun has to be determined from the single person mentioned. Otherwise it's just bad writing, or taken out of context without adaptation. (In such situations, square brackets are your friend.)

Re: Their?

By guruevi • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Couple of decades? At least until the last decade, if the gender was unknown "he" (the male pronoun) should be used in proper English text.

How Facebook Tried To Defend Its Privacy Policies at CES

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Slashdot reader Tekla Perry found some interesting quotes in IEEE Spectrum's "View From the Valley" blog: Apple, Facebook, and Proctor & Gamble executives faced some tough questions about privacy during a CES panel, and pushback from U.S. FTC Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter.

In one exchanged, Facebook's representative argued that Apple's model of adding noise to data to keep it anonymous and avoiding sending too much data to the cloud wouldn't work for Facebook. "If you come to Facebook, you want to share," she said, continuing: "I take issue with the idea that the advertising we serve involves surveilling people.

"We don't do surveillance capitalism, that by definition is surreptitious; we work hard to be transparent."

The Facebook representative argued later that "we provide real value to people in terms of the advertising we deliver and we do it in a privacy protected way."

But Apple's senior director of global privacy had already said "I don't think we can ever say we are doing enough." Despite the fact that Apple has "teams" of privacy lawyers as well as privacy engineers who consider every product, "We always have to be pushing the envelope, and figure out how to put the consumer in control of their data."

"Everything that she said about Apple holds for Facebook," replied the Facebook representative. "But the question is what do people expect..."

And at one point, Proctor & Gamble's representative even said "We collect the data to serve people."

The Outer Limits

By llZENll • Score: 3 • Thread

Thanks for the practically meaningless quotes with no context. That aside, you know you are in a strange place when Apple is the white knight. How anyone can honestly work at Facebook or Google and not be ashamed is amazing. At least Apple seems like they are trying to do the right thing with data and privacy, even though their lock-in and pricing are bad, you canâ(TM)t really say others are much better.

It is hilarious or perhaps sad that Googles motto was do no evil and now they are the epitome of evil in technology and privacy. Anything they even brush against is an absolute privacy hell.

Re:To Serve Man

By sid crimson • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

"We collect the data to serve people."

I came here to say this. They're serving their marketing-people, their promotions/advertising-people, and their customer-people.

When it comes to Facebook's users, Procter & Gambler's users, they are the product being served....

I remain suspicious, but Apple is the only company with whom I feel I can gain trust with regard to policy. I look forward to the day Apple supports all the sane privacy /laws/.

Re:To Serve Man

By JaredOfEuropa • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
At least Apple have not built their entire business model on selling user data to 3rd parties, like FB. I can imagine that they use some user data internally to gain insight into their own operation, and to some degree to drive their ad platform, but by all accounts they are far less active in collecting data for only those purposes, i.e. collecting data they do not need to run their own operation. And as Apple have gained something of a reputation for respecting their users' privacy at least to some degree, they would be mad to do anything to tarnish that reputation.

I wondered about what's up with P&G, and it appears they are in a whole new category of douchebaggyness. As a major advertiser, they are trying to force platforms like FB and YT to give up more of their user's data:

In a speech at an industry conference Thursday, P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard blasted the digital media industry for lack of transparency, fraud, privacy breaches and a proliferation of violent and harmful content placed next to ads. He said his company, which spends billions of dollars on marketing products from paper towels to shampoo every year, would move its money to services that can guarantee effectiveness, are completely free of offensive content and are more willing to share consumer data with advertisers.

And then there's this little gem:

He wants the ad platforms to use a standardized way of identifying individual consumers, so that advertisers can track people as they move across the internet and make sure they’re not repeatedly hitting a consumer with the same ad. But as privacy becomes a bigger concern for people and governments, Facebook, Google and others have used it as a reason to make it even more difficult to do that kind of tracking. The added privacy makes it harder for advertisers to send pinpointed messages to people, increasing their costs and annoying consumers who get hit with the same ad over and over again.

So besides pushing for a standardized way to track users across sites, they are also a major force in the push to get "offensive" content removed from YT, which includes a hell of a lot more than just terrorism. (both quotes taken from here)

"If you come to Facebook, you want to share,"

By grep -v '.*' * • Score: 3 • Thread

"If you come to Facebook, you want to share," she said,

But I DON'T "come to Facebook", I DON'T "want to share", and get AWAY from me. I *DON'T* want to have an "invisible profile" so that I can somehow easily use it later or so that you can use it NOW. I don't want to have ANYTHING to do with you, but somehow I think the feeling is NOT quite mutual.

I suspect that Crazy Girlfriend (@Crazy_StalkerGF) | Twitter was your alpha account.

The Facebook narrative

By mrwireless • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The narrative that Facebook and Google keep presenting - probably because they actually believe it - has a few falsehoods at its core:

1. "If you come to Facebook, you want to share". Facebook et al happily confuse people desire the communicate information with their friends, and the metadata that process generates which Facebook shares with others. People may want to share a post, sure, but they don't realize their data is used to analyze their sentiment and intelligence (words used), sleeping pattern (times posted), psychological profile (see Cambridge Analytica), and so forth. This metadata is the 'digital exhaust' that Shoshana Zuboff talks about when she describes what surveillance capitalism is built upon. So ignoring that aspect means the Facebook employee doesn't understand what surveillance capitalism is at best.

2. "It's about advertising". As Cambridge Analytica and the numerous other data brokers that scooped up Facebook data have shown, the Facebook profiles are used by governments, insurers, banks, employers, etc. Now Facebook et al. try to hide behind their good intentions - that they don't generate profiles for those purposes. But in practice all this data is oozing out of these companies, and people are right to be worried about the lack of responsibility here. You could argue that the business model financing Silicon Valley is not advertising, but the democratization of the background check.

Now I don't believe any of the Facebook employees are evil. Over the past decade the big trick that Facebook pulled was to get people to suspend their critical thinking and believe that it's just about "connecting people". What Facebook is selling is not just data, it's a narrative people (investors, employees, the general public) can believe in. This narrative is their first line of defense against scrutiny. Reality is coarse, however, and with each scandal the veneer wears down further.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
- Upton Sinclair

Australia's Wildfires Have Created More Emissions Than 116 Nations

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"The wildfires raging along Australia's eastern coast have already pumped around 400 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere," reports MIT's Technology Review, "further fueling the climate change that's already intensifying the nation's fires."

That's more than the total combined annual emissions of the 116 lowest-emitting countries, and nine times the amount produced during California's record-setting 2018 fire season. It also adds up to about three-quarters of Australia's otherwise flattening greenhouse-gas emissions in 2019.

And yet, 400 million tons isn't an unprecedented amount nationwide at this point of the year in Australia, where summer bush fires are common, the fire season has been growing longer, and the number of days of "very high fire danger" is increasing. Wildfires emissions topped 600 million tons from September through early January during the brutal fire seasons of 2011 and 2012, according to the European Union's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.

But emissions are way beyond typical levels in New South Wales, where this year's fires are concentrated. More than 5.2 million hectares (12.8 million acres) have burned across the southeastern state since July 1, according to a statement from the NSW Rural Fire Service... The situation grew more dangerous in recent days, as hot and windy conditions returned. Two giant fires merged into a "megafire" straddling New South Wales and Victoria, and covering some 600,000 hectares (1.5 million acres).

The article also argues that wildfires are releasing carbon stored in the vegetation dried by warming temperatures.

"That creates a vicious feedback loop, as the very impacts of climate change further exacerbate it, complicating our ability to get ahead of the problem."

Re:Early on in the analysis

By Mashiki • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The fire season is California and Australia has been getting longer and starting sooner and lasting longer. That's not the work of arsonists.

When you have decades of not culling brush, prohibiting burns, and environmentalists filing court cases to stop legal burns. Of course they're going to get longer and start sooner. You're creating perfect conditions for it. Also, the largest fires according to the various police services in aussie land have indeed been started by arsonists. You can even see the videos of them, the police posted them publicly. Not only that but the government in aus has spent the last 20 years repeatedly cutting the budgets for everything from burn protection, to upgraded equipment. The years under environmentalist-leaning governments were among the worst for those types of cuts.(bonus points, it's a similar situation in California, and Washington. And here in Canada, it happened under the BC Liberals now NDP, and in Alberta under the NDP).

In the case of California, what was the last report? 75%? 80%? Of the last big fires were all human started, either deliberate or through negligence.

Re:Australia's Wildfires Have Created More Emissio

By blindseer • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

We could mandate solar panels for new houses,

So we can flood the grid with solar power? Raise housing costs? Solar power is perhaps the most expensive energy source we have. When solar panels are put on the rooftops of homes this doubles the costs compared to utility scale solar farms. These are small panels scattered about which raises install and maintenance costs, which have to be paid back somehow. This will show as a cost to the homeowner for the panels on the roof of their house and in utility rates people pay for their electricity. Oh, and solar power emits three times the CO2 than wind, and ten times that of solar. It's also more dangerous than wind or nuclear. Every time I mention the dangers of solar power I get some wiseacre that makes a comment on safety harnesses. You think that they don't know this already? That this isn't already standard practice? Climbing on a roof is dangerous, and accidents will happen. History shows that nuclear power and windmills are safer right now. We can increase the safety of solar power, and I am quite certain that people do what they can to that end, but that doesn't mean we won't see similar gains in wind and nuclear safety.

EV incentives

That's a tax cut for the rich that you just derided before.

or even just EV charging for new houses (literally just a 15 amp outlet near the driveway)

I don't know where you live but this is required around here to meet building codes.

but we're not doing any of that.

Bullshit. When it comes to incentives for wind, solar, and EVs there's all kinds of incentives. People aren't buying because these are still very expensive. Also, tax incentives don't lower the cost to society, it just spreads it around so that people that can afford the solar panels, windmills, and electric cars can cash in on them. These policies tax the poor to give to the rich, is corporate welfare (a utility that buys windmills is still a corporation, and giving them government subsidies is just wellfare), and they end up raising energy costs with little reductions in CO2. We know this because states like California and Hawaii have done this, and nations like France, UK, and Germany tried this. Any reductions in CO2 emissions they saw was from people having less money to spend and companies leaving to find places less expensive to do business.

Never mind something radical like taking some of our subsidies away from fossil fuels and spending them on wind and solar generation.

You mean doing the same things over and over while expecting a different result?

Here's an idea, let's look back into history to find energy sources that have shown to be low emitters of CO2, inexpensive, safe, reliable, abundant, domestically sourced, have a high return on energy investment, low demands on raw materials, and need the least amount of land area. Experts have done this and they made their analysis known. Solar power is not on their list of recommendations.

What they do recommend is onshore windmills, hydroelectric dams, geothermal power, nuclear fission reactors, along with some natural gas to speed along the demise of coal for energy.

We've been subsidizing solar power for decades, and there isn't much to show for it. If the powers that be in the governments around the world were serious about lowering CO2 emissions then they'd be far more supportive of nuclear power. Since they are not then I conclude they are not serious about the problem. There's private investors that wants more nuclear power, and they aren't asking for government money like wind and solar people are, they are just asking for permission.

What will happen is the powers that be will soon have to realize that they will have to build more nuclear power plants. They are simply running out of options as their more politically correct options are failing to bring lower CO2 emi

Re:Early on in the analysis

By DethLok • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

You're speaking utter rubbish if not outright lies, Mashiki.

Here's just one of the many articles debunking your conspiracy garbage, they're easy to find.

Oh, that's Australia specific, I've no idea if you're right about the Americas.

24 people arrested in Australia for starting fires during total fire bans, often in rubbish bins (shock!) and grass fires. About 1% of the current fires are arsonists work, most are lightning, one was a boat trailer sparking as a wheel came off, etc.

Re:Australia's Wildfires Have Created More Emissio

By blindseer • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

It would be child's play for the Fed to subsidize solar and get it down to 11 cents

That doesn't lower the burden this energy cost has on the economy, idiot. You are still paying 16 cents, only now with more overhead costs in having the government tax you for the difference, add more to cover this overhead, and then redistribute this money to large corporations so rich people can get richer. This is not something that can be legislated away.

And how would redirecting fossil fuel subsidise to wind and solar be "doing the same thing".

It's "doing the same thing" because it's already been done. All it brought us was higher energy costs. Hiding the actual costs in bookkeeping does not change the actual costs, it only makes it worse by incentivizing bad decisions on energy by hiding that costs to consumers.

And yes, we've been subsidizing solar. Go read that link. We've cut the cost by almost 1/3 in 9 years due to improved research paid for by subsidies. When an invenstment pays off at a 33% rate you'd be crazy not to keep pouring money in.

It would be crazy to keep pouring money into solar power because we've already seen diminishing returns. We gained a lot in 9 years but there's not much left to gain now. I've seen the charts on things like efficiency and the cost of solar PV cells, we've hit bottom. Solar power will NEVER be cheaper than the cost of the raw materials required to build the solar collectors, and if you bothered to compare the raw material needs of solar power to anything else it should be clear to you that solar power will never ever be cheaper than our other options. Any gains in lowering costs in solar power now will also show in the lower costs of other energy sources. Again, this is because solar power takes more raw material for the same output as anything else.

In short, solar's just getting started, as is wind, and they're the only way forward against anthropormorphic climate change.

Just getting started? We've been subsidizing solar power for decades and it's still got higher costs than anything else, three times the CO2 emissions of wind and ten times that of nuclear, and requires far more land, raw material, and labor. Solar power is shit for grid power, it always has been, and there is no reason to believe this will change any time soon.

I've always wondered, just when are the "jumpstart" subsidies for solar power supposed to end? That was the point of the subsidies, right? To fund the research and development now so we'd get cheaper power in the future? If we have to keep subsidizing solar to incentivize it's use then it's dragging down the economy, handing out corporate welfare, and is precisely the kind of government handouts that people opposed when given to producers of coal and oil.

Here's an idea, NO MORE ENERGY SUBSIDIES! No body gets government money. Everyone will have to fight for customers based on price. If solar can't compete with wind, hydro, and nuclear then you deserves to be left behind.

The real vector to stop CO2 - stop arson

By SuperKendall • Score: 3 • Thread

So it turns out if you really want to lower CO2 emissions, you should put a lot more effort into stopping arson.

Note that article states there were at least 24 people setting brush fires deliberately, with 47 cited for discarding cigarettes or matches... but 24 alone is quite enough to cause a huge amount of fires (remember each arsonist can and probably did set more than one fire).

The article incorrectly blames climate change, for what is actually not even close to the greatest level of fire Australia has seen - the real problem is, as in California, not enough proscribed burning to reduce the impact of fires that do start. By trying to save a little CO2 output, they have instead created 10x the output they would have otherwise if controlled burns had reduced the fuel source.

This Year's Y2K20 Bug Came Directly From 'A Lazy Fix' to the Y2K Bug

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Slashdot reader The8re still remembers the Y2K bug. Now he shares a New Scientist article explaining how it led directly to this year's Y2020 bug -- which affected more than just parking meters: WWE 2K20, a professional wrestling video game, also stopped working at midnight on 1 January 2020. Within 24 hours, the game's developers, 2K, issued a downloadable fix. Another piece of software, Splunk, which ironically looks for errors in computer systems, was found to be vulnerable to the Y2020 bug in November. The company rolled out a fix to users the same week -- which include 92 of the Fortune 100, the top 100 companies in the US....

The Y2020 bug, which has taken many payment and computer systems offline, is a long-lingering side effect of attempts to fix the Y2K, or millennium bug. Both stem from the way computers store dates. Many older systems express years using two numbers -- 98, for instance, for 1998 -- in an effort to save memory. The Y2K bug was a fear that computers would treat 00 as 1900, rather than 2000. Programmers wanting to avoid the Y2K bug had two broad options: entirely rewrite their code, or adopt a quick fix called "windowing", which would treat all dates from 00 to 20, as from the 2000s, rather than the 1900s. An estimated 80 percent of computers fixed in 1999 used the quicker, cheaper option. "Windowing, even during Y2K, was the worst of all possible solutions because it kicked the problem down the road," says Dylan Mulvin at the London School of Economics....

Another date storage problem also faces us in the year 2038. The issue again stems from Unix's epoch time: the data is stored as a 32-bit integer, which will run out of capacity at 3.14 am on 19 January 2038.


By ledow • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Honestly, just stop pissing about.

64-bit minimum for everything. We aren't limited by RAM etc. nowadays, you can use the largest primitives available and that means 64-bit on anything in the last 10+ years, and "emulating" those on older platforms is incredibly trivial and we've been doing that for years too.

64-bit gives you until the year 292,277,026,596. Not just "let's knock this down the road a bit", but "let's solve this for the rest of the existence of the human race". For the cost of another 32-bit number in a tiny handful of places. That's 4 bytes. On machines with GIGABYTES, literally billions of bytes of RAM, storage, etc.

We have no need to assembly-optimise a tiny workaround to ridiculous extremes any more.

I also contest that everything should be 64-bit minimum: RAM size counters, file size limits, basic integers holding the number of USB devices, whatever, who cares? Just make it 64-bit. There are 128-bit supporting filesystems out there already.

Rather than waste our time, time and time again, just make everything 64-bit minimum and solve the problem for the rest of humanity's existence.

Who are these people?

By AndyKron • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Who the hell buys a "professional wrestling video game"?

Re:2038 bug = lazy managers

By jythie • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Heh. Someone has never worked on older systems that don't have the kind of magical migration tools we take for granted today. Adding one byte is easy until it isn't. Data structures that do not automatically resize themselves, and databases where everything is packed and indexed, much harder.


By jythie • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
That works fine until you have lots of data, or are fitting things within a caching system. The difference between 'this block of records fit perfectly within this 4k page' and 'these block of records does not' can mean the difference between humming along swimmingly and grinding to a halt.

People also tend to forget just how wasteful 64bit tends to be when dealing with data that is much smaller than that. Doesn't impact desktops, cell phones, or web servers much, but when you start getting into number crunchers it can really add up. I work on software that is still 32 bit because we discovered that even with modern hardware moving over to 64 bit is just too big of a memory/cpu hit.

Fix it once, fix it right

By emacs_abuser • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

All this bull about 2 and 4 digit years is just that, bull.

How hard is it to look at the current year and from that decide where the window is. That's the way I did my Y2K fixes and the user gets to continue entering 2 digit years and the fixed code is immune to even the Y10K problem. If your dates can be safely treated as within a 99 year window there is no need for using 4 digit years.