the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2020-Apr-20 today archive


  1. 2 Billion Phones Cannot Use Google and Apple Contact-Tracing Tech
  2. Whole Foods Is Reportedly Using a Heat Map To Track Stores At Risk of Unionization
  3. Alibaba To Invest $28 Billion In Cloud Services After Coronavirus Boosted Demand
  4. Facebook's New Gaming App Launches on Android, With iOS Version Coming Soon
  5. Huawei Caught Passing Off DSLR Photos As Being Taken With Smartphones
  6. A North Dakota Utility Wants To Build the World's Largest Carbon Capture Facility At a Power Plant
  7. Executive Order Allows Couples in New York To Get Married via Video Conference
  8. Devs Might Be Able To Write Software On iPad, iPhone With Xcode For iOS
  9. China Rolls Out Pilot Test of Digital Currency
  10. Facebook Will Ban Protests That Defy Government 'Guidance' On Distancing
  11. Surface Go 2, Featuring Larger 10.5-inch Display and Thinner Bezels, To Launch Next Month
  12. Will Comic Books Survive Coronavirus?
  13. Walmart is Selling Its On-demand Video Service Vudu To Fandango
  14. Oil Plunges Below Zero for First Time With May Contract Ending
  15. 267 Million Facebook Profiles Being Sold For $600 On Dark Web
  16. You Can Now Check If Your ISP Uses Basic Security Measures
  17. Cognizant Confirms Maze Ransomware Attack, Says Customers Face Disruption
  18. Rich Americans Activate Pandemic Escape Plans
  19. Zoom's Security Woes Were No Secret to Business Partners Like Dropbox
  20. Hackers Steal $25 Million Worth of Cryptocurrency From Uniswap and LendfMe
  21. Google is Blocking 18 Million Coronavirus Scam Emails Every Day
  22. Hacking the Pandemic: Global Research Community Gathers Online Against COVID-19
  23. Ask Slashdot: What Are You Doing To Help?
  24. For the First Time, a Robot Repaired a Satellite in Orbit

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.

2 Billion Phones Cannot Use Google and Apple Contact-Tracing Tech

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: As many as a billion mobile phone owners around the world will be unable to use the smartphone-based system proposed by Apple and Google to track whether they have come into contact with people infected with the coronavirus, industry researchers estimate. The figure includes many poorer and older people -- who are also among the most vulnerable to COVID-19 -- demonstrating a "digital divide" within a system that the two tech firms have designed to reach the largest possible number of people while also protecting individuals' privacy.

The particular kind of Bluetooth "low energy" chips that are used to detect proximity between devices without running down the phone's battery are absent from a quarter of smartphones in active use globally today, according to analysts at Counterpoint Research. A further 1.5 billion people still use basic or "feature" phones that do not run iOS or Android at all. "In all, close to 2 billion [mobile users] will not be benefiting from this initiative globally," said Neil Shah, analyst at Counterpoint. "And most of these users with the incompatible devices hail from the lower-income segment or from the senior segment which actually are more vulnerable to the virus."
Ben Wood, analyst at CCS Insight, estimates that only around two-thirds of adults would have a compatible phone. "And that's the UK, which is an extremely advanced smartphone market," he said. "In India, you could have 60-70 percent of the population that is ruled out immediately."

The report adds: "Counterpoint Research is more optimistic, estimating that 88 percent compatibility in developed markets such as the US, UK, and Japan, while about half of people in India would own the necessary handset."

Re: Give them a phone

By infolation • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
In the UK this is already being done.. The government changed the law and obtained permission from the watchdog to require telecoms companies to hand over location data from phones.

A great quote from the ICO, which acts as the UK privacy regulator, was "The important thing is that data protection is not a barrier to sharing data".

Re: Give them a phone

By AmiMoJo • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Apple and Google are implementing this as a system service in the OS (necessary for it to be extremely low power) but to do actual contact tracing you need an app that makes use of that API.

They have not said if it will respect the Bluetooth on/off switch yet.

The good news is that there is no database, no location data, no personal identification requirement. It creates a random ID per device and from that derives a daily ID which is the result of a one-way hashing function so can't be reversed back into the device ID.

Re: Even though my phone is compatible

By AmiMoJo • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Nope. The ID that is used for contact tracing by your device changes daily and is the result of a one-way hash. There is no way to trace it back to your device short of stealing your device and breaking in to the secure element where it is stored to retrieve it.

McDonalds can't identify you by WiFi or Bluetooth unless you have an exceptionally shitty phone. Android and iOS have both been randomly changing the MAC addresses for years now, every 15 minutes.

Re:Give them a phone

By JeffOwl • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Actually it was stated in a different article that Google was going to add it to the OS. Then, if you did happen to get near someone who was infected, you would be prompted to download the app. They stated that it had to be done this way specifically because people would not install the app. Not only because they were against being tracked, but because they either wouldn't know how or couldn't be bothered to download it. It was stated that it had to be in the OS to achieve critical mass in a reasonable amount of time.

They said the same thing about cookies

By Solandri • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
What'll probably happen is stores will start collecting the random numbers from phones of customers who enter. Marketers will set up monitoring stations posing as phones to collect random numbers of people passing by certain strategic areas. Then they'll start sharing data with each other to figure out the travel routes of each random number that day. When the same random number shows up in multiple locations, based on the timestamp they can piece together a travel path. They'll keep a record of all these random number paths every day. When certain patterns match, like a certain set of random number always travels the same route at the same time every weekday, they'll tentatively link those numbers together as probably being the same person. One day a marketer will come up with the idea of putting monitoring stations next to checkout lanes. When the number leaves, they'll link it to the last-used credit card at that checkout lane. And bingo - they've linked up your real identity to that day's random number. And based on the correlation to previous days' random number paths, they'll have pieced together a travel history for you.

Don't get me wrong. I think with the current virus situation, this is a necessary evil. But the scenario you laid out can in fact be abused to back out your identity and location history.

Whole Foods Is Reportedly Using a Heat Map To Track Stores At Risk of Unionization

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
According to Business Insider, Amazon-owned Whole Foods is tracking and scoring stores it deems at risk of unionizing through an interactive heat map. From the report: The heat map is powered by an elaborate scoring system, which assigns a rating to each of Whole Foods' 510 stores based on the likelihood that their employees might form or join a union. The stores' individual risk scores are calculated from more than two dozen metrics, including employee "loyalty," turnover, and racial diversity; "tipline" calls to human resources; proximity to a union office; and violations recorded by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The map also tracks local economic and demographic factors such as the unemployment rate in a store's location and the percentage of families in the area living below the poverty line.

The stores' scores on each metric are fed into the heat map, which is a geographic illustration of the United States peppered with red spots to indicate high-risk Whole Foods stores. The heat map reveals how Whole Foods is using technology and data to help manage its vast workforce of more than 95,000 employees. It also provides a rare look into corporate labor-tracking activities, a common practice among large companies but one rarely discussed publicly.
In a statement provided to Business Insider, the company said an "overwhelming majority" of its employees prefer a "direct relationship" with the company over union representation. "Whole Foods Market recognizes the rights of our Team Members to decide whether union representation is right for them," the company said. "We agree with the overwhelming majority of our Team Members that a direct relationship with Whole Foods Market and its leadership, where Team Members have open lines of communication and every individual is empowered to share feedback directly with their team leaders, is best."

"Our open-door communication policy allows us to understand and quickly respond to the needs of our workforce, while recognizing, rewarding, and supporting the goals of every member of our team," the statement continued. "At Whole Foods Market, we're committed to treating all of our Team Members fairly, creating a safe, inclusive, and empowering working environment, and providing our Team Members with career advancement opportunities, great benefits, and competitive compensation, including an industry-leading starting minimum wage of $15/hour."

Re:False premise. Bad ideas are bad all around

By F.Ultra • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Hi, union member here (not from the US though) and no I do not get paid exactly the same amount as everyone else. The union does not mandate the actual wage, they mandate the minimum wage and what the minimum raise should be.

Nice B.S.

By oh_my_080980980 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
"...the company said an "overwhelming majority" of its employees prefer a "direct relationship" with the company over union representation..."

When you weed out people who would support a union it's very easy to arrive at that sentiment.

It's also easier to engage in wage discrimination that way.

I don't blame them

By jbmartin6 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
When I dealt with union "negotiators" they weren't interested in higher wages or better benefits. Except for themselves. The local union head and his son the chief negotiator made twice as much as anyone in the company outside of the top tiers at corporate HQ. They were more interested in sorting our employees into inviolable classes based on role and seniority. No one in one role could ever do anything assigned to some other role. And only the most senior would see any wage benefits, at the expense of the juniors who got pigeonholed into the least desirable roles. They also wanted to make it harder to get rid of employees who sat on their asses and did nothing whenever they could. So yeah, management worked hard to head that off before the union made working there a nightmare for everybody except the slackers. The employees dropped the union as fast as they could once they saw what was going on. Surely not every situation is like that, but I think anyone who is being honest with themselves can understand why management might prefer to avoid that by trying to communicate clearly and deal with problems internally.

Re:False premise. Bad ideas are bad all around

By GregMmm • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I'm from the "public sector" in a state where peoples ambitions go to die, because of the union. When I started, I was forced to join the union. Here's how your " good workers" get "promoted".

The good workers get all the work, and usually the more difficult stuff. The lazy, the senior workers sit and do almost nothing, and then the good workers get to clean up the mess. I watch it every day, now I watch it online... You can't fire the bad workers, they will "bump" someone else out of their position. You can't fire the workers, because the union WILL defend them. Everyone knows who is a good worker and who is not. The managers, directors, everyone! What happens is everyone knows who gets things done (good workers) and they get all the work, until they get tired of it and move to another position. The same bad people are left to do nothing, and they you hire someone new. The real problem is when an entire group is full of bad workers. The group is screwed. The real only way to get rid of them is for them to die or retire.


By houghi • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

As working in Belgium I can confirm.

When I had to fire people, the first thing I did was tell them to join a Union. Because they would take care of all the paperwork to get their unemployment. You can join a Union any moment you desire.

Many of them are not guilds, as they are in the US. You can join a whole range of unions. You can also leave if you so desire. And nobody actually cares if you are a union member. Every company with more than 50 staff will have to have a unions representative (not sure how many). Some companies will try for a while to keep it under 50 when they are at that point, but that is more because of the needed meetings.

Again: nobody cares if you are union or not (besides the representatives, but that is a whole other issue). If I ask today, the situation could change in 30 minutes. And I am allowed to lie about it. Union members have the same rights. Just when there is a strike that you participate in, you will get paid. Not sure how much.

I have no idea at my company who is a union member and who is not. It was never asked if I was or not. I never asked if I was or not. The closest was from a Union representative to ask if I would be interested in becoming a Union representative.

The rough difference with a Union and a Guild is that the Union is there for the people and the Guild is there for the job. And there are Unions (ok more Guilds) for the police, military and sex workers. But they are also able to join any other Union.

Alibaba To Invest $28 Billion In Cloud Services After Coronavirus Boosted Demand

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said it will invest $28 billion in its cloud infrastructure over three years -- "a plan that follows a boom in demand for business software as the coronavirus outbreak peaked in China," reports Reuters. From the report: The company said in a statement it will spend the funds on semiconductor and operating system development as well as building out its data centre infrastructure. While most of China's white collar employees were working from home throughout February, the country's dominant cloud player saw usage surge for its software, most notably DingTalk, a workplace chat app used by both businesses and schools. At one point, users complained of lags on the app due to the high volume of activity. The company acknowledged the issues on Weibo, the Chinese social networking site. Alibaba Cloud Intelligence president Jeff Zhang said in the statement that the COVID-19 pandemic "has posed additional stress on the overall economy across sectors" and the company hoped the investment would help businesses "speed up the recovery process."

great idea

By slashmydots • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Alibaba is Chinese so I assume all cloud services come with a free complimentary stealing of 100% of your data and giving it straight to the Chinese intelligence organizations. This is like when Facebook bought that VR company. The brand was so toxic for doing anti-consumer stuff, it almost single handedly killed the entire product overnight.

Re:great idea

By waspleg • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Unfortunately too few people understand that business in China does not work like it does everywhere else. Every major business is an arm of the gov't; it wouldn't exist otherwise.

So all their shitty Tencent games, Zoom conferences and TikTok videos are actively being used for espionage - not just selling ads like the shitbag American companies.

China is at war with us and has been for decades, so far that senator from Wisconsin telling the CCP to fuck off with the pro-China CV handling press release they tried to get him to publish is the only one I've heard say anything promising,

It's a shame we have so many traitor presidents, senators, etc on both sides (Clinton got China in the World Trade Organization and didn't recognize Taiwan as a nation. Bush's pro China, Xi referred to him as an "old friend" when senior died. The list is a long one and fucking pathetic to see.)

That's the problem with money being all that matters - your enemies can pay you to hang yourself.

Facebook's New Gaming App Launches on Android, With iOS Version Coming Soon

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Facebook's dedicated Gaming app is now live on Android, months before its planned June release. From a report: The social media giant pushed the app out two months prior to its scheduled unveiling amid a global pandemic that's left people all over the world isolated at home, rapidly burning through entertainment options. The New York Times announced the upcoming release in an exclusive over the weekend, noting that Facebook's massive gaming investment has culminated in more 700 million of the sites's 2.5 billion users actively playing games through the platform monthly. The launch of a devoted app is a clear next step for content that has, until now, been the domain of the site's Gaming tab. Social engagement is the focus for the app (naturally), which will be getting an iOS version at some point in the near future (pending Apple approval).

Huawei Caught Passing Off DSLR Photos As Being Taken With Smartphones

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Huawei was recently caught passing off photos taken with a DSLR as ones shot with one of its phones. PhoneDog reports: Earlier this month, Huawei kicked off a contest for its Next Image community, and a video on Weibo included several high-quality photos and at the end said they were "taken with Huawei smartphones." As South China Morning Post notes, though, Weibo user Jamie-hua found that some of those photos were actually taken with a $3,500 Nikon D850 DSLR camera. The photos were found on 500px, an online photography site, and were taken by photographer Su Tie.

Huawei has since apologized and said that the photos were incorrectly marked due to "an oversight by the editor." The company has also updated its original promo video for the contest to remove the claim that the images were taken with Huawei phones.
This isn't the first time something like this has happened to Huawei. In 2018, an ad appeared to show that a selfie was taken with the Huawei Nova 3, but it was actually snapped with a DSLR.

Re:This is a disappointment

By LynnwoodRooster • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

No, you need the new Samsung S20 Ultra with the 100X zoom.


Par for the Course

By xlsior • Score: 3 • Thread
Samsung has been caught multiple times using DSLR photos claiming to be taken by their phones:

and Nokia:
(their 'cellphone footage' showed a motion-stabilized DSLR gear in the reflections and shadows)

and Xiaomi:

And there is no reason to believe that these are the only ones -- they just happened to get caught.

Re:This is a disappointment

By Brett Buck • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I think you can get a D850 and a 105 MM "micro" lens for under $4000.

Not the First Time? Not even the THIRD!

By kenwd0elq • Score: 3, Informative • Thread

Huawei executives seem to be so stupid, they attempt the same fraud repeatedly. I've seen this reported for almost every new Huawei phone.

Huawei was formed by Communist Chinese army officers, and the company is entirely tied to the PLA. DO NOT buy Huawei phones or telecom gear. We should ban the "company" (PLA branch office) completely.

Same thing with DJI drones. Dun't use it around anything that you don't want the ChiComs to see.

Advertising B.S.

By Martin S. • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Never believe any advertising, seriously what sort of idiot tale any advertising seriously?

A North Dakota Utility Wants To Build the World's Largest Carbon Capture Facility At a Power Plant

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from IEEE Spectrum: The Milton R. Young Station, close to the town of Center in North Dakota, is as unremarkable as coal-fired power plants come. But if its owner Minnkota Power Cooperative has its way, the plant could soon be famous the world over. The Grand Forks-based electric cooperative has launched Project Tundra, an initiative to build the largest power plant-based carbon capture facility in the world, with construction commencing as early as 2022. If Minnkota Power raises the US $1 billion the project requires, it plans to retrofit the station with technology the cooperative claims will capture more than 90 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from the plant's larger generator, a 455-megawatt unit. The effect will be the equivalent of taking 600,000 gasoline-fueled cars off the road.

To sequester CO2 from the Young station, Project Tundra will make use of technology similar to that employed at the only two other existing carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities operating at power plants in the world -- Petra Nova in Texas and Boundary Dam in Saskatchewan, Canada. The CO2-removal process begins by passing the flue gas through a scrubber to remove impurities and lower its temperature. The gas then enters an absorber, which contains a liquid-based amine solution that binds to CO2. Heat is applied to release the gas from the amines and the extracted CO2 is then compressed. Project Tundra plans to pump the liquid CO2 into sandstone rocks that lie just over a mile beneath the nearby lignite coal mine, where it will be stored permanently.

Re:Mile under rock....

By adfraggs • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

They're storing it in sandstone. It actually reacts with the sandstone itself and ends up becoming a part of the rock, pretty much locked away forever. This has been tested extensively, google it for a ton of references.

You're mixing up units

By Solandri • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

So, a quick Google shows that coal plants cost about $3.50 per watt output.

It's $3.50 per watt of capacity, not output

Adding a billion to the $1.6 billion cost of the coal plant pushes the cost per Watt up to about $5.7 (a 60% increase in the cost of producing electricity).

Coal plants have an operating lifespan of about 50 years, and a capacity factor (generation / capacity) of about 0.50. So

  • 1 Watt * 0.5 * 50 years = 219.145 kW hours generated in 50 years
  • $3.5 / 219.145 kWh = $0.016 = 1.6 cents/kWh
  • $5.7 / 219.145 kWh = $0.026 = 2.6 cents/kWh

So adding the sequestration will (over the lifetime of the plant) raise the cost of electricity generation by 1.0 cents/kWh. Electricity in most of the world costs 20-30 cents/kWh, so this is an almost trivial surcharge. And 1.0 cent/kWh is actually less than some of the proposed carbon taxes on coal.

cheaper and better to go nuke

By WindBourne • Score: 3 • Thread
Replace this with a .75 GW NuScale. It would give them more energy, cheaper, and safer.
And yes, having CO2 pop up out of the ground, kills ppl.

Re:What cars?

By The Rizz • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

In 2019 ND ranked #10 in the US for production of total wind energy, and #4 for production by percentage, and was expected to increase output by 24% by the end of 2019, putting it in 7th place (I could not find information on if that target was met).

Solar power is not a good fit for North Dakota, as it is too far north. Higher latitudes are worse for solar energy due to the weakening sunlight during the winter months. Solar farms give much higher energy outputs as they get closer to the equator, so it makes no sense to build solar farms in ND.

And the reason they're looking to add the CO2 capture is as an update to an existing coal plant (not a new one), because it would be far more expensive to replace that plant with clean energy than it would be to simply retrofit the existing one to be cleaner.

Re:Mile under rock....

By Anonyrnous • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Yeah, can you imagine the amount of energy it needs to pump the CO2 into the 430 bar bedrock?
I can just picture the CO2 at the end of the pipe "flowing" into the bedrock...oh yeah...look at it flowing right in problems at all. Yeah, it's flowing in there at the same rate the power plant is producing it. You can be sure that stuff isn't coming back out any time soon. No sirree Bob!
Obviously the amount of energy to store the CO2 would be a huge percentage of the amount of energy originally harnessed when it was produced (more than 100% I would have guessed), making it completely uneconomical. The whole concept is so ridiculous on the face of it only a complete and utter fossil fuel shill could give it the time of day.
And I don't even have anything against fossil fuel until it can be replaced appropriately.

Executive Order Allows Couples in New York To Get Married via Video Conference

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
New Yorkers looking to tie the knot while the state is under lockdown now have the option of getting married via video conference. From a report: During his daily coronavirus briefing, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday he is issuing an executive order that will allow clerks to perform marriage services over video conferencing software. Cuomo also stated couples in the state will now be able to obtain marriage licenses remotely. As CBS New York reports, the executive order temporarily suspends a provision of the law that requires in-person visits. The announcement was met with considerable push back, however. "The action that has caused me the most amount of grief is what I said about marriages," Cuomo said during his Sunday presser. "I said yesterday no one has any excuses anymore."

Future headline

By thegreatbob • Score: 3 • Thread
Zoom Bomber Accidentally Marries ...


By JBMcB • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Why does there need to be anything more than a notarized piece of paper saying you are married? Who cares how you are married? Why does anyone even need permission to do a video marriage?

Marriage Should be Private

By Jarwulf • Score: 3 • Thread
It should be up to a person whether they consider themselves married. If you consider yourself married you're married in your eyes. If someone else doesn't consider you married you're not in their eyes. The government should only handle the bureaucratic civil union side and has no business promulgating a certain morality elsewhere.

Devs Might Be Able To Write Software On iPad, iPhone With Xcode For iOS

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
macOS and iOS software developers will soon be able to code on an iPad or even iPhone, if an unconfirmed report is correct. iPadOS 14 and the iPhone equivalent will reportedly include support for Xcode, Apple's software development environment. Cult of Mac reports: This report comes from Jon Prosser, founder of YouTube channel Front Page Tech, who recently correctly predicted the launch date of the 2020 iPhone SE. On Monday, Prosser said via Twitter "XCode is present on iOS / iPad OS 14. The implications there are HUGE." Whenever anyone suggests that iPads have become as powerful as MacBooks, someone always asks, "Does it do Xcode?" The implication is that iPads are just toys -- only Macs are real computers. But if Prosser is correct, then devs will be able to use iPad or Mac, whichever they prefer. This is part of Apple steadily upgrading the capabilities of its tablets over years, especially the iPad Pro line. These now have USB-C ports, support for accessing external media, mouse support, etc. And top-tier iPad processors as powerful as Apple laptops.

Touchscreens still suck

By bluescrn • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Touchscreens are still horrendously imprecise input devices, requiring gigantic UI elements, and these lead to extreme dumbing-down of app UI and functionality

Try developing anything significant without a mouse+keyboard. Also without a proper/exposed file system... Yeah, there are iPad keyboards and that overpriced stylus, that the OS is still completely touch-centric, with jumbo-sized UI designed elements for fat fingers. It will be interesting to see how they've tried to adapt a complex dev environment to that UI system.

My guess is that it'll be, like everything 'appified', massively cut down and dumbed down.

iPhone coding - Brilliant!

By niftydude • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
I'm going to love coding on a 6" phone touchscreen keyboard so much. Finally I'll be able to give up my slow tactile mechanical keyboard and dual 24" screens forever!

As the article says - the implications are HUGE! Just imagine extreme programming sessions with everyone gathered around that 6" phone screen.

Kudos Apple, you've done it again.

Development on touchscreen.

By Colourspace • Score: 3 • Thread
Like painting your hallway from outside your house - but through the letterbox.

Prediction: only Swift support

By Sebby • Score: 3 • Thread

I can't see Apple wanting (or really being capable of) supporting anything else than Swift - which means you can't "replace" your desktop/laptop if you've already got a complex (mixed objc/c/swift/scripted) project.

I'll basically be Playgrounds on steroids.

China Rolls Out Pilot Test of Digital Currency

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
China's central bank has introduced a homegrown digital currency across four cities as part of a pilot program, marking a milestone on the path toward the first electronic payment system by a major central bank. The Wall Street Journal reports: Internal tests of the digital currency are being conducted in four large cities around China -- Shenzhen, Suzhou, Chengdu and Xiong'an, a satellite city of Beijing -- to improve the currency's functionality, the digital currency research institute under the People's Bank of China confirmed Monday, in response to a request for comment. Chinese domestic and state-run media outlets reported on the trials over the weekend. The trials followed years of research by the central bank dating back to 2014.

The new currency, which doesn't have an official name but is known by its internal shorthand "DC/EP," or "digital currency/electronic payment," will share some features with cryptocurrencies including bitcoin and Facebook Inc.'s Libra, PBOC officials have said. While it won't boast the anonymity that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies tout, China's central bankers have vowed to protect users' privacy. The intention, China's central bankers have said, is to replace some of China's monetary base, or cash in circulation. It won't replace other parts of the country's money supply, such as bank deposits and balances held by privately-run payment platforms, Yi Gang, the governor of China's central bank, said last year.

In Xiangcheng, a district in the eastern city of Suzhou, the government will start paying civil servants half of their transport subsidy in the digital currency next month as part of the city's test run, according to a government worker with direct knowledge of the matter. Government workers were told to begin installing an app on their smartphones this month into which the digital currency would be transferred, the worker said. Civil servants were told that the new currency could be transferred into their existing bank accounts, or used directly for transactions at some designated merchants, the person said.

will it work in wet markets? Vendor fees?

By Joe_Dragon • Score: 3 • Thread

will it work in wet markets? Vendor fees?


By nwaack • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
"While it won't boast the anonymity that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies tout, China's central bankers have vowed to protect users' privacy" - BWAHAHAHAA!!! Best joke I've heard all day.

This is concerning

By dingleberrie • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

George Gammon had a very interesting video article on the US Federal Reserve's effort for FedCoin digital currency.... it allows for far more manipulation than just dollars being digital. From tracking every dollar spent, to limiting what kinds of loans the banks can use the dollars for, to even making the dollars expire like coupons if not used. The central banks are all sharing methods. It looks like China is one of the first deployment sites for their version. It's relatively long at 30 minutes, compared to an article on the topic, but it kept me interested.

Facebook Will Ban Protests That Defy Government 'Guidance' On Distancing

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: A Facebook spokesperson told Motherboard over the weekend that the social network would allow protest events as long as they do not fall afoul of government guidance on social distancing, but will ban ones that do. "Unless the government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook," the spokesperson wrote in an email. "For this same reason, events that defy government's guidance on social distance aren't allowed on Facebook. "

According to a Facebook statement to the Washington Post, the company has removed protest events both in New Jersey and California. Facebook typically follows the law in whatever jurisdiction it happens to be operating within, which has led to numerous problems with moderating a global platform, but this has always been subject to change based on the social network's whims and priorities. For example, when the company was found to have violated the law in Canada, it simply said that it did not agree, and nothing happened. Now that Facebook appears to be deferring to government "guidance" during an unparalleled crisis with many fractured viewpoints, coronavirus is becoming yet another quagmire for the company.

Re:Look at both sides

By AndrewFlagg • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

i concur. its a tough spot. rock. - usa. - hard place. those still getting paid in gov't jobs must feel great. the rest of us, oh well, we knew the path we chose ahead of time and will continue to thrive, just not survive, nor shackled to a socialistic system that won't be there. glad i did my 12 years in the army and have some relief c/o the VA but I won't ask them for help unless I really need it. Many more who deserve more help than me. Keep safe America. Don't let pride stand in the way of asking for help in advance. peace. amen.

Grandma doesn't have to get sick

By rsilvergun • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
since we can delay until a vaccine. Also we want to delay while working on effective treatments. As Dr Fauci pointed out we have those for HIV, we don't for COVID -19.

Regarding the rest of your points:

1. We can just put your cleaning lady on unemployment. No, I don't care if she's an illegal immigrant. But you wouldn't hire one, would you? And if you did because you support granting her citizen ship you are of course OK with paying her unemployment benefits, right?

2. We did 40k+ with massive amounts of controls. Reopening early will more than likely tripple that. In the short term. In the long term our hospitals get overwhelmed and we see millions dead.

Of course long before that the Baby Boomers (who will suffer the brunt of this) will demand action. That'll end well I'm sure. Millions of panicked, elderly voters demanding swift, decisive action from a government as incompetent as ours? Yeah, that's not a recipe for disaster and dictatorship.

Re:Fascism is here, Ladies and Gentlemen.

By masterpinky7139 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Nancy Pelosi: [The presidency] remains an ongoing threat to American democracy (asking for a British style parliamentary system where obviously she would be Prime Minister) this is something you can get through the mail if you run out (talking about $96/gallon ice cream) employers cutting hours is a good thing, it then gives that person time to pursue their dreams and passions

You do realize your credibility is shot forever when you abuse quotes, right? The kind of BS lying I expect from the "fair and balanced crowd". Where do you want to start? The fabricated quote from 4 years ago? Pelosi never said "cutting hours is a good thing". Completely made up. ( Or how you tried to make "the president" into "the presidency"? How dishonest! The quote was "Sadly, because of the Republican Senate’s betrayal of the Constitution, the president remains an ongoing threat to American democracy." THIS president is the threat, not the institution. What a whopper! What other lies do you want to feed us? Should I continue?

Re:Look at both sides

By psycho12345 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Correct, it would be more like 5-10%. Because we know 10-20% require hospitalization. Of those that do get it, there's a wide range on survival depending on age and preexisting conditions. What we also know is that if you don't get hospitalization in those cases, it is a death sentence. So if 80% of the population all got it at the same time, 8 to 16% of the population would need hospitalization, and we can only handle maybe 2-3% of the population all at once, so 5-10% would die for sure.

Re:Fascism is here, Ladies and Gentlemen.

By DrXym • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Yes because a private company exercising it's absolute right to sets limits on the content it hosts, including fuckwits trying to arrange meetups contrary to law during a pandemic, is exactly equivalent to fascism.

Surface Go 2, Featuring Larger 10.5-inch Display and Thinner Bezels, To Launch Next Month

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Microsoft's Surface Go 2 is right around the corner. While nothing is set in stone, Windows Central reported Monday that the product could be announced sometime in May. From a report: Thanks to leaked benchmarks, which I've been able to confirm via my own sources, we already know everything about the CPU, RAM, and storage options inside the Surface Go 2. But what about any external hardware changes? According to sources familiar with the matter, I'm told that Surface Go 2 will feature a larger 10.5-inch display without increasing the overall size of the device. Its exterior chassis will be identical to the original Surface Go, including dimensions and placement of the ports. That means keyboards and accessories designed for the 2018 Surface Go will work just fine on the Surface Go 2 as well.

From skeptic to convert - I love Surface Gos

By mccalli • Score: 3 • Thread
I was seriously skeptical of the Go when my daughter decided she wanted one. Weak CPU was concerning, and it just didn't seem a decent machine to me.

I was very, very wrong and I thoroughly recommend them to all sorts of people. In my daughter's case, this was for school work plus her own web browsing. It runs Office 365 and she had to take it out of S mode to get a music composition program running on it. If it wasn't for that one program, would have happily stayed in S.

As a lightweight document-based work machine, it's great. A CPU powerhouse it is not, but that's fine - was never designed to be. As a lightweight write-something-up or browse machine, it's really good.

Will Comic Books Survive Coronavirus?

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As Marvel cuts staff and publishers stop selling new titles, artists, shop owners and writers worry for the future of an industry worth billions. From a report: There are no new comic books. Steve Geppi, head of Diamond Comic Distributors, which distributes nearly every comic sold in the anglophone world (or used to), announced this on 23 March, though senior industry figures already knew what was coming. The coronavirus pandemic had sunk retailers deep into the red. They couldn't pay their bills to Diamond or rent to their landlords, because they hadn't made any sales. "Product distributed by Diamond and slated for an on-sale date of 1 April or later will not be shipped to retailers until further notice," Geppi wrote. If shops can't pay Diamond, Diamond can't pay the industry's constellation of comics publishers, who then can't pay artists, writers, editors and printers, who now can't pay their rent or credit card bills -- or buy comics.

Sales of comics, graphic novels and collectibles distributed by Diamond were $529.7m in 2019 -- a huge number which suggests that a months-long gap between issues of Batman, Captain America and Spawn will stretch into tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue. (Though Diamond plans to start shipping comics to shops again on 17 May, many around the world will still be in lockdown then.) The unprecedented situation has encouraged many acts of kindness, by individuals and companies. In solidarity with the shops relying on physical sales, most publishers are not currently selling new comics digitally. And dozens of artists and writers are auctioning off books and art to benefit others; DC artist Jim Lee is sketching a superhero pinup every day for two months, selling them for thousands on eBay to benefit comics shops.

Yes, but...

By imperious_rex • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

As a medium, yes comics will survive. The US comics industry has gone through several periods of expansions and contractions over the decades, but it has endured. It will endure the coronavirus crisis and Diamond's demise (not a bad thing in the long term), but it will change the industry and hopefully for the better. Marvel and DC have had declining sales for the past ten years or so. This is mainly due to factors such as alternate entertainment venues (video games, social media, etc.), higher prices (a basic 32 page comic is now $4 per issue), change in readership (pre-adolescents just aren't into comics like older Millennials and earlier generations were). For past and present comic sales numbers, check out Comichron.

For the past 10 years, Marvel (and to a lesser degree DC) have become infested with SJW editors and writers, pushing stories and character changes that fans never asked for or wanted. Idiots like the new New Warriors writer Daniel Kibblesmith embody everything that's wrong with Marvel. It's my hope that somebody at Marvel will say enough is enough and sweep the stable clean, find a good way to reset Marvel continuity to sometime before 2010, and hire editors, writers, and artists based on skill and not political position. In short, Marvel needs a Jim Shooter, not another C. B. Cebulski to call the shots and make Marvel great again.

Re:"Will comic book survive woke idiocy"

By Impy the Impiuos Imp • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Comics, like science fiction, always did this kind of stuff. The difference is now not, "Here's a future world, wouldn't it be nice, dear reader?" It's "here's a future world and you are part of the problem."

The tone has shifted.

Two weeks

By steveha • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

I follow the comic industry news mostly by watching videos on the "Comics MATTER w/Ya Boi Zack" YouTube channel. "Zack" covers the state of the comics industry, reviews comic books, and touts his own comic book projects.

He has repeatedly pointed out that everyone is being hit hard by COVID-19 but the comics industry shattered after only two weeks. There is a big distribution company called Diamond, which has a monopoly on comics distribution to comics shops (seemingly a money-making position!). They apparently had no reserves at all, and after two weeks of COVID-19 lockdowns they were unable to pay their creditors and dramatically scaled down how much shipping they were doing. They are making promises that they will start paying some of their creditors soon now.

As for DC and Marvel: in recent years they stopped caring what the fans want and started doing whatever they want to do. They have seemingly made a calculation that their hard-core fans buy whatever they make, so they have stopped trying to please the fans. They have had year after year of declining sales, which they have masked by increasing the selling prices of the comics (and in at least Marvel's case, by cutting the quality to cut expenses).

It would be bad if the big comics publishers hired people with no proven track record, but it's actually worse than that: they repeatedly have hired people who have a track record of poor sales. There are many talented professionals with long track records of success who would love to get work, and they are passed over in favor of some failures. "Zack" makes the case that it's entirely because of "wokeness": there are trans-women, lesbians, people of color, etc. among these underperformers who keep getting work. (Don't try to claim that "Zack" just hates women or something. He's a huge fan of Ann Nocenti and has made several videos praising her, and while he was critical of the decision-making process that led to hiring Eve Ewing to write Ironheart he feels that she learned how to write comics and started doing a good job. I could name others but this is already long.)

"Zack" made a couple of videos talking about "pre-COVID thinking" where the publishers felt they could just do whatever they wanted, and COVID-19 slapped them in the face with a dose of reality.

He says that two weeks is plenty of time to create a new habit or lose an old habit, and comics fans are actually unable to go to comics shops for their weekly comics buys. He predicts that the big publishers won't see the hard-core fans return at the same level as before COVID-19 and the industry will have to change to survive.

"Zack" has one simple prescription to save the industry: make comics returnable. Right now, comics stores buy comics and eat the cost of the ones that don't sell. It's common practice in the world of magazines to allow stores to rip the covers off and send the covers back for a refund. (Just the covers to save on shipping expenses; the cover is to serve as proof that the magazine was destroyed and not sold.) If Marvel and DC had to start eating the cost of their failed comics, it would provide valuable negative feedback on what fans actually will buy, and within a year at most they would start rewarding merit.

A few small, independent publishers have made their comics returnable and loudly called on the big two publishers to do the same. So far: crickets.

Link to Comics MATTER w/Ya Boi Zack on YouTube

P.S. "Zack" is a target of actual hatred by many in the comics industry. I believe the main reasons are that he has criticized them repeatedly (and they didn't like being criticized), and that in his earlier videos he was more willing to be actually insulting (he called a famous trans-woman a "man in a wig" because he said he hadn't seen any evidence she had medically transitioned). He's still critical but he made a decision to dial back the insults; he's now much more professional,

Re:How much will Coronavirus damage comic books?

By Areyoukiddingme • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Not everyone wants the physical books, though. But for those who don't, there are no proper devices. For a decent reading experience I would want something like a 12~13" color e-ink e-book reader that shouldn't be too heavy, either...

Sadly there are no full color e-ink displays. Somehow they have failed to crack that problem. A 10.1" traditional LCD tablet is almost ok, though the aspect ratio is just slightly wrong so either you have to pan across a page or letterbox it. It starts feeling pretty heavy after a while too.

If you read manga, you're golden. There are 12" 16-shades-of-grey e-ink display readers out there, and more coming all the time.

Re:How much will Coronavirus damage comic books?

By Darinbob • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

The advantage of the physical books is that you can read your entire back collection from the '70s onwards while sheltering in place.

Walmart is Selling Its On-demand Video Service Vudu To Fandango

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Movie ticketing company Fandango has agreed to buy Walmart's on-demand video streaming service, Vudu, for an undisclosed sum. From a report: The video service today reaches over 100 million living room devices across the U.S. including smart TVs, Blu-ray players, game consoles, and other over-the-top streaming devices, as well as Windows 10 and Mac computers, and iOS and Android mobile devices. To date, the Vudu app on mobile has been installed over 14.5 million times. As a part of the agreement, Vudu will continue to power Walmart's digital movie and TV store on In addition, Walmart says Vudu customers will have uninterrupted access to their Vudu library. They'll also continue to be able to use their Walmart login as well as their Walmart wallet to make purchases on Vudu, the retailer notes.

To Fandango?

By thegarbz • Score: 3 • Thread

That's Grim.


By Etcetera • Score: 3 • Thread

First off, I had thought VUDU was just partnering with Wal-mart, not actually owned by them.

Secondly, Fandango (or at least FandangoNOW) seemed like it had been on its last legs as a streaming platform, and Fandango's revenue as a theater partner was completely destroyed last month. I wonder what made this deal happen.

Oil Plunges Below Zero for First Time With May Contract Ending

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Oil futures collapsed to below zero for the first time ever as the deepening economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus crisis left traders desperate to avoid taking delivery of physical crude. From a report: In an unprecedented day of trading, the price for the May contracts wiped out all value, breaking every low for oil prices since 1946. The exchange where WTI futures trade said the contract would be allowed to price below zero. The extreme move showed just how oversupplied the U.S. oil market has become with industrial and economic activity grinding to a halt as governments around the globe extend shutdowns due to the swift spread of the coronavirus. An unprecedented output deal by OPEC and allied members a week ago to curb supply is proving too little too late in the face a one-third collapse in global demand. On Monday, a technical oddity exacerbated the price plunge as traders fled the May futures contract ahead of its expiration tomorrow. The following month's contract fell 12% to $22.05 a barrel, making the spread between the two months blow out more than $20. Further reading: There's Nowhere to Put the Oil.

Re:That's a totally separate issue

By jythie • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
*gasp* a relief bill including provisions for arts and humanities non profits! How corrupt!

The focus on the Kennedy Arts Center would be comical if it was not so sad. Hundreds of billions in corporate welfare, and people focus on a few tens of millions going to non-profits so they can continue operation too. That is so much worse than hundreds of billions that can be doled out by the administration with little more than 'pinky promise it will not go directly into your pockets' oversight. Oh, but liberals and cooshies seats, how terrible!

If you wanna talk pork, talk pork, but tiny amounts going to institutions that right wingers just happen to hate for identity reasons does not look very good against the much larger amounts going to politically chosen businesses and religious institutions.

Re:There's no floor

By mobby_6kl • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

You have that backwards. Globalization is good and so is socialism. They are not mutually exclusive.

Re:There's no floor

By mobby_6kl • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Thankfully you do have a president that already fixed the oil problem a week ago so nothing to worry about. Everything is under control.

Re:We'd need something like the Green New Deal

By ubergeek65536 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Where's your source? The sources I have found puts the US way down the list.

Re:That's a totally separate issue

By raymorris • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

If a Republican leader delayed relief for the whole country by insisting on special payments to their hand-picked donors and friends people would be pissed too. Of course that's not what happened.

Dude, you can actually favor Pelosi AND acknowledge that it's bad to make the whole country suffer while she gets cash for a few friends. That would be bad, really bad, no matter who did it. This time, Pelosi did it.

267 Million Facebook Profiles Being Sold For $600 On Dark Web

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An anonymous reader shares a report: Threat actors are selling over 267 million Facebook profiles for $623 on dark web sites and hacker forums. While none of these records include passwords, they do contain information that could allow attackers to perform spear phishing or SMS attacks to steal credentials. Last month, security researcher Bob Diachenko discovered an open Elasticsearch database that contained a little over 267 million Facebook records, with most being users from the United States. For many of these records, they contained a user's full name, their phone number, and a unique Facebook ID. The ISP hosting the database eventually took the server offline after being contacted by Diachenko.

Facebook Profile? You can have it.

By GregMmm • Score: 3 • Thread

I have no information on the profile worth a nickel, and apparently $600 for 267 million is alot less than a nickel.

Also, I haven't logged into Facebook for a number of years.

Have at it...

Facebook "quizzes"

By Pascoea • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Time to go fill out all those Facebook "Quizzes", you know the "Favorite food?", "Number of siblings?", "Hometown" shit that people obsessively share? What could possibly go wrong with someone having your e-mail address and all the typical answers you'd use for security questions?

You Can Now Check If Your ISP Uses Basic Security Measures

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"Is BGP Safe Yet" is a new site that names and shames internet service providers that don't tend to their routing. From a report: For more than an hour at the beginning of April, major sites like Google and Facebook sputtered for large swaths of people. The culprit wasn't a hack or a bug. It was problems with the internet data routing standard known as the Border Gateway Protocol, which had allowed significant amounts of web traffic to take an unexpected detour through a Russian telecom. For Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince, it was the last straw. BGP disruptions happen frequently, generally by accident. But BGP can also be hijacked for large-scale spying, data interception, or as a sort of denial of service attack.

[...] On Friday, the company launched Is BGP Safe Yetâ, a site that makes it easier for anyone to check whether their internet service provider has added the security protections and filters that can make BGP more stable. Those improvements are most effective with wide adoption from ISPs, content delivery networks like Cloudflare, and other cloud providers. Cloudflare estimates that so far about half of the internet is more protected thanks to heavy hitters like AT&T, the Swedish telecom Telia, and the Japanese telecom NTT adopting BGP improvements. And while Cloudflare says it doesn't seem like the Rostelecom incident was intentional or malicious, Russian telecoms do have a history of suspicious BGP meddling, and similar problems will keep cropping up until the whole industry is on board.

If ISPs could be shamed...

By mlw4428 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
Comcast wouldn't exist.

Not all ISPs think this is a good thing..

By blahblahwoofwoof • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

x-post from a comment on Ars Technica:

I am not an expert on BGP, but the response from Arnold&Arnold, linked above, appears to make some good points.

Re:Not all ISPs think this is a good thing..

By guruevi • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

It is a response with some legitimate concerns, but it basically boils down to this: we don't trust SSL certificates because a court could still order xyz to shut down a route giving a false sense of security. While that is true, it is better than nothing. You also don't HAVE to trust blindly because certificates are in place, you could come up with a PKI for self-signed certificate systems where you explicitly trust a particular provider or even have levels of trust. If an order goes in place, it is possible that with obligatory certificates, you end up shutting out an entire country until the law or order gets revoked but that is kind of what you want - a MAD situation so nobody dares to order a legal redirect since you end up instantly revoking all your own Internet access.

In short, many providers won't change because it costs money (a ton of money as a lot of high-end switches are custom programmed and hardwired) really hard to interfere with BGP, you almost need root or physical access to the routers, at which point it's game over, regardless of the system you use. Cloudflare wants you to use it because they're new and hip and they support it, so pay them to make sure your traffic won't be blackholed.

Cognizant Confirms Maze Ransomware Attack, Says Customers Face Disruption

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Cognizant, one of the largest tech and consulting companies in the Fortune 500, has confirmed it was hit by a ransomware attack. From a report: Details remain slim besides a brief statement on its site, confirming the incident. "Cognizant can confirm that a security incident involving our internal systems, and causing service disruptions for some of our clients, is the result of a Maze ransomware attack," the statement read. "Our internal security teams, supplemented by leading cyber defense firms, are actively taking steps to contain this incident." The New Jersey-headquartered IT giant said it was engaging with the law enforcement.

The company, which offers a range of services including IT consultation to clients in more than 80 countries, posted $16.8 billion in revenue last year. The decades-old firm also maintains a business agreement with Facebook to help the social giant moderate content on its platform. Cognizant employs about 290,000 people, most of whom live in India. Maze is not like typical data-encrypting ransomware. Maze not only spreads across a network, infecting and encrypting every computer in its path, it also exfiltrates the data to the attackers' servers where it is held for ransom.

Cognizant is the dollar store of talent

By Somervillain • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

If "one of the largest tech and consulting companies in the Fortune 500" can't keep itself safe from hackers, then how do you expect electronic payment companies to keep hackers out of your bank accounts?

I've worked with Cognizant and 2 different jobs, not by choice. It's a low-end offshoring operation. It is where projects go to die. No one chooses them for their talent. They get chosen by sales people aggressively charming executives until they sign away the IT budget. They are one of the stalwarts of the offshore outsourcing fad from over a decade ago...and nearly everyone has learned, offshore outsourcing doesn't work. It NEVER saves money.

Offshoring firms hire a bunch of people with the skills of an intern then lie about their credentials...oh yeah, he's got 10 years of experience with YOUR technologies and 2 PhDs from "the MIT of India"...then you get on a video call and the kid is like 22....and completely incompetent in every way...then he leaves because even a low-end loser like him realizes Cognizant is a piece of shit operation.

There's no cheap talent in India. They have the same shortage everyone has. If the engineers is any good, they will get hired directly in the Indian offices for major tech companies where they will get paid a lot more and treated with respect. There's a lot of talent in India...and they're quickly snatched up by every one BUT the offshoring firms, like Cognizant. All you get there are the failures that couldn't get hired by a real company.

Outsourcing firms can only get low-end talent. They're the dollar stores of IT services. No one with any sense would work for them. Anyone with any talent who is stupid enough to sign up quickly leaves, getting poached by someplace better.

At every offshoring customer...there's one or 2 VPs, who get a lot of bribes (free trips, vacations, evenings of entertainment, fancy meals, etc)...who are pushing offshore outsourcing. Their staff hates the outsourcing company because they're cleaning up constantly after those losers. The projects ALWAYS go over cost and get delayed by huge factors...usually 2-5x longer than the people hiring Cognizant have to maintain a small local staff to clean up after their mistakes, full time...because the offshoring teams can't handle the work. It's a disaster...but once a VP has pitched outsourcing to India, it's ride or die. If they admit..."OK, they promised us the world and failed to deliver," the VP is likely to lose their they keep pouring money into the dumpster fire of a project...and its a huge disaster until someone fires the VP.

The dot-com era promised so many gains in productivity....which were drastically stalled by the offshore outsourcing many tools that were started in earnest to make lives better and could have been completed in 2 years by a small local team, but took 10 years and cost 20x more than expected because some VP shithead thought that programming was trade that should not be done by Americans. I am glad the fad passed a long time ago. I just hope Cognizant, Infosys, and Tata get exposed for the frauds they are and disappear.

It's no surprise this happened...I am sure it happened many more times that they didn't report. They cannot die quickly enough.

Rich Americans Activate Pandemic Escape Plans

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As coronavirus infections tore across the U.S. in early March, a Silicon Valley executive called the survival shelter manufacturer Rising S Co. He wanted to know how to open the secret door to his multimillion-dollar bunker 11 feet underground in New Zealand. From a report: The tech chief had never used the bunker and couldn't remember how to unlock it, said Gary Lynch, general manager of Texas-based Rising S Co. "He wanted to verify the combination for the door and was asking questions about the power and the hot water heater and whether he needed to take extra water or air filters," Lynch said. The businessman runs a company in the Bay Area but lives in New York, which was fast becoming the world's coronavirus epicenter. "He went out to New Zealand to escape everything that's happening," Lynch said, declining to identify the bunker owner because he keeps his client lists private. "And as far as I know, he's still there."

For years, New Zealand has featured prominently in the doomsday survival plans of wealthy Americans worried that, say, a killer germ might paralyze the world. Isolated at the edge of the earth, more than 1,000 miles off the southern coast of Australia, New Zealand is home to about 4.9 million people, about a fifth as many as the New York metro area. The clean, green, island nation is known for its natural beauty, laid-back politicians and premier health facilities. In recent weeks, the country has been lauded for its response to the pandemic. It enforced a four-week lockdown early, and today has more recoveries than cases. Only 12 people have died from the disease. The U.S. death toll stands at more than 39,000, meaning that country's death rate per capita is about 50 times higher.

The underground global shelter network Vivos already has installed a 300-person bunker in the South Island, north of Christchurch, said Robert Vicino, the founder of the California-based company. He's fielded two calls in the past week from prospective clients eager to build additional shelters on the island. In the U.S., two dozen families have moved into a 5,000-person Vivos shelter in South Dakota, he said, where they're occupying a bunker on a former military base that's about three-quarters the size of Manhattan. Vivos has also built an 80-person bunker in Indiana, and is developing a 1000-person shelter in Germany. Rising S Co. has planted about 10 private bunkers in New Zealand over the past several years. The average cost is $3 million for a shelter weighing about 150 tons, but it can easily go as high as $8 million with additional features like luxury bathrooms, game rooms, shooting ranges, gyms, theaters and surgical beds.

The proverbial pound of cure.

By hey! • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Here's the ironic thing about being so rich you can build a bunker to ride out the collapse of civilization. If it ever does happen, when you emerge you'll only be as rich as your ability to hunt or farm food. Even supposing you pick an enclave like New Zealand that holds together, they aren't going to treat you like a prince; your asset portfolio will be meaningless in that world. You hold a million shares of Facebook... so what? Can you castrate a ram, mate?

There is only so far you can separate your fate from the rest of society. Throughout history civilizations have collapsed, and after the collapse their aristocracies became nobodies.

Re:Don't accidentally lock yourself in

By mysidia • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Oh.. much worse. An underground bunker with 1000 people in close quarters is the opposite of what is good for a pandemic situation; Although it should be OK if none of those thousand are infected and nobody comes in or out; A normal large building or compound in a fenced off or walled off area for the cost is better (Much larger than a bunker of same cost), assuming zombies are not trying to break in. if its made so everything required to live until incident is over is there and nobody comes in or out.

And when more supplies ARE eventually needed, which is inevitable.... there is enough room so that someone can bring supplies in and then isolate themselves for 14 days while inside.

In fact; in a more typical building there can be much more separate facilities for people than in a bunker.

All the while they're urging us to go back to work

By rsilvergun • Score: 3 • Thread
Those protests in Michigan have a lot of backing. Sam Seder on YouTube has a video about it and how Betsy Devos is funding and backing the protests.

I couldn't figure out why Trump kept picking fights with the governor of Michigan (a swing state no less) until Seder pointed out that she's on Joe Biden's list of potential VP candidates.

Basically it's the Tea Party all over again, where you have "spontaneous" protests announced on Fox News weeks in advance with the full support of the President and T-Shirt sellers, porta potties and multi-angle press cameras set up well in advance. Astroturfing.

These are bomb shelters

By rsilvergun • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
meant to survive a nuclear blast. An angry mob isn't going to get in. And they're usually in the middle or nowhere. When the transportation network collapses that mob won't be able to get to them, and won't know where they are (this guy's a millionaire, trust me, you don't know where Bill Gate's shelter is). Finally the truly wealthy have private armies. Again to use Bill Gates (as he's the best known one around these parts) if you get near his private estate paramilitaries will descend on you and escort you out.

Fallout is a video game. You can take some lessons from it's themes, but you shouldn't take practical lessons.

Our ruling class has long since ceased to be affected by the things that hurt us. We need to come to terms with that because it represents a fundamental breakdown in the systems as laid out by Adam Smith. Hell, even Smith was concerned about that.

In any case we need to make adjustments to our civilization to address this. As it stands they're literally telling us to go die for the Stock Market while they sit safely in bunkers.

Re:Don't accidentally lock yourself in

By Gilgaron • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Part of being in a bunker is that small arms are rendered moot. Further, placing your bunker in a place with still fewer small arms and you're better off still. Have the entrance have a vestibule with a murder hole ahead of the real airlock ( and you're all set.

Zoom's Security Woes Were No Secret to Business Partners Like Dropbox

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Dropbox privately paid top hackers to find bugs in software by the videoconferencing company Zoom, then pressed it to fix them. From a report: One year ago, two Australian hackers found themselves on an eight-hour flight to Singapore to attend a live hacking competition sponsored by Dropbox. At 30,000 feet, with nothing but a slow internet connection, they decided to get a head start by hacking Zoom, a videoconferencing service that they knew was used by many Dropbox employees. The hackers soon uncovered a major security vulnerability in Zoom's software that could have allowed attackers to covertly control certain users' Mac computers. It was precisely the type of bug that security engineers at Dropbox had come to dread from Zoom, according to three former Dropbox engineers.

Now Zoom's videoconferencing service has become the preferred communications platform for hundreds of millions of people sheltering at home, and reports of its privacy and security troubles have proliferated. Zoom's defenders, including big-name Silicon Valley venture capitalists, say the onslaught of criticism is unfair. They argue that Zoom, originally designed for businesses, could not have anticipated a pandemic that would send legions of consumers flocking to its service in the span of a few weeks and using it for purposes -- like elementary school classes and family celebrations -- for which it was never intended.

[...] The former Dropbox engineers, however, say Zoom's current woes can be traced back two years or more, and they argue that the company's failure to overhaul its security practices back then put its business clients at risk. Dropbox grew so concerned that vulnerabilities in the videoconferencing system might compromise its own corporate security that the file-hosting giant took on the unusual step of policing Zoom's security practices itself, according to the former engineers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss their work. As part of a novel security assessment program for its vendors and partners, Dropbox in 2018 began privately offering rewards to top hackers to find holes in Zoom's software code and that of a few other companies. The former Dropbox engineers said they were stunned by the volume and severity of the security flaws that hackers discovered in Zoom's code -- and troubled by Zoom's slowness in fixing them.

Re:More shit engineers and shit PHBs

By arglebargle_xiv • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Zoom's defenders, including big-name Silicon Valley venture capitalists, say the onslaught of criticism is unfair. They argue that Zoom, originally designed for businesses, could not have anticipated a pandemic that would send legions of consumers flocking to its service in the span of a few weeks and using it

"We just strung it together from toothpicks and duct tape in order to maximise VC interest, you can't blame us if it falls apart when people do something silly like actually use it".

Why the industry needs some legal liability

By MikeRT • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I think we've reached a point in the industry where if you sell a commercial product, you should be liable for "gross negligence" like this. There are plenty of bad contractors out there in the construction business, but they can only get away with so much in terms of sloppiness and doing blatant disregard for professional practices before they can be quickly sued into the ground.

There are certainly things that are pretty obvious we don't do on security anymore like sorry, no MD5 password hashes. If you didn't know that MD5 is not acceptable, you need to have some fire under your ass to keep up or get out of the industry. Here, I think if you keep getting these kinds of bug reports and are "slow to fix" over adding new features, you should be liable for harm done to your customers. That's like a construction company that is too busy planning sexy upgrades to the basic design to architect a structurally sound house fit for purpose by the buyer.

Not surprising really...

By Syberz • Score: 3 • Thread
When the goal of the business is to get new bells and whistles out there as quickly as possible in order to grow your market share before your IPO, corners must be cut. Despite all of the negative press, they still have hundreds of millions of users while the closest competitors have nowhere near that amount. As long as the strategy pays off, companies will continue to do it.

Re:More shit engineers and shit PHBs

By jellomizer • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

You are using the wrong words.
This is called Agile Development.

As much as we can say it is bad management. The problem does the consumers really want to wait for years to get the bugs out. By the time it is released and solid it is already out of date?

Think about the traditional automakers. The onboard computer and features when you get your new car are often running off of decades-old technology. My 2012 Prius had one of the most up to date infotainment center at the time. However, it still had a pressure touch screen, really low screen resolution and very minimal phone support. That other device had solved those problems years ago. But there is a large cost of failure in auto design. So putting in leading-edge tech that isn't tested and proven becomes a gamble. But for most software companies the cost of failure is low, and cheap to fix. So they produce rather crappy stuff quickly and fix anything big.

Dropbox, Stones, and a Glass House

By XXeR • Score: 3 • Thread

Hackers Steal $25 Million Worth of Cryptocurrency From Uniswap and LendfMe

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Hackers have stolen more than $25 million in cryptocurrency from the Uniswap exchange and the lending platform. From a report: The attacks took place over the weekend, on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Although an investigation is currently underway, the two attacks are believed to be related, and most likely carried out by the same group or individual. According to investigators, hackers appear to have chained together bugs and legitimate features from different blockchain technologies to orchestrate a sophisticated "reentrancy attack." Reentrancy attacks allow hackers to withdraw funds repeatedly, in a loop, before the original transaction is approved or declined.

What's that f stand for?

By Fly Swatter • Score: 3 • Thread
Lend Yup, they got it from behind.

This is expected

By DaveV1.0 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
It is literally better than robbing banks. One can steal millions of dollars in a mostly untraceable form across multiple jurisdictions using a hijacked network connection. One doesn't need to worry about physical evidence, security guards, police patrols, moving the mass of physical currency, and laundering it can be done much more easily by selling of digital, e.i. non-physical, works to anonymous users, something that is impossible to prove isn't legitimate. Once can even use a cam site to do it, with fake fans providing money to fake models.

Google is Blocking 18 Million Coronavirus Scam Emails Every Day

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
1.5 billion people use Gmail, according to a recent article in the BBC. And every day millions of them receive an email about a coronavirus scam: Scammers are sending 18 million hoax emails about Covid-19 to Gmail users every day, according to Google... The company said it was blocking more than 100 million phishing emails a day. Over the past week, almost a fifth were scam emails related to coronavirus. The virus may now be the biggest phishing topic ever, tech firms say...

The growth in coronavirus-themed phishing is being recorded by several cyber-security companies. Barracuda Networks said it had seen a 667% increase in malicious phishing emails during the pandemic...

Google claims that its machine-learning tools are able to block more than 99.9% of [scam] emails from reaching its users.

Gmail shouldn't be bragging.

By Ecuador • Score: 3 • Thread

The company I work for has properly set up SPF/DKIM/DMARC and yet in our gmail-powered company email some high up employees often get phishing emails asking for bank transfers (with excuses like payroll etc) delivered directly to their inbox (not even spam) with "from" fields like: with a "via" or similar line underneath.
So, all Gmail does with all the authentication SPF/DKIM/DMARC stuff is add a small "via" line under the "from" field. The obvious phishing email is not marked as dangerous and delivered to the inbox directly, where I would guess some not very careful/savvy employees might fall for it - given what we read in the news about such scams.
I wouldn't brag if I were Google, if they are blocking 100 million emails a day, it means they are allowing billions a day to come through.

Nigerian prince here.

By h33t l4x0r • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
I find these coronavirus scammers to be despicable. Please send me your bank account information so I can send you $100 million to combat these terrible people.

Blocking Non-COVID

By kackle • Score: 3 • Thread
Lately, it's been blocking my legit emails, too. I wouldn't mind if I ended up in my friends' spam folder or something, but the emails are just not getting there, no warnings, no nothing. That forces ME to get a new email account, though I've had the same one for decades.

I understand what people mean when they say Google is getting too big.

Hacking the Pandemic: Global Research Community Gathers Online Against COVID-19

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Long-time Slashdot reader DrYak writes: Over 500 scientists, software developers and clinicians joined forces in the COVID-19 virtual Biohackathon to develop new tools for working with the COVID-19 data. The outcomes of the event improved the accessibility of data, protocols, analysis pipelines and provided dedicated compute resources to execute demanding data analysis tasks.

The COVID-19 Biohackathon was an online event from 5 to 11 April, initiated by Pjotr Prins (USA), Tazro Ohta (Japan) and Leyla Garcia (Germany). It had similar objectives and structure as the face-to-face BioHackathons spearheaded in Japan and recently adopted in Europe by ELIXIR. Participants were working in separate groups and presented their activities in a series of plenary webinar sessions. More than 20 different projects joined the event, many of which were led by members from ELIXIR Nodes.

The results from this biohackathon will get mini publications on the preprints server BioHackrXiv

ELIXIR (the European life-sciences Infrastructure for biological Information) is an initiative that allows life science laboratories across Europe to share and store their research data as part of an organised network.

Disclaimer: our group developed one of the deep sequencing analysis bioinformatics pipelines presented there.

I, for one, welcome our new Linux-running, Beowulf-clustered bioinformatics overlords.

how it is supposed to be

By sad_ • Score: 3 • Thread

this is how science should be done, united, if there is one thing that we should keep after this pandemic is over, it would be this.
but unfortunatly, it will probably be mass surveillance, as apparently that is 'not easy to reverse'.

Ask Slashdot: What Are You Doing To Help?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Long-time Slashdot reader destinyland writes: With all the news stories about how the pandemic is impacting our world, some of us have been just plain lucky. As an information worker, I was already working from home, so I still have my full-time job — and my full-time income. So my question is, if we really are all "in this together," then what can I be doing to help the others who need it?

Here's what I've done so far. First just by staying at home, I'm keeping myself healthy, while not adding to the burdens of medical workers, or spreading the virus to anyone else. But I'm also at least trying to place some food orders at local restaurants, having it delivered to my home (and also adding a big tip.) The post office will be sending me two sheets of "Forever" stamps that I bought to help pre-fund future postal services. And though I haven't bought any gift cards yet, I've ordered $40 worth of books to support my local bookstore, and placed a second order for a bunch of graphic novels from my favorite local comic book shop.

Bookstores do need our support. You can also try buying your books through, a new e-commerce site whose profits go to local independent bookstores while giving book-buyers an alternative to Amazon. But some stores are just turning to crowdfunding campaigns. When people heard that San Francisco's iconic City Lights Bookstore might be forced to close after 60 years, they contributed over $484,000 to its GoFundMe campaign to keep it alive.

In fact, there's now at least 30,000 coronavirus-related GoFundMe pages to choose from. If you want to do something more organized, the New York Times has launched its own fundraising page for "four nonprofit organizations that provide assistance to those facing economic hardship." The nonprofit-evaluating site Charity Navigator has also created a list of trustworthy organizations seeking donations to support communities affected by the pandemic.

Everyone's got their own ideas about how to help — so what are the rest of you doing? If you've been lucky, what ways have you found to give back, to pitch in, or just feel like you're connecting to the community beyond your door?

Leave your answers in the comments.

What are you doing to help?

Re:Look at me, i am behaving THIS GOOD!

By JoshuaZ • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
So, if all attempts to actually do helpful things are virtue signaling, is no one ever doing anythng good in your universe?

Re: Look at me, i am behaving THIS GOOD!

By t4eXanadu • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Simple solution: do good deeds and don't share it online. Why does eveyone need to know?

self isolating

By FudRucker • Score: 3 • Thread
staying home, not going out except for walks where i wont be violating social distancing rules, not much else i can do, i am not rich so i dont have a big pile of money to give to hospitals, research labs and charities, so i am just doing my part by not letting myself get infected, i have not been tested so if i have it i am a-symptomatic, i feel fine, no symptoms, and since i live in a rural part of my locale i doubt i have it, the infection map shows very few infections in my area

Self-Isolating and folding at home

By Nuitari The Wiz • Score: 3 • Thread

The company where I work went 100% working from home just before the government announced the measures. I've been working my regular job since then and been staying at home. I'm part of the younger people with extra risk factors, so I'm getting everything delivered.

I'm also throwing as much resources as I can to folding at home. I've even rebuilt an older computer to bring up some older nvidia cards I had laying around and so far I'm at about 2 million points per day, when there are work units available. I'm also getting ready for when World community grid releases their open pandemic initiative.

I've been trying to convert a mining rig to folding at home, but the special 4 to 1 pcie port card doesn't seem to be compatible with the folding at home client.

Running distributed computing programs.

By Voice of satan • Score: 3 • Thread

Like anyone with two braincells connected, i maintain safe distances with others and i do not hoard. Difficult to achieve in a supermarket because i live i a state full of noisy morons.

I also do a few errands for older neighbours on occasion.

I run Folding@Home and Rosetta@Home depending on which project sends me work units. The calculations done are helping scientist understanding the virus better and find targets for medications.

P.S. I skipped the first page of worthless political nonsense at the beginning of the thread.

For the First Time, a Robot Repaired a Satellite in Orbit

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link calls it "the first commercial satellite servicing mission." But more specifically, it's being called "the first in-orbit rendezvous and docking of two commercial satellites" in a statement from Northrop Grumman Space Systems, which also notes their "subsequent repositioning of the two-spacecraft stack." And it was all done using robotics floating 36,000km (22,369 miles) above the Earth. describes the historic servicing of Intelsat 901 communications satellite (also known IS-901): The satellite, which launched in 2001, had been running low on fuel needed to maintain its correct orbit. But rather than launch a replacement internet satellite, its owner, Intelsat, hired Northrop Grumman to conduct a first-of-its-kind mission. That project sent another satellite, called Mission Extension Vehicle 1 (MEV-1) to connect to IS-901 in February and take responsibility for keeping the internet satellite in the proper location to do its job...

MEV-1 will now spend five years attached to IS-901 to extend that satellite's tenure. After the contract ends, MEV-1 will steer the old satellite to a safe orbit, detach, and join up with a different satellite to provide the same services. MEV-1 should be able to partner with satellites for a total of 15 years, according to a previous Northrop Grumman statement.

Northrop Grumman is planning to launch a second mission-extension vehicle later this year, which will also aid an Intelsat satellite.

Long-time Slashdot reader mi tipped us off to the story, which included a number of firsts. "Prior to this, no two commercial spacecraft had ever docked in orbit before," Ars Technica writes.

CNBC notes it also resulted in " one-of-a-kind images", since a geosynchronous satellite had never even been photographed before by another spacecraft.

This was news

By Barny • Score: 3 • Thread

...2 months ago when all the various space-watching news sources covered it.

Re:Repair vs mission-extension vehicle?

By fred911 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I agree. The only "repair" was refueling. Whereas I can't find a detailed description, apparently the vehicle is designed to act more like a fuel tanker for refilling the hosts fuel system. As well as assisted inertia to reposition the host using the others propulsion.

This mission apparently it's going to stay connected as one device without refueling. The title is semi-clickbait, but mission completion is still pretty cool.

This is better than repair

By kot-begemot-uk • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
It did not repair it and it is not target specific (something a repair sat would need to be). It is a tow truck.

This is actually better than repair. By far.

Scott Manley has his excellent video as usual

By ClarkMills • Score: 3 • Thread

Re:Modular Birds

By Greyfox • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
The satellites are where they need to be, though. In geosynch, they're servicing one specific area of the planet. You couldn't consolidate all the services of all the satellites in the various geosynch orbits into one location, as that location wouldn't be able to service more than a tiny fraction of the planet. Same thing goes for lower orbits -- Musk's internet satellites need to move around the planet so that each one can service a tiny little region. If you move them higher, service latency increases. And you have to move relative to the earth that low. So in both cases, you need lots of satellites in individual locations.

If you wanted to offer a bunch of different services in one location, something like that might work. But you'd still want to build a custom satellite rather than a modular system, because getting mass into orbit is very expensive, so no one's going to want to launch any more of it than absolutely necessary. The infrastructure for a modular system would be an unnecessary cost to launch hardware that might never actually get used.

Something like that might work for the geosynch satellites out in parking orbits after they reach their end of life, if it ever starts getting too cluttered out in that space. But people don't tend to care about what happens to the hardware in parking orbits. The story's Northrop project aims to extend the life of some of that hardware, but it still has to be in reasonable working order. Most of the satellites that would need something like that would by that time have been in space for a decade or so and are expected to start malfunctioning due to the radiation. So while this is a neat accomplishment, I expect it to be somewhat rare.

It could make sense to have a satellite manufacturing lab out there somewhere, though. If you can build them in space, it'd cost a lot less to move them to the correct orbit afterward. But you'd have to make your own fuel at that location, otherwise the cost of launching fuel to the lab (to fuel the satellites they would be building there) would be greater than the cost of launching all those satellites individually.

Space stuff gets done the way it gets done because it's the least expensive way to accomplish those goals. When you're talking hundreds of millions of dollars per launch, the least expensive option is always going to get chosen.