the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2021-Feb-23 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.

Apple M1 Mac Users Report Excessive SSD Wear

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Over the past week, some M1 Mac users have been reporting alarming SSD health readings, suggesting that these devices are writing extraordinary amounts of data to their drives. From a report: Across Twitter and the MacRumors forums, users are reporting that M1 Macs are experiencing extremely high drive writes over a short space of time. In what appear to be the most severe cases, M1 Macs are said to be consuming as much as 10 to 13 percent of the maximum warrantable total bytes written (TBW) value of its SSD. Flash memory on solid-state drives, such as those used in Macs, can only be written to a certain number of times before they become unstable. Software ensures that load is spread evenly across the drive's memory cells, but there is a point when the drive has been written to so many times that it can no longer reliably hold data. So while SSD wear is normal, expected behavior, drives should not be exhausting their ability to hold data as quickly as some M1 Macs seem to be. One user showed that their M1 Mac had already consumed one percent of its SSD after just two months, while another M1 Mac with a 2TB SSD had already consumed three percent. The total data units written for these machines is running into many terabytes, when they would normally be expected to be considerably lower.

Re:First gen products

By dgatwood • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

150 TB of writes in 2 months. Thats 2,500 GB a day. That's 29 MB per second, every second of the day, for two months uninterrupted.

What is more likely: That your Mac is writing 29 MB of data every second, or that some tool that is supposed to record the number of writes gets it completely wrong? I'd like to know if these guys bothered turning on Activity Monitor and see what happens.

It's the hardware that records the number of writes, and that's happening down at the firmware level. A bug in something that simple (if (isWrite) writtenBlocks++;) seems kind of unlikely to me. I think it's more likely that some early hardware shipped with a non-zeroed statistics page or that some small percentage of hardware got an obscene amount of stress testing at the factory.

Re:First gen products

By thereddaikon • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

This sort of fuckup could cost Apple dearly, if they are made to recall, or at least replace all faulty motherboards. The upside is, since they might get bitten by this in the wallet department, they may see replaceable SSD's as a cheaper way to mitigate such an expensive issue in the future.

hahaha no. Apple is one of the most valuable companies in the world if not the most. They are going to continue with hyper integration and anti consumer practices because for every debacle like this its more than offset by the increased sales they farm from forced obsolescence.

The only way this stops is if the law changes. Apple will not willfully do so. They have no reason to do so. Apple, like all companies, doesn't care about you or the environment or anything beyond making more money.

Re:First gen products

By guruevi • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The SMART status of disk drives is notoriously hard to interpret. If I read the raw value of temperature on Seagate devices and interpreted it literally, they would be on fire while some SSD would be in liquid nitrogen.

It could easily be a buffer overflow or the SMART tool not having the latest vendor lookup table. I've noticed that some SSD's report their wear levels 'backwards' so they'll report 98% wear (which should be interpreted as 2% used). Then there are a host of other vendors (Samsung especially) that simply report everything useful in a proprietary format.

Re:Its worse.. CPU integrated ram.

By gnasher719 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Indeed it is not, but if you don't have enough RAM you are going to be knackering the SSD by using it as swap. If you cannot upgrade the RAM then you are going to have to figure out a way to drop your OS memory usage a lot.

Look at the numbers that have been reported. 150 TB of writes in two months. That's not something that can be explained with "normal" inefficiency. That's either something going completely off the rails (say some stupid process writing a 30 MB file once every second 24/7 for no good reason), or some problem reporting the number of writes incorrectly. This cannot be explained by excessive swapping.

Re:First gen products

By Rhipf • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

There is still a lot of 32bit software that ran on Windows 98 that will still run on Windows 10 64bit. How much of the Mac software that ran on the Motorola (or PowerPC) Macs will run on the M1 Macs (or even the late model Intel Macs)? The only thing that definitely won't work going from Windows 98 to Windows 10 64bit are the 16bit programs.

Flash Version Distributed in China After EOL is Installing Adware

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Although the Flash Player app formally reached its end of life on December 31, 2020, Adobe has allowed a local Chinese company to continue distributing Flash inside China, where the application still remains a large part of the local IT ecosystem and is broadly used across both the public and private sectors. From a report: Currently, this Chinese version of the old Flash Player app is available only via, a website managed by a company named Zhong Cheng Network, the only entity authorized by Adobe to distribute Flash inside China. But in a report published earlier this month, security firm Minerva Labs said its security products picked up multiple security alerts linked to this Chinese Flash Player version. During subsequent analysis, researchers found that the app was indeed installing a valid version of Flash but also downloading and running additional payloads. More precisely, the app was downloading and running nt.dll, a file that was loaded inside the FlashHelperService.exe process and which proceed to open a new browser window at regular intervals, showing various ad- and popup-heavy sites.

To be fair...

By satanicat • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Willing to bet the ad-ridden sites themselves have a dependency to flash...

It may objectively serve as an install verification. :)


By Cmdr-Absurd • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
I'm SHOCKED! SHOCKED to learn that Flash is being used for ill. And also that there is gambling going on in this establishment.

Flash, the new WinXP

By Anonymouse Cowtard • Score: 3 • Thread

reached its end of life on December 31, 2020 Who wants to bet Flash will still be around, somewhere, by the end of 2030?

Re: Did the folk at Minerva Labs read the EULA?

By IdanceNmyCar • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Ads and adware is super ingrained in the Chinese market. Before even EOL for flash, this behavior was already there. I work at an education Center that uses flash still and frankly as a developer, looking at the quality of this ecosystem makes me a bit sick. It's legacy at this point? t and the business will ride it out until an HTML5 product cones along with more implemented features. It would be a great place in my mind to explore AI assisted language learning.

However, look at 360 browserand you basically have a browser that includes adware and nagware. It's a huge resource hog and yet all Chinese IT seem to swear by it, pre installing it till kingdom come. Baidu and Sogou both have tools that also are in this category. Most Chinese users are phone users and ads there are brief but in the computer space popups are pervasive. I have been teaching a class an ad with a section showing male anatomy has popped up. It's truly a bizarre case were I suspect party leaders have a vested interest and Chinese consumers just don't know any better.

'' both the public and private sectors.''

By fred911 • Score: 3 • Thread

In China, aren't they the same? Isn't it law that the party has a seat in all ''private'' business?

Software Bug Keeping Hundreds Of Inmates In Arizona Prisons Beyond Release Dates

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
According to Arizona Department of Corrections whistleblowers, hundreds of incarcerated people who should be eligible for release are being held in prison because the inmate management software cannot interpret current sentencing laws. From a report: KJZZ is not naming the whistleblowers because they fear retaliation. The employees said they have been raising the issue internally for more than a year, but prison administrators have not acted to fix the software bug. The sources said Chief Information Officer Holly Greene and Deputy Director Joe Profiri have been aware of the problem since 2019. The Arizona Department of Corrections confirmed there is a problem with the software. As of 2019, the department had spent more than $24 million contracting with IT company Business & Decision, North America to build and maintain the software program, known as ACIS, that is used to manage the inmate population in state prisons. One of the software modules within ACIS, designed to calculate release dates for inmates, is presently unable to account for an amendment to state law that was passed in 2019.

Re:Not a bug

By Canberra1 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Where do you get an 8-13% return on your money? The answer is private prisons, or rather the shady back to back loans financing the operations, plus a management fee on top. If the state or IRS has not noticed interest rates have dropped, they should audit private prisons. The issue of imprisoning men for being unable to pay Alimony, and adding debt while they are in prison. Without early release, they cannot earn bucks to support money grubbing ex's. So indirectly this hurts women and children, and costs the state money in welfare support. Good job!

More Rubbish Headlines

By hoofie • Score: 3 • Thread

The headline really is crap

1) It's not a bug : It's doing what it's designed to do. The issue is the rules have changed and the software hasn't been amended
2) Were there any actual verified cases of people being incarcerated one day more than they legally should have been due to staff miscalculating dates ? Probably yes but until that's confirmed the headline is wrong

Honestly Slashdot just posts any old shite that's submitted without reading it. I keep coming back thinking the site might just get some of it's mojo back but it really is becoming fucking hopeless

USA's Shame

By labnet • Score: 3 • Thread

- Imprison 5x more people than similar western countries per capita... even Australia which was founded by convicts.
- Make sure prison is so debilitating and non reforming that the prisoner becomes a non functioning member of society.
- 10x the gun homicides.
- A Bankrupting for profit healthcare system
- Treat workers like cattle (lack of paid holidays, sick pay, at will termination)

Not why sure Americans put up with such crap that most other western countries have moved on from

Re: Not a bug

By NagrothAgain • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
No. The software isn't keeping them locked up, the institution is.

Re:Not a bug

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

This seems to be a failure of the management

Perhaps not. Who is profiting from inmates staying incarcerated?

For-profit prisons get paid per occupied bunk. More inmates mean more money and power for the guard unions.

The PIC is incestuous, and the software developer may have a relationship with someone who directly profits from this "mistake".

Square Buys $170 Million Worth of Bitcoins

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Square said today it has purchased approximately 3,318 bitcoins at an aggregate purchase price of $170 million. From a statement: Combined with Square's previous purchase of $50 million in bitcoin, this represents approximately five percent of Square's total cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities as of December 31, 2020.

Re:which companies get boned in the crash?

By misexistentialist • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
what about companies holding USD at a negative rate due to the frenzy of money printing? A new dollar could be even be introduced at any time, what are people going to do, march on the Capitol?

Smart move

By erp_consultant • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

Speculative swings aside, it is smart for them to store cash holdings in bitcoin. At the rate our government is printing money (not just Biden, Trump did it too) the value of the dollar can only go down. Bitcoin, otoh, has a finite amount so increased demand will cause the value to rise over time. Sure it's going to have wild swings along the way but it will trend upwards.

The currency debasement, coupled with near zero interest rates, will drive more companies to move large cash holdings to bitcoin.

Re:Buy high, sell low...

By Xylantiel • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
If buying bitcoin is on the list of ideas they are putting cash into, they're already intellectually bankrupt. Square is a payment services company. A sane use of this investment capital would be in something like enabling their clients to clear payments using one of the stablecoins rather than feeding the bitcoin pyramid scheme by buying bitcoins. Bitcoins are currently the picture of uselessness in terms of a medium of exchange. Volatile, expensive, slow (expensive) transactions, doing real damage to the market for video hardware and energy markets.

Re: Buy high, sell low...

By Rei • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

He also donates to Democrats. He donates (what's for him peanuts, and far less than he gives to charity) for access. I have no issue with him in this regard, only an issue with a political system where donors fund elections and thus where politicians feel beholden to them.

You (Ds and Rs) all are stuck in the same country with each other. You should at least try to out up with each other rather than treating others as a bottomless pit of evil just because they might disagree with you on some political issues. Do try to remember that voters of a party are not monolithic, and everyone has different reasons. And more often, it's fear of your party more than love of theirs.

Becoming bitcoin investment vehicle?

By misnohmer • Score: 3 • Thread

I cannot see why a company would sign any large chunk of its value investing in bitcoin. How does it help their investors? If the investors want to invest in bitcoin, they can just buy bitcoin themselves - what is the benefit in buying a stock of a company who own bitcoin instead? Why would I want to buy Tesla stock if some percentage of their valuation is tied dirctly to bitcoin? I can just invest the same percentage in bitcoin directly, or is there some barrier to entry which doesn not allow investors to buy bitcoins but it does allow them to buy stock of companies who own bitcoins? What am I missing, other than some CEO thinking bitcoin gains will float the company value because the company itself cannot make as much money.

Apple Has Bought Over 100 Companies Over the Past Six Years, Tim Cook Tells Investors

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook fielded questions on mergers and acquisitions, the impact of Covid-19, and the company's supply chain during a virtual shareholder meeting on Tuesday. From a report: Narrating a slide show, Cook summarized many of the company's new products and initiatives announced over the past year. He spoke about the latest iPhones and the growing potential of the Apple Watch, while noting that the AirPods Max headphones have quickly become "hugely popular" with users. He also discussed Apple's efforts to combat the pandemic, climate change, and the San Francisco Bay Area housing crisis. During a question and answer session, Cook said Apple is on track to meet its environment goals, including becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and transitioning its products to using recycled materials. He also reiterated Apple's recent privacy changes, including an imminent plan to limit ad targeting on its devices. Cook said the company bought almost 100 smaller companies over the past six years and makes a deal about every three to four weeks. Asked about gender pay equity, the CEO said Apple pays men and women equally across the world and has stopped asking applicants about their salary history to help ensure equity.

Competition, my ass

By Tablizer • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I wonder how things would be different if anti-trust was enforced and we didn't have big oligopolies. Oligopolies are often on the bottom of customer satisfaction surveys in different industries. Airlines, cable, telephone, cars, you name it: the fewer competitors the bigger their suckage.

Those who talk about the "efficiency of the free market" often use the power of competition to explain why the "free market" is so great, but oligopolies have too few competitors, and usually slip and coast in both innovation and customer service. So, which is it?


By rsilvergun • Score: 3 • Thread
Buyouts usually come with layoffs. HR, accounting, etc all become redundant even if you're keeping the programmers. One of the major problems we have with all this consolidation is that while it's great for efficiency it's terrible for unemployment. And we keep pumping cash into the supply side, which they either hoard (taking it out of circulation) or use for more mergers and acquisitions (or worse, venture capital leveraged buyouts).

Re:Still support slave labor

By Arthur, KBE • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Labor issues are some of the hot-points of liberal politics, but somehow, Apple still seems to maintain their liberal bona-fides even among all of these labor controversies. People are willing to turn a blind eye from their personal sense of ethics when the products are slick and enhance ones status among their peers.

Buyouts are the new innovation?

By bazmail • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Why do you need to buy out companies if you are so innovative?

When I see the term "equity"

By kaatochacha • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I ignore everything following it.
It's like reading "running dog capitalist" in an essay.

Vaccines Adapted for Variants Will Not Need Lengthy Testing, FDA Says

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The Food and Drug Administration said this week that vaccine developers would not need to conduct lengthy randomized controlled trials for vaccines that have been adapted to protect against concerning coronavirus variants. From a report: The recommendations, which call for small trials more like those required for annual flu vaccines, would greatly accelerate the review process at a time when scientists are increasingly anxious about how the variants might slow or reverse progress made against the virus. The guidance was part of a slate of new documents the agency released on Monday, including others addressing how antibody treatments and diagnostic tests might need to be retooled to respond to the virus variants. Together, they amounted to the federal government's most detailed acknowledgment of the threat the variants pose to existing vaccines, treatments and tests for the coronavirus, and came weeks after the F.D.A.'s acting commissioner, Dr. Janet Woodcock, said the agency was developing a plan.

"The emergence of the virus variants raises new concerns about the performance of these products," Dr. Woodcock said in a statement Monday. "We want the American public to know that we are using every tool in our toolbox to fight this pandemic, including pivoting as the virus adapts." Most of the vaccine manufacturers with authorized vaccines or candidates in late-stage trials have already announced plans to adjust their products to address the vaccine variants. The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines use mRNA technology that the companies have said can be used to alter the existing vaccines within six weeks, although testing and manufacturing would take longer. Moderna has already begun developing a new version of its vaccine that could be used as a booster shot against a virus variant that originated in South Africa, known as B.1.351, which seems to dampen the effectiveness of the existing vaccines. A fast-spreading coronavirus variant first observed in Britain has also gained a worrisome mutation that could make it harder to control with vaccines. That variant with the mutation was found in the United States last week.

Re:wait a minute

By jellomizer • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

They work against some of the strains, but not all of them have been confirmed. Also some of the Vaccines work better on the new strains than others.

I am sorry we cannot give you a simple Yes/No answer. I know the world wants us to say. Take this and you will be perfectly safe, or don't take it because you will get sick. But immunology is a complex topic.

The people who are often knowledgeable about the topic and are telling you the truth, are often people that we don't want to listen to, because they don't want to give you the simple answer, but a big long complex speech with numbers and statistics.

Re:Ey Ey Ey! Vaccine Industrial Complex

By Thelasko • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

So if 10 variants appear, we may need 20 shots? I realize some vaccines will work on multiple variants, but not all.

An immunocompromised patient in Boston showed dramatic mutations in the virus over the course of 5 months. Many of the mutations looks similar to the mutations in the UK and South Africa. So it appears the virus is mostly staying on a single development path, and there aren't too many forks. Research into immunocompromised COVID patients may reveal likely new strains before they enter the wild, and allow the vaccine development to work ahead.

Re:mRNA is an interesting technology.

By feedayeen • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

To say that it's interesting is honestly an understatement. We potentially have the ability to generate immune responses to any arbitrary proteins provided that it is dissimilar enough to other essential ones to avoid autoimmune reactions with just it's DNA or RNA sequence. The time to create a treatment was on the order of a few weeks so if we can quickly isolate the right protein to target, many untreatable pathogens will be treatable. Long term, this could render drug resistance nearly impossible for viral, bacterial, and some eukaryotic pathogens if we can keep a patient alive long enough to sequence the pathogen, isolate the right target, generate the vaccine, and for the patients immune system to generate the antibodies. 30 years of research investment in sequencing and protein simulation could be about to pay off in spades.

Re:mRNA is an interesting technology.

By phantomfive • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

because we fully understand what mRNA is and how it works

Note: it's dangerous to say "we fully understand" about anything in the body, because there is a lot. Moreover, understanding how the proteins created as a result is even more difficult. It's more accurate to say:

We think it's safe based on what we know about mRNA (which is a lot), but we double-checked by doing multiple double-blind studies to make sure it was ok.

Great, gamble on new unproven technology

By Great_Geek • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
Considering that the COVID-19 vaccines are the VERY FIRST time the mRNA technology has been approved for general use; and that was after a much shortened testing period. We have no long term safety data on ANY mRNA vaccine.

Sure, two mRNA vaccines have now been approved, let's cut the testing further. Brilliant.

The other traditional/old methods of vaccine development have at least been around and used for decades; and we understand the strengths and weaknesses of them. But I guess being old is not sexy (and probably not sufficiently profitable) so they will just have to go through the long wait.

Brilliant, just Brilliant.

Google's Password Checkup Feature Coming To Android

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Android users can now take advantage of the Password Checkup feature that Google first introduced in its Chrome web browser in late 2019, the OS maker announced today. From a report: On Android, the Password Checkup feature is now part of the "Autofill with Google" mechanism, which the OS uses to select text from a cache and fill in forms. The idea is that the Password Checkup feature will take passwords stored in the Android OS password manager and check them against a database containing billions of records from public data breaches and see if the password has been previously leaked online. If it has, a warning is shown to the user.

This is exactly what I want password manager to do

By sinij • Score: 3, Funny • Thread
Yes, please take my plaintext password, send it as a part of query to an external database to see if it was leaked before. If it was leaked before, notify the user. If it was not leaked before, notify the user it is about to be leaked as the result of this check.

Re:And thus put all your passwords online.

By Ungrounded Lightning • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

probably just hash value ...

Which, to anyone with the database, is as good as the UNhashed value.

Now they know:
  - Your phone address,
  - That you used THIS password (somewhere) on it.

You're no longer an anonymous cellphone in a sea of cellphones that MIGHT have used one of the terrabytes of "weak/broken" passwords. They no longer have to try everything in the database against all your accounts. Just try THAT password against everything they can find that you might use - it will open SOME door.

Re:This is exactly what I want password manager to

By TheNameOfNick • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

If it sends full hashes, i.e. enough information to identify a single password, it's doing it wrong. It should only send a very short hash or a small part of a bigger hash, have the full hashes which match that short hash returned from the database and locally compare the full hash against the returned list of hashes. That way the information sent over the internet is not enough to identify an individual password. Even if there is only one password matching the short hash in the breach database, the user could have a completely different password. This protocol does not allow an observer to conclude that a client has found a match in the password leak database, because the final comparison can still fail if matches are returned. This is how HaveIBeenPwned checks for leaked passwords.

Re:This is exactly what I want password manager to

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

That is indeed what it does, and the system is based on the work of HaveIBeenPwned. Google worked with Troy Hunt as I recall.

Samsung Now Updates Android For Longer than Google Does

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Samsung is upping the ante on Android updates and offering four years of security updates on many of its Android devices. The company's full update package is now three years of major OS updates and four years of security updates, besting even what Google offers on the Pixel line. From a report: In the announcement, Samsung says, "Over the past decade, Samsung has made significant progress in streamlining and speeding up its regular security updates. Samsung worked closely with its OS and chipset partners, as well as over 200 carriers around the world, to ensure that billions of Galaxy devices receive timely security patches." Samsung has experimented with bringing four years of updates to its own Exynos SoC devices, but now it looks like the company is getting Qualcomm models on board as well. Keep in mind that these are not necessarily monthly security updates. Samsung says it's delivering four years of "monthly or quarterly" updates, depending on the age of the device. Samsung's current security bulletin page has the Galaxy S9 (2018) on the monthly update plan, while the Galaxy S8 is on the quarterly plan. So it sounds like three years of monthly security updates and one more year of quarterly updates.

Six months

By darkain • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Back when I still used Samsung phones, they (or the carrier) only pushed patches for ~6 months, that was it. Maybe things have changed and Samsung can push patches directly now? But back then, they had to be certified by the cell carriers, and they wouldn't do that on any phone more than 6 months old. It was total bullshit, and what pushed me away from Samsung and onto the Google Pixel phones to begin with.

Re: Six months

By BAReFO0t • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The solution is of course, that the carrier, who only sells you the SIM card, should be completely unrelated to where you bought your phone. I mean how is it evem their business to know which phone you own? They provide the SIM card. The phone supports the SIM and network tech/standards, so it works. That's it.

But hey, I would never pay more than $200 for a phone. Always upfront and in full. And never more than $20 for a plan. Prepaid and throttled after the data cap without any additional charges, or die in a fire.

So the core problem is that they got you into some overpriced shitty plan. Don't do it again.

Re:Six months

By _xeno_ • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

It's not, or at least it wasn't in the US.

In the US for the longest time, you bought your phone straight from the carrier, and whatever software the carrier wanted on it, that's what was on it. The phone makers would literally make special models for each carrier.

One of the major things Apple changed when they entered the US smart phone market is that they were able to bully AT&T into letting them control the software. It's one of the reasons the iPhone was AT&T-only initially. (The other being that the first iPhones were GSM-only, and of the three other networks in the US, only one - T-Mobile - used GSM.)

I don't know exactly when it started to change, but basically, Apple and Android forced the mobile networks to slowly back down on having complete control over every single device connected to their network. So yes, it was true for at least a time that updates were controlled in part by the mobile network the phone was used on, as they controlled whether the update would be pushed and would frequently refuse to do so past the first six or so months.

These days most people in the US still buy their phones through their cellular carrier, but they're not literally a special model that's unique to that carrier and has to be updated with their support. Instead they're just software locked so you can't use them with any other network, but the people making the phones can now update them. But hey, baby steps, I guess.

Re:Six months

By TWX • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

What if I told you that sometimes the carrier is the only place to get a particular model of phone that one wants, or is the least expensive source for the phone?

For four and a half years I was running a Kyocera DuraForce XD, a rugged phone. I bought mine from T-Mobile because it was lot less expensive than anywhere else, even just paying cash for the phone instead of financing.

I had to stop using it because no updates for it ever came and finally I had applications I needed for work that no longer ran on that phone. So I went Pixel 4a 5G because I knew I'd get at least a few new releases of Android.

I'm still a bit miffed that the old phone didn't make it to five years. I think we need legislation requiring all smartphones sold in the United States to receive vendor support for OS updates for a full five years from date of last new sale, for all examples of the model. This obsolescence due to being abandoned software is outright ridiculous.

Itâ(TM)s about time

By rgbe • Score: 3 • Thread
One of key things I was looking for the last time I bought a new phone is how long will the manufacturer support the device (among other things like how âoegreenâ the process is, security, privacy, etc). The maximum was Google at 3 years. I was only considering Android, then for laughs I compared it with Appleâ(TM)s line up, and Apple won without question. At the time they were supporting Phones 5 years old. They were also greener and the privacy options outweigh Googles Android. Hence I switched to iPhone and havenâ(TM)t regretted it.

PlayStation CEO Says PS5 Will Get Its Own VR Headset

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The PlayStation 5 will have its own virtual reality headset, however, consumers may face ongoing difficulties obtaining a PS5 console given a supply chain shortfall. From a report: Ryan revealed both developments in a Monday interview with The Washington Post. Ryan said developments kits for the PS5-specific VR headset will be sent out soon, though the company isn't ready to talk about the device's horsepower or specs. He did say the next headset will be considerably less cumbersome, as opposed to the current PSVR setup that requires wires running through a PlayStation 4, the TV and a separate black box called the PSVR processor. "Generational leaps allows you to sweep up the advances in technology that have taken place," Ryan said. "Given this was our first foray into virtual reality, it gives us a chance to apply lessons learned. One of the very vivid illustrations of that is that we will be moving to a very easy single-cord setup."

The next version of PlayStation VR will also borrow from its groundbreaking DualSense controllers, which debuted with the PS5 and provide super specific haptic feedback from the game to the palms of a player's hands. "One of the innovations we're excited about is our new VR controller, which will incorporate some of the key features found in the DualSense wireless controller, along with a focus on great ergonomics," Senior Vice President, Platform Planning & Management Hideaki Nishino wrote in a post on PlayStation's website Tuesday. There's no set launch date for the new VR device, according to Ryan. In an October 2020 interview with The Post, Ryan said while Sony was still very much interested in VR, any more news about the company's VR investments may not come in 2021.

VR really hitting stride now

By SuperKendall • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Oculus has shown that VR is finally delivering some outright great experiences.

I have both a PSVR and an Oculus 2 now, and while the PSVR works really well and is honestly maybe a slightly preferable headset fro the standpoint of visual quality, the ease of use of the Oculus just tromps everything else hands down. No sensors to set up, no thousand wires to attach, you just put on the headset and attach the controllers and go...

Since VR experiences tend to be shorter duration than traditional console gaming, you really need that super quick ability to get in to play to make VR really enjoyable.

On top of that they are really figuring out games now and there are some pretty great experiences to be had at this point.

Firefox's Total Cookie Protection Aims To Stop Tracking Between Multiple Sites

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
As part of its war on web tracking, Mozilla is adding a new tool to Firefox aimed at stopping cookies from keeping tabs on you across multiple sites. From a report: The "Total Cookie Protection" feature is included in the web browser's latest release -- alongside multiple picture-in-picture views -- and essentially works by keeping cookies isolated between each site you visit. Or, in Mozilla's words: "By creating a separate cookie jar for every website." Firefox's new feature pares with last month's network partitioning tool, which works by splitting the Firefox browser cache on a per-website basis to prevent tracking across the web, itself targeted at blocking more stubborn "supercookies." According to Mozilla, these types of cookies are more difficult to delete and block as they are stored in obscure parts of the browser, including in Flash storage, ETags, and HSTS flags. Both tools are available as part of Firefox's enhanced tracking protection suite in "strict mode" on desktop and Android.


By AmiMoJo • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Firefox is getting more aggressive about blocking, but can't go too fast or they will break sites people use. For example they are now starting to clear out data from sites you have not visited for a while, ignoring things like cookie expiry dates. That clears out everything, cache, cookies, all other site data.

They blocked fingerprinting via canvas for 3rd parties too. Would be nice to block all of it, or randomize it a bit to prevent fingerprinting from being useful. Font list fingerprinting has been blocked for a while too.

You still need some extensions for protection, but they are making some big improvements and the idea that they are "controlled" is laughable. In fact the idea that Chromium browsers are controlled is kind of hilarious too, given that they all allow extensive blocking via add-ons, and Google spent a considerable amount of time and money making the blocking API even more efficient to support them.

Re:A platform, built by hacks, for hack jobs.

By Nrrqshrr • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

As someone doing bioengineering and learning web development for fun, the amount of "workarounds" and little hacks I see people do is amazing. Watching people in the field work keeps reminding me of a quote from Saint-Exupery: 'Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.'
I cant imagine someone designing a car or a protein and adding extra parts just as a workaround or to overwrite the former guy's work without deleting it. Every part of the process must be fully accounted for and must exist for a specific single role that is absolutely vital to how the whole thing function.

Yet what I saw in web development is beyond ridiculous. Imported libraries that are never needed, using bloated frameworks for a single page website when pure JS/HTML/CSS could have done the job just fine, people not really worrying about performance because "Modern phones can handle it", following the latest flashy trends and adding buttons and animations and floating notifications when the end user just wants to read some fucking text...

Of course, am not working for a FAANG or a cutting edge "innovating" company from Silicon Valley (or Austin, now), so maybe what am seeing is just the works of the bottom-tier developers, but this field is still such a mess.

Count me in

By ddtmm • Score: 3 • Thread
Criticize in Firefox all you want but this is exactly the type of thing we need more of. I would even buy more ram for my browser's use if it meant I could finally start realizing true privacy. Tracking and personal privacy invasion have gone way too far and I love that Firefox and to a degree Safari are trying to do something about it. I've often thought I would even pay for a browser if it was truly all about the user experience and eliminated privacy concerns. Of course, with so many people hooked on "free" the critical mass needed to float that idea will never get off the ground. Sad.

Re:That's good news!

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

Why are they giving you a GUI option for it when you have to go to about:config and mess with 4 or 5 different values to get it to actually do what it says? This has been broken for years, across many versions. Eventually I just installed Noscript.

This shouldn't need a third-party plugin, config-file tinkering, or even a GUI option to turn off. It should be the default behavior of the browser.

How about clearing all cache's between

By oldgraybeard • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Web Sites and No Cross Site Anything! Seems simple to me ;)

I use NoScript in Firefox and you go to most web sites now and there are 5-10-20+ other sites providing pieces of the site or running scripts.
How in the heck does anyone even a tech savvy person really know what is going on. Let alone a normal web user.
To me I just enable the main site and if that does not work I move on. Unless I am forced to sort out the mess.

I really think we have 3 Internets now
1. The Commercial Internet, Ads Ads and more Ads, Tracking sand Spying galore. Rampant Ideological and Political censorship! And no privacy at all!
2. The Deep Web, which to me is becoming the real back bone.
3. The Dark Web oooo Danger Will Robinson Danger! ;) lol
I am thinking 2 and 3 are really getting to be the place to operate.
And encryption, encryption, encryption!

Commercialization and Monetization has made the www, domain named web useless and why even hang there much.

How Canadians Derailed a Train in 1998 and Drove It to City Hall for Power After a Brutal Ice Storm

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
James Gilboy, writing at The Drive: Over the week spanning Jan. 4-10, 1998, a trio of massive ice storms wracked the northeastern United States and parts of Canada. Knocking over transmission towers, the storms deprived up to 1.35 million people of electricity, in some cases for weeks (sound familiar?). Rather than leave town, though, one Canadian mayor stepped up to bring in the biggest mobile power generators they could get their hands on: Diesel-electric freight train locomotives. This unusual solution to a power problem unfolded in Boucherville, a Montreal suburb just northeast of famed Formula 1 racetrack Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Having reportedly heard of locomotives being used to generate electricity during another emergency years prior, Boucherville's Mayor Francine Gadbois asked the Canadian National Railway to lend the city a couple of units. CN obliged, sending over two Montreal Locomotive Works M-420s per the 1998 issue of Trains, as recounted by members of its forum.

Both locomotives were powered by Alco 251C prime movers; 131.4-liter, single-turbo diesel V12s making some 1,950 horsepower according to the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. Rather than power the wheels through hydraulic or mechanical transmissions, these massive motors turned traction generators that could send juice to motors connected to the wheels. In a pinch, however, that power can be routed outside the locomotive for whatever purpose one desires, like keeping municipal buildings operating in times of crisis. And that's exactly what these locomotives did for Boucherville. According to yet another account from a train forum, officials craned M-240 number 3502 off the line down the street from city hall before moving it some 1,000 feet down the street, carving deep ruts in the asphalt. Once at its destination and hooked in, its V12 had to be run at a specific, constant rpm' to generate AC current at 60 hertz, the frequency used by most North American utilities.

Re:Canada vs. Texas

By cusco • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

OK, you win. That's the dumbest thing I've seen on SlashDot all week, and I browse at -1. There's no competing with someone so proud to raise the stupid flag.

Re:So Texas just has to build train tracks?

By Aczlan • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Canadian loco fuel oil contains anti-gel additives and viscosity enhancers to prevent the fuel from gelling in extreme cold. It's illegal to do the same in the US because of EPA rules that prohibit the use of viscosity enhancing agents in fuel oil.

Might want to do a little bit of research on that.
Most diesel suppliers switch to a winter mix in the late fall (has #1 diesel mixed in with #2 or antigel additives added). The ASTM standard for diesel (ASTM D975 - 02) even has a recommended minimum cloud point temperature by state.
You can also purchase your own additive (Power Service, Howse, etc all have a winter mix as do most of the other diesel additive brands).

Those additives are also incompatible with the SCR systems on locomotives manufactured after 2014 when the EPA Tier 4 requirement for clean diesel emissions started applying to electricity generators.The additives destroy the catalyst that breaks down and oxidizes the soot in the exhaust stream.

Nope, perhaps when SCR systems first came out, but the additive manufacturers have had 6+ years to come up with additives that are compatible with the SCR/DPF system.
Power Service states that their product is safe for use with new engines and is listed as safe to use by Cummins:

Aaron Z

Re:Gotta keep the ruling class warm and cozy

By hackertourist • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Winterizing where "winter" usually isn't a thing

Average temperatures may be non-freezing, but the last big snowstorm hit that area less than 10 years ago. Preparing for once-a-decade events is definitely not "an absurdity".


By cusco • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Thank the gods for the government insisting that you build a septic system to certain minimal standards, I've never been a fan of seeing feces floating down the river when I'm fishing. Just think for 30 seconds about the effects of 100,000 people in a watershed all crapping behind their closest tree. I know it's hard for a Libertardian to think more than 30 seconds in the future, but you can do it if you concentrate. I'm truly sorry to be the bearer of bad news but everything you do affects everyone else in the society you live in and we all have the right to **NOT** be damaged by your ignorance, greed, or laziness. "Your right to swing your arm leaves off where my right not to have my nose struck begins." - John B. Finch

Re:1.5 MW

By sjames • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The brutal ice storm may have made just driving anywhere a problem.

FCC Proposes Rules for Emergency Broadband Program To Keep Struggling Families Online

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The FCC has taken a major step toward offering financial support for people struggling to pay broadband bills during the pandemic. If approved, the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program could provide $50 per month to millions of households, and more in tribal lands. From a report: The EBBP was created in the budget passed by Congress earlier this year, which earmarked $3.2 billion to offset the cost of broadband in households already struggling to make ends meet. "From work to healthcare to education, this crisis has made it clear that without an internet connection too many households are locked out of modern life," said acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a statement. "It's more apparent than ever that broadband is no longer nice-to-have. It's need-to-have. But too many of us are struggling to afford this critical service."

The general shape of the EBBP was already known, but since Congress first proposed it last year it has been up to the FCC to decide what it would actually look like. The rules for the program Rosenworcel circulated at the agency today are an important step in taking it from idea to reality. The important bit is spelling out exactly who qualifies for the benefit -- to wit, anyone who:
1. Qualifies for the FCC's existing Lifeline connectivity subsidy program
2. Receives free and reduce-price school lunch or breakfast benefits
3. Received a Pell Grant
4. Meets other eligibility requirements for internet providers' existing low-income or pandemic-related programs
5. "Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020"

Errr, Starlink

By Maelwryth • Score: 3 • Thread
If 24% (4.3m) of rural Americans don't have access to broadband and the cost of Starlink is $99/month (plus router I know but costs are going to come down) then isn't this just going to go to Starlink? And if Starlink is able to provide the service then why would the government pay for fiber-optic?

If it's so need-to-have...

By Pollux • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

"It's more apparent than ever that broadband is no longer nice-to-have. It's need-to-have."

Then how about you shut down Republican attempts to ban municipal broadband deployments across the nation?

Or better yet, how about you re-regulate all the telco's (and their derivatives) who promised nation-wide fiber back in the 1990's in exchange for deregulation? That Video Dial Tone service sounds so promising.

Re:If it's so need-to-have...

By ArchieBunker • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Ah yes the party of small limited government wants more government interference to protect poor Xfinity and Verizon. Isn't starting a local broadband company the definition of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps?

Hundreds of millions per month?

By sabbede • Score: 3 • Thread
How the f-k are we supposed to afford all this? Are there really millions of households that can't afford wired internet anymore? Do they still have cell phones? Is this a reasonable way to address a temporary situation? Are there better ways, like letting everyone go back to work and school?

Yeah, how about we just let all the kids go back to school so they don't need to do it over the internet? It's probably cheaper and safer anyhow.

You are being transitioned...

By tiqui • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread

whether you want it or not.

The political elites are working on "oligarchy for me, socialism for thee" and this is just another brick in that wall. Instead of getting the economy running and, um, obeying the founding documents of the nation, many of our political leaders are working overtime to provide unlimited power and money to their pals, particularly in Big Tech while easing the general population into the paternal arms of big gov. I'd love to pretend this was has been at its peak in states run by Democrats and is now federal under Biden, but to be fair, the Republican establishment is up to its eyeballs in this too - they all go to the same dinner parties in the big capital cities, and power is corrupting.

Government ordered your job eliminated. Need to pay the rent/house payment? We'll ban evictions, and to hell with the mom&pop landlords.

You cannot afford the basics? Government will cut you a small won't be enough but you'll get used to it.

You ran a small brick-and-mortar? Who cares... Amazon's doing great and we're in bed with them.

You had good health insurance from your employer? We'll sign you up for the lowest rung of government-provided insurance that has fewer doctors and hospitals, higher deductibles and co-pays, and you'll like it...because it's "free" (just don't think about it when you have to come up with the co-pays and deductibles and cannot find a doctor who accepts it - we'll eventually force all the docs to accept it, and we'll come up with a plan to figure out how big a check you need based on your gender and skin color...).

Where are we getting the money? Why do you care? We're printing it...sure that'll cause inflation, but then we'll print more and write you slightly smaller government support checks. and when we need to pay it back, we'll tax the middle class, since we cannot tax the poor and we never actually tax the uber-rich who back us.

This may all be disgusting, and it's certainly not Constitutional, but hey, our judges are in the elite class...

Google Finally Adds iOS Privacy Labels To Gmail

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Google today quietly added App Privacy labels to its Gmail app, marking the first of its major apps to receive the privacy details aside from YouTube. From a report: Though App Privacy information has been added to Gmail, Google has done so server side and has yet to issue an update to the Gmail app. It has been two months since the Gmail app last saw an update. Earlier in February, the Gmail app was displaying warnings about the app being out of date as it has been so long since new security features were added, but Google eliminated that messaging without pushing an update to the app. Apple has been enforcing App Privacy labels since December, and Google has been slow to support the feature. Google said in early January that it would add privacy data to its app catalog "this week or next week," but by January 20, most apps still had not been updated with the App Privacy. Google has since been adding App Privacy labels to apps like YouTube and some of its smaller apps, but of major apps like Google Search, Google Photos, and Google Maps, Gmail is the first to get the new labeling.

All iOS Privacy disclosures are "server side"

By kiwioddBall • Score: 3 • Thread

None of the privacy disclosures are tied to a version release. All iOS developers can go into their privacy settings for an app on Apples website and update them at any time. The updates the developer makes are pushed out to all app stores around the world immediately, without requiring app review or any notification to Apple. App Developers can correct them at any time and the change is made straight away.

There are some stories about where privacy changes need to pass app review or need an app release. This isn't the case.

Re: All iOS Privacy disclosures are "server side"

By samkass • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

It is the other way around. A version release is tied to the disclosure. As of this past December, you cannot release a new version of your app unless you have done the disclosure, so Googles apps are stuck at their previous update until they do so.

Gmail is no more or less private

By martynhare • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Gmail stopped mining emails for advertising purposes years ago so there really isn't a privacy advantage to using other providers any more, given every provider mines data for anti-malware/anti-spam purposes (as Gmail does) anyway. In general, when you send an e-mail without utilising S/MIME or GPG, there is no privacy - regardless of provider.

Facebook Strikes Last-Minute Deal With Australia Around News Content

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Facebook on Monday said it had struck a deal with Australian lawmakers to pay local publishers for their news content, after the government finally agreed to change some of the terms within its new media code. From a report: The agreement ends Facebook's temporary ban on sharing news links on its platform in the country. Data showed that the link-sharing ban caused news traffic to plummet in the region. It also ends Facebook's global ban on users' sharing links to Australian news publishers. Facebook's decision to stop link-sharing was made in response to a new law that would have forced Google and Facebook to pay Australian news publishers for content, including headlines and links, with terms set by a third party, if they weren't able to come up with payout agreements with local publishers themselves. Google struck last-minute payout deals with big Australian publishers last week so that it wouldn't have to skirt the law and pull Google Search from the country. Facebook did not. The law was intended to benefit publishers, but the impact of Facebook's link ban showed the power the tech giants have over publishers, who lost a large volume of traffic during the confrontation.

I knew Australia would cave

By bazmail • Score: 3 • Thread

after the government finally agreed to change some of the terms within its new media code.

A dingo stole my integrity!!

Re:From the Axios Article...

By PhrostyMcByte • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

This is probably the only time I'll agree with Facebook here. The way Google and Facebook are linking to news sites is very different and classifying them under the same law was moronic.

Google harvests links and presents them in a way that a user may never end up going the news site. It potentially deprives the news site of revenue.

Facebook does not harvest links -- the news sites themselves are sharing their articles. Facebook doesn't summarize the links in a way that would cause users to never visit the actual news site -- instead, the news sites are writing their own summaries.

The law should be written so that if Facebook starts doing the former, it will apply to them. It shouldn't be some blanket "if you have a link to our site and you make more than $X/year you must pay us".

Re: Disappointing

By SD NFN STM • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

> apart from the 'sponsored posts'

You should install Social Fixer, then you can manipulate your Facebook feed to be as clean as you want:

More "some animals are more equal than others"

By DeplorableCodeMonkey • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Please explain why a media outlet that has ads on its site is entitled to a cut of the money from Facebook promoting the page, but other content producers are not entitled.

Oh right because "journalists," ie professional bloggers (since 99% of them are real investigative journalists) are the essential guardians of democracy.

Write a viral blog post that gets 500k hits from Facebook, you're on your own. Do nothing but regurgitate corporate and government talking points with a little something on top and you have the Australian government demanding Facebook share money with you.

Scary stuff

By Dan East • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The summary (and probably article) seem to have a pro-news-publisher slant. This was a very bad, very dangerous idea by the government of Australia. What this shows is insane extent that governments will go to control *everything* if they have the technical ability to do so. Hell, they'd charge a fee for people to even discuss these articles amongst themselves if there was a mechanism that allowed them to do so.

Just because communication that occurs online is more conducive to control and monitoring (and thus regulation, taxation and fees) does not mean the government should do so.

A perfect example of this kind of thing are used vehicle sales taxes in various states. If I were to sell you my $3000 computer, through a private sale, person-to-person, there is no sales tax. Why not? Because the government does not have any reasonable manner to track or enforce that sale. It would require self-policing and people to report it out of the goodness of their hearts towards their state government. So why must we pay sales tax on used cars in private person-to-person sales? Because the person that bought that car is almost certainly going to title and register it with the state DMV so they can drive it on the road. And there you go... the government now has a mechanism to track that a private sale did occur, and thus you must pay sales taxes on it again.

It is totally unreasonable that a car that is sold 5 times in its lifetime has resulted in sales taxes being paid 5 times. That is flat-out wrong. But government will end up doing whatever the government can get by with given enough time, because politicians feel their job is to write more and more laws, not strike down existing laws.