the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2021-Apr-07 today archive


  1. Twitch Will Ban Users For 'Severe Misconduct' That Occurs Away From Its Site
  2. YouTube Is Once Again the Most Popular Social Media Platform
  3. Saskatchewan To Roll Out $150 Annual Tax For Passenger Electric Vehicles
  4. NBA Partners With Biometric Screening Company To Allow Full Capacity Arenas Next Season
  5. Polish Blogger Sued After Revealing Security Issue In Encrypted Messenger
  6. Google Illegally Tracking Android Users, According To New Complaint
  7. Best Buy's New Beta Program Promises Concierge Tech Support For $200 a Year
  8. Facebook Does Not Plan To Notify Half-Billion Users Affected by Data Leak
  9. Broadband Use Surged More Than 30% During Pandemic
  10. Twitter Held Discussions To Buy Clubhouse For $4 Billion
  11. With Virus Origins Still Obscure, WHO and Critics Look To Next Steps
  12. Gazelle Brings Back Its Phone Trade-in Program Two Months After Discontinuing It
  13. YouTube Kids 'a Vapid Wasteland', Say US Lawmakers
  14. Microsoft Previews Its Open Source Java Distribution, Microsoft Build of OpenJDK
  15. Uber, Lyft Tout US Ride-Hail Driver Pay, Incentives Amid Demand Uptick
  16. Particle Mystery Deepens, As Physicists Confirm That the Muon Is More Magnetic Than Predicted
  17. T-Mobile Launches Home Internet Service and Small Town Initiative as Part of Latest 'Un-carrier' Move
  18. Facebook Says It's Your Fault That Hackers Got Half a Billion User Phone Numbers
  19. Et Tu, Signal?
  20. Jeff Bezos Comes Out in Support of Increased Corporate Taxes
  21. EPA To Propose Vehicle Emissions Standards To Meet 'The Urgency of Climate Crisis' By July's End
  22. Government Audit of AI With Ties To White Supremacy Finds No AI
  23. SpaceX President Says Starlink Doesn't Plan To Offer Tiered Pricing

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.

Twitch Will Ban Users For 'Severe Misconduct' That Occurs Away From Its Site

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Live-streaming service Twitch will ban users for offenses such as hate-group membership or credible threats of mass violence that occur entirely away from the site, in a new approach to moderating the platform, the company said on Wednesday. The Amazon-owned platform, which is popular among video gamers, said under its new rules it would take enforcement actions against offline offenses that posed a "substantial safety risk" to its community.

It said examples of this "severe misconduct" include terrorist activities, child sexual exploitation, violent extremism, credible threats of mass violence, carrying out or deliberately acting as an accomplice to sexual assault and threatening Twitch or its staff. "Taking action against misconduct that occurs entirely off our service is a novel approach for both Twitch and the industry at large, but it's one we believe -- and hear from you -- is crucial to get right," the company said in a blog post. The company said users will be able to report such behaviors but it may also investigate cases proactively, for instance if there is a verified news report that a user has been arrested. Twitch said it would rely more heavily on law enforcement in "off-service" cases and is partnering with an investigative law firm to support its internal team. It declined to name the firm. The new standards will apply even if the target of the offline behaviors is not a Twitch user or if the perpetrator was not a user when they committed the acts. Perpetrators would also be banned from registering a Twitch account, it said.

Twitch said it would take action only when there was evidence, such as screen shots, videos of off-Twitch behavior or police filings, verified by its internal team or third-party investigators. Users who submit a large amount of frivolous reports will face suspension. The company said in cases where the behavior happened in the distant past, users had gone through rehabilitation such as time in a correctional facility, and they no longer presented a danger to the community, it might not take action or might reinstate users on appeal. It said it would share updates with the involved parties but would not share public updates about actions under this policy.

Re:Depends on your side.

By LordWabbit2 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I disagree with a game streaming platform acting as Judge and Jury for behavior outside of their purvey.
I disagree with a game streaming platform becoming a political tool.
But I do agree with you, and many many others will as well, we are free to use other platforms instead, Twat can die a slow and painful decline and death like all the other American tech giants who have chosen to become political tools and arbitrators of what is right or wrong in the world based solely on people whining on Twitter.

Re:Severe = ?

By apoc.famine • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Bro, you seriously need to lay off the conservative talk radio and get laid.

Your fantasy angry incel world is really not good for your mental health.

Re:Severe = ?

By apoc.famine • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Except none of that is actually true.

Tens of millions of americans go through their daily life not taking a position on anything and just get on with life. They aren't being "canceled" as if that's a real thing, and they aren't somehow destroying the country in the process of living their lives.

You've conflated a problem that people who want to be famous (mostly on social media) have with the real world.

Re:Severe = ?

By h33t l4x0r • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Talk to your family, find some support from people who care about you. It's not unusual to feel like this, but you need to find someone that you can talk to about these feelings.

Re: Great

By drinkypoo • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

You know, in the real world, far away from the American world of plastic people, there is no "image". People are who they are.

Even people who are purely genuine have an image, consisting of an aggregate or perhaps average of representations of them in other people's heads. Those representations may or may not be accurate, hence the potential for confusion even in the least confusing case (someone who says what they does, and doesn't cross-signal.) This is true everywhere in the world.

Very few people are genuine 100% of the time. And many people are deluded about what kind of person they are.

I think you're making something out of nothing. The whole idea that Americans are fundamentally different in this way requires evidence.

TL;DR: [citation needed]

YouTube Is Once Again the Most Popular Social Media Platform

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
According to a new report, YouTube has dethroned Facebook to become the most popular social media platform. Engadget reports: According to the report, YouTube and Facebook are the most widely used platforms. But of the two, only YouTube is still growing, increasing its share of users from 73 percent of adults in 2019, to 81 percent in 2021. Facebook's numbers, meanwhile, remained unchanged from 2019 at 69 percent. "Facebook's growth has leveled off over the last five years, but it remains one of the most widely used social media sites among adults in the United States," Pew writes in its report.

Flat growth wasn't unique to just Facebook, either. According to Pew, the only other platform to see "statistically significant" growth since 2019 was Reddit, which grew from 11 percent in 2019 to 18 percent in 2021. "This represents a broader trend that extends beyond the past two years in which the rapid adoption of most of these sites and apps seen in the last decade has slowed," Pew says.
The report also found that 49 percent of Facebook users say they check the site multiple times a day, compared to just over a third of YouTube users visiting the platform more frequently than once a day.

Another interesting insight is that YouTube is the most dominant platform among 18 to 29-year-olds at 95 percent, followed by Instagram with 71 percent, Facebook at 70 percent, Snapchat with 65 percent, and TikTok at 48 percent.

da fuq?

By ktakki • Score: 3 • Thread

Maybe I'm unclear on the concept, but I thought "social media" was defined by the graph database model. YT is subscribe/watch/comment and a one-to-many model derived from broadcast media (the Tube part of YouTube; remember cathode ray tubes?).

FB and Twitter are creatures of the internet, a network of networks. The real meat is who follows whom and the groups and aggregations that are derived from that. FFS, Myspace was closer to a social network than YT.


Survey by telephone?

By ljw1004 • Score: 3 • Thread

These findings come from a nationally representative survey of 1,502 U.S. adults conducted via telephone Jan. 25-Feb.8, 2021.

I wonder, did they really manage to correct for phone aversion bias? I couldn't find an explanation of methodology. I wouldn't trust phonecalls as a way to learn about social media habits.

Re:Figures! I have not visited

By Ostracus • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I don't think Facebook would ever give me a free course on DevOps like Youtube does. Or an understanding of artificial life. Or even an understanding of death in an animated movie.

As for Reddit it's main selling point is diversity of forums under one umbrella. Behavior is about what one would expect in a modern online forum.

It _is_ social media

By angularbanjo • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
In the sense that Google is 100% taking your site browsing behaviour and amalgamating that with everything else it is tracking about you across the entire interweb. Isn't this the hallmark of social media (ie you are the product).

Less "social" than it used to be

By timeOday • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Youtube used to have more short clips by more different people. If somebody captured a funny crash on their bicycle, they'd upload it. Now youtube is dominated by professional content producers. If you upload your bicycle crash, hardly anybody will watch your upload,but it will be found and aggregated into an 8 minute sequence of dozens of clips in that genre by a specialist whose business is to nab all the views. Somebody might enjoy your little part but they have no way to send you a comment, or even determine where it came from.

Saskatchewan To Roll Out $150 Annual Tax For Passenger Electric Vehicles

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
innocent_white_lamb writes: The Saskatchewan government will implement a new tax for passenger electric vehicles. The announcement was made Tuesday. The new $150 annual tax on passenger electric vehicles (EVs) will take effect Oct. 1, 2021. The government said the reason for this tax is that EVs do not contribute to highway maintenance through the provincial fuel tax. The new tax will be collected when the vehicle is registered. The province says it will continue to examine the future potential for expanding the EV tax to commercial vehicles and inter-jurisdictional trucking. The province will also consider options to apply a tax at EV charging stations.

Re: Still cheaper

By EasySteam • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Yup. That's what we have here in NZ. Road User Charges.. As diesel is not taxed, so the RUC to be paid is determined by the weight of the vehicle and the number of kilometers travelled. This means that diesel boats avoid road tax. Soon our government will mandate that electric vehicles need to pay RUC. Cos at the moment they avoid it.. Petrol is taxed NZ, and petrol cars do not need to pay RUC.. But the end result is that lawn mowers and petrol powered boat users also end up paying to maintain the highways...

As a pro EVer since '06, the EV fandom is dumb.

By Nabeel_co • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

It is absolutely critical we transition away from fossil-fuel powered vehicles. Not only should we not tax EVs, we should double the tax on gas-powered vehicles and use that money to fund massive tax credits on EVs.

I don't think you understand the environmental impact of EVs correctly. They are not a panacea, nor are they a silver bullet. They are only about 20% more efficient than internal combustion engines when you consider their whole lifecycle.

The world isn't magic. EVs are not magic. The laws of thermodynamics still apply, you never get something for nothing, and charging a battery is a very wasteful process. Producing batteries are very wasteful, and batteries have a VERY shitty energy density especially when compared to gasoline.

EVs are great for city use. EVs are TERRIBLE for highway long distance use. What's more, this constant push for more range is toxic as fuck and does more harm than good to EV efficiency and to their environmental impact. Guess what Saskatchewan is like? It's mainly flat farmland with LOTS of distance between places. Not a place for EVs.

Toronto? Ottawa? Kingston? Montreal? Vancouver? These are all GREAT places for EVs where we should have HUGE incentives for EVs with smaller battery packs below 75kwh. Saskatchewan? No. That's dumb, and suggesting it is dumb.

It's utterly STUPID to lug around a 75kwh+ battery pack in the city doing 60km per day, in stop and go traffic, OR to use it on long trips all day, everyday. It's bad for the battery and constant deep cycles and quick charging harms it's efficiency and longevity.

You want to incentivize EVs? Incentivize the shit outta the ones with small battery packs with a range of 100km or less, and tax the shit outta the ones with the big battery packs. No one who should be using an EV (like city folk) needs it. It's there to make people feel "better", and to sell cars, but it's worse for the environment.

There will ALWAYS be a place and need for combustion engines. Period. To say otherwise shows ignorance and bias.

There is already progress in turning gasoline into an "electrolyte", as in, being able to turn exhaust emissions back into gasoline, and again, gasoline has a VERY high energy density that simply can not be beaten with any battery technology we have or will have in the near future.

If you REALLY want to help the environment, you should focus your efforts on rational, facts based arguments and decisions, not ones that blindly incentivize EVs for no reason even when they are the worse choice.

Focusing on large metropolises is the right thing to do, as 20% there makes a HUGE difference. Focusing on rural communities is what makes them hate us, because city folk are too ignorant to realize that life outside the city is VERY different.

Most city folk DEFINITELY should be using EVs but this whole idea that EVERYONE should use EVs and that EVs are the future and ICE cars are going to go extinct is just dumb.

I've been in the EV community much longer than most people, well before Tesla was in existence, and this blind rhetoric is fucking stupid and ruining the community. Stop it. This fandom was started by Tesla to sell cars, and they have successfully managed to get a bunch of people to shill for them. (Hence why in the EV community there are EV people and Tesla people, and they are not the same kind of person)

EVs are GREAT for their usecase, but they are not a one size fits all vehicle... that is, if you actually care about the environment.

If you don't, enjoy your P100D Tesla that you barely drive 60km a day, costs way too much, is less reliable than EVs people have built in their garage, is constructed like shit, and is from a manufacturer who actively punishes their owners and tries to make their cars disposable.

There's a rational middle ground here. This isn't a team sport, and it's not us vs them.

Re:Still cheaper

By Bert64 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Fuel taxes were pretty much exactly that, since a heavier vehicle is going to use more fuel as is a vehicle which drives a greater number of miles.
The problem stems from new vehicle types (ie electric) which evade the existing road maintenance funding system.

Re:Welcome to the future!

By MeNeXT • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Gas taxes don't pay for highway maintenance. They go into general coffers like all other taxes. It's not a COGS scenario. Governments don't work that way. Gas taxes don't get lowered or refunded if more money is raised than spent on road maintenance.

Re:Still cheaper

By jbengt • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
I was going to mod you overrated, but I need to explain.
Fuel use at cruising speed is not quite proportional to weight. A vehicle twice the weight can easily use only a little more fuel.
Road damage is not proportional to weight. It is closer to being proportional to the fourth power of weight per axle. (though the exponents and proportionality are debated, it's not an exact correlation and there's a lot of other factors at work) So a vehicle twice the weight will do about 16 times as much damage to the road.
Even if we assume fuel use is proportional to weight, heavy trucks do far more damage per gallon of fuel used than regular automobiles. And the amount of fuel used at a given weight is dependent on aerodynamics, tire inflation, ICE efficiencies, and a lot of other factors. So fuel tax is not quite as fair at distributing road maintenance costs as you might think.

NBA Partners With Biometric Screening Company To Allow Full Capacity Arenas Next Season

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
The NBA expects all arenas to be at full capacity next season, thanks to increased COVID-19 testing and more vaccines being administered. Another key aspect toward that effort is the NBA's new multiyear leaguewide partnership with Clear, a biometric screening company known for its expedited security process at hundreds of airports worldwide. ESPN reports: The partnership makes Clear's COVID-19 health screening technology available to all 30 teams in their NBA arenas, and it's expected to help facilitate more fans returning to games, though it's up to each team how to use the technology. Conversations for a leaguewide partnership began in early September. This is Clear's first leaguewide partnership with a professional sports league, but the company has been working with teams in MLS, MLB, NHL and the NFL. Clear first rolled out this program in a leaguewide format with the NHL's bubble season across two cities in Canada last year.

As it pertains to attendance, fans can download the Clear app and upload an identifying document along with a selfie. To link their COVID-19 test results, fans log into their testing account through the app, and results will be linked to their health pass. Before entering the venue, fans can open the app, verify their identity with another selfie and then answer health survey questions. (There are also expected to be an unspecified number of Clear kiosks where fans receive a temperature check and scan their QR code.) Fans are issued a red or green notification depending on their COVID-related health information.
A Clear spokesperson noted that the arenas only receive information about whether a fan has passed the requirements for access and not any private health information from the individual. They said that the Clear program is scalable, and could facilitate thousands of fans entering arenas.

I'm not going back to normal

By rsilvergun • Score: 3 • Thread
until experts and epidemiologists stop telling me to wear a mask. Around the time Fauci is saying we can mask off safely is around the time I know it's safe.

Yes, a good vaccine is 90% effective, but if you're exposed enough times you're going to get sick. Roll a d100 1000 times and see how many 1s you get. And even light cases are being linked to odd ball neurological disorders...

Vaccine passport

By fermion • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Except it is a private company that will mine and leak your personal data. Clear tries so hard to recruit travelers. At least with TSA your not giving anyone data they donâ(TM)t already have. The security implications of this makes all online data tracking seems like childâ(TM)s play. And just to watch a game.

How things have changed

By bjdevil66 • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

1984 - "Totally creepy. You'll get my private information over my dead body."

2021 - "All I have to do to go to a sporting event again is give you my location and biometric information so you can know where I am, and what I look like so you can recognize me with a camera? Sounds like a great featiure! I hope that they can start tracking everyone around me too so I can avoid the sick people."

Re:I'm not going back to normal

By rlwinm • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
The biggest side effect seems to be TDS. The funny thing is in Florida you would never know there is any of this COVID stuff. And we're not talking the sparse northern parts, we're talking dense urban areas.

Polish Blogger Sued After Revealing Security Issue In Encrypted Messenger

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Record: The company behind the UseCrypt Messenger encrypted instant messaging application filed a lawsuit last month against a Polish security researcher for publishing an article that exposed a vulnerability in the app's user invite mechanism. The lawsuit targets Tomasz Zieliski, the editor of Informatyk Zakadowy, a Polish blog dedicated to IT topics, and denounces one of the site's articles, published in October 2020. The article describes how Zielinski found that in some cases, when UseCrypt Messenger users wanted to invite a friend to the app, the application used an insecure domain ( to send out user invitations. Zielinski found that besides running on an insecure HTTP connection, the website was also vulnerable to SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities that would have allowed anyone to hijack the site and then read or tamper with UseCrypt invitations. But while the authors of the website admitted to the security weaknesses in their service and shut down their website, Zieliski received a firm rebuttal of his research from V440 SA, the legal entity behind the UseCrypt Messenger.

In a message the company sent Zieliski a day after his blog post went live, they claimed his research contained "false information." In a message the company sent Zieliski a day after his blog post went live, they claimed his research contained "false information." V440 SA said their app did not use the service to handle user invitations but instead relied on an in-house solution hosted on the domain. But in a subsequent update, Zieliski claims that the UseCrypt team was lying and that, in reality, they silently patched their app to remove the from its user invite mechanism after his research was posted online and were merely trying to dismiss his findings, even after he notified them in advance of his research.
To make matters worse, V440 SA had reportedly filed criminal complaints against not only Zielinksi's blog but also against Niebezpiecznik and Zaufana Trzecia Strona, two other Polish IT security blogs, claiming that the three were working as part of an "organized criminal group."

"Requests to remove articles, requests for apologies and other letters from law firms addressed to our editors will not make us stop being interested in a certain issue," the editors of the Polish blogs said in a joint statement. It's currently unknown if there is actually a criminal investigation underway against the three sites or if this is just an intimidation tactic.

Corporate Arrogance, Amplified.

By geekmux • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

So a small basically unknown company, appears to have utilized all manner of intimidation tactics, to include accusations of criminal activity, against a group of IT professionals who were merely trying to strengthen a product by identifying a vulnerability and discussing it.

If that is what a small basically unknown company is capable of doing to basically avoid embarrassment, can you imagine what a mega-corp with political power is capable of? Downright scary when you think about it.

Tip for the kids; Don't piss off Too Big To Fail, because they'll prove it. On you.

Re:Lesson Learned

By stephanruby • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

V440 SA had reportedly filed criminal complaints against not only Zielinksi's blog but also against Niebezpiecznik and Zaufana Trzecia Strona, two other Polish IT security blogs, claiming that the three were working as part of an "organized criminal group."

Since the company is filing a criminal complaint, then it's an admission from the company that the product did have a security flaw.

Otherwise, they'd only be suing for defamation and libel.


By LenKagetsu • Score: 3 • Thread

Not only is UserCrypt not secure, but the company lashes out at and sues anyone who points this out! I better not use it!

SJW tactics.

By BAReFO0t • Score: 3 • Thread

The best bullying is to accuse others of bullying.

Streisand effect?

By VeryFluffyBunny • Score: 3 • Thread
Hasn't V440 SA heard of the Streisand effect? What a great way to generate a tonne of negative publicity, making the public doubt the competence of a company that provides security & privacy focused services.

Google Illegally Tracking Android Users, According To New Complaint

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
schwit1 shares a report from Ars Technica: Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems has filed a complaint against Google in France alleging that the US tech giant is illegally tracking users on Android phones without their consent. Android phones generate unique advertising codes, similar to Apple's Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), that allow Google and third parties to track users' browsing behavior in order to better target them with advertising. In a complaint filed on Wednesday, Schrems' campaign group Noyb argued that in creating and storing these codes without first obtaining explicit permission from users, Google was engaging in "illegal operations" that violate EU privacy laws.

Noyb urged France's data privacy regulator to launch a probe into Google's tracking practices and to force the company to comply with privacy rules. It argued that fines should be imposed on the tech giant if the watchdog finds evidence of wrongdoing. "Through these hidden identifiers on your phone, Google and third parties can track users without their consent," said Stefano Rossetti, privacy lawyer at Noyb. "It is like having powder on your hands and feet, leaving a trace of everything you do on your phone -- from whether you swiped right or left to the song you downloaded." Last year, Schrems won a landmark case at Europe's highest court that ruled a transatlantic agreement on transferring data between the bloc and the US used by thousands of corporations did not protect EU citizens' privacy.

Thanx Max

By AlexHilbertRyan • Score: 3 • Thread
Three cheers from your friend in Au.

Re:Take Your Power Back!

By Gravis Zero • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Google is too powerful to care about the people it hurts.

This is literally every corporation.

If you don't think Microsoft isn't spying on you then I have a bridge to sell you. Use ProtonMail. It costs a few bucks a year but it's secure.

Re:Take Your Power Back!

By alexo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

1. Search the web with DuckDuckGo. It is every bit as good, but no spying. There is NO REASON not to use this instead!

I have DDG as my default search engine on all my browsers and devices.

That said, I have to repeat almost 2/3 of my searches on Google, because DDG's results are sub-par for non-trivial queries.

Why not just ASK the consumer, Google?

By ShoulderOfOrion • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

What irritates me the most is that I cannot target advertising to my current needs. Google, you don't allow me to explicitily and expressly tell you what I want to buy.

Look, I'm on /., so naturally I'm into woodworking, metalworking, 3-D printers, that kind of stuff. Show me those ads. Electronic parts? Let me see what's new. Maybe I intend to build a new deck next month. Show me ads for decking materials, special offers on the requisite tools, that sort of stuff. No problemo viewing those, if you give me some way of telling you what I want to see. Preferably in advance. Why inundate me with building material ads that aren't pertinent to decks after I've already built the thing? You're just annoying me and scamming the advertisers. The latter is what this is really about, isn't it Google?

I almost never see ads for stuff I'd actually consider buying, or at least find interesting to view. If I buy the same brand of toothpaste I've been using for decades off Amazon, I get a thousand ads for different brands of toothpaste. Sorry, not interested, not switching. If I buy my niece a pair of Ugg boots she wanted for her birthday (what the hell are those anyway--thank god she gave me a direct link), suddenly Google decides my house is full of young women wanting fashion items (if only) and I'm inundated with female clothing ads for the next month. Just stop it, Google--you know I'm not female, and you should know I'm not interested. You've invested billions in machine learning. Why not teach your machines to learn something? If I just bought laser toner, guess what Google...I don't need any more right now, so I don't need to see ads for it now. It's too late. Just stop it.

If you want to target ads at me, Google, I'll be happy to tell you exactly what ads I want to see. No need to track me. Just ask me. I'll be happier to view the ads, and the advertisers will get a higher rate of return. What about it, Google?

Re: Take Your Power Back!

By SleepingEye • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Microsoft and Google fully admit they're user tracking. Why doesn't apple? Don't give me that bullshit they aren't. They're the only allowed a advertising service, so they can take a cut

Best Buy's New Beta Program Promises Concierge Tech Support For $200 a Year

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Best Buy is piloting a new paid membership service that would provide exclusive perks, including concierge-style tech support and exclusive pricing. The subscription service, which will cost $200 a year or $180 if you have a Best Buy credit card, bears similarities with Amazon's Prime subscription as Best Buy looks to expand its services outside the sale of consumer tech products. The new membership, called Best Buy Beta, grants members access to a slew of benefits, including free standard shipping, unlimited Geek Squad technical support, exclusive member pricing, and a 60-day extended return window. Best Buy confirmed that Beta members will also have 24/7 access to a concierge team, which they can contact by phone, email, chat, or through the Best Buy mobile app. The retailer is piloting the new Beta membership in three states: Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma, with plans to expand the annual subscription to select stores in Minnesota, North Carolina, and Tennessee sometime this month.

Unlimited geek squad?

By grasshoppa • Score: 3, Funny • Thread

That's rude. I've never done anything so hateful to them.

2-year prediction

By rogoshen1 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

"Amazon (AMZN) has completed its acquisition of failing retailer 'Best Buy (BBY). Despite multiple initiatives undertaken to save the flailing company, the retailer has been unable to turn a profit in recent years. Amazon plans to maintain some staff, and continue with the companies primary purpose; to serve as a show room for Amazon's higher priced items, such as TV's."

Unlimited tech support for $200/year

By PhunkySchtuff • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

This is sure to be knowledgeable, high-quality support. Oh, it's Geek Squad.

Re:2-year prediction

By tlhIngan • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Actually, they've turned around - they had a bit of touch and go just after the financial crisis through 2012 or so, but after that, they've actually grown and hung around.

You have to remmber they're not a store, they're a real estate company - they rent out space by the square foot. Manufacturers pay Best Buy to provide space for their products, and if Best Buy sells it, Best Buy gets a small cut. But manufacturers are responsible for providing Best Buy with demo displays and product. If a product sells out, the manufacturer is responsible for providing Best Buy with product - either directly to store, or to a distribution center.

They've embraced showrooming - the manufacturers are the real customers renting square feet to display their wares. It's how Best Buy can offer ridiculous price matching - they don't care - they make a cut if they sell it to you, the manufacturer is responsible for the price in the end.

Next time you go in - look at the empty shelves. No retailer in their right mind will have valuable real estate sitting empty like that because that's space that can't sell anything. But since Best Buy is contractually obligated to rent space to a manufacturer if that manufacturer has no product to sell, the space remains empty - if Best Buy attempted to fill it they would be in breach.

they still do have some in-house products, but you'll find it's relatively sparse, while they have an entire aisle with the exact same HDMI cable on pegs - again, the manufacturer rented the whole aisle out.

Amazon could still buy them out, but they've already become Amazon's showroom. They realized that in 2012 and that's when they pivoted. it's why things like TV displays have so much more room - the big names (Sony, Samsung, LG, etc) have bought floor demo space, while the rest have to deal with the "standard shelf display" where their product is merely put on a table with boxes underneath.

These and other services like geek squad are really complimentary - Bset Buy knows Amazon can't easily make money in this area so they provide the value-add for enhanced profits. We've all got that relative who always screws up their computer on a weekly basis, so $200 to foist them onto Geek Squad isn't exactly a bad deal after reinstalling all the software on their computer on a monthly basis. And yes, I've know people who having been on site on call tech support for their family, fixing computers on a weekend, who have simply paid for one of these services just to get their weekends back.

For values of tech support.

By Revek • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Had a friend/coworker who always sang the praises of best buy. His wife got mad because they told her the data was unrecoverable on a three year old laptop. My friend knew I was a sysadmin but he never wanted my help. His wife calls me out of the blue one day and asks if she can drop off a tub of electronics. She wanted me to go through it and decide what can be repaired. She points out the laptop that has the kids pictures on it and ask me if I can save them. There was around eight grand worth of electronics. Tablets, laptops and phones. I fixed everything except one old phone that needed a screen. I didn't even reload the laptop she wanted the pictures from. Its crazy but best buy just kept telling my friend that the device was bad and he would buy something new. So best buy doesn't try real hard to fix things if they can convince you to buy a new one. He was a understandable pissed at me since every time he wanted something new she would call me and ask if he needed it.

Facebook Does Not Plan To Notify Half-Billion Users Affected by Data Leak

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Facebook did not notify the more than 530 million users whose details were obtained through the misuse of a feature before 2019 and recently made public in a database, and does not currently have plans to do so, a company spokesman said on Wednesday. Reuters: Business Insider reported last week that phone numbers and other details from user profiles were available in a public database. Facebook said in a blog post on Tuesday that "malicious actors" had obtained the data prior to September 2019 by "scraping" profiles using a vulnerability in the platform's tool for synching contacts. The Facebook spokesman said the social media company was not confident it had full visibility on which users would need to be notified. He said it also took into account that users could not fix the issue and that the data was publicly available in deciding not to notify users. Facebook has said it plugged the hole after identifying the problem at the time. Further reading: Facebook Says It's Your Fault That Hackers Got Half a Billion User Phone Numbers.

no PII = no disclosure

By sdinfoserv • Score: 3 • Thread
PII or "personally identifiable information" is what triggers legal notification of a breach in most states. If this data “leak” does not include name + SSN, drivers license or state ID, or financial account information there are no laws requiring disclosure.

Re:Come on GDPR

By what2123 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
This is false. GDPR enforcement was live in May of 2018. At that point it was nearly 3 year of being able to prep for it. The leak happened nearly a year after full enforcement.

Re:no PII = no disclosure

By what2123 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Good thing if you're in the EU as GDPR covers PI and it's much more broad than the US definition of PII.

Article about checking pwned

By wfgilreath • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Here's an article about resources to check if you are exposed...

Re:It's your fault for using Facebuck.

By classiclantern • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
What are you talking about? I didn't give Facebook my name, birth date, phone number, IP address, photo, or any useful data whatsoever. I'm reasonably sure Facebook has a file on me gathered from third party sources (idiot friends). I can't delete it because I don't have a Facebook account. I've tried. I can't delete my Facebook file without giving Facebook identifying information, which I won't do. My only hope, and desire is when corrupt politicians force Facebook to delete ALL the collected data of non-subscribers. As long as Zuck has money to bribe these jerks the public will be targets for every scammer on the planet. No big deal. Go back to watching YouTube videos of cats.

Broadband Use Surged More Than 30% During Pandemic

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Broadband use surged 30% to 40% during the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, and even reached 60% in some areas, an industry group has concluded. CNET reports: The Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group released data this week that it gathered from internet service providers, broadband analytics firms, and networking companies that help deliver data. We all consumed more downstream data -- the flow from the internet to the home -- but upstream use grew faster. That's an important consideration given that most cable and DSL services offer much higher downstream capacity. All those videoconferences for work meetings and online schooling likely were involved in the upstream data traffic. "Some networks saw more than 300% increase in the amount of video conferencing traffic from February to October 2020," the report said.

Though the internet itself held up well overall, there are problems. "Rural and low-income households have struggled" with broadband access to online services, the report said, and some households suffered with older equipment that couldn't handle heavy traffic or the increase in networked devices in the home. If you're having problems at home, you should consider an Ethernet cable connection to your network router, upgrading to a mesh network with multiple network access points, upgrading your PC or phone, or paying for a faster internet connection if it's available.

Isolate and Netflix and Chill by yourself

By bobstreo • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Well that and all the Zoom meetings, work from home, and if you have kids, remote learning.

I'm surprised it's as low as 30%.


By IWantMoreSpamPlease • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

No shit? What a surprise!
Never would have guessed that with 3/4 of the pop on lockdown, everyone would be using their internet more to keep in touch with their friends.

What amazing statistic will they come up with next?


By JoshuaZ • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Yes, one would expect it, but it is good to have actual data, because sometimes the data doesn't match what we expect. For example, everyone was very worried that suicides would increase during lockdowns but the evidence is that the 2020 suicide rate was about the same or slightly lower than it was in the previous year which itself was a record low And even, if you do know there's a trend, you don't know how much. Did broadband use increase by 10%? 20%? 100%? 200%? That it was about 30% is not obvious. Honestly, if I had had to make a guess before I would have almost certainly overestimated the percentage by a lot. Data is always our friend.

Twitter Held Discussions To Buy Clubhouse For $4 Billion

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Twitter held talks in recent months to acquire Clubhouse, the buzzy audio-based social network, Bloomberg reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter. From the report: The companies discussed a potential valuation of roughly $4 billion for Clubhouse, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Discussions are no longer ongoing, and it's unclear why they stalled, the people added. [...] Clubhouse is barely a year old but has drawn appearances from some of the biggest names in business and Hollywood. Established social media companies have quickly gone to work on their own versions of Clubhouse, including Twitter. Facebook is exploring one, too, and Microsoft's LinkedIn and Slack have also said they're working on similar features for their networks.

When ideas collide.

By Ostracus • Score: 3 • Thread

Sounds like a mashup of a podcast with a chat program.

My brief experience with Clubhouse...

By jcr • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

So, you might have heard about this new audio social network app called Clubhouse because some NYT asshole tried to smear Andreesen by claiming that he said something verboten in a group chat.

That was the first I'd heard of it, and it's an invitation-only beta at this point, so I went back to ignoring it.

A little while ago though, an old friend from my Apple days sent me an invite, and I decided to take a look. I downloaded the app, gave it my real name and number, and was informed that I had two invitations of my own to send out.

Well, it turns out that the app demands access to my contacts in order to send an invite. Sorry, I have no experience with this app's developer, and therefore zero trust. You're not going to mine my phone, that's a Facebook level of overreach.

So, I tabled sending out invitations and poked around in the app a bit. Listened to a discussion that sounded interesting, and it turned out that the mods of the discussion had turned off the feature that would let me raise my hand and participate, so it was effectively a podcast. Ok, don't need another podcast app.

Continue poking around the app, and find out that somehow I'm following a pile of people I've never heard of and certainly didn't choose to follow, so I start unfollowing them. App throws an alert message up, saying I'm using the feature too much. EXCUSE ME? The app vetoes me unfollowing someone?

Fuck that, I'm out.

I don't know who's behind Clubhouse, but they can go fuck themselves.


With Virus Origins Still Obscure, WHO and Critics Look To Next Steps

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The joint international and Chinese mission organized by the World Health Organization on the origins of Covid released its report last week suggesting that for almost every topic it covered, more study was needed. What kind of study and who will do it is the question. From a report: The report suggested pursuing multiple lines of inquiry, focused on the likely origin of the coronavirus in bats. It concluded that the most likely route to humans was through an intermediate animal, perhaps at a wildlife farm. Among future efforts could be surveys of blood banks to look for cases that could have appeared before December 2019 and tracking down potential animal sources of the virus in wildlife farms, the team proposed. Critics of the report have sought more consideration of the possibility that a laboratory incident in Wuhan could have led to the first human infection. A loosely organized group of scientists and others who have been meeting virtually to discuss the possibility of a lab leak released an open letter this week, detailing several ways to conduct a thorough investigation. It called for further action, arguing that "critical records and biological samples that could provide essential insights into pandemic origins remain inaccessible."

Much of the letter echoes an earlier release from the same group detailing what it saw as the failures of the W.H.O. mission. This second letter is more specific in the kind of future investigations it proposes. The group is seeking a new inquiry that would include biosecurity and biosafety experts, one that could involve the W.H.O. or a separate multination effort to set up a different process to explore the beginnings of the pandemic and its origins in China. Jamie Metzl, an author, senior fellow of the Atlantic Council, an international policy think tank and signer of the scientists' letter, said the renewed calls for a more thorough investigation reflected the need for greater monitoring of and restrictions on what viruses can be studied in labs around the world. "This is not about ganging up on China," Mr. Metzl said. Mr. Metzl's group was among those disappointed by the report issued last week, as it dismissed out of hand the possibility of a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, calling it extremely unlikely.
Further reading: Data Withheld From WHO Team Probing COVID-19 Origins in China: Tedros.

It's not just the eating wild animals

By rsilvergun • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
they're slashing down forests with little regard to animal habitats. The result is that a ton of animals, especially bats, are forced from their homes and are interacting with humans and other animals at a much higher rate than usual.

This isn't about embarrassment, it's about money. China needs the deforestation (and the wet markets) to keep their economy growing at the rate it needs to for them to maintain power.

It's a classic "bull by the horns" scenario. The people in charge aren't competent enough administrators to solve the problems they cause, but you can wallpaper of a lot of that with 3-5% economic growth. Sorta like the US did during the .com boom. We didn't care about the systemic problems because everybody was making a ton of money.

Re:Wuhan Institute of Virology

By Dutch Gun • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Yes, that point is sort of frustrating to me. "Escaped from a lab" and "Engineered by a lab" are two wildly different hypotheses, with the former vastly more credible-seeming than the other. Accidents happen. But "escaped from a lab" is also MUCH more embarrassing to the Chinese government than "caused by human-animal interaction in the wild" (who wants to admit to a mistake that cost millions of lives and trillions of dollars?), and so I'm betting we'll never, ever get to the truth of this.

The problem is, when you can't trust a government (not unique to the Chinese government, but there are definitely differences in degrees of trust), there's really no information that government can offer which fundamentally negates that inherent mistrust. It's like trying to prove a negative.

It very well could have occurred entirely in the wild, but given how the Chinese are not cooperating very well, it's hard to square that as the truth. Otherwise, why would they not be more forthcoming? The only reason I can offer is either inherent reluctance to do so in a culture of secrecy, or else it may expose another embarrassing fact, like that they covered up their own Covid numbers.

Re:Wuhan Institute of Virology

By sfcat • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
If you want people to stop questioning the narrative, then perhaps when someone asks about WIV and gain of function research you should address the actual question being asking instead of the one you wish was asked. Time and time again someone asks about gain of function research and the response is, "it wasn't man-made and/or genetically engineered". If you wish to be believed, don't act like a classic liar. If you accused me of stealing a candy bar and I said I didn't steal any T.V.s would that make you likely to believe I stole said candy bar? That's exactly what you are doing right now. We ask a question and you respond to an entirely different question which makes us think either A) you don't know what you are talking about or B) you are hiding something.


Many immunologists have asked legit questions about the source of COVID-19. China hasn't been forth coming, the media responds to a different question (which is what law enforcement types would call being evasive) and the basic things that make COVID-19 unique point to gain of function research. Those things being its rapid acquisition of function (e.g. it seemed to gain both the ability to spread in humans and humans to human transition at the same time), the inability to determine which animal other than a bat is involved, and the fact that it doesn't spread outside well.

Re:Wuhan Institute of Virology

By gizmo2199 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

>Actually "escaped from a lab" has the 2nd or 3rd most evidence for it, behind "came from a wildlife farm" and possibly "came from the Wuhan wet market."

OK, what farm? Where was it located. Why didn't the Covid outbreak start near this farm? Here we have a virus that is HIGHLY adapted to human-to-human transmission, to the extent that a choir performance was a "super-spreader" event. But somehow the people on this farm were, what, all asymptomatic?

Re:Wuhan Institute of Virology

By dgatwood • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Perhaps it was just staggeringly bad luck: The mutations had all occurred in an earlier host species, and just happened to be the perfect genetic arrangement for an invasion of humanity. But that made no sense. Those mutations would have been disadvantageous in the old host.

Cats, ferrets, minks, etc. could be good intermediate hosts, because they lack the ACE2 receptor mutations that make many other animals immune.

The mutations are only disadvantageous in animals with significantly different ACE2 receptors (e.g. dogs).

Gazelle Brings Back Its Phone Trade-in Program Two Months After Discontinuing It

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Trade-in provider Gazelle exited the online trade-in business back in February, and now the company says it's changing its mind. From a report: Gazelle is back to accepting online trade-ins of iPhones, Samsung phones, Google Pixel devices, and iPads and other tablets on its website, the company confirms to The Verge. The program resumed accepting new offers on April 5th, a Gazelle representative clarified. "Earlier this year, we announced that we will no longer be offering our trade-in option on Gazelle. After careful consideration, including feedback from customers like you, we have decided to keep Gazelle Trade-In going. Today, we are happy to say, 'We're back, baby!'" reads an email Gazelle sent to prospective customers. "Gazelle Trade-In is a pioneer of the electronics trade-in space and we are happy to continue building on our legacy by offering a simple process and immediate payouts for those unwanted devices." Gazelle emerged as one of the leading trade-in providers of the smartphone era. But its business model didn't fare as well when the US mobile phone business underwent major shifts away from two-year contracts and outright device purchases and toward phone leasing and carrier and device maker trade-in programs like Apple's.


By botmoocher2 • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
Is this news or an advertisement?

YouTube Kids 'a Vapid Wasteland', Say US Lawmakers

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
A US government committee has described YouTube Kids as a " wasteland of vapid, consumerist content." From a report: In a letter to YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki, the US sub-committee on economic and consumer policy said the platform was full of "inappropriate... highly commercial content". Google launched YouTube Kids in 2015 as a safe place for children to view appropriate content. YouTube said it had worked hard to provide "enriching content for kids."

Re:No Different from TV.

By NoNonAlphaCharsHere • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Anybody remember Saturday morning cartoons? Six straight hours of cartoons, toy and sugary cereal commercials.

Re:No Different from TV.

By invid • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Hey, I learned my multiplication tables watching Schoolhouse Rock! Not to mention learning what a conjunction is, how a bill becomes law, and I can still sing the preamble to the US Constitution!

My youtube kids solution

By ljw1004 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

My child is 7 years old, in 2nd grade. The teachers make use of youtube links to stories and other material for their remote learning, so I can't block youtube entirely.

What I did was work with a Chrome extension which lets me write some javascript to rewrite on-the-fly the HTML delivered by I removed the comments section and the "up next" section and indeed every thumbnail. It turned Youtube into something that's actually quite tolerable to use. I left the search box - it's nice that my child is motivated to learn typing and research, and rewarded for it, but I monitor after-the-fact what's searched for.

All those youtube thumbnails of idiots doing pranks and children opening toys was so eyeball-grabbing, it was hard for an internet-inexperienced 7yo to resist. At that age the child is still learning discernment - I'm still teaching discernment - and they don't have a fully-formed-enough brain to make good choices by themselves, nor to develop good-choice-making skills by themselves under the onslaught of click-bait thumbnails and ads. I could hover over their shoulder every minute of their time to help them make the right choices, but that undermines their fledgling autonomy. I want to parcel out age-appropriate autonomy at the right rate, parcel out age-appropriate challenges to them at the right rate. The right rate emphatically does NOT include Google's powerful clickbait and advertising, refined through billions of dollars of behavioral science and research and tweaking, for a 7 year old.

Re:No Different from TV.

By Joce640k • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The only decent "kids TV show" ever was Sesame Street.

Clearly, that's Youtube's bullshit handwave...

By denzacar • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

YouTube curates YouTube Kids. Some poor employee at YouTube has to watch every video that the uploader asks to put on YouTube Kids. They then assign an age range, and assign content flags so parents can filter stuff out.

From the TFA: mother had reported a video that contained advice on how to commit suicide. After the video was reported, the [US sub-committee on economic and consumer policy] letter alleges YouTube failed to remove it for eight months.

The only substantial difference between Cocomelon and procedurally generated videos from a few years back is a slightly higher production quality.
Content of the video is as vapid as before.

Meanwhile, stuff like Kids Diana Show is basically just a bunch of ultra-consumerist ads for toys presented under a guise of educational content.
Besides the obvious abuse of algorithm, it's also child abuse.

Channel has been active since 2015, when its namesake was only 14 months old.
At the moment it has 840 videos, over 74 million subscribers and over 54 BILLION views.
I.e. That's around 12 videos per month, or one video filmed, edited and uploaded every 3 days - since the kid was 14 months old.

Again... these are videos staring a child, since its second year of life, up until it is seven.
Can you imagine producing a video of a child every three days? Can you imagine the toll it takes on the child? The burnout it will eventually experience?
Again, this is a child during ages 1 to 7. During which, every three days a video had to be produced.
The child is not a professional actor nor are there any protections available - for most of the time of the channel, they were living in Ukraine.
And you know... it's just parents filming their kids playing with toys and learning. Except it's a franchise now.

But don't worry. It's fine.
Her parents have already produced a replacement baby brother cause Diana and her other brother, Roma, are aging out of the bracket.
It's basically trafficking children for the purposes of begging, only with extra steps.
But it's fine... Don't worry. YouTube will reach down with its invisible algorithm hand and fix everything. It is a good and benevolent AI.

Microsoft Previews Its Open Source Java Distribution, Microsoft Build of OpenJDK

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Mark Wilson writes: Microsoft has launched a preview version of its own distribution of Java, making it available for Windows, macOS and Linux. The company has named the release Microsoft Build of OpenJDK, and describes it as its "new way to collaborate and contribute to the Java ecosystem". The company has made available Microsoft Build of OpenJDK binaries for Java 11, which are based on OpenJDK source code. Microsoft says it is looking to broaden and deepen its support for Java, "one of the most important programming languages used today".

Re:Microsoft's Java always was troublesome...

By squiggleslash • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

It's not that Java. That Java died under a barrage of lawsuits from Sun. This is a straight OpenJDK derived JVM that Microsoft is making sure works under Windows.

History repeats itself.

By Virtucon • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I'm old enough to remember the "Microsoft Java" and the lawsuit it created barring them from doing this. Embrace, Extend and Eradicate is still alive at MSFT.

Re:... why?

By Junta • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Java is a large developer ecosystem that Microsoft would like to be the go-to for.

Oracle made an aggressively anti-user move with licensing in 2019, opening the door for Microsoft to have a low-effort way in to basically take over the role as 'java provider'.

Microsoft offering more normal licensing terms is a huge ray of hope for Java shops that don't want to abandon large codebases, but don't want to get stuck having to defend free usage in an Oracle audit.

Generally, Microsoft of now has demonstrated that it gets that things like base language enablement can't be a profit center anymore, and the money is in upsell to other software and development environments. Further they no longer care if their software enables Linux or OSX or any other development, so long as they have a crack at revenue from those developers.

Re: ... why?

By Junta • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

So one company that my company has as a customer says they received a huge invoice for JRE they didn't even install.

Their claim was that because our software had a .jnlp available, Oracle's audit presumed that .jnlp being on internal network meant the desktops probably had Oracle JRE, and invoiced as such. The client either had to pay or go to court to challenge the invoice.

This is why Oracle is so reviled, they love complex licensing arrangements and aggressive audits and intimidating invoices to extract money beyond reasonable.

While there may be a legal avenue to get free software from Oracle, Oracle acts in bad faith and thus it is best to steer clear of anything of Oracle's.

I presume that there are solid guys at Oracle. From all outward appearances I particularly think highly of the Oracle Linux team. However, the wider business context is rotten as a supplier.

Re:... why?

By squiggleslash • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

OpenJDK is open source, so what is it that MS is going to bring to the table here?

An installer. That's literally it. If you download OpenJDK right now with the intent to install it on your Windows box, you either have to agree to Oracle's non-open source terms, or you have to manually shove the files from a ZIP file in C:\Program Files\ and edit the environment variables so that it's in the path.

It's completely ridiculous. This is what Oracle has done to Java.

This is not a problem with GNU/Linux platforms, because Canonical, RedHat, et al package the files for distribution themselves. But for Windows users it's insane - yes, most programmers can do it, and perhaps more than 50% of sysadmins, but it's not clean, and doesn't lend itself to patches and updates.

Uber, Lyft Tout US Ride-Hail Driver Pay, Incentives Amid Demand Uptick

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Uber and Lyft said U.S. drivers on their ride-hail platforms were earning significantly more than before the pandemic as trip demand outstrips driver supply, prompting the companies to offer extra incentives. From a report: Uber on Wednesday said it would invest an additional $250 million to boost driver earnings and offer payment guarantees in an effort to incentivize new and existing drivers. Uber's Vice President of U.S. & Canada Mobility, Dennis Cinelli, in a blog post told drivers to take advantage of higher earnings before pay returns to pre-COVID-19 levels as more drivers return to the platform. Lyft on Tuesday said drivers in the company's top-25 markets were earning an average of $36 per hour compared to $20 per hour pre-pandemic. Those numbers include tips, but Lyft did not disclose the share of tips in earnings. Lyft is also offering additional incentives and promotions in select markets. Further reading: Uber and Lyft have a driver shortage problem, and it's costing them a lot of money

They're having trouble getting drivers

By rsilvergun • Score: 3 • Thread
because of the Stimulus payments and unemployment reducing the number of desperate people trying to make rent. Also it's a very high risk job during a pandemic (there multiple videos of people assaulting drivers after being asked to either wear a mask or get out, and even with a mask being in an enclosed space with strangers is asking for trouble).

Also for all the pay they're touting online the drivers are complaining about lower pay and trying to organize for better pay. There's a movement to get them all to turn down the short unprofitable rides so Uber will raise the pay on them, but it's difficult to do because most people in the Gig economy are desperate and they need every penny they can get. Again, the short term boost of stimulus & unemployment has given them a little leverage, but it won't last.

Anyone else notice a change?

By GlennC • Score: 3 • Thread

It used to be that Uber and Lyft were "ride-sharing" apps. Now, they're using the more accurate term "ride-hailing."

I know it may be a minor nit to pick for some, but to me it says that people are starting to realize that the driver generally has no intention of going to the rider's destination before receiving the request.

I'm still not interested in using this service, but that's me. I'm not interested in encouraging the spread of modern-day serfdom.

hard to believe these numbers

By MooseTick • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

"earning an average of $36 per hour compared to $20 per hour pre-pandemic"

I find it hard to believe they are averaging that much per hour. That would equal $72k/year working a 40 hour week now and ~$40k/year pre-pandemic. They'd have no trouble getting drivers if people could reliably make that much. Especially when they say that's an average which would presume "good" drivers are making even more on average.

So they cut insurance.

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Informative • Thread

I was an occasional "for shits and giggles" driver before the pandemic.

Then they cut pay to below break-even, and I decided I wasn't having enough fun to pay for it.

Now not only has pay not gone up (though they did email me with a few "incentives" that weren't even remotely tempting before I got vaccinated), they've also raised the collision deductible for their coverage from $1000 to $2500.

Yeah, not a fucking chance I'll be driving for them. My personal collision deductible is $500, I was annoyed by $1000. $2500 is a big fat FUCK NO.

Particle Mystery Deepens, As Physicists Confirm That the Muon Is More Magnetic Than Predicted

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
sciencehabit writes: A potential chink in physicists' understanding of fundamental particles and forces now looks more real. New measurements confirm a fleeting subatomic particle called the muon may be ever so slightly more magnetic than theory predicts, a team of more than 200 physicists reported this week. That small anomaly -- just 2.5 parts in 1 billion -- is a welcome threat to particle physicists' prevailing theory, the standard model, which has long explained pretty much everything they've seen at atom smashers and left them pining for something new to puzzle over. "Since the 1970s we've been looking for a crack in the standard model," says Alexey Petrov, a theorist at Wayne State University. "This may be it." But Sally Dawson, a theorist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, notes the result is still not definitive. "It does nothing for our understanding of physics other than to say we have to wait a little longer to see if it is real."

For decades, physicists have measured the magnetism of the muon, a heavier, unstable cousin of the electron, which behaves like a tiny bar magnet. They put muons in a vertical magnetic field that makes them twirl horizontally like little compass needles. The frequency at which the muons twirl reveals how magnetic they are, which in principle can point to new particles, even ones too massive to be blasted into existence at an atom smasher like Europe's Large Hadron Collider. That's because, thanks to quantum uncertainty, the muon sits amid a haze of other particles and antiparticles flitting in and out of existence. These "virtual" particles can't be observed directly, but they can affect the muon's properties. Quantum mechanics and Albert Einstein's theory of special relativity predict the muon should have a certain basic magnetism. Familiar standard model particles flitting about the muon increase that magnetism by about 0.1%. And unknown particles lurking in the vacuum could add another, unpredictable increment of change.
Further reading: Finding From Particle Research Could Rewrite Known Laws of Physics.

Re:Are there practical consequences?

By AvitarX • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Hertz had this to say when he discovered the basis of radio communication:
“It's of no use whatsoever. This is just an experiment that proves Maestro Maxwell was right—we just have these mysterious electromagnetic waves that we cannot see with the naked eye. But they are there.”

20 years later it allowed morse code transmission across the Altantic (at a narrow spot), 40 years later we had radio stations.

It can take time to figure things out, even when the discovery is not immediately obvious.

Re:Are there practical consequences?

By crunchygranola • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Cosmic ray muons are being used to detect underground cavities and chambers.


By nospam007 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Daughter was doing science homework. ..

Me: "What is a cow's favorite elementary particle?"
Her: "..."
Me: "A Muon"
Her: "Get out."

Re:Are there practical consequences?

By AcidFnTonic • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The masses act more like it's a popularity contest.

They won't help you design or ponder about it.
They won't help you build it because you are wrong and wasting time.
They won't help you test it but instead actively push FUD trying to discredit you.
They they mock you for going against the grain if they haven't stopped you yet.

Then once you prove it all works, they demand you to give it to them for free, complain that they should be able to literally rob you of it because freedom, then call you evil for daring to keep a penny after all that hard work.

When it's time for recognition there will be none because everyone knows how "obvious" the invention is.

If you have ever built anything you'll see this process happen. When you fail over and over they notice. If you succeed it's because you are a thieving bastard robbing the kindness of society.

It's a wonder people still invent shit for other people.

Re:Are there practical consequences?

By gtall • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Jesus, what a post-modern dystopic view of science you have. Scientists generally don't give a damn about the "masses" regardless of how they think of them. And near as I can tell, the masses don't give damn about science, certainly not enough to actively discredit it . . . except for the Christian nutjobs, but they only talk to each other and normal people pay them no mind.

T-Mobile Launches Home Internet Service and Small Town Initiative as Part of Latest 'Un-carrier' Move

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
T-Mobile made a series of announcements Wednesday as part of its latest 'Un-carrier' initiative, including the official launch of its new home internet service, 5G phone offerings, and new investment in rural areas. From a report: T-Mobile Home Internet: After piloting a home internet service powered by its wireless network, T-Mobile Home Internet is now available to more than 30 million U.S. households. It costs $60 per month -- $10 more per month than the pilot program -- with average expected speeds of 100 Mbps for most customers and an included 4G/5G gateway device.

T-Mobile Hometown: The Bellevue, Wash.-based company will build hundreds of new retail stores and create 5,000 jobs in small U.S. towns. It is also adding "Hometown Experts" to towns where it can't build a store, and committing $25 million over five years to fund community development projects in rural areas.

5G phones: T-Mobile said it will let postpaid customers trade in any old phone in working condition for a new Samsung Galaxy A32 5G smartphone for free after 24 monthly bill credits.

Re: Data caps?

By ISayWeOnlyToBePolite • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

I whent straight to the actual source and they claim no data caps

Re:Data caps?

By AvitarX • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

As a current post-paid tmobile user.

There is "no data cap", but you do get "deprioritized during times of congestion" after 50GB (this number may have changed).

In practice this means that every now and again I am on an even footing with MVNOs, but 95% of the time I still get my 50/25 speeds (LTE at my house).

I'm loathe to call it not a cap, but they don't charge extra, and they don't slow me down the vast majority of the time, so it's only a vaguely misleading (compared to my experience with other networks in the past).

Re: Data caps?

By ksw_92 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

They're talking about roaming, not what you're connecting to over the Internet. If your device spends the majority of its air-time on other cellular networks then you probably shouldn't be a T-Mobile subscriber.

Facebook Says It's Your Fault That Hackers Got Half a Billion User Phone Numbers

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
A database containing the phone numbers of more than half a billion Facebook users is being freely traded online, and Facebook is trying to pin the blame on everyone but themselves. From a report: A blog post titled "The Facts on News Reports About Facebook Data," published Tuesday evening, is designed to silence the growing criticism the company is facing for failing to protect the phone numbers and other personal information of 533 million users after a database containing that information was shared for free in low level hacking forums over the weekend, as first reported by Business Insider. Facebook initially dismissed the reports as irrelevant, claiming the data was leaked years ago and so the fact it had all been collected into one uber database containing one in every 15 people on the planet -- and was now being given away for free -- didn't really matter.

So instead of apologizing for failing to keep users' data secure, Facebook's product management director Mike Clark began his blog post by making a semantic point about how the data was leaked. "It is important to understand that malicious actors obtained this data not through hacking our systems but by scraping it from our platform prior to September 2019," Clark wrote. This is the identical excuse given in 2018, when it was revealed that Facebook had given Cambridge Analytica the data of 87 million users without their permission, for use in political ads. Clark goes on to explain that the people who collected this data -- sorry, "scraped" this data -- did so by using a feature designed to help new users find their friends on the platform.

Re:Here's why it doesn't matter

By Geoffrey.landis • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Sounds to me as if Facebook's "excuse" makes them look even worse.

"malicious actors obtained this data not through hacking our systems, because they didn't have to hack anything, we left it lying out in the open on our platform".

Re:They're not wrong...

By dstwins • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

True.. and yet, its their fault for even collecting this information in the first place.. If the data wasn't there, then there would be so little reason to "scrape" facebook.. So while the users are to blame for USING facebook (something no sane person should).. Its facebook's fault for collecting information that should not be there.. the only thing that should be REQUIRED is an email address (For validation and feedback), a username and an password of some sort.. EVERYTHING else should NOT be collected.

Banks have to collect some information simply because of the moronic laws we have.. So when they get hacked.. well.. its bad.. but something like facebook.. (which by all rights should not even exist).. I mean seriously???

It is our fault

By MobyDisk • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

He is right in one way: it is our fault for giving this company information. Facebook's business model is around gathering personal information and selling it to advertisers, political groups, and anyone who will pay for it. Are people really going "OMG! The company that made an app that takes my information and sells it, took my information and sold it!" Heck, the CEO of this company told us that the expectation of privacy is no longer a social norm. Facebook's app lied about the API version it used to trick Android into letting it access people's contact information.

This is a case of "I never thought leopards would eat MY face," sobs woman who voted for the Leopards Eating People's Faces Party.

Slashdot does not require my real name, my phone number, my gmail account, or an app installed on my phone. I trust Slashdot will not not leak my data -- not because they are good people who I trust -- but because I didn't give it to them.

Re:Do they have my phone number?

By NateFromMich • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I have never explicitly given my phone number to FB, even though they keep asking for it in order to help protect my FB account.

But given that FB likes to create shadow profiles of non-FB users, is it also likely that they have already have my phone number associated with my FB account because they like to play connect the dots?

They probably have your phone number. All you need is one idiot that has your phone number in their contacts and you're screwed, because Facebook asked them for access to that, and you know they clicked "Ok".

Re:They're not wrong...

By hey! • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

You're assuming Facebook tracking is limited to Facebook users. It's not. Facebook tracks non-subscribers who visit third party sites that use Facebook services too.

Et Tu, Signal?

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Software developer Stephen Diehl on Signal's move to introduce support for cryptocurrency: Many technologists viscerally felt yesterday's announcement as a punch to the gut when we heard that the Signal messaging app was bundling an embedded cryptocurrency. This news really cut to heart of what many technologists have felt before when we as loyal users have been exploited and betrayed by corporations, but this time it felt much deeper because it introduced a conflict of interest from our fellow technologists that we truly believed were advancing a cause many of us also believed in. So many of us have spent significant time and social capital moving our friends and family away from the exploitative data siphon platforms that Facebook et al offer, and on to Signal in the hopes of breaking the cycle of commercial exploitation of our online relationships. And some of us feel used. Signal users are overwhelmingly tech savvy consumers and we're not idiots. Do they think we don't see through the thinly veiled pump and dump scheme that's proposed? It's an old scam with a new face.

Allegedly the controlling entity prints 250 million units of some artificially scarce trashcoin called MOB (coincidence?) of which the issuing organization controls 85% of the supply. This token then floats on a shady offshore cryptocurrency exchange hiding in the Cayman Islands or the Bahamas, where users can buy and exchange the token. The token is wash traded back and forth by insiders and the exchange itself to artificially pump up the price before it's dumped on users in the UK to buy to allegedly use as "payments." All of this while insiders are free to silently use information asymmetry to cash out on the influx of pumped hype-driven buys before the token crashes in value. Did I mention that the exchange that floats the token is the primary investor in the company itself, does anyone else see a major conflict of interest here? Let it be said that everything here is probably entirely legal or there simply is no precedent yet. The question everyone is asking before these projects launch now though is: should it be?

I think I speak for many technologists when I say that any bolted-on cryptocurrency monetization scheme smells like a giant pile of rubbish and feels enormously user-exploitative. We've seen this before, after all Telegram tried the same thing in an ICO that imploded when SEC shut them down, and Facebook famously tried and failed to monetize WhatsApp through their decentralized-but-not-really digital money market fund project. The whole Libra/Diem token (or whatever they're calling its remains this week) was a failed Facebook initiative exploiting the gaping regulatory loophole where if you simply call yourself a cryptocurrency platform (regardless of any technology) you can effectively function as a shadow bank and money transmistter with no license, all while performing roughly the same function as a bank but with magic monopoly money that you can print with no oversight while your customers assume full counterparty risk. If that sounds like a terrible idea, it's because it is. But we fully expect that level of evil behavior from Facebookers because that's kind of their thing.


By BAReFO0t • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Also: "MOB (coincidence?)"

Are you fucking serious?

Now it's completely obvious you're just a moron with a bone-headed agenda.

Re:Oh come on! Cut the drama.

By Mononymous • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

No response to any of the points made in TFS? No argument at all, other than "trust Moxie"?
And anyone who doesn't trust him enough is a useful idiot for the NSA? Frankly, this is not enough.

exploited and betrayed by corporations

By bobstreo • Score: 3 • Thread

Does anyone ever actually think you're not going to be exploited and betrayed by corporations?


Re:Oh come on! Cut the drama.

By AmiMoJo • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The problem is Marlinspike does things that make Signal unsuitable for all his states goals.

He ignores major security issues that come up. He actively works to prevent other messaging apps from interoperating with Signal. The Signal app itself is bloated, it wants to handle everything on Android and goes way beyond just secure messaging.

Bruce Schneier

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

also writes about Signal.

Jeff Bezos Comes Out in Support of Increased Corporate Taxes

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
As the White House considers raising taxes on corporations for the first time in more than 25 years, the head of one of America's largest companies is backing such a plan. From a report: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement Tuesday that the company is "supportive of a rise in the corporate tax rate." Bezos said, "We support the Biden Administration's focus on making bold investments in American infrastructure. Both Democrats and Republicans have supported infrastructure in the past, and it's the right time to work together to make this happen. We recognize this investment will require concessions from all sides -- both on the specifics of what's included as well as how it gets paid for." The White House is laying the groundwork for lifting the corporate tax rate above its current level of 21% to help pay for an ambitious infrastructure package. Bezos' statement is a notable show of approval for the move given that many others in the business community have warned that it could threaten recovery from the pandemic.

The outgoing Amazon chief executive is, in some ways, a surprising advocate for a corporate tax hike. In 2019, the then-former Vice President Joe Biden called out Amazon for its history of using tax credits and deductions to reduce its corporate income tax bill. The company fired back, saying, "we pay every penny we owe," and that it had paid $2.6 billion in corporate taxes since 2016. And again last year, then-Presidential candidate Biden said Amazon should "start paying their taxes," as part of a broader critique of large, successful businesses. Amazon has repeatedly said that it follows all applicable tax laws. The company also recently sparred with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has advocated for raising taxes on big corporations. Last month Warren said in a tweet: "Giant corporations like Amazon report huge profits to their shareholders -- but they exploit loopholes and tax havens to pay close to nothing in taxes. That's just not right."

Re: Wealth Tax

By Junta • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The thing is that the rather extreme extent to which the dollar numbers go to relatively few people is a bit of a bug in how the economy works.

For one, a lot of these billionaires have grossly overestimated net worths. Jeff Bezos has a net worth of 188.6 billion, but if he went to make that spendable, it would collapse (most of it is extrapolation from Amazon stock, and any large offload of Amazon stock, and *particularly* from Bezos himself would crash the value on the way out. However those numbers can be used as leverage to borrow without actually selling the stock. In short, the 'true' wealth is complicated. Further you couldn't divert the resources required to make one Ferrari and make 10 Honda Civics, despite the 'price' suggesting the resources are equivalent..

However the fact remains that by *any* measure, there are people who are set for life many times over, and/or made wealthy by just playing the meta game of manipulating the money in the finance industry, to an extent that can't possibly be 'really' in line with what the numbers say.

So we have some unknown 'actual' imbalance that is almost certainly not inline with proportional contribution, and a *super* distorted dollar figure that is even more demoralizing.

Re: Wealth Tax

By Trailer Trash • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

And what is their fair share? They use far more publicly funded resources than you or I do, so should pay more. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have been loudly declaring for three decades that they should have to pay more taxes,

Nobody is stopping them. There's a difference between "loudly declaring" and actually doing it.

and there are quite a number of other socially responsible millionaires and billionaires who feel the same way but don't have the the public profiles they do. I'd be surprised if Bezos doesn't share their opinion.

If they were socially responsible they'd do it. Instead, they yell about it so that low-IQ people on the left will think they're virtuous. It's why we call it "virtue signaling".

Re:Wealth Tax

By Dr_Terminus • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

I don't think the stats you present make the case you think you're making. Sure, the top 1% pay a greater share than income taxes than the bottom 90%. But how do you know those rates are fair?

If we naively assume a flat tax -- that no matter how large the income, the amount of tax paid would be proportionally the same, you would expect the share of income taxes to be roughly equivalent to the share of income. But thats not what we see... In 2016, the top 1% made 40% of the income, while the bottom 90% made just over 20% of the income. So from these numbers, the bottom 90% is overpaying income taxes by almost 10%!

The picture gets even worse when you consider that taxes are meant to be progressive, i.e., you are meant to pay a higher percentage on marginal incomes above various thresholds. So in those cases, higher incomes should see a higher overall tax rate. So from this standpoint, the very rich are drastically underpaying compared with the bottom 90%.

Re:Duh, of course he does

By stikves • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Reminds my of the He-Man "meme" where Skeletor punches the mirror after he has gone through:

The small business or aspiring "unicorns" will not have the resources to avoid these taxes. Ultra rich on the other hand will completely bypass them, or can actually afford to pay it if push comes to shove.

Remember, Amazon grew so large by constantly investing all profits back into the business. That is why they also paid 0% taxes.

Let's do a mental exercise: 20% profit every year (making this up), but all that 20% spent in R&D and growth. That will make an initial $1 billion investment in a company into $15 billion in 15 years. Add in the ultra optimistic stock market values, and you have a 150 billion valuation!

Or add in mandatory 10% minimum tax (or some sort of "wealth tax" into the equation), then the investment is only 10%, and the assets drop by 70%. That will ensure the new aspiring company will never catch up to Amazon or become a competitor in any serious way.

This is a new way of "regulatory capture" to slow down competition, nothing more.

Well, duh, of course he is!

By Rick Schumann • Score: 3 • Thread
Bezos and Amazon have so much money compared to their competition that they know a corporate tax increase will hurt their competition much more than it'll hurt them.

EPA To Propose Vehicle Emissions Standards To Meet 'The Urgency of Climate Crisis' By July's End

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is preparing to propose stricter emissions standards for vehicles by the end of July, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said Tuesday. Regan told Bloomberg News in an interview that the new standards would be sufficient to meet "the urgency of the climate crisis." "We need to go as far as we can to meet the demands of the day," Regan added. "The science indicates we have a short window in time to reverse the path that we're on and mitigate against certain climate impacts."

An EPA spokesperson told The Hill that the timeline was dictated by an executive order from President Biden that requires the administration to review the former Trump administration's rule that relaxed the emissions limits by July. The spokesperson confirmed that the EPA is on track to meet that timeline. That rule also loosened the requirement for fuel economy standards, which dictate how much gasoline per mile that the U.S. fleet can consume, which the Biden administration could also tighten.

The executive order also requires a review this month of the decision to revoke California's ability to set its own tailpipe emissions standards, which have been stricter than the federal government's standards and adopted by a number of other states. Regan told Bloomberg that he is "a firm believer in the state's statutory authority to lead." According to the news outlet, he also did not rule out the possibility for additional regulations in the future that would essentially ban new conventional gas-powered cars.

I have a plan

By Libertarian_Geek • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
We should all take large SUVs everywhere, but then ride our bikes the last 150 yards to the destination. When people see this, it will inspire them.

I'll believe this is a "climate crisis" when...

By MacMann • Score: 3 • Thread

I'll believe this is a "climate crisis" when politicians act like it. That means things like shifting the US Navy to have more nuclear powered ships than just aircraft carriers and submarines. The US Navy had nuclear powered cruisers and other surface ships from about 1960 to 1995. The claim was that they cost too much to operate, meaning they were replaced with fuel oil burners. If there's a national security issue on oil imports, a claim that the many wars in the Middle East were just wars for more oil, and most of all that burning oil is a "crisis" then one of the first things that Congress should do is fulfill the request of the US Navy for more nuclear powered ships.

Also on the list for ships that could be nuclear powered are those in the US Coast Guard. They have long endurance ships to protect shipping lanes, enforce laws on fishing and whaling, maintain navigation aids, and more. One class of ship that is just begging for nuclear power is the icebreaker. The Russians have had nuclear powered icebreakers for a long time. These are ships that need lots of power, travel to remote and environmentally sensitive locations, where nuclear power is well suited to keep the ship moving and the crew safe and warm.

The US Navy has been working on a system to produce aircraft fuel on nuclear powered ships, using hydrogen and carbon from seawater as the building blocks for the hydrocarbon fuels. If Congress was serious about a "climate crisis" from the burning of petroleum then this technology should have been fast tracked to deployment. I saw something recently that would indicate this is a technology that will be deployed to the Navy in the next 5 to 10 years. That's great but why weren't prototypes deployed a decade ago when this technology was shown capable of producing viable fuels? Maybe not put it on ships but put it on shore somewhere. Instead of making fuel for jets that require fuels that fit very narrow specification they could use the fuel in trucks, field stoves and generators, heaters and lanterns, or any of a number of places. Get people trained on the technology. Get more people involved. See how and where these things can break in real world use.

Here's an idea, how about Congress hold more meetings remotely? Or, maybe shorten their legislative sessions so that in the hottest and coldest periods of the year the capitol buildings don't need HVAC and lighting. They can still make their phone calls, send e-mails, have Zoom meetings. They just don't need to fly everyone to DC for meetings that don't need to be held.

It's a "crisis", right? Then act like it. Once these idiots start acting like it is a crisis then I will start acting like it is a crisis.

This is not a new problem. I watched this play out over decades and I saw Democrats talk big about the problem but do little. Now that they have control of the government they are panicking. They need to show results. But it's not results they wanted, because if it was results then they would have acted very differently for the last 50 years. If they do act now then they run the risk of solving the problem. That means they will have to find another bogeyman to scare people into voting for them for the next half century.

Cry wolf and then wonder why nobody listens

By argStyopa • Score: 3 • Thread

"The science indicates we have a short window in time to reverse the path that we're on "

The "science" indicates no such thing.

Look, I get it: it behooves the global-warming-philes to try to make this seem as urgent as possible, but even they have to eventually comprehend that constantly insisting that it's an emergency - and just as constantly being wrong - is the same as crying wolf.

From imminent mass starvation, ice ages (promulgated by SCIENTISTS, this wasn't just pop-news ), and even more recent predictions that overestimated the impact of CO2 by 150% or histrionically predicted the immersion of the West Side Hwy in NY (in fact, Lower Manhattan sea level is LOWER than it was 20 years ago, lol) those who aren't already sitting in the choir, it just means they should stop listening.

Look, science - esp predictive science about something as vastly complex as climate - is hard, and models are constantly being revised. But a realistic acknowledgement of that would imply that these sorts of speculations would objectively be hedged by caveats and error bars, welcoming new data or identifications where the models could be improved; instead, the zealotry demands both strident certainly and aggressively attacking anyone expressing doubt.

Re: Ban states from setting rules...

By PPH • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
You will pry California's special snowflake status out of their cold,dead hands. Which suits me just fine. It runs from labeling practically everything as carcinogenic to special firearms design requirements (which actually make bump-fired weapons easier to build). But that's what you get for having a bunch of senile old coots who got brain damaged from drugs in the 1960's running things.

Elected Officials should have to vote on this

By schwit1 • Score: 3 • Thread

The EPA is right to propose. But the final decisions and votes should be done by Congress. They were elected for just this purpose.

The problem is Congress doesn't want to be held accountable. Too bad.

Government Audit of AI With Ties To White Supremacy Finds No AI

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Khari Johnson writes via VentureBeat: In April 2020, news broke that Banjo CEO Damien Patton, once the subject of profiles by business journalists, was previously convicted of crimes committed with a white supremacist group. According to OneZero's analysis of grand jury testimony and hate crime prosecution documents, Patton pled guilty to involvement in a 1990 shooting attack on a synagogue in Tennessee. Amid growing public awareness about algorithmic bias, the state of Utah halted a $20.7 million contract with Banjo, and the Utah attorney general's office opened an investigation into matters of privacy, algorithmic bias, and discrimination. But in a surprise twist, an audit and report released last week found no bias in the algorithm because there was no algorithm to assess in the first place.

"Banjo expressly represented to the Commission that Banjo does not use techniques that meet the industry definition of artificial Intelligence. Banjo indicated they had an agreement to gather data from Twitter, but there was no evidence of any Twitter data incorporated into Live Time," reads a letter Utah State Auditor John Dougall released last week. The incident, which VentureBeat previously referred to as part of a "fight for the soul of machine learning," demonstrates why government officials must evaluate claims made by companies vying for contracts and how failure to do so can cost taxpayers millions of dollars. As the incident underlines, companies selling surveillance software can make false claims about their technologies' capabilities or turn out to be charlatans or white supremacists -- constituting a public nuisance or worse. The audit result also suggests a lack of scrutiny can undermine public trust in AI and the governments that deploy them.

Re: Should be prosecuted for fraud

By werepants • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Even if it was a basic classifier, that would probably have been enough to complete an algorithm audit - the fact that they didn't even have something like that means that these guys must be charlatans of the worst sort. Any halfway competent python developer or data scientist could knock together a classifier from an example online within a day or so - this isn't hard stuff, it's one or two google searches away. They must have zero legitimate technical expertise in their company.

Re:Too obvious

By werepants • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Woah, woah, woah. Banjo player here. Just liking the instrument doesn't make you racist - it originated with black communities, after all.

Now, does it mean that you are a sadistic bastard with poor taste that likes to inflict obnoxious sounds on the eardrums of innocent bystanders? No comment.

Re:How are White supremacists

By wiredog • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Not only was there no military deployed prior to the attack on the Capitol on January 6th, the request for military support was actively denied.

BLM, OTOH, was met with this.

If the seditionists had been met with a similar military response they probably wouldn't have attacked.

But you knew that.

Re:That's not how AI works

By jellomizer • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

As a white guy in early 40's if I get pulled over, I just worry about a ticket. So when I get pulled over I am calm, polite and rational (I usually stop myself from instinctively saying thank you after he give me a ticket.).
If you are black guy, and you get pulled over, They may arrest you, and pull you into questioning, because you "match" the profile of an other criminal, or worse. So when you are pulled over you are more anxious and scared. Which then makes the police even more alert.

So these populations may get more patrols where it is easier to get caught. Also the population is scared of the police, so they try really hard to solve problems without them. These areas get a bad reputation so it is more difficult to find a job or start a business their, so people are impoverish, thus may need to stretch laws in order to survive. Which increased their chance of getting caught and creates a viscous circle.

The problem with racism today isn't like the 1980's "very special episode" where there is that guy who just hates people because of the color of their skin. But a very complex set of conditions where a bias from experience feeds back to itself to increase a bias.


By groobly • Score: 3 • Thread

No AI. Also, no human intelligence. Also, no white supremacy, at least in the classic, "legacy" definition. Of course, in the new and improved definition of "white supremacy," everything is connected, including AI, not to mention dog food and the color yellow.

SpaceX President Says Starlink Doesn't Plan To Offer Tiered Pricing

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Starlink opened up pre-orders for its service in February for a $99 deposit, but it doesn't appear that the company plans to offer any kind of tiered plan to folks who were hoping for some options. Gizmodo reports: SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, speaking during a Satellite 2021 LEO Digital Forum panel on Tuesday, said that she doesn't "think we're going to do tiered pricing to consumers" for Starlink's satellite internet service. Shotwell added that the company was "going to try to keep it as simple as possible and transparent as possible, so right now there are no plans to tier for consumers."

That could be a make-or-break for potential subscribers who were hoping for a discounted -- or for that matter, even more premium -- version of the service than the one it's currently offering. The $99 refundable security deposit offering that rolled in February does not cover the total cost for the service. The Starlink installation kit costs $499 and includes a power supply, a wifi router, and a mountable dish antenna. Shipping and handling will add at least another $50 to that price. And then there's the service itself, which costs $99 per month.

Lets see how it evolves

By sugar and acid • Score: 3 • Thread

Starlink have put out their first product, lets see how the business model evolves. The real advantage is the constellation at low earth orbit vs geostationary satellites that serve a continent or country only. The method is more costly overall simply due to how many satellites need to be put up, but increases possible throughput as there is effectively more base stations in the sky, and low latency simply because the satellites are closer to the ground. The real trick and risky part with this business model is getting full coverage to start with and selling it all to cover ongoing costs and expansion, adding in capacity is then less expensive than other models as you can keep adding in single cheap to launch low orbit satellites to match demand, which de-risks further investment in launches and system capacity.

I suspect this is actually priced about right for middle class, digital self-employed or remote workers looking to move to more rural and remote properties. Seen an increase in demand now I suspect because of covid-19. Low latency reasonably reliable internet anywhere combined with Tesla powerwalls and solar cells, looks like Elon Musk is aiming to enable off-grid log cabin in the woods digital workers... Interesting that if this is the only viable internet available with the bandwidth and latency required, it's a captive market in a few years time once enough people have changed their lives for it.

As another example, cost of putting this on a farm as a central service for the business is easily swallowed by all the other running costs of a farm that easily dwarf this cost. Add in mining operations who can take massive amounts of data if available, and may even run a cell network at the site with the data provided, but their demands would be much higher than available from a single subscription. Wealthy yacht and RV owners will also be all over this.

Re:Datacenters in space

By Admiral Krunch • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

But if Microsoft can run a data center in the ocean, why can't Starlink run one in space?

Mostly because water is a good conductor of heat and space isn't.

Re:The don't need to directly compete with anyone

By bill_mcgonigle • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

> Who cares? It should be like "first sale" with physical objects. I buy bandwidth and it's my business what I do with it. I already payed for it.

It remains to be seen if SpaceX implements data caps or not.

If they don't then you're buying a connection, which seems to be what
Gwen is saying here.

Upstream bandwidth isn't free, so analogize with electricity and if you want to pay your neighbor's electric bill I don't have a problem with that. If the atomic-future scenario had played out where you pay $100 a month for unmetered power, then the economics would be different.

Overall the ISP market would work better with reasonable per-byte pricing, but for so many bad reasons that's very unlikely.

Re:Datacenters in space

By flux • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

You may find that it's very difficult to exchange thermal energy with the so-called "cold" vacuum. You can only radiate it away, which is very inefficient compared to thermal conductivity.

I think this is a good thing

By erp_consultant • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

As the article notes, Spacex was never intended to be a cheap way to get internet access. It is intended as a way for under served rural customers to get fast reliable internet access. $500 just for the dish itself is a bit expensive to be honest but moving to true high speed internet is literally a game changer. It is by far the best options currently and is priced accordingly.

Maybe the price will come down eventually but they don't want to make that announcement yet, as potential customers will simply wait and they want to get as many signed up as possible. My hope is that if the price doesn't come down the government will step in and offer credits to rural customers that can't afford the high prices. Or competitors like Amazon will offer some options that might help drive down the price for everyone.

On a good day I get 40MB, which is pretty good for what I need. The problem is the outages, which occur weekly on average and sometimes more frequently. I know that Spacex is still in Beta but once it stabilizes it should be pretty solid. The higher speeds are just a bonus. The cost will be a bit higher for me but not by much so I'm willing to take the gamble. Worst case I can always go back to my current provider.