the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2021-Apr-08 today archive


  1. Ant Responses To Social Isolation Resemble Those of Humans
  2. Adding Is Favored Over Subtracting In Problem Solving
  3. Verizon Recalls 2.5 Million Hotspot Devices Due To Fire Hazard
  4. Impossible Foods In Talks To Go Public
  5. Proctorio Is Using Racist Algorithms To Detect Faces
  6. Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Nano Weighs Only 1.99 Pounds and Is Powered By Intel Tiger Lake CPUs
  7. Elon Musk's Neuralink Co-Founder Says He Could Build the Real 'Jurassic Park,' With Genetically Engineered Dinosaurs
  8. Reddit-Fueled Penny Stock's 6,400% Rally Reversing In Sydney
  9. FTC Urges Courts Not To Dismiss Facebook Antitrust Case
  10. Wix and Their Dirty Tricks
  11. A Software Problem is Bricking Some Early Mustang Mach-Es
  12. Amazon Warns Texas: Don't Pass Bill That Would Drive Up Wind Power Costs
  13. Intel's Dystopian Anti-Harassment AI Lets Users Opt In for 'Some' Racism
  14. Hackers Scraped Data from 500 Million LinkedIn Users -- and Have Posted it For Sale Online
  15. Australian Minister's Phone Hacked as Report Reveals Hong Kong Link
  16. GM Slows Production in Some Plants Due To Semiconductor Chip Shortage
  17. UK Software Reseller Sues Microsoft For $370 Million
  18. US Adds Chinese Supercomputing Entities To Economic Blacklist
  19. Peter Thiel Calls Bitcoin 'a Chinese Financial Weapon'
  20. Apple Reveals Line of Attack in App Store Trial Against Epic
  21. PayPal Pledges To Reach Net-Zero Greenhouse Emissions By 2040
  22. UK Broadcaster Wins Injunction To Stop Reddit Moderator Sharing Pirated TV Shows
  23. IBM Creates a COBOL Compiler For Linux On x86

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.

Ant Responses To Social Isolation Resemble Those of Humans

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Ants react to social isolation in a similar way as do humans and other social mammals. A study by an Israeli-German research team has revealed alterations to the social and hygienic behavior of ants that had been isolated from their group. The research team was particularly surprised by the fact that immune and stress genes were downregulated in the brains of the isolated ants. [...] While the effects of isolation have been extensively studied in social mammals such as humans and mice, less is known about how social insects respond in comparable situations -- even though they live in highly evolved social systems. Ants, for instance, live their entire lives as members of the same colony and are dependent on their colony mates. The worker ants relinquish their own reproductive potential and devote themselves to feeding the larvae, cleaning and defending the nest, and searching for food, while the queen does little more than just lay eggs.

The research team looked at the consequences of social isolation in the case of ants of the species Temnothorax nylanderi. These ants inhabit cavities in acorns and sticks on the ground in European forests, forming colonies of a few dozen workers. Young workers engaged in brood care were taken singly from 14 colonies and kept in isolation for varying lengths of time, from one hour to a maximum of 28 days. The study was conducted between January and March 2019 and highlighted three particular aspects in which changes were observed. After the end of their isolation, the workers were less interested in their adult colony mates, but the length of time they spent in brood contact increased; they also spent less time grooming themselves. [...] While the study revealed significant changes in the behaviors of the isolated insects, its findings with regard to gene activity were even more striking: Many genes related to immune system function and stress response were downregulated. In other words, these genes were less active. "This finding is consistent with studies on other social animals that demonstrated a weakening of the immune system after isolation," said Professor Inon Scharf.
The study has been published in the journal Molecular Ecology.

Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ2

By PopeRatzo • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

I don't know what the ants did wrong. I just spent my last year of social isolation getting really good at Forza Horizon 4 and smoking a ton of weed.

And just look at how well I turned out!

End insect cruelty now!

By Anonymouse Cowtard • Score: 3 • Thread
Ants are sentient beings. As are bees, cockroaches, flies and aphids. Please, everyone, watch your step. Avoid the sadistic reaction of swatting your hands at our insect friends. Ban incesticides of all kinds. The resulting increase in biomass will encourage bird life back to our urban and rural areas, boosting biodiversity everywhere.

Adding Is Favored Over Subtracting In Problem Solving

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
A series of problem-solving experiments reveal that people are more likely to consider solutions that add features than solutions that remove them, even when removing features is more efficient. Nature reports: Across a series of [...] experiments, the authors observe that people consistently consider changes that add components over those that subtract them -- a tendency that has broad implications for everyday decision-making. For example, Adams et al. and colleagues analyzed archival data and observed that, when an incoming university president requested suggestions for changes that would allow the university to better serve its students and community, only 11% of the responses involved removing an existing regulation, practice or program. Similarly, when the authors asked study participants to make a 10 x 10 grid of green and white boxes symmetrical, participants often added green boxes to the emptier half of the grid rather than removing them from the fuller half, even when doing the latter would have been more efficient.

Adams et al. demonstrated that the reason their participants offered so few subtractive solutions is not because they didn't recognize the value of those solutions, but because they failed to consider them. Indeed, when instructions explicitly mentioned the possibility of subtractive solutions, or when participants had more opportunity to think or practice, the likelihood of offering subtractive solutions increased. It thus seems that people are prone to apply a 'what can we add here?' heuristic (a default strategy to simplify and speed up decision-making). This heuristic can be overcome by exerting extra cognitive effort to consider other, less-intuitive solutions.

Important to teach this

By famebait • Score: 3 • Thread

Whenever I'm mentoring new coders, I make it a point to impress on them the attitude that few pats of the job are satisfying as removing code. Be it old cruft by someone else or stuff we just wrote together yesterday that seemed brilliant then but can now be refactored away.

I see so many attacking a new requirement by throwing more code at it, when you could really just tune or even pare down the existing paths. Most frequently by juniors and intermediates of course, but all too often by people who really should know better. Participating in cleaning up old messes as part of *adding* a modest feature tends to leave an impression, as it did on me when I finally got to learn from someone with an appreciation of focus and of style in their code.

I'm not talking about conciseness for its own sake, and certainly not at the expense of clarity, but avoiding uneccessary complexity and noise that obscures the real intent

Re:There's a reason they call them bean counters

By quonset • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

I mean, you can't really count negative beans or negative lines of code, now can you?

Math isn't logical to begin with. If you can't figure something out it's okay to make up imaginary numbers.


By Junta • Score: 3 • Thread

When faced with a man-made thing, the natural assumption is that everything done is for some reason.

When asked to balance the grid, the natural feeling is that the previous person didn't "finish" so the inclination is to finish the incomplete job.

As far as asking for improvements, and few people asking for things to go away, again, in part you assume someone put it in place on purpose and cares about it staying. There is some presumed motivation behind the effort to have that thing exist that you are inclined to be mindful of. You either have to know and disagree with the impetus for that thing or be massively inconvenienced to raise the question of 'why is this thing here anyway?'.

Re: That

By NateFromMich • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

And they're quite literally adding to the problem when trying to resolve it.

That's government in a nutshell.

Findings simpler solutions is much harder

By gweihir • Score: 3 • Thread

That is well-known to anybody competent in systems design (and anybody that ever wrote a good scientific paper with a low page limit): Finding a smaller, less complex and hence more elegant and resilient solution is much, much harder than just "patching issues" where you just throw things at any new problem that crops up until the whole mess seems to function. Of course, by the second very popular approach, you create a ton of problems later.

On a more general level, the reason for this is that in order to come up with compact elegant solutions, you have to know what you are doing and you have to understand how things work. Most people cannot get there. Most people want simple _now_ (i.e. just adding stuff instead of trying to find a good solution). That results in, for example, dumping lots of trash in the environment, consuming non-renewable resources with no plan what to do when they are gone, inability to do risk-management (which always has a longer-term scope), just ignoring problems and continuing as usual and denying that there is a problem until things (often literally) blow up, etc.

Verizon Recalls 2.5 Million Hotspot Devices Due To Fire Hazard

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Verizon is recalling 2.5 million hotspot devices after discovering that the lithium ion battery can overheat, creating a fire and burning hazard. CNBC reports: The recall impacts Ellipsis Jetpack mobile hotspots imported by Franklin Wireless Corp and sold between April 2017 and March 2021. The affected models are labeled: MHS900L, MHS900LS and MHS900LPP. Verizon disclosed the recall Thursday alongside a notice from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). A Verizon spokesperson said just over 1 million of the recalled devices are currently in use, meaning currently or recently used by customers.

According to the recall notice posted by the CPSC, Verizon had received 15 reports of the hotspots overheating. Six of those reports included incidents of fire damage to bedding or flooring and two involved minor burn injuries. Some of the hotspots were supplied to students by their schools to continue remote learning, according to the recall notice. Parents who received hotspots from their children's schools are advised to contact the schools about receiving a replacement. Other customers can request a replacement by going to or calling 855-205-2627.

Seen this happen before

By monkeyxpress • Score: 3 • Thread

I had a friend who worked for a company making a handheld electronics device. They basically outsourced all the manufacturing to a company they found on Alibaba. He wanted them to be more thorough with their engineering design - writing proper requirements, environment testing, acceptance testing etc. But they just wanted something cheap and fast.

It cost them a fortune to deal with the resulting recalls over the exploding batteries they ended up with.

You can get decent quality manufacturing in China, but you can't get both cheap and high quality design/manufacturing anywhere.

Jetpack burns

By Fworg64 • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
At least they named them appropriately.

Re:Seen this happen before

By tlhIngan • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

More correctly, you get the quality you pay for. The Chinese are wonderful in that they can take a product and make it cost what you want it to cost.

If it's too expensive, they can find a way to make it cheaper to the price you want. Of course, that can mean cutting a lot of corners, but if you want the thing to cost half as much, they can do it.

Likewise, if you wanted the same product to be built to a higher quality - better materials, certifications, etc., they can do that as well, and it will cost you,

The same factory can produce the same product that falls apart if you look at it funny, to one that's practically mil-spec indestructible and passes every damn certification test you throw at it.

Of course, the real problem is, you don't know what they cut, which makes them perfect for the likes of say, Wal-Mart who wants a cheaper version of a thing. China will produce it, even while making a more expensive version of the same thing for someone else.

Impossible Foods In Talks To Go Public

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
According to Reuters, Impossible Foods is preparing for a public listing which could value the U.S. plant-based burger maker at around $10 billion or more. From the report: This would be substantially more than the $4 billion the company was worth in a private funding round in 2020. It would highlight growing demand for plant-based meat products, driven by environmental and ethical concerns among consumers. Impossible Foods is exploring going public through an initial public offering (IPO) in the next 12 months or a merger with a so-called special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), the sources said.

The Redwood City, California-based company has worked with a financial adviser to help manage discussions with SPACs after receiving offers at a lucrative valuation, the sources said. Going public through a SPAC could dilute existing Impossible Foods shareholders, however, by a greater extent than an IPO, the sources added. The sources, who requested because the discussions are private, cautioned that the deliberations are subject to market conditions and the company may opt to pursue another private fundraising round.

Bubble Trouble

By monkeyxpress • Score: 3 • Thread

They are just trying to get out before the financial bubble bursts. Lots of overhyped tech IPOs have fallen pretty flat recently, so our glorious friends in the financial industry came up with the innovation that is a SPAC. This essentially allows them to avoid having to disclose how crappy their actual business is during an IPO (it's not an IPO, it a SPAC buyout!), and further allows investment banks to avoid losses from underwriting these hype-fests.

Why on earth people invest in SPACs is beyond me, but this is the state of the economy we find ourselves in, so they are just making the most of it to cash in while things are hot.

It actually tastes good

By backslashdot • Score: 4 • Thread

It actually tastes good. If you want to kill animals because you are a sadistic sicko lacking genes for empathy and emotion control, thatâ(TM)s fine. But killing for food is unnecessary.

It's good but not impossible...

By SuperKendall • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

To me all the Impossible stuff taste a bit like tomato, but I guess they do a decent job with texture. I'd still prefer meat if possible generally but some of the stuff I've tried with Impossible in it has been fairly good.

Re:Plant-based meat products?

By Jeremi • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I am also curious what sort of sorcery they have to put these plants through to make them taste like meat.

No need to speculate, the truth is out there. It's heme, a substance that is present in meat and contributes greatly to making meat taste like meat. Impossible Foods has found a way to extract heme from soy and they mix that into their product.

I suspect some massive chemical manipulations, making 'processed foods' look as healthy as raw organic spinach in comparison.

You're right, Impossible Burgers aren't healthy -- but neither are the beef burgers they replace, so they are a faithful imitation in that sense. At least with the plant-based burgers you won't have to worry about bovine fecal matter and e.coli being included in your burger.

For fuck's sake.

By jcr • Score: 3 • Thread

Since when is fake meat a /. story?


Proctorio Is Using Racist Algorithms To Detect Faces

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Students of color have long complained that the facial detection algorithms Proctorio and other exam surveillance companies use fail to recognize their faces, making it difficult if not impossible to take high-stakes tests. Now, a software researcher, who also happens to be a college student at a school that uses Proctorio, says he can prove the Proctorio software is using a facial detection model that fails to recognize Black faces more than 50 percent of the time. Akash Satheesan, the researcher, recently published his findings in a series of blog posts. In them, he describes how he analyzed the code behind Proctorio's extension for the Chrome web browser and found that the file names associated with the tool's facial detection function were identical to those published by OpenCV, an open-source computer vision software library. Satheesan demonstrated for Motherboard that the facial detection algorithms embedded in Proctorio's tool performed identically to the OpenCV models when tested on the same set of faces. Motherboard also consulted a security researcher who validated Satheesan's findings and was able to recreate his analysis. [...]

Satheesan tested the models against images containing nearly 11,000 faces from the FairFaces dataset, a library of images curated to contain labeled images representative of multiple ethnicities and races. The models failed to detect faces in images labeled as including Black faces 57 percent of the time. Some of the failures were glaring: the algorithms detected a white face, but not a Black face posed in a near-identical position, in the same image. The pass rates for other groups were better, but still far from state-of-the-art. The models Satheesan tested failed to detect faces in 41 percent of images containing Middle Eastern faces, 40 percent of those containing white faces, 37 percent containing East Asian faces, 35 percent containing Southeast Asian or Indian faces, and 33 percent containing Latinx faces.


By peppepz • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
Woke professionals are "extending" the term "racist" so much that they'll end up depriving it of any meaning. And this will go to the detriment of real victims of racism.
They should try running the same algorithm against a set of anglo-saxon people wearing glasses. They'll find out that the algorithm is "racist" toward them too, thereby showing that the people who developed the algorithm, presumably nerds, are a self-hating group.

Wonder if the program ran into a "race condition"

By Dirk Becher • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all evening!

The light is racist

By Vapula • Score: 3 • Thread

Basically, if algorithms have some troubles identifying black people, it's because their pictures lacks many details...

The picture is based on the light received from the light reflected by the photographied subject. The darker the subject, the less light is reflected.

So basically, we have

Face recognition is racist because it fails to identify black faces
Algorithms fails to identify black faces because of poor quality pictures (lacks of details
Picture is of poor quality because there is not enough light reflection from the face

Hence Light is racist...

Not just algorithms

By groobly • Score: 3 • Thread

It's not just the algorithms. It's the very hardware. The hardware is the happy enabler of the racist algorithm. If it weren't for the hardware, the algorithms couldn't practice their racism. The hardware is just as culpable, for it is not an anti-racism ally.

Algorihms are racist.

By Oligonicella • Score: 3 • Thread
BeauHD's brain immediately projects an obsession with racism onto faulty algorithms.

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Nano Weighs Only 1.99 Pounds and Is Powered By Intel Tiger Lake CPUs

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
MojoKid writes: The new 13-inch ThinkPad X1 Nano is the thinnest and lightest Lenovo ThinkPad ever in the brand's history. The machine weighs just 1.99 pounds (907 grams), while still sporting a fairly powerful Intel Core i7-1160G7 Tiger Lake quad-core CPU, up to a 1TB NVMe SSD, 16GB of 4267MHz LPDDR4X RAM and a 48 Whr battery. In the benchmarks, the machine holds its own for productivity and content creation tasks as well as a bit of light-duty gaming, versus heavier machines in its peer group. In terms of battery life, the new ThinkPad X1 Nano hangs pretty tough as well, offering about 7.5 hours of constant use up-time with HD video playback. With its 2K (2160X1350 -- 16:10) IPS Dolby Vision-certified display and top tier configuration, it doesn't come cheap, as you might imagine. The ThinkPad X1 Nano has a current starting price of $1,289 and tops out at $2,231 for its most powerful configuration with 1TB of fast SSD storage. Regardless, it's impressive what the machine can deliver in terms of features and performance in its weight class.

Why the Slashvertisement?

By couchslug • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

How about posting every computer review on the web to fill up the front page with even more useless shite?

Kudos to Lenovo for getting rid of features like the microSD slot though. Physical media is horrible and we should despise having ports and holes in our devices or indeed anything that acknowledges they are machines at all.

Nerds needing nerdy news has to know

By FudRucker • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
does it run Linux?
at almost 2000 bucks it better be able to run Linux because i would be sorely disappointed if it only ran windows-10

Re:Today's snowflakes are so physically weak

By ZipK • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
"Thinner" and "lighter" aren't necessarily synonymous. I like lighter, particularly when I'm traveling. But thinner doesn't buy me anything (except reduced key travel, less-sturdy case, and other negatives) after a certain point.

Elon Musk's Neuralink Co-Founder Says He Could Build the Real 'Jurassic Park,' With Genetically Engineered Dinosaurs

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
The co-founder of Elon Musk's company Neuralink tweeted on Saturday that the startup has the technological advances and savvy to create its own "Jurassic Park." The Hill reports: "We could probably build Jurassic Park if we wanted to," Max Hodak tweeted Saturday. "Wouldn't be genetically authentic dinosaurs but [shrugging emoji]. maybe 15 years of breeding + engineering to get super exotic novel species." Hodak didn't further explain what technology Neuralink could use to engineer the long-extinct dinosaurs. It's worth noting that the tweet makes no mention of Neuralink, although one could presume Hodak is referring to the neurotechnology company because of his use of the word "we."

In response to the statement, which has been picked up by a variety of publications Wednesday, CNET's Jackson Ryan says we shouldn't expect a "real Jurassic Park" anytime soon -- or ever: [I]t's pretty much impossible to resurrect a dinosaur. The science of bringing dinosaurs back from the dead isn't really as sound as Hodak makes it seem though. Even humanity would have a tough time building a Jurassic Park in the next 15 years. First, we'd need some DNA from the prehistoric tyrants and unlike in the film Jurassic Park, where the DNA is retrieved from mosquitoes in amber and fused with frog DNA, that information has completely degraded.

However, more recently extinct animals, like the woolly mammoth, may be a good target for "de-extinction." We can still extract DNA from these creatures and could theoretically build and implant a mammoth embryo in a modern-day elephant. The question is: should we? Jurassic Park offers a pretty good reason not to, but mammoths aren't quite as bloodthirsty as Tyrannosaurus rex.

He would seem to have a focus problem

By presidenteloco • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I don't see people walking around with neuralink skullcaps yet.


By fahrbot-bot • Score: 3 • Thread

Can't think of anything that could go wrong, just stay away from gotos ...

Re:Unlikely to survive

By youngone • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
So why not bring back the Moa? They only went extinct 500 years ago so there's probably DNA lying about and who wouldn't want a 3 metre tall chicken?

Oh, just stop it

By Waccoon • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I know Musk and Friends are desperate to be visible in the media 24/7, but this really takes the cake.

Re:It bothers me they way these people

By BoogieChile • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Ahh, yes, those nutty Japanese salarymen working their gruelling jobs with their massively long days in the fields of... rural Thailand?

Reddit-Fueled Penny Stock's 6,400% Rally Reversing In Sydney

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: IOUpay, a fintech firm that went into overdrive on a social media-backed retail trading frenzy, has plummeted in the past two months. The stock is set for more declines as the firm's newly launched buy-now-pay-later services -- which allows customers to purchase goods and then pay for them in installments -- faces intensified competition in Southeast Asia from larger Australian rival Afterpay, say analysts. IOUpay had drawn comparisons to U.S. videogame retailer GameStop after surging 6,400% in the past year as it has been the subject of several discussion threads on Reddit. The Reddit-fueled day-trading crowd turned the first quarter of 2021 into one of the wildest periods of stock market frenzy in modern history. Despite a more than 40% slump since mid-February, IOUpay remains Asia's top-performing interactive media and services stock over the past year.

The wild ride by IOUpay, which lists Standard Chartered Plc and Citigroup as its clients, began in June after it was touted by investors on Reddit. Its shares continued gaining on a "buy now, pay later" deal with Malaysian online marketplace Easystore. That partnership inked in February sparked a more than 200% rally in its stock over a three-day period.
"We may see the price subdued for a long period of time as retail investors get bored waiting and sell out to find something more exciting," said Carl Capolingua, an analyst at online brokerage ThinkMarkets Australia. "The question will be if they can get traction in the Asian markets they're targeting before the bigger players come in."

Re:Not an empty pump

By Fly Swatter • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
FYI, a year ago this was a $0.0060 stock, now valued at $0.3850. Percentage increase looks impressive but the Summary conveniently leaves out real numbers. Good luck.

FTC Urges Courts Not To Dismiss Facebook Antitrust Case

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The Federal Trade Commission has urged a federal judge in DC to reject Facebook's request to dismiss the FTC's high-stakes antitrust lawsuit. In a 56-page legal brief, the FTC reiterated its arguments that Facebook's profits have come from years of anticompetitive conduct. From a report: "Facebook is one of the largest and most profitable companies in the history of the world," the FTC wrote. "Facebook reaps massive profits from its [social networking] monopoly, not by offering a superior or more innovative product because it has, for nearly a decade, taken anticompetitive actions to neutralize, hinder, or deter would-be competitors." The FTC's case against Facebook focuses on two blockbuster acquisitions that Facebook made early in the last decade. In 2012, Facebook paid $1 billion for the fast-growing startup Instagram. While Instagram the company was still tiny -- it had only about a dozen employees at the time of the acquisition -- it had millions of users and was growing rapidly. Mark Zuckerberg realized it could grow into a serious rival for Facebook, and the FTC alleges Zuckerberg bought the company to prevent that from happening.

Quick Refresher

By ytene • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
In case it helps other readers come up to speed with the significance of the FTC's motion here, perhaps the most useful addition would be direct link to the original FTC complaint in which the FTC set out their concerns and describe the harm they allege Facebook to have caused.

Their argument actually seems pretty compelling: they note that Facebook have become (by far) the largest network, they point to strategic acquisitions (calling out WhatsApp and Instagram explicitly) to show how Facebook has aggressively targeted potential competitors and call this out as anti-competitive behavior.

The FTC point out what is "different" about Facebook compared with other potential monopoly operators - the fact that unlike say "Google Search" [in which a user's interaction with the platform is individualised at the point of use] Facebook makes use of what I'll describe here as "social inertia" - the idea that as more associates join Facebook, that has the effect of acting like a feedback loop, making it much, much harder for a new competitor to enter the marketplace.

They also lay out the anti-competitive conditioning, including the changes they have made to their API's that gave them unprecedented control over the way that third parties used and accessed the platform.

Reading this initial complaint carefully, it looks as though Facebook's attempt to have the case thrown out (citing a failure to state harm) was an attempted hail-Mary pass. Much as they would like to see the judge acquiesce and toss the case, the nature of some of the specific complaints - violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act, Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, rather put the lie to Facebook's claims that the complaint failed to start harm (these are both explicitly mentioned in Part X of the above-linked PDF, in the "Prayer for Relief".

The fact that Facebook erred with this at a simplistic level doesn't make the outcome a slam-dunk, which is why the FTC seem to be taking the position they have here. It is also worth pointing out that this isn't excusively about Facebook, much as they are front-and-center in this instance. However this goes, and obviously through the inevitable appeals, the decisions and rulings made here [assuming, of course, they are not later over-turned on appeal to a higher court] are going to start the process of establishing Case Law for the arena of social networking.

A bit like the significance of "The SCO Group vs. IBM" and the attempted shakedown of Linux users, or "Oracle vs. Google" and the attempt to claim copyright on the layout of an API, this case could set the contours of what will become a legal battlefield for years to come.

Wix and Their Dirty Tricks

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of the open-source blogging platform WordPress, writes: Wix, the website builder company you may remember from stealing WordPress code and lying about it, has now decided the best way to gain relevance is attacking the open source WordPress community in a bizarre set of ads. They can't even come up with original concepts for attack ads, and have tried to rip-off of Apple's Mac vs PC ads, but tastelessly personify the WordPress community as an absent, drunken father in a therapy session.

I have a lot of empathy for whoever was forced to work on these ads, including the actors, it must have felt bad working on something that's like Encyclopedia Britannica attacking Wikipedia. WordPress is a global movement of hundreds of thousands of volunteers and community members, coming together to make the web a better place. The code, and everything you put into it, belongs to you, and its open source license ensures that you're in complete control, now and forever. WordPress is free, and also gives you freedom. So if we're comparing website builders to abusive relationships, Wix is one that locks you in the basement and doesn't let you leave. I'm surprised consumer protection agencies haven't gone after them.

Wix is a for-profit company with a valuation that peaked at around 20 billion dollars, and whose business model is getting customers to pay more and more every year and making it difficult to leave or get a refund. (Don't take my word for it, look at their investor presentations.) They are so insecure that they are also the only website creator I'm aware of that doesn't allow you to export your content, so they're like a roach motel where you can check in but never check out. Once you buy into their proprietary stack you're locked in, which even their support documentation admits.

Re:WordPress is antiquated garbage

By Dracos • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Only if your criteria for "better" is entirely based on shortness of learning curve. Drupal has always been more of a framework than a CMS, long before the likes of Cake, CodeIgniter, and Laravel.

WP's only advantage is letting designers pass themselves off as developers. It has a terrible database schema, the code is insecure spaghetti, and it's all held together with bad practices.

Never a customer, Wix is trash

By andymadigan • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
I've never been a customer of Wix, but this explains the interactions I have had with them. In one case, I reported a site that was created on their platform solely to bully a friend of mine (one who has enough mental health issues as is). A plain reading of their ToS indicated that cyberbullying wasn't a permitted use of their platform, but after going several rounds with their CS team it was clear they didn't care.

More recently I've gotten spammed by two of their customers. I made the mistake of funding some projects on Kickstarter/Indiegogo a few years ago so now I'm on some data brokers list. Shady projects buy that list, and use Wix's e-mail service to spam everyone on it. I told Wix to block my e-mail address on their system globally. This is usually a basic capability of any mass e-mail service provider, but they can't do it. They also take no responsibility for what their customers do on their platform, which explains the trash they host.


By UnknownSoldier • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Quantity != Quality

By the same retarded logic McDonalds BILLIONS == gourmet food. /s

JavaScript and PHP are also heavily used. Doesn't stop them from being shit designs. Usage != Design


By geekmux • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I always associated wordpress sites with undiluted idiocy. Maybe that's not fair and I apologize for that.

WordPress is used by more than 40.5% of the top 10 million websites as of March 2021.... Yeah, what a piece of crap that must be.

A little over 5 years ago, Internet Explorer still held the majority market share, with over 50% of the browser market. And we know what a solid piece of crap that is.

In other words, people are stupid. 10 million of them, doesn't make them any less stupid.

Never feel bad

By Oligonicella • Score: 3 • Thread
for someone helping produce known bullshit for cash. Their choice, their consequences.

A Software Problem is Bricking Some Early Mustang Mach-Es

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Charging is a common concern with electric vehicles. But some owners of the brand-new Mustang Mach-E have run into a peculiar problem: their electric SUVs won't start even when the main battery pack is full. From a report: That's because, The Verge has learned, there's a problem with some early Mustang Mach-E SUVs that involves how the much smaller 12-volt battery gets charged. It's the latest in a growing line of small issues that have come to light during the rollout of Ford's first long-range electric car. As is the case in other electric cars, the Mustang Mach-E keeps its 12-volt lead-acid battery topped up by essentially sipping power from the much larger lithium-ion battery pack. Based on owners' accounts across multiple forum threads, including one who spoke to The Verge, the problem is this stops happening whenever the Mustang Mach-E is plugged in to charge up the larger battery pack. That is especially an issue for owners in areas with cold weather, as Ford encourages them to leave their Mustang Mach-Es plugged in so the SUVs can use power from the grid to warm up before driving. The 12-volt battery powers many of the Mustang Mach-E's systems (since the larger battery pack is high-voltage), and so when it dies, the electric SUV cannot be started. When this happens, owners have reported the FordPass app says the vehicle is in "deep sleep" mode. Some forum members have started referring to it as the "electric brick" problem.

Ford ~= Found On Road Dead

By mnemotronic • Score: 3 • Thread
Heard that acronym a lot growing up. In high-school the Dodge vs. Chevy vs. Ford guys were ready to fight to defend someone else's name. Me? I had a Rambler. I didn't get into ANYONE'S club.

Re:Not the Only One

By monkeyxpress • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Automakers don't make many (or any) of the electronics components in your car. These are provided by a vast chain of suppliers (Bosch, Valeo, Delphi, etc). Automakers just buy the parts and assemble them together into the vehicle.

These parts are all specified and tested for 12V systems. They are qualified across environmental operating ranges to operate from 12V systems. The simplest way for automakers to avoid having to re-qualify them for EVs is to just stick in a 12V system that looks identical to the equivalent IC system.

It is a total hack and more than likely these things can run off a regulated 12V supply from the main pack without any issues. But when you have so many of these components across so many vehicles, even if a very small portion fail more often because of such a change, that can add up to a lot of defects. So for now they just do this hack to avoid the cost of having to re-qualify everything.

I suspect there is also a realisation that once EVs become widespread all these modules will move to the 42V automotive standard (something that has been talked about for a very long time now) so they probably don't see the point in re-qualifying everything right now when it is really just an interim measure.

Re: Not the Only One

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

This is a very common problem with new EVs. Tesla had it, Nissan had it, Kia had it... I'm sure it will be quickly fixed.

Re:That's one ugly car

By Rei • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Oh come on, what's not to like? ;)

Seriously, though... making a good EV is hard, and while companies like VW and Ford are rushing their EVs out half-finished, I'm still glad they're trying. It's the only way they have a chance of survival. They have a rapidly ticking countdown clock over their heads.

Re:Not the Only One

By Smidge204 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

> Not exactly up there with making rockets that land themselves or training monkeys to play Pong with brain waves.

Well thank fuck you're not in charge, because what you just proposed would almost certainly result in a battery fire.

It's very bad to have an imbalance in a battery pack. If one (or several) cells in series are at a lower voltage than the others, you run the risk of reverse biasing them as you discharge the pack. You know how batteries have warnings about mixing new and old cells on the package? Well for disposable alkaline batteries you run a risk of leaks, for lithium you run the risk of fire.

You do not, under any circumstances, put additional load on a subset of cells in a stack. That is a recipe for disaster.

Amazon Warns Texas: Don't Pass Bill That Would Drive Up Wind Power Costs

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Fallout from Texas' statewide power outages in February continues to spread. Today, the Texas House of Representatives is scheduled to debate a bill that would require power producers to bear the costs of services that help keep the electrical grid stable. From a report: If the bill passes, it would "unfairly shift the cost of ancillary electric services exclusively onto renewable generators rather than all the beneficiaries," according to a letter written by the Partnership for Renewable Energy Finance (PREF), an industry group, and signed by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Goldman Sachs, and a number of other firms. Amazon and other big tech firms have invested heavily in renewable power, seeking to spruce up their images while cutting their power bills. Costs for wind and solar have dropped precipitously in recent years, making investments in wind farms and solar plants attractive to power-hungry data center operators like Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

"It is important to note that these changes neither enhance electric reliability nor lower consumer costs," the letter states. "They appear to be premised on the assumption that renewable energy was disproportionately responsible for the state's February power outages, a thesis that has been unequivocally discredited." The bill would require the grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), to "directly assign" ancillary service costs to wind and solar power, specifically. The PREF letter counters that not only do all generators utilize ancillary services, but costs for those services have remained flat over the last decade while wind and solar have grown by more than 250 percent.


By DarkOx • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The problem is that does not stabilize the grid. Unless that data center is truly off grid and has its own batteries etc. What happens to the grid when that massive sink gets dumped on it because the weather turns bad the turbines are stopped they switch over to grid power?

The obvious answer the grid operators should charge sources and sinks alike for uneven loading. It should not matter why the loading is uneven. Oh you only make aluminum 3 days a week - to bad rethink that or pay for the privilege of being able to massively increase your draw on Tuesday-Thursday while you idle the rest of the week. Oh your solar farm produces nothing 8 hours of the day - buy some batteries and smooth that out or pay extra for your unsteady grid use selling power.

Oh a cold weather even shut down your non-winterized gas plant - to bad you pay the unplanned drop out fee.

There is no need to consider the source or sink from the grid operators perspective, they should make some rules about loading, apply them to everyone and charge accordingly. If that happens to make some methods of generation non-economical to bad, that just means they were not really covering their costs.

Republicans can't govern

By rsilvergun • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
mod me troll if you must, but I stand by that phrase.

Amazon is correct, this is a transparent effort to shift blame to renewables when the actual cause was a failure to weatherize the grid so that they could save money (and pocket it for themselves) and an unwillingness to hook up to other girds (yes, it can be done even though Texas has differences) because if they did hook up to the other grids then the Fed would require them to weatherize in case one of their neighbors needed to rely on Texas (it's a two way street).

But Republicans have one and only one goal: Short term profit. Smash and Grab. Get as much money as you can for yourself and then if/when you burn out head off to a cushy gig (Matt Gaetz is in that process now).

Republicans can't govern. So they use wedge issues, Southern Strategies, culture wars and misdirection to avoid being called out on their inability to function as effective administrators. They're good at what they do, but what they do is not governing.

Well yeah

By rsilvergun • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
I'm not the first person to notice Republicans can't govern, and I certainly won't be the last. It goes back to the Southern Strategy and Nixon's Drug war. That's like 50 years. Nixon at least tried to govern, by Reagan they were giving it up and by Gingrich they'd completely switched to obstructionism and culture war politics.


By crunchygranola • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The local grid is a blessing and a curse. California and New York are well connected, and both had had their share of failures, much more than Texas.

[Citation needed.]

Texas had a smaller scale collapse similar to this one in 2014 in which "power plants owned by Texas’ largest electricity producer buckled under frigid temperatures. Its generators failed more than a dozen times in 12 hours, helping to bring the state’s electric grid to the brink of collapse. The incident was the second in three years for North Texas-based Luminant, whose equipment malfunctions during a more severe storm in 2011 resulted in a $750,000 fine from state energy regulators for failing to deliver promised power to the grid."

The entire extent of problem in California in 2020 was isolated rolling blackouts on two days which where "the first rolling blackouts in nearly 20 years" and "The rotating power outages didn’t last long and affected only a small fraction of the state’s 40 million people. Just under half a million homes and businesses lost power for as little as 15 minutes and as long as 2½ hours on Aug. 14, with another 321,000 utility customers going dark for anywhere from eight to 90 minutes the following evening."

The ultimate reason for these short blackouts was the market signalling mechanism used by the deregulated private energy producers CALISO (Califonia Independent System Operators, legacy of Republican Gov. Pete Wilson from the 1990s) which caused them to fail to place orders for sufficient electricity for the next day over two days. There was plenty of power, they just didn't contract to buy it.

And those rolling blackouts from 20 years ago were entirely due to Enron gaming Wilson's deregulated grid.

So, no, California's grid has done very well, and has not had the severe repeated failures that Texas has seen.


By Frobnicator • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

No, I dont think this is that. The energy companies produce power, and grid has to be maintained. It doesnt sound reasonable to me that some producers of energy bear that cost and others dont. There should be a "grid maintenance fee" for the amount of energy you sell as a generator. ... IF I have misunderstood that dynamic, then I am wrong.

You are wrong. Yes, what you described is how it probably SHOULD work, but you are wrong that that's what is ACTUALLY in the bill.

The bill is surprisingly short, adding only a single sentence: Ancillary services costs incurred by the ERCOT independent system operator to address reliability issues arising from the operation of intermittent wind and solar resources must be directly assigned by the ERCOT independent system operator to those resources.

Note that it ONLY modifies the costs of wind and solar. Gas, coal, and other sources can continue to have their costs spread through the system. This means wind and solar costs will slightly increase as they must bear all of their own costs plus those incurred by the system, but gas, coal, nuclear, and other sources will have costs slightly decrease as they don't have to pay those bills and continue to have their bills distributed through the system.

A big part of the problem is a continued disinformation campaign that posits that wind and solar were the reason for the outages. They were only a tiny piece of it, the vast majority were the gas systems that weren't winterized. This started big, like op-eds published in the Wall Street Journal while the event was in full swing, tweets from senators getting lobby money. It continues with ads and astroturf-style social media posts. For those who don't know the vast majority of the outages were caused by issues with gas transmission freezing up, gas power plants not starting up due to the freeze, various backup power systems failing from a cold start, and assorted other systems struggling due to cold as chain reactions. Those show up in the official reports, but lots of ads and posts continue to blame wind and solar.

Intel's Dystopian Anti-Harassment AI Lets Users Opt In for 'Some' Racism

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Intel is launching an artificial intelligence application that will recognize and redact hate speech in real-time. It's called Bleep, and Intel hopes it'll help with one of gaming's oldest and most intractable problems -- people can be real pieces of shit online. From a report: A video of the app shows that it will allow users to customize what kind and how much hate speech they want to see, including "Racism" and "White Nationalism" sliders that can be set to "none," "some," "most," or "all," and a separate on and off toggle for the "N-word." "While we recognize that solutions like Bleep don't erase the problem, we believe it's a step in the right direction -- giving gamers a tool to control their experience," Roger Chandler, Vice President and General Manager of Intel Client Product Solutions, said during a virtual presentation at 2021's Game Developers Conference.

According to Intel Marketing Engineer Craig Raymond, Bleep is "an end-user application that uses AI to detect and redact audio based on your user preferences." In footage of the application, Bleep presented users with a list of sliders so gamers can control the amount of hate and abuse they encounter. The list included ableism and body shaming, LGBTQ+ hate, aggression, misogyny, name-calling, racism and xenophobia, sexually explicit language, swearing, and white nationalism. As Chandler explained, Intel can't "solve" racism or the long-running and well-documented problems in gaming culture (and culture more broadly). At the same time, Bleep is techno-AI solutionism that feels pretty dystopian, pitching racism, xenophobia, and general toxicity as settings that can be tuned up and down as though they were graphics, sound, or control sliders on a video game. It is also a way of admitting defeat: if we can't stop players from being incredibly racist in chat, we can simply filter out what they say and pretend they don't exist.

Remember when...

By argStyopa • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

...freedom of speech wasn't just a clause that's massively rules-lawyered (mostly by the left, hilariously) insisting it only narrowly applies to government, and isn't say, a general premise that we all held sacred conceptually?

Let's see how well it works.

By DaveV1.0 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Run "Blazing Saddles" through it and see if it is still as hysterical as the uncensored version.

Re:/. Editors are baiting us with this headline

By flatt • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

To be honest, I'm not even sure it's possible any more. Once one understands Post Modernism and Critical Theory, it becomes entirely clear that those that adhere to it absolutely aspire to inject their politics into everything. Logic and reason are out the window. It's all about (control of) language and systems of oppression. Moneyed interests are more than willing to help push this and Reddit is the worst platform as it is extremely easy to manipulate. Though Twitter and YouTube aren't that far behind.

Stop caring about the useless internet points. You're being downvoted by bots that have a financial interest in the situation. Call out bullshit when you see it.

This won't work, and here's why it won't:

By Rick Schumann • Score: 3 • Thread
Word filters have been used in places since forever. A prime example is the *chan community (yes, like 4chan), where wordfilters are an everyday thing. There are always ways around them, and as you add more to the filters, they find more ways around them. That's the major reason that 'leet speak' came into being: to evade word filters.
So what's going to happen here is that the people who want to evade the so-called 'AI' doing the word filtering will game the system in such a way as to make it useless -- or worse, they'll find a way to game it such that the people they're trying to offend or are trying to hate on will have *their* words filtered so *they* can't respond. I wouldn't at all be surprised if leet speak itself ends up getting used and the so-called 'AI' will be clueless about it. Regardless, this has all been done before in various ways and has always failed, I see no reason why this approach will work any better.

Re:Not dystopian

By karmatic • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The funny thing about free speech is that popular, "safe" speech needs little protection. It therefore can't be "abused", because the ability to use it is intrinsic to the concept of being free.

That's why when stormfront was taken offline, I literally reached out and offered to help get them back online, despite them thinking that I'm a "degenerate beaner faggot that's going to burn in the fiery pits of hell". If those assholes are free to speak, then I know that I'm free to speak, because nothing I ever say is going to rise to the level of their filth.

In other words, I certainly don't agree with what they say, but I will defend their right to say it.

Hackers Scraped Data from 500 Million LinkedIn Users -- and Have Posted it For Sale Online

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Data from 500 million LinkedIn users has been scraped and is for sale online, according to a report from Cyber News. A LinkedIn spokesperson confirmed to Insider that there is a dataset of public information that was scraped from the platform. From a report: "While we're still investigating this issue, the posted dataset appears to include publicly viewable information that was scraped from LinkedIn combined with data aggregated from other websites or companies," a LinkedIn spokesperson told Insider in a statement. "Scraping our members' data from LinkedIn violates our terms of service and we are constantly working to protect our members and their data." LinkedIn has 740 million users, according to its website, so the reported data scraping of 500 million users means about two-thirds of the platform's user base could be affected. The data includes account IDs, full names, email addresses, phone numbers, workplace information, genders, and links to other social media accounts.

publicly viewable information

By vinn01 • Score: 3 • Thread

I smell BS. .... "account IDs, full names, email addresses, phone numbers,..." is not publicly viewable information.

No, the #1 annoyance is LinkedIn Premium trials

By shanen • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

So I went over to LinkedIn and got another fake personal invitation for the free trial of LinkedIn Premium service. Came from the same Liza Smyth (if that IS her real name) who sent me the last one. I actually sent a detailed reply of what I would want from LinkedIn before sending money.

Shucks and darned, turned out LinkedIn doesn't even listen. Just for grins, here it is:

If you're going to send me 'personalized' ads, then you should not force me to search for you for the case where I have a personal reply. And I have an extremely personal reply this time around.

Maybe you can call it bad timing or maybe you should look at it as an opportunity to offer an ad that would actually be attractive?

I just had an exchange with LinkedIn "support". I do not have enough information to know for sure, but I suspect that you may have *GASP* imposters here on LinkedIn. Maybe the "support" people on the LinkedIn side already have enough information to assess the danger? Or maybe we could even compare notes, especially regarding the supplemental information from Facebook that might be supporting the scam, so together we could figure out what is going on here? Identity theft? Industrial espionage? Maybe even politically motivated? Various other possibilities, but one obvious answer: LinkedIn could not possibly care less.

Bad way to build a trusting relationship. At this point I think there is ZERO chance LinkedIn will ever get a nickel from me. You don't have a mountain of trust here. You don't even have a molehill of credibility. LinkedIn's reputation is at the bottom of a really deep hole and you just keep digging away.

I can't speak for other people, but I don't think I'm unusual. Maybe a bit more verbal than average? But I can make three constructive suggestions that might justify paying some money to LinkedIn. But given what I think of your reputation... Well, I'll throw 'em out anyway.

(1) Premium membership could included enhanced security. Most obvious would be support for a challenge-and-response protocol to help detect imposters. Old suggestion, but basically a pre-link warning with shared memories going each way. (But right now I can't imagine that anyone working for LinkedIn understands anything significant about computer security.)

Continued in next message because of the stupid and arbitrary character limit.

Can't remember now, but I'm pretty sure the (2) would have been about the financial model. Specifically, I want a recruiting website where the financial incentives are balanced between employees and employers. If most of the money is coming from employers, then of course the website is going to favor the employers and wind up screwing the employees. If too much of the money comes from the employees, then it could go the other way, though I have never detected any trace of a website like that. My theory is that LinkedIn is way over on the employers' side, and the unattractiveness, even ugliness, of the Premium ads is evidence of that.

I Don't Understand

By SlashbotAgent • Score: 3 • Thread

I don't understand the issue. Isn't the information all viewable by anyone with a free signup?

Why would anyone buy scraped data that's freely available?

scraped or hacked?

By superwiz • Score: 3 • Thread
Or is scraping "hacking" now?

No private data leaked?

By chipperdog • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
From TFA: "the posted dataset appears to include publicly viewable information ...", so really no worse than a misbehaving search engine might find? Correct me if I wrong...

Australian Minister's Phone Hacked as Report Reveals Hong Kong Link

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A second senior Australian government minister has revealed his mobile phone was hacked through the Telegram messaging app, with a media report saying the phishing scam was aimed at revealing contact details of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong. From a report: Health Minister Greg Hunt's office said in an emailed statement on Thursday that "a cyber security attempt to impersonate the minister has been referred to the Australian Federal Police and investigations are underway." That follows Monday's statement by Finance Minister Simon Birmingham that he had been targeted. The Australian newspaper reported late Wednesday that the details of pro-democracy Hong Kongers were provided to someone impersonating Birmingham, with one of the recipients being asked: "Do you have any contacts in Hong Kong?" The person handed over details of Hong Kongers without realizing they were speaking to a cyber-hacker, the paper said, citing the person who it didn't identify.

GM Slows Production in Some Plants Due To Semiconductor Chip Shortage

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General Motors is reducing production in some of its North American plants due to a global semiconductor chip shortage. From a report: The chip shortage is affecting automotive companies around the world, with semiconductors functioning as a key component for steering systems, car brakes and other automobile features. GM has temporarily closed some plants, with expected downtimes ranging from a week to several weeks. GM expects the closures will cost them between $1.5 billion and $2 billion in operating profits this year. The chip shortage stems from slowed production and manufacturing in 2020. Semiconductor chips require long lead times due to their complicated technology, resulting in a backlog of demand.

Re:too big to fail

By smooth wombat • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Just as we should have let J.P Morgan, Goldman Sachs, et al fail a year later.

Problem of their own making.

By Edward Nardella • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

These auto companies cancelled a ton of chip orders at the beginning of the pandemic, so the chip manufacturers signed contracts with other customers. Sure there's other drivers of this issue, but this is a huge part of the puzzle.

Thanks. no confusion with potato chips.

By 140Mandak262Jamuna • Score: 3 • Thread
If you just said, "chip shortage" one might think the Frito-Lay factory had some issues or something.

So one must qualify it as "semiconductor chi shortage".

The fallacy of post-scarcity on display

By RightwingNutjob • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Many of the chips in question get made in places like Indonesia or Thailand. We're not necessarily talking about $100 cpus even $20 cpus. We're talking about pennies-apiece PIC16s or equivalents. I've never seen one that wasn't made in Southeast Asia in over nearly 20 years.

My point is that the scarcity is happening almost a year after the initial round of order cancellations and factory closures on the other side of the world away from the view of many board rooms and media commentators on this side of the world.

The result would seem counterintuitive: we have outsourced "low-value" manufacturing and hyped up the "advanced manufacturing" we did retain. We also hype ourselves up as being a consumer-driven and service-driven economy. We're living the post-scarcity dream, they say. The automation took the jobs away.

And yet here we are: there ain't enough stuff to go around (in a noticeable way) because human beings on the other side of the world aren't working.

Don't underestimate the power of "out of sight out of mind" to cloud people's thinking about both this particular problem and the nature of work, and its intimate relationship with prosperity, the next time you hear a seemingly well-informed and educated individual telling you why outsourcing manufacturing (both clean and dirty, high wage and low wage) can be done without incurring any penalty.

This isn't a left vs right thing btw. Lefties don't like manufacturing because of quasi-religious reasons having to do with environmentalism and righties have few qualms about outsourcing in the pursuit of lower up-front costs.

Milton Friedman went so far as to say that manufactured goods critical to military readiness (his example in the 70s and 80s was steel) "can be stockpiled" negating the need of having a robust domestic steel industry. He was flat wrong then, and any Gordon Gecko type who thinks microchips, or petrochemicals, or computer screens, or batteries, or facemasks, or antibiotics, can just be stockpiled from cheap foreign sources is just as wrong. This being a case of stupid more than evil. I don't think many politicians or cxo types really understand the concept of shelf life of stockpiled materials or the human capital required to utilize those materials even if they are shelf stable.

Doesn't add up

By Solandri • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

GM has temporarily closed some plants, with expected downtimes ranging from a week to several weeks. GM expects the closures will cost them between $1.5 billion and $2 billion in operating profits this year.

  • GM operating profit (EBIT) in 2018-2020: $4.4b, $5.5b, $6.6b
  • Average weekly profit (52 weeks/yr) for 2018-2020: $85.5m, $105.4m, $127.6m
  • Weeks for a complete shutdown to reach $1.5 billion: 17.5 weeks, 14.2 weeks, 11.8 weeks
  • Weeks for a complete shutdown to reach $2 billion: 23.4 weeks, 19.0 weeks, 15.7 weeks

Or put another way, for a 4-week (1/13 of the year) closure of all plants (not just "some" as in TFA) to cost them $1.5-$2 billion profit, they'd have to have expected an annual profit of $19.5-$26 billion this year.

Sounds like they were on track to lose a ton of money this year, and are trying to blame it on the chip shortage, instead of fessing up to the other factors which are the main cause.

UK Software Reseller Sues Microsoft For $370 Million

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
A British company is suing Microsoft for $370m in damages [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source] in the English High Court, alleging that the US company is trying to crush a multibillion-dollar market in second-hand versions of its software. From a report: ValueLicensing buys pre-owned Microsoft software licences from companies that upgrade their IT or become insolvent, and then resells them across the UK and Europe. It claims on its website that its customers can save up to 70 per cent by buying used software, and points to one NHS Trust that allegedly saved $1.37 m by using Microsoft Office 2019, rather than the latest version of the office tools suite. Jonathan Horley, ValueLicensing's founder, accused Microsoft of harming competition in the used software market by persuading companies to relinquish their perpetual licences, often in exchange for discounts on Microsoft's cloud-based software, such as Office 365. "Microsoft has an incentive to move to its new cloud-based model and remove the old licences from the market so customers have no choice but to move to its subscription model," said Mr Horley, in an interview with the Financial Times.

Well ...

By RitchCraft • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I'm not sure how ValueLicensing can claim harm. It's a second-hand market relying on a used product. If Microsoft wants to give customers a deal in exchange for trading in their licenses then why shouldn't they be able to do that. I'm no fan of M$ and it's many dirty tactics over the years but I see no foul here. Why can't we all just migrate to Linux and be done with all of this? :-)

Gamestop next?

By brunes69 • Score: 3 • Thread

Maybe the true GME business plan is for Gamestop to sue Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo for pushing into digital sales?

Maybe HMV and Sam Goody should sue Apple and Spotify and Google for killing the CD market?

This is ridiculous. Business models can and will be disrupted. No company is entitled to a business model. Adapt or die.

Re:I can't resell things that aren't made anymore.

By Ostracus • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Slashdot built it's business model around used news and eyeballs.

Shady keys all round

By xack • Score: 3 • Thread
Used keys are everywhere, they even buy sponsorships on big YouTube channels. Microsoft tolerates this because it stops people moving to Linux.

Re:I can't resell things that aren't made anymore.

By K. S. Kyosuke • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Actually, second-hand bookstores sell books. Those books aren't intellectual property (unlike their contents). On the other hand, I'm not really sure what "used licenses" are actually supposed to be.

US Adds Chinese Supercomputing Entities To Economic Blacklist

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The U.S. Commerce Department said Thursday it was adding seven Chinese supercomputing entities to a U.S. economic blacklist for assisting Chinese military efforts. From a report: The department is adding Tianjin Phytium Information Technology, Shanghai High-Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center, Sunway Microelectronics, the National Supercomputing Center Jinan, the National Supercomputing Center Shenzhen, the National Supercomputing Center Wuxi, and the National Supercomputing Center Zhengzhou to its blacklist. The Commerce Department said the seven were "involved with building supercomputers used by China's military actors, its destabilizing military modernization efforts, and/or weapons of mass destruction programs.' The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment. "Supercomputing capabilities are vital for the development of many -- perhaps almost all -- modern weapons and national security systems, such as nuclear weapons and hypersonic weapons," Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement.

Why The Fuck

By theshowmecanuck • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Why the fuck are any western countries still doing business with China? Other than western corporate whores who don't care where their money comes from. I guess we have to blame all the weak minded consumers who just want their cheap TVs so they can watch the news each night telling them how all their jobs have gone to China. Truthfully, I despair that they even bother to watch the news anymore (oh yeah... don't trust the news blah blah blah... great conspiracy tool to keep people even more ignorant).

Re:Why The Fuck

By Rinikusu • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Hard to avoid it, but some easy wins are in clothing, honestly. I've documented my search for non-MIC clothing, but if you're willing to spend more, you can still find stuff made here in the US, and usually there's a quality improvement attached.

To recap: in 2007-2008 I was buying Levi's 514s on sale in the $30-40 range. Every 6 months like clockwork, the knees would rip out. I'm a knowledge worker, why in the hell are my jeans, made from denim, which is is supposed to be a workwear fabric, wearing out in 6 months? It made no sense. Digging around I come to find out that Levi's really doesn't make anything anymore, they just put their name on stuff that they award to lowest bidder. Or similar. Anyway, found some more expensive Japanese denim, got some jeans, and it's been 12 years and I still have that pair of stupidly expensive Japanese denim in the closet I could break out and wear today if I wanted, and that's after a couple years of near daily wear. I've since found cheaper versions (I recommend and pay about $100-110 on jeans that last me years (and yeah, I've still got my first pair, going on 9 years now? I've had to patch the the back pocket). The Terry Pratchett parable about the boots comes to mind. Anyway, I've since found comparable items across my wardrobe and given a moment can probably provide the provenance of most of my clothes, simply because I am careful of what I buy. Clothes are low hanging fruit, though, as is furniture. Computers, on the other hand, jeez, good luck. I'd settle for "assembled in the US" (hey, I've got a trashcan mac! but I bought this shit for dirt cheap a few years ago), but dang. Synthesizers you have to kinda dig around. Moog still builds in North Carolina, Strymon in California which covers most of my needs. I'll also settle for western built stuff (I've got some synths made in Germany, Latvia, Greece and France).

So yeah, it's sorta doable for some things, you really need to just be cognizant, do research and make the decision. It's going to take reaching a little deeper in your pocket sometimes, but those labor and environmental safeguards cost money. I think it's worth it.

Goose, meet gander

By shanen • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

As FPs go, pretty weak. 'Nuff said.

What struck me about the story is the Golden Rule violation. We wouldn't want to be treated the same way. In particular, America would not like it if other countries started sanctioning every company that supported America's military. Actually, it's worse than that, because a LOT of countries can point at fairly recent historical events involving American military interventions. For the last couple of centuries, China has been one of the counties on the receiving end...

I certainly agree that China is becoming a major threat, but I'm not seeing how this is going to help. The root of the Chinese threat is economic, so in terms of evaluating the effectiveness as a countermeasure, the key question is the economic impact. I think that ultimately comes down to economic value, not military threats if you don't "honor our boycotts". If Chinese companies offer better merchandise at lower prices, then the customers will want to buy Chinese stuff. Even supercomputer-related merchandise.

From that perspective, I think the most dangerous recent Chinese attack was on Covid-19. Sure, they had to arrest everyone in Wuhan to do it, but they stopped Covid-19 and their economy barely missed a beat. The end result was that China gained economic ground against the rest of the world. China hit the brakes for a few months, but since then they are steady on the gas, while most of the rest of the world is trying to drive their national economies while pumping on the gas and the brakes at the same time.

And the big threat is that the Chinese government is already prepared for a MUCH worse disease than Covid-19. Several of the mutations of SARS-CoV-2 already look quite threatening. Looks to me like the rest of the world learned very little from the Covid-19 experience.

Peter Thiel Calls Bitcoin 'a Chinese Financial Weapon'

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Peter Thiel is "pro-crypto" and "pro-Bitcoin maximalist," but he also thinks the cryptocurrency may be undermining America. From a report: Thiel, the venture capitalist and conservative political donor, urged the U.S. government to consider tighter regulations on cryptocurrencies in an appearance on Tuesday. The statements seemed to represent a change of heart for Thiel, who is a major investor in virtual currency ventures as well as in cryptocurriences themselves. "I do wonder whether at this point, Bitcoin should also be thought [of] in part as a Chinese financial weapon against the U.S.," Thiel said during an appearance at a virtual event held for members of the Richard Nixon Foundation. "It threatens fiat money, but it especially threatens the U.S. dollar." He added: "[If] China's long Bitcoin, perhaps from a geopolitical perspective, the U.S. should be asking some tougher questions about exactly how that works."

Fiat currencies

By Immerman • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I suspect you misunderstand what a fiat currency is. Many people think it means "currency that only has value because we agree that it does" - but that's true of *every* currency, not just fiat ones. Even if we used gold coins or diamonds based on their actual value - there's so much of the stuff in storage and circulation that if we instead only used them for the industrial and decorative applications where they have "real" value, they would be worth only a tiny fraction of their current value. Their market value is determined entirely by perceived value, not practical value.

Fiat currencies have two big defining traits:
- They're officially recognized by the government as legal tender (e.g. if someone owes you money, they can insist on paying you in dollars, even if you would rather have gold)
- They are not backed by any commodity, so more can be produced at will to suit fiscal policy (though there will probably be unavoidable inflation as a result)

Neither of which is true of Bitcoin. Bitcoin is more akin to a useless commodity. It has zero value except as a currency, but new Bitcoin is produced at a predictable rate that will not change without widespread agreement among a lot of different stakeholders with conflicting interests. No one in the world can decide "okay, I'm going to start printing 1,000,000BC per day to pay my debts - none of the other stakeholders would agree to allow that as it would devalue their holdings. Whereas any government in the world could do so with their own fiat currency, and most do to some degree.

Re:Lol, that's why China banned Bitcoin...

By Luckyo • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The thing with crypto is that everyone and their grandmother who has good money in China (and I mean that one literally) is trying to get their money out of China. We saw it when CCP tried to float yuan a few years ago, and the amount of money that flowed abroad was utterly phenomenal. They clamped down in a matter of days when they realised what was going on.

This is because monetary policy in China for last half a century has been "take a funnel, shove it in the mouth of economy and then pour money down its throat no matter how much it fights back and convulses in pain". In China, if you wanted a loan and had any kind of employment plan for employing people, you got set of massive loans with no expectation of payback. Which means the country is utterly awash in money that cannot be taken out of the country.

Hence the ridiculous ways Chinese wealthy have been trying to get their money of out China. Everything from insurance scams via Hong Kong to money mules to crypto. And since HK is now dying as a way out and there's no hope of ever floating yuan again, crypto is one of the main pathways for money to get out of China today.

Hence the Chinese mining operations and the ongoing cryptoboom. Demand is so utterly massive that even CCP cannot fully crack down on it because of local corruption and the sheer amount of Chinese elites who are both enforcers of these policies and those interested in ways of getting their money out of China remaining viable.

Re:In other news

By spun • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Yeah, except he is actually working to fuck over democracy, world wide. He's one of the most evil men currently alive.

He doesn't just want the freedom to leave, he wants the freedom to oppress. Do you think a billionaire like Thiel would be comfortable without servants? It's pretty obvious that he just wants the right to whip them when they get uppity. Like Peter Thiel would ever farm, or work manual labor. No, he wants a sea-steading kingdom where he can make all the rules and take advantage of the poor and desperate. Like he'd ever give them a chance to leave once he had them in his clutches, lol.

Enough with the neocon cyber BS

By terrorubic • Score: 3, Informative • Thread
Peter Thiel, this is the feller who keeps a New Zealand passport handy for when the US collapses.

Re:In other news

By monkeyxpress • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Thiel just pushes libertarianism because then he ends up the effective ruler of such a society as he has all the wealth. Everyone will be 'free' to do what they want, but if they want any food, they will have to service the whims of the guy with all the wealth - and he will be able to ask them to do whatever he wants because *libertarianism*.

It's the sort of thing a spoilt teenager would dream up.

Apple Reveals Line of Attack in App Store Trial Against Epic

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Apple plans to argue at a trial that developers and consumers will suffer if Epic Games succeeds in upending how the iPhone maker's app marketplace is run. From a report: Apple presented a California federal judge on Thursday with a road map of how it will push back against Epic in a high-stakes antitrust fight over how much the App Store charges developers. The filing comes ahead of a May 3 trial before the judge with no jury. In a summary of its legal arguments, Apple contends the 30% commission it charges most developers isn't anticompetitive as it's a typical fee across other mobile and online platforms. Moreover, the company argues taking a share of the revenue is justified by the billions of dollars it has invested in developing the proprietary infrastructure that underpins its App Store, including software development kits and application programming interfaces. The maker of Fortnite, which Apple removed from its store last year, accuses the iPhone maker's app store of being an illegal monopoly because developers are barred from making their iPhone and iPad apps available through their own websites. On Thursday, the game studio laid out its own arguments in the dispute, saying Apple's conduct harms innovation and allows it to profit at the expense of independent developers.

Very Interesting Trial!

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

It's going to be fascinating to see how this turns out. This is really a trial to see if walled gardens are monopolistic or not.

And if they are, holy crap will that turn the current status quo of the entire internet on its head.

Re:Very Interesting Trial!

By jellomizer • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I am on both sides with this.
On one hand, for whatever device I choose to use, I would want to be able to choose what software I run on my device, and not be dictated by the hardware maker that said software is acceptable or not.
On the other hand, I want to be sure that stuff I download for my device which I use for a whole slew of jobs, is properly working, secure, and not trying to funnel money from me in the background.

The Walled Garden makes sure that the pretty flowers are not trampled by the normal riff-raft, but also restricts my access to go see its beauty because I may not be allowed in when I want to be their.

I don't see the connection

By cmseagle • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Apple is arguing that their fees are reasonable. Epic is arguing that they should be allowed to release apps without going through the App Store. If Apple convinces a judge that their fees are reasonable, is that sufficient to show that it's acceptable for them to lock iOS users into using the App Store?

It seems like they're arguing two different points, and that they could both be correct. As in, maybe Epic should be allowed to bypass the App Store even if App Store fees are reasonable. I'm hoping someone more in touch with the law can enlighten me.

Re:Very Interesting Trial!

By reanjr • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

You can have both, though. Android already has something like this. The Play Store is a walled garden. But you can install other stores. Or install apps directly. The process would probably be more streamlined if there were regulations, but technically, the solution is straightforward.

Apples arguments are irrelevant

By WaffleMonster • Score: 3 • Thread

The entitled to what percentages arguments are an irrelevant distraction. They could charge 1% instead of 30% and it would make no difference. The issue at hand is Apples intentional maintenance of a captive market.

PayPal Pledges To Reach Net-Zero Greenhouse Emissions By 2040

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: PayPal said it would achieve net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2040 as it looks for ways financial technology can prevent climate change. The payments giant also vowed to use renewable-energy sources to power its data centers by 2023, and pledged to reduce its operational greenhouse gases by 25% by 2025. The promises are part of PayPal's commitment to help limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement.

"Our climate action goes beyond our science-based targets," Sri Shivananda, PayPal's chief technology officer, said in an email. "As we continue to develop more effective and efficient payment solutions, we have an opportunity to identify financial-inclusion solutions that build greater climate resilience and maximize outcomes for underserved communities hit hardest by climate-related extreme events." PayPal said it has also been financing projects in communities where it has significant operations to address the "unavoidable climate pollution" they generate. The firm, for example, has been helping a foundation restore historically Black cemeteries in Richmond, Virginia, as a way to offset its greenhouse gas emissions.
"It will take us all to succeed at creating a climate-neutral economy," Shivananda added. "We will lead on researching opportunities and bringing in partners for collaboration to advance innovative fintech solutions that prioritize climate and financial-health impact."

Strange offsets

By teg • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

PayPal said it has also been financing projects in communities where it has significant operations to address the "unavoidable climate pollution" they generate. The firm, for example, has been helping a foundation restore historically Black cemeteries in Richmond, Virginia, as a way to offset its greenhouse gas emissions.

That's a really strange way to handle "unavoidable climate pollution" - while I definitely see it as a very positive way to help the communities they operate in, I really struggle to see the climate benefits of that. Not every good thing you do in a community need to be related to climate.

As far as climate goes, the first and best thing Paypal could do - even before making sure to buy renewable energy for their data centres - is to just stop using bitcoin. That's an enormous waste of energy and emissions for a tulip scheme.

Still talking about 1.5C, huh?

By RemindMeLater • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

to help limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement.

That ship has sailed. 2C has effectively sailed. These individual pledges are all well and good but are window dressing. If you look at the Mauna Loa CO2 graph you'll see that the entire COVID global shutdown isn't even visible in the growth record. In 2020 China approved more coal power plant capacity than the prior three years combined.

Globally we should be pursuing a rapid strategy of de-growth, localization and massive carbon taxes. But fundamentally we want our stuff and no politician is getting elected with the promise of less. So we're going to collide head first with consequences because of our greed. It's a pity all the other species have to suffer the consequences.

Need Bitcoin to reach zero emmisions

By jfdavis668 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Considering they use power equivalent to a small country.

How does that work with crypto-enablement?

By Fly Swatter • Score: 3 • Thread
Sounds like hypocritical marketing lies to me.

Nucking Futz

By cascadingstylesheet • Score: 3 • Thread

The firm, for example, has been helping a foundation restore historically Black cemeteries in Richmond, Virginia, as a way to offset its greenhouse gas emissions.

The world has gone completely nucking futz.

I can't believe I actually have to ask this ... I really can't believe it ... but how does restoring a "historically black cemetery" do anything about greenhouse gas problems? Surely any energy used in the restoration, or to produce any of the consumables or tools used in the restoration, just ADDS (marginally) to the greenhouse gas problem?

UK Broadcaster Wins Injunction To Stop Reddit Moderator Sharing Pirated TV Shows

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Sky TV, one of the largest broadcasters in the UK, has won a court injunction to prevent links to its TV shows from being illegally shared online. The interim order targets a man who moderated several TV-focused communities on Reddit while raising funds through Patreon and PayPal. TorrentFreak reports: According to an action filed by Sky in a Scottish court, Cherzo1 was the moderator of three sub-Reddits -- r/UKTVLAND, r/notapanelshow, and r/UKPanelShowsOnly -- which together had more than 51,000 subscribers. Cherzo also had a YouTube channel with more than 95,000 subscribers. According to Sky, all of these platforms were used to infringe the company's copyrights. In evidence to support its action, Sky states that Cherzo1 was motivated by money, receiving payments from fans and followers via Patreon and directly into his PayPal account. [...]

In order to curtail Cherzo1's activities, Sky asked the court to hand down an "interdict ad interim," a term used in Scotland to describe an interim injunction. The broadcaster asked the court to order Cherzo1 to stop uploading copies of broadcasts, stop posting hyperlinks to shows on Reddit and anywhere else on the Internet, and forbid him from assisting any third party to do the same. A court will grant an interim interdict if it believes there is a prima facie case against the defendant. [...] Anyone found breaching such an order could be subjected to a fine or even imprisonment.

No legal way outside UK

By penguinchris • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Sky doesn't provide a way for anyone outside the UK to watch their shows. I'd guess some things are on Acorn or Britbox or other US streaming services, but not the show I want (the Artist of the Year series).

Maybe most of Cherzo's audience are actually in the UK and just don't want to pay for Sky. I don't know but a reasonable guess. Hard to imagine most people who *paid* Cherzo are in the UK though.

I'd gladly pay Sky, but I can't.

Re:No legal way outside UK

By coofercat • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Yeah, blame the people who make the shows. They sell Sky a license to show it in the UK only (actually, probably UK mainland, so Falklands are out, for example). They also only get to do so for (say) a year, and maybe only via broadcast, or maybe only online or in many cases both. Outside of that contract, Sky aren't allowed to do it. That's not normally too much of an issue because Sky's satellites are designed to only "beam" over mainland UK (although of course there's overspill elsewhere - but by then the signal strength is lower than designed, and if you get crappy signal, Sky don't care).

Sky makes its own shows in some cases, but even still they are probably contractually complex. They'll use other TV and film companies to do parts of the work for them, so again, may enter in limiting contracts. If Sky happens to be the big guy in the room then it's them that gets to dictate the terms. Even still though, since Sky isn't in many other countries, they probably use their UK-specificness to cut contracts that benefit them (ie. "we'll do what we want with this in the UK, but you get a year to show it on broadcast in guatamala. In return for this gift to you, we'll have a 25% discount on your bill for animators").

I suspect in this case, Sky was getting heat from some of the content providers saying "our stuff is getting pirated via Sky". Sky probably have contractual terms saying they'll take due care to avoid such problems, but even if they don't, the reciprocal nature of their business means it's in their interest to help out (so they get help from others when they need it).

As for you - as I say, Sky can't sell this stuff to you, even if they want to. Or rather, it would make it so ruinously expensive for them to buy content on terms that allow them to sell it to you, that they can't actually run their business like that.

Re:No legal way outside UK

By theshowmecanuck • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Having the Americans do their own version devalues the show. Pretty every time they do, it's shit; with a very, very few exceptions.

Re:No legal way outside UK

By mnemotronic • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Having the Americans do their own version devalues the show. Pretty [much] every time they do, it's shit; with a very, very few exceptions.

Yea. Ok But just wait'll you see the Amercanized "Dr Who". Staring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The show will feature plenty of obvious product placements for Coke, Facebook, Amazon and Johnson & Johnson. Woo-hoo!! We rock!

IBM Creates a COBOL Compiler For Linux On x86

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
IBM has announced a COBOL compiler for Linux on x86. "IBM COBOL for Linux on x86 1.1 brings IBM's COBOL compilation technologies and capabilities to the Linux on x86 environment," said IBM in an announcement, describing it as "the latest addition to the IBM COBOL compiler family, which includes Enterprise COBOL for z/OS and COBOL for AIX." The Register reports: COBOL -- the common business-oriented language -- has its roots in the 1950s and is synonymous with the mainframe age and difficulties paying down technical debt accrued since a bygone era of computing. So why is IBM -- which is today obsessed with hybrid clouds -- bothering to offer a COBOL compiler for Linux on x86? Because IBM thinks you may want your COBOL apps in a hybrid cloud, albeit the kind of hybrid IBM fancies, which can mean a mix of z/OS, AIX, mainframes, POWER systems and actual public clouds.
But the announcement also suggests IBM doesn't completely believe this COBOL on x86 Linux caper has a future as it concludes: "This solution also provides organizations with the flexibility to move workloads back to IBM Z should performance and throughput requirements increase, or to share business logic and data with CICS Transaction Server for z/OS." The new offering requires RHEL 7.8 or later, or Ubuntu Server 16.04 LTS, 18.04 LTS, or later.

Re: Finally the wait is over!

By DarkOx • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Because unfortunately COBOL isnt COBOL. Its like C in the sense you can be disciplined and write it to one of the standards. Like C89 or in this case COBOL74 or COBOL85, or you can litter it will all kinds of vendor-isms.

If you wrote to one of the standards than odds are good its pretty portable; with but and its a big BUT; COBOL programs usually have pretty heavy dependancies on their environment. They depend on the system to wire up all the file I/O (JCL's job in the IBM world) or they are expecting inputs from interactive stuff like CICS or they have bind variables into DB2... Few COBOL "applications" are really monolithic programs in the sense one binary handles some process from start to finish. They are usually a series of job steps, and they may depend on all kinds of non-COBOL glue like sync sorts and stuff between them which may or may not have suitable analogs on other systems.

Even if you have a very 'standards compliant' COBOL corpus the odds you can just pick it up and move it from and IBM mainframe or even iSeries environment to pick-your-PC-COBOL without a significant redesign is pretty slim. So having an IBM provided environment will likely address some of that stuff. I can't imagine they are releasing 'just a compiler' because there are plenty of them that can spit out an x86 binary from some COBOL85 source already.

Why is COBOL Still Here?

By theshowmecanuck • Score: 3 • Thread
Because companies are in business to make money, not satisfy young programmers who only want the coolest shiny language and silver bullet. No matter what issue the latest language de jour solves, if it doesn't pay for all the hassle of rewriting something that already works and does the job adequately for the business to continue making money, it isn't worth it. This is the ultimate case of good enough is good enough that beats perfection. I have no idea how to code in COBOL. C, C++, Java, Python, Shell, and I won't admit to knowing Visual Basic and JavaScript. etc. etc. But I could be blind and still see the value of keeping COBOL programs around. If it does the job, and it ain't broke, don't fix it. It's only issue is finding people to maintain it, and boxes to code it on (since big iron is falling out of favour).

Re: Always kind of interested me..

By squiggleslash • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Gonna make a guess here, but presumably IBM accounts for most of the surviving hardware that still runs COBOL programs. IBM is one of the few mainframe manufacturers left (even if their modern mainframes don't really resemble their System/3X0 series in any obvious way), and their selling point is that their z Systems are backward compatible with the System/360 and its successors.

Their modern mainframes run an interesting mix of legacy operating systems and massively parallelized Linux VMs, so IBM releasing a COBOL compiler for this suggests IBM is at least interested in the possibility of moving its customers away from the legacy operating systems and into GNU/Linux. Or this could be customer driven, and it's the customers themselves that want to get away from z/OS, z/VM, z/VSE, and z/TPF, the OSes based upon IBM's old mainframe OSes.

As a side note, if you ever want to see how computing might have developed had people taken different turns in the microcomputing world, looking at IBM Mainframes, together with more exotic non-IBM stuff like Multics and the hardware it was designed to run on (no, Multics is almost completely unrelated to Unix, despite Unix being influenced by it) is a great way to kill a few hours on Wikipedia with. Our industry has taken a lot of interesting turns.

Re:Actual clouds?

By alexgieg • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Saying "cloud" to mean servers makes you a PHB or a luddite.

That depends. I've seen hosts who provide a "cloud" composed of a single bare metal server in a data center. So, yes, there are people who use it as synonymous with servers, and that's indeed moronic. But outside that misidentification, "cloud" does have a specific, concrete meaning that differs from a generic "servers", in the sense that all clouds are sets of servers, but not not all sets of servers are clouds.

So, a proper cloud is a set of one or more bare metal servers, in a single data center or spread on different data centers at different locations, all running a minimal OS with a specific proprietary or open source software stack such as OpenStack, CloudStack, OpenNebula or some other, VPNed into a single decentralized OS-like system designed to manage virtual machines. This OS-like software layer works in a distributed manner, so if bare metal machines go on or off it doesn't affect your interaction with that set of servers. When it's running, users can in turn create, duplicate, delete, start, gracefully stop, or ungracefully kill one or more VMs, usually via special scripts written in languages designed for this purpose.

Those VMs, in turn, usually run servers OSes also specialized for very fast boot and shut down times, configured via scripts rather than manually fine tuned, that allow new instances to be built, configured, updated, and integrated into specific distributed workloads under sub-VPNs of their own, with coherent, predictable, and reproducible behaviors, and usually with enough resilience and redundancy embedded into them so as to not cause any damage, or other undesirable side-effects, to the workloads they're part of if and when they're suddenly killed, and then another set of VM instances is started in an entirely different data center/geographical location to continue the work from where the killed VM stopped.

That is a cloud platform. So, unless the person/entity means all of that, then it isn't in fact a cloud platform.

And, the thing is, IBM does mean all of that, so their use of the word "cloud" is perfectly accurate.

Kernel Rewrite

By Jerrry • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Now how do we convince Linus to rewrite the Linux kernel in COBOL?