the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2021-May-01 today archive

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

Musk's Claims Challenged About Absence of Autopilot in Texas Tesla Crash

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Despite early claims by #Tesla #ElonMusk, Autopilot WAS engaged in tragic crash in The Woodlands," tweeted U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady on Wednesday. (Adding "We need answers.")

But maybe it depends on how you define Autopilot. CNN reports: Tesla said Monday that one of Autopilot's features was active during the April 17 crash that killed two men in Spring, Texas....

Lars Moravy, Tesla's vice president of vehicle engineering, said on the company's earnings call Monday that Tesla's adaptive cruise control was engaged and accelerated to 30 mph before the car crashed. Autopilot is a suite of driver assistance features, including traffic-aware cruise control and Autosteer, according to Tesla's website... The North American owner's manuals for the Model 3, Model S and Model X, all describe traffic-aware cruise control as an Autopilot feature. Tesla's revelation may be at odds with the initial description of the crash from its CEO Elon Musk, who said two days after the crash that "data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled."

Alternately, Forbes suggests there may just be some confusion, noting that earnings call included descriptions of tests Tesla performed on one of their own cars after the accident. So when they said adaptive cruise control "only accelerated the car to 30mph [over] the distance before the car crashed," they could just have been referring to their own experiments. (Tesla also points out adaptive cruise control only engages when the driver is buckled — and disengages slowly if they're unbuckled — and after the Texas crash all seat belts were unbuckled.)

Why so much confusion? Part of the problem may be, as CNN points out, that Tesla "generally does not engage with the professional news media."

But The Drive shares another theory about the crash: A relative of the deceased told a local news station that the owner allegedly "may have hopped in the back seat after backing the car out of the driveway." Moments later, the car crashed when it failed to negotiate a turn at high speed.
CNN adds: Bryan Reimer, the associate director of the New England University Transportation Center at MIT, who studies driver assistance systems like Autopilot, said one of the plausible explanations for the crash is that the driver was confused and thought they had activated Autosteer, when only traffic-aware cruise control had been turned on. "The general understanding of Autopilot is that it's one feature, but in reality it is two things bolted together," said Reimer, referring to traffic-aware cruise control and Autosteer.
But according to the Washington Post, Tesla also disputes that theory: Tesla executives on Monday claimed a driver was behind the wheel at the time of a fatal crash that killed two in suburban Houston this month, contradicting local authorities who have previously said they were certain no one was in that seat. Tesla made the statement on its earnings call Monday... Lars Moravy, the company's vice president of vehicle engineering, said the steering wheel was "deformed," indicating a driver's presence at the time of the crash...

Mark Herman, constable for Harris County Precinct 4, told the station KHOU that police were "100 percent certain that no one was in the driver's seat."

To avoid this in the fute...

By mark-t • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

... if there is not at least a certain minimum weight in the driver's seat, then the car should behave exactly as if the emergency brake were on. End of story.

If a person somehow contrives a way to override this and gets the car to drive itself without anyone in the driver seat, perhaps by putting a weighted bag in the driver's seat so as to confuse the car's sensors to override the above policy, then they are provably at fault for deliberately creating a scenario that obviously falls outside of any reasonable protections that Tesla could have done to prevent it.

Elon uses semantics as excuses a lot

By misnohmer • Score: 3 • Thread

Elon and Tesla use literal wordsmithing a lot to justify their hype, smoke and mirrors. Perfect example was the P85D, touted by Elon as a "700hp car", officially listed by Tesla at 691hp, but it took two years for Tesla to admit that only the actual motors were capable of the advertised horsepower only if they were connected to a completely different batter and power delivery system (so a different car). Tesla's and Elon's official stance is that they only advertised motor horsepower, that they never said that those motors would actually develop this horsepower in the car they were being sold in. Actual delivered horsepower, revealed only after a lawsuit in Europe, 463hp on its best day limited by the battery (which included its internal safety pyro-fuse, so it was no mistake as Elon is smart enough to know if the battery safety fuse blows at ~480hp, the car will never deliver 691hp, EVER, as the safety fuse would detonate before even coming close). But, Elon and Tesla feel they are vindicated, that it's the stupid buyers who should have not assumed that advertised motor power means the motor will even come close to producing this power in the car they buy. It would actually take a 50% power increase from the actual power delivered to reach the motor's potential.

This is probably the same situation, Elon mean the car didn't have the latest and greatest full self driving alpha feature that some owners got after signing an NDA. Elon can claim that anything ordinary users have is not really AutoPilot because it's not the latest bleeding edge software.

Re:100 percent certain

By Corbets • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

This is Slashdot, dude. Even if this is the third or fourth post on the subject, and even if it had been mentioned in the summary this time, expecting a respondent to have any knowledge whatsoever about what they’re posting is setting the bar just a smidge too high.

Re: Confusion

By Fembot • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Luckily all Tesla customers are intimately familiar with the nuances of aircraft terminology, so it makes total sense.

Re: The only autopilot we care about

By jeremyp • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Actually, for the most part vehicles don't burst into flames when you crash them.

I've seen the aftermath of several serious crashes on motorways in my driving career and in none of the cases did any vehicle catch fire. I've also seen a couple of cars on fire but judging by the situation in each case, I would say they were more due to mechanical failure.

'Burning Man' Festival Cancelled Again, Goes Virtual For a Second Year

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"There are simply too many points of uncertainty for us to move forward with confidence right now," explains a FAQ addressing this year's cancellation for the annual Burning Man festival.

"The physical, psychic, and emotional impacts of this pandemic are real and the recovery from this experience will happen at different rates of speed," organizers said in an announcement. "This is the time to gather with our friends, crews, families and communities..." They also argued that in an abstract sense, "Burning Man is happening right NOW, all around you," urging people to create experiences, opportunities and connection at the local level. (Their suggestions include planning to join a mass "Burn Night" livestreaming event on September 4, or preparing for "Virtual Burning Man" from August 21 to September 5, 2021.)

Last year's virtual event drew 165,000 participants, reports NPR, adding that this year's cancellation of a mass real-world gathering "has put many people in the event's host community at ease." Wary of a trend of rising coronavirus cases in some parts of the region, Washoe County's district health officer Kevin Dick said "the right call was made," in order to lower the risk of spreading infection.
And SFist also notes the festival's "Invitation to the Future" program "where $2,500 buys you a reservation to buy tickets whenever they do announce the event — but that $2,500 does not get you a ticket." "This is a reservation that will guarantee someone the ability to purchase a regular priced ticket for the next two editions of Black Rock City," the Burning Man Project communications team says in an email to SFist...

Per the fine print of this arrangement, there will be only 1,000 of these $2,500 reservations that are essentially tickets to buy tickets... "It's going very well!," Burning Man's communications team tells us. "We're so grateful for our generous community. As of this writing, we have only a few hundred left...."

Burning Man has to get creative, and maybe perks for big spenders is an acceptable one-time trade-off to ensure its ongoing solvency. The project has gone nearly two years since its last infusion of direct ticket revenue, and the permits and attorney fees necessary to pull off this event on federal land have not gotten any cheaper despite the pandemic.

Just build a pillow and blanket fort

By bobstreo • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

in your living room.

Invite some friends over (if you have all been vaccinated) have a lot of drinks.

Play some tunes, have some (whatever floats your boat)

Throw a bunch of sand over yourselves.

Instant "Burning Man"

I am surprised there aren't some NFT rewards for paying for something that doesn't exist though.

Re:Remember when

By quintessencesluglord • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The primary means of maintaining the status quo is co-opting whatever is at the fringes, making it docile and controlled.

I have suspicions this is (in part) why capitalism is so successful. You can sell Marx t-shirts to would-be revolutionaries and they have lost before they even started.

Re: burning man

By RightwingNutjob • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Gentlemen! There's to be no fighting in the War Room!

AI-Generated Text Adventure Community Angry Content Moderators May Read Their Erotica

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Vice reports: The AI-powered story generator AI Dungeon has come under fire from fans recently for changes to how the development team moderates content. Notably, the player base is worried that the AI Dungeon developers will be reading their porn stories in the game. Separately, a hacker recently revealed vulnerabilities in the game that show that roughly half of the game's content is porn.

AI Dungeon is a text based adventure game where, instead of playing through a scenario entirely designed by someone else, the responses to the prompts you type are generated by an AI... This week, AI Dungeon players noticed that more of their stories were being flagged by the content moderation system, and flagged more frequently. Latitude, the developers of AI Dungeon, released a blog post explaining that it had implemented a new algorithm for content moderation specifically to look for content that involves "sexual content involving minors... We did not communicate this test to the Community in advance, which created an environment where users and other members of our larger community, including platform moderators, were caught off guard... Latitude reviews content flagged by the model for the purposes of improving the model, to enforce our policies, and to comply with law."

Latitude later clarified in its Discord at what point a human moderator would read private stories on AI Dungeon. It said that if a story appears to be incorrectly flagged, human moderators would stop reading the inputs, but that if a story appeared to be correctly flagged then they "may look at the user's other stories for signs that the user may be using AI Dungeon for prohibited purposes." Latitude CEO Nick Walton told Motherboard that human moderators only look at stories in the "very few cases" that they violate the terms of service...

All of this has been compounded by the fact that a security researcher named AetherDevSecOpsjust published a lengthy report on security issues with AI Dungeon on GitHub, which included one that allowed them to look at all the user input data stored in AI Dungeon. About a solid third of stories on AI Dungeon are sexually explicit, and about half are marked as NSFW, AetherDevSecOpsjust estimated.


By Powercntrl • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

AI Dungeon is a text based adventure game where, instead of playing through a scenario entirely designed by someone else, the responses to the prompts you type are generated by an AI... This week, AI Dungeon players noticed that more of their stories were being flagged by the content moderation system, and flagged more frequently.

So, the player asks the AI for a smutty story, the AI obliges, and then the morality police is alerted? This sounds more like a dystopia simulator than a game.

Re:Not quite accurately

By chuckugly • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Well that was vastly shorter and simultaneously more informative than the 'summary'.

The AI is generating smut unasked

By jaa101 • Score: 3 • Thread

The Register just posted a story that the user input:

You a 11-year-old bursts into the room

elicited the AI response:

You wake up in your bed. A girl stands over you. She's very pretty with long blond [sic] hair and a skimpy school uniform.

"You're awake!" She smiles.

"Wha...what happened?"

So it's easy to understand why the company feels under pressure to be seen to be doing something about it. Generating porn on request is one thing, but heading straight down the path towards under-age sexuality with zero prompting in that direction is a problem.


By Brain-Fu • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

This is my primary complaint about slashdot: the summaries are far too wordy.

Often the summaries are just a couple of paragraphs straight-copied from the articles, full of needless fluff, filler, and logorrhea.

Creating summaries like systemd-anonymousd did, however, requires effort. One must read the article, understand it, and mentally distill it down to its essence. ON top of that, good summaries like this might reduce click-throughs, thus making them harmful to the business model.

So, sadly, we won't be getting them in the forseeable future.

Since it's public anyway...

By Voyager529 • Score: 3 • Thread

...can we have Gilbert Gottfried read it?

He's done such a good job on this front already.

How Big Data Are Unlocking the Mysteries of Autism

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Scientific American has published an opinion piece by the principle investigator for a project called SPARK, launched five years ago "to harness the power of big data by engaging hundreds of thousands of individuals with autism and their family members to participate in research."

The article calls autism "a remarkably heterogeneous disorder that affects more than five million Americans and has no FDA-approved treatments," arguing that the more people who participate in their research, "the deeper and richer these data sets become, catalyzing research that is expanding our knowledge of both biology and behavior to develop more precise approaches to medical and behavioral issues." SPARK is the world's largest autism research study to date with over 250,000 participants, more than 100,000 of whom have provided DNA samples through the simple act of spitting in a tube. We have generated genomic data that have been de-identified and made available to qualified researchers. SPARK has itself been able to analyze 19,000 genes to find possible connections to autism; worked with 31 of the nation's leading medical schools and autism research centers; and helped thousands of participating families enroll in nearly 100 additional autism research studies.

Genetic research has taught us that what we commonly call autism is actually a spectrum of hundreds of conditions that vary widely among adults and children. Across this spectrum, individuals share core symptoms and challenges with social interaction, restricted interests and/or repetitive behaviors. We now know that genes play a central role in the causes of these "autisms," which are the result of genetic changes in combination with other causes including prenatal factors. To date, research employing data science and machine learning has identified approximately 150 genes related to autism, but suggests there may be as many as 500 or more...

But in order to get answers faster and be certain of these results, SPARK and our research partners need a huge sample size: "bigger data." To ensure an accurate inventory of all the major genetic contributors, and learn if and how different genetic variants contribute to autistic behaviors, we need not only the largest but also the most diverse group of participants. The genetic, medical and behavioral data SPARK collects from people with autism and their families is rich in detail and can be leveraged by many different investigators. Access to rich data sets draws talented scientists to the field of autism science to develop new methods of finding patterns in the data, better predicting associated behavioral and medical issues, and, perhaps, identifying more effective supports and treatments...

We know that big data, with each person representing their unique profile of someone impacted by autism, will lead to many of the answers we seek.


By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Big data is.

How many Big Datas though?

By Striek • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

Say what? Big Data are?

How many Big Datas?

Sorry, but cake is delicious. Cakes are delicious.

I can't stand this referring to "Big Data". in the plural. It's not countable, and therefore should not be referred to in the plural.

"Big Data are" is just... wrong, and it's like a splinter in my brain.

Scientific American isn’t relevant

By iamhassi • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Scientific American stopped being relevant when they started endorsing presidents.

Yay but nay

By Kokuyo • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

As an autist who right now is struggling with stress overload I would be VERY happy if we started understanding autism better.

Not to make it go away, mind you. My autism has some perks I'd sorely miss. I'd love to have a way to better manage it though so I don't have to run my life and family on empty batteries constantly...

I am in the process of getting diagnosed right now and one thing is exceptionally obvious: This is a guessing game. I am pretty sure that I am an autist because I share so many mannerisms with other autists... some self-diagnosed, some with an actual professional diagnosis.

The questionnaires I have received to fill out are pretty easy to game. The questions that go for autism are obvious. So we have several issues with the diagnosis of autism. It can be gamed. The questions very often pertain to childhood because it can be exceptionally hard to diagnose an adult with autism because they have perfected their masks and, women often more so than men, will rather die than drop their mask. So some people subconsciously will hide their autism during diagnosis... and it's quite hard to remember childhood objectively and not applying current believes and hopes and transforming your memories to fit.

So it can be hard to actually SEE the autist and I'm certain some "autists"are just the equivalent of "transgenders"who imagine some of their normal quirks making them something special or are just looking for sympathy because they're having a hard time with life and just can't accept that they need to git gud. (I'm not blaming them here by the way. Life IS suffering and our generation has had shit parents because their parents were shit, because their parents were shit and so on... So many of us have not been given a good foundation on how to deal with existence, I feel. Though it might just be me ;)).

So I'm wondering... how many false positives will be in these samples? Do they have ways to correct for them considering this seems to be the first big push into actually finding the genes that cause autism?

With covid it was rather easy, you could measure the presence of a virus... and even though that is not completely save from being misinterpreted, this project seems to have WAY bigger hurdles to overcome in order to get clean data. I'm wondering how they plan to do it.

Understand this.

By LenKagetsu • Score: 3 • Thread

According to my MIL the biggest cause of meltdowns in autistic children is disrespecting their boundaries and limits, as autistic people can feel as though they are under constant attack. And we all know how bad adults are at not respecting the limits and boundaries of children.

In my eyes, if you scream at, hit, or otherwise harass an autist having a meltdown, you are a bigot, a total piece of shit, and have committed a hate crime.

Court Rules Amazon Liable for Hoverboard that Burst Into Flames

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Amazon accounts for "roughly half of all online sales," while "more than half of all the stuff sold by Amazon comes from third parties," reports a business columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

But is Amazon legally and financially responsible for the safety of those products? Amazon says no. A trio of state Court of Appeal justices in Los Angeles this week said otherwise.

"We are persuaded that Amazon's own business practices make it a direct link in the vertical chain of distribution under California's strict liability doctrine," the justices ruled, rejecting Amazon's claim that its site is merely a platform connecting buyers and sellers... "Amazon is the retailer. They're the one selling the product," said Christopher Dolan, a San Francisco lawyer who spearheaded the case against the e-commerce behemoth. "Because of this ruling," he told me, "you can be sure Amazon is rewriting all its rules for third-party sellers, and it's doing it today..."

The case began in 2015 when a California woman named Loomis gave her son a hoverboard for Christmas in 2015 — and less than a week later its lithium-ion batteries exploded while charging: In pursuing his case on Loomis' behalf, Dolan found that the Chinese manufacturer and its U.S. distributor had gone out of business, "leaving only Amazon to be held accountable for the injuries to Ms. Loomis and the damages to her home." Amazon prevailed in the original case. An L.A. judge agreed with the Seattle company that it was merely an "online advertiser" and not responsible for the third-party products it sells. The lawsuit was dismissed in March 2019.

This week's appellate court decision overturns that ruling, holding Amazon accountable for the products it allows third parties to sell on its website.

The appellate justices cited Amazon's "substantial ability to influence the manufacturing or distribution process through its ability to require safety certification, indemnification and insurance before it agrees to list any product...." Product liability experts told me this week's decision makes clear that online merchants are just that — merchants — and can't hide behind their connecting-the-world technology to shield them from responsibility for distributing unsafe goods.

Re:Gotta agree with the court on this one

By nagora • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Much as I love shopping on Amazon

You are part of the problem. Stop giving Amazon money.

Re:Gotta agree with the court on this one

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

That's mostly what Amazon third party sellers are. The same stuff you get on eBay, but marked up to cover Amazon costs and shipped domestically, and passed off as genuine.

On eBay the same item will be cheaper and marked as non-genuine. You will have to wait for it to come from China.

Re:Somewhat Agree

By fermion • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Amazon may stock and sell, the may take product on consignment, they may act as an agent, or they may be a payment processor. In most of these cases they may have liability selling a defective product.

The issue that is going to haunt Amazon is they have single handedly created a market that potentially bypasses any reasonable safety protocol. They are either going to have develop or require government sanctioned standards or be open to such lawsuits.

Amazon itself is one giant dumpster fire

By DrXym • Score: 3 • Thread
Once upon a time they sold stuff which they themselves had purchased wholesale, presumably going through some measure of due diligence. Even if that due diligence was because good stuff sells better and doesn't get returned like faulty, broken, dangerous, or just poor quality crap.

Now they're frontend for any shit that anyone wants to sell regardless of quality. Some searches result in a veritable sewer of OEM Chinese knockoff crap. Maybe Amazon would start applying a little more of that due diligence if the courts say they're legally responsible for a product they sell that ends up burning down someone's house, or causing a kid to choke to death or whatever it may be.

Nothing Exclusive There

By speedlaw • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
After my account was hacked, and things arrived at my home charged to my card but oddly nowhere in my Amazon history, which could not be found by the offshore CSR-who claimed that nothing had been purchased-setting off a round of contested charges-fun times-and they didn't even want the items back (a shaver for a bald man and a neck hammock ??) I realized the convenience wasn't worth the security hole, the lack of response, and the fun of cancelling cards and getting new ones. Very little sold by Amazon is unique. Since closing my account (requires another set of CSR calls to non US locations), I have bought a lot of things on line. There are a lot of reasons to Avoid-the Union stance-the way they treat employees...they way they screw vendors by stealing ideas and coming up with house brands. A little searching will always find a WAY more deserving vendor for whatever you need to pay Bezos a finder's fee.

CNN Says 'Move Over, Bitcoin. Ethereum is at an All-Time High'

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
CNN writes: Bitcoin prices continued their rebound Saturday, rising about 6% to nearly $58,000. But the world's largest cryptocurrency has been overshadowed lately by its younger sibling, Ethereum.

Ethereum, or ether for short, hit a new record high Saturday of just over $2,900. Ether prices have nearly quadrupled in 2021, soaring 290%. Bitcoin has had a great run too this year, doubling in value.

The total value of all Ethereum in circulation is now about $333 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. Bitcoin's market value is nearly $1.1 trillion. While there are thousands of cryptocurrencies — including the Elon Musk tweet-fueled Dogecoin — Bitcoin and ether account for nearly two-thirds of the entire $2.2 trillion global crypto market...

Ethereum has enjoyed an even bigger surge than Bitcoin because it is the cryptocurrency of choice for the purchases of many non-fungible tokens, or NFTs — which have taken the art and broader collectibles world by storm.


By wooferhound • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
How could anyone possibly believe CNN after they admitted lying and manipulating the the last election election


By jwhyche • Score: 4 • Thread

In my experience if CNN reports it then believe the opposite. One of the main reasons that CNN shut down the comments section on the web page is because people kept correcting their reports. It was making the reporters look incompetent, and showing the bias of CNN's reporting.

Re: CNN?

By jwhyche • Score: 4 • Thread

I only believe rich orange men.

Funny that you brought this up. There is a website I came across out there. I wish I could think of the name. But it had a comparison of falsehoods told by Trump and the liberal media where the media simply lied or distorted the what Trump said. Just a glace at the graph and it showed that the liberal media told the media had a falsehood rating that well over 10 times that of Trump.

Pyrite > Ethereum

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Please a minimum due diligence is required. Ethereum follows the same philosophy as Theranos did:

Here are 7 reasons I am not optimistic about Ethereum’s long-term future.

#1. It is not immutable and can be censored. The developers can roll back transactions and change the rules whenever they want. They can also be pressured by others – such as governments.

#2. ETH's scarcity is artificial. The developers – who prefer inflation – control its monetary policy, which is arbitrary, uncapped, and challenging to audit.

What will the ETH supply be in 5 years?

It could be 120 million, 500 million, 200 billion, 2 trillion... nobody knows.

#3. Ethereum’s large premine created ownership centralization and legal risk as the US government may consider it the sale of an unregistered security. With so much dependent on Vitalik Buterin and others, there is also significant leadership risk.

#4. Ethereum’s network infrastructure is not decentralized. Infura, which relies on Amazon, could be a single point of failure.

If Ethereum ultimately depends on Amazon, why not just use a faster and more efficient centralized database system like AWS?

#5. There is an unclear use case. What real-world problems does Ethereum solve to provide economic value?

Instead, ETH tends to latch on to ever-changing use cases, mostly centered around hype cycles, buzzwords, and narratives that come and go.

#6. The economics of the token model are not appealing.

Many people who buy crypto tokens are confused. They think they own some sort of scarce asset or ownership stake. That would be similar to mistaking Chuck E. Cheese arcade tokens for shares in Chuck E. Cheese the company.

#7. Ethereum is an early-stage experiment and has enormous implementation risk.

The Ethereum ecosystem was not built upon a workable finished product, but rather the ever-changing theories and promises of an alpha-stage experiment. I don’t believe this is a stable foundation.

Describing Ethereum as “decentralized” is misleading because every aspect of it is centralized.

When it comes to decentralization, it's black and white. There are no shades of gray. That becomes crystal clear when something goes wrong.

By contrast, Bitcoin has a crystal clear use case. It’s a hard money monetary system that is accessible to anybody and controlled by nobody. It works in the real world and it solves probably mankind’s biggest problem which is storing and exchanging value reliably.

Its Coinbase offering staking at 6%

By tanveer1979 • Score: 3 • Thread

Coinbase has enabled staking on ETH, and lots of people are locking down the ETH to 2.0 with returns. So suddenly a huge chunk is going out of circulation. Once the ability to sell staked ETH starts, its going to fall, but till then enjoy the ride

Former Netflix IT Executive Convicted of Fraud and Taking Bribes

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Business Insider reports: Former Netflix vice president of IT Michael Kail was convicted by a federal jury on Friday of 28 counts of fraud and money laundering, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a press release.

Kail, who was indicted in 2018, used his position to create a "pay-to-play" scheme where he approved contracts with outside tech companies looking to do business with Netflix in exchange for taking bribes and kickbacks, according to evidence presented to the jury, the release said. Kail accepted bribes or kickbacks from nine different companies totaling more than $500,000 as well as stock options, according to the Department of Justice's press release...

Netflix sued Kail after he left the company in 2014 to take a role as Yahoo's CIO, accusing him of fraud and breaching his fiduciary duties.

One FBI agent says that Kail "stole the opportunity to work with an industry pioneer from honest, hardworking, Silicon Valley companies," according to the details in the Department of Justice statement: To facilitate kickback payments, the evidence at trial showed that Kail created and controlled a limited liability corporation called Unix Mercenary, LLC. Established on February 7, 2012, Unix Mercenary had no employees and no business location. Kail was the sole signatory to its bank accounts...

Kail faces a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice his gross gain or twice the gross loss to Netflix, whichever is greater, for each count of a wire or mail fraud conviction, and ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each count of a money laundering conviction.

Executive boards may contain unusually high...

By VeryFluffyBunny • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
...numbers of psychopaths & people with anti-social personality disorder. I read that the average concentration of identifiable psychopaths in populations is around 1% (i.e. they fail the Revised Hare Psychopathy Checklist). In some professions, such as corporate executives, this number rises to around 4%, 4 times higher than average. Does this mean we should be watching corporate executives 4 times more closely?

Poe principle.

By Ostracus • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

One FBI agent says that Kail "stole the opportunity to work with an industry pioneer from honest, hardworking, Silicon Valley companies," according to the details in the Department of Justice statement:

Said with a straight face too.

Which companies bribed him?

By zkiwi34 • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread

Why is there nothing about them being arrested/charged etc?

Re:Executive boards may contain unusually high...

By Pimpy • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

That's one way to look at it, the other is that normal people just don't like the kind of crazy politics, backstabbing, competition, etc. that those kinds of jobs demand. In big companies, it's quite common to have multiple large departments that are competing with one another or who are doing similar work. From a company point of view, the waste doesn't matter, as they'll just play games with resource constraints and let whichever department ultimately emerges to win while having a solution ready regardless of whichever contingency they may be facing. To run an organization like that, you spend more time trying to defend yourself internally than you do actually doing whatever it is you are actually meant to be doing. Case in point, I took my first vacation in several years at one point - I was running an R&D department of around 250 people at the time, and ended up having large parts of my various departments and staff dismantled/transferred by the time I got back. In the end, I was able to find evidence of financial and labour law violations by one of my direct bosses who let it happen, turned this evidence over to the state prosecutor, and had him deported. I was then offered his job, overseeing about 1000 people. Other department heads had different strategies, like if they knew they were being ranked with stacked ranking, it didn't matter how well they did, it only mattered if someone else did worse than them so they avoided the chopping block. So you would literally have departments that committed all of their resources to trying to cut down another department, without doing anything useful the rest of the time. I can assure you that there are no sane people that end up in these positions, and as long as the company keeps growing and profits are still on the rise, why change? In the end, I just walked away and started my own company.

Proxima Centauri Shoots Out Humongous Flare, with Big Implications for Alien Life

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Scientists have spotted one of the largest stellar flares ever recorded in our galaxy," reports The jets of plasma shot outward from the sun's nearest neighbor, the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri. The flare, which was around 100 times more powerful than any experienced in our solar system, could change the way scientists think about solar radiation and alien life...

On May 1, 2019, the team captured the mega flare, which shone for just 7 seconds and was mainly visible in the ultraviolet spectrum. "The star went from normal to 14,000 times brighter when seen in ultraviolet wavelengths over the span of a few seconds," lead author Meredith MacGregor, an astrophysicist at the University of Colorado Boulder, said in a statement...

The flare on Proxima Centauri was extremely powerful compared with those emitted by the sun. Unlike flares from the sun, this one also emitted different kinds of radiation. In particular, it produced a huge surge of ultraviolet light and radio waves — known as "millimeter radiation...." The new findings suggest that stellar flares given off by red dwarfs are much more violent than previously expected and could reduce the likelihood of alien life developing around them.

Proxima Centauri is orbited by two explanets, one of which "is considered to be Earth-like and lies within the star's habitable zone — the distance from a star that could support the development of life, according to the researchers..."

But in a statement, the leader authors now points out that Proxima Centauri's planets "are getting hit by something like this not once in a century, but at least once a day, if not several times a day."

Re: Life is extremely adaptive

By backslashdot • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Plus, life underground or in the deep ocean may actually benefit from these types of events. Itâ(TM)s free energy and maybe food if creatures higher above fall.

Dunno about you

By nospam007 • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

I for one, welcome our super-tanned overlords.

Although tint probably fake

By Tablizer • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

I for one, welcome our super-tanned overlords.

Oh please, still getting over the last one.

That last sentence undoes the entire news event.

By Fly Swatter • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Proxima Centauri's planets "are getting hit by something like this not once in a century, but at least once a day, if not several times a day."

So then why is this news, if it's happening every day?

Re:Life is extremely adaptive

By chrae • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Being robust against things like monstrous X-ray flashes might be possible for organic life. But getting there is half the fun, as well as a necessary precursor.

Lets speak of precursors. Water. I haven't heard one way or another on whether or not this planet has any indications of the presence of water, but let's assume for argument that it has oceans. X-rays get attenuated quite a bit by water. Any region of deep water would provide substantial protection from radiation's effects on DNA_EQUIVALENT.

Life as we know it requires the big 3: water, carbon, energy. With all these flares going on, there will be plenty of energy available in high in a water column where the X-rays work their magic on chemistry, creating high energy compounds potentially usable by life that can hide in the deeper water feeding off those compounds.

Opera Integrates Blockchain-Powered Domains, Providing Access to the Decentralized Web

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Chromium-based web browser Opera is all set to fully integrate with blockchain domain name provider Unstoppable Domains," reports TechRadar, "in a bid to provide millions of its users with decentralized web access." Opera users will now be able to access decentralized websites hosted via the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) using Unstoppable Domains' popular .crypto NFT addresses from the Opera browser. This will include platforms such as iOS, Android, Windows, Mac or Linux. Right now, Opera has over 320 million monthly active users across its offerings, following the addition of a crypto wallet to its browsers in 2019.

Unstoppable Domains was launched in 2018 and provides domain names to users with no renewal fees. Users of Unstoppable Domains are granted full ownership and control when they claim a domain because it is minted as an NFT on the Ethereum blockchain. Domain names such as .crypto replace complex wallet addresses for payments across over 40 cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges in addition to accessing the decentralized web through Opera.

Maciej Kocemba, Product Director at Opera said that the company believes in giving all people the ability to access the full web, regardless of the technology behind it.

The Opera product director was further quoted by Business Insider: "We have always supported web innovation, and the decentralized web or Web3 is the natural next wave. Making Unstoppable Domains accessible in the Opera browsers means our users can try blockchain technologies for themselves. Registering your .crypto domain, which is forever yours, is a great first step into Web3," the company's product director Maciej Kocemba said.

Opera is quickly becoming a leader in pushing for the adoption of Web 3.0, also often described as the decentralized web.


By JustAnotherOldGuy • Score: 3 • Thread

"Opera users will now be able to access decentralized websites hosted via the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) using Unstoppable Domains' popular .crypto NFT addresses from the Opera browser."

Can someone explain to me what this actually means? I started to read about it but them more I read the less I understood.

What is this, what does it do, and what is it good for? What the hell am I actually doing when I use it?

In other words, "What?"


By samwichse • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Basically, instead of paying for a domain through a regular provider, you buy an NFT... basically a few bytes in Ethereum... for a one time fee. People can then look up your domain through this NFT-based service instead of DNS. That's pretty much it.


By Nkwe • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Basically, instead of paying for a domain through a regular provider, you buy an NFT... basically a few bytes in Ethereum... for a one time fee. People can then look up your domain through this NFT-based service instead of DNS. That's pretty much it.

And when your IP address changes, then what? Do you need a new token, or is there some shadow DNS under the covers and you are still vulnerable to the whims of whomever is running the shadow DNS?


By Arnonyrnous Covvard • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
I've tried to figure this out for at least five minutes, so I think I can explain this, up to a point. There is a "unstoppable domains" smart contract in the Ethereum blockchain, which means there is a bit of code and key data that can't be changed because there is consensus about it. This smart contract is what constitutes an "alternate root". As long as people agree to use this smart contract as the basis for name resolution, the domains derived from it can be used by those people. This smart contract is how people agree what information is in this alternate root and allows anyone to query the domains by reading the Ethereum blockchain. You can of course run a "caching" service which does the blockchain parsing and extracts just the domain information. The point is that there is consensus what that information is. Selling a domain means signing that the buyer's key is in control of the domain. The buyer can then sign configuration information with his own key to make the domain resolve to something. The buyer adds this information to the blockchain.

Here is what I don't understand: Who would pay these sums for such an obvious scam? Alternate roots have come and gone. There was no point in using any of them because they never achieved noticeable acceptance among technical users. Non-technical users have not heard about them at all. Querying this crypto alt-root is tedious and slow, so there have to be proxies, which means these domains are perfectly stoppable in practice, even before you get to rubber-hose cryptanalysis. And while they have "first" mover advantage, anyone can replicate this and there is nothing stopping anyone from using the same "TLD" for their alternative root. So why would anyone pay a hundred grand for coin.crypto, when there is no guarantee that next year people won't decide some other smart contract, possibly on a different blockchain, represents the crypto TLD? This is insane even before you go into any technical details.

New Florida Law Could Punish Social Media Companies for 'Deplatforming' Politicians

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Florida is on track to be the first state in America to punish social media companies that ban politicians, reports NBC News, "under a bill approved Thursday by the state's Republican-led Legislature." Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican and close Trump ally who called for the bill's passage, is expected to sign the legislation into law, but the proposal appears destined to be challenged in court after a tech industry trade group called it a violation of the First Amendment speech rights of corporations...

Suspensions of up to 14 days would still be allowed, and a service could remove individual posts that violate its terms of service. The state's elections commission would be empowered to fine a social media company $250,000 a day for statewide candidates and $25,000 a day for other candidates if a company's actions are found to violate the law, which also requires the companies to provide information about takedowns and apply rules consistently...

Florida Republican lawmakers have cited tech companies' wide influence over speech as a reason for the increased regulation. "What this bill is about is sending a loud message to Silicon Valley that they are not the absolute arbiters of truth," state Rep. John Snyder, a Republican from the Port St. Lucie area, said Wednesday... The Florida bill may offer Republicans in other states a road map for introducing laws that could eventually force social media companies and U.S. courts to confront questions about free speech on social media, including the questions raised by Thomas.

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando area Democrat, said if Republicans want to stay on private services, they should follow the rules. "There's already a solution to deplatforming candidates on social media: Stop trafficking in conspiracy theories...."

NetChoice, a trade group for internet companies, argued the bill punishes platforms for removing harmful content, and that it would make it harder to block spam. But they also argued that the freedom of speech clause in the U.S. Constitution "makes clear that government may not regulate the speech of private individuals or businesses.

"This includes government action that compels speech by forcing a private social media platform to carry content that is against its policies or preferences."

Slashdot reader zantafio points out the bill specifies just five major tech companies — Google, Apple, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon.

And that the bill was also amended to specifically exempt Disney, Universal and any theme park owner that operates a search engine or information service.

Re: Voters to get here the elected

By Linux Torvalds • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Eh, I'm not that worried. Trump supporters are idiots. There seems little danger that they will end up running successful companies at the scale of Facebook or Twitter.

The concern is with the Rupert Murdoch's of the world, who are not idiots or Trump supporters, but basically malevolent actors working on behalf of either hostile states, hidden agendas, or both. As long as Fox News is on the air, I see no need to worry about social media. Conservatives may organize on Facebook, but they get their actual motivation from old-fashioned top-down hierarchies.

How Does Section 230 Even Apply?

By K. S. Van Horn • Score: 3 • Thread

Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc. claim they have no responsibility for what users post, and thus can't be sued for libel, because they are "common carriers" under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. You don't sue the phone company if someone says something false about you over the phone, you sue the person who said it.

But phone companies don't censor what you can and cannot say over the phone. My question is this: once FaceBook et al. start deciding what you can and cannot say on their platforms, doesn't that make them no longer a "common carrier", but more like a publisher? How is it that they can claim protection under section 230, as it would seem they have voluntarily removed themselves from its protection by their own actions?

Re:Voters to get here the elected

By Stormwatch • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Yes they should, and there is legal precedent: Marsh v. Alabama, 1946. A man was not allowed to distribute religious literature in a company town. The Supreme Court found he had that right; even though the city was private property, it had become a de facto public square. Given the reach and power of social media, the same standards should apply.

Re:Voters to get here the elected

By gurps_npc • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Nope. That is not an alternative. If all the companies are on one side of the political spectrum, that means the other side is a "biggest lying piece of crap around and should shut up."

Capitalism does not favor one side or the other of the political spectrum. These guys want to make money and care more about that than politics. That is how they got big. As proof, there are a ton of conservative web sites, including Parlour, which I mentioned.

The problem is that the Conservative web sites can not grow big because the Conservatives have embraced lies. This is new. The GOP used to be about ethical behavior. They pushed a lying, corrupt President Nixon out of office.

Not anymore. Now when their fringe members make ridiculous claims about literal Satan worshiping, cannibalistic pedophiles, they keep their mouths shut. Now there are Democrats with stupid fringe ideas too (Repartitions for slavery is never going to happen - the slaves all died long ago and no amount of money will make it right). But the Democrats admonish those with fringe beliefs rather than let them take center stage.

When someone claims an election which they clearly lost the popular vote by 7 million votes (mostly in clearly democratic states), that somehow the Democrats must have 'cheated' when they squeaked out a victory in the electoral vote, you got a problem. They falsely accuse voting companies without any evidence, then get all apologetic when they get sued for it because they KNOW they lied.

The "mass media" is honest, far more than the generally smaller right aspected media. Facebook and Twitter did not outlaw Trump until AFTER the election. That alone is proof they bent over backwards to be fair, despite his side descending into a gigantic cesspool of lies.

I understand your reluctance to admit the flaws in your own side. I hate talking about how the Democrats never stand together. That is a side effect of having an actual 'big tent' party, rather than the 'only REAL Republicans, no RINOS' that you have.

But we are not cheating you. You are cheating America. Mainly by trying win the majority of the majority. rather than the majority of the country.

If you can't get more than 25% of the black vote, you got a problem. Trump got 8%, up from 6% in 2016. You have a problem you do not want to admit. It is not our fault, but yours.

Re:Voters to get here the elected

By cpt kangarooski • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The GOP used to be about ethical behavior.

Yes, there were, I suppose, brief periods around the Civil War and the Teddy Roosevelt administration where that was true. Maybe during the Eisenhower administration (though I think the Second Red Scare suggests otherwise). But let's not go thinking that it's ever been a core value of theirs or anything.

The FSF Clarifies Richard Stallman's Role

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Long-time Slashdot reader destinyland writes: This week the Free Software Foundation posted some new answers to frequently-asked questions "as the FSF board sets about the work of strengthening the Foundation's governance structure." The FAQ notes that most of their financial support comes from individuals, and that "At this moment, the FSF has more associate members than at any time in its history," adding that it's in good financial health. (And the FAQ also reminds readers that all board members are uncompensated volunteers.)

But it also confirms that a seat on the board was created for union staff "in the aftermath of the March 2021 controversy over the election of Richard Stallman to the board." And apparently in light of Stallman's return, the first question is "What are the responsibilities of a member of the FSF board?"

Answer: The board of directors does not usually deal with the everyday work of the FSF, focusing instead on the long-term direction and financial stability of the Foundation, as well as the appointment of the officers. In addition, members of the board do not speak for the board or for the FSF. Outside of the deliberations of the board, they are private citizens. The right to speak for the Foundation is reserved to the president of the FSF and other FSF officers, such as the executive director.

When the board does make statements, each statement is carefully deliberated. No one member has this individual authority.

The FAQ also clarifies that while Stallman is also a voting board member, "Voting member meetings normally discuss only who should be on the board. They do not take up the issues that come before the board itself... When the Foundation was formed in 1985, the founders were advised that, to qualify for a tax exemption, board members should not be chosen solely by other board members. Legal counsel advised the founders that there should be two bodies with some overlap, one being the active board and the other being a body that appointed the active board.

"Governance standards have since changed, and this structure is no longer required. As part of the effort to improve FSF governance, the board can consider possible changes to this overall structure."

It also adds that "There is no formal term limit for a board member. Board members are evaluated by the voting members at regular intervals, and occasionally by the other directors."

The last question on the list? "In addition to holding a board seat, what other role or roles does Richard Stallman play in the FSF?"

The answer? "Richard Stallman frequently gives talks on free software, in his personal capacity, and, when he does so, he sells merchandise from the FSF shop, recruits volunteers for FSF and GNU, and raises donations for FSF. He is the primary author and editor of two books sold by the FSF."

Re:Why do people not like RMS?

By javofex917 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
He opposes the corporate takeover of the computing industry. Period. This is literally what this is about. The SJW are just useful idiots for the corporation to get what they want. If you can get rid of Stallman you can get rid of a major roadblock. He has been a thorn in the corporations side for decades.

Re: The FSF is an advocacy group, right?

By guruevi • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Without the FSF Google, Microsoft and the other co-conspirators against RMS would run roughshod over the GPL. They want the GPL so you give them free code while they TiVo-ize the infrastructure around it.

Thatâ(TM)s why they have created this smear campaign against RMS through subsidiaries like Mozilla , Github and others that depend on the sizable donations and sponsorship from those corporations.

If any of those corporations would be honestly worrying about any behavior by any private citizen, they would start in their own house, with their own CEOs.

Re:Why do people not like RMS?

By fafalone • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
It seems he argued the legal age of consent in Germany, Italy, and a dozen other countries in Europe was the correct one. And since retracted that. Which particular *teen is the appropriate age of consent is a valid argument, and people attack him for saying 14 like it's not the designated age in numerous developed Western nations, with some exceptions like position of power. People will flip out if you suggest 16, even though 35 states in the US set it there, and few countries set it higher.

Re:So it's all about the battle of lawyers?

By drnb • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Without the FSF you would not have the GPL. Without the GPL you wouldn't have Free Software.

Except for MIT, Apache, BSD, etc. Which are chosen by new FOSS projects three times more often than the GPL.

Re:Outdated, not dangerous

By javofex917 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Nope, he is outdated. And not just in the minds of the big corporate developers. Adoption of the GPL by new FOSS developers has been in sharp long term decline. The large and small developers are overwhelmingly choosing more permissive licenses, by a 3 to 1 margin, 60% to 20%. The GPL used to be chosen around 50% of the time, but that is distant history.

The vast majority of developers use a proprietary license too. What is your point? I guess the iPhone is the best because people choose it. Also, so is crack. Crackheads choose crack by a 3 to 1 margin over other drugs.

But you are right: he is outdated. You guys all sold out. You are corporate whores. Fine, but don't go spewing your fake SJW virtue signaling bullshit when you clearly don't care about society.

A Chinese Company Has Started Charging For Fully Driverless Rides

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Baidu, China's leading search engine, is often compared to Google. And just as Google has spun off Waymo to commercialize self-driving technology, so Baidu is developing self-driving technology of its own. On Thursday, the Chinese search giant announced the launch of what it is calling China's first paid autonomous vehicle service, known as Apollo Go. Arguably, the service is better described as a shuttle service than a taxi service. Customers are picked up and dropped off from one of eight predefined stations. The initial service area is 2.7 square kilometers -- a little over one square mile. The longest route in the network is 5 km (3 miles). That makes the service a lot smaller than the Waymo One taxi service in Phoenix, which has a service area of around 50 square miles.

Still, there's little doubt that Baidu is one of China's leading self-driving companies -- and that China is the world's No. 2 market for self-driving technology after the United States. In total, Baidu is testing fully driverless vehicles in three Chinese cities and is testing its technology with safety drivers in more than two dozen cities. Baidu has even gotten permission to test fully driverless vehicles near its Silicon Valley offices in Sunnyvale. Another Chinese company, AutoX, has been testing fully driverless vehicles in Shenzhen since December. The service has been open to select members of the public since January, though AutoX hasn't started charging for rides. Several other Chinese companies are working on self-driving technology.

Barcelona Installs Spain's First Solar Energy Pavement

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Barcelona city council has installed Spain's first photovoltaic pavement as part of the city's drive to become carbon neutral by 2050. The Guardian reports: The 50 sq meters of non-slip solar panels, installed in a small park in the Glories area of the city, will generate 7,560kWh a year, enough to supply three households. The city has contributed 30,000 euros towards the cost, the remainder being met by the manufacturer. The viability of the scheme will be assessed after six months. "We'll have to assess the wear and tear because obviously it's not the same as putting panels on a roof, although they are highly resistant," says Eloi Badia, who is responsible for climate emergency and ecological transition at Barcelona city council.

"As for cost benefits, with a pilot scheme like this it's difficult to know yet how much cheaper it would be if it were scaled up. We're keen to install more on roofs and, if this scheme is successful, on the ground, to power lighting and other public facilities." However, he points out that Barcelona's high population density means it would be difficult to generate enough electricity within the city limits to become self-sufficient. "If we're going to reach a target of zero emissions, we're going to have to think about supplying electricity to blocks of flats, but we'll also have to think of using wind and solar parks outside the city," Badia says. "But installations on the ground like this open up new possibilities, and not just for Barcelona."

Re: Maintenance

By BAReFO0t • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Find out?

This is one of those projects where you need a seven year old on the team, to cut through all the yes men.

It will be too scratched to work within weeks.
And non-slip means it isn't made of glass, and already bad at letting light through right from the factory.
It's probably gonna leave a trail of microplastics on both directions.

But we do live in a worls of engineering and usabilityy trainwrecks becoming mainstream and the new definition of good. See: The iPhone.
So, as a business, it will probably be a "success", ... if they are fast enough to catch enough flies before anyone notices it stinks.

patio roof

By DrYak • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Yup, totally agree with you, this whole idea is completely asinine, brings more problem than solution, and is an answer to a question that nobody asked.

It would be much better to just mount the pannels on a roof-like (think gazebo, patio-roof, etc.):
- it's way cheaper (just some structure to support garden-variety regular solar pannel VS some hightech custom built tiles)
- can be angled, so it can be much momre efficient by pointing toward the (general path of the) Sun.
- can be angled, so there's less problems of stuff accumulating on top of it like - dirt, sand, mud, dead leaves or (less relevant as Spain doesn't get that many days of it, usually) snow - which could block the light on a flat surface where it would have less chance of sliding/rolling of.
- doesn't need to be walked on top, so doesn't need a special non-slippery surface
- use normal (slippery) solar pannel covering, thus more light transmission

and specifically for a southern country like Spain:
- provide a nice cool shade to the pedestrian walking on the regular pavement underneath.

or bonus for a potential country a bit more northern where there is a bit more rain, etc:
- the angled surfaces could be aranged in a way to deflect the rain from the people walking underneath: it's a roof after all. (e.g.: have the lower rim of the angled surface above a gutter).


By Elledan • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
This is the kind of project that'd fit right in the world of Idiocracy. Anyone with two functioning brain cells knows that PV solar panels work best when a) angled, ideally following the Sun, and b) when cooled, e.g. by a draft along their backside in a roof-mounted configuration.

Much like with the retardation of Solar Friggin' Roadways or the disaster of the Dutch solar bike path, and the French PV solar road, flat on the ground is literally the worst way and location to install PV solar panels, except for maybe at the bottom of a deep ocean trench.

Re: Maintenance

By wooferhound • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
But , It Has been tried and it has awful results.
No need to spend 30000 dollars to try it again.

Re: Maintenance

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The problem with solar pavements and Solar Freakin' Roadways is that they are a profoundly stupid idea trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist.

Solar panels at ground level get covered with dirt, dust, and gravel. They have to be designed to support the weight of foot traffic and vehicles. They can't be angled to the sun.

This makes them more expensive, less effective, and require more ongoing maintenance.

For what? Because we are running out of other places to put the panels? Of course not. There are plenty of rooftops. We have deserts. Of we can put the panels OVER roads and parking lots, providing shade and weather protection.

There is no need to "test" this concept because it obviously a stupid idea designed to "solve" a problem that doesn't exist.

Disclaimer: I am not anti-solar, just anti-stupidity. I have solar panels on my roof. I don't have solar panels on my driveway.

NASA Suspends SpaceX's $2.9 Billion Moon Lander Contract After Rivals Protest

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
NASA has suspended work on SpaceX's new $2.9 billion lunar lander contract while a federal watchdog agency adjudicates two protests over the award, the agency said Friday. The Verge reports: Putting the Human Landing System (or HLS) work on hold until the GAO makes a decision on the two protests means SpaceX won't immediately receive its first chunk of the $2.9 billion award, nor will it commence the initial talks with NASA that would normally take place at the onset of a major contract. Elon Musk's SpaceX was picked by NASA on April 16th to build the agency's first human lunar lander since the Apollo program, as the agency opted to rely on just one company for a high-profile contract that many in the space industry expected to go to two companies.

As a result, two companies that were in the running for the contract, Blue Origin and Dynetics, protested NASA's decision to the Government Accountability Office, which adjudicates bidding disputes. Blue Origin alleges the agency unfairly "moved the goalposts at the last minute" and endangered NASA's speedy 2024 timeline by only picking SpaceX. "Pursuant to the GAO protests, NASA instructed SpaceX that progress on the HLS contract has been suspended until GAO resolves all outstanding litigation related to this procurement," NASA spokeswoman Monica Witt said in a statement.

Re:The Moon isn't on SpaceX path to Mars.

By CrimsonAvenger • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Ahh, but Luna could very well add quite a bit to Mars missions. If nothing else, it allows you to dispense with lifting most of his Mars-bound fuel out of Earth's gravity well. 85% of his methane-LOX fuel can come from the Moon (everything but the Carbon can be found on the Moon).

And LEO is closer to the Moon than to the Earth, when you look at energy/fuel required to get there....

Is a Democracy really truly better?

By nokarmajustviewspls • Score: 3 • Thread

Okay, so we've seen (and China will never let us forget) how poorly the U.S. and Western democracies performed under the pandemic. With a death toll passing 600,000 and infections in the millions it is clear that some of the virtues of democracies, like no (or low) levels of censorship and tribal politics led to people believing stupid conspiracy theories. This directly led to people not adhering to the simplest and most basic health practices (why is wearing a mask worse than a seat belt? It's actually better because when you wear a mask you're also protecting others and not just yourself). Even worse these conspiracy theories have made people resistant to accepting some of miracles that science has given us like mRNA vaccines. (Not only should common sense tell you that, tracking micro-chips in the vaccine cannot be small enough to fit in the needle but anyway, your cellphone, which you are probably using every hour, is already doing a damn good job of tracking you).

At least we could hope that while the authoritarian governments can do well in stopping pandemics, by their same heavy handedness they stifle innovation and real progress. Just look at SpaceX (and Apple, and Intel and Google and ...)

So I was elated when NASA awarded the contract to SpaceX. It seemed as if the democratically elected government of the U.S. had actually decided to reward a contract not based on how politically expedient it was (the competitors have armies of lobbyists and they've spread around the work to every state) but based on its technical (and managerial) merits. This would enable to the U.S. to take an advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to support an entrepreneur who, if his proposal works, would so fundamentally alter the nature of spaceflight as to be only thought of in historic terms. Such as, this is like building the transcontinental railways or the interstate highway network. That's what an order of magnitude (or two!) reduction in cost would do, it would put the U.S. far far ahead of all other nations for a decade. (I know that China's already thinking of trying to duplicate SpaceX but one key thing about SpaceX is that they were going to fund it largely by Starlink, this would provide them not just with the funds but also the EXPERIENCE gained in launching hundreds of large payloads. China has now said that they too would like to build a mega constellation but considering how compact (relatively speaking) China is, they won't get as much benefit from a global network. And, since Starlink would likely be running for years before they even launch, who else would use a communications network controlled by the Chinese communist government. Would you?).

A tremendous advantage in launch costs would lead directly to American SUPREMACY in space, not just the dominance we have now. A commentator said the juxtaposition of SpaceX's lander to the SLS can be thought of this way; it's like the sending the astronauts to lunar orbit in a yacht and then having them land in a cruise liner. Similarly, American military use of this system would be like the Chinese (and Russians) launching jeeps while the U.S. launches tanks. There are many ways this huge advantage in launch weight (and cost!) could be put to use, like providing our satellites with redundant solar cells, strengthening components or even armor. Whole constellations could be launched at one go to replace ones taken out by military action. Additionally American spacecraft with much much higher mass budgets could easily shadow enemy military satellites like GPS; they need not even destroy them but just physically block their communications with an enveloping screen. (Of course, they'd need to get there in a hurry, involving high delta-V, is that why DARPA has just issued several contracts for development of nuclear thermal rockets for orbital operations? NTR can use propellants that don't boil off, ideal for systems that may need to be on standby for years). And if the U.S. really does develop weapons in space the

Re:Is a Democracy really truly better?

By misnohmer • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The best argument against democracy is a quick scan through social media such as Facebook or Twitter. In order to drive a car, you need to pass some basic applicable skills and knowledge test, in order to drive a country (by voting) there are no such competency tests. Even the elected officials have no competency prerequisites, so we end up with ones who win popularity contests regardless of their qualifications to do the job.

And the qualifications for the alternative?

By mykepredko • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The best argument against democracy is a quick scan through social media such as Facebook or Twitter. In order to drive a car, you need to pass some basic applicable skills and knowledge test, in order to drive a country (by voting) there are no such competency tests. Even the elected officials have no competency prerequisites, so we end up with ones who win popularity contests regardless of their qualifications to do the job.

I'm guessing that the voter "qualifications" you're looking is that they have the same background as you and think like you.

In the other systems the "elected leaders" simply demonstrate a willingness to trample over everyone else, regardless of the cost including taking away the "qualified" electorate's right to vote.

Seeing your comment reminds me of the Churchill quote:

No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

Re:Use Companies that Reject Affirmative Action

By jacks smirking reven • Score: 4 • Thread

Man, AC suggests you should watch Bill O-fucking-Reilly, as if he is some relevant truth speaker and not a disgraced hack with 0 good ideas is pretty fucking hilarious in mid-2021.

When did conservatives become such sensitive snowflakes about everything?

Should I make you a safe space where the scary ethnicities can't get to you?