the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2021-May-05 today archive


  1. Oxford Study Finds No Link Between Technology Use and Mental-Health Problems
  2. American Schools' Phone Apps Send Children's Info To Ad Networks, Analytics Firms
  3. Apple Puts More Advertisements In App Store After Ad-Tracking Ban
  4. Windows Defender Bug Fills Windows 10 Boot Drive With Thousands of Files
  5. Witcher Game Developer Quits Company Over Bullying Claims
  6. GM Expects To Offer Personal Self-Driving Vehicles To Consumers This Decade
  7. College Student Sues Proctorio After Source Code Copyright Claim
  8. Entire US West Coast Now Covered By Earthquake Early Warning System
  9. Signal Tried To Use Instagram Ads To Display the Data Facebook Collects and Sells. Facebook Banned Signal's Account.
  10. Biden Blocks Trump's Gig-worker Rule
  11. Apple Discussed 'Punitive Measures' Against Netflix for Dropping In-App Purchases
  12. Apple is Holding the Web Back with 'Uniquely Underpowered' iOS Browser, Says Google Engineer
  13. Doctors Investigate Mystery Brain Disease in Canada
  14. Google Relaxes Work-From-Home Rules To Let More Staff Be Remote
  15. White House Launches New AI Website
  16. Peloton's Leaky API Let Anyone Grab Riders' Private Account Data
  17. White House Eyes Subsidies for Nuclear Plants To Help Meet Climate Targets
  18. Trump's Facebook Ban Should Not Be Lifted, Network's Oversight Board Rules
  19. Berkshire Hathaway's Stock Price Is Too Much for Computers
  20. Snapchat Can Be Sued Over Role In Fatal Car Crash, Court Rules
  21. First Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Released In the United States
  22. Ancient Australian 'Superhighways' Suggested By Massive Supercomputing Study
  23. Huge Rocket Looks Set For Uncontrolled Reentry Following Chinese Space Station Launch

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.

Oxford Study Finds No Link Between Technology Use and Mental-Health Problems

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: There remains "little association" between technology use and mental-health problems, a study of more than 430,000 10 to 15-year-olds suggests. The Oxford Internet Institute compared TV viewing, social-media and device use with feelings of depression, suicidal tendencies and behavioral problems. It found a small drop in association between depression and social-media use and TV viewing, from 1991 to 2019. There was a small rise in that between emotional issues and social-media use. "We couldn't tell the difference between social-media impact and mental health in 2010 and 2019," study co-author Prof Andrew Przybylski. said. "We're not saying that fewer happy people use more social media. We're saying that the connection is not getting stronger." The paper is published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.

Re:Let me guess

By iggymanz • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

yes, on their smart phones, constantly gathering, checking and updating values and collaborating in work chat, 16 hours a day even sitting in bed.

Yup, no problems at all

By Pluvius • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I'm sure the tripling in suicide rate in girls aged 10-14 since 2007 is a complete coincidence.


Re: Let me guess

By napoleongoldfinger • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Well, the classic killing yourself with an oven plummeted once the majority were made electric. If you own a gun, death goes up sharply, especially in suicide, since, people get drunk or bummed and eradic thoughts start forming...and hey you have a gun or a gas oven and it can all be over. Or your kid finds your gun and kills themselves or their friends. Or they are getting bullied, with our dystopian hope for the future and decide to take some classmates with them since there is no hope.

Different, better problems.

By Qbertino • Score: 3 • Thread

There *is* such a thing as "facebook depression". However, looking at it from a birds-eye perspective, I'd say that given the choice of a "facebook depression" and some other sort of depression brought about in real life, I'd probably chose the former. If social media is a problem, that's actually a sign that you are in the first world, not having to deal with famine, tribal war or something other. Such things come with their very own special set of mental health problems.

So, by and large, the conclusion makes sense: The amount of mental health problems doesn't rise, it shifts. And probably for the better. We all know how videogames and technology driven escapism can make life more fun, or at least bearable, when you're in a rut.

Just a thought.

Re:Yup, no problems at all

By AmiMoJo • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

From your own link:

"Why are suicide rates on the rise in young girls? Thatâ(TM)s the central question, but we do not yet have answers. Some speculate that increased use of social media in this age group may be responsible; however, most believe that there are probably multiple factors at play, including barriers to accessing mental health care and exposure to epidemics of suicide publicized by the media."

Seems like the latter is more likely. Studies have shown that reluctance to get mental health treatment and lack of access to it is an issue for boys as well.

American Schools' Phone Apps Send Children's Info To Ad Networks, Analytics Firms

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
LeeLynx shares a report from The Register: The majority of Android and iOS apps created for US public and private schools send student data to assorted third parties, researchers have found, calling into question privacy commitments from Apple and Google as app store stewards. The Me2B Alliance, a non-profit technology policy group, examined a random sample of 73 mobile applications used in 38 different schools across 14 US states and found 60 percent were transmitting student data. The apps in question send data using software development kits or SDKs, which consist of modular code libraries that can be used to implement utility functions, analytics, or advertising without the hassle of creating these capabilities from scratch. Examples include: Google's AdMob, Firebase, and Sign-in SDKs, Square's OK HTTP and Okio SDKs, and Facebook's Bolts SDK, among others.

The data that concerns Me2B includes: identifiers (IDFA, MAID, etc), Calendar, Contacts, Photos/Media Files, Location, Network Data (IP address), permissions related to Camera, Microphone, Device ID, and Calls. About 49 percent of the apps reviewed sent student data to Google and about 14 percent communicated with Facebook, with the balance routing info to advertising and analytics firms, many among them characterized as high risk by the Me2B researchers. Among the public school apps, 67 per cent sent data to third parties; private school apps proved less likely to send data to third parties (57 percent).
Interestingly, the research group found a signifiant difference across mobile platforms. According to The Register, "91 percent of student Android apps sent data to high-risk third parties while only 26 percent of iOS apps did so, and 20 percent of Android apps piped data to very high-risk third parties while only 2.6 percent of iOS did so."

The report adds: "Nonetheless, the researchers expressed concern that 95 percent of third-party data channels in the surveyed student apps are active even when the user is not signed in and that these apps send data as soon as the app is loaded."

Re:This should be illegal

By NateFromMich • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
They probably sent home a form that the parents had to sign.
The important bit being that they had to sign.

Re:This should be illegal

By inode_buddha • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Yep, you're right, Had to sign it, or else move to a different school district. Not much of a choice.

Re:What's wrong with this picture?

By LeeLynx • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Not altogether sure what your point is here, the problem is that these people don't know that it's going on. If you don't think that the sort of folks that think intelligent design is science would also be infuriated by the thought of surveillance of their children by big tech, you clearly haven't been listening. It might be for some slightly crazier reasons, but I promise you they would be raising hell.

Re:better google then microsoft.

By Rosco P. Coltrane • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I think you got your ratings mixed up here.

Google is by far the worse of the two, for one simple reason: you can (still) mostly avoid Microsoft products if you want to, while it's practically impossible to avoid Google.

The Devil really *Is* in the Detail

By ytene • Score: 3 • Thread
There is some really, really scary detail in the published portion of the report.

For example, the fact that,

"Most (nearly all) of the examined Android apps were designed to access the following information on the device: Identity, Calendar, Contacts, Photos/Media/Files, Location, USB Storage"

or that,

"Several apps were accessing: Camera, Microphone, Device ID & Call Information"

raises all sorts of questions about the actual functional need to allow a child's school/educational application to have access to a Contacts database, or the Microphone.

But behind this, there are other aspects which are less clear and perhaps even more concerning, including:-

1. Have "Benign" APIs Become Trojan Horses?
I'm starting to wonder if we're seeing a deliberate co-mingling of genuinely useful API features and scary data harvesting functionality. In other words, are the API providers building a software platform that "makes life easier" for the developer, but using that developer as a proxy to get at the developer's end user and the end user's data? Or is it that where the application behavior looks dodgy, it is all down to the developer? I'm starting to think that there are an increasing number of the former. How does this get "policed"? How are we expected to be able to figure this out?

2. Are Applications Designed to be Stealthily Intrusive?
OK, first, what do I mean by that? Well, suppose I'm a developer and I want to spy on you "all day long". How do I do that? Well, ideally I need my application to be running on your smartphone all the time, even when you can't see that it's there. How do I do that? Maybe I work in partnership with your school to send you useful reminders through the day, or to have your daily class schedule available because your school can "push" it to the cloud for handsets to pull down, so you can easily see what classroom to go to for your next class. If I do that, then you're going to rely on my application being open and running all the time, which means I can spy on you all the time.

3. Are Applications Subverting Parental Fears?
One of the stand-out, eye-popping line items in the report is the fact that many of these "educational" applications demand access to the phone's camera, microphone and GPS location data. Um, why? Is it linked to some sort of Owellian geofencing function that can tell a school or parent if their child leaves the school premises during the school day? Importantly, how secure is this application and how secure is the data it harvests? What if someone wishing to harm a child could access real-time location data for your kid? How do you feel about that? Maybe more importantly, if the application isn't offering to use GPS location data for child protection purposes, what the hell is it needing the data for?

4. How Can You Expect A 13-Year-Old To Understand A Privacy Policy?
Never mind the fact that the report shows that links to privacy policies were broken, that 10 of the 73 apps linked to privacy policies that only covered the developer's web site and not their application, or that several applications had privacy policies included explicit exclusions for children under 13 years of age, even though the applications were used by schools with children below that age... This suggests the fact that schools aren't even performing the most basic due diligence before implementing [or mandating] the use of these applications. [That's a potential COPPA violation, right there].

But more than that, as part of the learning process [ironic pun intended] I would want my children to understand all about "Privacy Policies" and to learn that they are being asked to give away their privacy in return for something. To make that work, then, the privacy policies offered must be written in simple terms that can be readily

Apple Puts More Advertisements In App Store After Ad-Tracking Ban

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Apple has added extra paid-for advertisements to its App Store, a week after its new operating system limited tracking for ads from other companies. The BBC reports: The new ad space lets app-makers advertise on the App Store search tab, rather than just in the search results. Previously, Apple sold adverts to appear at the top of search results only. The new slot effectively doubles the advertising space for sale. Enders Analysis senior media analyst Jamie MacEwan said: "The timing makes sense. Apple probably anticipates increased demand for exposure on the App Store. That's because Apple's iOS privacy changes have made other options less attractive."

Ad campaigns on other sites had less reliable measurements of success, he said. And app developers ran ads only if they were sure the cost of winning new customers was lower than the amount they would spend on the app. "As its ads business grows, Apple will have to make sure its execution on consent and privacy is impeccable" to avoid accusations of putting itself first, Mr MacEwan added. Some reports suggest Apple's ad sales could be worth more than $2 billion and are growing.

Not user tracked

By evanh • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Knowing an ad was seen by users, a count of individuals say, is not the same as tracking those users.

Has Apple made their stance clear?

By Edward Nardella • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

They've gone a step beyond and made their stance transparent.

iOS is Adware

By Sebby • Score: 3 • Thread

The Paywalled Garden: iOS is Adware

Windows Defender Bug Fills Windows 10 Boot Drive With Thousands of Files

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
A Windows Defender bug creates thousands of small files that waste gigabytes of storage space on Windows 10 hard drives. BleepingComputer reports: The bug started with Windows Defender antivirus engine 1.1.18100.5 and will cause the C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows Defender\Scans\History\Store folder to be filled up with thousands of files with names that appear to be MD5 hashes. From a system seen by BleepingComputer, the created files range in size from 600 bytes to a little over 1KB. While the system we looked at only had approximately 1MB of files, other Windows 10 users report that their systems have been filled up with hundreds of thousands of files, which in one case, used up 30GB of storage space. On smaller SSD system drives (C:), this can be a considerable amount of storage space to waste on unnecessary files. According to Deskmodder, who first reported on this issue, the bug has now been fixed in the latest Windows Defender engine, version 1.1.18100.6.


By Megane • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The filesystem is not a database. If all you making is a bunch of small files with an MD5 hash as the filename, that is exactly what you are doing, with all the waste of minimum cluster sizes. Don't do that!

On the other hand, if they hadn't done that, it wouldn't have been so easy to notice it going wild storing way more than it should have.


By The MAZZTer • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Actually the filesystem is a type of database. It's used to store.... files.

Anyway the files have some amount of data in them. My guess is data on file scans. They were probably not getting cleared out properly when Defender was done with them.

I think this might have costed me $1000 :-(

By misnohmer • Score: 3 • Thread

My family backup server recently run up against the capacity of backups, causing me to spend $1000 to upgrade backup storage. Then, out of nowhere, in a span of about a week the backup utilization dropped on average about about 142GB per Windows Machine, which would have kept backup drives from having to be upsized. This could be the explanation - all the PC's updated (as per Group Policy). I probably could have ran for a couple more years before having to upgrade, but what's done is done. I was too lazy to look into what was causing the backups to increase, since they increased over time, so I assumed with all the work/school from home data usage was just growing.

PS> Yes, I backup (almost) the entire PC's (not 100% of each drive, but enough to create a system restore using windows backup). This allows me to restore any of them in case they are lost, stolen, or the HDD just dies, without having to nag each family member to save their files into a designated folder or else they will not be backed up. Only ever performed this restore in one live scenario, but it sure was convenient not to worry about ANY lost content.

Not just Windows 10, I think...

By Foundryman • Score: 3 • Thread

Since last week I've noticed 3 of my windows server 2019 VMs started showing high cpu. When checking it was splitting the cpu between msmpeng.exe (windows defender) and my sophos AV. This week I also noted low free disk space on all 3 servers as well.
Checking on c:\programdata\microsoft\windows defender\scans\history\store I found there were1,043,201 files using just over 1gb. The other two servers I'm still waiting on the folder examination to complete.

Re:How did this get to the front?

By AmiMoJo • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Microsoft fired most of the QA team. They rely on slowly rolling out updates and waiting to see if lots of crash reports come back now. Same with Windows Update.

Witcher Game Developer Quits Company Over Bullying Claims

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: The director of Witcher 3, the most successful video game by Polish publisher CD Projekt SA, resigned after he was accused of bullying colleagues, sending its shares to their steepest decline since March. CD Projekt conducted a months-long investigation into the allegations against Konrad Tomaszkiewicz, according to an email to staff reviewed by Bloomberg. In the message, Tomaszkiewicz wrote that a commission had investigated the allegations and found him not guilty. "Nonetheless, a lot of people are feeling fear, stress or discomfort when working with me," he wrote. He apologized to staff "for all the bad blood I have caused."

Tomaszkiewicz's work on Witcher 3 inspired the creation of a popular Netflix series, both based on novels by the author Andrzej Sapkowski, and at one point turned CD Projekt into Poland's most valuable company. [...] Tomaszkiewicz was expected to play a significant role in the company's next game in the Witcher series. When reached for comment, Tomaszkiewicz confirmed his departure and said he was "sad, a bit disappointed and resigned." A representative for CD Projekt declined to comment. In the email to employees, Tomaszkiewicz said the decision was agreed upon with the company's board. "I am going to continue working on myself," he wrote. "Changing behavior is a long and arduous process, but I'm not giving up, and I hope to change."


By cascadingstylesheet • Score: 3 • Thread

The article contains no specifics at all about what he is supposed to have done. He says that an internal investigation has found him not guilty, yet somehow, he is still guilty?


Re: Wait wait wait.

By Cito • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Talk about a Uno reversal, It kinda sounds like he was bullied out of his job instead.

Re:Wait wait wait.

By sfcat • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Funny you mentioned Admiral Ernest King. He was what you describe. What you leave out, is that without him the fire control systems in US ships wouldn't have been working by the start of WWII. Also, the torpedos wouldn't have been fixed in time. And many other advancements that allowed the US to win the war. Plenty of other nice officers were in charge of those programs and ended up with weapons that didn't work, and other systems that would have caused US sailors to die. So I'm pretty sure he ruffled some high ranking officers but he was plenty popular among the rank and file. When the choice is being dead and dealing with an ass, people take the ass. Sounds like perhaps these folks at CD will get the experience the same thing when they are looking for work next year because the person making them money (and thus having jobs) just left the building. In the choice between nice and effective, most people choose effective. You can choose nice, but lots of people have regretted such decisions over the years.

Re: Wait wait wait.

By im_thatoneguy • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The point wasn't that he was a useless failure, the point was that you can be competent, successful and not a total asshat.

You can ruffle feathers and stand your ground while refusing to cover up failures... and not be a toxic bully. Eisenhower was also responsible for ensuring many things were done and refusing to protect people's egos at the cost of lives. But you can highlight failures without needlessly dragging someone for failing.

Quite the opposite, when you're in an environment where the leadership is toxic and abusive... people are highly motivated to cover up mistakes to avoid the abuse instead of highlighting their own mistakes to ensure they're fixed.

Re: Hmm

By im_thatoneguy • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

An internal investigation probably found that he broke no laws... but that everybody that reported to him hated working with him. So the investigation by HR would say he's "innocent" of criminal misconduct or breaking specific contracted polices but still needs to take time to work on himself.

GM Expects To Offer Personal Self-Driving Vehicles To Consumers This Decade

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
General Motors CEO Mary Barra expects the automaker to offer self-driving vehicles to consumers later this decade. CNBC reports: "Later in the decade, I believe, and there's a lot to still unfold, but I believe we'll have personal autonomous vehicles," she told investors Wednesday during the company's first-quarter earnings call. She did not specifically say GM would sell such vehicles directly to consumers. It could lease them or offer customers a subscription service like it did previously for Cadillac vehicles.

Barra's comments come after GM showcased a personal autonomous vehicle concept car for its Cadillac brand in January. The vehicle was based on the Origin, an autonomous shuttle from its majority-owned subsidiary Cruise. GM has a two-pronged approach regarding such systems. Cruise is leading development of fully autonomous vehicles, while the automaker expands its advanced driver-assist Super Cruise system to 22 vehicles by 2023. Barra said the goal for Super Cruise is to eventually offer hands-free driving in 95% of driving conditions. "Both paths are very important because the technology we put on vehicles today, I think makes them safer and delights the customers, and is going to give us an opportunity for subscription revenue," she said Wednesday. "And then the ultimate work that we're doing at Cruise that is full autonomous really opens up more possibilities than I think we can online today."

Anything can happen in 10 years.

By backslashdot • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

This means they haven't even started and have absolutely no idea how to get it done. However, if an announcement like this can keep you from buying a Tesla or selling all your GM shares, that's a win. Executives need to buy a yacht today, not ten years from now.

Good Luck

By awwshit • Score: 3 • Thread

GM will manage itself into the ground and need another bailout before it sells autonomous cars to consumers. Just look at the 'chip shortage', they cancelled orders and then cried when they needed those orders - and then daddy government asks Taiwan for help. GM looks pretty lame.

Subscription Revenue!?

By ThosLives • Score: 3 • Thread

Why would anyone ever subscribe to transportation? How does that delight anyone?

I still have yet to see a model where self driving cars will cost the average car owner less out of pocket than current cars. If a car costs $20k more than a non-self driving car, even if my car insurance went to $0 I wouldn't be able to make up that extra cost. And no, I wouldn't be able to make more money in the time I'm not driving; my job doesn't pay by the hour, and any increase in productivity I might have while in transit isn't going to translate into more money in my pocket.

I see self driving cars making transportation accessible to people who currently cannot drive, which is good, but it is going to be at the sacrifice of people who currently enjoy the freedom of personal driving today.

That's not even getting into issues like rent-seeking and the hazards of over-computerized everything.

Re:Software not written by and Auto Company

By backslashdot • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

How is that different from what happens now?

Re:Anything can happen in 10 years.

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

GM already has one of the most advanced level 2 systems on the road. It works hands-free on selected highways.

They have also had a self driving car programme running for many years. The timeframe seems about right for an advanced level 2 system, given what other companies have demonstrated and the availability of low cost, compact LIDAR sensors now. Volvo is fitting LIDAR this year too, it's finally making it into consumer products.

College Student Sues Proctorio After Source Code Copyright Claim

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed a lawsuit against the remote testing company Proctorio on behalf of Miami University student Erik Johnson. The Verge reports: The lawsuit is intended to "quash a campaign of harassment designed to undermine important concerns" about the company's remote test-proctoring software, according to the EFF. The lawsuit intends to address the company's behavior toward Johnson in September of last year. After Johnson found out that he'd need to use the software for two of his classes, Johnson dug into the source code of Proctorio's Chrome extension and made a lengthy Twitter thread criticizing its practices -- including links to excerpts of the source code, which he'd posted on Pastebin. Proctorio CEO Mike Olsen sent Johnson a direct message on Twitter requesting that he remove the code from Pastebin, according to screenshots viewed by The Verge. After Johnson refused, Proctorio filed a copyright takedown notice, and three of the tweets were removed. (They were reinstated after TechCrunch reported on the controversy.)

In its lawsuit, the EFF is arguing that Johnson made fair use of Proctorio's code and that the company's takedown "interfered with Johnson's First Amendment right." "Copyright holders should be held liable when they falsely accuse their critics of copyright infringement, especially when the goal is plainly to intimidate and undermine them," said EFF Staff Attorney Cara Gagliano in a statement. "I'm doing this to stand up against student surveillance, as well as abuses of copyright law," Johnson told The Verge. "This isn't the first, and won't be the last time a company abuses copyright law to try and make criticism more difficult. If nobody calls out this abuse of power now, it'll just keep happening."

Am I the only one...

By Jodka • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

who googles photos of people like Proctorio CEO Mike Olsen after reading about them in the news because you wonder if people who are assholes somehow look different than the rest of us?

Re:Excerpts for commentary.

By RandomUsername99 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
It was clearly covered by fair use. The problem is that the exact edges of fair use are pretty fuzzy, so it's probably more difficult than it should be to definitively prove malfeasance on Proctorio's part. Our fair use laws are as ambiguous and difficult to use as possible while still saying anything at all.

They literally send the source code to anyone ...

By BAReFO0t • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

... who requests it, for free.

Just send a HTTP GET, and you get it.

The concept of a "copyright" claim by letting others see it, is even more ridiculous than imaginary property schemes usually are.

Re:They literally send the source code to anyone .

By Ostracus • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

And open-source lets others see it. Doesn't mean the GPL is invalid.

Re:They literally send the source code to anyone .

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Not that I want to defend these asshats, but simply giving something away for free doesn't invalidate the copyright on it. You can give away a newspaper or broadcast a song for free, but it retains copyright protection.

Entire US West Coast Now Covered By Earthquake Early Warning System

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: Residents living on the West Coast don't know when the next earthquake will hit. But a new expansion of the U.S. earthquake early warning system gives 50 million people in California, Oregon -- and now Washington -- seconds to quickly get to safety whenever the next one hits. As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, cellphone users in California, Oregon and Washington should receive a mobile alert from the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system when tremors are detected. Alerts are sent from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Wireless Emergency Alert system, third-party phone apps and other technologies.

The West Coast, the most earthquake-prone region in the U.S., is home to major fault lines that put the area at risk of devastating earthquakes. David Applegate, the acting director of the U.S. Geological Survey, said in a statement that "ShakeAlert can turn mere seconds into opportunities for people to take life-saving protective actions or for applications to trigger automated actions that protect critical infrastructure." The ShakeAlert system relies on sensor data from the USGS Advanced National Seismic System -- a collection of regional earthquake monitoring networks throughout the country. Alerts can come through the Wireless Emergency Alert system, which sends text-message alerts similar to Amber Alerts sent to cellphone users when a child is kidnapped. Cellphone users will get an alert only when an earthquake is magnitude 5 or higher.

Some warning is good, but...

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Informative • Thread

There will be a lot of comments here about timing and delays and coverage...
    And they're all correct. It's just the laws of physics. And that's assuming your cell infrastructure is still intact.
    I worked on this system, so I'm posting AC. It's an interesting problem from many perspectives, but in the end if the earthquake hits within a certain radius and it's big enough, there's not much to be done anyway. One interesting aspect I have burnt some brain cells on is the aftershock question. If you got a warning, even late about the first shock, it's still useful information because some aftershock activity can be better anticipated.

Re:Lower your expectations

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Even a few seconds can be useful:

  • Move away from shelves.
  • Move away from plate glass windows
  • Don't get on an elevator
  • If on an elevator, push the button for the next floor
  • Turn off your stove
  • Turn off space heaters
  • Students can get under their desks
  • Fire station doors can be opened so they don't jam shut.
  • Warehouse nets can be pulled into position
  • Traffic lights controlling access to bridges or tunnels can go red.

Re:Lower your expectations

By Gavagai80 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

If you look at major earthquakes, the biggest damages and deaths rarely happen within 10 km of the epicenter. Take Loma Prieta for example -- San Francisco was devastated, but the epicenter was about 100 km away (an order of magnitude further than that 10 km) near Santa Cruz.

The biggest impact though should be in automation. You can prevent fires, prevent broken machinery, limit the duration and scope of your power outages, just by shutting things off before the shaking starts.

This is very useful

By backslashdot • Score: 3 • Thread

If you are carrying a heavy object down a stairway, climbing a ladder, or something like that it's good to have. But what phone vendors should do is have a special alarm that vibrates the phone a couple of times and then squeals "EARTHQUAKE ALERT!" or something like that. That would give someone enough time to put what they are carrying down, reposition themselves, get someone's help, or toss what they are carrying. If it's just a text, it may not get checked until it's too late.

Re:Lower your expectations

By Beryllium Sphere(tm) • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

All of the above and more. Trains can brake. Industrial valves can be turned. Anyone near furniture can drop/cover/hold (practice it if you live in an earthquake zone).

If your risk includes a subduction zone far offshore, like Alaska or Washington, there might be as much as a minute of warning.

Signal Tried To Use Instagram Ads To Display the Data Facebook Collects and Sells. Facebook Banned Signal's Account.

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Privacy-oriented messaging app Signal tried to run a very candid ad campaign on Facebook-owned Instagram, but it wasn't meant to be. From a report: Signal explained how it went down in a blog post Tuesday. The idea was to post ads on Instagram which use the data an online advertiser may have collected about users, and basically show the user what that data might be for them. "You got this ad because you're a teacher, but more importantly you're a Leo (and single). This ad used your location to see you're in Moscow. You like to support sketch comedy, and this ad thinks you do drag," one of the ads said. According to Signal, the ad "would simply display some of the information collected about the viewer which the advertising platform uses."

The fact that Facebook and similar companies collect your data isn't a secret. According to Signal, however "the full picture is hazy to most -- dimly concealed within complex, opaquely-rendered systems and fine print designed to be scrolled past." In other words, you may have consented to this because you weren't bothered to investigate the details, but you may feel differently if you knew exactly what online advertisers know about you. However, Facebook wasn't having it, and shut down both the campaign and Signal's ad account.

Anywhere we can actually see this running?

By Shane A Leslie • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
I'd love to see what kinds of text would be generated by the user data I have left in my wake.

Compromising people in power

By VeryFluffyBunny • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Has it occurred to anyone that Facebook also holds some very personal, private, & potentially compromising information about people in positions of power & influence? For example, it's trivially easy to use someone's phone location data to see who they're having an affair with & that they may be having meetings & doing deals with people they shouldn't. Waaay more than this is possible with social network analysis tools. You think important people wouldn't be so stupid as to use insecure data practices? They think they've above those paranoid, nerdy IT types.

What Facebook has is not unlike the way J Edgar Hoover had his FBI agents spy & collect 'profiles' on certain people in order to have some leverage over them. So, who do you think Zuckerberg is 'helping' these days? Additionally, Facebook's data security practices are so poor that they're an easy mark for state intelligence agencies in Russia & China.

In 15 years, we'll wonder why we let them exist

By TheNameOfNick • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Apple have a stranglehold on the market. Not only is this a general drag on progress, it's becoming increasingly clear from their brazen violations of law and ethics that they feel too big to fail and don't fear repercussions. We'll look back on these companies like we look back on Standard Oil and the old AT&T monopoly. They have to go.

Re: Was there a disclaimer

By BAReFO0t • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Read TFS. They showed you and only you your private information. As in: What you could already see by looking at your entire profile. Just with the added crucial detail that it went through the cables of the advertiser that should not be able to access it.

Re:Anywhere we can actually see this running?

By Anubis IV • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The ad campaign isn’t running any longer, but you can see some examples in Signal’s original blog post:

Biden Blocks Trump's Gig-worker Rule

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The Biden administration has blocked a Trump-era rule that would have made it easier for companies like Uber, Lyft and Instacart to continue classifying rideshare drivers and delivery workers as independent contractors under federal law. From a report: The rule pertained to the classification of gig workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires employers to pay non-exempt employees at least the federal minimum wage. The Trump administration published the rule in January 2021, and it was originally set to go into effect on March 8. In February, Biden's labor department delayed implementation until May 7. Now, the Department of Labor has officially withdrawn the rule. The decision to rescind the rule does not mean gig workers will be considered employees. But it does mean certain gig workers won't face an additional obstacle in their efforts to be classified as employees. The rule would have implemented a new interpretation of what type of worker is an independent contractor. The DOL, however, determined that it would have "narrowed the scope of facts and considerations" in determining whether someone is an independent contractor or employee.

Re:Kill more job

By tomhath • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Uber was built on the model of people moonlighting for a couple of hours at random times to pick up a little extra cash. Anyone who thought it was a legitimate full-time job was kidding himself.

Go fast, break things

By LatencyKills • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Turns out the things they are breaking are most likely employment laws.

Re:Build Back Better

By GameboyRMH • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

People will settle for all kinds of terrible employment conditions if the alternative is abject poverty and starvation. Read up about Victorian England some time, or the US from reconstruction to the gilded age.

Re:Build Back Better

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

In part it's because the free market never starts on a level playing field, and there is no failsafe to keep it somewhat level.

When the playing field starts with a company town where the company owns everything for miles in every direction, and every job is a company job paid in company script redeemable only at the company businesses and you can only rent not buy, it's near impossible for a family to break out of that.

When the playing field starts with a rich corporation that plays hard and fast with laws and the truth, plays up good jobs with asterisks after them leading to a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo, it can be really hard for the average person to be able to tell exactly what they're getting into.

That said, I'm against a minimum wage. Why? I'm for UBI and universal healthcare. When you have food on the table and enough money to eat rice and beans and put a roof over your head, your basic needs are met. If you get sick you'll get cared for. If you want more money, find a job that will pay you more money. And if you decide you'd be happier going back to rice and beans and dog walking for $2/hr than doing that job anymore, that employer no longer has a solid hold over you.

A major side-effect of this would be to pump money (and health care) into some of the most impoverished parts of the US. That would help anchor the economies of those places, and start to revitalize them. The rust belt, Appalachia, small towns in the west, inner cities, etc., all would see some money flowing in. (A lot of these places have a median income of less than $12k a year!) We'd see folks living in expensive cities realize that they could move to a cabin in Wyoming and work on their novel, and still be able to live a moderately comfortable life. That would be more money flowing into the town, more needs for goods and services, etc.

Employers should be forced to pay the wages the market demands. The problem is that in many cases, they don't have to. Why? Because people don't have options in a lot of places. They're trapped in a location, in a skill-set, in an educational bracket, behind a criminal record, etc. If you give people the basics, that forces employers to pay the wages the market demands. Because if the basics are meet, people can say no without going homeless, having no retirement, having no healthcare, etc.

"We're hiring people with bachelor's degrees for $5/hr." **crickets**
"Ok, we're hiring people with bachelor's degrees for $10/hr now." **crickets**
"Ok, fine. We're hiring anyone who is reasonably qualified for $20/hr." **lots of inquiries**

Apple Discussed 'Punitive Measures' Against Netflix for Dropping In-App Purchases

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
As the Epic Games v. Apple trial progresses into its third day, Apple's internal documents and communications with various companies are continuing to surface, giving us some insight into the dealings that Apple has had around the App Store. From a report: Back in December 2018, Netflix stopped offering in-app subscription options for new or resubscribing members and instead began requiring them to sign up for Netflix outside of the App Store in order to avoid paying Apple's 30 percent cut. As it turns out, Apple executives were unhappy with Netflix's decision, and made attempts to persuade Netflix to keep in-app purchases available. The subject hasn't yet been broached in the live in-person trial that's going on right now, but news outlet 9to5Mac highlighted emails between Apple executives discussing Netflix's decision. When Apple learned that Netflix was A/B testing the removal of in-app purchases in certain countries, Apple started scrambling to put a stop to it. Apple's App Store Business Management Director Carson Oliver sent out an email in February 2018 outlining Netflix's testing plans and asked his fellow App Store executives whether Apple should take "punitive measures" against Netflix. "Do we want to take any punitive measures in response to the test (for examples, pulling all global featuring during the test period)? If so, how should those punitive measures be communicated to Netflix? (sic)," asked Oliver.

clear violation of the Sherman Act

By sdinfoserv • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
The Sherman Antitrust Act was enacted in 1890 to curtail combinations of power that interfere with trade and reduce economic competition. It outlaws both formal cartels and attempts to monopolize any part of commerce in the United States.
If our electeds were not owned pawns of the oligarchy, we might actually experience competive prices and more choices Unfortunetly, the majority of SCOTUS's, those appointed by Trump, are also law hating, rule oversight dismantling corporate cronies. Judge Amy Barrett sided with corporations over people 76% of the time while on the appellate court.

Re:netflix is viewable ...

By WaffleMonster • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Imagine if Microsoft was demanding a 30% cut of every dollar spent on website subscriptions! Fuck that shit. Fuck Apple.

Yea this by proxy shit is ridiculous. It's bad enough to operate a captive market for one time software sales... yet to extract a recurring cut of all sales made from the operation of a service that has nothing to do with where the software was downloaded is insane.

I don't think anyone should tolerate this behavior.

Re:clear violation of the Sherman Act

By mysidia • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

clear violation of the Sherman Act

No.. not actually clear at all. Some internal discussion between managers within Apple that doesn't show the outcome of whether Apple actually did so much as threaten Netflix, let alone anything abusive / anticompetitive w.r.t. them.

True it might be questionable under Sherman if Apple helped or hindered a dev's access to app distribution through the store based on their usage of Apple's payment processing, but then again, It is still unclear because Apple can make the argument that there's reasonable basis for it which is not anti-competitive -- the App store is Not free to run, and yet developers get free development tools or low-cost dev tools and are allowed to provide apps like Netflix for $Free - All the free stuff subsidized by apps using In-App purchases.

Also, If Apple actually clearly violated anything, there would also likely be cases against Apple pursuing them on that point, and they would be in settlement and not trial on the issue, if it was clear... there would be no point in wasting hundreds of millions on the trial. The fact that they are in trial over this issue basically means it's not clear, at least not at this point.


By Voyager529 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Just because Apple controls the Apps you can get on your phone doesn't make its' App Store a monopoly. When you buy a smart TV, you can not get apps that are not provided to you by its' manufacturer. Just like when you buy a Sony Playstation (Digital. Not sure if a third party developer can make non-Sony approved disks that work without hacking), you cant load non-approved Sony games from (for example) a Sega store.

Honestly...this question is long due for a ruling.

I can buy Playstation games from Target or Amazon, so as long as the Playstation still does physical media, there's still at least some modicum of an argument regarding distribution, but that's a path that is waning, and everyone knows it.

Comparing iOS to Android, however, there is more to it than simply market share. Android still lets you sideload apps, or program your own, without penalty. I'm still annoyed that root access is as difficult to get as it is, but at far as apps...I can install whatever I want, from wherever I want. If Microsoft wants to have an Android store, they can make one - Amazon already has. On iOS, however, there isn't that option.

Now, you make the point that people opt into the walled garden when they buy the device, and I get that...but this is the crux of the question: where is the line between 'general purpose computer' (where users can decide to run unsigned code), or 'appliance with plugins' (where only whitelisted applications are allowed)? There's nothing stopping users from sticking with App-Store-Only mode, but for those who wish to run third party content, they cannot.

I'll bring up another well-known tech company to find themselves in this quandary, and that's Microsoft. Nothing stopped users from installing Netscape on Windows, yet they still lost because they were leveraging their monopoly to merely disincentivize the practice. Users could install it, OEMs could even preinstall it...but Microsoft gave away IE and that's all it took. Purely based on web browsers, Apple actively and explicitly prohibits other browsers to be installed on iOS devices (they are all window dressing around Safari; Firefox on iOS doesn't use Gecko), but "tHeY dOnT HAvE tHe MaRkEtShaRe!111" so it's all good in the hood, right?

Now, Epic is one of the scummiest companies to bring this matter to court, and yeah, at a micro level, they're in the wrong - Apple has its terms, they make end-runs around those terms, and then they cry victim when they get kicked off the App Store. I'm not on Epic's side on this case, but at a macro level, Epic needs to win. If Epic loses, it means that the courts uphold software vendors' ability to restrict what gets installed on computers after the sale, at which point the ruling functionally becomes "everything is a Playstation".

So, this case makes me worried for that reason - it's a case Epic shouldn't win, but has ramifications that make an Apple victory far more chilling. If Apple loses, maybe they will be court ordered to have some sort of "untrusted sources" option, and Epic will be the first in line to take advantage of it, and they'll make a fortune for being a crappy company. But if Apple wins, there's every incentive in the world for Android (and even Windows) to become App Store Only platforms, because now they have a court ruling backing them up.

Re:The law fully supports the Playstation model

By Voyager529 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

There's no legal basis (in the US) for requiring a manufacturer to enable end users to run whatever SW they want on all consumer devices. None.

That's correct. Laws don't come about at the inception of a technology, they (ideally) come about when there is a need for them. Running whatever code you want on devices you paid for is - or should be - the natural, default state of things with microprocessors. This is because your statement here has an underlying premise that is troubling - running code the user has provided isn't enabled, it's disabled. Users aren't allowed to run code they've written, ported, or purchased, they are disallowed through technological enforcement.

Henceforth, you beg your own question. There isn't a legal basis requiring that things with microprocessors be allowed to run user-provided code, but the absence of that legal requirement is what is at issue.

Microsoft didn't run afoul of antitrust regulators because there's some law somewhere that says users have the Stallman-granted right to run whatever SW they want on whatever CPUs they own. They ran into problems with antitrust because they had a de facto monopoly on operating systems (well over 90% of PCs at the time) and used that monopoly to stifle competition for applications.

This makes no sense. Microsoft used their monopoly to stifle competition (i.e. make it more difficult for Netscape to sell their browser) purely from a sales and marketing standpoint, without ever preventing a Windows user from running Netscape, and that was bad. Apple actively prohibits the installation of other browsers on the iOS platform, controls any browser writer's ability to distribute their browser on iOS devices, and takes a 30% cut of any sales of a browser which is allowed to run on the iOS platform...and that's not "stifling competition", how?

Apple has (give or take) 50% of the smartphone market.

And closer to 60% of the tablet market share. At what percentage of the market does "actively preventing alternative browsers from being installed" become wrong?

If users get fed up with them then the users can pretty easily flee to Android. It's that simple.

No, it isn't. Apple isn't providing any compensation for purchased apps. Movies purchased on iTunes cannot be played back on Android phones at all. iMessage and Facetime are proprietary. We play the game of "if you're fed up enough, it's still possible" or "that's the cost of switching" or "many apps are account-based and allow users to transfer seamlessly", but there was nothing stopping a Windows user in 1998 from buying a Mac or installing Linux; they may not have had the market share but "pretty easily" is relative...and why 2020 wasn't the year of Linux on the desktop.

Maybe someday a different law will be passed--but that's a tricky law to write if you somehow want to target Apple but exclude all the hundreds of other 'appliances' that disallow sideloading.

"Any object made for sale in the United States, which contains a microprocessor and included data storage in excess of 8MB, and which has advertised functionality which is contingent upon a network connection for advertised functionality to be leveraged, and for which additional functionality can be added or removed after purchase, shall have Manufacturer provide a means by which the object can run user-provided code in addition to Manufacturer-provided code. Manufacturer may require an 'unlock process' to be performed to enable user-provided code to run, however Manufacturer may not charge an additional fee for this process or any materials required to perform it. Manufacturer may not disable any advertised functionality as a result of this unlock process being performed. Manufacturer also shall not deem 'unlock process' to be grounds for warranty to be void in cases where grounds for claim persists after all user-provided code has been removed."

There you go. Microwaves and toasters are fine, iPads and TVs have to allow sideloading...and I'm half asleep and I was still able to figure that out.

Apple is Holding the Web Back with 'Uniquely Underpowered' iOS Browser, Says Google Engineer

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
On iOS, Apple wants all the browsers to run WebKit. Even Google Chrome is forced to use WebKit on iOS devices. Alex Russel, Google's engineer, in a blog post outlines his case: Apple's iOS browser (Safari) and engine (WebKit) are uniquely under-powered. Consistent delays in the delivery of important features ensure the web can never be a credible alternative to its proprietary tools and App Store. Alex has cited an example of this by mentioning Stadia and other cloud gaming services. Apple did not allow those services to be available on the App Store and pushed them to use the web instead, which requires Apple to allow gamepad APIs so controllers can be used with these new web apps. That is a function that other browsers have offered for a long time except on iOS. He writes: Suppose Apple had implemented WebRTC and the Gamepad API in a timely way. Who can say if the game streaming revolution now taking place might have happened sooner? It's possible that Amazon Luna, NVIDIA GeForce NOW, Google Stadia, and Microsoft xCloud could have been built years earlier. It's also possible that APIs delivered on every other platform, but not yet available on any iOS browser (because Apple), may hold the key to unlocking whole categories of experiences on the web. Blog WCCFTech adds: Alex has also talked about how iOS browsers are underpowered in several other places compared to the competition. For starters, iOS browsers lack push notifications, standardized Progressive Web App (PWA) install buttons, background sync, and numerous other tools that make it easier for developers to make fully functional web apps. Access to hardware such as Bluetooth, USB, and NFC are also not easily available. Last but not least, the royalty-free AV1 standard is also not available.

Thank you, Apple

By ugen • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Thank you, Apple, for holding the line and keeping the grubby Google hands and the unnecessary privacy-invading crap they push out of my browser and device.
Google - fuck off and die.

Re: I'm just waiting

By reanjr • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Microsoft had a de facto monopoly on desktop computers. Apple has no such monopoly on smart phones, mobile devices, or desktop/laptop computers. So they can bundle all they want and it's just synergy.

Re:Kudos to Apple

By Kisai • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Nope. Not at all.

The core goal of iOS is performance and battery life. Otherwise everyone would still be using flash as a video player and ads. Apple has forced the hand of everyone who wants to be on iOS, let alone ALL mobile devices to not make their apps garbage using garbage development processes.

What is holding back things is not Apple Safari, but Google. Google is the one pulling the web in directions that nobody wants, and then dropping features from the browser that would allow it to run Mobile Webapp's.

Re:I smell bullshit!!

By narcc • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Why does a web browser need access to that shit?

Because we're doing more with the web than just serving static pages. It's been that way for a very long time, but we don't have Java, Flash, or any of those sorts of things anymore. It's not 1996, after all. The time for complaints has long past.

The world has been transitioning away from native apps for at least the last 15 years. How many of your companies internal/intranet apps changed to web apps over that period? I'd be the answer is 'most of them'. For CRUD apps, it doesn't make sense to do anything else. Not only does it make deployment easier, it makes it trivial to support Windows, Linux, ChromeOS, iOS, and Mac simultaniously. It's also why we're seeing so many new applications starting off online only. There are even online video editing programs.

Not just new programs either, but older ones as well. Microsoft's Office and Intuit's Quickbooks both have fully functional web apps. In the later case, even one of the native apps is just a packaged web app. I expect there to be no native option at all in a few years.

Hell, even compilers have moved online. Arduino users write code in a web-based editor, compile it in the cloud, and flash their hardware all through the browser. Granted, it still needs a small native component for that last step, but with better API's the browser would be all you need. We could be there now, as web USB has been a thing for some time now.

I expect the same thing to happen on mobile as soon as PWA's or some new standard is usable on the major platforms. I don't know many developers that are particularly happy with either the app store fees or the control Apple and Google have over their business.

There are a lot of reasons to worry about this trend. You can complain about all of them except the platform. We had alternatives, but everyone here campaigned loudly against them. Now all we have left is the web and it no longer has any meaningful competition.

"May your wishes be granted"

Want an App? Build an App.

By samkass • Score: 3 • Thread

If you want to browse web pages, use a web browser. If you want to build an app, build an App. All those browser limitations are a feature, not a bug, to most iOS users.

Doctors Investigate Mystery Brain Disease in Canada

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Doctors in Canada have been coming across patients showing symptoms similar to that of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare fatal condition that attacks the brain. From a report on BBC, shared by several readers: But when they took a closer look, what they found left them stumped. Almost two years ago, Roger Ellis collapsed at home with a seizure on his 40th wedding anniversary. In his early 60s, Mr Ellis, who was born and raised around New Brunswick's bucolic Acadian peninsula, had been healthy until that June, and was enjoying his retirement after decades working as an industrial mechanic. His son, Steve Ellis, says after that fateful day his father's health rapidly declined. "He had delusions, hallucinations, weight loss, aggression, repetitive speech," he says. "At one point he couldn't even walk. So in the span of three months we were being brought to a hospital to tell us they believed he was dying - but no one knew why."

Roger Ellis' doctors first suspected Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease [CJD]. CJD is a human prion disease, a fatal and rare degenerative brain disorder that sees patients present with symptoms like failing memory, behavioural changes and difficulties with co-ordination. One widely known category is Variant CJD, which is linked to eating contaminated meat infected with mad cow disease. CJD also belongs to a wider category of brain disorders like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and ALS, in which protein in the nervous system become misfolded and aggregated. But Mr Ellis' CJD test came back negative, as did the barrage of other tests his doctors put him through as they tried to pinpoint the cause of his illness. His son says the medical team did their best to alleviate his father's varying symptoms but were still left with a mystery: what was behind Mr Ellis's decline? In March of this year, the younger Mr Ellis came across a possible -- if partial -- answer.

Radio-Canada, the public broadcaster, obtained a copy of a public health memo that had been sent to the province's medical professionals warning of a cluster of patients exhibiting an unknown degenerative brain disease. "The first thing I said was: 'This is my dad,'" he recalls. Roger Ellis is now believed to be one of those afflicted with the illness and is under the care of Dr Alier Marrero. The neurologist with Moncton's Dr Georges-L-Dumont University Hospital Centre says doctors first came across the baffling disease in 2015. At the time it was one patient, an "isolated and atypical case," he says. But since then there have been more patients like the first -- enough now that doctors have been able to identify the cluster as a different condition or syndrome "not seen before". The province says it's currently tracking 48 cases, evenly split between men and women, in ages ranging from 18 to 85. Those patients are from the Acadian Peninsula and Moncton areas of New Brunswick. Six people are believed to have died from the illness.

Previous Coverage

By ytene • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
For the curious - and anyone reading this article and getting a sense of déjà vu - this story was covered in an earlier form, here on slashdot, back on April 1st (and no, it wasn't an April Fool joke).

Here is a link to the previous article: Leaked Memo Reveals Concerning New Brain Disease In Canada.

In fairness to the slashdot moderators (it was BeauHD that posted the first article and msmash who gave us the second), the earlier post gives us a link to a piece in the UK's Guardian Newspaper/web site, while this post is covering reporting from the BBC.

Interesting to see that it took the BBC a month - more to notice... Keep up, Aunty Beeb, keep up!

Tick borne perhaps?

By couchslug • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Bad news if it spreads that way because it's even worse than Lyme and tick fever (which ruined my wife's life) and are already ample reasons to avoid exposure. They are often misdiagnosed as this new disease will be so you should be an active patient.

Stay out of the woods unless you must enter them, use Permethrin on your tall hiking boots, long pants, shirt and hat, and DEET the fuck out of exposed skin. Shit's no joke, any of it. Clear brush on your property and deny them hiding places. Ensure your pets are treated with tick and flea killer.

Do we let the clueless talk again?

By BAReFO0t • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Stop making even more diseases that aren't caused by old age into ones that "are"!
"Old age" is not the cause of disease. It is merely a shit excuse.
Ask any doctor: There is no such thing as "natural causes" for death.

Cardiovascular diseases, dementia, arthritis, even hair loss have NOTHING whatsoever to do with old age.
Only hair graying and skin wrinkling can legitimately be called "due to old age", even though that still is just a lazy excuse that hides the underlying actual problems.

If you have no clue whatsoever, shut the fuck up.

You reap what you sow

By KClaisse • Score: 3 • Thread

Gee I wonder why people are getting sick.

Re:Tick borne perhaps?

By arQon • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

> Lyme and tick fever (which ruined my wife's life)

Sorry to hear that. Since I can't mod you up any higher though, I'll add a voice to support that part instead:

About 15 years ago, I got bitten by what was (retroactively) apparently a tick, didn't think anything of it (I live in a rural area, insect bites are part of the package) and rapidly got KO'd by lethargy and pain. My doctor failed to diagnose it correctly, and the symptoms continued for *months* until they eventually, finally, passed "on their own".

I was "lucky", in that it "only" cost me months of my life and a ton of expenses and lost income. (I was contracting at the time, so, yknow, also no medical insurance, GO USA!).

As you say, it's no joke. I've always been healthy and athletic, and I was even more so back then. If it could hit then-me that hard I can well believe that it could easily be devastating to anyone who was less fortunate.

Google Relaxes Work-From-Home Rules To Let More Staff Be Remote

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Google is giving its employees more flexibility to work from different locations or entirely from home, taking a more lenient policy as the Alphabet company prepares for a return to office life after the pandemic. From a report: Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai outlined the plan to staff in a note Wednesday morning. The influential Silicon Valley giant, one of the first to send employees home in 2020, has slowly opened its offices, but said its employees can work remotely until September. Google has rearranged offices to create more features for what it calls a "hybrid" return to work. In the email, Pichai said he expects about 60% of Google's staff will work in the office "a few days a week." Another 20% will be able to relocate to other company sites, while the remaining one-fifth can apply to permanently work from home. Google's parent, Alphabet, ended the first quarter just shy of 140,000 direct employees.

Re:Homestuck cowardice

By MikeDataLink • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

How boring -- to interact only with people you choose to interact with. Family or maybe the occasional cur or moggie.

You sound like a typical religious person trying to force their beliefs and way of life on others.

Re:Homestuck cowardice

By Drethon • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

People really WANT to be stuck at home 10 hours a day with no serendipity, no lunch with co-workers, no random conversations, just routine, routine, routine?

People really WANT to be stuck at work 10 hours a day in a massive cube farm with distracting background noise and random interruptions that mean about half the day is spent actually working? From home I probably work 3/4 the actual time I put in and get more actual work done then in the office, I feel like.

Re:Homestuck cowardice

By slack_justyb • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Because the office allows coworkers to meet and brainstorm in person

Let me just stop you there and tell you what that "brainstorming" looks like to me. Here I am, doing my job trying to get shit done. Then Dave over here, who got his position because his dad plays golf with the CIO, comes into my cubical looking to bounce ideas off me because he's a fuckitall dipshit who has no literal skill in anything except being an intellectual parasite. I answer his questions, because he's not really brainstorming, he's just trying to get an answer to a question that anyone with any infinitesimal amount of background knowledge in the field would know the answers to already.

And then I proceed to spend the next fifteen minutes trying to figure out where the fuck I was on a problem I was working on only to then have dumb fuck project manager come in and ask for the 178,371st time today where we're at on the project. When he knows damn well that the answer is, "Just as soon as you shut the fuck up and let me fucking finish the DDL for the forty-three tables that blah-blah department needs that they keep sending thirty emails a day updating the requirements of the different columns." It's bad enough I have to deal with their constantly shifting demands, but to then have each demand from them be followed up with forty-seven check ups from someone who literally does nothing but check in on me and contributes jack shit to the overall picture, is asking a bit much.

Yes, that's what that "brainstorming" looks like in reality. And people who think they're actually "brainstorming" are the Dave's or project managers of this world.

humans have been born, bred, and evolved over millennia to interact in person

Yeah and we also were hunter-gatherers. So yeah, things change so we don't have to do dumb shit all the time.

How boring to interact only with people you choose to interact with

Oh yeah, that's literally some "I force myself onto people conversationally" screaming right there.

Pets (curs and moggies) aren't a substitute for in-person interaction with other intelligent humans

I'm just going to say that there's a lot of dogs I've met that had way more personality and were way more affable a being to be around than a giga-ton of co-workers I've had to work with.

I mean if there's some people who want to make their workplace a middle schooler's hangout, cool. Have those people go back in, far be it for me to deny them of what they truly want. I live and die by, to each their own, when it comes to my job. I just want to fucking do my job, get my check, and then go do the shit "I want" to do outside the four walls of my office. I mean call me crazy and toss me in a white jacket, but I don't think asking to just be left alone so that I can do my job should be a tall ask. But all the office has been for me is a shit ton of road blocks, watching over the shoulders, and micro-management. So yeah, I'm so glad you've worked at the Mouseion at Alexandria all your life and that it's been the paragon of intellectualism, but the reality is that the vast majority of jobs, in person isn't encouraging "brainstorming" it's just bullshit, that people are learning that they don't actually have to put up with. Sort of like that time someone figured out that they didn't need to go chasing mammoths with Dave and instead they could just till some soil and plant a seed to get roughly the same-ish end result.

And just to round it all out. Yes, there will be people who take advantage of the work from home situation and hurt those who are doing good. But at the same time, the working in the office is just as ripe a place to take advantage of people but just in a different way. Dave!

White House Launches New AI Website

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The White House has launched a new website,, to make artificial intelligence research more accessible across the nation. Axios: The U.S. once led significantly in the global artificial intelligence race, but now risks being overtaken by China. This is one step the White House is taking to drum up excitement for AI and broaden educational opportunities in the field. The website's target audience is the general public, and its purpose is to make public information available on AI more visible to someone like a teacher or student interested in science. Users will be able to visit the website to learn how artificial intelligence is being used across the nation in a variety of ways, including to respond to the COVID pandemic and weather forecasting, for example. It's also meant to be a tool to advance research.

This term "AI"

By RitchCraft • Score: 3 • Thread
AI does not exist as it's being presented. Just a bunch of crap. We should rename it to Fast and Efficient Computer Algorithms (FECAL).

And it shall be called ...

By PPH • Score: 3 • Thread

... Colussus.

Peloton's Leaky API Let Anyone Grab Riders' Private Account Data

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Zack Whittaker, reporting for TechCrunch: Halfway through my Monday afternoon workout last week, I got a message from a security researcher with a screenshot of my Peloton account data. My Peloton profile is set to private and my friend's list is deliberately zero, so nobody can view my profile, age, city, or workout history. But a bug allowed anyone to pull users' private account data directly from Peloton's servers, even with their profile set to private. Peloton, the at-home fitness brand synonymous with its indoor stationary bike and beleaguered treadmills, has more than three million subscribers. Even President Biden is said to own one. The exercise bike alone costs upwards of $1,800, but anyone can sign up for a monthly subscription to join a broad variety of classes.

As Biden was inaugurated (and his Peloton moved to the White House -- assuming the Secret Service let him), Jan Masters, a security researcher at Pen Test Partners, found he could make unauthenticated requests to Peloton's API for user account data without it checking to make sure the person was allowed to request it. (An API allows two things to talk to each other over the internet, like a Peloton bike and the company's servers storing user data.) But the exposed API let him -- and anyone else on the internet -- access a Peloton user's age, gender, city, weight, workout statistics and, if it was the user's birthday, details that are hidden when users' profile pages are set to private. Masters reported the leaky API to Peloton on January 20 with a 90-day deadline to fix the bug, the standard window time that security researchers give to companies to fix bugs before details are made public. But that deadline came and went, the bug wasn't fixed and Masters hadn't heard back from the company, aside from an initial email acknowledging receipt of the bug report.
In some other Peloton news: Peloton recalls all treadmills after reported injuries, death.

An API allows two things to talk to each other

By Shemmie • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

This is the sort of tech information I can only get from slashdot.

Re:Does it have a remote?

By bmimatt • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Sounds like there's no authentication/authorization at all, probably not even Bearer-Token in the headers. Open wide to toy with. Excellent design.

Re:Aren't these not solved problems?

By anoncoward69 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
This is what happens when your startup uses recent college grads to write everything in python.

A great value!

By Diakoneo • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

When you install a Peloton treadmill, you can now proudly announce to the WHOLE WORLD, "Hey! I spent $1800, used it two times, now I use it to dry clothes!"


By alvinrod • Score: 3 • Thread
Now everyone will know that I never actually use the expensive gadget that I bought so I didn't actually have to go outside. The shame! Now I might have to go back to getting a gym membership that I never use.

White House Eyes Subsidies for Nuclear Plants To Help Meet Climate Targets

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The White House has signaled privately to lawmakers and stakeholders in recent weeks that it supports taxpayer subsidies to keep existing nuclear facilities from closing, bending to the reality that it needs these plants to meet U.S. climate goals, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter. From the report: The new subsidies, in the form of "production tax credits," would likely be swept into President Joe Biden's multi-trillion-dollar legislative effort to invest in the nation's infrastructure and jobs, the sources said. Wind and solar power producers already get these tax rebates based on levels of energy they generate. Biden wants the U.S. power industry to be emissions free by 2035. He is also asking Congress to extend or create tax credits aimed at wind, solar and battery manufacturing as part of his $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan. The United States has more than 90 nuclear reactors, the most in the world, and the business is the country's top source of emissions-free power generation.

Re:Wait for Fusion energy plants?

By sfcat • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Should we wait for Fusion energy plants? Fission plants make poison that lasts for thousands of years.

The issue with fusion is that we don't have materials to handle 1,000,000C heat and using magnetic bottles is very hard to make energy efficient. There probably won't be a commercial fusion plant in our lifetimes. Making fusion isn't hard, it is making it energy and price efficient that is the problem. We aren't even close to the stage where the engineers and accountants come in and tell us how much fusion costs. Depending on the types of fission and fusion you are talking about, there are types of fusion that make radioactivity (D-D fusion for example) and there are fission techniques that can make waste that lasts for only 300 years. Finally, that "waste" you are going on about, its made of the stuff we make wind turbines and batteries out of (Nd, Eu, Gd, Dy, Co, and V) and 99% of that is stable within 10 years (only Co-60 is an issue as it has a 5 year half life so that would take 50 years to decay).

Re:Finally, some sane energy policy

By ScienceBard • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

My time working in nuclear overlapped most of Vogtle's construction. I got to speak to many people involved in the planning and building of that plant, which is only just now getting close to firing up. The real issue, from what I could tell from presentations by management folks, is that Vogtle and Summer (the second site that got canceled when the firm building them went bankrupt) were loss leaders. Before the fracking boom nuclear was clearly the cheapest power source available, and the climate for it was improving. But we hadn't built a plant in decades, let alone this newest generation of AP1000's. These two projects were expected to be rough going, and I didn't get the impression anyone thought they were going to make money building them (on the construction side). They were done to build that knowledge base and skilled workforce back up, because the technical skill to make nuclear plants to specification is nontrivial to say the least.

One story I remember is an RP manager complaining because some genius engineer had located the plant count room right next to reactor containment. Yeah the dose wasn't a concern, but there was plenty of stray neutrons to fuck up delicate counting equipment and ensure you couldn't meet detection limits without absurdly long sample count times. And it sounded like that was just one of many issues of that type, all of which delay things way more than they should.

Following the breakthroughs in fracking and the enhanced safety requirements from Fukishima, basically every utility that hadn't already broken ground decided it would be cheaper to just put up gas plants. Not just from an absolute cost perspective, but you have to remember that there is a cost of capital associated with tying up 20 billion dollars for a decade. Without the prospect for future projects that would make money the american division of the firm building them just closed up shop, adding even more time to those projects. Southern Company decided they had the expertise to finish, but the smaller state run utility (and partners) in South Carolina building the new reactors at Summer didn't think they could pull it off.

Anyway, thought that might interest some people. A lot of the high cost of construction in the US isn't just legal action, it's just brain drain. Now that the Chinese have built that skilled work force up, they'll have a much easier time building new reactors. If you want to know what they'd really cost were we to kick into economies of scale, look at the Chinese cost and timelines to build for the plants they put up over the next ten years.

Re:Wait for Fusion energy plants?

By Salgak1 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Depends on the reactors and the fissionables used. Uranium in Modular Pebble-Bed Reactors or Thorium in Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors.

An additional advantage to Thorium reactors, is that the fissionable element are suitable for power generation, but not for the production of nuclear weapons. And Thorium is far more common than Uranium: an easily-available source is fly-ash from may coal-fired power plants. . .

The tech is there, all that is needed is the decision to deploy it . . .

Re:4 articles about nuclear fusion

By thegarbz • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I'm not sure why you think it's a joke. The ITER has been been in the works for well over a decade, has yet to complete construction, won't come online for another 4 years, and (and this is worth capitalising) HAS THE GOAL TO PRODUCE POWER FOR EIGHT MINUTES. Eight. That's 8.

After the ITER runs and successfully completes its entire design goal, Fusion will still be 25 years away.

Come back to really man.

Absolutely Terrible Idea

By endus • Score: 3 • Thread

I'm continually amazed how much people support nuclear power given the obvious problems with it. What's true in theory does not mean that's the way things will pan out in practice.

Waste is the obvious problem. First and foremost is the fact that it is an ultra-long-term problem we have no solution for. Our "leadership" in this country can't even think past the next election, never mind thousands of years from now. Waste is not a manageable problem now, with the huge and completely unresolved issues around transportation and storage, and it is not a manageable problem long term even if we solve transportation and storage. The amount of power (and waste we produce) is going to continue to expand and expand before we even consider the impact that converting transportation, heating, etc. to electric will have.

Second is accidents. This is where the "ifs" and "buts" appear. Risk is likelihood AND impact. Likelihood may be low, but it is absolutely not zero, and it will absolutely continue to not be zero. Impact is TREMENDOUS.

Inevitably we start talking about molten salt, recycling waste, etc. These things do not solve the problems. They help to mitigate them, but they do not solve them. We're also up against the fact that those solutions aren't available in the U.S. Make the DOE change it's mind and THEN maybe we can talk about more nuclear as a stopgap solution, but don't use them as points in favor of building nuclear plants in the US until there is a possibility that they can be used in the US.

Nuclear is a garbage solution from an engineering standpoint. I think we're better off trying harder to find the right solution up front than doing what is easy now and paying for it later after we've all forgotten about all the problems which are looming over us, but I realize what an incredibly unpopular way of thinking that is.

Trump's Facebook Ban Should Not Be Lifted, Network's Oversight Board Rules

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Donald Trump's Facebook account should not be reinstated, the social media giant's oversight board said on Wednesday, barring an imminent return to the platform. From a report: However, the board has punted the final decision over Trump's account back to Facebook itself, suggesting the platform make a decision in six months regarding what to do with Trump's account and whether it will be permanently deleted. Facebook suspended Trump's account after the Capitol attack of 6 January, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed Congress in an attempt to overturn the former president's defeat by Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Trump was initially suspended from Facebook and Instagram for 24 hours, as a result of two posts shared to the platform in which he appeared to praise the actions of the rioters. The company then extended the president's ban "at least until the end of his time in office." His account was suspended indefinitely pending the decision of the oversight board, a group of appointed academics and former politicians meant to operate independently of Facebook's corporate leadership.

Re:Censorship is hard to reverse

By Entrope • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Protesters were not looking to capture political leaders once they got inside? What were the zip ties for?

Apparently Capitol police were the ones who brought them. Get with three months ago, dude.

Yet many of the protestors claim that they were there because Trump asked them to come.

Protesting is legal, my friend. There's nothing wrong with asking people to protest an action that you don't like.

Re:Censorship is hard to reverse

By Ol Olsoc • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

have never heard anybody say that Kaepernick didn't have a right to his opinions, that he couldn't protest whatever he was protesting, etc.

Hold on a moment. No less an influential person than the president of the US, had this to say about Kapernick

"Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’ ”

In a related case - Trump's mouthpiece Huckabee-Sanders said that a person who tweeted about Trump "When asked if Trump knew about Hill's comments, Sanders responded, "I'm not sure if he's aware, but I think that's one of the more outrageous comments anyone could make and certainly something that I think is a fireable offense by ESPN."

You think that the leader of the free world and his representatives saying stuff like that isn't cancel culture? saying that people need to lose their jobs for expressing their opinion. And in Kaepernicks case, he exactly was cancelled.

Point is, people like the former occupant of the White House, and his sycophants like Mike Lindell, have demands for free speech for themselves, while simultaneously demanding suppression of speech by others.


By MightyMartian • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Jefferson's view of liberty was one view, but it was not one even universally accepted by the other Founding Fathers. At the end of the day, most of the Revolutionaries understood the gravity of rebellion, and the entire point of the Declaration of Independence wasn't to just give blanket approval to any form of rebellion or revolution, but to lay out the reasons the Colonies were pursuing independence. And the actions of Congress after that, and Presidents after ratification of the Constitution, was to create a form of government that would be responsive to the people, and where armed insurrections need not be the answer. And the question was answered with finality when Lincoln didn't just roll over and let the Confederacy persist, but pursued a policy of warfare to defeat the Confederacy and bring the states back into the Union.

And let's be very blunt, these seditionists weren't marching on the Capitol Building to seek remedies, they came to block the peaceful transfer of power. They might have been revolutionaries in some rather broad view, but what they are under US law is seditionists. To lose an election is a bitter pill I'm sure, but to try to prevent the transfer of power to the winner, both by storming the Capitol to prevent Congress from performing its constitutional role, and by some Republican lawmakers clearly abusing the certification process to cancel out the constitutionally and lawfully cast ballots of those states' electors was not some great sword stroke from freedom, I'd argue those lawmakers themselves were seditionists, since there was no evidence of mass fraud, and considerable evidence that the incumbent himself had committed acts of sedition in trying to block Congress's certification on purely baseless grounds.

The majority of the American people voted for Biden. The majority of Electors in the several states honored their pledges to cast their vote for Biden. To insinuate that the majority of Americans and the majority of Electors were in some way representative of and furthering the cause of tyranny, to the point that those breaking into the Capitol Building hunting down the Vice President and the Speaker of the House, were champions of liberty, even in the Jeffersonian sense, is absurd, and absolutely wrong. Those people weren't looking to restore democracy, they were trying to undermine it.

Re:Censorship is hard to reverse

By quantaman • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Did anybody get fired or deplatformed for supporting Kaepernick?

If an NFL team did sign Kaepernick it's pretty clear that President Trump would have encouraged his followers to boycott the team and probably called for the executives to be fired.

The very fact he lost his NFL career is evidence of how effective the threat of "cancellation" was towards the group of people who's support mattered.

Did Kaepernick not become insanely more wealthy through is theatrics? Check your bias.

Lets be clear.

Kaepernick was given the choice of ending his protest or losing a career that paid him millions.

He chose to continue his protest.

I wouldn't call that "theatrics" as much as an extraordinary level of self-sacrifice.

Re:Censorship is hard to reverse

By Sitnalta • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

No, what really happened is Trump became a legal liability. He turned social media into a weapon that used it against his enemies and tried to overturn the election. Now lawmakers are going to want know why a company had that much power, so little oversight, and apparently no consequences.

The Trump ban was nothing more than virtue signaling to congress and the press to try and avoid regulation. They would happily embrace Trump and his gaggle of diet-fascist loonies if they could get away with it.

Berkshire Hathaway's Stock Price Is Too Much for Computers

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Berkshire Hathaway is trading at more than $421,000 per Class A share, and the market is optimistic. That's a problem. From a report: The price has grown so high, it has nearly hit the maximum number that can be stored in one common way exchange computers handle digits. On Tuesday, Nasdaq temporarily suspended broadcasting prices for Class A shares of Berkshire over several popular data feeds. Such feeds provide real-time price updates for a number of online brokerages and finance websites. Nasdaq's computers can only count so high because of the compact digital format they use for communicating prices. The biggest number they can handle is $429,496.7295. Nasdaq is rushing to finish an upgrade later this month that would fix the problem. It isn't just Nasdaq.

Another exchange operator, IEX Group Inc., said in March that it would stop accepting investors' orders in Class A shares of Berkshire Hathaway "due to an internal price limitation within the trading system." It's the stock-market version of the Y2K bug. And it's becoming an increasingly urgent issue as shares of Warren Buffett's company have risen more than 20% this year, buoyed by a rising market and a return to profitability after fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Here's the trouble: Nasdaq and some other market operators record stock prices in a compact computer format that uses 32 bits, or ones and zeros. The biggest number possible is two to the 32nd power minus one, or 4,294,967,295. Stock prices are frequently stored using four decimal places, so the highest possible price is $429,496.7295. No other stock is anywhere near Berkshire Class A's stratospheric price levels, so it is understandable why the engineers behind Nasdaq's and IEX's systems chose the number format, which programmers call a four-byte unsigned integer.

Re:Shouldn't Happen

By shess • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

And this is how bad programming happens. Assumptions made. In the case of this stock, this happened before 20 years ago. It is basically caused by a lack of competency in basic math by most people who code. It is hard to create a generic representation of values, especially when all digits are significant. Secondarily, a lot of this trouble is caused by hard coded values and badly factored code. Everyone laughs at object oriented programming, but if the stock price is an object, and all it logic is in one place, things like this are simpler to deal with.

Really? I'd say it's a bad spec. The exchanges should just say "Prices will be between here and here, with this much precision, and if you go outside those bounds we stop trading." If you have some occult rationale for why your shares should trade at $1M apiece, that's your problem, maybe retire to an executive retreat and figure out some motivated reasoning for why your shares should trade at $1k apiece instead.

Re:Shouldn't Happen

By mysidia • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

And this is how bad programming happens. Assumptions made.

In this case it sounds like an entirely reasonable assumption to be used at the time it was made. Stock prices more than a few thousand a share seem to be an entirely recent novelty, anyways.

Their only true mistake here may have been failing to get the system limitation appropriately codified to prevent the exception - For example, the stock exchange could have passed a policy rule that "No share can trade through this exchange at a price above $X per share."; Similar to the rules exchanges have where stocks trading at less than $5 will get delisted from the exchanges --- they could simply have had a rule to keep their system constraints from being violated.

  Anyway, 1 extreme outlier case 20 years later after everything before then followed the assumption is pretty darned good.

It is basically caused by a lack of competency in basic math by most people who code.

An unfounded insult to developers, really. People creating this Int type will likely understand full well there's a number limit range of 32-bit values; probably chose it anyways. This is a design choice that could be made with competency or not.

It is hard to create a generic representation of values, especially when all digits are significant.

Not true.. A generic representation of values is simple to create and code but would fail by likely not meeting space efficiency requirements or developer expectations, and especially might be unsuitable for network-based trading protocols. Designers have a choice to adopt a design that has disadvantages, or pick different designs that may be more generic but have other problems --- Representations of values that impose some constraints on values have advantages - Space efficiency and limiting the complexity of operations, or making data formats easier to read and understand, are some of those advantages.

See other examples, even the internet itself has system limitations. Internet Protocol version 4 IPv4 has 32-bits to an IP address; no more, no less. Every system on the network has to have a unique address, and the remaining few available will run out for the global internet.

        This is Not a programming problem -- every implementation regardless of language carries the same limitations that come from data structure design. This is not a "difficulty creating a generic representation of values" - This is a, By Design, A generic representation either cannot meet essential requirements, Or was not necessary to consider, And an original decision is made to go with an implementation having Limitations that are imposed by the design.

Everyone laughs at object oriented programming, but if the stock price is an object, and all it logic is in one place, things like this are simpler to deal with.

How do you know stock price is not an object? It could easily even be an object in some programs using the data and not others. They can still have the very same problem, either way. Data values still have to be in some binary format agreed upon in advance before they can be sent or received over the network or written to a file.

Particularly when numerous software programs written in potentially various programming languages running across multiple computers systems on distributed networks need to communicate and process using the same raw data values - the data formats cannot necessarily simply be "changed" one day without careful planning around how to carry a change out without breaking programs and the flow of data between programs, etc.

Erm nope?

By angel'o'sphere • Score: 3 • Thread

which programmers call a four-byte unsigned integer.
It is called a 4 byte (unsigned) fixed point number, not an unsigned integer.


By burtosis • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

On the other hand, if it rolls over from $429,496.7295 to $0.0001, that would cause many heads to explode.

So what you’re saying is they would suffer from a stock overflow error.

Re:Erm nope?

By thegarbz • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Nope. It's called a 4 byte unsigned integer. That you chose to display it as a fixed point number is your problem and has nothing to do with how the underlying data is declared.

Snapchat Can Be Sued Over Role In Fatal Car Crash, Court Rules

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shares a report: Three young men got into a car in Walworth County, Wis., in May 2017. They were set on driving at rapid speeds down a long, cornfield-lined road -- and sharing their escapade on social media. As the 17-year-old behind the wheel accelerated to 123 miles per hour, one of the passengers opened Snapchat. His parents say their son wanted to capture the experience using an app feature -- the controversial "speed filter" -- that documents real-life speed, hoping for engagement and attention from followers on the messaging app. It was one of the last things the trio did before the vehicle ran off the road and crashed into a tree, killing all of them. Was Snapchat partially to blame? The boys' parents think so. And, in a surprise decision on Tuesday, a federal appeals court ordered that the parents should have the right to sue Snap.

The ruling, from a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has set off intense debate among legal watchers about the future of a decades-old law that has shielded tech companies from civil lawsuits. The boys' parents sued Snap, the maker of Snapchat, after the tragedy. They alleged that the company "knowingly created a dangerous game" through its filter and bore some responsibility. The district court responded how courts usually do when a tech platform is sued in a civil lawsuit: by dismissing the case. The judge cited the sweeping immunity that social media companies enjoy under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The law provides legal immunity to tech companies from libel and other civil suits for what people post on sites, regardless of how harmful it may be. But the appeals court's reversal paves a way around the all-powerful law, saying it doesn't apply because this case is not about what someone posted to Snapchat, but rather the design of the app itself.

Need for acceleration

By Roger W Moore • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

There is no reason a consumer vehicle should be able to reach those speeds.

Actually, there is. If you want to have a reasonable acceleration up to the legal speed limit you actually need a car whose engine is capable of going a reasonable degree faster than the legal speed limit. If you actually made a car whose engine was only just capable of reaching the maximum legal speed limit its acceleration at that speed would be insanely low making reaching that speed very hard.

Of course, what you could do would be to put in a more powerful engine and then add a speed limiter but that adds cost and really does very little in terms of safety since the limit would have to be set to the highest limit anywhere that the car can drive and if that includes places like Germany then there is no legal speed limit, just a "gentleman's agreement" to 250 km/h (155 mph) which is faster than the speed in this accident. Then there are the people who race consumer vehicles on tracks, not really professionally but for fun at the weekend.

I know it is a hopelessly out-of-date idea in today's world but at some point, we do have to be responsible and accountable for our own choices and actions. Just because a car can go at 123 mph does not make it the manufacturer's responsibility that some idiot chose to go that fast when it was incredibly unsafe to do so.

Re:Yes. Sue them.

By WaffleMonster • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Yes, they should be able to sue them and win. This is what we call an attractive nuance. It was specifically set to attract people to do these actions that were performed. Lead them into temptation and you should pay the price.

Attractive nuisance.. seriously? What the fuck are children who are incapable of understanding the dangers of driving 123 mph doing behind the wheel in the first place? This seems rather ridiculous on its face.

Re:Sue car makers because, trees.

By jcr • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

there is no possible reason a car should have the ability to go 123 miles per hour.

Fuck you. Maybe I need to go as fast as possible to get away from a tornado. Maybe I need to get someone to a hospital ASAP. Maybe I'm running from some unhinged nutjob trying to kill me and I'm out of ammo.


Re:Guns don't kill people, laws do.

By cayenne8 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
There are gun laws.

There are background checks when you buy from a licensed gun dealer.

You cannot do anything to prevent someone that legally buys a gun from snapping and doing something illegal with it.

Just like you cannot prevent someone that legally buys a car or rents a truck from driving it into a crowd of people and killing them.


I"m saying the contrary to the person I was replying to's comment, they do not willy nilly hand out guns to anyone at any time.

They just do not.

The vast, overwhelming majority of gun owners in the US do not kill people or break the law with their firearms.

Re:Sue car makers because, trees.

By sjames • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Speedometer apps don't create a natural setup for a game to be played on social media to see how fast you can go complete with a way for all your friends and even complete strangers to "like" your speed.

First Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Released In the United States

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
A biotechnology firm has released genetically modified mosquitoes into the United States for the first time. Long-time Slashdot reader clovis shares the report via Nature: The experiment, launched this week in the Florida Keys -- over the objections of some local critics -- tests a method for suppressing populations of wild Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which can carry diseases such as Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. [...] Aedes aegypti makes up about 4% of the mosquito population in the Keys, a chain of tropical islands off the southern tip of Florida. But it is responsible for practically all mosquito-borne disease transmitted to humans in the region, according to the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD), which is working closely with Oxitec on the project. [...] In late April of this year, project researchers placed boxes containing Oxitec's mosquito eggs at six locations in three areas of the Keys. The first males are expected to emerge within the first two weeks of May. About 12,000 males will exit the boxes each week over the next 12 weeks. In a second phase later this year, intended to collect even more data, nearly 20 million mosquitoes will emerge over a period of about 16 weeks, according to Oxitec. "There is the usual opposition of the 'It's GMO, so it should not be done' variety," adds clovis. "As for ecological food chain considerations, one should know that aedes aegypti is not native to the western hemisphere. It is believed to have been imported from Africa during the slave trade era."

Re: What's a native?

By Applehu Akbar • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

It isn't so simple. In many places mosquitos are an important part of the food web.

Only five mosquito species transmit human diseases. If we went farther and eliminated all 200 species that bite humans, there would still be 3,000 species left.

The ecosystem wouldn't even notice the change, but we certainly would.


By hey! • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

It's not surprising. In the wild, mosquitoes breed in vast numbers. Extremely rare events that you might not see even in what would be a large scale experiment *for the lab* are something you should expect in a field trial.

I worked in mosquito control for many years, and I knew the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District very well. During my time it was almost certainly the most advanced and effective mosquito control district in the world -- and I knew hundreds of districts well. I would tell people familiar with the Keys I was going down to visit FKMCD and they'd be surprised: they didn't think the Keys *had* a mosquito problem. In fact the Keys would be uninhabitable were it not for extremely aggressive mosquito control. Every island in the Keys is surrounded by mangrove -- perfect mosquito habitat -- and of course human structures only added to the problem.

This kind of thing is actually typical of the Moon Shot type stuff FKMCD used to do. For example, they're the only district I know that did laboratory tests of pesticide susceptibility on their local mosquito populations, a move that probably saved them millions of dollars a year. They were an early adopter of vehicle tracking and did what was in effect real time dispatching of spray trucks based on incoming surveillance data. The result was a level of control so high that visitors often have the impression that the Keys have no mosquitoes, although residents know better.

Despite this the old-time FKMCD people I'm still in touch with are bitterly opposed to this GMO mosquito release. They see it as an experimental approach to a solved problem. That is true, but the shortcoming to the tried and true solutions is that they cost a lot of money. This GMO thing isn't really a way of cutting human mosquito exposure to lower levels, it is possibly a way of achieving the level of control Keys residents are accustomed to *for less money*.

I think some of the opposition comes from political reactions to a more conservative board that tried to cut expenses, sometimes in inadvisable ways, like skimping on maintenance. The "GMO" thing of course is a PR red flag opponents can use against them. My position is in between. The old FKMCD was not a tight-run ship financially, although I probably benefited from that personally. But even with its free-spending ways, what it achieved was a bargain in terms of economic impact. I think getting there for less money would actually be a good thing, although I am chary of wishful thinking in interpreting the results. Lots of golden bullets have been proposed over the years for mosquito control and none of them have worked out. What definitely works is situational awareness and a rapid, targeted, measured response.

Re: What's a native?

By Immerman • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Mosquitos, yes. Aedes aegypti, the one specific invasive species, that actively hunts humans, and carries most mosquito-borne human disease? Not so much. From TFS:
>Aedes aegypti makes up about 4% of the mosquito population in the Keys,

Wipe out that species, and the many native species will rapidly expand to fill that niche. In fact, so long as the displaced native species still exist (and breeds quickly), wiping out pretty much any invasive species tends to result in overall health of the ecology improving rapidly.

And since this GMO mosquito does NOT use gene drives, and simply renders the half-breeds unviable, the risk of it significantly affecting other species of mosquito is vanishingly low.

Other groups have developed gene drives that make all descendant's male in perpetuity - which would far more effective at eradicating a species, but come with a large risk of spreading across species (interspecies breeding does occur, and a heavily male population increases those odds), potentially eventually wiping out all species of mosquito in the world. *That* would be a problem.

But thankfully those plans have not yet gotten permission to proceed... at least in the US. The prospect of gene drives being released elsewhere worries me. With malaria killing a half-million people a year, many hard-hit places might be far more interested in a quick and effective, one-time, permanent solution. And by the time the problems started appearing it would be far too late to do anything about them.

Screwworm eradication

By doug141 • Score: 3 • Thread

The federal gov't thankfully eradicated the awful screwworm from the US decades ago, almost the same way. Link:

Re: What's a native?

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

Very few animals, if any at all, rely so heavily on the handful of mosquito families that bite humans that those going extinct would harm them. There are thousands of mosquito species. Most animals that eat them eat dozens of different species. There's nothing special about a human blood filled mosquito to a critter which sustains itself off insect protein.

Now in some areas the species that bite humans may be the dominant species, but that's because we're feeding them and creating places for them to breed. If they were gone there's a very good chance another species would fill that environmental niche, and it's unlikely that it would be one that feeds on humans.

Ancient Australian 'Superhighways' Suggested By Massive Supercomputing Study

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
sciencehabit shares a report from Science Magazine: When humans first set foot in Australia more than 65,000 years ago, they faced the perilous task of navigating a landscape they'd never seen. Now, researchers have used supercomputers to simulate 125 billion possible travel routes and reconstruct the most likely "superhighways" these ancient immigrants used as they spread across the continent. The project offers new insight into how landmarks and water supplies shape human migrations, and provides archaeologists with clues for where to look for undiscovered ancient settlements.

It took weeks to run the complex simulations on a supercomputer operated by the U.S. government. But the number crunching ultimately revealed a network of "optimal superhighways" that had the most attractive combinations of easy walking, water, and landmarks. Optimal road map in hand, the researchers faced a fundamental question, says lead author Stefani Crabtree, an archaeologist at Utah State University, Logan, and the Santa Fe Institute: Was there any evidence that real people had once used these computer-identified corridors? To find out, the researchers compared their routes to the locations of the roughly three dozen archaeological sites in Australia known to be at least 35,000 years old. Many sites sat on or near the superhighways. Some corridors also coincided with ancient trade routes known from indigenous oral histories, or aligned with genetic and linguistic studies used to trace early human migrations. "I think all of us were surprised by the goodness of the fit," says archaeologist Sean Ulm of James Cook University, Cairns.

The map has also highlighted little-studied migration corridors that could yield future archaeological discoveries. For example, some early superhighways sat on coastal lands that are now submerged, giving marine researchers a guide for exploration. Even more intriguing, the authors and others say, are major routes that cut across several arid areas in Australia's center and in the northeastern state of Queensland. Those paths challenge a "long-standing view that the earliest people avoided the deserts," Ulm says. The Queensland highway, in particular, presents "an excellent focus point" for future archaeological surveys, says archaeologist Shimona Kealy of the Australian National University.
The study has been published in the journal Nature Human Behavior.

Hypothetical idealism.

By BAReFO0t • Score: 3 • Thread

Obviously leads to large aggregations. As idealism does by definition.

Nothing I see here, suggests this is in any way related to reality though. (I had expected them to present actual satellite imagery showing the remaining traces of these "superhighways". Knowing that in reailty, they would be footpaths and would never have been busy anyway, by today's "busy highway" standards.)
So it's hypothetical.

Which leads me to conclude, that this is mostly navel gazing.
The really worrrying thing here, is that TFA just moves on, starting to treat is as a fact that can challenge existing
That is not scientific at all.
I can suggest things too. That's not news unless I do the crucial point of actually backing it up with observation.

Easy walking

By thegarbz • Score: 3 • Thread

Yes we all know that the dry arid continent full of deserts and a million dangerous animals is perfectly characterised by "easy walking, water, and landmarks"

Mind you I once drove through the great stony desert and it was like a perfectly flat sea of rocks as far as the eye can see, there was one tree on the horizon, so I guess that would have made a great landmark.

These days they are decidedly more high tech, I think one landmark for a while was a Telstra payphone in the desert in Western Australia holding the record for the payphone the furthest distance from any civilisation in the world. I wonder if that one random phonebooth is still there...

Camel Cattle and Stock Route solution

By Canberra1 • Score: 3 • Thread
Too bad they did not think to ask a farmer about Cattle and Stock routes. They all have one thing in common, least energy, distance to reliable watering hole, and food, usually one day of travel. The animals in any savanna or jungle naturally know the best routes/tracks. Ask the Elephant, Buffalo etc. Stock routes are even better, because Humans are pretty good at picking the 'best' spots. And hey, the routes are also seasonal / migration - and it is all mapped out. A harder question is how come birds or Elephants know when water has transformed oases 3-6 hundred miles away.


By dargaud • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
In the SF book Eifelheim, one of the protagonist uses a similar method to map out missing cities in Germany's middle age. By modeling known city sizes, resources, trade routes, etc, he can guess the optimal sizes of each cities big and small and compare them to the known sizes. He finds a few curious missing spots and goes to investigate.

It's a remarkable book, both for its settings (now and middle-age germany), interesting aliens and ideas.


By nagora • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

And why would they mention song lines when the main work was done by a computer analyzing geo informations?

Because if it turned out that it matched the songlines in any statistically significant way it would be a major discovery in anthropology.

Huge Rocket Looks Set For Uncontrolled Reentry Following Chinese Space Station Launch

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Hmmmmmm shares a report from SpaceNews: The Long March 5B, a variant of China's largest rocket, successfully launched the 22.5-metric-ton Tianhe module from Wenchang Thursday local time. Tianhe separated from the core stage of the launcher after 492 seconds of flight, directly entering its planned initial orbit. Designed specifically to launch space station modules into low Earth orbit, the Long March 5B uniquely uses a core stage and four side boosters to place its payload directly into low Earth orbit. However this core stage is now also in orbit and is likely to make an uncontrolled reentry over the next days or week as growing interaction with the atmosphere drags it to Earth. If so, it will be one of the largest instances of uncontrolled reentry of a spacecraft and could potentially land on an inhabited area.

The high speed of the rocket body means it orbits the Earth roughly every 90 minutes and so a change of just a few minutes in reentry time results in reentry point thousands of kilometers away. The Long March 5B core stage's orbital inclination of 41.5 degrees means the rocket body passes a little farther north than New York, Madrid and Beijing and as far south as southern Chile and Wellington, New Zealand, and could make its reentry at any point within this area. The most likely event will see any debris surviving the intense heat of reentry falling into the oceans or uninhabited areas, but the risk remains of damage to people or property.

Re:The Facts Say Otherwise

By ytene • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Couple of things...

First, I wouldn't say that I'm "basing" anything on "anything". Rather, I've followed the available links, read the materials and am offering quotations from that material. For example, if you click through you will find a link to this Twitter page, which seems to have been provided by a Japanese amateur astronomer. In that post (Google Translate is your friend) you will see a comment on the brief video clip, in which the poster writes, (translated),

"It plays at 10x speed and leaves a trail. It was shining every 2.4 seconds. Because it was bright, it was thought to be the core stage, and it seems that the orbit did not deviate."

Am I qualified to say whether or not the video clip was of the first stage? Or qualified to say it was tumbling? No. But Andrew Jones of Space News may well be - and I was quoting Mr. Jones. Please feel free to draw your own conclusions.

Perhaps even more interesting, however, is your link to Wikipedia, to support your claim that Longmarch [sic] is "spin-stabilized". Except, if you go to the page and search for the term, "spin", you find a single reference, which reads,

"Long March 1's 1st and 2nd stage used nitric acid and Unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) propellants, and its upper stage used a spin-stabilized solid rocket engine."

But that quote is for "Long March 1" and not "Long March 5B". The launch that we're discussing here is a 5B launch... The page that you link to does in fact provide an onward link to a dedicated Long March 5B page, which also makes no mention of 5B being spin-stabilized.

But could this be wrong? Maybe. What about this Gizmodo article, then? At the link, you'll see an article that quotes Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who discusses the fact that the 5B first stage isn't spin stabilized. The article notes the following:-

' Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, suspects this is a deliberate design choice.

“Both CZ-5B launches have left their core stage in orbit for uncontrolled reentry,” he explained in an email. “They are over 20 [metric tons]. It has been standard practice for 30 years for the rest of the world not to leave objects this big—or even half this big—in orbit without controlled deorbit.”

To which he added: “This design choice in 2021 is unacceptable and tarnishes China’s great achievement in launching Tianhe.”

McDowell said a potential solution would be to add a system that vents “leftover propellant in a forwards direction to lower the perigee and make it reenter.” This would be “a bit tricky,” he noted, because the “dead rocket stage would be tumbling at that point,” but this solution would probably be cheaper “than adding a stabilization system and a restartable engine.”

I don't even work in this field, never mind the fact that I'm not an expert in it. But it looks as though the preponderance of the evidence tells us that: the recent 5B launch may have left its first stage tumbling in orbit; that it looks as though this launch, like previous ones, has relinquished control of the vehicle; that this appears to be a design choice.

Very interested to know if you can share other resources which show that 5B actually is spin-stabilized.

Re: Funny dustinction.

By WindBourne • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
First off, atlas, delta, and SX main stage never make it to orbit. This way, they come down in known areas. In addition, all 3 have full control of their stages. So a combination of both passive and active safety .

China designed 5B so that first stage orbits, like a missile does. Once in orbit, if you lose control, then you are screwed.

Re:By design, like the previous ones

By DaTrueDave • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The average person has one ovary and one testicle.


People have one ovary and one testicle on average.

Re: By design, like the previous ones

By hey00 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

It's by design, China doesn't give a shit about the safety of anyone, be it foreigners or their own citizens.

Most Chinese launch sites are inland and their rockets travel a lot above ground, and parts routinely fall in populated areas.

"The authorities said the rocket parts fell where they expected them to and the residents in the area were given advance notice, according to local news reports."

They just don't care.

Re:By design, like the previous ones

By necro81 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

There are about 150 meteorites that impact the surface of earth per day. Do you hear about many people getting killed that way?

Most of those are tiny, with a terminal velocity not much better than a fast pitch. And there's not much that anyone is expecting anyone else to do about it - such individual meteors can't be predicted, and we have no practical way to intercept them. But this is a man-made object put up into orbit intentionally. The means to do a controlled de-orbiting is both 1) technically straightforward, and 2) wouldn't substantially affect the rocket's cost or payload capacity.

In risk management there is a concept called "As Low As Reasonably Practicable" (ALARP). It is a risk classification between Intolerable (risks that still need mitigation, or you scrap the project) and Broadly Acceptable (you've done enough to mitigate the risk, considering all other factors). ALARP describes risks that are worse than Broadly Acceptable, but there is no further practical means to mitigate it. The case of this rocket is not that: the risk of property damage, injury, or expensive cleanup has not been reduced to ALARP. There are practical and straightforward ways to mitigate the risk further - including a means for a controlled de-orbiting. Failing to include such a means to mitigate risk is 1) morally negligent, 2) a tragedy of the commons, and 3) a civil liability. Nation states can get away with such shit as a practical matter, because who is going to force them otherwise, but that doesn't mean they get a free pass.