the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2021-May-29 today archive

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

Coalition Including Microsoft, Linux Foundation, GitHub Urge Green Software Development

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"To help realize the possibility of carbon-free applications, Microsoft, the consultancies Accenture and ThoughtWorks, the Linux Foundation, and Microsoft-owned code-sharing site, GitHub, have launched The Green Software Foundation," reports ZDNet: Announced at Microsoft's Build 2021 developer conference, the foundation is trying to promote the idea of green software engineering - a new field that looks to make code more efficient and reduce carbon emitted from the hardware it's running on... The foundation wants to set standards, best practices and patterns for building green software; nurture the creation of trusted open-source and open-data projects and support academic research; and grow an international community of green software ambassadors. The goal is to help the Information and Communication Technology sector to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 45% before 2030.

That includes mobile network operators, ISPs, data centers, and all the laptops being snapped up during the pandemic. "We envision a future where carbon-free software is standard - where software development, deployment, and use contribute to the global climate solution without every developer having to be an expert," Erica Brescia, COO of GitHub said in a statement. Microsoft president Brad Smith said "the world confronts an urgent carbon problem."

"It will take all of us working together to create innovative solutions to drastically reduce emissions. Microsoft is joining with organizations who are serious about an environmentally sustainable future to drive adoption of green software development to help our customers and partners around the world reduce their carbon footprint."

VentureBeat also points out that Microsoft "recently launched a $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund to accelerate the global development of carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies."

But Bloomberg explores the rationale behind the new foundation: Data centers now account for about 1% of global electricity demand, and that's forecast to rise to 3% to 8% in the next decade, the companies said in a statement Tuesday, timed to Microsoft's Build developers conference... While it's tough to determine exactly how much carbon is emitted by individual software programs, groups like the Green Software Foundation examine metrics such as how much electricity is needed, whether microprocessors are being used efficiently, and the carbon emitted in networking. The foundation plans to look at curricula and developing certifications that would give engineers expertise in this space. As with areas like data science and cybersecurity, there will be an opportunity for engineers to specialize in green software development, but everyone who builds software will need at least some background in it, said Jeff Sandquist, a Microsoft vice president for developer relations.

"This will be the responsibility of everybody on the development team, much like when we look at security, or performance or reliability," he said. "Building the application in a sustainable way is going to matter."

Weird. So... the companies that brought us...

By tiqui • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

massively wasteful operating systems, languages, tools, and architectures are now going to advocate shutting down all those server farms and all that "cloud computing" and advocate a return to assembly language coding and worrying about every bit and byte, so we can all stop using multi-gigaHertz processors and gigbytes of RAM and terrabytes of drive space and return to doing spreadsheets and word processing and cad and games etc on 16bit processors at perhaps 30MHz again? (with those chips all just sipping power because they are modern embedded architecture microcontrollers).

Nah... I'm pretty sure they don't mean it.

They're gonna keep advocating for huge server farms running 24-7 sucking down more power than some cities, just so users can speak voice commands into their shiny portable objects and a huge server somewhere can do all the background processing, and so on. They're still gonna run huge server farms round-the-clock so their crippled bloated operating systems can constantly phone home for bug fixes and updates (and verify all-important licenses, of course). They're still gonna support wasting gazillions of processor cycles around the world with servers passing web pages around in plain-text HTML form (loaded with oodles of adware and spyware javascript, of course)

As is [sadly] so often the case these days, this is just bogus virtue signalling.

These big companies want average uninformed idiots to think they are "good" (in the new modern "woke" eco-morals sense, certainly not any traditional morals sense) so they are making a big announcement. As a general rule of thumb: if you have to signal your virtue to others, then you have no actual genuine virtue.

Re:If MSFT is serious

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

It doesn't matter what language they write it in, provided they log in through a VT100.

That's really the easiest way to write green code.

Re:If MSFT is serious

By Antique Geekmeister • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Outlawing Bitcoin will have more of a concrete effect. It's consuming half of one percent of all energy production in the USA today.

Re:Let's identify the real issue

By MacMann • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

"Making software more efficient" is a fine goal which I'm certainly in favor of, but the "save the planet" angle is pure virtue signaling, and utter nonsense to begin with.

This virtue signalling has worked it's way into university engineering courses. Like most any course the first assignment for one of my computer engineering courses was mostly "busy work" to make sure everyone understood how to submit assignments electronically, get in the habit of a weekly assignment, and so on. The first assignment for this computer architecture course was to read some articles on how much energy is consumed in a typical internet search, how many searches were performed, and how much CO2 this emitted. This was basically telling all the students that if they build inefficient hardware and write inefficient code then WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE! Well, that's not exactly what the assignment was about but it's not too far from the truth to say that if we didn't make good future computer and software engineers that global warming would set us all on fire before we drowned in the rising sea.

This virtue signalling bullshit isn't just in the liberal arts any more, they are teaching this to STEM students in the universities.

If we transform our power grid so it's pumping out plenty of green-sourced power, the problem neatly solves itself. The answer here is NOT to use less power, it's to get rid of carbon-spewing power sources altogether. That's fixing the problem at it's source, no pun intended. Then we can use as many CPU cycles as we want, for whatever we want, without having to lay a guilt trip on someone for using a few extra kilowatts of electricity.

Of course if you propose this you will be accused of justifying changing none of your behaviors and relying on others to fix your mistakes. I don't drive a gasoline burning truck because I want to see Florida disappear under the rising seas. I drive a gasoline burning truck because my job requires that I be on site to keep the lights on and the phones working for those that work from home. Because I'll have to get to work before the snow plows clear the streets. Because until last week I could not buy an electric 4WD truck.

Electric cars won't lower the CO2 levels unless there are "zero carbon" power plants. We can't lower CO2 levels of air travel unless we develop "zero carbon" aviation fuel. Once we do those things then my truck is burning fuel that is as low in carbon as some BEV charged up by solar power, and it doesn't matter what kind of lightbulbs are in my lamps. Changing my lightbulbs and diet means nothing if my electric utility is burning brown coal to run my high efficiency heat pump and microwave my vegan burrito.

Growth in energy demand is inevitable as people lift themselves out of poverty the world over. Moving from a grass hut to an American style home means using more electricity. That's because moving from a hut where you sweat yourself to sleep every night takes less energy than sleeping in a bedroom that has air conditioning.

I'm not going to sweat myself to sleep every summer or doze off to the sound of my own chattering teeth every winter. Nobody should have to do this. If we bring this to the rest of the world then that means more energy. If that's going to happen while we lower energy costs and CO2 emissions then that means hydroelectric dams, onshore windmills, geothermal power, and nuclear fission power plants. We fix the energy sources so people can search the internet without causing sea levels to rise.

"More efficient"

By Nermal6693 • Score: 3 • Thread

They say "make code more efficient". Meanwhile their home page contains a little over five small paragraphs of text yet is about 4 MB.

Amazon's 'Echo Show' Can Now Watch Your House For You

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
There's something new in Amazon's video-enabled Echo Show smart speakers. "If you have the version with a built-in camera, you can now turn your Show into a security device..." writes Kim Komando. "Once the monitoring has been set up, you can remotely view the feed from the Alexa app.

CNET reports on Alexa's new "Home Monitoring" setting, " found deep within your Amazon Echo Show's device settings." It doesn't record video and you can only put it where you'd otherwise put a smart display... But still, it's useful for checking in on things, like kids, pets or your house while you're away... it might just replace that security camera you were thinking of buying. Plus, if you have the latest Echo Show 10, you can not only view the camera feed, but you can pan the room left to right (although, unfortunately, not up and down)...

At first, only the new Echo Show 10 could pull it off, but a recent update seems to have changed all that and now the first-gen Echo Show 5 and Echo Show 8 have a Home Monitoring setting (presumably, so will the updated Show 5 and 8 when the arrive June 9)... Setting up your Amazon Echo Show smart display to appear as a security camera in the Alexa app is a bit trickier than enabling most features — for security reasons, you have to set it up on the device itself, not from within the app.

Their article also notes two caveats:
  • You can't record the video.
  • There's no quick and easy way to set up motion-alert notifications.

Up next, at Amazon Prime Video

By Unpopular Opinions • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread

Meet Echo. A new reality TV program from Amazon, brought to you by the movie experts from MGM (an Amazon company). Have a peak from a stranger home. What would you see? What will others see from you? Watch it live, or stream now.


By Riceballsan • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
yeah... why the heck is this posted as a good thing. Sounds off the bat like an extreme security risk if someone does hack it... amazon itself isn't exactly top on my list of companies I'd trust with that capability... then of course, they also have a history with ring of giving access to your video feeds to law enforcement if it's requested... I think I can name 100 reasons why I'd be wanting to get my own camera that only communcates with servers I control. Course that's also why I don't have alexa or google devices in my house.

Trash Product

By zenlessyank • Score: 3 • Thread

So many better cameras for sale that don't have any ties to Amazon and also record and have motion sensing. Only idiots would buy this.

People Overreacting Once Again

By jetkust • Score: 3, Informative • Thread
I don't know why everyone's freaking out. Home security cameras that connect to wifi have been around for years. And a lot of them already integrate with the echo. There's no difference here other than the camera being directly on the echo and that it doesn't record video.

Poor angle

By Dan East • Score: 3 • Thread

The Echo Show is angled facing upwards, as is the camera. It's designed so if you're standing in front of it and it is on a counter, your upper body and head are what is framed. Thus when I turn mine on to view the camera, all I see is the ceiling of the room. So it's pretty much useless for this kind of security.

Intelligent NFT Created Linked to a Machine-Learning Chatbot

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Decrypt reports on the world's first "intelligent NFT" (or iNFT), being auctioned off in June as part of a collection of digital artworks at Sotheby's.

Her name is Alice: The brainchild of artist Ben Gentilli's Robert Alice studio and software developers Alethea AI, Alice is a non-fungible token (NFT), a blockchain-based token that can be used to prove ownership of a digital or physical asset. In this case, the asset in question is a machine-learning bot that uses a generative language model based on the OpenAI GPT-3 engine.

That means she's able to hold (somewhat stilted) conversations about life, the universe and everything... Since Alice "learns" from each audience interaction, drifting further from the original seed text, it becomes a decentralized manifesto. "It's fairly loose, because the audience can take it anywhere," Gentilli says. Alice has strong views on NFTs, as you might expect. "Non-fungible tokens are a way to liberate artists and give them the power of the blockchain," she tells me. But she's a little hazy on the details. Asked how, exactly, that would work, all she can come up with is, "I don't know. I am not an artist..."

So, is there an appetite for NFTs that talk back? Alethea CEO Arif Khan thinks so. "We're actually building a protocol that will allow you to take any NFT, put it into the smart contract infrastructure that we've built, and make it intelligent and interactive," he says. Your Beeple art piece or CryptoPunk could start talking back to you, he suggests. Or you could take your grandparent's diaries and use them as the seed text for a generative language bot. But do you want your CryptoPunk to talk to you? Chatbots already exist, and it's not clear why you'd need that bot to be attached to an NFT.

On the other hand, art can be a way to explore the implications of new technologies, Gentilli argues: "When you think about the whole trajectory of synthetic media, artists have been the people probably most known for experimenting with it at its rawest edge."

Sounds like a bunch of fart sniffing

By Joviex • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Pretentious use of tech is already pretentious. News at 11.

Media attention

By Dwedit • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Please stop publishing stories about NFTs. Their only source of value is attention. Without that, NFTs will shrivel up and die, just as it should.

Whenever I think I have seen the peak of stupidity

By gweihir • Score: 3 • Thread

... something like this comes along. Unbelievable.

Re:Whenever I think I have seen the peak of stupid

By Jeremi • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

There is no peak of stupidity, stupidity levels will just keep on rising forever and ever. HODL!

Could Zinc Batteries Replace Lithium-Ion Batteries on the Power Grid?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Slashdot reader sciencehabit shares Science magazine's look at efforts to transform zinc batteries "from small, throwaway cells often used in hearing aids into rechargeable behemoths that could be attached to the power grid, storing solar or wind power for nighttime or when the wind is calm." With startups proliferating and lab studies coming thick and fast, "Zinc batteries are a very hot field," says Chunsheng Wang, a battery expert at the University of Maryland, College Park. Lithium-ion batteries — giant versions of those found in electric vehicles — are the current front-runners for storing renewable energy, but their components can be expensive. Zinc batteries are easier on the wallet and the planet — and lab experiments are now pointing to ways around their primary drawback: They can't be recharged over and over for decades.

For power storage, "Lithium-ion is the 800-pound gorilla," says Michael Burz, CEO of EnZinc, a zinc battery startup. But lithium, a relatively rare metal that's only mined in a handful of countries, is too scarce and expensive to back up the world's utility grids. (It's also in demand from automakers for electric vehicles.) Lithium-ion batteries also typically use a flammable liquid electrolyte. That means megawatt-scale batteries must have pricey cooling and fire-suppression technology. "We need an alternative to lithium," says Debra Rolison, who heads advanced electrochemical materials research at the Naval Research Laboratory. Enter zinc, a silvery, nontoxic, cheap, abundant metal. Nonrechargeable zinc batteries have been on the market for decades. More recently, some zinc rechargeables have also been commercialized, but they tend to have limited energy storage capacity. Another technology — zinc flow cell batteries — is also making strides. But it requires more complex valves, pumps, and tanks to operate. So, researchers are now working to improve another variety, zinc-air cells...

Advances are injecting new hope that rechargeable zinc-air batteries will one day be able to take on lithium. Because of the low cost of their materials, grid-scale zinc-air batteries could cost $100 per kilowatt-hour, less than half the cost of today's cheapest lithium-ion versions. "There is a lot of promise here," Burz says. But researchers still need to scale up their production from small button cells and cellphone-size pouches to shipping container-size systems, all while maintaining their performance, a process that will likely take years.

Re:Forward into the past

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Lead batteries are inefficient (RTE of 70% vs over 90% for lithium), not good for deep discharge, and have relatively high self-discharge rates.

Mining lead is a filthy process.

The main advantage of lead batteries is a very high current. That is important for crank-starting an engine, but not important for grid storage.

There are better alternatives.

Re:Forward into the past

By crunchygranola • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Going by this study from 2019 comparing grid storage technology, and using projected total project cost in 2025 ($/kWh) as the benchmark, it seems that of the 10 storage technologies compared (6 of them batteries), the cheapest is CAES (compressed air storage) at $105, pumped hydro at $165, and Li-Ion at $362. Among batteries the #2 is zinc-hybrid $433, and lead acid at $464. Sodium-sulfur, sodum metal halide and redox flow all have about the same cost $650-669.

But lead acid is really a non-starter due to its short cycle life (900 cycles vs 3500-10000 for the others) unless a re-manufacturing process is included in the cost. Doable - design a plant so that the batteries are regularly renewed by remanufacture, but it raises the operating cost substantially.

It does not consider all possible batteries - there are different versions of zinc batteries for example, some promising ones are too early in development to characterize (sodium ion), etc.

Pumped hydro is already a widely deployed storage technology (93-98% of all U.S. storage was PH), but its capacity for ultimate expansion is limited due to geographic constraints (not enough places to with the right profile). CAES is interesting, and may have greater ultimate potential than hydro, but can't be put everywhere, but I expect it to be in the mix as an important player.

Though lithium is ahead of zinc in this comparison, its lead is small. Known reserves of lithium have been growing rapidly due to higher market price, and more interest in exploration, and at some price point (and with extraction technology advances) it will be obtainable from the ocean and the supply will be effectively unbounded. This raises the price of the Li-Ion solution, but far less than you probably think. The cost of the battery itself is only half the final cost, and lithium is only a fraction of the battery cost. A 1 KWh battery uses about 1.2 kg of lithium carbonate, with a market price of $10, less than 3% of the cost of the final grid battery installation cost.

Re:Not a chance.

By crunchygranola • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Mineral resource numbers are routinely misused in projections of future availability. All "reserve" figures are extremely conservative based on current prices and on high confidence ore bodies at that price. It is more relevant for market analysis than more distant projections of use or availability. For that you need to use "resources" not reserves, and the latest USGS zinc study gives world resources at 1.9 billion tons, or about 150 years of supply.

Re:Nuclear + batteries better than solar + batteri

By jsonn • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Most of your argument sounds good if you don't look at them deeply. The life time of a nuclear plant is irrelevant. It needs constant maintenance for operating during the 75 years and is a nightmare to demolish afterwards. A solar panel needs some regular cleaning and the occasional repair, but no constant maintenance. The truth is: it is already factored into actual cost calculation just as well as price of the capital. It's hard to find reliable numbers for nuclear energy, especially since costs like the demolishing are often externalized. Some reasonable studies price nuclear energy between 6.2 and 15.2 ct/kWh. Onshore wind energy is between 3.99 and 8.23 ct/kWh; offshore between 7.79 and 9.95ct/kWh. Photovoltaic is between 3.71 and 11.54 ct/kWh. All prices in Euro cent. So yes, even small scale solar installation can compete with many nuclear plants. If I say rooftop installation on parking lots, I mean actually roofed car parks. They are quite common in the cities here and putting solar on them just adds value. You are seem to completely miss the point of using existing otherwise unused space. I wouldn't recommend a replacing tiled roof with solar panel like Elon Musk wants us to, but nearly every house has a roof that can also house a small installation. It is economically sensible in most parts of the world and it doesn't cost any land to do so.

Nuclear proponents love to cite the constant output of a nuclear plant as advantage over renewable energy, but it is just as much a downside as well. The main reason why we use nuclear power plants for the base load in our grids and coal or gas for the rest is not because nuclear plants are better at it, but because it is the only thing they can be used for. While it is possible to reduce the load factor from 100% to 50% in an hour, it also creates wear and the current generation of plants are often only designed for a 100,000 cycles from 100% to 80% back to 100%. A full reset to 0 is expected to happen only a couple of hundred times. Note that grid-wide minimum to maximum load is more than a factor of 2.

What this all means is that nuclear by itself is not a feasible option and using it in combination with battery storage needs similar amounts of capacity as for the renewable mix as the power consumption curve overlaps with the solar cycle quite a bit. As usual, it's not a question of picking the one true technology. Whether nuclear power should be part of our energy mix is a different question. But that choice will certainly not be made because it is the cheapest source of energy, simply because it really is not.

Re:Forward into the past

By drinkypoo • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I wonder if you could get back some of that energy with a stirling engine with its hot side being created by the compressed air, and the cold side being created by the expanding air on the other side of a restriction. It might be viable because of the steep thermal differential. Obviously you're never going to break even, but if you could make the process less inefficient it would be a win. And you'd be able to feed the power back into the compressor system, using it immediately.

Now Generally Available: Microsoft's Open Source Java Distribution, 'Microsoft Build of OpenJDK'

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Microsoft has announced general availability of the Microsoft Build of OpenJDK, the open-source version of the Java development kit," reports ZDNet: The release follows the April preview of the Microsoft Build of OpenJDK, a long-term support distribution of OpenJDK... Microsoft announced general availability for the Microsoft Build of OpenJDK at its Build 2021 conference for developers.

Microsoft is a major user of Java in Azure, SQL Server, Yammer, Minecraft, and LinkedIn, but it's only been supporting Java in Visual Studio Code tooling for the past five years. "We've deployed our own version of OpenJDK on hundreds of thousands of virtual machines inside Microsoft and LinkedIn," Julia Liuson, corporate vice president of Microsoft's developer division, told ZDNet. "Across the board Microsoft has over 500,000 VMs running Java at Microsoft. We're also providing that to customers as well for Azure...."

"We believe Microsoft is uniquely positioned to be a partner in the language community. We can do a lot of direct contribution to the JDK community and we do world-class tooling, which is VS Code." Microsoft's contributions to OpenJDK — an open-source JDK for the most popular Linux distributions — includes work on the garbage collector and writing capabilities for the Java runtime.

The Microsoft Build of OpenJDK is available for free to deploy in qualifying Azure support plans. It includes binaries for Java 11 based on OpenJDK 11.0.11, on x64 server, and desktop environments on macOS, Linux and Windows, according to Microsoft...

Its download page at touts it as "Free. Open Source. Freshly Brewed!"

And they describe it as "a new no-cost long-term supported distribution and Microsoft's new way to collaborate and contribute to the Java ecosystem."

Re:Uh huh ...

By squiggleslash • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Probably because Oracle is currently doing all they can to kill it. With Oracle Java you have two choices on Windows - an open source, no serious licensing issues you have to manually install by copying files from a zip file, editing your environment variables, etc, or an installer package for a "supported" version you can't use commercially without paying Oracle and agreeing to their terms of use. Neither package is ideal if you want to have multiple versions of Java installed: by comparison .NET "just works" on both Windows and GNU/Linux (and did even back in the days of Mono.)

Looking at what Microsoft are doing today compared to 25 years ago is interesting. They're supporting non-Windows platforms and trying to build modern build tools for everything, while making Windows a "nice environment" (still hate it, thanks) for developers who need to support different platforms and language environments.

I guess long term this gives them more leverage in terms of steering where these environments go, especially in a world in which Windows itself is going to become fairly irrelevant for most computer users. This is somewhat different (and suggests they've learned something) from the 1990s, where the attempts to take over Java were more about trying to stop the future. They delayed things, sure, but the usefulness of iOS, Android, and ChromeOS shows that strategy was never going to succeed long term.

Re:Uh huh ...

By GbrDead • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
SAP Machine
It's been available for a couple of years.

Re:"We've deployed our own version"

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

> then they tried to do that with c# and barely managed to retain a small niche (in a huge market) for themselves and their os.

Nonsense, C# is widely used and successful (it's used for countless web applications, almost all desktop development, for many mobile applications using Xamarin, across the cloud in AWS, Azure, and GCP, and for significant amounts of modern game development in Unity).

> they know bloody well that they can't extinguish java.

You're right, they've grown up as a company. That's the point.

> as it happened, in the meantime java was sold to a bully company and has serious problems of its own, but i'm afraid not even they can extinguish java.

No but they did cripple it; the Oracle take over of Java and the battle for it's future around a decade or so ago really resulted in development being held back, as a result Java has been playing catchup in recent years, ironically with C#. Almost everything that's been added to it is stuff C# had years prior; this is why Microsoft don't need to extinguish Java, because it's already following C# (ironically so is ECMAScript, in large part because of the pressure from Microsoft's TypeScript).

> which still doesn't mean they can't screw you up any time. i don't think any jvm should be taken for granted, and it's a good thing that there are alternatives around. even if it is a microsoft implementation of a public standard.

The thing to understand is that Microsoft isn't really interested in trying to maintain control of programming languages anymore; it's interest is in the cloud because that's now where it's making money from software development. In the cloud it HAS to support multiple languages even those originating from other vendors, or being open source; it's interest is simply to do that, not to fuck over those languages. That's why it's actively funded and supported development of not just it's own tech - C# and TypeScript, but also node.js, Python, and now Java.

I wouldn't worry; Microsoft is a far more trustworthy company than Oracle. Consider this; the .NET/C# compiler, framework, and tooling is completely open source, and C# is an ISO standard - that means the Oracle vs. Google thing relating to Java can't happen with C# because unlike Java it is truly open; there is no proprietary virtual machine now with the move to .NET Core, and the legal protections for the language are specifically that it is an open standard. Given Microsoft already holds it's own tools to a higher standard of openness than Oracle does Java then I wouldn't worry too much about Microsoft doing anything wrong with Java.

"Write once, run anywhere"

By C3ntaur • Score: 3 • Thread
I remember this was made out to be a big deal by the marketers when Java first hit the scene. Oh, how they lied.

Teachers/professors will like this

By reiscw • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I am no big Microsoft fan (I run desktop Linux at home) but I gave this a try because I teach two courses using Java at the high school level. This offering has a few advantages:

1) It automatically adds itself to the system path in Windows, which means the students just need to install this and a lightweight IDE like Geany and they are ready to compile Hello, World*.

2) It does not require users to create an account to download the installer (unlike both the Oracle JDK and the Red Hat OpenJDK I had been using because Red Hat also has their installation put java/javac on the system path).

3) It allows me to use the same product on both macOS and Windows (and the same IDE also, since I use Geany typically). Red Hat's OpenJDK does not have a macOS installer.

4) It is licensed GPL2 so I don't have to worry about distributing something with bizarre license restrictions (like the Oracle JDK).

This will no doubt make the first day of future semesters a lot easier to manage. I would never use this myself for my own work because I just grab OpenJDK from my distribution's repos, but it will simplify things for instructors of elementary programming classes.

*Of course, we still have to edit the system path if the student has installed the Oracle JDK because they are on our FIRST Robotics team, which will conveniently add "java" but not "javac" to the system path. I wish Oracle would stop doing that. Either set up the paths correctly or not at all.

A New Worker-Owned Cooperative Starts Competing With Uber and Lyft

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
The New York Times reports that for years, Uber and other ride-hailing companies "offered the promise of entrepreneurship to drivers" to drivers eager to set their own schedules. "But some drivers never received the control and independence they had expected." They struggled with the costs of vehicle maintenance, loans and insurance, and they questioned whether Uber and Lyft paid a fair wage. Legislative efforts to grant them employment benefits were thwarted.

Now, dissatisfied drivers and labor advocates are forming worker-owned cooperatives in an attempt to take back some of the money — and power — in the gig economy.

The Drivers Cooperative, which opened for business in New York this week, is the most recent attempt. The group, founded by a former Uber employee, a labor organizer and a black-car driver, began issuing ownership shares to drivers in early May and will start offering rides through its app on Sunday. The cooperative has recruited around 2,500 drivers so far and intends to take a smaller commission than Uber or Lyft and charge riders a lower fare.

It is an ambitious plan to challenge the ride-hailing giants, and it faces the same hurdles that tend to block other emerging players in the industry: Few have the technical prowess, the venture capital dollars or the supply of readily available drivers to subvert an established company like Uber. Still, drivers who joined the effort said even a small cooperative could make a big difference in their work, allowing them to earn more money and have a say in the way the company was run. The Drivers Cooperative said it planned to pay 10 percent above the wage minimums set by the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission, and return profits to drivers in the form of dividends.

One of the labor organizers who founded the Drivers Cooperative tells the Times that "I've never seen this hunger for change that exists with drivers."

Re:When I hear "worker-owned cooperative"...

By hey! • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Your mind leaps to the USSR, but in fact there are plenty of US-based cooperatives currently in operation, like Land O Lakes, Publix, and King Arthur Flour. Coops are particularly common in engineering, with its highly-paid and highly-educated workforce, e.g., CDM Smith (civil) or ESA (environmental).

The most common type of cooperative is the farmer-owned agricultural cooperatives (Sunkist), but there are worker owned cooperatives (Bob's Red [!!!] Mill), small business cooperatives (Ace Hardware) and even consumer owned cooperatives (Recreational Equipment Incorporated).

These are all highly successful *free market enterprises*, they just have some alternative ownership scheme.

Re:When I hear "worker-owned cooperative"...

By VeryFluffyBunny • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Simply put, cooperatives keep profits within the company & aren't beholden to shareholders. Well, actually they are, the workers are the shareholders & so the profits either get re-invested to grow or go into their pension funds.

Burdín, Gabriel (2014). "Are Worker-Managed Firms More Likely to Fail Than Conventional Enterprises? Evidence from Uruguay". Industrial and Labor Relations Review. 67 (1)

Olsen, Erik (2013). "The relative survival of worker cooperatives and barriers to their creation". Advances in the Economic Analysis of Participatory and Labor-Managed Firms. 14: 83–107


By GameboyRMH • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Bwahaha it's so much fun to watch capitalist bootlickers squirm at things that will be good for literally everyone except the ownership class XD

"Oh noes, the power of my wealthy overlords is in danger, WEALTH DEFENSE LEAGUE ASSEMBLE!"

Will drivers have insurance?

By GeRM_007 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Many years ago, one of the challenges with the gig-car companies was insurance. The driver's individual insurance didn't want to pay out for business related claims/accidents when they were taking riders places. So then passengers were covered by Uber/Lyft's insurance during rides, and drivers' used their own insurance for the time between riders.

How will these co-op drivers be insured?
How will riders be protected/covered in the event of an terrible accident?
Is there screening and background checks of drivers?

Re:Black-cars matter?

By spitzak • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

This had better be a joke, but I am seriously worried that all attempts to estimate the intelligence of Slashdot posters are too high...

Would It Even Be Possible to Communicate with an Alien?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
The senior technology editor at Ars Technica checked the plausibility of Andy Weir's new science fiction novel Project Hail Mary with an actual professor of linguistics and cognitive science at Northern Illinois University. It's another tale of solving problems with science, as a lone human named Ryland Grace and a lone alien named Rocky must save our stellar neighborhood from a star-eating parasite called "Astrophage." PHM is a buddy movie in space in a way that The Martian didn't get to be, and the interaction between Grace and Rocky is the biggest reason to read the book. The pair makes a hell of a problem-solving team, jazz hands and fist bumps and all. But the relative ease with which Grace and Rocky understand each other got me thinking about the real-world issues that might arise when two beings from vastly different evolutionary backgrounds try to communicate...

The question I put to her was this: going by our current understanding of how and why human languages operate, do we think it would be practical—or even possible — for two divergently evolved sentient beings from different worlds to learn each other's languages well enough in a short amount of time (perhaps as little as a week) to usefully converse about abstract concepts and to be reasonably assured that both beings actually understand those abstracts...?

And the professor's response? We ended up blowing an entire hour on linguistics, and it was easily the coolest and nerdiest conversation I've had in a long time. Nearing the end, though, I asked Dr. Birner for her final take on whether or not the language acquisition exercise portrayed in Project Hail Mary would work.

Her consensus was "probably," but only given a number of extremely lucky — and extremely unlikely — coincidences in psychology and evolution (there's that anthropic principle of science fiction rearing its head!). If we can take it as a given that the alien is "friendly," and if we can also take it as a given that "friendship" in the alien's society carries along with it the same or a similar set of relationship expectations as it does for humans, and if we can take it as a given that the alien has similar emotional drivers, and if the alien values (or can at least intellectually conceive of) concepts like altruism and cooperation, and if the alien has a compatible sense of morality that places value on the lives of individuals and prioritizes the avoidance of death—if we can take all those things and more as givens, then things might work out.

"I think that given a theoretically infinite amount of time, probably yes," communication would be possible, she said. "As long as there's enough goodwill that you are going to be there together working together."

But in a long comment, long-time Slashdot reader shanen argues all sentient beings are basically Universal Turing Machines running mental programs in our heads, but still warns of "hardware-level incompatibilities not just at the level of sound systems, but in the kinds of programs that 'run sufficiently easily' in the more dissimilar Universal Turing Machines."


By guygo • Score: 3 • Thread

Who's to say we would even recognize them as an alien life form? If we're expecting bi-lateral symmetry, or something that looks like eyes or hands or some other anthropomorphic feature, we could easily not even be able to see them. Slime mold with an IQ, anybody?

Would they even want to?

By Amiga Trombone • Score: 3 • Thread

I note that most species on Earth, even the most intelligent ones, haven't really demonstrated much of an interest in communicating with other species. Humans seem to be the major exception.

It seems a bit presumptuous to assume that alien species are any more interested in communicating with us than terrestrial ones are. Even highly organized insect societies like bees or ants, haven't shown any interest in communicating outside of their colonies, even with other colonies of the same species. You may notice that while you can get your dog to respond to a small vocabulary of human words, your dog isn't much interested in teaching you his language.

I wouldn't be surprised if the desire to communicate with species from other worlds is unique to humans.

So long and thanks for all the fish

By mykepredko • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much - the wheel, New York, wars and so on - whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man - for precisely the same reasons.

Curiously enough, the dolphins had long known of the impending destruction of the planet Earth and had made many attempts to alert mankind of the danger; but most of their communications were misinterpreted as amusing attempts to punch footballs or whistle for tidbits, so they eventually gave up and left the Earth by their own means shortly before the Vogons arrived.

The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double-backwards somersault through a hoop whilst whistling the "Star Spangled Banner", but in fact the message was this: So long and thanks for all the fish.


By garyisabusyguy • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Or if we refused to recognize it as a life form because it did not appeal to us?

They're Made out of Meat
Terry Bisson, 1991

Someone did a radio play of this...

"They're made out of meat."


"Meat. They're made out of meat."


"There's no doubt about it. We picked several from different parts of the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, probed them all the way through. They're completely meat."

"That's impossible. What about the radio signals? The messages to the stars."

"They use the radio waves to talk, but the signals don't come from them. The signals come from machines."

"So who made the machines? That's who we want to contact."

"They made the machines. That's what I'm trying to tell you. Meat made the machines."

"That's ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? You're asking me to believe in sentient meat."

"I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. These creatures are the only sentient race in the sector and they're made out of meat."

"Maybe they're like the Orfolei. You know, a carbon-based intelligence that goes through a meat stage."

"Nope. They're born meat and they die meat. We studied them for several of their life spans, which didn't take too long. Do you have any idea the life span of meat?"

"Spare me. Okay, maybe they're only part meat. You know, like the Weddilei. A meat head with an electron plasma brain inside."

"Nope. We thought of that, since they do have meat heads like the Weddilei. But I told you, we probed them. They're meat all the way through."

"No brain?"

"Oh, there is a brain all right. It's just that the brain is made out of meat!"

"So... what does the thinking?"

"You're not understanding, are you? The brain does the thinking. The meat."

"Thinking meat! You're asking me to believe in thinking meat!"

"Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is the whole deal! Are you getting the picture?"

"Omigod. You're serious then. They're made out of meat."

"Finally, Yes. They are indeed made out meat. And they've been trying to get in touch with us for almost a hundred of their years."

"So what does the meat have in mind."

"First it wants to talk to us. Then I imagine it wants to explore the universe, contact other sentients, swap ideas and information. The usual."

"We're supposed to talk to meat?"

"That's the idea. That's the message they're sending out by radio. 'Hello. Anyone out there? Anyone home?' That sort of thing."

"They actually do talk, then. They use words, ideas, concepts?"

"Oh, yes. Except they do it with meat."

"I thought you just told me they used radio."

"They do, but what do you think is on the radio? Meat sounds. You know how when you slap or flap meat it makes a noise? They talk by flapping their meat at each other. They can even sing by squirting air through their meat."

"Omigod. Singing meat. This is altogether too much. So what do you advise?"

"Officially or unofficially?"


"Officially, we are required to contact, welcome, and log in any and all sentient races or multibeings in the quadrant, without prejudice, fear, or favor. Unofficially, I advise that we erase the records and forget the whole thing."

"I was hoping you would say that."

"It seems harsh, but there is a limit. Do we really want to make contact with meat?"

"I agree one hundred percent. What's there to say?" `Hello, meat. How's it going?' But will this work? How many planets are we dealing with here?"

"Just one. They can travel to other planets in special meat containers, but they can't live on them. And being meat, they only travel through C


By nospam007 • Score: 3 • Thread

'If we can take it as a given that the alien is "friendly,"'

It's so friendly, it will hug your face.

With 'Massive' Cybersecurity Labor Shortage, Will Corporations Compete with Local Governments?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
it's high time for companies to start adding cybersecurity professionals to their teams, reports CNN. "The only hitch: There's a massive, longstanding labor shortage in the cybersecurity industry." "It's a talent war," said Bryan Orme, principal at GuidePoint Security. "There's a shortage of supply and increased demand."

Experts have been tracking the cybersecurity labor shortage for at least a decade — and now, a new surge in companies looking to hire following recent attacks could exacerbate the problem. The stakes are only growing, as technology evolves and bad actors become more advanced. In the United States, there are around 879,000 cybersecurity professionals in the workforce and an unfilled need for another 359,000 workers, according to a 2020 survey by (ISC)2, an international nonprofit that offers cybersecurity training and certification programs. Globally, the gap is even larger at nearly 3.12 million unfilled positions, the group says... The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects "information security analyst" will be the 10th fastest growing occupation over the next decade, with an employment growth rate of 31% compared to the 4% average growth rate for all occupations.

If demand for cybersecurity professionals in the private sector increases dramatically, some experts say talented workers could leave the government for more lucrative corporate jobs — a risk that is especially acute for smaller, local government agencies that manage critical infrastructure in their communities but have limited budgets. "Think of the criticality of what your local government does: water purification, waste treatment, traffic management, communications for law enforcement, public safety, emergency management," said Mike Hamilton, chief information security officer at Critical Insight. "But Amazon is out there waving around bags of cash to protect their retail operation." Hamilton — who was the former chief information security officer for Seattle, Washington, from 2006 to 2013 — added that local governments "cannot attract and retain these people when the competition for them is so high, which is why we've got to make lots of them."

The article notes educational training/up-skilling programs working to address the shortage, including GuidePoint, which helps train veterans leaving the military for cybersecurity careers. CNN also notes U.S. President Joe Biden's $2 trillion American Jobs Plan included $20 billion for state, local and tribal governments to update and improve cybersecurity controls for their energy systems.

"Still, experts say more needs to be done, suggesting a broad rethinking of education systems from elementary school through higher education to include more cybersecurity training."

Re:70th Percentile

By jythie • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Yep, and this touches on the larger game theory problem of security. Companies that implement it well have difficulty competing with companies that do not, since security is inversely proportional to productivity. As the saying goes, fortune favors the bold. Companies that are careful with lose out to ones that are not.

Re:Still waiting...

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

... for anyone in charge to actually give a shit about security, and not just PR.

Show me the manager or bureaucrat who was promoted for implementing good security.

If you do it right, it goes unnoticed but still costs money. So why bother?

So we should increase H1B limits?

By 140Mandak262Jamuna • Score: 3 • Thread
China is ready to ship 1,000,000 cyber security professionals to "help" America to overcome this shortage of cybersecurity professionals. Just have to give them H1B visas, or better yet, let them work from home in China.

Re:There's no shortage, just a retention problem.

By bill_mcgonigle • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

> Or pay them more.

A good security specialist is largely self-taught and has the equivalent of an engineering PhD in training and experience. Many companies think the pay should be 1/4 that of somebody just out of a 2-year law school.

So they get hacked and make the news.

Insurance companies need to up their game, and it seems like they will soon.

Re:Are they good jobs?

By Entrope • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The mindset where a security person just says "No, we can't do that" -- even "with a reasonable explanation" -- and thinks that is the end of a discussion is one reason we are in such a mess. Pencil-pushers do not get to dictate like that, especially to the CEO. The whole idea of security is to manage risk, which means informing people of the relevant trade-offs related to security risks.

Security is not the endpoint. It is a requirement, but it is a cost center, not a profit center. There always needs to be a consideration of what the business's other goals are, and how to advance those goals while meeting the security requirements. If your perspective only extends to security questions, then just shut everything down, lock all the doors, light everything on fire, and go home. If you are willing to help discover "this is how we can solve our problems while managing security risks", then you are qualified to advise on security.

Freenode Apologizes as Prominent Open Source Projects Switch to Libera Chat

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Slashdot reader AleRunner writes: Ubuntu has announced that, with immediate effect Ubuntu's IRC channels are moving to The move follows a "hostile takeover" of Ubuntu's namespace by Freenode's new management that appears to be happening to many other distributions including Gentoo as well as other projects that have used Freenode [including channels associated with the programming languages Raku, Elixir, and Haskell].

For Ubuntu, and many other FOSS projects, Freenode has long been one of the major official forms of communication... With IRC channels often used for important system advice, and project communication, this becomes not just an inconvenience but even a security problem. For this reason Ubuntu's replacement network, has a more clearly open organisational structure than Freenode had before being taken over.

"All told, it appears something like 700 channels have been seized and re-permissioned," reports The Register, "supposedly because the channels mentioned Libera Chat in violation of Freenode's advertising policy."

Wednesday Freenode owner Andrew Lee posted a blog post explaining that "in retrospect, we should have handled the action of closing down channels slightly differently..."

"The intent of doing this was not an attempt of a hostile takeover nor hijack like many people are saying. Since certain projects were disrupting their users' ability to chat on freenode via mass kicks, force closures, spam, we decided to enact this policy in those places which were deemed in violation and could cause an issue later...

"We believe we should have done this in a much more communicative way to circulate the right message and keep things transparent which of course did not happen. As we move forward I'd like to fully assure you that we will be working in complete commitment to restore projects, namespaces and channels that were closed on accident as a part of this event and we welcome them to use freenode as before as their very own homebase.

"Lastly, there are no excuses for this, and I'm willing to admit that I was wrong with Tuesday's move and apologize for the inconvenience that may have caused."

Freenode - gone the way of Hudson/CentOS 8 /Java

By AndyCater • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

This is not just killing the goose that lays the golden egg but taking the last example of the species and vapourising it. Hudson did this and Jenkins arrived immediately. Oracle did this with Solaris, MySQL and the JRE.

Freenode is now wholly worthless and the person most obviously behind it is persona non grata, effective immediately. Donors of servers / bandwidth / hosting to Freenode - pull it because you won't gain glory by association. Andrew Lee hasn't covered himself with glory here and has terminated any reputation he retained with extreme prejudice, whatever you might choose to say about the admins.

Meh, who cares? Some of us still use IRC daily - to be honest, I'm surprised more projects like Ubuntu, Alma Linux and co didn't just move to OFTC.

Absolute BS

By magamiako1 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
All they literally did, quite literally, was search the network for all channels with "Libera" in the topic and took them over. They didn't do this because of spam. They searched the network for any channel that had libera in the topic and took it over. Through dubious claims that those channels and communities now belonged to Freenode as soon as the channel owners decided to either move or spin up an alternatively linked channel on Libera.

For those that don't know, many channels these days have bots that link disparate communities together: Most commonly this is between Discord, Slack, and IRC. Some channels stood up an additional one on Libera. But because "Libera" was in the channel's topic, the Freenode admins stripped channel ownership and banned everyone.

Why? Because their claim was "If you move to Libera, you've given up all rights to the channel namespace on Freenode--and it's now our property to take."

The worst part? The channel I was in hadn't even completely moved to Libera. The expectation and thought was that many would move, but due to the channel being a larger channel with web presences that linked to Freenode, we would maintain it and support communications across the networks.I can definitely assure you, this action by the current Freenode administration sealed that deal. Seriously, his "apology" is such BS. The very first paragraph is bullshit.


By kallisti5 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

You can mention libera all over the place. We were having discussions about Libera on several channels with no ill effect. The only channels that were being taken over were the channels that changed their message to say they're shutting down and moving to Libera. Those are two separate things. But there's a lot of FUD being spread about.

Except the ops were literally sending server announcements a few days ago saying that "any mention of would result in a k-line". This is all examples of the new freenode overlords have no damn clue what they're doing. I'm sure the announcement was in reaction of spammers... but the fact that they literally don't understand the streisand effect is worrying. Anyway, our open source project made the call to leave for oftc. We haven't looked back.

Re:From and IRC user

By ogdenk • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

ChanOps have a right to advertise that they are moving their channels for their projects to another network.

Freenode has no inherent right to keep users or cause projects grief because they choose to migrate their channels to another network over the new owner's douchebaggery. It's not spam by any stretch of the imagination to inform users on an old service that you are moving to a new one rather than leave them confused.

How much is the current "owner" of Freenode paying you to simp for him? Do you think Github has a right to hold projects hostage and say they can't advertise the move to another host?

Quit kissing ass. The rich boy thought he was special. Turns out he's not and his new toy is dying as people leave in droves and now that his antics have been brought to light, Freenode will continue to shrink and decay.

Any network that promotes that kind of heavyhanded censorship and attempt to control the narrative will not win favor with anyone anyway. RIP Freenode.


By The Evil Atheist • Score: 3 • Thread
It's already a non-apology because you "apologized" only when it didn't turn out well for you. An apology to try to stem the tide of bad PR is not an apology. Then the non-apology says "may have caused", which is more of that corporate weasel word non-apology.

Free Software Foundation's Executive Director Resigns

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
John Sullivan became the Free Software Foundation's Executive Director back in 2003 (at the age of 26). But now after 18 years, "I've decided to resign my position..." he tweeted Friday, "effective at the end of a transition period."

"We'll be sharing further details, including information about that transition, and a few more words, in the coming days."

Meanwhile, the Free Software Foundation announced Thursday that it's seeking "a principled, compassionate, and capable leader" to be its new executive director, working remotely out of their Boston office with the Foundation's current staff and board of directors. "The executive director, working with the president, is the public face of the Foundation." The FSF faces many challenges as software becomes increasingly central in the exercise of all fundamental human freedoms, including speech, association, privacy, and movement, and as software owners seek to exploit their control over us to profit at the expense of those freedoms. The executive director has a vital role in enabling the FSF to continue meeting these challenges, starting from the strong base that has been built in the last thirty-five years. The Foundation has recently reached record-high membership numbers and was awarded a perfect score from Charity Navigator, as well as its eighth consecutive four-star rating. Efforts to improve the Foundation's governance are underway.

The executive director is the FSF's chief employed officer. The position reports to the president/CEO and the board of directors, and is responsible for management of all other staff, all day-to-day operations, and oversight of the Boston physical office. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to hire for additional key positions in the management team.

One interesting item on their list of job responsibilities:
  • Mentor, inspire, coordinate, and manage all FSF staff, building a culture that upholds the FSF's ideological principles and includes accountability, empathy, efficiency, and excellence

A blog post on the FSF site also notes that the last month saw 11 new GNU releases. "A number of GNU packages, as well as the GNU operating system as a whole, are looking for maintainers and other assistance: please see if you'd like to help."

hmm, yes

By cascadingstylesheet • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

and as software owners seek to exploit their control over us to profit at the expense of those freedoms.

Yes, if only somebody unnameable had occasionally warned us that centralizing software on servers owned by somebody else might pose a problem like that ...

bye bye fsf

By groobly • Score: 3 • Thread

Bye-bye FSF. It was fun while it lasted. You took a toke of woke, and now you're morally broke. It was one toke over the line.

Re:bye bye fsf

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Stallman is still there. If the FSF was woke they would have got rid of him.

FSF and FOSS are too "American"

By couchslug • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

As long as FOSS leadership are centralized in the US it will be POLITICIZED regarding issues which are not to do with code, but with ideological squabbles and purity spirals distracting from what was once the core mission.

American culture today is about nothing else but woke (for better or worse, but this is how those who dominate the US want it and have it). They dominate FOSS.

Software freedom is arguably too important to be sideline everywhere in behalf of other issues. Non-US stakeholders may want a greater voice in how things go. What if the US turns (politics is always CYCLIC) fascist as many want? Shall that local, American climate change also pollute Free Software though software freedom is a vital GLOBAL cause?

The US has become silly and lives in a desperate neo-Victorian moral panic which shall reign for decades purely because those wishing it so are such profitable employees (everything in the US is about money in the end, our "ideals" ephemeral pretense) for the moment.

Weaponizing moral panic for corporate greed will always be easy because emotional people are inherently weak and easily used if ideologically affirmed. (The Q-Anon movement is the flip side but the silliness is everywhere.)

Americans are unfit to lead as the nation declines politically. Those elsewhere need Free and Open Source software reflecting global goals, not American goals. We'll see what they choose but I expect inaction.

seeking principled, compassionate, and capable?

By mandark1967 • Score: 3 • Thread

Can there possibly be a better qualified candidate than RMS?! Especially the compassionate part!

Iran Bans Crypto Mining After Months of Blackouts

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Iran banned bitcoin mining this week, after four months of continuous blackouts partially due to what officials say is a huge energy suck from illegal mining. Gizmodo reports: President Hassan Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting Wednesday that a drought in the region was responsible for crippling the country's supply of hydroelectric power. But, he said, the huge amount of illegal bitcoin mining that happens in Iran was tapping a staggering 2 gigawatts of power each day from the already-stressed grid. (Legal operations, meanwhile, used somewhere between 200 and 300 megawatts.)

Rouhani said around 85% of this 2-gigawatt power suck was from unlicensed operations. Iran has become a hotspot for illegal mining after many miners began to decamp there to take advantage of the country's heavily subsidized energy (partially due to the fact that Iran can't sell its oil due to international sanctions). Around 4.5% of the world's total bitcoin mining now takes place in Iran, making it one of the top 10 bitcoin-producing countries in the world. The crackdown by the government may knock it off the chart, but miners will surely sniff out another cheap source of electricity somewhere else in the world and set up shop there. [...] The ban in Iran will take effect immediately and be in place until at least September, officials say, and will include legal as well as illegal operations.

UPDATE: NBC News has additional converage — including these two interesting details:
  • "Tehran allows cryptocurrencies mined in Iran to pay for imports of goods, which can help it get around the wide-ranging U.S. sanctions that had been imposed on the country..."
  • "Around 4.5 percent of all bitcoin mining globally took place in Iran between January and April of this year, according to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic. That put it among the top 10 in the world, while China came in first place at nearly 70 percent."

Re:With China and Iran out of the game

By flyingfsck • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
It isnt even a Ponzi scheme. It is just a bad way to do drug money laundering. It is similar to how old paintings and ruined mansions are sold back and forth by big time criminals to obscure their money flow.

Re:Fiat currencies always fail

By Rei • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Except that there very much is something backing fiat currencies: the ability of governments to levy taxes. Like corporations, they have income streams.

Also, FYI, but the long-term trend of inflation rates in major currencies has been very much downward over the past 50 years. To the point that a lot of economists have been concerned that inflation has been too low and have been pursuing policies to increase it. Inflation has both good and bad sides, and having some level of inflation is generally considered a good thing. It encourages investment, decreases the effective value of debt (which supports both borrowing and lending, something you want to happen alongside overall growth), and reduces the risk of deflation (which causes harmful purchasing-delay feedback cycles). Indeed, you don't have to have sub-zero inflation rates to suffer from the problems of deflation - individual components of the inflation rate can go negative while the overall rate is still positive, and the rise in productivity over time also leads to steady downward pressure on prices, which you need inflation to counter to avoid the paradox of thrift.

There's a balance to be made between numerous factors in an economy, and people go to college for years and then spend decades on the job to learn all of the nuance involved. But on the other hand, we have a bunch of techno-libertarians here to tell us that if nobody does anything whatsoever, why everything will just magically balance itself out on its own. Sorry, but that's not reality, and never has been, in the entire history of the world. You can see all the way back in Roman times when emperors had to step in with what was basically quantitative easing to rescue economies that have gotten out of whack. Economies are metastable. They tend to strike nice balances for a period of time, then something changes, and viscous feedback cycles develop. And with the rapid pace of today's economies, they can happen very quickly. It's important to study the economy, look for signs of developing viscous feedback cycles, and kill them in their infancy.

Re:With China and Iran out of the game

By ghoul • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Art has always been for corruption. Want to pay a govt official a 50K bribe? Sell him a painting for 1000$ and buy it back for 51K. Now crypto is getting into the act with NFTs

The problem with cryptocurrency in general

By Random361 • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
The problem with cryptocurrency in general is that implementations rely on solving a complex computational problem at the expense of resources (electricity). Current implementations like Bitcoin will inevitably fail in the long term because the use of electricity will just be too high. In a situation like Bitcoin mining, it already isn't really profitable outside of some specific situations like using ASIC farms in a place with very, very cheap electricity. When you can run an entire country on the electricity being blown on Bitcoin mining, it just isn't viable. There has to be some other way to store and transfer large quantities of wealth digitally while remaining anonymous (and Bitcoin is not anonymous in the first place).

Crypto-miners are assholes

By gweihir • Score: 3 • Thread

In Iran, it is just more obvious than elsewhere. But these people do massive damage and generate nothing in return (the cryptocurrency scam is zero-sum), except for bankrupting some people, which they den expect society to pay for. The whole thing is completely repulsive and destructive.

Exception: Proof-of-stake based things may eventually provide some benefits.

Primates Change Their 'Accent' To Avoid Conflict

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
New research has discovered that monkeys will use the "accent" of another species when they enter its territory to help them better understand one another and potentially avoid conflict. Phys.Org reports: Published in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, the study is the first to show asymmetric call convergence in primates, meaning that one species chooses to adopt another species' call patterns to communicate. The study, co-authored by Dr. Jacob Dunn of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), investigated the behavior of 15 groups of pied tamarins (Saguinus bicolor) and red-handed tamarins (Saguinus midas) in the Brazilian Amazon.

The researchers found that when groups of red-handed tamarins entered territory shared with pied tamarins, the red-handed tamarins adopted the long calls used by the pied tamarins. Red-handed tamarins have greater vocal flexibility and use calls more often than pied tamarins, and the scientists believe they might alter their calls to avoid territorial disputes over resources. "We found that only the red-handed tamarins change their calls to those of the pied tamarins, and this only happens in places where they occur together," [said lead author Tainara Sobroza, of the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia.] "Why their calls converge in this way is not certain, but it is possibly to help with identification when defending territory or competing over resources."


By Mister Transistor • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Natural code switching?

It keeps one from getting one's ass kicked in nature too, perhaps?

adopt another species' call

By alxc • Score: 3, Funny • Thread
We of course call it cultural appropriation.

Humans too

By tomhath • Score: 3 • Thread
Remember when Hillary would effect a black accent when she spoke to black crowds? And don't forget Biden's "put y'all back in chains" comment. What a couple of buffoons.


By Random361 • Score: 3 • Thread
I wonder if the monkeys ask each other what their pronouns are before initiating conversation.

NASA's Mars Helicopter Goes On 'Stressful' Wild Flight After Malfunction

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
A navigation timing error sent Nasa's Mars helicopter on a lurching ride, its first major problem since it took to the Martian skies last month. The Associated Press reports: The experimental helicopter, named Ingenuity, managed to land safely after the problem occurred, officials at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said on Thursday. The trouble cropped up about a minute into the helicopter's sixth test flight on Saturday at an altitude of 10 meters (33ft). One of the numerous pictures taken by an onboard navigation camera did not register in the system, confusing the craft about its location. Ingenuity began tilting back and forth by as much as 20 degrees and suffered power consumption spikes, according to Havard Grip, the helicopter's chief pilot.

A built-in system to provide extra margin for stability "came to the rescue," he wrote in an online status update. The helicopter landed within five meters (16ft) of its intended touchdown site. Grip wrote: "Ingenuity muscled through the situation, and while the flight uncovered a timing vulnerability that will now have to be addressed, it also confirmed the robustness of the system in multiple ways. While we did not intentionally plan such a stressful flight, Nasa now has flight data probing the outer reaches of the helicopter's performance envelope."

Re:Did they test, properly ?

By geekmux • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Hard to test for something like this on Earth.

The failure was due to an image malfunction, not Marvin the Martian doing a flyby.

I tend to agree with the parent. If a drone is going to rely on a particular set of sensors for critical guidance and navigation, then you stress test the shit out of that before you fling it out to another planet.

Re:Did they test, properly ?

By Amiga Trombone • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

They tested it well enough that it completed all of the objectives it was scheduled to perform. Everything at this point is just gravy. Remember, this is a test. It was uncertain whether it would fly at all.

Male helicopter?

By nospam007 • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

"confusing the craft about its location."

A female one would just have asked for directions.

Re: Did they test, properly ?

By JoeRobe • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Just my opinion, but given the complexity of the entire drone system and their concern it would even fly at all, I'm not that bothered by a software bug at this level. I'm sure they tested the drone ad nauseum on earth, but in reality it was an $0.085 billion optional piece of a $2.2 billion mission. So if NASA had to dedicate their efforts somewhere, I'm glad it was on the mission-critical rover and lander that appear have worked well thus far.

Re: Did they test, properly ?

By Dixie_Flatline • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

This is the test. This whole situation is the test. They weren't even sure Ingenuity would take off the first time. They're working on a 7 minute light delay on a planet with nearly no atmosphere and a fraction of Earth's gravity and they built in enough redundancy to recover from what would otherwise be a fatal error.

As anyone that's actually shipped a product will tell you, you can test all you want, but actually having the product in the wild is where you really find out all the mistakes you made. Being able to build a failsafe that worked that well is a bigger triumph than the navigation error was a failure.