the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2021-Nov-25 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.

South Africa Raises Alarm Over New Coronavirus Variant

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
South Africa's government is considering new public-health restrictions to contain a fast-spreading new variant of the coronavirus that scientists say has a high number of mutations that may make it more transmissible and allow it to evade some of the immune responses triggered by previous infection or vaccination. From a report: The warning from the South African scientists and the Health Ministry, issued in a hastily called news briefing Thursday, prompted the World Health Organization to call a meeting of experts for Friday to discuss whether to declare the new strain a "variant of concern." The WHO uses this label for virus strains that have been proven to be more contagious, lead to more serious illness or decrease the effectiveness of public-health measures, tests, treatments or vaccines. Other variants of concern include the Delta variant that is now dominant world-wide and the Alpha variant that drove a deadly wave of infections across Europe and the U.S. last winter and spring. While the scientists said they were still studying the exact combination of mutations of the new variant -- currently dubbed B.1.1.529 -- and how they affect the virus, its discovery underlines how changes to the virus's genome continue to pose a risk to the world's emergence from the Covid-19 pandemic.


By AxeTheMax • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
The parent statement is currently modded funny. Which it is in, in a way. But consider that is what we think of great artifacts of the past, the Pyramids, Stonehenge, not to mention a surviving early church in almost every village that was in existence here in England by about 1200 AD. To the people that built them, they were probably as necessary and essential to daily life as burning fossil fuels are to us. We have difficulty seeing clearly what is truly necessary to us now, as they did then.


By Dan East • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I think you're overstating a number of those things when we're talking about a timeframe of 100 million years. Even the longest lived of nuclear waste materials, I-129, only has a half life of 15.7 million years. It may be possible, after careful study perhaps with comparisons with the moon, to determine that ratios of isotopes are a little off on earth.

A mere 20,000 years ago, during the last ice age, the oceans were around 400 feet lower than they are today. 125,000 years ago, during the last warm spell, the oceans were 18 feet higher than today, and going further back (3 million years) the oceans were up to 165 feet higher than today.

Whether or not humans trigger another warm spell, it will just be a blip in the global environmental history of our planet. During the Ordovician period CO2 reached upwards of 9,000 ppm, compared to 400 ppm currently after humans have elevated it from the natural normal of 200 ppm (what it should be right now based on natural cycles).

I do believe there will be many direct artifacts from humanity after 100 million years, as we have literally made things out of stone billions of years old that will last another billion years. Concrete and other relatively inert things will last a very long time as well, although not as long as fossils unless the concrete items become fossilized as well. The compressive strength of concrete is still much lower than natural substances like granite or even fossils, which has been compressed under the weight of the earth's crust to 16,000 - 19,000 PSI.

However all in all, when you consider things like recycling of the earth's crust, spells of intense volcanism, asteroid impacts, massive periods of plant growth over the planet (for example the creation of most all coal deposits during the Carboniferous period before bacteria had evolved to consume lignin and cellulose), the impact of humans is still just a tiny blip in the natural history of the planet and, while detectable, doesn't represent the historic extremes in most any metric you can measure.

Re:I'm smelling bullshit.

By Opportunist • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

If Twitter had been a thing back in the 1940s, I'd still be investing in iron lung manufacturers.

Re:We are all going to have to close the borders

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
And yet countries that closed their borders fared way way better. New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, China.

The border closings had a mostly theatric effect.

Of course if you do the America version of 'closing' you get the American result. Top 20 deaths per capita and a smidge off 800k total dead.

Re:We are all going to have to close the borders

By thegarbz • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Given that we can now look back and see that travel restrictions from China didn't help us one bit, I think you have to give this one to the "left."

[Citation Needed] The countries least affected by the virus are the ones who openly put in the strongest *meaningful* travel restrictions. And by meaningful I mean not: "Travel ban, except for citizens, except for green card holders, except for visiting your mother, except for business, etc. etc."

There's a reason countries in Europe with a comparable population have more cases in a 2 week period than Australia has had the entire pandemic, and it sure as fuck isn't because Australia has a good vaccination program.

Huge Fines and a Ban on Default Passwords in New UK Law

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The government has introduced new legislation to protect smart devices in people's homes from being hacked. From a report: Recent research from consumer watchdog Which? suggested homes filled with smart devices could be exposed to more than 12,000 attacks in a single week. Default passwords for internet-connected devices will be banned, and firms which do not comply will face huge fines. One expert said that it was an important "first step". Cyber-criminals are increasingly targeting products from phones and smart TVs, to home speakers and internet-connected dishwashers. Hackers who can access one vulnerable device can then go on to access entire home networks and steal personal data.

In 2017, for example, hackers stole data from a US casino via an internet-connected fish tank. There have also been reports of people accessing home webcams and speaking to family members. And poor security on a home wi-fi router could have been behind the uploading of illegal child abuse images from a home network that led to police accusing an innocent couple of the crime. While there are strict rules about protecting people from physical harm -- such as overheating, sharp components or electric shocks -- there are no such rules for cyber-breaches.

Re:Can we please have this everywhere?

By rtkluttz • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

What would even be nicer is a law that guarantees that all devices must function independently of cloud command and control if an owner chooses to sandbox it behind their firewall. Passwords are nearly irrelevant if a homeowner can run the equipment on an island wifi. It is beyond fucking ridiculous that people have to ask permission of servers outside their home and outside of their control to control devices in their home. I am looking at solar equipment and the batteries have a cloud requirement to be able to access them. Why are homeowners not allowed the same ability to lock down power or control equipment just like commercial or industrial entities? It is laughable that homeowners cannot utilize the zero trust model. Passwords are a side show and distraction compared to where things are going if people don't get a brain and demand that zero trust (not even trusting the manufacturer and no cloud requirement) be a possibility with all devices sold. This does not rule out cloud as an option, but it should NEVER be a requirement for anything.

Re:About time

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

Sure, it's not perfect, but even a sticker on the back with a randomly generated password would be a massive upgrade from the current status quo which is every device has the same login and password.

We know that physical access means you most likely own the device. No reason not to slap a label on the back with a unique login/password. Even that is a huge step up from admin/admin.

Sure, a TON more could be done, but even the most minor of security improvements is welcome given the current state of IoT devices.

Re:This changes nothing

By backslashdot • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Not really. Most device makers will just have a random generated string printed on the device to be used as the permanent fallback reset password. More sophisticated devices can have a QR code and app to configure the device. There are hundreds of ways to make it user friendly and secure without making the devices expensive and without danger of bricking if the user forgets the password.

Time it will get updates - rules not good enough

By Alain Williams • Score: 3 • Thread

customers must be told when they buy a device the minimum time it will receive vital security updates and patches. If a product doesn't get either, that must also be disclosed

Many customers will not notice that or not understand that the device only having 6 months security patches is bad ... but they will think: what is good about this gizmo is that this one is cheap -- so it must be the right one to buy!!! IoT devices MUST be supported by the typical number of years that a consumer will use it for, so, for example, a 'fridge this is 15-20 years; if not longer.

Also: updating these things must be a no-brainer. How many people have updated the firmware in their broadband router ? Some of us on slashdot maybe, but enumerate how many of your relatives will have done so.

OLED displays $1 in singles, LCD 15 cents

By raymorris • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Small OLED displays are cheap. In singles, you can get them for a dollar. Buy 10,000 and they'll be what, ten cents each?

LCD displays like you have on a pocket calculator are 15 cents in small quantities. I'm guessing maybe three cents in quantity.

An OLED makes the product LOOK more premium and probably adds at least a couple dollars to the price people are willing to pay.

FIFA To Test Automatic Offside Technology Next Week in Preparation for Qatar World Cup

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
FIFA will trial its new automatic offside technology next week at the Arab Cup as a test to potentially use it at the World Cup in Qatar next year. From a report: As per the Times, the technology relies on an artificial intelligence (AI) system sending an instant message to VAR when a player is offside, with the official then left to determine if a player has interfered with the passage of play or not. The technology will be used at all six stadiums used in the Arab Cup -- which also takes place in Qatar -- and comes after several trials behind closed doors took place at the likes of the Etihad Stadium and the Allianz Arena. Despite being able to relay an instant message to VAR, the technology will only be classed as semi-automated as the verdict will be sent to VAR and not the referee himself.

Next AI Project

By dohzer • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Next Project: Automated player dive detection.

What? No, please don't do that to us!

By Opportunist • Score: 3 • Thread

If we can't blame the referees anymore for a lost game, we'd have to admit that our heroes are shit players.

China's New Space Reactor 'Will Be 100 Times More Powerful Than a Similar Device NASA Plans To Put on the Surface of the Moon by 2030'

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Hmmmmmm writes: China is developing a powerful nuclear reactor for its moon and Mars missions, according to researchers involved in the project. The reactor can generate one megawatt of electric power, 100 times more powerful than a similar device Nasa plans to put on the surface of the moon by 2030. The project was launched with funding from the central government in 2019. Although technical details and the launch date were not revealed, the engineering design of a prototype machine was completed recently and some critical components have been built, two scientists who took part in the project confirmed to the South China Morning Post this week.

To China, this is an ambitious project with unprecedented challenges. The only publicly known nuclear device it has sent into space is a tiny radioactive battery on Yutu 2, the first rover to land on the far side of the moon in 2019. That device could only generate a few watts of heat to help the rover during long lunar nights. Chemical fuel and solar panels will no longer be enough to meet the demands of human space exploration, which is expected to expand significantly with human settlements on the moon or Mars on the agenda, according to the Chinese researchers. "Nuclear power is the most hopeful solution. Other nations have launched some ambitious plans. China cannot afford the cost of losing this race," said one researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences who asked not to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Re:Oh great

By chill • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Someone with more knowledge in this area please speak up, but aren't "nuclear reactor explosions" really steam explosions? If this reactor isn't using water, then there'd be no steam, hence no explosion possibility.

Of course, nuclear power plants are really just big steam kettles that use expanding steam to spin a turbine. Maybe the lithium mentioned as the fluid? Or maybe something thermometric, like the old Soviet ones? Horribly inefficient, but it might work on the moon.

Only some of the heat generated by the reactor would be used to produce electricity, the rest must dissipate quickly in space to avoid a meltdown. To solve this issue, the reactor would use a foldable structure like an umbrella to increase the total surface area of waste heat radiators, according to Jiang and her colleagues.

Because of its compact size, the space reactor would operate at a temperature much higher than those on Earth (likely 2,000 degrees Celsius at the core). It would use liquid lithium as coolant for greater power generation efficiency.

Good for China

By DrMrLordX • Score: 3 • Thread

Maybe the United States can try stealing their designs. Win win for everyone!

Re:Oh great

By MrKaos • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

If this reactor isn't using water, then there'd be no steam, hence no explosion possibility.

Of course, nuclear power plants are really just big steam kettles that use expanding steam to spin a turbine. Maybe the lithium mentioned as the fluid?

Thanks for posting the fragment of the article - I can;t read the full article.

Well two things IIRC. The first is that it's not like a terrestrial reactor, it has to be more compact. The existing ones NASA uses are fueled with pu-298 (as opposed to pu-239) in a Stirling engine. The slug of pu-298 is the heat source of a working gas that moves the piston within the stirling engine that turns a generator. Maybe argon is the working gas or nitrogen perhaps.

That would make the lithium the coolant on the cold side of the stirling engine and the surface area of the radiators would be proportional to the total output of the reactor in joules. NASA uses the heat of this type of reactor as well to keep the electronics of spacecraft (Voyager and Curiosity for example IIRC) in an operational range as well as the electricity derived from the mechanical energy created by the stirling engine. The decay of the pu-298 then determines the life expectancy of the space craft.

So for larger manned craft it would increase the efficiency of the reactor (as NASA do) if you could put the heat to some use, which they probably will. The main issue with running a stirling engine that hot is that the lubricants become explosive so the choice of working gas would be a critical part of being able to reach their goal.

Nuclear power in space is the logical place for nuclear power, it's so radioactive anyway nothing we do up there is going to make any difference. Making big nuclear powered rockets for use in space would be a great way for us to deal with the nuclear waste we have on earth too.

I trust NASA

By Baron_Yam • Score: 3 • Thread

I trust NASA to manage the design, launch, and delivery of a small lunar-bound nuclear reactor with reasonable care (yes, despite the shuttle program) and nearly negligible risk to human life.

I do not trust China to do the same, especially with a much larger device.

Re:Oh great

By AmiMoJo • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Has nobody seen Space 1999?

Australia Defamation Case Signals a Crackdown on Ordinary Citizens, Critics Say

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Australia's defense minister on Wednesday won a defamation case over a six-word tweet that called him a "rape apologist." From a report: Critics and experts said the court case exemplified the conservative government's heavy-handed approach toward regulating damaging commentary on social media -- what Prime Minister Scott Morrison called "a coward's palace." The case also represented a troubling shift as politicians bring more lawsuits against ordinary citizens, they said. The dispute began when Shane Bazzi, an advocate for refugees who has 13,000 Twitter followers, wrote a Twitter post in February about Peter Dutton, then the country's home affairs minister and now the defense minister.

"Peter Dutton is a rape apologist," the tweet said, and linked to an article about comments Mr. Dutton had made that women seeking asylum in Australia used rape claims as an excuse to enter the country. The post was published on the same day that Mr. Dutton also used the phrase "she said, he said" in reference to explosive accusations by Brittany Higgins, a former government staff member, who said she had been sexually assaulted in Australia's Parliament House. Mr. Dutton began defamation proceedings soon after, saying that the post had "deeply offended" him and had wrongly suggested he condoned and excused rape. Mr Bazzi's blue Twitter check mark, Mr. Dutton also argued, implied recognition by the social media giant and had led the minister to believe that the post was not just the "rant of somebody randomly on Twitter."

Re:A good start

By ISayWeOnlyToBePolite • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Way too much is tolerated because it's done online. People threaten others with death or rape. They dox other people. They make unfounded accusations. Then they get away with it. It's got to stop. I support your freedom to say your opinion, even opinions I detest, but don't threaten people, and if you want to defame someone, you'd better be able to provide evidence of that in court, because that's against the law.

Afaik here was no such threats involved here. Skimming thru the judgement it seems like the defendant lost the case because there was some confusion what he actually meant by "rape apologist" and he denied that he believed the plaintiff excuses rape, so the opinion defense went out the window and the judge was annoyed that he didn't testify. https://www.judgments.fedcourt...


239 In summary, for the reasons set out above, I have found that the Tweet did convey the imputation that Mr Dutton excuses rape; that this was defamatory of Mr Dutton; that Mr Bazzi has not established the statutory defence of honest opinion or the common law defence of fair comment on a matter of public interest; that judgment should be entered for Mr Dutton in the sum of $35,000; and that Mr Dutton’s claim for injunctions should be refused.

what crackdown?

By bloodhawk • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
how does this signal a crack down? This wasn't the government, this was one ,admittedly complete C**T, minister with a private court case, nothing to do with the government and on top of that it does seem it was a rather blatant case of defamation. Though the thin skinned ahole should have just ignored it as while this one was defamation, many other insults aimed at him are bloody accurate.

Re:right wing nutjobs rule Australia

By vlad30 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
While your comment is interesting the bill as it was intended was to stop the person applying and getting a job in for example a religious school (Catholic, Anglican, Muslim etc) and then complaining that the schools teachings conflict with there own values and then causing the school pain through the current employee rights and eventually financial pain through a usually quiet financial settlement under the current laws. i.e. the school would be able to put the schools beliefs in contract if you don't wish to comply then you breach the contract and can be dismissed or you keep your beliefs to yourself during work. Better yet don't apply for a job where they conflict with your values.

Unfortunately we have dumb people who put themselves in positions where they complain when its their own fault residents buy next to amusement park and complain about the noise

"On the internet" = IRL

By peppepz • Score: 3 • Thread
Ordinary citizens have no right to defamation in real life; I don't understand why they would suppose to have it on Twitter. People think that threats and defamation are ok on the Internet because somehow the Internet is a lesser thing compared to "real life". In fact, on the Internet one can typically reach a much wider audience, so he should be more careful with the words that he chooses to use.


By Petersko • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Desmond Tutu's comment is just another in a long, long line of false dilemmas from idealogues. I don't care how influential he is, it's horseshit to split the world into two camps on any subject.

UK Privacy Watchdog Warns Adtech the End of Tracking is Nigh

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
It's been well over two years since the UK's data protection watchdog warned the behavioural advertising industry it's wildly out of control. From a report: The ICO hasn't done anything to stop the systematic unlawfulness of the tracking and targeting industry abusing Internet users' personal data to try to manipulate their attention -- not in terms of actually enforcing the law against offenders and stopping what digital rights campaigners have described as the biggest data breach in history. Indeed, it's being sued over inaction against real-time-bidding's misuse of personal data by complainants who filed a petition on the issue all the way back in September 2018.

But today the UK's (outgoing) information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, published an opinion -- in which she warns the industry that its old unlawful tricks simply won't do in the future. New methods of advertising must be compliant with a set of what she describes as "clear data protection standards" in order to safeguard people's privacy online, she writes.

I don't think it'll effect advertising that much

By rsilvergun • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
because multiple studies already show online ads are worthless. They just don't turn into sales.

What it might effect is politics. While you can't get sales from online tracking, you can get votes from it. It becomes much harder to spread misinformation when you can't target it, because you need to modulate the craziness of that misinformation or you turn people off from it too soon, and they don't doom scroll.

Re:I don't think it'll effect advertising that muc

By mrwireless • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

This is about so much more than advertising now.

Remember Cambridge Analytica? The whole point of that scandal was that people realised these profiles full of algorithmic predictions were used for much more than advertising. For political influence, yes. But even beyond that, for determining who is elegible for a job, for insurance, for a date, etc.

All these data brokers get their data data from 'public sources', which includes scraping social media. Heck, you don't even have to scrape. Just hook into the cookie matching systems, and Google essentiallty passes you the data, just so you can make the optimal bid for ad space. Or do waht Cambridge anallytica did. They made their own quiz app which over 100.000 people used. With that data they train algorithms to guess everyone's OCEAN score based on facebook likes patterns.

I gave a talk at an advertising conference years ago. I warned them: there will come a day when the public realise you have been "passing along" the data to all these other parties. People will realize their old-fashioned idea - I get free stuff in return for watching adds - no longer applies.

You get free stuff in return for being transparant to insurers and employers. You get free stuff in return for being a totally predictable, manageable risk, in all aspects of life. You get free stuff in return for giving away your power.

And then we haven't even gotten to the juicy stuff yet. What will happen when people realise that this is what's been going on? How will their behaviour change? Not because some party tried to influence them, but because their self-censor their own behaviour. If you think the attention economy has created problems.. just wait until you learn what the reputation economy will do.

I highly recommend this paper by Jon Penney (Oxford), who goes into how we aren't even theorizing chilling effects effectively yet.

It really is wildly out of control.

Re:I don't think it'll effect advertising that muc

By nospam007 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

"because multiple studies already show online ads are worthless. They just don't turn into sales. "

Each time after I buy a mattress I get mattresses ads for months, I guess just in case I own a hotel.

Amazing how people start doing their job...

By UpnAtom • Score: 3 • Thread
... on their last day of work.

Israel Restricts Cyberweapons Export List By Two-thirds, From 102 To 37 Countries

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
The Israeli government has restricted the list of countries to which local security firms are allowed to sell surveillance and offensive hacking tools by almost two-thirds, cutting the official cyber export list from 102 to 37 entries. From a report: The new list, obtained by Israeli business newspaper Calcalist earlier today, only includes countries with proven democracies, such as those from Europe and the Five Eyes coalition: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US.

The list noticeably removes autocratic regimes, to which Israeli companies have often supplied surveillance tools. Spyware developed by Israeli companies like Candiru and the NSO Group has been linked in recent years to human rights abuses in tens of countries, with the tools being used by the local governments to spy on reporters, activists, dissidents, and political rivals.

Free Occupied Palestine.

By ikhider • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
Yet Israel continues to illegally seize Palestinian land and imprison/execute men, women and children at will. No justice, no peace.

Proven Democracy?

By aerogems • Score: 3 • Thread

Doesn't that rule out the US? I'd say after Trump was elected, but definitely after the 2020 election where there were multiple concerted efforts to overturn the results and then there have been multiple ongoing efforts to undermine/infiltrate/co-opt key positions ahead of the next round of elections.

India doesn't seem like it belongs on the list either for the same basic reasons. Just s/Trump/Modi/

Re:Free Occupied Palestine.

By aerogems • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

There's a big difference between expressing a negative opinion of Israeli government policies and being anti-Israel, which is of course a thinly veiled way of calling someone an anti-Semite. Stop projecting your own insecurities and prejudices onto others.

Re:Free Occupied Palestine.

By ikhider • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Israel has nothing to do with Judaism, it is a Euro-Sparta state used to keep the Arabs in line and the sole nuclear power in the region with over 300 weapons last count. Only Caucasian Europeans who call themselves 'Jews' (hardly) have rights while others are second class citizens. The Palestinians were forced out at bomb and gun point and many Europeans under Nazi occupation then turned around and used the same oppressive techniques on Palestinians. Look up this fellow: Since inception, Israel is one crime against humanity after another and it will not stop. Israel is a major reason behind the radicalization of surrounding states.

India is in. Pakistan and China out

By 140Mandak262Jamuna • Score: 3 • Thread
Very good start.

Roblox Sues YouTuber For $1.6 Million Over Terrorizing Kids Platform

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Roblox is taking notorious YouTuber Benjamin "Ruben Sim" Simon to court over his alleged attacks on the gaming social media platform and its young fans. A lawsuit filed in California court on Tuesday wants the longtime banned player to pay $1.6 million in damages and stop harassing Roblox employees and players. From a report: First reported by Polygon, the lawsuit contains a number of allegations against Simon, who has been making and profiting from Roblox videos since 2010. Those videos run the gamut, featuring him doing everything from sexually harassing players he encounters in the game to making public "terrorist threats" against the company during its annual convention. According to Roblox, this led the company to have to temporarily shut down its Roblox Developers Conference in San Francisco last month after Simon reportedly posted about police searching for "Islamic Extremists" at the event. The company claims this cost it $50,000 to investigate the false reports.

Re: If he really did such things

By klipclop • Score: 4 • Thread
I'm surprised he's still on YouTube if he's doing that kind of stuff.

Re:Freedom of Speech!

By UnknownSoldier • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Freedom of speech doesn't imply you are free of the consequences.

There is a reason slander, libel, etc, are torts.

If you yell fire in a theater that REALLY is on fire then that is NOT abusing freedom of speech.

If you yell fire in a theater that ISN'T on fire then you ARE abusing your freedom of speech and can be charged for inducing panic (which in turn can be responsible for causing destruction of private property.)

Context (and intent) matters.

Original report and lawsuit

By ISayWeOnlyToBePolite • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The article credits the original report which links to the full lawsuit

roblox is shit

By t0qer • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I used to work in mobile games, in fact a lot of my friends went over to roblox.

Roblox is like any other p2w scheme. They rely on gambling triggers, they only let you win if you pay. They also make it next to impossible to get a refund if your kid steals your credit card to buy robucks. The only difference is they're a platform, they don't make the games, but they do take their cut. They also market specifically to kids which makes them especially sleazy.

Fortunately some kids are smart. My 12 year old started using autoclickers at a young age and has since graduated to python using ImageGrab and OpenCV to lvl up on some of the games.

Re:roblox is shit

By doconnor • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I used to play plenty of games on Roblox with my daughter. From what I've seen pay to win games a few and far between. I guess they never reach the top of the charts. Most things you can pay for are cosmetic, which is, of course, still temping.

Walmart Pulls Children's Toy That Swears and Sings in Polish About Doing Cocaine

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
An Ontario grandmother who bought an educational toy for her 15-month-old granddaughter was shocked when the dancing cactus started swearing and singing about doing cocaine. From a report: "This toy uses swear words and talking about cocaine use," Ania Tanner told CTV News Toronto. "This is not what I ordered for my granddaughter." The cactus was sold on Walmart's website as an educational toy for about $26 and sings songs in English, Spanish and Polish. But Tanner, who is Polish, said when she listened to the Polish lyrics, the cactus was singing about doing cocaine, drug abuse, suicide, depression and used profanities. "It just so happens that I am Polish and when I started to listen to the songs and I heard the words," she said. "I was in shock. I thought what is this some kind of joke?" The song is by Polish Rapper Cypis, who is reportedly unaware his song was used by the Chinese manufacturer of the children's toy. "It's about taking five grams of cocaine and being alone ... It's a very depressing song," Tanner said. This singing cactus toy was also sold in Europe through Amazon and in July 2021 other families also noticed and complained about the lyrics that many felt were inappropriate for a children's toy.

Speaking of banned products

By OzPeter • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

This was also removed from shelves at some big box stores.

"I want a refund!"

By bill_mcgonigle • Score: 3 • Thread

Her: it started swearing and singing about cocaine!
Me: where can I get one?

Not a Walmart product

By Dwedit • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

It's not from Walmart, it's from a third-party seller who sells things through Walmart's website. It's just like a random eBay seller.

Re:It's a popular meme song

By NFN_NLN • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

> Walmart Pulls Children's Toy That Swears and Sings in Polish About Doing Cocaine

It wasn't flammable, it wasn't full of melamine or cadmium. I think this was a win for Chinese manufacturing. They've come a long way.

Re:Not a Walmart product

By RitchCraft • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
If it's on Walmart's web site, it's a Walmart product. Doesn't matter the source, Walmart is endorsing it by allowing it on their site.

Germany Considers a Full Covid Lockdown and Mandatory Vaccines

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
Germany is set to decide on tougher Covid-19 restrictions and could even opt for a full lockdown amid record daily infections and mounting pressure on hospitals. From a report: Olaf Scholz, Germany's chancellor-designate, said Wednesday that the Covid situation was serious and that the country would massively push its vaccination campaign, noting that "vaccination is the way out of this pandemic." Scholz said Germany "should make vaccination compulsory for certain groups," without stating which groups, while new Finance Minister Christian Lindner stated that Germans should avoid all unnecessary contact this winter "to preserve all of our health in this pandemic."

That Scholz chose to address the Covid crisis as he and his new government colleagues announced a draft coalition deal on Wednesday shows where the officials' immediate priorities lie. The country's outgoing health minister, Jens Spahn, issued a dire warning to Germans this week, saying that by the end of winter "pretty much everyone in Germany will be vaccinated, recovered or dead." Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on the heads of Germany's 16 federal states (which have largely been free to determine their own Covid measures) to decide upon stricter rules by Wednesday. On Tuesday, Spahn reiterated that request, adding that more public spaces should be restricted to the vaccinated, the recently recovered, or those that have had a negative test -- otherwise known as the "3G rule." From Wednesday, 3G rules apply to any Germans going into the workplace or accessing public transport.

Re:The Delta variant changes the game ...

By Tom • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

This virus is not going away any time soon, given the resistance to vaccination

So our choices are to give up and die in droves, or get the fucking vaccine into the population, pronto.

At this point in time, I consider anyone who doesn't get the vaccine for reasons of personal comfort, political bullshit or "ah, I don't know" simply an antisocial asshole. And the people who spread FUD should be prosecuted as criminals. That literally IS the equivalent of shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre - that speech is directly in the chain of causality for mass death.

Re:Gotta love headlines

By Kernel Kurtz • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

So lemme guess, there are way more people in the state that are vaccinated than unvaccinated, and the number of people dying is about on par between vaccinated and unvaccinated people?

Do I have to help you with the math or can you do it yourself?

I try to explain this to anti-vaxxers, but it does not help, their brains cannot handle statistics. Maybe it is genetic. They will say things like "half the cases are in vaccinated people, proof vaccines do nothing!". Except that means half the cases are in the 15% who are unvaccinated, and half the cases are in the 85% who are. That is like a 6x difference in risk, but they just don't get it.

Re: Gotta love headlines

By Z80a • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

It's all a ninja conspiracy to allow em to walk among the regular people unnoticed.

Re:Gotta love headlines

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

100% this.

And worse, FAR worse is that republicans have jumped on vaccine resistance as a cornerstone of their platform. Right now it's just COVID vaccines they're fighting against, but it's going to be mere moments before people start applying the same anti-vaccine-mandate laws and regulations and exemptions to other vaccines. You know, like the MMR or diptheria or polio or tetanus.

Vaccines which save tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of children a year. In the last hundred years childhood mortality dropped by several orders of magnitude, and a LOT of that was because of mandatory childhood vaccines.

I am deathly afraid for what happens if this nuttery gets applied to other vaccines. It's bad enough that we're mired in COVID because 40% of the population are a bunch of stupid fuckwads. At least they're not causing the deaths of tens of thousands of children - it's mostly their parents and grandparents they're killing.

But if this extends to all of the childhood vaccines? COVID will look like a nothingburger in comparison.

Re:Gotta love headlines

By SvnLyrBrto • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

You've already come up with the easy solution for the problem. And, by another name, doctors and hospitals already do it routinely: triage. Don't overwork the health workers. Don't load hospitals beyond capacity. Just make unvaccinated COVID cases the absolute lowest-priority. Hospital is at capacity and a cancer patient needs chemo, or an old person needs a knee replacement, or someone comes into the ER with a stubbed toe? Well then, mister "I ain't lettin' Bill Gates put a 5G tracking chip that makes my kids autistic in me!" gets unplugged, rolled out, and kicked to the curb.

Black Friday is Causing Toxic Traffic Jams at US Ports and Warehouses

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
As millions of Americans rush to take advantage of Black Friday deals this weekend, the shopping spree will add to a pollution crisis unfolding at America's ports . For months, broken supply chains have saddled port-side neighborhoods with more pollution than they normally endure. The holiday season will make things even worse. From a report: The disaster is unfolding in spectacular fashion in Southern California, home to the busiest port complex in the western hemisphere (which includes the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach). Here, cargo ships have piled up offshore as the pandemic wreaks havoc on global supply chains. The traffic jam extends to inland distribution hubs that attract trucks, trains, and planes shuttling goods from warehouses to consumers' doorsteps.

That all has consequences for people's health. "We need these things off these ships, I understand that," says Afif El-Hasan, a pediatrician and national spokesperson for the American Lung Association. "But it's going to hurt the people around the [areas] these goods come through." There are a lot of factors that wrecked global supply chains, but in short, there was a mismatch in supply and demand. The pandemic shuttered factories. Meanwhile, people started shopping more for home improvement projects and new hobbies they picked up during pandemic-induced lockdowns. In the US, the container ships ferrying those goods from Asia started piling up at ports. During the first three quarters of this year, the movement of containers in and out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach was nearly 30 percent higher than during the same time period in 2019. By November, container ships were parking outside the Port of Los Angeles for an average of 17 days -- more than twice as long as they were towards the start of the year. That has literally led to tons more air pollution in the region because the ships run their auxiliary engines while idling offshore.

Re:Why does so much stuff flow to the US?

By SkonkersBeDonkers • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The USA exports lots of stuff really. Cars/car parts, aircraft/parts, oil, and pharmaceuticals are just some of the top ones. Food is a major one too that brings in close to $100 billion.

(believe it or not some years the USA is the top exporter of refined petro products)

Also while I think it's not typically counted as an export in many reports, intellectual properties/cultural exports is a big one too that brings in many billions to the USA from overseas. Think music, books, movies, shows, video games and so on.

Self induced problem

By Okian Warrior • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I've come to believe that this is a self-inflicted problem. We're basically doing this to ourselves, and using it as an excuse to promote a specific blend of political change.

I asked about this on Slashdot, and was told that the longshoremen can't come to work because of Covid, and that doing so would be counterproductive because then they'd contract Covid and die.

This makes no sense, because the chance of dying in that age group is very low, not to mention the chance of contracting Covid in that job is low, and doesn't account for taking precautions. It sounds like this is critical infrastructure (like doctors, nurses, and movie cameramen), and those people are allowed to work during Covid so... why not longshoremen?

Furthermore, this is something that the president could solve in a month. For comparison, note that for the "warp speed" program the president took the best military logistics expert, put him in charge of generals representing the military branches, and told him to come up with a plan. That worked out famously well for Covid distribution.

I can't help but think that if the president could do something similar here: basically take the best military logistics expert, give him a month to come up with a plan, and at the same time tell the port workers "if this isn't fixed in a month we'll step in temporarily until the backlog is fixed". It would be temporary, and it would bring enormous incentives for the longshoremen, truck drivers, storage managers, and so on to get their shit together. It would help slow inflation a little.

A self-inflicted problem causing discomfort throughout America, done intentionally to encourage people to support political change.

It *seems* like it's immoral, and should be stopped. Maybe there's some philosophical reason that I'm not seeing.


By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

People want a growing economy.

A growing economy can mean better quality rather than more quantity. Modern TVs use far less material than 30 years ago. A modern cellphone replaces not only a bulkier cellphone but GPS and mapping devices as well. Cars are better today while becoming lighter and more fuel-efficient. E-books and websites use way fewer resources than printed material.


By CastrTroy • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Even if we use less materials for new devices, it seems like people have more and more stuff. I was born in the 80s, and it wasn't uncommon for there to just be a single TV in the house. Now just about everybody I know has multiple TVs, even if there's just 2 people living in the house. There might have been one computer for the whole family, for the families that owned them, but now we have a situation where every member of the family has 2 or 3 devices (laptop, phone, tablet, etc).

It's easy to compare the new cell phones to the old cell phones and say we are making progress because they use much less material. But when you go back a few years before that, when nobody owned a cell phone, you'll see how much more stuff we consume as a society.

bitch all you want

By argStyopa • Score: 3 • Thread

...but you then have to decide whether you want quality of life or not.
The simple fact is that you can't have the ease and comfort of Western Civilization without the ugly underbelly of transportation.

Just because you don't like it, doesn't mean you can wish it away.

Verizon and AT&T To Temporarily Turn Down 5G Power To Address FAA Worries

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
AT&T and Verizon said they will slightly reduce the power of their 5G transmissions in C-band spectrum for six months. The companies said they will do so to allow federal aviation officials more time to study how such transmission might affect radio altimeters in aircraft. From a report: "We are committed to the rapid deployment of 5G and the safety of aviation," the two companies told the FCC in a new letter. "While we continue to believe the FCC's current rules provide for both, we will, without waiver of our legal rights associated with our substantial investments in these licenses, adopt these precautionary measures to allow for additional time for continued analysis." Importantly, according to the Wall Street Journal, executives in the wireless industry don't expect the power reduction to "seriously impair" the operators' 5G operations in the spectrum band. Further, the operators continued to argue that their 5G transmissions in C-band spectrum do not pose a risk to air travel in the US, despite a report from some airlines showing a potential risk of interference to aircraft operations.

Doesn't sound right

By ironicsky • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

At some point during the development of 5G technology, the equipment would have gone through FCC certifications, as well as a whack of testing to check for interference tolerance for accepting interference and causing it for other devices. The FCC would have also assigned and allocated frequency space for 5G to prevent overlap and interference with other signals.

Are you telling me that at no point along the way aviation experts wouldn't have piped up and said "what about aircraft devices?"

Why is this just being questioned now, years after deployment started.

Doesn't bother me.

By Gravis Zero • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

I doubt anyone who cares will be affected. Seriously, I just got my COVID-19 booster shot this week and my 5G reception is better than ever. ;)

Re:Doesn't sound right

By splutty • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The keywords are here: some airlines showing a potential risk of interference

With the recent fuck ups by companies like Boeing, airlines are deathly afraid they might have something else unforeseen on their hands, and just "want to be sure" (read: We dislike uncertainty, even if that uncertainty only exists in our or our customer's heads and has no basis in reality whatsoever).

Re:Doesn't sound right

By Entrope • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

The problem isn't direct overlap -- there is a 220 MHz gap between the upper end of this 5G band (3.98 GHz) and the lower end of the protected aeronautical band (4.2 GHz). It's about out-of-band sensitivity of old radar altimeters, and spurious emissions by 5G equipment.

The existing standard for radar altimeters is 40 years old, and so predates widespread, relatively high-power emitters like cell towers. RAs typically emit at about 1 W (30 dBm), and the received power will be much less because of the distance-squared law and imperfect reflection by the ground. In comparison, AT&T and Verizon agreed to limit their intentional emissions to 62 dBm/MHz -- each MHz of bandwidth using about 2000 times what the RA emits. The RF filters used by RAs aren't designed with high selectivity, so they attenuate out-of-band signals less than one might wish.

Spurious emissions by towers may be worse, because some will be in the RA band, and they would need many 10s of dB of attenuation (relative to the intended emissions) to have smaller amplitude than the RA return.

For more detail, see the RTCA report on the potential for interference: .

Re: Doesn't sound right

By jpellino • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I managed a college radio station or two back in the day, bringing one from 10 to 100 w when they phased out the 10s. FCC has an extensive list of things you need to make sure of to so much as play music, never mind blanketing the terrain in digital signals. Before TV dropped analog, there was a local college station that would bleed harmonics into the adjacent tv channel, which I forgot about once analog went away. Recently picked up an SDR kit, fired up Cubic, and sure enough, almost 20 years later they still show 2 harmonics that come in clear as a bell. The reverse was also true, in Providence RI USA you used to be able to pin your FM dial in the car and listen to the Flinstones playing on Ch 6.

The World Needs To Crack Battery Recycling, Fast

Posted by msmashView on SlashDotShareable Link
As batteries start to pile up, carmakers, battery companies and researchers are trying to save them from ending up in landfills. From a report: Recyclers are primarily interested in extracting the valuable metals and minerals in the cells. Getting to these materials is complex and dangerous: After removing the steel casing, the battery pack needs to be unbundled into cells carefully, to avoid puncturing any hazardous materials. The electrolyte, a liquid whose job it is to move lithium ions between the cathode and anode, can catch fire or even explode if heated. Only once the pack has been dismantled, recyclers can safely extract the conductive lithium, nickel, copper, and cobalt.

Used in the cathode, cobalt is the most sought-after material used in batteries. In its raw form, the rare, bluish-grey metal is predominantly sourced from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where miners work in perilous conditions. The world's major electric car manufacturers are already moving away from cobalt, deterred by the human rights abuses, shortages in the supply chain. That raises the question of whether recyclers will still find it worthwhile to dismantle newer battery types lacking the most valuable ingredients. "When you move to more sustainable materials, and lower cost materials, the incentive to recycle and recover them diminishes," says Jenny Baker, an energy storage expert at Swansea University. She likens this to a dilemma in consumer electronics: It is often cheaper to buy a new mobile phone than to get it fixed or recycled.

[...] In a first step, recyclers typically shred the cathode and anode materials of spent batteries into a powdery mixture, the so-called black mass. In the board game analogy, this would be the first slide down on a snake, Gavin Harper, a research fellow at the University of Birmingham, explains. The black mass can then be processed in one of two ways to extract its valuable components. One method, called pyrometallurgy, involves smelting the black mass in a furnace powered with fossil fuels. It's a relatively cheap method but a lot of lithium, aluminium, graphite and manganese is lost in the process. Another method, hydrometallurgy, leaches the metals out of the black mass by dissolving it in acids and other solvents. This method, Harper says, would correspond to a shorter snake in the board game, because more material can be recovered: you fall back, but not by as many squares as when using pyrometallurgy. The process, however, consumes a lot of energy and produces toxic gases and wastewater.

Re:Flawed premise, click-bait BS.

By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

It's high time that the EU mandated phone battery replacement be cheap (say max 20 Euro) and that phone batteries are recycled.

Government action is needed

By Alain Williams • Score: 3 • Thread

to mandate standards to which new batteries must be constructed - these will make recycling of batteries easier. Manufacturers will not do this by themselves if it would add a penny more to price - so mandated standards mean that everyone needs to pay a bit more, but increased costs like this are what we need to pay today to avoid much greater environmental costs in decades to come.

Re:Is this actually correct?

By Mspangler • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The elements might be in the correct proportions, but they are in the wrong, as in contaminated, materials. After they are dissolved out of the defunct battery they are polluted with other remnants, or in the wrong oxidation state. Returning them to the proper condition for a new battery is not technically difficult, but it's messy. There are waste streams to deal with if you live in the developed world that is not China.

It's not just batteries that are hard to recycle. Look at plastic. Even HDPE is hard to get back to prime grade. You can only use so much recycled plastic in the next milk jug.

The other issue is cost. They stopped collecting glass here because the cost of hauling to a bottle plant exceeded the value of the glass. The nearest bottle plant is a long way off.

So for the batteries, which costs less, recycling the battery domestically under EPA rules while fighting off NIMBYs, shipping the battery to a third world country for processing out of sight of Greenpeace, or swinging the whips a little harder in the Congo?

PS, I once worked in the mining industry and had a front row seat as the environmentalists shut down as much as they could. The environmentalists even fight tooth and nail against copper mines when their dream of an all-electric economy requires huge amounts of new copper. Apparently they expect other countries to trade their copper to us in return for TikTok clicks?

Re:Decent public transport is part of the solution

By Viol8 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

"You've clearly never been to Europe"

I live in europe you clown.

"Nearly every town is interconnected by public transportation and buses. The buses go from town to town"

Yes they do, but they're generally not frequent enough to replace a car for most people.

"Go browse with the yellow guy from Google Maps and see how drastic the differences are"

Wow, thanks for the heads up there, clearly you're an expert.

"Mass transit doesn't work well in the US because we are spread out"

Yet oddly it works in china which is almost as big as the US. Where there's a will.... Your governments have used that as an excuse for decades not to bother to invest in PT. Its time to change the record.

Dead battery in the land fill way better than ....

By 140Mandak262Jamuna • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Let us take every thing the article claims at face value. Several million tons of batteries will pile up. There will be no valuable materials left in it to make it worthwhile to recover or recycle anything. New battery will be cheap so there is no second life for auto batteries coming out of service. They all will end up in land fills. OK.

So what are we comparing that situation with? Millions of tons of oil is burnt, its waste products, sulfur, nitrous oxides are all thrown into the atmosphere we all breathe. You can't avoid it. The carbon dioxide emitted is triggering climate change.

Compared to the status quo ante, million dead batteries in the land fill are way better.