the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2022-Jan-16 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.

What Happened at the Hearing for New Hampshire's Free Software Law?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
What happened after a New Hampshire state representative proposed legislation either encouraging or requiring free software in much of the state government? The Concord Monitor writes, "It's been three decades since Linux launched the modern world of free, open-source software, but you'd hardly have known that at a state legislative hearing Tuesday. One bill (HB 1273) from Eric Gallager, a Concord Democrat, is a sweeping effort that not only establishes a committee to study "replacing all proprietary software used by state agencies with free software" but also does such things as limit non-compete clauses that conflict with open-source development and forbid Javascript in state government websites. The other bill (HB 1581) from Lex Berezhny, a Grafton Republican, would reinstate a requirement that state agencies must use open-source software when it is "the most effective software solution." That requirement existed in state law from 2012 to 2018, he said.

Gallager said the two bills were developed separately. "The fact that you've got people in both parties thinking about this issue independently shows there is a wide range of support for it," he said.

The Executive Department and Administration committee sent both bills to subcommittee.

But what's interesting is the arguments that were made — both for and against: Tuesday's hearing drew the state's most prominent free software advocate, Jon Hall, a programmer whose legacy in the field dates back three decades... Among his arguments, Hall said that studies have shown that free and open-source software is cheaper in the long run than software from Microsoft or other vendors because you don't have to buy regular licenses or be forced into software upgrades or have to ditch equipment like printers because they are no longer supported. Even when free and open-source software has higher costs due to training, he said, those costs have benefits. "Where does the money that you spend go? You can send millions of dollars to Redmond (Washington, home of Microsoft) or Silicon Valley, or pay local software developers," Hall argued.

On the other hand, Denis Goulet, commissioner of the Department of Information Technology, said Gallager's bill would put large and hard-to-quantify costs onto the state. "It would take a year, two years, to figure out what it would cost" due to training on new systems, he told the committee. "It wouldn't be small." Goulet, who opposed Gallager's bill and did not speak on Berezhny's, said the state already uses open-source systems as appropriate, pointing to its web content management system.

"I estimate 85 percent of systems contained one or more open-source libraries," he said.

The lead developer and founder of Libreboot tweeted video of the hearing, where you can also hear the first opponent of the legislation — state representative Stephen Pearson.

Click here to read some of the highlights from Tuesday's hearing:

OK, the JavaScript rule is a bit overbearing

By Somervillain • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

21-W:5 Proprietary Software on State Websites. No person in the state of New Hampshire shall be required to allow the execution of proprietary javascript in their browser when visiting websites administered by the state of New Hampshire. The department of information technology shall verify that this is the case for each executive branch agency via the use of browser extensions of their choice that are designed to detect and block the execution of proprietary javascript in their browsers, and by confirming that no proprietary java script blocks the functioning of any third-party online archiving services that are attempting to archive state websites.

I hate JavaScript. However, even I concede, it makes life better. When used intelligently, DHTML and ajax make a page better, not to mention input validation. I'm not sure this clause is providing much value. They should have consulted with people who work in the industry. Also, from the actual text, they misspelled JavaScript....not too important, but kind of telling of the author (

JavaScript is definitely abused, especially in popular frameworks. It solves a problem that was already solved in the case of most frameworks...ooh, you just did something in browser that was literally the fastest and most scalable component in the "ancient" server-side templating techniques...only now you made it less reliable...but hey, it's written in JavaScript now instead of server side templates....let us all pat ourselves on the back now!!!! JavaScript is most often a nuisance and a legitimate planet killer in all the wasted CPU cycles that require 100 function calls to dynamically render content that is fundamentally static & never changes and could have been done using 20 year old technology with 1/5 the file size and 1/10 of the overall load time...but hey, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

As much as I despise JavaScript abuse, a blanket statement like banning it is foolish. You can't legislate common sense or for JavaScript developers to design and engineer their pages sensibly. They'd rather chase fads than make their customers happy...but this is an HR issue, not a legal issue. No law can force every stage agency to sensibly design their web pages. This just creates very weird barriers and will end up being more destructive than all the JavaScript abuse I just complained about.

Want to make it handicapped accessible? State that.

Want to make it run on old browsers? State that.

JavaScript is a red herring. There are million better ways to do this.

Well, good luck with that...

By ndykman • Score: 3 • Thread

Legislating technology is to invite major problems. Want to know why health care billing and records interchange is still a mess. Well, HIPAA required the use of X12 *in the law* and of course, it is completely outdated now and requires (no surprise) expensive software to deal with.

Banning JavaScript from websites? So, make it impossible for to build web applications for use in state government. Good plan there. Well, is TypeScript okay? WASM?

Also, the argument that open source is cheaper because it doesn't require licenses ignores the fact that licensed software often earns those costs in terms of productivity. Also, it ignores the costs of disruption in terms of retraining or having to constantly train new people. Also, they don't track the loss of productivity dealing with gaps. It doesn't take much to make those Windows and Office licenses worth it. I don't want government wasting time and money dragging open source solutions across the line. If there is software that's good enough, it'll get used.

Speaking Chinese

By innocent_white_lamb • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

"All this stuff is basically â" If you were speaking Chinese, I would not understand substantially less."

Since this chap has admitted that he doesn't have the background or education to understand this discussion he and any others who are in the same situation should immediately recuse themselves from the deliberations and decision making around this issue.

They won't, of course, but in a perfect world that's what should happen.

Re:Well, good luck with that...

By Registered Coward v2 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

> Legislating technology is to invite major problems

Permit me to point out the straw man argument here. There is already considerable legislation, and court rulings, on technology, Patent law, copyright law, trade secret law, and the DMCA restricting the breaking of DRM on software already exist.

True, but providing a legal framework for ownership is different than requiring the use of a specific class of software. While the intentions may be admirable, there are real problems I see with the proposed law:

It requires companies provide access to proprietary code in the case of criminal trials. I suspect companies will fight that, and depending on how long it takes a criminal defendant should be able to argue the case should be dismissed since NH is unable to provide the defense with legally required information. In addition, who is responsible for providing the cost? If Company B provides a product that incorporates Company A's code, does company A have to provide it?

There are real costs with switching. If you are forced to convert and no comparable product exists you have to develop your own. Beyond development, that requires testing, training, etc. Just developing a decent set of specifications takes time and can be expensive.

There are data issues that need to be resolved. How do you handle data conversion? If your system exchange data with non-NH government systems, you need to be sure the connections still work properly whee you replace working ones with new ones.

There still are costs with maintaining the code base. It's not like free software is zero cost.

What is free software? GPL? BSD? Some other license? It would appear, based on the bill text:

I. "Free software" means software that gives users the freedom to run the program, to study and change the program in source code form, to redistribute exact copies, and to distribute modified versions.

II. "Copyleft" means the practice of using copyright law to ensure that any free intellectual property, in particular free software, remains free even after redistribution, modification, and use. A "copyleft software license" is a license designed specifically to facilitate the use of copyright in this way. A "copyleft free software project" is a collaborative project with the aim of developing software with such a license.

that a BSD license would be acceptable since modifications would not necessarily be "free intellectual property." They've used the term "copyleft" without requiring such licenses.

Finally, the bill states

No agency shall purchase machinery, computing hardware, or robots that require proprietary software unless the agency, in consultation with the department, determines that no viable alternative is available.

Does that mean every car, computer, telephone or any other piece of "machinery" require approval?

Re:"Linux" louhched free software?

By drinkypoo • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

While you are correct, before Linux Free Software was often seen as what the poors used because it was all they had access to. And there was some merit to that argument, because as good as e.g. gcc was even back then, the vendor compilers were conclusively better at producing performant binaries. Whether you were using IBM's compiler for POWER, or Sun's compiler for SPARC, or Intel's compiler for x86, gcc produced inferior binaries in all cases. And almost all of the assorted other gnu utilities were just copies of tools which already existed. But Linux is now the dominant operating system kernel. There is no kernel more popular than Linux on the planet. It conclusively proves that Free Software can be not only as good as proprietary, but better. Yes, there are other examples of high quality Free Software, but none of them are so dominant as Linux.

The rise of Linux also strongly boosted Free Software. You might point to BSD as a FOSS Unix which predates Linux, but a) it's not Free Software (It's Open Source, which is different though similar) and b) that only serves to prove the point, which is that the Free Software "version" dominated despite an earlier technical lead for the Open Source stuff. And BSD had its own compiler ("The Portable C Compiler") until 4.4-BSD (the version which reached the masses) at which point it was superseded by... gcc.

So yes, the FSF launched Free Software, before Linux. But Linux is responsible in a very real way for Free Software's popularity.

Is It Wrong To Mock People Who'd Opposed Covid Vaccines and Then Died of Covid?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Slashdot reader DevNull127 shares a transcript from a recent segment on CNN: CNN: Here's a moral question peculiar to these days: Is it wrong to mock people who publicly crusade against the Covid vaccine, and then die of the disease?

Or does it drive home the message about saving lives?

There are entire web sites that are devoted to such mockery. Sorry gleefully tales stories and photos of anti-vaccine advocates who end up in the ICU, intubated, or dead from the disease.

One recent case of this kind of tasteless taunting spurred two dueling opinion pieces in the Los Angeles Times. Orange County Republican Kelly Ernby, a former assistant D.A. and state assembly candidate who had lobbied publicly against the Covid vaccines, passed away earlier this month at age 46 from Covid complications. She was unvaccinated. Ernby's death unleashed a torrent of reaction on the internet. On her own Facebook page under a Christmas collage that she had posted, there are now more than 4,600 comments. Some are sympathy notes; many other are not.

In response to the piling on, Los Angeles Times columnist Nicholas Goldberg wrote, "I don't understand how crowing over the death of others furthers useful debate — or increases vaccination rates." But a few days later, Goldberg's colleague Michael Hiltzik published a column expressing the exact opposite. "Mocking anti-vaxxers' Covid deaths is ghoulish, yes — but may be necessary." Michael Hiltzik joins me now, he's the L.A. Times' business columnist. He's also a Pulitzer Prize winner. Michael let's make clear at the outset: you are not talking about the everyday people who don't get vaxxed, sadly contract Covid, and die. You're talking about people with a platform, right?

Michael Hiltzik: That's correct... In my column, I pointed out that the unvaccinated really fall into three categories. There are those who can't get vaccinated for legitimate reasons — small children, people with genuine medical contra-indications of vaccination. Then there's a fairly large group of people who I think have been duped into resisting the vaccine, duped by misinformation and disinformation about the vaccines, and sort of nonsense about preserving our freedoms in the face of this pandemic.

The real targets who are important here are those who spent the last few months or years of their lives crusading against sensible, safe policies such as vaccination and social distancing and what have you — and ended up paying the ultimate price for their own — basically, their own folly.

[CNN puts a pargraph on the screen, highlighting Hiltzik's comment that "Mockery is not necessarily the wrong reaction to those who publicly mocked anti-Covid measures and encouraged others to follow suit, before they perished of the disease the dangers of which they belittled."]

Michael Hiltzik: You know, we have sort of a cultural habit of not speaking ill of the dead, of treating the good deceased — looking at the good that they've done during their lives. I'm not sure that in this case that's entirely appropriate, because so many of them actually have promoted reckless, dangerous policies.

And as I wrote there, they took innocent people along with them.

So is mockery the only response? Well, I don't know — but as I wrote, every one of these deaths is a teachable moment. And unfortunately we haven't been learning from the lesson that we should be hearing from them.

In his column, Hiltzik had argued that "[P]leas for 'civility' are a fraud.

"Their goal is to blunt and enfeeble criticism and distract from its truthfulness. Typically, they're the work of hypocrites."

Re: Fuck no

By jlar • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

More importantly, it means we have an interest in getting them vaccinated to protect ourselves. Mocking them does not seem like the best way to do that. It was tried with fat people, and it didn't work.

Right. Mocking dead anti-vax influencers for the often irrational choice of not being vaccinated will not persuade their followers to get the shot. It will further alienate them and deepen societal rifts that will plague our societies for many years to come. Given the low fatality rate (especially among the fully vaccinated) of the Omicron variant the costs of alienation of a rather large portion of the society is simply much higher than whatever the benefits could be from this type of rhetoric.

And here is a suggestion that will solve the issue: In parallel to the vaccination effort make a Covid-19 infection effort for those who do not want to be vaccinated and prefer natural immunity (they must of course know that there are some risks involved). When infected they must stay in isolation for a specified amount of time and only stop the isolation once tested negative a couple of times. That way you will have a controlled immunization of the anti-vax component of the population.

Stop framing this as a 'debate'.

By PJ6 • Score: 3 • Thread
This is coming from the party of tribal warfare. It has nothing to do with laying out arguments in a reasoned way.

Some people need a conflict narrative in crisis.

They picked vaccines because nobody in their right mind outside the party would agree with that position.

Re: Fuck no

By quonset • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The issue with so many "personal choice" arguments is that it's hard to impossible to draw a line, and a lot of people arguing for personal choice are concurrently arguing against choice for others.

Yup. The same people who are now crying, "My body, my choice" are the exact same people who are telling women they have no choice over their bodies, that the government knows best.

Funny how that works.

Mock those who took the vaccine and died?

By Zemran • Score: 3 • Thread
Those here who queue up to mock the suffering yet conveniently overlook the greater number who took the vaccine and died of covid are simply being hypocritical. You seem to expect those who did not take the vaccine to learn something yet those who take the vaccine are not expected to learn from the failings of the the vaccine. It is simply an opinion and people are entitled to their opinion. The "I am right" crowd seem unable to think regardless of side and that is the dumb part.

Re: Fuck no

By ffejie • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I know the J&J used some embryonic stem cells in development and there are religions beliefs against that too

One of the issues with this is that many vaccines are made from stem cells, so there are people that are claiming religious exemption to the COVID vaccine, but gladly getting a flu shot (because this whole thing is actually somehow political). A hospital in Arkansas is requiring those seeking an exemption based on that reasoning to sign an affidavit attesting they will also stop taking 30 over-the-counter medications that were also developed using fetal stem cell lines to include Tylenol, Tums, and ibuprofen. This is, frankly, how we have to treat people who decide that the COVID vaccine is "because of their religion." I stand by my original point: it's all a bunch of bullshit.

Library Intentionally Corrupted by Developer Relaunches as a Community-Driven Project

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Last weekend a developer intentionally corrupted two of his libraries which collectively had more than 20 million weekly downloads and thousands of dependent projects.

Eight days later, one of those libraries has become a community controlled project.

Some highlights from the announcement at We're a group of engineers who were using Faker in prod when the main package was deleted. We have eight maintainers currently....

What has the team done so far?

1. Created a GitHub org [repository] for the new Faker package under @faker-js/faker.
2. Put together a team of eight maintainers.
3. Released all previous versions of Faker at @faker-js/faker on npm.
4. Released the Version 6 Alpha
5. Almost completed migrating to TypeScript so that DefinitelyTyped no longer needs to maintain its external @types/faker package.
6. Created a public Twitter account for communicating with the community.
7. Released the first official Faker documentation website....

Faker has never had an official docs website and the awesome Jeff Beltran has been maintaining a project called "Un-Official faker.js Documentation" for the last 3 years.

He gave us permission to re-use his work to create

8. Cleaned up tooling like Prettier, CI, Netlify Deploy Previews, and GitHub Actions.
9. Done a TON of issue triage and many, many PR reviews.
10. We've gotten in contact with the Open Collective and discussed a transition plan for the project.

We fully intend to extend Faker, continuously develop it, and make it even better.

As such, we will work on a roadmap after we release 6.x and merge all of the TypeScript Pull Requests in the next week....

We're now turning Faker into a community-controlled project currently maintained by eight engineers from various backgrounds and companies....

We're excited to give new life to this idea and project.

This project can have a fresh start and it will become even cooler.

We felt we needed to do a public announcement because of all of the attention the project received in the media and from the community.

We believe that we have acted in the way that is best for the community.

According to the announcement, they've now also forked the funding so the project's original sponsors can continue to support the community-driven development in the future, while the original developers Marak and Brian "were able to retain the $11,652.69 USD previously donated to the project."

Friday the official Twitter account for the new community project announced "It's been a week. We've merged all of the active forks. Currently at 1532 stars. Looks like everything is settling." [It's now up to over 1,800 stars.]

One of the new maintainers has posted on Twitter, "I'm just grateful to the faker community that willed itself into existence and stepped up."

Never trust public repos

By Scoth • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

This is why you should never trust public repos in prod. Always have your own, private stuff and test every release. These are basics.

for those asking what faker does

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Informative • Thread

it is a JS generator of random fake data that looks legitimate. e.g. random address (which may or may not exist), random e-mail, random user profile etc. its purpose is to be used in providing your web pages with meaningful test data rather than ipsum lorem.

Now this guy

By hdyoung • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
goes down in open-source history as exiting the community by throwing a juvenile tantrum.

know what he could have done instead? He could have posted "Hi everyone, I'm burnt out, the open-source community is starting to get under my skin, and I'm sick of making other people money off my work and getting zilch for it. I'm gonna hand my creation over to fresh meat who will continue the utterly unrewarding maintenance work, and leave like a pro with my head held high."

Too bad that ship sailed. junior-high-school level tantrum it was.

Re:The original developer kind of had a point

By greenfruitsalad • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I still hold hope that what I've seen isn't universal but in my experience, companies are happy to make millions off of free software; happy to develop it further in-house (usually without contributing back) but as soon as the project appears to be in financial trouble, they'll look for costly commercial alternatives instead of funding the free software one.

Walmart Appears to Be Planning Its Own Cryptocurrency and NFTs

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Walmart appears to be venturing into the metaverse with plans to create its own cryptocurrency and collection of NFTs," reports CNBC.

"The big-box retailer filed several new trademarks late last month that indicate its intent to make and sell virtual goods. In a separate filing, the company said it would offer users a virtual currency, as well as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs." According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Walmart filed the applications on Dec. 30. In total, seven separate applications have been submitted.... "They're super intense," said Josh Gerben, a trademark attorney. "There's a lot of language in these, which shows that there's a lot of planning going on behind the scenes about how they're going to address cryptocurrency, how they're going to address the metaverse and the virtual world that appears to be coming or that's already here...."

[B]oth Under Armour's and Adidas' NFT debuts sold out last month. They're now fetching sky-high prices on the NFT marketplace OpenSea. Gerben said that apparel retailers Urban Outfitters, Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch have also filed trademarks in recent weeks detailing their intent to open some sort of virtual store.... According to Frank Chaparro, director at crypto information services firm The Block, many retailers are still reeling from being late to e-commerce, so they don't want to miss out on any opportunities in the metaverse. "I think it's a win-win for any company in retail," Chaparro said. "And even if it just turns out to be a fad there's not a lot of reputation damage in just trying something weird out like giving some customers an NFT in a sweepstake, for instance."

Damn supply chain ...

By fahrbot-bot • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Under Armour's and Adidas' NFT debuts sold out last month.

They're waiting for new shipments of 1s and 0s so they can create more NFTs ... (sigh)

[Walmart] filed several new trademarks late last month that indicate its intent to make and sell virtual goods.

Meanwhile, many parts of the World raise their hands to ask about getting *actual* goods -- like food, etc...

We really need to nip this in the bud

By rsilvergun • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Simply put there isn't enough electricity to power every country on Earth trying to cash in on this stupidity. I'm aware there are cryptocurrencies and blockchains that don't draw as much power but I'm also aware that they are very easy to attack. Proof of stake is not a solution since that means any large player or group of players can manipulate the market with ease.

Ask yourself if you like having electricity or not. Ask yourself if a large company like Walmart was making millions of dollars off of nfts would they care whether you have electricity or not? Ask yourself what multiple large companies using massive amounts of electricity would do to the price of electricity and your power bill? That would be a good time like I said to nip this in the bud. Before we have $700 a month power bills

Re:Yes, let’s blame *others*

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

There are two options:

1. Governments can have sensible policies.

2. We can whine and complain that humans are selfish and greedy until they stop.

Do you really believe that #2 is the better solution?

Climate change

By TJHook3r • Score: 3 • Thread
Digital art and currency is going to be what finishes the human race? How are we going to look our grandkids in the eye and tell them that we melted the ice caps in order to exchange pictures of cartoon monkeys?

Microsoft Detects Lurking Malware On Ukrainian Computers

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Microsoft warned on Saturday evening that it had detected a highly destructive form of malware in dozens of government and private computer networks in Ukraine," reports the New York Times, "that appeared to be waiting to be triggered by an unknown actor...."

The Times reports that the malware "bears some resemblance" to NotPetya, the widespreading 2017 malware which "American intelligence officials later traced to Russian actors."

The discovery comes in the midst of what the Times earlier called "the security crisis Russia has ignited in Eastern Europe by surrounding Ukraine on three sides with 100,000 troops and then, by the White House's accounting, sending in saboteurs to create a pretext for invasion."

Long-time Slashdot reader 14erCleaner shares the Times' latest report: In a blog post, [Microsoft] said that on Thursday — around the same time government agencies in Ukraine found that their websites had been defaced — investigators who watch over Microsoft's global networks detected the code. "These systems span multiple government, nonprofit and information technology organizations, all based in Ukraine," Microsoft said.... The code appears to have been deployed around the time that Russian diplomats, after three days of meetings with the United States and NATO over the massing of Russian troops at the Ukrainian border, declared that the talks had essentially hit a dead end....

Microsoft said that it could not yet identify the group behind the intrusion, but that it did not appear to be an attacker that its investigators had seen before. The code, as described by the company's investigators, is meant to look like ransomware — it freezes up all computer functions and data, and demands a payment in return. But there is no infrastructure to accept money, leading investigators to conclude that the goal is to inflict maximum damage, not raise cash.

It is possible that the destructive software has not spread too widely and that Microsoft's disclosure will make it harder for the attack to metastasize. But it is also possible that the attackers will now launch the malware and try to destroy as many computers and networks as possible.... Warnings like the one from Microsoft can help abort an attack before it happens, if computer users look to root out the malware before it is activated. But it can also be risky. Exposure changes the calculus for the perpetrator, who, once discovered, may have nothing to lose in launching the attack, to see what destruction it wreaks.

So far there is no evidence that the destructive malware has been unleashed by the hackers who placed it in the Ukrainian systems....

The new attack would wipe hard drives clean and destroy files. Some defense experts have said such an attack could be a prelude to a ground invasion by Russia. Others think it could substitute for an invasion, if the attackers believed a cyberstrike would not prompt the kind of financial and technological sanctions that [U.S. President] Biden has vowed to impose in response.

Ukraine's Ministry of Digital Development issued a statement that "All evidence indicates that Russia is behind the cyberattack. Moscow continues to wage a hybrid war and is actively building up its forces in the information and cyberspaces." While the Associated Press reported the statement, the Times notes that the ministry provided no evidence, "and early attribution of attacks is frequently wrong or incomplete."

But the Times also cites U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan as saying "If it turns out that Russia is pummeling Ukraine with cyberattacks, and if that continues over the period ahead, we will work with our allies on the appropriate response."

Re:Highly destructive form of malware

By Anubis IV • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Linux malware sees 35% growth during 2021

Which is nearly identical to Windows’ numbers if you care to do the math. Windows grew from 90.75 million pieces of recognized malware in 2020 to 116.91 million in 2021, which is a roughly 29% increase.

Beware growth statistics absent any context. Anytime you see them being used that way, they’re almost always being deliberately abused to create a sense of alarm or to otherwise engage in clickbait behavior. A 35% increase may be massive...or it may mean an increase of one. We need context to make sense of numbers and ensure that others aren’t "lying with statistics".

Ah... it all becomes clear now

By NewtonsLaw • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

So now we know exactly why Russia arrested the REVIL ransomware hackers recently. I wonder what kind of deals are being done to recruit their skills against foreign nations in return for a more lenient (if any) prison term? :->

Countering Putin's desinformation

By mi • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

The US does not have defensive treaties with Ukraine

Bullshit. It does:

The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances refers to three identical political agreements signed at the OSCE conference in Budapest, Hungary on 5 December 1994 to provide security assurances by its signatories relating to the accession of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The memorandum was originally signed by three nuclear powers: the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. China and France gave somewhat weaker individual assurances in separate documents.

The memorandum included security assurances against threats or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

As a result, between 1994 and 1996, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine gave up their nuclear weapons.

Now that you've been educated, will you revise your sources of information?

Re: Free pen testing!

By Ol Olsoc • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

True and you will probably get modded down for not taking the opportunity to trash Windows.

So I should be quiet that my Windows machines updated and killed my VPN to a remote site that wild be life threatening to try to get to at this point?

Killed my NTP as well. Fortunately, my Linux and MacOS machines are still working. But hey - Don't trash Windows!

Y'all folks keep saying say that Windows is just as secure as Linux - Prove it.

Then after you are done showing that Windows is just as secure, tell us why Microsoft uses Linux to run Azure?

Now tell us why the fallback mantra is that Linux is more secure because no one is using it - HowBow those Linux servers? Are there so few of them? Microsoft has shown time and again that it is vulnerable to malware, and has shown since XP days that their updates are worse than malware - at least as far as machines working after their "security updates" which are rammed down our throats.

Re:Ah... it all becomes clear now

By Elwood_87 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
My thought exactly, now we know why Putin finally did something about that ransomware gang. He wanted to militarize their talents in his bid to invade Ukraine. This won't end well.

When a Decades-Old Email Provider Used by Millions Suddenly Goes Down

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Mail2World hosts mailboxes for 2,150,000 different domains, according to its web site, offering both "free, reliable email for everyone" and a $29.99-a-year "premium" service with a terabyte of storage (instead of the free level's 25 gigabytes), an ad-free inbox, and "premium"-level support.

"We appreciate your understanding as we work to fully restore email service as soon as possible," reads their most-recent tweet — from Thursday.

Slashdot reader C4st13v4n14 is not a happy customer: Since Tuesday evening local time, I haven't been able to access my primary email account. This is an alumni email account I've had for the last 22 years that's tied to all my accounts ranging from not only social media and IOT devices, but also banking, access to health services and contact with local and countrywide government authorities.

My country is highly digitised and virtually everything from taxes to buying or selling a house, paying bills, access to health records and correspondence with hospitals and GPs, driving licences, applying for welfare, and starting a business are online. I don't even get snail mail anymore, everything is sent to a digital mailbox I can access through a browser or app with two-factor authentication. Fortunately, all access control for public-facing services is via two-factor authentication or smartcards with secure certificates for the highly sensitive stuff.

Regardless, the ordeal has been quite distressing as I was unable to find any information about the outage; a little detective work was only giving vague ERR_CONNECTION_RESET and DNS errors. My main thought was that my account had somehow been compromised and even more worryingly, there were no reports online about it. Turning to Reddit, I was able to gather that the provider, Mail2World, had suffered a ransomware attack but had been very uncommunicative about the event. In terms of news coverage, there was basically none. Only one random news site had a short article about it. During the days without access, I was painstakingly moving accounts to my Gmail address and updating contact information for the really important stuff like governmental services. This morning, I got a tip that Jesse over at BlueScreen Computer had reached out to Mail2World and has been documenting the outage.

Since then, some email has started to show up in my mobile app and I'm able to access the web portal again, but I can't help but feel like the damage has been done. This is an account that I pay an annual fee for and have trusted to work until now. I also find being kept in the dark about something so fundamental in today's world like email to be both very concerning and completely unacceptable. In that regard, I'm hoping this will bring some coverage to the event.

I would also like any input you Slashdotters have on migrating to and navigating Gmail. The interface is unfamiliar to an old-school user like me who still uses Eudora to check and save a backup of everything.

By the way, I'd should also like to point out that both POP and SMTP are handled by servers at, and their website has also been unreachable during this. Instead of Gmail, maybe you would recommend a different provider or service altogether? My work email is fortunately completely separate as of a couple years ago and handled by as they host my website. It works, but they aren't anything special really.

It's interesting to imagine the scope of this particular outage. "Our company's growing list of customers includes prominent organizations from around the world," brags the Mail2World web site, "such as publicly-traded corporations, leading academic institutions and some of the largest and most-recognized service providers."

But long-time Slashdot reader OtisSnerd has experienced even worse: This happened with's email and NNTP offerings back in early September. I had my email address with them for 25 years, and my wife's email for almost 22. It turns out that Newsguy went chapter 7. Luckily we were using pop3 with MS Outlook, so we both still have all the old email. I already had another email account elsewhere, but my wife didn't. Took days to get all her changes made.

When and die...

By Applehu Akbar • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

...A lot of Civil War veterans around here running their old CD-installed "portals" on Windows 3.11 machines are going to think their world has come to an end. I will have to break it to them thatere isn't any "floppy for Gmail" they can upgrade to.

Avoiding this...

By jddj • Score: 3 • Thread

1. Don't use proprietary apps. Use the Internet. You can find another email app when you want it (or need it).

2. Don't use IMAP, use POP3. Email provider down? OK, switch to another one. The provider shouldn't be keeping your mail.

3. Be in charge of your own DNS. (I'm NOT saying run your own DNS server, but instead keep control of your own domain name). If you let someone else control your domain (i.e. you get a "free" domain from your web host, rather than buying and configuring your own domain) you're stuck with what the true domain owner gives you. (I went through this wringer 20 years ago. Hard-won knowledge). If you own your own, point it at another email provider tout de suite (if you paid attention to 1 and 2 above).

Re:Avoiding this...

By ffkom • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
I agree with 1. and 3., I disagree with 2.: IMAP also allows to mirror all your emails locally - of course I use that - and it is still much faster and better than POP3.

It did happen to me that a domain and IMAP provider I used pretty suddenly went out of business. No big deal, moving the MX record to another provider only took 30min of work and about 1 day until it was effective.
And of course, I could easily retain the locally mirrored emails from the previous account which remained offline.

Re:This can happen to any online service

By ZorinLynx • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

>I run my own email servers and DNS servers with appropriate redundancy.

I do too. The trouble is, this is getting harder and harder to do lately because pretty much all hosting providers, cloud providers and so on have their netblocks marked as spam sources. It's extremely difficult to host a machine or VPS on a "clean" IP address these days.

It only takes one bad actor on your provider's network and suddenly all the E-mail you send is marked as spam by everyone. This has happened with most providers and ISP networks. It's a crap situation.

You can use Thunderbird with Gmail

By kerashi • Score: 3 • Thread

While the Eudora email client hasn't been updated to work with the newer security that gmail uses, Thunderbird works once you set gmail up to allow it. I seldom use the web mail except to report spam to Google.

As for gmail, if you're not enough of a nerd to roll your own email server, it's actually a pretty good service, indeed I'd rate it among the best free services. The spam filters in particular are remarkably good. Even my mom's account, which gets hundreds of spam emails every month, only occasionally has one slip through.

1.7 Million People Live for a Week on 100% Renewable Energy

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
1.77 million people live in South Australia, speading across 984,321 square kilometres (or 380,048 square miles), according to Wikipedia. Today the Sydney Morning Herald announced that South Australia "sourced an average of just over 100 per cent of the electricity it needed from renewable power for 6 and a half days leading up to December 29 last year."

They're calling it "a record for the state and perhaps for comparable energy grids around the world." The state's previous record was just over three days, says Geoff Eldridge, an energy analyst who runs the website, which tracks the operations of the National Energy Market covering Australia's east-coast states and South Australia.

His analysis shows that for the six days identified, the state produced on average 101 per cent of the energy it needed from wind, rooftop solar and solar farms, with just a fraction of the energy the state used being drawn from gas, in order to keep the grid stable. At times during the period, slightly less renewable energy was available and at other times renewable capacity was higher than needed, he says.

Bruce Mountain, director of the Victoria Energy Policy Centre, said he believed that aside from some small island grids such as those in Hawaii and Tasmania, it was likely that South Australia's six-day run on renewables was a record for a grid supporting an advanced economy.

During the unprecedented 156-hour renewable run, the share of wind in total energy supplied averaged 64.4 per cent, while rooftop solar averaged 29.5 per cent and utility-scale solar averaged 6.2 per cent, clean energy website reported, using Mr Eldridge's data.

(Thanks to Slashdot reader betsuin for sharing the article)

In related news ...

By fahrbot-bot • Score: 3 • Thread

1.7 Million People Live for a Week on 100% Renewable Energy

All outdoor plants and animals on Earth, ever, respond with "hold my beer". :-)

Been there, done that

By spaceyhackerlady • Score: 3 • Thread

Here in British Columbia we generate 97% of our electricity from renewable sources, mainly hydroelectric dams. That remaining 3% is electricity for out-of-the-way places that aren't connected to the main grid. Ironically, that includes the Queen Charlotte Islands whose residents routinely berate everybody else for our carbon footprint.


Headline is misleading [Re:6 1/2 day week?]

By XXongo • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Yes, the text is accurate, but the headline is wrong.

It didn't run on 100% renewable energy, either, The text says that it averaged 101 percent of the electricity used. But that means some of the time they were running on natural gas, while other times the renewables were overproducing and feeding the grid. That's not really the same as "running completely on renewable energy.

With that said, it's a good run, but not quite as noteworthy as the headline makes it out to be,

Re:Great news for arid low density regions

By AleRunner • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Or windy areas. Or areas with mountains and rain. Or areas near to the sea that have tides. Or areas that can grow more things. Or areas that have significant geological activity. Or areas that can be connected via a transmission grid to one of those places. Apart from that a bit of a disaster.

5 million on 100% for a LONG time

By LostMyBeaver • Score: 3 • Thread
I've lived in Norway for 23 years and so far as I know, we've done 100% renewable the vast majority of the time. I'd guess we've done it for a VERY long time before as well

Decades of Research: the Story of How mRNA Vaccines Were Developed

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Long-time Slashdot reader fahrbot-bot wanted to share this New York Times article which makes the point that "The stunning Covid vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna drew upon long-buried discoveries made in the hopes of ending past epidemics..." They remain a marvel: Even as the Omicron variant fuels a new wave of the pandemic, the vaccines have proved remarkably resilient at defending against severe illness and death. And the manufacturers, Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna, say that mRNA technology will allow them to adapt the vaccines quickly, to fend off whatever dangerous new version of the virus that evolution brings next.

Skeptics have seized on the rapid development of the vaccines — among the most impressive feats of medical science in the modern era — to undermine the public's trust in them. But the breakthroughs behind the vaccines unfolded over decades, little by little, as scientists across the world pursued research in disparate areas, never imagining their work would one day come together to tame the pandemic of the century. The pharmaceutical companies harnessed these findings and engineered a consistent product that could be made at scale, partly with the help of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration's multibillion-dollar program to hasten the development and manufacture of vaccines, drugs and diagnostic tests to fight the new virus.

For years, though, the scientists who made the vaccines possible scrounged for money and battled public indifference. Their experiments often failed. When the work got too crushing, some of them left it behind. And yet on this unpredictable, zigzagging path, the science slowly built upon itself, squeezing knowledge from failure.

The vaccines were possible only because of efforts in three areas. The first began more than 60 years ago with the discovery of mRNA, the genetic molecule that helps cells make proteins. A few decades later, two scientists in Pennsylvania decided to pursue what seemed like a pipe dream: using the molecule to command cells to make tiny pieces of viruses that would strengthen the immune system. The second effort took place in the private sector, as biotechnology companies in Canada in the budding field of gene therapy — the modification or repair of genes to treat diseases — searched for a way to protect fragile genetic molecules so they could be safely delivered to human cells. The third crucial line of inquiry began in the 1990s, when the U.S. government embarked on a multibillion-dollar quest to find a vaccine to prevent AIDS. That effort funded a group of scientists who tried to target the all-important "spikes" on H.I.V. viruses that allow them to invade cells. The work has not resulted in a successful H.I.V. vaccine. But some of these researchers, including Dr. Graham, veered from the mission and eventually unlocked secrets that allowed the spikes on coronaviruses to be mapped instead.

In early 2020, these different strands of research came together. The spike of the Covid virus was encoded in mRNA molecules. Those molecules were wrapped in a protective layer of fat and poured into small glass vials. When the shots went in arms less than a year later, recipients' cells responded by producing proteins that resembled the spikes — and that trained the body to attack the coronavirus.

The extraordinary tale proved the promise of basic scientific research: that once in a great while, old discoveries can be plucked from obscurity to make history.

Re:Same basic tech, was used for gene manipulation

By gtall • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

You are thinking of DNA manipulation, the article concerns mRNA. You either didn't read the article or failed to understand what you wrote or are just out to spread misinformation.

Re:Decades of obscure work and research delivers

By fahrbot-bot • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

In addition, even in cases where an objective wasn't met, like a workable HIV vaccine, the work done trying to achieve that goal is often useful elsewhere, for other things or similar endeavors. That seems to be the case here with COVID mRNA vaccines.


By Reiyuki • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Good way to spot a politically-motivated story is by what gets left out

Re:What skeptics?

By dgatwood • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

It seems what we have is a vaccine that doesn't work. What's so stunning about that?

What's stunning is that despite a 12x reduction in hospitalization, some people still believe that it doesn't work.

Oh, you mean that it doesn't completely prevent transmission of a novel strain that is massively different from the original strain? That's why they should have adapted the vaccine every few months to be multivalent, combining the original strain with whatever strain or strains were primarily circulating, instead of just delivering a monovalent vaccine derived from a one-to-two-year-old strain. That mostly comes down to a failure by governments to request and approve boosters. At least two manufacturers (Pfizer and Moderna) had boosters ready to go for alpha and delta, but nobody was interested. Had we gotten boosters for those two, our immune system would already have seen a significant percentage of the spike protein changes from omicron already.

But at its core, the vaccine does work. Between that and natural infection, it has all but wiped out transmission of the original strain and strains derived from several variants, including the alpha/delta lineage. And it massively reduces deaths even for viruses from the omicron lineage. We just need an omicron-specific booster to wipe out that second, highly diverged lineage. That might not have been necessary if the powers that be had updated the vaccine quickly enough and deployed it quickly enough, but now all we can do is try to deal with the consequences of that mistake.

Re:What skeptics?

By jacks smirking reven • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

You're also obviously not a statistician either. Start with the word "disproportionate", as in the unvaccinated despite making up only 20% of the population are accounting for over 50% of the hospitlizations and an even higher percentage of deaths (3.57 per 100k unvaccinated vs 0.54 vaccinated, a 5x increase, and that is old data, its only leaned more in favor of my argument today).

Do CS Teachers Need To Know CS?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"I'll say it over and over until I retire — CS teachers really do need to know CS," says Mike Zamansky, a coordinator of CS teacher certifications. He was criticizing groups that instead provide teachers with scripted content and short-form "training".

Long-term Slashdot reader theodp summarizes the issue: A problem with out-of-the-box scripted solutions, Zamansky explains, is that "teachers are less and less expected as much to know their subjects, their students, and how to teach but rather to follow the script. This approach might get those students past the standardized exam but in the long run it's not giving students what they need nor deserve.

"I've seen this every year in my undergraduate CS classes. Since APCS Principles was launched many of my students have come in having taken the classes and 'passed' the exam. Truth be told, the majority of them come in basically knowing nothing. This wouldn't be a problem if they didn't come in thinking they knew quite a bit. [...] School supervisors don't know any better so they see that they can check off the computer science box. Many teachers probably don't know better because their short term training is focusing on how easy CS is and how you don't have to learn anything to teach it rather than the truth — it's just like anything else, it takes time and effort to really master."


By Dutch Gun • Score: 3 • Thread

Should a math teacher know math?
Should a physics teacher know physics?
Should an English teacher be literate?

Sound pretty ridiculous when you substitute any other subject.. I think this article is just trying to disprove Betteridge's Law of Headlines.

wtf kind of question is this?

By sonoronos • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

"Do CS teachers need to know CS?"

How did we get to the point where we are asking these sorts of questions? Am I the only one who thinks the very nature of this question is non-sensical?

Re:My thoughts as a high school CS teacher

By YetAnotherDrew • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Speaking as a department head, it's hard to find people with undergraduate degrees in CS who are willing to be paid very littleto teach.



By quonset • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

History teachers don't appear to know history . . .

They know history, it's just that Republicans won't let them teach history. For example, the reason Texas has such an odd shape is because of slavery. That little sliver of Oklahoma used to be part of Texas, but when the Compormise of 1850 was reached (the successor to the Missouri Compromise), rather than give up slavery, Texas gave up land.

It's a similar reason for the fight at the Alamo. Mexico renouced slavery a decade earlier and resused to return any slaves who escaped into Mexico. With the hordes of illegals in Mexican territory not assimilating into the culture*, Mexico forced the issue when talk of secession went round. Jim Bowie was a well known slave owner and proponent of slavery so his stand at the Alamo was about maintainng slavery. Which Texas did.

Meanwhile, 200 years earlier in the East, Roger Williams created the first democratic society on the continent as well as separating Church and State from one another. However, this was only after his fellow Christians attacked him (both physically and in public), altered official deeds and proclamations from the Crown pertaining to Williams' land rights, and even considered having him arrested for having the temerity to not follow their religous doctrine. More disturbing, he let women vote in elections and gave them near equal rights to men.

And let us not forget the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s. Can't let our children know about how white people were lynching blacks who dared to look at a white woman, or why the National Guard was needed to escort black children to school. It might make those white kids feel bad about their race. And we wouldn't want that to happen, now would we?

Considering the embracing of fascist policies and Nazi propaganda technigues by Republicans, this is spot on.

Re:The [Fukuzawa Yukichi] approach

By shanen • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Actually I think that 'joke' may have come from Richard Feynman, and he actually was brilliant.

Lower down in the discussion there was some mention of English teachers in Japan who can't speak English. The topics intersect here with a famous story about Fukuzawa, the founder of Keio University. When he was teaching English, he would often get questions that he couldn't answer, so he would just fake something as a quick response. Then he would go to the toilet (not to be confused with the separate bathroom in Japan) and check with a dictionary he had concealed in his kimono. After he returned to the classroom, he would "suddenly remember" a better answer. He justified the tactic as necessary to give the students more confidence in their teacher and thus to motivate their studies. Most accounts agree that he was a great teacher.

Maybe the corresponding tactic in CS would be to implement and test an algorithm on a waterproof smartphone while in the actual bath?

(Yeah, running for Funny, but not very fast.)

Law Enforcement Agencies Recruit Rare People Who are 'Super-Recognizers' of Faces

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader shared this report on "Super-Recognizers" from a series of articles in the Guardian called "Meet the Superhumans." As a child, Yenny Seo often surprised her mother by pointing out a stranger in the grocery store, remarking it was the same person they passed on the street a few weeks earlier. Likewise, when they watched a movie together, Seo would often recognise "extras" who'd appeared fleetingly in other films... A cohort of just 1-2% of the population are "super-recognisers" — people who can memorise and recall unfamiliar faces, even after the briefest glimpse.

The underlying cause is still not entirely clear — it's a new field, with only around 20 scientific papers studying super-recognisers. However, it is suspected genetics plays a role because identical twins show similar performance, and it has been shown that cortical thickness — the amount of neurons — in the part of the brain that supports face recognition is a predictor of superior ability. Because it's such a rare phenomenon, in 2017 Dr. David White, now a lead investigator at the Face Research Lab at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and his colleagues designed a publicly available online screening tool to try to unearth the world's best super-recognisers. Seo, then in her mid-twenties, gave it a go — and her score was so high, White invited her to come to Sydney for more testing.

With more than 100,000 people now tested, Seo still ranks in the top 50....

Over the past decade, security and law enforcement agencies around the world have started recruiting people with superior facial recognition capabilities. London's metropolitan police has a special team who examine CCTV footage from crime scenes — they were used in the investigation into the poisoning of a former Russian spy with the nerve agent Novichok in Salisbury — and several years ago Queensland police started identifying super-recognisers in its ranks. A proliferation of private agencies has also sprung up, offering the services of super-recognisers.

Seo has no interest....

Better than AI

By Retired Chemist • Score: 3 • Thread
It looks like people can still be better than AI. Who would have thought that?

We know

By nospam007 • Score: 3 • Thread

They have been doing that for decades, even if YOU read it only yesterday.

And the other side of this is...

By fyngyrz • Score: 3 • Thread

The opposite of a "super-recognizer" is often someone with aphantasia. This is the lack of the ability to create mental imagery. It tends to have a significant impact on the ability to recall faces until that face is extremely well known. Among other things.

Re:Better than AI

By kot-begemot-uk • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
No. People are good cover for AI.

Officially, the output of the 20K cameras in between Gatwick a hotel in London and then between the hotel and Salisbury on the next day are not collated and not analysed using image recognition and tracking software.

By claiming that you have used a super-duper genius to review a total of 40K days of footage you get plausible deniability that you are not collating the information of the aforementioned cameras and not analysing them using AI.

Re:Better than AI

By hawk • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

research is already underway to see if this can be adapted to slashdot editors, so as to recognized stories they've seen before . . .

Pine64's 'PineNote' E-Ink Tablet Now Available for $399 for Developers

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"The PineNote is a tablet with a 10.1 inch grayscale E Ink display and pen support," reports Liliputing.

"It's designed to be a hackable, Linux-friendly device and it's one of the latest products from the makers of the PinePhone and PineBook line of devices." First introduced last summer, the PineNote began shipping to developers in limited quantities in December. Now it's available for anyone to purchase for $399 — no invitation required. But it's probably only a good idea to buy one if you're a developer or very early adopter because there's very little software available for the PineNote so far. At this point, Pine64 is shipping the PineNote without an operating system installed. It will have only a bootloader, allowing developers and enthusiasts to load their own software... [D]evelopers have already made some progress in getting builds Alpine and Debian Linux to run on the E Ink slate, and according to Pine64, there are ports for NixOS and other operating systems on the way.

There's already a partially working display driver, but it's still a work in progress. The goal is to allow developers to port mainline Linux operating systems and applications to play well with a monochrome display with a slow refresh rate. Developers have also figured out how to enable support PineNote's touchscreen, audio playback, and USB port, making it possible to use USB keyboards, storage devices, and other peripherals.

Re:I wouldn't mind this.

By caseih • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

There are several modes that the e-ink drivers can work in that can get faster refresh rates at the expense of some ghosting and other artifacts. I believe the PineNote does support these other refresh modes, although I'm not sure how you interface with the display, whether there's a wayland driver for it, or if you have to use some kind of specialized drawing API.

I used to have a Yotaphone 2 which had a color screen on one side and an e-ink screen on the other side. You could put the regular android display on it and by choosing a suitable refresh mode you could actually almost watch video on it (maybe 10 fps). Certainly it refreshed fast enough to swipe and interact with apps normally. I really miss that phone, but with two fragile screens it didn't survive more than a year in my pocket. But I loved using it outside in the bright sunlight.

Pine64's Newest Linux Smartphone 'PinePhone Pro Explorer Edition' Now Available for Pre-Order

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Linux fans rejoice!" writes Hot Hardware. " Pine64's newest smartphone is officially available for pre-order." PinePhone Pro Explorer Edition pre-orders opened up Tuesday. Devices that are pre-ordered before January 18th will be shipped from Pine64's Hong Kong warehouse by January 24th and should arrive by early February.... According to Pine64, the PinePhone Pro Explorer Edition is the "fastest mainline Linux smartphone on the market." It uses a Rockchip RK3399S SoC that is composed of two ARM A72 cores (1.5GHz) and four A53 efficiency cores (1.5GHz)....

Consumers will also likely be pleased with the price of the device. The PinePhone Pro Explorer Edition currently rings in at $399 USD. The production run is purportedly "large" and interested consumers should therefore be able to easily purchase the device at this price.

Liliputing adds: While the PinePhone Pro has better hardware than the original PinePhone, Pine64 plans to continue selling both phones indefinitely. The first-gen phone will continue to sell for $150 to $200, offering an entry-level option for folks that want to experiment with mobile Linux, while the higher-priced PinePhone Pro should offer a hardware experience closer to what folks would expect from a modern mid-range phone....

In addition to the PinePhone Keyboard, the recently launched PinePhone wireless charging case, fingerprint reader case, and LoRa cases should all work with either phone.

But the new phone has a faster processor, more memory and storage, higher-resolution cameras, a higher-speed USB-C port and support for WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 4.1. And those features should make it a little more viable as a replacement for an iPhone or Android device... if you're comfortable running work-in-progress software.

They also add that "Thanks to the recent launch of the $50 PinePhone Keyboard, you can also think of the PinePhone Pro as a $400 phone that can be used as a $449 mini-laptop...."

And the Pine64 site's January update also points out that "Pico 8 Raspberry Pi port works on the PinePhone," adding "yes, it does run DOOM."

The fastest Linux Phone?

By Qbertino • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

What about the Volla Phone X?

At a similar pricepoint the Volla X seems way more refined. And it's been available for some time now. Or am I missing something?

Re:The fastest Linux Phone?

By storkus • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I for one have never heard of it. Also come confusion from other replies about GNU / Linux versus Android / Linux: they're both Linux kernel based.

However, the BIGGEST problem is that Pine is actually using a world-wide cellular radio in its phone with most LTE bands while the Volla only supports the GSM and a couple Chinese bands.

Oh, and the marketeers at Volla appararently are not aware that "X" typically means "bigger" in a product, I believe even in non-English, but its the opposite for them.

Can it do VoLTE?

By Miamicanes • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Without VoLTE, it's effectively useless in the US now. Carriers like Verizon & T-mobile won't even allow you to use a non-VoLTE phone as a mobile data-only device. If the hardware is recognized by the network as "device that's supposed to be a phone", it MUST support VoLTE, or the network will refuse to talk to it.

AT&T is even more evil. They slammed the door on all non-AT&T-branded devices, regardless of specs. And if you boot a non-AT&T device (or non-VoLTE-capable) device with an AT&T SIM card, they'll administratively suspend your account.

Angry Gamers Have Scared Some Game Companies Away From NFTs

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"In recent months, at least half a dozen game studios have revealed plans to add NFTs to their games or said they were considering doing so," reports the New York Times.

Then they were confronted by gamers like 18-year-old Christian Lantz, who for years has played GSC Game World's first-person shooter game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Mr. Lantz was incensed. He joined thousands of fans on Twitter and Reddit who raged against NFTs in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s sequel. The game maker, they said, was simply looking to squeeze more money out of its players. The backlash was so intense that GSC quickly reversed itself and abandoned its NFT plan.

"The studio was abusing its popularity," Mr. Lantz, who lives in Ontario, said. "It's so obviously being done for profit instead of just creating a beautiful game...."

[C]lashes over crypto have increasingly erupted between users and major game studios like Ubisoft, Square Enix and Zynga. In many of the encounters, the gamers have prevailed — at least for now.... Players said they see the moves as a blatant cash grab. "I just hate that they keep finding ways to nickel-and-dime us in whatever way they can," said Matt Kee, 22, a gamer who took to Twitter in anger this month after Square Enix, which produces one of his favorite games, Kingdom Hearts, said it was pushing into NFTs. "I don't see anywhere mentioning how that benefits the gamer, how that improves gameplay. It's always about, 'How can I make money off this?'"

Much of their resentment is rooted in the encroachment of micro transactions in video games. Over the years, game makers have found more ways to profit from users by making them pay to upgrade characters or enhance their level of play inside the games. Even if people had already paid $60 or more for a game upfront, they were asked to fork over more money for digital items like clothing or weapons for characters.... Merritt K, a game streamer and editor at Fanbyte, a games industry site, said gamers' antagonism toward the companies has built up over the last decade partly because of the growing number of micro transactions. So when game makers introduced NFTs as an additional element to buy and sell, she said, players were "primed to call this stuff out. We've been here before."

That has led to bursts of gamer outrage, which have rattled the game companies. In December, Sega Sammy, the maker of the Sonic the Hedgehog game, expressed reservations about its NFT and crypto plans after "negative reactions" from users. Ubisoft, which makes titles like Assassin's Creed, said that it had misjudged how unhappy its customers would be after announcing an NFT program last month. A YouTube video about the move was disliked by more than 90 percent of viewers. "Maybe we under-evaluated how strong the backlash could have been," said Nicolas Pouard, a Ubisoft vice president who heads the French company's new blockchain initiative.

Game companies said their NFT plans were not motivated by profit. Instead, they said, NFTs give fans something fun to collect and a new way for them to make money by selling the assets. "It really is all about community," said Matt Wolf, an executive at the mobile game maker Zynga, who is leading a foray into blockchain games. "We believe in giving people the opportunity to play to earn."

The article also rounds up examples of game companies it says have "come out against crypto."
  • "Phil Spencer, the head of Microsoft's Xbox, told Axios in November that some games centered on earning money through NFTs appeared 'exploitative' and he would avoid putting them in the Xbox store."
  • "Valve, which owns the online game store Steam, also updated its rules last fall to prohibit blockchain games that allow cryptocurrencies or NFTs to be exchanged...."
  • "Tim Sweeney, the chief executive of Epic Games, the maker of the game Fortnite, said his company would steer clear of NFTs in its own games because the industry is riddled with 'an intractable mix of scams.' (Epic will still allow developers to sell blockchain games in its online store.)"
  • The blowback has affected more than just game studios. Discord, the messaging platform popular with gamers, backtracked in November after users threatened to cancel their paid subscriptions over a crypto initiative."


By phantomfive • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

NFTs are just a way of authenticating ownership of something on a publically auditable ledger.

That's the way it works in theory.

In practice, you can make as many NFTs as you want for a thing, and there's no way to know which one corresponds to actual ownership.


By JaredOfEuropa • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
NFTs have their uses, so does artificial scarcity. It's not a new concept either, we have had limited editions long before NFTs or even computers existed. An original painting ("naturally" scarce) might go for $50,000, good quality prints for $10... but limited edition prints, numbered and hand-signed by the artist, might go for $1000. An NFT is similar to the artist's signature on the print. Is that a bad thing? Not according to collectors or to the artists who can use it to make a bit more off their work.

NFTs can make it more attractive for artists to release stuff in the virtual world, and make their works more attractive for prospective buyers. A famous couturier can make a bespoke outfit for someone in Second Life (or whatever we got going these days); the outfit could be copied by others, but the virtual environment will label the original as genuine (using the NFT as proof), and perhaps even label the others as knock-offs. And if the NFT lives independently of the virtual environment, the person can take the outfit into other environments and show that it's genuine. Does all of that really matter in the grand scheme of things? It matters enough to a lot of people who are willing to pay for a specially commissioned work of art, with a guarantee that there are no copies (or at least the copies being recognizable as such). People pay a lot for branded apparel, and even more for limited edition items. Personally I don't care much for brands; if something looks good and if the quality is good, then it's good enough for me. But I'm not going to defraud anyone by buying a knock-off. In the virtual world, NFTs can help with that.

They don't have to be resource-hungry, as long as you park them on a blockchain with a small environmental footprint. Though I fully agree that 99% of all current NFT transactions out there are quick money grabs or money laundering schemes, or at best stupid rich people trying to flex.


By drinkypoo • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

They don't have to be resource-hungry, as long as you park them on a blockchain with a small environmental footprint.

Show us such a blockchain likely to be around long enough for meaningful persistence of those NFTs.

Young men, growing up.

By kackle • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

... 18-year-old Christian Lantz ... said ... "It's so obviously being done for profit instead of just creating a beautiful game...."

Matt Kee, 22 ... "It's always about, 'How can I make money off this?'"

Welcome to adulthood. Now you might understand why the older set is sometimes cranky.

NFTs explained.

By splutty • Score: 3 • Thread

Host of Youtube-dl Web Site Sued by Major Record Labels

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"As part of their growing battle against popular open source software tool youtube-dl, three major music labels are now suing Uberspace, the company that currently hosts the official youtube-dl homepage," reports TorrentFreak: According to plaintiffs Sony, Universal and Warner, youtube-dl circumvents YouTube's "rolling cipher" technology, something a German court found to be illegal in 2017.... While the RIAA's effort to take down youtube-dl from GitHub grabbed all the headlines, moves had already been underway weeks before that in Germany. Law firm Rasch works with several major music industry players and it was on their behalf that cease-and-desist orders were sent to local hosting service Uberspace. The RIAA complained that the company was hosting the official youtube-dl website although the tool itself was hosted elsewhere.

"The software itself wasn't hosted on our systems anyway so, to be honest, I felt it to be quite ridiculous to involve us in this issue anyway — a lawyer specializing in IT laws should know better," Jonas Pasche from Uberspace said at the time.

In emailed correspondence today Uberspace informed TorrentFreak that, following the cease-and-desist in October 2020, three major music labels are now suing the company in Germany... According to the labels, youtube-dl poses a risk to their business and enables users to download their artists' copyrighted works by circumventing YouTube's technical measures. As a result, Uberspace should not be playing a part in the tool's operations by hosting its website if it does not wish to find itself liable too....

The alleged illegality of youtube-dl is indeed controversial. While YouTube's terms of service generally disallow downloading, in Germany there is the right to make a private copy, with local rights group GEMA collecting fees to compensate for just that. Equally, when users upload content to YouTube under a Creative Commons license, for example, they agree to others in the community making use of that content. "Even if YouTube doesn't provide video download functionality right out of the box, the videos are not provided with copy protection," says former EU MP Julia Reda from the Society for Freedom Rights (GFF) to NetzPolitik. "Not only does YouTube pay license fees for music, we all pay fees for the right to private copying in the form of the device fee, which is levied with every purchase of smartphones or storage media," says Reda.

"Despite this double payment, Sony, Universal and Warner Music want to prevent us from exercising our right to private copying by saving YouTube videos locally on the hard drive."

How does this go, again?

By Entropius • Score: 3 • Thread

1. Put a video on YouTube, whose computers will provide a copy to anyone who asks
2. Get mad when people ask for copies
3. ???
4. Lawsuit?

Re:How does this go, again?

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

Worse. Did you catch the last line of the summary?

"Despite this double payment, Sony, Universal and Warner Music want to prevent us from exercising our right to private copying by saving YouTube videos locally on the hard drive."

Does nobody know how computers actually work? Unless something has changed, I don't think youtube videos are exclusively stored in ram and are never cached.

This is akin to them saying that I'm not allowed to copy files from one part of my hard drive to another. Sorry, when they land on my disk, they are mine. If you don't want them there, don't offer them on the internet.

Re:Why does Youtube cooperate?

By tysonedwards • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Except buffering offers legitimate improvements to user experience. For example, audio tracks and subtitles are often embedded into the same file.

If there is no subtitle present, one can perform live transcription of the audio data to make the contents of the video searchable or accessible to those with hearing loss.

Those same transcription features also allow for metadata extraction such as speaker identification, letting the viewer enable subtitles for individual speakers or their non-native language.

That is in addition to enabling functionality like “what did she just say?” Which will look for the start of the last line said before the assistant button activation.

Further, not all videos are expected to be watched completely. Sometimes you legitimately want to skip ahead, to re-play a previous segment, or to speed up or slow down playback. Enforcing linear, start to finish play in it’s entirety harms user engagement.

Re: How does this go, again?

By viperidaenz • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I believe the last line in the summary is referring to the legal right to make private copies of copyrighted material in Germany, because devices and storage media has been levied and that money they have paid has been given to the studios.

They should have sued in a different country.

Re:Why aren't they suing YouTube??

By JBeretta • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

YouTube dropped the ball here and has a surface/tech that is allowing downloads.

Uh... If you can stream it, you can download it. There's nothing that YouTube can do to stop that. I can't watch the video unless YouTube sends me the frames.