Advertising

Could Cryptocurrency Mining Kill Online Advertising? (linkedin.com) 113

"Could it turn out users actually prefer to trade a little CPU time to website owners in favor of them not showing ads?" writes phonewebcam, a long-time Slashdot reader. Slashdot covered the downside [of in-browser cryptocurrency mining] recently, with even [Portuguese professional sportsballer] Cristiano Ronaldo's official site falling victim, but that may not be the full story. This could be an ideal win-win situation, except for one huge downside -- the current gang of online advertisers.
By "current gang of online advertisers," he means Google, according to a longer essay at LinkedIn: Naturally, the world's largest ad broker, which runs the world most popular browser (desktop and mobile) is keen to see how this plays out, and is also uniquely placed to be able to heavily influence it, too... As it happens, Chrome users can already do something about it via extensions, for example AntiMiner... If cryptocurrencies have a future - and that's a big if (look at China's Bitcoin ban) - it could well turn out that their role just took an unexpected turn.
China

Apple Watch's LTE Suspended In China Possibly Due To Government Security Concerns (appleinsider.com) 18

The Apple Watch Series 3's best new feature has been mysteriously blocked in China. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, China has cut off the Apple Watch's LTE connectivity on Sept. 28 after brief availability from China Unicom. Industry analysts claim that the suspension is probably from governmental concerns about not being able to track and confirm users of the device. AppleInsider reports: Apple issued a brief statement confirming the situation, and referring customers to China Unicom. Neither China Unicom, nor Chinese regulators have made any statement on the matter. The issue may stem from the eSIM in the Apple Watch. Devices like the iPhone have state-owned telecom company-issued SIM cards -- and the eSIM is embedded in the device by Apple. "The eSIM (system) isn't mature enough yet in China," one analyst said. "The government still needs to figure out how they can control the eSIM." The LTE version of the Apple Watch had only a trial certificate to operate on the Chinese LTE network. An analyst who asked not to be identified expects that Ministry of Industry and Information Technology may take months to figure out how the government will deal with the eSIM, and issue a formal certificate for operation.
Windows

Munich Plans New Vote on Dumping Linux For Windows 10 (techrepublic.com) 412

An anonymous reader quotes TechRepublic: The city of Munich has suggested it will cost too much to carry on using Linux alongside Windows, despite having spent millions of euros switching PCs to open-source software... "Today, with a Linux client-centric environment, we are often confronted with major difficulties and additional costs when it comes to acquiring and operating professional application software," the city council told the German Federation of Taxpayers. Running Linux will ultimately prove unsustainable, suggests the council, due to the need to also keep a minority of Windows machines to run line-of-business software incompatible with Linux. "In the long term, this situation means that the operation of the non-uniform client landscape can no longer be made cost-efficient"... Since completing the multi-year move to LiMux, a custom-version of the Linux-based OS Ubuntu, the city always kept a smaller number of Windows machines to run incompatible software. As of last year it had about 4,163 Windows-based PCs, compared to about 20,000 Linux-based PCs.

The assessment is at odds with a wide-ranging review of the city's IT systems by Accenture last year, which found that most of the problems stem not from the use of open-source software, but from inefficiencies in how Munich co-ordinates the efforts of IT teams scattered throughout different departments. Dr. Florian Roth, leader of the Green Party at Munich City Council, said the review had also not recommended a wholesale shift to Windows. "The Accenture report suggested to run both systems because the complete 'rollback' to Windows and MS Office would mean a waste of experience, technology, work and money," he said... The city's administration is investigating how long it would take and how much it would cost to build a Windows 10 client for use by the city's employees. Once this work is complete, the council will vote again in November on whether this Windows client should replace LiMux across the authority from 2021.

A taxpayer's federation post urged "Penguin, adieu!" -- while also admitting that returning to Windows "will devour further tax money in the millions," according to TechRepublic.

"The federation's post also makes no mention of the licensing and other savings achieved by switching to LiMux, estimated to stand at about €10m."
Businesses

Apple's Tim Cook Shares What He Learned From Steve Jobs (businessinsider.com) 169

Speaking at Oxford, Apple CEO Tim Cook shared a lesson learned from the "spectacular" commercial failure of the Power Mac G4 Cube in 2000 -- and from his mentor Steve Jobs. An anonymous reader quotes Business Insider: "It was a very important product for us, we put a lot of love into it, we put enormous engineering into it," Cook said of the G4 Cube on stage. He calls it an "engineering marvel." At the time, Cook was Apple Senior VP of Worldwide Operations, recruited personally by then-CEO Steve Jobs... While the design was a hit, it was $200 more expensive than the regular Power Mac G4, a more traditional-looking PC with very similar specs. And some Cubes would develop cosmetic cracks in the acrylic cube casing due to a manufacturing flaw. In his talk, Cook says that Apple knew the Cube was flopping "from the very first day, almost..."

Ultimately, Cook says, it was a lesson in humility and pride. Apple had told both employees and customers that the G4 Cube was the future. And yet, despite Apple's massive hype, demand just wasn't there, and the company had to walk away. "This was another thing that Steve [Jobs] taught me, actually," says Cook. "You've got to be willing to look yourself in the mirror and say I was wrong, it's not right." In a broader sense, Cook says that Jobs taught him the value of intellectual honesty -- that, no matter how much you care about something, you have to be willing to take new data and apply it to the situation.

He advised his audience to "be intellectually honest -- and have the courage to change."

And the article points out that today there's a small but enthusiastic community who are still hacking their Power Mac G4 Cubes.
Android

Is the Chromebook the New Android Tablet? (computerworld.com) 182

An anonymous reader shares a report from Computerworld, where JR Raphael makes the case for why it's time to call the Chromebook the new Android tablet: What does a traditional Android tablet do that a convertible Chromebook doesn't? No matter how long you mull, it's tough to come up with much. Nowadays, a Chromebook runs the same apps from the same Google Play Store. It has an increasingly similar user interface, with a new touch-friendly and Android-reminiscent app launcher rolling out as we speak. It's likely to have an Android-like way of getting around the system before long, too, not to mention native integration of the Google Assistant (which is launching with the newly announced Pixelbook and then presumably spreading to other devices from there). But on top of all of that, a Chromebook offers meaningful advantages a traditional Android tablet simply can't match. It operates within the fast-booting, inherently secure, and free from manufacturer- or carrier-meddling Chrome OS environment. The operating system is updated every two to three weeks, directly by Google, for a minimum of five years. That's a sharp contrast to the software realities we see on Android -- and if you think the updates on Android phones are bad, let me tell you: The situation with Android tablets is worse.

In addition to the regular selection of Android apps, a Chromebook also gives you a desktop-caliber browser experience along with a laptop-level keyboard and capable trackpad. (And, as a side perk, that means you've got a built-in multi-mode stand for your tablet, too.) It's the best of both worlds, as I've put it before -- a whole new kind of platform-defying, all-purpose productivity and entertainment machine. And while it won't immediately lead to the outright extinction of traditional Android tablets, it certainly makes them seem like a watered-down and obsolete version of the same basic experience.

Businesses

Israeli Spies 'Watched Russian Agents Breach Kaspersky Software' (bbc.com) 194

Israeli spies looked on as Russian hackers breached Kaspersky cyber-security software two years ago, according to reports. From a report: The Russians were allegedly attempting to gather data on US intelligence programs, according to the New York Times and Washington Post. Israeli agents made the discovery after breaching the software themselves. Kaspersky has said it was neither involved in nor aware of the situation and denies collusion with authorities. Last month, the US government decided to stop using the Russian firm's software on its computers. The Israelis are said to have notified the US, which led to the ban on Kaspersky programs. The New York Times said that the situation had been described by "multiple people who have been briefed on the matter."
IOS

iOS 11's Misleading 'Off-ish' Setting For Bluetooth and Wi-Fi is Bad for User Security (eff.org) 162

Last month, we covered a story about how turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in iOS 11's Control Center doesn't really turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. EFF has called the situation bad for user security. From the report: Instead, what actually happens in iOS 11 when you toggle your quick settings to "off" is that the phone will disconnect from Wi-Fi networks and some devices, but remain on for Apple services. Location Services is still enabled, Apple devices (like Apple Watch and Pencil) stay connected, and services such as Handoff and Instant Hotspot stay on. Apple's UI fails to even attempt to communicate these exceptions to its users. It gets even worse. When you toggle these settings in the Control Center to what is best described as "off-ish," they don't stay that way. The Wi-Fi will turn back full-on if you drive or walk to a new location. And both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will turn back on at 5:00 AM. This is not clearly explained to users, nor left to them to choose, which makes security-aware users vulnerable as well. The only way to turn off the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios is to enable Airplane Mode or navigate into Settings and go to the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth sections. When a phone is designed to behave in a way other than what the UI suggests, it results in both security and privacy problems. A user has no visual or textual clues to understand the device's behavior, which can result in a loss of trust in operating system designers to faithfully communicate what's going on.
Transportation

Russia Suspected In GPS-Spoofing Attacks On Ships (wired.co.uk) 194

How did a 37-ton tanker suddenly vanish from GPS off the coast of Russia? AmiMoJo shares a report from Wired: The ship's systems located it 25 to 30 miles away -- at Gelendzhik airport... The Atria wasn't the only ship affected by the problem... At the time, Atria's AIS system showed around 20 to 25 large boats were also marooned at Gelendzhik airport. Worried about the situation, captain Le Meur radioed the ships. The responses all confirmed the same thing: something, or someone, was meddling with the their GPS...

After trawling through AIS data from recent years, evidence of spoofing becomes clear. GPS data has placed ships at three different airports and there have been other interesting anomalies. "We would find very large oil tankers who could travel at the maximum speed at 15 knots," said a former director for Marine Transportation Systems at the U.S. Coast Guard. "Their AIS, which is powered by GPS, would be saying they had sped up to 60 to 65 knots for an hour and then suddenly stopped. They had done that several times"...

"It looks like a sophisticated attack, by somebody who knew what they were doing and were just testing the system..." says Lukasz Bonenberg from the University of Nottingham's Geospatial Institute. "You basically need to have atomic level clocks."

The U.S. Maritime Administration confirms 20 ships have been affected -- all traveling in the Black Sea -- though a U.S. Coast Guard representative "refused to comment on the incident, saying any GPS disruption that warranted further investigation would be passed onto the Department of Defence." But the captain of the 37-ton tanker already has his own suspicions. "It looks like the Russians define an area where they don't want the GPS to apply."
Businesses

Slashdot Asks: Why Does Google Want To Purchase HTC? (bloomberg.com) 101

Rumor has it Google is planning to purchase HTC -- or at least a portion of it. The speculation of this has been doing rounds for weeks now, and it reached a new high today after HTC said its stock will stop trading from Thursday, as it prepares to make a "major announcement" tomorrow. Bloomberg reported today: Alphabet's Google is close to acquiring assets from Taiwan's HTC, according to a person familiar with the situation, in a bid to bolster the internet giant's nascent hardware business. HTC, once ranked among the world's top smartphone makers, is holding a town hall meeting Thursday, according to tech website Venture Beat, which cited a copy of an internal invitation. The shares will also be suspended from trading as of Sept. 21 due to a pending announcement, according to the Taiwan stock exchange. Of course Google has made similar moves in the past. It previously owned Motorola for a brief period of time, but that acquisition didn't materialize much. The company has however, since re-hired the Motorola chief it once had, Rick Osterloh, and founded a separate hardware team under his stewardship. Claude Zellweger, the one-time chief designer of HTC Vive, is also now at Google, working on that company's Daydream virtual reality system.

What reasons could Google have to purchase HTC? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Security

Equifax Suffered a Hack Almost Five Months Earlier Than the Date It Disclosed (bloomberg.com) 90

Bloomberg is reporting that Equifax, the credit reporting company that recently reported a cybersecurity incident impacting roughly 143 million U.S. consumers, learned about a breach of its computer systems in March -- almost five months before the date it has publicly disclosed. The company said the March breach was unrelated to the recent hack involving millions of U.S. consumers, but one of the people familiar with the situation said the breaches involve the same intruders. From the report: Equifax hired the security firm Mandiant on both occasions and may have believed it had the initial breach under control, only to have to bring the investigators back when it detected suspicious activity again on July 29, two of the people said. Equifax's hiring of Mandiant the first time was unrelated to the July 29 incident, the company spokesperson said. The revelation of a March breach will complicate the company's efforts to explain a series of unusual stock sales by Equifax executives. If it's shown that those executives did so with the knowledge that either or both breaches could damage the company, they could be vulnerable to charges of insider trading. The U.S. Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into the stock sales, according to people familiar with the probe.

In early March, they said, Equifax began notifying a small number of outsiders and banking customers that it had suffered a breach and was bringing in a security firm to help investigate. The company's outside counsel, Atlanta-based law firm King & Spalding, first engaged Mandiant at about that time. While it's not clear how long the Mandiant and Equifax security teams conducted that probe, one person said there are indications it began to wrap up in May. Equifax has yet to disclose that March breach to the public.

Programming

Is Python Really the Fastest-Growing Programming Language? (stackoverflow.blog) 254

An anonymous reader quotes Stack Overflow Blog: In this post, we'll explore the extraordinary growth of the Python programming language in the last five years, as seen by Stack Overflow traffic within high-income countries. The term "fastest-growing" can be hard to define precisely, but we make the case that Python has a solid claim to being the fastest-growing major programming language... June 2017 was the first month that Python was the most visited [programming language] tag on Stack Overflow within high-income nations. This included being the most visited tag within the US and the UK, and in the top 2 in almost all other high income nations (next to either Java or JavaScript). This is especially impressive because in 2012, it was less visited than any of the other 5 languages, and has grown by 2.5-fold in that time. Part of this is because of the seasonal nature of traffic to Java. Since it's heavily taught in undergraduate courses, Java traffic tends to rise during the fall and spring and drop during the summer.

Does Python show a similar growth in the rest of the world, in countries like India, Brazil, Russia and China? Indeed it does. Outside of high-income countries Python is still the fastest growing major programming language; it simply started at a lower level and the growth began two years later (in 2014 rather than 2012). In fact, the year-over-year growth rate of Python in non-high-income countries is slightly higher than it is in high-income countries... We're not looking to contribute to any "language war." The number of users of a language doesn't imply anything about its quality, and certainly can't tell you which language is more appropriate for a particular situation. With that perspective in mind, however, we believe it's worth understanding what languages make up the developer ecosystem, and how that ecosystem might be changing. This post demonstrated that Python has shown a surprising growth in the last five years, especially within high-income countries.

The post was written by Stack Overflow data scientist David Robinson, who notes that "I used to program primarily in Python, though I have since switched entirely to R."
Businesses

iPhone's Summer Production Glitches Create Holiday Jitters (wsj.com) 48

Yoko Kubota, Tripp Mickle, and Takashi Mochizuki, reporting for WSJ: Apple's new iPhone, which is expected to be unveiled Tuesday, was plagued by production glitches early in the manufacturing process this summer, according to people familiar with the situation, which could result in extended supply shortfalls and shipping delays when customers start ordering the device later this month (alternative source). New iPhones are typically in short supply when first released. But if shortfalls of the new phone extend beyond the initial sales period, which is expected to begin September 22, they could weaken analysts' and investors' projections for sales in the crucial holiday period. The production glitches led to a setback of about a month in the manufacturing timetable. Foxconn, the Apple contractor that assembles iPhones, has been ramping up production at its manufacturing complex in Zhengzhou, China. The company is paying bonuses to employees who can help bring new hires on board at its Zhengzhou plant, which Foxconn said in June employs about 250,000 people.
Google

Alphabet Wraps Up Reorganization With a New Company Called XXVI (bloomberg.com) 103

Alphabet is approaching its final form. After evolving from Google into a corporate parent with distinct arms in far-flung fields like health care and self-driving cars, it is now forming a new holding company called XXVI Holdings Inc. Bloomberg reports: The new structure legally separates Google from other units such as Waymo, its self-driving car business, and Verily, a medical device and health data firm. Google co-founder Larry Page announced Alphabet two years ago to foster new businesses that operate independently from Google. Technically, however, those units, called the "Other Bets," were still subsidiaries of Google. The new structure, unveiled Friday, enables the Other Bets to become subsidiaries of Alphabet on the same legal footing as Google. "We're updating our corporate structure to implement the changes we announced with the creation of Alphabet in 2015," Gina Weakley Johnson, an Alphabet spokeswoman, said. She called the process a legal formality that won't affect ultimate shareholder control, operations, management or personnel at the 75,606 person company. Google is also changing from a corporation to a limited liability company, or LLC. This won't alter the way the business pays taxes, Johnson said. The switch is partly related to Google's transformation from a listed public company into a business owned by a holding company. Now, it's owned by Alphabet, so it effectively has only one investor and no public disclosure obligations. An LLC structure is better suited to this situation. XXVI, the name of the new holding entity, is the number of letters in the alphabet expressed in Roman numerals.
Japan

Japan Activated Air Raid Sirens During North Korea's Missile Test Monday (cnn.com) 116

"No country should have missiles flying over them like those 130 million people in Japan," the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations said Monday. Though it was only a test, the scene on-the-ground is described by Slashdot reader AppleHoshi: Our phones went crazy on receipt of an automated alert from the "J-Alert" system. Shortly afterwards, loudspeakers broadcast another alert (there are loudspeakers everywhere in Japan, to warn of earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons). As normal with any disaster situation in Japan, all of the available television channels immediately switched over to full-coverage mode, with a repetition of what the situation was ("There's a missile heading in the direction of north-central Japan") followed by basic instructions of what to do ("If it comes down in your area, try to extinguish any fires and immediately inform your local police and fire departments").

Shortly before twenty past six we got the news that the missile had over-flown northern Japan and landed in the Pacific, about 1,000 km [621 miles] from the coast of Hokkaido. The "all-clear" was broadcast over the local speakers a short while later. Strange as it may seem, this all had an air of normality about it. Japan gets more than it's fair share of natural disasters, so anyone living here gets plenty of exposure to this same routine. (It's just that the reason is usually an earthquake, typhoon or tsunami, rather than a megalomaniac).

Businesses

Amazon Tests Two-Hour Booze Delivery In 12 US Cities (foodandwine.com) 74

An anonymous reader quotes SFGate: Thanks to the Prime Now service, Amazon will now deliver booze to the home, failing house party, mundane family brunch, or other occasion of Prime members in the Bay Area. While Prime Now (a delivery service that comes with a $99 annual Prime membership) is available in 30 different cities across the U.S., the alcohol delivery service can only be accessed in a select 12 of those 30, including San Francisco... Two-hour delivery on booze is free of charge, but if you find yourself in a truly desperate situation, one-hour delivery is available for an extra $7.99. ID's are checked upon delivery by couriers.

A minimum of $30 is required for a delivery, which shouldn't be a problem to hit seeing that prices are slightly higher than standard for what you'd find in your corner liquor store. $26 for a 12-pack of Coronas, $15 for a six-pack of Angry Orchard, and $23 for a bottle of chardonnay, for example... Delivery hours match those of regular Prime Now services, which run from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Amazon is competing with local liquor-delivery services in the Bay Area, according to the article, as well local services in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Amazon began testing liquor deliveries in March in two Ohio cities, then slowly began rolling it out to more, according to Food & Wine magazine (which has a complete list of the 12 cities). "Unlike other markets such as Seattle, which was the first to get alcohol delivery via Prime Now back in 2015, and Manhattan, which just got Prime Now alcohol delivery this past June, Portland can only order beer and wine, and not spirits, through the service. If Portlanders want spirits in a hurry, they'll have to hunt it down a different way like some sort of bourbon-loving caveman."

Amazon is also testing two-hour liquor deliveries in Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Diego, and Richmond, Virginia.
Social Networks

Facebook Figured Out My Family Secrets, And It Won't Tell Me How (gizmodo.com) 281

Kashmir Hill, reporting for Gizmodo: Rebecca Porter and I were strangers, as far as I knew. Facebook, however, thought we might be connected. Her name popped up this summer on my list of "People You May Know," the social network's roster of potential new online friends for me. [...] She showed up on the list after about a month: an older woman, living in Ohio, with whom I had no Facebook friends in common. I did not recognize her, but her last name was familiar. My biological grandfather is a man I've never met, with the last name Porter, who abandoned my father when he was a baby. My father was adopted by a man whose last name was Hill, and he didn't find out about his biological father until adulthood. The Porter family lived in Ohio. Growing up half a country away, in Florida, I'd known these blood relatives were out there, but there was no reason to think I would ever meet them. A few years ago, my father eventually did meet his biological father, along with two uncles and an aunt, when they sought him out during a trip back to Ohio for his mother's funeral. None of them use Facebook. I sent the woman a Facebook message explaining the situation and asking if she was related to my biological grandfather. "Yes," she wrote back. Rebecca Porter, we discovered, is my great aunt, by marriage. She is married to my biological grandfather's brother; she met him 35 years ago, the year after I was born. Facebook knew my family tree better than I did "I didn't know about you," she told me, when we talked by phone. "I don't understand how Facebook made the connection." How Facebook had linked us remained hard to fathom. My father had met her husband in person that one time, after my grandmother's funeral. They exchanged emails, and my father had his number in his phone. But neither of them uses Facebook. Nor do the other people between me and Rebecca Porter on the family tree.
Businesses

AccuWeather Updates Its iOS App To Address Privacy Outcry (techcrunch.com) 54

Taylor Hatmaker, writing for TechCrunch: Responding to privacy concerns, AccuWeather is out with a new version of its iOS app that removes a controversial data sharing behavior. Earlier this week, security researcher Will Strafach called attention to the practice in a post and users took to Twitter to announce their intention to dump the app in droves. "AccuWeather's app employed a Software Development Kit (SDK) from a third party vendor (Reveal Mobile) that inadvertently allowed Wi-Fi router data to be transmitted to this third-party vendor," the company wrote in a statement accompanying the app update. "Once we became aware of this situation we took immediate action to verify the operation and quickly disabled the SDK from the IOS app. Our next step was to update the IOS app and remove Reveal Mobile completely."
The Military

A Global Fish War is Coming, Warns US Coast Guard (usni.org) 192

schwit1 shares an article from the U.S. Naval Institute's Proceedings magazine. It includes this warning from the Coast Guard's chief of fisheries law enforcement: Nearly two decades into the 21st Century, it has become clear the world has limited resources and the last area of expansion is the oceans. Battles over politics and ideologies may be supplanted by fights over resources as nations struggle for economic and food security. These new conflicts already have begun -- over fish... In 1996, Canada and Spain almost went to war over the Greenland turbot. Canada seized Spanish vessels it felt were fishing illegally, but Spain did not have the same interpretation of the law and sent gunboats to escort its ships. In 1999, a U.S. Coast Guard cutter intercepted a Russian trawler fishing in the U.S. exclusive economic zone. The lone cutter was promptly surrounded by 19 Russian trawlers. Fortunately, the Russian Border Guard and the Coast Guard drew on an existing relationship and were able to defuse the situation...

Japan protested 230 fishing vessels escorted by seven China Coast Guard ships entering the waters of the disputed Senkaku Islands. Incidents in the South China Sea between the Indonesian Navy and Chinese fishing vessels and China Coast Guard have escalated to arrests, ramming, and warning shots leading experts to suggest only navies and use of force can stop the IUU fishing... The United States needs to show it is serious about protecting sustainable fisheries and international rule of law. It needs a fleet that not only will provide a multilateral cooperation platform, but also take action against vessels and fleets that are unwilling to cooperate... If cooperation cannot be achieved, the United States should prepare for a global fish war.

When I read "fish war," I was imagining it more like this.
IOS

iOS 11 Has a Feature To Temporarily Disable Touch ID (cultofmac.com) 138

A new feature baked into iOS 11 lets you quickly disable Touch ID, which could come in handy if you're ever in a situation where someone (a cop) might force you to unlock your device. Cult of Mac reports: To temporarily disable Touch ID, you simply press the power button quickly five times. This presents you with the "Emergency SOS" option, which you can swipe to call the emergency services. It also prevents your iPhone from being unlocked without the passcode. Until now, there were other ways to temporarily disable Touch ID, but they weren't quick and simply. You either had to restart your iPhone, let it sit idle for a few days until Touch ID was temporarily disabled by itself, or scan the wrong finger several times. The police, or any government agency, cannot force you to hand over your iPhone's passcode. However, they can force you to unlock your device with your fingerprint. That doesn't work if your fingerprint scanner has been disabled.
Movies

Why Does Hollywood Remain Out of Step With the Body-Positive Movement? (nytimes.com) 688

According to a report from The New York Times, Hollywood continues to praise plus-sized actresses in knockout roles and then reduce them to bit parts about physical weight. Slashdot reader cdreimer shares an excerpt from the report: The first thing Danielle Macdonald did at the Cannes Film Festival in May was break into a cold sweat: The airline had lost her luggage. She was already nervous enough. Ms. Macdonald, 26, had been plucked from obscurity to play the lead role in "Patti Cake$," a drama about a rapper that was about to face the Cannes critics. Now she had to find something glamorous to wear -- pronto -- to the premiere. "As a bigger girl," Ms. Macdonald told me recently, "where was I meant to find something that would fit?" Her story then veered in an unexpected direction -- revealing her approach to Hollywood, which expects its lead actresses to be scarily skinny. "I gave myself a pep talk," she said. "This situation is what it is. Find a way to work around it." The red carpet crisis was resolved (another "Patti Cake$" star, Cathy Moriarty, lent her a black dress), but if the experiences of countless actresses before Ms. Macdonald are any indication, it will not be as easy to overcome the career obstacles that await her post-"Patti Cake$."

For women -- less so for men -- weight is perhaps the most stubborn of the entertainment industry's many biases. Have an average-sized body? Call us when you've starved yourself. In particular, Ms. Macdonald must avoid a cycle that plays out over and over in moviedom, one that some film agents coarsely call the fat flavor of the moment. A plus-size actress, almost always an unknown, lands the central role in a film and delivers a knockout performance. She is held up by producers and the entertainment news media as refreshing, long overdue evidence that Hollywood's insistence on microscopic waistlines is ending. And then she is slowly but surely pushed into bit parts, many of which are defined by weight.

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