Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


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Submission + - The rise and rise of Eternal September, fake news and the devolution of trolls (

Martin S. writes: Eternal Eeptember largely predicted the ghettoisation of the internet that is prevalent today, but not its own obscurity, an egregious oversight in hindsight.

Today Sir Tim Berners-Lee has unveiled plans to tackle some of the internets problems, including "unethical" political advertising and the harvesting of data through his Web Foundation.

1) We’ve lost control of our personal data
2) It’s too easy for misinformation to spread on the web
3) Political advertising online needs transparency and understanding

His plans could be considered somewhat naive, they do not address the corporatisation of the internet and they hope to curb rather than harness human nature. I'm wondering what slashdotter would consider to be a solution, or perhaps why a solution is not even necessary.

Submission + - Study shows wearable sensors can predict illness

skids writes:

Wearable sensors that monitor heart rate, activity, skin temperature and other variables can reveal a lot about what is going on inside a person, including the onset of infection, inflammation and even insulin resistance, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. ... Participants wore between one and eight commercially available activity monitors and other monitors that collected more than 250,000 measurements a day. ... "We want to study people at an individual level," said Michael Snyder, PhD, professor and chair of genetics. ... "We have more sensors on our cars than we have on human beings," said Snyder. In the future, he said, he expects the situation will be reversed and people will have more sensors than cars do.

IT security being in the state it is, will we face the same decision about our actual lives that we already face about our social lives/identities: either risk very real hazards of misuse of your personal data, or get left behind?

Submission + - It's not you, Slashdot, it's me. 5

BuckB writes: When I was a young man, I read Slashdot in order to amaze my friends with useful facts. It was even my homepage for awhile. Sure, there was time when I cheated and went to cnet or wired. With Slashdot, I could count on high quality debate on controversial topics, even though I knew in my heart that most of the readers were Apple fans, while I am a closeted Microsofterian. Now the stories are mainly non-tech — no, that's the real reason — the stories are now mainly fake or click-bait or alarmist, and the discussions are completely uninformed, insulting, to the point of being indistinguishable from an MSNBC forum.

I'll still remember you fondly. And I'll check back now and then. You'll do fine without me, find more people who enjoy insulting contributions and upvoting rumors and gossip. But maybe, just maybe, you'll think back to when you were a leader and attracted the kinds of people like me.

Submission + - The Inside Story of MakerBot and the 3D Printing Revolution That Wasn't (

mirandakatz writes: MakerBot promised to revolutionize society, letting us 3D print anything we needed right from home. That never happened. At Backchannel, Andrew Zaleski has the definitive, investigative account of why the 3D printing revolution hasn't yet come to pass, culled from interviews with industry observers, current MakerBot leadership, and a dozen former MakerBot employees. As he tells it, "In the span of a few years, MakerBot had to pull off two very different coups. It had to introduce millions of people to the wonders of 3D printing, and then convince them to shell out more than $1,000 for a machine. It also had to develop the technology fast enough to keep its customers happy. Those two tasks were too much for the fledgling company."

Submission + - The real reasons companies won't hire telecommuters

Esther Schindler writes: Those of us who telecommute cannot quite fathom the reasons companies give for refusing to let people work from home. But even if you don't agree with their decision, they do have reasons — and not all of them are, "Because we like to be idiots." In 5 reasons why the company you want to work for won’t hire telecommuters, hiring managers share their sincere reasons to insist you work in the office—and a few tips for how you might convince them otherwise.

Submission + - State, Federal K-12 CS-For-All Legislation Focuses on All But Asian/White Boys

theodp writes: EdSource reports that California Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday aligned the state with President Obama’s $4B Computer Science for All initiative, signing into law a bill that begins a planning process to expand computer science education for all grades in California’s public schools. "It is the intent of the Legislature that all pupils in kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive, have access to computer science education," reads Assembly Bill No. 2329, "with a strong focus on pupils underrepresented in computer science, including girls, low-income and underserved school districts, and rural and urban school districts." And over at Congress, CA Representative Barbara Lee has also introduced H.R.6095 — Computer Science for All Act of 2016, which requires recipients of $250 million in grant funds to create "plans for expanding overall access to rigorous STEAM classes, utilizing computer science as a catalyst for increased interest in STEAM more broadly, and reducing course equity gaps for all students, including underrepresented groups such as minorities, girls, and youth from low-income families [...] Women overall face challenges in accessing computer science education." In an accompanying op-ed on the legislation, Lee argued that "Congress needs to put our money where our mouth is on STEM", adding that, "We can and must to do better, especially for girls and students of color." The legislation is consistent with the nation's new Every Student Succeeds Act, which put K-12 CS on equal footing with academic subjects such as math and English. Signed into law during last December's Computer Science Education Week, ESSA calls for "increasing access for students through grade 12 who are members of groups underrepresented in such subject fields, such as female students, minority students, English learners, children with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged students." So, with only 57,937 students out of the nation's 16 million high schoolers taking an AP CS exam in 2016, should lawmakers be pressed to spell out exactly what student groups they don't consider underrepresented in CS?

Submission + - SPAM: The Greens' Dishonesty on Solar Energy

An anonymous reader writes: Solar energy — mostly, though not exclusively, in the form of photovoltaic panels — has improved vastly in the last twenty years, and will likely become a significant energy source in the future as it becomes more efficient and less expensive. This is for good reason: the Earth receives orders of magnitude more energy in sunlight than we consume from all other sources; everyone has at least some access to sunlight; the technology scales easily; its process is simple, easy to maintain, and requires no fuel; and (as you might have heard) it emits no carbon while generating power. But like every energy resource, these advantages come with significant trade-offs.

The biggest problem with solar power is that sunlight is intermittent and unreliable. In addition to the daily cycles of night and day and huge seasonal varaiances in most regions, these predictable problems are further complicated by the chaotic ones posed by weather. In short, relying on solar energy is fine so long as you don’t mind having your source of light, heat, air-conditioning, and all our other modern life-enhancing, life-saving amenities be at the mercy of nature and the clock. There are two potential solutions: Either build a secondary power network as a back-up to the solar one (massively expensive and impractical), or find some way to store excess energy when it’s abundant so that it can be used when in demand. Unfortunately, there is no sensible, economical solution available right now, nor is any on the horizon. And any self-professed environmentalist who doesn’t acknowledge this is either ignorant or dishonest.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Technology Is Making Doctors Feel Like Glorified Data Entry Clerks (

An anonymous reader writes: The average day for a doctor consists of hours of data entry. Since the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 took effect in January of 2011, which incentivizes providers to adopt electronic medical records, hospitals have spent millions, sometimes billions, of computer systems that weren't designed to help providers treat patients to begin with. The technology was supposed to reduce inefficiencies, make doctors' lives easier, and improve patient outcomes, but in fact it has done the opposite. "Frankly, the main incentive is to document exhaustively so you cover your ass and get paid," says Jay Parkinson, a New York-based pediatrician and the founder of health-tech startup Sherpa. The systems are flooding doctors with important and utterly meaningless alerts. One of the biggest problems is that the systems have made it very difficult for doctors to share information between one another, which is what the systems were intended to do all along. Why? "Because it doesn't help the bottom line of the biggest medical record vendors or the hospitals to make it easy for patents to change doctors," reports Fast Company. Since it often takes weeks, or months for data to be sent to and from facilities, that, according to Consumers Union staff attorney Dana Mendelsohn, increases the chances of doctors ordering duplicate tests. All of this reduced the time doctors have with their patients. A recent study shows that the average time doctors spend with their patients is about eight minutes and 12% of their time, down from 20% of their time in the late 1980s. "This group is 15 times more likely to burn out than professionals in any other line of work," reports Fast Company. "And much of the research on the topic concludes that 'documentation overload' is a key factor." To help alleviate this pain, medical groups are working to reduce the data-entry burden for doctors, so they can in turn spend more of their time with patients.

Submission + - Google staff protest casual sexism by adding "Lady" to their job titles

AmiMoJo writes: More than 800 members of Google's staff are standing together in a showing against sexism today by appending a single word to their job titles: "Lady." This is happening in response to a ludicrous comment made during Alphabet's shareholder meeting last week, when someone referred to company CFO Ruth Porat as the organization's "lady CFO." The idea sprouted in an email group for alums of a Google leadership-development program for women. One employee suggested that they should all change their titles to "Lady ___" in acknowledgement and lighthearted protest of the incident. As in "Lady Systems Engineer," or "Lady People Analytics Manager." As of now, more than 800 Googlers — women and men — have changed their job titles in the company-wide directory or in their email signatures.

Submission + - String Theorist Makes Intellectual Property Claim to Suppress Critical Paper (

An anonymous reader writes: Sabine Hossenfelder at the blog Backreaction has this curious story of a new paper which makes an experimental test of the "multiverse" in string theory: "In a recent paper, William Kinney from the University at Buffalo put to test the multiverse-entanglement with the most recent cosmological data. The brief summary is that not only hasn’t he found any evidence for the entanglement-modification, he has ruled out the formerly proposed model for two general types of inflationary potentials... Much to my puzzlement, his analysis also shows that some of the predictions of the original model (such as the modulation of the power spectrum) weren’t predictions to begin with...To add meat to an unfalsifiable idea that made predictions which weren’t, one of the authors who proposed the entanglement model, Laura Mersini-Houghton, is apparently quite unhappy with Kinney’s results and tries to use an intellectual property claim to get his paper removed from the arXiv. I will resist the temptation to comment on the matter and simply direct you to the Wikipedia entry on the Streisand Effect. Dear Internet, please do your job."

Submission + - Tesla Suspension Breakage: It's Not The Crime, It's The Coverup (

schwit1 writes: For several months now, reports have circulated in comment sections and forum threads about a possible defect in Tesla’s vehicles that may cause suspension control arms to break. Many of those reports appeared to come from a single, highly-motivated and potentially unreliable source, a fact which led many to dismiss them as crankery. But as more reports of suspension failure in Teslas have come in, Daily Kanban has investigated the matter and can now report on this deeply troubling issue.

Our investigation began in earnest upon reading athread titled “Suspension Problem on Model S” in the Tesla Motors Club forum. The original poster (OP) in that thread described the suspension in his 2013 Model S (with 70,000 miles) failing at relatively low speed,saying the “left front hub assembly separated from the upper control arm.” Images of the broken suspension components showed high levels of rust in the steel ball joint and the OP reported being told by Tesla service center employees that the “ball joint bolt was loose and caused the wear,” which was “not normal.” Because his Tesla was out of warranty, the repair was reportedly sent to Tesla management for consideration.

According to a subsequent post by the OP, Tesla management refused to repair the broken suspension under warranty despite the “not normal” levels of wear reported by the service techs. Then, just days later, the OP reported that Tesla had offered to pay 50% of the $3,100 repair bill in exchange for his signature on a “Goodwill Agreement” which he subsequently posted here(a scan of the stock agreement can be found here). That agreement included the following passage:

The Goodwill is being provided to you without any admission of liability or wrongdoing or acceptance of any facts by Tesla, and shall not be treated as or considered evidence of Tesla’s liability with respect to any claim or incidents. You agree to keep confidential our provision of the Goodwill, the terms of this agreement and the incidents or claims leading or related to our provision of the Goodwill. In accepting the Goodwill, you hereby release and discharge Tesla and related persons or entities from any and all claims or damages arising out of or in any way connected with any claims or incidents leading or related to our provision of the Goodwill. You further agree that you will not commence, participate or voluntarily aid in any action at law or in equity or any legal proceeding against Tesla or related persons or entities based upon facts related to the claims or incidents leading to or related to this Goodwill. [Emphasis added]

This offer, to repair a defective part in exchange for a non-disclosure agreement, is unheard of in the auto industry. More troublingly, it represents a potential assault by Tesla Motors on the right of vehicle owners to report defects to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s complaint database, the auto safety regulators sole means of discovering defects independent of the automakers they regulate.

Submission + - Google caught manipulating Hillary searches (

Trachman writes: It looks like Google is manipulating Google search prompts, by significantly artificially reducing popularity of searches that are deemed understandable. See link below for a quick video ( )

Facebook has already been caught. It looks like that Google has been caught with the knife and the blood on their hands.

Google manipulation is page from the playbook prophetically depicted in the House of Cards by Underwoods and other players.

The question is if Barbara Streisand effect will prove it's effectiveness...

Submission + - Climate accord 'irrelevant,' and CO2 cuts could impoverish the world (

An anonymous reader writes: In peer-reviewed research, M.J. Kelly, a University of Cambridge engineering professor, argued carbon dioxide should be considered the byproduct of the "immense benefits" of a technologically advanced society. Cutting carbon, he added, could result in a dramatic reduction in the world's quality of life that would usher in mass starvation, poverty and civil strife. Massive decarbonization is "only possible if we wish to see large parts of the population die from starvation, destitution or violence in the absence of enough low-carbon energy to sustain society."

The International Energy Agency estimated that in order to decarbonize the power sector within the next 40 years, the world would have to invest at least $9 trillion — and an additional $6.4 trillion to make other industries more environmentally friendly.

Submission + - SELinux is beyond saving at this point (

asvravi writes: Some interesting views over at Chris Sibenmann's blog on SELinux and its fate.

SELinux has problems. It has a complexity problem (in that it is quite complex), it has technical problems with important issues like usability and visibility, it has pragmatic problems with getting in the way, and most of all it has a social problem. At this point, I no longer believe that SELinux can be saved and become an important part of the Linux security landscape.

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