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To Fight Vaccine Misinformation, US Recruits an 'Influencer Army'

Slashdot.org - Sun, 08/01/2021 - 23:34
The New York Times tells the story of 17-year-old Ellie Zeiler, a TikTok creator with over 10 million followers, who received an email in June from Village Marketing, an influencer marketing agency. "It said it was reaching out on behalf of another party: the White House." Would Ms. Zeiler, a high school senior who usually posts short fashion and lifestyle videos, be willing, the agency wondered, to participate in a White House-backed campaign encouraging her audience to get vaccinated against the coronavirus...? Ms. Zeiler quickly agreed, joining a broad, personality-driven campaign to confront an increasingly urgent challenge in the fight against the pandemic: vaccinating the youthful masses, who have the lowest inoculation rates of any eligible age group in the United States... To reach these young people, the White House has enlisted an eclectic army of more than 50 Twitch streamers, YouTubers, TikTokers and the 18-year-old pop star Olivia Rodrigo, all of them with enormous online audiences. State and local governments have begun similar campaigns, in some cases paying "local micro influencers" — those with 5,000 to 100,000 followers — up to $1,000 a month to promote Covid-19 vaccines to their fans. The efforts are in part a counterattack against a rising tide of vaccine misinformation that has flooded the internet, where anti-vaccine activists can be so vociferous that some young creators say they have chosen to remain silent on vaccines to avoid a politicized backlash... State and local governments have taken the same approach, though on a smaller scale and sometimes with financial incentives. In February, Colorado awarded a contract worth up to $16.4 million to the Denver-based Idea Marketing, which includes a program to pay creators in the state $400 to $1,000 a month to promote the vaccines... Posts by creators in the campaign carry a disclosure that reads "paid partnership with Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment...." Other places, including New Jersey, Oklahoma City County and Guildford County, N.C., as well as cities like San Jose, Calif., have worked with the digital marketing agency XOMAD, which identifies local influencers who can help broadcast public health information about the vaccines. In another article, the Times notes that articles blaming Bill Gates for the pandemic appeared on two local news sites (one in Atlanta, and one in Phoenix) that "along with dozens of radio and television stations, and podcasts aimed at local audiences...have also become powerful conduits for anti-vaccine messaging, researchers said."

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PFS Buyers Club: New US Mint Coin Deal (Now $155+ Net Profit, August 2021)

MyMoneyBlog.com - Sun, 08/01/2021 - 22:02

(Updated: The commission has increased to $145.05, a $60 increase from the initial offer.)

Another new coin deal August 3rd, 2021. PFS Buyers Club has another coin deal on two limited edition Morgan Silver Dollars. See details below.

Background (skip if already familiar). The US Mint regularly releases limited-edition coins to collectors. The coin sets are often limited by household, but end up worth more than the initial cost. PFS Buyers Club is a website broker that recruits regular folks to buy their allotted coin set with a set markup amount, with the agreement that they will sell it directly to PFS Buyers Club. For example, you might pay $300 for a coin and they’ll agree to pay you $350 for it (including prepaid mailing label) – a fixed profit of $50.

I believe the closest analogy is to other collectibles like limited-edition Nike shoe drops. The US Mint benefits from the scarcity, and can continue to sell these collectibles at a profit far above the minting cost.

Deal details: On Tuesday, August 3rd at 12:00 pm Noon Eastern Time, there is a new fixed profit opportunity. Two limited edition Morgan Silver Dollars are being released, with each one having a purchase limit of three per household (2 coins x 3 sets of each = 6 coins max). The cost of each Silver Dollar is $85.00, times six coins plus $4.95 shipping charge, for a total of $514.95.

Total net profit opportunity of $155+. PFS will pay you a fixed commission of $85.05 now $145.05 for a full 6-coin order, on top of your cost for the set. ($660 total.) You’ll also earn credit card rewards on your ~$500 purchase (worth another ~$10 here at 2% cash back), or also possibly satisfying the requirements for some $500+ value credit card bonuses. This makes the net profit at least $155.

I have had reports of the Fidelity 2% back card not awarding points on US Mint purchases. I have used a BofA card (earning an effective 2.6% back with Preferred Rewards) without issue. AmEx says they don’t award points for bullion and precious metal, but in my experience US Mint purchases are not coded as bullion or precious metal. You may still choose to avoid them to be safe.

Note that the eventual value of the set may exceed that elsewhere – you may be able to get more on eBay, for example – but if you want to make that bet, don’t promise to sell to PFS Buyers Club. Just buy it on your own and try to sell it yourself. Keep in mind that eBay seller fees can be quite high, you run the risk of the buyer claiming you sent them a box of pennies, and you’ll be responsible for other costs like the proper shipping with adequate insurance. The PFS Buyers Club price includes a free prepaid mailing label (including insurance) and they will pay you via eCheck (no fees), paper check, or PayPal.

Here are the two coins: Morgan 2021 Silver Dollar w/ D Mark and Morgan 2021 Silver Dollar w/ S Mark. In May, they offered the Morgan coins with the O and CC Mint marks.

Note: This coin is not expected to ship until October, but they also won’t charge your card until October. But be around that you’ll need to be around to receive the package and then drop it off at FedEx.

My past experience. I used PFS back in March for the first time, and everything went smoothly and I was paid my money in full without issue. The amount of communication was great and better than expected; I was kept up-to-date every step of the way. The total time commitment was about 30 minutes for $400+ profit, including the stop at the Fedex store to drop off the box with prepaid label. The eCheck option worked great – I printed the check out at home and deposited immediately via mobile app. PFS has a very solid reputation online, and I referred several blog readers last time and did not receive a single complaint. The primary issue is that the coins usually sell out quick, so you have to be fast.

If you want to jump on this, you can sign up to join PFS Buyers Club here. Sometimes these deals fill up, so I would sign-up and opt-in sooner rather than later. You can still opt out of the deal until an hour prior to the coins going on sale. PFS will provide *very* detailed instructions. Read them ahead of time, and follow them carefully to help you buy the coin before it sells out. If you use that link as a first-time buyer, I will receive a referral fee the first time you successfully sell your coin for a profit. Thanks for those that use it, and for those that already used it in the past. I will be opting in myself as well.

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PFS Buyers Club: New US Mint Coin Deal (Now $155+ Net Profit, August 2021) from My Money Blog.

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Categories: Finance

The Case for Another Antitrust Action Against Microsoft

Slashdot.org - Sun, 08/01/2021 - 20:34
"Since its own brush with antitrust regulation decades ago, Microsoft has slipped past significant scrutiny," argues a new article from The Atlantic. But it also asks if there's now a case for another antitrust action — or if we're convinced instead that "The company is reluctantly guilty of the sin of bigness, yes, but it is benevolent, don't you see? Reformed, even! No need to cast your pen over here!" Right now, it's not illegal to be big. It's not illegal to be really big. In fact, it's not even illegal to be a monopoly. Current antitrust law allows for the possibility that you might be the sole player in your industry because you're just that well managed and your product is just that good, or it's just cost-prohibitive for any other company to compete with you. Think power utilities, such as Duke Energy, or the TV and internet giant Comcast. Antitrust law comes into play only if you use your monopoly to suppress competition or to charge unfairly high prices. (If this feels like a legal tautology, it sort of is: Who's to know what's a fair price if there isn't any competition? Nevertheless, here we are...) Yet if bigness alone is enough to draw scrutiny, Microsoft must draw it. Courts have disagreed on what size market share a product or company must own to be considered a monopoly, but the historical benchmark is about 75 percent. Estimates vary as to what percentage of computers run Microsoft's Windows operating system, but Gartner research puts it as high as 83 percent... Biden, Khan, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and others are asking whether consumers suffer any nonfinancial harm from this lack of competition. Is switching from Windows to Apple's Mac OS unnecessarily hard? Is Windows as good a product as it would be if it faced more robust competition? When Windows has major security flaws, for example, billions of customers and companies are impacted, because of its market share. If we're wondering whether crappy airline experiences are a competition problem, should the same question apply to crappy computer security? In fact, in areas where Microsoft faces strong competition, it's reverting to some of the behaviors that got it sued in the '90s — namely, bundling. Microsoft and Amazon are essentially a duopoly when it comes to cloud services... Microsoft offers its big business customers an "integrated ecosystem" of Windows, Office, and its back-end cloud services; some analysts even point to this as a reason to keep buying Microsoft stock. That's just smart business, right? Yes, unless you're at a disadvantage by not taking the bundle. Some customers have complained that Microsoft charges extra for some Windows licenses if you're not using its cloud-computing business, Azure... Microsoft does much more that we're happy to call "evil" when other companies are involved. It defied its own workers in favor of contracts with the Department of Defense; it's been quietly doing lots of business with China for decades, including letting Beijing censor results on its Bing search engine and developing AI that critics say can be used for surveillance and repression; it reportedly tried to sell facial-recognition technology to the DEA. So why does none of it stick? Well, partly because it's possible that Microsoft isn't actually doing anything wrong, from a legal perspective. Yet it's so big and so dominant and owns so much expensive physical infrastructure that hardly any company can compete with it. Is that illegal? Should it be? It's now the world's second largest tech company by market valuation — over $2 trillion and even ahead of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Tesla (and behind only Apple). For the three months ended in June, Microsoft's net income rose 47% over the same period a year ago, according to TechCrunch, with a revenue for just those three months of $46.2 billion. The Atlantic argues Microsoft has successfully rebranded itself as nice and a little boring, while playing up the fact that it lost a decade in consumer markets like smartphones because it was distracted by its last antitrust lawsuit. Yet meanwhile it's acquired major tech brands like LinkedIn, Minecraft, Skype, and even attempted to buy TikTok, Pinterest, and Discord (as well as "almost two dozen game-development studios to beef up its Xbox offerings"). And of course, GitHub.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Zoom Agrees to $85M Settlement in Possible Class Action Over Data-Sharing, Zoombombing

Slashdot.org - Sun, 08/01/2021 - 18:20
Zoom has agreed to pay $85 million — and to bolster its security practices — to settle a lawsuit that had claimed Zoom violated users' privacy rights by sharing their personal data with Facebook, Google and LinkedIn, and by failing to stop Zoombombing. Engadget reports: The preliminary settlement also requires tougher security measures, such as warning about participants with third-party apps and offering special privacy-oriented training to Zoom staff. Judge Lucy Koh said the company was largely protected against zoombombing claims thanks to the Communications Decency Act's Section 230 safeguards against liability for users' actions. The settlement could also lead to payouts if the lawsuit achieves a proposed class action status, but don't expect a windfall. Subscribers would receive a refund of either 15 percent or $25, whichever was larger, while everyone else would receive as much as $15. Lawyers intended to collect up to $21.25 million in legal costs.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Are Python Libraries Riddled With Security Holes?

Slashdot.org - Sun, 08/01/2021 - 17:07
"Almost half of the packages in the official Python Package Index (PyPI) repository have at least one security issue," reports TechRadar, citing a new analysis by Finnish researchers, which even found five packages with more than a thousand issues each... The researchers used static analysis to uncover the security issues in the open source packages, which they reason end up tainting software that use them. In total the research scanned through 197,000 packages and found more than 749,000 security issues in all... Explaining their methodology the researchers note that despite the inherent limitations of static analysis, they still found at least one security issue in about 46% of the packages in the repository. The paper reveals that of the issues identified, the maximum (442,373) are of low severity, while 227,426 are moderate severity issues. However, 11% of the flagged PyPI packages have 80,065 high severity issues. The Register supplies some context: Other surveys of this sort have come to similar conclusions about software package ecosystems. Last September, a group of IEEE researchers analyzed 6,673 actively used Node.js apps and found about 68 per cent depended on at least one vulnerable package... The situation is similar with package registries like Maven (for Java), NuGet (for .NET), RubyGems (for Ruby), CPAN (for Perl), and CRAN (for R). In a phone interview, Ee W. Durbin III, director of infrastructure at the Python Software Foundation, told The Register, "Things like this tend not to be very surprising. One of the most overlooked or misunderstood parts of PyPI as a service is that it's intended to be freely accessible, freely available, and freely usable. Because of that we don't make any guarantees about the things that are available there..." Durbin welcomed the work of the Finnish researchers because it makes people more aware of issues that are common among open package management systems and because it benefits the overall health of the Python community. "It's not something we ignore but it's also not something we historically have had the resources to take on," said Durbin. That may be less of an issue going forward. According to Durbin, there's been significantly more interest over the past year in supply chain security and what companies can do to improve the situation. For the Python community, that's translated into an effort to create a package vulnerability reporting API and the Python Advisory Database, a community-run repository of PyPI security advisories that's linked to the Google-spearheaded Open Vulnerability Database.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hundreds of AI Tools Were Built to Catch Covid. None of Them Helped

Slashdot.org - Sun, 08/01/2021 - 15:59
At the start of the pandemic, remembers MIT Technology Review's senior editor for AI, the community "rushed to develop software that many believed would allow hospitals to diagnose or triage patients faster, bringing much-needed support to the front lines — in theory. "In the end, many hundreds of predictive tools were developed. None of them made a real difference, and some were potentially harmful." That's the damning conclusion of multiple studies published in the last few months. In June, the Turing Institute, the UK's national center for data science and AI, put out a report summing up discussions at a series of workshops it held in late 2020. The clear consensus was that AI tools had made little, if any, impact in the fight against covid. This echoes the results of two major studies that assessed hundreds of predictive tools developed last year. Laure Wynants, an epidemiologist at Maastricht University in the Netherlands who studies predictive tools, is lead author of one of them, a review in the British Medical Journal that is still being updated as new tools are released and existing ones tested. She and her colleagues have looked at 232 algorithms for diagnosing patients or predicting how sick those with the disease might get. They found that none of them were fit for clinical use. Just two have been singled out as being promising enough for future testing. "It's shocking," says Wynants. "I went into it with some worries, but this exceeded my fears." Wynants's study is backed up by another large review carried out by Derek Driggs, a machine-learning researcher at the University of Cambridge, and his colleagues, and published in Nature Machine Intelligence. This team zoomed in on deep-learning models for diagnosing covid and predicting patient risk from medical images, such as chest x-rays and chest computer tomography (CT) scans. They looked at 415 published tools and, like Wynants and her colleagues, concluded that none were fit for clinical use. "This pandemic was a big test for AI and medicine," says Driggs, who is himself working on a machine-learning tool to help doctors during the pandemic. "It would have gone a long way to getting the public on our side," he says. "But I don't think we passed that test...." If there's an upside, it is that the pandemic has made it clear to many researchers that the way AI tools are built needs to change. "The pandemic has put problems in the spotlight that we've been dragging along for some time," says Wynants. The article suggests researchers collaborate on creating high-quality (and shared) data sets — possibly by creating a common data standard — and also disclose their ultimate models and training protocols for review and extension. "In a sense, this is an old problem with research. Academic researchers have few career incentives to share work or validate existing results. "To address this issue, the World Health Organization is considering an emergency data-sharing contract that would kick in during international health crises."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

2 Red Objects Found In the Asteroid Belt. They Shouldn't Be There.

Slashdot.org - Sun, 08/01/2021 - 14:59
Slashdot reader fahrbot-bot quotes the New York Times: Two red things are hiding in a part of the solar system where they shouldn't be. The space rocks may have come from beyond Neptune, and potentially offer hints at the chaos of the early solar system. Scientists led by Sunao Hasegawa from JAXA, the Japanese space agency, reported in The Astrophysical Journal Letters on July 26, 2021 that two objects, called 203 Pompeja and 269 Justitia, spotted in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter appear to have originated beyond Neptune. The discoveries could one day provide direct evidence of the chaos that existed in the early solar system. "If true it would be a huge deal," says Hal Levison, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado, who was not involved in the research... "People have been talking about some fraction of asteroids coming from the Kuiper belt for quite a while now," said Josh Emery, a planetary scientist from Northern Arizona University who was not involved in the paper. He said the research "definitely takes a step" toward finding evidence to support that hypothesis. Not everyone is convinced just yet. Dr. Levison, who was also not involved in the paper, says objects should become less red as they approach the sun. "It seems to be inconsistent with our models," said Dr. Levison, who is the head of NASA's Lucy mission, which is scheduled to launch in October to study Jupiter's Trojans [asteroids captured in its orbit]. Michaël Marsset from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a co-author on the paper, agrees that it's not clear why they would be so red, but it is possibly related to how long it took them to become implanted into the asteroid belt. Some Trojans may also be as red, but haven't been found yet. To truly confirm the origin of 203 Pompeja and 269 Justitia, a spacecraft would likely need to visit them.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Russia's 'Nonsensical, Impossible Quest' to Create Its Own Domestic Internet

Slashdot.org - Sun, 08/01/2021 - 13:49
"It was pretty strange when Russia decided to announce last week that it had successfully run tests between June 15 and July 15 to show it could disconnect itself from the internet," writes an associate professor of cybersecurity policy at Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. The tests seem to have gone largely unnoticed both in and outside of Russia, indicating that whatever entailed did not involve Russia actually disconnecting from the global internet... since that would be impossible to hide. Instead, the tests — and, most of all, the announcement about their success — seem to be intended as some kind of signal that Russia is no longer dependent on the rest of the world for its internet access. But it's not at all clear what that would even mean since Russia is clearly still dependent on people and companies in other countries for access to the online content and services they create and host — just as we all are... For the past two years, ever since implementing its "sovereign internet law" in 2019, Russia has been talking about establishing its own domestic internet that does not rely on any infrastructure or resources located outside the country. Presumably, the tests completed this summer are related to that goal of being able to operate a local internet within Russia that does not rely on the global Domain Name System to map websites to specific IP addresses. This is not actually a particularly ambitious goal — any country could operate its own domestic internet with its own local addressing system if it wanted to do so instead of connecting to the larger global internet... The Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis at the University of California San Diego maintains an Internet Outage Detection and Analysis tool that combines three data sets to identify internet outages around the world... The data sets for Russia from June 15 through July 15, the period of the supposed disconnection tests, shows few indications of any actual disconnection other than a period around July 5 when unsolicited traffic from Russia appears to have dropped off. Whatever Russia did this summer, it did not physically disconnect from the global internet. It doesn't even appear to have virtually disconnected from the global internet in any meaningful sense. Perhaps it shifted some of its critical infrastructure systems to rely more on domestic service providers and resources. Perhaps it created more local copies of the addressing system used to navigate the internet and tested its ability to rely on those. Perhaps it tested its ability to route online traffic within the country through certain chokepoints for purposes of better surveillance and monitoring. None of those are activities that would be immediately visible from outside the country and all of them would be in line with Russia's stated goals of relying less on internet infrastructure outside its borders and strengthening its ability to monitor online activity. But the goal of being completely independent of the rest of the world's internet infrastructure while still being able to access the global internet is a nonsensical and impossible one. Russia cannot both disconnect from the internet and still be able to use all of the online services and access all of the websites hosted and maintained by people in other parts of the world, as appears to have been the case during the monthlong period of testing... Being able to disconnect your country from the internet is not all that difficult — and certainly nothing to brag about. But announcing that you've successfully disconnected from the internet when it's patently clear that you haven't suggests both profound technical incompetence and a deep-seated uncertainty about what a domestic Russian internet would actually mean.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

How to find a path of a Linux command like a pro

nixCraft - Sun, 08/01/2021 - 13:16

One of the most common questions I get is how can I find a Linux command path that I just installed on Linux using a package manager such as apt/dnf command. We have many new developers coming from the Windows world. Many are first-time Linux users. Some are using Linux from WSL, and others are directly dealing with cloud servers over ssh. Let us see some common commands to list or find a path for Linux commands.

The post How to find a path of a Linux command like a pro appeared first on nixCraft.

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