* Posts by DougS

12863 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

Apple's top-secret iBoot firmware source code spills onto GitHub for some insane reason

DougS Silver badge

This is probably a good thing

Get a lot more eyes on the code, find a lot of bugs, Apple pays out bug bounties, code is more secure. If it was a company other than Apple I'd almost think the leak was deliberate for this reason.

Boffins crack smartphone location tracking – even if you've turned off the GPS

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Re: Barometer

What I meant was you can't look at a certain reading on your barometer and say "I'm at 500 meters in altitude". You might be at sea level in a low pressure system or 1000 meters in a high pressure system.

DougS Silver badge


I completely forgot about how Android users used to brag about the barometer in some older Galaxy S phones back when the iPhone didn't have one (because they bragged about anything the iPhone lacked that some Android phone had) I also completely forgot that Apple added one (or more likely the supplier of their MEMs chip integrated one and they didn't bother to disable it in case someone found a use for it someday) starting with the iPhone 6.

I've never used the barometer in my iPhone - don't even know what apps might access it - and can't think of anything useful to use it for. You can't use it to assess altitude, because air pressure is independent of altitude, and it probably isn't sensitive enough to detect changes of less than a thousand feet in elevation. If I need to know the barometric pressure I'll visit Accuweather.

Maybe here's a good reason to disable the damn thing - as if anyone would ever notice!

Can't wait to get to Mars on a SpaceX ship? It's a cold, dead rock – boffins

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Re: We used to say that about a lot of places on Earth...

Wasn't the first life on Earth anaerobic? Granted the cold would be a problem, but sunlight is sunlight and if they have slow metabolic processes and are basically in suspended animation at night or when its cloudy its still life.

DougS Silver badge

Re: We used to say that about a lot of places on Earth...

We are pretty ill equipped for survival compared to many simpler forms of life. Is there life on the peak of Everest? I doubt anyone has checked (since they are too busy celebrating quickly followed by getting the hell back down) but I would be surprised if there wasn't. There's sunlight and water, which is a pretty good start (and better than what some extremophiles have to work with)

DougS Silver badge

We used to say that about a lot of places on Earth...

...where life was later found.

CLOUD Act hits Senate to lube up US access to data stored abroad

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There's a way around this

Do like Apple is doing in China. Instead of holding the data itself, it is contracting with a Chinese company to store the iCloud data of Chinese citizens. In this case of course it is in response to Chinese government restrictions that data about their citizens must be held within China by an approved company. Since Apple doesn't have "possession" of the data this law wouldn't apply.

So Google, Apple, Facebook etc. would simply need to contract with an EU based company for data on EU citizens, post-Brexit UK company for data on UK citizens, etc. That would certainly damage Google, Amazon and Microsoft's global cloud market ambitions - but maybe hurting the economy is the only thing that could get the US government to back off.

If they tried to claim that since it was still "Facebook's data" even if it lived on a foreign company's servers and that constituted "possession", it would be a strong incentive for these companies to consider relocating their headquarters to a more enlightened country. That would REALLY hurt the US economy - perhaps irreparably.

LISA Pathfinder sniffed out gravitational signals down to micro-Hertz

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@Gordon 10

plus the random atoms and other doodads getting back in of course - given that space isn't a perfect vacuum.

True, but the odds of something getting IN a tiny gap in an object probably less than a meter across are minuscule versus the odds of something that's bouncing around like crazy inside it getting OUT. Meaning you will eventually attain a perfect vacuum, which appears to have happened here.

Even if something defies the odds and gets in it'll leave pretty quickly via the same "bouncing around like crazy" process and restore your perfect vacuum. I'll bet the odds of a gas molecule getting in to spoil your perfect vacuum are probably less than the odds of a cosmic ray ripping through and upsetting the computers, or a micrometeorite tearing in one end and out the other and destroying it.

DougS Silver badge

Re: "gas molecules bouncing around inside the satellite were sufficient to register as noise. "

Impossible to get a perfect vacuum on Earth, so instead make an imperfect seal so those gas molecules eventually find the gap and escape. Then your only noise would be virtual particle pairs being created and annihilated...

Uber: Ah yeah, we pay women drivers less than men. We can explain!

DougS Silver badge

What a stupid idea. If the women get a bump for not choosing to work as many hours and thus gaining less experience, then someone who is a full time stay at home mom or dad while their spouse works and thus can only work a few hours on evenings and weekends and gains even less experience should get paid even more based on your foolish concept of "equity"!

Heck, the new drivers who have no experience are going to be the most clueless about where the best locations are, the best hours to work, the shortest routes to get customers to their destination so they can take more trips etc. so I guess you want to pay them twice as much to make up for that disadvantage?

Lloyds Bank bans Bitcoin purchases by credit card customers

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Re: Luxury Cruise.

You're purposefully being obtuse. Or perhaps you'd like to buy the vacation I took I last year - I'll sell it to you for half what I paid for it!

DougS Silver badge

Re: The banks don't like bitcoin.

It isn't any good for anything else BUT crime anymore with the transaction fees as high as they are. When ransomware is demanding payment in bitcoin, I think trying to argue that it is only "allegedly" used for crime is pretty ridiculous.

DougS Silver badge

Re: The folly of individuals notwithstanding...

You must have some pretty crazy laws over there in the UK. I've never had problems withdrawing sums far larger than that in cash from my bank. They need to file a form with the government if you withdraw more than $10,000 in cash I believe, but they (at least the credit union I bank at) doesn't stop you from taking it.

I'd switch banks if I was ever denied being able to withdraw such a paltry sum!

DougS Silver badge

Re: Luxury Cruise.

I'm not talking about a cruise going bankrupt before you can take it. I'm talking about it being valueless AFTER YOU'VE TAKEN IT. The credit card company can't "repossess" a service, it is always valueless to the credit card company unless they can prove the service was never provided and can issue a chargeback. They can't issue a chargeback to a cruise company because I took a cruise and then couldn't pay my credit card bill.

DougS Silver badge

Re: The banks don't like bitcoin.

There's such a tiny portion of money in bitcoin compared to the banking system it is a rounding error on a rounding error on a rounding error. Attributing it to conspiracy theory is ridiculous. Bitcoin is used in criminal transactions and money laundering. Not all certainly but to a large enough degree that this makes sense.

If enough criminals were laundering money by using credit cards to buy iPhones, banks would consider banning the purchase of iPhones with credit. They probably are getting pressure from government over some cases involving this and they've been forced to act, and are using the fall in price of bitcoin as an excuse. That's an obvious red herring, as most things you buy with a credit card either lose value over time or have no value at all by the time you pay for them.

If no one was forcing them they'd be happy to keep taking the transaction fee on each purchase. They already have a process for raising transaction fees for certain types of purchases where fraud is more likely so they could crank it up as high as they needed to account for that.

DougS Silver badge

If they were truly treating it as a loan

They wouldn't let you buy a meal at a restaurant with it, because the meal - which you've just eaten - is already valueless when you pay for it.

DougS Silver badge

Not just betting

Most of the things you buy with a credit card will have no value after purchase, or go down in value. If you buy a week long luxury trip for $20,000, after that week it is worth zero - certainly less than bitcoin no matter how much further it falls. Most goods you buy will depreciate, some right out of the gate (diamond ring) and some after a little while (giant screen TV)

Buying something that maintains its value or even has a chance of going up in value is the exception, not the rule, for credit card purchases.

Why is Bitcoin fscked? Here are three reasons: South Korea, India... and now China clamps down on cryptocurrencies

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@bombastic bob

Bitcoin is so thinly traded you don't need to assume someone is manipulating it. Only that the holder of one of the 90% of bitcoins that haven't been seen in the blockchain for years decides now that is the time to start selling them. If you hold hundreds of thousands of bitcoins you can't just dump them all on the market and collect your billion dollars, the price would crash before you sold a few percent of them. So you start small and if the price isn't moving too much you sell more, until the price crashes. Then you stop for a while, let the bitcoin boosters who will say "hey this downturn is a buying opportunity!" push the price back up, then sell more.

I wonder if anyone is tracking which bitcoins are traded to know when ones that haven't been seen for years (or never since creation) have appeared on the exchanges in the past couple months?

DougS Silver badge

In a heating dominated climate

Especially one where electricity is typically used for heat, there's no such thing as "wasted" electricity, at least not during days when you'd have the heat on anyway.

Maybe some clever company needs to create a new line of electric heaters that use their power for bitcoin mining (or cloud computing or whatever) instead of resistance coils. They can advertise "heat that pays for itself"...

A Hughes failure: Flat Earther rocketeer can't get it up yet again

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Re: Why does he need to be in the rocket?

Well presumably he could satisfy himself that the camera he's using has a lens that isn't distorting images by taking a wide angle picture with it and comparing it to what his eyes see. Unless he thinks the conspiracy from the round Earthers goes so far as to make cameras that switch to a fish eye lens when they detect they are above the atmosphere!

DougS Silver badge

Why does he need to be in the rocket?

Can't he put a camera on it that releases and parachutes back to Earth, or sends a picture back via shortwave? Or for that matter, weather balloons are able to reach high enough altitude that the curvature of the Earth is clearly visible.

2017 tablet market trended towards torpor

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Re: Not sure Amazon will keep it up

Anything that takes a guide and five minutes is something 98% of people are simply not going to do. Sideloading is useless to the masses because it is too complicated.

I mean hell you could download primitive apps onto phones before the iPhone, but almost no one did because it was too much to ask the average person to fiddle with proprietary cables connected to a PC - or worse, IR - and some proprietary program - or worse something like XMODEM.

NASA's zombie IMAGE satellite is powered up and working quite nicely

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Why wouldn't they build some sort of deadman switch in the satellite using a simple microcontroller such that if it didn't receive a signal from the ground over a certain period of time, or didn't see any evidence that the CPU was running, or other 'catastrophic' conditions that it would reset the power itself?

Insurance companies now telling you what tech to buy with um-missable price signals

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Selling insurance against breakins seems insane

If you buy fire insurance it is pretty easy to evaluate how a building complies with code, how well the occupants comply with code, what materials it is constructed from, if it has fire suppression, if it has an alarm, what the typical response time of the local fire department is, etc.

If you buy insurance against getting hacked, there is a loose list of "best practices" - many of which haven't been updated since the 90s and are so obsolete as to be counterproductive - and you have to actually do all the things your policies say you're going to do or they are worthless (like keeping current on patches) One employee getting phished can let an attacker inside and all your perimeter defenses are worthless, you may have intrusion detection but 99% of the time it is either so noisy real alerts are missed or so many alerts have been shut off to keep it from being noisy that real alerts are suppressed, and the intruder goes unnoticed.

If your business is struggling and you set fire to the place there are decades of practice in forensic fire examination that has a good chance of proving it was arson. If you set yourself up to get hacked by someone halfway around the world to collect on the insurance money, good luck to your carrier being able to prove it.

Dori-no! PepsiCo boss says biz is planning to sell lady crisps

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Re: Use chopsticks

The sound of crunching is nothing compared to the sound of laughter you must hear when someone sees this.

OpenWall unveils kernel protection project

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If you have an attack that can modify the kernel

The first thing you'll modify is this "kernel modification detection" code, so it won't detect the changes you're making...

CableLabs signs off MAC spec for DOCSIS full duplex

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Re: What difference does it make what wifi router you put on it?

Full duplex DOCSIS uses the same band for upstream and downstream, thanks to some fancy echo cancellation type magic. That 5-42 MHz return path band may be left unused in a full duplex installation, but if it is used it is used for both upstream and downstream data.

DougS Silver badge

What difference does it make what wifi router you put on it?

No one is going to get the full 10 gigabit, that's the entire system bandwidth (nearly 1 GHz of spectrum required at QAM 4096) for everyone sharing your node.

Even if you happened to have no one else you're sharing the node with active at 4am Christmas morning and got it all to yourself, what are you going to do with it that can make actual use of that much bandwidth? What site are you going to visit that can deliver it, and what is it going to send you that requires anything like that much? Is it really going to be a problem if your phone is "only" getting 800 Mbps?

Dunno why people are so hung up on "oh my internet has $BIGNUM theoretical bandwidth I'll never actually get, I need a router with > $BIGNUM theoretical bandwidth so it doesn't slow me down!" That's just router makers marketers getting people to buy something that isn't of any use to them.

At least that upcoming wifi standard (can't remember the name, 802.11 is alphabet soup) that lets it chop up the channels into smaller pieces so the entire channel isn't dedicated to a single client but can be use by a bunch at once will be useful in real world scenarios where you have a lot of active wifi users at once. That and WPA3 are the only things worth getting a new router for.

Nunes FBI memo: Yep, it's every bit as terrible as you imagined

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This memo is great!

It hits on all counts. It makes Nunes look like the foolish toady he is. It doesn't give Trump the excuse to fire Rosenstein he was hoping for - in fact it makes that even more difficult now with the transparent shenanigans that went into releasing this. It makes the Fox News talking heads who have been banging on its for release thinking it will save Trump from Mueller look pathetic for having championed such a dud.

Most importantly though it shines a bright light on the FISA court that the FBI has been trying to keep under wraps for years - to the point that they have dropped charges to avoid making public the inner workings of the process.

Bluetooth 'Panty Buster' 'smart' sex toy fails penetration test

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Maybe the wearers WANT someone to hack in and control it

I could see that being a turn on for some people - they'd probably remove the password to remove the hacking requirement...

Besides the XPoint: Persistent memory tech is cool, but the price tag... OUCH

DougS Silver badge

Persistent memory has been failing in the market for decades

Starting with IBM's bubble memory in the early 80s, the field is littered with the corpses of pretenders to the holy grail of byte addressable persistent memory. That's probably why those of us who have been around long enough were highly skeptical about XPoint despite Intel's hype.

Samsung's "Z-NAND" is just a fancy marketing name for slightly faster NAND. It isn't a new technology and it isn't byte addressable, so it is exempt from the curse. If Samsung is indeed working on some sort of new persistent memory as alluded to in the article, I will go on the record now as being HIGHLY skeptical. The track record for byte addressable persistent memory is so terrible that I have zero confidence they will succeed where many others have failed over the past 3+ decades. If they're lucky they'll find themselves a tiny little niche to carve out like MRAM did.

Apple: iPhone sales are down (but they've never been more lucrative)

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Re: Had your fun? One of the most inaccurate articles ever in The Reg

El Reg hasn't jumped back on the 'peak Apple' train after they got fooled last time. I think they will be more cautious about declaring it again :)

The story they wrote is basically what you see on most news reports. People don't care about the 14 versus 13 week thing - analysts already took that into account when making their estimates. Anyway, the analysts weren't unhappy about the 1% miss of their estimates for Q4 iPhone sales, given the high APRU. They were unhappy about the ~20% lower guidance for Q1 versus their overly optimistic estimates.

They were using the intro of the iPhone 6 as their guide, which had a blowout Q4 followed by a blowout Q1, but the reason for that was because it was released late into China so most of their sales hit in Q1. Apple has got better at filling demand over the years and doesn't have to stagger the release in countries over several months like they used. Apple will never again see a Q1 that's 75% of Q4 like analysts were stupidly expecting.

DougS Silver badge

Analysts know quarters with 14 weeks fell, so none of this is coming as a surprise.

Like I've been saying since last summer, the iPhone upgrade cycle won't really start until this fall. The X was introduced late, in short supply at first, without a plus-sized companion (very important in China where huge phones of up to 7" are popular) and starting at $1000, none of which will be true this fall.

DougS Silver badge

Missed the most important announcement for investors

They plan to become net cash neutral (i.e. only hold enough cash to match their outstanding debt, as they pay that down and of course they'll no longer have a reason to issue new debt)

That's big news for investors, while the "buy Netflix" idiots will still hold out hope of a big acquisition, the way it was stated implies it will be capital return in the form of buybacks and dividends. Net their debt and tax bill, that means $150 billion going back to stockholders.

As Facebook pushes yet more fake articles, one news editor tells Mark to get a grip – or Zuck off

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Reducing the news in the feed isn't going to solve their problem

I can post a link to a cat video or news story, and others can see my post with the news story and share it, and it'll still spread. Most of the fake news like the Hillary caused the train crash thing aren't sponsored stories being paid for, they are being posted by individuals and then shared and re-shared.

If they want to de-emphasize news they'll need to be able to figure out when someone is posting news. That's obvious if it is CBS or the Wall Street Journal, but they aren't the ones making up the crazy stories. If they figure out a list of domains sharing conspiracy theory style news, the ones spreading it will just change domains all the time - or build up a "good" rep for it by sharing innocuous stuff like listicles or funny cat videos, then once it has wide reach they can start using it to post fake news until Facebook's algorithms drop it down and they move on to the next domain, lather rinse repeat.

I don't see how Facebook can fix this problem without human intervention. AIs can't do this now and won't be able to do this 20 years from now. We would need a REAL AI for that.

DougS Silver badge

Few "go to Facebook for news"

But a lot of people go to Facebook, and once there if there is news they may read it. Either because it is news they hadn't seen elsewhere yet, or because they don't make any effort to go anywhere for news so what they see on Facebook is nearly 100% of their news consumption.

I read news linked off Facebook, either because one of my friends shared it, or because it is something interesting I hadn't seen that one of my friends interacted with (like my angry libertarian friend who lives in a Chicago suburb, she's always complaining about the taxes in Illinois on posts from WGN or the Tribune...makes me wonder why she doesn't move!) I certainly don't go there for news, but I do consume some while there - even if one never read a single article the way headlines are written can influence people and you can't help seeing those as you scroll your feed.

Supermassive black holes scoff just one star per year, say space weight watchers

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One solar mass a year

Means they should be billions of solar masses by now. So how come most of them weigh in at a svelte few hundred million solar masses?

Who can save us? It's 2018 and some email is still sent as cleartext

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Re: Port 465

Since I change my config once every few years, and I know sendmail, it isn't worth investing any time in learning a different one even if it is simpler.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Port 465

Excellent, thank you!

DougS Silver badge

Port 465

I thought that had been deprecated long ago. So now they are bringing it back? I just tried to enable port 465 in my sendmail.mc by uncommenting the "smtps" line, but when I did so, generated a new sendmail.cf and restarted sendmail it listened on port 465 all right but was no longer listening on port 25. What do I need to do to get it to listen on both?

Google prints money for Alphabet to stuff into Uncle Sam's pockets: $10bn blow from Donald Trump's tax shakeup

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Re: John

More jobs created in the US? It isn't like any of the companies with billions overseas were short on cash in the US if they wanted to hire more people here. The money coming back will retire debt and be returned to shareholders (you hope) or used for ill-advised acquisitions (you fear) Now that overseas earnings are from US taxes, it is actually an incentive to do more business overseas...

A one-time $1000 bonus is not "huge" by anyone's definition, and after AT&T announced their $1000 bonus the next day they announced nearly a thousand layoffs in the US - yep, right before the holidays! So much for job creation.

New York lobs $210m at telcos to hook up 120k homes, businesses with bumpkin broadband

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Should have used fixed wireless

Satellite internet is going to be obsolete in a few years once the fixed LTE and later fixed 5G broadband networks are built out. I presume there aren't any areas of NY state without cell service?

FBI slams secret Nunes memo alleging Feds spied on Team Trump for political reasons

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Re: The really ridiculous part of this

The FBI doesn't have a squeaky clean rep, no one is arguing that. The whole reason this is being pushed is to give Trump a "reason" for firing Rosenstein. Then he hopes to appoint a toady in that slot - maybe this is why Trey Gowdy said he wouldn't run for re-election...perhaps Trump plans to appoint him in exchange for a promise to fire Mueller or otherwise shut down the investigation.

Trump is obviously guilty of something pretty bad for him to have such a consistent pattern of trying to obstruct justice. Must be pretty serious too, if it was just "Trump talked to the Russians about getting dirt on Hillary" his supporters wouldn't care. Probably money laundering with Russian mafia, maybe he's worried if it is exposed the source of funding will dry up and since no reputable bank will loan him a dime he'd end up bankrupt.

DougS Silver badge

The really ridiculous part of this

Is that the surveillance on Carter Page was being renewed, he was already under scrutiny before the "dossier" was ever made available to the FBI so they can't claim that's the reason he was being investigated.

Republicans should not pin their hopes for getting rid of Mueller on Carter Page - he is almost certain to be indicted in the near future, and then the inevitable distancing from him will begin. But that's going to be a lot harder when they are now trying to claim he was a high level member of the campaign.

AT&T's financial figures reveal 19 BEEELLLION reasons why it lobbied hard for US tax cuts

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IMHO the biggest problem with this tax cut is that it makes the deficit worse. It is already projected to exceed a trillion dollars before the end of Trump's term, this bumps that up by another $200 billion or so.

Funny how republicans abandon the whole idea of fiscal responsibility when it comes to tax cuts. Gotta keep the donor class happy so the campaign donations keep rolling in!

DougS Silver badge

The hits had nothing to do with whether they manufacture or not, it had to do with whether they reserved tax liability against their offshore cash or not. Companies that didn't got to report better results in the past but then took a big hit when the bill finally came due. Companies that reserved as they should reported slightly less good results in the past, but aren't having to take a big hit now.

It sounds like AT&T must have reserved tax liability at a full 35%, greatly overestimating the amount they'd end up paying in the end which shows up as earnings now.

DRAM, Samsung, these profits are on fire, NAND ain't that the truth

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Re: Will Prices Reduce for PC DRAM ?

Not all the altcoins are "mined", and ASICs like the one Samsung is fabbing for one of their customers (probably Chinese) are designed specifically for bitcoin and won't work for these alternatives even if they are mined. GPUs are more general purpose and aren't specific to one type of cryptocoin.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Will Prices Reduce for PC DRAM ?

There have been ASICs designed for bitcoin mining on the market for several years, but they are priced VERY high because of the low sales over which to amortize the design/mask costs. GPUs tend to provide better bang for the buck because the sales across which to amortize the costs are so much higher.

So until the bitcoin bubble bursts, I'm afraid you'll have to deal with inflated GPU prices. At some point a GPU becomes "junk" to a miner, where they will make more money by buying the latest GPU and selling off the old one. That's probably what you should buy, the market for "used" GPUs (say 18 months old or so?) should be pretty depressed because of all the miners dumping them when something new and shiny comes out.

Billionaire bros Bezos, Buffett become bonkers bio brokers: Swap W in AWS for H for healthcare

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Re: The health care industry is right to be terrified

Agreed, but assuming that by squeezing the profit motive out of their insurance company they are able to provide better health care at lower cost than the for-profit competition, the whole thing will snowball. Employers will want to switch to them to save money, and employees will want to switch for better care, and they'll eventually drive the for-profit insurance companies off the market.

At that point they'll dominate the insurance landscape, and can begin forcing change on the rest of the industry. Also, once they administer almost all employer paid insurance they could take on individuals without much regard to their health status. Maybe this can be a route to single payer health care in the US, started not by the government but by "free enterprise" (in quotes because no doubt some will try to call it anti-capitalist because of its non-profit status and the fact that if successful it'll run all the for-profit insurance companies out of business, and no doubt cause major changes in the amount of profit for-profit hospitals and drug companies are able to make)

So it could potentially fix the "you need a job with an employer who offers insurance" to get insurance at an affordable (non-subsidized) cost problem, but it is way to early to know. Certainly a better chance than sticking with Obamacare as is, or the republican plan which is basically "let's go back to the good old days of 2008". Nice to see a gang of liberals give the finger to the health care industry and their bought and paid for congressional lackeys, hopefully it will eventually destroy the current health care landscape and replace it with something better.

1,900 rotten apps bounced out of Google Play every day in 2017

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What about false positives?

I wonder which is the more difficult fight for a developer, fighting Apple's human reviewers if they say no to your app, or fighting Google's AI if it says no to your app?

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