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Snap CEO Hired Chief Business Officer, Then Changed His Mind
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '18 at 05:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's change-of-heart department:
According to a report from Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel officially made Kristen O'Hara, former longtime WarnerMedia/Time Warner exec, the chief business officer of Snap, but changed his mind two days later. Spiegel decided to hire Jeremi Gorman, who oversaw ad sales at Amazon, instead. "The switch was jarring for Snap's sales division, as O'Hara was well-liked," Bloomberg reports. "Now she's gone." From the report: In a statement to employees Monday, O'Hara told colleagues she is leaving due to changes in team structure. Even if Gorman works well in the role, the incident has eroded trust in Spiegel's decision-making as he is working to improve his leadership skills, and as Snap is depending on new managers to help boost the company's performance. Snap confirmed O'Hara's departure and declined to comment on the circumstances. In an email to the business solutions team on Monday, provided by Snap, Spiegel praised her leadership. Spiegel wrote: "In her time here, Kristen had an immediate and positive impact on the company. She had a deep understanding of our business from the outset and forged strong client relationships that we will continue to build upon. I will miss the leadership and enthusiasm she brought to the organization and wish her only continued success. Jeremi joins us with proven expertise and talent that will make our platform even better for our partners, and I am excited to have her on our team."

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US Bans Exports To Chinese DRAM Maker Citing National Security Risk
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '18 at 03:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: The Trump administration on Monday announced it was banning U.S. exports to a Chinese semiconductor firm named Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Company, citing national security concerns. In a statement released by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC), officials said the Chinese chipmaker posed "a significant risk of being or becoming involved, in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States." DoC officials are now barring US companies from selling any products to Fujian Jinhua, which was recently nearing completion of a new dynamic random access memory (DRAM) factory project. "When a foreign company engages in activity contrary to our national security interests, we will take strong action to protect our national security. Placing Jinhua on the Entity List will limit its ability to threaten the supply chain for essential components in our military systems," said Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce.

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Google Pixel 3 XL Bug Adds Second Notch To Side of the Screen
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '18 at 03:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's your-worst-nightmare department:
Those of you who detest display notches will find this bug especially unpleasant. A small number of Pixel 3 XL users are reportedly experiencing a bug where an additional notch appears on the right side of the display. Android Police reports: Turns out that it's a real-life bug experienced by several users, including Jessie Burroughs, Kyle Gutschow, and UrAvgConsumer. We're not sure what's causing it, but it could be something to do with the screen rotation setting getting a bit confused about its orientation. In all three of the examples we've seen, the users reported that the issue went away after a restart or fiddling with the developer settings, so at least it's not a permanent problem. Anyone who bought a Pixel 3 XL probably decided that the notch didn't bother them that much, but we're not sure how they'd feel about another one showing up unannounced. Google is aware of this bug and says a fix is "coming soon."

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Wisconsin's $4.1 Billion Foxconn Boondoggle
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '18 at 02:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's don't-mention-it department:
"A story from The Verge reports on Foxconn's substantially scaled-back plans for the heavily subsidized Wisconsin "Gigafactory," writes Slashdot reader kimanaw. Here's an excerpt from the report: The details of the deal were famously written on the back of a napkin when [Foxconn chairman Terry Gou] and the Republican governor first met: a $3 billion state subsidy in return for Foxconn's $10 billion investment in a Generation 10.5 LCD manufacturing plant that would create 13,000 jobs. [...] But what seemed so simple on a napkin has turned out to be far more complicated and messy in real life. As the size of the subsidy has steadily increased to a jaw-dropping $4.1 billion, Foxconn has repeatedly changed what it plans to do, raising doubts about the number of jobs it will create. Instead of the promised Generation 10.5 plant, Foxconn now says it will build a much smaller Gen 6 plant, which would require one-third of the promised investment, although the company insists it will eventually hit the $10 billion investment target. And instead of a factory of workers building panels for 75-inch TVs, Foxconn executives now say the goal is to build "ecosystem" of buzzwords called "AI 8K+5G" with most of the manufacturing done by robots.

< article continued at Slashdot's don't-mention-it department >

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FCC Falsely Claims Community Broadband an 'Ominous Threat To First Amendment'
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '18 at 02:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's false-claims department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: The Trump FCC has declared towns and cities that vote to build their own broadband networks an "ominous threat to the First Amendment." The claims were made last week during a speech given at the telecom-funded Media Institute by FCC Commissioner Mike O'Rielly. In his speech, O'Rielly insinuated, without evidence, that community owned and operated broadband networks would naturally result in local governments aggressively limiting American free speech rights. "I would be remiss if my address omitted a discussion of a lesser-known, but particularly ominous, threat to the First Amendment in the age of the Internet: state-owned and operated broadband networks," claimed O'Rielly.

In his speech, O'Rielly highlighted efforts by the last FCC, led by former boss Tom Wheeler, to encourage such community-run broadband networks as a creative solution to private sector failure. O'Rielly subsequently tried to claim, without evidence, that encouraging such networks would somehow result in government attempts to censor public opinion. "Municipalities such as Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Wilson, North Carolina, have been notorious for their use of speech codes in the terms of service of state-owned networks, prohibiting users from transmitting content that falls into amorphous categories like 'hateful' or "threatening," O'Rielly claimed. The closest O'Rielly gets to supporting evidence appears to be a 2015 white paper written by Professor Enrique Armijo for the ISP-funded Free State Foundation. That paper similarly alleges that standard telecom sector language intended to police "threatening, abusive or hateful" language somehow implies community-run ISPs are more likely to curtail user speech. But municipal broadband experts say the argument has no basis in fact.

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The Linux Kernel Is Now VLA-Free: A Win For Security, Less Overhead and Better For Clang
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '18 at 01:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-the-record department:
With the in-development Linux 4.20 kernel, it is now effectively VLA-free. From a report: The variable-length arrays (VLAs) that can be convenient and part of the C99 standard but can have unintended consequences. VLAs allow for array lengths to be determined at run-time rather than compile time. The Linux kernel has long relied upon VLAs in different parts of the kernel -- including within structures -- but going on for months now (and years if counting the kernel Clang'ing efforts) has been to remove the usage of variable-length arrays within the kernel. The problems with them are: 1. Using variable-length arrays can add some minor run-time overhead to the code due to needing to determine the size of the array at run-time. 2. VLAs within structures is not supported by the LLVM Clang compiler and thus an issue for those wanting to build the kernel outside of GCC, Clang only supports the C99-style VLAs. 3. Arguably most importantly is there can be security implications from VLAs around the kernel's stack usage.

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Google Engineers Are Organizing A Walk Out To Protest The Company's Protection Of An Alleged Sexual Harasser
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '18 at 01:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
In response to a story about Google paying and protecting former executive Andy Rubin following an investigation into sexual misconduct, a group of 200 Google employees are organizing a "women's walk." From a report: A group of more than two hundred engineers at Google are organizing a company-wide "women's walk" walkout for later this week to protest recent revelations about the search giant's protection of employees that had allegedly engaged in sexual misconduct, according to four people familiar with the situation inside Google. The protest, which is expected to happen on Thursday, comes in light of a story by the New York Times last week into the misbehavior of Android creator Andy Rubin and other executives at the company, some of whom still have positions of prominence at Google. Google gave Rubin a reported $90 million exit package in 2014, following an investigation into an allegation that he had coerced another employee to perform oral sex on him. That investigation reportedly found that allegation to be credible.

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Google Seeks To Grant $25 Million To AI For 'Good' Projects
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '18 at 11:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's AI-for-good department:
Alphabet's Google announced on Monday that it would grant about $25 million globally next year to humanitarian and environmental projects seeking to use artificial intelligence (AI) to speed up and grow their efforts. The company said its efforts were not a reaction to the recent tech pushback. From a report: The "AI Impact Challenge" is meant to inspire organizations to ask Google for help in machine learning, a form of AI in which computers analyze large datasets to make predictions or detect patterns and anomalies. Google's rivals Microsoft and Amazon tout "AI for good" initiatives too. Focusing on humanitarian projects could aid Google in recruiting and soothe critics by demonstrating that its interests in machine learning extend beyond its core business and other lucrative areas, such as military work.

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Bitcoin Mining Alone Could Raise Global Temperatures Above Critical Limit By 2033
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '18 at 11:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's current-projections department:
dmoberhaus writes: Researchers have found that if Bitcoin is adopted at rates similar to technologies like credit cards, its energy consumption could increase global temperatures by 2C in just 16 years. This is well beyond the limit of catastrophic climate change proposed by the UN. Motherboard spoke to an expert on Bitcoin and energy about the study's implications.

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UK Announces Digital Services Tax on Tech Giants
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '18 at 10:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's paying-the-price department:
Technology giants will have to pay more tax in the UK under new regulations unveiled by the local government today. From a report: In his budget statement this afternoon, Chancellor Phillip Hammond revealed a two percent "digital services tax" on large tech firms such as Amazon, Facebook and Google. From April 2020, large social media platforms, search engines and online marketplaces will pay a 2 percent tax on the revenues they earn which are linked to UK users. The tax follows increasing pressure from both the public and politicians to take action against multi-billion dollar firms paying low rates of tax in the UK. Both Google and Facebook have been criticised for paying little taxes in previous years, largely by centering their UK operations in Ireland to avoid higher charges. Revealing the tax in Parliament, Hammond said that it will be, "carefully designed to ensure it is established tech giants -- rather than our tech start-ups - that shoulder the burden of this new tax."

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You Can Play Over 2,600 Windows Games on Linux Via Steam Play
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '18 at 10:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-synergy department:
At the end of August, Valve announced a new version of Steam Play for Linux that included Proton, a WINE fork that made many Windows games, including more recent ones ,such as Witcher 3, Dark Souls 3 and Dishonored, playable on Linux. Just two months later, ProtonDB says there are over 2,600 Windows games that users can play on Linux, and the number is rapidly growing daily. From a report: When Valve Software launched Steam Play with Proton, it made it easier for gamers to play Windows games that hadn't yet been ported to Linux with the click of a button. Not all games may run perfectly on Linux, but that's also often the case with Windows 10, which can not play older games as well as previous versions of Windows did, even under Compatibility Mode. In only two months, the database of games that work with Proton has increased to over 2,600 -- more than half of the 5,000 Linux-native games that can be obtained through the Steam store.

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Your Brain Waves Could Soon Replace Passwords Entirely
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '18 at 09:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's pushing-the-limits department:
Wenyao Xu and Feng Lin, assistant professors of Computer Science and Engineering at University at Buffalo and The State University of New York, write: Our team has been working with collaborators at other institutions for years, and has invented a new type of biometric that is both uniquely tied to a single human being and can be reset if needed. When a person looks at a photograph or hears a piece of music, her brain responds in ways that researchers or medical professionals can measure with electrical sensors placed on her scalp. We have discovered that every person's brain responds differently to an external stimulus, so even if two people look at the same photograph, readings of their brain activity will be different. This process is automatic and unconscious, so a person can't control what brain response happens. And every time a person sees a photo of a particular celebrity, their brain reacts the same way -- though differently from everyone else's. We realized that this presents an opportunity for a unique combination that can serve as what we call a "brain password." It's not just a physical attribute of their body, like a fingerprint or the pattern of blood vessels in their retina. Instead, it's a mix of the person's unique biological brain structure and their involuntary memory that determines how it responds to a particular stimulus.

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Forget Better Batteries, Nothing That Exists Or is in Development Can Store Energy as Well, And as Cheaply, as Compressed Air
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '18 at 09:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: The concept seems simple: you just suck in some air from the atmosphere, compress it using electrically-driven compressors and store the energy in the form of pressurised air. When you need that energy you just let the air out and pass it through a machine that takes the energy from the air and turns an electrical generator. Compressed air energy storage (or CAES), to give it its full name, can involve storing air in steel tanks or in much less expensive containments deep underwater. In some cases, high pressure air can be stored in caverns deep underground, either excavated directly out of hard rock or formed in large salt deposits by so-called "solution mining", where water is pumped in and salty water comes out. Such salt caverns are often used to store natural gas. Compressed air could easily deliver the required scale of storage, but it remains grossly undervalued by policymakers, funding bodies and the energy industry itself. This has stunted the development of the technology and means it is likely that much more expensive and less effective solutions will instead be adopted.

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Windows Defender Becomes First Antivirus To Run Inside a Sandbox
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '18 at 07:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department:
An anonymous reader writes: Windows Defender is the first antivirus to gain the ability to run inside a sandbox environment, Microsoft said in an announcement. In software design, a "sandbox" is a security mechanism that works by separating a process inside a tightly controlled area of the operating system that gives that process access to limited disk and memory resources. The idea is to prevent bugs and exploit code from spreading from one process to another, or to the underlying OS. "We're in the process of gradually enabling this capability for Windows insiders and continuously analyzing feedback to refine the implementation," Microsoft said in a celebratory blog post. Users who can't wait until Microsoft finishes testing the feature can also enable it right now. Support for Windows Defender running inside a sandbox environment has been silently added since Windows 10 version 1703. To enable it right now, Windows 10 users can follow these steps.

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Copyright Law Just Got Better for Video Game History
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '18 at 07:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's major-reforms department:
In a series of rulings, the Library of Congress has carved out a number of exemptions that will help the movement to archive and preserve video games. From a report: In an 85-page ruling [PDF] that covered everything from electronic aircraft controls to farm equipment diagnostic software, the Librarian of Congress carved out fair use exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for video games and software in general. These exemptions will make it easier for archivists to save historic video games and for museums to share that cultural history with the public. "The Acting Register found that the record supported granting an expansion in the relatively discrete circumstances where a preservation institution legally possesses a copy of a video game's server code and the game's local code," the Librarian of Congress said. "In such circumstances, the preservation activities described by proponents are likely to be fair uses." These rules are definitely good news for single-player games. "The big change for single-player games happened during the last DMCA review process in 2015, when the Copyright Office decided that museums and archives could break the online authentication for single-player titles that were just phoning home to a server for copy protection reasons," Phil Salvador -- a Washington, DC-area librarian and archivist who runs The Obscuritory, a site that focuses on discussing and preserving obscure, old game -- told Motherboard. That 2015 ruling was due to expire this year, but thanks to pressure from activists it was renewed today instead.

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Microsoft Says It Has Resolved an Issue With Bing Which Was Causing It To Push Malware When Users Searched for Chrome
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '18 at 06:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's what-in-the-world department:
Chris Hoffman, writing for How To Geek: You launch Edge on your new PC, search for "download Chrome," and click the first result headed to "google.com" on Bing. You're now on a phishing website pushing malware, disguised to look like the Chrome download page. That's the story Gabriel Landau tells on Twitter. We were able to reproduce this problem, although it doesn't happen every time. Usually, you'll end up seeing an ad for "https://www.google.com". That goes to the real Chrome download page, and everything is fine. But, sometimes, you'll see an ad for "google.com". Guess what -- that doesn't actually go to Google.com. This ad was created by a scammer and goes elsewhere. Microsoft is apparently not verifying the web address the advertisement actually goes to. Bing is letting this advertisement lie people. Microsoft says it has resolved the issue.

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Twitter Plans To Remove 'Like' Button in a Bid To Improve the Quality of Debate, Report Says
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '18 at 03:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Twitter is planning to remove the ability to "like" tweets in a radical move that aims to improve the quality of debate on the social network, UK news outlet The Telegraph reported Monday, citing CEO Jack Dorsey's comments at a recent company event. From the report: Founder Jack Dorsey last week admitted at a Twitter event that he was not a fan of the heart-shaped button and that it would be getting rid of it "soon." The feature was introduced in 2015 to replace "favourites," a star-shaped button that allowed people to bookmark tweets to read later.

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China's OnePlus, Backed by Qualcomm and T-Mobile, Launches OnePlus 6T Smartphone in US
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '18 at 02:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-territory department:
OnePlus, a five-year old Chinese smartphone company whose high-end products are little known outside a tech-savvy niche is entering the U.S. market on Monday with the backing of two key local allies: chipmaking giant Qualcomm and mobile operator T-Mobile. Reuters reports: The foray by Shenzhen-based OnePlus comes after U.S. mobile carriers AT&T and Verizon this year backed away from plans to work with China's Huawei on high-end phones in face of pressure from the U.S. government, which considers Huawei a security risk. But the OnePlus alliance, to be announced today in New York, shows how many U.S.-China business relationships, including those involving the most advanced technologies, are marching ahead despite the U.S. China trade war. OnePlus has quietly become the No. 3 client for Qualcomm's most expensive mobile phone chips, behind Samsung and LG Electronics, according to data from market researcher Canalys. The phone to be unveiled Monday, called the 6T, will sell for a price above $500 but packs features that are typically present only in pricier handsets. Xiaomi, a Chinese rival that also focuses on feature-packed phones at bargain prices, has said it plans to launch in the U.S. next year, but did not respond to a request for comment on whether those plans are still in place. The OnePlus 6T will laregely offer the same specs as its predecessor -- the OnePlus 6, which was launched earlier this year. Some of the key changes include a smaller notch on the front display and a built-in fingerprint scanner that is embedded in it.

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FCC Leaders Say We Need a 'National Mission' To Fix Rural Broadband
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '18 at 02:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's expanding-reach department:
Democrats and Republicans in Washington can't agree on much of anything these days. One thing they do agree on: The digital divide undercutting rural America needs to be fixed. But figuring out the details of achieving this goal is where the two sides diverge. From a report: So how are policy makers working to solve this problem? I traveled to Washington last month to talk about this topic with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, the only Democrat on the commission. Specifically, I wanted to know what they see as the cause of this divide and how they think it can be bridged. One thing they agreed on: Deploying broadband is expensive in many parts of the country, making it hard for traditional providers to run a business building and operating networks. "In big cities and urban areas where you have dense populations, the cost of deployment is lower," Rosenworcel said. "When you get to rural locations it's harder because financing those networks, deploying them and operating them is just more expensive." She added, "That's not a reason not to do it. We're just going to have to get creative and find ways to connect everyone everywhere." It might even take what Pai called a "national mission" to get the job done. But before you can really get things going, you have to address one key issue, Rosenworcel said. "Our broadband maps are terrible," she said. "If we're going to solve this nation's broadband problems, then the first thing we have to do is fix those maps. We need to know where broadband is and is not in every corner of this country." You can't solve a problem you can't measure, she added. [...] Pai agrees that the inaccuracies of the FCC's maps are a major problem. And he acknowledges that relying solely on self-reported data from the carriers is an issue. But he blames the previous Democrat-led administration for creating the problem and says his administration has been left to clean up the mess. He said that when he became chairman in January 2017, the FCC had to sift through that self-reported data based on parameters that individual carriers defined, creating a mismatched data set. "So we didn't just have apples and oranges," he said. "We had apples, oranges, bananas and many other fruits." He said his administration has tried to streamline the process so the FCC is at least gathering the same self-reported information from each carrier. But he admits that the process is still flawed. To rectify that, the agency has developed a challenge process. "We've asked the American public, state and local officials, and carriers, consumer groups, farm groups in rural states to challenge those maps and tell us where they're inaccurate," he said.

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The Shutting Down of FilmStruck and the False Promise of Streaming Classics
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '18 at 09:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's looking-back department:
The FilmStruck indie, arthouse and classic film subscription-streaming service will shut down next month, Turner and Warner Bros. Digital Networks announced this week. The New Yorker's film critic Richard Brody writes: The site isn't accepting any new subscribers, and it's a good bet that it won't be adding films, either. In the year and a half that I've been offering recommendations here of movies to stream, FilmStruck titles have featured prominently. One could keep busy, happy, and cinematically sustained for a long time on the sole basis of FilmStruck movies, and all the more so with the inclusion of movies from Turner Classic Movies. (The movie diet wouldn't be an entirely balanced one: the site does poorly with such domains as American independent filmmaking, African cinema, and the past forty years of film history. Its over-all flaw is its reliance on recognized classics: the programming of the site is more responsive than it is proactive, and it might have been improved by more personalized, idiosyncratic selections that would have made it more like a permanent online film festival.) The site instead offered various modes of promotional outreach. Some, such as essays, and some home-produced videos, were significant works in themselves, but the site over all diluted its offerings with a home page of diversions and distractions that felt like a tawdry sampling of multiplex ballyhoo raising an unwelcome racket amid the art-house tranquillity. That conspicuously commercial waiting room to the classic-cinema library suggests the culture clash at the heart of the enterprise, the one that arises from its odd original fusion of Criterion with TCM, which was then a part of Time Warner -- and which foreshadowed its doom. That air of doom arises from more than the inherent conflicts of the high-culture outpost and the mass-market colossus. Slate's arts and culture critic Joanna Scutts writes: FilmStruck did not care who you were: It set out to teach you something new, not just to feed you more helpings of what you already know you like. It employed a team of smart women and brought in directors like Barry Jenkins to record short, passionate introductions to films they loved. Its personality shone through tightly curated collections, from a timely gathering of all the previous incarnations of A Star Is Born, to a larger batch of Japanese horror titles, to deep dives into a particular director or cinematographer. It offered up inventive double-feature pairings and led you through its extensive archives in ways that were creative, cheeky, thought-provoking, and unpretentious. It made it clear that a passion for art-house and classic film was not exclusive to old white men. That kind of personality, that kind of discoverability, that kind of curation, can't be replicated by an algorithm. It takes time, money, and effort. It takes thought and education. It takes human beings.

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