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NSA Purges Hundreds of Millions of Call and Text Records
Posted by News Fetcher on July 02 '18 at 08:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
schwit1 shares a report: The National Security Agency has purged hundreds of millions of records logging phone calls and texts that it had gathered from American telecommunications companies since 2015, the agency has disclosed. It had realized that its database was contaminated with some files the agency had no authority to receive. The agency began destroying the records on May 23, it said in a statement. Officials had discovered "technical irregularities" this year in its collection from phone companies of so-called call record details, or metadata showing who called or texted whom and when, but not what they said. The agency had collected the data from a system it created under the USA Freedom Act. Congress enacted that law in 2015 to end and replace a once-secret program that had systematically collected Americans' domestic calling records in bulk. The National Security Agency uses the data to analyze social links between people in a hunt for hidden associates of known terrorism suspects.

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Despite FCC's Promise To Take Aggressive Action To Stamp Out Radio Pirates, Illegal Stations Are Flourishing
Posted by News Fetcher on July 02 '18 at 08:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Last year, when Donald Trump appointed Ajit Pai chairman of the F.C.C., Pai promised to "take aggressive action" to stamp out pirates. In early May, the Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement, or PIRATE, Act was introduced in Congress; it would increase fines from a maximum of a hundred and forty-four thousand dollars to two million dollars. But the stations aren't going away, The New Yorker reports. From the article: Transmission equipment has only become cheaper and more sophisticated. "The problem, as I see it, is that the technology has gone beyond what the law has been able to do," said David Goren, a local resident who works as a producer on licensed radio shows. Between 87.9 and 92.1 FM, Goren counted eleven illegal stations, whose hosts mainly spoke Creole or accented English. Pirates, he said, "offer a kind of programming that their audiences depend on. Spiritual sustenance, news, immigration information, music created at home or in the new home, here."

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Homeland Security Subpoenas Twitter For Data Breach Finder's Account
Posted by News Fetcher on July 02 '18 at 06:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Homeland Security has served Twitter with a subpoena, demanding the account information of a data breach finder, credited with finding several large caches of exposed and leaking data. The New Zealand national, whose name isn't known but goes by the handle Flash Gordon, revealed the subpoena in a tweet last month. The pseudonymous data breach finder regularly tweets about leaked data, found on exposed and unprotected servers. Last year, he found a trove of almost a million patients' data leaking from a medical telemarketing firm. A recent find included an exposed cache of law enforcement data by ALERRT, a Texas State University-based organization, which trains police and civilians against active shooters. The database, secured in March but reported last week, revealed that several police departments were under-resourced and unable to respond to active shooter situations. Homeland Security's export control agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), served the subpoena to Twitter on April 24, demanding information about the data breach finder's account. ICE demanded Twitter turn over his screen name, address, phone number -- and any other identifying information about the account, including credit cards on the account. The subpoena also demanded the account's IP address history, member lists, and any complaints filed against the Twitter account.

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Facebook Acknowledges It Shared User Data With Dozens of Companies
Posted by News Fetcher on July 02 '18 at 04:00 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's big-sarcastic-surprise department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: Facebook has admitted providing dozens of tech companies with special access to user data after publicly saying it restricted such access in 2015. Facebook continued sharing information with 61 hardware and software makers after it said it discontinued the practice in May 2015, the social networking giant acknowledged in 747 pages of documents delivered to Congress late Friday. The documents were in response to hundreds of questions posed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg by members of Congress in April.

Facebook said it granted a special "one-time" six-month extension to companies that ranged from AOL to package-delivery service United Parcel Service to dating app Hinge so they could come into compliance with the social network's new privacy policy and create their own versions of Facebook for their devices. Data shared without users' knowledge included friends' names, genders and birth dates. Facebook's documents also said it had discovered that five other companies "theoretically could have accessed limited friends' data" as a result of a beta test. Facebook said in the documents it has ended 38 of the partnerships and plans to discontinue seven more by the end of July.

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Tesla Meets Self-Imposed Deadline For Model 3, Rolls Out 7,000 Cars In a Week
Posted by News Fetcher on July 02 '18 at 12:00 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's overachiever department:
Elon Musk tweeted on Sunday that the company produced 7,000 cars last week, including 5,000 Model 3 electric sedans. "Beating a self-imposed deadline, the final car rolling off the assembly line on Sunday morning, several hours after the midnight goal set by Musk, two workers at the factory told Reuters on Sunday." CNBC reports: The 5,000th Model 3 finished final quality checks at the Fremont, California factory and was ready to go around 5 a.m. PDT (1200 GMT), one person told Reuters. It was not clear if Tesla could maintain that level of production for a longer period of time. Tesla had a goal of producing 5,000 Model 3s per week before the close of the second quarter on Saturday to demonstrate it could mass produce the battery-powered sedan.

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500px Closes Its Photo Marketplace
Posted by News Fetcher on July 01 '18 at 09:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's end-of-the-line department:
Photo platform 500px has decided to close its in-house Marketplace that lets users buy and sell photos. According to Engadget, the service "will now rely on moving photos through Getty Images in most of the world as well as VCG (which acquired 500px in February) in China." From the report: Users no longer have the option to upload photos under a Creative Commons license that would let buyers remix photos or otherwise reuse them. There's no way to migrate, download or even search for these images. You won't have another CC-style license in its place, either. At best, you'll have a royalty-free 500px License that distributes pictures through either Getty or VCG. This isn't strictly a ploy to make photographers charge money, though. 500px informed The Verge that there weren't many people using CC images, many of which had outdated licenses. There were bugs searching for them, too.

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Westinghouse AP1000 Nuclear Reactor Starts Generating Power
Posted by News Fetcher on July 01 '18 at 08:00 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's better-late-than-never department:
Longtime Slashdot reader TopSpin writes: The Sanmen 1 nuclear reactor in Zhejiang, China, has been synchronized to the power grid and is generating power. The reactor has been under construction for nine years and became the first AP1000 in the world to achieve criticality on June 21, 2018. The AP1000 design received final design certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2005 and has a net output of 1.117 GWe. Three other AP1000 reactors are under construction in China at the Sanmen and Haiyang sites and two reactors are under construction in the U.S. at the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Georgia. On June 29, the Taishan 1 reactor became the first Areva Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) design to generate power. Four EPR reactors are under construction in Finland, France, and China.

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Twitter Will Show Who Pays For Ads and How Much They Spend
Posted by News Fetcher on July 01 '18 at 05:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's transparency-rules department:
Twitter will show detailed information about advertisers in an attempt to combat meddling in future elections. You will now be able to search for a Twitter account and see all the ads it has run in the past seven days. "For U.S. political advertisers, users will be able to see billing information, ad spending, demographic targeting data and the number of times tweets have been viewed," reports Bloomberg. From the report: The changes are part of Twitter's broader efforts to clean up its service after lawmakers berated the company for failing to discover Russian influence peddling through fake accounts and divisive ads during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Earlier this week, the company began requiring more authentication from users. In May, it rolled out stricter rules that require advertisers running political campaign ads for federal elections to identify themselves and certify they are located in the U.S. The company has also banned ads from accounts owned by Russia Today and Sputnik.

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Google and Nasdaq Pursuing Nano-Second Precision In Network Time Protocol
Posted by News Fetcher on July 01 '18 at 02:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's crucial-measurements department:
"Computer scientists at Stanford University and Google have created technology that can track time down to 100 billionths of a second," reports The New York Times. "It could be just what Wall Street is looking for." Form the report: System engineers at Nasdaq, the New York-based stock exchange, recently began testing an algorithm and software that they hope can synchronize a giant network of computers with that nanosecond precision. They say they have built a prototype, and are in the process of deploying a bigger version. For an exchange like Nasdaq, such refinement is essential to accurately order the millions of stock trades that are placed on their computer systems every second. Ultimately, this is about money. With stock trading now dominated by computers that make buying and selling decisions and execute them with blazing speed, keeping that order also means protecting profits. So-called high frequency trading firms place trades in a fraction of a second, sometimes in a bet that they can move faster than bigger competitors.

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'Why You Should Not Use Google Cloud'
Posted by News Fetcher on July 01 '18 at 01:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-is-money department:
A user on Medium named "Punch a Server" says you should not use Google Cloud due to the "'no-warnings-given, abrupt way' they pull the plug on your entire system if they (or the machines) believe something is wrong." The user has a project running in production on Google Cloud (GCP) that is used to monitor hundreds of wind turbines and scores of solar plants scattered across 8 countries. When their project goes down, money is lost. An anonymous Slashdot reader shares the report: Early today morning (June 28, 2018) I receive an alert from Uptime Robot telling me my entire site is down. I receive a barrage of emails from Google saying there is some "potential suspicious activity" and all my systems have been turned off. EVERYTHING IS OFF. THE MACHINE HAS PULLED THE PLUG WITH NO WARNING. The site is down, app engine, databases are unreachable, multiple Firebases say I've been downgraded and therefore exceeded limits.

Customer service chat is off. There's no phone to call. I have an email asking me to fill in a form and upload a picture of the credit card and a government issued photo id of the card holder. Great, let's wake up the CFO who happens to be the card holder. What if the card holder is on leave and is unreachable for three days? We would have lost everything -- years of work -- millions of dollars in lost revenue. I fill in the form with the details and thankfully within 20 minutes all the services started coming alive. The first time this happened, we were down for a few hours. In all we lost everything for about an hour. An automated email arrives apologizing for "inconvenience" caused. Unfortunately The Machine has no understanding of the "quantum of inconvenience" caused.

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BYD Claims New Battery Factory Will Be 'Largest In the World'
Posted by News Fetcher on July 01 '18 at 12:00 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department:
China's largest electric vehicle manufacturer, BYD, is opening a new battery factory that it claims will be the "largest in the world." Electrek reports: The factory is located in the western province of Qinghai and while it was "opened" this week, it is still under construction and BYD aims to complete it by the end of next year. BYD President and Chairman Wang Chuanfu said at the opening ceremony (via NDTV): "Electrification is a done deal as several countries have announced a deadline for the sale of internal combustion engine cars to end. Electric vehicles are on the cusp of another boom." With a capacity of 24 GWh, this new battery factory should enable them to significantly increase production with a total battery production capacity of 60 GWh. BYD focuses on the production of prismatic LiFePO4 battery cells, different from most of the auto industry's NCA and NMC battery cells.

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AT&T Has To Pay Up Millions After Two Major 911 Outages Last Year
Posted by News Fetcher on July 01 '18 at 10:40 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's drop-in-the-bucket department:
AT&T has been fined $5.25 million for an outage last year that resulted in 12,000 callers not being able to reach 911. The FCC's Enforcement Bureau made the announcement on Thursday, stating that "such preventable outages are unacceptable." Gizmodo reports: Aside from the fine -- which is really a drop in the bucket for the billion-dollar behemoth -- AT&T must also make changes and enhancements to its systems to mitigate and soften the blow of future outages, as well as "regularly file compliance reports with the FCC." According to FCC rules, AT&T was required to "transmit all wireless 911 calls" as well as let emergency call centers know about outages if they last longer than 30 minutes. The two AT&T 911 outages investigated by the FCC, which occurred on March 8 and May 1 of 2017, lasted about five hours and 47 minutes, respectively. Around 12,600 users were unable to complete 911 calls during the March outage, with 2,600 failed 911 calls during the May outage.

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Microsoft Releases 125 Million Building Footprints In the US To the OpenStreetMap Community
Posted by News Fetcher on July 01 '18 at 09:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's come-and-get-it department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MSPoweruser: Today, Microsoft announced that it is releasing 124 Million building footprints in the United States to the OpenStreetMap community. Bing Maps team used Microsoft's CNTK Unified Toolkit to apply its Deep Neural Networks and the ResNet34 with RefineNet up-sampling layers to detect building footprints from the Bing imagery. OpenStreetMap currently has 30,567,953 building footprints in the U.S., thanks to editor contributions and various city or county wide imports. Using DNNs and Bing Imagery, Microsoft has extracted 124,885,597 footprints in the United States and making it available for download free of charge.

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Patreon Is Suspending Adult Content Creators Because of Its Payment Partners
Posted by News Fetcher on July 01 '18 at 09:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's under-pressure department:
Some adult content creators on crowdfunding site Patreon are being suspended due to the suggestive material they produce. The platform said that they are increasing efforts to review content, due to payment processor pressure. Motherboard reports: In late 2017, Patreon expanded its adult content guidelines, to include stricter guidelines for "bestiality, incest, sexual depiction of minors, and suggestive sexual violence." At the time, it resulted in suspensions and bans of many adult content creators whose work Patreon previously permitted, but no longer fell in line with new guidelines. Now, many more adult content creators are reporting that they're experiencing a renewed wave of suspensions on the platform. Patreon's guidelines for adult content state that "all public content on your page be appropriate for all audiences," and "content with mature themes must be marked as a patron-only post." For several of these reports, Patreon warned that "implied nudity" was the reason for the suspension, where it appeared in public areas or publicly-visible patron tiers and banners. "You can't use Patreon to raise funds in order to produce pornographic material such as maintaining a website, funding the production of movies, or providing a private webcam session," the guidelines state.

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San Jose May Start Cracking Down On Rampant Use of Scooters
Posted by News Fetcher on July 01 '18 at 08:00 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's trendy-methods-of-transportation department:
If you've ever visited San Jose, you may have noticed something rather unusual: there are electric scooters littering the streets. The scooters are placed randomly throughout the city and can be rented by users via an app. They're reportedly bothering pedestrians enough for the city to take notice and consider a number of possible restrictions, "including issuing revocable permits to a limited number of scooter companies such as Lime and Bird, requiring the companies to pay a deposit to cover potential scooter-involved damage to city property, and charging annual fees to operate in the city," reports The Mercury News. From the report: In recent weeks, the city has fielded complaints about people zooming down crowded sidewalks instead of riding in the street and parking scooters in front of driveways or leaving them tipped over outside stores. But the city currently doesn't have any rules governing the relatively new scooter-sharing industry, enabling both the companies and users to operate freely. In addition to paying operating fees, [...] the city wants the companies to provide multilingual customer service at all times, and to commit to addressing problems quickly. And like Ford GoBike -- which currently has an exclusive contract with San Jose to operate a docked bike sharing program in the city -- the city says scooter companies should be required to offer discounts to low-income residents and operate in what it calls "communities of concern."

To understand how and where people are riding scooters, the city says it also wants the companies to share their data, something they so far have been reluctant to part with, at least publicly. Most residents at the meeting seemed supportive of having scooters in San Jose, calling them an easy and environmentally friendly way to commute or run errands quickly.

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Scientists Use Caffeine To Control Genes
Posted by News Fetcher on July 01 '18 at 06:40 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's proof-of-concept department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A team led by Martin Fussenegger of ETH Zurich in Basel has shown that caffeine can be used as a trigger for synthetic genetic circuitry, which can then in turn do useful things for us -- even correct or treat medical conditions. For a buzz-worthy proof of concept, the team engineered a system to treat type 2 diabetes in mice with sips of coffee, specifically Nespresso Volluto coffee. Essentially, when the animals drink the coffee (or any other caffeinated beverage), a synthetic genetic system in cells implanted in their abdomens switches on. This leads to the production of a hormone that increases insulin production and lowers blood sugar levels -- thus successfully treating their diabetes after a simple morning brew.

The system, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, is just the start, Fussenegger and his colleagues suggest enthusiastically. "We think caffeine is a promising candidate in the quest for the most suitable inducer of gene expression," they write. They note that synthetic biologists like themselves have long been in pursuit of such inducers that can jolt artificial genetics. But earlier options had problems. These included antibiotics that can spur drug-resistance in bacteria and food additives that can have side effects. Caffeine, on the other hand, is non-toxic, cheap to produce, and only present in specific beverages, such as coffee and tea, they write. It's also wildly popular, with more than two billion cups of coffee poured each day worldwide.

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Ask Slashdot: Have You Ever 'Ghosted' an Employer?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 01 '18 at 02:40 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's seeing-right-through-you department:
"Suddenly, calls and texts went unreturned," writes LinkedIn's editor at large, describing a recruiter who suddenly discovered the candidate she'd wanted to hire failed to respond to 12 messages, including emails like "Please let me know that you have not been kidnapped by aliens. I'm worried about you," and even a snail-mailed greeting card. Recruiters complain that prospective employees are now borrowing a practice from dating -- and "ghosting" recruiters and employers to let them know that they're not interested.

"Candidates agree to job interviews and fail to show up, never saying more. Some accept jobs, only to not appear for the first day of work, no reason given, of course. Instead of formally quitting, enduring a potentially awkward conversation with a manager, some employees leave and never return. Bosses realize they've quit only after a series of unsuccessful attempts to reach them.... Meredith Jones, an Indianapolis-based director of human resources for a national restaurant operator, now overbooks interviews, knowing up to 50 percent of candidates for entry-level roles likely won't show up."

Long-time Slashdot reader NormalVisual writes, "It'd be interesting to hear Slashdotters' experience with this."
Have you ever ghosted a potential employer, or perhaps more relevant, have you ever been ghosted by a potential employer during the hiring process? Do you feel it's unprofessional, or simple justice for the behavior of some companies when the balance of power was more on their side?

Inc. magazine blames the low unemployment rate and "the effects technology have had on the communication style of younger generations." But leave your own thoughts in the comments.
Does ghosting show a lack of professionalism, or is it simple payback for the way corporations treated job-seekers in the past? And have you ever "ghosted" an employer?

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UK Police Plan To Deploy 'Staggeringly Inaccurate' Facial Recognition in London
Posted by News Fetcher on July 01 '18 at 12:00 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I'll-be-seeing-you department:
An anonymous reader quotes the Independent:
Millions of people face the prospect of being scanned by police facial recognition technology that has sparked human rights concerns. The controversial software, which officers use to identify suspects, has been found to be "staggeringly inaccurate", while campaigners have branded its use a violation of privacy. But Britain's largest police force is set to expand a trial across six locations in London over the coming months.
Police leaders claimed officers make the decision to act on potential matches with police records and images that do not spark an alert are immediately deleted. But last month The Independent revealed the Metropolitan Police's software was returning "false positives" -- images of people who were not on a police database -- in 98 percent of alerts... Detective Superintendent Bernie Galopin, the lead on facial recognition for London's Metropolitan Police, said the operation was targeting wanted suspects to help reduce violent crime and make the area safer. "It allows us to deal with persons that are wanted by police where traditional methods may have failed," he told The Independent, after statistics showed police were failing to solve 63 per cent of knife crimes committed against under-25s....
Det Supt Galopin said the Met was assessing how effective facial recognition was at tackling different challenges in British policing, which is currently being stretched by budget cuts, falling officer numbers, rising demand and the terror threat.

A policy officer from the National Council for Civil Liberties called the technology "lawless," adding "the use of this technology in a public place is not compatible with privacy, and has a chilling effect on society."

< article continued at Slashdot's I'll-be-seeing-you department >

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Data From Open-Source Ancestry Site Leads to More Arrests
Posted by News Fetcher on June 30 '18 at 09:20 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's not-so-cold-cases department:
schwit1 tipped us off to new arrests made with genealogical evidence -- and growing interest in open source genealogy databases. Fast Company reports:
In the last week, police have arrested two suspects in unrelated cold cases thanks to data gleaned from open-source ancestry site GEDMatch, reports the New York Times. That's the same open-source ancestry site that was used to track down the alleged Golden State Killer earlier this year. One of the arrests this week was of a 66-year-old nurse who is suspected of killing a 12-year-old girl in 1986. The other arrest is of a 49-year-old DJ who strangled a schoolteacher in 1992. Thanks to data from GEDMatch, Texas law enforcement also thinks that a man who was executed in 1999 for killing a 9-year-old girl was now also behind the murder of a 40-year-old realtor in 1981.
It all reminds me of that scene in "The Circle" where they demo technology that finds "a randomly-selected fugitive from justice -- a proven menace to our global community" -- within 20 minutes.

Last month DNA-based investigations also led to the arrest of the suspected murderer of two vacationers in 1987, and helped identify a suicide cold case from 2001.

Now an Ohio newspaper reports:
Emboldened by that breakthrough, a number of private investigators are spearheading a call for amateur genealogists to help solve other cold cases by contributing their own genetic information to the same public database. They say a larger array of genetic information would widen the pool to find criminals who have eluded capture. The idea is to get people to transfer profiles compiled by commercial genealogy sites such as Ancestry.com and 23andMe onto the smaller, public open-source database created in 2010, called GEDmatch. The commercial sites require authorities to obtain search warrants for the information; the public site does not.
But the push is running up against privacy concerns.

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Is Google's Promotion of HTTPS Misguided?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 30 '18 at 06:40 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's making-the-web-Googley department:
Long-time software guru Dave Winer is criticizing Google's plans to deprecate HTTP (by, for example, penalizing sites that use HTTP instead of HTTPS in search results and flagging them as "insecure" in Chrome). Winer writes:
A lot of the web consists of archives. Files put in places that no one maintains. They just work. There's no one there to do the work that Google wants all sites to do. And some people have large numbers of domains and sub-domains hosted on all kinds of software Google never thought about. Places where the work required to convert wouldn't be justified by the possible benefit. The reason there's so much diversity is that the web is an open thing, it was never owned....
If Google succeeds, it will make a lot of the web's history inaccessible. People put stuff on the web precisely so it would be preserved over time. That's why it's important that no one has the power to change what the web is. It's like a massive book burning, at a much bigger scale than ever done before.
"Many of these sites don't collect user data or provide user interaction," adds Slashdot reader saccade.com, "so the 'risks' of not using HTTPS are irrelevant." And Winer summarizes his position in three points.

The web is an open platform, not a corporate platform.
It is defined by its stability. 25-plus years and it's still going strong.
Google is a guest on the web, as we all are. Guests don't make the rules.
"The web is a social agreement not to break things," Winer writes. "It's served us for 25 years. I don't want to give it up because a bunch of nerds at Google think they know best."

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