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Earth

World's Largest Solar Power Plant Planned For Chernobyl Nuclear Wasteland (electrek.co) 128

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Electrek: Chernobyl, the world's most famous and hazardous nuclear meltdown, is being considered for the world's largest solar power plant. Even though nearly 1,600 square miles of land around Chernobyl has radiation levels too high for human health, Ukraine's ecology minister has said in a recent interview that two U.S. investment firms and four Canadian energy companies have expressed interest in Chernobyl's solar potential. Electrek reports: "According to PVTech, the Ukrainian government is pushing for a 6 month construction cycle. Deploying this amount of solar power within such a time frame would involve significant resources being deployed. The proposed 1GW solar plant, if built today, would be the world's largest. There are several plans for 1GW solar plants in development (Egypt, India, UAE, China, etc) -- but none of them have been completed yet. One financial benefit of the site is that transmission lines for Chernobyl's 4GW nuclear reactor are still in place. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has stated they would be interested in participating in the project, 'so long as there are viable investment proposals and all other environmental matters and risks can be addressed to the bank's satisfaction.'"
NASA

Class of Large But Very Dim Galaxies Discovered (nature.com) 89

schwit1 writes from a report via Nature: Astronomers have now detected and measured a new class of large but very dim galaxy that previously was not expected to exist. Nature reports: "'[Ultradiffuse]' galaxies came to attention only last year, after Pieter van Dokkum of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and Roberto Abraham of the University of Toronto in Canada built an array of sensitive telephoto lenses named Dragonfly. The astronomers and their colleagues observed the Coma galaxy cluster 101 megaparsecs (330 million light years) away and detected 47 faint smudges. 'They can't be real,' van Dokkum recalls thinking when he first saw the galaxies on his laptop computer. But their distribution in space matched that of the cluster's other galaxies, indicating that they were true members. Since then, hundreds more of these galaxies have turned up in the Coma cluster and elsewhere. Ultradiffuse galaxies are large like the Milky Way -- which is much bigger than most -- but they glow as dimly as mere dwarf galaxies. It's as though a city as big as London emitted as little light as Kalamazoo, Michigan." More significantly, they have now found that these dim galaxies can be as big and as massive as the biggest bright galaxies, suggesting that there are a lot more stars and mass hidden out there and unseen than anyone had previously predicted.
IT

The End of Gmane? (ingebrigtsen.no) 39

If any of you use mailing list archive Gmane, you would want to start looking at its alternative. Gmane developer Lars Ingebrigtsen announced Thursday that he is thinking about ending the decade-old email-to-news gateway. But first, for those unaware about Gmane, here's is what it does: It allows users to access electronic mailing lists as if they were Usenet newsgroups, and also through a variety of web interfaces. Gmane is an archive; it never expires messages (unless explicitly requested by users). Gmane also supports importing list postings made prior to a list's inclusion on the service.Ingebrigtsen said Gmane machines are under numerous DDoS attacks -- coupled with some other issues -- that have made him wonder whether it is worth the time and effort to keep Gmane ticking. He writes: I'm thinking about ending Gmane, at least as a web site. Perhaps continue running the SMTP-to-NNTP bridge? Perhaps not? I don't want to make 20-30K mailing lists start having bouncing addresses, but I could just funnel all incoming mail to /dev/null, I guess... The nice thing about a mailing list archive (with NNTP and HTTP interfaces) is that it enables software maintainers to say (whenever somebody suggests using Spiffy Collaboration Tool of the Month instead of yucky mailing lists) is "well, just read the stuff on Gmane, then". I feel like I'm letting down a generation here.As Gmane's future remains uncertain, Ingebrigtsen recommends people to have a look at Mail Archive.
Medicine

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Funding Leads To New Genetic Findings (yahoo.com) 33

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers are crediting the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a fundraiser for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis that went viral in 2014, for funding a new study that has possibly identified a common gene that contributes to the nervous system disease. Yahoo reports via Good Morning America: "In a study published in The Nature Genetics Journal, researchers from various institutions, including the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the University Medical Center Utrecht, identified the gene NEK1 as a common gene that could have an impact on who develops the disease. Variants of the gene appear to lead to increased risk of developing ALS, according to preliminary findings. Researchers in 11 countries studied 1,000 families in which a family member developed ALS and conducted a genome-wide search for any signs that a gene could be leading to increased ALS risk. After identifying the NEK1 gene, they also analyzed 13,000 individuals who had developed ALS despite no family history and found they had variants in that same gene, again linking that gene with increased ALS risk. Starting in the summer of 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge led to 17 million videos made and $220 million raised, according to the ALS Association -- $115 million of which went to the association."
Security

LastPass Accounts Can Be 'Completely Compromised' When Users Visit Sites (theregister.co.uk) 134

Reader mask.of.sanity writes: A dangerous zero-day vulnerability has been found in popular cloud password vault LastPass, which can completely compromise user accounts when users visit malicious websites. The flaw is today being reported to LastPass by established Google Project zero hacker Tavis Ormandy who says he has found other "obvious critical problems". Interestingly, Mathias Karlsson, a security researcher has also independently found flaws in LastPass. In a blog post, he wrote that he was able to trick LastPass into believing he was on the real Twiter website and cough up the users' credentials of a bug in the LastPass password manager's autofill functionality. LastPass has fixed the bug, but Karlsson advises users to disable autofill functionality and use multi-factor authentication. At this point, it's not clear whether Ormandy is also talking about the same vulnerability.
Security

Pop Star Tells Fans To Send Their Twitter Passwords, But It Might Be Illegal (arstechnica.com) 116

Cyrus Farivar, reporting for Ars Technica: As a new way to connect with his fans, Jack Johnson -- one half of the pop-rap duo Jack & Jack, not to be confused with the laid back Hawaiian singer-songwriter of the same name -- has spent the last month soliciting social media passwords. Using the hashtag #HackedByJohnson, the performer has tweeted at his fans to send him their passwords. (Why he didn't go for the shorter and catchier #JackHack, we'll never know.) Then, Johnson posts under his fans' Twitter accounts, leaving a short personalized message, as them. While Johnson and his fans likely find this password sharing silly and innocuous, legal experts say that Jack Johnson, 20, may be opening himself up to civil or criminal liability under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a notorious anti-hacking statute that dates back to the 1980s. "While the entertainer in question likely considers this password collection to be a harmless personalized promotional activity, there may indeed be legal implication of both the fans' and the entertainer's conduct," Andrea Matwyshyn, a law professor at Northeastern University, told Ars.
Mars

Laser-Armed Martian Robot Now Vaporizing Targets of Its Own Free Will (dailymail.co.uk) 73

Slashdot reader Rei writes: NASA -- having already populated the Red Planet with robots and armed a car-sized nuclear juggernaut with a laser -- have now decided to grant fire control of that laser over to a new AI system operating on the rover itself. Intended to increase the scientific data-gathering throughput on the sometimes glitching rover's journey, the improved AEGIS system eliminates the need for a series of back-and-forth communication sessions to select targets and aim the laser.
Rei's original submission included a longer riff on The War of the Worlds, ending with a reminder to any future AI overlords that "I have a medical condition that renders me unfit to toil in any hypothetical subterranean lithium mines..."
Classic Games (Games)

Sega Announces Two New Sonic Games That Seek To Recapture The Glory Days (gamespot.com) 45

An anonymous reader writes: In celebration of Sonic the Hedgehog's 25th anniversary, Sega has announced two new Sonic games at Comic-Con in San Diego. The first game is called Sonic Mania and it's a 2D platformer that features visuals and gameplay reminiscent of the classic Genesis games. "It revamps zones and acts from Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic CD, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Sonic and Knuckles, in addition to introducing new ones into the fold," writes Mat Paget from GameSpot. The second game has no title [besides "Project Sonic 2017"], but it does have a holiday 2017 release date for PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo NX consoles. It reportedly features both classic and modern versions of Sonic, similar to 2011's Sonic Generations. Sega made two additional announcements. "Mobile game Sonic Dash has passed 200 million downloads and will receive a special in-game event that adds the Green Hill Zone and Classic Sonic as a playable character," reports GameSpot. "The event only lasts a week, but players can unlock both the classic level and character for use after the event." The second additional announcement is that the animated Sonic Boom series will be renewed for a second season. "Sonic Mania was born out of our fans' love of the classic Sonic 2D platform games,â said Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka. "This type of collaboration is a first for Sega and we hope everyone will be both surprised and delighted by this title. Sonic Mania has been a passion project for the entire team and we look forward to sharing more details about it later this year. Having the game actually playable at the event itself tonight was testament to the dedication of the team behind it.â
Earth

Do You Have A Living Doppelgänger? (bbc.com) 142

HughPickens.com writes: Folk wisdom has it that everyone has a doppelganger; somewhere out there there's a perfect duplicate of you, with your mother's eyes, your father's nose and that annoying mole you've always meant to have removed. Now BBC reports that last year Teghan Lucas set out to test the hypothesis that everyone has a living double. Armed with a public collection of photographs of U.S. military personnel and the help of colleagues from the University of Adelaide, Lucas painstakingly analyzed the faces of nearly four thousand individuals, measuring the distances between key features such as the eyes and ears. Next she calculated the probability that two peoples' faces would match. What she found was good news for the criminal justice system, but likely to disappoint anyone pining for their long-lost double: the chances of sharing just eight dimensions with someone else are less than one in a trillion. Even with 7.4 billion people on the planet, that's only a one in 135 chance that there's a single pair of doppelgangers. Lucas says this study has provided much-needed evidence that facial anthropometric measurements are as accurate as fingerprints and DNA when it comes to identifying a criminal. "The use of video surveillance systems for security purposes is increasing and as a result, there are more and more instances of criminals leaving their 'faces' at a scene of a crime," says Ms Lucas. "At the same time, criminals are getting smarter and are avoiding leaving DNA or fingerprint traces at a crime scene." But that's not the whole story. The study relied on exact measurements; if your doppelganger's ears are 59mm but yours are 60mm, your likeness wouldn't count. "It depends whether we mean 'lookalike to a human' or 'lookalike to facial recognition software,'" says David Aldous. If fine details aren't important, suddenly the possibility of having a lookalike looks a lot more realistic. It depends on the way faces are stored in the brain: more like a map than an image. To ensure that friends and acquaintances can be recognized in any context, the brain employs an area known as the fusiform gyrus to tie all the pieces together. This holistic 'sum of the parts' perception is thought to make recognizing friends a lot more accurate than it would be if their features were assessed in isolation. Using this type of analysis, and judging by the number of celebrity look-alikes out there, unless you have particularly rare features, you may have literally thousands of doppelgangers. "I think most people have somebody who is a facial lookalike unless they have a truly exceptional and unusual face," says Francois Brunelle has photographed more than 200 pairs of doppelgangers for his I'm Not a Look-Alike project. "I think in the digital age which we are entering, at some point we will know because there will be pictures of almost everyone online.
Medicine

Alzheimer's Gene Already Shrinking Brain By Age of Three (telegraph.co.uk) 62

schwit1 quotes a report from The Telegraph: The Alzheimer's gene, which dramatically raises the risk of developing dementia, is already affecting carriers by the age of three, shrinking their brains and lowering cognition, a new study suggests. Children who carry the APOEe4 gene mutation, which raises the chance of dementia by 15 fold, were found to do less well in memory, attention and function tests. Areas of the brain affected by Alzheimer's disease, such as the hippocampus and parietal gyri, were also found to be up to 22 percent smaller in volume. [Around 14 percent of people carry the APOEe4 mutation. The research is the first to show that genetic changes which can lead to Alzheimerâ(TM)s are already affecting the brain extremely early in life. Scientists from the University of Hawaii, Yale and Harvard say screening for the gene could help doctors identify which children could benefit from early interventions, such as educational help, preventative treatments, health monitoring and increased exercise. The study involved 1,187 youngsters between the age of three and 20 who took part in genetic tests and brain scans as well as undertaking a series of tests to measure their thinking and memory skills.] According to research from Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), infrequent use of a computer in later life could be an early sign of reduced cognitive ability.
Republicans

145 Tech Leaders Say 'Trump Would Be A Disaster For Innovation' (cnn.com) 360

An anonymous reader writes from a report via CNN: "We have listened to Donald Trump over the past year and we have concluded: Trump would be a disaster for innovation," wrote 145 technology leaders in an open letter Medium post published Thursday. Some of the leaders are from tech giants like Google, Facebook and Apple, others from small startups, venture capital firms, nonprofits and universities. "We believe in an inclusive country that fosters opportunity, creativity and a level playing field. Donald Trump does not," reads the letter, which was signed by well-known names like Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield, IAC's Barry Diller, Reddit's Alexis Ohanian and Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales. "His reckless disregard for our legal and political institutions threatens to upend what attracts companies to start and scale in America. He risks distorting markets, reducing exports, and slowing job creation," reads the letter, published by chief marketing officer at Color Genomics and former VP at Twitter Katie Jacobs Stanton. Moreover, Trump has shown "poor judgment and ignorance about how technology works," they wrote, citing his proposal to "shut down" parts of the Internet and the fact that he has revoked reporters' press credentials. "We stand against Donald Trump's divisive candidacy," the letter concludes. "We embrace an optimistic vision for a more inclusive country, where American innovation continues to fuel opportunity, prosperity and leadership." Meanwhile, Jon Swartz writes from USA Today that "If there was any lingering doubt as to tech's favored presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton put an end to that Tuesday with a tech plan that reads like a Silicon Valley wish list."
Government

Congress Is Trying To Expand The Patriot Act (rare.us) 174

An anonymous reader writes: The house is scheduled to vote in an hour or so on expanding provisions of the patriot act, allowing massive financial information sharing to include dozens of new offenses ("specified unlawful activities"), including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The house bill is H.R. 5606. My quick read is that this essentially lets FEDGOV expand massive semi-secret databases of financial transactions without a warrant while protecting banks from liability for helping them. In 5 years from 2002-2007, for example, with a smaller ability this led to 35,000 suspects but there were only 21 search warrants. Call your representative. Rare.us reports: "The proposed bill, H.R. 5606, expands Section 314 of the Patriot Act to cover non-terrorism or money laundering related investigations. Critics claim that the bill is a threat to the privacy of innocent Americans and is being rammed through Congress without debate. Section 314 encourages law enforcement to share information with financial institutions on money laundering and terrorism. It also encourages financial institutions to share information with each other." The report says the House Liberty Caucus, led by Congressman Justin Amash (R-Mich.), opposes the bill, claiming that Treasury Department regulations will compromise the privacy of Americans as it will all but mandate financial institutions to share information with the government. The caucus also opposes the bill because it is being brought to the floor under a suspension of the rules, and is not being considered under "regular order." The bill's sponsor, Congressman Robert Pittenger (R-NC) described HR 5606 as an attempt "to stop the flow of illicit dollars to criminals and terror organizations."
Movies

George Takei Opposes Gay Sulu In 'Star Trek Beyond' (hollywoodreporter.com) 354

HughPickens.com writes: Seth Abramovitch reports in the Hollywood Reporter that actor and LGBT activist George Takei says Paramount's plans to have Sulu's character in the upcoming 'Star Trek Beyond' the first LGBTQ lead character in Star Trek history is out of step with what creator Gene Roddenberry would have wanted. [Roddenberry] "was a strong supporter of LGBT equality," says Takei, now 79. "But he said he has been pushing the envelope and walking a very tight rope -- and if he pushed too hard, the show would not be on the air." Takei says he'd much prefer that Sulu stay straight. "I'm delighted that there's a gay character," says Takei. "Unfortunately, it's a twisting of Gene's creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it's really unfortunate." The timeline logic of the new revelation is enough to befuddle even the most diehard of Trek enthusiasts, as the rebooted trilogy takes place before the action of the original series. In other words, assuming canon orthodoxy, this storyline suggest Sulu would have had to have first been gay and married, only to then go into the closet years later. Simon Pegg, who has co-written the latest Star Trek movie, as well as starring as Scotty, has responded to criticism by the actor George Takei at the film-makers' decision to make the character he used to play openly gay. "He's right, it is unfortunate, it's unfortunate that the screen version of the most inclusive, tolerant universe in science fiction hasn't featured an LGBT character until now. We could have introduced a new gay character, but he or she would have been primarily defined by their sexuality, seen as the 'gay character,' rather than simply for who they are, and isn't that tokenism?" says Pegg. "Our Trek is an alternate timeline with alternate details. Whatever magic ingredient determines our sexuality was different for Sulu in our timeline. I like this idea because it suggests that in a hypothetical multiverse, across an infinite matrix of alternate realities, we are all LGBT somewhere."
Businesses

Nintendo Stock Price Up 9% After Pokemon Go Launch (venturebeat.com) 46

An anonymous reader writes: Following the release of the location-based mobile game Pokemon Go, Nintendo's stock is up 9 percent on the Tokyo Exchange. VentureBeat reports: "The iOS and Android app debuted Wednesday evening in the United States, and it has fans outside walking around looking for digital creatures to catch on a GPS-powered world map. The free download shot to No. 1 on the top-grossing chart in less than a day. With that level of demand, developer Niantic is having trouble keeping its servers up, and players are complaining about outages and connection issues. It comes from The Pokemon Company International, which is a separate entity that Nintendo only owns one-third of in partnership with Pokemon developers Creature Inc. and Game Freak. Having even just a piece of the Pokemon Go party should mean significant revenue for Nintendo, but this also keeps the brand relevant."
Facebook

IRS Is Suing Facebook Over Asset Transfers In Ireland (fortune.com) 97

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has sued Facebook on Wednesday to force it to comply with summonses related to a 2010 asset transfer. Fortune reports: "According to documents the IRS filed in San Francisco federal court, the agency suspects Facebook and its accounting firm, Ernst and Young, understated the value of intangible assets transferred to Ireland by billions of dollars. The IRS says it is seeking an order to enforce six summonses that asked Facebook to appear at the agency's offices in San Jose, Calif., and to produce papers and others records. According to IRS agent Nina Stone, Facebook failed to show up at the appointed date of June 17, and nor did it provide the documents. The dispute arose as a result of an ongoing audit of Facebook by IRS that stretches back to 2010. In that year, the company chose to designate Facebook Ireland as the rights-holder for its worldwide business outside of the U.S. and Canada, and also to transfer intellectual property assets such as its platform and 'marketing intangibles.' The crux of the disagreement between Facebook and the IRS turns on the arcane question of whether the assets in question could be transferred in their entirety or if, as the agency argues, they are 'interdependent.' [The agent's declaration can be found here.] Such arrangements are common among U.S. tech companies, and seek to reduce tax payments by scoring revenue in low tax jurisdictions like Ireland, while having higher tax countries (especially the U.S.) reduce profits by paying to license intellectual property from overseas subsidiaries."
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Is It Ever OK To Quit Without Giving Notice? 765

HughPickens.com writes: Employees and employers alike have the right under at-will employment laws in almost all states to end their relationship without notice, for any reason, but the two-week rule is a widely accepted standard of workplace conduct. However, Sue Shellenbarger writes at the WSJ that a growing number of workers are leaving without giving two weeks' notice. Some bosses blame young employees who feel frustrated by limited prospects or have little sense of attachment to their workplace. But employment experts say some older workers are quitting without notice as well. They feel overworked or unappreciated after years of laboring under pay cuts and expanded workloads imposed during the recession. One employee at Dupray, a customer-service rep, scheduled a meeting and announced she was quitting, then rose and headed for the exit. She seemed surprised when the director of human resources stopped her and explained that employees are expected to give two weeks' notice. "She said, 'I've been watching 'Suits,' and this is how it happens,'" referring to the TV drama set in a law firm.

According to Shellenbarger, quitting without notice is sometimes justified. Employees with access to proprietary information, such as those working in sales or new-product development, face a conflict of interest if they accept a job with a competitor. Employees in such cases typically depart right away -- ideally, by mutual agreement. It can also be best to exit quickly if an employer is abusive, or if you suspect your employer is doing something illegal. More often, quitting without notice "is done in the heat of emotion, by someone who is completely frustrated, angry, offended or upset," says David Lewis, president of OperationsInc., a Norwalk, Conn., human-resources consulting firm. That approach can burn bridges and generate bad references. Phyllis Hartman says employees have a responsibility to try to communicate about what's wrong. "Start figuring out if there is anything you can do to fix it. The worst that can happen is that nobody listens or they tell you no."
What do you Slashdotters think about providing employers notice of departure? Has there ever been a circumstance that warranted quitting your job without any prior notice?
Data Storage

Samsung Unveils World's First UFS Storage Cards, Could Replace MicroSD (pcworld.com) 221

An anonymous reader writes: Samsung has unveiled the world's first UFS card that could one day replace microSD cards in devices. The UFS card is based on the Universal Flash Storage 1.0 Card Extension standard and will be available in capacities from 32GB to 256GB. With a UFS card, users will be able to read 5GB of data, or a full resolution movie file, in 10 seconds, Samsung claims. For comparison, a UHS-1 microSD card would take 50 seconds to do the same. UFS cards will be able to fit into a wide range of devices like smartphones, tablets, cameras, and drones, but the devices will need a specific UFS card slot, which could take some time. Samsung claims the 256GB UFS card has a sequential read speed of 530MBps. The random read speed is 20 times faster than a microSD card. The sequential write speed is about 170MBps, which Samsung estimates is two times faster than microSD cards. The random write speed is 350 times faster than microSD, Samsung claims. The Universal Flash Storage 1.0 Card Extension standard is intended to replace the eMMC standard, which is used in low-cost laptops and Chromebooks. Samsung didn't disclose pricing or availability for the UFS storage cards. It's worth noting that Toshiba does also make UFS storage cards, but they have yet to release any based on the UFS 1.0 Card Extension standard.
Communications

Entire Federal Government Exempt From Robocall Laws, FCC Rules (thehill.com) 188

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Hill: Late Tuesday night, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that the entire federal government is exempt from consumer protection laws that limit unwanted robocalls. They ruled that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 doesn't apply to the federal government, while the law does bar businesses from making numerous autodialed or prerecorded calls to a person's cellphone. The FCC did also make contractors working on behalf of the government exempt from the law as well. Earlier this year, a Supreme Court case found that the law does not apply to the government because of sovereign immunity. However, the FCC ruled that the government falls outside the law's definition of a "person." "Indeed, had Congress wanted to subject the federal government to the TCPA, it easily could have done so by defining 'person' to include the federal government," according to the ruling. Therefore, contractors hired by members of Congress can robocall individuals to participate in town halls, government researchers can place autodialed calls to the cellphones of survey respondents, and contractors can make similar calls to offer information about social security. The ruling does not apply to lawmakers who are using the calls for political campaigns.
Piracy

Judge Dismisses Movie Piracy Case, IP-Address Doesn't Prove Anything (torrentfreak.com) 164

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: In what's believed to be a first of its kind ruling, a federal court in Oregon has dismissed a direct infringement complaint against an alleged movie pirate from the outset. According to the judge, linking an IP-address to a pirated download is not enough to prove direct copyright infringement. In the Oregon District Court, Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman recently recommended dismissal of a complaint filed by the makers of the Adam Sandler movie The Cobbler. According to the Judge both claims of direct and indirect infringement were not sufficient for the case to continue. What's unique in this case, is that the direct infringement claims were dismissed sua sponte, which hasn't happened before. To prove direct infringement copyright holders merely have to make it "plausible" that a defendant, Thomas Gonzales in this case, is indeed the copyright infringer. This is traditionally done by pointing out that the IP-address is directly linked to the defendant's Internet connection, for example. However, according to Judge Beckerman this is not enough. In response to community backlash, Oculus has decided to change its DRM policy (again) to allow HTC Vive games to play on the Oculus Rift virtual-reality system.
Iphone

'Headphone Jacks Are the New Floppy Drives' (daringfireball.net) 771

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple's upcoming iPhone won't have a 3.5mm headphone jack. The news has already upset many people. The Verge's Nilay Patel wrote on Tuesday that the decision of getting rid of the legacy headphone port is "user hostile and stupid." Apple commentator John Gruber makes a case for why Apple's supposed move is not a bad idea at all. He writes:Patel misses the bigger problem. It's not enforcement of DRM on audio playback. It's enforcement of the MFi Program for certifying hardware that uses the Lightning port. Right now any headphone maker in the world can make any headphones they want for the standard jack. Not so with the Lightning port.He adds that the existing analog headphone jack "is more costly in terms of depth than thickness," and by getting rid of it, Apple could use the extra real estate to stuff in more battery juice. Addressing Patel's point that the move of ditching a deeply established standard will "disproportionately impact accessibility," Gruber adds that "enabling, open, and democratizing" have never been high on Apple's list of priorities for external ports. Gruber also addressed Patel's argument that introducing a Lightning Port-enabled headphone feature will make Android and iPhone headphones incompatible. He wrote: Why would Apple care about headphone compatibility with Android? If Apple gave two shits about port compatibility with Android, iPhones would have Micro-USB ports. In 1998 people used floppy drives extensively for sneaker-netting files between Macs and PCs. That didn't stop Apple from dropping it.As for "nobody is asking" Apple to remove headphone jack from the next iPhone, Gruber reminds: This is how it goes. If it weren't for Apple we'd probably still be using computers with VGA and serial ports. The essence of Apple is that they make design decisions "no one asked for".The 3.5mm headphone jack has been around for decades. We can either live with it forever, or try doing something better instead. History suggests that OEMs from across the world quickly replicate Apple's move. Just the idea of Apple removing the headphone jack -- the rumor of which first began last year -- arguably played an instrumental role in some smartphones shipping without the legacy port this year. If this is a change that we really need, Apple is perhaps the best company to set the tone for it. Though, whether we really need to get rid of the headphone jack remains debatable.

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